Monday, August 31, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Book Review: Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This collection of nine short stories includes backstories, sequels and what-ifs to Jane Austen's beloved novels. Greensmith provides sympathetic insights into characters you love to hate. Her what-if stories are realistic, true to Austen’s characters, and delightful to sink your teeth into. And always, Greensmith, Romantic that she is, calls forth the power and beauty of the natural world to heal, bless, and nurture the wounded, the misunderstood, the lonely, and the confused on their journeys through life.
My Review:

These short stories were amazing!

1. Rainbow Around the Moon-
The snow has stopped and the cold has set in. It's growing dark. I light the lamps and make the fire roar. I stop my work and go outside to read the skies and pay my homage. And there, low on the horizon, hangs the moon, still full but waning. Its halo speaks of coming snow, or sore, rain. Its halo is iridescent, a rainbow around the moon. A promise of peace. Peace at last.
Just a taste of her beautiful imagery. This story was inspired by Persuasion.

2. 3 Sisters- Is a bit of a mish-mash of all of her novels!

3. The Last Baby- We learn more about Mrs. Bennett and her side of the story and how she fell in love with Mr. Bennett and her anguish over losing her only son; a very touching story.

4. Bird of Paradise- Inspired by Mansfield Park. We learn more about Fanny and her relationship with Edmund and how she grows into her role as Mrs. Bertram.
And by this stream, Edmund kissed me as if for the first time. He ran his fingers through my hair, catching them in the curls that bobbed about my neck and throat. We went inside and went upstairs, and used up three candles complete that night. My feet never got cold.
5. Color of Love- Inspired by Pride and Prejudice.
His marriage banns were blue, and gold , and green. He never took for granted the kaleidoscope that was Elizabeth. Even in old age, when his eyes began to fail him and he had to squint to see the contours of her sweet, loving face, Darcy felt her yellow candle warmth caress and love his blues away until all the world was Eden once again, and all the light was the soft green of newly mown hay. Sunrise, sunset. Waterfalls in dark forests. A meadow filled with flowers. Craggy heights and distant vistas. Elizabeth was the color of his love.
6. Remember We Are English- Inspired by Northanger Abbey. We learn more how Henry defied his father and fell in love and married Catherine! It's very romantic.

7. When the Fates Conspire- Inspired by Persuasion. This one is pretty humorous! Two fates actually conspire to bring back together Anne and Frederick!

8. Heaven Can Wait- Pride and Prejudice. We learn about Jane's first love who wrote her poetry and how Bingley helped her to move on.

9. All I Do- Pride and Prejudice. This puts a different twist on the events of P&P. Lizzy marries Col. Fitzwilliam rather than Darcy! That's all I'll give away!

This book was such a treasure to find. My only complaint is I wish Jane Greensmith would write all of these short stories into actual novels! They are amazing. I recommend this book of short stories for any fellow Janeite!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Surgery Yet

Due to Archie heading off to Boise for two weeks for work we decided it was better if we put off Gabe's surgery till Archie would be able to be around. So not til October. I was getting pretty nervous about having to take care of him with all his post-surgery needs without Archie around so I'm glad we decided to do so.

Gabe is really growing now...he's sitting up all by himself now and hardly ever tips over, but we have plenty of pillows and blankies surrounding him just in case. He's also got his two bottom teeth coming up and they are just so cute! I've been trying to get some pics of them, but to no avail...hopefully, soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Book Review: The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy:

Pride and Prejudice retold through the eyes of Mr. Darcy. I love seeing what other authors will do when it comes to Mr. Darcy.

The beginning was a bit slow and Darcy was pretty boring and broodish and arrogant. But by the middle it was starting to get pretty good. I liked hearing his thoughts, but I thought she rushed the book a bit and left out details I would have liked to known. She just gave brief summaries of what he was doing when he wasn't with I would've liked to have seen and heard and experienced what he was doing. That's why I really enjoyed the Fitzwilliam Darcy Gentleman Series by Pamela Aidan.

