Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas Surprise!

After our morning gift giving on Christmas Day, my parents had us clear away the massive mess on the floor (we could not see much of the floor) for the "big gift." We did so, then my mom sent me and the sister after me to our rooms. Something was brought in from outside, and everyone else was allowed to come into the family room. My sister and I were instructed to come downstairs with our eyes closed. When Mom let us open our eyes, this is what we saw:


This is mine; it is made of sassafras wood, so it has more grain lines and is more brown toned.


The dividing shelf/bottom is made of cedar, and we had some extra cedar blocks to use to keep the scent on our items.


This is my sister's; it is cherry, so it has less strong grain patterns (I think the pattern is like stone, marble particularly) and is more red toned.

These chests are made in the Shaker style. The dimensions are approximately 18x40x27 inches


Happy New Years! I am stuffing myself with my dad's homemade doughnuts (an Alton Brown recipe) and hiding from the crowd of our party for now.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas

Here is the smallish Christmas gift list. The wonderful one deserves a post of its own. All my gifts are nice, but you will understand what I mean when I quit taunting and actually show the loveliest gift.

Practical (okay, so the grey gloves are elegant...touchscreen gloves CAN be elegant; my littlest sister picked them out, what a good job!).

 Workout clothes, two pairs of gloves (one pair touchscreen), and pajamas.


Indulgent

 A warming mask, plenty of chocolate, a pomegranate, and shampoo. I used the mask that very day and it was lovely.


Pretty

One can never have too many makeup bags and these are cute, durable, and roomy. The hair comb is silvery and elegant. The sweater style matches (unintentionally as the gifts were given by different people) a sweater one of my little sisters received.


Elven
 Lovely, from my brother...I think with help from one of my sisters, but still, he did an excellent job giving his sisters and girlfriend gifts this year.


Bookish
 These kitties even look like our newest kitty. Kitties and books, now how could that arrangement go wrong?

I am trying to obtain all the titles I like from the Barnes and Noble elegant hardback collection and was thrilled to receive this one. I haven't had the chance to watch Les Mis, and I adore Ramin Karimloo. A nerd's dream collection pretty much.

I have several Christmas posts to go. I love Christmas. I think when I have my own family I want to have the 12 days of Christmas.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wives and Daughters Abbreviated

I wrote this a few months ago and posted it on FB. I cracked myself up anyway. With some minor corrections I present to you

Wives and Daughters Abbreviated

The sweet wallflower meets a nice, snobby family with the debonair, cool son (and mama’s boy) and a dork son. She crushes on the dork. 
The pretty wallflower is upset when her father marries a wicked step-mother. She comes to love her gorgeous, diva step-sister, but her dork loves the diva, and the diva pretends to love him back. 
The cool dude and dork's mother dies.
The diva happens also to be a jilt, and the poor heroine is used by the diva to get rid of the jilted playa. The dork goes off, and the diva cheats on him with your average Joe who just so happens to be filthy rich.
The cool dude who is secretly married pines away and dies because his father is cruel; therefore, his marriage becomes public knowledge.
The dork returns.
The diva’s shallowness, deceit, and two-facedness are discovered. The dumb dork is crushed, and then immediately falls in love with the deserving wallflower. The author dies, and the fans make up a happily ever after for the dork and the wallflower.



I will resurface (hopefully) in December when this abominable semester at an abominable university is over.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Art Festival

I went with my grandparents to an annual arts and crafts festival in our area. This particular one is my favorite of the few such events I have visited. This year was even better than last year. I went a little crazy with my shopping. I wish I had thought to buy Christmas and birthday gifts though :(

The event was on the same day as a graduation party, so I bought a peace offering/graduation gift.





I love these types of pendants and would love to learn how to make them. This particular one was reversible.




The spoons this local couple made were not stained; this is the natural walnut wood when aged and treated. I would like some of their salad tongs in walnut, that would be gorgeous against the green of lettuce and/or spinach.




The camera does not show the lovely sea green color of this mug very well. I would buy from all of the vendors I bought from again. This lady had lovely owl vases as well as various other serving and cooking dishes.




Isn't this bracelet exquisite? I loved lots of the artist's pieces and would like to buy more. They would make excellent wedding jewelry!




This is my crowning purchase.




Gorgeousness, pure gorgeousness.




These next two set of purchases came from a local shop. I would like to have several of the little tea bag tray,s so that whenever I have a tea each my guests can use one. I had one already, so now I have three. That is a tea ball; we have never had one before.




