A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published December 19, 1843 by Chapman & Hall
Format: Kindle e-book; 73 pages
Classics
Also By This Author: Great ExpectationsLittle DorritA Tale of Two Cities
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

This is me attempting to catch up on book reviews from last year…

Last month I finally, for the first time ever, read A Christmas Carol. I amazed even myself by waiting that long to read it. Of course I knew the story; I’ve seen enough movie versions and even that one Boy Meets World episode that re-imagines Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future. But I had never read it! I had it in my mind that I could only read A Christmas Carol when it was actually Christmastime, and each December I would be so overwhelmed with holiday preparations or finishing reading challenges that I’d keep putting the Charles Dickens story aside for another year.

Well, 2016 was finally that year and I’m not at all surprised to say that I truly enjoyed A Christmas Carol and I can see why it will forever be a holiday classic and one of Charles Dickens’s most beloved works.

As expected, the Ghost of Christmas Present creeped me out, the idea of Tiny Tim passing away made me cry, and the renewed and re-inspired Ebenezer Scrooge buying the prize turkey and sending it in a cab to Bob Crachit’s house, all the while chuckling and probably confounding the poor messenger boy, made me chuckle as well.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Read This Book If…

…you wish it were Christmas all year long.
…you enjoy shorter, novella-length books.
…you want to rediscover a classic.
…you’ve never read Dickens before and are looking to ease your way into his works.

Final Musings

I’ve heard that there are some wonderfully done audiobook versions of  A Christmas Carol, including one by Neil Gaiman. Maybe this December I’ll listen to one of those narrations while wrapping Christmas presents :)

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Winter Highlights!

So I’ve been trying to post my December and January Highlights for WEEKS MONTHS now, but seeing as how February is now over and Spring is almost here (yay!), I figured I’d just summarize the last three months into one wintery post :) I have lots of highlights from our trip to France for Christmas, but first, BOOKS!

In December and January I read 10 books (and DNF 2). I also read a short story prequel to The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight A Grimm Curse Hello Goodbye To Win Her Favor The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things brokenhearts Faires Vampire Academy Winter A Worthy Pursuit

did not finish The Distance Between Us by Kasie West or Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, even though I was looking forward to that book so much! I really enjoyed his first novel, Let’s Get Lost, but his new book did not have the same feel or voice to it and the main characters drove me insane. It felt too much like a John Green novel, so if you’re a fan of his you might enjoy Never Always Sometimes.

Most Popular Post

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2015 (December)
Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My To-Be-Read List (January)
A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings (February)

What I Watched

Reign

I started watching Reign on Netflix in January. Even though it’s not the best show, dialogue and plot-line wise, I am obsessed with the costumes on Reign. They’re definitely not historically accurate, but they’re so pretty! Also, Anne Shirley plays Queen Catherine of France! I haven’t watched it in a while, though, so I’m not caught up on this season.

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In February I binged watch Chicago Med (it’s still in season one, so I only binged like 9 episodes). It has an ER feel to it, and the drama of the show is more focused on the patients than the nurses and doctors (although they have their drama and relationship problems, too. It’s just not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy).

What I Listened To

Like so many other people, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago. I love how upbeat the soundtrack is, and I only wish I lived closer to NYC so I could actually see the show performed on Broadway. Maybe one day they’ll start touring and come down to NC?

I also fell in love with two new (to me) podcasts. Astonishing Legends covers unexplained disappearances, treasure hunts, time travel, urban legends, and other weird & interesting topics. I got my husband into this one, too, after we listened to a 4-part series on the Oak Island Money Pit. I can’t listen to these podcasts at night, though, because I’m just like Catherine Morland and my imagination gets scared easily…

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I also started listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which also has it’s creepier episodes, but overall it factually covers some famous and not so famous history lessons. One of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently was about the Great Vowel Shift and a brief history of the English language. Each episode is only about 30-40 minutes, perfect for me to listen to while doing housework or driving across town.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Highlights

  • Killian is now 4 months old!

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  • We did a lot of traveling this winter. For Christmas and New Years we visited my in-laws in France! We were blessed to be able to stay for 2 whole weeks and I’m so happy that we got to see lots of extended family and friends while we were there. Here are just A FEW of the pictures from our trip:
  • In February, my best friend Jae visited us for a whole week!! It was so nice getting to spend time with her, and she helped me organize and clean house which was a huge blessing to me (boxes of Christmas decorations had taken over our kitchen counters).
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  • Killian’s first trip to Florida! I’m from Florida, and some of my family still lives there. Last month I was able to fly down to Tampa with the baby to visit my extended family for a week and it was so nice! I hadn’t seen a lot of my mom’s extended family in a few years (not since my wedding, actually), so it was nice to catch up and introduce them to the French Fry.

