Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Reading Recap

At the beginning of 2011, my one and only New Year's Resolution was to try to read more.  I failed.

Oh I read quite a bit, and once again the trend continued towards higher page-count novels than in previous years, but this year my total book count dropped from 41 books to just 27 - and that's counting the one I'm in the middle of now!  So really only 26.

Now, by most peoples' standards two books a month is pretty good, but for some reason I feel slightly disappointed.  It's a feeling that I'm just going to have to get over though, as my life is busier, fuller, and more satisfying than it has been in the past, and while that might mean slightly less time for reading, it also means more time spent with the boyfriend and the bird and other friends, and generally living!  So really I guess that's not such a bad thing!

On the off chance that anyone is interested, here's the list of books I read in 2011:

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye Alan Dean Foster 1/3/2011
The Way of Shadows Brent Weeks 1/11/2011
Shadow's Edge Brent Weeks 1/20/2011
Beyond the Shadows Brent Weeks 2/2/2011
The Lost Symbol Dan Brown 2/13/2011
Red Seas Under Red Skies Scott Lynch 3/4/2011
Flood Stephen Baxter 3/12/2011
The Steel of Raithskar Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 3/18/2011
The Glass of Dyskornis Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 3/24/2011
The Bronze of Eddarta Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 3/27/2011
The Well of Darkness Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 4/4/2011
The Search for Ka Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 4/10/2011
Return to Eddarta Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 4/14/2011
The River Wall Randall Garrett, Vicki Ann Heydron 4/26/2011
Changes Jim Butcher 5/10/2011
Ark Stephen Baxter 5/22/2011
A River in the Sky Elizabeth Peters 6/7/2011
Water for Elephants Sara Gruen 6/15/2011
Dead Until Dark Charlaine Harris 6/26/2011
Heartless Gail Carriger 7/17/2011
Ghost Story Jim Butcher 9/14/2011
Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage Agathe Christie 9/20/2011
The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson 11/1/2011
Sizzling Sixteen Janet Evanovich 11/4/2011
Smokin' Seventeen Janet Evanovich 11/11/2011
A Discovery of Witches Deborah Harkness 12/1/2011
A Dance with Dragons George R. R. Martin Reading

So to all of my Little Reading Addicts, I wish you a very Happy New Year!  Be safe this weekend, and may 2012 be filled with as many books as you can (comfortably!) cram into your lives!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - A Dance with Dragons

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


The Tease:
 "Yet that was no real fight, he thought.  The real fight will be on us soon, and we must be away before it comes, or we'll find ourselves fighting on the wrong side."
 -A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin

What's your Tease?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 25

Wishing each of you the Happiest of Holidays, the Merriest Christmas, and an 
Excellently Radically Awesome New Year!!

Thanks for reading SunnyReads!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 22

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: "The Three Wise Men" (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: "Mary and Child, surrounded by angels", mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called "Master of Sant'Apollinare".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Movie Poster - The Hobbit

Some of you will have already seen this yesterday, but I didn't stumble across it until this morning.  It seems to perfectly embody the title line of "An Unexpected Journey," with the entire world waiting outside his door.  Stunning!

What do you think?

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 21

From Goodreads:
This classic Christmas story by the author of REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM features a child as memorable and charitable as Dickens's Tiny Tim. Born on Christmas Day, Carol is the Bird family's special Christmas baby. As her tenth birthday approaches, declining health threatens young Carol's life. Her only wish, however, is to plan an unforgettable Christmas celebration for the poor Ruggles children next door. Few characters have embodied the spirit of Christmas more fully than Carol Bird in this bittersweet holiday classic, which generations of readers have cherished for more than a hundred years.

My Thoughts:
I'm always surprised at how few people have heard of this book, but when I was growing up it was part of our Christmas tradition to take turns reading aloud to the family a few chapters each night leading up to Christmas Eve (usually the 23rd and 24th - it's a fairly short book).

Written in 1887, the story is filled with descriptions of the way Christmas used to be, as Carol plans the celebration for the poor neighbor children.  The story is in turns hysterically funny and poignantly sad, but is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves Christmas.

Copies of the book can be difficult to find, but if you're interested, the text of the story is available online in multiple places, including Project Gutenberg.

What's your favorite Christmas story?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 19

The National Christmas Tree is a living tree located on the Ellipse near the White House. It is decorated and lit as a part a three-week holiday celebration. The design is unique each year.

