So I have been wanting to do this for a while, a looong time! It’s been on my to-do list to incorporate tea shops and tea places reviews, but I just haven’t had the time. It seems I have a thousand different things I want to write and review and just no time to do them all.
So I ended up telling myself that when my tea photos popped up on my “on this day” part of Instagram or timeline it would be time to actually start reviewing them.
Last September, I had to go to Los Angeles to visit with my grandfather who was seriously declining. It was a good visit, and while we were in L. A., I suggested to my mom that we should try a high tea place before we left. She agreed, as long as it wasn’t far out of our way. Right before we headed back home, we stopped at Tea Elle C Garden Cafe.
Tea Elle C is located in Santa Clarita, CA and the idea of it is based on when the Dutch would serve portable teas outside in the garden. This tradition spread from Holland to England as both ladies and gentlemen enjoyed it. The tea garden allowed women and men to socialize “alone”, as since they were in an open public space, they were in no need of a chaperone. Tea gardens were also open to people of all classes.
Because of COVID-19, we weren’t able to eat inside, which was a shame as if looked super cute and they also sold loose leaf tea for purchase and other tea items. But we were unable to browse as we were quickly shuffled through the resturant coming in and going out. I did snap this picture quickly of the inside.
I so wanted to sit inside!
To be compliant with the COVID-19 policies of the time we were seated outside in the garden. The garden was extremely beautiful, full of twinkly lights and tea decorations. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but unfortunately I didn’t.
One of the nice things about this tea place was that it blended a regular cafe menu with high tea being offered all day. So if you have one person who loves High Tea but their partner isn’t in to it-or if one of you wants high tea and the other wants regular cafe food; this is a perfect compromise and a place you both will love. I of course wanted High Tea while my mother wanted a regular breakfast. She ordered a delicious Paris Tea and a Benedict breakfast bowl: a sourdough bowl filled with hash browns, Canadian Bacon, two-over easy eggs, and topped with hollandaise sauce. She loved her food and couldn’t stop raving about it.
I, of course, ordered the high tea (that being the reason I wanted to stop there) and was given a choice of six finger sandwiches (you choose two flavors), your choice of one scone, three desserts, and either one two-Cup teapot or a half carafe.
They offer many choices and I decided on a: Cranberry scone; a cucumber and herbed cream cheese, and a pesto & turkey sandwich . For desserts they gave you whatever they chose to serve and I had a lemon bar, and another crumbly dessert on top. And I, of course, had Earl Grey tea.
Everything was amazing, and it was a good amount of food for a good price. Sometimes high tea places will serve you too much food, or too little, but this was just the right amount for me.
If I were to make a complaint, the only thing I would change would be that they did not offer an endless pot of tea, which a lot of places do (and I love), but each pot or carafe were separate orders. I would have liked an endless pot of tea, but my two cups were the perfect amount as most bathrooms were not open at the time I visited (including the resturant and most gas stations.)
This place was a win and I would most definitely go back again. If you are in the Santa Clarita area, I highly recommend that you drop by.
So I like listening to audiobooks when I get ready in the morning, drive to work, clean, etc. I was searching through Overdrive’s online system (a free program provided by the library) and spotted this one. As I love Pride and Prejudice, I couldn’t resist and borrowed it.
However when I started listening to it I found out that this isn’t an audiobook, but is an audio adaption of a theater production of Pride and Prejudice, recorded in front of a live audience.
The cast is small, but just perfect for this. We have the following:
I really enjoyed this production as it was a lot of fun and extremely comedic, I was laughing so hard. For me the one that stole this entire show was Mrs. Bennet, her timing and spirit were spot on. I loved it. Jane Carr you were just wonderful!
Like when I listened to Northanger Abbey, read by Anna Massey, this did have me look at something of Pride and Prejudice in a new light. This was an abridged version of course, so events take place sooner then they would, but this adaption got me thinking about the motive behind Elizabeth’s muddy walk. In this adaption Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy say she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt him and is really upset. Afterwards, Jane goes to visit the Bingleys and gets sick with Elizabeth strolling to see her sister and walking through the mud.
