Friday, June 21, 2013

Back Again

Hello everyone! I'm back, after a very lovely time camping. We went with some good family friends of ours, just like we've done for the past six or seven years. It's a great tradition and always something we look forward to! We hiked Mount Chocorua on day, which is a nine mile hike and reaches 2600 feet. We also did a full day of river exploring by canoe, played tennis without rules, and played our traditional kick ball game. Good food, including our dutch oven Chinese feast, sealed the deal on this trip. :)
The Summit
It's funny how a vacation seems to give me a real inspiration boost. Maybe it's the fresh air, or the screen-free time, or the simply the fact that it's a change of scenery, but trips always leave me fresh and ready to work. Right now I have so many ideas, I hardly know what to do with them! I want to read, swim, write, cook, sew, and clean all at the same time. It's great, though; it finally feels like summer's here and ready to be enjoyed! I've got quite a few goals, both big and small, floating around my head at the moment. I can't wait to share them with all of you, but I think I'll wait until I have the chance to devote a whole post to it. :)

Talk about feeling top of the world.
Life is beautiful, busy, carefree, and hard working right now. Though I'm a proud defender of all four seasons, I love that summer so often brings us back to a simpler time when all that really matters is good food and friendship. The world is always moving in a scary direction, and the only way to stop it is to stand up and fight. But sometimes, a couple days of simple pleasure is needed to give you the strength to fight. That's what I'm enjoying right now, and I hope that you are, too. :)

Life is lovely, people! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Hobbit's Take

On Tuesday, the official trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released! I was on the edge of my seat waiting for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and this new installment proves no different! I'll be beating down the theater doors come December, believe me. I first read The Hobbit when I was seven, so I've been obsessed with the LOTR fandom before I even knew what a fandom was. I love Tolkien and take pride in learning all I can about the history of Middle Earth. I can't believe I didn't even mention anything about the first movie last year...I'll just blame it on being so in awe of it that I couldn't put my feelings into words. :) When I went with a group of friends to see the first Hobbit movie, we even dressed up...

And yes. This is the entire group of LOTR fans I'm so blessed to know. :)
All of that being said, I've got to say I'm a bit, er, hesitant about The Desolation of Smaug. Not necessarily more so than I was about the first movie, but still. While I trust Peter Jackson, I'm worried that popularity and appealing to mass audiences might take precedence over staying true to Tolkien's original tales.

**Spoiler Alert...The following talks about the previous movie and facts from the book. If you haven't read the book yet, stop reading this post and start! Well, I suppose you could stay, but the book is the best thing ever and I highly suggest reading it as soon as possible. **

So without further ado, here's what's making me a bit nervous for The Desolation of Smaug.

The fact that they're making three movies. Two I could see, but three? Instant giveaway that they're adding a lot to the story line.

The Azog story line. I didn't like it in the first movie, and I'm not looking forward to more of it in the second. Now in the book, Gandalf mentions that Azog killed Thor (Thorin's grandfather) at the Battle of Azanbulizar. In the book Azog is killed, but in the movie he survives. The only other mention is Azog's grandsom, Bolg, who leads the goblins in the Battle of the Five Armies. While I understand that Peter Jackson probably wanted some immediate threat and action in the first movie, I feel that a better-done goblin scene would have supplied that without having to change the original story line.

Beorn. Now, there wasn't anything in the trailer that got me nervous about Beorn. But I just feel that there's a lot of things they could do to make the scenes with him not as awesome as they are in the book.

The red-haired-female-elf. Alright, I get it. If they didn't add her, Galadriel would have been the only actress in the entire movie (they added her too, by the way. She doesn't make an appearance until the trilogy). So because of our mixed up society, we now have a red-haired-female-elf who will do dialogue with cameo Legolaus, and hopefully not effect the story line too much.

Bard. I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure in the books he's described as rugged, dark, and grim. He looks more like a seventeen year old, curly haired elf.

The barrels are open. Seriously! I'm seriously mad about this one. How does that even make sense? They are in the barrels to escape the Murkwood elves! If the barrels are open, not only will they not be non-chalantly pushed into the water, but they will sink once they're in the river! How hard would it have been to close the barrels? Details make (and break) a movie, after all.