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    Four Generations! Great-Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy, and Baby :) (and we didn’t color coordinate on purpose)

Looking Forward to in February

  • Birthdays! Matt, Solo, and I all have our birthdays in March. Mine is actually next week! We don’t have any big plans, but I’m excited for cake & presents (aka BOOKS because my family knows me so well).
  • Family visits. My parents and my sister are both visiting us later this month, and it’s always nice having them here. Since the weather is warming up now I hope to take them sight seeing at some of the outdoor attractions here in town. There’s a WWII battle ship and a Civil War battleground that I know my dad will enjoy, and then there’s always the beach :)
  • Finding a job. I’ve started job hunting now that Killian is a little older. I’m not looking forward to leaving him at daycare, though!! *cries*
  • Moving! Our lease is up in about a month and I’m excited to move to a less-crowded home (right now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment!).

Whew! Those are my condensed highlights from the past three months. I wish I could have made a whole post just about Christmas in France, but I’ve done that before so I guess it’s ok that I abbreviated our trip in this post instead. You can read it here :)

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon

mountvernonLast week my husband and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary :) Since our anniversary is so close to Christmas, and because we’re trying to save up money right now to find a new apartment next year, we decided to take advantage of the closeness of Washington, D.C. to celebrate. One of my favorite attractions in the area is George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and my husband had never been before, so when we saw that they were holding a Christmas event there last weekend, we quickly reserved some tickets and bundled ourselves up for the colonial festivities :) (no, seriously, we were freezing!)

The estate offered a lovely variety of 18th century holiday festivities including caroling, chocolate making, silhouetted portrait demonstrations, live colonial-style music (featuring a hurdy gurdy!), blacksmith reconstructions, and 18th century dancing (my favorite!). The evening was topped off with a Christmas-time reenactment and a little fireworks show from George Washington’s backyard.

Unfortunately, it was really dark outside, so my pictures didn’t turn out as great as I hoped they would, but I’m still going to share them here :)

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Making old-fashioned hot chocolate.

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Colonial music, featuring a hurdy gurdy.

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The blacksmith hammering out a J-Hook.

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Super blurry, but you get the idea :) It was really fun watching the people closest to us dance–they messed up quite a few times but still had fun (which is reassuring because I know I’d forget half the dance steps, too!).

Next year we plan to go back with the rest of the family. And I’ll be sure to give the 18th century dancing a try, too! ;)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you all enjoy some quality time with your families to ring in the New Year :)

It’s A Wonderful Life!

Christmastime is upon us!!

Normally we buy a tree and kick of the Christmas season one or two days after Thanksgiving, but this year we had to delay a week and it was hard! But finally we have Christmas-fied our house!

On Thursday night we went and bought a tree, but we couldn’t decorate it until Friday night.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Decorated Tree

Isn’t it pretty?!?! I’ve always loved “traditional” Christmas trees, as I call them, with the multicolored lights and various types of classic and homemade ornaments. Last year in France we  had more of a red, white, & wood mountain-themed Christmas, which was lovely and totally fit the region we lived in. But this year I’m super excited to have a Christmas tree like we always had growing up. The last time we spent Christmas at my parents’ house was before we moved to France!

Per tradition, I also made Christmas cookies and then last night we watched one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life. I laughed, I cried, and I felt all warm and fuzzy when it was over :) Such a classic!

The Christmas cookies I made were de-lish-ious. I did not make the recipe, but I’ll share it with you since I’ve had several requests :)

Hidden Candy Cane Kiss Cookies by Once Upon A Cutting Board

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They look amazing, right?!

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The recipe itself is actually super easy.

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My cookies came out a little different from the picture, but when you eat them straight out of the oven, the peppermint kiss just melts in your mouth and it is DELICIOUS.

The one problem I had with these cookies is that when I ate them the next day, they were too hard for my taste (but still yummy). I just heated them up in the microwave for 10 seconds and they were once again perfect.

I definitely plan on making these cookies again before Christmas, but I want to try adding some cocoa powder! Chocolate + peppermint = <333

Click here for the recipe!

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? I’d love to try it!

