2021 in Review

At the beginning of the year, it was hard to know what was to come. Would it be like 2020? Would I still accomplish my goal of seeing at least one musical? Would singing come back to church? There was no way of knowing if things would be back to what we think of as “normal”. 2021 was both a difficult and good year for me.

January

My Birthday:

Since my birthday is so close to Christmas, it can be hard to know what gifts I will get.

  1. Original Frozen Broadway Cast
  2. Hufflepuff Pandora Charm
  3. Sherlock Holmes: A Gripping Casebook of Stories

Due to COVID, I was concerned I wouldn’t get my typical birthday dinner, which was boeuf beourginon and creme brûlée. This year, someone from church decided to make it- so in many ways it felt like a birthday present.

Reading:

  1. Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
  2. Prince Caspian
  3. Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  4. The Silver Chair
  5. Horse and His Boy
  6. The Magician’s Nephew
  7. The Last Battle
  8. Castle in the Air
  9. House of Many Ways- don’t know where to put this (finished it the 1st of Feb.)

February

Discovering Blumenthal’s Upcoming Season:

This was a surprise because usually they announce it in March. That was I discovered Frozen, Wicked, Anastasia, and Hadestown were coming back to Charlotte.

Virtual Frozen Reunion:

Well, I actually got to visit with some of the Original Cast Members through Zoom. That was actually pretty fun. Listening to both the soundtrack and doing this reunion made up for the postponement of 202. Frozen was one of the musicals I was hoping Charlotte was going to get again- to make up for that.

March

Visit to Pineville:

Sometimes visiting a nearby town is fun. Pineville, in my opinion, is part of Charlotte. Exploring the town are enjoyable- getting coffee and going to a park.

April

Reading:

  1. Yellow-Lighted Bookshop- must read for bookworms
  2. Harbor on the Starless Sea
  3. Song of Achilles- The Illiad told from Patroclus’ POV
  4. Hard Times
  5. Peter Pan

Exploring:

There are some parts of Charlotte that I never really been to, so my family decided to go to South End. In addition, we went to Lake Norman State Park for some hiking

Puzzling:

I ended up working on a new puzzle this month- which was Broadway-themed.

Movies:

My sister and I watched a Netflix original Movie Musical this month. It was called “A Week Away”, which had the feeling of “Camp Rock”. As in the Summer Camp vibe. I even was reminded of Winterlight, the high school youth conference I used to go to.

May

Reading

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Little Paris Bookshop
  3. House in the Cerulean Sea
  4. The Movie Musical

Church:

Well, something exciting started this month. For months, there was no singing in the congregation. Now, we were allowed to start singing- finally church started to feel “normal” again”.

Musicals:

Well, now I knew for a fact that Wicked will be happening this year. So, I will be able to see at least one musical. As in, now I know when their presale will happen- only for the regulars and will get a discount. Interesting how I could the musical this year- after all 2021 marks 15 years of loving Wicked.

Movies:

“Tolkien” was a movie I wanted to watch for a while, but it was hard to figure out how. Especially after watching “Man Who Invented Christmas”, which had a similar concept.

June

Reading:

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titan’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

Florida:

Time for vacation in Ponte Vedra, Florida. We could finally spend time on the beach, go to the outdoor mall, and have dinner at CAPS. I may not be a beach person, but still love walking on the beach to find sea glass.

July

Reading:

  1. Circe
  2. The Lost Hero
  3. The Son of Neptune
  4. The Mark of Athena
  5. The House of Hades

Musicals:

Finally, I saw my first musical in person this year. It was a musical I saw with CPCC, who does well-done productions. That musical was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Had a really talented Narrator and Joseph. During “Close Every Door”, I was in tears- I knew the song was heartbreaking coming in, but wasn’t expecting that reaction. By the way, one of the young actresses in the children’s chorus was my Young Cosette in CPCC’s Les Mis (which I saw in 2013).

Job Highlight:

I had struggled to get a job for a while. After discovering Bitty & Beau’s was coming to Charlotte, I was hoping to get the job. Once I found out about the hiring fair, I quickly signed up. Well, in July I got a major surprise—turns out I got the job

August

Reading:

  1. Blood of Olympus
  2. Last Bookshop in London
  3. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Immersive Van Gogh:

This was a Blumenthal supported event, which proved to be very popular. It show Van Gogh’s paintings in an unique way. It was almost as you were part of the painting. To me the experience was mesmerizing

September

Reading:

  1. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow
  2. The Day the World Came to Town
  3. Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow

Kanuga- Parish Retreat

Another type of “normal”- every year, our Parish goes on a retreat to Kanuga, an Episcopalian Conference Center. A weekend of singing, fellowship, hiking, a bonfire, and chilling out. Even an enjoyable Eucharist at the lakeside.

Wicked

Well, my 5th time seeing the musical. It was my 2nd date with my mom seeing the same musical. Wicked is just as magical and spectacular as always. Still transports me to OZ.

