Blogmas

My Christmas Wish List {minus books}

I looked around the internet for some Blogmas ideas and a ton of people suggested putting up my Christmas List. Which feels weird to do, honestly, but why not? I doubt anyone who actually buys me gifts will see this list, but it’s still accurate.

  1. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish –  I have no idea why I want this for Christmas, since I’ll just end up buying it anyway, but it’d be nice to get as a gift, too. I have told everyone this is what I want.
  2. I have been hearing about butter LONDON nail polish and Amazon has the minis for $5 less than normal – I love the mint color and can always use a dark neutral
  3. Attempted Murder Coffee Mug – So I obviously love crows, and 2 crows would be an attempted murder of crows which dovetails with my love of true crime and who doesn’t love a new coffee cup?
  4. Shane and I sleep in a split king bed, and only have 2 pairs of sheets – flannel for winter and regular for summer. These bright sheets would be awesome to add. I hate having to buy 2 sets of Twin XL sheets, though.  
  5. I posted this T-Rex Cookie Jar on Twitter months ago and still haven’t bought it. I have no idea where to put it, but I love it deeply and would find it a home. 
  6. My other favorite Target product is their various pineapple scented candles. I love the smell of pineapple and you can never have too many candles.
  7. Okay, to be honest, I have a huge stack of engagement/wedding/honeymoon pictures and should probably start putting them in albums. This really cute album might be a good start. 
  8. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on writing with fountain pens and I’d love to try it out. Without spending a ton of money. I had no idea Pilot made disposable fountain pens, but they seem like a good place to start.  
  9. I’m literally obsessed with Paper Mate Flair pens and want to add the Ultra Fine tip set to my collection. I have way too many of them but I can’t stop myself.
  10. Ending on the writing theme, I’d like to get this Hand Lettering 101 book so I can maybe be slightly creative in my letters.

Yeah, no, this is still a weird thing to post about. But it was kind of fun, so I’ll call it a draw.

-Sarah

Blogmas · Reviews

Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin {Review}

Red Christmas ornament on white background - cover of Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin

Solid 2 stars. 

This is my least favorite 2018 read.  I really really hate giving less than 3 stars since the author wrote a book! That’s more than I’ve ever done. I only gave 2 stars to one other book this year – the third in a far-too-macho end of the world series. At the same time, I realize that my 2 star book might be someone else’s 5 star book and I need to review on if I liked it or not.

I just could not connect with the main character. She was too much – too sad, too pushy, too timid, too everything. It was basically an entire book about her trying to get her kids to define her and then suddenly they make all her dreams come true. At one point a daughter says “Why would we ever spend Christmas anywhere else?” (okay, that’s a paraphrase, but you get the point.) and it was just too cutesy. And that’s one example of many, many, many too sweet moments that came out of nowhere. 

I think a lot of my issue stems from the disconnect between me and the protagonist. Which is a rare thing for me – I regularly read about all kinds of people in all kinds of different situations, points of life, etc. I mean, I read books on alien planets or novels of magic which is the opposite of my life. I’ve been thinking about it over the past few days and I think it boils down to my wanting to read strong women characters. Even in the romance I read, the women characters are strong women. They may be naive and fall in love in like 3 days, but they’re generally not weepy or morose. I’m morose enough, thanks. 

I will say that, even though I hate her transformation is triggered by a man, I enjoyed the romance sub-plot in this. They have a history together instead of being complete insta-love, which is refreshing. 

I’m probably not going to read the other books in this series, to be honest.

~Sarah

Blogmas

Door Wreath DIY

I am not what you’d call a crafty person. I’m not artistic in any way either, and even if I was I have little to no patience for sitting and doing something I’m not good at. I tried knitting, and I got a third of the way through the ragged-iest blanket you’ve ever seen before I just straight gave up. Though now I listen to podcasts, I might be able to take it back up. Intriguing.

Anyway, I keep wanting to make something that doesn’t involve cooking (I’m not good at that either), so I made the world’s easiest door wreath. Shane says it doesn’t look complete, but what does he know?

Crafting supplies - a wreath frame, scissors, ruler, stack of felt, marker.

