Saturday, February 26, 2011

What I Read: February

So, guys...this year I've sort of been stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to books. That is to say, I've been reading a lot of different types of books that I generally wouldn't read- mysteries, memoirs, hiking books (?), etc. Here's what I read this month (I know I'm a few days early, but I won't be finishing any more books before Monday night):

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg

This is my first reread of the year (out of the 20 that I'm attempting). I hadn't read this book since elementary school, but it kept coming up. I remembered how much I used to love it, and I still love children's literature, so I decided to check it out from the library. It's a very cute, interesting story. I love that they run away to a museum. I'm such a museum school, all of the other kids always thought they were boring but I just loved them (and still do). So if you were going to run away, wouldn't a museum be the coolest place to go? :)

The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett

This book was okay. Sometimes it had the cleverness and humor of the movie, but most of the time it didn't. There was some language and other content that apparently was left out of the movie (I'm relieved). Let me say, this is one of those rare instances in which I much prefer the movie! I love the Thin Man series. By the way, Nick Charles is, unfortunately, much less charming in the book.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie

I rarely read mysteries...and here's two in one month! :) I enjoyed this one a lot better than The Thin Man. It was much easier to digest. I love mysteries when the detectives take little, seemingly meaningless clues and piece everything together. It's fascinating. I really loved this book!

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

This book was also just okay. It started off good but slowly faded out. I enjoyed learning more about the Appalachian Trail, and sometimes the humor in the book was great. But all of the swearing was a huge turn off (have I mentioned that profanity is pretty much my biggest pet peeve ever?), and the author ridicules religion whenever he gets the chance. Then he turns around and drags on for pages, writing about evolution. Hm.

How To Sew a Button (and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew), by Erin Bried

A very cute little book! A lot of tips for how to do all sorts of things, some very useful and a few not so useful. There are retro style illustrations scattered throughout.

This Fine Life, by Eva Marie Everson

I loved this. I was very excited about it, from the cover and the blurb on the back. The beginning was a little slow and slightly confusing (with the way the prologue was set up), but I settled into it soon. This book wasn't like anything else I've ever read, though I can't exactly explain why. I felt so involved with the characters and their lives. It was incredible to see Mariette grow from a teenager just out of high school into a young wife experiencing all sorts of challenges. And I just loved the setting- the south from 1959 to the 70s. Overall, this was one pretty amazing little book that is really sticking with me.

The Lightkeeper's Daughter, by Colleen Coble

At first, I thought this book was just your average Christian historical fiction...but there were some good, unexpected twists at the end that impressed me. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It seems that I collect clocks.

I say "it seems" because it didn't happen intentionally. I didn't just decide one day that I wanted to start collecting them. It came from the fact that I love and collect vintage (or vintage inspired) things.

I just love this clock from Target. It would look perfect in the yellow and red kitchen I hope to have someday. :) It's even lovelier in person...the red is darker.
{I haven't bought it yet, but I might when I get a little extra money.}

In my bedroom, I currently have six clocks. I had seven, but I moved the small Wizard of Oz one into the sewing room. I love it...when things are really quiet around here, it sounds like Geppetto's work shop in the Pinocchio movie.

Now that I think about it, every single one of these clocks was a Christmas present. I guess I get one nearly every year. :)

I have this singing Elvis clock. Every hour, it plays a sped-up excerpt of "Don't Be Cruel" or "Hound Dog." To those who are not fond of Elvis, this is obnoxious. I love it. :)

This is one of my Lucy clocks. Unfortunately, the clock part doesn't work (it never has, even when it was brand new), but the bottom part does spin.

This is my other Lucy clock. It's made of glass and the colors match really well with my room.

This Elvis clock swings his legs. :) I think this is the first clock I ever got, so even with new batteries, he's still a little slow these days.

I love Kit Kat Clocks! Aren't they adorable in a slightly creepy way? :) Mine is a newer reproduction, but I'd love to find one of the vintage electric ones some day.

{Disclaimer: none of the photos here are mine. I found them all on Google.}

Until next time,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

{10} Reasons Why I Love Musicals

I love musicals. So here is something that I should have done long ago: a whole post dedicated to their splashy Technicolor, black and white elegance,
all talking,
all singing,
and all dancing goodness.

(I find it necessary to insert this quote from my very favorite musical here: "It'll be a sensation! 'Lamont and Lockwood: they talk!'" "Well, of course we talk. Don't everybody?")

