Monday, December 31, 2012

The new year.

I get so excited about the new year. It's the only time I find the unknown thrilling instead of terrifying. :) With a big, beautiful new year in front of me, I feel like anything could happen. I feel like I could do anything. I'm so full of ideas and inspiration that I think I might explode.

I make lists and move around the furniture in my room and reorganize things (strange behavior for someone who hates change).

My big list for 2013 is similar to last year's, but different, too (here is the last one, if you're interested).

Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

2013 Resolutions

-Read at least 80 books. I don't think I'll have a problem with this one. :)
-Read all unread books I own. This will be harder. Because that list is currently 68 books long. Good grief.
-Reread all of Jane Austen's works. One a month would be nice. And not just her major novels, but the unfinished ones and the juvenile writings.
-Reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've only read the entire trilogy through once.
-Spend no more than $20 each month on books. I realized this year that a money limit will work better for me than a quantity limit. :) Because I buy so many books at thrift stores or bargain stores for approx. $4 or less. This makes more sense: it basically limits me to 1 or 2 truly new books a month, or more "new" used ones.

-Watch all unseen films I own. Like the many classic movies on VHS I was given that are currently tucked away under my bed. And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has been sitting unwatched on my shelf for over a year now!
-Monthly purchase limit: 1 new release, or 2 older, inexpensive DVDs.

-Use up all the apparel fabric yardage in my stash. I have ideas for how to use most of it, anyway...I just haven't followed through yet.
-Try out at least three new clothing sewing patterns.
-Sew myself a bag that I really love. I have an idea for this, too, based off one I saw on Etsy.

{The resolutions from last year, like planning out my garment sewing and focusing on process and quality more, still apply. I just found that I needed more specific sewing goals- those were a bit vague.}

Other Crafting:
-Knit myself a pair of socks. The first pair went to my mom. :)
-Knit myself a sweater.
-Learn how to crochet.
-Spin enough yarn for a knitting project. Not a huge project...maybe a scarf or fingerless gloves or something.
-Experiment with natural dyeing (with yarn). Very excited about that!

-Keep a purchase notebook. Just like this year.
-Walk outside at least four days a week.
-Memorize one Bible verse a week.
-Save $10 each week.
-Give money to a worthy cause each month. Whether it's Abort73 or one of Compassion's special funds or something else. I'm not setting a certain amount because it will vary every month.
-Learn how to cook. For real this year. :) Especially things like meat, which are terrifying to me because if I don't cook them right, they will not only taste bad but could make people sick. Cooking is a scary business, you guys. :) I worked a bit this year on overcoming my fear of knives, but that could use more work, too.

These aren't exactly on my list (I ran out of room on my paper! :), but I also want to be more consistent with praying, reading my Bible, and journaling.

And I want to learn how to grow things without killing them. :) I want to plant some herbs to use for dyeing and maybe help my parents with the garden.

Did you make any resolutions for 2013? What were they?

P.S. If you're wondering why I didn't make more health-related resolutions, I give you one of my favorite quotes from The Hobbit film.

 Until next time,

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In 2012.

2012 was a strange year, I think. It was a quiet sort of year, in which my family had some celebrations but a lot of heartbreak, too {it seems to have been that way for a lot of people}. These are a few things that stand out to me, in the rough order that they happened:

-I finally finished my very first quilt! It took me about five months and quite a bit of frustration, but I love it. It's been on my bed since the day I finished it.

-I participated in an embroidery swap for the first time. It was so much fun.

-My little brother got married. How did that happen?? I feel old.

-I started sponsoring a child through Compassion. I know I haven't written about this here, but it's been a really amazing experience for me. Getting a letter from Aida, a beautiful little girl in Bolivia, completely makes my day (it just doesn't happen enough! It takes at least two months for letters to get back and forth).

-My aunt Betty passed away after a seven month fight with a brain tumor.

-I faced my fears and knit a pair of socks for the first time (more on that in a later post!).

-I started learning how to spin yarn.

You might remember my big lofty list of resolutions for 2012. And here comes the rather icky part of making resolutions: admitting if I was able to keep them or not. :)

I was actually doing really well until about June or July. I was only buying two books a month, walking religiously five days a week, not buying many DVDs at all, finishing my quilt, and getting Mom to give me cooking lessons. Everything was going beautifully.

