Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Yearly Cherry Pitting - Oh . Joy

Every year my Mom buys two, or sometimes three, 25-pound boxes of cherries. Once she returns from picking them up immediately (or at least as soon as possible) the Cherry Pitting Marathon begins.. =) And today, was that day. So for about and hour or 2 we pitted about 40 pounds of cherries! It actually wasn't to bad, compared to last year when we had 3 boxes (75 pounds) and didn't quite have the system down yet. =) Once we pit them we freeze them to save for someday in the winter when we want frozen cherries.. yum. We kept about 10 pounds of un-pitted cherries to eat normally through the week.

Two different types of cherries...

We started pitting inside, but was soon asked to go outside due to a brother studying and the loud noise it caused... plus it was making the headache he already had, worse. =) So we moved outside.

My younger sister
Thankfully last year, mom bought 2 fancy cherry pitters. So no more small hand pitters! 

We started out listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel on CD, (might as well do something while standing there pitting for hours!) but soon decided to stop due to the mono-tone voice of the reader. =) Didn't really get is excited to pit cherries! After thinking of what would get us excited, we decided to listened to Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.  It is a musical made out of the story of Joseph from the Bible, just in case you have been sadly deprived of this and don't know what it is. Most of it is kinda up-beat, and we all have it memorized, so after awhile we were all covered in cherry juice, tapping to the beat and singing loudly along with the music. It was a blast, and we got the cherries done in record time. =) Though... quite a few cherries went missing and we all felt sick by the end.

The final result - about 40 pounds of pitted cherries!

Finally, the bowl is empty!
 Several families that I know are getting cherries in bulk.. what about you? Is your family doing what I consider 'yearly cherry pitting'?

<3 Eva

Monday, June 24, 2013

Retelling of a fairytale - good... or bad?

When I first heard a friend recommend this book, a retelling of a classic fairy tale, with high praise, I have to admit I wasn't to impressed. Neither was I excited to read it. She said it was a sweet book, very nicely done, and I wasn't denying that it was, I trust her judgment - a lot. I just wasn't very
By Jessica Day George (I just love her covers!)
interested. I had seen this book before on a blog or two I know and they liked it a lot, so I didn't have people telling me it wasn't good... I think my main reason for not wanting read it was that, from what I know modern romance novels (or should I say romance novels written within the last 10 or more years) are not something to really spend your time on. I'm sure they're sweet and some of them well written, but do we really need our minds filled with frivolous romance?

I haven't personally read these 'Modern Romances' but I get a bad feeling whenever I consider reading these books. The main thing in these books that I don't... appreciate, I guess is the word for it, is the way the romance is written. The facts they give are most of the time, not needed. (Such as the very detailed love scenes.) All they do is send you off to the clouds where you make a fool of yourself thinking that this is how real life is. Which isn't true! Life isn't a fairy tale. Yes, there is love and romance, but not quite this type. Life isn't about finding your 'One True Love'. Naturally I like romance every girl does, that's how God made us. But I think we should guard our hearts against too much romance. My experience with this sort of writing is from Elise Dinsmore which was very romantic and not really worth my time, though I didn't realize it at the time. However there was some books that were really good and I really liked.

One author who I think does a very good job with writing romance, is Charles Dickens. (Yes, I do love his writing, can you tell?) Now I admit I haven't read a ton of his books, but the ones I have I was pleasantly surprised by the way he writes his romance. The facts he give helps with your imagination to see how the scene looks, but they don't make you feel slightly uncomfortable about reading it. (Almost in the sense that if it was a movie you would probably look away) Now for all I know some of these books could be really good, I just wonder how much of these books are total romance and how much is story line, especially when I see covers like this:

Beautifully done though, I would say!
 Anyway.. umm.. *sheepish grin* I'm suppose to be telling you about the book. =)

