Hello everyone! It’s that time of the month when I share all my hobbies with you.
I’ve started to type stuff up throughout the month as I do them, so that way I’m not struggling to remember if something was from this month or last month haha! It’s working out pretty well so far. I love that things are still fresh in my mind as I’m writing about them. Here’s what I’ve been up to!
This month there were three DIY projects with the library! The first one was Sunflower and Pumpkins Canvas Art. We had cut outs of sunflowers and pumpkins, unsurprisingly. I made a pink pumpkin and went to paint the flowers magenta but they came out more like red. After that, I outlined everything with copper, but I do think that the red makes the sunflowers look more like poinsettias or something. Overall I don’t think the color scheme turned out quite how I expected but also I think that there’s something missing as it looks so plain! Any ideas to make it better would be welcome.
The next project was Yarn Ghost Garlands! This was a very simple and very fun project! I did a few ghosts and then thought I needed more so I just kept going and ended up with I think ten ghosts? it was a blast though and we got to keep the yarn so now I have to find a project to do with the yarn.
The last project was Pumpkin Wine Glass Centerpieces. Unfortunately, this one was cancelled due to bad weather. Since we’re doing the projects outside and sitting on the library lawn, these events are always at risk of being cancelled. Here in Northern Illinois, the weather is so crazy this time of year and honestly, we were lucky to get good weather up to this point. It’s already snowed in other parts of Illinois, so it’s not too far away (unfortunately for me!).
I posted part 3 of my 2020 bullet journal this month! It was fun to look back and see my past pages, and now I’m noticing a big difference in my bujo. When I started, I wanted a lot of artsy pages, inspired heavily by the bujo YouTubers I watched that got me interested in bullet journaling in the first place. Now, my bujo is a lot more minimal and I much prefer it that way. I think my life isn’t interesting enough to really inspire me too, otherwise I’d have more fun stuff to put in! Ah well, it’s still fun and a good project to continue.
As always, I’m listing all the books I’ve finished since the previous Lively post below with their star ratings. All thoughts on them are saved for future (or even past!) Mini Book Review posts but those will be linked below if so. I won’t include any books that I didn’t finish although I’ll be sure to add them into the review posts.
This month I read 5 books.
- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben*
- The Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley*
- The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton*
- You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green
- The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell
* Indicates this book was reviewed in Ten Mini Book Reviews Pt. 5
The first movie I watched in October was Pocahontas on Disney+. I’ve been watching all the Disney Princess movies in order of release (well the original ones, not any sequels or anything like that – at least not yet). I don’t think I watched this one as often when I was younger because I didn’t remember that the animals didn’t talk, even though the tree does?? That seemed like a weird decision. I will fully admit that I had major hair envy the ENTIRE FILM. Literally, Pocahontas got the most amazing hair of all the princesses. It was a lot more violent though than the other Princess films, since they had an actual near battle about to happen. I think that really changed how the film felt as opposed to the others where the conflict was really personal to the character but with this one, Pocahontas and John Smith were really not the main issue, at least at the start they weren’t. Overall, I liked the film but I do think that Native Americans could have gotten better representation with an accurate story OR completely fictionalized story instead of using a true story and really changing it.
Next I watched the documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door on Netflix. I wanted something to watch that wasn’t a series and this came up as one of the top ones. I vaguely remember hearing about the disappearance of the wife and kids, and then learning the husband was the killer (is it spoilers if it was all over the news years ago?) so I figured I would watch. Honestly the whole thing was so creepy as the guy literally had no reason to kill his family but he did anyway. The documentary was pretty short, and just one part as there wasn’t a ton of material from the sound of it. It was literally the guy had an affair, killed his family, tried to hide it, and then that’s it. Oh, and even worse, he tried to say he only killed his wife because she killed their daughters first? So horrible!