Step one: gather materials! I bought 3 yards of felt, but I only used about 1.5. I think you generally use a basic cotton material, but I’m a rebel. I got red, gray, and green because of Christmas. Obviously. I also grabbed my “fancy” scissors, a random ruler, a Sharpie, and most importantly, a wreath frame. Is that what those are called?

Step two: use those fancy scissors and ruler to chop up 3 fair sized piles of what are supposed to be 1 inch by 4 inches pieces, but may vary based on your level of attention. I had to do this twice because I didn’t cut enough the first time. I thought felt would take up more space, I guess.

Step three: Fold a piece in half, slip around one of the wires in the frame and then push the ends through the loop at the end. Does that make sense? Are the images at all helpful?


Step four: Repeat roughly 8 million times. See below.

Step five: Have a wreath that is super easy to make, let you feel accomplished, and also allowed you to sit on the ground while you watch your husband play video games. 

I don’t hate it, y’all.
-Sarah-

Blogmas · Seasonal To-Dos

Winter Bucket List

I didn’t do great, though I guess half is goodish, on my Fall Bucket List, but I’m eternally optimistic. So let’s try again.

  1. Put together a Gingerbread House.
    • Shane says I cry every year when I try to put one of these suckers together, but I’m going to try again.
  2. Christmas Movie Marathon!
  3. Go see The Parthenon in Nashville, TN.
  4. Eat hot chicken in Nashville, TN.
  5. Go to the Nashville Farmers’ Market.
  6. Go see the Great Christmas Light Show in North Myrtle Beach.
  7. Make Haystacks (my favorite Christmas dessert).
  8. Bake shortbread.
  9. Do an outdoor photo shoot.
  10. Do a Christmas-y photo shoot in the apartment.
    • Mostly I want to work on learning my camera – I’ve had it for a year or something and am still unable to use it the way I’d like.
  11. Find a new comfort food for dreary days. 
  12. Go tech-free for 72 hours.  
  13. Get Shane to teach me Chess. 
    •  I know the basics, but haven’t played in years.
  14.  Make a handpie or pasty.
  15. Go see a movie in theaters.
  16. Play mini-golf. 
  17. Take a walk on the beach with Shane. 
  18. Take pictures of a sunrise on the beach.
    • This will just keep moving from one bucket list to the next until I do it.  
  19. Get started on my/our 2019 goals.  
  20. Celebrate the New Year with Shane.
Blogmas · Seasonal To-Dos

Fall Bucket List Wrap-up

I did not do so hot on the Fall Bucket List of 2018. But I did do 8 of them which is close-ish to half, right?

What Got Done:

  1. Have a horror movie marathon.
    • Okay, so it was 3 horror movies. That’s more than I normally watch.
  2. Go to the Atalaya craft fair/show.
    • I love Atalaya and the craft fair was amazing!
  3. Make homemade applesauce.
    • This was a kind-of success – it tasted okay but not great.
  4. Switch to tea from coffee (again).
    • Ish. I started drinking more tea, but we bought some fancy pants coffee so I’m still drinking the in the morning.
  5. Try a new soup or chili recipe.
  6. Read a few creepy crawly horror novels.
  7. Drink hot chocolate on the porch after dark.
    • I didn’t spend too long out there because the weather’s not be friendly, but I did it!
  8. Get a salted caramel mocha and apple cider doughnut from Starbucks.
    • I truly love salted caramel mochas! I skipped the doughnut, but I’m sure it would have been lovely.
  9. Buy some new (cozy) leggings.
    • Amazon really came through for me and I now own 3 pairs of fleece-lined leggings. 
  10. Make a Christmas wreath for the front door. I’ll cover this later this month.

