2018 Goals

It’s my favorite time of year! Time to start some new goals!

1. Hike every trail in Umstead State Park

umstead

This park is a 5 minute drive from my house, and has about 34 miles of trails. I got some hiking boots for Christmas, and Olivia and I are ready to rock! … Once the temperature gets above freezing.

2. Learn to Juggle

I’ve always wanted to be able to juggle. Maybe this is the year my dreams come true!

3. Review every book I read on GoodReads

I’m meticulous about recording every book I read on GoodReads, to better be able to answer the question “What is the absolute worst book I read this year?”. But I almost always only give them a star rating and move on. This year I’m going to TRY to write actual sentences explaining my rating. I’ve read 2 books so far, and both have seemed like a struggle, so this is the one I’m most worried about completing.

4. Send everyone in my penpal club a birthday postcard
There are 500 people in my penpal club, so this is kind of an insane goal! Not everyone has their address available though, so I’ll probs be sending out less than that. I’ve already mailed 2 batches for people whose birthdays are in the first two weeks of January!

5. Give to a different charity every month
I give to charity fairly frequently, but it’s pretty haphazard and happens mainly when the opportunity is shoved in my face or something pisses me off. I want to be more diligent about researching which non-profits address the issues I care about, especially in my local community. Although, not going to lie, January is probably going to be all about helping Puerto Rico because WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK why is everyone ignoring how messed up a part of our country still is

6. Cook or discard everything in my recipe binder
I keep a binder of recipes I pull out of magazines and such. I need to either cook them and decide they’re good/bad or admit that I’m never going to cook them and throw them out. Just the prospect of this goal made me examine the binder more closely, so right now I only have 61 more recipes to cook. A disproportionate number of them maay be cupcakes. I’ve already started this one, actually. Yesterday I made everything bagel-seasoned scones:

With oats!

With oats!

7. Make Pageapalooza a success!
This is a party I’m planning for all the library pages. Shirts! Games! Food! Peanut butter pretzels! I’m hoping it’ll be a fun time.

So there it is. I’ll update you in April.

Previously: 2017 goals

2017 Goals: Wrap Up

All things considered, I did pretty well on my goals this year. I didn’t get 100% but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Some of them were kind of a reach anyway, and I tried my best. In the end, I got to 90% complete. Not as good as last year (96%) but still better than 2014 (68%).

1. Write a New Beginner’s Guide Once A Month: 92%

December was too busy for me to do tackle a new project, but it’s the only month I failed at this one. Here’s what I did the rest of the year, with updates:

Yay!

Yay!


January: Weaving
This was my favorite thing I tried in 2017, probably because I did it at the John C. Campbell Folk School, which is magical. I won’t be using it ever again, but it was fun to learn.

February: Calligraphy
Probably the most useful thing I learned all year was the cheater calligraphy I learned for this post!

March: Cross Stitch
I finally finished the cross stitch I started this month, but I have yet to frame it. I’ll probably be doing some cross stitch again sometime.

April: Gardening
Yeah, they all died. I’m probably not going to be trying to tackle this again.

May: Make up
I already knew when I wrote this post that make up is not for me. Sorry, friends, you’re stuck with my face as is.

June: Bullet Journaling
Probably the one I will be using the most from here on! I kept it up for the rest of the year, although I definitely changed the format some to suit me better.

July: Candy Making
I mean, I’ll definitely make fudge again. But anything with a candy thermometer? Nah

August: Free Motion Quilting
I bet I’ll be doing this again, but even after learning all about it for this post, it kind of intimidates me.

GO TEAM

GO TEAM


September: Pole Dancing
This one was both the hardest and most fun thing I tried this year! I won’t be doing it again because I don’t got those skills, but it was fun to try!

Inside it's Halloween funfetti

Inside it’s Halloween funfetti


October: Cake Decorating
Omg no, I lied before, making my cupcakes look like they were made by a competent adult was the most useful thing I learned this year.

November: Soap Making
This one was pretty boring and messy, tbh

2. Sew Something New Once a Month: 83%
Another goal I didn’t get to in December, plus I already missed one in May, so there you go. In October I sewed my Halloween costume, Captain Crunch:

Can't take credit for Steven's style, though

Can’t take credit for Steven’s style, though

And in November I sewed this quilt top. It’s made of lots of different fabrics I had around, and I’m hoping to get to the quilting part soon:

The best is the fried egg fabric

The best is the fried egg fabric

3. Write in my Journal once a week: 100%!

Bullet journaling really helped out with this one.

