Monday, December 29, 2014

Reading, listening, knitting, writing, and sorting the randomness in my head

I took a little writing break last week. We decided last minute to spend the whole week of Christmas (rather than the long weekend) at Nana and Grandpapa's house, and while I probably could have fit in some writing while Nana played with the munchkin, I also wanted to attack my current knitting project and read the first Veronica Mars mystery novel. (Very enjoyable read, although not one to dive into before watching the television show and movie). But, if you can't take a little break over the holidays, when can you? And I'm feeling a bit of pressure on this knitting project. I told a friend I could knit his fiance a Harry Potter house scarf, and the pattern I liked best (which looked the most authentic to me) has a LOT of stitches and I'm not a fast knitter.'s taking a while. Every time I sit down I think I should be knitting. (maybe I should learn to knit and walk, but it'd still be a challenge with a baby around). Fortunately, we have a good number of books in our Audible account, and I'm currently listening to a Harry Dresden mystery by Jim Butcher (great books for listening too. James Marsters -- a.k.a. Spike -- makes these books come to life better than just reading them I think) and making my way through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

When I do pry myself away from knitting, I'm reading the Fairwil ARC. Remember the Wilfair series that I told you about? Are you reading it yet?

And on a random ranty note...sometimes, I am blown away by the things people think it's okay to say to other people. Several days ago, a friend of mine related a story about some very rude things a woman (complete stranger) said to her about her children -- while her children were there. She has a large family, and that's what this woman was commenting on ("I feel so sorry for you" "I could never have that many kids" etc.) Thing is, that woman is completely entitled to that opinion. Children are not for everyone, and lots of children are not for everyone. But how is it any of that woman's business that my friend chooses to have a large family? She and her husband support themselves, so there's zero reason to make rude comments, especially in front of the children (they are elementary school aged -- perfectly able to hear and understand when someone essentially says: you are a terrible thing). I know a lot of people with more than two kids who get these kinds of comments from people, and I will say it again, loud and clear:

Not. Your. Business.

Unless this large family is DIRECTLY affecting your life: not your business. Harp on it in the privacy of your own home if you must, but still. As my friend so eloquently put it, when did babies become tumors?

Okay, rant over.

Enjoy the post-Christmas/pre-New Year's shopping/leftover-eating/de-stressing/new-toy-playing-with week!

Friday, December 19, 2014

More Christmastime

I should start off by saying that I love Christmas movies. I think, if possible, I could spend the entirety of December watching a different Christmas movie every day. And I know so many Christmas movies are cheesy, but somehow I can tolerate more cheese in movies than books, and then my tolerance is even greater when there's red and green and tinsel and caroling involved. 

(That's not to say I love EVERY Christmas movie. I do have my limits.)

So, in the spirit of the season and its endless lists, here's another! Five of my go-to, watch-them-every-year Christmas movies: 

If I was forced to pick just one Christmas movie, it would be this one. Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, and Vera-Ellen. Two big-shot entertainers end up in Vermont with two beautiful and talented nightclub performers at a ski lodge with no snow. Bob wants to help out an old army buddy, and Phil wants to play matchmaker. And in the meantime, there's tons of great music, dancing, humor, romance, and a touch of 1950s glamour.

This movie brings to mind Christmases in the Ozarks, visiting my grandparents, aunts, and cousins. Every Christmas at Granny and Grandpas we'd watch a few movies, but ALWAYS some version of A Christmas Carol and ALWAYS with a debate on which version is the best. George C. Scott...Alistair Sim...Patrick Stewart...the musical...the Muppets...Mickey...and the Bill Murray version Scrooged if you're my husband. Really, there are so many to choose from, and a flavor for everyone (except Jim Carrey. I refuse to acknowledge it exists). It's a classic story for a reason.

Who doesn't smile at Ralphie's extremely active imagination, or cheer when he cracks under the pressure of the school bully. I can quote almost this whole movie, and don't mind doing it. It's fun and nostalgic.

Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas, and serves as the voice of everyone who's a little burnt out at Christmas. 

One of my favorite romantic comedies, this movie set at Christmas and New Year is about love and family. It's the movie that made me fall in love with Chicago, and it's just good stuff. 

