Happy Holidays!

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“Christmas House” by White Mountain, 1000 pieces

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October, 2016 horror movie round up

I’m a little later than usual with this, but here it is:  the annual list of top ten horror movies S and I watched together during the month of October. Thankfully, we had better luck picking good movies this year than last!

10) Ouija: Origin of Evil

ouija-origin-of-evil

I thought there was a lot to like in this sequel to Ouija, particularly Lulu Wilson’s impressive performance as nine-year-old Doris Zander. All of the acting was pretty good, actually. I like Henry Thomas a lot, but that’s admittedly mainly because I saw him at a convention once and he seemed super nice and down-to-earth.

So anyway, even though parts of this movie were a bit confusing, there were enough cool elements to make me like it overall. For example, the Ouija board moving by itself…sorry, but that is just creepy. And the mystery surrounding what once went on in the Zanders’ basement…Ugh! This would probably be a good one to watch at a slumber party.

9) Hush

This is about a deaf writer who is terrorized in her home by a masked maniac — and who decides to fight back for all she’s worth.

The MC’s deafness brings a unique twist to a familiar set-up, and the story definitely kept my interest the whole way through. My only complaint about the movie is how dark it was. I mean that literally:  the villain cuts the power early on in the story, and the rest of the film plays out in deep shadow. This made it hard to follow the action at times. We turned out the lights and fiddled with the brightness on the TV, but it didn’t really help. Still a good movie, though.

8) The Boy

boy

After watching the trailer for this, I was so excited to see it! I guess I was hooked by the promise of a good creepy house/creepy doll story.

Well, in the end it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, but I did enjoy it. I thought the setting was atmospheric and well done. The story was interesting, but it left me with questions and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. I won’t spoil it but suffice it to say it, um…didn’t go where I thought it would. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly since I’m not sure if what I’d anticipated would have worked any better. Basically, I’m just not sure what I wanted from this movie, which is not the filmmakers’ fault. Ha.

7) The Conjuring 2

conjuring-2

For the most part, I liked the first Conjuring movie. This was better, though.

Even though the real case it’s based on seems to have been pretty thoroughly debunked, it still makes for an interesting premise for a horror movie. There were a lot of creepy moments.

My favorite element of the film, though, was the relationship between Lorraine and Ed Warren. It seems to happen so rarely that I’m always thrilled when married couples are portrayed in popular media as actually being in love and, you know, happy together. This couple even work together! Okay, they work together investigating demon possessions and whatnot, but still. They are cute.

I actually think the Warrens’ cases would make for a good TV show. Kinda like the X-Files (my favorite show of all time) but possibly even better, because the two leads would be allowed to smooch and stuff :). I don’t watch TV, but I’d be tempted to watch something like that, if someone made it.

6) Jaws

I saw Jaws as a kid and remember being terrified by it. Then I rented it as an adult and was bored stiff. I was so bored, in fact, that I didn’t even finish watching it! So I was kind of dreading watching it a third time. But this time I didn’t think it was boring at all. I actually thought it was really, really good. And I was surprised by just how gory and scary a lot of it was. Audiences in the seventies must have been freaking out when this was first released. I can see why it was such a big hit.

5) Jessabelle

I loved how straightforward this was. Maybe I’m just getting old and jaded, but I’m pretty tired of every movie trying to have a big twist to it, and/or an ambiguous ending. I know it works sometimes (trust me, I like a confusing, ambiguous movie as much as the next person), but…I’ve gotten to the point where I appreciate it so much when a movie just straight up tells me a good story without feeling as though it’s relying too heavily on gimmicks. This one had a good story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

4) The Hallow

hallow

Ditto this one. Another good, solid story, featuring real monsters. “Real” in the sense that they were actual elements in the story, not just figments (or potential figments) of people’s imaginations. Monsters are a plus in my book.

3) It Follows

it-follows

I’d heard a lot about this one, both good and bad. Overall, I liked it. It kept my interest throughout, and made me wonder just what the heck was going on. There were some genuinely creepy moments, and I’m not going to lie:  when I woke up in the middle of the night after watching it, I momentarily worried I might encounter a scary naked person on my way to the bathroom :(. (Luckily I did not.)

2) Phantasm: Ravager

Okay, I’ll confess, I love me some Phantasm. So I’m a little biased on this one.

I’ve been waiting for this fifth installment in the series for what feels like forever and even though it ultimately didn’t make much sense, I still liked it. Cause hello…it’s Phantasm. And at this point, why would I expect the franchise to suddenly start making sense? It never has before. Which is part of what makes it so awesome. (Told you I don’t mind being confused).

