Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Funday

Do you ever do random little things that make no sense?  For example, yesterday evening I may or may not have had a mini photo shoot of Molly in our new/old chair.  Because I'm a nerd and obsessed with my dog and the new chair.  Oh well...just thought I'd share...

This is the "enhanced" Instagram version that's my favorite.

But, yes, I continued doing it...I couldn't help myself...

Oh well, now you know that I'm really weird.

And now, back to our normally scheduled programming...Friday Funday with my favorite pins of the week!

Projects I wanna make, like, yesterday...

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

The obligatory book referenced pin of the week...

And finally, a couple Christmas pins!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and Christmas...I can't promise I'll be blogging on Monday or Tuesday, so I thought I'd say it now!  Merry Christmas!

Next week I'll share my New Year's Resolutions that I've been contemplating...have you got any that you've been planning; you're just waiting for that first day to start over with a clean slate?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Around the House...

This past week has been a little hectic, simply because it's the week before Christmas, but I've also had a cold and add into that the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  Because of these three things, I haven't felt much up to blogging..sorry about that.

I haven't finished reading any books since I've been shopping, wrapping and trying not to cough on anything anyone else will end up touching (my husband included).  Do you know how hard it is to cook with a cold when you don't want the other person to get sick?  Let's just say, we've eaten food prepared outside of this home more often than usual this past week. 

And my heart is broken for those affected in Connecticut.  While David and I don't have any children, someday we do intend to have a family of our own and I can't even imagine...  It's been a very sobering week and yesterday I found out that a close family friend has a daughter and infant grandchild that lives in Newtown.  It's sad to think she was lucky because the child was too young to be attending school at this juncture in time.  The whole situation is a bit overwhelming and I feel that we, as a country, are in for an interesting few months while decisions are made on how to prevent mass shootings such as this. 

But, I don't want this post to completely drag everyone's emotions down in the is, after all, only 5 days until Christmas!  To steer us more towards the topic of this post, here's one thing I did this past week.

When I was organizing laundry, I decided to try something that I've been toying with for weeks now.  I'll preface this by explaining that, when I run out of hangers while doing laundry, I will cull my closet and donate the discarded items to a local charity.  David does not do this...he refuses.  There are, seriously, shirts he has on his side of the closet (that we've now moved twice) that I have NEVER seen him wear. 

A while back, either on The Chew or What Not to Wear (I can't remember which), Clinton Kelly said one way to thin out your closet was to turn all your hangers around during a season change, when you're moving your wardrobe around anyway.  Then, continue hanging them like normal as you wear and launder them.  He said this is a simply way to know what items are worn within a year's time.  If you haven't worn something within that year's allotted time, then Kelly says to get rid of it.

Now, obviously, with our more dressy outfits, I will not abide by this rule.  It's not very often David wears his suit and it's not very often that I get to wear my dressy dresses either.  So, those items are exempt...but, everything else?  Up for the chopping block!  Cross your fingers this works and David lets me cull his side of the closet at this time next year!

Secondly, I wanted to share with you how Christmas has come a little early around here.  Do you remember this chair that I got out of my great-great aunt's house?

Between the color, some spots on the fabric, a sagging cushion, etc. we knew this chair needed a little TLC.  But, I didn't know what to do.  And I have no idea how to reupholster anything.  My mom has reupholstered dining room chairs before, but nothing on this scale.  And tufting?  Fagetaboutit...  They're gorgeous, but neither one of us would even know where to start.

Well, I had initially decided that this was a project I was going to have to research and tackle myself.  After getting an estimate, we decided it was just cost prohibitive because of the tufting.  Let me just say that, now when I see a tufted chair/couch/ottoman or other piece of furniture, I have a whole new respect for the price!  For example, have you seen the couch on the sitcom Don't Trust the B in Apt 23?  Hello, want!!!

But, I digress a bit...I'd been throwing around some ideas I'd seen on Pinterest, but then a telemarketer representing a local upholsterer called my mom and he was trying to drum up some Christmas business with a nice sale.  After explaining what the chair looked like, meeting with him and so make a long story short, lookie what I picked up yesterday afternoon!

I absolutely loved this chair when I first saw it in my aunt's house, but now I know it really was true love all along.  Not only is this chair a family heirloom (I know it's at least 15 years older than me) but it serves as a beautiful statement piece in our living room. 

The chair will eventually go where our Christmas tree is currently, but David says it looks pretty good next to my book collection...he says someone with a pipe needs to be sitting in it to match the ambiance.  The idea makes me laugh and I know this chair will be in our house for years to come.  I am so glad that not only did we get it reupholstered, but that we also got a deal on it! 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week thus far...see you tomorrow for Friday Funday because I definitely will not be one hiding out in a bunker waiting for the world to end!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fallen Series Wrap-Up - Rapture

Since my last post something horrific has occurred here in America.  We've lost more than a little bit of our trust and innocence.  I can't even begin to comprehend what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday...and honestly, I don't want to understand it.  What I will say, which is a redundancy throughout the media and other social outlets, is that my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this senseless tragedy.  While it might be no consolation for their loss, the rest of this country is with them during this very dark time.