I needed something nicer to watch after that so I picked Pick of the Litter. The film follows five dogs as they grow and go through training to be guide dogs for the blind. The dogs are all siblings from the same litter, and we watch as dogs get cut or go on to the next portion of training. It was such a roller coaster of emotions! First you’d get sad when dogs were moved to other homes or failed their tests. Then there was one part where they basically tried to run over the dogs and handlers with cars to train them to avoid them. That was so crazy to watch! Eventually two dogs graduated (I won’t say which so you’ll have to watch it yourself) out of the five. Everyone involved in the process seems so passionate about wanting to help and it’s incredible to see all that work throughout each stage!
I went back to Disney+ to watch the next Disney Princess movie, Mulan! I haven’t seen the new live action as it’s still on premier access, so I can’t compare them but I did enjoy this one. I think there were a lot of weird things still. For example, Mulan cut her hair so perfectly with that sword? I don’t think so! Clearly they cut out the 3 or so hours she probably spent after trying to fix the cut. Then I thought it was unnecessary that Mulan had her horse kick open the gate too, since she was trying to go unnoticed. However I liked that she had made so much progress by the end of building those working relationships with her friends to earn their trust. It seemed like she didn’t even struggle at all to get them to blindly follow her even though she’d technically been fired from the army. I really enjoyed the movie, even though it had some similar issues to what I thought Pocahontas had. Both are historical figures but their stories were changed and magical elements were added in, so I was surprised that I didn’t feel as strongly about Mulan. Maybe because that story isn’t as close to me? Maybe because Mulan’s story had a much clearer enemy (the Huns) as opposed to the Natives vs. English when the English people were clearly just as confused as the Natives? It’s definitely something I have to further reflect on as I do think it’s a little hypocritical of me to like one over the other when they seem pretty similar overall.
The first show I watched was The Great British Baking Show season 9 (I think it’s listed as season 6 on Netflix as they don’t have all of them). I mentioned this in my Life post last month as I actually watched it at the end of September, but not before publishing my Lively post for the month, so it didn’t make the cut off! Since I already shared my thoughts on it, I won’t go on about this one too much but it was a fun season to watch!
Then I moved onto the newest season of TGBBS, season 11. They’re releasing episodes weekly, which is super cool to experience as nowadays I don’t watch anything that way, I usually just binge watch shows! I will say this season is kinda boring though, as I’m not really feeling any of the contestants. I mean, they’re not terrible but I just don’t connect with any of them really. I think it’s partly because they’re all living together and not at home to be in a little bakers “bubble” of sort (due to the pandemic) so we don’t get the cutesy little insights into their normal lives. Well, we do but only tiny ones. Also it is quite early so we’re still in the phase were there’s too many to really get to know. I am loving all the creations though!
I had to watch Emily in Paris of course! Overall I really enjoyed this series. I had major study abroad nostalgia while watching. I went to Barcelona, not Paris, and I was a student, not a marketing guru, but a lot of the series was familiar. It’s intense being in a new country, not knowing the language (I know Spanish but not Catalan, which is the main language in Barcelona), making new friends, trying to connect with locals (I never got along with the host because she was super rude to me the entire time I was there but nice to my roommates), and even new experiences like the food or seeing the iconic landmarks in person is so crazy! I loved reliving those moments through Emily. Of course there was plenty wrong with the show too. I mean, the social media aspect was clearly meant to be super important to the story but it was done so poorly! The hashtags Emily uses are terrible (one even had an apostrophe in it), the content was pretty boring at first but somehow she got Insta famous, and she was a social media marketer but only had 40-50 followers at the start of the series. I feel like they could have put a tiny bit more effort in to make it more realistic at least, even if they did skip actual captions, which was also a weird choice. I think a lot of it was that they were a little lazy on it, or maybe even worried that they’d do such a crazy caption that it’d distract or annoy people too much, but even a simple caption with the hashtags would be better than a post with only hashtags shown. I do think Emily was quite realistic as a character. She’s annoying at how little she knows about the French culture and how she doesn’t speak French, but to be honest, that’s a lot of Americans. I had plenty of people in my program who got such a big culture shock when they realized how different it was. While my home school prepared the students and made us take a “before you study abroad” class with tons of research and preparation, their schools didn’t so they weren’t knowledgable about what to expect. Even with the knowledge it’s so hard, but in the end it’s an amazing experience to live abroad. Oh, also how terrible is this show to Camille though? Her story line is so sad honestly! I hope she gets a better outcome in the second season. But all in all, it’s a really fun little show and I’m convinced I should move to Europe soon.