But then it wasn't. :) Summer is really not my favorite time of the year at all. It's awfully humid and I quit walking consistently because I hate mosquitoes and snakes and other things that summer includes. Then I started buying more books. Then I broke down and bought the entire Lark Rise to Candleford series on DVD. And it was mostly downhill from there. {Confession is good for the soul, right?}

But there were quite a few things that I did accomplish! I finished my quilt. I didn't knit a sweater or learn how to crochet, but I spend most of the year obsessed with improving my knitting (besides other things, I made my Penelope scarf and learned how to knit socks).

I was more diligent and careful about the clothing that I sewed. I made garments that I've been wanting to make for quite a while. In total, I sewed seven items of clothing for myself this year. The red blouse, the denim skirt, another swing dress, a blue blouse, my Penelope coat, and two Crepe dresses. The only failures were the Crepe dresses- the fabric I chose was wrong for them and the fit wasn't flattering on me. That's why there are no pictures of them. :)

I kept a notebook with every single purchase I made this year. It was very eye-opening. {Ironically, success with this resolution showed me how badly I failed on my book limit. Because I have every book I purchased documented. I bought 55 books and 6 picture books this year. Ouch! To be fair, a huge majority of those were thrift store or bargain bookstore purchases that only cost a couple of dollars or less.}

I didn't learn how to cook very much, but I did try out a few new things and started a recipe box. Under my mom's guidance, I made my first meatloaf. :)

I tried to declutter and get rid of some things. I weeded out my bookshelves, records, and DVDs. I sold some of them on eBay, traded in others for an Amazon gift card (which I used to buy another book *ahem*), gave some to Goodwill, and donated several of the books to our town's new Little Free Library.

So overall, it might sound like I failed miserably with my 2012 resolutions, but I'm pretty happy with how I did. I learned that writing out very specific rules is helpful to me, as it tacking them on the wall right above my desk where I see them every single day. :) I also realized that if, on Sunday nights, I write a list of things I want to accomplish over the next week, it helps me a lot.

I've already written out my 2013 goals...I'll be sharing them in my next post. :)
How was 2012 for you? Did you follow through with some of your resolutions?
P.S. Speaking of books, my family is only encouraging my addiction. I got these for Christmas. This is what comes from finding amazing cheap books while thrifting all year and not so subtly requesting them as Christmas gifts (and having an Amazon wish list :). This is also why I'm begging my dad for a built-in bookcase in a corner of my room.
Also, I don't think I've mentioned this before, but all year I've been collecting little bits and pieces of the Corelle Crazy Daisy (also called Spring Blossom Green) dishes while thrifting. For Christmas, my mom and grandma gave me so many pieces that I very nearly have a whole set (except for bowls. I can never figure out why bowls always seem more likely to be missing from dish sets). I think they're so cute. If they look familiar, it's because your grandma probably had these dishes at one point or another. :) Both of mine did, apparently.
And three of the Pyrex nesting bowls to match!

{No, there's no Mr. Right yet and I'm not planning a wedding or a home or anything. I'm just collecting. That's why it's called a hope chest, right? :) }

Until next time,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best of 2012: Movies (and TV)

This year was a good one for movies. Here are my favorite films that I saw this year- mostly new releases, but a few older ones I came across.

The Hobbit

Bilbo is a thousand times better than Frodo. I'm sorry, but it's true. This was a lovely film. Read my review here.

The Hunger Games

Quite possibly the best book-to-film adaptation I have ever seen. I wrote about it here.

Mirror, Mirror

What can I say? I'm a sucker for colorful, cheesy retold fairy tales. My parents took me to see this one on my birthday (posted here).


Not my favorite Pixar film by any means, but still really good. Reviewed here.

The Artist

A "new" black and white silent film? I was in heaven. I wrote about it here.

While You Were Sleeping

When I watched While You Were Sleeping for the first time this year, I felt the exact same way I felt when I discovered You've Got Mail last year...where have you been all my life and how did I go this long without finding you? :) I adore this movie. I never, ever thought I would have a crush on the dad from Casper, but it happened. I got the DVD for Christmas and it was one of my favorite gifts...I watched it Christmas night.

And now for a bit of TV:

Once Upon a Time

Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, I finally caught up on my Once Upon a Time viewings. This show is awesome. {I am three episodes behind right now, because of my computer being broken, but I will watch them on Hulu before they expire.}

Doctor Who

2012 will forever be remembered as the year I found Doctor Who. I'm smitten with this show, and I'm only three and a half seasons in. I'm planning a Doctor Who post soon...

What were your favorite movies of the year?

Until next time,

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012: Books

Hey, guys! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I did! I got to spend a lot of time with family (including some who I don't get to see very often) and eat too much good food. I was blessed with some really awesome gifts, including a stack of books, but more on that in a later post.

