Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 in Review

February is my least favorite month. Period. Even though there were a redeeming few days in there, it was still like most Februarys are. I think February is hard for everybody because it seems like there is no end in sight for school, and besides Presidents Day, there's not really anything to break that monotony. Also, the last half February is hard for me because I have start getting ready for a Fine Arts competition the first week of March. Now, we're entering on the most stressful week in my second semester, possibly in the whole school year! However, there were some good points for February!

The Southwest Gospel Music Festival
Oh my word, guys!! This was so much fun! I love southern gospel and this concert was basically three hours of awesome groups. My favorites were the Erwins, Gordon Mote, and of course, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. During intermission, I went up to the EHSS table to see if their autograph cards were free. They weren't, but the guy said I could have one! He then helped me get everyone's autographs and he took my picture with Ernie Haase! It was awesome! Then, that Friday, my mom and I bought a lot of music, so that's all I'm listening to now!!

The Amazing Grace
This was a youth rally at a church in my city. There was awesome preaching, but then, they had a sort of scavenger hunt. We wandered through the desert looking for clues, and I got "caught" by a cactus... My team won though!

Hogan's Heroes is my new favorite TV show. It's hilarious!!

I didn't do much for Valentines Day, but I did have this thought: "Everyone be like: Arthur and Amy are so cute!! Me: He's 20 years older than her.....)

Hahahahahaha. I read the last Martha book, a book report book, and am 170 pages away from finishing Little Dorrit. Yeah... Not much...

Looking forward:
Spring break in two weeks!!! Yay!!
Oklahoma! (the musical)
Youth conference in April!

How was your February? What's your favorite/least favorite month?

Oh yeah, and Confidential prayer requests are a lot cooler than Unspoken prayer requests....

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Literary Heroine Blog Party 2015!

So when I first started blogging, I couldn't wait for the Literary Heroine Blog Party at Accordion to Kellie! But I forgot about it. Until I saw everybody else's tags!! Yay!! Thanks Kellie! 

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random! Hi! My name is Ashley. I'm a 16 year old junior from Phoenix, Arizona, where it's currently warm enough to wear a tank top. (Take that you easterners...) I want to be a journalist and a southern gospel pianist and a bunch of other stuff on the side :) From that statement, you probably figured out that I like to write (NONFICTION) and play the piano and do a bunch of other stuff, such as reading, learning languages, and watching Hogan's Heroes. 

Random fact: I love The Emperor's New Groove. In fact, the only reason this fact is in here is so that I could have a place to put a GIF.

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? A true heroine is strong in her character, decisions, and spirit. Meaning, she is strong enough to carry the whole book. She should be a good role model, but not perfect. A wishy-washy heroine who can't make decisions is not fun to read a whole book about...

Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.  Ummm, wow! Every blogger and their uncle is probably going to say Elizabeth Bennet, so I'm not :D I admire Elisa Linder (from the Zion Covenant series that mysteriously works its way into every post...), and I admire how Rilla of Ingleside grew and handled herself. 

However, I feel I have more in common with Violet Travilla (Elsie Dinsmore's daughter). Guys, I don't think I ever related to a heroine as much as I did when I read Violet's feelings about growing up!! She's practically me!!! (The Violet books are waaay better than the Elise ones, IMO). Also, I tend to be a Susan from the Chronicles of Narnia, before the Dawn Treader. (Oh, and this doesn't really count because I don't relate to her, but a favorite book series of mine has twin protagonists named Ashley and Bryce (my brother's name)!!!

Also, I haven't read The Penderwicks in a while, but I think I'm kind of a mix of Skye and Jane.

Five of your favorite historical novels? A Tale of Two Cities, Vienna Prelude (well, there it is again...), The Witch of Blackbird Pond,  Rilla of Ingleside, and Captain's Courageous.

Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? Let's go with Elisa Linder (again). She's smart, musical, and marries an American journalist. She's also a spy... Rilla of Ingleside is amazing too!

Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?  Nat from The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Or Walter from Rilla of Ingleside. 

Cuz I'm so proud of this right now

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? The UK (and a quick stop to see my European friends :D). I would see everything!!

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? Recently, I've read a lot of Civil War books, but my favorite time periods are the 1930s-40s and 1770s-80s.

You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of? Playing southern gospel piano. And maybe It's Only a Paper Moon, Heart and Soul, and I Got Rhythm.

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent?  Susan Pevensie! (I'm pretty sure I drooled over C. S. Lewis's description of nice clothes that were comfortable. I drool over a lot of stuff in Narnia, come to think of it...)

Favorite author(s)? In no particular order: Dickens, Alcott,  Jane Austen, Lynn Austin, Henty, Montgomery, Nesbit, C. S. Lewis, NOT Nathaniel Hawthorne

In which century were most of the books you read written? 19th-early 20th.

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is… RHETT BUTLER!! Just kidding :D Laurie is awesome as a character, but not a great hero. For ordinary heroes, Gilbert Blythe!! (GUYS, did you watch the last episode of Green Gables Fables!!! #Shirbert) For extraordinary heroes, The Scarlet Pimpernel!
I don't exactly remember what was being referred too but that sweater though....

In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities or Blandois from Little Dorrit. Madame Defarge is fascinating, but Blandois is creepy....

Describe your ideal dwelling place. I'm not a big city person, but I need modern conveniences, so the country is out of the question. I'd like to stay in Phoenix or move to Nashville, cuz everybody awesome lives there!

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 

Three favorite Non-fiction books? Do Hard Things, The American Boys Handy Book, and The Story of My Life by Helen Keller.

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? Swim, blog, surf Pinterest/YouTube, play piano, read, watch Netflix.

Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. No hat. In concept, a cool-looking baseball hat would be nice or a slouchy beanie, except they both make my head sweaty and itchy and the beanie probably would slip off my head.

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. Umm, besides starting a blog, nothing extremely big has happened to "mark my life." It's usually the little stuff that leaves a big impact.

Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Cuz contentment is hard sometimes...

Thanks so much Kellie! I had fun answering the questions!

P.S. I might not be around much in the next two weeks. I have a Fine Arts Competition coming up and a lot of research paper notecards. However, by spring break (in two weeks), "I shall return!"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Martha Morse Lived Near The Gorse. Her Dad Owned a Horse. This Title Fills Me With Remorse...

I'm reading through the ENTIRE Little House Series this year. (By entire, I mean Martha to Rose.) If I read 3 books a month, I should finish around October. This is not that hard because I can literally read one book a day. They all have around 300 pages, but the words are really big, and they're easy to read! Therefore here's my review of the Martha Series! (Sorry about the nonexistent transition. I have a problem with those in music, conversation, writing, and energy levels.....)

BTW, I'm reading the older "full" versions. I know there are new versions, but they're abridged, and we all know how I feel about that issue....

Overall, Martha might be my favorite Little House girl, but it's hard to say. I love Laura, cuz Laura. And I love Caroline for sentimental reasons (I pretended I was her when I was little.) But Martha just has spunk. And her stories take place in Scotland!!! And there's Scottish folklore!!! She also grows up and matures a lot through the series. It's fun to see her transition.

All book covers are from Goodreads!

Does the book ever say Martha's hair was red?
Cuz I found a cover where her hair was black?
Little House in the Highlands ~ Rereading this book really gave me an idea of how much it influenced me as a kid. (Child sounds formal) This book got me interested in Scotland, box beds, spinning, the Wee Folk, and probably other things too. Episodes from this series are ingrained in my memory. Sometimes I randomly think about them; it's weird! The Stone House is amazing!!! It might be my favorite fictional house! (Hmmmm, methinks there's a blog post brewing!) Also, I love the Morse family. They all have their faults, but they are all still wonderful people! (Except for Grisie, but sometimes I can relate to her...) I love how this book tells you all about Scottish culture and daily life! I love books like that! 