According to, the National Tree, or as it is sometimes called, the White House Tree, was first lit in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, as a local choir and a “quartet” from the U.S. Marine Band performed. 89 years later, this American holiday tradition continues to bring citizens together to share in a message of hope and peace.

My apologies for posting so late the last few days - Santa brought me an early present in the form of a icky cold.  Apparently I was naughty this year.  But on the plus side I should be over by Christmas Eve, which will be nice.

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 18

For your viewing pleasure, Nativity Scenes!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 16

Holy Jingle Bells, you guys!!

We're over halfway to Christmas!  In fact, we've only got 9 days left!  Yikes!  Are you ready?  Have you finished your shopping!  Or for those of you (and I know there's a few) who like to make gifts by hand, are you done?

But what about the wrapping?!  Is everything wrapped/bagged yet?  Better hurry!!  Christmas is almost here...

We're done with "most" of our shopping.  I have a few things to pick up this weekend for Bob (Shhh - don't tell him!) but most of the friends and family are shopped for, wrapped up, and in some cases shipped.  Bob insists that we start shopping in like, August, to make sure that we have plenty of time to shop for all of his kids and grandkids, and my family, without trying to do it all out of one paycheck and racking up the credit card charges.  Usually we're done by Thanksgiving and everything gets wrapped and shipped right after December 1st, which really is nice, as it greatly reduces the stress of the holidays!  After that it's mostly relaxing and enjoying the holiday season.  And baking.

On the flip side though, even though I try to be finished with all my shopping well in advance of the week before Christmas, I really to like to go to the mall and wander slowly through the hustle and bustle of all the last minute shoppers, knowing that I can pick up a few more gifts if I want to, but I don't have to.  I love it!  No last minute panic attack shopping, just FUN shopping!  Although I must admit, sometimes the procrastinators get rewarded for being late by finding some terrifically good deals, so maybe there is a method to their madness!

What about you?  Are you a pre-planner-and-get-it-done-early type of shopper, or do you wait until the last minute? Whichever type you are I hope you are enjoying the hustle & bustle and having fun with it!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 15

Photo by Steve Morgan
Here in Portland, Oregon there are many significant landmarks, both old and new, as I'm sure there are wherever it is that you live.  But while there are many landmarks here, there is really only one Christmas landmark, and that is a giant metal sign lit with both neon and incandescent bulbs that sits above the White Stag Building near the Willamette River, facing one of our major bridges.

The sign features a giant (you guessed it!) white stag, and was originally named the White Stag Sign, until 1997 when the wording was changed to "Made in Oregon," due to the "Made in Oregon" store located nearby.  Each year, near the end of November, a bright red neon nose is added to the sign, letting everyone know that Christmas is near, and Rudolph will soon be guiding Santa's sleigh through the northwest clouds and fog.

Last year, (2010), the signs' existence was threatened, as the buildings' new owners wanted to dismantle it.  Public outcry was loud and passionate, as the lighting of Rudolph's nose was such a treasured tradition to the city's inhabitants, and the City Council finally stepped in and saved the sign, changing the wording to "Portland Oregon," and the altered sign was ceremonially turned on for the first time 10 days later, on November 26, 2010.

And that's how we know when Santa is coming to town!

What Christmas-specific landmarks are in your town?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review - Movie Catch-up - November & December

Anonymous (2011) * * * * *
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave and David Thewlis

From IMDB: "A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her."

This was an amazing film!  The cinematography, costume design, and staging were all incredibly gorgeous.  But the plot itself was literally breath-taking!  It was exciting and interesting, telling the story from multiple points of view, and with a liberal application of flashbacks.  The story unfolds slowly at first, but the pace picks up quickly as the various players set events in motion without realizing the consequences in a battle to determine who will be the next ruler of England.

I'm a little disappointed that it didn't get more Oscar-buzz or better marketing, as it really was fabulous.  A definite must-see movie!

Hugo (2011) * * * *
Starring:  Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lee

From IMDB: "Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton."

A good film about a young boy and his attempts to survive as an orphan living in a train station in Paris.  He takes care of all the clocks in the station, a job left to him by his alcoholic uncle, and in his spare time attempts to complete the last project he and his deceased father worked on together.  A sweet movie, it felt a little slow in places, and ultimately didn't end up being the movie that the previews make you think it's going to be.  Usually I like that, but in this case it made me feel as if the movie was incomplete, as a whole storyline felt abandoned.  But nonetheless a very good movie, and quietly gorgeous in a subtle way.  It only gets 4 stars from me due to the pacing, and while I did actually enjoy it, I wish I'd waited to see it on DVD.

