Monday, December 28, 2009

The 2010 Bronte Challenge

You might know I have a slight obsession with the Brontes. I just read about The Bronte Challenge on another blog, and it's one I cannot pass up, mainly because I'll be doing what's required anyway, so why not join in the fun!

The requirements are to watch or read 3-6 Bronte-related books, films, documentaries, etc, from January 1-June 30, and to list them on your blog - easy enough. Can there be extra credit for this? This is not torture, trust me!

1-Read the new book "Becoming Jane Eyre"
2-Re-watch the Timothy Dalton version of Jane Eyre
3-Re-watch the documentary on the Brontes called "Bronte Country"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Snow Angels

We trust in plumed procession
For such the angels go -
Rank after Rank, with even feet -
And uniforms of Snow.
~Emily Dickinson

Photo at left by Alan Demy
Photo at right by Laurie Parker

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A New Year of Reading

This year, I had great intentions of reading 50 books, after seeing a challenge online somewhere for "Read 50 Books in 2009". A great goal to strive for, but not realistic for me since I am very busy with other things.

So, for 2010 I have a new goal, - going for quality, detail, and content, rather than quantity, in my book choices. I want to dive deep into the books and authors I choose, and not worry about how many books I've read so far. I like book challenges, I really do - I think they are great at motivating people to, well, read, but they can also make you feel guilty if you don't make the goal, and you end up reading books just to add them numerically to your total!

I plan to read an author, or two or three, so to speak...meaning I'll spend the year, or some months, reading everything from a specific author(s) of my choice. I've not made up my mind completely, but so far my list choices look like this - Sylvia Plath, George MacDonald, and Tasha Tudor.

Happy reading in 2010!

Cranford: Under the Bonnet

Behind the Scenes of Cranford - Those in the UK can see this behind the scenes program in December and January on BBC4 (see sidebar for dates)

The trailer for Return To Cranford, soon to air on PBS

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eyes

This picture takes me back to childhood...when I saw the world with Christmas eyes all year round. Somehow, sadly, as we grow older, we begin to discern things a little differently, losing some of the wonder of childhood with each passing day. Beauty is everywhere, waiting for Christmas eyes to gaze upon it. Embrace it, for it was made for you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

The Story Behind The Song


Photo by Anita Phillips
Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Doughnut Muffins

Doughnut Muffins...mmmmm, Anglophiles love their tea, and these will be perfect with the morning cup. The recipe is from "The English Kitchen" blog. Check them out for this, and many other, great English recipes.
(Note: recipe is in metric form)

Doughnut Muffins
Makes 12 medium to large muffins

For the muffins:
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
420g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp of mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla paste
8 ounces soured milk
(To sour place 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup and add the milk
to measure 8 ounces)

To fill:
store bought or homemade mincemeat
For dipping:
4 ounces butter, melted (more as needed)
200g caster sugar
1 TBS ground cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease and flour a standard 12 cup medium sized muffin tin. Set aside.

Cream the butter and golden caster sugar together until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla paste. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and mixed spice. With a wooden spoon add this mixture a quarter at a time to the egg mixture, alternating with the sour milk, until all are mixed, ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups to fill halfway. Dab a teaspoon of mincemeat into the centre of each, trying not to touch the sides. Top with the remaining batter, covering the mincemeat. Bake on a rack in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and dump onto a wire rack to cool for several minutes.

Whisk the caster sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place the melted butter in another bowl. Once the muffins are cool enough to handle, roll them in the melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Photo and recipe used with permission from The English Kitchen Site)

New Bronte Guide Download

The Keighley News and The Bronte Blog are linking a NEW downloadable pamphlet of the Bronte country that inspired the sisters and their novels. I love this - immediate and instant gratification to satisfy your Bronte thirst, and it's free!

This is the press release about the pamphlet, also in PDF format. And the official Pennine Yorkshire Site.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Scenes of Christmas

More here

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham was an English Victorian artist who painted many illustrations for (mainly) childrens books. I really love his works as a whole, they are enchanting and beautiful. There is a great website that has some stunning photographs and details the books and stories he illustrated for - and it's quite an impressive list. They also have 2010 calendars. Another great site with information is here. I recommend this book, if you like what you see.

These are some of my favorite images and their titles. You can click each picture for a larger view.

