Friday, August 29, 2014

Quote Friday - Brideshead Revisited

This is a scene from Evelyn Waugh's book, Brideshead Revisited. Charles Ryder visits his friend, Sebastian Flyte, at Sebastian's home, Brideshead, during their summer break at the end of their first year at Oxford.

"One day we went down to the cellars with Wilcox and saw the empty bays which had once held a vast store of wine; one transept only was used now; there the bins were well stocked some of them with vintages fifty years old.

'There's been nothing added since his Lordship went abroad,' said Wilcox. 'A lot of the old wine wants drinking up. We ought to have laid down the eighteens and twenties. I've had several letters about it from the wine merchants, but her Ladyship says to ask Lord Brideshead, and he says to ask the lawyers. That's how we get low. There's enough here for ten years at the rate it's going, but how shall we be then?'

Wilcox welcomed our interest; we had bottles brought up from every bin, and it was during those tranquil evenings with Sebastian that I first made a serious acquaintance with wine and sowed the seed of a rich harvest which was to be my stay in many barren years. We would sit, he and I, in the Painted Parlour with three bottles open on the table and three glasses before each of us; Sebastian had found a book on wine-tasting, and we followed its instructions in detail. We warmed the glass slightly at a candle, filled it a third high, swirled the wine round, nursed it in our hands, held it to the light, breathed it, sipped it, filled our mouths with it, and rolled it over the tongue, ringing it on the palate like a coin on a counter, tilted our heads back and let it trickle down the throat. Then we talked of it and nibbled Bath Oliver biscuits, and passed on to another wine; then back to the first then on to another, until all three were in circulation and the order of the glasses got confused, and we fell out over which was which, and passed the glasses to and fro between us until there were six glasses, some of them with mixed wines in them which we had filled from the wrong bottle, till we were obliged to start again with three clean glasses each, and the bottles were empty and our praise of them wilder and more exotic.
'...It is a little, shy wine like a gazelle.'
'Like a leprechaun.'
'Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.'
'Like a flute by still water.'
'...And this is a wise old wine.'
'A prophet in a cave.'
'...And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.'
'Like a swan.'
'Like the last unicorn.'

And we would leave the golden candlelight of the dining-room for the starlight outside and sit on the edge of the fountain, cooling our hands in the water and listening drunkenly to its splash and gurgle over the rocks.
'Ought we to be drunk every night?' Sebastian asked one morning.
'Yes, I think so.'
'I think so too.'"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

spring & summer reading, part 2

I started reading a few passages of Elder Thaddeus' Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives (more in this post) to my children, and just had to re-read it myself. It may very well be a "read every year" book. How many "read every year" books am I allowed before I don't have room for new books? Hmmm... Where was I? Oh, yes. Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives has been such an instrumental book for me because I easily slip back into the habit of worry and this helps bring me back.

I also read The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Spear at my nephew's recommendation. Not my favorite book, but I can see why he (and many others) likes it.

Fit to Burst was timely for me as I was nursing my new baby. It was encouraging and succinct. I thought it was better than Jankovic's first book, Loving the Little Years (although this one's good too), mainly because it was much more applicable to everyone in all areas of life (even though it was directed at mothers). Her articles on motherhood HERE and HERE are excellent! Read them!

I love listening to books on CD while driving. Driving is boring. Books get me through. The Warden by Anthony Trollope read by Simon Vance was great, I've also read Barchester Towers and I want to read all of his books. The End.

Wait, that's not the end. It can't be over without Jane Austen. Persuasion, read by Juliet Stevenson, is wonderful. Her voice and expressions bring the pages to life. I loved her portrayal of Mrs Elton in the 2009 BBC version of Emma.

I also really like Pride and Prejudice read by Nadia May. Thank you, Sarah, (of for recommending Nadia May!

Read part 1!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters

These little gems are delish! And they're good for ya, right?!

Smucker's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup Smucker's natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped whole almonds
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Melt chocolate chips, stir in p.b. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide into mini baking cups (mini muffin liners). Chill 1 hour or until firm. Sneak them out of the fridge one by one while kids are distracted.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

spring & summer reading, part 1

I titled this post, spring & summer reading, but it really should be titled something like, what to read with a new baby. This year, what with spending all my time kissing the cheeks of my precious baby (and wiping other kinds of cheeks), my reading list has been somewhat lowbrow. I'm good with that. One of the more enjoyable tasks that I've set for myself is to read my way through the works of P. G. Wodehouse, and so far this year I've read Thank You, Jeeves; Something Fishy; Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit; The Adventures of Sally; Heavy Weather; Mr Mulliner Speaking; and Right Ho, Jeeves. Can't get enough Wodehouse!

You rock, Mr Wodehouse!

While spending more time awake with my babe in the middle of the night than asleep, my eldest gave me her favorite book to read, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I was surprised and pleased at how much I enjoyed reading this book! The themes were more mature than I expected, but put in a way that wouldn't be scary or threatening to a kid. In fact, one would hope to be heroic with the help of your friends and family!

In The Motherhood and Jane Austen Book Club, I heard about Dear Mr Knightly by Katherine Reay. I don't usually go in for that sort of thing, being allergic to modernity, but thought I should try to step out of my box now and again, and I'm glad I did. It's composed of all letters, is modern with a nod to the classics, and isn't completely free of cliches or cheese, but is a very quick, fun read. (And it was fun to read with my daughter.) The book centers around Sam(antha) who spends most of her growing up years in a home that harkened back to the home for children that my parents worked in when I was young. Some of the struggles the heroine has to work through gave me a renewed respect for my mom, and the things in her past that she was able to overcome with God's help. It's clean and redemptive and you just might enjoy it. But the absolute best thing about reading this book was that it inspired me to reread The Count of Monte Cristo and Daddy Long Legs (and watch the movies).

Next up on the summer reading list, Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple, was just what I needed. Her encouragement to live intentionally, choose where my time goes, and to not make unconscious excuses for not doing what I want/ need to do, was a shot in the arm. You will now find me a little more often at the farmer's market and playing in the rain with my terrific kids...and blogging? I hope!

More to come!