I think there's a lot to worry about. I would hate for the movies to flop in the minds of fandom-members because of their inaccuracies, or be so boring that strange people who haven't read the book have no desire to read the book. Peter Jackson did a great job with the trilogy, and hopefully The Hobbit movies will be great additions to the Tolkien world, as well. Just so you don't think I'm being too-knit-picky, here's a list of things I have enjoyed so far...

The songs. They nailed Blunt the Knives and The Lonely Mountain. So, so gorgeous....I just love that it's the actual cast singing them, instead of bringing in different singers! I do wish they put in the Fifteen Birds song that the goblins sing, though. That would have been very cool.

The casting. Perfect. Each and every one. Martin Freeman is a Hobbit, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, and all the other dwarves are doing a fantastic job. Ian McCellan is amazing as always, and I can't wait for Bennedict Cumberbatch to voice Smaug. His voice will be perfect for a dragon.

The entire unexpected party scenes. I just think they did a good job introducing everyone when the dwarves arrive, instantly giving them each an individual personality and setting the stage for the rest of the movie. It made me happy. :)

Radagast. Now, I can't remember exactly, but I don't think Radagast is mentioned in The Hobbit. Even if he is, he definitely does not play as large a role as he does in the movie. However, he is my favorite wizard and I was happy with him in the movie. And I'm sorry. No matter how by-the-book you are, how can Rustabell Rabbits not make you smile?

The Necromancer. Once again, the Necromancer is mentioned in the book, but does not appear in the extent that he does in the movie. But Gandalf does elude to an evil that is growing, and more history of The Necromancer is provided in Tolkien's other books. So I wasn't very unhappy when they added him, because it's simply supplementing The Hobbit with some information from The Silmarillion.

There is so much for I'd love to talk about! I just might have to do a scene-by-scene review of An Unexpected Journey one of these days, because there's just too much to say! Anyway, what are your thoughts about The Hobbit movies? Take a peek at the trailer and tell me what you think!


Just a quick note about something very exciting (for me, anyway). I finished Algebra 2 today!! Hip! Hip! Huzzah! I actually finished it on time...I just have to keep repeating that to myself. I'm in total disbelief, especially considering I didn't start until January! The sheer awesomeness of the fact can only be compared to this, which ended up being my soundtrack for this last week of Algebra problems. It's worth a listen, believe me!

In other news, I'm leaving to go camping with my family tomorrow! Four whole days of dutch oven cooking, swimming, and reading on the beach. :) I'll be back on Thursday, and have some fun posts planned for that weekend into the next week! Please leave your comments about The Desolation of Smaug, I'll be so excited to talk about them when I get back! :)

Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Book Review: How To Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace

How To Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace
By: Jordan Christy
Genres: Non-fiction, Classy Chic-Lit, and Self-Help.

Whether it's a tube top, binge-eating, or the latest red carpet scandal, daily life seems to hone in one fact: classiness isn't a top priority. Now more than ever, our society is becoming a lazy cesspool of dumb-downed speech and low standards.

In How To Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace, Jordan Christy outlines these and other modern phenomenons and how to beat them. With an energetic, conversational style she candidly points out where we go wrong, something she calls 'Stupid Girl' behavior. She doesn't just shake her head at tasteless actions, however; she tells you how to avoid them.

Covering everything from dressing, etiquette, make-up application and the classy way to get a guy, this book is sure to inspire. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the sense of legacy Christy creates. She talks about how we should do our very best to be intelligent, modern, classy women because of the women who've come before us. Using examples like Elanor Roosevelt, Audrey Hepburn, and Florence Nightangle, Christy points out that we shouldn't throw away everything these women fought for. Throughout history, women have worked to make a better world, and our 'dumbing-down' just insults their hard work.

