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Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Three: Favorites

I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

~Christmas movie: White Christmas

~Christmas story: So many, I need to see all our old Christmas stories. There is an adorable one about a snowman.

~Traditions: Our Christmas Eve and Day gatherings, watching as Hallmark as a family, etc.

~Christmas carol: I prefer the merrier sounding carols like “Here We Come A Wassailing”

~Christmas treats: Truffles, cake pops, meringue Christmas trees, gingerbread men, gingerbread, peppermint fudge, and cinnamon rolls.

~Favorite holiday drink: Hot chocolate. I would still like to try eggnog and wassail though.

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If you would like to join in:
Favorites

~Christmas movie:
~Christmas story:
~Traditions:
~Christmas carol:
~Christmas treats:
~Favorite holiday drink:

Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day Two: Decorations

I borrowed questions and ideas from: herehere, and here.

~Real or fake tree
We have almost always had a fake tree. My dad doesn’t like the bother of a real tree. When I have my own family I want a real tree. Actually, I’d like to have a tiny tree in my room, but that hasn’t ever worked out yet.

~When do you decorate?
Usually shortly after Thanksgiving. This year I think it was a week after.

~Who decorates?
It used to be everyone, but now it is mostly Mom and the little girls. Certain of them have very specific tastes/styles/ideas.

~Do you decorate your room?
My room is usually in a state of disorder as far as design and organization goes, so most Christmas decorations either would not match or would be lost in the busyness, but I do have one neat half bookcase that I’ve decorated this year plus a adorable little bell wreath hanging on the doorknob outside my door.

~When do you take the tree down?
Usually shortly after Christmas.

~White or multi-colored lights
White all the way, definitely more elegant.

~Outside lights
We don’t have any, but I love a some white lights with candles in the windows and wreaths and garlands.

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If you want to participate:
Decorations
~Real or fake tree
~When do you decorate?
~Who decorates?
~Do you decorate your room?
~When do you take the tree down?
~White or multi-colored lights
~Outside lights

Discovering Knitting: How I Became a Knitter

I don’t remember exactly my age when my grandmothers first introduced me to knitting, but I know I wasn’t near a teen. One grandmother gave me a family knitting basket and needles and also a learn-to-knit set. My other grandmother gave me my first lesson . . . which didn’t stick.

A lady at my childhood church often brought her knitting when she worked as the church librarian. And once she brought a lace shawl once. Purple and delicate and elegant. I set my heart on lace.
When I was around 13, this lady invited some ladies and girls to a knitting class at her home. I struggled in the beginning; I ended up knitting back and forth combining left and right-handed methods instead of switching the needles and so instead of garter I had a twisted stockinette! Also, a couple other girls our age attended, and we often spent time talking and running around outside.

But I was truly interested. I loved seeing everyone’s work, especially our teacher’s. And our teacher gave us knitting catalogs which featured gorgeous yarn and patterns (I especially loved the ethereal lace), and I loved pouring over these. I eventually began to progress, but after awhile the group stopped. As I didn’t have access to many patterns and lacked purpose, style, and resources, I knitted sporadicy at best during much of my teenage years. I continued to look over the catalogs, and my sister and I received an excellent book that I still use as a reference (I got another copy).

Over recent years a couple things happened which combined to act as a catalyst to my knitting. I got jobs (rather essential to a hobby). A lady at church showed me how to knit Continental style which for me at least is much faster. I looked up the online stores of those old catalogs and learned about Ravelry via a blog. Other bloggers inspired me. So, I began to knit more. I ventured out of my comfort zone to learn lace and fingerless gloves and baby sweaters. We also joined up with the more serious knitters of the older group sporadically.

And now, I need to start venturing into more difficult territory. I’ve balked at sweaters which I really need to work on that because that is one of the most practical items for me personally.

If you know how to knit how did you learn? What inspires you/where do you find patterns?

Link Love: Character

Advice from a mom. I have a hard enough time responding sometimes.

How to deal with nightmare guests one and two. And perhaps how to see if you are one. One of the
most aggravating things about rude people is when hosts don’t deal with them.

The comment in section six of this blog post. Um, that should be a caution/stop sign for us!!! I’m really good at dredging things up that I’ve done, I’ve got a good memory, I’m sensitive to reactions, but what if I didn’t know/wasn’t thinking about the reaction, didn’t see the reaction?