Top -Feeling Very Undancy
Left -Undine in the Wind
Right -Ashenputtel
Bottom -Three Legged Dragon

A list of "notable works" (from Wikipedia)

* The Zankiwank and the Bletherwitch by Shafto Justin Adair Fitzgerald (40 line, 1896)
* Two Old Ladies, Two Foolish Fairies, and a Tom Cat by Maggie Browne (pseud. Margaret Hamer) (4 colour plates, 19 line, 1897)
* The Ingoldsby Legends by Thomas Ingoldsby (pseud. Richard Harris Barham) (12 colour, 80 line 1898, reworked edition 23 colour plates, 73 line 1907)
* Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (95 line, 1900, reworked edition 40 colour plates, 62 line, 1909)
* Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (11 line 1900, reworked edition 12 colour plates, 34 line, 1909)
* Rip van Winkle by Washington Irving (51 colour plates, 3 line, 1905)
* Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M.Barrie (50 colour plates, 3 line, 1906, new edition 50 colour plates, 12 line, 1912)
* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (13 colour plates, 15 line 1907)
* A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (40 colour plates, 34 line, 1908)
* Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (15 colour plates, 41 line, 1909)
* The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie by Richard Wagner(34 colour plates, 8 line, 1910)
* Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods by Richard Wagner (32 colour plates, 8 line, 1911)
* Aesop's Fables by Aesop (13 colour plates, 82 line, 1912)
* Mother Goose (13 colour plates, 78 line 1913)
* The Allies Fairy Book (12 colour plates, 23 line 1916)
* Little Brother and Little Sister by The Brothers Grimm (13 colour plates, 45 line 1917)
* The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Alfred W. Pollard (23 colour and monotone plates, 16 line, 1917)
* English Fairy Tales by Flora Annie Steel (16 colour plates, 43 line, 1918)
* The Springtide of Life by Algernon Charles Swinburne (8 colour plates, 1918)
* Some British Ballads (16 colour plates, 23 line, 1918)
* Cinderella ed. Charles S. Evans (1 colour plate, 60 silhouettes, 1919)
* The Sleeping Beauty ed. Charles S. Evans (1 colour plate, 65 silhouettes, 1920)
* Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens (16 colour plates, 20 line, 1920)
* Comus by John Milton (22 colour plates, 35 line, 1922)
* A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne (16 colour plates, 21 line, 1922)
* The Tempest by William Shakespeare (20 colour plates, 20 line, 1926)
* The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (12 colour plates, 23 line, 1929)
* The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton (12 colour plates, 22 line, 1931)
* Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (12 colour plates, 43 line, 9 silhouettes 1932)
* Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (12 colour plates, 28 line, 1935)
* Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen (12 colour plates, 38 line, 1936)
* The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (16 colour plates, posthumously 1940 US, 1950 UK)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Donate Books To Kids This Christmas...and Beyond!

As a child, I read and read until my parents wouldn't let me stay up any later. I am so grateful my parents valued books and provided them for me.

I have been surfing the net trying to find a good site for donating books to, this Christmas and beyond. There are several, but this one struck me as the one I liked best.

"Reader to Reader is a non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need". Simply put, that is what I liked best about it - that it reaches a multitude of kids with one donation.

This is one way to share your love of books, but there are many others...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kelly Rae Roberts Website

I recently bought two darling bookmarks by Kelly Rae Roberts, ("Unbroken Wings Discovered" and "Seeker.")

I love her artwork and the inspiring messages she adds to them. I had my eye on this wall hanging, too, which I plan to go back and get soon.

Very original and inspiring!

Monday, December 14, 2009

View Pages of The Original Manuscript For A Christmas Carol

(Photo by Angel Franco, New York Times)

The New York Times recently posted a link where you can view four pages from Charles Dickens' manuscript of "A Christmas Carol." They encouraged readers to post comments about what they found - quite interesting!
You can also listen online to a discussion about the manuscript here.

And while I am still on the subject of Dickens, I highly recommend his book "The Life of Our Lord," (linked here in PDF format), that he wrote specifically for his own children, never thinking it would one day be published.

12 Days of Dickens

To celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 video clips of the Dicken's classic, "A Christmas Carol. Watch one per day, if you like, as we countdown the days to Christmas. I begin and end with the Alistair Sim version because it is my favorite.

Here is today's version:
Alistair Sim version

Jim Carrey Version

George C. Scott Version

Reginald Owen Version

Mickey's Christmas Carol

1910 Version

Patrick Stewart Version

Kelsey Grammar Musical Version

Muppets Version

Ross Kemp Modern Version

Richard Williams Animated Version


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Movie About Scottish Poet Robert Burns

Crossing my fingers and hoping that this film about Scottish poet and writer, Robert Burns, will be made one day. It looks to be in pre-production - The script is being rewritten and funds/backing being sought. Scottish actor Gerard Butler would most likely play Burns. Robert Burns is known as the "Scottish Bard." In other words, the Scottish Shakespeare.

