Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Christmas Ornaments

We like to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to begin pulling out the Christmas decorations around here. However, it's totally ok to work on crafty Christmas creations. 

Last year about this time, I was busy creating ornaments. The first two had been in my to-craft pile for awhile. The wooden train was a kit we picked up on our trip to Alaska in the summer of 2018, and it went together fairly quickly.

The Humpty Dumpty was actually pieces of the base of a lamp from Robbie's childhood. The lamp was in pretty bad shape, so I had him take it apart and save the pieces of Humpty Dumpty that were spread out along the lampstand. I glued them together, touched up the paint, and added the flower and ornament hanger.

Next, (based on inspiration from Pinterest) I created some personalized ornaments using ribbon, twine, and Scrabble tiles.

Then I participated in a free online event with a variety of teachers and created quite a few more ornaments - painted balls, scalloped circles, and paper stars.

I had also noticed quite a few pandemic themed ornaments online, so I decided to turn one of the scalloped circles into our own personalized memento for the year 2020. Here's a look at the front and back.

The free Ornamentally Yours event is hosted by Lindsay Ostrom and is scheduled again this year with all new ornaments and a great line up of teachers, including Shimelle. Click HERE to join the Facebook group and participate this coming weekend (October 12-14).

I've actually already created a few ornaments for this year after seeing some FUN button trees while scrolling on the internet several weeks ago. I pulled out a variety of buttons and love the way these wonky trees look. 

They kind of remind me of Whoville! What do you think?

Monday, November 8, 2021

Book Reviews | Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels


Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball by Phyllis J. Perry follows 5th-grader Jack as he deals with a couple of bullies who steal his lunch and call him Mustard (because they consider him a coward/yellow because he doesn't fight back). Jack and his buddies enjoy baseball and are excited that their team is going to the World Series. He's also been assigned a project with the new kid in class, so there's plenty of action going on in this chapter book. This is an easy-to-read engaging coming-of-age story (which I received free from TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review) that would appeal to middle graders and be a good conversation starter about bullying.

Since I enjoyed the Hunger Games series, Robbie picked up a copy of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins for me. This is a prequel to the original series and tells the backstory of President Snow. It's a good read, although it's not what I would have envisioned and leaves the reader with a little more empathy (rather than complete loathing) for Corialanus Snow and the drive behind his need to survive.

In addition to these two first (to me) reads, I've also been reading some of the books in our collection, most of which I've read before. Some are classics, while others are ones I've had since my school years. As I(re)read these books, I'm deciding which ones stay in our collection and which ones can now be passed along.

The ones that continue to merit shelf space (and future re-readings) include:
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane was first published in 1895 and follows a young soldier, Henry Fleming, as he battles fear and cowardice in the midst of the Civil War. He eventually discovers courage as the war matures him in this well-written novel.
* Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch is a quick read about a young girl who struggles with anger and is often in trouble for misbehaving at school, but she's also dealing with lots of responsibilities at home while her mother works to provide for the family as her father is in prison. Robbie remembers his elementary teacher reading this book aloud to him, and it's a favorite of both of ours.
* The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is another classic first published in 1895. When the Time Traveller arrives in a future utopian time he wants to learn how the creatures live in harmony and return to his own time, but he discovers all is not as it appears.
* A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a lovely book about young Sara Crewe and the hardships she faces at a boarding school in London when her father passes away and the strict headmistress relegates her to a servant. It's a beautiful story about using one's imagination to make the best of any situation and has a wonderfully satisfying ending.
* Master of the World by Jules Verne follows John Strock, head inspector in the federal police department, as he investigates reports of objects moving at speeds that make them almost invisible. The book is set in the early 1900s and is a classic science fiction story. Strock is eventually captured by the man who is behind these events and wants to be master of the world.

A few books did not make the cut for staying in our collection for a variety of reasons:
* Gentle Annie: The True Story of a Civil War Nurse by Mary Francis Shura is a good read with details about nursing during the Civil War. I enjoyed this fictionalized biography and added it to the donation box for others to enjoy.
* My small paperback copy of Candy Stripers by Lee Wyndham was falling apart and hasn't had a cover for years. I believe it was originally my older sister's book. We were both candy stripers at local hospitals in our teen years, and I really liked this story. However, I knew it was time to re-purpose it and have added the pages to my pile of ephemera for use in paper crafting. I kept some of the pages with illustrations separate and plan to create a scrapbook page about my time as a candy striper (or junior volunteer, as we were called when I served during a couple of my high school years).
* Waiting Games by Bruce & Carole Hart is about fourteen-year-old Jessie who "becomes romantically and sexually involved with her eighteen-year-old guitar teacher Michael." This is another book from my teenage years that I probably would not recommend now as it downplays the emotional consequences of teenage promiscuity.
* I had a beautiful hardback copy of The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo; however, as I re-read this story of Despereaux (a mouse who lives in a castle but gets sent to the dungeon by the other mice), Roscuro (a covetous rat who lives in the dungeon), Miggery Sow (a servant girl who is mistreated), and Princess Pea (whose mother died while eating soup), I realized that it's quite a downer (although things work out in the end) and I had no desire to trudge through it again. It went into the donation pile.

I'm enjoying working through these books in our collection, keeping some, passing some along, and repurposing others. Have you re-read any of the books in your personal library lately?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


It's my AUNTiversary!

Thirty-five years ago today, I became an aunt for the first time. As a senior in high school, I really didn't understand how that new title would change my life. I now have three nephews (& a niece-in-law), four nieces, a great-nephew, and four great-nieces.

Several years ago, I posted some reflections On Being An Aunt and a few years later shared about A New Season of Life as the summer visits waned and many of our interactions came through technology. Although our times together ebb and flow over the years, I truly love spending time with all the nieces, nephews and greats! Oh the places we’ve been … and the places still to go!