Moving along to my planned post for today...

Quite a while ago, my friend (Natalie) introduced Fallen into our book club.  It's a YA novel surrounding a young girl, Luce, who has begun a new school year at Sword & Cross Reform School.  The story follows her escapades and adjustments concerning the environment and other characters, specifically her love interest-Daniel.  If you'd like to read my initial review on this book, simply click here.

Before I go very far into the description of this series, I want to state the gist of these books.  They're about angels.  Hence...Fallen.  Fallen angels.  Get it?

The first three books revolve around Luce and Daniel finding each other, around the curse that they must bear together (over separate lifetimes), and finally Luce exploring those different lifetimes to find the resolution to this curse.  At the end of Passion, everything threatens to be erased back to the original time the angels fell from heaven.  This would be devastating to Luce and Daniel, who feel they've finally found the key to breaking their curse.

Finally, finally, finally the fourth and final installment to this series came out earlier this year.

I've only been reading on this series for over two's about time.  Now, I don't want to give away what happens in this book, but I will say that this was definitely worth the wait.

I know that authors typically work in one of two ways...1) they dream up characters and let the characters determine how the story is going to flow or 2) they dream up the characters and where they will begin and finish the story, then they start at the beginning and fill up the middle of the story with the end goal in mind.  I can tell you that Lauren Kate did the latter. 

I really thought that this story was going to be finished at the end of the third book.  In fact, I was a little disappointed when it wasn't...I guess I'm just too used to trilogies at this point.

This book started out a little slow for me, but I think it was just me.  It's been so long since I read the first three, that I think I was just trying to refresh my memory on exactly what had occurred within this series (we seriously have too many trilogies/series going right now in our book club).  However, once you start getting to the meat of the story (about 100 pages in) things start to get good.  And I remembered why I loved this series so much to begin with.  Things that I never thought of started to fall into place (haha, fall...yes, I know, I'm a nerd).

I will sat that once the storyline all started to unravel, I was able to start guessing what would happen.  But, until those first few dominoes lined up, I didn't.  It was more along the lines of, "well, since this happened, then that will probably happen" and "since that happened, then they'll probably do this."

Overall, I LOVE how this story ended.  I'd highly recommend the entire series, especially if you do have a young adult at home looking for something to read.  This book is not blasphemous (even though it does involve angels and God) and it's a beautiful love story.  To top it off, each book is pretty short and sweet. 

P.S. This doesn't affect the story at all, but I loved the fact that God (or "the Throne," as they're referred to in these books) ends up being a beautiful woman!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Funday

Happy Friday!

This week, I thought I'd just share some great quotes...hope you enjoy them!

This is sooooo me...

Because I have a little bit of my grandma in me...

I did not grow up with one of these things and they, seriously, give me the heebie jeebies.

Because this would be so very handy...

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

And finally, because I'm married to a farm boy.

Have a great weekend!  Only two left before Christmas, yikes!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

I decided that my most recent classic read would be Tess of the d'Ubervilles.  This stemmed from the whole 50 Shades of Grey hoopla.  Like many modern novels, 50 Shades likes to refer to a classic work of literature...this time Tess of the d'Ubervilles.

I knew that this wasn't going to be a happy-go-lucky story going in, so I was prepared for some disappointing feelings.  However, I always have that little nagging voice in the back of my mind that's always rooting for the heroine of the novel...even if it's hopeless.

This novel could be called a coming-of-age story for Tess Durbeyfield (could you guess that from the title?).  The story begins with her father (the town drunkard) walking along a road meeting a pastor who informs him that he is a descendant of the noble family d'Uberville.  Her father is ecstatic and goes off to inform his wife and celebrate (by drinking, of course). 

While the parents are celebrating their new-found good luck, they plot to have Tess visit a nearby wealthy widow of the d'Uberville name, to claim kin.  After accidentally killing the family horse, Tess agrees to her parents' wishes-against her better judgement.  Unfortunately, Tess does not get to meet the widow...rather she meets her son, Alec.  A scoundrel if I ever read about one.  He convinces her to come back and care for his mother's pet chickens in order to pay for a new horse.  Tess' parents are thrilled; they are sure Alec will want to marry Tess and the Durbeyfields will be restored to their former glory.

