Saturday, May 16, 2015

House of Hawthorne

House of Hawthorne   By Erika Robuck

They say behind every great man there is a woman.  For the past few years we’ve been given many novels about celebrated  men and their behind the scenes wives.  They make us not forget those of fame were just people who married women who complimented and complemented them. I’ve enjoyed a few of these novels.  They made me stop and realize the human side of the name on the book cover.
This is the story of the life of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and artist Sophia Peabody. Sophia suffered from debilitating headaches her whole life and they seemed to manifest themselves the most when she painted. Her family all but gave up on Sophia ever having a full life.  She was encouraged to sit this one out.  Yet she couldn’t deny her gift and was a celebrated painter.
 Sophia and Nathaniel first laid eyes on each other and then never took them off each other.  This is the story of their love, their family, their passion for their own work, and the struggle to produce their works in their own right.  Of course, Sophia is the one who encouraged her husband to do what he must do to build his reputation as a writer while her painting was put aside to care for him, their children and families across decades and continents.   The story was a good one, and the references to other famous families (Hawthorne, Alcott, Thoreau, etc. )of the middle 1800’s sharing many scenes and put the times in context.  If you enjoy the latest books of the women behind the men, this one won’t disappoint you.  I promise.
Netgalley review copy

Monday, May 11, 2015

Countdown begins

 This will be the last post from this house forever.  That's very hard to say even in writing. Our internet will be cut off tomorrow or the next day and when that happens I can access my iPad but not post on the blog. So, until we talk again, picture our life:

 I'm to the point of finding stray things and tossing them into any old box and taping it shut.  I wouldn't be surprised upon unpacking to find the toaster in with the toothpaste.

     I asked PH yesterday if I didn't quilt and didn't read would we have been able to handle this better?  He reminded me about the dishes, too.  I'm a sucker for pretty dishes and love TJMaxx.

My quilt stash isn't near what some people's stashes are, I think.  I have ten tubs you've seen in other posts.  There are books and patterns and ideas, but not as many as some I've seen and believe me, I've purged those deeply.  I sat myself down and had a serious talk with myself about some of the things I've torn out of magazines, copied from magazines, and the chances of ever using them. Luckily I don't buy a lot of patterns or quilt books.  If I do they are more for historical reference.  I gave my quilt magazines (LOTS  and LOTS of them) to Friend Marilyn to go through, tear out what she needed and donate the rest to the guild.  I mean really, how many do we need? Especially at the rate I get something actually done!   I now think twice about buying magazines off the newsstand, but still subscribe to two.

Books are another story. I buy books. I still buy picture books and not just because I read to the kids at the girls' school.  But because I love them. I don't think you ever are too old for picture books. "My books" are my security blanket. So I buy them and use the Kindle.  Since I learned to read I've had to have a book in my hand or nearby kind of like Elizabeth still wanting her cuddle nearby, within sight or in her arms at all times.  That and my camera.

Today I went through an old file cabinet and found the stories I wrote in college (top marks, by the way.)  I found a folder with autographs:  Amelia Earhart, John Philip Sousa, Erma Bombeck, Carl Sagan,  Florence Henderson.  Some my father-in-law received  and some I received.  I found I can't part with those yet.  When I die the kids will find this thick folder and wonder about it. I hope they look carefully before throwing it all away.

The other day I made room in a big heavy tub filled with pictures of the kids' lives from birth. I needed to fit two shoeboxes of pics into that tub and I did but it took hours because I laughed and smiled and remembered my way through 39 years.  Someday at the new destination I'll go through it again and sort them out:  Lisa's, Ben's and togethers. That way when the time comes, they'll have them sorted.

 Imagine these shelves (one of two like this in the house) filled to overflowing with books.  Now imagine us having to move the boxes and tote bags filled with these books with our 65 year old bodies.  Ugh.  Those drawers held my stash.

 Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards are bare but she stocks emergency supplies of Oreos and tea
 and chocolate.  Ooohhh I love this bar. 

It's raining steadily today but since this is the last post I walked the porches and took what some shots of blooms where I could.  
 This is a tart cherry bush.  And yes, these blossoms do become cherries.  They're very pretty in July with the lavender poking through the bush.

The hostas are loving today's rain.  All of the hostas that line this north facing porch are from friends at school.  Back in the day we would have a perennial exchange day in April.  When things would just start popping up we'd thin out our own perennials, put them in containers or baggies and bring them to school on a particular day.  Then we'd take what we wanted and share our own.  These hostas were always a nice reminder of those spring days.
 There aren't many apple blossoms this year but the few are beautiful
 Mrs. Finch built a nest in the blueberry twig wreath on the front porch right next to the door so I will have to leave the wreath.  I'm sorry about leaving it, I love this wreath, but it is always a favorite of a robin or dove or this year a finch for a nest.  We love having the birds build around the house. One year we had five robin nests on the tops of some pillars on the porches.  I know fruit farmers hate the robins but I'm not a fruit farmer.  I'll leave the wreath rather than disturb momma finch's family.
 My grandma always had forger-me-nots in her garden.  They do seed and take over, but that's what I like about them.  They're the cutest little things, the blue is perfect and you find them in the strangest places the next year.  Again, I'm ok with that. 
 The Virburum Carlesii  has an overpowering sweet aroma you can smell from two houses away.  That's why I love it. 
No matter how cold a spring is, it seems the plants have their own calendar and manage to stay in time.

So, this is it, folks. Over the years I've showed you the lake in sun and snow, sunsets, beach kite days and pictures of the grands playing along the shore.  That's the hardest part of leaving here.  PH and I are ok with it, we made friends here and will come visit but we do have to leave. We have a week booked at one of our friends' homes this summer.  So while we will leave the shore we will end up on a hilltop that overlooks miles of forest that we are assured has just as much if not more wildlife to watch and new places for the kids to explore.  We will also have a smaller house and yard for PH and I to maintain. A house two blocks from the grandgirls, and new places to discover.    There is no denying it will be hard to say good-bye to this house, but as a friend told me recently, "you can love the house but the house can't love you back.  Only your people can do that."  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fika, The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break with Recipes for Pastries, Breads and other Treats

Fika, The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break with Recipes for Pastries, Breads and other Treats by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall

I don’t drink coffee but the subtitle intrigued me so when offered this book by Blogging for Books I took a chance.  And what a yummy decision that turned out to be!  

Apparently the Swedish tradition is a twice a day coffee break that must be accompanied by something sweet.  It doesn’t matter where or with whom the coffee break is spent, but it must accompany a treat. That’s what makes it Fika.  Coffee WITH something to eat.

I do believe if you are going to review  a cookbook you should make something from it.  In a previous book I made a whole meal but I surely couldn’t bake and eat some or lots or all of the goodies in this book. So, I chose something I was suspicious of.  Havreflarn med Choklad (Oat Crisp Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.)  I was suspicious because I expected the oat crisps to soften and become mooshy after spread with the chocolate filling and thus the oat cookie couldn’t be considered “crisp.” 

The recipe was very simple. Oats, butter, sugar, a tiny bit of flour, baking soda, egg.  The cookies spread out quite a bit and I think when I make them again I will make them much, much smaller.  These spread out to a small saucer size.  But they stayed crisp through their cooling, through the chocolate layer spread and the sandwiching of another cookie on top and they were still crisp the next day.  Winner!

Really, I can’t wait to try many more of the recipes in this book and will keep it close at hand on the shelf.  This one is a winner.