It's that time again...the time when bloggers, myself included, feel the need to write these end-of-the-year posts. :) I'll be writing about my favorite movies of the year, how I did with my 2012 resolutions, and my new goals for 2013. But for now, I want to talk about books.

I set myself a goal to read at least 80 books this year. So far I've read 94, though I'm pretty sure it will hit 95 over the weekend (my list is here). Twenty of those were rereads, which wasn't bad, but I was hoping to revisit more of my favorites this year. These were some of my favorite books I read for the first time this year (keep in mind that these were not necessarily published in 2012).

I realize that pretty much all but four of the above books are YA or children's books. What can I say? I didn't read very many "grown up" books this year. But I did read a lot of amazing middle-grade stuff. I read or reread three lovely series: the Chronicles of Narnia, Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern, and The Mysterious Benedict Society series.

You might remember that I started off this year keeping track of what I read in this book journal. Well, the special journal itself was a nice idea that didn't work out so well. There was too much space inside for things I didn't want to write about, and not enough space for what I did want to write about. So in 2013, I'll still be keeping a book journal, but in a pretty blank notebook so I can do things my own obsessive way. :)

If you're wondering how I did with my other bookish resolutions this year, stay tuned. I'll confess all my failures in a later post. :)

What were the best books you discovered this year? And just out of curiousity, what was the worst book you read in 2012? For me, it would be The Casual Vacancy (more about that here).
Until next time,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Yesterday it started snowing. Tiny, slow snowflakes, not really even a flurry. Frank Sinatra was on the radio singing "Let It Snow." And for about five glorious minutes, I hoped that we might have a white Christmas.

Then it stopped.

But that's okay. :) Because this is honestly my favorite time of the year, whether we have snow or not. Everything feels sparkly and magical, and there's a brand new year to look forward to and I'm full of ideas and inspiration.

I won't be posting again until after Christmas. So I just wanted to wish all of you guys a very merry Christmas! I hope you have a lovely time spent with your family and friends.

Until next time,

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Hobbit.

I was about ten years old when the first of the Lord of the Rings movies came out, so of course I didn't get to see them in theaters. Not that I was a fan back then, anyway. :) But later I fell in love with the movies and read The Hobbit and the trilogy (I'm going to get around to reading the trilogy again sometime- hopefully next year! I lose steam as I go along. I've read FOTR three or four times, TT twice, and ROTK only once).

So I was thrilled when I found out they were finally making The Hobbit into a film! Or, as is the case, three films (more on that later). I was going to get to wave my nerd flag and see it in theaters. :)

And I loved it. It was such an awesome movie, but I'm really bad at writing any sort of reviews, so bear with me. :)

The scenery was gorgeous and made me want to hop a plane to New Zealand. The casting was perfect. I was worried about being able to keep all of the dwarves straight at first, but their individual personalities definitely shine through (though I do have problems matching the dwarves' names with their faces).

And Bilbo? He's awesome.

I have a little confession: I've always thought that Frodo was a wimp.

He is, isn't he? Honestly? Sam is the hero of LOTR, in my opinion. Frodo never would have made it without him. He was a little better in the books, but in the movies he's always pale and rolling around on the ground, gasping for breath and letting his eyes roll back in his head. 

But Bilbo- he's brave and surprising and generally about a thousand times better than his nephew. And this was exactly how I imagined him. {Old Frodo and younger Frodo even look alike.}

And Thorin. I never doubted that he would be awesome, but he was perfectly brave and honorable and angsty. And handsome. My mom said he was a handsome dwarf and I told her if she thinks he was handsome as a dwarf, just wait until she sees him in North and South. :) I've been after her and my dad to watch that for the longest time, anyway.

And Gollum was even creepier than he used to be. {I didn't think that was possible.} I guess technology does improve a lot over ten to twelve years. Gollum wasn't that different, I don't think, but he seemed it. Creepier but...more human, maybe? His face was definitely more human and that played in really well with Bilbo having pity for him.

So what didn't I like? Not much, really. :) I was a little disappointed with some of the additions, particularly the extra battle scenes. The Hobbit is supposed to be a a bit lighter, fairytale-ish, humorous, and whimsical than LOTR. My mom doesn't like the trilogy because of all of the fighting, and I had convinced her that there wouldn't be much fighting until the end of the last film! So much for that. :) The Pale Orc with the grudge against Thorin wasn't necessary. I didn't expect this movie to be so dark. Also, the kooky woods wizard with the hedgehogs and such? I felt like I was in a completely different movie for a few minutes there. It completely threw me off. At first all of the backstory at the beginning felt like it wasn't needed, but it didn't bother me so much later.