I always thought her mud walking was just her in a hurry to see her sister, not paying as close attention, or caring if she walked in mud or not as she was worried about Jane. BUT what if that was only part of the reason. I mean she knows that Mr. Darcy is going to be at Netherfield, and the last time she saw him he called her not attractive. Do you think that she partly walked in that mud to show Darcy, that if he is going to consider her only tolerable then she’ll really show him what tolerable is.
I totally believe her wanting to see her sister is the prime motivation for Elizabeth, but do you think a small part of her was trying to shove the country in his face? Like if this is how they view those from the country, if he finds me not handsome, then I’ll really show him. Like when people insult that you about being too much of something so you go overboard about it? Like just a little part of her did it on purpose, maybe even just a subconscious part thought that coming in disheveled and dirty was a way to kind of prove to Mr. Darcy his words didn’t affect her, a kind of “forget you” move? I think so.
And to me what makes it even more enjoyable is at that moment Darcy doesn’t see the mud or dishevelment but is thinking about how beautiful she is.
If you have an opportunity to check out this audio adaptation, it is well worth a listen as it is extremely enjoyable.
Incense and Sensibility (The Rajes #3) by Sonali Dev
I thought what better way to commemorate or commiserate (depending on your point of view) the California Governor Recall Election than with a book that is about a California Gubernatorial Election.
Incense and Sensibility is the third book in the Raje series. The first, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I really enjoyed that book. It had biracial characters, it kept to the story while at the same time allowing the author to tell “her” story, and it had wonderful descriptions of food (depicting the tradition, love, and culture weaved into the making of it.
The second book, Recipe for Persuasion, is based on Persuasion. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous one. I liked the diversity of the characters, but I didn’t feel as connected to the people.
I had seen on Instagram that the third was going to be published soon and as soon as it was added to the library I immediately checked it out.
This book is based on Sense and Sensibility, and focuses on Trisha Raje’s brother (mentioned in both previous books) and a new character, India Dashwood. In the previous books we were given some information about Yash; he is the eldest brother of the Raje family and was in a horrible accident that caused him to lose his ability to walk. Originally told that he would spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, he proved all wrong and was able to walk again.
However, even though this is a miracle he still felt very insecure and has never let anyone look upon his naked body and see his scars. His dream was to always go into politics, but again he faced another hurdle. At the bequest of his sister Trisha, he offered a job to her best friend Julia Wickham. Julia Wickham turned out to be a truly horrible person, (of which there are no words to describe how horrible); who used his generosity to grow close to him, drug him, rape him, and then blackmail him (as she was underage), and the Raje family. Yash never properly dealt with that trauma, but become not only more suspicious and closed off from others, but all thoughts of a relationship with a woman was pretty much gone forever as the experience left him with severe trauma.
At his sister, Nisha’s, wedding he met his cousin’s friend India Dashwood. He and India had a wonderful evening together, Yash allowing a new person into his life, and made plans to get together when he returned from an already scheduled trip. But when he arrived in Singapore for a wedding, he was convinced to pretend to be engaged to his best friend, Naina Knightley. Naina convinced him it would help them both as her parents do not see Indian women as having any other role than married and she will be able to continue her dream of running her own nonprofit. For Yash he can have someone to be by his side for important events and not have to worry about people focusing on his sexuality over his political agenda. (This makes me think of Kevin Kikey, someone running for governor of California who is single. Everyone is trying to figure out if he is gay, asexual, is involved with a married person, or just hasn’t found his dream mate.)
Even though this trade off helped his friend (and him), while Yash was okay with it in the beginning-it has been grating on him. But Yash is a professional and sets all that aside as he prepares for a new speech given at a rally. As he goes on stage to begin his speech, a shot rings out. Yash’s bodyguard Abdul takes the brunt of it and is put in ICU while Yash is grazed and has a concussion.