4. Make one new recipe every week: 87%
I wish I’d been better at documenting this one, but alas. Here is the only one I bothered taking pictures of in the past three months:

Hot cocoa cookies!

Hot cocoa cookies!

These were the favorite of all the Christmas cookies I made. You add hot chocolate mix to the dough.

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%
It was a struggle.

6. Finish a coloring book: 100%

I finished this goal so long ago, I’ve already forgotten about it.

7. Be active every day: 56%

I know, pathetic. To be fair, I didn’t count all my walks with Olivia unless they were particularly strenuous for some reason. But that’s still more than half, which is okay by me.

8. Read all of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: 100%!

800 pages of small font!

800 pages of small font!

I’m really proud of this one, because it definitely seems like the one I would slack off and fail at. Remember when I tried to read all of Brewer’s? But I crushed this. And in the process learned that there have been so many books about societies that live inside the earth. Most of them are racist as shit.

Total: 90%

Previously: 2017 Almost There
Next: 2018 Goals!!!

2017: The Pretty

What’s my favorite cover from a book I read in 2017? It’s a close race, but the winner is:

prettythelietree
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

It is the perfect mix of creepy and curiosity-inducing.Here are the runner’s up:

goodlumberjanes
^Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki

goodmeddling
^Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

prettyconvergence
Convergence by Sharon Green

This one is on here kind of nostalgically because the cover is the only reason I bought it in a used book store as a teen. Otherwise I would never have read this terrible, terrible series.

goodwitch
^How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

prettyjuliet
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

prettyexorcism
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

prettypopular
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

prettylumberjanes
Lumberjanes Volume 6: Sink or Swim by Shannon Watters

goodhark
^Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

goodiceghosts
^Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson

prettypagesbetween
The Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt

prettyhygge
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

goodnotquitestates
^The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA by Doug Mack

Previously: 2017 The Ugly

2017: The Ugly

What was the book with the worst cover I read this year? Behold:

uglyredriver
Red River vol 1 by Chie Shinohara
It’s a manga about a girl who travels through time to Ancient Egypt. I checked it out because the cover made me laugh. Other bad ones include:

uglycollege
A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer
So 80s right now!

uglywit
The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
This could be a lot more exciting. It’s Discworld!

badstrange
*The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
As wtf as the book itself, so I guess that’s apt

uglyflame
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
I hesitated to put this on here, because it’s not exactly bad, just unsuited to the subject of the book. The cover makes it seem like it’s going to be your teen fantasy Twilight knockoff, when in reality it’s a badass historical fantasy set in feudal Japan about a noble girl solving her own attempted murder with the help of feudal Japanese Robin Hood.

uglysilver
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
The Mercy Thompson series all have horrible covers that really seem to want to turn off the actual target audience of the book? Like, she has none of these tattoos and is usually wearing sweatpants and covered in motor oil in the actual narrative.

uglybone
^Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Also, notice how they give her feathered earrings so you know HEY THIS MAIN CHARACTER IS NATIVE AMERICAN

uglyiron
^Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
I swear this book is not about butts.

uglyblood
^Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
Yes, because mechanics and monster hunters both routinely work in just a bra.

goodmooncalled
^Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
What the hell

uglypast
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
I feel like I could have designed a better cover than this

badsexy
*Sexy Beast II by Kate Douglas
I mean, it’s hideous but I also kind of love it

uglylife
Life after Life by Jill McCorkle
Another blah entry

uglytwilight
Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on a Pop Culture Phenomenon by Giselle Liza Anatol
We can do better than this

uglyfate
The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I find this cover bizarrely bright and gaudy for the dark horror that is this book.

goodgemina
^Gemina by Amie Kaufman
I think this is here because I freakin love this book, but the cover just isn’t selling it like it should

Next: 2017: The Pretty
Previously: 2017: The Bad

2017: The Bad

And now for the worst books I read in 2017. These are the ones I rated only 1 star on GoodReads (you can’t rate 0). Surprisingly, there are only 6 this year, which I guess means I was either better at picking books or was in a more generous spirit this year. And the very worst of them was:

badbites
Love Bites by Angela Knight
I got this in the Romance Novel of the Month subscription box I had for a while. The back cover promises a tale of VAMPIRE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE, which is such an amazing concept, I think my hopes were way too high. First of all, it is not a historical fantasy that posits King Arthur and his knights were actually vampires. It takes place in the present day, with King Arthur and his knights still alive, and hanging out mostly in some alternate vampire dimension with their paired off lady vampires who can also do magic. And for a book about vampires… NO ONE GETS BITTEN. So disappoint.