This is proper sealing wax. Yay, for elegantly sealed invitations for the next tea party!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Les Mis

Delayed post from months ago. I read Les Mis back in December. I don't have a great desire to see the movie.

A Pinterest pin had this note: "Les Mis UnabridgedPut on you big girl pants and read it." 

I did thanks, and all the extra "history" sections are mostly NOT facts but rather absurdly romantic interpretations. That. Is. Not. History. 
Also, I really don't need to know Mr. Hugo that the sewage should have been used as fertilizer and that it would take care of disease. 
Many abridgments are sacrilege; Les Mis abridged is salvation. 
If Victor Hugo had spent all the emotion and sweat he put in his philosophizing and lecturing, the story would have been amazing literature.
 As it is, it needs a misinterpreted musical to make it great. 
There was no gem in all that muck; there was a promising phantom perfume of a story.


Also, I HATE hearing sympathy for Eponine. Read the book and you will see the REAL Eponine and why I have no sympathy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Sign of Four Review

This was my least favorite of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries; I actually didn't really like it. The story was dark and creepy, I hated the savage character for many reasons, and the ending was unsatisfactory. The only slight gleam of light was Watson's darling little romance and Holmes' slightly mischievous attitude about it...he just doesn't miss a thing even when he doesn't say much about it. That is a big difference between the original stories and Sherlock. Sherlock loves to point out everything he notices (such as the fact that he knew Donovan and Anderson were having an office affair) to show off or hit back, and yes, lots of these people...Donovan, I hate her...are cruel to him, but the real Holmes was above all that; he was MUCH more noble period than his flatter, less developed modern reincarnation. I digress.

Much of what was in the story was more gross and chilling than I could handle (and I just read something truly horrifying in the newssomething that to me was the most horrific thing I have ever readso I was extra sensitive at the time of reading). The tide of the mystery still carried me on, but I felt that the suspense was not fulfilled or justified by the ending.

I did not feel any empathy whatsoever for this criminal and his back story did not seem overly intricate. He was a cold-blooded murderer, so his disgust at his savage and the unnecessary death didn't ring quite true. The only thing of pulling interest in the main part of the plot was the fact that the jewels were at the bottom of the Thames. How infuriating but above the commonplace.

After I read The Valley of  Fear, I noticed that someone pointed out that most of the story was not focused on Holmes. In that particular story I was fine with that because the mystery of that back story was ah-mazing! I have to wonder though, if I would have liked The Sign of Four better if Holmes was shown to the best advantage.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Study in Scarlet Review

I read the Sherlock Holmes stories a while ago, so I cannot really elaborate more than this. I need to remember to take notes as I read and then thoughtfully write out a review right after I finish the books before I forget both my impressions and the details of the story. Mysteries are hard to review anyway, I think.

I will admit to being a cheater and watching all the currently available episodes of BBC's Sherlock long before I picked up the marvelous original stories. However, since I am now an ardent fan of the books (how can I not be?!), I think I am redeemed.

 There are significant differences besides the time period—and some of the stories are so much quicker to read than I expected from the television series. I love how the T.V. series takes parts from the books and mixes them up—it is brilliant.

I love having the plot unfold and every detail explained; in the T.V. series it is hard to follow everything while in the stories the explanations of Holmes’ reasoning process is much more realistic.

A Study in Scarlet

The two part sequence surprised me, but I liked it, it lent so much more interest to the plot. I love backstories and long, complicated motivations (these seem to be lacking in the T.V. series). After reading the backstory, I wasn't sorry for the victims—well I wasn't sorry for the first, but the 2nd death was too horrific. I was sorry for the vigilante (I don't wish to say murderer—I know he oughtn’t have turned vigilante—but  I completely sympathized with him and believe that he wasn't as evil as a cold blooded murderer [to put that more Biblically, I believe he had considerably more common grace than a cold-blooded murderer]).

Oh, the scene when he finds out they are gone! The horror is well built up in the story. I love the understated emotion. It is always soo much more effective than blatant description and tons of blood and gore—it is chilling and realistic and mysterious. All the hints and whispers lend a greater edge than statements of description. I love that (maybe because I am not that way?).



Friday, July 5, 2013

A Christmas Carol Review

Forgive me for taking so long to post. I have a huge load of Classic Club reviews I haven't finished or barely started, and so I have been procrastinating. The reviews will probably be out of order.

