Monday, December 24, 2012

On this Christmas Eve...

On this Christmas Eve, I am thankful for all that I have: a roof over my head, enough food to keep me healthy, and most of all family and friends. I am also thankful for those friends I made through this blog and and the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I can connect with all of you both here in my country and around the world.

Yet, on this Christmas Eve, my thoughts turn to those who have so much less, and struggle each day to survive in war and poverty. I am also thinking of all those who have lost loved ones this past year through senseless violence.

And so, on this Christmas Eve, I am praying for peace and that we all come together around the world to realize the value of all human life and the need for peace, and the right of every human being to live free and safe without the worry of persecution or violence. I also pray that we learn to share with one another that no one should go without their basic human needs as in food, shelter, and medicine.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that we all realize that we are all connected no matter what our beliefs, race, nationality,gender, or orientation.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that we set aside our materialism and focus on healing and recovering the damage we have inflicted on our planet. For without the Earth we will not survive.

On this Christmas Eve, I send blessings to all...


Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Little Behind, But Moving Forward

I am a little behind in posting lately. Well, actually I am a little behind in everything. Even during this busy time of year, I am usually very organized, but this past pre-holiday week, a few things took precedence over focusing on the coming holiday.

I unexpectedly had to sink a few dollars into my car in order that it would pass inspection.  While I knew it needed work and budgeted to save the money for repairs, it cost a little more than I prepared to spend. It all worked out though.

The day following the car repair, I awoke to the news of the terrible mass murder that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This horrible incident stopped me up short causing me to spend much time in prayer, meditation, and deep thought for much of the past week. The entire 2nd Amendment issue has placed me in conflict between my logic and my belief system. However, I do not feel up to discussing it in this blog. It will have to wait for a later blog.  Anyway, that’s enough said for now.

My mom was very ill with a stomach virus this past week and still is not 100%. I spent the beginning of the week at her apartment helping her out as much as I could. By Friday, I didn’t feel so good either and I am staying close to home hoping I will feel well by Christmas day. As I make most of my gifts, I don’t have to worry about last minute shopping, but I still have to add some finishing touches to the gifts I am making.  I will take some pictures of these gifts to post here once I give them away. As a side note: I have to start taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the items I refurbish from old into new instead of posting the finished creation. It will give you a better idea of what I do.

Another major distraction this week came in the form of a gift from a very good friend who I haven’t seen in a couple of years although we talk on the phone often.  I knew he was sending me something.  He told me it was not a Christmas present, but a thank you present for helping him out.  I was a little taken back when he told me this, as I didn’t expect anything.  Anyway, the package came on Thursday and I opened it to find a Kindle Fire! I am still in shock and thrilled to death! He could not have sent me anything better. I am used to buying things I need rather than the things I want and more than anything else, I have wanted a Kindle Fire since they first came out.  I cannot say “Thank you!” enough!

Today and tomorrow, I plan on wrapping presents and baking while I listen to Christmas music. I am spending Christmas day at my brother and sister-in-law’s house with my mom and my niece and nephews. Then in the evening, I will relax with a movie, probably Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather.”

I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful holiday and many blessing for the coming year. Thanks so much for stopping by… ~Yvonne~


Thursday, December 06, 2012

My Thoughts on “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman

TheMagicians (2009) and its sequel The Magician King (2011) by Lev Grossman are novels of the Urban Fantasy genre.  (Viking Press)

The first of the two books, “The Magicians” follows the adventures of Quentin Coldwater, a young man living in Brooklyn, NY who is rather disillusioned and unsatisfied with life in general.  Quentin has completed high school and is about to enter college, but with no real idea of where he will fit into either the academic or real world.  He is in love with his childhood friend Julia Wicker who considers Quentin only a friend. He sees himself as a third wheel as he accompanies Julia and his best friend, whom Julia is dating, as they head out to apply to University.  

As the day progresses, Quentin finds himself in Brakebills Academy, a school located somewhere in Upstate New York within a parallel universe where he is tested and accepted on his magical abilities. During his testing, he sees Julia in a classroom taking a test as well, but as he does not see her again at Brakebills, he believes he is mistaken.

While attending Brakebills, Quentin meets and makes a few friends that are of his own like and falls in love with Alice Quinn, a magician with natural talents who takes her magical training and study seriously. Quentin finds his studies more difficult than he expected, sometimes grueling, though there are times when excitement does ensue.

Upon graduation, Quentin and his friends return to the real world and live together in an apartment in NYC. Once again, Quentin finds he is bored with life finding only monotony. Once again disillusioned, he wishes for adventure. He spends much of his life partying, while Alice continues to study magic beyond the walls of Brakebills. Quentin simply cannot find meaning in his life until one of his friends confirms something that Quentin always suspected was true.

Throughout the book, Quentin is obsessed with a series of children’s books titled “Filory and Further” written by a fictional author Christopher Plover.  The series follows the five Chatwin children as they discover and venture into the magical world of Filory.  (The description of the Filory books very much resembles the “Narnia” series written by the very real author C. S. Lewis).  Quentin, fed by rumors, always secretly held the belief that the Chatwin children and the land of Filory were real and through a friend finds that he is correct in his thinking.  It is with this discovery that the lives of Quentin and his friends take on new meaning as they set off to explore the world of Filory.

Quentin and his friends soon discover that something has gone terribly wrong in Filory, and it is not the world of their expectations. They set off on an adventure to set things right, but find many harmful and confusing barriers along the way. Unfortunate tragedy strikes the group as they battle the evil that has disrupted the magical world.  At the conclusion of the adventure, Quentin decides he is better off in the real world and leaves his friends Filory and forsakes magic altogether. Until one night…

For the week it took me to read these two books, I traveled in worlds that I wish existed.  I found myself laughing aloud and even voicing warnings to the characters such as, “No, don’t do that.” If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy and Adventure genre books, I highly recommend this book and its sequel. You will not be disappointed.

Quentin’s story continues in the sequel “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman.  My thoughts on the sequel are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading… ~Yvonne~

Monday, December 03, 2012

Creating for Christmas

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am a big believer of recycling the old to make the new.  This is true of gifts for others as well.  I rarely, if ever run around town buying this or that gift or struggle within the madness of crowds and traffic to buy into the media’s materialistic version of the spirit of giving.  If I do buy new, it is something unique from a local artisan.

Friends and family can usually expect a recycled book or two as a gift from me, no matter what the gift-giving occasion. The books are always used editions that I find at local used bookstores or library book sales. 

However for the most part, my gifts are hand-made or home-baked.  Hand-made gifts usually come in the form of recycled and refurbished items from second-hand stores or garage sales that I purchased earlier in the year. For instance, this year I am refurbishing and decorating the wood frame of a mirror, a wood jewelry box and a wood tray. I also have plans for a couple of quilted wall hangings made from scrap fabrics from used clothing that are far beyond repair.

Over the next few weeks, my house will look like a disaster area with paint and bits of string, fabric, beads, and paper scattered everywhere.  During the last week leading up to the big day, the kitchen will have the addition of a light covering of flour, and powdered sugar to look like there was a light snowfall. The fragrant smell of sweet goodies will permeate the house as I bake and package the cookies and small breads for gifts.

Well, I am off to paint, sew, cut, and paste. Hope you all have a great week!

Thanks for stopping by… ~Yvonne~