Scottish Oat Scones

So at the end of last month, my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

And eat scones!

We had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

Today’s scone recipe I found on pinterest, but originally comes from Lisa’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Cups of Rolled or Steel Cut Oats
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Cup of Unsalted Butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/3 Cup of Milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and grease or line a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  4. In small bowl, beat the egg until frothy.
  5. Now add butter and milk to egg, and whisk to combine.
  6. Pour into dry ingredients and mix together until you have a soft dough.
  7. Shape and pat the dough into two 6-7 inch circles.
  8. Cut into 6-8 pie shaped wedges and bake 10-15 mins, or until golden brown.
  9. Let cool for a few minutes.
  10. Serve with butter and/or jam.

This were very good, but the dough was a little dry which made it hard to stick together, ad after they baked they crumbled. I think if I was to make them again I would add a little more milk.

Otherwise these were delicious! I could see making them again and again and enjoy them.

Or scones!

For more scone recipes, go to Irish Blueberry Scones

For more recipes, go to Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

For more tea parties, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

For more pinterest recipes, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

Ginger Cardamom Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

So the last week my book club met and discussed the book The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. Typically we just have light snacks, but as I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

In the book, The Secret Adversary, the two main characters go to tea a few times at Lyons Tea Cafe. I originally wanted to try to make something like the tea shop would have, but then my coworker gave me a whole box of Meyer’s Lemons.

What am I going to do with all these?

So instead we had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. Instead of putting all the recipes in one post and making it too long, I decided to break it up and share each recipe separately so that if interested, you can make your own and eat it with a cup of tea and some Jane Austen.

And eat cookies!

This recipe comes from Pineapple & Coconut

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 2 Cups + 2 Tbsps of Flour
  • 1.5 Tsp of Ground Ginger
  • 1.5 Tsp of Cardamom
  • 2 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Zest
  • 10 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs, Room Temperature
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon’s Juice

Topping:

  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar (Confectioners Sugar)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cardamom, ginger, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest between your fingers until it is fully mixed in with the sugar.
  3. Cream butter and sugar-zest mixture together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add eggs in one at a tim, mixing well.
  5. Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice, and mix again.
  6. Add flour and mix slowly until combined, do not over mix.
  7. Chill dough 3-4 hours.
  8. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.
  9. Place the sugar in one bowl and powdered sugar in the other.
  10. Take the chilled dough and roll into 1.5 Tbsp sized balls.
  11. Roll in sugar first, then roll in powdered sugar-making sure it is completely covered.
  12. Place dough on prepared sheets about two inches apart.
  13. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden.

These cookies were delicious!

I could not stop eating them!

No, stop! Alright.

If you like lemon and cookies, you should defintely make these!

And proper quarantine masks.

For more cookie recipes, go to Crispy, Chewy, Matcha Green Tea Cookies

For more recipes, go to Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

For more tea parties, go to Literary Tea Parties

Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Cake

So the last Monday of the month our book club meets to discuss the book we have been reading. I used to have Mondays off and we would go out after the other book club members got off, but my job changed and we now meet after I get off at 5. Typically we just have light snacks, but as this Monday I didn’t have to work due to the quarantine, I decided I would do a little tea party.

The book we had just finished reading wasThe Secret Adversary, and the two main characters go to tea a few times at Lyons Tea Cafe. The book is set in 1921, and I tried to find a menu of the time but couldn’t.

I did find one from 1913 which did included pommes pont neuf and a few other things. I had decided what to make when my coworker gave me a whole box of Meyer’s Lemons.

That’s not good.

We had been talking about the lemons as I shared I wanted to try making lemon curd, as I have more free time, but I thought she was just going to give me one or two, not a box full.

Uh oh

So instead of what sweets I planned to make, we were doing a lemon theme.

So we had egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, french fries (pommes pont neuf), Scottish Oat scones, lemon curd, lemon crinkle cookies, and meyer lemon poppyseed cake. And we all had a wonderful time talking about our book, snacking, and drinking tea.

After all:

I had planned to share each recipe with you, starting with the scones, but then Marnie Cannon on instagram asked about the cake recipe, so instead we will be starting with that. But I will still share the others throughout the month. If any interest you, I encourage you to try them out.

This recipe comes from Browned Butter Blondie.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Butter at Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup + 1 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
  • 1.5 Tbsps of Lemon Zest
  • 2 Tbsps of Lemon Juice
  • 1.5 Tsp of Vanilla
  • 1.5 Cups + 2 Tbsp of Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp of Poppyseeds
  • 1/2 Cup of Plain Greek Yogurt at Room Temperature

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Confectioner’s Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
  • 3-4 Tbsps of Whole Milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the ovem to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg.
  6. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix until combined.
  7. With the mixer on low add some of the flour mixture, and mix.
  8. Then add the yogurt and mix. Repeat alternating between flour mixture and yogurt.
  9. Remove from mixer and mix in poppyseeds, but just until they are incorporated. Do not overmix.
  10. Pour batter into pan and cook for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  11. Remove from oven and cool for 10 mins.
  12. While cake is cooling, whisk confectioner’s sugar and milk together.
  13. While cake is warm, spoon the glaze over the top.
  14. Sprinkle with poppyseeds if desired.

This was extremely delicious! If you like lemon and lemon cake I suggest you try it out for yourself.

