Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

        I am pleased to say that I really enjoyed TDoS. Really, really enjoyed it. Like it was so fantastic that I saw it two days ago and am still bubbling over with excitement! I went in knowing that it was not going to be very book-accurate, so was not alarmed. There were a few parts that I closed my eyes for or looked away, but over all I think that it is a lot better than An Unexpected Journey. Maybe because the parts with the wood elves and Laketown were my favorites in the book, and maybe because, well, it was just very good. 

       Once again, I do not own any of these pictures, characters, etc. There will be some spoilers, too. Just to let you know, I always have trouble remembering in what order things happen when I see a movie in theaters, so if it is a bit mixed up, I apologise. 
        The movie started with a prologue, which I was not expecting. I always kind of wondered how Thorin got the idea to retake Erebor, and I thought it was informative. Then it switched to Bilbo and the dwarves on the run again from Azog and his orcs; basically where An Unexpected Journey left off. Let me tell you, Beorn as a bear was pretty scary looking. He reminded me a lot of a warg, and if I had been Bilbo, I think I would have been frightened to death. He actually was just like I imagined him as a man. I really liked his house, though, and those ponies that he let them all borrow to get to Mirkwood were beautiful. I am not a horse expert, so I don't know what breed they were, but I wish I did.
        Mirkwood did look sick. What is strange is that yesterday, we drove past some oaks that were drying up and shedding their leaves, and they looked almost identical! (Should I be worried?) I really liked the forest - well, I did like the forest until the spiders showed up. I do not like the spiders in LOTR, nor now in The Hobbit. Shelob really grossed me out in the Return of the King, and I ended up closing my eyes for most of the scene. That is, until a certain elf showed up. And his spider slaying captain of the guard. (You know, the website I got it from said that the first picture of Legolas is from TDOS, but I'm not so sure. He looks too young to me, but I like the picture, so here it is).

        Yeah. I just realized that picture is from the original trilogy. Orlando is wearing an elven clasp. Oh well. I wasn't sure if I was going to like Tauriel, she being in the weird love triangle with Kili and Legolas. I didn't mind her, surprisingly, and I kind of liked getting to see different sides of her and Kili when they were together. She was a very Tolkien-like character, but the Kili/Tauriel romance was NOT like Tolkien at all. That's bad. I am a big Kili fan; I like him and Fili a lot, but still I could definitely have gone without the love triangle. This is a quote that I read:
        "Tauriel is based off the many female Mirkwood guards who were nameless in the book. She is used to the reference the elves' love for starlight which for the Avari is especially true because they love the stars of Middle-earth so much that they never experienced the light is Valinor in the First Age, which distinguishes them from Legolas & Thranduil. She is a terrific homage to Tolkien's work. Well done, Peter!"
        Tauriel was fierce and fearless, yet had a feminine side that made me admire her greatly. She was gentle and kind, and at only 600 years old rather young and innocent, and I can't wait to find out what happens with her in There and Back Again.
        I am a huge fan of the elven palace in Mirkwood, though. I couldn't find any more pictures, but the dungeon cells where they locked the dwarves were amazing, as was Thranduil's throne (room). The elvenking himself was very proud, very isolationist, and very stern. I have a soft spot for elves, unfortunately, so I liked him too. (Before we move on, let me just say that I lived the part where Gloin mentioned Gimli to Legolas! I laughed out loud in the theater!)

        I must say that I never imagined that elves would be sleeping drunk down in the cellars, but I LOVED the barrel scene! It was funny when Thorin realized what Bilbo's plan was and told all of the surprised dwarves to do as he had said. It was when Kili got shot with the Morgul shaft while trying to open the gate that I realized that I really do like him after all. Although I seriously thought that Peter Jackson had killed him off until Tauriel and Legolas showed up again and sent them on their way. Once again, I could have done without quite as many orcs, but Legolas did his job with style and I did enjoy the scene very much.
        I really liked Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman. He and his family were so cute! His house, and Laketown in general, was really nice. I would say I would like to live there but for their joke of a king and government. Anyway, back to Bard. I loved his commitment to his family, his loyalty and kindness toward the people of his town, and pretty much everything about him. He is rather a quiet and solitary man, an observer, and a protector. In some ways, he reminds me a lot of my own father. When he pulled the black arrow down from the ceiling, but heart just about jumped right out of me.

        It just about broke my heart when Thorin made Kili stay in Laketown, but when Fili, his devoted brother, insisted on staying with him, I melted. Who doesn't love these two?

        It was nice to have switches between the dwarves at the lonely mountain and the dwarves in Laketown. If there had not been those cuts, I think there would have been far too much dragon. And the love triangle was, may I say, resolved? No, not quite the word I was looking for. When Tauriel healed Kili of his fever, I am sure many people recognized the kingsfoil, the same plant that Aragorn used for Frodo because of his morgul blade wound. I was pleased at that reference! Athelas, kingsfoil, I love it!