What I Didn’t Do:

  1. Go to Medieval Times (aka relive our childhoods).
  2. Bake some sort of goodie for Shane’s coworkers.
  3. Photograph a sunrise on the beach.
  4. Watch all the Harry Potter movies.
  5. Walk by the Intracoastal waterway.
  6. Go to 4 community-type events.
  7. Make apple cupcakes.
  8. Go to the Farmer’s Market.
  9. Start volunteering somewhere.
  10. Make apple cider.
Blogmas · Reading · Reviews

Christmas with You: Gabriel’s Angel / Home for Christmas {Review}

Cover image of Christmas With You by Nora Roberts

3 Stars because half the book wasn’t even about Christmas. It was wintery, but not Christmas.

Gabriel’s Angel is a really cute story and predictable in the best way. I love a good ‘rescue from a snowbank’ and this one delivered. It was a little bit ‘insta-love’, but I feel like that’s really due to the length. I wish it was about 150 pages longer. Everything just moved way too quickly. The resolutions were too fast, too unsatisfying, and just not super believable. 

Home for Christmas, the actual Christmas story, is next. Look, this is not a novella for those who want twists to come out of nowhere. I could tell you the big reveal within a few pages. But it’s a sweet ‘the one who got away’ and ‘we should probably have just had a simple conversation a decade ago and saved ourselves a lot of time and angst’ story that makes you believe that the two main characters are legit in love. I dated losers in high school so I don’t have that connection, but I’d say that if Shane bounced for an understandable reason (can’t think of one, but still) I’d still be in love with him if he showed up a decade later. So I can buy that, to a point. I wouldn’t say it’s the most likely scenario – it’s more likely that they’d have to fall back in love, but it’s groovy. 

Overall, I’d give it a 4 star rating *if* both of the novellas dealt with Christmas. I’d definitely recommend it for some fluffy, light, wholesome vacation reading. If you need something to do while avoiding your weird uncle, this is a solid option.

PS – I thought about giving you the description from Goodreads, but it’s honestly not a big deal. 

Blogmas · Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Cozy Winter Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by That Arsty Reader Girl.

Little House in the Big Woods | Anne of Green Gables | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first three of this Top Ten were easy to come up with: the first three books of my three most treasured childhood series. I can’t think of a better way to pass snowy (or more likely in my area – icy) day than revisiting old childhood favorites. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | The Midwife | The Maid’s Tale | Life in a Medieval Castle
Another thing that’s nice to do is escape to another time or place. Two memoirs by women of the past, a guide to medieval life, and a novel of post-war England certainly do that. I really can’t wait to curl up with some of these this winter.

The City Who Fought | The Dragonriders of Pern | The Name of the Wind
Speaking of ‘another time or place’ – a great sci-fi or fantasy book is just as good at taking you away. Anne McCaffrey is my all-time favorite author, and honestly a big part of why I want to write books. Her Brainship books are some of the first science fiction I ever read and her Pern novels are the first blending of sci-fi/fantasy that I ever really got into. Patrick Rothfuss has created a masterpiece as well, and sitting in a cozy chair reading any of these books would be an amazing thing to do on a cold winter day.

-Sarah-

Blogmas

A Bookish Gift Guide

I wandered around the internet (okay, mostly Amazon and Etsy, but also Out of Print) looking for gift ideas for myself. Apparently no one wants to get me what I really want: nail polish, pens, and relaxation supplies (bath bombs, face masks, etc), so this list grew out of that. Since I decided to expand it for a Blogmas post, I tossed a few more in. Maybe it’ll help someone else buy a gift for a book lover in their life. 