After considering it for awhile (and partly wanting to wait until finishing the book I was reading at the time) I decided to give it a try. But not before my sister and 3 other friends had read it and had all told me how good it was, how sweet, how well the romance was, and that I just 'had to read it!' =) So after glancing at the large print and easy reading, I figured I could finish it in a small enough amount of time not to be to long from my other book - a Charles Dickens'. =)

The book is called The Princess of the Midnight Ball. It's a twist on the fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. And were all of my friends right about it? Yes, they were. I found that even though the chapters were short and the reading was very easy I really enjoyed it. It was very well done, because even if I did know what was going to happen (I've known of the 12 dancing princesses for a long time) they put a twist on it that made you want to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. Even with the shortness of the story and the small amount of time to get to know the characters, I found myself liking the princesses very much, admiring Galen (the young man of the story) and disliking very much the evil that they fought. (I won't spoil who that is =) ) Here's a quick summary.. just for fun since I'm sure you know the story already.  

Every third night, without fail, all 12 of the Princesses' dancing shoes are worn to tatters, but when asked why, the girls are silent. After years of worn out slippers and silent, yet unhappy girls, the royal family's respect and health starts to go downhill and much is hanging in balance. The king puts a reward out for any prince who would find out the reason of his daughters worn dancing slippers. But when that doesn't seem to help, Galen, a soldier from the finally ended war, now an under-gardener of the King's Garden, decides to see what he could do.

I have to admit that's a terrible summary, so if you want to go look it up yourself go ahead. =) It's hard not to spoil anything!

I was pleased with how the romance was written, it was very sweet, respectful, and pleasing to read. I also really liked the twist of the story and the way it ended. This book is actually one of a three book series this Author has written, and I might read the others someday. =) They are all retold fairy tales, and the next two actually take characters from the first book, which I thought was a fun idea. So while it took me only a day or two to read, I definitely enjoyed it! And I think you would too. =) After reading this I admit my opinion has gotten better on re-told Fairytales... but I'm still wary of 'Modern' romances. =)

What do you think about this type of book? Have you read this one?

One of the illustrations from a picture book version of the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tale, The 12 Dancing Princesses

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Northanger Abbey; Jane Austen's last published novel

I have recently been working my way through the Jane Austen books, with breaks between to let my mind focus on something other than romance. So after a month's break of no romances (a request from my parents) and then another month waiting for a friend to finish up her books to read it with me, I finally got to read Northanger Abbey! I was expecting it to be a lot longer, I mean, her other works were twice as long! So I finished it surprisingly fast, but enjoyed it greatly nerveless!

Cathrine Morland. She's so cute, I love her smile.
I have found out, while waiting to read this lovely novel, that while Northanger Abbey is not incredibly popular (compared to Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility) it is often a favorite with Jane Austen fans. I have to admit I was surprised. If this was a favorite, why had I not heard much about it, or watched the movie? (I had watched the three I mentioned above before reading the books) What was so different from P&P, S&S or Emma? I still don't have the answer to the first question, (I guess I was just behind), but I did ask one lady, who glowingly recommended it, why she liked it so much. Her answer? It was happy. It was a cute, simple story with a fun main character. I suppose it is nice not to have a villain every once in a while. *Glances at pictures of Wickham and Willoughby* She said the other ones are so sad sometimes. Which I suppose, Sense and Sensibility can be sad in a sense. So with this information I eagerly dove into it once my dear friend was ready. =) Here's the summery:

Catherine Morland, age 17, has finally become a lady. In her childhood she was a tom-boy and was considered quite plain, and was 'just now' becoming pretty. The Morlands live in the country and don't often get out into society, so when the Mr. and Mrs. Allen offer to take Catherine along with them to Bath, Cathrine is quite struck with delight. They journey to Bath, and become quite lonely
Isabelle Thorpe and Cathrine
when they fail to meet any one they know. They finally meet an old school mate of Mrs. Allen's, Mrs. Thorpe. Her oldest daughter, Isabelle, and Catherine become the best of friends and are constantly together.  A while after they have been in Bath James Morland (Cathrine's brother) arrives with John Thorpe to join the Thorpe party in Bath, and James is surprised, yet delighted, to find his younger sister there. (James became friends with John Thorpe at college) A friendship starts between Cathrine and a family called the Tilney's that she meets there. The Tilney's (the group is made up of Mr. Tilney, and his son and daughter, Henry and Eleanor) eventually have to quit Bath and invite Cathrine to visit there home, Northanger Abbey.....

