Monday, June 21, 2010

Revised Reading List: Jane Austen Reading Challenge

I've had to make a change to my reading list for the Jane Austen Reading Challenge that I'm taking part in this year.

I have already completed Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey as part of the challenge, which I thoroughly enjoyed (my review can be found here). I then decided to follow it up with Mr Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll, which is a sequel to Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

I stuck with it for three weeks, reading only very little each time, and have now decided that it is probably better if I dont finish it. I only got 50 or so pages in, but I feel that it is just too different to Pride & Prejudice and all the wonderful things that make me love that book so much. I'm worried the next time I pick up P&P all I'll be able to think about is Mr Darcy Takes a Wife.

So, I've decided to revise my reading list for this challenge. Rather than force myself to read a book I just dont like, I would much prefer to try something else. So, my revised list is as follows:

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen **COMPLETED**Darcy & Anne by Judith Brocklehurst **COMPLETED**Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sandition by Jane Austen **COMPLETED**Selected Letters (Oxford World Classics) by Jane Austen **COMPLETED**

Shelly from Tea Time was so kind to send me a copy of Selected Letters earlier in the year, and I'm so pleased that I now get to add it to my reading list for the Jane Austen Challenge, but so very disappointed that Mr Darcy Takes a Wife wasnt to my liking.

However, that doesnt mean that someone else wont like it, so if you're interested in giving Mr Darcy Takes a Wife a try, I'm more than happy to send you my copy, since I now have no use for it. If you would like it, send me an email with your address and I'll pop it in the post as soon as possible (please be advised that due to an increase in postage rates I will have to send this one by sea mail to an international address). First in, best dressed!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

About the House: Renovations 19.06.10

This weekend we did some more renovation work in the main (our) bedroom. SJ and his dad finally found the time to put in the new cornice and do some final patching.

Being an old building (built 1890s at some point, from what we can work out from the records), the ceilings in the front rooms of the house are the highest, reaching between 8 and 9 feet high. The cornice throughout the original part of the house is 30mm wide and is simply wrong for a ceiling of this height. So, after much deliberation, we have decided to replace it with 90mm cornice, which suits the original wood-slat roof much better.

It's taken a few months, but the work in the main bedroom is almost complete. The walls have been patched and re-plastered, and now that the cornice is up all that remains to be done is to give the woodwork a light sanding (ceiling, skirtings and architraves), give the entire room a coat of undercoat/prep-coat, and then paint it in its new colours. Hopefully this will be achieved over the next three weeks (that's the plan, at least). Then once the carpet is back down, we'll be able to move the furniture (and ourselves) back in!

Now just need to decide on those paint colours...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dahl Soup

A couple weekends ago I made the most amazingly good red lentil dahl soup. In fact, it is quite possibly the tastiest meal I have ever served, and I know I will make it again and again and again...It freezes well too.

Dahl is a delicious Indian lentil dish, with tomatoes, coconut milk and Indian spices - the smell and taste is incredibly moreish. And, of course, the lentils are incredibly good for you! I would go so far as to say it is almost impossible not to like this dish!

Here is the recipe:

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

25g butter
2 garlic gloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 tspn garam masala
1/4 tspn chilli powder
1 tspn ground cumin
400g canned diced tomatoes
1 cup red lentils (dry)
2 tspn lemon juice
600ml vegetable stock
300ml coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Chopped coriander (cilantro) and lemon slices to garnish
Naan bread or steamed rice (or both!) to serve

1. Melt butter in large saucepan/pot and saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add spices and cook for a further 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, red lentils, lemon juice, vegetable stock and coconut milk and bring to boil.

3. Reduce heat and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and cooked.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the soup into a warm bowl. Garnish with coriander and lemon slices and serve on rice or with naan bread (or both!).

If the lentils absorb too much liquid whilst cooking, simply add small quantities of hot water to the pan. You should have a thick soup at the end, not thin and watery.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Category: Classic Romance

Fun, fun, fun!

Northanger Abbey was Jane Austen's first published novel, and tells the story of 17yo Catherine Morland's first social experiences in Bath and then later at Northanger Abbey.

Catherine is a fan of gothic novels, and is a guest of Mr & Mrs Allen's whilst in Bath, where she meets and makes friends with Isabella Thorpe, and is thrust into the social scene with balls and dinners. She becomes the love-interest of John Thorpe, Isabella's older brother, but rejects his advances because not only does she find him annoying and almost unbearable to be with, she is in love with Henry Tilney, brother to another new friend Eleanor. Once her stay in Bath comes to an end, she is invited by the Tilney's to spend time with them at their family home, Northanger Abbey.

What makes this novel so much fun is that once at Northanger Abbey, Catherine lets her imagination run wild with gothic fantasies, which leads to her making a major social faux pas. However, through her error she grows and develops from the mind of a child to that of a young woman, and the affection felt for her by the Tilney's is not diminished by her mistakes.

Groomed by General Tilney as a suitor for Henry, Catherine later leaves Northanger Abbey in a rush of mystery and intrigue. Of course, as is Jane Austen's style, the truth behind her sudden departure from the Abbey is later revealed, and in true romantic fashion: "all's well that ends well".

Fun, quick and easy to read, Northanger Abbey is well-deserving of 4 out of 5 stars.