I read this in a few hours at work so that level of easiness made me happy.

It is a familiar story. I grew up with the Disney animated version and our local theatre versions. It is a lovely tradition of a story, with just the right level of scary and sad balanced out by great happiness in the end.

The tone of the story is not too dark despite some of the subject matter. The subject is serious, but the tone is humane with touches of humor. There is not a bit of preachiness, but lessons are given just the same.

This story is classic for a reason. Seeing past, present, and future is a continually intriguing theme. The lesson is easily seen.

I loved the pattern of opportunity to change. We see nasty, and then hopeless and then hope and then change. Can anything be more cheering than second chances?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Period Drama Inspired Tea

I held a somewhat period drama inspired tea party during my past Spring Break. It was lovely and for once all my food preparations turned out well. I had more than enough food, but that should always be the case I think. One friend brought some food, but I like I said, I had plenty, so I didn't feel as if I had to have more food. I was also timely thanks to another friend who came early to help prepare food.

I had tons of fresh flowers which my mom bought from the grocery store, and I made garlands of book page hearts from thrift store books (Narnia and Persuasion...the books have to be good ones of course!)...one sister thought this was an act of desecration...-__-

I facebooked most people a month to a few weeks ahead of time, so people could keep their calendar open, and then a week ahead of time I sent fancy invitations. They were a little rushed and my wax seals didn't work out properly (I used candles and not the taper type either), but I can always improve...and besides I recently bought the proper kind of wax sticks!

We had our tea...or lemonade for the fakers like myself, and then we played some lovely period drama quizzes borrowed with permission from Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm. After that those that could watched the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

Forgive my sad privacy photo editing. The first three photos are my own iphone photos.













Friday, May 31, 2013

Star Trek: Into the Darkness

Heads up, this is a spoiler review. Also, this is going to be really random and spotty, just about things that caught my attention. Something about watching a movie in a big theatre has me focused even more on watching, even less than normal on listening and less on thinking...at least I will blame the theatre/first time viewing for that...so I can perhaps go watch it again...:)

Seeing my beloved crush someone's skull in his hands was quite disturbing. I was hoping he would be a Loki-esque bad guy. I must say he looked marvelous running though.

I am not sure what I was expecting. This was a lot darker than the first movie; the title should have given me a clue, but I am an oblivious being.

Characteristically Kirk begins off the movie by breaking rules; however, he breaks these rules for good. Equally characteristically Spock reports all of this accurately, and consquently Kirk is demoted with the possibility of being sent back to the academy.

This blow to Captain Cocky (especially as he receives the phone call for a meeting after a sexual escapade of which thankfully nothing is shown beyond that to enlighten the viewers of its occurance) was well-judged, a nice pride-before-the-fall bit as it were.

Then follows a touching scene with the father-like figure Admiral Pike who appoints Kirk his second in command. Right after this scene Pike is killed, and Kirk is shattered and sobered by this (Spock seems to be touched as well), so that he begins following orders to the dot which results in another excellently portrayed, tense scene when Scottie leaves the ship.

Spock also seems to sense foul play and plants a bug in a typically resistant Kirk's ear. Spock backs off, and Kirk reconsiders his plan. Khan is taken alive.

Super villain John Harrison was tricked and used by Admiral Marcus, and so wreaks his revenge on the human world. Kirk and Scottie are tricked into helping him. Between Marcus and Khan The Enterprise is falling to earth, and Kirk sacrifices his life to save his crew. Another excellent aspect.

Spock is the most touched by Kirk's death...or for the first time allows himself to be so. He goes after Khan (the chase scene has to be the best action scene in the movieBenedict Cumberbatch running, ah me), and Uhura goes after him to prevent his killing Khan (which I don't think would have been possible anyway), so that Khan's blood can be used to save Kirk.

There was nothing profound in the plot. My brother said he could predict everythig. Even though I was credulous for much of the movie, I think I could guess some of it although I should have been able to guess more.

It wasn't the plot that made the movie. It was the emotion between the characters. The death scenes. The cool scenes. Scottie leaving. The more milder and mature Kirk. The more human Spock. Spock and Kirk friction. Spock and Uhura. Sacrifice, even from Khan (although rereading this I don't know to what I was referring). Control on vigilantism from Kirk and also the entire Star Fleet with regards to those super warriors.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Middlemarch Review Part III

And now for the best. Read part one here and two here.