New Year's Eve (2011) * * * * *
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michelle, Jon Bon Jovi, Halle Berry, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Sofía Vergara, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, and a bunch of other people you totally will recognize.

From IMDB: "The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year's Eve."

Ok, that synopsis doesn't tell you very much, but that's exactly what it is - and it's AWESOME!!  It's tons of fun, the stories weave in and out of each other, and the characters experience and learn about the excitement and hope of letting go of the past and leaping into the future.  Lots of surprise cameos by dozens of actors.  It's magical!  And Bon Jovi sings!  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to see it again.  Just go see it already!

Looking forward to:
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Adventures of Tintin
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
We Bought a Zoo (Matt Damon - 'Nuff said!)

What movies have you seen lately, and what are you looking forward to?

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 14

I'm not sure why I find this so interesting, but I do, and so therefore I shall share it with you.  Your interest may vary. 

This is the first Christmas tree ever erected at Rockefeller Center, in 1931.
According to Wikipedia: "Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans" on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center. Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932."

Credit: David Giesbrecht/NBC
This year, 2011, the tree looks slightly different.  The 74-foot-tall tree is lit using 30,000 energy efficient LED lights in the 79th annual lighting ceremony, on Nov. 30, 2011, in New York.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 13

I love little Christmas villages!  One or more always end up being part of our Christmas decorations at home.  This year we dug out Bob's Dickens Village and set it up under the Christmas Tree.  I plan to post some pictures of that and our Nativity Scenes, hopefully in the next few days.

In the meantime, one of my co-workers has a massive miniature village that she set up here at work, and it's so freakin' cute I thought I'd share some pictures with y'all.  So, for your viewing pleasure: A Christmas Miniature Village at Work!


Teaser Tuesday - A Dance with Dragons

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


The Tease:
 ""What is it?" she (Daenerys) cried, as Irri shook her gently by the shoulder.  It was the black of night outside.  Something is wrong, she knew at once."
 -A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin

What's your Tease?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 12

Christmas Traditions Worldwide (According to
  • In Finland, many people visit the sauna on Christmas Eve. Families gather and listen to the national "Peace of Christmas" radio broadcast, and it is customary to visit the gravesites of departed family members.
  • According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in his 1607 Jamestown settlement. Nog comes from the word grog, which refers to any drink made with rum. (Yum!)
  • Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first "Christmas trees" explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg, in Alsace in the beginning of the 17th century. In the 1820s, the first German immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania. In 1848, the first American newspaper carried a picture of a Christmas tree and the custom spread to nearly every home in just a few years.
  • In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer and it's not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas day. During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood or barbeques.
  • In Greece, many people believe in kallikantzeri, goblins that appear to cause mischief during the 12 days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1, St. Basil's Day.
  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties. 
  • After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
  • From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • It wasn't until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.
  • As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving. Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.
  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Christmas Advent Calendar - Day 11

I like baking, but for some reason I really only do any baking during the holidays.  But when I do bake during the holidays, I love to make cookies!  They're simple and fun, and generally speaking everyone likes them.  They don't require a fork or plate (unless something has gone horribly wrong!) and are easy to serve at parties and work potlucks.

This year, on her website, Paula Deen is doing the 25 Days of Holiday Cookies!  If you're not from the US you may not know who Paula Deen is, but I promise that she is fabulous, and you should totally check out her website each day for a new cookie recipe!

What's your favorite thing to bake (or cook) during the holidays?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Christmas Advent Calendar - Day 10

I have never lived in a house with an actual fireplace, but I have always wanted to.

Sure there have been houses with wood stoves, but never a real fireplace, or even a gas one.  I dream of someday having a fireplace and being able to decorate the mantle!

When I was young though, we did have one of those cardboard fireplaces with the painted red bricks and red and orange painted flames, with the light bulb that casts the flickering shadows across the cutouts in the cardboard that are covered with red cellophane, to imitate a fire.

That was one of my favorite Christmas decorations, even though I couldn't hang my stocking on it, or put anything on the "mantle" for fear that the whole thing would tip over!  But, nonetheless, I loved the flickering "flames" and would carefully lay my Christmas stocking out on the floor in front of it so that Santa would be able to find it!

