Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Slumps

Slumps. They're annoying, eh?

You wake up and pull yourself out of bed. You really, really don't want to give up, but it's not because of your bed being oh-so warm and comfy. It's not pleasant. You're not smiling to yourself. And there, my friends, is the start of the slump.

You've been doing tons of blogging for the last week or two. Feeling all inspired. Then, suddenly, you can hardly concentrate enough to write anything coherent. So you go on Pinterest, instead.

You've literally been a reading machine this summer....four books read in August already? Awesome! Feeling motivated, you check out five YA novels from the library. And then you start a book that's simply okay, and your slump continues....

Impending start of school. You feel like you're on a giant countdown. But you don't even feel ready to start, and you can't do anything to get organized, because you lack the notebooks and sticky notes necessary to your existence.

The days are long, and yet, you never get anything done.

You decide to loose a couple pounds. Who needs to carry extra weight around? Then, you sit down and pin cupcake recipes. *le sigh*

Everything seems difficult. Everything is boring. You know that soon, you'll be literally forced out of this slump by due dates, required reading, hectic fair season, bumping up ice time, and all that other crazy stuff. But for right now, you're sitting here, reading this.

I suppose there should be a point to all of this. But I don't have one. Let's just commiserate with each other, then. Summer's almost over, and I'm really looking forward to getting back to the routine. For fall. For cardigans. And tea. And having to add layers to step outside. It's my favorite. And I'm ready for this slump to flee. I hate slumps. Nooo....hate's too strong a word. That's another thing I strongly dislike about slumps. Everything is so boring, that you don't even have the inclination to use strong language to describe them.

Blegh. I'm done with hoe-hum.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Straight From The Page: Between The Stars

"My constellations are not made from the stars, but from the spaces between the stars. The dark places. The open places, where your mind can travel forever and ever."
-The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Classics Club (!!!!!)

Ello. :)

The other day I was visiting fellow linkers from The Book Chewers. I stumbled across this tumblr, which then led me to The Classics Club. (horray for linking!!!!). And I have been super excited ever since.

The Classic's Club is a 'club created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books.' Basically, you create a list of 50+ classics, then commit to reading them by a certain due date (maximum five years in the future). You write a review for each book after you finish it, then all sorts of linking takes place. It's awesome because there is no set 'time'. You can join whenever you like! And, they're very good about what constitutes a 'classic'. It's pretty much open to interpretation, as long as it is at least 25 years old.

So, I've decided to join up! I was considering doing a re-visit to my For the Betterment of Her Mind list, anyway, so this is perfect (just cross your fingers this challenge works out better than that one...). I've decided on 57 titles, with my official end date being September 22, 2018 (so it's technically five years and one month. Shhh.....). That gives me a few weeks lee-way to catch up, if need be. I'll be 21 when this challenge ends....eep!

I plan on reading one book from the list every other book, and seeing that I included a couple of lit-class picks, it should be fairly doable. Easier reads will be for the busy-ness of the school year, and I'll focus on the harder reads during the summer. I should be completing roughly one a month, so 12 a year.

This list is in no particular order, but I'll try to let you guys know what I'm reading, so maybe we can chat about the books. :) If you're a blogger, I highly suggest looking into the club!! Check it out here.

Without further ado, here's the list!

A few of the books on my list. :)


1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.
3. Northanger Abby by Jane Austen.
4. Persuasion by Jane Austen.
5. Lady Susan by Jane Austen (supposedly her first work, not published until after her death!).
6. Emma by Jane Austen.
7. Sanditon by Jane Austen (one of her unfinished works).
8. The Watsons by Jane Austen (another unfinished work).
9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-visit).
10. Agnes Gray by Anne Bronte.
11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (re-read).
12. A Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
13. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
14. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. (re-visit).
15. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (re-visit).
16. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brone.
17. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
18. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzergald.
19. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (re-read).
20. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
21. The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
22. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy.
23. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. (re-read. I read the abridged when I was tiny, and was terrified. For some reason I want to be terrified again....)
24. Drakula by Bram Stoker.
25. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
27. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Mum read it, I watched it. About time I read it!).
28. 1984 by George Orwell.
29. Villette by Charlotte Bronte.
30. The Professor by Charlotte Bronte.
31. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte.
32. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.
33. Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott.
34. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
35. Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton.
35. The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle.
36. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (re-read. Basically, I want to read all the way through my copy of this. Soooo.....)

  • A Study in Scarlet.
  • The Sign of the Four.
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Return of Sherlock Homes.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • The Valley of Fear.
  • His Last Bow.
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

37. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
38. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
39. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.
40. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.
41. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
42. The Ingenious  Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (I totally blame this post).


43. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.
44. As You Like It by William Shakespeare.
45. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare.
46. All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare.


47. The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Caroll.
48. Poems by Curer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (Also known as Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte).


49. Stories and Poems For Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages collected by Harold Bloom.
50. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhem Grimm.
51. The Complete Works of Hans Christian Anderson by Hans Christian Anderson.
52. The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
53. The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
54. The Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
55. The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
56. The Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
57. How Much Land Does A Man Need? And Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy.

So there we have it. 57 books, 4 re-reads, and 3 re-visits to books I've never finished. You probably noticed my affinity to Austen, Shakespeare, and the Bronte's, but I'll also be reading Fitzergald, Chesterton, and Hugo for the first time.

By the by, even if you don't participate in the challenge, you're not all out of luck! You can always check out The Classic's Club shelf on Goodreads, which features some of the most popular classics picked for the challenge. I also just made a 'For The Betterment of Her Mind' list on Goodreads, for the purpose of collecting books that make you think, in the spirit of Mr. Darcy. So stop on by and add your picks!

Thanks for reading, and wish me luck!!! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Last week, I mentioned my life-list. I really didn't do it justice in those two sentences, though, so I thought it deserved a post of its own. :)

Once again, I started this last November after coming home from National 4-H Congress. There I had heard Dan Thurmon speak, and like everyone else in the room, left inspired. Seriously, he is amazing, and I would gladly take any chance to hear him again.

Anyway, he talked about one man who had created a life-list when he was 15 years old. Basically, this boy just sad down and spilled out everything single wish and dream, no matter how crazy it sounded. He included everything from 'read through the Bible' to 'Be the first to explore (a bunch of previously unexplored) rivers in South America.' The guy ended up with a list of 600+, and has checked off almost all of them. But he didn't stop there. Since then, the same man has made numerous other lists, with equal success.

Dan Thurmon's main point in all of this was that it's one thing to think about something, but working towards it is entirely different. By writing down matter how're basically telling yourself, "This is real. I can do this." Plus, writing it down holds you accountable. It's no longer just a wish, it's an actual-on-paper-goal, and it will stare at you blankly forever if you don't cross it off.

We should all aim to complete more in life than what's expected. We don't have to go explore the Amazon, but then again, why not? Everything extraordinary that has ever been accomplished by human kind was accomplished by people just like you. We are so blessed to live in a society where we have the means to do lots of things. Why waste it? Why not take it for all it's worth?

The beauty of these lists is that they show you the relationship between your 'small' dreams and your 'big' dreams. My list has things like "Sew a green coat", "play the Pride and Prejudice theme on the piano", and "read through the Bible." They're sitting there right alongside "skate with Disney on Ice", "Tour Europe", and "own a breakfast and lunch shop."

Basically, there is no such thing as a 'small' dream. If it's important enough to you to write down, then it's important enough to complete. Chances are, the more we accomplish the 'small' things, the easier than 'big' ones will be. The point is to be setting goals, holding ourselves accountable, and always striving to be better individuals. Each and every life has the potential to be amazing, regardless of your situation.

In that spirit, here's my life-list. I actually was undecided about sharing this, but it seems like the right thing. It's quite long, so don't feel obligated to read it. Some of things may seem silly or vague, but just remember that this is my list with no editing. These aren't the detailed plans that might exist in my head, just the end result or basic idea. :)

