Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Love Austen Week Tag

Here are my answers to the I Love Austen Week Tag by Hamlette's Soliloquy.

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?

My first Austen experience was actually an Austen themed birthday party for a girl from my church. There was a quotes game and I had to wildly guess. I knew a few characters names from P&P and actually got I think 3 correct! I started reading P&P the day before the party but only got through a few chapters. I eventually finished it though so I guess it was my first book. I also watched the 1940 movie version. Several years before that I checked out S&S because I liked the cover but when I tried to read it I was bored (seen next question).

 2.  What is your favorite Austen book?

Definitely "Sense and Sensibility" (even though I've only read the first half of it so far...)! I started reading it after watching the 1995 movie, which I love (see question 5).
My copy (library for 25 cents)

 3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best?

Definitely Elinor Dashwood. She is the character most like me.

 4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best?

Probably Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) because his story is so sad.

 5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work?

As I said above, S&S (1995). I also LOVE Becoming Jane (2007), though that's about Austen, not her work.

 6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)

I used to wonder why people liked her so much. But after reading and watching Austen I understand why :)

 7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)

Nope. All I own is the S&S book and Becoming Jane. I would like to buy The Bedside, Bathtub, & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen and Emma Thompson's The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries (which I've actually read). Also Austen's letters to her family members.

 8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?

What was the extant of her relationship with Tom Lefroy?

 9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

Probably an old Hollywood version of Sense and Sensibility. I would cast Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine as Elinor Dashwood, maybe Gregory Peck for Edward, Vivien Leigh as Marianne, Errol Flynn as John Willoughby, William Powell as Colonel Brandon, and Joan Carroll for Margaret Dashwood. If any of these actors sound wrong for the role, it's been a while since I've visited these characters and my mind always goes blank when I try to think of actors.

 10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

I know I've probably written some down someplace...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Crown: Episode One of a New Series on Queen Elizabeth II

Ever since Elizabeth Windsor was 10 years old, she knew that one day she would be queen. In a speech given on the event of her 21st birthday, while in South Africa on a tour with her family, she pledged her life to service of her people.

Even at that young age, Elizabeth knew what her duty would one day be and accepted her fate.
She has got all Princess Mary's solid and endearing qualities plus a perfectly natural power of enjoying herself without any trace of silence. Moreover, when necessary, she can take on the old bores with much of her mother's skill, and never spares herself in that exhausting part of royal duty.
- Sir Alan "Tommy" Lascelles
Private Secretary to King George VI

Shortly after the Royal family's return, the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten was announced. Like the event Royal wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William, this was exciting news for Great Britain. This dress from one of the engagement photos is very similar to the first outfit we see Elizabeth wearing in episode one of The Crown, a new series by Netflix:

Norman Hartnell, who designed the wedding gown, was besieged with reporters wanting to know details about the dress and the Palace Press Secretary was asked by the Women's Press Club what cosmetics Elizabeth would be wearing on her big day (some things never change). As fabric was still being rationed at this time, so soon after WWII, the Princess received over 200 ration coupons from women all over the country toward her wedding gown, which of course had to be returned.


The wedding took place on the 20th of November, 1947, at Westminster Abbey. It is this event, as well as the failing health of the King and the electing of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister once again, that is the predominant subject of the first episode.

Starring Claire Foy as Elizabeth, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, and Jared Harris as King George VI, the series has been highly anticipated by Royal Fans everywhere and so far has not disappointed. One of the highlights of the first episode, and indeed of the entire series, is the replica of the wedding gown originally created by Hartnell. While there are many photographs from the Royal Wedding, not to mention the gown itself being on display this year in London, there is something special about seeing it as it would have looked new, and in motion. Just reading about the time and care taken to recreate this special gown is remarkable.

In this article from Vogue, we learn that the original gown design was approved only three months before the wedding and was made of "ivory silk and featured flower designs of jasmine, smilax, lilac, and white rose–like blossoms, supposedly inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera painting in 1482," and that her "13-foot train was also supposed to be symbolic of rebirth and growth after the war." The replica took nearly two months to make and had six embroiderers to work on it. The result was well worth the time and effort. Read more about the dress on the Royal Collection site.

There's also an interesting story about the Queen Mary Fringe tiara, which was Elizabeth's "something borrowed" (it can also be worn as a necklace but has never been seen in public as such). The earrings, of diamond and pearl, were a 20th birthday present from Queen Mary, who had inherited them from her mother.

I was especially excited to see the bridesmaids dresses, as I love the ethereal quality of them, with the glittering stars sprinkled over the full tulle skirts and the wreaths of delicate flowers in their hair. This photo of Margaret in her bridesmaids dress my favorite of her: 

One thing you might notice different from the actual photos versus the show is the backdrop of the official wedding portraits. The real photos were all taken in front of a crimson velvet curtain, while in the episode different backdrops are used. 

Another incident shown (that I could not find a photograph of) is Prince Philip's mother dressed in a habit at the wedding. Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece, had been taken to a sanitarium when Philip was 9 years old and spent two years there (Philip's father moved to the Riviera where he lived with his mistress). Later, she began the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary and opened and orphanage in Athens. She died in 1969. You can read more about her here.

Just before they wedding party goes out on the balcony, King George VI gives his daughter a moving picture camera. Later in the episode and in the next we see her using it to record memories.