With two notable exceptions (West Side Story and Oklahoma!), I haven't met a musical that I didn't like. And I have watched many musicals over the past few years of my classic movie obsessiveness.

I think that we would all enjoy life a lot more if sometimes we pretended we were living in a musical. Go ahead and break out in song every once in a while (just try and make sure the song you're singing is slightly relevant to the situation). Ignore the stares (I can't sing so I'm not brave enough to do this yet :). When it's raining, twirl your umbrella a little and hum like Gene Kelly. Splash in a few puddles.

So, here is my list of reasons why I love musicals so much:

1. Musicals can be elegant. Seriously, when I hear that word, I instantly think of Fred Astaire, in his top hat and tails, and Ginger Rogers, in a gorgeous dress that is either silky, feathery, or both. Could there be anything more elegant than a 30s black and white Astaire/Rogers musical?

{Movie: The Gay Divorcee?}

2. Musicals can be a little tacky. When I first started watching Technicolor musicals, I could hardly focus on the songs or plot because of the bright, eye-burning colors of everything. :) Thankfully, I have adjusted and now I adore the tackiness of splashy Technicolor. The best example is probably the beautifully colored shirts of the seven brothers at the barn dance.

{Movie: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers}

3. Musicals can be weird. Most musicals have at least one song, dance number, or scene that is a little strange. When you watch the musical over and over, you adjust to the weirdness, and it just becomes another part of the movie to you. But when you watch the movie with someone else who's never seen it before, they may have a harder time accepting it. :) I always thought that the "Prehistoric Man" song and dance in On the Town was a little odd. There's also the "Heavenly Music" song in Summer Stock, which involves Gene Kelly and Phil Silvers as hillbillies in oversized overalls, ugly wigs, and huge fake feet. Yeah.

{Movie: On the Town}

4. The plot of a musical can be clever and creative. Some musicals have really interesting, realistic plots and songs that actually fit properly into the plot. Like Singin' in the Rain, which is about the awkward transition from silent films to talkies (random fact: my informative speech in public speaking class is going to be on this topic :). Or Fiddler on the Roof, about the life of a Jewish family in Russia.

{Movie: Fiddler on the Roof}

5. The plot of a musical can be nonexistent or weak. I know this hardly seems like a reason to like a musical. :) Sometimes musicals have very similar or familiar plots. But sometimes you just like to watch something that is fun, with great songs, and not have to worry with a serious plot, right?

{Movie: Summer Stock}

6. Musicals can be extravagant and over the top. Musicals always force you to suspend your disbelief. But that's okay. That's why they were so popular during the war years and other tough times in history- they provide a sort of happy escape. Believe that Jane Powell's character in SBSB would agree to marry a man only minutes after meeting him. Believe that a small Scottish town called Brigadoon only appears once every hundred years. These things are allowed to happen in musicals! :) And where else can you find song and dance sequences that last up to 15 or 16 minutes long?

{Movie: Girl Crazy}

7. The songs in musicals are memorable. (Most of the time.) Sometimes you may not remember a certain scene or quote from a movie. But songs from musicals often get stuck in your head. And since you remember the song, you also remember the characters and story line that were involved. Plus, you can listen to the musical soundtrack while you're doing other things, if you don't have time to watch the movie itself.

{Movie: In the Good Old Summertime}

8. The leading man in a musical can be super-romantic and say things that guys in real life can't say (unless they want to be laughed at). Here is how Gene Kelly's character explains it in Summer Stock:

"We're trying to tell a story with music, and song, and dance. Well, not just with words. For instance, if the boy tells the girl that he loves her, he just doesn't say it. He sings it."

"Why doesn't he just say it?"

"Why?" Oh, I don't know. But it's kind of nice."

I have heard leading men say things, or sing things, in musicals, that would sound cheesy in real life, or even in any other kind of movie. But somehow, in musicals, it works. :)

{Movie: Anchors Aweigh}

9. Musicals usually involve dancing. And I love dancing. Let me rephrase that: I love to watch other people dance. Dancers in musicals make it look so simple and fun that I almost want to try. (This is also why I'm fascinated with Dancing with the Stars.) I'm in awe of people who can dance.

{Movie: Singin' in the Rain}

10. Happily ever afters. I believe that every single musical I have seen has an optimistic, hopeful ending. (Even West Side Story, to a certain extent.) And I like that.

