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Small Moments of Happiness: April 2020

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Another month is drawing to a close. I truly hope that your April was better than March. Was it?

Here are a few things that brought me joy in April.

The Andrea Bocelli Music for Hope Concert

I thought it was so nice of Andrea Bocelli to do this concert for the world. It really brought me hope and made me feel like we really are in this together. I also found the cathedral stunning. Andrea Bocelli has the voice of an angel.

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Audible

Like most of us (I know that readers of this blog are like-minded individuals) I find comfort in books. I mentioned earlier on the blog that I signed up for the Audible membership. I’m really pleased with it. It comes with one credit per month towards a free audiobook, no matter the length or cost. After that, the audiobooks are discounted for Audible members. It also comes with several free monthly Audible Originals. So far, most of April’s Audible Originals weren’t my cup of tea, but I’m hoping May will have a few that are more my style. Before I signed up for Audible, I used my library for digital audiobooks (which I will continue to use for when I don’t want to purchase audiobooks). I would start with your library before committing to a paid membership.

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Tea on a rainy April day. A glorious cup of tea makes for a joyful morning.

The Great Courses

I listened to a Great Course via my library’s digital collection. If you need an educational diversion, then I recommend The Great Courses. They have courses on literally every subject on the planet. My course was about espionage which I highly enjoyed.

TV adaptation of Belgravia

I’ve already mentioned this on the blog, but period dramas are seeing me through this pandemic. Belgravia is doing a nice job of keeping me going. I also watched Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollope adaptation) on Amazon Prime. Loved it.

What have you been enjoying?

xoxo, Jane

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I leave you with this picture of tulips from a few years ago. (Maybe I should have also mentioned that another thing that brings me joy is scrolling through my flower photos from years gone by.)

 

Did I really need more Jane Austen books?

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I bought three new books from my local independent bookstore. (Curbside, contactless pick-up!) Did I need new books? No, I did not. Did I need newer editions of three of the Austens? No. But in my bid to support and shop local (so I keep telling myself) I thought I’d treat myself to these new editions.

I bought the annotated Northanger Abbey. I loved this story and I wanted to better appreciate and understand the background, the fashion and the era. Also, it contains maps, illustrations, literary comments, analysis and more. I want to reread this novel so I can fully enjoy the annotations and illustrations for my own education before rewatching the 2007 film. If I enjoy reading it as much as I think I will, I’ll buy an annotated version of my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion.

I recently finished Emma. While she is not my favorite heroine (not even in the top three, I’m afraid), I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Penguin Classics edition for my library.

Last but not least, I also treated myself to the Penguin Classics edition of Mansfield Park. This is the only full-length Jane Austen novel I haven’t read yet.

What’s on your nightstand right now?

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Tea with Mr. Rochester)

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I’ve been making an effort to read more short stories. They pack a punch in just a few short pages. I’m left thinking and rethinking about the plot for days after I finish the story. Tea with Mr. Rochester is one such short story collection.

When I think of Mr. Rochester, I think of the character from Jane Eyre. If that’s who you thought of too, then you can probably guess the common theme of each story in this collection: love. Most of the stories don’t necessarily end happily. Or maybe they do, depending on your view. The beauty of a short story is that it doesn’t tell you how or what to think. You are left thinking and analyzing for days afterwards.

Take for example, the sixth story in this collection, Spade Man from over the Water. It takes place inside the drawing room of a married woman, Mrs. Penny, who is entertaining her new neighbor. The new neighbor, Mrs. Asher, hopes she can become good friends with Mrs. Penny. All we know at this point is that Mrs. Penny has a husband who travels often. He seems to never be in the picture. Her husband discourages Mrs. Penny from having friends, but she yearns for the friendship of women. Mrs. Asher and her children move into the cottage near Mrs. Penny. She too has a husband who travels a lot. When Mrs. Asher sees a picture of Mrs. Penny’s husband she grows quiet and mysterious. They end the evening proclaiming they will become good friends. But that never happens, much to the disappointment of Mrs. Penny. The cottage is emptied virtually overnight. Mrs. Asher and her children disappear, never to be heard of again.

