Monday, March 8, 2010

Mmmmm tea

What a beautiful morning! The whole family slept in until about 8 today and I was worried it would feel like we'd wasted the morning, that is, until I came downstairs and opened the blinds. The sun at 8:00 this morning looked like it does at 5:00 a.m. in the summer! That's actually my favorite time of day - 5:00 on a summer morning. I love seeing the sun just come up so perfectly. It reminds me of camp out at Pine Lake and early morning runs with my cousin Jen and getting up before everyone else just to go sit by the lake. I still prefer waking up with the sun in the summer, only Matt hates the sunlight in the morning so we keep our blinds shut through the night.
But today really has been nice even though it's only 12. I got a chance to sip some really nice tea while my baby slept in his playpen and my dog slept on my foot and I got to catch up on my reading. I'm reading Mansfield Park for, what, the 5th time? I've actually lost count. No where near as many times as I've read Pride and Prejudice, I do know that. But I really do enjoy this book. It's interesting how at times you almost find yourself cheering for the villian and you sincerely hope that he has changed and that the heroine will fall in love with him. It's Jane Austen's most extensive novel ranging over the most time and the most distance (excepting, maybe, Northanger Abbey which is infact her shortest novel). It's a harder one for me to plow through than say Persuasion or, as I mentioned before, Pride and Prejudice. That's partly due to its length and partly due to its characters. I hate Mrs. Norris. Which is good. You're supposed to hate her. I haven't actually found an interview that confirms this but I believe J. K. Rowling named Filch's cat after the character Mrs. Norris in this book. She's a real witch; just wretched and almost everything that comes out of her mouth makes you despise her. However, as much as I can appreciate how well written the character is and how precisely Jane Austen gets across the emotions you are supposed to feel towards this character, sometimes I find myself so exhasperated by her that I want to put the book down. The other character that I have issues with is Fanny, the heroine. This is for a completely different reason. With Fanny, if you have any sense of empathy for her you'll find yourself worn out with concern and anxiety. The poor girl is so timid, so frightened and introverted that for the first half of the novel anything pertaining to her invokes pity. I want so bad for her to have some glimmer of hope or some reason to really rejoice that for the first half it's actually hard to read about her. The second half picks up a bit, but it's not really until the last chapter that you can breathe a sigh of relief. (I'm not really giving away anything here. If you've ever read a Jane Austen novel, all is already given away) The most interesting thing about this book I think is that it is not so much a romantic story as it is a moral one. If it were a more romantic one your sigh of relief would come far before the last chapter and would last for more than 2 or 3 measley paragraphs. Don't get me wrong, it's still the epitomy of girliness, as is any Jane Austen novel, but that's moreso because of the era it was written in and the way life was and simply that they are written through the female perspective so guys may think that Fanny is being absolutely ridiculous while girls will tend to relate more. The only Jane Austen novel that I think most men may have a chance of enjoying is Persuasion. It has, by far, the most action (a bump on the head and a broken collar bone) and many references to the navy and the military life of the day. Having said all that I have already about Jane Austen novels being girly and men not enjoying them I have two more points to make on the subject. The first is that I know of at least one very cool and very manly guy who really actually enjoys Pride and Prejudice the movie. Bravo. I think my dad enjoyed the cinematography of it and the herd of red deer that are used as a scene transition at one spot. But most guys watching it won't giggle when they see Mr. Darcy flex his hand after handing Elizabeth into the carriage. And they won't say Mr. Darcy with an sickeningly breathy English accent for ever hence (yes, I do. I even wanted to name my dog that but only if it were pronounced "Mr. Dahcy"). My second point to be made is that Jane Austen is surprisingly ungirly. Some of her characters are. There are a number of stereotypically girly-girls who talk about dresses and hats altogether too much, however, unless it contributes to the portrayal of a specific character or the story on the whole, you won't find any ranting about finery or much ranting at all actually. She tells stories remarkably well, portrays a number of charicatures which are composed from people you would have met back in those days, and is very good at making you loathe certain people :)
Anyway, a little update on our fish - they are all still alive, surprisingly, and I think we have a couple more fish that are preggers. It's actually quite hard to tell until they are really far along, but we think.
Tonight we're having steaks for dinner and I'm excited to barbque assuming I get it done before the sun goes away and the snow comes. I'm also excited to find a good marinade for the steaks. That's something that always manages to elude me: good marinade recipes. I think my biggest problem is that I don't know what I want but I definately know what I don't want. I only have this problem with beef however. I always am confidant in whipping up an impromptu marinade for pork, chicken or even lamb. But with my beef I don't want any prettiness. I want ruggedness. I want charring flavor. I want something you would get in a steak house. sigh. I'll try and think of something.
Matt and I are games people. We love playing board games whenever we get together with his family, we have boardgames for just two people that we play by ourselves fairly regularly and we even bought a bunch of board games for our honeymoon! The only difference between our taste in these games is that I love card games and Matt does not. In my family we play cards ALOT. You doubt? Come to one of our family reunions. Hand and foot canasta is the specialty of the family, however that's not the only game we play. Lately my mom and I have been playing alot of crib (as I believe I had mentioned in a previous post) Well, I'll never be able to get Matt to enjoy canasta, but I did manage to teach him crib over the weekend and he actually enjoyed it. He didn't enjoy it so much when I skunked him, but the game that he beat me he really liked! Here's to many happy nights playing crib!
I'm now allowed to go full tilt with baking again! - assuming of course that I freeze the majority of it. My sweet tooth is waning however and though I have been craving cookies, it's definately the shortbread variety rather than the sugar or chocolate chip variety that I have been craving. The problem with shortbread is butter. Or rather, my problem with making shortbread is my lack of butter in the house. I only keep margarine in the house typically but I wouldn't dream of making shortbread with anything other than real butter. Oh, and I need to make some earl grey cookies for Matt. For our honeymoon we went to Fairmont Hot Springs and visited the town of Invermere while we were there. Invermere has a fantastic little gelato store/cafe called Gerry's Gelato. This Gerry makes all of his gelato and comes up with some fantastic recipes. Matt's favorite was the London Fog gelato. He loved the Earl Grey in it. We actually picked up a litre of it for the way home (It only made it as far as Canmore, we ate the rest of it that night in the hotel) But it just proved how much Matt adores Earl Grey in anything.
Well this beautiful day is turning very windy and my baby wants to play. I'd better say bye for now!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

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