Hellooooooo, my long lost friends! I hope you have all been well and happy for the past 3 months! I rather unintentionally took a hiatus from my blog – my brain has been overburdened with heavy philosophical questions and ponderings that I won’t bother you with- but oddly enough, I didn’t even have the slightest desire to blog.
So, what has brought me back to the blogging world? Well, I turned 30 last week (Eeek! Nah, I’m totally over it at this point) and Richie made me an amazing dinner that deserves to be shared. He created an Outlander-themed menu based off of Outlander Kitchen’s incredibly creative blog. (I often read her posts aloud to him because they’re always either cracking me up or blowing me away with imaginativeness…and apparently, he was paying attention!)
The food was seriously amazing, and of course he gets major points on multiple levels, but I was probably most giddy about the Outlander connection :) Richie is obsessed with the pretzel balls, he ate them for breakfast the next day and he actually made them again today. It’s a running joke in our household that he is in love with “Stephen Bonnet’s Balls” ;)
And as if that wasn’t enough…
I had entered Outlander Kitchen’s Giveaway for Outlander themed soaps – a bar of “Jamie’s Soap” and a bar of “Claire’s Soap” from On a Branch Soap shop (on Etsy) – and lo and behold, I WON!!!!! I am still in disbelief because I never win anything! And home-made soaps are literally the one single indulgent item that I allow myself, so if I could’ve chosen a giveaway to win, it would have been this one. I am going to LUXURIATE in these soaps!! I am SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU. Thank you so much, Theresa and Tara!!!
I lost my Mamaw, Shirley, 2 weeks ago to cancer. She was vibrant, friendly, thoughtful, loyal and compassionate. She cared about people and animals. She would give you the shirt off her back and seamlessly made everyone around her feel included and welcome. She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen and took pleasure in cooking huge, delicious, country meals. She always made me my favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting (even if there were 15 other desserts already made).
She loved the color blue and I’ll always think of her when I see antique blue dishware or blue glass bottles in a windowsill. She always had her nails perfectly painted pink and yet she was tough. She and my Papaw spent a chapter of their lives working together building houses – by themselves. She enjoyed crafting and creating and had a wide range of skill.
The art that she was best known for was quilting and I would describe her as a prolific quilter. I have no idea how many quilts she produced in her lifetime, but I know that she gave one to all of her children and grandchildren every Christmas for many, many years, not to mention all that she gave to other family, friends, and church members. She made one for my husband (who, at the time, was only my boyfriend of 3 months) to welcome him into the family – I guess she just knew that he was a keeper ;)
I met many of her friends and fellow church members for the first time at her funeral and almost each person that spoke to me had a story about my Mamaw giving them a quilt, a baby quilt for a grandchild, a wall hanging, a pillow, etc. I was also particularly touched by the fact that most of these people called me by the nickname that my Mamaw had given me. All of these strangers also knew about my husband’s recent health difficulties and each one asked about him. We were always on her mind. It was a very moving experience.
It still hasn’t fully sunken in that I will never see her again and to say that she will be missed is an understatement. The last time I spoke to her, I told her that my interest in quilting was piqued by the baby quilt I recently made for a friend. She told me to take it up and carry on the tradition, and I plan to give it my best shot.
My last post of 2011! I can’t believe a whole year has passed, but I have to admit I’m not terribly sad to see it go. It did end on a good note, though, and I hope that my current productivity level proves indicative of what’s to come next year. During the month of December, I was a crafting MACHINE! I finally had the time to finish up some projects that were started in September and October, as well as make a host of home-made Christmas gifts. I started by finishing little W’s intended Halloween costume…a little late, but I say every day is a good day to dress like a gnome!
I finished baby Mallory’s quilt. It was my first time using a rotary cutter and I rather enjoyed the whole experience. Perhaps I’ll become a quilter and continue the family tradition.
Next came the Christmas gifts, and I started by making a throw pillow out of a discarded curtain panel. Richie and I liked it so much, I decided to make one for our house, too ;)
I used some vintage 1970’s trim that I had been toting around for, literally, 10 years. I think it fits perfectly with the fabric! One of my new year’s resolutions is to actually use up all the fabric and trim that has filled our entire guest bedroom closet.
I also decided to try my hand at making infinity scarves (9 total), and I’m very happy with the result. I liked them so much that I made a few for myself as well.
And then I made some craft brooches for the crafty ladies in my family. (And, of course, I made an extra one for me, too!)
My furry babies are staying with their grandparents for the time being, so I wasn’t able to take their annual Christmas photo this year. While this makes me very sad, I’m sure it makes Ruby and Levi very happy. I will, however, take this opportunity to look back on years past and share some pre-blog pics….
And if that wasn’t crazy enough…before I had Ruby and Levi, there was Rupert Hibbert the toad. You guessed it, he got dressed up for our Christmas card as well!
I hope I haven’t frightened anyone away, at least now you can say you’ve seen a toad dressed up as Santa, right? It’s a good thing I found some puppies shortly thereafter :)
I finished TheScottish Prisoner last night and it’s definitely my favorite in the Lord John series. I’m going to forego a lengthy summary of the book and instead focus on the biggest impressions it had on me.
In a nutshell: it’s 1760 and Lord John is obligated to complete a task asked of him by an army comrade on his deathbed. LJ involves his brother, Hal, who then decides to involve (or rather, use) Jamie (still being held prisoner at Helwater); thus setting up the reunion of LJ and Jamie and their subsequent journey to Ireland in which they must work together to catch the bad guy and mend their own tattered relationship along the way.
