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2017 Reading List Reviewed

November 30, 2017
2017 Fall Reading List Reviewed

Well, Thanksgiving has passed, so I think we can consider Fall to be over. I’m sure it’s not technically over, but everyone is going crazy about Christmas, so it feels like Winter. I made quick work of my Fall Reading List and then some! I’ll talk about the “and then some” later, but I wanted to give a recap of the books of my Fall Reading List and let you know how I liked them!

2017 Fall Reading List

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

10/10, Do recommend. Dreamland Burning switches perspectives between past and present, highlighting racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I thought that Dreamland Burning was thoughtfully done. It was well written and did not shy away from complex and difficult situations. This book would be really interesting to see taught in a classroom setting. That being said, it will definitely piss off whatever rascist old relative you have, so read and recommend thoughtfully.

2017 Fall Reading List

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I expected this book to be a good ol’ Christian Woman Encouragement Book, and I was right. Uninvited deals with those who feel a little distant from others and handles those feeling of not fitting in. It was nice and obviously close to the author’s heart. You can see her passion for reaching the left out. It’s sweet and encouraging but not a bit of it stuck with me. It’s a nice read where you’re in need of encouragement, but it probably won’t change your life.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This book did not do much for me. The Nest revolves around four (wretched) siblings and their separate hopes and dreams for their nest egg inheritance. When one sibling wrecks their dreams by using up the money, they all have to deal with the consequences. I found this book to be tiring. Everyone in it is irritated, all the time. They’re all fairly selfish and perhaps that is the point. It just came across to me as a book that is trying hard to be an Adult Book for Grown Ups because nobody is happy and everyone drinks. Also, I found that there were a lot of characters to follow, especially since I didn’t care what happened to any of them.

2017 Fall Reading List

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

I enjoyed the concept of this book as well as the addition of vintage (creepy) pictures. Riggs does a fairly convincing job of integrating this fantasy into the normal world. The characters are interesting and complex for children. The only issue that I have with this book is the cliffhanger ending. It’s really more of a chapter ending than a book ending. I know the author does this on purpose, but it’s still annoying to me and seems cheap. I’m reading the second book in the series, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is always delightful. I have no complaint here. Her stories are like good rainy day reading. They are comforting, despite the facts that at least one person is usually dead. They don’t require a ton of emotional investment and they don’t stress me out. I usually give up on trying to guess the murderer, because I’m always wrong. I think that I prefer Christie’s Poirot mysteries to Miss Marple, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book one bit.

2017 Fall Reading List

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Think Pride and Prejudice, but with a lot more class consciousness. Margaret Hale must adjust her county sensibilities to a new life in a manufacturing town. Margaret is much more of a proper lady than Elizabeth Bennet. She is less snarky, a little more noble and long-suffering, but every bit as tenacious. I enjoyed North and South, though it got a little slow in a few sections. A lot of depressing things happen to Miss Hale, which can be a bit of a downer, but I like that Gaskell didn’t shy away from the darker parts of manufacturing towns. 

2017 Fall Reading List

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beaty

This is a kids/young adult book that takes place at the Biltmore Estate. Since I’ve visited the Biltmore, I found that this was extremely interesting. Even if you haven’t seen the actual setting, this book was fun and engaging. It was not overly simplistic for a kid’s book. The suspense felt read and I enjoyed the main character, Serafina. I would recommend this to a younger child or any adult who is young at heart.

2017 Fall Reading List

Emma by Jane Austin

I am officially a good Austinite again, as I have read Emma. And man is she annoying! I think that’s the point, that Emma is a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s definitely a harder character to root for than Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. But it’s still Jane Austin, and even if Emma is kind of annoying, so still want her to end up happy. Emma is humorous without compromising real emotion, and I still enjoyed the read.

2017 Fall Reading List

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is a broken man who still proudly proclaims his message that God loves you just as you are, not as you should be. I found his memoir to be honest and endearing. It is clear that Mr. Manning does not have any illusions about who he is as a person. He is brutally honest throughout the memoir about his alcoholism, his denial of it, and the effect that it had on his loved ones. He does not hide his selfishness as his tells his life story, and I appreciate the complexity of his journey. Brennan Manning would be the first to tell you that he is a walking contradiction, but he would also be the first to tell you that peace from that can be found with God.

