2012 in Review

At the beginning of the year, I set 12 goals for myself for the coming year. I updated y’all on them twice during the year. And now it’s time for the final reckoning. 2012 has been an interesting year for me. It’s been a year of growth and changes. And while it’s been one of the harder years of my life, it might just well win best year ever.

  1. Finish reading Middlemarch. It’s a carryover from last year, but this year I’m going to do it. Sorry, George Eliot, but you will not be on my 2013 list. Someone else will be replacing you. DONE!
  2. Make six shawls this year. I made four pairs of socks last year, and I’m determined to do something awesome this year. To be entirely honest, I don’t know why I’m so fixated on this, but I am. So, six shawls, here I come. (If you’re wondering why I switched from socks to shawls, it’s because I use sock yarn to make shawls, but I like shawls more because they’re accessories you can really show off to everyone…even if they don’t notice.) Done…and I’ll probably have more than six done by the time 2012 ends. Yep; I think the grand total is nine. 
  3. To find a real job-I think this is self-explanatory. Done! Praise the Lord!
  4. Take the GRE…Done, but I don’t think grad school is coming up as quickly as I once thought.
  5. Figure out which schools I want to apply to for grad school…and maybe apply this year? I might put that off another year. It depends on how a few other things play out. As previously stated, this goal is probably being postponed for quite some time…and I’m quite fine with that.
  6. Go to Iowa for a week and see The Hunger Games with Jenn. DONE! And I’m more than willing to tell you how much I loved The Hunger Games. I loved it. I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob
  7. Make Katie a sweater for her birthday…I know, I said I was going to do this last year, but I’m really going to do it this year.  She picked a pattern and a yarn today. It’s going to happen. And it’s now been postponed until 2013. I attempted to make her a sweater for her birthday but it died. Then, I was going to make her one for Christmas, but then my life went crazy so that never happened. Maybe next year? 
  8. I want to make myself six sweaters this year. And I want the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games to help me to this goal. (NB: These six sweaters do include the two cardigans I currently have on needle from 2011. They do not include the tunic I am frantically trying to finish right now or the two short sleeved shrugs I’m planning to make in the next week or so.) I did make six sweaters this year. And I’d like to repeat that again this coming year. 
  9. I want to sew more of my own clothes. There’s something that I love about looking at a piece in my wardrobe and knowing that I created it. I value my homemade (both knit and sewn) wardrobe pieces more than I value store-bought stuff. Working on this…still working on it. I have a dress all cut out that I need to sew together and fabric for another dress that needs to be cut out and sewn together. Stay posted for more on this during 2013. 
  10. I want to have an adventure this year. I’m not entirely sure what that means, and based on the amount of uncertainty in my life at this point, I’m fairly certain that some sort of adventure is inevitable. Life is an adventure. The further I’ve gone into 2012, the more I have realized that my life is an adventure and while I never know where I’m going next, I always end up where I’m supposed to be. 
  11. Spent more time praying…and actually finish reading both of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth books; I’m thinking that I need to accept that having a cup of coffee with God in the morning or a mug of tea with him in the evening is actually acceptable-and good for me. I’ve finished both books and I loved them. I also now own the third book (The Infancy Narrative) but haven’t actually read it yet. It’s the next book in my “morning devotional queue.”  
  12. Last year, my final goal was to become more patient. This year, I have the same final goal but with a slightly different approach. I want to find some form of meditation that will help me to achieve some sort of peace/patience in my life. The prayer to St. Michael is helping me with this, interestingly enough. It’s helping a lot. 
 And that’s all for 2012. Stay tuned for my 13 goals for 2013. I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring.