But parts of the movie did have a light feeling, especially at the beginning before Bilbo leaves his home. I loved the scenes with the dwarves at Bag End. And the dwarves singing- I was so happy they left those bits in! It was lovely and their second song gave me chills. {There were some guys behind us who apparently thought the whole movie was a comedy. They laughed long and loud and spots that I don't think were meant to be that funny.}

Overall, The Hobbit was completely magical and I loved it. But now we have to wait another whole year?? I don't think they needed three films to tell this story. One would have been doable...two would have been plenty of time. Three? Well, we'll see. I'm not going to complain about another chance to see something Lord of the Rings-related in theaters. :)

Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think?

Until next time,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The very best Christmas films.

I'm sorry my Christmas posts (or any posts, rather) have been lacking lately! I spent the past week in a mad Christmas crafting rush, but I am pleased to say that all of my handmade gifts are officially finished. :) They're wrapped and under the tree and I'm left with a burnt fingertip (from the iron) and a blister on my hand (from metal knitting needles. Which is why I much prefer bamboo!). I can't even tell you how many episodes of Full House I've watched during my crafting marathons. But now I can relax and drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies and listen to my records.

{Also, my computer is still being repaired. And blogging on my parents' computer is more complicated. But hopefully I'll be getting it back today or at the beginning of next week.}

For now, I'm going to repost this from last year: my absolute favorite Christmas moves.

Christmas in Connecticut

"It's catastroph!" "Cook your own kidneys." Uncle Felix gives us these and other hilarious quotes in this film. I hesitate to pick an absolute favorite Christmas movie. But this may be it. I adore this movie! It's sweet and funny. And I'll admit that I have such a crush on Jefferson Jones. :)

White Christmas

A lot of people compare White Christmas and Holiday Inn. I can't really do that, because they're two totally different films! They only thing they have in common is Bing Crosby and the song. While White Christmas has its share of slightly creepy dance numbers...or maybe I should just say one slightly creepy dance number. Choreography. Ugh. But really, I love the rest of the songs. I love Bing and Rosemary, and Vera Ellen is an amazing dancer. Danny Kaye is not my favorite. But I love both versions of Sisters (ha :), and if you don't get a bit emotional at the end, you have a two-sizes-too-small-Grinchy heart.

Holiday Inn

Really sweet and a bit more elegant (somehow? Maybe because of Fred Astaire) than White Christmas. It doesn't have to be classified as only a Christmas film, because it covers practically every holiday in the year. Anyway, I love it. :) Even the odd holiday-themed songs are awesome and catchy.'s Irving Berlin! A genius.

The Shop Around the Corner

The original In the Good Old Summertime/You've Got Mail. It is so sweet but a little darker than the two remakes. Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are too adorable together. And Jimmy Stewart is quite possibly the most likable guy onscreen ever.

In the Good Old Summertime

I watch this movie all year long. Because I seriously love it and it's one of my most favorite musicals ever. :) It's hilarious, the songs are all lovely, and Judy Garland and Van Johnson are amazing. The end scene in the shop on Christmas Eve gives me chills because it's so romantic. Actually, it has me giggling one moment {"The way he lets those few hairs in the back grow long and combs them up over his head, coming down behind his ears. It's ingenious, really. And after all, that's what you want in a husband isn't it?"} and swooning the next. :)

Miracle on 34th Street

A really sweet Christmas film if you don't mind a mostly-Santa-plot. I only saw it for the first time two years ago, but I don't know what on earth took me so long. :) I love the ending and how things work out in the courtroom and with Susan's wish.

Meet Me in St. Louis

Not necessarily just a Christmas film, but the Christmas scene is probably my favorite part. :) This is one of those musicals that definitely had to grow on me. But beside the fact that there isn't much plot and you have to really suspend your disbelief for certain parts, it really is a classic musical. There are a ton of great songs and funny moments, and if the film had nothing else to offer, there's always Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien.

The Bishop's Wife

A very charming film starring Cary Grant. Who, I have to admit, could make just about anything charming. :) This is one of those films that I don't exactly look forward to rewatching at Christmas, but it always ends up being better than I remembered. It's worth watching just for the infamous ice skating scene. In it, there's this awful stunt double posing as Cary Grant skating. He's actually a very good skater, but it's awful due to the fact that he looks nothing like Cary Grant. :) One of the worst cases of matching up a double with a star ever, in my opinion. But it's hilarious to watch, though I don't think they intended it to be.