Do you have a fireplace?  If not, where do you hang your stockings?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 9

I love Christmas Trees.  I also love Tradition.  In my book there are some things that simply should NOT be messed with.

However, someday - maybe years from now I don't know - I want to have an upside-down Christmas Tree.  I think it would be AWESOME!!

According to legend, in the 12th century in Central Europe people hung their Christmas tree upside-down from the ceiling as a symbol of the Holy Trinity and Christianity.  So there's some history behind the idea, which has more recently been used by retailers as a way to create more floor space for product placement.  Whatever, I just think it looks cool.

And you can even BUY them at Amazon, and probably other places too!!  There's all sorts of different colors and styles!

So.  Totally.  Awesome!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 8

For your viewing pleasure - A Christmas Tree!

We finally finished decorating the tree last night.  Now we just need to finish up with the rest of the decorations and get the boxes out of the house and back into the shed.  It's prettier in person than it is in this picture (sorry for the quality, I took it on my phone).

As always we tromped around the local tree farm for over an hour before we could finally agree on which tree was the best.  Most were much too large for our little living room (I sometimes dream of having a living room with high vaulted ceilings!).   

Have you finished your holiday decorating yet?  I still have to put up the Nativity Scenes on the piano (yes, we have multiples!) and finish some of the table top decorations and then we'll be done!  Hooray!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 7

"...More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, 
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 6

Last year I discovered a very awesome Advent Calendar, and I re-discovered it over the weekend.  I fell in love with it last year, and was so happy to have found it again!

2011 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar

Basically it's photos from the Hubble Telescope, a new one each day, and they are fabulous!!  Check it out if you are interested in space at all, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - A Dance with Dragons

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

So I've finally started A Dance with Dragons.  I bought it when it came out in July, and have just been waiting to get caught up on my other reading before I started this massive tome.  I imagine that there will be several weeks worth of Teasers from this book, at least.  In this scene, while standing over a dead soldier, Dany comes to the realization that occupying and ruling a city is far different from conquering it.

The Tease:
 ""This is the first of my soldiers they have slain."
"The first," Ser Barristan warned, "but not the last."
I am still at war, Dany realized, only now I am fighting shadows.
She had hoped for a respite from the killing, for some time to build and heal."
 -A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin

What's your Tease?

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 5

I love Christmas music!

Most people do, in small amounts at least.

But I could listen to it all year and be perfectly happy.  I have a long standing habit of always listening to a few Christmas songs sometime in July, and I usually break them out again right after Halloween and listen all the way through the middle of January!

Right now the first ten Christmas songs on my iPod are:

1. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - Casting Crowns
2. Pat-a-Pan - David Archuletta
3. Riu Riu Chiu - David Archuletta
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Glee Cast
5. Oh Holy Night - Glee Cast
6. Oh Santa! - Mariah Carey
7. Mary's Boy Child - Little River Band
8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 98 Degrees
9. The 12 Days of Christmas (Live) - Straight No Chaser
10. Carol of the Bells - Straight No Chaser

Do you like Christmas music?  What are your favorite songs - or favorite versions of songs?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 4

For your viewing pleasure - A photo of our outside Christmas lights from a year or two ago.  We were lucky enough to get snow for one day in December, which made for some perfect pictures.  We were also lucky in that the snow didn't get deep or stick around for very long and thus didn't make life difficult!  As far as I'm concerned, that's the perfect Christmas snow.

We didn't do as many lights this year, (I'll try to get a photo of this year's lights in a few days), but we are just about the only house on our street that does any at all, although I have noticed that the new people at the end of the street have put up outside lights!  Hooray for new people!!

Do you decorate the outside of your home for Christmas?  Lots of lights, or just across the eaves of the house?  What's your preference?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 3

We're off to the Christmas Tree Farm to get our very own Christmas Tree today!  Hope y'all are having a great day wherever you and whatever you are doing!!

Wait - What ARE you doing today??

Friday, December 2, 2011

New John Carter Movie Trailer

So earlier this week Disney released a new Movie Poster for John Carter, and now there's also a new Trailer.  It's pretty awesome, and makes me want to see the movie even more than I already did!

On the off chance that you've somehow missed it, check it out here.

