Thursday, December 12, 2013

Watch This Video

Hey all,

A friend sent me a great TED Talk video that addresses about something I am rather dedicated to in my life, and that wouldn't hurt for others to consider too:

I find this especially relevant during this Christmas season.
I understand this is a time that many people can go above and beyond their means to purchase things for family and friends believing that it is the only/ultimate way to express their love for them. It is a true reality that people will go into the red while funding their "holiday shopping".

That is why I have adopted a "$100 Christmas" goal for our family these past couple of years (last mentioned here). Excluding the occasional mandatory travel costs, I give myself a $100 limit for all things gift related (items + sending costs). This plan has several benefits including: less stress, kinder environmental choices, decluttering our homes and those of our loved ones, focusing on "presence" over "presents", and putting our money toward more productive goals -- for us it's the education of our children; a gift that truly keeps on giving ;).

As I have repeated a couple of times on my blog, I hope to instill in my own children the understanding that Christmas is not a time of gluttonous consumption. Rather, it's about looking out for others. Expressing our love for others with every stitch we knit, every bow we tie, and every cookie we bake. The time and presence it takes to work on these crafty Christmas projects is spent joyously as a family, honing our skills or learning new ones, and always with our dear ones in the forefront of our minds.

So even if our gifts may be small, they are bursting with love for the recipients and are meant to be something of real use to them. I try to avoid knicknacks that simply clog shelves, and instead aim for something that could get ample use -- hopefully daily! Maybe that's just because that's what I prefer in the objects in my life :)

Anyway, I think that's enough preaching from my soapbox.
I'll get down now, and hope that you have time to watch this inspirational video.
And maybe try the $100 Christmas challenge too.
See if it lightens the load of financial strain, motivates you to revisit an old skill or pick up a new one, and shifts the focus of the season from buying/consuming to making/giving! ;)

Until next time, take care and Happy Videos!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snowy Weather

Hello hello!

My what a weekend we've had since I last wrote on Thursday.
It ended up snowing heavily some time in the middle of the night on into Friday and resulted in school closures, slippery roads, and an all together different kind of weekend for the Dashiell Family.
A real Snowmaggedon.

Even as I sit typing here on Monday evening, Corvallis School District has already decided to close school yet again for tomorrow, giving local kids the rare and much enjoyed 5-day weekend!

This hasn't affected us all too much besides the fact that Ella Rose won't be going to school tomorrow and we haven't had the usual high schooler traffic on our street. Phew!

Here are some things that we've done on our weekend snow-in:

- Christmas present crafting
- beating Super Mario Bros. 3D World
- taking walks
- cleaning house!!
- watching holiday-themed Thomas the Tank Engine
- knitting
- attending a fellow Peachy's birthday party

So yeah, lots of indoor time and not so much socializing compared to usual.
What a weekend for the snowmaggedon to come -- so many events I was looking forward to got canceled. ;_; I'm glad I was not an event organizer for anything this past weekend, because so much had to be postponed, rescheduled, or all together canceled. Boo-hoo!

But it was nice having so much 4-person Dashiell Family fun. Dash has been baking up a storm too, with waffles two mornings in a row, pizza, biscuits, and tonight a pineapple-apple pie. Yum!!

Speaking of food, it feels like we've been really raking our pantries to create meals from what we already have (and neglect) instead of going to the store. It feels like we're really reaching the bottom of the barrel of our spoils from all that summertime dumpster diving. Ha! :D
Now to see what we can score when a faction of the students leave once finals are done at the end of this week. Heh!

Dash has taken many a nice shot of the winter wonderland that became our house and neighborhood but most are on Facebook already, so here is a shot of Dash's hair tonight:

A little hard to see but it's on the left there...

He's got aho-ge!!!
Apparently he thinks he needs a haircut, but I think he looks fine.

Oh! And I should mention that the knitting I've done are in the line of mittens!
Remember how crazy I was about mittens a couple of years back?
Well, I am on a roll again making a new set for the kiddos and for the birthday boy on Sunday!
I even got to implement more duplicate stitching, and made little starts on them.
Should've taken a photo!! >_<
Oh well, maybe I'll ask his mama~

That is all for now.
Hope you are all staying warm and safe in this snowy/icy weather and until next time, take care and Happy Snowy Weather!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Poisonwood Bible

Hello, hello!

It probably feels like a long time since I made a post about a book I've read, but it's not because I'm not reading books...just not posting about it or plain not finishing them yet. ;)

The last book I read was Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander.

I read it while on our trip to D.C. for the Leonada (the family reunion on my grandmother's side of the family) back in August/Sept.

It was a lovely read, soothing and reassuring if you choose to believe in the kind of afterlife the author allegedly experienced. Which I have chosen to do. I don't know why I never made a post about it -- maybe it's because I don't feel I can write about it without giving it away or fear of failing to describe it in a way that won't make people roll their eyes with cynicism. Myself, I'm not one to think about near-death experiences or ponder the afterlife, so this book was very different from what I usual read, and one that I am glad I picked up. My mother's recommendation, no surprise there ;)

If you have a moment and are interested in stretching your mind a bit in a direction you don't usually let it go in, then do yourself a favor and pick up this book.
It's a quick read, especially when you read the large print edition which I just so happen to be a fan of. ;)

Now for the most recent book I just finished:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

The second Barbara Kingsolver book I've ever been exposed to, but definitely not the last. I aim to read every book of hers that our library carries, if possible. Her prose is so beautiful, bordering on poetry a lot of the time, and always touching upon a myriad of issues that strike a chord with me, even if I don't always recognize that they do beforehand.

I am proud to say that I was able to finish this book in four days while knitting Christmas presents, taking brisk walks, bicycling, and working at the college all at the same time.
How, you ask? Because I technically listened to an audio version of it that I got from

My first really good audiobook experience was listening to Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul which we listened to in the car with my mom on some long roadtrip somewhere in our early teens... I want to say it was when college-hunting, but I think I was too young for that then. Hmm... Either way, that was the first one and ever since that, I've had a deep appreciation for audiobooks.

Another recent good audiobook was The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
Also a library rental and one that Dash and I enjoyed every evening in bed while Ella Rose slept next to us. It was good to be able to enjoy a book simultaneously like that together so that we could discuss it the next day and always be on the same "page" in it. Though it was hardly an uplifting title, phew!

The narrator for The Poisonwood Bible was the perfect choice because either she naturally had a faint Southern accent or was just really good at mimicking one, because most of the characters in the book are from Georgia and she did a great job with them.
There are themes of conquest-submission, growing up and out from under your parents' influence, the hardships of motherhood, and family bonds in general.

It was a very rich read and I look forward to getting another audiobook soon that I can enjoy while walking the dog or hopping the bike for a quick errand. Just a nice little companion to take on such outings. Or, better yet, listening to while knitting on the sofa and such.

Before that, though, I have to finish this collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman that I am borrowing from a friend. I like reading one little story every night before turning out the light. It's so nice reading good old fiction after what was a pretty long stint of non-fiction.

Oh, well! You learn lots from either type, I think.

Until next time, take care, happy reading and Happy Poisonwood Bible!