It was a quick read and fun, overall.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Clueless

Clueless, Grade: A-

When this movie first came out I was in high school and boy did it resonate with me (not that I was rich, etc...!), but the idea of becoming someone better, especially at the adolescent stage of life, just resonated with me. I didn't have any idea that it was based on Jane Austen's Emma til much later! So this movie has always been a little close to my heart!

Cher is a rich fifteen-year-old in LA, who's rich and popular and totally clueless! Just like her Emma counter part, Cher feels she is the queen of her domain and uses her charms to convince her teachers to give her better grades and ends up bringing two of her teachers together! Soon a new girl Tai moves in from the wrong side of town and Cher decides to befriend her and give her a makeover. And then there's her Mr. Knightley, Josh, who happens to be her ex-stepbrother. Will Cher get a clue or remain clueless???

This is a great modern adaptation of Emma, but more than anything it's just a great movie!

Wolfy, Boog, and Origami

Here are some pics of the Boog this last week. Archie started juggling all of his toys and he just thought that was so funny!

Archie actually made an origami crane out of a Dove chocolate wrapper!

Boog in his baseball shirt supporting me in my softball loss!

Wolfy hiding in Archie's shirt! So cute!

Here's a little video of Boog giggling like crazy while his Daddy juggles his toys!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Samplings: My Scariest Dream

My dreams are never very life-like. I'm usually flying like Superman or meeting celebrities, etc. It's the real life dreams that really are quite frightening and I don't have too many of these, thank goodness.

The scariest dream I ever had was about six months into my marriage. I dreamed that Archie was walking down the street with his Aunt Jean and his mother at night. You know one of those dark alley type situations. And he got mugged and knifed. He was rushed to the hospital and there was nothing I could do. I just had to watch and do nothing. I woke up crying my eyes out. It was the most vivid dream I have ever had, even to this date. It's definitely not anything I want to experience again. But I'll probably inevitably have one about Boog one day that will make wake up bawling...I just am not looking forward to that day. Oh, the stuff of dreams. Thank goodness I don't have a psychic gift with dreams!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (1980 &1940)

Pride and Prejudice (1980), Grade: C-

Let's just say I'm very grateful for the 1995 version and the 2005 version. This one was boring and I didn't like Darcy at all or Lizzy for that matter. I kind of hoped they wouldn't get together in the end. I guess if you're a purist this may be worth one view, but I really could have missed this one.

Pride and Prejudice (1940), Grade: B-

This one was short and sweet and they had a few changes to the story so that made it fun! Definitely worth one view. I definitely didn't get the feel that it was Regency England. The costumes were all wrong. I felt like it was taking place in the Civil War south of America! I was expecting Scarlet O'Hara to pop around the corner at any time with her 'fiddle-dee-dees.' The acting is a bit cheesy, but overall it was a fun adaptation!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Bride and Prejudice

Bride and Prejudice, Grade: A-

When this first came out I wasn't too sure about I never saw it, but then I read someone else's review on this for the Everything Austen Challenge and I decided to give it a try! I'm sure glad that I did. It was smart, funny, and intelligent. I'm also a sucker for that might throw some people off since they do spontaneously break out into song and dance throughout the show!

I loved the story retold through the Indian culture! Darcy was still conceited, "Caroline Bingley" vain and vapid, and "Lizzy" still as smart and witty as ever!