Honesty online. Ranting, raving,  and complaining ties in here. People do that too much with friends, and it’s never a good idea at work, why would it be online? It is not fake to be “reserved.” To be careful. The Internet isn’t your diary, oversharing (over-familiarity) repels, oversharing creates a false sense of knowing people. Online you are missing a relationship, you are missing body language and tone and context (hello, why all emotional and subjective issues are dangerous online).

Gratefulness list. This isn’t new, but sometimes hearing an idea in a different way makes it seem more appealing.

Introducing the Newest Family Member

Meet our 5th animal:

Spooky little Halloween creature.

Some acquaintances of acquaintances found a family of a younger mother cat and four kittens abandoned behind a store (!!!!! Is it really so hard take them to the vet or humane society?!) and Babysister saw the post on Instagram (she’s been asking for a kitten for awhile). Thankfully all the cats have homes now. The vet estimated her to be about 5 weeks.

The first week, so tiny.

We got her around October and she’s already grown. She’s braver, friendlier, cuddlier, and healthier. She is a bit funny looking. When my sister got her my dad said that she looked like a bat. I watched her as she played upside down and really saw the resemblance. My grandmother said she looked like a fox. Her white eyebrows on the black gives her a skunk-ish experience. None of this is sounds flattering, but she really is adorable and precious. She has all sorts of undertones, underfur, and patches of cream, tan, grey, and copper.

 

Those eyebrows!
 

My sister got her around Halloween, so we discussed Halloween type names. The little girls liked “Grumplestiltkins.” She is black with green eyes, so “Toothless” was suggested. Then I saw a cat on Instagram named “Sybil Trelawney,” so we started discussing Harry Potter names, and Babysister decided on “Luna.” Trust me, that is the simplified version of the name discussion. We had some kittens (the sad stories) that never really were officially named which I think helped us decide a little faster this time. The girls started calling her “the Smush” before Babysister decided on the name.

Luna aka “Luna Buna” aka “the Smush” or “Smush”
Little baby has filled out a bit.
 
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Yeah, our animals never really have one name. 

~Well, Snickers is usually “Snickers”, but occasionally “Snickey Wickey”

~Sugarplum is tops the cake with “Sugarplummy”, “Sugar,” “Sugarbooger” (yeah, I know, but this is because we apparently love rhyming pet pet names, ha) and “Boogums” (again, wow, yeah I know)

~Mumford is “Mr. Mumford,” “Mumfy,” “Mumford man,” “Smumford” (that is according to us, according to him he is “King of the Jungle,”  “Lord Mumford,” etc. He is a cat’s cat. Sugarplum is a dog cat: humble, grateful, needy).

~Holly is “Hollywolly,” “Holly Louise” (according to my grandmother), “Demon,” “Evil” (well, those last might be just me)

Learning and Re-Learning to Read

According to my grandmother, I took forever to learn how to read. And my next siblings. Travelgirl and my brother essentially taught themselves. I don’t remember it quite that way although I don’t remember much about that at all except my brother and I laboring over those obnoxious “Bob” books.

Mom read out loud quite a lot during the early years of homeschooling when we used 5-in-a-Row which is a program based on using wonderful children’s books with gorgeous illustrations and charming storytelling. Dad read at least the Kirsten and possibly the Felicity books to me. Mom probably read Little House out loud also, certainly the illustrated ones; I don’t remember ever not knowing about this series.

Mom read Little Women to us during my preteen years. Dad read Narnia to us twice during my childhood and preteen years, and he made us read Lord of the Rings before we could watch the movies (okay, he let us start the movies before we finished, but we did finish). We had one set, and Travelgirl finished first. I raced my brother since we ended up reading at the same time. I was about 13, he was 9. I guess that says a lot about my reading abilities.

A year or two later I had a reading melt-down. I suddenly wondered if I was truly reading when I read silently. I basically couldn’t read silently after that. I read. every. single. word. out loud (my siblings said that I thought that I had to read every period). All my school. Reading was no longer fun, so I gave up reading for leisure and took to skimming all the books I found interesting. I think I might have read a few books in total during this period, like Pride and Prejudice, but most of these I read for school (we still used some programs calling for whole books; think Charlotte Mason method). This issue lasted most of my teen years.

When I was 18 or 19 some young people at our church started a book club, and I joined in although I’m not sure how many (if any) assigned books I read. We had such interesting games and conversation. Most of these people were readers. They introduced us to Goodreads. I began to persevere and truly read books more often. I moved closer and closer to reading in my head like a normal adult. Mouthing the words does still happen though. I got my own library cards, and for the last several years have almost constantly had books checked out.