When he has recuperated enough to be released he find himself, for the first time in a very very long time, at a loss of what to do. He doesn’t feel anything, every time he tries to give a speech he has a panic attack, he is angry and guilty that his bodyguard is lying in a coma, he wants nothing to do with the farce of a fiancée, and he doesn’t even want to be governor. His family is worried about him, and as Ashna has suffered from panic attacks in the past (previous book), she encourages him to see India Dashwood, her friend and yogi-the last woman he ever thought he would see again.
India Dashwood’s family came to America, and the Bay Area, to start a barbershop. India’s great-grandparents hired an Indian immigrant, Ram, to be an assistant who also taught them Yoga. What none planned was for their daughter, India’s grandmother, to fall in love and become pregnant. Ram was fifteen years older and left town due to fear of what would happen to him, and India’s grandmother raised her daughter, Tara, changing their business from barber shop to yoga studio. When Tara was old enough she went abroad to search for her father, but was unable to find him. Instead she returned home with a baby she adopted, continuing that two more times. Her son Siddhartha is from India, her daughter India from Thailand, and her other daughter China from Kenya. All the children had cleft palates, but she didn’t care and adopted them anyway.
Out of the children, only India was the one to carry on the family’s traditions of the Yoga studio as her sister China is a TV producer and their brother a photojournalist. The family is in a bit of a financial strain as India used what money they had saved to do some much needed renovations, and now her mother has grown seriously ill. So when Yash comes back into her life after dropping her all those years ago, she would like to reject him and hurt him (a bit like how he hurt her), but instead agrees to help him, not just for the money, but to help him through his trauma. Will these two find a way to maneuver through the trauma, overcome hurt feelings, get through youthful decisions made for the wrong reasons, stalking paparazzi, and become something more?
Meanwhile, China Dashwood has everything coming up roses. Her cooking show is going great and she is dating KDrama star, Song Ji Woo. True, she doesn’t like having to keep it hidden, but understands that Song can’t reveal her homosexuality as it would end her career. The two spend all their time in hotel rooms, at China’s apartment, or China’s mother’s house. China encounters Yash’s new body guard, former marine Brandy and tbe two do not get off on the right foot when Brandy fails to let China inside the building. The two have a bit of a better relationship after China meets Brandy’s daughter. Brandy and her best friend were heading toward one direction, but her friend ended up marrying an abusive man. When her husband murdered her, Brandy was given legal custody of their daughter and adopted her and raised her as her own. When Song has to return to Korea, China decides to give up her life in America and follow her to Korea. Tara, India, and Brandy try to caution her and convince her to wait and see-but China won’t be dissuaded. Will she get her heart broken ? Or have her happily ever after?
So as always I like to start with what I didn’t like and then move onto what I did like about the book.
First of all I don’t enjoy the political part of this book, as I read to escape. I understand that the author has a particular story she wants to tell and there are opinions she wants to express and share with her readers-I have no issue with it. Just for me, I like to read to escape the world we are in and this book had too much real world for me personally. Especially as I happened to read this book when a real election was going on.
I also find the absence of Latino people from this book to be really odd. Yash started going over with Rico the different political groups on his side and it seems strange to me that Yash discuses the African American vote and working with thE BLM, but there is no mention of a Latino vote, even when they discuss immigration. Not only am I Mexican, but I was born in California, grew up here, lived in the area the books take place and the more and more I think about it, the absence of Latino people in this book is extremely weird. I mean if she decided not to make a Latino a main character, fine it’s your choice and your story, but Yash is running for governor of California and there is no mention at all of the Latino vote or a Hispanic alliance group? It seems strange that both Nisha and Rico who are supposed to be extreme experts have decided to ignore the largest non-white racial demographic in California, especially as his only rival is white and anti-immigration. It seems to me that the smart thing would be to use that to show why the Latinos should vote for Yash.