For more recipes, go to Irish Soda Bread

For more desserts, go to Crispy, Chewy, Matcha Green Tea Cookies

For more tea parties, go to Literary Tea Parties

I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a while back Cederberg Tea Company was doing a giveaway-you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

So I commented I wanted Chai tea (as my entry) and won this package of Classic Red, Green Rooibos, Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, Rooibos + Chai, and Rooibos + Ginger.

Now I didn’t pay close attention when I entered the giveaway and didn’t realize it contained Rooibos in it. I avoid Rooibos after I had the one by Tea Forté, and it did not agree with me. I resolved to not drink any again, until I saw that this was Rooibos.

That’s not good.

Well I won it and needed to review it, so I decided to stop wasting time and start drinking some tea.

I drank some…and loved it!

The other one I had must have had something wrong with it or something, because these were fantastic. I expected to like the Chai, but was just blown away by the Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla. I drank it and drank it, until I realized I only had one teabag left.

I mean you know how I feel about Earl Grey Tea:

But I was just drinking Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla, at least until it was all gone.

The others were good too, but that one was the best!

Delicious!!!! I know I will definitely be ordering from them in the future.

For more giveaway posts, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Iced Blackberry Infused Earl Grey Tea

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes together better than a good book and a delicious tea.

And eat scones!

Since then I try my best to repeat it whenever I try out new teas. 🙂 As this is Chai teas and Rooibos, I tried to do my best to connect it with books that are set in Africa or India.

Tea #1: Classic Red

This Classic Red was a wonderful tea. It had everything you wanted in it and I enjoyed it so much I finished it before I realized it-picking up the cup to drink some more and finding it empty.

You can tell at first sip why it is a “classic”.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of my favorite books and an amazing classic. It is the story of mysterious, wealthy Phileas Fogg being bet to travel around the world in 80 days. It was to be an interesting challenge-made more so when he is mistaken to be a bank robber and followed by a detective; along with having some people try to sabotage him from winning. It has action, adventure, romance-everything you could want and more! It is a real page turner and keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if Phileas is going to make it or not!

One of my favorite parts is when they go to India and the group rescue Aouda, an Indian princess, from her dead husband’s evil relatives trying to sacrifice her so they can inherit everything. This is a great scene because in it we see Phileas change from his “mechanical” way of being (everything planned and thought out) as he steps out to help, becoming a “classic” hero. I love him and Aouda together-you know me and biracial relationships. A great book and great tea.

For more on Around the World in 80 Days, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Tea #2: Green Rooibos

This tea was exactly how I expected green tea to taste, no surprises-but I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to have something and know you are going to get exactly what you want to get.

This tea made me think of Death on the Nile. Death on the Nile isn’t my favorite Agatha Christie novel as to me there wasn’t any big surprises or truly innovative or amazing characters (except Cornelia Ruth Robson). But like this tea, sometimes you want the predictable, to get exactly as you expect.

The story is of Linnet, a wealthy woman, who marries her best friend’s boyfriend, Simon Doyle. For their honeymoon they go on a trip through the Nile, and of course run into Hercule Poirot (he never gets a vacation). He sees the former best friend, Jacqueline, threaten them and they ask Poirot for help. He declines, but warns Jacqueline to stop or else she will open herself to evil. She refuses and follows the Doyles on their boat trip on the Nile, joined by 11 other interesting characters. Linnet is found dead (of course), and everything points to the two characters who could not have done it. Who could the murderer be? Poirot is on the case.

For more on Agatha Christie, go to Shame Book Tag

Tea #3: Rooibos + Bourbon Vanilla

So I thought I would like this tea, as who doesn’t love vanilla? But OMGoodness I was not prepared for how amazing this tea was. It was so delicious I just drank it and drank it and before I knew it, I had drank it all up. It was sweet, wonderful, and smelled so good.

What I felt for the tea, I felt the same way about this book. When I saw the art deco style cover, I thought I would enjoy this mystery, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. The story is of Perveen Mistry, female Indian lawyer, in the 1920s. She is sent out to a small princely state to speak to the Dowager Maharani (grandmother) and Maharani (mother) about the young Maharaja’s schooling. She is the only one who can as the ladies are observing purdah (and cannot speak to any men not related to them). Preveen travels out there and finds things are not well in the palace. The Dowager Maharani and the Maharani are both fighting for control, the circumstances of the older brother’s death are very suspicious, and Perveen believes the young prince might be next-especially after a monkey eats her bread and dies. Will Perveen be able to figure out who is responsible in time to save the prince, or will she be next?

Not only is this an intriguing mystery, but Perveen has an interesting and heartbreaking backstory. It was fantastic and so easy to have your attention captured-and keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

Tea #4: Rooibos + Chai

This was absolutely delicious and just what I wanted in my chai tea-spicy but not too much, sweet but the right amount-i.e everything I wanted. It was so good that after I finished the bourbon one, the chai was gone just like that “snap”.

Like the tea, The Sign of the Four has everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. You have a beautiful woman in need (Watson notes she is very attractive [he’s in love with her]), a disappeared father, jewels, a mysterious note, a secret treasure, a peculiar mansion, a villain with a wooden leg, a puzzling death, a bloodhound, and the sign of the four.

It is an amazing mystery, Holmes and Doyle at their finest, and like I said gives you everything your could want. It also is what I believe The Great Mouse Detective was based on, so if you love that movie-you’ll love this book.