1) The Witch

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I debated whether or not to include this one because it isn’t new to me (I’d seen it before, when it first came out). But I couldn’t think of anything else that deserved the number one spot on the list. I think this is a really great horror movie. It was especially cool that this time around, we saw it at an outdoor screening. The host had mentioned having a live black goat in attendance, which I was excited about, but it ultimately didn’t happen. Oh, well. Still a fun night. Now S tells me the director, Robert Eggers, is re-making Nosferatu. That is exciting to me, too. Possibly moreso than getting to see a live goat.

 


Now for the “honorable mentions.” These movies didn’t make the list, only because I had seen them before, but they are all really good:

Return of the Living Dead

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Jennifer’s Body

I also want to give a little shout out to Unfriended because I thought the way the story was told was really interesting. I don’t know that I’ll ever watch it again, but I can respect what the filmmakers did with their premise (a group of friends begin receiving messages online from a dead schoolmate). And it was good that they kept it so short, since I don’t know that the gimmick would have worked in a much longer movie.

Hellions was another movie I liked a lot, but there wasn’t enough room for it on the list. Watching this gave me a claustrophobic feeling, like I was stuck in someone’s nightmare. And that little kid’s voice constantly asking, “Dora? Can you hear me?” Yikes.

Okay, that’s it. The full list of movies we watched can be found on my husband’s blog. All links in this post are his. Happy Halloween (almost a month late)!

-Elizabeth

Sunshine

Seventieth book read this year:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Description from Amazon:

A small-town baker uses her own magic to confront a post–vampire apocalypse world in this award-winning urban fantasy Neil Gaiman called “pretty much perfect.”

Although it had been mostly deserted since the Voodoo Wars, there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, head baker at her family’s busy and popular café in downtown New Arcadia, needed a place to get away from all the noise and confusion—of the clientele and her family. Just for a few hours. Just to be able to hear herself think.
 
She knew about the Others, of course. Everyone did. And several of her family’s best regular customers were from SOF—Special Other Forces—which had been created to deal with the threat and the danger of the Others.
 
She drove out to her family’s old lakeside cabin and sat on the porch, swinging her feet and enjoying the silence and the silver moonlight on the water.
 
She never heard them coming. Of course, you don’t when they’re vampires.


I thought this dragged in some places, but overall I really liked it. Looking at reviews and stuff, I see the book seems to get compared to “Buffy” a lot but I personally don’t think it’s anything like that, except that it is about a young (blonde?) girl and there are vampires in it. I’ve also seen that McKinley has stated she won’t write any sequels to Sunshine, which I find disappointing because the story left me very curious about what happens next to the characters! And the fantasy world she created for this is so complex and detailed, it seems ripe for more tales to be set in it…I’m still thinking about the story, even though I finished the book a while ago. Oh, well. In some ways, it’s cool there were so many possibilities left open at the end of the book, because it means I’m free to imagine whatever I want to happen next. Ha, ha. It’s also nice to read a book (particularly about vampires) that isn’t part of a series. One and done!

PS: I love all these covers, particularly the one with the coffee cup, which was the one included with my version of the e-book. The one with her in the red dress is really cool too, though.

The Shining

Sixty-ninth book read this year:

The Shining by Stephen King

Description from Amazon:

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


I had a paperback copy of this for a really long time, but since I never read it, I sold it. Then, a couple of years ago I saw the e-book on sale for $1.99 so I bought it again. Now I finally read it and I’m glad! It was quite good. I’d always heard it was different from the Kubrick movie and that King didn’t like that adaptation. Now I can see why. One write-up I read about it said that “while the film was a technical marvel… it lacked the heart and emotional complexities of the novel,” and I would have to agree. The book was heart-breaking to me in a way that the movie (which is one of my favorites) just has never been. I may have cried a little while finishing the book.

I’m interested in the sequel, Doctor Sleep, even though the excerpt included with The Shining made it seem depressing, too :(.

First cover image taken from Amazon (I believe), the rest from the following places: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Here’s the link for cover #4, with a warning that following it will expose you to spoilers for the novel because it is a side-by-side comparison of the book and Kubrick film.

So, what’s a Minimalist?

I wanted to share this video I saw on YouTube recently, because I think it’s probably the best video I’ve seen about minimalism so far (and trust me, I’ve watched a lot).

Specifically, it’s one of the most thorough explanations I’ve seen of what it can mean to be a minimalist and how you can go about becoming one. Also, here is the link from Becoming Minimalist that Audra uses as a template for her discussion. If you’re curious about the minimalist lifestyle and what it can potentially do for you, check these out :)!

Pencils and Doughnuts

Here are two more puzzles I recently completed :).