101 Things

  1. My favorite color is purple. I think this is fairly easy to guess if you know me, but occasionally people think blue is my favorite color.
  2. I really do love blue, but it’s not my absolute favorite color.
  3. Continuing on this color thing, I don’t really like orange. I love numerous things that are orange (carrots, pumpkins, squash, fall leaves) but I’m not an orange person.
  4. My favorite writer is C.S. Lewis. I think he was more or less a modern saint.
  5. My favorite work of fiction is Jane Austen’s Emma. I usually say that it’s Pride and Prejudice because most people have heard of P&P but it’s not. I love Emma more. I don’t know what my favorite work of nonfiction is.
  6. If I could be any fictional character in the history of literature, I would want to be Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility.
  7. My favorite superhero is Batman. But if you want to get all technical and point out that he doesn’t have any superpowers and you want me to pick a real superhero, my favorite superhero is either Thor or Superman.
  8. If I had to name my greatest fear, it would probably be that I’m deathly afraid of a world in which Daleks are real.
  9. On the other hand, if the Ood were real, I think I’d be okay with that.
  10. David Tennant is (probably) my favorite Doctor.
  11. I love raspberries.
  12. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons.
  13. Given #12, it probably won’t be too surprising that my favorite items of clothing are sweaters. I would love to be able to wear sweaters every day of the year.
  14. Given #13, it probably won’t surprise you that sweaters are my favorite things to knit.
  15. If I could marry any fictional character in the whole of literature, I would probably pick George Knightley from Emma.
  16. Or Gilbert Blythe.
  17. Adam Eddington could do in a pinch. I can’t believe that literary crush lasted beyond sixth grade, but 13 years later…
  18. One of my absolute favorite books of all time is The Ordinary Princess
    by M.M. Kaye, but approximately no one has ever heard of it. This makes me sad.
  19. When I was eighteen years old, I felt like the Lord told me very clearly that he wants me to be a mother. Seven months later, a guy friend tried to convince me that God wants me to become a Mother Superior.
  20. I have an absurd fear of complete heterochromia. I think partial heterochromia is really cool, but complete/radical scares me.
  21. Until I was 22, I thought baseball was really boring.
  22. I am really far from perfect.
  23. I have an obnoxious tendency to be a know-it-all.
  24. Some days, I really feel like Hermione Granger-complete with bushy hair and all. And feeling like Hermione is not always a good thing.
  25. This might sound stupid and childish, but I really want to have four sons and three daughters.
  26. This might also sound silly and girlish, but I really want to name a daughter Felicity someday.
  27. And despite the fact that I want to have more sons than daughters, I don’t really have any boy names picked out for these imaginary children of mine. But I do love St. Michael, and I will probably name a son after him.
  28. I’m not supposed to run due to knee issues, but I love to go for long walks to clear my head.
  29. I love to drink tea while I’m grading. I really love to drink mint tea when I’m grading.
  30. Despite having almost perpetually cold feet, I’m not particularly crazy about wearing socks-except hand-knit socks.
  31. Despite #30, I don’t knit socks very much. I think I need to try knitting socks with better yarn than I’ve previously used.
  32. I like onion rings more than French fries.
  33. I like sweet potato fries more than either of the two side dishes listed in 32.
  34. I really like braiding my hair and wearing it braided.
  35. It has always been a girlish dream of mine to be Puddleglum for Halloween.
  36. Similarly, it has always been a girlish dream of mine to marry a man named Ernest.
  37. Number 36 may or may not be true.
  38. Regardless of the veracity of #36, I do love Oscar Wilde.
  39.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a unpunctual alien attack.
  40. I really love the colour grey. And yes, it is grey, not gray. Gray sounds boring. Grey sounds intriguing.
  41. Part of me wishes that I was British.
  42. Another part of me really loves flannel.
  43. Sometimes, I wish I was a redhead. This is at least partially Amy Pond’s fault.
  44. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be a blonde.
  45. I don’t want to have straight hair. I love having curly hair.
  46. I really like raspberry sorbet.
  47. That’s a good thing because I’m seriously lactose intolerant.
  48. Have I mentioned yet that I’m Catholic? It’s kind of important. Probably more important than anything else in my life, but it somehow didn’t make the list until #48.
