Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!

Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.

After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?

I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.

The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!

New release you haven’t read, but would like to

I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!

Biggest Disappointment

This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.

There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!

I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.

Biggest Surprise

Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…

Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!

Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)

For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.

Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!

Newest fictional crush

Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!

Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.

Book that made you cry

Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!

Book that made you happy

One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.

The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.

What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?

By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.

And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.


Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.

Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.

The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!

The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!

As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.

And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.

For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.

I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!

Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?

snowflake

Artist Highlight | For Mallory

Hello and welcome to my newest music series: Artist Highlight!

I generally wanted a space to talk about a single musician or band a month, but back in early April, when I went up north to visit with my family, my cousin’s daughter brought her violin and played us some songs she’s been learning in her class. She did a really great job and after the performance I asked her how she was able to play it and she explained to us in great detail. I hope she continues to play the violin or maybe switch/take on another instrument later on, if she ever does this, I hope it’s the cello! I love the cello just as much as I love the violin.

A little later I asked her if she’d ever heard of Lindsey Stirling before, and she told me no, which really puzzled me but then again, it didn’t, because in school, she’s probably forced to know classic works and nursery rhymes at this stage, so in a way to help introduce her and everybody else who happens to read this, to other violinists!


Let’s start with the lovely Lindsey Stirling.

I didn’t find out about her through America’s Got Talent in 2010, I actually found her on YouTube like most people–but I think I would have enjoyed seeing her on the show a lot! Anyways, the first song I heard was “Crystalize” of course and remember seeing the music video, thinking these two really work together. Although her music was considered hip hop on the show, for this song she had kicked up the dubstep hype that was going around at that time. I was hooked to her channel my whole senior year and honestly believe she cemented my drive for modern symphonic music.

Before Lindsey came into my life, the first violinist I was ever “introduced’ to was back in 2004, this year at its core was a changing time for me. I had just started on my hip hop phase and so I was listening to a lot of unique beats on my own without being heavily influenced by my mother. The song in question was Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” as it features an actual violist on the track, Miri Ben-Air. I remember watching the music video for the song and was stuck by the fact there was a woman violinist. It seems kind of scary that this was the second time I was listening to two very different genres of music together and absolutely loving and wanting more of it. I had begun this a year before when Evanescence’s debut album came out in 2003.

After the song disappeared, I didn’t find anything like it again until around late 2007 or early 2008. I had found these two girl groups from England, bond and eScala. They were not your average girl groups of that time, they never actually sang, they were a string quartet. This was my first show that if you’re a part of a group, you don’t a singer. Unfortunately, by the time I had found both of them, they were on hiatus and honestly haven’t released anything new for a couple of decades.

Later on in my life, this would sort of happen again as I had discovered Apocalyptica, which was originally a tribute band for Metallica out of Finland! They have three celloists and one drummer and they make symphonic metal music. I’ve talked a bit about them over the years. They have a lot of cool songs like “Broken Pieces” with Lacey Sturm and “White Room” with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.

There is another group I found back in 2015 I think, it was when the symphonic metal band Kamelot came out with “Silverthorn” as it was the band’s first album with a new singer. They had a song called “My Confession” and they featured the German group Eklipse and even though they were all woman, I wouldn’t consider them a pop-y, although they have done some covers of David Guetta’s “Titanium” with Sia, and ‘Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, they do like to take risks and create renditions of popular rock songs, and my favorite is still “Weak Fantasy by Nightwish.

Back in 2017, when I was on Netflix, I had found the Han Zimmer: Live in Prague and was just stunned by the fact that this huge music producer was getting together with his longtime friends and putting on shows for everyone. I mean, he performed at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago! How in the heck does that happen?! Anyways, the show itself was absolutely amazing and I will not lie, I totally cried when Lebo M came out to perform some of “The Lion King” songs on stage! There were a lot of elements I enjoyed but I really fell in love with the violinist Rusanda Panfill and celloist Tina Guo. You may already know Tina’s work without even know it as she is the one who did the Wonder Woman main theme. These ladies really play beautifully and definitely recommend that concert to anyone.

I was never truly able to learn to read music nor do I feel the need to play any instrument, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing other artists become so passionate with their work though, it’s so interesting to see these musicians put everything into their work. Whenever I watch concerts on YouTube, I love to see them basically one eye on the maestro and the other on the sheets on the podium in front of them. They tend to have some intense facial expressions and they always seems to change with whatever tempo they are playing at that moment.

If you would like to check out the artists I’ve mentioned and/or any others (because I had an even bigger list to start, but we’d be here forever!) that fit in this post, click here to the Spotify playlist!

snowflake

The Goodreads Challenge | Hopes for 2022

Hello!