And I continued Madam Secretary. I do tend to watch this one more sporadically so I didn’t make it too far into this one since last time. I’m in season 4 now, so it’s hard to say anything about the show without worrying about spoilers. I do think the show got a bit stale after the election of the last season, as it just wasn’t as exciting. But it did have to do more with the characters so it was still super interesting.
I started The Good Place per my sister’s recommendation. She actually recommended it eons ago, but I just now got to it as I was looking for something a little more light hearted than Madam Secretary. I loved it! I’m onto the third season right now, so I’m going through this one really fast. There’s going to be a bit of spoilers here so proceed with caution if you don’t want to be spoiled. Or better yet, just skip to the next portion of the post. I loved season one a ton! It was so fun watching Eleanor try to become a better person through her “good people” lessons with Chidi. I think that the way her progress went was perfect. She really, really struggled at first as shown when she hid garbage instead of properly cleaning it for example. After a few episodes, Eleanor had a breakthrough when she realized the lessons were working when she let a neighbor order before her, simply because she hadn’t decided what she wanted yet. Then by the end she was making choices in line with what a “good” person would do, and hardly anyone noticed, including Eleanor, since it was now natural to her. Season one was my favorite by far. Season two’s plot was that their neighborhood had to keep being reset due to Eleanor and her friends finding out that they were in the bad place, not the good place. It was also fun and I also thought this season progressed at a great pace too. We saw enough of the resets that we weren’t bored by the time the story moved onto everyone working together again. I did find it less fun than season one, probably because it wasn’t as “new” anymore. Now, season three is following the humans as they’re back on Earth getting a second chance to earn their spots in the Good Place. I think this is my least favorite season thus far because it feels a little too “normal” for the plot. I would have preferred to see them all sent to the Bad Place, show everyone in the Bad Place how to be good, and lead a revolution or something. Season three just seems so “normal” since they’re on Earth when the first two seasons were so innovative. It’s still interesting, but just not as good in my opinion.
Musicals & Concerts
I did watch The Phantom of the Opera on YouTube through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s channel “The Shows Must Go On”. It’s been shared there before, but I love the musical so much that I was so excited to see it again. I’m pretty sure it was removed from Netflix, as I don’t think I saw it last time I checked for it there. I love that there’s still the chance to watch it online from time to time though!
I really wanted to share Kathryn Morgan’s video titled Why I Left Miami City Ballet. In the video, Kathryn talks about how toxic of a work environment Miami City Ballet was for her. Even though I’m not a professional ballerina and the health/diet issues that Kathryn faced weren’t something I faced at my last job, the general toxicity was super familiar to me as my last job was just a she described. I am so sad that Kathryn had to face that. Even hearing that she was asked to stay on the roster but not dance (she was asked if she needed medical leave which was unpaid), was crazy similar to me being kept on the team but never given opportunities at work. I’m super proud that Kathryn got out of that horrible workplace and was able to free herself from that.