Caleb Garth was the best character as person. Caleb-with-a-‘c’(which form I have always preferred and considered as the true form and which must be distinguished from Kaleb-with-a-‘k’ as they don't have the same connotation, at all, Kaleb-with-a-‘k’ is just a name) is homespun, solid, heart of gold goodness.

I loved his character especially as such characters seem rarer than one might think—good, humble, honest characters are often portrayed as somewhat simple—not Caleb! He was sweet, strictly honorable, diligent, and intelligent. He did have two flaws in my opinion—his choice of wife and his having a favorite child.

And now we come to my favorite character, Fred. I think I love all literary Fred’s (for example par excellence, Fred Weasley). That name and mischievousness and merriness seem inseparable (but Frederick is more magnificent...Captain Wentworth anyone?). Fred Vincy, what a silly gentleman's name, but Frederick shows that the character has the capacity to deepen. 

 Fred was irresistibly lovable in a Laurie-esque way: he was rich and spoiled with plenty of potential in him. The descriptions of him and his thought processes and his “travails” and his love were hysterical.

I was irritated with his laziness and loved that Mary and Caleb both thought that he needed to work and not rely on being a gentleman of means (even if he could). I was thrilled that he was allowed to improve.  I love when characters turn around like that. He wasn’t a worthless rich snob. What a good lad. I don’t like the slights Mrs. Garth gave him in Farebrother’s favor.

Whew, that is all I have the will to express about Middlemarch.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middlemarch Review Part II

Now for the more ambiguous characters. Read part one here and three here.
  The Vincys, Sir James and Celia, yawn.

Mr. and Mrs. Cadwallader—funny.

I despised and disliked Dorothea herself in the beginning; she was stupid and obnoxious and inconsistent, aiming for “high” goals with steps that quite clearly took her to depths as she had neither foresight or insight. She was described as being deep and noble and etc., but her actions showed otherwise until after Causabon’s death. Actions speak louder than words even in fiction.

She should’ve seen that even a  great theological work (which Causabon’s work was NOT) is not widely beneficial—God does not list massive theological works under Christian responsibilities (although they are and do good to educated people), but He does require kindness, charity, and good works—and her cottages were much more Biblical and helpful especially in light of the fact that Causabon’s work turned out to be mythological and ludicrous.

She rather deserved a downfall, but I think she perhaps got more that she deserved…maybe not, she should’ve know marriage was for life and could be bondage.

Even though she was innocent, I still think she should’ve known better than to be so free and friendly with Will, especially since she knew that it displeased her husband.

I am glad Causabon died before she could promise—but she still showed her weakness. She seemed very mature after that ordeal though, I like the concept of progression. I wish Will had shown it too though. I did like her and Will’s relationship after the death of Causabon.

Will, oh Will. “What a pepper-pots you are!” (guess that quote!) Will, who doesn't love a Will? And Ladislaw, are all Polish names interesting? He is interesting and merry and ardent and changeable.

He was irritating in his worship of Dorothea and the way he viewed all other women—except when this was applied to Rosamund—that wretch. He spent too much time with Rosamund, and he should’ve known better and seen how shallow she was.  Even if he cared so little what other people thought of it and for Rosamund herself, he still should’ve cared what Dorothea thought…and his duty to Lydgate.

He was also committing adultery with Dorothea on his own part. But as I said, I loved that he and Dorothea married after that…is that wrong? His honor and pride were impeccable with regards to everything besides marriage in which he deceived himself.

Farebrother. I liked him at first probably somewhat to make up for Lydgate’s snubs. When Mary came up, I was much less pleased with him. The age difference was disgusting. I also took offense at the comparison between himself and Fred as if he had some greater right because he was older…to a young woman near Fred’s age. If he and Fred were the same age and Mary was neutral, yes, but the older shouldn’t steal from the younger nor should the unfavoured from the first favoured.

It was interesting that he was so truthful with Fred, but it was disgusting to hear of such selfish, deceitful considerations from so old a person and a clergyman. He shouldn’t have pushed his case as angered at Fred’s presumption against his worthy age—he would’ve lost his respect had he put in his hand. He took the only honourable course even had Mary been neutral.

Mrs. Garth. The fact of her being above Caleb in status shouldn’t have affected Caleb’s deserving an excellent woman. She may have been described as a good woman, but I don’t want the author to tell me if a character is good or bad or nice or mean—I want to see those things. I did not see anything overly admirable and certainly nothing pleasant about Mrs. Garth.