This year I am doing something completely different on my Goodreads Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, Goodreads is an app that allows you to find books. You can make up lists or shelves as they call them to categorize all of the books, like fiction and nonfiction. At the start of a new year, they give you a spot to choose a number of books you want to read in the 12 months. I’ve tried to make one in the last five years I’ve had it. Since 2019, I’ve been trying to up the number of the previous year, and even though I did get to 40 books in December, I decided to go for it in 2022.

I like the Goodreads Challenge a lot. I’m not one to make any big goals for the year anyways, so being able to set a somewhat large number of books for one year can be thrilling as a whole. I am always so pumped to start on a new one, but this time I decided to change it up a bit. I had the though back in September of splitting it up to focus on books that have been turned into movies. I love movies, and last year I learned how much I missed making time for them so I thought I could connect the two and hope I could make room for both loves. At the moment, I’ve only done one but I have been very distracted lately so I hope I can up my game a bit as the year goes on.

There is one drawback about this. I am not sharing my thoughts about these books and their film adaptions on my blog. I actually have a separate idea for that, but don’t worry I have two books that I am getting ready to publish–one might be coming out this Friday! I couldn’t just stop creating my book reviews though. I like being able to talk about thoughts on certain books and it just seemed silly to quit on all fronts, so I will continue doing those posts every month.


Now you’re probably wondering I am doing with the books on my other list. I do have something really cool to share with you today.

Around the same time, I came up with first idea, I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube about these reading journals. I was puzzled by them at first, but then I started watching like 10 a week and I knew I was hooked on the idea of creating a different space away from my blog to talk about my books. I was a bit hesitant at first, but I am always looking for something to be more creative and I thought this would be pretty cool to try out.

I ended up talking about it a lot with my mom and she agreed that it would be a good idea to try something new. Once I found out about monthly trackers, I was pretty much sealed on the deal and basically asked for a brand-new journal, calligraphy markers and pens, and more books that were being turned into movies this year on my Christmas list. I did receive the dotted notebook I asked for and it’s been a learning curve for me so far! I have the markers and pens as well, but I haven’t really used them that much. And out of all the books on my Christmas list, I got one book and it was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

In the videos I’ve seen of these reading journals, everyone comes up with a different theme and I decided on Harry Potter, and I hoped to capture a bit of the Wizarding World and place it throughout the different spreads, but I’ve had a rough time just making simple banners, so it is a bit plain in some areas, but I am getting better at it. I also have the standard bookshelves but I totally forgot to include the House colors for the various types of reading, because I want to explore them as well, so, gray is for Kindle while pink is for Audiobook and Print is in the color turquoise. I don’t include the titles on the spines because I write too large to do that and I just want to see which way wins.

One thing I have learned in the past two years is that I am obsessed with words. Every time I found one that seemed unique, or it was used in another way than we normally say it, I wanted to collect it for later, so when I got my journal, I decided I would make a section just for my words and it’s been a fun thing to keep track of, and even my parents have enjoyed them too!

Here were the words I was obsessed with in January, and I have to apologize if any of the words are misspelled as well.

Words included are: synapes. candytuff, cur, filgree, ells, hewed, crux, tedium, signews, skein, bishopric, morose, trounced, brocade, whetstones, alight, coffer, chignon, commencement, gythia, truncated, primsigned, saccade, demesne, vehemence, daub, architaves, granary, manses, crux, hinterland, and picaresque

The last spread I made in my green journal was my end-of-the-month-stats. I want to keep track of everything like how many books, days, pages, and words I would make it to every month. I have these long rectangles going vertically on two pages (I actually have three because I made the boxes too big to include November and December!) and I assign different colors for each one and it’s easily my second favorite thing in the journal.

After hearing me complain about it in the beginning, my mom found a little book called “My Reading Life” by Anne Bogel on one of the people she follows on Instagram and we looked at it because despite my best efforts, I knew I needed some help, so I got it around the second week of January, and the main thing I use in it is the monthly tracker. I really love those pages, because it is so easy, but you have to be really careful because you only get little diamond shapes in each block, and you can feel lost once you get into the thick of a month.

I only have one book written in there already, and it was Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I like to start a new year with disability themes. I just like to get them out of the way honestly! I found this book featured on Kindle Unlimited and it was a great read but I’m so thankful I’ve only watched the film once since it came out in like 2016. There were some changes made throughout, I really like Julienne Moore and Kristen Stewart for both Alice and her daughter Lydia. My second book will be 12 Years A Slave for Black History Month and I have always wanted to watch the film and luckily HBOMAX played it all month long, so I have that to look forward once I’m finished. And yes, I have decided on my March read but I’m keeping it a secret for now.

