Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blog Friends

Last week, I had the delightful pleasure of receiving a parcel from Book Psmith, as was.  Stacy will always be Book Psmith to me even though she has called time on her blog.  When she left the blogsphere I wrote that I would keep in touch and we have sent an email or two back and forth.  To let her know she is still thought of, I sent off a postcard and was so surprised when she sent me back one of the Yarn Harlot's books and a gorgeous flower pin!

A few weeks ago, in response to my post about British treats, Cornflower generously sent me some Tunnock's teacakes and wafers.  My belt is fitting a tad tighter this week and I have only myself to blame...I ate them ALL myself.  Shocking isn't it!?  Offers were made to share, I just want to be clear that I wasn't scarfing down chocolate treats in the closet or anything. 

Over the past two years I've referred to those of you who drop in here as blog friends.  Whether you realize it or not, you have all been mentioned at our dinner table.  Be it a trip you've taken or a new book which you've bought that sounds really tantalizing, the adoption or passing of a beloved pet.  When Verity got engaged it was announced in our house!  In Rachel's case, we've been following her hopes of moving to this side of the pond for months...and now she's done it!  At first I referred to you by your blog names but I've come to realize that many of you are now referred to by your first name.

When I mention the kind gesture of a book sent through the mail or a bookmark won in a contest, I am frequently asked who sent it.  When I say it was a blog friend, I sometimes wonder if my friends or colleagues think I'm a tad doolally to consider people from blogs as friends?  We didn't grow up on Facebook so perhaps it's a generational issue.

There are some really lovely people out there who just so happen to like some of the same things that I do and I'm more than pleased to have 'met' them.  And in Kristina's case, I actually have met her!  We lunched in London...a totally gratuitous statement, I just like saying it. 

I'm really interested so please, do tell.  How do you refer to the people you communicate with through your blogs when talking to colleagues, friends or family and how receptive are they about it all?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tale of Orange

To set the scene:  Darlene knows exactly what she wants at the wool shop and will only be a few minutes. 

I really want a plum shade but there are three different shades of purple.  No matter, one is too dark and the other is too light anyway.  But wait a minute...that green looks ever so sophisticated and isn't that burnt orange soooo autumnal!  Grabbing one of each I browse, and squeeze just about everything else in the shop as a diversion tactic whilst I wait for a colour epiphany to happen.  It doesn't.

Hating to sound like the indecisive twit that I've been reduced to, I resort to displaying three skeins in different shades before the shop owner and ask her to pick one.  She chooses the orange.

'But I don't really wear orange' I said.  'I think I've only chosen it because it's autumnal outside.'

The shop owner replies 'With your colouring it won't matter WHAT else you wear with it, it will be gorgeous!'

'Well...which one would be your second choice?'  Why she didn't kick me out at this point I have no idea.  This time she chooses the plum....'Excellent!' I say.  Gathering up the rejects and collecting two more skeins of plum I begin to feel a bit sick.  The orange would be so much fun to knit with...especially at this time of year and suddenly, the finality of putting back the orange only makes me want it more!  The shop owner is a saint and sees my torment.

'Why are you fighting it?' the shop owner asks.  'That pattern and your colouring are screaming for the orange...you know you want it.'  Pimping wool to a knitter is like offering candy to small children, it was all over in an instant.  It was the colour epiphany I was waiting for.

Quickly shoving the skeins of plum back into their cubby, I pay for the orange before I can change my mind.  With one eye on the road and one eye on the orange wool sticking out of the bag, I make for home.

Here's hoping I look ever so fashionable...just like the model wearing the shawl on the pattern.  And do you know what colour hers is (not on my print-out)?  Plum.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Glass of Time by Micheal Cox

Now this presents a challenge.  How do you write about a follow up novel without giving away what happens in the first novel?  I suppose the answer has to be...very carefully.

Picking up twenty years after The Meaning of Night leaves off, the 26th Baroness Tansor is interviewing for a new lady's maid.  Esperanza Gorst applies for the position as instructed by the woman who has raised her since she was very young, Madame de L'Orme.  She is told to watch every movement in the house, beware of the Baroness and to keep a Book of Secrets in shorthand.  A series of letters will arrive which reveal ever more detail about Lady Tansor's past and Esperanza's parentage. 

Evenwood, the ancestral home of the Tansor dynasty, sets the stage with secret staircases, a heavily panelled library, windows overlooking vast lawn and paintings which seem to watch your every move.  The Baroness frequently has visits there by Armitage Vyse, a sinister lawyer from Lincoln's Inn, London.  Esperanza comes to realize that these visits are not completely welcome and that Vyse has a secret he holds over her Lady.

Despite being warned by her guardian never to trust the Baroness, Esperanza finds herself being drawn in.  Attention from the heir, Perseus and his brother, Randolph lends an air of romance and rivalry to the story.

As more information is revealed, Esperanza's confidence rises.  Gaining strength from secrets, she watches as the Baroness becomes skittish and begins to wither from the weight of them.  The last quarter of this book will keep you riveted!