For more on Sherlock Holmes, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tea #5: Rooibos + Ginger

So I didn’t think I would like this tea as ginger tea is often too strong, but this was not overpowering but the right amount. It was enjoyable but still had a bit of a kick to it. It’s not something that I would drink all the time, but is perfect for every now and then or if I have a stomachache.

I felt this book was perfect to pair with it as it is a good story but the sam time has a “kick” to it that gets you thinking…I will actually discuss the book fully below.

So it has been over three months since I did a book club book review, I was only a few behind but then things happened and I fell behind.

 

I am 13 books behind…

I know, I know-stop looking at me like that. I just will have to try harder to catch up.

Hmmm…

Anyways…so quick recap for those who haven’t heard of my book club.

So as you all know I started a book club a few years ago, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books and need to be around others who feel the same.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time our member chose:

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken

So as I read this book 13 months ago, I was hoping to reread it as it had been a while and I wanted to make sure I got the timeline right. So I went to the book from the library…but it turns out the person who checked it out never returned it. Called (I work in the library) and sent notices but the book has not been returned.

Seriously??????!!!!!!!!!!!

I HATE when people do that!!!!!!

I then thought I would ask the other book club member, (one member had borrowed my library book) but she lent it to a friend who never gave it back.

So I’m doing this all based on what I remember from reading this 13 months ago, hopefully this go well. Right now I apologize for anything I write that is wrong.

So the first thing that struck me about this book, was the title. “Insanity of God”? What does that mean? Why did he choose that title?

The story starts off with Nik Ripken (a pseudonym) sharing how he came to know Christ. He was a kid that loved baseball, but God took a hold of his life and set him out on a new path.

He ends up going to a Christian college and meets and marries a pastor’s daughter. After both graduate, they both feel the strong call of the mission field and when they ask to be sent out, they are asked for their qualifications. For Nik, he quotes the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That part made me laugh so hard.

As Nik hadn’t been raised in church he didn’t know what exactly was being asked. They want to know his education, spiritual journey, youth mission trips, background, etc-but Nik is confident in that the Great Commission tells you to go all throughout the world and he wants to answer the call.

If he was on his own he would have been denied, but his wife knows the lingo and what is being said so they are able to be sent out. They both have a heart for Africa and get sent to Somalia in 1992.

Nik and his wife aren’t able to have a “church” but are sent with an aid group, of which they try and preach to people but find it extremely difficult. Christianity is illegal and having a church is illegal, and anyone who becomes a Christian is often taken away and never seen again. Nik and his wife really struggle with questioning what they are they doing there, is it right being here? Are they helping people?

Things get more unsettled in the country, and the Somali Civil War breaks out. His charity group requests the UN to come take action, and when they do send help, he is one of the people that helps map out the unknown areas of Somalia. I remember him describing the villages and the horror-but one really sticks in my mind. There was a village that was full of kids and had no parents and one of parents with no children, so they went and took the kids to the adults.

Also it was really hard to get the people in need the supplies as the leaders and soldiers would steal them and sell them or use them, and the people would continue to go hungry and without. War is sad and hard.

Ripken’s father didn’t care for him becoming a minister, but when Black Hawk Down came out, he was suddenly proud of his son telling all his friends that Ripken made that happen-the military going in.

The first part of the book was on his mission trip and they later were moved out of Somalia into South Africa, but were moved again. A big milestone in their life and faith was when their son grew ill and because the conditions of their home they lived in aggravated it, their son died. After this, they became heartbroken and returned to the states.

They return to the United States and teach at a bible college to young adults going out into the missions but feel really mixed up. Did they help anyone? Going through trials and tribulations every day was hard and wore them out-how do they keep people going? How do they bloom, survive, and keep going when everything is bleak, when it would be easier to give up and go home?

Ripken then goes on a quest to get this information, to speak to people who have had to go to trials and survived still praising God.

There were two incidents in the quest that really struck me, and I can’t remember their names exactly-but I remember pieces.

The first one took place in Russia. This man was jailed during the communist reign, when Christianity was outlawed and the only religion allowed was the worship of the state. He was thrown in jail-often in isolation, but the thing that kept him going was writing down the word of God. He wrote verse after verse that he remembers, helping to lock it in his brain. The beatings, isolation, lack of food, cold, etc-it was all bearable when he could get a scrap and write something down. That is what got him through.

Ripken later goes to China and their he mets several secret churches, as the church is illegal there. These Christians actually delight in getting thrown in jail or having tribulations, as they feel that is a real marker of being a Christian and consider that is when they go to “school” and recieve their “theological education”. Before anyone can be a pastor they have to have been thrown in prison.

When Ripken leaves he asks what they need and all they want is bibles, a bible. He gives them his and they take the pieces apart and hand them off to different people so they have a book to memorize, and it reminded of how they memorized books in Fahrenheit 451.

It also makes me think of how lucky we are in the United States, how many bibles are available in my home, in my parent’s home, for free, online, in a phone app, etc-and here are people begging for a page.

Wow!

The rest of the book has different stories-and I enjoyed it. It defintely made you realize how lucky you are to be in the United States and how grateful we should be for everything we have, even in the midst of COVID-19.

