Sunday Lowdown #151


As December 25th approached, much of the week was dedicated to getting ready for it. On Tuesday the spouse and I baked three kinds of cookies so we could make little baggies to stick in the stockings at my folks’ house. There were butterscotch gingerbread stars, cranberry white chocolate chip cookie mix from Ten Thousand Villages, and the cream cheese chocolate chip cookie recipe recommended by Cupcakes and Machetes. Wednesday was Biscuit book club (during which Nick continued to construct his Franken-gift), and then Thursday we hit the road.

First, we stopped to meet his dad, and I was so glad to see him. It had been two years due to COVID. Then, we headed to my parents’ house to meet up with Biscuit and Dad, and their next-door neighbors: my brother, his wife, and their four children. Here are some photos:

I received all sorts of lovely presents, from popcorn to candles, and a horror movie-watching blanket to a calendar with images done by a Deaf artist. And what was Nick constructing all that time??? OMG, color me in left field, because I did not see this coming (no, that is not sarcasm). It is a Jason Voorhees hockey mask with this gizmo that has something like fifty horror movie quotes. You boop Jason’s nose and it will say a quote to you. And it’s designed to hang on the wall! Is this love? Yes, yes it is. Thank you, Nick!

Also, my surprise is out: Nick now knows that Cupcakes & Machetes and I have been scheming to organize a trip to visit her and her spouse in their city. During the visit we will take Nick to a brewery (I call these experience gifts)! He loves craft beer, and this will be an over-night getaway in an old hotel.

On Christmas Day I somehow convinced everyone to watch a horror movie called Frozen. Three idiots get on a ski lift when they’re told it’s dangerous and then are stuck up there, way high in the sky as they begin freezing to death. I said things like, “Everyone please be aware this idiot is going to jump out of the ski lift and snap both of his legs in a violent fashion. Brace yourselves!” And then he did, because they gotta earn that R-rating. While Nick and Biscuit were not terribly pleased, my dad and I did a lot of shouting at the TV and predicting how things could get worse. He said it was a crap movie, but also had a lil smile on his face. And to think the only convincing argument I needed was, “Clearly this is a Christmas movie; it has snow.”


Most of the comments about Miss Claus by J.R. Hart focused on the cover. I know it looks like every mass-market paperback book about Christmas romance, but Miss Claus is about equality for women and transpeople, not a woman leaving The Big City to accidentally fall in love with a kind-hearted hunk in the country.

And then on Thursday we crossed the finish line. Three years of #ReadingValdemar, and it’s over because we caught up to the author. Thanks to everyone who read and commented.


Sometimes the objectives of academia and community work don’t match. When Susan Schaller is pushed to become a Registered Interpreter for the Deaf, she finds herself in a small classroom while waiting for a stable job. It is there she meets a deaf, languageless man. In fact, she meets many adults with no language, even though academia neither studies nor works with such persons. Learn more about what it takes to teach an adult nearly thirty years old the concept of language without using language in A Man Without Words on Tuesday.

It’s the end of the year, so it’s time to look back at my bookish stats. Which genres did I read? What formats did I most in? How many decades did I touch? Check out my lovely pie charts on Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 205


  1. Can’t wait for your review and pie chart this week! I’ll be summing up my year of reading sans pie charts as I’m not sure how to do it using my basic spreadsheet system. But I will be able to compare it with last year!


    • Oddly, I never go back and compare to previous years (or not that I remember anyway). I’m always surprised by what happened this current year. I have this funny moments when I think, “Wow, I didn’t realize I read that book THIS year.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I got the wreath at a craft show. Nick and I went to quite a few of those this year and it was lots of fun. Craft shows are slowly moving away from the stuff that kind of looks like crafty trash and more into artisan construction-type things, if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you like ranch? I’m not a big fan personally but I’m excited to see what this book is about. Also, that movie Frozen looks very different to the Frozen Disney movies I’m used to watching with my kids haha Although it’s minus 30 Celcius here in Calgary right now so we are all literally frozen. Merry Christmas!