Maybe my favorite cover of the series?
On the Far Side of the Loch ~ Basically this book gave me the idea to get a hedgehog. I never did, but I won't be against the idea of my kids having one :) Martha's cousins come to live across the loch. They're kinds stuck up, except for Meg and Uncle Henry (and his dogs!!!). This is probably the "good point" book of the series. It gave me quite a few things to think about, such as when Cook compares Martha with Grisie because they both want to be someone they're not. Also, this nugget from Nannie's mother was great:
She says if ye're doin' something ye hate, but ye act like ye're havin' the time of your life, why, soon ye'll find ye're not pretendin' after all - ye really are enjoying yourself!
There wasn't as much description as in the first book, but I did love the waulking, weavers, and Robert Burns parts! 

That guy looks like a hedger...
Down to the Bonny Glen ~ This would probably be the "character development" book of the series. And it's done wonderfully! I love how Martha grows up and learns lessons. I especially enjoyed all the fathers woven into the book to make Martha appreciate her own dad! Miss Crow is kind of like the original Mary Poppins. Spit-spot, and no nonsense. (Sparkler, be quiet!) She even has an umbrella! And an American brother who could be Dick van Dyke!!! Grisie grows up a lot in this book too. She has suitors, a fact which slightly disturbs me since she's my age...) Also it was so cool to see Mr. Morse in action! Although this book didn't have as many culture descriptions, there was a wedding!! 

I love her wistful look!
Beyond the Heather Hills ~ I don't really think this book was necessary. It doesn't fit in, and it kind of seems like an afterthought. It takes place about a year after Down to the Bonny Glen, which would be okay except GRISIE IS MARRIED!!! WHA??? (It's not a spoiler cuz it's on the back of the book for pete's sake!!!) Grisie has gotten a lot sweeter, and her husband is cool! I didn't think I had read this before, but some scenes seemed vaguely familiar! The ending was sweet, but it's my least favorite book in the series :(

Have you ever read the Martha books? What did you think? Do you want to go to Scotland? Who's your favorite Little House girl?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

List of Awesome Stuff That Is Not Complete But Has Been Sitting In My Drafts For Around A Month

Eva's new blog had a post on things she recommended/was really passionate about. Here are mine! (I'll probably have a whole post about each of these things at some point in time and space!) Also, I'll probably republish this post several times in this blog's lifetime because I'm always discovering awesome things!

Zion Covenant series - Well, I just started reading this series, and actually haven't got very far into it, but so far it's been spellbinding! The stories are amazing and well-woven together. The love story is tender and involves an American journalist, so yeah! Also historical events are presented in a way that makes you feel them! I so mad at Hitler during the Anschluss, I could spit! (Yeah, that was random, I know)

Old Disney movies - Mostly live action movies from the 60s-70s. Some of my family's favorites are The Happiest Millionaire, The World's Greatest Athlete, The Apple Dumplin Gang, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, Polly, and so many more!

Old TV Shows - Oh Netflix/YouTube, how do I love thee! Let me count the ways: Macgyver, Mission Impossible, The Dick van Dyke Show, Leave it To Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, the Cosby Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Hogan's Heroes..... Seriously, it's amazing how much content you can get for free!

Studio C - This is a clean sketch comedy show on YouTube! These sketches never fail to make me laugh. They always cheer me up! My favorites are "Voicemail Fail", "International Relations", and "Operation Breakup". My class can have whole conversations made up of Studio C quotes! (And we do at least once a day...)

Morning Runs - Okay, I haven't done this one in a few months because I'm not allowed to run by myself in the dark. And it's not getting light until 7:00, which is way too late :( I crave morning runs because they let me run before I get exhausted from the day. They're hard at the beginning, but energize you and let you get away from the day before it starts. But all that said, you should really run whenever you can. It's a great stress reliever.