I am reading rather slowly, and I don’t know why I’m doing this because I’ve always read multiple books with opposite genres at once, but I think it has something to do with the fact I hadn’t published this post out for January and I wasn’t able to relax in between the two areas, so let’s hope I zip right through the incoming books and their respectful movies too!

How many books do you hope to read in 2022? Do you have an app to help you keep track of your books like Goodreads or are you one to use a reading (bullet) journal instead?

snowflake

Blogmas: Wooden + Dots Ornaments

Hello!

As you may have noticed, and I still don’t know what happened because I had plans, but we didn’t put out any pumpkins this fall. My sister did, she decorated her entire front porch with various sizes of pumpkins, but we did not. I found it very surreal, because that’s my favorite thing to do in September and October is paint pumpkins. After that, I think my body was like, “okay, we need to find an alternative fast!” because this project came out of nowhere, but it ended up becoming a new favorite of mine.

In mid-October, I started looking for birthday gifts that weren’t books (I know it’s shocking!) and I found these wooden shapes and I sort of fell in love with them and then I found ones that were Christmas related and then all hell broke loose in my brain!

In the last year and a half, I’ve been watching a lot of reels and regular videos on YouTube of dot art. I still don’t remember what inspired the find in general, but I’m forever glad it came into my life. I used it in my 3 projects last Christmas. It was only a simple red dot here and there with a Q-Tip but it was still a new thing for me and I loved it. I have been working on it throughout 2021 and I finally felt comfortable enough to use the technique in my new project: the Christmas ornaments!


What you will need for this DIY:

  • Wood cut outs – it’s important for them to be “unfinished”
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tools
  • Damp washcloth
  • Paint palette or paper plate(s)

Before we get too into this part of the post, I wanted to show you how the ornaments came in the mail.

They were perfectly stuffed into this cute Santa Claus box. I was originally going to get the 160 pieces but I’m glad I switched to the 40 pieces because I would still be painting right now! Anyways, they were four traditional Christmas characters: a snowflake, bell, tree and baubles. You get 10 in each stack, so you have multiple designs you’d like to trade off, you are welcome to do it evenly. If you would like to purchase this set or the others, click here for the Amazon page. You also get clusters of string for each of the ornaments, plus a small bag of metallic beads, but I did not use them.

Raining Dots

I started with the Christmas trees, and I copied the same color scheme I did with my last project, so I mixed my green with a tiny bit of blue and I love how they all came out. After finishing all 10 trees with their base coats, I moved on to the trunk and I poured a small amount of brown into my palette, and I used one layer of paint for that part. I am a lover of DecoArt acrylic paints, (thanks to Lydia May on YouTube!) I usually don’t need more than two coats depending on the shade, and I was very happy with my color choices this time around, including the yellow!

Once everyone was in the process of drying, I switched my attention on my design ideas for a few of my baubles. I knew I wanted to create a series of animals, but I’m not really good at it so I went looking on Pinterest and found a great step-by-step guide of the Fox for my friend Brittany. She was the one who really inspired this part in the first place. I continued to search for guides of the Cow and Pig, but I wasn’t able to find anything, so they were basically all free-foot sketches. After that, I stopped for the day, and came right back to it the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to add another selection of dotting tools. I have the smaller sizes, and I’ve been using them for about a year now and they are very nice for me to grip my toes around and make my dots, but the others are various sizes and I have been wanting to get them for a while now because I wanted to try my foot at the larger dots. I am having issues how to grip them, but I expected that to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out with my designs (honestly, I had the phrase, “less is more” in my mind the whole time!) and I tried to keep it that way.

When I came back to my trees, I was ready to decorate everybody, and I used two colors: yellow and a light gray (I mixed my gray with a tiny bit of white!) and I painted the stars with those colors and would switch the yellow star with silver garland. I was smart with this; I drew out a zig-zag design on most of them and would follow the lines with my dotting tool and I really loved it! Some look like traditional Christmas trees, but there are five of them with the “walking technique” which is coating your desired tool with paint and dotting down the canvas, I love this so much I did it to my Bonsai pot in the spring! My parents saw the final tree with this design, and they love it. Honestly, everyone I’ve shared it to, has expressed the same thoughts too!

So, here are how the trees turned out.

There Goes Rudolph!