Official Site
Online interview (2:00 into clip)
Article about the script for Burns
Another Article
Another Article

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Take Courage In My Little Cup of Tea

While the weather outside is a little frightful, I take courage in a little cup of tea to warm the soul and bide the spirit.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beatrix Potter

These pictures remind me of what the weather is like outside right now. Even rabbits want to come in from the rain, (snow), and sit by the fire with a cup of tea and some nice buns to warm up. These of course, are from the pages of Beatrix Potter's books/collection.

I adore Beatrix Potter's books, paintings, and stories. What child has not grown up with the story of Peter Rabbit? I also loved the movie about her life starring Renee Zelweiger. I've complied some links about her, and posted pictures of "The Rabbit's Christmas",(which inspired this post). One of the pictures recently fetched quite the sum at auction. Read about it here.

Beatrix Potter's World
Beatrix Potter Society
Kids Korner

Children's Author and Illustrator Beatrix Potter

Her books, as listed at Wikipedia

* Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes (English) (as Author)
* A Collection of Beatrix Potter Stories (English) (as Author)
* The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter (English) (as Author)
* Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter (English) (as Author)
* Histoire de Pierre Lapin (French) (as Author)
* The Story of Miss Moppet (English) (as Author)
* The Tailor of Gloucester (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Mr. Tod (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Peter Rabbit (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Peter Rabbit (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Peter Rabbit (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
The Roly-Poly Pudding (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes (English) (as Author)
* The Tale of Tom Kitten (English) (as Author)

Renee Zelweiger starred in a film about Beatrix called "Miss Potter."

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Picture Is Also a Thousand (Keats) Words

Bright Star - Again

French poster for the Cannes Film Festival

And if you have not seen Jane Campion's Production site, go there now. The DVD for Bright Star releases January 26th.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Masterpiece Classic Preview

Here is PBS's Preview of the new Masterpiece Classic season

You can see the complete 2010 season of Masterpiece Classic listed on the sidebar - go there for dates and listing of all the films that will air on PBS, starting in January through the end of April.

I am thrilled with their choices this year. A wide variety of adaptations, including one about Anne Frank I have been eagerly awaiting. The Cranford and Emma films are very typically Masterpiece-ish, which is a nice thing, and they are repeating nearly all of last years, or was it the years before that, Jane Austen season. A second chance to watch, or perhaps record, the ones you missed.

The 39 Steps looks interesting and a bit of a departure from Masterpiece's normal fare, which is good because it stirs things up a bit, and makes the season more interesting. Sharpe's Peril and Sharpe's Challenge I know nothing about, but they seem to be the swashbuckleling/adventurish type thing I usually avoid. But I will be watching and hope I am wrong!

Finally, Small Island, starring Ruth Wilson, looks interesting and a slightly different storyline than is typical. It will be nice to see her in something new after 2006's delightful Jane Eyre.

I am really pleased at the variety of films, Britcoms, and other UK shows that PBS has been offering lately. Support your local station - I pledge to do the same!

BBC Previews For Anglophiles

Here are some new BBC previews, including one for Turn of the Screw. These will air in the UK first, then hopefully and eventually make their way to the US. Hope it's not too long of a wait.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Henry VIII: The Mind of A Tyrant Documentary

David Starkey presented a four-part documentary on Henry Tudor that aired on the UK's channel 4 this past spring. The documentary focuses on Henry, and not his famous six wives, who often overshadow him in today's films and books about the Tudors. Starkey claims Henry's story has become "feminized" throughout the centuries in this article.

No air dates are listed yet for US television, at least not that I can determine, but it is definitely one to watch out for. You can buy the PAL version of the DVD here.

A Tale of Two Cities Musical On PBS

A new musical production of Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities," filmed last summer in London, will be shown on some PBS stations this fall/winter. Check your local PBS listings to see if it airs on your station - more stations will be added in the coming weeks. Here are a few links about the musical:

Official Website
Facebook Fan Page
Playbill News Article
Tale of Two Cities Musical Blog
Watch video clips:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christie's Literary Auction

This auction is over, but it is fun to look back at what was available and the asking price. Here is a link to who was able to buy a miniature manuscript of two poems by Charlotte Bronte when she was thirteen. Here is the complete list of what sold and it's final price...fascinating to wonder what you'd pay if money was no object!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Little Women

The perfect movie to watch in December, don't you think!