Mary was a nice character of course, but she was rather underdeveloped as a character especially since she was pursued by two male characters at least one of whom was more developed than herself. There was very little interaction between her admirers and herself.

The quote is from Little Women in chapter 21. Jo says it to Laurie, of course!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Middlemarch Review Part I

The book was long and had many characters, and I am verbose and rambling, so the review (spoiler review by the way) will be in 3 parts...live with it! :)

I cannot remember exactly when I started this, I think sometime in January. I read it in phases. I was dragging my mind, not very motivated. Eventually, I think became very interested after forcing myself along and my reading sped up. By the time I was finished I could honestly say that I enjoyed it immensely. The plot was wonderfully interesting with all the many plotlines and their interesting intersections…or lack thereof. Much of the story was brimming with British humor. Candid descriptions of human unconscious and conscious maneuvers and motivations abounded.

Unpleasant aspects first.

The major issue with this novel was the light view of the sanctity of marriage. Apparently to love a married person from afar was not dishonorable (even though every other old standard of strict honor was held).
I don’t like when people inquire into authorial intent (we can only know authorial intent if we read personal journals and letters and sometimes I don’t want to know it, it rather spoils forming my own opinions), but I do think we need to allow for authorial bias. I know that Eliot did not have a great set of morals herself as she formed an immoral alliance outside of marriage, and I cannot help but think that this influenced her apparent idea that extramarital romantic love as long as it was “pure” (by its very nature it cannot be in such circumstances) was acceptable.

Will quickly fell in love with his cousin’s wife, and this love is treated as good because she was angelic and “had no corresponding feeling” and because he had “no designs”. Rosamund’s love for Will is portrayed in a more neutral light (but it obviously is still wrong) and even Dorothea doesn’t see this with all her described virtues; she should’ve been horrified as well as jealous and pained when she thought Will loved Rosamund. I feel that since Rosamund is so despicable that perhaps this portrayal is less dangerous at least for the Biblically educated reader.

While we are on the subject of that diva...frail creature my eye. If she was capable of being so willfully a shameful, selfish, adulterous, manipulative witch, she was capable of applying her mind to being good; she obviously had some brains. She also seems terribly lazy, but I am not sure what her household duties were…all she seemed to do was busywork, complaining, primping, riding without her husband’s permission, complaining, and fawning on her husband’s rich relations. To sit and spend all Lydgate’s earned money and then dishonor and disrespect him and withdraw her love when he was in trouble because of HER! Poor Rosamund indeed. !!!!!!

Oh, and it was TOTALLY out of character for her explain her own and Will’s situations to Dorothea as she did. Not that it would redeem her in my eyes if it seemed realistic…

Lydgate. This section of the story bothered me the most. I always like the well-bred-to-the-point-of-arrogance characters to some extent because of their breeding, so I approved of Lydgate although I did not like his harsh judgment and treatment of Mr. Farebrother.

Even though I knew Rosamund would turn out horrid, I kept believing/hoping that Lydgate would be successful in the medical field and never thought he would succumb as he did to her selfish, manipulative will. I found it hard to believe that he still loved her after her disobedience and deception, and I kept hoping that he would pull himself together and be a man.

He was rather stuck on himself, but I don’t think he deserved to live his life under Rosamund’s sorry will and accomplish nothing and die young. That ending was too cruel…especially as it was written in a light tone and as if it was supposed to be humorous—insult to fatal injury! Lydgate was of a higher order—or should have been. I supposed though that this was something of a “pride before the fall” set up.

I felt sorry for Mr. Bulstrode. I did not like that his repentance had to be false. I also hated the hypocrisy and cruelty of the gossipers. I hated that Bulstrode killed the man—why did she have to add that horrific, criminal twist? I supposed too many reforms (Fred) would’ve  been too great—but murder? REALLY?

I even at some points (not near his end) felt sorry for Causabon because no one liked him, and he was so miserable and his work was worthless and foolish (a redeeming insight of Dorothea’s). However, he could’ve taken himself less seriously and have loosened up so as not to be himself ridiculous and rude. What he asked of Dorothea was selfish, wicked, and cruel (he knew her sense of honour would last beyond his death). I couldn’t pity him then—I rejoiced at his death quite as much as I was originally planning.