While this book is actually quite sad and nothing swoon-worthy happens (which usually does when Jamie Fraser is involved), I ultimately found it to be perfectly paced, simultaneously heartwarming and heart wrenching, and above all, a treasure trove of answers to the myriad of questions surrounding Jamie’s time at Helwater.
On the surface, it may seem like a fortuitous dalliance or a random snapshot into the past, but to those of us who are fully invested in the characters, it is a very important revelation of what got those characters where they are today (or, er, in 1781…) and I would say that this book is the most important – regarding character development – of all the Lord John books. Scottish Prisoner is required reading if you want to be in the Outlander fan club!
Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey are two of my favorite characters (ever). I actually love these men. DG knew exactly what she was doing by devoting an entire novel to them…I daresay she couldn’t go wrong. Jamie and LJ are like golden retrievers: tried and true, an all-around classic. While there may be a few cliques or stereotypes surrounding them, you can’t go wrong with this breed because you’ll always have a loyal, overall good dog (who is pretty to look at) at the end of the day.
I was dying to know what happened after that infamous scene in Brotherhood of the Bladeand the niggling thought of how the heck did they ever get past that? was ALWAYS floating around in the back of my mind. Therefore, I am so grateful to finally have an explanation, even though I am still amazed that Jamie did get past it. (Most. Awkward. Situation. Ever.)
This book gave me even more respect for Jamie. The expression “be the bigger man” kept popping into my head because Jamie was always doing just that. He had so much sadness weighing on him and the rawness of his longing for Claire, even after 14 years, was truly gut-wrenching. The fact that he was able to keep his head up and carry on despite the degradation to his name and character (even going so far as to help those who unjustly looked down upon him), further proved that he is a true gentleman.
One scene that I found particularly moving was when Lord John and Lord Dunsany went for a leisurely ride, towards the end of the book. Dunsany describes how the other grooms don’t make things easy for Jamie and that he keeps to himself. Things have never been easy for Jamie, but he stands strong and perseveres. But it was his relationship with William that I found most heartbreaking. He’s been removed from his family, lost his wife and child (without even laying eyes on her), lost his title and rightful authority, and on top of all this, he is forced to watch his only son (the only thing he has left in his life) from a distance and always through a veil of secrecy. And yet he cherishes the small moments and forgoes any chance of freedom to continue that shard of a relationship.
I came away with mixed emotions regarding Lord John’s position in relation to Jamie. While Jamie has the power to make him weak in the knees, LJ is still his master and (by the end of this book) holds authority over his only son as well. In the final pages, when LJ finally realizes that Jamie is in fact, William’s father, I almost got the impression that he happily saw it as another way of lording over the man. But I’m not positive of that, because I can see it many ways: it gives him an excuse to see Jamie (which he was always looking for), and even further, a lifelong connection to him. Not to mention the fact that if he were to give William the best upbringing and education possible (which we actually know to be the case), then Jamie would forever be in debt to LJ for doing what he could not. On the other hand, LJ loves Jamie and cares for him deeply, and would see in William an opportunity to show Jamie how much he loves him, since he can’t actually (physically)show him, which he would very much like to do (don’t we all). As you can see, I’ve not made up my mind on the matter just yet, but Lord John is a very complicated man, which is of course, why I love him ;)
Ruins on Inchaleraun Island, Ireland
Another storyline that I found very enlightening was that of Isobel Dunsany. I have always wondered about her marriage to Lord John, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book sheds a little light on the subject. After carrying on in a decidedly snotty and childlike manner, she experienced a very cruel and unfortunate lesson on the importance of choosing an honorable man. Luckily, it was Jamie to the rescue, but I have a feeling that Lord John’s role in comforting her and his vow to keep her secret (especially considering that this followed relatively soon after their poignant scene in Brotherhood) probably resulted in her seeing LJ from a new perspective.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and deep down feel like it was “for the fans,” if that makes any sense. It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m saying that about a book that doesn’t have Claire in it (!), but…so many answers! I love answers! Even if you haven’t read the other Lord John books, you really must read this one.
I stumbled upon this today and it made me smile, so I thought I’d share. I especially like the part about “juice” and “ginger” in reference to pop. Where I’m from in Tennessee, we use the term “coke” to refer to any generic carbonated beverage. I’ll ask for a coke, which is then followed with “what kind?”
*Disclaimer: you will not find this remotely funny unless you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
My husband recently received a PS3 and several sports themed games to go along with it. We are in psuedo-isolation for several months while he heals post transplant, and being stuck in a small space with a man playing bocce ball on a video screen…let’s just say this is my personal idea of hell. After hearing my complaints and taking pity on me, our dear friends Jason and Jessica decided to get him a game that I possibly wouldn’t loathe as much. Jason decided on the role-playing game, Skyrim. He also attempted to sell me on this game by taunting me with the fact that “He can create his character to look like Jamie Fraser! You wouldn’t mind watching Jamie Fraser, right?” He didn’t need to say any more, and of course, I took the bait.
Richie agreed to make his character look like a Scottish Highlander and he was doing a fair job of remembering Jamie’s more obvious physical features, but he soon grew tiresome of my heckling from across the room and didn’t put up a fight when I took possession of the controller. The detail in this game is astonishing (you choose everything down to the length of the nose of your choice), but I do believe there is a built-in block to prevent you from making yourself too good-looking. I was throughly entertained during the process, however, which in turn thoroughly entertained my husband (and Jason and Jessica). And yes, I named him “Jamie Fraser.”
After all the work I put into it though, I was rather dismayed to discover that you don’t actually see your character while playing the game…so Jason’s original plan sort of backfired, but I’ll take this over bocce ball any day.