The one with the pencils and erasers is a 750 piece Springbok called “Classroom Colors.” I recently bought new luggage and when I went to Goodwill to donate my old suitcases, I found this puzzle on a shelf there for only $1.99. I was pleased to discover it’s complete and in great condition. Mr. Myles helped me put it together :).

The “Doughnuts” puzzle is 1,000 pieces from Cobble Hill and was on my wish list for a long time. I finally broke down and ordered it. It was a lot of fun to put together; so pretty and colorful! My photo actually doesn’t do it justice, but that’s because the sun wouldn’t cooperate with me and come out so that I could take a good picture! It’s been overcast and raining so much all week here. Boo!

Anyway, I have a thing about doughnuts. I just like the way they look :). In fact, I think I probably like looking at them way more than I like eating them. Which is probably a good thing. Also, doughnuts make me think of “Twin Peaks,” which is never a bad thing, either.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven

Second book of the year:

A Funny Thing Happened

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (or How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process) by Corey Taylor

Description from Amazon:

In this book, Corey Taylor undertakes something never before attempted in the history of rock superstardom: he takes you with him as he journeys undercover through various ghostbusting groups who do their best to gather information and evidence about the existence of spirits. Some are more credible than others, and, frankly, some are completely insane, but all are observed with appropriate seriousness as Taylor attempts to better understand some of the spooky things that have happened to him in his life, especially that night at the Cold House.

But that’s not all, folks. Taylor once again gives you a behind-the-scenes tour of his crazy life and the many beyond-the-grave events he’s encountered. (You’ll be shocked how often Slipknot has been invaded by the supernatural.) Taylor also touches on his religious background and how it led him to believe in much more than the Man in the Sky.


I didn’t receive too many books for Christmas this year, but I got Amazon gift cards, so before 2015 was out I bought myself a few things off my wishlist. This was one of them.

Corey Taylor, in case you don’t know, is the singer of Stone Sour and Slipknot. I’ve been on a bit of a HUGE Slipknot kick ever since S and I saw them play live back in September. They were amazing and I’ve just been really into obsessed with them ever since. When I found out Corey Taylor had written several books, I knew I had to give at least one of them a try. I decided to start with this one because the premise was just so strange and intriguing. Why would a rock star write a book about ghosts, of all things? Well, it turns out, because he is haunted. Ha, ha. Okay, so that’s not entirely precise, but…he does seem to have had an inordinate number of run-ins with the paranormal throughout his life (although, is there such a thing as an “ordinate” number of paranormal experiences? Probably not). Ghosts just seem to like him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s not fantastically written. Frankly, parts of it are a mess. But it is interesting and thought-provoking and very, very funny. Or at least I thought it was funny. Maybe I just have a comparably juvenile/sick sense of humor to Taylor’s, but I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. I enjoyed all of his Star Trek and other sci-fi references, as I had not known he was One of Us, and I liked that he poked a lot of fun at himself because I appreciate it when famous people don’t take themselves too seriously. Honestly, he seems like one of those people that just has a million funny stories to tell you, and I came away with the feeling that he’d be a cool person to hang out and have a beer with. Although I don’t think he drinks anymore now that he’s sober. But you get what I’m saying.

I think this book may be most interesting to Taylor’s fans, and to people who like ghost stories.

But really, who doesn’t like a good creepy ghost story?

31 Days to Clean

So here’s the first book I’ve finished reading so far this year:

31 Days to Clean

31 Days to Clean – Having a Martha House the Mary Way, by Sarah Mae

This is a short little e-book that I bought almost a year ago. The edition I have seems to no longer exist :(. According to the author’s website, it’s been picked up by a traditional publisher and will be re-released in April. This is the Amazon description for that upcoming edition:

Get your home and your heart in order in just 31 days!
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself—yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.

Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart—and your home—at the same time?

Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.


I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys cleaning. Even the parts I dislike, I don’t mind very much. That’s part of why I like to read books about cleaning! I think this guide would probably be more helpful for people who are extremely reluctant cleaners, though, because it spends a lot of time on encouragement and motivation. But the fact that Sarah Mae focuses so much on the “why” of housecleaning rather than the “how” does make this a unique sort of book about cleaning.

I liked that she takes you through two different challenges each day, one for your heart/soul (a “Mary challenge” — a reference to the biblical story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10) and one for actually cleaning part of your home (a “Martha challenge”). And I agree with her that when it comes to keeping house, motivations are important. It’s good to ask ourselves whether we are just trying to impress the people we live with and invite into our homes, or whether we are trying to create a loving, comfortable environment for them. Obviously it’s better to stay focused on the latter :).