Posts tagged ‘downton abbey’

March 27, 2012

a few more little treasures i found on netflix…

island at war: if you enjoyed reading the guernsey literary and potato peel society you will enjoy this mini series.  set on the fictitious island of st. gregory this tells the story of four families at the beginning of wwII.  although the island itself does not exist,  the series is drawn from events that actually happened on the channel islands during the german occupation.   i was particularly pleased to discover that it featured joanne frogatt.  downton fans will recognize anna (one of my favorites) ~ it was fun to see her in a different role. unfortunately only one season is offered and apparently that is all that was written.  while the series stands well on its own it does end rather abruptly and one wonders what would have happened in a second season.

housewife, 49: an absolutely beautiful piece brilliantly acted.  another period flick set in england at the time of wwII, the story is drawn from the diaries of nella last; a housewife who volunteered for the mass observation archive.  the archive was set up in 1937 in an effort to record the views of everyday, ordinary british people.  nella was as ordinary as they come.  her narrative forms the backbone of the story of a lonely woman, her family, and her marriage during the war.     it is poignantly sweet, tragic, funny, and devastating.  if you are an ordinary person who has struggled to find your voice,  at times felt inadequate, or even served on a committee under a chairperson who has allowed their power to go completely to their head – you will relate.

please note that both of the above are (in my opinion at least) for adult viewing only.  some scenes, and some of the subject matter would be a bit too strong for a little mind to digest.

March 23, 2012

my prize


i waited six weeks.  i was #40 of i don’t know how many holds and now –

i finally have it.

eighty-two  card holders are waiting for me to finish this book.

eighty-two  people  behind me…all of them..waiting….waiting….waiting…with bated breath.

i could be kind and return it as soon as i am finished.

or not.

i could hold it for the full two weeks allowed me;

or not.

i could renew it for an additional two weeks keeping it for an entire month


i could be exceptionally cruel  and hold it. overdue.  indefinitely.

i could even try to determine who is next in line and offer it as a bribe for say…

a dozen chocolate cupcakes from merritt’s?

come weed my lawn and i’ll let you take a peek?

oh the power of obtaining a coveted library book!

February 20, 2012

good morning

so i just put my husby on a plane for the week.  normally he comes home on thursday evenings ad we have a long weekend, but recently his client asked that for the next four weeks he stay through friday.  those additional twenty-four hours make for a very long stretch so we squeeze as much as we possibly can out of our weekends.  to us this means scheduling very little except for our customary date night, catching each other up on what happened during the week, and doing some projects together around the house.  since our time together is so limited these days, i don’t do much house work over the weekends, meaning that monday is a major clean-up-and-get-it-all-back-together day.  not exactly fun, especially after an airport run.

i will however, set aside some time this afternoon for more important things such as catching the downton abbey season finale.  speaking of which, i came across this article this morning.

puts my current feelings on housekeeping in a totally different perspective.(highclere castle by the way is the real downton)

January 23, 2012

tea scones

my grandfather immigrated to the united states from england when he was four.  i grew up hearing the stories of how his mother lay in the cabin, uncomfortable with motion sickness, while my grandfather played marbles on the floor – watching them roll back and forth with the rocking of the ship.  growing up in the u.s., he eventually lost his accent, but one thing his family kept were their english traditions.  a pot of tea and scones were one of them.  i have eaten these since i was a child, long before the scone became a food fad.  these are in my opinion, closer to the original intent, a far cry from the enormous sugar laden product now offered at a coffee shop.  they are most likely what would have been served for tea at downton abbey (if you are still watching) whether you were dining upstairs, or down, and would have been served with clotted cream and a jam or curd of some sort.   my wedding reception featured a high tea and a friend and i made these by the hundreds one afternoon before the wedding: they are that simple to put together.

scone by the way is pronounced to rhyme with “lawn” not “stone”.

tea scones

2 cups of flour

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of dried currants (optional, i rarely use them as it competes too much with the jam i like to serve on the side)