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 2

I love to decorate the whole house, not just the Christmas tree itself.  Every room needs to have some touch of decorations, and that includes even the bathroom!  I have a string of M&M lights that get hung in the bathroom, and looped along the top of the shower curtain through the curtain rings (on the outside of the shower, of course!)  They are probably about 12 years old, and I'm shocked that they still work, but they add just a touch of whimsy and fun that I love.

In the living room and dining room each of the windows get an outline of colored lights that can be seen both inside and outside the house.  Figurines and Nativity Scenes, and Christmas Villages adorn the tables and the top of our upright piano.  The Nativity Scene is a left-over from my childhood, with a mixture of ceramic and plastic figures that are probably 50 or more years old.  They are chipped and cracked, with paint flakes missing, and every single one of the angels have lost their wings over the years, but it is nonetheless my favorite piece of holiday decoration, and the season would not be complete without it.

What's your favorite decoration, if you have one?  Do you decorate the whole house, just one room, or just the tree?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas 2011 Advent Calendar - Day 1

I love Christmas! Love love love love love it!!

When I was growing up my mom always gave me an Advent Calendar just after Thanksgiving, so that I could count down the days until Christmas without pestering her to death by asking how long until Santa was going to come.  Nowadays Advent Calendars usually have chocolate or candy behind each door, but I didn't get those kind, mine were only pictures. 

So this year I've decided to add a new feature to SunnyReads - an Advent Calendar for all my Little Addicts.  Each day I'll post a picture and maybe share a Christmas memory that will (hopefully!) relate to the picture in some way.  Feel free to share your related memories or thoughts in the comment section if you so choose.

This doesn't really have much to do with reading, or books, or tv, or movies, or any of the stuff I usually babble about, but even so, I hope you'll hang out and enjoy - and maybe even join in!

When I was young we always had a live tree in our house, put up and decorated as soon after Thanksgiving as possible.  During my teenage years we traveled a lot and lived in a lot of tiny and temporary places where there wasn't always room for an actual tree, and sometimes a string of colored lights was as close to Christmas decorations as we were able to get.  Because of this, as an adult it has always been very important to me to have a live tree, and lots of decorations, and to get them in place as early as possible!

I know that those things aren't what the holiday is really about, but they do help to make the holiday season feel more festive and special.  And a real tree with needles that get stuck in the carpet and pitch on the wall is soooooo much better than plastic or metal, even if it does take some extra cleaning up after!  Choosing the correct tree is EXTREMELY important and can take hours - it's all part of the process and fun.

My earliest Christmas Tree memory is from when I was three or maybe four, and laying on the floor with my head under the tree and looking up through the branches and lights and decorations, and being completely mesmerized by the patterns the blinking lights threw across the ceiling and walls of our living room.  It was amazing and magical - and sometimes I still do this when Bob isn't looking!

What about you?  What are your traditions about when to put up the tree or decorate?  What's your favorite tree related memory?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New John Carter Poster Revealed

I'm several days late on this one, as it made the rounds earlier this week, but for anyone who missed seeing it, Disney released another poster for the upcoming action-adventure film John Carter. The film, based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, follows a former Confederate captain (played by Taylor Kitsch, of "Friday Night Lights" fame) who is mysteriously transported to Mars, and must resolve a conflict between warring factions.  The film is scheduled for release on March 9, 2012.

I am very excited to see this movie, but I have to say I'm not crazy about this new poster.  Many are comparing it (stylistically) to the old covers of the Barsoom series of novels, and I suppose it sort off is, kinda. But overall I'm just not crazy about it.

What do you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - A Discovery of Witches

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!

So, this is the third week that I've been reading this book on Teaser Tuesday, but I'm almost done, so we only get one more Tease from A Discovery of Witches.  In this scene, Matthew and Diana are discussing an unexpected discovery with Diana's aunt Sarah.

The Tease:
 ""Sarah," I said impatiently.  "Daddy couldn't have wanted me to go back in the past and get the manuscript.  What did he think, that I'd timewalk and snatch it before it was bewitched?  What if I ran into Matthew by accident?  Surely that would mess up the time-space continuum."
"Oh, relativity," Sarah's voice was dismissive.  "As an explanation that only goes so far.'"
 -A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

What's your Tease?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my Little Reading Addicts, I just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving!!!

And if by some chance you live somewhere that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, then in that case, Happy Thursday!!  Make it the best!!