This ending left me stumped. The only solution that I can come up with is that Mrs. Penny’s husband leads a double life with Mrs. Asher. This might be why Mrs. Asher disappears after seeing the photograph of Mrs. Penny’s husband.

For this short story collection, I’d pair Fortnum’s Fortmason tea. The tea is black, strong and heavily infused with orange blossoms. You’ll need a strong tea to get through some of these (very excellent, some sweet, some bizarre) short stories.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #55 (Bibliophile Edition)

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Capitol Hill Books

I’ve been using more of my own photography on the blog, as opposed to stock photos. I took this picture years ago at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, D.C.

Another bookstore nearby is East City Bookshop. Well worth the visit when the pandemic is behind us.

A few more book-related links:

I like pairing books with tea.

I enjoy reading the bookish articles at Book Riot.

Seven French Food Books.

The Books Briefing: What Personal Letters Reveal About Human Struggles.

Bookshops in Bath.

By the Book: Classic Literature in Film/TV.

Shakespeare & Sons Bookshop in Prague.

Be well and stay safe!

xoxo, Jane

 

 

A few current pleasures

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Dear friends,

We’ve now entered the phase of reckless impatience here in the USA. People no longer wish to be confined to their homes and have decided to protest. I am told these protestors are in the minority. I would hope so. I imagine even one small group of protestors can make life even more difficult for our tired, underpaid, under-protected and overworked healthcare workers.

In the spirit of staying upbeat and positive, I thought I’d share with you a few of my current pleasures while complying with my stay-at-home order.

The TV adaptation of Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia.

Belgravia is a well-made historical drama with an incredible cast. Period dramas are seeing me through this pandemic! A new episode is released every Sunday. I watch it with a pot of tea and a sweet treat. It really gives me something to look forward to all week long. In fact, I’m in a good mood just thinking about this week’s upcoming episode.

My current audiobook.

I’m listening to To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham. The narrator, Deirdre O’Connell, is fantastic. She has this Irish lilt that is oh so lovely and soothing in my ear. This book is the second in the Forbidden Vikings series. I enjoyed the first book, To Sin with a Viking, so very much that the sequel was an automatic yes for me.

Chocolate.

Life shall remain somewhat upbeat as long as there is chocolate. I’m sure someone else, much wiser and more important than me, said the same thing.

Audible.

I finally signed up for an Audible account. I don’t know why I was so late to join the audiobook game because audiobooks are the best thing ever. I can listen to books while I clean, cook or do the laundry.  Or I can listen while I do nothing except lounge around!

How are you holding up?

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #54

 

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Blossoms in the wind.

The first episode of Belgravia is available in the US on Epix. I loved the book by Julian Fellowes and am excited to watch the series.

I paired Belgravia with a cup of tea. Now you know which tea to drink while watching the TV adaptation. Speaking of Belgravia, this is an interesting history piece about what happened at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball.

This is totally me. You too? British costume dramas are keeping me sane.

We’re all alone. So let’s get lost in these paintings of parties.

The Library of Congress is republishing classic crime fiction by American writers. The first one was released earlier this month, That Affair Next Door by Anna Katherine Green. The titles are found in the Library’s collection of out-of-print and forgotten books. The covers are inspired by images from the Library’s collection. How cool is that?  The books are published by Poisoned Pen Press, which is the same company that publishes the British Library Crime Classics.

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Other Bennet Sister)

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Normally I pair tea with books I’ve read. Today is an exception because I haven’t read The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow yet, but I will. I’m currently half-way through Square Haunting and am looking forward to picking up The Other Bennet Sister.

The Other Bennet Sister is about Mary Bennet, “an introvert in a family of extroverts.” Janice Hadlow gives Mary, the sister I’ve always found annoying, a voice in a story that’s over 600 pages long. So it’s definitely a tome to get lost in and forget the troubles around us. And boy do we have a lot of troubles right now. I’m looking forward to reading Mary’s story and getting to know her better.