In addition to the text, Christy adds in quotes, recipes, and quizzes. Not to mention the adorable cover! Just carrying this book will instantly make you feel more classy. :)

Even if you already consider yourself relatively classy, this book will leave you energized and full of purpose. How To Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World is a quick read (it only took me two days), perfect for toting around while out in the summer sun. If you're ready for some old-fashioned values and a refreshing outlook, definitely pick up this book!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A New Little Something

Hello everyone! It's been awhile since I've posted an outfit, and given the look of what I wore to church today, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

My grandmother gave both this dress and shrug to me for Christmas last year, but this is the first time I've worn it. Although I think the dress very elegant, it definitely isn't my normal style! Over the last year or so, my personal style has become a lot more anchored. I usually gravitate to dark colors, basic shapes, small prints, and classic, vintage-inspired pieces that have a very put-together look. The maxi shape and handkerchief style skirt on this dress definitely make it modern, and the shrug is a very eclectic looking piece. In fact, I was actually a little worried I would look goth in this outfit! :)

When all's said and done, though, I definitely liked this outfit! It was very comfortable for church, and while it wouldn't be a great choice for very humid days, it was definitely great for the mild weather we've been having. While I'm all for honing in your own personal style, every once and awhile it's fun to step out of the box! I'm so happy my grandmother gave this to me. It definitely illustrates that sometimes having different people help you with outfits opens up more possibilities! :)

It's finally starting to feel all easy-going-summer-life over here, which is much appreciated! I have my last driver's ed. class tomorrow (psyched!), and I'm *hopefully* going to finish Algebra 2 this week! We go camping next week, from Sunday afternoon through Thursday. Then, it's a couple days at home and then we're off to NH 4-H Teen Conference! I'm so excited; our entire county's been looking forward to the 2013 TC since we left last year! :)

Outfit Specifics:

Black Knitted Shrug: Gift from Grandma.
Black and Gold Maxi Dress: Gift from Grandma.
Black Skinny Belt: Stole from Mum. :)
Gold Peep-Toe Flats: Payless

Hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday, and I'll be seeing you later in the week! I'm hoping to post a book review soon from one of the titles I listed here, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that!

Thanks to AJ for taking the pictures! I'm also going to be linking up to Sunday Style at Plane Pretty, so be sure to check it out! :)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Being Fabulous

Scrolling through Pinterest the other day, I came across this pin...

I was already familiar with this quote, but for some reason it really struck me just then. Was I being 'fabulous'?

There I was, surfing around Pinterest instead of finishing Algebra. Weeks worth of laundry piled around my room. On my nightstand were un-read books, dusty lists of goals, and unfilled journals. Where was my creativity, my motivation? Where were all the plans I had for making this an awesome summer? Pinterest certainly wasn't bringing me closer to my goals. So why was I still on it?

I think especially in today's world, pulling away from screens and getting back to 'real life' is increasingly hard. Our society is over-stimulated. It's so easy to get caught up in blog archives or Pinterest boards. If we see something we want, we go out and buy it, because most things are readily available to  us. Brainless reality TV shows suck us in, only because it's what's on after our favorite show.

But what exactly constitutes fabulous? Obviously, I don't know what was running through Ms. Chanel's mind when she spoke that lovely quote. And I think each person's version of fabulous will be slightly different. But to me, being fabulous means simply living a full, contented life. It means pursuing interests and working hard every day. It means having a good time out with friends one night, and being up at 5:00 the next morning for work, all without complaining. I believe that being fabulous is being unabashedly yourself, putting 101% of yourself into something, and doing what's right even when it's hard. Others know they can depend on fabulous people, because they're strong, kind, and honest.

For awhile, I've been settling for being hoe-hum and mediocre. Sure, I have a huge summer reading list, but my computer is already open; so why not surf instead? I've been acting burnt out, and unwilling to try new things. Now, I would love to make those cupcakes...but it's been such a busy weekend. Worst of all, I've been setting goals and then choosing not to pursue them. Let's get Algebra done by the end of the week! Oh, look...Youtube!!

Now, I'm not saying that being burnt out isn't real. After weeks and weeks of busyness, my mind and body does need some time to rest and not feel guilty about it. But lately, laziness and boredom, and basically failing to be excited about life, has been occurring on a daily basis for me. It's a rut, and one I need to get out of.