1.) Write a successful blog.
2.) Publish a 'Young Yankee Lady' and 'NH Farmer Wife magazines'.
3.) Be a nomadic writer.
4.) Write a blog about being a nomadic writer.
5.) Write a western romance (or several!).
6.) Write a WWII romance novel.
7.) Write non-fiction.
8.) Read the Bible.
9.) Do my 'for the betterment of her mind' reading list.
10.) Read several books a month in addition to that.
11.) Decorate my room at Christmas. 
12.) Sew a green coat.
13.) Finish Algebra on time. 
14.) Take economics.
15.) Skate with Disney on Ice.
16.) Land a double lutz.
17.) Do a layback spin.
18.) Give out all homemade gifts at Christmas.
19.) Learn to knit socks.
20.) Ride a plane all dressed up.
21.) Pass senior MIF.
22.) Pass senior free skate.
23.) Picnic on the other side of the Reservoir.
24.) Visit the Library of Congress.
25.) Start a 'classic clothing basics' clothing line.
26.) Open a boutique.
27.) Have my own general store called Beanie's.
28.) Knit a pair of leg warmers.
29.) Visit Pemberlry.
30.) Be in skating magazine.
31.) Have my own little farm with a lovely family.
32.) Learn to play Jane Austen music on the piano.
33.) Visit family in Denmark.
34.) Go out swing dancing with a cowboy.
35.) Write a book about Grandma and Grandpa Eddie and Galt.
36.) Tour Europe.
37.) Learn to speak French.
38.) Learn to speak Latin.
39.) Learn German.
40.) Learn Greek.
41.) Learn Danish.
42.) Make a friend who's Amish.
43.) Take a picture of me doing a layback spin in front of Rockefeller Center.
44.) Start a 4H exchange program.
45.) Build up OMK in Strafford County.
46.) Welcome troops home.
47.) Start a quality, classic sewing line.
48.) Learn to sketch.
49.) Send a message to a friend using flowers.
50.) Live like a Hobbit. :)
51.) Read Jane Austen. 
52.) Start a program for our 4H club to work with other clubs to get them more involved in 4H.
53.) Live in the wilderness without electricity.
54.) Create a capsule wardrobe.
55.) Study art appreciation.
56.) Go on The Amazing Race (with Deanna).
57.) Finish all my subjects on time with a solid A.
58.) Live at the Beasily's and fix up the yard and house.
59.) Go out with a pilot for a night of dancing.
60.) Write love letters back and forth.
61.) Build up our church's  food pantry.
62.) Knit a fair isle sweater.
63.) Translate the Hobbit from Latin.
64.) Over the summer, make a rough draft for one of my novels.
65.) Have at least three people read and critique it.
66.) Write a second draft.
67.) Shear my own sheep by myself.
68.) Spin my own sheep's yarn.
69.) Write a prequel to The Hobbit about Kili.
70.) Do a split.
71.) Write to Gerald Morris.
72.) Sew everyday for a month.
73.) Make a personalized dress form.
74.) Make sketches to go with my Kili novel.
75.) Have a secret cabin the woods.
76.) Read some of Anthony Horowitz's books.
77.) Write to Alan Alda.
78.) Read Dan Thurmon's book.
79.) Read the book with the 'life lists' that Dan Thurmon talks about.
80.) Write to Frank Guinta.
81.) Write my futuristic short story.
82.) Write my 'lifetime' screenplay.
83.) Try doing fan art for Disney-especially vintage princesses.
84.) Read Hosea.
85.) Read Revelations.
86.) Write to Richard Armitage.
87.) Skate with a TOI troupe.
88.) Compete at Regionals.
89.) Land an axel.
90.) Read the Silmarillion.
91.) Skate a 'high-level' solo at the spring skate show.
92.) Join the Air Force.
93.) Re-decorate my room.
94.) Sew Abby a Christmas dress.
95.) Make a complete victorian outfit.
96.) Rent a beach cottage with The Puzzle.
97.) Start my Etsy pattern shop.
98.) Comment in lit class at least once every class for an entire year.
99.) Publish something.
100.) Get my license.
101.) Be club president and work really hard to make 'best-better' changes int he club.
102.) Go on a 3-day hiking trip.
103.) Go on a canoe/camping trip.
104.) Excercise six days a week for an entire year.
105.) Write letters to myself for ages 23, 32, and 60.
106.) Finish French on time.
107.) Finish Biology on time.
108.) Do a lift-your-leg spin.
109.) Take a senior picture of me doing a split.
110.) Learn to do a really good hand stand.
111.) Work through our pilates DVD.
112.) Breed sheep.
113.) Absolutely fill my window sill with plants.
114.) Make a purple trench coat and pants outfit for Fashion Revue, and wear it with those brown heels.
115.) make a gray a-line skirt to go with my green coat.
116.) Read all of Tolkien's books.
117.) Do an Ina Bauer.
118.) Try pair skating.
119.) Walk around during my speech at Big E.
120.) Coach skating.
121.) Buy a really nice little planner.
122.) Loose five pounds before school starts.
123.) Write a homeschool lit and English curriculum.
124.) Be a 4H extension educator.
125.) After I graduate, start a new 'single lady' blog.
126.) Own a 'paper and pen shop'.
127.) Own a 'breakfast and lunch shop', with a coffee bar.
128.) Study chicken coloring genetics by breeding my own birds.
129.) Write a backyard breeder's book about chicken genetics.
130.) Do a classics club list.

Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All The Feels Link-Up

'Ello. :) One of my favorite book blogs, The Book Chewers, is hosting an 'All The Feels' challenge for their weekly link-up. I was attempting to do their ABC challenge last week, but I never got it all together, so I'm excited to link-up this time. :)

(Click here for the link-up)
This week, we're talking about the books that really made you feel something. If you add your own post, be sure to tell me in the comments, as I'd love to check it out!

Made me laugh:
Frindle by Andrew Clements. It's an old favorite that never fails to make me giggle, especially in audio book form.

Made me cry:
Boston Jane trilogy by Jennifer L. Holm. I've listed the some of the specific books for certain categories, but I honestly remember crying during every single book. It was like Jane was my best friend, so every time something bad happened, I was personally offended.

Left you depressed:
Night by Eli Wiesel. I read this for lit class, and while I will say it was a good book, it was extremely depressing. I would seriously mope after reading parts of it. To think that people could do such terrible things...

Stunned or shocked you:
In The Bloody of the Bloodhound by L.A. Meyer. I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was, but without spoilers.....I really wasn't expecting the ending.

A book that made you angry:
Buddy: How A Rooster Made Me A Family Man by Brian McGrory. Thought it would be cute, but it just made me angry. It was quite obvious the author had very low morals and had no idea what he was talking about.

Terrified you:
By the Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie. This is easily my favorite of her mysteries, but it still creeps me out. The old lady with the milk? The missing babies? Terrible.

Close second.....

Wilderness Days by Jennifer L. Holm. You're on a lonely mountain. You've kindly treated a stranger to hospitality. After he leaves, in search of one of the men in the colony, you find out that this man was supposedly dead. Even buried. I read this ages ago, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad a second time around, but man did it scare me!

Makes you feel nostalgic:
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Aside from all the childhood memories connected to this book, it always makes me feel a little sad. It makes me ache for a different era, it makes me want to be little again, it makes me wish that the world was a little different.

Mixed emotions:
The Claim by Jennifer L. Holm. It was the last in the trilogy, and the last paragraph left me not knowing what to think. Yes, she had made friends, was engaged to the love of her life, and things were finally working out for her. Buuut, everything in their little town was changing, and many people had died. Overall it was very bittersweet.

Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Straight From The Page: Ascending the Stairway


"Ascending the stairway of branches, I realized that my heart was still racing, though not with fear, nor with exertion. It pounded with anticipation. Something about this tree, this minute, thrilled me in a way I could not explain."

-The Lost years of Merlin by T.A. Baron

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Paper and Pen Type of Girl

I love to organize, file, and label things. I think nice notebooks, accompanied with nice pens, are vital to anyone's existence. I love chronicling the seemingly normal parts of my day through to-do lists, journals, and sticky notes.

While all this may seem slightly obsessive, I genuinely love the feeling of writing things down. It makes me feel in control, professional, and that my life is at least managed chaos. Here are the notebooks and lists I use on a near-daily basis:

My skating notebook. This is something new I'm trying. I keep this journal in my skating bag, and use it to record where I skated and what I focused on. It's also great for listing goals and test dates!

My list notebook. This is where I record weekly lists, shopping lists, and homework to complete.

My journal. This is my very much loved day-to-day journal. I absolutely love the way my crazy cursive looks inside of it. I never have rules with this...I write whatever comes to mind. This journal catches every emotion I'm feeling.

My planner. After checking my list notebook, I make a daily to-do list in here, as well as record dates and times for events.

My writer's journal. I started this while in Mrs. Z's creative writing class earlier this year. Here I save inspiration, write random snippets, edit, and plan blog posts!

My prayer journal. I don't use this enough, unfortunately. But it is a great way to think of prayers that might have gone unsaid otherwise.

My life-list. After coming back from National 4-H Congress last November, where I'd heard Dan Thurman speak, I sat myself down and created a life-list. It's just a plain legal pad, and I've currently got 122 goals, both big and small, listed on it.

So there you have it! Hope you've enjoyed this little peek into my paper-obsessed life. Got any notebooks you can't live without? Tell me in the comments?

Thanks for reading! :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Home Again: My Re-Read of Tolkien's 'The Fellowship of the Ring'

I've finished it.

And now I'm in the extremely satisfied, talkative, slightly giddy mood I'm always in after finishing a book.

Only multiply that feeling by...err....111, because after all, this is the lovely work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

This was my fourth time reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Mum first read it aloud to my brother and I when I was seven, and I've listened to it at least twice on audio book since then. However, it's been several years since my last reading, so at the start of summer I knew it was time for a re-visit.