Obviously, there are so many great Christmas movies not on this list. It was really hard to narrow it down to even five! What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I posted several weeks ago a few fall-ish books, so right now it seems fitting to post some books that suit my mood during the Christmas season. I'm still in a cozy mood -- so I'm in the mood for stories that make me want to curl up with a blanket and hot drink. But if fall was all about atmospheric moodiness, Christmas this year is about feel-good stories. I'm craving romantic comedies, well-loved classics, and non-dark fantasy. So here are four books that suit my mood for this Christmas:

1. Fairwil
Happy and sad days are here! The ARCs are out for Alysia Gray Painter's final installment of the super fantastic and wonderful books set at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in sunny Los Angeles. This is feel-good fiction at it's best, y'all. Funny, sweet, sassy, whimsical, heartwarming, heartsqueezing, romantic, friendly....just fantastic. Buy the first three ebooks and gobble them up. They're only $1.99! The perfect stocking stuffer! Or post-shopping reward.

2. Something by Jane Austen
I'd probably reach for one of my favorites: Emma or Persuasion, but pick your own favorite and curl up in front of the Christmas tree with some tea and scones.

3. Shadow Scale 
This is the second book in the Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman (and doesn't actually come out until March 2015. Small details!). Think Renaissance, but with dragons. I haven't read Shadow Scale yet, but Seraphina is so, so good. If you love fantasy fiction, music, and good stories, you have to read Seraphina. Even though the book isn't Christmasy, non-dark fantasy always suits my mood for cold-weather reading, and Christmas is so much about music for me, that the huge role of music in these books also makes it the perfect read for this time of year.

4. Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
These Russian-inspired fantasy books definitely put me in the cold-weather mood. Especially living someplace where we're as likely (or maybe even more likely) to wear flip-flops as we are boots on Christmas, it's nice to have a story that gives me some cold-by-proxy. This trilogy breaks from my mini-mold here because it's serious and tense, but it's just the right amount of suspense with a dash of romance. It's spiced wine and spiked cider rather than hot chocolate, but still a great winter read.

I've got a similar movie/television post percolating in my brain, but in the meantime, what books or movies or television shows are your flavor this Holiday/winter season?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Watching...Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars (2004) PosterI've mentioned before how I like good storytelling in multiple forms, not just books. So movies, television shows, and live performances all have a place at the table. The past month or two, I started watching Veronica Mars. (Finally! Sometimes I feel like the last person in the world to have watched it). In brief: loved it. Hubby even loved it too! And here are five reasons why:
1. Veronica. Sassy, smart, a little neurotic, and a lot single-minded. Loyal to her friends, hell to her enemies. Kristen Bell nails it.
2. Veronica and Keith. The closeness of this father-daughter relationship reminds me in some ways of the Lorelai/Rory dynamic. It was a little more parent-sibling than the best friend dynamic of the Gilmores, but the closesness is there. You could tell that for each of them, the relationship with each other was the most important relationship in their lives.
3. Cast of supporting characters -- good guys and bad guys. I hate to even call them supporting characters, because without Wallace, Mac, Duncan, Logan, Piz, Leo, Weevil, Sheriff Lamb, and even Vinnie, the show would fallen flat.
4. Good mysteries. So, some of the mysteries are definitely a bit more dramatic than the average person's everyday life (murder, etc.) and necessary for a good, dramatic story, but I also appreciated  the more typical teenage detective stories: missing dogs, bullying, vandalism, rapists. It's the kind of stuff you expect a high schooler/college student and her peers to deal with.
5. More than one note.  Veronica Mars is certainly a drama, but it didn't settle for being a straight-forward, serious procedural detective show. It is also hilarious, creepy, heartwarming, and sad. Kinda like life.
Bonus love: not only is there three seasons (cancelled before its time! Curse you CW)  and a crowd-funded movie, but there's also a novel and another in publication! It's on my nightstand,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Nap time

Sometimes, it just works out perfectly:

A long morning nap for the munchkin + yoga + a shower + a good cup of coffee + a few more more words (sentences even!) added to the work-in-progress.

I'm trying (some days more successfully than others) to learn how to fit in bits of writing here and there around naps and bottles and playing and making sure the house doesn't implode. And it works. But mornings like this are so decadent. Like a mini vacation for my week. An unexpected downhill after an uphill climb and a burst of momentum for the next hill up ahead.