March 28, 2016

An Open Letter to Homeschoolers



Dear Homeschoolers,
I envy you. I admire you. I wish I was one of you. And sometimes I feel like I am.

So many of you are witty, intelligent, and just plain fun. You've got a great sense of humor, and you're all the same in the sense that every single one of you is incredibly unique. While most teenagers seem to like virtually the same mainstream music, movies, and pastimes, homeschoolers have a plethora of passions! One might love to swing dance, another might make and shoot longbows, and still another may have a self-managed greenhouse and garden.

Quintessential English Garden:

Although I love how unique you are from the average person, I also value the commonalities you share with one another. All of the homeschoolers I know are Christian, and it's a comfort to be around people who share similar faiths. You have lovely common interests as well, like reading, writing, diy-ing, and making music and art. My homeschooled friends have deemed me similar enough to them to be called "homeschooled at heart", which to me is a great honor.

from "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney | Once Upon A Bookshelf:
By Barbara Cooney, a brilliant illustrator
       

Your way of living seems so fresh and free and flexible. I love the idea of working at my own pace (to an extent) and having time to learn any subject I want! I won't say you have so much extra time, because you fill it with worthwhile activities. You have the coolest extracurriculars! Music lessons, youth orchestras, plays, dances, ballet, sewing circles, I've heard it all. You become such well-rounded people through the variety of your education!

I long for a homeschooled lifestyle. I wish I could learn from home and not wake up so early every morning in order to go to a big, bright, loud, and crowded school full of people who just don't have the same personality or interests as I do. I wish my life wasn't run by a bell. I wish I could spend my days surrounded by my bookshelves and fresh air and family.

              

In case you were wondering, you aren't missing anything much from a public education. (I started public school as a freshman. Before that I went to a parochial school, which was an amazing experience!) I don't want to seem entirely ungrateful for my education, and there are a few benefits. One is the chance to meet and interact with more people than an average homeschooler will find in their homeschool or youth groups. Public high school allows one to make friends fairly easily, even if one may only see them in one class a day. I also have a few terrific teachers.
 There are usually more class options and opportunities at a public high school than at home, depending on how you look at it. There are more resources at a high school than at a house, such as quality culinary arts kitchens, auto shops, and auditoriums. However, homeschoolers often are able to create their own classes by reading on any subject, and devoting time and energy into any skill.

                        Petals and Plaits:

By this letter, I by no means intend to bash my high school or the friends I have made there. Nor do I pretend that being homeschooled is a paradise without hardship. The main purpose of writing to you all, dear homeschoolers, is to let you know that you are wonderful, kind, and lovely people. You have inspired me to kindness, creativity, and a greater eagerness to learn. Thank you for being so amazing!

Yours Sincerely,
Abby



March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

            The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he is risen, just as he said."
Mathew 28:5,6


        Beautiful Eggs!!:
Happy Easter to you all!

March 22, 2016

Five Reasons Why I Love The South

Imagine waking up one morning to the sound of cicadas in the trees. A breeze floats into your room, bringing fresh air, scented with boxwood. You look outside to see gardens, deep green trees, and delicate crepe myrtles. This is the South in summer, and it is beautiful. 

          Crepe Myrtle trees. A lot of these in the South. They are beautiful in full summer.:

I have not been fortunate to live in the South (and by "South" I mean mostly Virginia and the Carolinas. Yes, I know there are more Southern states than that.), but as soon as I am free and independent, I fully intend to live there for the rest of my life.  Here are five reasons why:

      Red brick house in Charleston:

1. The Climate

One of my favorite things about the South is how nice and humid it is. Yes, you heard me right. I love humidity! I find it better than dry heat, actually. There's just something about breathing lung-fulls of warm, deep air that is simply wonderful. Plus it makes my hair curl nicely. :) The few times I've been there for a week, I didn't mind the heat much, even when outside most of the day. (But I would miss snow in winter. That would be hard.)