{Movie: The Sound of Music}

During the time I was planning/writing this post, I was sad to hear that Betty Garrett had died, at the age of 91. She was a musical star at MGM and on Broadway (among other things), and I mostly know her as the lady cab driver who fervently pursues Frank Sinatra's character in On the Town. :)

P.S. My favorite musical of all time is Singin' in the Rain. My favorite musical actors are Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. For a list of most of my favorite musicals, you can look under the musical heading here. For more posts about musicals, click here.

Until next time,

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today was a good day.

1. The weather was beautiful. I actually had my windows open for most of the day, which made my room smell fresh and very springish. :)

2. My Gene Kelly documentary came! I'm watching it now. Gene Kelly is the best (a post about him is now in the works, along with the musicals one).

3. Me and Mom finished painting the living room. It was a project started last weekend, when we listened to the radio loudly and avoided the Jehovah Witnesses who knocked on our door. :)

4. Our new Internet router came. On Wednesday night, our Internet died, and we were told yesterday that it would take 3-4 business days for our new router to arrive. I felt a little panicky about not having access to my Etsy shop all weekend (especially because I dreamt Tuesday night that I made a $95 order :), so I was relieved when it came today. :) I will admit that it was nice yesterday, having a completely Internet free day.

P.S. I watched Wives and Daughters yesterday. I liked it a lot, though not nearly as much as North and South or Cranford. :) I was glad to hear that so many of you are N&S fans, too!

Until next time,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

North and South.

Yesterday, I watched North and South for the first time.

I had no idea what the plot was about, no idea that if would focus so much on industry, cotton, mills, and strikes. I would have never expected to be interested in such a movie...but I was.

I also would have never expected to fall for Mr. Thornton after the harsh way he was introduced. But I did. :)

In short, I absolutely loved it. It was a beautiful movie. And the

This is a little thing, but I also loved that so many of the characters' voices seemed to sound a little Irish (?), even though they're English. Maybe it's just that people from different parts of England sound differently? Anyway, I loved almost everyone's voices. :)

And I loved seeing a few familiar faces! Yay, Higgins/John Bates/Brendan Coyle and Fred/Frank Churchill/Rupert Evans! :)

So yes, I ended up buying the Elizabeth Gaskell collection from Amazon since they knocked the price down. And even though I've been failing my new year's resolution to cut back book/DVD purchases, I confess that I am so happy I bought this set. It's the only way I could get my hands on North and South, because we don't have Netflix and our library doesn't have the series.

So far, I have been so impressed with the BBC adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell's work. (I've never read any of her books- I think I need to!) The set also includes Cranford, which I'm so excited about rewatching, and Wives and Daughters, which I've never seen and hope it is as good as these other two! :)

Until next time,

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Move.

I love this.

Until next time,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My favorite.

As a single girl, I'm not very fond of Valentine's Day. Still, I never waste an opportunity to watch my favorite chick flicks and eat a massive amount of chocolate (yes, even more than usual).

Tomorrow, I have classes all day. My Valentine's Day will be spent listening to lectures, playing with kids during internship, and practicing CPR. Since I won't be able to squeeze in any movies during all of that fun, I've been trying to get in some chick flicks over the past few days. I watched the first two Anne of Green Gables movies. And yesterday, I watched 2005 Pride and Prejudice.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you've probably noticed that I talk about this movie a lot. But it's been a while since I gushed (in length) about it, so in celebration of Valentine's Day, here we go.

Here's how I discovered this story (and Jane Austen). Back in 2005, I heard about this movie. I thought it sounded interesting, but since I knew it was based on a book, I decided to read the book first. I checked out a Penguin copy of the book from the library, one that had really nice notes that explained all of this unusual speech to me, a Regency newbie. In March of 2006, I finally got to see the movie. I remember this date because I was so completely smitten with the movie that I actually wrote about it in my journal. :)

And the 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice" has been my favorite movie ever since. Seriously, my favorite. And that's saying a lot, because you guys know how much I love movies.

I've watched it so many times that it's sort of ingrained in me. I realized, while watching it last night, that I know a lot of the lines by heart. There are certain lines that I can hear in my head, and picture the character saying, because of the distinctive way they're said (like Mr. Darcy, during the rejected proposal, saying, "Mr. Wickham!" very quickly when Lizzy brings him up, or Lady Catherine's voice when she says, "I have never been thus treated in my entire life!").