After the wedding we get a montage of their early married life in Malta and the arrival of Prince Charles and Princess Anne (1948 & 1950). Then they get the call that His Majesty is undergoing an operation, sending Elizabeth and Philip hurrying back to London. The King has had a lung removed (he has cancer but isn't told). E & P renovate Clarence House to be their home. The King, sensing he hasn't much longer, attempts to show Elizabeth what being a monarch is like.

Stay tuned for more posts!


Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. Sally Bedell Smith. 2012
The Queen Mother: The Official Biography. William Shawcross. 2009.
The History Behind The Crown's Most Incredible Looks
The Crown Style Archives (photos of all the costumes)

More Interesting Articles:

Vogue on The Crown and Our Fascination with the Royal Family
Get Claire Foy's Look in The Crown so you too can look Royally Gorgeous
Unpicking the Costumes on The Crown with Michelle Clapton
The History Behind The Crown's Most Incredible Looks
Queen's 1947 Wedding Cake Recreated for TV Show


Peter Morgan Serves the Queen, Again
Claire Foy in Wedding Gown Costume.. Plus Sling
Matt Smith on Prince Philip
How Accurate is Netflix's 'The Crown'?
Why Should I Watch a TV Show About Queen Elizabeth II?
These Rare Videos Inspired The Crown's Portrayal of Queen Elizabeth
Claire Foy on Playing Queen Elizabeth II
Why the Queen is sure Prince Philip never cheated


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Vintage Halloween Goodies From Pinterest



Trick-or-Treat bags


Hostess outfit

Jean Simmons in an awesome sweater

Find more on my Pinterest Board!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tolkien Blog Party Tag

Today I am participating in the Tolkien Blog Party hosted by Hamlette of The Edge of the Precipice.

The Tolkien Tag 2016

1.  How many books by J.R.R. Tolkien have you read?

      The Hobbit (once), The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (first two books twice, last one once), and Letters to Father Christmas (once - if you've never read it you are missing out).

2.  Have you seen any movies based on them?

      I've seen the first and second one a couple times and parts of the third one of the LOTR movies. I prefer the books and my own imagination over the ugly creatures in the movies.

 3.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you cry?

      It's sad when Thorin dies in The Hobbit (book).

 4.  Are there any scenes/moments that make you laugh?

      Probably several but it's been a while since I've read them.

 5.  Have you ever chosen a Middle Earth name for yourself?  If so, what is it?

      No. I feel like I did a quiz thing where I got an elvin name but I don't remember what it was.

 6.  Who would you want to party with/marry/fight to the death? (pick three characters)

      Merry and Pippin/Aragorn (book) or Sam (as Sean Astin)/umm.. I don't want to die..

7.  When was the last time you visited Middle Earth, via books or movies?

      A couple years (books).

 8.  Do you consider Gollum to be a villain?  Why or why not?

      Not really. If he wouldn't have found the ring it wouldn't have made him the way he is.

9.  How would you sum up what Tolkien's stories mean to you in one word?

      ADVENTURE (all in caps of course).

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

      I know I've written down many lines from the books but I don't know where they are at...

My copy of The Hobbit

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Book Review: Washington's Monument and the Fascinating History of the Obelisk

This book truly is, as the title states, fascinating. Written by John Steele Gordon, and published this year, it tells how the idea of the Washington Monument located in Washington DC came about and how it was built. He also tells how the Obelisk was originally made.

Chapter one, "The Father of His Country," talks about the great acts of George Washington, the first monument built in his honor, and the founding of the Washington Monument Society.

Chapter two, "The Gift of the Nile," goes back to Ancient Egyptian times. It tells how the Egyptian's built huge monuments with primitive tools and man-power, how the obelisk helped measure the circumference of the earth with an almost perfectly accurate result, and theories on how these obelisks were raised.

Chapter three, "Building a Stump," talks about the struggles of getting Washington's Monument started, funding problems, how the states sent stones with inscriptions on them to be used, choosing the site, the destruction of the stone sent by the Pope, and how construction halted, leaving a line that can still be seen today.

Chapter four takes us back in time again with "Stealing Obelisks." When Rome came into power, it took over rule of Egypt and moved Obelisks to Rome to serve as reminders of their strength and power. Problems of how to ship the obelisks without damaging them are discussed, as well as the technology and tools that the Ancient Romans had available to them that the Egyptians did not have.

Chapter five, "Paris and London Take Their Prizes," talks about how these cities, in order to compete with the glory of Rome, also requested Obelisks for themselves. It also talks about Napoleon's expedition to Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, which unlocked the secret of the hieroglyphics on the obelisks.

Chapter six, "Reaching the Top," recounts the completion of Washington's Monument, how the problem of the foundation was solved, and how the aluminum tip was made to act as a lighting rod, since the monument was the tallest building in the world at the time.

Chapter seven, "Securing New York's Moral Grandeur," talks about how the obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle came to Central Park. It also gives a mini history of the growth of New York, the second wave of immigrants, and the issues they encountered in the Industrial Age of moving and obelisk (the only one with it's original base moved with it).

Chapter eight, "Into the Twenty-first Century," talks about the problems with the lighting rod at the top, the addition of the fifty flag poles around its' base, renovations, and other obelisks built around the world.

The book ends with this statement:
Silent and imperturbable as always, the Washington Monument will doubtless witness much more history as it continues to stand at the symbolic epicenter of the extraordinary country that George Washington, more than any other single person, had made possible.

The book measures 5" x 10" and has 230 pages (including the index). I read it over the course of four days. It's a great, concise history of events that happened in America in its early days as a country. I highly recommend it. Here's the link to Amazon.