At the end of the book, I concluded that the insanity was not in reference to God, him being insane, but how we feel as humans. We can only comprehend so much of what God’s plan is with our tiny human brain-it seems insane, but God has a plan for us-a bigger picture.

Hmmm…

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

For more Christian novels, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

For more nonfiction, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more bible verses, go to Literary Tea Parties

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

So let me state that this is a review of the film, not the book. I harbor no ill will to the book as I have not read it yet. But do not like this movie. I have watched it multiple times and I like pieces of it, but not it as a whole.

So if you do like the movie, you should probably pass on this review-as you probably won’t like it.

So the film is about five woman and one man starting a book club, a Jane Austen Book Club.

Four of the women are very close, the other two members being strangers they ask to join…and they treat them pretty badly actually.

So we will go person by person for the storyline, Book by Book.

Febraury: Emma lead by Jocelyn

Jocelyn (Maria Bello) is a control freak who also enjoys matching people up. It’s no surprise that she is a dog trainer and breeder-as she treats people the same way. She lives alone, feeling fully content to be with her animals rather than people.

Jocelyn’s best friend, Slyvia, was one of the people she matched up, who unfortunately her husband cheated on her and left her for another woman. This coupled with the death of one of Jocelyn’s dogs gives mutual friend Bernadette the idea to start a Jane Austen Book Club.

However, the heartbreak of Sylvie doesn’t faze Jocelyn. She immediately decides to set her friend up with a random guy she meets at a convention, and not even a random guy from her dog breeder’s convention, but a guy from the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention.

Huh?

Really?

Jocelyn is a horrible friend!!!! First of all, your friend hasn’t even gotten divorced and secodly you are setting her up with a stranger? Someone you know zero about? You suck, Jocelyn. At least take time to find someone with the same interests as your friend or someone you actually know!!!

And then it is so freaking obvious that the guy, Grigg, is head over heels for Jocelyn. OMGosh it made me so angry that Jocelyn kept pressuring him to go with Slyvia, promising to do things with him if he did that, manipulating him, leading him on, etc.

He gives her books to read and she says she will-but completely refuses to do it, making fun of it to her friends. Like what a jerk, even though when she asked him to join book club he did.

And not once is she there for her friend to hear her problems, or be there. There is one scene when she goes over and massages Sylvia’s feet-but Jocelyn talks more than listens. All Jocelyn seems to care about is making her do something else. I really don’t like her.

Ugh.

Like I know they were trying to make her like Emma, but there is a big difference between a young girl who is bored because all she has for friendship are older people and a 40 year old professional woman who is playing with her friends as if they were dolls. She treats everyone horrible, and as one of the more focused characters of the film it really weakens it.

Like look at Confessions of a Shopaholic: Rebecca was selfish at times, believed she knew best and instructed others when she was the one that needed it, wasn’t always there for her friends-but even with all these character flaws she had a good heart. She apologized, she tried to help her friends, she tried to do better, she was likable. Jocelyn was nothing like that.

Ugh!

Jocelyn is also so rude to Prudie. I mean excuse me! You are the one who asked her to be a part-she doesn’t know you people and you treat her like crap. Ugh. I hate Jocelyn.

March: Mansfield Park lead by Sylvia

Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is in her 40s and a librarian. She and Jocelyn have been friends forever, and she was introduced to her husband by Jocelyn. Beyond that, her character isn’t that strongly developed.

Who are you?

She mostly is a pawn for Jocelyn to try and move around in her dollhouse with Grigg. I really wish there would have been more development over who she is and I hate how she is cheated on by her husband for six months and gets over it just like that. Coming from someone who is divorced and knowing others who have been, even if you have the worst husband in the world it’s not that easy. I think she really got the short straw in all this.

And in the end, she and her husband are reunited like that. We hardly get anything from Sylvia and her storyline is over before it even really begun.

I guess she was supposed to be like Fanny-holding on to love, but she really never showed any similarities. It doesn’t help that they don’t even spend a lot of time discussing the book as Sylvia breaks down crying.

***Side note***-I do think it was cute how her husband tries to win her back and reads Persuasion,even coming to the book club meeting and is all into Jane Austen. That was actually adorable.

April: Northanger Abbey lead by Grigg

Grigg (Hugh Dancy) is the best part of this movie. I could just watch the parts with him again and again. Grigg is in his 30s, ten years younger than Jocelyn and Sylvie. He is a tech genius who sold his business for a ton of money and now works in tech support. He loves science fiction, books, reading, biking, and just is an all out adorable person.

Jocelyn is crazy, if I had a Grigg interested in me I’d hold onto him. He is just so fun-and from the beginning he makes his interest to Jocelyn known, but she keeps passing him on to her friend.

They are rude and make fun of him, even though they invited HIM to join. Like jeez-

He agrees to join the book club to spend time with Jocelyn, but whole heartedly embraces it. He buys the seven novels of Jane Austen, he gets into the book discussions (he brings notecards full of his speaking points), AND when it is his turn to do Northanger Abbey, he also reads The Mysteries of Udolpho and decorates his house to be like the haunted Abbey.

Like Grigg

OMGosh I LOVE it! Grigg is a keeper. And I think he deserves better than Jocelyn. They should have ended it with him falling in love with someone else.

I think Grigg actually fits his book as he has the imagination of Catherine and the openness + good humor of Mr. Tilney.