I couldn’t decide where to put this, so I added this “other” category! I watched the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. As election day is coming up for the USA, the debates have been a major topic this month. The first debate (I actually think it was late last month but I can’t fully recall and I don’t think I talked about it so I’m adding it here) was annoying! The orange idiot would NOT STOP INTERRUPTING. I thought Biden was a little shook at the unprofessionalism so he was thrown off but he clearly learned by the second debate. Ugh, I was getting a headache though honestly. Backing up to the VP debate, it was fine. Harris totally outperformed Pence, who at least behaved better than Trump so that’s a win. I did skip the town halls actually, because I totally goofed up the dates on those so I thought they were the next day and missed it. The second debate was much easier to watch. There was the option to mute so both candidates seemed to not want to be muted and didn’t talk over each other. The moderator did struggle to cut them off though various times, so I would have preferred the mute button to be used more readily. The orange idiot at one point said “when I’m President” which was so weird because he is the President already. It feels like he forgets that he is President and also forgets who he’s campaigning against. He kept attacking Sanders and AOC, as well as asking Biden why he hasn’t done what he says he’s going to do, even though Sanders and AOC aren’t in the race, and Biden hasn’t been President. When Biden turned the question around, Trump would ramble incoherently or lie and say he had taken action. So weird.
Anyway, I’ve already mailed in my ballot but if you’re an eligible voter in the USA, remember to vote! Ballots must be mailed in by November 3rd if you’re voting by mail (check your state’s rules on voting by mail if you haven’t already) or prepare to head to the polls either on November 3rd, Election Day, or on an early voting day in your area. A great resource is IWillVote.com which will help you make a plan to vote, if you haven’t planned it already!
The first game I need to mention is Animal Crossing New Horizons of course! I absolutely love the game. I got it back in August and this past month I reached five stars! I was so surprised and excited! I was going to do an island tour video, and I did actually record one but the best I could do was point the camera to my Switch to record as I don’t have a capture card to get it recorded. Unfortunately, the weird static lines showed up in the recorded video even though I watched the screen on my camera to try to make sure it wouldn’t. It was so frustrating to see that I’d recorded but it looked horrible! I just couldn’t put that up on my channel and instead had to skip a post unfortunately. I did figure out how to get the photos from my Switch at least so I shared those in my ACNH Video Game review. I figured since I did reach 5 stars, it was time to do a review. The game doesn’t really have a point when you “finish” as it’s meant to be played forever I think, so I’m so excited to keep doing that and maybe posting an occasional update. I’m thinking it’ll be a monthly series called “[Month]’s Snapshots from Aquila – My ACNH Island Update” and featuring a little spot on my island. Alternatively I thought of starting a new Instagram for my island but I think that’s just the obsession talking so the blog post updates are probably going to be better. Oh, then I can do shorter recaps on this Lively post too.
Oh some actual ACNH updates! I finished my neighborhood and decorated it, but then I decided to undo it. I’ve finally finished getting all the houses out of the neighborhood and scattered through the island. Now I’m working on creating more natural landscapes around them, filling the space where the neighborhood was, and debating if I want to add a second account for a second house. If I do add the second house the idea is that it’ll be like a sort of public, multipurpose building. For example, the basement will be a bar and the upstairs will be a restaurant. The only thing that really stops me right now from doing that is because villagers can’t go into the houses so that doesn’t make is as much fun as opposed to how they’ll occasionally be hanging around the cafe area that’s outside right now. Also the home loan now that I think about it! Otherwise, I am going for a more natural theme on my island now.
I started playing Red Dead Redemption on my new (to me) Xbox 360. I was given the console recently from a friend and didn’t have any games so I picked this one up recently. I totally mixed it up with Red Dead Redemption 2 though, as I totally forgot there was more than one, and really was just interested in the game because of the play-throughs I watched with RDR2 came out. Oops! I thought it was strange that the game had such an old and dated look to it, and I didn’t remember the story starting like that from the play-throughs at all. Well I quickly realized that I’d bought the first game, not the second like I thought. Oh dear but the game was still pretty interesting so far. I think I might try go through the main story pretty quickly as it’s quite an open world game. I do love open world games but at the same time they are such big time commitments!