        The CG on Smaug was exceptional! He really looked like a dragon. And Martin Freeman's whole conversation with him was cool. And the way he and the dwarves finally got Smaug to leave was equally amazing! Richard Armitage was great as Thorin once again. He has portrayed Thorin in an amazing way and showed me that he understands the character to an extreme depth. I actually understand and relate to him more than I did in the book (horror!).

        I sat in a movie theater for almost three hours, and at the end of the movie, I wanted more. Peter Jackson is cruel to make us wait a whole year more! I was very impressed by the Desolation of Smaug, and can only hope that There and Back Again will be as good!


Friday, December 27, 2013

The Hobbit (with some Christmas thrown in)

        Every year, we open immediate family presents on Christmas, before our guests come. I had known that my brother's present was a DVD because of the shape and size, although I didn't know which movie, and I had no idea what mine was. At first glance. it looked like two DVDs on top of each other, but I had picked it up (yes, I am a snoop), and it was clearly not more than one piece. So I was stumped. Christmas evening, when my dad got home from work, we sat down to unwrap our presents. My brother got Monsters University, a movie that we had all been wanting to see since we like Monsters, Inc so much. I started to open mine, not expecting a movie, and guess what I saw? This:

        Yes, my very own. And the extended edition! I think I squealed. Or screamed. Or something of the sort. I don't exactly remember. But I was very exited. We saw this last year when it came out in theaters, and although I didn't care for it a whole lot, I was glad to have the DVD. Because that means that next year, most likely, I will get the Desolation of Smaug, and the year after that, There and Back Again. I have high hopes that the next two will be better. Not as good as the original LoTR trilogy, of course - I don't think anything could equal that - but still better. Which brings me to the things that I didn't like so well about An Unexpected Journey (and the things I did like). I am going to put some pictures in from the web; I do not own any of the following photographs.
        First of all, the movie seemed to drag a bit. I guess that is what comes from splitting one book into three movies. It seemed to me that they only had so much actual story that they had to add on to the battle and action scenes to fill up the 182 minutes of film time. It also seemed like the part with the trolls, which were gross, dragged on forever. It was packed with action, but it dragged. I am not the sort of person who likes long battle scenes. That may not seem like a lot to complain about, but it was throughout the entire movie. Okay, things that I did like (very well indeed).
        Martin Freeman. He was born to be a hobbit. That is a very good thing and I am totally serious. His acting was flawless and was just like I always imagined Bilbo to be. He was so proper, so huffy when the dwarves were pillaging him pantry, and I loved to see his Took side come out. I mean, look at him, really:

         Gandalf was back, of course! I really like Gandalf, partially because of Chauvelin in the Scarlet Pimpernel, and partially because, well, I like Gandalf. Ian McKellan looked older, I thought, but Elrond and Galadriel hardly seemed to have aged. Well actually, I suppose they didn't age, just the actors. It was nice to see a different side to those two, and I enjoyed their scenes immensely.

        Another one I really liked was Thorin. And this was completely because of Mr. Thornton from North and South. He played the part of the dwarf prince so well - a complete contrast between the two movies I have seen Richard Armitage in:

         Yup, he was good. I can't help saying that I like Mr. Thornton better though. Anyway, I liked the dwarves. Most of them were really funny, and I wasn't upset about the part where they're at Bag End taking twenty minutes. I loved their singing!!! I am planning to buy the soundtrack, and hopefully those songs are included.
        There were a few things that were added, which I wasn't a big fan of (such as Azog the pale orc), and I thought the goblin king was pretty gross too. I never find myself liking a movie unless it has good music, and I loved the music from this one. I had been worried that they would just take the themes from LoTR and tweak them a little, but I need not have worried. There was a lot of originality in the soundtrack, and I ended up really enjoying the twists on the old themes. 
        So yes, I really liked An Unexpected Journey. It dragged a bit, yes, and the battles were a little prolonged, but I liked it. The ending was fantastic, and ohmygoodnessthedragoneye! We are doing a re-watch before seeing the Desolation of Smaug tomorrow! *MAJOR EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!* I am looking forward to Bard the Bowman. I am not sure what I think about the addition of Tauriel and Legolas, though, so I will have to see. Well, I know I will not end up complaining about this elf, no sir, not by a long shot: 

        Not bad for a pointy eared elvish princeling... 



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

        Oh, the lovely things you can come across at thrift stores! My newest find is an all-metal 1903 Singer. I had been wanting an old metal one for a while, and although I would have preferred a treadle table one, I think that that will come just a bit later in life. I was so glad to find this one for a reasonable price, and in working condition. Not to mention all of the labor saving attachments it came with! First let me show you what I had been sewing on. A twenty year old Kenmore, not a bad machine by any stretch of the imagination, but not the machine to indulge my senses. Just a few minutes ago, I posted it for sale online. Here is one of the pictures:

        See, not bad, but not great. Here is my new machine:

        Gorgeous, isn't it? Now prepare yourself for a photographic spiel. Not all of the pictures are good quality - it was outrageously hard to take them with the light I had - but oh well.