We also get a lot of development to his character as the film focuses on him and his love of SciFi, family, etc. He is just so dang lovable, I mean he compares Jane Austen to Star Wars (my two favorite things), how can you not love him?

May –Pride & Prejudice lead by Bernadette

Like Sylvia, Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is hardly developed at all besides she has been married multiple times.

That’s it?

She is also immortal as some of the names she drops are impossible. At one point she mentions Fred Astaire being in a movie and liking her so much he gave her jewelry, but his last film was in 1968, she would have been 11.

Bernadette is worried about Sylvia and Jocelyn and when she goes to see a showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and spots Prudie having a breakdown-the idea for a Jane Austen book club forms in her mind and she invites Prudie to join them. However, Bernadette sucks as a friend too. She’s horrible.

She invites Prudie to join her club but takes no other interest in her other than to round out their numbers. She spends no time with her other than the meetings, makes fun of her with her *real* friends, and when Prudie needs help and horribly spiraling out of control-reaching out to Bernadette about how she is having issues with her marriage, grieving for her mother, and contemplating sleeping with a student, Bernadette tells her:

Prudie Drummond: I’m in love with one of my students. I mean, nothing’s happened, much. It could if I let it… I fantasize about him constantly.

Bernadette: Sweetie, your mother died. This is grief.

Prudie Drummond: He looks at me like he’s the spoon, and I’m this dish of ice cream.

Bernadette: It’s a good thing we’re reading Sense and Sensibility next.

WOOOWW???? Really?

Why don’t you say, hey Prudie let’s go out for coffee and talk, or Prudie you need to go see a therapist as you need help. You are thinking of getting with this student because you don’t want to face what your issues with your marriage and husband. You are very vulnrable right now. Not, “good thing we are reading Sense and Sensibility”. What are you doing keeping quiet while you know that if Prudie does that she will ruin her career, marriage, lose everything. etc.

She’s just awful.

I can’t find any connection to her book as there is so little shown of her. Who is she?

June: Sense and Sensibility lead by Allegra

This is another storyline I hated as it is so underdeveloped and really not necessary. So Allegra (Maggie Grace) is in her 20s, likes to do dangerous stuff, creates jewelry, and is a lesbian. That’s basically all she is-there is no other development. She moves in with her mother to care for her, but gets really bored over it and after a skydiving accident, starts dating and instantly moves in with one of the other skydivers there.

She then shares some horrible stories, one of her being mean to an autistic kid (like it is beyond horrible), and all of the stories are stolen by her barely known girlfriend for her writing submissions (and it is also implied that her girlfriend is cheating on her). She then moves home and gets in another accident rock climbing, which brings her parents back together. She then dates her doctor, but at the end of the movie is alone. That’s it, no character development, still running head first into lots of thing and getting injured.

I guess they wanted to make her like Marianne-but Marianne had more substance. She felt strongly for what was happening around her, she was reckless but in a young girl sort of way, and at the end she learned from her experience. Allegra doesn’t seem to care-whatever girlfriend stole from me, whatever dad with another lady, whatever I’m in another accident. Kind of like whoever wrote her character didn’t seem to care about her.

Or plot!

July: Persuasion lead by Prudie Drummond

Besides Grigg, Prudie (Emily Blunt) is the only rounded character in this film. We first meet her as she is excited to be going to Paris with her husband, as she is a high school French teacher and has always dreamed of it.

Majorly

Unfortunately, her husband is no longer going to take her to Paris but is instead going on a trip with a sports star for his job. Prudie is heartbroken as Dean doesn’t see what the big deal is and then turns to watch sports-ignoring her. Immediately we know their relationship is in serious trouble, although I couldn’t get why they were even together. She’s so intellectual, Jan Austen, wine, gourmet cheese, etc. He’s all sports, video games, beer, funyans, etc.

Huhhhhhhh

Her husband, Dean, suggests calling her mom to stay with her so she isn’t alone, and we see that is the issue with Prudie-she is alone. She is emotionally and physically alone as she and her husband and her are existing in different atmospheres, and she has no friends. She has absolutely no one.

Life seems grey…

Every scene with her we get another layer. She throws a breakdown at the showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and Bernadette invites her to be a part of the club, telling her is just for her and Prudie thinks she finally has some friends, but then they treat her horribly-making fun of her. Prudie might not be the friendliest person, she has a lot of emotional walls, but you should really give her grace as she is joining a group of people she doesn’t know.

When her mom comes, oh boy do we get more layers! Her mom was a hippie, always forgetting her, carting her around place to place, getting high-it was amazing she didn’t burn where ever they were living (as she almost does to Prudie’s house) and that Prudie even graduated anything. Her mom treats her horribly-making fun of her and her choices, calling her name as she isn’t a free-spirt like her. She ends up yelling at her mom and telling her to leave.

The dysfunction makes it so clear why she wanted to be with someone like Dean who is so normal. He is the quintessential all american boy-I bet he played football, celebrated every hoilday, had his parents come to all his games, etc. She wanted to be with him for stability, normalcy, and love.

No wonder she is all about her education and intellectualism, the way her mom treats her she probably only got validation at school and from her teachers. No wonder she became one.

It all makes sense!

Her student Trey (played by the guy who was Woody in It’s a Boy Girl Thing and Damian in Gossip Girl) starts trying to seduce her and as her husband hasn’t been treating her like she is anything special so she responds to it. It’s so painful to watch as this is the worst thing you could do right now, you need to go to therapy.