2017 Fall Reading List

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

I’ll admit, I tried to read this on the plane on the way home from San Francisco, but I couldn’t do it. It was too much. It found it to be too trite, too sugar coated. Maybe at another time it will be a good fit, but I didn’t jive with me.

Along with these books, I have read scores of others. I may include my favorites in a separate post, because I’m not exaggerating when I say that there have been at least three separate series and a few other unrelated books. I just recently got a library card since moving to my city over a year ago, so let me know if you have recommendations! I’m currently into young adult fiction, because I’m tired of adult books needing to seem so grown up and cynical about everything. What are your favorites?

Holidays Lifestyle Seasonal Uncategorized

A Fantastic Halloween and How to Make it

November 2, 2017

Oh my goodness, it’s November already. October was such a whirlwind. I spent a lot of time putting together our fantastic Halloween costumes and trunk for my church’s annual Trunk or Treat, so October flew by. I’ve been super excited to share with you everything that we did for Halloween. With getting married last November,  I didn’t have a lot of time to think about Halloween last year. I was glad to get back to it again.

This year’s Halloween theme was from the  movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you haven’t seen the movie, you totally should. It’s not as good as Harry Potter (because what is?) but it’s still delightful and charming and cute. The Hubs immediately took to Newt Scamander, because he is a fellow Softie Towards Animals, and also because his clothes were cool. So we just took the theme and ran with it! 

Newt Scamander’s Costume

Fantastic Halloween 1

The Hub’s costume is made up of a LOT of parts, and we even skipped a few. In total, the costume included:

You have already seen the Hufflepuff Scarf, so you know that I made that. I also made the vest using the Butterick B6502 Pattern.  I say that I made it, but really my mom provided a lot of help. We simplified the pattern by not making real pockets, and we only did 4 button holes rather than 6 to give The Hubs a little wiggle room. The coat and bow tie are both by elope, which you can find either on Amazon or Ebay. The tweed pants were bought off Poshmark, and hemmed. The wand was also from Amazon. The suitcase was a gift from my Grandpa and I have been using it to store yarn. It made a great candy holder on Halloween

I mentioned skipping some parts of the costume, and that mainly refers to the suit jacket that Newt wears under his coat. Some fine sleuths online had discovered that the jacket is in fact NOT the same material as the pants(though still tweed) and we were worried that it would be too bulky under the coat. I also skipped a few embellishments on the vest, due to time constraints.

Porpentina Goldstein’s CostumeFantastic Halloween 2

My costume was much simpler to deal with. I chose to use Tina’s flapper look. To do so, I used:

The dress is an  Adrianna Papell beaded dress off Ebay. I added the signature strappy bits myself using a sequenced elastic that I folded in half and hot glued (because I’m classy light that!). The shoes were on sale at Payless a few weeks ago (and they’re 3 1’2″! Yikes!). The wig is the Skyelar Classic wig from Arda Wigs in Deep Brown. I paid one of my friends who used to be a hairdresser to trim the wig for me. The wand is make from a clearance knitting needle, clay and acrylic paint

The Trunk

Fantastic Halloween 3

Oh gosh the trunk. This is where my crazy really comes out. The trunk actually came out looking pretty close to my vision, and meshed elements of Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter. I spent about a month collecting paper towel and toilet paper rolls to make my floating candles a la this tutorial. They were a little precarious as first, but we found that taping the invisible thread to the sides of the candles helped to stabilize it. I was glad we had our candles, because as the night got darker, they helped us to see the balls for our little quiddich game.

Most Trunk or Treats recommend that you have a game for kids to play at your trunk. This is mostly to:

  1. entertain the children; and
  2.  slow the stream of candy.

We chose to make little quiddich hoops for the kids to throw balls into. I bought a three pack of bug nets and cut the nets off. We stuck the nets into tin flower pots filled with concrete. This worked out really well, since the bug nets could still telescope and we could vary the heights of the hoops. It would also work great for quiddich pong, which I’ve definitely never played. And yeah, we totally used ping pong balls for this game. They can be found at Dollar Tree.