2. The Gardens

The gardens are beautiful down South! There are so many beautiful plants that are only able to grow where it is so balmy; crepe myrtle, magnolia, and fragrant boxwood are some of my favorites. I also love how well gardens and landscapes are done. Everything is so neat and colorful! 

     Taliaferro-Cole House

3. The History

Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, and Monticello are all in Virginia. I'm seeing a trend of amazing history here! All three are beautiful homes/living history museums that interpret an exciting time in early American History. So much important history took place in the South; much of the Revolution and Civil War were fought there, and many great and famous people have called the South their home.
I love the material culture of the South as well. The architecture, textiles, and everyday objects fascinate me. They're just so pretty!

Winter walk down DOG Street:
        

4. The Hospitality

There's something to be said for a shady porch and a glass of iced tea, visiting friends on a sunny summer afternoon. People are quite laid back in the South, but I think that gives them more time to pause and be kind to fellow people. Southerners are quite sweet and considerate, at least from my experience. It's definitely a culture I would enjoy being a part of. 
                         Two Meeting Street Inn -- Southern Living What's the Prettiest Porch in the South?:

5. I just "belong" there

I ache to be in the South, I really do. Sometimes when I have time to really just think, I'll go back and remember moments of family vacations spent in the South; the sound of cicadas, the humidity in the air, walking down the streets of Williamsburg and through battlefields and gardens. It really feels like home. Of course I know that living in the South won't be the same as vacationing there, but living there will make me happy. It's where I want to be.

Is there a place where you feel you belong?
Do you like heat and humidity, or loath it?

March 19, 2016

Happy Spring!

Well, folks, I'd like to say that spring is in the air, but after weeks of surprisingly mild weather, my area is experiencing a cold snap, thus killing all the newly blossomed crocuses and grass...it's not good. Despite all this, however, I am keeping the joy of spring in my heart, and that has led to a lot of spring-themed inspiration! 

Colonial Nursery:
Time for things to start growing!

Recently I've discovered the poems of Robert Frost, and they are absolutely lovely! I love his realistic and relatable descriptions, as well as his talent of making words sound so beautiful strung together. I found an especially springy one, which I think you'll all enjoy!

Blue Butterfly Day
It is blue-butterfly day here in spring
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry,
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry!


                         

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire. 

Robert Frost


Wooden crate of flowers.:

Have you ever read/heard of Robert Frost's poems?
What are your favorite things about spring?




March 13, 2016

Mercy Street 2016 - Review

   "Blood is not gray or blue; it's all one color."

Just as Downton Abbey comes to a close, public television has just released a new series called Mercy Street. I've been watching it eagerly every Sunday night, and I can't get enough! 


                                        Mercy Street (2016) Poster:

Mercy Street is set during the Civil War in Alexandria, Virginia, which the Union army is currently occupying. The army has taken over the hotel of a prosperous Southern family and turned it into a military hospital. The story focuses primarily on Mary Phinney, a new nurse that comes to the hospital. The series follows unfolding events in the hospital and around the city of Alexandria as lives from both North and South are mixed.

The setting and the characters are what really make this show so fascinating. Men and women from different backgrounds come together to make one amazing story!


      Mercy Street series premiere recap: The New Nurse | EW.com:

Nurse Mary Phinney

Mary Phinney comes to Alexandria as a widow; her husband died in Pennsylvania the past year. Mary feels guilty that she was unable to nurse her husband to health, so she is determined to help save as many lives as she can at the hospital. She is sent to the hospital to work as head nurse, even though her experience is limited. At first she is surprised by the chaos of a hospital, but she works to keep her composure. I personally love Nurse Phinney; she has incredible spirit and determination. I really connect to her attitude of trying to help every single person she can.

Doctor Jed Foster

Dr. Foster is one of the main surgeons in the hospital. (There is another one, but he's icky and not fun to talk about!) Dr. Foster grew up in a rich family in Maryland. His opinions are neither completely Union nor Confederate; he wants to preserve the Union, but is not in any way an abolitionist. Dr. Foster doesn't discriminate between Union or Confederate soldiers, but works tirelessly to help as many as possible. Dr. Foster is...kind of complex to me. I like him for the most part, but he certainly isn't perfect. 

