Blogmas

Wrapping Blogmas Up

I did it! Plus 2 days, even. What’s funny is that I’m only taking one day off – tomorrow – before I post a few posts before 2019 begins on Tuesday. I’m not really taking it off, I’m just not posting anything.

I learned a few things, too. Like being 2 weeks ahead was incredibly helpful. Seriously, it was so nice to not have to worry about posting all the time. I’m not sure I can keep it up, but I’m thinking about having ‘fill-in’ posts sitting in the draft folder so I have some in reserve if I fall behind. Also, the best laid plans are sometimes foiled. I had planned a few different posts that didn’t make it. Book reviews, a gingerbread house post, a post about a visit to Christmas lights. I just didn’t do everything I wanted to do, so I couldn’t write about them. Finally, I’m glad I don’t have to post 365 days a year. 27 days is hard enough, a year is too much.

I will most certainly not start 2019 being 2 weeks ahead in posts. I may not ever do that again {until next December, anyway}, but I definitely want to have several posts scheduled ahead of time.

My plans for next December {that I’ll probably forget, to be honest} are to basically follow through on the things I want to do. I didn’t get to go to see any Christmas Lights, which is a bummer, so I definitely want to go to the nicest ones next year.

Anyway, I’m super proud of myself for following through on Blogmas. Can’t wait to start 2019!

~Sarah

Blogmas · Life & Family

Christmas Recap

I thought I would have a lot more pictures from Christmas, but I didn’t take a lot. We spent Christmas Eve Eve with my parents at their place for a pretty excellent dinner. My brothers weren’t able to be there so it was just the four of us. I also scored some sweet Delft pottery from my parents’ Dutch adventures. I think it was my grandparents’ that they bought on a trip, but I’m not actually sure.

Christmas Eve I woke up at 6 am to help my mother in law (and Shane, to be fair) get ready for the party. I made Bread Pudding with Bourbon sauce, which is apparently my ‘thing’ now. People showed up around 4ish and there were a bunch. Shane’s cousin has 4 kids plus several of my MIL’s siblings and attendant spouses as well as Shane’s brother and his kids. Oh, all 6 kids are very, very girly girls, by the way. Also loud. So loud.

But I had a great time – my oldest niece is a month from 13 and she’s hilarious and genuinely fun to be around. My 9 year old niece is a sweet bundle of love. The other 4 girls are a bunch of energy, too. The youngest is about a year old (but is developmentally younger) and I got to hang out with her a bit. I love a baby…that I can give back.

Good food, good company, and my MIL’s cat letting me pet him a bunch (he’s a bit standoffish) made for an excellent Christmas 2018. The few pictures I took are below – some are from my parents, some from Christmas Eve.

Blogmas · Reviews

The Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries {Review}

Thanks to NetGalley.com for giving me a copy of Twas the Knife Before Christmas in return for an honest review.
Cover for Twelve Slays of Christmas

I got a copy of the second book in this series (‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas) from NetGalley and decided to read the first book as well. It wasn’t super needed, since the second book is fairly independent of the first. 

I really like both books, by the way. They’re very sweet little cozy murder mysteries with a likeable main character named Holly (her cat’s name is Cindy Lou Who, which I enjoy) who lives in a Christmas obsessed town on a Christmas obsessed tree farm/tourist attraction. She’s super nosy and has to investigate the Christmas-related murders, even though her life is threatened on the regular. Holly can just not trust law enforcement, even though the sheriff (who has a seemingly unlimited number of deputies for the size of the town) is a homicide detective from Boston. I really think that he’s better at the whole death investigation than she is.  There’s a wee bit of romance that’s very much a side story and is honestly mostly forgotten about in the second novel. Which is oddly the only thing that got on my nerves.

The author stuck with the conceit that Mistletoe, Maine only has murders at Christmas, so Twas the Knife Before Christmas is set a year after the end of Twelve Slays of Christmas. Nothing has seemed to move forward for Holly, though. She’s still living in her parents’ guesthouse (though they’re building an inn) and isn’t sure if they guy she’s been dating for  year is her boyfriend or if they’re exclusive. I feel like that’d be a conversation you’d have over a year-long relationship. Could be wrong, but it feels weird, especially since he’s weirdly jealous/possessive. He just doesn’t seem the type to leave her ‘available’. There’s a semi-explanation given, and I like the story line, but the effect on their relationship doesn’t seem real. 

Overall, I enjoyed both books – I’ll read anymore that Jacqueline Frost rights, for sure. They’re adorable little Christmas cozy murder mysteries that are all resolved neatly and there are some quality death threats thrown in there. I definitely suggest reading these for some light Christmas reading!

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 · 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

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

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!