Then her mom dies and Prudie has so much guilt, unresolved anger, etc swirling around in her head. She and her husband go to the funeral and when Prudie sees a mean girl from her high school flirting with her husband she becomes more angry, hurt, and in pain.

She starts unloading on her husband, and even berates and belittles him at the library gala.

The book club ladies, “her friends”, but they don’t really care. Bernadette says poor Prudie but does she do anything, or reach out to her, or see how she is doing? Check up on her? NO and when she did try to get help from Bernadette, you saw the response.

Poor Prudie. Everything comes to a head when its her turn to share on Persuasion, and she heads out to sleep with Trey, but at the last minute changes her mind and instead decides to go home and be with her husband. This part I loved as Prudie convinces him to read Persuasion with her and he does.

The Jane Austen Book Club

And then Dean reads the rest of Jane Austen and even fanboys at the end. So romantic!

Hers storyline has some similarities to the book. Prudie is alone, like Anne is-relationship with her only remaining parent is not good at all. In the book, the Elliots have to the let the house-her father and sister leave for Bath, while Anne has to stay behind at her sisters-just like Prudie has to stay behind when her husband changes their vacation plans.

In the end both Anne and Prudie are reunited with their lost loves-Anne’s being a physical loss (he left to go in the military) and Prudie’s an emotional loss.

This Jane Austen Book Club doesn’t really make sense to me as none of these characters are really friends with each other: just three of the members (but they sure don’t act like friends should). It kind of reminded me of Daring Chloe, but that book was better as the book club members were actually friends with each other! All knew each other, cared about each other, and wanted to be there for each other!

So in conclusion:

Jocelyn- AWFUL

Sylvia- Underdevloped

Grigg- I LOVED

Bernadette- Underdeveloped and AWFUL

Allegra- Underdeveloped

Prudie- I Loved her character, poor girl

So yeah, I did NOT like this film.

Other thoughts:

Slyvia’s husband is played by Jimmy Smits, and he and the actress who played his wife Amy Brenneman were both on NYPD Blue together and their characters dated. I guess we could imagine that they both left the NYPD and moved to Sacramento where she became a librarian and he a cheating butthead.

When Prudie rails on about all the things she hates about Mansfield Park (1999) and I agree. I think that is my least favorite adaption.

That movie

What kind ofd name is Grigg? I wonder why the author picked that. Is it a family name? Did she know someone with that name? Did she make it up?

Hmmm…

There is very little Jane Austen discussed in the movie, with Northanger Abbey getting the least of all. Why is that? For a movie in which “Jane Austen” is half the title, why isn’t there more of it in there?

I hated the line ”There was something appealing in thinking of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about.” She wrote the character-she knows it better than you. This is something you can only get away with a dead author. If she had written that about a living author they would be so angry.

So yeah, I did not like this film. If you do I’m glad you do-but it was not for me.

For the thousandth time

For more on The Jane Austen Book Club, go to Reading One Page Turns Into the Whole Book: Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Austen screen adaptions, go to Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious (2015)

For more Emma, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Mansfield Park, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more Northanger Abbey, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Colonel

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

For more Persuasion, go to Holiday Mix Tape

Tossing a Costume Together + Regency Runway

So this is the last of the Modesto Jane Con posts…

I know, I’m sad it is over too. I miss Jane Con.

Life seems grey…

So quick review, (just in case this is your first post). If you have been following me on social media, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Cons and festivals and wished I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.

But then Modesto Jane Con was created! And with Modesto not being too far and this only costing $30, I was going!

From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

Wow!

Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

So I saw the ad on instagram in July and convinced my book club + my sister to join me. As it was way off in January, I knew I had plenty of time to get a costume together. I was going to have Madsen Creations make one for me, but saw no rush as I had plenty of time.

Well, time went by and in October, I thought maybe should I order my Jane Austen outfit? But Madsen Creations was moving, and I decided to wait. After all I had three months, that was plenty of time.

Yes-October flew by to November, November to December, and next thing I know it was December 30th, Jane Con was next weekend, and due to a unforeseen Cat health emergency-I didn’t have the money. What was I going to do?

I then had the idea, what if we decorated shirts with quotes or fun Jane Austen sayings?

But then time slipped away. And Modesto Jane Con was the next day. I then came up with the idea-what if we did Jane Austen in another time period? Like in The Darcy Monologues? I could be Elizabeth in the Wild West like in “Pemberley By Stage by Natalie Richards!

Or 1960s Elizabeth from “You Don’t Know Me” by Beau North.

How cute is Tippi Hedrun’s outfit in this? I love it.

But was vetoed by my mom and sister, who both said no one would know who I was and thought me walking around with the book and explaining it wasn’t the best idea. I just resolved to wear something nice when my sister said to check out the costume box for my Charles Dicken’s Day dress.

So back in 8th grade my school used to do Dicken’s Day. Everyone had to dress up in historical costume, we had to sign up to bring a historical meal, decorate the Youth Hall across the street in Victorian Christmas Decorations, have a “secret santa” we made a historical gift for, etc. We usually had some kind of performance related to Charles Dickens, whether it was a play, brief performance, songs, etc. I loved it as I love Charles Dickens.