  49. I love The Lord of the Rings.
  50. Why yes, I did have a major crush on Aragorn from about ten seconds after I first discovered him in the books.
  51. Believe it or not, my current job is really my dream job.
  52. With that said, I do want to get married and have a family.
  53. But for the moment, I’m quite content with my job.
  54. Once in a while, I can be mildly sarcastic.
  55. Occasionally, I am facetious.
  56. Oh, and I am slightly stubborn. Slightly.
  57. During the three-and-a-half months I lived in Bilbao, I had a younger brother and sister. Those were the only months in my life when I had any younger siblings.
  58. Normally, I just have an older brother. He’s a dear.
  59. Did I ever mention I spent the fall of 2008 living in Bilbao, Spain? Oh yes, I did. And it was quite educational.
  60. I love quotations…all sorts of quotations. I love funny quotations and intelligent quotations and contemplative quotations. Simply put, I love quotations.
  61. I really love quotations from Groucho Marx, C. S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, Doctor Who, and Blessed John Paul II.
  62. Yes, I know that I’m eccentric.
  63. I think that every child should read the Harry Potter books. I think they’re incredible literature.
  64. I despise the Twilight novels. And yes, I’ve read them.
  65. I LOVE Advent. I’m so grateful to my parents for raising me with an awareness of liturgical seasons, and I’m so grateful to belong to a denomination that celebrates them. I like to think about how I’m going to celebrate things like Advent if/when I have my own family.
  66. As a child, I hated Lent viewed it as the longest 40 days of the year. I’ve moved beyond that into a growing love of Lent.
  67. I love to listen to Handel’s Messiah as a meditation during Advent and Lent.
  68. I’m one of those people who try to avoid Christmas music until December 25.
  69. I truly believe in Advent music. And I love it.
  70. I love Panera.
  71. My love language is words of affirmation closely followed by quality time. I do not like being touched except when I’m in a certain mood. Then, all bets are off.
  72. I do not like bell peppers. I hate green bell peppers. Regardless, I’ll eat them if they’re put in front of me.
  73. I love garlic, onions, and ginger.
  74. My favorite LYS (local yarn store) near Michigan is the Michigan Custom Boutique and Fine Yarns in Plymouth.
  75. If I’m shopping online, I love Eat. Sleep. Knit. in Georgia.
  76. I would not mind naming a daughter Georgia or Georgiana if I married a man who would accept and love that name.
  77. I love The Body Shop. I love the place. And I recommend it to anyone who will listen to me.
  78. I swear by their hemp line. If it weren’t for the hemp line, my hands would be gross and bloody from October to June.
  79. I’m especially a big fan of anything olive-scented.
  80. I love chocolate hazelnut tea.
  81. Ditto for amaretto tea.
  82. My favorite TV show, in case you’ve never figured this out, is Doctor Who.
  83. I also really love Psych, Sherlock, Inspector Lewis, and Castle. Are you sensing a theme here?
  84. I’m really opinionated.
  85. I’m a cat person.
  86. With that said, I kind of want to own a dog someday. This is all due to a charming doggie named Barney who won my heart about nine months ago. He was small, white, and loud. And I loved him.
  87. I could also love a big dog…as long as he doesn’t bark too much.
  88. I love Mumford and Sons. They’re probably my favorite band.
  89. I also really like Matt Maher, Adele, and the Chieftains.
  90. I love shoes, boots, skirts, and dresses.
  91. These are my absolute favorite pair of pants. I can’t wear them to work, but I love wearing them anywhere else I can get away with it.
  92. A little over a year ago, I finished making my Brennan cardigan and declared that I wanted to live in it. A year later, it’s still my favorite sweater and I love wearing it any chance I get. I also get a lot of compliments on it.
  93. I like cowls and cowlnecks on sweaters.
  94. I hate Skittles.
  95. I will do anything to avoid eating the yellow Starbursts. I also don’t like the orange ones or the watermelon ones.
  96. My favorite piece of artwork ever is Vincent Van Gogh’s Blossoming Almond Tree.
  97. I love pesto.
  98. I prefer white wine to red wine.
  99. I prefer pearls to diamonds.
  100. My favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail. I saw it for the first time when I was like ten and I’ve been addicted ever since. I actually would really love to own The Shop Around the Corner and live in Kathleen Kelly’s apartment. Also, I really love the fact that Kathleen’s mother’s name is Cecilia Kelly. I think that’s awesome.
  101. It took me over two months to write this list. I think that says something about me.