Poor Mary, always wearing dark dresses and looking a little like a bat while her sisters wear pastels. :)

And yet, almost every time I watch, I notice something that I've noticed before. I think that's the sign of an incredibly made movie. :)

I know there's a lot of fuss over which you prefer- this one or the BBC (aka, Colin Firth) one. For me, there's no question. The BBC version may follow along more closely to the book, and you guys know how obsessive I am over such things. :) But compared to this one, it seems a little bland. The 2005 P&P is gorgeous in every way: the scenery, music (one of the best soundtracks ever!), cinematography, the colors, costumes, everything. Plus, to me, it's very clever and humorous, more true to Jane Austen's novel in spirit.

And then there's the ending. Go ahead and swoon, girls. If there was ever a time, it's at the end of this movie (by the way, I consider "the end" to be from the misty encounter in the field until the credits roll). wallet is a tribute to that scene. That's how much I love it. :)

So...tell me the truth. Which version of Pride and Prejudice is your favorite?

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow! Here's one of my favorite love songs:

Until next time,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I Read: January

Inspired by Mindy's post, I've decided to put up a post at the end of each month, telling about the books that I read that month.

In the past, I have put up real reviews of some books, but others have gotten pushed to the back and never really even mentioned, even if they were incredible books! So this way, every book gets recognized. :) I'll still do some lengthier reviews, as well. are the books I read in January (sorry I'm a bit late :):

Fancy Pants, by Cathy Marie Hake

A very sweet, funny story about a girl (Sydney) who escapes an arranged marriage by taking refuge at her uncle's ranch/farm and masquerading as a boy (Syd). Very enjoyable!

The Silent Governess, by Julie Klassen

I loved this book! I really meant to write a real review of it. It was very Jane Austenish/Jane Eyreish, and pretty much perfect. I couldn't put it down when I got started. To read a real review of its awesomeness, check out Ruth's great review here. :)

The Truth About Dating, Love, and Just Being Friends, by Chad Eastham

You guys can read all about this one here.

Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones

Okay, I really wish I had written a review about Save the Date like I intended to. I was so excited about this book! Jenny B. Jones has turned out to be one of my favorite authors. Not only is she ridiculously hilarious, but apparently she also has some serious snow dancing skills. I was hoping that Save the Date would live up to her other wonderful books, and it definitely did. I loved the plot, the humor, Lucy's love for vintageness, the theme that everyone can relate to, and especially the characters of Clare and Julian. So now I have to go reread Just Between You and Me and the Charmed Life series and anxiously await her next book. :)

My Life in France, by Julia Child

I loved this book. And I really didn't expect to. I got it from the library back during my European travel crisis a few weeks ago. I mostly got it because of the focus on France, not because I know anything about cooking. I knew what Julia Child looked like and had heard her famous voice, but I didn't really know anything about her. This book is fascinating! It's mostly about the years that Julia and her husband lived in France and how she came to love French cooking, but it covers up through the time that she cowrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking and began filming her TV show The French Chef.

I especially loved the first half- with her detailed reflections of her beloved France. And the seemed that I always ended up reading this book close to a meal time, and her descriptions made me hungry (most of them, anyway :). The second half lags a little as she writes about writing the famous cookbooks, but you have to appreciate the detail and devotion she showed in making the books perfect (sometimes testing out recipes a dozen times just to be sure!).

I loved reading about her relationship with her husband, Paul. Their relationship seemed so comfortable and their love for each other comes across beautifully. And his gorgeous photographs are scattered throughout the book, adding to her descriptions. In short, this book gave me information about France, a peek into Julia Child's fascinating life, and *gasp* more interest in and appreciation for cooking.

Well, that's it for January. I guess in a couple of weeks it'll be time for the February list! :)

Until next time,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Some movie cheesiness.

I have a confession: I love the movie A Walk to Remember.

I know, I know. It's cheesy, unrealistic, and seems to encourage missionary dating (which I do not encourage). Then there's the language and other content scattered throughout.

But I really do love it. I don't watch it often, but when I do, I'm always reminded of how much I like it. And how many sweet, romantic moments there are. And how important it is to keep a box of tissues nearby. And how much I love Switchfoot! And how I will get "Only Hope" stuck in my head for days.

It's hard for me to admit that I actually like this movie. It's such a "teen" movie, for a lack of better word- the type of movie that I normally avoid. It's easier for me to confess to watching Disney animated films than A Walk to Remember. :)

Another one of those teen movies that I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I like is "The Princess Diaries." :) I was 10 when it came out...I loved it then, and I love it now.

Don't look so shocked and disgusted, okay? :)

Mia still makes me laugh with her antics during princess lessons. And I can totally relate to her overweight cat, frizzy hair, and nauseous reaction to public speaking.

What are some movies that you guys feel a little silly about enjoying?

Until next time,