I also played a bit more of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on my PlayStation 4. The last time I played was back in April I think, so I took a really big break from it! But I started out with the chapter where young Lara is trying to solve the mystery of the White Queen and ended with Lara discovering Paititi. Even though I feel that the game play is basically the same as the previous two games (something I mentioned in my review of Rise of the Tomb Raider), it is still fun and I like the story so far. I can’t wait to get a bit farther into the story as I left off in the middle of Lara being guided into the city and I think she gets to explore more freely soon.
This month I made a few things! Not as much as I thought though. One was gluten free and vegan peanut butter cookies because I didn’t have eggs LOL. If I had I would have maid regular PB cookies since we have a lot of peanut butter right now. But I’ll share all of that in my next baking post.
I’m thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year, so I’ve started to create characters, time lines, and such. I don’t know if I will or not because I’m feeling rather uninspired but also I have nothing to do so I would like to not be lazy and get to writing next month!
It’s pretty cold where I live now so I haven’t gotten as many walks as I’d like anymore! I can totally feel the difference in my quality of life honestly. I feel more restless, have more difficulty sleeping, and just don’t feel like I’ve earned any rest. I don’t know if the lack of walks is contributing to a worsening level of mental health or vice versa as I don’t feel like doing at home workouts in it’s place but I think I’ll try to be better about that in November.
This month was the second half of my virtual adult ballet classes. I really enjoyed this session! I believe I mentioned last month that my class is only three students with the instructor, and all of us have done the class before. Because of this, the instructor really was working us hard to get us conditioned for even more complex stuff! Of course, it’s harder at home, because I’m dancing on carpet and we can’t do big stuff like leaps or turns, which is always the fun and exciting part of class (as well as the nerve wracking part). But we do use the part of class that would be for floor work to do conditioning instead. And we’ve also learned new moves which normally wouldn’t be taught as we aren’t really a “beginner” class anyway. I’m loving it as it is more like a weird intermediate class now, so even though we aren’t in the studio we’re still learning and getting better. Once we do get back in the studio, I’m guessing we won’t do stuff like this anymore because we will have a bigger class and it’ll be more beginner again. Plus, I’m sure we’ll have more beginner level dancers joining us so we won’t be able to do more intense moves but we will have new friends to dance with, which is always great too!
So that’s what I’ve been up to this month! I mean, overall, quite a lazy month so that left a ton of time for tv shows and movies, but surprisingly not a ton of books! I’ll try to work on that for next month!
Thanks for reading!
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I thought Emily In Paris was enjoyable but I hated it because of the way they portrayed French people. Such an insult to my culture and the way they portrayed Paris is misleading too. Plus, they romanticized cheating..? like what? I actually didn’t think about the social media point of view before, but I totally agree with you. They totally simplified it and even was misleading cause it does not work that way. It would have worked that way a couple of years ago…but not now. Also, I feel like the other characters did not get a proper storyline or even character development, they were all 1-dimensional. Totally agree with you on Camille, she deserved better!
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YES you’re totally right on all of this!!! The French are different culturally to Americans, of course, but the show was so crazy in how they portrayed it. I was totally annoyed how they were like “oh ALL French people are okay with cheating/sexism/etc.” when they’re not! Of course, the show is from Emily’s perspective and she seemed such an extremist on how her way was the only right way so I guess I can see from her POV why it was exaggerated but overall it was weird that they went so over the top with that. Haha yes, the social media strategy Emily used is totally early Insta days, but no way would she get the following she had now with that. There’s plenty of Americans who move abroad or vice versa and they don’t automatically get Insta famous from that! And omg I’m still so sad for Camille and I hope she gets a better story for the next season!
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What a productive month!! I’ve been meaning to read more books also but I just can’t find the time ☹️
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It can be so hard to find time to read! Honestly, if I wasn’t unemployed or mostly staying home due to the pandemic I totally wouldn’t read this much. It does motivate me to read more being in a book club in my library and also checking books from my library’s online database because those all have deadlines that I have to finish the book by. It can be hard though, sometimes when I’m waiting for a book I put a hold on I’m impatient to read it but by the time I get the book I’m just not interested anymore.