Yes, all you get this time is the unpleasant parts. Read part two here and part three here.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Clothes Mentor

I love this consignment chain! I went for the first time last week and spent millions...maybe...maybe could've.
Anyway, here is my haul. I was pleased with the prices and conditions and fiber choices for my fabric snobbery (or snobbobery to use my dad's version of the word). I don't look good in capris, so I am planning on making the capris into Bermuda shorts. I am also planning on letting out the pleats at the botton of the white top, taking off the heavy hem, and taking in the sides a bit. Other than that everything should fit nicely...after I finished losing my weight.



Price: $7   Brand: New York and Company   Material: 78% cotton, 20% polyester (ugh), 2% spandex




 Price: $16   Brand: Ann Taylor   Material: 55% cotton, the rest various manmade fibers




Price: $16   Brand: Ann Taylor  Material: 100% silk




Price: $10   Brand: New York and Company   Material: 100% cotton




Price: $10   Brand: Express   Material: 55% silk, 45% cotton




Price: $10   Brand: Cynthia Rowley   Material: 55% linen, 45% rayon




Price: $9   Brand: Ann Taylor LOFT   Material: 100% cotton




Price: $6   Brand: Apt. 9   Material: Trim: 100% silk, Body: 58% silk, 27% nylon, 15% cotton




Price: $10   Brand: Talbots   Material: 58%  silk, 42% cotton




Price: $10   Brand: Unlisted




Price: $7   Brand: Impo




Price: $18   Brand: Madden Girl



I am sooo sorry for all these fluffy posts. I am waaaay behind on my Classics Club reviews; I am doing (in starts and stops) the old-fashioned and, for me, more expressive hand-written draft route first. I am afraid my Middlemarch review may be as long as the book itself...well, it could be. Hopefully, I will have at least one of those up this week.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Elite

Yeah, so I totally forgot about this...why you ask? Well, ahem, all my ridiculously adolescent fangirling didn't end well.

I started reading, became impatient, skipped through, was thoroughly disgusted (I know I should have had a clue), and sent both the books back a few days after receiving The Elite.

Contemplated this blog post and fumed a bit and then forgot the trifling affair.

Lesson to be learned: don't become too deeply involved in fluff.

Lesson learned? Um, seeing how I reacted to Twilight, this, and then The Host issue (was that before or after The Elite...well, that doesn't signify in this answer)...weeeelll.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Selection

Ah me, I love my princess stories. I think I may have mentioned The Selection months ago. I finally bought my own copy and reread it because.....the sequel, The Elite is coming out tomoorrrooow (eeeee!!!!).

Of course I preordered it. I thought I would be getting it Thursday, but I got an email today stating that it should be here tomorrow! I don't know how I will work on my paper and study for Wednesday's final! I also bought the sort of prequel novella The Prince and read that. (True The Selection fans, do be sure to read that).


Disclaimer: This is for adult readers capable of making their own choices. I don't believe that sheltered teens should be allowed to read it. It is VERY sensual (think Twilight), and I don't exactly like the morals in it. There are also plenty of "mild" swear words. I think that I need to invest in some white out. Anyway, proceed at your own risk.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Black Arrow

Here is a reviewette I wrote months ago.

When our church had a bookclub one month Treasure Island was chosen, and I started the novel. I got bored, skipped through the rest, and didn't wish to finish it. I thought I had better choose a different novel when I went back to attempt Robert Louis Stevenson. I started Black Arrow maybe a week or so ago, and I finished it a few days ago. I greatly enjoyed it. It was a short novel which added to its charms since it did not fall into the catagory of books I normally enjoy.

I need to read more historical fiction again. The story was not deep by any means, but the love story was the main carrying theme since most of the book the protagonist is attempting to free his lady.  I wasn't exactly thrilled with the ending. I would have like to have know exactly how the protagonist's father died and all who were implicated and how they were implicated. This was a serious hanging subplot to me. Oh, and I know I am trivial here but, I HATE the name Dick-why couldn't he have been called Richard throughout the whole book. There are too many dumb and evil Dicks in literature, and Dick when the book was written is what Jim, Joe, and Josh are now.

The story was set in England during the War of the Roses. I am not well-enough versed in British history to appreciate the references although it wasn't exactly necessary.

The main lady was not exactly a well rounded character, but she was interesting enough when you first meet her. I was seriously annoyed with her stereotypical historical "femininess"; i.e. she faints all the time over stressful moments. Loss of blood or something would be fine, but I don't exactly appreciate physically weak people.