The second (or third) shape were the bells. I wasn’t impressed with the bells at all, they were very boring even without paint on them…

My thinking behind them was the golden bells you normally see on pictures, but I could not get the yellow to turn to a pretty gold and I tried like three different times and was only successful after finishing with them. I was so mad at that point, but I moved on though. Since I had 10 of these bells, I was influenced by a fragment of a carol “with silver bells ringing” I kept hearing while doing the base colors and I created the silver hue again for the rest of my bells and I thought they looked so adorable!

I left to dry overnight and I was really worried about how boring they looked, so that night I thought about adding a reindeer face on it and in my dreams they looked so cute and I was over the moon when I started sketching out how I wanted the antlers to go, but once I started doing my dots I got a little worried because the design started to look a little bit like a pair of balls and by my second bell, I became terrified at what was appearing but thankfully my mom thought they were great, especially after I put the eyes and big red nose at the end.

The reindeer/bells are definitely my favorite, even with the cock and balls antlers, they still look amazing! I did a good job on them and that’s something I rarely do when it comes to painting, is enjoy what I am creating, and lately it’s been so fulfilling to believe in my artwork for the first time.

Let It…

For the third ornament, we have snowflakes.

I think both the trees and snowflakes were the easiest to do because they required a small set of skill. You can free hand your designs to make things simple and they would still end up being very beautiful. When I began on the snowflakes though, I thought I would be able to play with my various sizes of tools, but I rarely got away from the blue tool, which is a little bit bigger than the purple tool. I basically treated the flakes like the trees when it came to their designs and used the walking technique quite a bit throughout the process.

And like the trees, I kept my color scheme pretty limited, I only used white for the base and used two different blues, but my favorite shade was the bright, neon like because it reminded me of the Frozen films. I’ll be honest, I had Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (and of course, Olaf too!) in my head all while I was working on these and I’m glad I did because it got me out of my head, and I allowed myself to make mistakes with them because I mean every snowflake is one of a kind so I just left them the way they were… well, some of them! There were 3 that definitely had to be fixed but after I was done, I basically pushed them as far away as possible, so I wasn’t able to add more dots!

The Cast of Characters

Lastly, the bauble balls were my least favorite because I knew what I wanted to do with a few of them and it scared the living daylights out of me! I got through in one piece thank God, but not without psyching myself out in the first round.

So, like I explained above while I was waiting for my trees to dry, I got started on figuring out what I wanted for three of my baubles, the rest was pretty much left until I did the base coats. I treated the baubles like the bells, as I split them up as they were painted in traditional Christmas colors: green and red. I was so worried the red would be too dark for my animal baubles, but thankfully they design held up great against the paint, and I was still able see every part.

My biggest worry now was, do I have a brush that was small enough to paint the character without creating a big mess around it, and I was thoroughly surprised as I found a tiny brush that was not only perfect for the designs, but it quickly became a favorite of mine because it allowed me to gain back some of the control as far as what I wanted to bring into each animal. I didn’t stop using my dotting tools though as I had made the eyes and noses with a small tool, and they turned out as adorable as my Rudolph/reindeers in the end.

When I was done with them, I was fairly tempted to leave the rest of the baubles plain, but I thought they looked too boring for that, and I started experimenting and I made array of different ones but I did one that spells the word “Woof” for a family friend, they have a Pittie and they recently got a Beagle puppy so as my mom told me, “it fits” for them, and then I surprised myself again but creating two baubles in a Ugly Christmas Sweater design and I’m still upset I did just do that with the rest but it was just a beautiful disaster that I need to remember for next Christmas!

Bring Me the Rainbow

My final bauble is very special because it is my nephew’s. Nolan has become obsessed with the moon and rainbows, and since I already got him a Moon phase garland for his room, I figured I needed to bring out his love for the rainbow too, so I reserved a bauble ornament for him. I don’t know why I didn’t do this with my nana’s ornament since she too is obsessed with the rainbow! Oh well, I will make a note of this for next year!

I was thrilled to do this for Nolan but I was also terrified too because I had to use the ruler to create a series of lines for each color, and honestly, this was a doozy! I was having a hard time making six, somewhat equal, lines for each dot and it was a hard task at first but once I got it all figured out, I poured out my paint on my palette and got to work on the actual dots.

This media has also become a favorite of my nephew too. He currently had two or three CDs I’ve made in the last year or so, the first one he just took home and the others I gave him because he kept holding onto them. I think in the new year, I will try to teach him how to do it so he can be excited about his own creations too! Anyways, I used my pink tool, which is the middle size and honestly, it was actually perfect for this design. I was going to use the tiny brush again to remove the empty spaces in between the dots but I stopped myself from doing it and messing the entire ornament up. Nolan was very excited to get his ornament. I don’t think he understood at first why I had given him a different design compared to his mommy’s pink reindeer, but I know he will cherish it nonetheless!