        Extra belts:

        Something I have no idea what it is:

        The ruffler. It can be used for pleating, and ruffling. It can even form and attach a ruffle in one operation! Despite its formidable appearance (my mom calls it the torture device), I think that this will be one of my favorite attachments.

        This is the adjustable hemmer:

        The pedal:

         There is also an attachment for tucks (!), although I couldn't get a good picture, a gathering foot, a seam guide, a zipper foot, and an edge stitcher. Thankfully, I found the instruction manual online for my very machine, so it will not be too hard to figure everything out. I can't wait to really get going on this machine!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Knitting Order

        I got a knitting order from one of my co-workers a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd do a post about it. It is a rather large order, and probably will take me just about as long as I have to get it done. I am hurrying. If you don't already know, knitting is not a profitable business, unless, that is, you are making elaborate rugs or coats or things that you can sell for a large amount of money. Large amount of money meaning like $100 or more. I knit in my free time. If I can make some money off of it, that is a bonus, but certainly not a big portion of my income. It is doing what I like to do, so, well, I do it!
        This order is four sets of dishcloths and towels. In each set, there is a double-thick dishcloth to use as a sponge, a larger and thinner dishcloth to wipe dishes with, and a towel (about 10" by 20"). The whole order, I am guessing, will take fourteen balls of cotton yarn, each costing, thankfully, only $1.99. 
        It takes me about an hour and a half to knit each small dishcloth, three hours for each large dishcloth, and five to six hours for each towel. Now you see why knitting is not a profitable business. That is ten hours for each little set, and nobody is going to pay you even close to minimum wage for that time. So you really have to like knitting to do this - and have another source of income!
        I have finished three sets, and am starting on the fourth now. Here are some pictures I snapped yesterday of my progress so far. They are outside on the bricks because we don't have good enough light to take pictures in the house, but they give you an idea of scale:

         Something exiting happened around here yarn/knitting related! A yarn store opened up within a two minutes walk from our house! I have been in there almost every other day since they opened, and am knitting swatches for them to hang up. It is so fun getting to play with fine yarns! The business is small and family run, and absolutely delightful, and I am so exited for the possibilities!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Chicks

        There is a horse ranch across the street and down some from our house, with some chickens as well. Our neighbor, who happens to board a horse there, brought home a few chicks that had hatched and had no food or water. It has been far too cold for chicks to be outside right now, as it has been getting below freezing every night, and chicks are supposed to be at 100 degrees for the first two weeks. Anyway, she brought them to us, and they are in our chick brooder in the laundry room.

        We are not going to name them because we will be eating the roosters and don't know which ones those are yet, but they are still fun to have for a while. Cute, aren't they?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Farm

        Now, don't get me wrong, it's not an actual farm. But it's as close as we can get for the time being, so we make the most of what we have. Here are some pictures of around, starting with our inside animals and such:

The girls, Cookie (front) and Felicity (back)


And Felicity. This is when she was a lot younger. Isn't she adorable!

Then we have my mom's breeding tank of tilapia, which are actually the only ones left. Sorry for the bad pictures:

        Now moving to outside. We had eight chickens, but sent two to live at my Grammy's house so she could try out the whole poultry thing. Now we have Lavender, Chamomile (Millie), Larkspur, Willow, and the Terra Cotta twins (as we call the red sex-links), Honey and Sorghum. Here are some pictures:







        Then we have my baby goatling, Eponine. She is a purebred registered Nigerian Dwarf, and she is beautiful and cute and silly and many other wonderful things. I bought her when she was five days old and she is quite a character now at seven months.  When she is a few months older we will breed her and then she will have baby goatlings! In case you were wondering, they are not actually called goatlings, but kids. We just call them goatlings because it is cute.


        We also have (or I have) two rescued pigeons. Actually one is a wedding dove that got lost on her way home, but they are both Columba Livia.


And Tendu (pronounced ton-doo):

        We also have a garden (of course), but we just had three days of frost and it's not doing so great. I'll post pictures later, I promise. That means in a couple of months when stuff is growing again.

         In the side yard we have the outdoor tilapia aquaponics system. my mom built this whole thing about a year ago. It even has a large-ish storage shed under the grow bed. I think there are a few cabbages and broccolis in the grow bed right now.

        Our farm is always growing in one way or another, not in boundary or square feet, but in other ways. Oh, and our neighbors goat Lily is going to be kidding, Lord willing, in mid to late January! So exiting! And if you want to see an amazing farm and family blog, I advise checking out www.shannonranch.net. The Shannons are amazing people, and their blog is a delight!

        I'll most likely elaborate on most of the things you saw later, so there will be more details.