I’m going to assume, this being a Jane Austen continuation, there is a wedding. If not Mary’s wedding, then at least someone else’s. Fortnum’s Wedding Breakfast Tea would pair well while reading this book. What do you think?

xoxo, Jane

PS. Speaking of tea, if you love tea as much as I do, then stop by my Instagram where I post about tea (and books and flowers).

Thursday Reading Links #53

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Only feel-good links today.

These Artists Are Making Free Coloring Pages For You To Enjoy.

If you like looking at pictures of home libraries, then The Captive Reader has you covered.

The best podcasts for book-lovers and creatives.

You can create your own perfume at Musée du Perfum. Someday I’m going to do this!

French Cultural Institutions Providing Free Content Online.

The Birth of Fashion Magazines.

The History of Dewy Skin.

A pretty teacup.

What to read when you need an escape.

xoxo, Jane

What I’m enjoying during isolation

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Like most of us, I’m pretty stressed. I’m also extremely worried about my future. I can’t concentrate on writing because of the worries lingering over me. During this pandemic, I’m not going to become the next Shakespeare or Da Vinci, that’s for sure. However, there are a few things that I’m enjoying during isolation. (Many thanks to Sophril Reads for this idea.)

Podcasts

Even though I’m not commuting to the office, I’m still enjoying my podcasts. I listen to them (usually about women’s history) while I make breakfast and tea and throughout the day as I work. I think I’m enjoying listening to them much more than before because I don’t have the stress of the commute weighing me down. I don’t have to worry about balancing myself, plus all of my work stuff, while standing on an overcrowded, jerking metro.

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Tea

I can’t explain to you how nice it is to drink a cup of tea in the morning without worrying about hurrying up or not finishing it because I need to rush out the door. Plus, it’s such a treat to drink tea in my fine china during the workday.

Loungewear

I’m not going to lie. I wear my loungewear all day. It is glorious.

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Flowers

To cheer myself up, I keep an abundance of flowers around the house. I don’t leave the house often, but when I do it’s for the grocery store. I pick up at least two or three bouquets. This way I always have flowers in constant rotation.

Nature

Now that we have nicer weather, I keep the windows and patio door open while I work. Sometimes I glance out at the patio where I’m highly amused to see squirrels scouring about and the chirping birds dancing on the tree branches. Being so close to some type of nature during the workday is a stress reliever for sure.

I hope there are a few things that are cheering you up during isolation.

Take good care.

xoxo, Jane

 

 

 

Pairing books with tea (Persephone Biannually)

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During this anxious time we are living in, I wanted to soothe my spirit and the best way I do that is by organizing my bookshelves. Well, during the organization I re-discovered my old copies of the Persephone Biannually.

If you haven’t read this magazine by Persephone Books, then you are in for a treat. It’s a literary magazine written and published by Persephone Books, a publisher that focuses on republishing forgotten female (and a few male) authors.

The articles in the magazine focus on their authors, the story behind the books and interesting details about their famous endpapers. There is no charge for the magazine (at the time of this writing) and if you are interested in their books, then you can sign up to be added to their mailing list so they can ship the magazine to you.

Today, I’m pairing a tea with this wonderful literary magazine. Which tea shall we pair? How about Harney’s Citrus Blend? It’s a black tea with an orange flavor. Light and citrusy, perfect for an afternoon of magazine reading. Enjoy!

xoxo, Jane

The Occasional Weekly Recap

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Hello, how are you on this sunny Saturday morning? By sunny, I mean that the sun is streaming through my windows. Like you, I’m mostly housebound. Though I feel very privileged for having a patio and plan to do some reading out there later this morning.

I’m currently reading Square Haunting. I love it so much that I feel overwhelmed and am reading a little at a time. It’s almost as if I don’t want the book to end…do you ever feel like that too?

Grab your cup of tea (or coffee) and keep on reading:

January, February and March 2020 Wrap-Up Part II

Small Moments of Happiness: March 2020

Thursday Reading Links #52

Pairing books with tea (The Mistress of Spices)

January, February and March 2020 Wrap-Up Part III

xoxo, Jane