It's a Wonderful Life

Who cares if it's cliche? This is classic, slightly cheesy Capra (I believe it's called Capra-corn). And I love it. I watch it every Christmas Eve and shake my fist at evil Henry Potter and shed tears at George Bailey's revelations. And have "Buffalo Gals" stuck in my head for days afterwards. And that's all I have to say about that.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I love the Peanuts gang. And Christmas just isn't Christmas without Pigpen ruining the little red haired girl's naturally curly hair or lipsy Linus giving his birth of Jesus recitation.

You've Got Mail

Now moving on to more modern Christmas films...if you watch the original and the musical remake, you've got to see You've Got Mail, too. Part of it does take place at Christmas, after all.

The Santa Clause

The first one only. The sequel is just okay, and the third one is ugh. I grew up watching the first one. Except for a couple of cuss words and a few other comments, it really is a good modern Christmas film. It's funny {I also grew up watching Home Improvement, so maybe that's why I think Tim Allen is so funny in this. But I think it's hilarious when he says that the reindeer all look like they have Key Lime disease. :) } Charlie is adorable, too. And Scott Calvin's gradual (and sometimes not so gradual) change into Santa is great. I really love this movie.


"I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite." If you haven't seen this movie, you are really missing out. This is one of the few films that makes me laugh until my guts hurt, no matter how many times I see it. Will Ferrell steals every single scene he's in as the naive and hilarious Buddy. I can't even begin to mention my favorite lines or parts. My family also finds ways to reference this movie a lot...whether it's repeating Francisco over and over or mentioning that my finger has a heartbeat. Besides the huge amounts of funny, this film also has great songs and introduced me to both Zooey Deschanel and the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

While You Were Sleeping

I only discovered this movie this year, but it's tied with You've Got Mail for my favorite 90s romantic comedy. they're pretty much the only two 90s romantic comedies I like, but I really love this one. :) It's cheesy and sappy and not very believable but I love it. And it begins on Christmas day! I haven't bought it yet, but this week will mark the third time I've got it through Netflix. :)

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Until next time,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Books (and other things) I'm excited about.

It seems like lately there have been so many new books coming out that I really want to read. And they're mostly sequels or conclusions to series I've read. Here are some of the books I'm looking forward to reading...

Reached. I have mixed feelings about this trilogy, to be honest. Matched was one of the first dystopian stories I ever read. I read it even before I read The Hunger Games trilogy. And I loved it. Then this year, I reread it and read the second book, Crossed, and I was pretty disappointed. The first one wasn't as good as I remembered, and the second one was a bit dull. But for some reason, I'm really excited about the last book.

Son. I've actually only read The Giver (which I loved), and that was a couple of years ago. But I've collected the second and third books from thrift stores and hope to read them soon. So of course I'll have to read the final book. :)

Shades of Earth. I really enjoyed Across the Universe (gorgeous cover, too), and I've had a copy of A Million Suns for months now. But I've been holding back on reading it until the final book is released next month, because I've heard the end of the second one has a big cliffhanger. And that drives me crazy. :)

Under Wildwood. I liked the first Wildwood book quite a bit. I had heard it described as very Narnian, but I didn't really see that (of course I may be biased...the Narnia books are perfection :). It was pretty long, and the writing style was overwhelming. But it was quirky and had some very memorable parts. Overall, it's a good woodsy adventure story.

As for other things I'm very excited about The Hobbit film coming out next week? I just finished rereading the book and had forgotten how good it was, so now I'm even more excited. :) Also, I'm feeling a little less nervous about there being three films, because I hope that means they'll include all of the lovely details of the book.

And Downton Abbey! I need to rewatch the first two seasons before January. I saw a gorgeous (and very expensive) Downton Abbey book at Target the other day that reminded me of how awesome the series is. :)

Any books or films (or anything else) you're looking forward to? Please share...I'm always looking for recommendations. :)

Until next time,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas time.

Felt tree brooch made from this tutorial. Because I needed a Christmas brooch. :)

A sight I've seen in pictures and movies but never in real life: a Christmas tree strapped to the top of a vehicle. In this case, a cedar cut on our farm, tied with hay twine to the top of the farm Jeep.

Our massive cedar tree.

Yes, that's my Abominable Snowman ornament.

Since I can't string lights on my aluminum tree, I put some up in my room. I think this might become a year-round look.

{My computer died over the weekend and is in the repair shop now. I'm using my parents' computer for some things, but after I publish the few posts I had written already, things may be quiet around here until I hopefully get mine back.}

Until next time,