Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It's been an interesting past few months, but I have enjoyed blogging.  I have also enjoyed reading other blogs, as well as getting to know some fellow bloggers.  Thank you all for welcoming me so kindly, and I look forward to blogging more with you in the new year, and getting better at this whole thing! :-)

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!  (I'll be back in January.)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Memories

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   I dug back in my diaries this evening and was reading my Christmas entries in years gone by.  I just felt like sharing something sentimental tonight, so here are some of my little Christmas memories.
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   Dec. 2011:  This year I performed in The Nutcracker Ballet for the first time.  It was one of the most exciting times in my life.  There were busy rehearsals, fabulous costumes, and two magical nights of the actual performance.  Also, my youngest cousin was born just a few days before.  It was a very blissful holiday season.  The highlight of my Christmas gifts was the beautiful ballerina nutcracker my mom and dad gave me.  It's really special to me and now sits on my nightstand during the Christmas season. 
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   Dec. 2013:  It was our first Christmas at our new house, and we were still settling in.  It was also the year that my great-grandmother passed away exactly one week before Christmas day.  That was probably the saddest Christmas I can remember.   But we managed to have a close family Christmas (as always), buried in a good few feet of snow.  I remember that we lounged around and watched the stand-up comedy DVD my mom got for her mother, and I helped my Nana set up her new iPad.  After all, it was a good Christmas, knowing that my great-grandmother was spending it in a better place, celebrating in a glorious way. 

   Dec. 2015:  Funnily enough, I remember thinking to myself last Christmas, "What if this is our last Christmas here...and we don't even know it?"  Five months later, we were moving.  Honestly, last Christmas was a happy one, even without snow.  We had a Lego Advent Calendar last year because my two younger sisters are really into Legos.  And we went with our cousins to see Star Wars VII, which was awesome (and also tearful). My sisters and I made each other gifts.  I carefully chose materials that made me think of them and sewed infinity scarves for each of them.  

  There will always be those other memories.  The little things.  My sisters and I snuggled up around my mom while she read Christmas stories to us.  Bundling up in our pretty pink puffers to play in the frosty back yard.  Our puppy dog curled up under the tree, as she always loved to do.  Making Christmas crafts at school to hang on the tree.  My youngest sister watching Frosty the Snowman every. single. day.   Drinking hot cocoa and making Christmas cookies together.  Waking up at 5 am to run to the tree and see all the presents.  All those things are ingrained in my memory, and I fondly look back on them every year.

   I can only hope this year will bring many new memories for me and my friends and family.  Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of year, and so there's a little snippet of what Christmas has been like for me. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

10 Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

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   Today is a special day, everyone.  It is actually the anniversary of Jane Austen's birth.  And, since she is the best authoress ever (don't even try to argue with me), I have decided to share my top 10 Jane Austen Adaptations (including movies inpired by or based on her work).  Note: I will only include one adaptation per story - though I know there are more than one for each of her novels.  Here we go:

10. Persuasion (1995)

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    Honestly, Persuasion is my least favorite of Jane Austen's novels.  I liked it, but I just didn't love it the way I did with the others.  I couldn't relate to pushover Anne - I mean, I get that she has a heart for serving others, but she has no confidence in her own heart until the end.  Also, Wentworth was not my favorite Austen gentleman.  But enough about what I didn't like!  In any case, Wentworth delivers one of the top most romantic lines she ever wrote, so... And the fact that in the end Anne makes up her own mind and follows her heart really helps make for a good romance after all.  This adaptation was wonderfully faithful to the book, which I liked.  (I really need to see the more recent BBC adaptation!)

9. The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

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   Despite some minor problems, I thought that this was a sweet story about modern-day Janeites.  It's interesting to watch how each of their situations relate to the novels they read in their book club and how they help in their own real-life love stories.  Hugh Dancy's character, Grigg, is the best!  He's just adorably hilarious.  Just made me realize how much more lovable is a guy who gets into Jane Austen.  ;-)

8. Northanger Abbey (2007)

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    I liked this adaptation a lot, though it is hard to beat some of the others, which is why it ranks so low on the list.  The sets and costumes are charming, and the dark dreams Catherine experiences really draw out the effect of Gothic novels which Jane Austen implied in her writing.  While, again, it's not my favorite, I definitely enjoyed this mini series.

 7. Mansfield Park (1999)

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    I do love Fanny Price.  She is probably the sweetest, most selfless Austen heroine.  Her tale is kind of a Cinderella story, and the end of this movie is so satisfying, seeing each character get exactly what they deserve - especially Fanny's happily ever after.  Fanny really reminds me of my mom in many ways, and maybe that's why I love her so much... 
(Just so you all know, the 1999 movie is a thousand times better than the 2007 mini-series.) 

6. Love & Friendship (2016)
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    I cannot help loving this movie!  It's too funny and perfectly dramatic.  If you want to know all my thoughts on it in detail, check out my review.

5. Becoming Jane (2007

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   Personally, I love this movie about the life of the author herself.  Sure, it is a bit dramatized...but we will never know for sure what really happened.  Either way, I think it's lovely, and the actors are perfect for their roles.  The love story behind the novels is really fascinating, so if you haven't seen this one you really should.  (Now that I'm thinking about it, I need to watch this again sometime soon because it has been awhile.)