The book is violent, and Richard definitely partakes in the violence. He is not exactly your morally sensitive hero (at first) with regards to war and violence.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Literary Heroines Blog Party

Miss Kellie from Accordion to Kellie is hosting her annual Literary Heroine Blog Party and Giveaway (here)
I think I may have participated last year although I don't know if I kept that post. Anyway, here are the questions she posted and my answers to said questions.

~ The Questions ~

Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

I am a 22 year old college student who loves to live in fictional worlds. Currently, I am also sleepy.


What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 

Someone who is honest with herself and others and sees her faults and changes accordingly. Someone who knows her own mind and values and sticks to them. 

Oh, and she cannot be annoying...Emm, ahem.


Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. 

Hermione Granger-she is brilliant, patiently loves unrequited for a while, and is loyal.

Margaret Hale-she maintains her dignity around the obnoxious Mrs. Thornton and irritating Mr. Thornton (I do like him, but he IS irritating sometimes I like to like those I dislike).

Lucy Snowe-she endures so much loneliness and neglect, yet she neither whines nor allows herself to be beaten down, she is also rather funny.

Anne Shirley-she is elegant and imaginative and intelligent and funny.


Five of your favorite historical novels? 

I will choose to take this as period drama novels. It really depends on what I have read/thought about most recently or my mood. Today I will say North and South, Little Women, Wives and Daughers, Much Ado About Nothing, and Keeper of the Bees. Yeah, random and only four, well my brain was put on the spot.


Out of those five books who is your favorite main character and why? 

I will go with Benedict although I am sure he would make me bawl my eyes out in real life. Why? He is funny and marries Beatrix after all. And Kenneth Branaugh is brilliant as him, btw.


Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? 

And I picked books with few or no significant secondary characters. I will be contrary and pick a least favorite main character: Cynthia Kirkpatrick. I hate her. And I actually know people who sympathize with her and try to excuse her.


If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? 

I would go to Scotland and visit the Highlands, see the heather, visit castles, and stay in the mountains for a while. Oh, and buy yarn and listen to people speak Gaelic.


What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? 

I will pick all my favorite thanks. Too many absolute favorite questions with which this sleepy person must deal. Said favorites are: Roman Britain, Regency and Georgian Britain, Civil War U. S., Victorian/Edwardian Canada, and modern times with a fantastical twist. Somebody please name all those novels. Thanks.


You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of? 

I would recite something-probably something funny.


If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? 

Hermione or Beatrix or Meg or, or


What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? 

I have met girls who do not love chocolate; I am not sure that they are real people. Chocolate has a hierarchy and it is thus: Dark and Milk with fillings, Milk and White.


Favorite author(s)? 

Louisa May Alcott, R.J. Anderson, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters (there are three btw although I am not sure I would list Anne as a fav), Frances Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, L.M. Montgomery, J.K. Rowling, Gene Stratton-Porter, Rosemary Sutcliff, N.D. Wilson.


Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? 

A really fancy gown/dress and glamorous shoes on the fairy chance that I would have somewhere to wear them. Um, in the real world I would bring a ton of craft stuff plus my journal, but I rather consider all those things essential.


In which century were most of the books you read written? 

I really don't know-I would think the 20th, but I have read quite a few from both the 19th and the 21st as well.


In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… 

All my favorite heroes leave my mind...
Harry Potter, no, I am perfectly serious. 


Describe your ideal dwelling place. 

A ivy and rose covered castle/cottage hidden high in the mountains, thousands of miles from civilization, situated in a sylvan vale. It will have wondrous gardens filled with roses and foxglove and ferns and forget-me-nots and every other romantic flower and have a true evergreen maze.

Inside everything will be gleaming dark wood, silver and gold, silk and velvet, porcelain and glass.


Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 

I will go with my ideal fashion style-romantic and faerytale.


Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? 

Yes, why does there have to be about four names including surnames in Wuthering Heights? I am sure there are other times I have not cared for names, but I cannot think of any currently.


In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... 

Why cannot I think of any?
I hate rakes-why cannot I think of a good one? 
I will go with Sauron because I am brain dead. He is not actually a villain-rather pure evil, but whatever. I can think of more jerks than villains.


Three favorite Non-fiction books? 

Um, this displays my character better than my hat description....eep

Color Me Beautiful
The Green Beauty Guide
The Jane Austen Handbook


Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 

Lets pretend that I am a good accomplished young woman and say embroidery and reading and watching period drama movies. I am afraid it really would be wasting time on the computer and watching modern and lame T.V. and getting cranky or spending my soul away on clothes.


Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. 

