Christmas Haul!

I got so many awesome things from my family and friends this Christmas!  One of my friends actually made me pottery.  How cool is that?

Millenium Falcon

You’ve already seen the awesome Falcon my husband made me…it was filled with candy, as well as Star Wars-themed cups.  The cups had images from various movies, etc., but I was kinda disappointed that the Rebels one had Ezra, Kanan, and Zeb but not Hera or Sabine. 😦  I did get a Captain Phasma lollipop though!

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Look, there’s even a satellite dish and a spot for the cockpit to angle off.

He also got me some Christmas lawn decorations.  There was some jumping and excited screaming involved.

t.rex

Yes, that is a T-rex with a Christmas present.  Yes, his head moves.  YES, THERE IS A MATCHING STEGOSAURUS WITH A SANTA HAT THAT ALSO MOVES ITS TAIL.  I’ll post pics of that one some time, too.

My husband is the best.

Books (aka the best gift ever)

  • xxxHolic v1 by the incomparable CLAMP and Ms. Marvel v1 —I want to read more comics this year!
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde—all my friends rave about this author
  • Several sci-fi and fantasy books by local authors, including The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Skylights by Luther Siler—oh wait, I bought that for myself.

Board Games

  • Splendor—a very fun card drafting/development game with very pretty art.  It has pretty simple mechanics, plays 2-4 people, and has good replay value.
  • Mysterium—the English version of a fun social game I wrote about previously; it’s like a mix of Dixit and Clue
  • B also received One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Codenames
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The board game pile keeps getting bigger.

Other Media

  • Frozen—there’s going to be a lot of singing
  • The Force Awakens soundtrack by John Williams—I can’t wait to get a better listen to this.  I think it will be great writing music!

Last but not least:

  • R2 soup—yes, my parents got me a can of Star Wars soup as a Christmas present.  I absolutely ate it and it was delicious.
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The Star Wars shapes totally make it taste better.
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Happy Christmas! from a galaxy far, far away

A very happy Christmas to all my readers who celebrate today!

My gifts from B this year had a special delivery service.

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“Han and Chewie had to travel 12 parsecs with an overloaded Falcon to get your gifts here by Christmas!”

He made this while I was at Christmas Eve Mass.  He even put a dish on top, and made a spot for the cockpit to come off the side (he didn’t have time to get it attached because the glue was still drying).

There’s a bunch of candy inside!  But it got boarded by an unwelcome guest:

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Even I get boarded sometimes.

Our cat Juhani thought it looked very similar to the Ebon Hawk:

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She’s more interested in her new cat toy that B was waving around.

A Christmas Biology Lesson

My mom gave me an adorable ornament for Christmas: a bunch of festive animals on a see-saw, and you can actually turn a little crank to make the see-saw go up and down.  It’s a 2013 Hallmark ornament called “Up for fun!”

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Isn’t it cute?

You might, then, be surprised to know that my mom only bought it for me because she knew it would push my buttons.  They have heard me complain on this topic often, so this is like a family joke at this point.

See those two larger animals on the ends?

Polar bear: lives in the Arctic.

Penguin: only found in the Southern Hemisphere (the Galápagos penguin is the only one to potentially cross the Equator, and then not by much)

These two animals NEVER MEET in the wild, and it drives me crazy when holiday stuff has them hanging out next to each other like best buds.  My family thinks this is hilarious (to be fair, it is), so they point out this stuff to me regularly.

The poem text on the ornament box even says they are hanging out at the North Pole–there are no penguins in the Arctic, let alone the North Pole!  Unless Santa has some kind of illegal menagerie.  He clearly has reindeer, but at least they are native to the region.

And what are those other two animals on the see-saw?  The smallest one is clearly a mouse (ok? cute but slightly random); I honestly thought the larger one was a kangaroo until my mom suggested it was a rabbit.  There are definitely lagomorphs in the Arctic, but that far north they are always white! WHITE! To blend in with the snow!

Now I’m picturing Santa as having some kind of Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole, like a jolly Superman.  His zoo just has holiday animals instead of intergalactic creatures.  I guess we’ve all learned something today…

 

It came, a flow’ret bright, Amid the cold of winter

My husband wrapped my gifts as an X-wing this year.
“Red leader here. We’re under attack from a giant cat!”

To my Christian readers, a very Happy Christmas.  As we celebrate Christ’s birth, I hope you find the warmth of His peace in your homes and hearts.  And to all those celebrating this season, whatever the holiday, I wish you bright joy in the midst of the cold and dark.

I will be spending the day with family, and eating these delicious goodies I made (including anise and orange springerles–the orange ones have chocolate on the back!)

Seasonal Reads: The Dark is Rising

Do you ever find yourself coming back to a certain story at a certain time of year?  I often re-read books during a specific month or season that I feel is inextricably tied to the book.  Here’s what I’m reading right now to get in the spirit of the season.

 The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)

It may have been The Grey King that won the Newbery, but my favorite book in Susan Cooper’s classic fantasy series is the one the series takes its name from: The Dark is Rising.  It was the first book I read in the series, and I have re-read it many a December.  When I was studying in Spain, I even found a version in the local public library (I think it was called Los Seis Signos de La Luz) to help me practice my reading skills in between the García Márquez.

The story begins on this date, Midwinter’s Eve, the day before Will Stanton’s 11th birthday.  He wakes on Midwinter Day to a different existence, because he has come into his power as an Old One, and his quest for the six Signs of the Light has begun.

Rather than the traditional Christmas cheer, this book gives the season a more ominous feel.  All Will wants for his birthday is snow, and snow he gets.  So much snow that the village is stranded, the phones out, and even fireplaces are getting doused by snow coming down the chimney.  Over the twelve days of Christmas, the Dark is rising in power, using the cold and snow to stop him from completing his quest.  The book culminates with the ride of Herne the Hunter on the eve of Twelfth Night. (If you have read the Dresden Files, you know Herne as the Erlking–pretty scary guy.)

But parts of the book do convey that Christmas warmth.  Will is one of nine children, and while I’m sure this sucks at times, at Christmas it seems idyllic.  On Christmas Eve they have a Yule log and decorate the Christmas tree, then they all go caroling and come home to cocoa and mince pies.  The caroling is another reason I love this book: it actually has the words to the second, third, and fourth verses of “Good King Wenceslas” (yes! there are more verses–five total in fact).

If you haven’t read the series, this is a great place to start, and it’s a perfect book to curl up with under blanket with some hot chocolate and watch the snow come down outside.