Austentatious Christmas Gifts

With a mere nine days to go before Christmas (and a meager eight shopping days) this post may be a bit late. However, it’s better late than never.

Austenites are just like everyone else…they just love Jane Austen more. But they love coffee mugs, tea cups, t-shirts, sweatshirts, necklaces, bracelets, magnets, movies, posters, journals, ornaments, and books.

So what should you get for that Austen-lover in your life?

(Disclaimer: I am not being paid to write this post by any of the websites that I recommend. This post merely reflects my own opinions, tastes, and preferences.)

Well, there are a few different categories to look at.

Traditional

You can always go with the traditional approach and buy your Austen lover a copy of a book written by the incomparable Miss Austen. This is the most traditional route. I would recommend checking with your Austen lover to find out which novels they already have. Additionally, look into whether or not your Austen lover has an e-reader. If they do, you might want to look into the e-reader format for your gift. Regardless, the link below will take you to the complete listing of what Jane Austen novels are currently available via Amazon. Please check it out.

Jane Austen on Amazon

Movies

Movies are always a great way to enjoy the genius of the divine Miss Austen. You might want to find out what Austentatious movies your Austen-lover would like. After all, Austenites love watching and rewatching movies of our favorite books.

I’m going to recommend my favorite Austen adaptations for your purchase, but please remember that these are only suggestions.

Naturally, I must recommend the fabulous 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Pride and Prejudice (Restored Edition)

However, my favorite Austen adaptation is actually the 2009 iTV adaptation of Emma starring Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai. It is delightful.

Emma (2009 BBC Version)

I dearly love Sense and Sensibility, and I’m actually going to recommend two different film adaptations.

Sense & Sensibility / Miss Austen Regrets

Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition)

Wearable

Out of Print Clothing carries a t-shirt and a sweatshirt that feature the cover of Pride and Prejudice. It looks warm and darling.

Brookish on Etsy carries a variety of Austentatious wardrobe pieces. For example, this Darcy proposal sweatshirt would make a great gift for me. She has a variety of other shirts for your perusal.

Brookish also carries scarves in a variety of colors that feature either Darcy’s or Wentworth’s proposal.

CafePress carries an extensive range of shirts and sweatshirts.

Practical

Austen lovers often love practical things. For example, they still need travel mugs, water bottles, and mugs for their tea.

So where should you go to buy them such things? For this, I’m going to have to recommend Cafe Press. I know that by searching for Jane Austen mugs on Etsy, you can find many other options as well. But the selection isn’t huge these days.

(However, you can make your own Jane Austen inspired mugs. For more on that, see my tutorial.)

Austen lovers also may enjoy magnets. For that, I send you to The Bookish Life on Etsy. Actually, just go there. It’s an awesome place staffed by awesome people. But if your Austen lover is in the market for magnets, then they may well love these bad boys.

Ornamental

This can be referring to two things. First off, there are totally awesome Jane Austen inspired Christmas ornaments.

And then there is equally awesome Jane Austen jewelry. The Bookish Life has some awesome bracelets. (She also does some really cool stuff with Jane Eyre too.)

Beyond these basic ideas, feel free to check out my Austentatious pinterest board and Etsy treasury for more ideas.

And feel free to comment with other ideas/suggestions/comments.

Hope

I’m a “quoter.” I love quotations. And for the past three and a half months, I’ve had a quotation on the board every single day. The quotes are usually inspirational, often from the Bible or a holy person. Occasionally, they are humorous.

I have planned for months that the quote for next week would be “Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, o Israel” in reference to the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.

And then, today, we all learned of the shooting in Connecticut. When I saw President Obama’s statement today, I felt that he had put my feelings on the subject into words perfectly. Our hearts are breaking. I wept on my way home today thinking of twenty little children whose lives were ended far too soon, twenty children whose families will not get to spend the holidays with their darlings but will instead spend the holidays mourning lives that were ended far too soon.

I wanted to go and grab the three little boys I teach in Catechism (and their siblings) and hug them. And I may well yet do that on Sunday.

Our faculty and staff were made aware of this situation around lunchtime. In the afternoon, one of my sophomore boys came up to me and said, “Miss H, I don’t feel safe anymore. If they can kill five year olds in school, where are we safe anymore?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. All I wanted to do was hug this kid who is probably six inches taller than me and close to a hundred pounds heavier than I am…because I all too well how he feels.

And at the end of the day, I erased this week’s quote. And I looked at the board. Was it right to write the word “Rejoice” on the board? Something inside of me told me to do it. And as I wrote those words on the board, something came to me. Emmanuel shall come to Israel. The people who walked in darkness shall see a great light. This is a dark day, but as Corrie Ten Boom once said, “No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” 

Next week is Gaudete week. God is deeper than any darkness we can fathom. That’s the point of Advent and Christmas. God became man. In a dark and lonely world, God became man. And while we must mourn for those 27 innocent lives that were lost today, we can also find hope in Christ. We can rejoice in the hope that these innocents are now in the arms of Christ.

We can cry. We can be sad. But as Christians, we can have hope that God will bring good out of this situation. After all, as Christ himself told us, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)