In this version Darcy is American and his family is really rich due to being in the hotel business and comes out with his friend "Bingley" and Bingley's sister (not the names in the movie) to attend a wedding. We meet "Mr. Collins" who is trying to break with his Indian roots and be "American." Darcy's mother wants to exploit India for her hotel business and looks down on "Lizzy" for being a "native." "Mr. Wickham" is also quite more devious in this one.
The costumes are beautiful as well as the cinematography. This director is also the director of Bend it Like Beckham, which is also a wonderful film. I highly recommend this adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sick Boog

Boog just got sick on Saturday. It started with a runny nose and then turned into congestion and an ear infection. He also did a vomitis maximus Sunday morning and so off we went to the Insta Care. He's on an antibiotic and we suck out all his nose goo (which he so does not love) and give him plenty of Tylenol!!! So we keep him drugged up and for the most part he's feeling better and doing so good. It just breaks my heart to see him so sick and there's nothing I can do! Each stage is so new and different and heart-wrenching!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Samplings: Oregon

I thought for Sunday I would reflect on living in Oregon for three years. Right after I got married to Archie we headed on up to Gresham (a suburb of Portland) to live; Archie got a job offer and up we went.A beautiful sunset from our balcony

We moved up two weeks after our wedding in the worst snow and ice storm Oregon had had in years! I drove the moving van while Archie drove our crappy little Subaru (stick shift and I don't do stick shifts). I only slid off once in Boise! But after that it got so bad we dumped the moving van and I rode with Archie and prayed the whole way that we wouldn't die! Thank goodness there was a semi-truck in front of us so we could follow in its tracks!

Oregon Coast and Pirate Rock!

We made it safe and lived with Archie's surrogate Aunt Jean for two months while we saved up enough money to get an apartment. We finally found an apartment ten minutes away by foot from Archie's work! We saved a lot of gas!

I was scared to death to move away from Utah even though I had lived in the Canary Islands for 18 months! I know, so silly.

Eventually Spring came and we were able to enjoy what Portland had to offer! Beautiful, just Beautiful there! Everything is so green and lots of trails to go hiking and biking. Also there is no sales tax in Oregon! That was so nice and I miss it so much! And it was against the law to pump one's own gas so there were attendants to do that for you at every gas station. It sucked during the summer when they were busy, but great during the winter when it was cold and you could just sit in your car and wait!

Cutting our Christmas Tree!

I was also able to attend Portland State University and receive my Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics and Spanish. It was an amazing experience and one that will be with me forever. I had the opportunity to be a camp counselor for two weeks for children and adults with disabilities. It was one of the hardest two weeks, but the reward was amazing. I also had the opportunity to go to Guatemala for three weeks to help out some indigenous schools in the area of Panajachel. We brought them computers and school supplies and painted their schools. We also stayed with host families. Guatemala is beautiful and are is its people.

In Guatemala

I wandered the streets of downtown Portland since PSU is right in the heart of it. Downtown is amazing. They have the best public transportation I've ever seen. I never had to drive to PSU, I always too the train and the trolley and my own two feet. There are just so many things to see and do and almost always within walking distance from downtown. Their farmer's markets were wonderful as well; so many vendors selling many other things than just produce!Portland Zoo!

They also have the best food! We enjoyed Vi Thai, Mongolian Grill, and many Indian restaurants. We make sure to visit all these restaurants whenever we visit! And they have WinCo...the best grocery store ever!

I can't fail to mention Powell's Books. It's the biggest book store in the United States for sure. It takes up more than two city blocks and sells and buys used books as well. Oh, how I miss it!The Pod statue in front of Powell's Books

Let's see...we also got to cut our own Christmas trees up in the mountains! They were pretty scary and skimpy, but it only cost five bucks and it was good family times!

Wolfy also joined our family from the local pet shop around the corner!

We also made some great friends while living there...Catie, Trisha and Jeremy, the Browns...

And we were only two hours from the Coast, Tillamook cheese farm, Newport, and just a few hours from Seattle!Loving Darth Maul in Newport!

It was a great three years and we both miss it terribly, but a new job opportunity arrived in Utah and it was just too good to pass up. Plus if we had stayed Archie may lost his job where he was it's been very good for us to be here now!

God bless Oregon for all the wonderful experiences I enjoyed and the beautiful people I met!

