Monday, June 13, 2016

Dog Eared Page: The Owl and the Pussycat

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married;
too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,
His nose,            
 With a ring at the end of his nose.

- "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Eward Lear

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rec Five: Teas to taste

Untitled photo credit: Khuroshvili Ilya

  Gary's Kilty Pleasure (A Scottish Breakfast Tea)- This is my go-to tea from my favorite tea bar. I drink it at least once a day. It is perfect for the mornings to reinforce you and for those rainy days you need warmed from the inside out. Plus, it is blended on sight at the store, and all their tea is fair-trade. Here's what Red Lodge Books and Tea had to say about it: "Gary's Kilty Pleasure is a Scottish breakfast tea blended from Assam and Kenya black estate teas...known for its maltiness and astringency. Gary chose a nice, malty Assam from the Khongea Estate for this blend.The Kenya black tea from the Lelsa Estate balances out the blend, producing a smooth, bright breakfast tea that tastes good with milk, but doesn't require anything."

Mr. Excellent's Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey Tea- This tea has been smoked, and so tastes like a campfire smells in the early morning. Which, admittedly, is a very specific taste and one I reserve for special moods or days, rather than my typical morning cup of tea. But its unique tea and I've never really seen its like before. It is perfect for a pensive mood and a reminder of nature's majesty. It has a complex taste best described by the Red Lodge Books and Tea: "...the bergamot is the first thing to hit the nose, cutting through the smokiness of the lapsang souchong. When you take the first sip, the bergamot all but disappears, leaving the pine smoke flavor, which fades into the base tea (an organic black Yunnan) as it swirls through your mouth. After you swallow, the bergamot returns, blending with the smoke to create a lingering aftertaste."

Lady Londonderry- The Townshend's Tea Company  advertises the tea by saying that "Rumor has it this was Princess Diana's favorite tea. Flavorful smooth black tea with a hint of strawberry and lemon." And I'll admit that I was intrigued to know what made this a royal favorite; my secret celebrity radar tingled! But the tea did not disappoint.  With many fruits in tea, they tend to overpower the palette; not so here. The strawberry and lemon show only in subtle hints of flavor, making it so I prefer this tea straight, with no cream or sugar.

Roasted Chestnut-  I am obsessed with this tea and before one could order it online from Nicole's Bakery, I would get several tins each time I visited the Fargo area. This tea has a delicate, nutty flavor quite unlike anything I've ever tasted before, but which compliments anything choose to serve the tea with. Interestingly, it actually doesn't contain any chestnuts, but it is made with sliced almonds, so those with tree nut allergies should be aware of that fact.

Lady Greystroke-  Earl Grey tea in general is a favorite with me, but my very favorite variation of it is this, A lavender infused Earl Grey tea. "A smooth, mellow Earl Grey with wild lavender, a bit of rooibos, and just a touch of vanilla to add a touch of creaminess," is how the Red Lodge Tea Company describes their brew. The lavender is most strongly noticable in its scent; I've seen ladies make sachets out of this tea, in addition to drinking it, for their clothing drawers. But if you are drinking it, it is a delicate tea that doesn't really need cream, though Lady Greystroke does make for a delicious Tea Latte as well. Plus, it is named after Tarzan's wife, so the literary allusion makes it extra fun to buy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

In June, Why Don't You...

photo credit: blackened books

Tackle that list of classics you always meant to read?

Build a sand castle on the beach

Get a tune- up for your car

Learn about another culture by attending a Powwow 

Go for a round of mini-golf

Attend a conference to develop your professional skills

Don a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off

Create a "Welcome Basket" for your guest room filled with anything your guests might need (Psst! don't forget to include your WiFi password!)

Walk a dog at the animal shelter

Make a giant scrabble game to play outside

Friday, May 27, 2016

Month in Review: May 2016

Ready for Summer Plans
May seems to be a time for beginnings and endings- as you can see in this list of things to do in May! School is now out here and Summer is officially here. To celebrate, we talked travel both real- such are our trip to Los Angles- and imagined, such as with this Roman Holiday themed stationery post. Summer can also be a great time to see a few great films (why try this month's Film Flick?) and catch up on some reading (this month's Dog Eared Page is a great book, if you're looking for a recommendation.)