It is strange when a small thought that can appear in the middle of a sleepless night, can grow into such a huge project and yet bring so much good to a slice of the world. Homemade gifts are good for the soul. I give kudos to anyone who has a small business and fix up orders every day, because that is no small feat! As I told my nana the other day, now that I am done painting and the cards were shipped out and people are receiving their ornaments, I still feel like I need to be doing something, and I really hope it was finishing this post.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my process with this project. It was fun while it lasted, and now I can relax for the rest of this break. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time with your family, friends and/or pets. For anyone else, have a wonderful weekend!

Blogmas: Holiday Reads & TV

Hello!

This Christmas, I wanted to go all out on my celebrations, which really means absorbing as many books, films and TV specials as possible that relate to the holiday season. In this post, I am going to tell you about my reasons over this decision, plus give you some ideas if you’re in the mindset to basically do anything (or everything) I’m doing this December, so I really hope everyone enjoys this little thing.

Books:

Since I finished my reading challenge very early, it has allowed me to devote a chunk of my time to finding some wholesome and maybe not-so-wholesome reads about the holiday season. All but three of the books I’m reading this month are available on Kindle Unlimited, so they were free! So I have three full-length novels and the rest were novellas.

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Title: Unwrapping His Package
Author: Fiona Davenport
Genre: Erotica/romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was amazing start to the holiday season! I always have a rough time with novellas because they can lack organization, but I didn’t have any problems with this one. It was a very steamy read, but exactly what I wanted to read at that moment of time. 


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Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classics/contemporary fiction
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have always wanted to read this book. I’ve seen two or three film adaptions but have never actually made to read it, and this has always surprised me because it is the ideal Christmas story, but then again, when I was in school, I only read a handful of classics!

Anywho, I found the audiobook on YouTube and I thought I could listen to it while working on my Christmas cards this past weekend. I don’t know who the narrator was, but he definitely brought the characters to life with his deep, but welcoming voice! If you have about three hours to yourself, you should listen to it as well, and if you want, click here to start reading the book.


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Title: On His Naughty List
Author: Kat Baxter
Genre: Erotica/Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Despite the fact that these two books are in the same series, I did not follow the order, because there were some that sounded cheesy, so I ignored them and found this bad boy! This one definitely had a lot of things missing from the storyline but obviously I didn’t care as much since I gave it a higher score…


The other books I have on my TBR (to be read) list are: Secret Santa by Mayra Stratham, (which is another book in the Filthy, Dirty Christmas series.) A Very Bossy Christmas by Alexis Winter, How to Ruin the Holidays by Becky Monsoon, Christmas in the Scottish Highlands by Donna Ashcroft, and finally Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas. Technically I am (as I write this post) reading A Very Bossy Christmas and it is absolutely hilarious, which is exactly what I want right now, so I see myself enjoying this and the one by Becky Monsoon the most, but we’ll see how things turn out in the end.

TV

I am not one to have my television locked on the Hallmark channel this month–honestly, it is one station I have locked out until the second of January when they turn The Golden Girls back on!

Last year, there was a film premiering on Lifetime called, Christmas Ever After and it starred Ali Stroker. Ali is a wheelchair user like moi, but most importantly she won a Tony away for her performance in “Oklahoma” in 2019. Honestly, the overall concept of seeing someone in an overwhelming holiday romance on my television that I was thoroughly exciting! Unfortunately, I never got a chance to finish watching it, that I feel like I need to find it again and give it another chance before Christmas is over.

I already have a small selection of films in my movie folder, and I am still stunned by my reasonings for wanting to watch them. There is Christmas in Tahoe that apparently was inspired by a Train song or album, and the band itself or just the lead vocalist Pat Monahan is in the actual film too! I adore the band’s music, I’ve been a casual fan over the years, but I thought the concept of this movie was interesting, so this was the first. The second was, A Christmas Dance Reunion, and it has Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman, who played “Chad” and “Taylor” in the original High School Musical films. And finally, I am recording Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday which has real sister Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Ashley Williams. It honestly looks really fun and hilarious, so it is on my list as well!

Now I am this selection says “TV” but of course, I’m enjoying all of my other favorites like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Annabelle’s Wish and Home Alone. Speaking on that film, I am also looking forward to checking out the newest Home Alone on Disney+ too! I really enjoy the sequels of these films, so this is just natural for me! Now that I have everything done, I can do everything that I love doing in this festive season.

What are you looking forward to the most? Do you have a new favorite holiday book or movie yet?