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (1995), Grade: A

I didn't even realize there was a 1995 version until I saw the 2005 version. So when I learned of it I went immediately to my library and borrowed it and soon after I bought the 10th Anniversary Special Edition. It's been a great addition to my DVD collection and my hubby even enjoys watching it with me!

Liked: The excellent cinematography, filming, and acting. Elizabeth, Lydia, Mrs. Bennett, and Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), and Bingley were excellent!

Not-liked: The actors who played Jane and Wickam and Caroline Bingley. Jane wasn't the purported beauty that everyone said she was, no offense to the actress who played her, but Miss Ehle is just a much prettier lady. And I always pictured Wickam a little more handsome and dashing than the portrayal of Adrian Lukis. Caroline was a bit old for the part, I thought.

It's a wonderful adaptation and I absolutely love it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Northanger Abbey (2007)

Northanger Abbey, Grade: B+

I really enjoyed this version of Northanger Abbey. The 1986 version wasn't very well done, but this version was just delightful. The actor who plays John just want to strangle them! I love the innocence of Catherine and how she wants to be good and yet she is so naive when it comes to society. We also get a better picture of Isabella and what kind of person she is...her foray with Captain Tilney. I just love the themes of Jane Austen. It's so important to marry for love (and hopefully money as well)!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Emma (1996 TV)

Emma, Grade: B+

I must admit that I'm biased to the Gwyneth Paltrow version. It's the first one I saw and I fell in love with those portrayals of the characters. This movie also got me interested in reading the actual Emma so while I read it I imagined the characters from Gwyneth's version.

So I wasn't quite sure how I'd take to this version. I'm not a big Kate Beckinsale fan anyway (I thought Pearl Harbor was dreadful). So the first time I watched it I thought it was a bit boring and too long and I hated all the portrayals except for Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton is an amazing actress and she played Jane Eyre in the A&E version). But for this challenge I figured I'd give this one another go. It was a lot better the second time around! I think it has to do with reading Jane Austen For Dummies. I understood the story better from understanding the culture better and thus the dialogue became more witty.

And for some trivia: Mark Strong who play Knightley is the seventh brother in the movie Stardust. He's so hilarious in this movie; a comic genius towards the end!

So both are definitely great to watch and I added this version to my DVD collection as well! I'm so glad I took a second look at this version and am excited to reread the book and then rewatch the movies to see how things are different and similar!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Six Month Checkup!

Gabe is now officially six months old. Where has the time gone? He's so big now!

Well, he is still a nail: tall (27 inches), large noggin (17.5 inches), and skinny (only 16.11 pounds). They said for his height he should weight 18.4! Oh well. He's not a big eater. The doctor wasn't concerned so he's still growing fine and healthily. We're now going to start him on a few Cheerios to see how he likes those!

There are also bumps where his teeth are starting to grow in! Poor little guy. His teething days are not so fun. He also got his vaccinations today as well. He didn't like them, of course (who does, except sadists and masochists???). But he did really well after I got him calmed down and Tylenol down him and food. He even slept while Archie and I headed out for breakfast to celebrate his six months! Hee hee! And he slept really long for both his naps which was really nice for me! I got so much done today! So no shots for his nine month checkup and we're really happy about that.

He has to have surgery at the end of this month to fix his pee-pee (he was born with hypospadius, which means his pee hole is underneath instead of at the end). So they're going to fix it and they say it's pretty routine and that 1/200 baby boys are born with this so it's pretty common. But it'll still be rough on us and on not looking forward to it.

Life moves on and we continue to learn from each other!

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Mansfield Park (2007)

Mansfield Park (2007), Grade: B

I love all things Austen, so I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. But Mansfield Park isn't one of my top Austen novels. Fanny isn't my favorite heroine nor is Edmund my favorite hero. I think I enjoyed the older BBC version a lot better. In this version you don't quite get the abuse that Fanny has to endure while she's with her cousins. Aunt Norris is a horrible person, yet you don't quite get that feeling in this movie. And I just kept hoping that Edmund would wake up and smell the coffee when it came to Mary Crawford! He does, but it takes forever. The movie shows a lot of her and her brother as they talk of their schemes to marry into the family. Hayley Atwell was an excellent Mary Crawford. Fanny was played as more of a tomboy in this one. She seemed more of a genteel sort of personality in the other version. So all-in-all, it was a fun version and worth a view!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Samplings: Pets, Glorious Pets!