badblending
Competitions by Sharon Green
I have no idea why this whole series isn’t on here, because I read three of them this year and they all really sucked. The writing is clunky, the plotting slow and ridiculous, the main characters are all super attractive perfect Mary Sues, and their Captain Planet powers somehow manage to still be lame.

badstrange
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
I’m willing to admit that I am probably wrong about this book. But I didn’t get it. A boy is trapped in a library by some kind of evil librarian that wants to eat him. He escapes with the help of his guard and a sort of ghost girl. The end, nothing is explained.

badthosesecretswekeep
Those Secrets We Keep by Emily Liebert
This book promised to be about female friendships and DARK SECRETS, but it was more about bad writing and hateable characters.

badsexy
Sexy Beast II by Kate Douglas
Another acquisition from the romance novel of the month box. Of course it was bad. Sadly it was not about some kind of sexy Tarzan despite the cover.

badunenchanted
Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn
The main character of this book is a teen girl descended from one of the Brothers Grimm, cursed to live out fairy tales one by one until she either gets killed by them or breaks the spell. An okay premise, but executed pretty badly. Her school goes on a field trip to AN EVIL BAKERY.

Next: 2017 The Ugly
Previously: 2017 The Good

2017: The Good

Time to look back on everything I read this year with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly! According to GoodReads, I read 116 books in 2017. That’s 38,385 pages! As always, The Good list is everything I rated as 5 stars. After some deliberation, I decided that my favorite book I read was:

goodmeddling
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
This book is basically Scooby Doo, the gritty reboot. None of the gang has really gotten over their last case, where they were trapped for the night in a haunted mansion on a small island in the middle of their town’s lake. Was the dude in a mask really the culprit? Or was something else going on there? Years later, it’s time to get the gang back together and find out! But Peter, the handsome jock, has been dead for years, ending his promising Hollywood career with suicide, probably from unresolved PTSD. The other members of the gang haven’t exactly had promising careers either. Andy, the tomboy, is a drifter who’s in and out of jail. Kerri, the girl genius, is working dead end jobs and fostering Tim, the grandson of the original canine member of the team. Nate, meanwhile, is in an insane asylum. Besides being full of fun callbacks to Scooby Doo, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys, this book is really well-written and legit terrifying in parts. Plus I got to live my Velma/Daphne ship dreams.

goodnotquitestates
The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA by Doug Mack
This book was a close second for favorite read of this year. The author travels to all the US territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands) and writes about both their history and what life is like there now. It’s shocking to me that these places are part of the United States but I never learned anything about them in school. I’d never even heard of the Northern Mariana Islands. Their political situation is murky, at best, as became tragically clear to me a few months after I finished this book and the entire country basically looked on like it was someone else’s problem as Puerto Rico died. We wouldn’t have let that happen to New York or Idaho, but those places are states. The strange limbo of the US territories has never been more cruelly illustrated. So, I learned a lot, but Doug Mack’s writing style is really engaging and interesting. His travel stories were often funny and always interesting. I recommend this book to everyone.

goodtrouble
Trouble is a Friend of Mine and Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly
These books reminded me of teen Dirk Gently so I rated them probably higher than they deserve.

goodnasty
Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
This book is composed of essays by different authors, which is good because I had to read it in short bursts, otherwise I would get overwhelmed by sadness and rage, which has been happening a lot more to me in general lately, obviously. Still, an important and informative read, especially for anyone interested in intersectional feminism (which should be everybody, come on) who doesn’t necessarily have a feminist theory background–the language is engaging and approachable.

goodlumberjanes
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki
Lumberjanes in chapter book form! In this episode of my favorite badass girl scouts, the Lumberjanes discover unicorns, cloud people, and Lumberjanes of the past. It was kind of weird reading a narrative that I’m used to experiencing in comic form, but all the characters stayed true to themselves and I got some neat backstory on all of the main characters.

goodwitch
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
I read this in October to get read for Halloween! It was about a teen girl descended from Cotton Mather (of Salem Witch persecution fame) who moves back to Salem where, surprise, her family’s history is still very much alive in the form of ghosts, curses, and a clique of witch-descendants who are maybe out for revenge?

goodhark
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
This collection of Kate Beaton’s comics was definitely worth the purchase price!

goodorigins
Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O’Conner
I read this book as part of my book club’s “read a book by an author with the same name as you” initiative. It was interesting, although I unfortunately don’t remember any fun facts from it.