      Season 1 Pre-Finale Recap | Falling behind on Mercy Street? Here's a recap before the finale this weekend!:

Mr. James Green

Mr. Greene is in a very tricky situation as he resists signing an oath of allegiance to the Union and tries to appease the Union officers at the same time. He must run a business, protect his family, and keep his dignity even after the Union has taken over his hotel. I really admire Mr. Green. He stands up for his values and handles a very difficult situation incredibly well. Of course I don't support the Confederate's cause as a whole, but I sympathize with the Green's situation. 

Mrs. Jane Green

Mrs. Green is one strong woman! She keeps a lot of Southern pride and dignity, even though her life is overrun with "the enemy". She is determined to maintain Southern hospitality even to those who come uninvited. She also manages her three children, which is a job all of its own. I really admire Mrs. Green. Her dresses are really pretty too. :)

Episode 3 | The Uniform | Mercy Street | PBS:
Emma on the left, Alice on the right

Emma Green

Emma Green is the older daughter, and she quickly learns that the best way to gain her family's hotel back (in a sense) is to work as a nurse in the hospital. Never before accustomed to uncivilized work and living, Emma struggles initially, but soon becomes much more confident and mature through her nursing job. Although I don't like all of Emma's decisions, I love her character, and her big sister-ness to Alice.

Alice Green

Alice is pretty young and carefree at first. She doesn't care or know how bad the war is, but is more concerned with the latest fashions. She also has a sweetheart who goes off to fight. Alice develops into a more mature, if somewhat radical character by the end of the season. I don't have anything against Alice, but I like Emma better, since she has more personality. Alice seems a bit flat at times. 

         Mercy Street Comes to CPTV Sunday, Jan. 17:

Aurelia Johnson

Aurelia works as a laundress for the hospital. She is a free woman, but still hasn't discovered just how much freedom she has, and does not feel much different than being a slave. Her main wish is to find out where her son is, since she was separated from him several years before.

Samuel Diggs

Samuel works as an assistant at the hospital. Through experience with a former master, Samuel is practically an expert in medical and surgical knowledge, but feels he can't use it because no one would trust or believe that a black man could know so much. Samuel has a really kind heart and cares deeply for Aurelia. He does so much for her, and is so kind, but for some reason she doesn't want him. Which makes me rather frustrated. Anyway, Samuel is overall a really cool guy. I like him.

The opening theme to Mercy Street is beautiful!

            ‘Mercy Street’:


     There is one important thing you should know if you might watch this: it has a lot of blood. The producers certainly didn't cut corners when it came to the nitty, gritty, and gory reality of a Civil War hospital. So yeah, I looked away or changed the channel for a few scenes. There is also one other sort of inappropriate scene in an episode Thankfully, it's pretty easy to tell when you might want to look away or skip a scene; they make it pretty clear when there's about to be surgery or blood. On one hand, it was good to make people realize just how awful life could be in the Civil War. On the other hand, I'm not sure if they had to show everything to make that point.
Overall I think this series is absolutely fantastic, and I'm excited for season two!
Do you enjoy Public Television series?
Have you ever seen Mercy Street?

March 7, 2016

My Goals for Spring Break


Ten days of vacation ahead! Ten days where I have "nothing" to do. In reality, of course, 
there's Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday to celebrate, 
family gatherings to be had, eggs to be dyed, and a fair deal of studying. But between events and celebrations, I am truly determined to be productive this year! No more lollygagging, frittering, or shuffling feet for this girl! Now, I'm not going to pretend that "productive" doesn't mean watching a period drama or reading a great book, but it does mean that I won't be watching hours of pointless television or taking online quizzes or silly stuff like that. But with that said, I've got a lot planned, and I hope to get as much done as I can!