I also think it is odd that the issue the book and Yash focus on are health care, it is partly what pushes him back into running for governor after his near death experience. I know that is an important issue, but is that the number one Californians are facing? I’m surprised that Yash doesn’t focus on any of the huge CA issues that those running for Governor usually go over (I mean I know because not only have we been going through the recall election but also I remember when governor Newsome was running a few years ago.) One of our biggest issues are water rights and farming rights, something that has carried over every with drought concerns get worse and worse, yet Yash doesn’t even focus on this or talk about it. Nor does he focus on the wildfire crisis even though the deadliest fire was in 2018 in Butte County (Camp Fire) and the biggest CA wildfire was the August fire in 2020. But even if the book was going through revisions there was the Mendencino fire in 2018. And then what about homelessness? We have one of the highest homelessness levels in the nation. I know health care is important, but again it seems strange to me that it was the only issue he seems focused on besides immigration.
I also felt that Song wasn’t really a a very good Willoughby. Willoughby used a woman, got her pregnant, and left her! Then he romanced Marianne only to leave her with no explanation when his aunt threatened to cut off his inheritance, and he decided he needed a woman with money. Song on the other hand is in a harsh reality of the fact that she has no choice in her life. KPop and KDrama stars are owned by their companies and have to be single as their boyfriends and girlfriends are their fans. If they start dating someone they are dropped as the fans don’t want them, and they lose everything. I mean it is CRAZY how obsessive their fans are and how they treat them. If they found out she was in a relationship, her life and career would be over. One woman got married without approval of her agency and she was dropped, blacklisted, and the only way she could make music was her husband had to buy a company. When fans found out that this one KDrama star had a girlfriend and she was pregnant, he was dropped by the fans and his agency. He and his girlfriend got married and I believe it has been five years and he is just barely being allowed to act again. Not to mention that Korea is super conservative and if people found out she was a lesbian that would be even worse for her. So while she doesn’t treat China as nice as she should, Korea is very different from America. And unlike Willoughby, Song is providing for her family. She’s providing money for them and they probably still have debts to the company they belong to that she still needs to pay. Willoughby was a jerk that thought only of himself, while Song is in a completely different situation. For me I would have made Song an American or British actor, or have had her made the crossover into American film and TV (beyond a cooking show), as I feel that the way she treats China and her wanting to keep them hidden would have been more a clue to Song’s behavior rather than her complete lack of control over her relationships.
So what did I like? First of all, I thought the story line and the characters were more engaging than the previous one in the fact that the plot propelled forward and made me want to read more. I also felt that there was conflict and more on the line for every character’s decision.
I like the multicultural/multiethnic families A LOT! As someone growing up biracial, there was hardly anything out there for me, so I love that we have that in here.
I also like that the Marianne character in this isn’t just a flighty, silly, unintelligent girl. So often authors get the spirit of Marianne wrong and make her just all froth and no substance.
I liked that in this China (Marianne) was passionate and gave everything all of her, no holding back, but that she was also intelligent and a hard worker (not a bubble head like they usually write her). I thought that Dev making her a workaholic really did well for the character as I could see someone who is so passionate about their job to be just as passionate in everything else they care for, such as a new relationship. But while I enjoyed those parts of her character I didn’t care for the romance with Brandy. China barely interacts with Brandy, actually spending more time with Brandy’s daughter (who ends up working at the Yoga studio). She is pretty much just rude to Brandy when she is around her, moves to another country to be with Song, it doesn’t work out, she returns home, and then she and Brandy watch a few movies and are now a couple in love? It felt extremely fast as they hardly sharedany scenes or time together in the book. At least in Sense and Sensibility, Marianne and Colonel Brandon spent time together. I think she should have fleshed that out more as the book only takes place in like two months. It really felt like Brandy was just a rebound instead of a “love” as she just returned home like a week ago “being fully committed” to Song and now she’s with someone else?