I really liked the simplicity of this book. Jane Austen wrote this one in a different style, which I found fun to read and made the book flow. The narration parts she's almost talking directly to you, and has no fear of putting in her opinion now-n-then. =) I also found Cathrine a very fun character, though I found her quite ignorant of the ways of the world. (If we must put it that way) But over all she was a very fun young lady. Oh yes, and that was the other thing, her age. I am so used to Lizzy Bennet, Jane Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, and.. well, I guess Marianne was younger. But it was fun to have a younger aged heroine, who knows very little compared to Lizzy, Emma, and other Austen heroines.  During her Bath visit we find out that she's quite fond Ann Radcliffe's books. Which are, in short, Gothic-romance-mystery novels. I want to say I didn't like that, however, Jane Austen actually had them such a large part of the book for a purpose: to make fun of them, and to satirizes these Gothic stories. I found this quite amusing and agreed with Jane Austen, that Gothic novels are not that good of books to read and can influence ones imagination a lot, often to much. =) So since the author didn't like the said Gothic books (so much so as to make fun of them), I was fine with reading about them in this book.
Henry Tilney. He is hilarious! And his facial expressions are, oh my, so funny!

I watched the 2007 movie version of Northanger Abbey as soon as possible on finishing the book. It had a promise of being a good movie, and I was only slightly disappointed. Instead of simply stating that Catherine read Mrs. Radcliffe's novels, they go on to show what Cathrine is reading. Which can be quite disturbing. (We skipped all of the these scenes) She also imagined a little bit of her own Gothic story to make a boring journey or what not exciting, so we skipped those also. However the adventurous spirit it gave her was very funny, and she scares herself a couple times with her over active imagination. =) It is implied in the book that John Thrope swears a couple times, but the complete word was never put down in ink. The movie, of course, had him say the word several times so that wasn't that nice. =( The biggest problem I had with the movie was a scene they added between two characters that was very bad and we had to skip. The scene was not in the book and I was quite upset and disappointed that they added that.

Over all the movie was very fun to watch and followed the book really good. (Despite the things i just pointed out) I found myself wishing it was longer so that the characters had more screen time. It was only an hour and a 1/2, which ended up being an hour and 15 minutes with the said scene
Northanger Abbey. Just the name excited Cathrine..
skipping. =) Now compared to the 5 hour Pride & Prejudice (1995), and 4 hour Emma (2009) it's quite short! (Not to mention 3-4 hour Wives and Daughters, North and South, Cranford, and Return to Cranford.) And seemed to move quite fast. But it was still a very good movie, and the casting was done very nicely. I think the characters were perfect! Looks and everything.. =)

So I highly suggested reading the book, and know that you'll fall in love with Miss Cathrine Morland not long after you start the book. (Her adventurous spirit is quite fun to read about) As for the movie, I would suggest it only if you understand there are parts to skip. I really enjoyed it with those scenes removed. x)

This was actually Jane Austen's first novel ready for publication, but was the last one  to be published. The publisher didn't think it was worth publishing, which, as we all know, was a mistake!! =) Her brother took charge of it eventually and got it published, changing the name from Cathrine (Jane Austen's original title) to Northanger Abbey. He had Northanger Abbey and Persuasion bound up in one volume and published together. Which were uniquely her first and last novels she completed. (NA being the first and Persuasion being her last)

Have you read Northanger Abbey? Or watched the movie? What did you think? What, may I ask, was your opinion?

<3 Eva
“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine... But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine...”  
-Northanger Abbey