October

Reading:

  1. Ella Enchanted
  2. The BFG
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  4. Alice in Wonderland

Start of Job:

Well, October was the start of my job at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. One of my best parts of the year.

November

Reading:

  1. Through the Looking Glass
  2. Man Who Invented Christmas
  3. A Christmas Carol

Thanksgiving:

This year, for Thanksgiving, my family went to Burlington to visit family. Well, turkey, cranberries, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, rolls, and of course you must have complete the meal with pumpkin pie.

December

It is very hard not to look forward to the month of December due to it being a festive month.

Reading:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Spirit of Christmas:

  1. Christmas Concert- Charlotte Choir School
  2. Candlelight Christmas Eve Service
  3. Seeing decorations and lights- including the balls down Hillside
  4. Festive drinks- discovered Peppermint Park Latte and Candy Cane Frappe
  5. Christmas dinner with family and friends
  6. The fun in unwrapping gifts
  7. Work Holiday Party
  8. The Christmas movies
  9. Bach Cantata- felt like Christmas Eve came early

December 2021 in Review

One of my favorite months of the year is December. That is because there is always something to look forward to because it is the month of BOTH Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, what were the highlights of December?

Reading

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I never thought I would get thought I would get through the first 3 Harry Potter books in one month. After all, the books are long, but than again I haven’t reached the longest ones in the series quite yet. I loved seeing the characters grow throughout these three- particularly the Golden Trio, who to this day remains one of my favorite friendships. Even the level of magic seems to increase as each book begins.

My Blog Anniversary

Of course, December has the highlight of my blog anniversary–this year being my 6th anniversary.

Holiday Party

This was actually my first Work Holiday Party, which was at Bitty & Beau’s. That was pretty exciting. Complete with dinner, dancing, and desert, and a mysterious bag. We were even given an elf name when we entered.

The Bach Cantata

I almost felt as if I went to the Christmas Eve service early. First time our adult choir sang in German—–a song that lasted about 25-30 minutes. Complete with the organ and an eleven piece orchestra.

Christmas Concert- Charlotte Choir School

One of the many reasons why we went to this concert was that two members of our congregation were singing in it. Ranging from children to teenagers, it was fun hearing all of the Christmas songs- ones I knew and ones I didn’t. Part of the spirit of Christmas comes from listening to Christmas Carols.

Candlelight Christmas Eve

Just as magical as always- trumpet, string quartet, and organ. The magic of “Silent Night” when lights are dimmed and candles lit. The prelude had the congregation sing some carols- loved that- added a kind of meaning to the service.

Christmas Movies

Who wouldn’t love December without the Christmas movies? Some are traditions, as in must be watched.

  1. Man Who Invented Christmas
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. Elf
  4. White Christmas
  5. Home Alone
  6. Home Alone 2

Christmas Day

There are lots of things I love this day- from opening presents to Christmas dinner. I love seeing the gifts I asked for and the surprises. The surprise gifts sometimes end up being some pretty amazing gifts- such as my Glinda Bubble Dress ornament. I also really love having cinnamon crumb cake for breakfast.

Christmas was spent with cousins and friends- in total, that was 13 of us. While in the morning, we opened gifts, that wasn’t all the unwrapping we did. That was because for part of Christmas Dinner, we did the “steal Santa gift game”, which can be great fun.

Series I love

I am a bookworm, who loves some fantasy series. Today, I decided to mention some of the fantasy series that I love. Most series usually fall under the genres of fantasy and mythology.

Avalon: Web of Magic

  • Such a magical friendship found in this long series. Emily, Adrienne, and Kara. Even love their animal friends. As well as the magic found in the pebbles.

Sister’s Grimm

  • Ever heard of The Brothers Grimm? This is the complete opposite- the Sister’s Grimm are related to The Brothers Grimm. Centering on Daphne and Sabrina, two sisters and being around familiar fairy tales

Land of Stories

  • In many ways, this series is similar to Sister’s Grimm. Land of Stories makes you find yourself surrounded by well-loved characters in Fairy Tales. Centering on two fraternal twins- Alex and Conner Bailey (one girl and one boy). Written by Chris Colfer, the actor who played Kurt on Glee

Howl’s Trilogy

  • A weird and exciting trilogy to read

Shades of Magic

  • Was my favorite trilogy I read in 2020. Recommended for fans of character-driven, suspense and plot twists, the city of London, various kinds of magic, and a fast-paced plot.

His Dark Materials

  • While I may not agree on Pullman’s viewpoints, that was not a factor into what I thought about the trilogy. It was my love for Lyra, the protagonist, and the setting. Lyra reminded me of Lila from Shades of Magic.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

  • My love for Greek Mythology started somewhere? In middle school, I started reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and was the beginning of my love for Greek Mythology. Love Camp Half Blood. I reread the series this year to prepare me for its sequel—–to understand it better.

Heroes of Olympus

  • It was helpful rereading PJ. Partly due to coming across old characters such as Percy Jackson and Annabeth, two characters I love. Than of course, I loved discovering some of the supporting characters from the original becoming more major in this series. About the totally new characters, Leo was my favorite, and I loved Festus.