I also really, really liked how she wrote Yash. The trauma he encountered was horrendous, and the way he closed himself off to people-choosing the easy way out of love and relationships by agreeing to this fake relationship, made perfect sense for his character. I’m not a big fan of Edward Ferrars, but I did enjoy this Yash version of him. Dev dealt with this subject extremely well, although I still think he should have continued his therapeutic help, and it should be with someone he’s not having a relationship with. I understand the security issue of it as they didn’t want the media getting wind but him having India help him fix everything in a couple months and then he ending up with his “therapist”, rubs me wrong. I just think it isn’t a good foundation for a romance, and it feels unethical as well. I also am not a fan of the one night together and then years later, just a couple months and they are “in love”. I prefer my romances to happen over a period time, so that wasn’t for me.
I also enjoyed the character of Tara as I thought she was extremely interesting and I wish we had a little more of her. Growing up biracial, trekking across Asia to find her father, adopting children from across the globe, her strange illness/healing stories, etc. She was the right amount of unusual and relatable. She also was a more active mother than the original Mrs. Dashwood, yet recognized that her children needed to make their own decisions and mistakes.
I enjoyed this book more than the second one, but I still liked the first one best of all.
The one thing that really confused me about this book was that Yash’s fake ex-fiancé is Naina Knightley, so I’m assuming that the book Emma is next on the adaptions schedule, but Naina’s actions don’t seem anything like Mr. Knightley at all. I mean she is manipulative, takes advantage of Yash, and exhibits truly horrible abusive behavior as she tries to force him to stay with her. I’m not excited at all for the next one if it features her.
Do you love Jane Austen things? But also love Halloween? Is this you?
Are you a Catherine Morland who wishes there were Jane Austen/Northanger Abbey/Halloween products? Well don’t worry, I’ve got you! Jane Austen Runs My Life and Madsen Creations have collaborated together on five more designs that are sure to make your little Catherine Morland heart melt!
Madsen Creations makes custom clothes and other custom items. I have mentioned her in the past as I have won a tunic and capelet from her, was given some reusable tea bags to review (and bought some) and she made my Regency gown. We also collaborated on three Jane Austen shirts, one of which is below.
I told her how I had searched for some cute, spooky, Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen items and could never find any. After I lamented for a while, she told me-let’s make some. So we did!
The first item is a Jane Austen Sugar Skull Mug. I had made this image a few years ago as part of my dress Jane up for Halloween posts. Here is the original image:
And here is the product! Isn’t it just spooktacular?
We also made a Northanger Abbey Sweater and Shirt!
We also made up a sweater celebrating the three gs: ghosts, ghouls, and gothic fiction.
And finally this adorable, reversible throw pillow.
All are available on @madsencreations website, click on this link to shop these products and other spooky items.
So first of all, sorry for the long title. I usually try to make them shorter than that but decided to not only share my experience on being on the podcast, but to review an episode as well.
So a few weeks ago I was sent a message by Allie Jennings asking if I wanted to be a part of their podcast, being a guest for their Northanger Abbey (2007) episode. At first I wasn’t sure it was real, as I have recently been receiving a lot of scammy messages from sites asking me to be a rep or to collaborate with them, but of course nothing comes to fruition or they want me to pay for things.
But then I took a look over their profile and decided to message them back. We set up a time and I was extremely excited to be a guest on their podcast.
—Being a Guest on the Podcast—
We set up a time so that we could record and I was looking forward to being a part, but I was also a bit nervous. What if I freeze up, lose my train of thought, or repeat myself? All I could think of was game shows when they have people on and they are forever known as the person who gave the world’s dumbest answer.
But all my fears disappeared once we started talking. Allie and Mia immediately made me feel comfortable and I even forgot we were being recorded. I had such a great time discussing Jane Austen, rom-coms, JJ Feild, and Northanger Abbey with them. Mia and Allie are not only fun, charming, and easy to talk to; but extremely talented and very professional. The whole experience felt like being with friends and discussing your favorite things.