Daniel Carter Beard - This guy kinda started the American Boy Scouts. He wrote several books, the original one being the American Boy's Handy Book. If you're like me, you enjoy reading about doing stuff, the details. Well, this is the book for you and me! It tells you how to do everything!!! Paper balloons, magic tricks, fishing, traps, camping, LOADS of other stuff! You can't do everything in it today, but if you live in a rural area, I would definitely try it! His sisters wrote some books, including the American Girls Handy Book, another great read! (Yes, I read boy's books. Henty and Ballantyne are amazing!)

Musicals - Does this need an explanation? If you don't like musicals, please explain why in the comments, and we will give you therapy...

Walking in the rain - Okay, this was on Eva's list, but she lives in Canada. Walking in the rain in Phoenix is probably different than Canada (cool place, I've heard!). In Phoenix, we rarely get rain. Like it rains in four months out of the year. July-August and December-January. Yeah, so when we get it we go out in it! Possibly in sweatshirts, shirts, and sandals for a walk to the park, where shoes may or may not come off. The August rain is not cold at all either so you basically just get wet! (Also, on Easter, we may or may not have played in the "rain" from a hose... We're deprived here!)

A Tale of Two Cities - If you don't like Dickens, read this book! If you love Dickens, read this book! I read Great Expectations and didn't like it, but I loved this! It doesn't seem to be as wordy or as long as his other books, so don't let that phase you! Read this now!

Goodreads - Yeah, I use this a lot.... I find lots of new books and keep track of how many I read!

Playing piano - Okay, obviously I recommend this, but it really helps you calm down/destress. I start with loud songs like the Pirates of the Caribbean, and end with jazz (I'm diverse, I know :)

The BBC news app - Working for BBC one day would be amazing! When looking for current event articles, I go to BBC. Their articles are succinct and to the point. Also, in the app, they have awesome analysis and special feature pieces!

Podcasts - One of my mantras is "You can do anything while listening to a podcast." This is true in several ways. First, listening to podcasts gives me motivation to do boring chores/homework/get up because I'm listening to interesting stuff! Also, you can literally work on anything while listening to a podcast! My favorites are BackStory, The Disney Film Project Podcast, TechStuff, Forward Thinking, and Freakonomics! I'm always looking for new ones though!

Taco Bell's Bean and Frito Burrito - This is advertised as a beefy frito burrito, but you can request beans! My new favorite!
My current favorite :D
Oldies movies that aren't Disney - Guys, Netflix/YouTube also have other old movies, such as Inspector General, Charade, Stalag 17, and lots more I haven't seen! Other favorites of mine are the Five Pennies (see above video :), Court Jester, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Oldies music - Oldies is one of my favorite types of music! Basically anything from 40s swing to 60s whatchamacallits (no red line on that word, BTW) I love to listen to! I seem to have a really varied taste! Nat King Cole, Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Steele are some of my favorite singers. La Bamba, Splish Splash, Lollipop, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Shake Rattle and Roll, Tutti Frutti, and soooo many others highlight my favorite songs :D Also, I don't listen to a lot of Dean Martin, but that's my favorite rendition of On the Street Where You Live!
What a slushie looks like!
Slushies - Cuz apparently these are not a big thing all around the country.... Ok, where I live you can go to a gas station and get up to a 44oz slushie for 79 cents! (That's .70 Euro, 1.01 Australian dollar, and .99 Canadian dollar) A slushie is basically flavored slushed ice. They're big, cheap, and refreshing! We get them alot :D

Well, that's some random stuff I highly recommend. What about you? Is there any little-known thing that you wish more people knew about? Tell me in a separate post or leave a comment!

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Reckon I'll Leave My Brain at Home Then!

Some of you asked, and here it is! My review of North and South!

When I started this post, I had literally just finished North and South at 11:30 at night. North and South has now become my favorite non-musical period drama I've ever seen

(Wives and Daughters, Emma '96, Mansfield Park '??, P and P '80 are the ones I have seen. Wives and Daughters is my second favorite. I'm currently watching Little Dorrit and P and P '95. #TooLongParenthese)

I guess I liked it because there was a lot more tension than in other period dramas I've seen that seem to be sort of fluffy, with no real issues other than marriage and stuff (not that marriage isn't a real issue...)