For another sampling I thought I would talk about all the wonderful pets I had as a kid. My mother has always been a cat-lover so we grew up with cats all the time. The first cat I remember was Siamy. He was part Siamese. He was very sweet from what I remember and my love of kitties was assured! We added five more to our home over the years: Star, Trixie, Bo Jangles, Snow White, and Princess. Star died very young due to cancer. I was so sad. But it helped me to love and miss and cope. Bo Jangles was catnapped, Snowy and Trixie found other homes (not my choice), and Princess hung on til after my mission. I was with Princess the longest and still feel that pain of her passing. She was a great and loving companion.

I knew from the start I would have to have cats in my own home! We have added Frodo and Wolfgang! Sweetest kitties in the whole world.

I also had two birds, a few fish, three rabbits, gerbiles, and even a turtle at one point! But through these pets I realized that I would never have any of these in my home. They're just not very interactive and they're smelly (rodents) and the rest just aren't that cats it is and one day we will add a dog or two when we have a big enough for them!

I love animals and find them all fascinating even when I'd rather not actually have one as a pet! They are beautiful creations and am very grateful to have two wonderful kitties in my home!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge Update

I've just been going like crazy on my list! I'm actually just going to keep going on everything Austen until the deadline. I want to see how many I can get in in the next five months.

Watched From My List:

  1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  2. Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson)
  3. Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow)
  4. Persuasion (newer version)
  5. Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy
  6. Sense and Sensibility (2007)
I still have P&P (1995) to watch!

Read From My List:
  1. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
I still have Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (in progress), Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Intimations of Austen, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.

Watched Not On My List:
  1. Lost in Austen
  2. Persuasion (1995)
Read Not On My List:
  1. Jane Austen For Dummies
There are quite a few more movies in the works that I'm going to be watching and I really want to reread Austen's original novels and finally read Mansfield Park. I also am looking forward to some fan-fiction that I've read reviews on from fellow Austen Challengers! It looks like a great last half of the year!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Sense & Sensibility (2007)

Sense & Sensibility (2007), Grade: A

I love this version! I thought it was another great adaptation. This one is a bit longer than the Emma Thompson version so they were able to flesh out the characters a lot better. Though, I did miss Mr. Palmer in this one. Hugh Laurie was sooo wonderful.

I thought the actresses were well suited for the parts, you know, being younger than their previous counterparts! I'm wondering why they always feel that Marianne needs to be blond since she's supposed to be darker in the novel? The fencing duel between Willoughby and Colonel Brandon was very divine as well!

Both adaptations are spectacular! Give this one a try as well!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Boog and His Hats!

I decided to get him a hat last week and went into Old Navy to see what they had! I ended up getting him two, one is a baseball cap and the other is a fisher's hat! They were too cute and I couldn't pass it up.

Here he is doin his gangsta signs!

Just too adorable!

Saturday our friends Sarah and Matt came over for hamburgers and games! Sarah had a lot of fun playing with and holding Gabe!

Here's Boog playing over Archie's knee!

Then Archie decided to stand him up looking out the window! He's got really strong legs and balance! He'll be walking before crawling.

And thus he says neener, neener!

He's just getting sooo big now. He goes in for his six-month checkup next week!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Book Review: Jane Austen For Dummies

Jane Austen For Dummies by Joan Klingel Ray, PhD, Grade: A

I loved this reference book! The author did such a great job on explaining the things of Austen.