This does not occur.  Alec gives Tess much unwanted attention.  One night on the way back from a town party, Tess accidentally antagonizes Alec's most recently discarded sexual conquest.  Alec comes to Tess' "rescue" and takes her off in the woods.  He gets "lost" and leaves her to rest while he finds his bearings in the dark.  Tess falls asleep while Alec is away, but wakes to him raping her.  She leaves for home the next day.

What would make this situation worse?  Tess gets pregnant, of course.  While at home, she gives birth to a baby boy that only lives a few weeks.  After this sobering period in her life, Tess decides to become a milkmaid at a local dairy where she befriends the other milkmaids.  There is also an apprentice, Angel, at the dairy who takes an immediate liking to Tess.

Angel pursues Tess incessantly, but in a truly honorable way.  He knows no other way, since he was born into a pastoral family.  Tess just as regularly encourages him to stop looking to her, but to choose one of the other milkmaids.  She informs him that she is not good enough for him and that he must focus his attentions elsewhere.  After months of perusal, in which time Tess' past does not spread through gossip to this local area just a mere 20 miles from her hometown, Tess finally relents and agrees to marry Angel.

On the night of their wedding, Angel confesses that his is not a virgin.  This, in turn, convinces Tess that he will forgive her past as well...and she confesses.  From here, things do not go well. 

I'll stop case anyone wants to actually read the book.  I won't ruin it for you.  If you'd like to read how the book ends, Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis that you can read by clicking here.

How did I like this book?  There were a lot of things I liked about this book and there were a lot of things I didn't like about this book.  And I struggled for the first day or two on how I felt about it.  I love Thomas Hardy's writing style.  I also loved the vocabulary he used, but I also like looking up new words while I'm reading books.  And it's especially easy when you're reading on your iPad or another reader where all you have to do is tap on the word twice to get the definition.  Best feature ever.  Hands down.

I also liked Tess.  She was school-educated, though never went to advanced schooling.  She was the only person in her family that I feel had a straight head on her shoulders, except for maybe some of her younger siblings who weren't discussed as much.  I feel that she was an innocent who was ignorant of her position until it was too late.  She was also a hard worker; she was hands-down the most efficient milkmaid and everyone who met her liked her.  She did have a couple of moments where I got really irritated with her, but it didn't happen often.  For example, she offered to drown herself for Angel after confessing her history on their wedding night.  This would have given him an easy out from their marriage.  I mean, really? 

Now, things I didn't like...  Both male main characters were very two-dimensional for me.  One was very lewd, scoundrel-esque and the other was very sweet, wholesome and goody-two-shoes-esque.  Both had major flaws that horribly affected Tess and her life.  Seriously, she would have been better off to have never met either.  Even if Tess hadn't been "spoiled goods" when she met Angel, I'm not sure she would have ever met up to his high expectations in the end.

Also, I didn't like the ending.  The ending was the only the way it could have unfolded with how the storyline unraveled itself.  However, I didn't like it.  That's it. ::shrug::

Would I recommend this book...ummm, I don't know.  Probably not, but I wouldn't say definitely no.  It depends on the person asking.  I am curious to read more Thomas Hardy after this, simply because I liked his writing style.  One of my good friends told me her husband's favorite author of all time is Thomas Hardy, so maybe I'll ask him what my next read by Hardy should be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

Welp, it's happened.  Yep...I've got my first winter cold.  I could even tell you the exact second when it happened.  My mom (the source) was starting to feel bad Saturday morning, but wasn't totally miserable until Sunday and Monday.  We had a family wedding on Saturday afternoon and on our way back, I was snacking on some delectables from the sweet bar that served as the couple's wedding favors.  Pay attention, this is where it gets good...or bad, actually.

My mom asked me, "Would you like to wash that down with some water?" and I, of course, said yes.  My lips had no sooner touched the rim of the water bottle when she said, "Oh, maybe you shouldn't drink that since I haven't been feeling so good."  I literally lips touching the bottle and thought to myself that since I'd already touched the bottle, I wasn't going to be able to undo any damage I'd already succumbed myself to by not taking a drink.  When I told David, he repeated the old adage, "In for a penny, in for a pound."  So very true.

So, as I type this thankful that germs can't be spread via the internet and blog reading.  Because my throat is feeling fantastic and let's just say the fireplace might get it's inaugural lighting tonight because somebody's got the chills in this household.  Oh yea, and I'm probably going to beg off cooking supper...don't want to spread this on to David, if at all possible.

Speaking of feeling miserable, why don't I give you a review of this Tudor tragedy that I finished last week?

This audiobook was my most recent listen via my local library's digital archive.  This book is the true story of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey.  I'll first say that if you decide to read this book, it would probably be best to get a character map or genealogy map so that you're not confused.  I actually got a little mixed up when I was explaining this book at book club on Friday night.  A lot of my jumble stemmed from the fact that there's more than one Mary within this history lesson...3 actually. 

