Friday, December 30, 2016

Jess Reads December

So I made it.  My yearly goal is 100 books, and I squeaked them in by the skin of my teeth!

Here's what December was:

1.  A Letter of Mary

I continue to move through this series focusing on Mary Russell, now Sherlock Holme's wife and partner.  I'm still dealing with the crazy 30 year gap in their ages, so unrealistic, but the books are still awesome anyways.  You'll love this series, if my last few months of raving about the books aren't enough to tell you that!

2.  To the Bright Edge of the World

I was fairly excited about this book which focuses on Colonel Allen Forrester as he led a very small group of men into Alaska and across the Wolverine River into unchartered areas.  It was sort of advertised as a great epic voyage mixed in with some fantasy elements.  Written in letter format from the perspective of Allen as well as his wife Sophie who was left behind in Vancouver, it focuses on both of their stories simultaneously.  The back and forth letters drove me a little batty- I tend to not love stories told in letter format.  In the end I kind of felt that it was lacking, both in the adventure of Alaska, I was expecting more of what they suffered, what they did, saw, ate, etc., and I felt it was lacking in more of the fantasy.  There were some fascinating fantasy traditions from Native lore, but again I felt like it was just a little bit, not enough to really engage me and I wish they would have fleshed these out a bit, especially the ones involving Sophie thousands of miles away.  But it could just be me, the book has 4.6 stars on Amazon.

3.  The Snow Child

This book was written by the same author as To the Bright Edge of the World.  Actually written first, it focuses on an infertile couple in their 50s living in Alaska near the Wolverine River.  (The author is actually from Alaska).  The couple emotionally have been struggling for years because of their inability to have children, and now are estranged from each other in a lot of ways.  One night inspired by a beautiful snow fall, they build a little snow child.  They giver her hair and a face and the next morning when they wake up the snow is half gone/toppled and there are steps leading only away from the snow girl.  This is essentially a fairy tale, and I can't really give all that much detail about it without giving it away.  A much better book by Eowyn Ivey in my personal opinion, and was actually a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.

4-9.  Laura Ingalls Wilder series

The weather got cold here and I decided to read the first Little House book, my all time favorite in the series. This caused me to go down a Little House hole of which I haven't quite come out of yet.  I read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, skipped Farmer Boy, read On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie.  I love Farmer Boy but wanted to concentrate on just the Laura books.

I love this series and probably read it every year.  It makes me feel like I'd rather simplify my life and calm down a little bit and be grateful for all of the things I have.  It also leads me to be frustrated with my kids at how much they have and don't appreciate.

Pa always has great sayings, things like (summarizing) "modern inventions are great but then we rely on them".  He was talking about kerosene for a light and Ma had said they never had kerosene when she was growing up but still somehow had light.  Can you imagine?!  Americans have no practical skills anymore, and this is a huge reminder of that.  Makes me want to learn how to do things "the old way".

I think everybody and their mother has read this series, but if not, buy it ASAP, you'll be glad you did.  All in all, a good way to end 2016.

Final 2016 book total: 104

Currently reading Robinson Crusoe for the first time and Pride and Prejudice (again...).  Wonder which one will be my first book for 2017?!

And here's a post on Five books to spend your hard-earned money on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What I Asked for Christmas

Chris is a terrible gift giver.  Like the absolute worse.  After 15.5 years of marriage I've learned it's really just best to give him a list.  Here's what's on it this year in no particular order:

1.  My Burberry Black Perfume

I haven't worn perfume in years and as I've gotten older I can't wear anything sweet smelling.  My Burberry Black falls into the spicy category and while I don't love it immediately after I spray it, the lingering scent is amazing and makes me feel like I come from old money.  I want to make this my signature scent. $95 for 1.6oz

2.  A New Watch
Image result for michael kors rose gold watch with leather band

My beloved Swiss Army watch broke a few weeks ago.  I've had it for 8 years and I literally feel naked without it.  It's a metal men's watch, and this time around I've been feeling like maybe a leather band.  I went to TJ Maxx and they had great name brand watches for much cheaper.  Then I found out that a jeweler in town can probably fix my watch.  So this isn't going to make an appearance under my tree, but at least I have a better idea for the future.

3.  Wicked Good  Boots
Image result for wicked good boots
Most of our house is tiled, and while I love it that my kids aren't getting carpet filthy, it's more than a little chilly in the winter.  As I write this it was -5 this morning, no joke.  I've worn to death a pair of slippers from Gander Mountain but they are so old and worn that there is literally no support in them at all not to mention the traction is totally gone.  These LL Bean boots/slippers would totally fill the bill.  They are technically indoor/outdoor boots, but the carpet we do have is white! so these would be inside only shoes.  I would wear them all day everyday.  $129

4.  Duluth Pack Scout Pack

I've kind of been obsessed with backpacks lately.  I only carry purses that have a shoulder strap, I hate having something in my hands.  But the backpack goes to the next level, total hands-free and behind out of the way.  I'm really drawn to the natural color in this bag, but can't imagine trying to keep it clean.  Handmade in Duluth, Minnesota.  $135

Friday, December 9, 2016

What We're Getting the Kids for Christmas

Lol whaaa:

As mom to 5 this just might be true....

I struggle every year on what to get our kids for Christmas.  I think that too many toys stifles the imagination and leads to kids being dependent on "things" for fun.  Plus we really want to instill in our kids that Christmas really isn't all about the presents; contrary to what most of America thinks.

This year we actually did end up going with toys.  I am still trying to make peace with it.  For our two boys ages 5 & 6 we went with Legos.

This for Moyz.

This one for Truitt although we got it on amazon prime and much, much cheaper.

Kembia is getting this doll from Walmart.  It's sold out online but we got ours in the store.

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That fox purse kills me.

Owen is getting the newest Diary of a Wimpy kid book, plus a hunting snowsuit as well as this awesome multi-tool with a hatchet on it.

Ava is our tough one.  She already got a pair of combat boots she wanted early.  She'll also be getting skinny jeans, a gorgeous winter hat- think hipster style, and a pair of mittens.  She's a tough one with very defined ideas on what she likes.

Other than that, we're going very low key.  Our kids have every thing they need.  We've been reading through the Little House books, and are constantly amazed at how few things they  had, but how happy they were.  We're all kind of feeling that simplicity is better.

We have one main Christmas tradition,and that's pomegranates in the stockings.  But Ava felt like we didn't have enough traditions, so this year we decided that every Christmas Eve we'll make oyster soup inspired by non other than the Little House books again.  Not necessarily the main part of the meal, but definitely present at our evening meal the night before.

Other than that the kids have their stockings which are filled with goodies to eat, and one other very tiny present, Kembia is getting a Hello Kitty robe that we found at the goodwill, of all places.  She's been asking for a robe for the last several months.  We definitely don't believe that presents have to be new.

We're also doing the paper chain countdown until Christmas, honestly mostly for my sanity.  Moyz asks me every day if it's time to open presents....