Harry Potter

I first fell in love with this series by the movies and eventually read the books. Now, I am currently rereading them- now on the 3rd book. One of the two series responsible for my love for fantasy.

Chronicles of Narnia

Narnia is the other series that turned me into a fantasy fan. Just like HP, I started on films alone and than read the books. Narnia is such a magical place. I did end up rereading the books- specifically the books that never made it to film.

Lord of the Rings

The series that shares a lot of parallels with HP. strong friendships, dark lords, massive spider attacks, corrupt and deadly object, and wizard mentor. I think Rowling might have gotten inspired by Lord of the Rings.

Nevermoor

Didn’t start this series until this year- discovered this series on the blog world. The city of Nevermoor is an incredible place- from the Hotel Decualion to the Wundrous Society to how some holidays are celebrated (really love their Christmas).

At the moment, only 3/9 are out—-still waiting for the rest. The first book is like if Hogwarts students had to compete to get in.

Christmas of 2021- starting Christmas Eve

There were many things that were special about Christmas this year. After all, last Christmas some things had to be put on hold due to some restrictions- meaning we couldn’t go an actual Christmas Eve service or have family come visit. That is why Christmas 2021 had something really special about it. In many ways, Christmas starts Christmas Eve at the Candlelight Service–yes even if it starts at 10:30 at night.

Christmas Eve Service

With a trumpet and a string quartet, it really makes you feel the festive nature of Christmas. After all, Christmas is a celebration. At this year’s service, during the prelude, the congregation sang three carols, which was new. One of my favorite moments still remains during “Silent Night” when the lights go dim and candles are lit. While not ending on Christmas, it still ended near the start of Christmas.

The Stocking

Still wake up early to get my stocking- usually the first thing I open. Not until 6-7 though- after all, those are the easiest ones to open—don’t have to wait for others for that. Whatever isn’t under the tree counts as a stocking gift. There are some things I expect to find in the stocking such as chocolate- as in things that are in there year after year.

The Alex and Ani Bracelet is a Wonka Bar- by the way, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite movies as a child. The Pandora Charm was a peppermint hot chocolate. Well, in 2022 my family is having their 2nd attempt at Frozen (it got postponed last year)——so our ticket from last year was used, and the original date was marked out, and the new date was marked on top.

By the way, I even consider the calendar for the next year to be a stocking gift. Mine will be Von Gogh themed.

Under the Tree Presents

These can be hard to wait for because you see them added day after day, and you are wondering what are in your presents. Part are usually gifts you asked for and parts aren’t. Waiting the day of can be hard.

Movies- Live Action Disney Cinderella and I Can Only Imagine

Books- A Little Princess and Call Us What We Carry

Ornaments- Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Cup and Glinda Bubble Dress

In addition, there are two bags

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

At the moment, I am rereading the Harry Potter series, which is my 3rd reread series of the year. Eventually, I will reread Lord of the Rings, which will follow with other Tolkien books. In my opinion, I think Rowling got inspired by Tolkien due to some parallels.

The Golden Trio and Sam/Frodo

The Golden Trio in HP consists of Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione, who are best friends. These three go through many trials and challenges throughout the series. They stay loyal towards each other the entire time, which is especially during their quest to find the horcruxes. Harry wanted to go alone, but his best friends wouldn’t let him—-there was no way of knowing where to find them (they could be any object).

Would Frodo have made it without Sam? Frodo needed Sam every step of the way. At the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo almost left alone to continue on his quest to destroy the ring. But just like HP’s best friends, Sam made sure Frodo wasn’t alone. Due to the power of the ring, Frodo needed Sam’s help at times- especially at Mordor.

Fred/George and Merry/Pippin

These are two sets of troublemakers. Fred and George are twin brothers of Ron. They always liked to play jokes, so troublemakers basically. Same thing applied to Merry and Pippin- one might wonder why were they are a part of the fellowship- they kept on slowing things down due to the troublemaker side of them- you don’t realize their purpose until Two Towers, but at least they provide comic relief.

Dumbledore/Gandalf

These two characters are very similar, if you think about it. Both are powerful and old wizards—–who are mentors at times to some of the other characters.

Two Dark Lords

The antagonists of HP and Lord of the Rings are Dark Lords- that is exactly what Voldermort and Sauron are.

Horcruxes and the Ring

Those are objects in HP and Lord of the Rings that NEED to be destroyed. Both have the power to corrupt anyone who has them. If the horcruxes aren’t destroyed- Voldermort would never be able to die. If the Ring isn’t destroyed, Sauron will always have his power.

Two Big Spider Attacks

There are two massive spider attacks in both series. It is scarier in Lord of the Ring because Shelob is creepier especially after she attacked Frodo- that is why Sam had to be ringbearer for a little bit- he had to be the one to rescue him from the orcs. Aragog in Chamber of Secrets—–he may have helped Ron and Harry, but then had the intention to kill both boys, but at least they got away, but still pretty scary.

I actually recommend HP fans to read or watch Lord of the Rings