What this book focuses on is how each of these sisters' lives were irreparably ruined simply because of their blood and where they stood in the royal family tree.  We all know how Henry VIII created a huge problem when he could not produce a male, he started chopping his wives' heads off.  These sisters were grand-nieces of Henry VIII...and therefore, had as much right to the throne as who actually ended up with it...(the Virgin) Queen Elizabeth.

Lady Jane Grey actually held the throne for a short period of time before her rivalry with Mary I (Elizabeth's older sister) did not end well...for Lady Jane Grey.  Then, Mary I became ill and died.  Who takes the throne now?  Elizabeth did, of course.  But, from day one her parliament tried to get her to name an heir, which she refused to do.  And with good reason.  There was more than one assassination attempt on Elizabeth within her reign, why would she give rivals' supporters even more cause?

What saddened me most about this book was that both Katherine and Mary ended up wanting (logically) to marry and have children, which Elizabeth was vehemently against.  Elizabeth didn't want them producing heirs or marrying men who might try to usurp her.  Both sisters ended up going behind her back...and had to live out the rest of their lives within towers away from their husbands and children as punishment. 

When I'm hunting for a non-fiction book to work into my rotation, I always seem to default to history.  It isn't always my favorite to begin with, but when I'm finished, I'm always a little amazed by the storyline.  This stuff really happened...someone lived it.  I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't say it's a page turner.  However, I'll be remembering what I learned while reading this book for quite some time.  I would definitely recommend if you're into this kind of stuff!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snickerdoodle Blondies

This weekend was a whirlwind of errands and fun in Oklahoma City.  One fun was book club, as always.  I seriously love these girls, though we're missing a couple.

Spending an evening with these ladies is, seriously, one of my favorite things every month and I so, so, so look forward to our get-togethers!

Becky K. hosted our Christmas party book club this year and her house was beautifully decorated for the holidays.  She was a gracious host, supplying us with a delicious drip beef sandwich for the main course.  Each girl attending was asked to bring a side, dessert or beverage.  I brought these bad boys...

Seriously, these should be illegal.  They're snickerdoodle blondies and I got the idea from Pinterest (where else, right?).  Here's the original pin I got the recipe from:

But, if you're just wanting a one-stop-shop, I'll happily supply you with the recipe right here!  Make these for Christmas...they're dreamy!

Snickerdoodle Blondies
this recipe is from the My Own Sweet Thyme blog (click here)
(red text in parentheses is my commentary)

2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until well blended.

4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. (batter will be very thick, you'll probably need to spread a little with your fingers)

5. In a small bowl, combine the white sugar and cinnamon.

6. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the baking pan.

7. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack. While still warm, cut into squares with a sharp knife... (I didn't actually do that, I let them cool completely, uncovered, overnight and cut them with a very sharp knife the next day.  The edges were crispy and chewy and so good.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Funday!

Happy Friday, I hope everyone has a (p)interesting weekend planned!

I thought I'd start out this Friday by saying that because I was dog sitting this week...

(my baby is on the right and let's not even discuss how hard it was to get all three dogs in one shot)
I can totally related to this pin...

Some delectables that have been added to my "to-try" list...

Fashion savvy looks...

Some crochet ideas for future projects...

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Some great Christmas pins...

And finally, I'll end with some great quotes (the last being my favorite!):

Source: via Crystal on Pinterest

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crochet Catch-Up!

I mentioned a while back that I was going to start trying to crochet.  It's been going pretty well and I've actually started making items for other people.

Here's the first ever item I made, and I'm keeping it for myself.  This blue and gray beanie is made with the single crochet stitch and I can't wait for it to actually be cold enough to wear the darn thing!  C'mon winter!

And this cowl/infinity scarf I also made for myself, learning how to hook the double crochet stitch.  I think it's a tad short, but it'll probably stretch a little over time and I really like how it turned out.  I love the two shades of gray...which might look a little funny with yet another shade of gray (my shirt).

The last items I want to share are my first-ever gifts, for a cousin.  Her favorite color is purple and when I saw this adorable yarn on clearance, I snatched it up!  I will say this yarn was a beast to work with, but I like how it looks in the finished product.  I haven't mailed this to my cousin yet, but I hope she likes it!  Both the beanie and scarf were made with the double crochet stitch.

I have to say, I'm really enjoying this.  Crocheting is something I can do while watching TV, listening to an audiobook or just all on it's own.  David watches a few TV shows that I'm not in to, but I can actually stand to be in the room now (as long as I have a project going) when he starts the DVR up with his Wheeler Dealers, Fifth Gear, Jungle Gold and Gold Rush.  Quality couple time, even when we're both doing something the other doesn't particularly care for!


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