This is my first time actually writing a real review for Tolkien anything. Except for my thoughts on the next Hobbit movie, but that doesn't really count. How can I review something that has been a part of my life since...forever? How can I write something that does any justice to the writings of Tolkien? How can I even summarize an entire world, filled with its own histories, cultures, and languages?

In this post I'm not going to summarize the plot or anything. Most folks have a general idea, especially with the movies being so popular. Here, I'd rather share my thoughts after my re-reading of a book already on my favorites list.

As I settled down and read through the prologue, Concerning Hobbits (vital. It is so interesting, and you'll love hobbits even more.), I couldn't stop smiling. I felt like I was visiting an old-friend I hadn't seen in years, and yet they hadn't changed. My reading was frequently interrupted with squeals and the repeating of favorite lines to Mum. If this wasn't a library book, my purple pen would have been out in a flash to underline everything.

Re-reading it this time, I feel like I've come away with such a better understanding. I'm older now, and my reading's changed quite a bit since my last listen. I've been in Mrs. Z's lit class....that alone has made me a more in-depth reader. I was pleasantly surprised when parts that bored me last time (yes, bored. I was younger and this is a long book!) were enjoyable. Tom Bombadil? Yeah, I remember really disliking that part of the book. This time, I loved every second, read his songs over and over, and pondered over his significance. And let's not forget the trolls poem I fawned over. I had 100% forgotten that poem existed, and reading it seriously made my day.

Another thing that really struck me this time around was how Tolkien developed the characters. Merry and Pippin are fun-loving, hilarious, and fiercely loyal right from the start. Bilbo is the pleasant eccentric. Frodo feels the responsibility for the burden of the ring and wants to save his friends from the inevitable dark fate, but not in an annoying-harry-potter-i-am-the-chosen-one kind of way. (Sorry Potter fans. That just really annoys me). Boromir is so much more than the 'only one that gives in to the ring' like the movies often present him. What about his brute strength getting them off the mountain? And His constant concern for the 'little ones'?

The Fellowship of the Ring's themes are classic. Good vs. Evil. Friendship and loyalty. Self-sacrifice, especially for your home and those you love. That there is always hope. Every time I sat down to read, whether it was for a paragraph or a two-hour session, I came away all bubbly and happy. It may sound cheesy, but Middle-Earth sort of restores my faith in humanity. The characters are not epic in and of themselves. They're quite ordinary for their respective races. It's the ring and the quest that is special, not them. They each have faults, and experience fear, indecision, and temptation. And yet they all overcome it (yes. Even Boromir). It's the classic ordinary people doing extraordinary things. All of them embark on a quest they believe to be futile, simply because they have to try and do something for the good of their homelands.

I've been a self-proclaimed Tolkien addict ever since my first reading of The Hobbit, but this read only confirmed it. I love the movies, the fan-fiction, the appreciation the actors have for their parts, and all the geeks who dress up in Middle Earth costume. But it's the actual books, Tolkien's way of creating a world so fantastic, and yet so believable, that really has me caught. I would encourage everyone who hasn't read The Fellowship of the Ring to please, pick it up. It is rather long, but much better than much more boring required reading you'll encounter in school. Right now, though, I would especially encourage you avid readers to re-read it. The only way I can describe it is as a happy, going-home feeling that no movie could ever replace. Though in general I'm not a huge re-reader, The Fellowship of the Ring will always be a constant for me.

Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Straight From The Page: MarchHare House

"Remember, I am in MarchHare House, so please make sure you put that one the address when you write, otherwise the letters might get lost. It's a good House to be in because it inevitably comes last in the House Cup, so no one cares much when I lose House points."

-A Brief History of Montmaray (Montmaray Journals, No.1) by Michelle cooper

Monday, August 12, 2013

Did ya miss me?

Hello, blog readers! Well, we got back from MO yesterday afternoon. It was so nice to visit family. Some of them I hadn't seen since I was 7. Needless to say, we're already looking forward to our next trip! Some highlights were eating breakfast at Cindy's, Worlds of Fun, going to the Redsox/Royals game, an awesome pool with lots of slides, and all the food! I seriously did nothing but eat. :)

Anyway, this is just a quick post to let you know I'm alive! I hope everyone enjoyed the pre-written posts, especially August's guest post! I'll be back with 'proper blogging' tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

Inside the Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal.

My Mum and Uncle Lleldan...

My brother AJ and Cousins Lily and Ena and I outside the abandoned Berry church.

Uncle Jimmy with us cousins.

Baking cookies at Aunt Karen's. 

The rocket ship slide!!!

Walking around the Berry cemetary.

Our sign at the Royals/Redsox game!!!

Ena and I...
Thanks for reading! :)