  1. My favorite quote of all time is “Though she be but little, she is fierce” and I’d love this bracelet to be a constant reminder of what I’d like to be my motto.
  2. The Bibliophilia 100 Literary Postcards look so gorgeous and would be perfect for putting on the wall or sending to various pen pals. 
  3. Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box look fun and are my aesthetic for sure. Same as above – decor or communication, both work.
  4. I know a ton of people who have a Personal Library Kit and love them. I’ve never felt the need since I rarely lend out books, and frequently donate books, but I wouldn’t be sad to get one.
  5. I loved the book Bunnicula as a kid and would love this Bunnicula-themed pouch as an adult!
  6. Something I didn’t realize until recently is that people who read books tend to love candles. I think this Banned Books Matchbox set is a winning gift for someone like me, who enjoys both.
  7. Continuing with the Banned Books motif, this coffee mug that the full titles of banned books as it heats is a genius gift.
  8. I sort of hate the “Librarians love tote bags” cliche; however, while I’m not a practicing Librarian, I do meet the stereotype. I also really love the visual on this Library Stamp Market Bag with the old-school due date stamp.
  9. Another thing book lovers seem to enjoy (again, guilty) is tea. So if you’re looking for a gift to be nerdy and practical for a book reading tea drinker, Novel Teas might be just the thing. Adagio Tea’s Fandom Blends are also amazing and I keep myself stocked with them. 
  10. If your giftee owns a pencil sharpener this book-lover-related set of 7 pencils would be a pretty alright gift. If they don’t have a sharpener, you should get them one of those as well. 
  11. This amazing Literature of the World print would look perfect in a library or den. If I had either of those things. 
  12. I am obsessed with reading and coffee cups and being left alone so a Go Away, I’m Reading coffee cup is perfection in my eyes.
  13. I love note cards, possibly too much, and these adorable book cover decorated note cards would be perfect to send around the world.
  14. If you’re looking for candles that have a bookish tilt I have an amazing list of shops for you: Novelly Yours, Canterbury Road Co, Wick and Fable, Wicky Wicky Candle Co, Flickering Fandoms, & Icey Designs (all around amazing shop, tbh). Honestly, that’s not even scratching the surface.
  15. If all else fails, track down your gift recipient’s Goodreads profile or investigate their bookshelves in real life and buy them a book. They’ll at least appreciate the gesture.
Blogmas · Monthly Recaps

November in Review

What I Read

How did I not read more? I feel like I read tons, but I guess not.

What I Watched

  • Preacher
    • So dark and so good! I love Cassidy and would probably watch a show completely around him. Since I want to name a daughter Cassidy I keep telling Shane that when she’s 13 I’m going to watch Preacher with her and tell her that she’s named after him. Note: season 1 is better than season 2.
  • King of the Hill
    • I watched this show as a kid and I’m really enjoying re-watching it on Hulu. 
  • Bob’s Burgers
    • I love this show. It’s so so good.

What I Cooked/Ate

  • Shepherd’s Pie for Shane’s birthday. We found ground lamb at Lowe’s Foods and it turned out incredibly delicious. I ate it for 5 meals in a row, which never happens. 
  • Thanksgiving dinner! Shane and I cooked Cornish Game Hens, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, red wine & mushroom gravy, & crescent rolls. We forgot vegetables, though. I wanted sauteed green beans, but I forgot to remind him to cook them. 
  • Actual lunch food at our diner. The waitress is starting to recognize us, I think. I had a Bacon Cheddar BBQ burger that was super tasty.
  • More grocery store sushi.
  • Another monthly trip to Steak and Shake. Probably the last one, since I’m going to try to eat healthier.

What I Did

  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner with Shane.
  • Took a 4 hour nap (in 2 phases) and then slept a full night, which is unheard of. I rarely take naps even though I love them deeply.
  • Spent 3 days and 2 nights in the Upstate. Changed to a different hotel and I really liked it. Though my first room had a busted fridge and I had to change rooms since I needed the fridge. 
  • Did a ton of Christmas shopping.
  • Opened so many packages!
  • Worked really hard at cleaning and organizing the apartment. I want to have a “fresh start” with 2019 so I’m working on getting things organized.
Blogmas

Blogmas Intro

I took most of November off of blogging to get ahead for December because I’m doing Blogmas this year! I don’t know why I decided to do this in the first few months of blogging, but I’ll be honest, it’s helped me get ahead of posts. I’m definitely going to try to stay ahead, too.

Blogmas is posting a Christmas-related post a day from now until Christmas.
I have no idea where Blogmas began, or how I found out about it, but I know it’s basically like YouTube’s Vlogmas. 

I have a ton of posts coming up (at least 25, eh) – a bunch of Christmas romance-type book reviews, some gift guides, Top Ten Tuesdays, a couple of DIYs, and some other winter posts. Obviously I’ll be discussing some Christmas movies as well. Even though I’m not really able to watch Hallmark this season (which is a tragedy), I can still talk about my other favorites. Netflix has some great Christmas movies. 

If you’re doing Blogmas (or Vlogmas), drop a comment down below and I’ll check it out!