A little silk sailorish type hat with a birdcage veil, nothing too ostentatious, but very me. Maybe with a handmade silk flower and hints of crystals.


Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. 

I am attending college on campus. I was home schooled and then obtained my Associate's Degree online. Enough said.


Disclaimer. Please do not take favorites (excepting questions allowing lists) in an absolutely literal sense. It really depends on what I am reading/thinking/watching/feeling at the time :D

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Christmas Part Four

          Okay, final Christmas post. Yes, I do know it is February, but I have been rather busier than usual since I have seven classes this semester. After our family Christmas we went to my grandparents...in our pajamas and robes since many of us received new pajamas.


                   All of us girls were given snowmen decorations and a little jewelry box.



My next youngest sister and I both received lovely jackets.



          I knitted this eternity scarf for my grandmother-it is lovely if I do say so myself; I want one now :P I was still working on it up until a few minutes until we left for their house. Genius planning, I know.


          A few days after Christmas we visited some friends, and I received these gifts. I had to reread this book, the first of the trio (after I read the third installment which just came out). The first one is by far my favorite.




          So, that wraps up my rather uneventful Christmas. I wasn't worth much in December; I cannot remember what exactly I did with all that time, and I certainly did not go out much. Hopefully next December I will be a little more festive.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Villette


Villette was my final Brontë novel and the first of my Classics Club reads. I will try to write a review without spilling any secrets. 

Here are the dull basics: the heroine is an English gentlewoman whose fortunes have been so reduced that she must teach in France for a living. Whilst living in France she encounters various interesting new acquaintances and is reacquainted with some persons from her old, more prosperous, happy life. As with the other Brontë novels, the novel’s settings and characters are few and the plot focuses more on emotions than actions/movements and other external things. 

This story is not great or adventurous rather it is sweet and gentleforgive my limited descriptive words. If you were expecting and wishing for grandeur in plot or emotion along the lines of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, you will be disappointed.

I will admit, I did think in the beginning that it dragged, but it most certainly grew on me exceedingly, and I ended up thinking that it ended too soon. I thought that it would be my least favorite of the Brontë novels, but it might just be one of my favorites. Besides the slowness I have one other quibble although it is more to do with my lack of culture, than true error in the novel. The novel is set in France, and there are several exchanges in French that probably would lose shades of meaning if translated into English. I believe there were some lines of French in Jane Eyre, but in Villette the French is much more extensive. I want to learn French and go back and reread this novel to see what I missed. Young ladies of proper education (ahem, accomplished young ladies) of this period knew French, so these inclusions are not oddities.

I love “homey” stories, but I think this one deserves a little more prestige than a “homey” storyit is more intricate than it first appears. I don’t mean intricate in plot; the plot is quite simple. The emotions are the intricate part. I love stories that lack passionate descriptions of emotions—I find that often such descriptions ring shallow, but I prefer the novels where the emotions are repressed, as it were, under the words, and you have to be sensitive to hear them throb, but when you do, you know that they are deep. That is the kind of depth that is in this novel, well, it is in Shirley as well. I think Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have this kind as well as the more overt kind although in those the overt emotion does not ring shallow.

I would reread Villette again, but I wish the ending was a bit longer. I felt that the best part was cut off from me—the door of the perfect happiness in the story shut in my face.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sweet Cornbread

          I am neither a cook nor a baker, but I want to be able to serve a decent meal. I think that if I master one dish at a time it will be easier to develop a decent set of skills. When I tasted this cornbread at a friend's, I asked for the recipe, and I was determined to make it myself because it was simple enough. Weeks later I got around to doing this. I intend to add this to my Pinterest portfolio board which is supposed to encourage me in crafts and skills...unfortunately I only have a few finished projects on it, as I am better at starting a bunch of things than finishing one. Currently I have a great many things started and in various stages.



          Anyway, here is the recipe. The original called for Bisquick so I had to look up a substitute, hence the odd butter amount.

The oven temperature is 350 degrees and the time is about 30" although I think mine could have stood 5" longer.

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 T baking powder
4 heaping tablespoons cornmeal (my heaps were so large is was probably more like 8 tablespoons)
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 to 2 2/3 sticks of butter melted
2 cups milk
2 eggs

Mix the dry then the liquids and pour into a greased 9x13" pan. I think this would make a nice mix; I prepared the dry ingredients last evening which took all of 5-10." I added the liquids this morning, and it took about 5." I would love to have a bunch of homemade mixes on hand whenever I have my own place.