Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Waiting Place.

A few years ago, I realized that it seems I'm always waiting for something. I think it's like that with a lot of us...We're waiting to graduate high school. We're waiting to graduate college. We're waiting to find Mr. Right and get married. We're waiting to start a family. We're waiting for a time when things are better, when everything falls into place. But our lives are happening now. And if we keep waiting for someday, we're going to miss out.

So the premise of this book drew me in: Eileen Button writes twenty-two short essays about the waiting times in her life, and about how we can find beauty in the waiting places if we look.

(Isn't the cover gorgeous?)

This was a sweet, deeply honest and personal book. Some of the essays are hilarious, and others are heartbreaking. Some of my favorites were: Love Is... (I am waiting for a sign.), the ones about the birth of her son Jordan, Redeeming the BVM (I am waiting for my father-in-law to dispose of Mother Mary.), Windblown Tails (I am waiting for my children to grow up.), Wigmom (I am waiting for my mother to accept me.), and Letting Stella Go (I am waiting for a ride.). I really recommend it!

The one and only qualm I had with this book was in one essay where the author says that being a wife and mother wasn't enough for her, and her "career was sitting in the basement in a cardboard box." I believe that being a wife and mother is about the most important God-given job any woman can have, so I was a little disappointed with that.

Until next time,

*I received this book free for review from Booksneeze. I'm only required to write an honest review, not necessarily a positive one.*

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Moss, chocolate, and Pottermore.

I spent this morning gardening. Ha.

Maybe I should say terrariuming? If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am not one of those people who has a green thumb. After my attempts at growing such supposedly indestructible plants like bamboo, I finally resorted to terrariums, which I fell in love with after watching Penelope.

I like plants and flowers- I really do. They're beautiful and fascinating. And there's something so charming and magical about little moss hills living behind glass walls. Like a lovely little world in a tiny jar.

And terrariums are so simple to make and to keep alive. Get a pretty jar. Put some nice rocks and some activated charcoal (if you have it. I don't) in the bottom for the drainage system. Add some dirt and arrange some bright green moss on top of the dirt. Keep the lid on it and spritz it once a month with some water. You can even get whimsical and add little items inside to make a scene (toadstools, gnomes, etc.- Etsy has some adorable things).

I bought two jars at Hobby Lobby the other day when they were 50% off...I think one was $3.50 and one was $2? This one is a small version of my previous terrarium.

This time instead of digging up moss at the creek, I just got some out of yard and the edge of the woods near our house. We have moss everywhere here. :)

My mom has some hen and chicks (hens and chickens? You know what I mean), and one was growing out of the container so I took it out and put it in this other jar. Since this is an actual plant and not moss, I'm honestly not counting on it living very long. :)

 My first terrarium was miraculously still alive, but pretty brown looking. So I took out the old moss and replaced it with some bright pretty moss. I also put in a small hen and chicks plant, but that probably won't work out because according to Wikipedia they don't like too much moisture.

I also picked some flowers from my mom's flower beds and put them in my antique blue Mason jar. Like I said, I don't know what it is, but flowers and glass go together.

{One of my lovely Black Apple prints shown.}

In other news, this is my second day without any chocolate. It's a little bit of a personal challenge for myself. The other day, after scarfing down approx. 6 of those chewy Target-brand chocolate chip cookies, it hit me that I might have a little bit of a problem. You think? I'm not cutting out chocolate for good. I'm just trying to take a little break and when I start eating it again, it definitely needs to be less than what I've been eating. It's probably all in my head, but I think I'm having withdrawal symptoms. I'm constantly hungry and I've even been craving fruit (I must be hungry!). Yesterday, I probably would have paid $5 for a Reese's cup (there are actually some downstairs in the candy drawer. Which I've been avoiding). Today I almost forgot about chocolate when I saw these.

In bigger news, Pottermore! It actually sounds pretty interesting, considering it's an online thing instead of a real book encyclopedia (which is what I was hoping for, but not expecting). What I want to know is, who decides which people get to try it on July 31st and which people have to wait until October?

Until next time,

Saturday, June 18, 2011


A few little things that have made me smile over the past few days:

1. Today I saw a man that my parents know. I've met him before, and he has always seemed strangely familiar to me, but I couldn't quite figure it out. Then today, as soon as I saw him, it hit me: he looks like Frank Sinatra. Older Sinatra (see below). A lot like him. And he even has a northern accent (what we call a Yankee accent around here :), like Frankie. When I explained this to my dad, he laughed but admitted that it's true.

P.S. I love Frank Sinatra. I don't think I've talked about him too much lately. Maybe I'll do a post about him soon.

2. When we ran into the grocery store today, they were playing a She & Him song over the speakers. Totally unexpected, but a pleasant surprise.