Excellent books and serious readers (family, acquaintances, and bloggers) have always surrounded me. I’ve always loved the book world even while I struggled psychologically with reading. Now, I just struggle with discipline!

How was your progression to bookworm? Were you always one or did you discover the love of reading more recently?

Birthday and Ice Cream

My family used to give me gifts, but I never kept them long. Mom mentioned how hard I am to buy for, so I started making a gift list (I wish I’d done that sooner!!!!!). I still get surprised because I put many items on the list for everyone to choose from. Everybody’s happy.

I received a nice selection of movies, two cookbooks (I cannot wait to try some German cookies for Christmas), mini ceramic houses, and The Pioneer Woman’s darling measuring bowls.

Travelgirl, Travelgirl’s husband, my brother, my grandfather, and I all have birthdays in the same month, so we held a combined party. We made a massive slip and slide down our hill which was loads of fun. I wanted to make home-made ice-cream for this party (I made this pound cake for my actual birthday, and we ate it with whipped cream and strawberries). I made this mint ice cream (my sister had made it before so I knew it was excellent).

My dad cannot eat eggs, so I used the mint recipe as a base for the Double Dark Chocolate. I whisked 1/2 cup of dark chocolate cocoa in with sugar and cornmeal, I substituted vanilla extract for the mint, and I melted 8oz of dark chocolate and added it to the cream mixture before the ice bath. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan my freezing time well, and we had to wait a day for our chocolate. So we had mint ice cream, and my brother brought homemade raspberry sorbet.

This seemed to be the summer for ice cream. Babysister had made the mint and a buttermilk base cookies and cream (not to my taste) earlier. We had also made a buttermilk strawberry basil pretzel ice cream a couple times. And then we made Country Living’s Lemonsicle Ice Cream a couple times. After Dad bought a soft-serve ice cream maker, he made hard and soft-serve chocolate and vanilla a couple times.

Have y’all made homemade ice cream, gelato, sherbert, or sorbet? If so, what are your favorite

If so, what are your favorite recipes?

Financial Links

After another blogger (Lauren at Chic-Ethique) mentioned The Financial Diet plus some personal decisions, I’ve started diving more seriously into budgeting, tracking finances, and learning more about money. What I really think is needed, though is something dealing with all of our emotional and mental tangles over money. How one foolish choice can mess up your finances later when you are making worse choices that could have been avoided. How you can know all the basics, but still waste money, etc.

Financial Books I’ve Read or Skimmed

Financial Peace. Always a great start although I don’t agree with everything.

I know I read or skimmed something by Larry Burkett. I would always start with Ramsey and Burkett.

The Behavior Gap. The title is GREAT. I have all the information, but I don’t put it into practice. I was hoping for some sort of helpful psychological discussion. This book is quite silly and shallow and repetitive.

Save Money by Wanting Less. Yeah, this requires some self-talking.

Money and Mindset.

Extreme Savers.

Items to cut from your expenses.

This blogger talks about his journey to financial “independence” (truly a misnomer if you think about it) via passive income (an interesting concept).

I’m not really in a place in which I need a strict line-item budget (not sure I will ever be with the way I want to budget shop), but I still like researching it. However, I think everyone ought to track their expenses whether or not they use that to formulate a budget. You can also use it to see where you’ve spent too much money and where you can cut down money.

Ages ago, I came across a blog post (I feel like I linked it here, maybe?) in which the author discussed how she tracked her expenses for a year. I decided to do that. I’ve been working on how to make the most of that information.

I made a chart in Excel (I think you can use Google Sheets for this) with the headings item, date, category, and amount (if the item is an expense put “-” in front) and with a total of the amount at the bottom. I then made a pivot chart with “categories” as row labels and “amount” as values (sum of). I used the sort filter to remove the “income” category and made a pie chart with percentages to show how I spent my money visually.

Autumn Bucket List

 

About a month ago, I saw a lovely idea for a bucket list here on The Enchanting Rose. I at first thought I “needed” to buy pretty patterned paper and jewels too, but realized that I could use stamps and paint to add detail to the paper we already had.
I picked out this gorgeous sketchbook from my notebook and journal hoard (mostly from Half-Price); this will be my art journal for autumn and winter. I made my version fairly quickly for me although it has taken me awhile to post.
I am so proud of this. I picked the colors to match the notebook cover.
I kept my options rather general. I’m hoping to get a photo and art page out of a couple of these; I think that would be fun. What are y’all’s fall plans?