    • I don’t love ranch the way many Midwesterners do (my sister-in-law used to put it on eeeeeeeverything). I was surprised they called the movie Frozen, though you cannot copyright a title, so perhaps they were capitalizing on searches for the Disney Frozen in hopes of getting more notice. Merry Christmas, Anne!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OK I looked up Jason Voorhees. The mask sounds like a very thoughtful present. Re: Breweries. The nicest present Milly ever gave me was to take me out to a pub where we could have dinner and watch Hawthorn (my football team) in a final. It might be the only football match she ever saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha ha, love Nick’s gift. How special is that.

    We are also a bit into “experience gifts” here too. Son Gums prefes them to “things” though this year a main gift to him was a gift voucher for a craft beer place here in MELBOURNE. Can’t understand the fascination myself as for me it’s wine all the way. For his partner and his sister (aka Daughter Gums) it was tickets to Moulin Rouge, the musical (tomorrow, in MELBOURNE – haha – just to make sure you know where I am).

    Finally, another US-Australia cultural difference. Making “huge”numbers of cookies is not a thing we do here at Christmas like it is your way. I remember Christmas cookie swaps when I went there, and every year my Californian friend makes dozens of her cookie specialty. We never made dozens of cookies (in one baking session) in my life.

    Anyhow, it sounds like you had a great Christmas. Love your definition of Christmas movie, though thousands wouldn’t. Wishing you every good thing for 2022 . “See” you then.


    • I’ve given Nick a few experience gifts in the past years and am thinking that might be the way to go. Most times it’s something that I’m happy to do with him. While I don’t drink, I will be meeting the blogger behind Cupcakes & Machetes, so it’s something for both of us. One time I got him a wine and canvas ticket. We went together, and while wine and canvas is largely full of giggly ladies, Nick did take art classes in college years and years ago. It was interesting and we were together.

      I was careful to make sure we didn’t make loads of cookies. Basically, we made about one dozen of each of the three, so three dozen total. I’ve seen folks who make hundreds of cookies, which always surprises me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think experience gifts are a good way to go, particularly as you say if you enjoy them together.

        Three dozen would probably be about my limit so I can understand that. I believe my Ca friend makes many dozens but have forgotten how many. Not sure whether it’s hundredS of cookies but I remember feeling it was a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas! And while horror movies give me nightmares, I can attest that sometimes the bead movies are the best simply because of the company and chatter while watching them! 🙂


  6. Happy Christmas! I’m glad you had a nice time together and got to see family. Nick’s gift sounds just right for you! I love that you classified the movie as a Christmas one – Peter’s family always watches Die Hard at Christmas and insists it’s a Christmas film!


      • Die Hard 1 and 2 take place at Christmas. Frozen takes place in the spring. Yesterday we were actually discussing whether or not Little Women is a Christmas movie. It begins at Christmas but I’m not sure I would count it.


          • We read the first half as a bedtime story to them this year. Pearl wants to read the rest but I remember it being more focused on marriage and relationship (plus Beth dying) and I’m not sure they’ll enjoy that.


              • That’s true and we’ve read both of those. They had a lot of questions in A Little Princess and less so in The Secret Garden, probably because Mary herself is never sad about the deaths. I feel like the sisters dealing with Beth dying would be the hardest part. I don’t know if them being sisters would make it that much sadder for them. Pearl in particular is very sensitive; last spring we found a dead squirrel in the road and we had several conversations about it for the next few days. We drew pictures and talked about the squirrel’s life and basically had a funeral for it which is kind of funny except that she was legitimately upset. They still talk about it when we go past the spot where we put the body.


                  • Yeah, it’s definitely a thing we’re learning to figure out as her parents! And then there’s Rose who is like, “Oh, dead squirrel. Sad. What’s for lunch?”

                    We did read Trumpet of the Swan together! But it was a couple years ago now so I bet we could all enjoy it again.

                    Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay, well now I want that Jason wall thing! Great idea Nick!
    Did you enjoy that cookie recipe? I made them again for Christmas snacking too lol.
    I really like your wreath and we have a small black Christmas tree. 😛
    It was AWESOME meeting you guys! ❤ ❤ ❤


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