Fantastic Halloween 4

Other trunk additions included in our trunk was a plush niffler on a pile of gold, and some silver occamy eggs.  I also made a bowtruckle using floral wire and tape (also from the dollar tree). The tutorial can be found here. Finally, I included a Monster Book of Monsters, which is more Harry Potter than Fanstastic Beasts, but it was fun to make. There’s lots of tutorials out there, but I used this one.  Most of the other embellishments to my trunk were printed from the internet. 

Finished Object Holidays Knitting Seasonal

Newt Scamander’s Hogwarts House Scarf

October 6, 2017
Newt Scamander Hogwarts House Scarf

Oh my goodness. It’s been a week. First there was the terrible news out of Las Vegas. Then we heard that Tom Petty had passed. Then we heard that Tom Petty maybe was still alive. The Hubs tells me that this is because you can stand him up at the gates of Hell, but he won’t back down. But then Tuesday his death was confirmed. Now The Hubs has a 102 degree fever, possibly because he is mourning Tom Petty. On top of all that, work has been crazy and I’m pretty worn out.

One of the things keeping me chugging along is thinking about Halloween. Yes. I am that white girl. Except that I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes, but I like chai lattes, so that’s probably just as bad. The Hubs and I decided our Halloween costumes last December, but I’m only just started working on them. We are going to be Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Not only do these costumes fulfill requirement of “pick a costume with shoes you’d wear again”, but it includes some knitting!

Newt Scamander Hogwarts House Scarf

A long time ago, I knit a Hogwarts House Scarf in Ravenclaw colors. Not long after that, Pottermore happened, and I was sorted into…Slytherin.  Yes, this still upsets me because 1. Snakes. 2. Dungeons and 3. Not a single Slytherin defended Hogwarts in the Battle of Hogwarts? Not a single one? I call BS. Anyways, like a true Slytherin would do, I created a new profile and got sorted into Ravenclaw.

Newt Scamander Hogwarts House Scarf

This was before I knew that you should trim your tassels to the same length.

A short time after that, I moved to Texas and wore my Ravenclaw scarf, to which someone said, “Nice scarf. Dallas Cowboys colors.” Ugh. Nope. So despite my previous Hogwarts House Scarf failures, I was willing to attempt another for Newt Scamander.

Newt Scamander Hogwarts House Scarf

The Pattern

Newt Scamander’s Hogwarts House Scarf is a little different from the ones in the original series. Firstly, the color has more of a vintage feel to it. It’s the 1920’s after all! I actually  like the vintage style colors better than the originals. I think it makes it look more refined. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people who didn’t recognize it as a Hufflepuff scarf, but still really liked the colors. 

Newt Scamander Hogwarts House Scarf

Newt’s scarf also differs from the original Hogwarts House Scarf in that it’s stripes are not exactly even. The yellow stripes are just a wee bit shorter than the gray. Karen Stewart Longest did a great write up on the exact number of rows of each color here. The original scarf has 11 yellow stripes, but that came up looking really short on The Hubs (who is about 2 inches taller than Eddie Redmayne). It’s actually a pretty short scarf, since it’s not meant to be worn looped.  I knit 13 yellow stripes instead of 11. I found that looked much better on The Hubs that way.

The construction of Newt’s scarf is exactly the same as the original Hogwart’s House Scarf in that it’s basically a flattened tube with tassels. Nothing really new or challenging here. I didn’t even bother making my stripes jogless. I just folded the tube along the edge where the new color starts and it’s not noticeable.

The Yarn

I used Lion Brand Heartland for this yarn because the colors were right and it was cheap. This yarn is the wooorst. Okay, it’s not as bad as full on Red Heart, but it’s pretty bad. It’s actually fairly soft, but that’s part of the problem, because Lion Brand Heartland is hands down the slipperiest yarn I’ve ever used. And I’ve knit with silk!

Seriously, this yarn would not stay wound in a ball and it made my life miserable. It tangled at any opportunity and just felt loose and slack no matter how I wound it. I was never really attracted to Heartland in the first place, but I will certainly avoid it from now on. It just goes to show that you get what you pay for with yarn.

I don’t have all the the other pieces of the costume put together yet, so if I’m dying later in the month, that’s why. I’m hoping to put together a pretty epic trunk or treat with it all, so I’ll keep you posted. What are your Halloween costume plans? Are you knitting anything for a costume?