               An easter egg with a note tied to it would be a cute idea for a surprise.:




Practice

With all the madness of a busy schedule, my violin and piano skills have really taken a loong vacation. I'll have to remind myself that playing fun Irish songs does not count as practicing (but that they can and will be played with pleasure!) 


Celtic Woman fiddler Mairead Nesbitt talks about group's success / masslive.com:
Violin goals :)
                                   

Read

Oh, yes, what's that thing you do with books? Wait, you can read for fun? It's been a while since I've really had time to sit down and read, and it's been awful. I don't have any specific books in mind now, besides Northanger Abbey. I started it months ago and liked it, but never finished! 

                    When Mr. Tilney proposes to Catherine is pretty much the best part of the movie.:


Watch some Period Drama

You know what I really ought to see? *Pulls out 10 foot scroll* I'm in the mood to rewatch every period drama I've ever seen simply because I suddenly feel that I don't remember enough from when I saw them 6 or 7 years ago. I want to see some newer releases like A Royal Night Out and Brooklyn, but I'm not driving to a movie theater two hours away to see it and the library doesn't have the DVDs!

Clean Up

Oy vey, I hate to admit it but my room is a genuine mess! Hopefully it will get a good cleaning along with the rest of the house. 
everythingyoulovetoohate:  That smile, that golden hair in his face and that sweater. One of my favorite scenes in The Great Gatsby.
My clothes are everywhere. :P
                                                    

Indulge my Creative Side

What this really means: sew more, bake more, scrapbook more, draw more, craft more, write more, take more pictures, and learn how to crochet! Wait, you think it can't all be done in ten days? Of course it can! (I think. Maybe.)
Crocheted Flowers - Free Patterns:
I want to make pretty things like this!
                                   What are you planning to do with your Spring break?
                                  Do you have any special plans or traditions for Easter?


A Fresh Look

I've changed my blog look for the first time! There's something so regal about a blue and gold color scheme, I think. Of course it's not as nice as a lavender-themed background, but I'm still rather proud of it. (Of course you are free to knock me off my little pedestal of pride. I probably need that sometimes!)
         Dear Lizzy.:
And that's all I have to say today, I suppose! Have a lovely day!

March 1, 2016

February Period Drama Tag

Well, that was fast. February's gone already and we're into March! Life has not slowed down for me in these winter months; I'm involved in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, music competitions, and standardized tests galore! So sadly, I only wrote one period drama review in this month. But more are coming, I promise!

Our hearts quietly leap at the promise of Spring.The Winters blanket of white was so heavy for so long.:
Spring is coming!
                                             
With that said, here are the questions from Miss Laurie's Period Drama Challenge!
1. What period dramas did you view in February?
Like I said, only The Magic of Ordinary Days. :(  But I plan to change that soon! (It would help if I could find the cord that transfers camera pictures to my computer!)
2. What is your favorite period drama musical?
Oh boy, don't get me started. It's 1776, hands down. I love it to bits. A review is in the works, but I'm not sure when it'll be ready. 


    
3. If you could order up an adaptation of your favorite classic book, what would it be and who would star?
It would be really neat to have a miniseries about Laura Ingalls that follows her books. It would be unlike the old 1970's episodes, and more like a BBC style show that had 6-8 longer episodes. It would have to be well done, but I'm not sure who would play Laura. 

A Little House in the Big Woods, all cozy for winter. 
                   
4. If you could be a famous royal from history, who would you be and why?
I recently read a bit about Queen Louise of Prussia. She might not be famous now, but she was incredibly well known and loved by her subjects at the beginning of the 19th century! She was said to be beautiful, smart, and kind. She was practically perfect, really. 

                                        
5. What period dramas are you looking forward to viewing in March 2016?
Hopefully I can fit some Horatio Hornblower in during Spring Break, but I'm not sure if I'll review it or not. Other than that, I'll just have to wait and see what I feel like watching! 

                                Horatio Hornblower by A, via Flickr:
Who is your favorite royalty, past or present?
Who would you cast as the Ingalls family in a new Little House miniseries?