6 tablespoons of butter

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup of milk

1 slightly beaten egg

in a bowl thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  stir in the currants, if desired.  cut in butter til the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. add 1 beaten egg and milk, stirring just till the dough clings together.  knead dough gently on lightly floured surface (12-15 strokes).  cut the ough in half.  shape each half into a ball and pat or roll to a 6-inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick.  with a sharp knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges.  place wedges on ungreased baking sheet or baking stone.  do not allow the sides to touch.  brush tops with lightly beaten egg, and bake at 425 until a deep golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  makes one dozen scones.

note: the key to having them raise nice and high is fresh baking powder and handling the dough as little as possible.

~ from better homes and gardens heritage cookbook

January 18, 2012

random thoughts about downton abbey

we do not own a tv so i happened upon downton abbey a year ago,  quite by accident, while browsing the masterpiece theater website.  being an avid fan of period flicks from any time period i eagerly devoured all four episodes.  i wouldn’t call myself a huge fan as there are some things i really don’t care for as you will see in the following list,  but i do enjoy watching and plan to add the series to my library.

i recently saw a piece on the news speculating as to why we americans are so taken with a british series and what it is that makes us want to watch:  supposedly the riveting drama and romance of the time period. from my perspective,  i couldn’t disagree more; but then i watch for very different reasons.

~ i have to check in with my favorite character.

it is not lady mary.

it is not cora, or anna, or even mr. bates.

it is the house.

the opening credits with the dog on the lawn and the maids opening the raised panel shutters give me goosebumps.  i lose a lot of important dialogue because i am busy looking at the interiors: linen fold panels in the library, the open shelves and copper pans in the kitchen.

~ i love the lifestyle that goes along with the house.  ring a bell for a tea tray to be brought to your room first thing in the morning.  a walk in the garden, change for lunch. change for tea in the afternoon, change again for a formal dinner in the evening.  while the director’s slant (in my opinion) is to make such a life seem dull and meaningless, don’t tell me you haven’t watched and for just one second thought how lovely it would be to have a day whose primary duties were nothing more than growing roses and pouring tea from a pot worth millions.

that being said:

~ the life of a domestic looks very gratifiying to me as well.  yes, it was hard work, no, they weren’t well paid but everyone (thomas excluded) seemed to be somewhat contented  in their position and there is something appealing about the role and skill  of the housekeeper  meticulously running the household like a very well oiled machine.  i also think it would be great fun to wear a uniform.  a black dress with a lace apron is much more pretty for housework  than yoga pants and a hoodie.

i do not care for:

~ isobel.  ::ducks to avoid flying objects::  i’m sorry.  i think she is a goody two shoes.  i think she has far too lofty an opinion of herself and her ideas and since they are (in her opinion) right, it gives her license to traipse all over other people’s boundaries like  clumsy goat in a rose bed.   i guess i have known far too many people like her.  i *do* however, love the work of penelope wilton, and i think it cool that she took the role of isobel  to fulfill a  long time dream of working with maggie smith.

~ i don’t like all the cliches and cheesy catch phrases.  by the end of season 2 episode 1 i was ready to propose a drinking game.  bottoms up every time one hears the words “the times are changing…”

~the writer and director have in my opinion taken too many liberties and the piece has lost a certain amount of authenticity.  i’m too much of a stickler for realism.  try as i might, i just can’t visualize a lady’s maid and her mistress confiding in each other about their respective romantic issues, or for that matter,  a lady ducking into the butler’s personal quarters for a bit of a friendly chat.

~it has become very predictable.  we all know what will happen.  anna and mr. bates will find a way, and the butler will pass on.   the earl of grantham will pitch a fit when sybil marries the chauffer (until he remembers  that “the times are changing “), edith will be hurt enough times to soften her nastiness, and mary and matthew crawley will get together in the end possibly producing an heir so we can have a season 4 (season 3 is being filmed as we speak…).

what do you want to bet?