So I needed a dress and my mom was going to make it. We went to Joann‘s, but it turned out they didn’t have the pattern we needed.

(This was back in 2005.) So instead of having a Victorian costume, we had to go with a Colonial pattern that had American Revolution style costumes (late 1700s).

I tried!

I didn’t even think it would fit, but was surprised it did! It wasn’t accurate-neckline wrong, waist, etc. (you can read more on how it should be in Dressing the Regency Lady). We ended up joking that I was a poor relation returned from America, that had to wear out of date clothing since I was out West and we didn’t have enough supplies in the colonies to be on the height of fashion.

I wasn’t sure if we would be spending time outside or not, and decided to wear tights and leggings, as I read online that the best way for Regency women to stay warm in the winter is layers and thicker material of clothing. I wanted to wear my boots, but thought my Vikings-inspired fur boots would be too much. (You ever watch that movie Vikings? It is an interesting story), and went with suede lace up oxford shoes instead. I then decided to top it with my capelet I won from MadsenCreations:

The hair was hard as I got up extra early and tried, but could not get it how I wanted. That’s one thing I wished we still had, maids to do hair for you-as I don’t know about you all, but my hair has a mind of its own.

After failing again and again, I decided to go with Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park (2007) as not only would I be matching the Opera, but I owned a straw hat.

I have to say, I may not have been accurate, but I was very pleased that I was able to throw something together so quickly.

I borrowed a reticule from MadsenCreations, grabbed a few essentials-and we were on our way!

On our way!

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy and Lizzie or Start You Own Book Club. The third workshop was your choice of Dressing the Regency Lady or Are You a Long-Lost Austen? Searching Your Family Tree.

After Dressing the Regency Lady, we had about an hour and fifteen mins before the Mansfield Park Opera pre-show talk by Hillari DeSchane. We checked out a few things and had lunch, and then headed to the Opera.

During intermission, they decided to hold a Regency Fashion show and contest. Now I knew I had zero chance of winning. During the first workshop, Gowns and Groans, I noticed two ladies down the row who were in perfect Regency clothes they had made themselves.

I knew they were probably going to win. But I wanted to join in anyway.

I tried!

Right at intermission I got in line and we waited a while for the other ladies. Unfortunately,  a lot of ladies went straight to the restroom and got caught in the long line to use the restroom (there was only two stalls) or get snacks. I enjoyed the wait for the contest (and didn’t mind the bathroom one too much) as I spent that time talking to other Janeites. There are no words to describe being with other fans.

And we spent the time waiting, talking about Jane Con and Jane Austen.

Everyone I spoke to loved Modesto Jane Con. Some had planned to come, some where in the area, and some just spotted it on social media and decided to attend on a whim.

I ended up being the first in line for the fashion show, but I wish I had waited. I had no clue what I was supposed to do-while the other ladies had more time to think and copy the spin I did and show their outfits off more. I didn’t win (one of the ladies I thought would win did), but I had a whole lot of fun. So did all the other ladies who I spoke to. It was nice that we all got acclaim for our efforts, even if we didn’t win first prize.

They also gave a prize to a woman who dressed up as Steampunk Elizabth Bennet. It was very cool.

Like every other part of Jane Austen, I had a ton of fun, enjoyed every minute, and can’t wait until next year!

For more Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more Mary Crawford fashion, go to Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

For more fashion, go to A Fashion Statement

Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

So I had to take a break from finishing my review of Modesto Jane Con, as we had Valentine’s Day posts and some other things, but now I am ready to finish reviewing Modesto Jane Con.

So if you have been following me on social media, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Cons and festivals and wished I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.

I’m sad…

But then Modesto Jane Con was created!

From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera to-of course post on them later (as I am now).

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy and Lizzie or Start You Own Book Club. The third workshop was your choice of Dressing the Regency Lady or Are You a Long-Lost Austen? Searching Your Family Tree.

So after Dressing the Regency Lady, we had about an hour and fifteen mins before the Mansfield Park Opera pre-show talk by Hillari DeSchane. We checked out a few things and had lunch, and then headed to the Opera.

The building was really cool as it was a classic theater showing old, foreign, & independent films that also hosts concerts & events. It has a snack bar that serves popcorn, wine, soft drinks, and espresso. I really wanted tea, but it didn’t serve any. Oh, well…

So quick review of the book, for those of you who might not have read it. Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, who was sent to stay with the Bertrams. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “lesser” because of the “bad blood” inherited from her father who her mother “married down” to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt, Mrs. Norris, and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

The life of the Bertrams are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her interest captured by the younger brother, Edmund,-even though he is intent on being a minister and Mary finds religion hypocritical. Fanny has loved Edmund since she was young, but he has never thought of her in such a way and he is now completely captivated by Mary. Henry Crawford’s sole interest is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for sport, having no intent of being serious or facing any consequences. Will the Bertrams and Fanny survive this?

That is not good,

The Mansfield Park Opera was a part of the Story into Song Literacy Initiative and worked with a lot of literacy advocacy organizations, (such as the Becoming Jane Austen Book Club, Modesto Library, Modesto Friends of the Library, and more) and half of the cast are making their solo professional debuts. Pretty amazing!

So like when I did my Psycho (1960) review, I brought my notebook and took notes in the dark of my thoughts of the performance. Hopefully I can still read them.