4. Austenland (2012)
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    This is the laugh-out-loud story of an Austen-addict who goes on her dream vacation to Austenland...and then gets hit by reality.  I love this movie and, while it is not a direct Jane Austen adaptation, it has many crossovers of her novels within the plot.  This Jane's adventures are funny and charming, and it's hard for an Austen fan not to enjoy this light-hearted comedy.

3. Sense & Sensibility (1995)
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    My third favorite Austen novel is Sense & Sensibility.  Of course.  I really love the sisterly bond between Elinor and Marianne, the way they encourage each other and care about the other's lives and feelings.  They may be complete opposites, but they are also close friends.  As their love stories intertwine, there is a lot of emotion, but it is all so beautiful.  I honestly tear up every time, and it's the only Austen story that brings out the feels like that for me.

2. Pride & Prejudice (1995)

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  Alright, Pride & Prejudice in general is such a good story, but this mini-series is just perfection.  (It's an extremely close second to my number one!)  If any movie has ever brought a book to life, it's this one.  I just can't say anything else about it.  It's that good.  If you don't believe me, go watch it yourself

1. Emma (2009) 
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   However great Pride & Prejudice is, Emma is my favorite.  Favorite book - like, ever.  Favorite movie.  I just absolutely love it.  Emma is the queen bee of Jane Austen heroines (and her story itself).  I absolutely love Mr. Knightley, too.  The lovable characters and the perfect romance make Emma a story I can't read or watch too many times! 

So there you have it.  A quick write up on my favorite Jane Austen adaptations in honor of what would be her 241st birthday.

(Now, it's really late.  I started writing this morning and didn't get to finish until now.)

What's your favorite Jane Austen film adaptation ever? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Just Love This Time of Year!

 It has snowed two weekends in a row, and my city is a world of white.  You can just imagine how happy it makes meThings are looking up like we just might have a white Christmas here.  I have already enjoyed hot cocoa and a book by the window as the snow falls outside

  There's just something about Christmastime.  That feeling in the air that affects everything you do, that fills you with peace even in the middle of all the craziness, that  gives you the joy of the real reason we celebrate. 
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    Our family has been enjoying the fun activities on the Advent calendar my mom made.  We have had movie nights, picnics by the tree, family game time, lights drives, and all that fun stuff.  I can't believe there are just 12 days left!

   It is so nice to be on Christmas break from school now!  But that doesn't make us any less busy.  There's a lot of shopping, baking, wrapping, etc. still to be done before the 25th.  I have some posts planned, but they may be few and far between because of the busyness.  

   In the meantime, I am going to sign off for now, and jam out to my Christmas playlist on Spotify while I decorate the tree in my room -- I have put it off for far too long! 

  What's your favorite part about Christmastime? 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Very Merry Tag

 I found on Naomi's blog, Wonderland Creek, this fun Christmas tag from Abby at Lavender Spring, and I decided it would be a fun way to kick-off December.

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   1. Does it snow where you live around Christmas?  (If it doesn't, you have my sincere sympathy.)  How much?  Any special snowy Christmas stories?

Typically, we do get snow, but there have been a few sad Christmases without it.  In 2013, we got our first snow in October and it was a blanket of white clear into April of the next year.  That was a very cold, but lovely Christmas (and Halloween and Thanksgiving) in a winter wonderland. 

   2. Do you get a real tree or a fake tree? 

Oh, we have a fake tree.  Real trees can be a hassle, though they are quite pretty.  

   3. What is your favorite Christmas movie?

I do not know how to choose!  There are so many good ones.
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   4. Where in the world would you like to spend Christmas the most?

Hmmm...I think it would be magical to spend Christmas in Vienna, Austria.  It seems that they go all out for Christmas there, and I would love to go to concerts, visit the Christmas markets, look at all the lights and displays, taste their food, and whatever else they offer for the season! 

   5. What fictional/literary character would you love to spend Christmas with?

I have no idea.  Perhaps Elizabeth Bennet?  I like to imagine what Christmas at Pemberley would be like... Or maybe Bilbo Baggins - I mean, what cozier way to spend the holiday than in a hobbit hole with "good food, a warm hearth, and all the comforts of home"?

     6. What is your favorite Christmas song?

Like classic carol?  Or do pop Christmas songs count?  Going by traditional Christmas carols, my favorite is probably "O Holy Night" or "Joy to the World".  My current favorite modern Christmas song is "December Song" by Peter Hollens - I am totally obsessed with this song right now.

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   7. What is your favorite Christmas book/story (besides, ya know, the story)?

There's this really sweet story about the meaning of Christmas called The Legend of the Candy Cane - my mom read this book to my sisters and me when we were little, and I always loved it.

   8. Which do you prefer: multi-colored lights or white lights?

White, for sure.  I have never cared for the look of all those rainbow lights - they're a bit too much, imo.

   9. What time period/decade would you most like to spend Christmas in?

Honestly, as surprising as it sounds coming from me, I am quite content to spend Christmas in the 21st century as it is.

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   10. Which period drama has the best Christmas scene/episode?

Little Women has the two best.  I can't decide between the March sisters willingly giving what they have to the poor Hummel family or Beth receiving her piano and their father coming home from the war hospital - both Christmas moments in that movie are heart-warming and give me that happy feeling of the season.

Anyone who's reading this is officially tagged by me. Happy December