3. Audrey Hepburn. Most specifically in How to Steal a Million, which I finally saw the other day and loved! I'll probably do a post about it after I watch it again (soon).

Audrey is so gorgeous. Even with the odd 60s hair. For a long time, I've had a sort of prejudice against the 1960s. It was a kind of strange decade, right? I've never been into the hippie/"peace"/drug-related/rebellious aspects of the culture that I've always associated with the 60s. But I think I'm slowly overcoming my dislike for that decade by realizing that those years weren't all about those things. Some really good music and movies came out of the 60s, anyway, and sometimes I have a weird craving for a movie that is obviously from that quirky era.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elinor and Marianne.

Today I finally got to see the 2008 BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility...I loved it. Maybe even more than the ever-popular 1995 version? :)

The casting was perfect. I realized today that I'm familiar with so many more British actors and actresses than I am American ones (living ones, I mean. I'm not talking about classic film stars). That's because most of the "modern" films I watch are British period dramas. :) And I love seeing familiar faces and trying to remember where I've seen them before! IMDB is very helpful when I get stuck.

First of all, I ♥ Elinor and Edward. I know I've mentioned this before, but Elinor is probably the Austen character that I relate the most to. And I adore Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars! He is such an improvement over the awkward Hugh Grant. The only other thing I had ever seen Dan Stevens in was Downton Abbey, and let me say that he looks much more handsome with darker hair. :) This Elinor's voice sometimes reminded me of Emma Thompson. I do love Emma Thompson as Elinor, but I liked Hattie Morahan, too (and according to IMDB, she's engaged to Blake Ritson, also known as Mr. Elton in 2009 Emma and Edmund in the newer Mansfield Park...interesting connection!).

I also loved the casting of Marianne and Colonel Brandon. And Willoughby was a scoundrel, like he should be (I know that a lot of people feel some pity/affection for Willoughby, but I've never really liked him).

And I loved the youngest Dashwood sister, Margaret. It was probably a tie with how she was portrayed in the 1995 version. I knew that this young girl looked familiar...I was trying to put her in the live action Peter Pan movie. But the names didn't match up. Then I realized she's the "young Beatrix" in Miss Potter.

The Steeles cracked me up. Especially the sister (not her sister's name Anne? I forget)- her voice and all her talk of beaus was hilarious. :) Also, I just realized that the familiar Robert Ferrars was Hamish from Alice in Wonderland.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Mr. Weasley!!

Besides all of the wonderful casting, I loved the rest of it as well. The scenery was gorgeous, the music was nice, and the pacing worked out well. It started off a little iffy- sort of scandalous for a Jane Austen film, but thankfully that was all of that.

So...which movie version of Sense and Sensibility do you prefer? Do you relate more to Elinor or Marianne? Do you crush on Edward or Colonel Brandon or even...*gasp* Willoughby?

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Win Her Heart.

When I pick up a book like this (Christian historical fiction romance...can someone please tell me a proper, shorter name for this genre?), there are a few things I usually look for. Number 1: Pretty cover. This isn't the most important thing, of course...but it is what draws you to the book, right? Number 2: A plot that sounds interesting. Number 3: A female main character that I can somewhat relate to.

To Win Her Heart, by Karen Witemeyer, passed all three areas. :) Very bright, attractive cover (even the back cover is pretty!), intriguing plot (a handsome blacksmith with a dark past?), and a heroine who runs a lending library (a fellow bookworm). Plus, the book had another advantage: I recently read the author's first book, A Tailor-Made Bride, and really enjoyed it.

I loved this book! It was humorous and engaging, and at the same time, very touching. The main focus is on the relationship between Eden Spencer, the librarian, and Levi Grant, the blacksmith, and with all of the ups and downs they have, that's enough in itself. But there are also interesting subplots that don't take away from the main plot but instead add to it. Eden and Levi themselves are both very likable and realistic. I've read so many historical romances lately that sometimes the heroes tend to blur together, but Levi definitely stands out as a memorable one. There's also a good, cringe-worthy villain- Sheriff Pratt (this is the second or third book I've read lately with a slimy sheriff, but I think this one was the slimiest). I really enjoy Karen Witemeyer's writing's a little different than most in this genre. I can't wait to read more of her books. :)

Until next time,

*Note: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. I'm not required to write a positive review, only an honest one.*

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh, Rob.

Have I expressed my love for The Dick Van Dyke Show lately? I don't think so.

You should know that I have a crush on Robert Petrie, the head writer of the Alan Brady Show. I like how he's such an incredibly graceful klutz. I like how his hair always looks perfect, but how it looks even nicer when it's mussed up. I like how he's a nice guy, sometimes a push-over, who tries to act tough when necessary but doesn't often succeed. I like how he speaks and sings. I like how, around the house, he wears those grandpa sweaters (for lack of a better word). I like that he's a tall string bean. I like how he wants to avoid conflict but will stand up when he has to.