So we attended the preshow with Hillari DeSchane:

Hillari DeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com

So the program gave a copy of the full talk, but I’m not going to write it word for word. I’ll just write my notes and paraphrase a bit.

So taking a book as long and complex as Mansfield Park and cutting it down to a two-hour opera is no easy feat. Mansfield Park is a “tapestry of human emotion and psychology.” (Deschane).

In the opera they strip the book down to the central theme and a small number of characters. The story is told as a chamber opera, more intimate-like a theater in the round. The opera itself is group centered, with no arias or being solo based.

The opera also focus on the theme of “The Fall of Man” and the “Expulsion from Eden.” Mansfield Park is Eden, a paradise, and each character is tempted by their own personal snakes, with many falling victim to their pleasures and “biting the apple”.

As seen with the recent TV show Sandition, there are many who think Austen needs to be sexier and steamier but truth is-they just need to remake Mansfield Park as it has it all: gambling, drinking, seduction, adultery-just full of thse vices without modern additions.

We really see the focus of this motiff in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. Here they explore Mr. Rushworth’s home in Sotherton, where they walk a “serpentine path”. Henry offers to explore with Maria Bertram while her fiance is gone, tempting her with the two being alone together, even singing “how tempting those pathways that lie hidden-how much sweeter are the joys we are forbidden.” Edmund is given the choice to wait with Fanny while she rests from the walk, or to go off with Mary alone-and he walks off with Mary forgetting all about Fanny on her own.

The ending was changed to be more happily ever after for all, (in the novel people have to face the consequences of their actions), but I didn’t mind too much.

So the ten characters we have are:

  1. Fanny Price (Alexandra Jernic)
  2. Edmund Bertram (Andrew Pardini)
  3. Mary Crawford (Angela Yam)- Professional Opera debut
  4. Henry Crawford (Emmanuel Mercado)
  5. Maria Bertram (Darby Schmidt)-Professional Opera debut
  6. Julia Bertram (Brylan Finley)- Professional Opera debut
  7. Mr. Rushworth (Luca Mitchell)- Professional Opera debut
  8. Aunt Norris (Alison Collins)
  9. Lady Bertram (Anakira Gabriella-Graça)
  10. Sir Thomas Bertram (Brad Reed)- Professional Opera debut

From The Modesto Bee. Left to Right: Lady Bertram, Sir Thomas Bertram, Fanny Price, Henry Crawford, Mary Crawford, and Edmund Bertram.

There is no Tom, although he is mentioned, and sadly no William Price who I love. Oh, well.

Sad really.

So the opera was AMAZING! As I mentioned in an earlier post the group of us who came varied in our knowledge of Mansfield Park. One book club member had never read or seen a film version of Mansfield Park (or any Jane Austen beside The Darcy Monologues), one book club member had seen the 2007 film version, my sister had seen the 2007 version and the 1999 version years ago, and I had read the book and seen the 1999 film, 2007 film, & the 1983 miniseries. However, all were able to follow the storyline and completely comprehend and bcome fully involved in the story.

We all loved the music and found everyone to be entertaining, talented, amazing, and that they completely captured the characters they were portraying.

Fanny was perfect! She had an amazing voice; along with perfect facial expressions. I’m not a big opera fan (as in I don’t watch them all the time), and this was my first time attending one, but one thing I have noticed when I’ve seen the films or clips of Operas is that they don’t always focus on the acting-more on the singing. Alexandra Jernic was spot on. The way she looked at Edward when singing, as if they were the only ones in the room. The incredible sorrow when seeing Edward and Mary together and knowing his preference for Mary over Fanny. Or the ball scene when all are happy and excited for what the night will bring, but Fanny who all this is supposed to be for her, but she is sad and alone as her love is excited to dance with another.

Mrs. Norris was just as perfect. You hated her as immediately-every time she sang and the way she acted toward Fanny, I don’t know if there has been a better one.

Mr. Rushworth was wonderful. He was kind caring, goofy, hilarious. It amazed me that he was only 18 when he was so talented.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the performance is that  each character had their own distinctive music, tone, and speed. For instance Mr. Rushworth’s was fast and quick, just like how his character spoke in the book and sang-while Henry’s music was slower, softer, more seductive.

We also loved seeing the costumes and how they looked on the performers, as in an earlier workshop we saw the swatches. We also kept an eye out for Kristine Doiel’s favorite dress of the production, the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got:

But the one who stole the show for me was Angela Yam, Mary Crawford.

Every time she entered the stage all my attention went to her. She had an amazing voice and was equally amazing in her acting. One of the best scenes was when she and Edward first see each other, the way she doesn’t sing anything other than hello, but her whole body language is changed. The rest of the scene continues in the way she acts and looks. It was fantastic. That continued throughout the whole Opera as she was able to convey sooo much in her tone, a look, a motion. I was surprised this was her debut as she just blew me away. I stopped taking notes as I just wanted to enjoy her performance.

We had to leave after the opera and head home, but we did all the way humming, singing, and talking about how much we enjoyed it.

It was a wonderful experience and I am so happy to have been able to watch it. If I could have, I would have stayed the next day and watched it again.

For more on Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Looking Around the Library, Lunch, and a Crazy Random Happenstance

For more Mansfield Park, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more Mansfield Park adaptions, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

For more Hillari DeSchane, go to Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

For more Opera, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 8, Ill Repute