So most of you probably know what North and South is about, but if you don't here's a short conversation to help you out. BTW, this is not the American TV show North and South, nor is it about the Civil War, as Richard Armitage originally thought...

Margaret: Mr. Thornton is cruel.
Mr. Thornton: Margaret is proud.
Mr. Thornton: Margaret, will you marry me?
Margaret: NO
Mr. Thornton: Margaret, will get on this train with me?
Margaret: YES!

 (That's not really a spoiler, cuz if you didn't figure out that was going to happen, then you haven't seen a lot of movies...)

Because there are so many reviews of this in my corner of the blogosphere, I'm just going to randomly list the things I like. Because I do random and lists.

Awesome stuff!
Weird slouch hat that I'm pretty sure nobody else can pull off
- Higgins was wonderful!! When SPOILER PERSON and Higgins become friends it was so wonderful!

That awkward moment when you search for Mrs. Thornton and get pictures of Mr. Thornton...
- Mrs. Thornton was epic. I liked more than I thought I was going to. She was so strong and wanted the best for her son!

I think Naomi said she wanted Fanny to have triplets.
I agree.
- Fanny Thornton was almost annoying, but funny still! "John, you're such a stick in the mud!"

Is she shaking with two hands?
- Margret and Thornton shaking hands

- The North English accents!! (And my horrible attempts at them...)

- Boucher, until he died and his face turned purple and his shoe fell off and stuff...

- The tension throughout the whole movie was awesome! There was tension between the mill workers and Thornton, tension between Margaret and Thornton, tension between Frederick and the government, tension between Lennox and Margaret, tension between Mrs. Hale and everybody, and just tension over all! Tension makes for a good movie!

Cuz when you search "north and south first proposal scene" pictures of Koreans come up?
- The first proposal scene. Because I have this thing with rejected proposals. (Enter John Chivery and Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy and Clenham and Gilbert Blythe and the-rich-dude-who-proposed-to-Anne and didn't Jo turn down Laurie?) Yeah, I think they're funny (I'm weird, I know!)
Originally from Pinterest

- The "Look back" scene

His hat is a cross between Margaret's and Clenham's
- Mr. Hale. He was so sweet and smart. He was courageous man in that he didn't compromise his beliefs. He should have told his wife and Margaret (I know he does in the book), but he was still a good father.

- Frederick and Margaret's sweet relationship.

- Thornton helping Boucher's boy! And Boucher's whole family I think!

Awkward/Annoying/Ashley-doesn't-like (Alliteration is important!)

- Henry Lennox... He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time at the end... (Come to think of it, didn't he get rejected too :P) He was also awkward, but not in a funny way. More like in a "everybody cringe because Lennox is here" way.

- Boucher's purple face

-Edith was a bit annoying, and she didn't have anything funny to say to make up for it!

-Mrs. Hale! She was so annoying! I only felt bad for her at the end because I thought I was supposed too!
Somebody stick a cravat over his collar now!!!
By now you must be thinking, why isn't she talking about THE scene? Well, it needs it's own paragraph! First, the bad stuff: the kiss was waaaay too long. You could have looked at her, talked with her, hugged her, danced with her, and then gave a short 3-second kiss, but no you give an entirely too long kiss that made me look away... And the shirt collar. I didn't think it was going to bother me because 1) I'm not an accuracy stickler, and 2) it's just a neck, but yeah, it looked unnatural. Cravats for the win!

And yeah, whenever mentions "the look" I might go into silent ecstasies!

And the things I liked! The look was amazing when she starts talking about business stuff. Their sitting by each other in the train was sweet too! And then there's me imagining them living in Milton with Mrs. Hale-Thornton starting schools and their doing other philanthropic endeavors together. Forever. The end.

So yeah, I liked this movie. A LOT! What about you?