But it's not just Rob Petrie...I love pretty much everything else about the show as well. The Dick Van Dyke Show is clever, hilarious, eloquent, and timeless.

I love how Rob trips over the step near the front door. And over ottomans. And stray toys.

I love how Richie {Rosebud} Petrie hides in cabinets and closets when he's little and always asks Rob what he brought home.

I love Buddy's cello playing and his jokes. And his wife, Pickles.

I especially love his bald jokes directed at Mel Cooley. And I love Mel's constant reply: a look of contempt and a "Yech!"

I love Alan Brady's obnoxiousness and his many toupees and hair pieces.

I love Sally's unusual voice (which I admit I found a little unsettling when I first started watching). And the inspirational proverbs by her Aunt Agnes. And Herman Glimscher.

I love the walnuts and Kolac from the planet Twilo.

I love all of the guest stars.

I love the theme song (did you know that Morey Amsterdam {Buddy} wrote lyrics for it?).

I love Jerry and Millie Helper.

I love the Twizzle. And its ability to get stuck in your head for days.

Some of my favorite episodes: Punch Thy Neighbor, I Am My Brother's Keeper, The Sleeping Brother, My Husband Is Not a Drunk, Gesundheit, Darling, A Man's Teeth Are Not His Own, That's My Boy?, 4 1/2, Stacey Petrie: Parts 1 and 2, Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth, and the Gunslinger.

So, how many of you guys are also fans of the show? If you are, I recommend reading Dick Van Dyke's new memoir: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. It's pretty good, and there's a chapter or so about the show in it. You can read my review here. If you've never seen an episode, what's wrong with you?? Just kidding. :) I think that a lot of the episodes are watchable online (maybe on Hulu and/or Youtube). Some of the episodes are public domain and available on those $1 DVDs that dollar stores have. Or you can save up and get them all on DVD (keep an eye on Amazon...the prices of the seasons go up and down very often). It's definitely worth it, I promise. :)

I also love this song. Well...the tune of it and Sally (Rose Marie) singing it. The lyrics are slightly too vengeful and mean for my taste. Still, I've had it stuck in my head ever since I watched this episode again a few days ago.

 Until next time,

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What I Read: May

These are the books I read this past month. :)

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, by Susan Veness
 I wrote about this one here.

 Michal, by Jill Eileen Smith
A bit slow at times, but overall an enjoyable read. I like novels that are based around Biblical events, because even though they're speculation and imagination, they help the people of the Bible seem more real and human. I didn't find Michal to be very likable for a large part of the book, but I was very happy with the ending!

Abigail, by Jill Eileen Smith
I enjoyed this one a lot more than Michal. I think that's because Abigail is a much more likable character! :) Some parts seemed slow to me, as with the previous book. I would rather read about Abigail and her life than David's battles and such, but I know both parts are necessary for the story. I was so impressed with how the author overlapped certain parts of the story with Michal- basically writing some of the same scenes, but from a different person's perspective. These two stories were interwoven together, and even when I was reading about something that happened in the first novel as well, I never felt that the author repeated herself. 

 By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Plum Creek, but it was still good. I do enjoy the books more now that Laura is getting older, and we had our first sort-of introduction to Almanzo Wilder in this one! We didn't really meet him yet, but he's mentioned in passing. :) Also, some time has passed from the previous book to this one, because at the beginning of this one, we learn that Mary is blind. One of the things I loved about the previous book was the family having neighbors nearby, or being "settled," as Ma would say. :)

The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The Long Winter really sucked me in! I read nearly all of it in an evening, sitting in my warm room with a fan blowing on me, but I honestly felt like I was with the Ingalls family, starving and freezing through blizzard after blizzard in the little town on the prairie. Before I started this one, I remember thinking that a book about a long winter must be pretty repetitive, but it wasn't really. Her writing style draws you in, especially with the descriptions that make you almost know how cold it really was (can you imagine waking up to find that the roof leaked in the night and you had to be shoveled out of the snow that covered your bed?). Almanzo Wilder has a bigger part in this story.

Little Town on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Loved this one! It's more of a cheerful return to the feel of the other books after the long winter. Some parts of it skim over months very quickly, but I loved seeing the Ingalls family living in town setting. Especially as the girls are "socializing" and getting older. Nellie Oleson makes a new appearance in this book, and the scenes with her and the schoolteacher make me cringe and feel almost as angry as Laura. :)

These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
Wow, a lot happened in this book! I loved it. :) It was a very sweet and fitting conclusion to the series. I'm not planning on reading "The First Four Years" yet. So I guess I'm finished with the Little House series (for now!), which is definitely bittersweet. I love these stories.