Summer also means styling to look cool in the heat. To help with that, I shared my summer wishlist, and shared some of my favorite blogs for minimalist style. You could also take inspiration from this month's Cinema Style post- it is, literally, out of this world.
Ready for Summer Finds

10 Things that Require Zero Luck or Talent

Three dangerous words:  "I Feel Like" 

Suzanne's thoughtful post about creating a dream wardrobe  and, in contrast, Rebecca shares how living abroad changed her clothing style

Afghanistan's first female street artist

10 year old designer creates clothes to counter body-shaming! 

I love alternative history- and this Africa Uncolonized is a fantastic "what-if"

"Seeing" Einstein's gravitation waves! 

How music taste has evolved (according to the Top 10 Billboard)

A new movie adaptation of Watership Down?!?!

Tips for going to Yellowstone: DON'T TOUCH THE WILDLIFE (and definitely don't put it in your car.) Also- let's not step all over the irreplaceable geothermic features that can kill you, m'kay?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Film Flick: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird, both book and film, are American icons, a snapshot of racial issues from the earlier half of the 20th century, while also being a story about growing older. A young tomboy, Scout (played by Mary Bedham),  learns about doing the right thing as she watches her father (Gregory Peck) take on a racially charged case in a southern town in the 1930s. A young black man (Brock Peters) has been accursed of rape, and it is Atticus Finch who agrees to represent him. Over the course of a year and half, the case and its fall out become the backdrop of her life, even as the six year old's more innocent concerns about school, friends, and the neighborhood recluse (Robert Duvell) also unfold. 

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel was published in 1960, as the American Civil Rights movement was beginning. A mere two years later, it was put to the screen, and would be nominated for Best Picture. It would go on to win Best Adapted Screenplay;  Best Art Direction; and Best Actor for Gregory Peck in what some would consider his most definitive role as father Atticus Finch. The book's author, Harper Lee, later recalled, “When I learned that Gregory Peck would play Atticus Finch ... I was of course delighted: here was a fine actor who had made great films–  what more could a writer ask for? … years later told me his secret. When he played Atticus Finch, he had played himself, and time has told all of us something more: when he played himself, he touched the world.” Peck also remembered the role fondly, and shared in an interview, "Hardly a day passes that I don’t think how lucky I was to be cast in that film...I recently sat at a dinner next to a woman who saw it when she was 14 years old, and she said it changed her life.” Peck was not the only one who found this a landmark film to be involved in. Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson, the man accursed of rape, has stated, “It certainly is one of my proudest achievements in life, one of the happiest participations in film or theater I have experienced.” He remained friends with Peck and young Bedham for the rest of his life. Additionally, To Kill a Mockingbird was the film debut of Robert Duvall, William Windom, and Alice Ghostley.

But, though both the film and book are famous and each well done in their own right, they are not synonymous; the story changes as the medium does. Most notably, when Harper Lee wrote the vaguely autobiographical novel, she told the story through the very limited narration of a six year old; all is seen through her eyes. A film cannot do that and so must take on a 3rd person narrative. The Atticus a young child sees is the book is perhaps, not the whole picture; all children idolize their fathers. However, that distinction was not brought to the screen. Arguably, Peck's Atticus is too good, too perfect to be quite real within the story, no matter how much Peck is playing himself. Critic Roger Eberts takes it a step farther, stating that "[the film is] a time capsule. It expresses the liberal pieties of a more innocent time, the early 1960s, and it goes very easy on the realities of small-town Alabama in the 1930s." This is never more obvious than when a lynch mob is dispelled by a child's innocent ramblings, or the way all the colored audience members stand when Atticus walks out of the courtroom. 

Still, one can argue that though the full extent of racial tensions are not seen or fairly portrayed, To Kill a Mockingbird helped to further a conversation America needed to have, and that it still furthers that conversation today. That alone makes it worth watching and remembering, a fact the the United States National Film Registry agreed with when it added the movie to the Library of Congress in 1995. So, go ahead, watch, and find out why it is a sin To Kill a Mockingbird.
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