The Meaning of Night and The Glass of Time are over 1,100 pages of sheer adventure and characters that come to life.  Should you be in the mood for swishing coats, London mist, secret excursions down hallways by candlelight and the sound of carriage wheels on gravel drives then you MUST read these books!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Deacon!

This was our first glimpse of 'Eddie', that was his litter name.  He was eight weeks old and living on the farm where he was born.  Don't ask me how or why but nobody had shown an interest in taking him home.  I can only imagine he was waiting for us. 

He's three years old today and despite driving us crazy with acts of random silliness and boisterous behaviour, we love him to bits.

A la Country Living, Readers' Pets, here is a little expose.

Loves - Balls, any kind but if they squeak all the better.

Hates - The vet's office, having a bath and being brushed.

Naughtiest Habits - Being rude to small dogs, stealing teatowels and flatulent in the company of others.

Favourite Food - Cheese!

Dreams of - Drives in the car to Lowville Park for a swim and seeing Shannon, his Labrador lady friend. 

This is one boy who won't be sleeping in on his special day!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Required Reading

For those of you who may be interested, I'm including the required reading for The Heiress' fourth year English class, Narratives of an Empire in first term.  There were a couple which I had never heard of but they all sound intriguing.

Oroonoko - Aphra Behn
She:  A History of Adventure - Henry Rider Haggard
Kim - Rudyard Kipling
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah - Elizabeth Hamilton

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to School

The Heiress is pretty much packed up and ready to head back to university.  I can tell she's pretty excited about it because she did her own laundry a couple of days ago.  You know, like when you're going on a trip and you're so anxious to do just about anything that will make it feel as though you'll be on your way a bit sooner.  A suitcase, a granny cart, two bags of foodstuff and a box of bath and body supplies are waiting to be hauled downstairs for the trip out.  Handing over my bank card and the keys to the van so she could go shopping for a few bits and bobs were one of my last maternal duties of the summer.  I guess I'm feeling a bit sad that she's leaving because the amount I told her she could spend went up a few times before she raced out to pick up her friend.

This is the fourth year of her Hons. BA in Sociology with a minor in English Lit., then she hopes to pursue a MA in Criminology.  I'll wait with anticipation for the anecdotes of how 'time outs' on the bottom stair and other disciplines could easily have turned her into a serial killer.

I plan on using the tactic I've used for the past three years to avoid any tears or upset when we drop her off at school.  I casually mention that now her father and I can go back to playing Batman and Catwoman with the house to ourselves.  Works like a charm every time.  Yeah, I'm prepared to hear how that scarred her for life as well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

RIP V Challenge

There is something inherent about shorter days, the turning of leaves and a whiff of woodsmoke that endears my heart to a ghost story.  Halloween may be two months away but such an atmospheric 'season' if you will, is simply too much fun to limit to one day of trick or treats.

Popping by A Work in Progress,  I was excited to discover that the RIP V challenge is in full swing again this year until October 31.  Not usually one for reading challenges I find this one and Persephone Week just too pleasurable to pass up.
Peril the Third is the level I've chosen which requires reading one novel but I do have a few unread short stories befitting this genre and a collection of spooky goings-on from sites around London.
The Woman in White - Just how many people have yet to read this book?  Surely I am one of but a few.  Since I've been immersed in the Victorian era as of late it's the perfect time to slot in this classic sensation novel mixing 'Gothic horror with psychological realism'.  And who can resist more Wilkie Collins...not me.
Haunted London - This has been on my bookshelf since 2007, when R and I visited London and couldn't get enough of the spooky tales we heard on those fabulous London Walks.  Filled with tales of ghosts and horror in locations from The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane to Newgate Prison this should be good for raising some gooseflesh.
Ghost Stories - This Everyman's Pocket Classic lists spooky (and odd) short stories from stellar authors such as Edith Wharton, PG Wodehouse, Henry James, Saki and Elizabeth Bowen.  I have my eye on 'The Quincunx' by Walter de la Mare for this season.
If you're interested in finding out more about this reading challenge, please click here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rock buns

The other day Simon posted about doing a bit of Bank holiday baking, specifically Rock buns.

Rising to the challenge of making this delicious companion to a cup of tea, I whipped out my mixing bowl.  Deciding to use Tana Ramsay's recipe proved foolhardy as I had to zest an orange...I always take a nick out of the knuckle on my thumb using the grater.  Note to self: buy a proper zester!

These were super easy to make as demonstrated in Tana's photo which displays her making them with her children.  Well, at least I think they're hers.  My only pitfall was that in the recipe, Tana says not to overcook them as they continue to cook after being removed from the oven.  Finding them a bit anemic looking, I put them back in for another two minutes.  They still look anemic.  Popping back over to Simon's post he says that they should be brown on the top as they're better overdone than undercooked.  I should have followed Simon's advice from the start.  Despite their paleness, these were so delicious I gobbled up two with a cup of tea while they were still warm and I will definitely be baking another batch soon. 

Thanks for issuing the challenge to get baking, Simon!