Favorite Christmas Flicks

We made it safe and soundly to the States this week! It was a hectic last 48 hours in France, but everything managed to work itself out and here I am, sitting at my parents’ house getting ready to publish this post about my favorite Christmas movies!! I don’t know about you, but I need to get myself back into the Christmas spirit–before we left Tuesday morning, we had to take down our Christmas tree and pack up the ornaments. It’s a real tree, so fire hazard and all…but it really messed with me psychologically; I left France feeling like Christmas had already passed! Fortunately we were bombarded with Christmas decorations, lights, and music when we arrived in the airport here, but I wouldn’t mind watching a few of my favorite holiday films before the actual big day ;)

Rudolph

Looks like childhood :)

The Original Television Christmas Classics

Who doesn’t love these movies?? I loved watching them every year growing up. My two favorites were the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (I just wanna cuddle with Rudolph–he’s so adorable!) and Frosty the Snowman. Just hearing Jimmy Durante singing the theme song makes me happy. Sadly, for years I was haunted by the villain who locked Frosty up in that greenhouse. He was so mean! But I still love it :)

How The Grinch Stole ChristmasHow The Grinch Stole Christmas

I love Dr. Seuss, and The Grinch is such a classic story, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to watch or read it. The old cartoon version is my favorite, but I also like the Jim Carrey version every now and again. And the Grinch song! So funny: “Mr. Gri-inch! You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!” Yum…? ;)

Home Alone

“Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”

Home Alone

This will always be a Christmas classic :) Although the premise isn’t exactly realistic, does that really make it any less enjoyable?? My favorite part is definitely the “Rockin’ Around the Christmas” tree scene. I can’t explain why exactly, but I was always fascinated by the mechanics of it all. Wish I could have been that inventive as a kid, but then again…if my parents forgot me at home, I probably would have had a breakdown!

Jingle All the Way

“This is a sick world we live in! Sick people!”

Jingle All the Way

I think you had to watch this as a kid to be able to enjoy it as an adult, because if you decide to give it a chance now you’ll probably think it’s rather stupid. BUT, if you were like me and watched it repeatedly on VHS each December, you’d love to quote the lines every so often :) Plus, it’s bittersweet seeing Phil Hartman in his ridiculous character on-screen…

Elf

Elf

I loved watching Will Ferrel on SNL “back in the day”, but unfortunately I have never been a big fan of his films. Elf is the exception :) Besides all of the hilarious lines, there’s also Zooey Deschanel and Peter Dinklage (yes, I love him!) to enjoy. Plus, it has a wonderful soundtrack!

 

While You Were SleepingWhile You Were Sleeping

Forget Christmastime…I can watch this movie any time of year. I love these types of 90s chick flicks: the simple yet entertaining plot lines, the lovable and relatable actresses, the ever-so-stylish high-waisted jeans (as seen on Bill Pullman here). But seriously, I love this movie :)

You've Got MailYou’ve Got Mail

Another 90s chick flick I absolutely adore. What’s not to like about Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? I also love Sleepless in Seattle as well, but I think between the two, You’ve Got Mail is my fav, despite the fact that it is incredibly dated (I mean, I don’t even know anyone who uses AOL nowadays). And technically this movie isn’t limited to the holiday season, but it’s still one of those feel-good comedies I like to watch while I’m curled up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate :)

The Shop Around the CornerThe Shop Around the Corner

This is actually the movie that You’ve Got Mail is a remake of (and they’re both based on a Hungarian play). Classic black-and-white film, Jimmy Stewart, Pride and Prejudice type love story: if you enjoy any of those three things, you’ll love this movie. Personally, I have a huge crush on Jimmy Stewart, and when my friend told me about this film I went home and watched it that very night. If you’ve seen either this film or You’ve Got Mail, it’s fun to compare the similar scenes that are in both of them. My favorite is the restaurant scene :)

It's A Wonderful Life

“Buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight and dance by the light of the moon…”

It’s A Wonderful Life

While we’re on the subject of Jimmy Stewart, I might as well talk about my absolute favorite Christmastime movie: It’s a Wonderful Life. There are so many things I adore about this film. Our new tradition is, right after Thanksgiving, to set up our Christmas tree and all of our decorations, and then eat Christmas cookies as we watch this movie. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker, but I always feel so incredibly happy after watching it!

Love Actually

We’re here!” “Wow, that really was just around the corner…” LOVE THIS SCENE

Love Actually

One of the best Christmas movies ever made (and another one that I watch all year round) is Love Actually. I love so many things about this film (with a couple of exceptions, like Billy Bob Thorton…gross): I love the way Hugh Grant says “Natalie”, I love Colin Firth’s story line, I love Emma Thompson!, and I especially love singing Bill Nighy’s character’s ridiculous Christmas song (and I do sing it, every time someone says, “I feel it in my fingers/toes/etc.). My best friends and I love watching this movie late at night as we squeal over the cheesy romance and laugh at the ridiculous British humor. If It’s a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite Christmas film, Love Actually comes in at number 2!

What are your favorite holiday films? Did any of yours make my list?