I've talked about being lazy before. Unfortunately, it's something that's inherently human and that everyone struggles with. But that doesn't make it okay. This summer, I'm looking forward to gaining that momentum and purpose that sometimes eludes me. I can't wait to do a lot of reading, geek out friends, try my hand at new recipes and crafts, and have some adventures. All too soon, it will be back to the grind-stone with school. But by then, maybe things will be a little livelier because of a blessedly busy summer.

Thanks so much for reading this rather scatterbrained post! I know my thoughts were all over the place, but this is a subject that's been on my mind a lot recently and I had to get it out! My main hope for my blog is to encourage individuality, hard work, and general common sense in a world when those things can be hard to find. I feel Coco Chanel really channeled all of that into her one brief quote. So ladies, let's get out there this summer and really show the world how classy and fabulous we are! :)

(via) So much more to life than simply surviving it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Informal Summer Reading List

Summer has finally arrived! She may have taken her sweet time in getting here, but now she's in with a bang. :) Last Friday (5/24) we broke the record here in New Hampshire for the coldest temperature that day in recorded history (it was in the low 40's). Just yesterday, we broke the record for the highest temperature on that day in history (93 degrees!)! Just goes to show the old saying's true; if you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute.

One of my favorite things about summer is the long stretches of uninterrupted reading time. I always have my books with me, whether we're lake-side, camping, or hiding out with the AC.

Going into this year, one of my goals was to branch out with my reading. Though I've always been an avid reader, I usually end up sticking to my favorite genres. But there is so much more out there! I've tried to branch out a bit, like reading John Green for the first time and exploring the western genre. I can't wait for more fun reads this summer!

So, here's my very informal, scatterbrained list of what I'd like to read this summer. It's full of old favorites, new titles, and books that have sat in the 'to-read' pile for far too long. Enjoy!

I need more mystery. I plan to pick up series like Tommy and Tuppence, or Miss Marple by Agatha Christie again. And let's not forget about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. It's high time I re-read those.

More Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer. Because the very best times to read Bloody Jack is in the middle of winter when everything's boring, or in the summer when pirate stories seem the most appropriate.

I'm going to read the last two Squire's Tales by Gerald Morris (sob!). I'll be sad to see them go (that was an understatement. I'll be heartbroken.), but right now I can't stop thinking about them...

Tolkien. Simple as that. I'm re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring right now for the 3rd time (I think....). By the end of the year, I'm hoping to have read The Two Towers (3rd time...), The Return of the King (2nd time), The Hobbit (5th? 6th?), The Children of Hurin (never read it!), Untold tales (never read it!), and The Silmarillion (never read it!). If I could finish several of those before the end of the summer, I would be a very happy Hobbit.

I want to read some of Glen Beck's books. Particularly Glen Beck's Common Sense, or Arguing with Idiots. While working through a course in government, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed reading the articles on current politics. I already love his radio show, and I'd be curious to try reading something political!

There are other non-fiction titles that have been catching my eye recently, as well. Particularly Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris, and How To Be A Hepburn In A Hilton World by Jordan Christy.

I need to read more Jane Austen. Because there is far too little of it in my life. Right now, I'm particularly interested in Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.

And how could it possibly be summer without a delightful paperback romance? I'm particularly interested in Fireproof by Eric Wilson. And I'd love to read another John Green book. Paper Towns, perhaps?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzergald and To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee are two classics that have yet alluded me. Maybe this will be the summer!

After ages of my friend Deanna trying to get me to read them, I'm going to make this the time I pick up The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron. I love the Arthurian genre, and maybe this will help take away a bit of the pang of finishing The Squire's Tales.

I love Goodreads (friend me!). I can't wait to read some of their recommendations: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, The Typewriter Girl by Allison Atlee, and The Agency series by Y.S. Lee.

As if this already wasn't a list and a half, there are a couple fairly popular books I'm curious to check out. Mainly, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Whew, did I miss anything? :) Needless to say, I'm so excited that the season of page turners has arrived! How about you? What's on your summer reading list? Ever read any of these titles?

Thanks for reading! :)