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
This was another reread for me. The Screwtape Letters is an incredibly eye-opening little book. It consists of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood, in which he gives advice for keeping his "patient" safely away from the Enemy (who, of course, is God from the demons' view). This was my third or fourth time reading this book, and each time I read it, I'm amazed at how insightful it is. In every chapter, the demons discuss something, some silly flaw of humans or a way that we think, that is so spot-on that I felt it must have been written about me.

The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure
 I wrote about this one here.

Dave at Night, by Gail Carson Levine
I didn't know what to expect from this book. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favorite authors, because I love her "retold" fairy tale stories. This book, her first, I think, is totally different...It takes place in 1920s Harlem, full of jazz and rent parties. Dave is an orphan sent to live in the Hebrew Home for Boys. The home itself and its administration are cruel, but he discovers a love (and talent for) art and a camaraderie with the other boys, who all call each other "buddy." He has a whole different life at night, when he sneaks out and makes friends with a rich young African American girl and encounters all sorts of famous people of the era. Of course, the plot and setting was vastly different from most of the author's books, but the writing style was much the same. I thought she did a great job writing from the viewpoint of a young boy, instead of a girl. I enjoyed this quick read.

Courting Trouble, by Deeanne Gist
Loved this book! Deeanne Gist has yet to disappoint me. I was intrigued by the blurb, which mentions that thirty year old Essie makes a list of eligible bachelors and randomly chooses one to pursue. This sounded like a romantic comedy-type premise, which it was at first. But I had no idea that her desire for a husband would lead to so much heartache. Due to a part of the plot, a section of this book is likely slightly more graphic than most Christian historical fiction novels are, but it's never inappropriate. I had no idea how things would turn out, and I thought to myself that I probably wouldn't read the sequel. Honestly, for the first half or so of the book, I couldn't relate to Essie very much. But that quickly changed, especially over the last few chapters. This book had a lesson that I truly needed, and towards the end Essie had some of the exact same thoughts I've had. I was so impressed, even with the end, which I know many people disliked because it's not your average "happy ending."

Until next time,

Friday, June 3, 2011

The good and the bad.

I go through crafting phases. In case you haven't noticed. :) Last week it was wallets and cozies. This week it was embroidery.

I started on my new Jane Austen-inspired cross stitch project. {You can buy the pattern here or here.}

Let me talk about cross stitching for a minute. I'm just now getting interested (unless you count the very little I did when I was about 10). At first, I thought it looked a little too 80s/90s country home-decorish for my taste...then I thought that it was too video game-pixelish (this was probably influenced by some awesome Mario cross stitching I came across). But a month or so ago, I started to like it.

So I bought a kit. It didn't go so great. {See photo below.} It's hard keeping up with so many colors, so I try to do all of each color as I go along. Of course, sometimes there will be a lot of that color all together. Then there will be like three little squares of that color way off randomly somewhere. And I'm not used to having to use a guide when I'm embroidering. I was almost scarred for life from cross stitching.

But...then, after a break, I started this new pattern. And I love it! One color at a time, or two at the most. Very simple and methodical. I'm a person who likes symmetry and order. I like counting perfect little squares and seeing the picture coming together quickly.

And I love Jane Austen. And Emma Woodhouse, though most people don't seem to. Emma is actually my second favorite Austen novel, after Pride and Prejudice. I like Emma. She's spoiled and misguided, but she means well. :) I think we would be friends.

And this, someday...hopefully, will be a picture of Pinocchio. I don't even like Pinocchio, to be honest. I only bought this one because I had big crafty plans to buy the large kits for Cinderella and Snow White after I finished this one. Ha. I don't see that happening anytime soon. So I wish I had bought the small kit for a Disney movie I actually liked.

Go ahead and laugh. I did. This is why I share not only my crafting successes, but also my crafting failures. Sometimes things just don't turn out like you planned. If you want to see what real progress on one of these kits looks like, check out Ruth's incredible Cinderella one. I might just send her mine to finish. :)

If you squint a little, it sort of looks like a baby with big eyes and a pacifier. Or not. That light brown on the left side is actually part of a tree, and the dark green half-circles are mountains. And I think the light brown in the bottom left corner is the inside of two rabbits' ears.

Yesterday, while watching movies, I also worked on these. I did the entire tree one yesterday, from a little drawing I've had for over a year now. And I finished up the ruby red slippers, which I had started on several weeks ago.

Filling in those slippers took forever.

And the backs. These two will be available in the Etsy shop soon- I've just got to take real pictures. :)

Until next time,