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly!

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Last Monday (November 25th) we turned our apartment into our own personal winter wonderland! I know it was technically before Thanksgiving, and usually I always wait until after my favorite Thursday of the year before even listening to Christmas music, but this year I was aching to get into the holiday spirit! And besides, we had our Thanksgiving the Sunday before the actual day, so I wasn’t really breaking my own rules ;) Plus, we’re leaving for the States on December 17th, so we wanted at least 3 weeks to enjoy our Christmas decorations.

I am so happy we decided to decorate our living room with reds, whites, blacks, and dark browns, because it totally made it possible for us to put up a red-white-and-silver woodsy theme for our tree! The color red never used to be pleasing to me, but when I was a Junior in college, our apartment was furnished with this amazing red corduroy couch that I fell absolutely in love with. Ever since then, it was my dream to have one of my own, and when we moved to our new apartment, Matt found me one that even came with a matching ottoman! Major husband points :)

So last Monday evening, we went out and bought our first real tree together (last year we only had room for small, fake ones), and it’s so cute and adorable! French Christmas trees are pretty different from the giant and full ones I’m used to back in the States, but the one we found is perfect!

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It’s always so hard to make a Christmas tree look as beautiful on camera as it looks in real life, but at least you can see most of our Disney ornaments from this picture ;)

Ornament

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After setting up our tree, nativity scene (‘crèche’ en français), and various Christmas decorations, we ate our Thanksgiving leftovers (which is half the fun of Thanksgiving!), and then curled up to watch It’s a Wonderful Life (my favorite Christmas movie of all time!) and munch on some tasty Chocolate Peppermint Cookies I whipped up. These cookies were so delicious I’m sharing the recipe I found with you (including my alterations):

Cookies

Mmm :)

I found the recipe here, but I made the following alterations:
• I did not use chocolate chips; instead I used 1 cup of Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips (the peppermint taste was strong)
• Judging from the picture, you can also see that I did not make the glaze the recipe calls for.

The cookies were a blend of crunchy and chewy, and with the Andes chips I used, the peppermint flavor was strong, so if you make this recipe yourself be careful not to add too much unless you want your cookies tasting like toothpaste ;)

Hope you all are having a wonderful December so far :) Since we’ve put up our Christmas decorations, we have only had one calamity happen–Solo got so excited when we came home Tuesday night that he ran into our tree and knocked it completely over, which caused several ornaments to break :( But don’t worry, after a bit of a time-out, he was forgiven…

Tree

Our tree has since been restored to its jolly Christmasey self :)

30 Days of Thankfulness: Days 26-30

thankfulnessI have been rather busy this week and every night, by the time I get home, I have barely enough energy to put myself into bed. So my apologies for slacking so much on my thankfulness posts. I am still thankful for many things! So here are the last 5 posts of the month, all wrapped up nice and neatly in one simple blog post:

Holidays that revolve around family – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter…it’s always fun to celebrate holidays surrounded by family (and family also includes close friends!). I’m once again thankful for being able to celebrate Christmas with my family in the States this year! It has been 2 years since I’ve seen most of them!!

Seasons – I LOVE seasons. In Florida our seasons are limited: there’s summer, hotter summer, and then if you live up north you’ll get a cold, dry winter for a couple of months in between a short autumn and an even shorter spring (literally less than 2 weeks). But where I live right now we have equal seasons! What a concept :) I just love seeing nature change constantly but slowly throughout the year.

Owning a car – You don’t really need a vehicle to get around over here in the Grenoble area, but it has been such a blessing to us to own a car this past year. We went for about 6 months or so without owning a car and I remember quite vividly having to walk to the train station every other week because half of the tram line was out of service during the summer. But now we have a car :) and we’re able to drive other people around as well, something that I have always loved doing since my freshman year at FSU when I was dependent on other people giving me rides. So thank You God for blessing us with a car!

Christmastime – I admit, we decorated our apartment for Christmas Monday night, the day after our first Thanksgiving celebration of the week. I will try to have that post up tomorrow hopefully :) I have already been listening to Christmas music since mid-November! I couldn’t stop myself after the first snow fell, but we abstained from buying a tree until this week so we could have 3 full weeks of Christmas decorations in our apartment before we leave for the States.

All of you readers! – And last, but certainly not least, I am very thankful for all of you who read and comment on my blog! I am thankful for the friends I have made and the conversations I have enjoyed having through the blogosphere. I’ve had this blog for nearly 2 years now, but until this year I didn’t really keep up with my posting but I am thankful for doing that now :)

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and a wonderful November! May the rest of your year continued to be filled with thankfulness and blessings :)