Their format is very fun and inviting as well. First they pick a rom-com character they are channeling, share a synopsis of the film they are reviewing, give background trivia on the film, discuss the film and the characters, and end it with a reality check and a trope countdown. It’s a lot of fun and well structured, but also leaves room to let the conversation flow naturally.
We had a few technical difficulties, I blame myself (electronics always go wrong around me.) But whoever did the editing did an amazing job, you couldn’t even tell we had any issues.
I listened to the podcast and was happy that only a couple of times I ran on a bit (when I was losing my train of thought), and I did repeat myself a few times, but on the whole I did a lot better than I thought I would. All together it was a wonderful experience and I loved every moment of it.
If you are interested in listening you can look them up on their podcast or you can click on the link here.
—Review of Podcast Episode, Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) featuring Nick Casalini and Muriel Montgomery—
I had listened to their Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Persuasion (1996), both of which I enjoyed, and I encourage you to check out. But instead of reviewing those I decided to go down a different path. During the podcast we were talking about Northanger Abbey and the subject came up that I’ve slowly been introducing my niece to Jane Austen through films. We started with Sense and Sensibility (1995) and then this year watched Northanger Abbey (2007). I’m trying to decide what to do for next year when the ladies suggested that we watch Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Ooof, I don’t like that film or the book. I don’t hate it, it is more like I just don’t get it. I feel like Tom Hanks’ character in Big when he’s at the toy demo.
My friend loved it and we had watched it together, but I was not into it and I still don’t understand why people are. But after hearing Mia and Allie share how much they like it, I decided to give their episode a listen. This podcast feature guest stars Nick Casalini and Muriel Montgomery from Hella in Your Thirties.
So first of all I was laughing so much listening to this. Nick Casalini was so funny as a lot of things he said, went with my thoughts on why I don’t like the film. The only thing I do not agree with is his opinion that Colin Firth is not attractive.
All I wanted to do was forcefully take Nick in a barouche and explain to him why he is an amazing actor and a truly handsome man. Just kidding! (Or am I? LOL of course I am I don’t have a barouche.)
One of the best things I like about this podcast is that unlike some other film reviews where you feel they have a certain view or thought about the film that the review is headed toward, in this it is very free flowing and allows for a difference of opinion and for all views to be considered. I really enjoy that as it feels so often that people want your thoughts to follow theirs, I like when there is that allowance of all views.
Both Allie and Mia agreed that Bridget Jones, while a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, is not a good version of it, and that it would be better to separate it from being a Jane Austen adaption. This did improve my thoughts on the film, as while I still am not a fan of the film, after listening to their thoughts on the movie I better understand why people like it.
Bridget Jones is a regular person trying to do better, but as hard as she tries, she usually ends up in more of a mess. I have to say I do like that Bridget is an ordinary woman. She typically is dressed in clothes that one would buy off the rack and she isn’t always picture perfect. I really like the scene when she tried to be like Grace Kelly in the convertible but ends up with her hair in a mess, because that is sooo relatable. One trope I find super annoying is when you have this gorgeous woman who is always dressed perfectly with clothing and hair but she’s “unattractive.” I liked in this that Renee is her usual pretty self but she also has an attainable style, she doesn’t always look perfect and stylish and she doesn’t look as if she spent hours on her hair and makeup when the film stated she didn’t.
It was also nice to hear how this film impacted Mia and Allie; along with listening to their love of something they enjoyed from their childhood. And I loved Nick’s comments at the more absurd scenes, it was hilarious.
One thing I was sad about was that they didn’t talk about the only scene I love from the film, the cooking of the blue soup for the dinner party. That is the only scene I would be willing to watch over and over.
But whether you enjoy the film they talk about or not, you are going to enjoy their podcast. These ladies are so much fun!