goodnight
Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, River Marked and Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
Also as part of my book club’s “authors with your name” initiative, I ended up reading the entire Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. The covers have always turned me off before, but this series is actually totally badass. Mercy Thompson is a car mechanic who can turn into a coyote. The world is on the cusp of learning the truth about the fey, werewolves, vampires, and other things that have always remained hidden, and probably the most interesting part of Mercy’s adventures is the interaction between various aspects of the normal world (the government, the media, religion) with these fantasy creatures as they become aware of their existence. Plus Mercy’s a badass who can see ghosts. And there’s a vampire mafia! And werewolf feminism!

goodhidden
Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries or Post-War Britain by Simon Garfield
Apparently there was a government initiative in the 1940s onward in Britain where people would keep diaries of their daily lives and send them off for “study” to some office. This book is excerpts from the diaries of a few of the diarists. The details of their lives as World War II came to an end were really interesting from a historical standpoint–dealing with air raids, rationing, soldiers coming home, starting “normal” life again. Also, their regular experiences could be hilarious or heartbreaking. I love diary formats anyway.

goodiceghosts
Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson
I am a sucker for polar exploration, y’all. This book is about the lost Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage north of Canada, and also the search for its remains, which spanned two centuries. I learned a lot about 19th century exploration but also the Canadian government’s historical treatment of its Inuit citizens, which ended up being a major aspect of finding the wrecks of the Franklin Expedition’s ships. They probably could have been found before 2014 if any of the earlier searches had bothered to pay attention to the Inuit communities who regularly hunted in the area the ships went missing.

goodwoods
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
This book is a collection of short horror stories in comic form by Emily Carroll. It’s basically Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark for adults, and just as viscerally terrifying.

goodgemina
Gemina by Amie Kaufman
This book is the sequel to Illuminae, and just as awesome! Another epistolary sci-fi novel set in deep space with badass teen characters who have to fight to save their space station from a marauding mercenary crew, the self-destruct sequence, and an escaped deadly parasite. Plus, the characters from the first novel show up towards the end so YAY REUNION!

goodinvasionofthetearling
The Invasion of the Tearling and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
These sci-fi/fantasy novels take place in a magical fantasy realm that is also humanity’s distant future (past? time travel, dawg). I liked the beginning of the series, when it was political intrigue and assassination plots.

goodliar
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
This non-fiction book follows the lives of four different women during the Civil War who acted as spies. The most badass was probably a woman who escaped her abusive home life by dressing as a dude and enlisting. She was never caught, but was often sent on spy missions because she was so good at “posing” as a woman. Go girl.

Next: 2017: The Bad
Previously: 2016: The Good

Beginner’s Guide to Soap Making

I kiind of cheaped out in November and just bought a soap-making kit. That obviously made it way easier, but I also think maybe I missed out on key parts of the experience? Here’s what it gave you:

The sponge was not part of the process, it turns out

The sponge was not part of the process, it turns out

Blank white soap, red dye, some scents, some apricot seeds, a mold, and a random loofah. From looking around on the internet, lots of the blogs that are into soap-making also start with the blank white (or clear) soap cubes and the “art” happens when you dye it, layer it, scent it etc. I get that this is more fun and creative than actually making soap from… wood ash and lye(??? this is just a guess), but also seems like kind of a cop out to me? I don’t know, you know how I feel about pie, so maybe this is just a personal issue.

Melted soap base

Melted soap base

Anyway, the kit had pretty clear instructions. You heat up the soap blanks in the microwave to melt them, stir in any scent, dye, and/or other add-ins like the apricot seeds, then pour it into the mold. Then it hardens at room temperature and you’re good to soap.

It would start to harden pretty quickly

It would start to harden pretty quickly

Different concentrations of dye

Different concentrations of dye

The soap on the bottom right was the last one I made, where I just decided to use as much of the red dye as possible to see if it would ever come out BLOOD RED instead of pink. The answer is apparently no. Also, getting them out of the molds was kind of an annoying process. The mold was a brittle plastic, so I won’t be able to use that again.

They're pretty, though

They’re pretty, though

I will probably not be pursuing this craft further.

Last Month: Cake Decorating
Next Month: ????

Beginner’s Guide to Cake Decorating

I’m good at baking, but bad at decorating, so it’s been pointed out to me before (by Steven) that my cupcakes and cakes tend to look like they were made by a child. WELL THIS CHILD JUST TOOK A CLASS IN CAKE DECORATING FOOL. Online, but still.

To test out my new skills, I decided to try out all my different piping tips on a batch of cupcakes:
20171017_162616

I also made a Halloween cake for my book club (this maaay have been back in October, whatever).

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Inside it's Halloween funfetti

Inside it’s Halloween funfetti

Previously: Pole Dancing
Next: Soap Making

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