Here are the sections:

Part I: Getting to Know Jane Austen, Lady and Novelist

This part introduces Jane Austen and the era she lived/history of what was going on at that time in her world, and authors that inspired Austen in her writing.

Part II: Austen Observes Ladies and Gentleman

We learn all about dancing, courtship, and the business of marrying (along with some other tidbits). I loved this section! There's been so many things I haven't understood about her books and now I do!

Part III: Living Life in Jane's World

This section talks about women's limited roles and rights during her time, what being a gentleman entailed for men, home life, manners, and religion. This section really gets to the heart of the thoughts and ideas of her characters, the roles they played and why.

Part IV: Enjoying Austen and Her Influence Today

This section talks about reading her books with new insight. She also mentions the various adaptations of her novels to the stage, screen, and television and talks of authors who've been inspired by Austen.

Part V:The Part of Tens

She gives bounteous lists of places to visit, Jane Austen books to read, and her favorite Austen literary characters!

She packs so much information and yet makes it very readable and enjoyable. Plus she repeats many things so you don't forget what you've learned! This is one I will be putting on my to-buy list for quick reference as I reread all of her novels again!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge: Movie Review: Persuasion (1995)

Persuasion (Ciaran Hinds), Grade: A-

It had been quite some time since I saw this so I was excited to view it again for the challenge, even though it's not technically on my list! I also viewed the newest BBC version as well and so I wanted to compare them, to see which one I liked best.

Well, I love them both! They both have different things that I liked.

I really like Ciaran Hinds's portrayal of Frederick better; I think he's just an overall better actor, even though he's isn't quite as handsome as Penny-Jones.

But I enjoyed Anthony Stewart Head as Sir Eliot a lot better than the other guy's portrayal! He just seemed to be more immature and childish.

The two ladies who portray Anne's sister: just awesome! The 1995 version has the Miss Bates actress from the Emma version of 1997 so she was just fun to watch in this kind of role!

The 2007 version I thought had a bit more suspense when it came to Frederick being married/engaged or not. The Crofts start to tell Anne about their brother getting married, but fail to mention that it's not Frederick, and it goes on for quite a few minutes before Anne finally realizes he's still single. Also at the end with the letter from Frederick the 2007 version builds up more suspense as she runs around everywhere looking for him in the rain!

I also enjoyed both endings...the 1995 version shows Anne getting ready to board the ship her new husband captains...she's like Mrs. Croft, she loves the sea and home is where her hubby is! But the 2007 version also is nice since they show more of their relationship at the end, which I always like!

It has been awhile since I've read Persuasion so I'm not sure which movie does a more faithful portrayal, but they're both great watches and am putting the 1995 version on my DVD buy list!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Samplings: The First Memories

My friend Autumn has an awesome Sunday tradition for her blog; it's called Journal Jar Sunday. She puts up topics about her past so we can all get to know her better. The entries are fun and informative and just a dang great idea! So I'm plagiarizing her idea (though, see, I'm giving her credit for the idea!) and calling it Sunday Samplings.

My first topic: My first memories:

I think the earliest memory I have was being in my crib and waking up with my butt in the air and being grumpy and starting to cry since no one was around.

Another early memory is when I was just barely potty-trained and so I was slowly learning how to "hold" my bodily functions until a toilet was available. Well, in my home at that time we only had one bathroom and my dad enjoyed using it often since he could read for at least a half hour with no disruption! Well...I needed to use it and I banged and banged and told him I needed to. But he just told me to wait and he'd be out...time goes on...well, I couldn't hold it anymore and I vaguely remember pooping right there on the spot in front of the bathroom door. But the story doesn't end there...since my dad took so long to get out my poop hardened and my unsuspecting sister came along and saw it lying there. She thought that it looked like a cinnamon roll!!! And she picked it up and actually put it in the fridge!

I think this memory has been a bit helped in the reconstruction part for me because I do vaguely remember pooping, but the rest was filled in by my siblings! It's always a great topic when we get together! Oh, the memories!