Monday, July 15, 2019

Quick Lit ~ July '19

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy, and sharing what I've been reading ~ many of which complete categories in the MMD reading challenge.

The Gown by Jennifer Robson; which I chose for the cover (category) and to ease my impatience while I wait for the next season of the Crown.   While the story did not contain much of the lives of the Windsor's; it was a wonderful story of post WW2 England when rationing was still in effect and Londoners were dealing with survivor guilt and beginning look forward.  Primarily it tells the story of two of the embroiderers while they worked on Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown and how their grandchildren learn of this fascinating past.  I appreciated the stories of female friendship and the ease with which the author moved from the past, to present day and back again.

The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer is the story of Brigade-Major Harry Smith and his newlywed Juana. They met and fell instantly in love in Portugal while Major Smith was serving during the Peninsular War.  While I've been reading and enjoying Heyer's Regency 'comedy of manners' books for years this was my first 'historical', and found the balance she found between the details of battles and troop movements and the daily challenges faced by the couple and their friends excellent.  I learned a lot about the war (at least from the British perspective) but didn't feel like the human element was lost.

The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart is part memoir of Stewart's family's adventure as they down-sized dramatically and moved to a farm in TX for her husband's work; and part primer on how to live intentionally so that your choices fit your values even if they differ from those around you.  Stewart does a wonderful job of sharing what worked for her family while still being open to how those choices might not work in other situations.  She also manages to write beautifully about her value system and how she and her family have chosen to live according to them without coming across judgmental about other approaches to home and family.

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick is the story of William Marshall, a knight and tournament  champion during the time of the Plantagenet Kings.  Fictionalized but based on extensive research of the actual man; Chadwick tells an amazing story of a liege knight who must navigate loyalty and politics as his liege lord shifts from King Henry II, to his eldest son Henry the Young King, back to King Henry and by the end of the book King Richard.  This is the third book of Chadwick's I've read, and continue to really enjoy her attention to detail and character development.

Please head over to Modern Mrs Darcy for more Quick Lit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What I saw on my Irish vacation ~ Part 2

Part 1

    Having made it back to Dublin and enjoyed a good night sleep; the next morning had us up and ready for the day's adventure. Starting at Trinity College we took some time to wander around the main Quad before queuing up (as the locals would say) to see The Book of Kells.  Two of the four gospels are displayed at a time; at this time the Gospels of Luke and John are on display.  In addition to the books the exhibit includes a very good history of the books and illuminated manuscripts in general. We then headed upstairs to tour the old library and learn more about Trinity College; Ireland's oldest and still largest university.
   Our tour guide then led us towards Dublin Castle pointing out landmarks along the way.  We began our tour of the castle grounds in Duhb Linn Gardens just outside the castle; duhb linn means dark pool from where the water would gather from the two local rivers and where the city takes its name.  The castle originally a wooden Viking structure was fortified with stone in the thirteenth century at the order of  King John (his father King Henry II being the original Norman invader of Ireland) was in continuous use until 1922 and is still the site of the inauguration of President of Ireland and other ceremonial events.

Dublin Castle; painted portion shows where the original castle was damaged and repaired.

    That afternoon we headed north of the city to the Castle Malahide; a castle held by the same family (Talbot) from the 13th century till the 1970's when the last owner turned it over to the Irish Trust.  An amazing place to explore with the different rooms furnished as they would be during different points in history. We began the tour in a sitting room with paneling from the 14th century before moving to another sitting room with the colorful paint color and elaborate moldings of the 18th,  The castle grounds also contain beautiful and extensive gardens which unfortunately there was not time to explore before again boarding the tour bus.  We then drove along the coast line looking across the Irish Sea where apparently on a good day you can see Wales.  I didn't but we did pass an island where one of the three families living there brought a couple of wallabies back from Australia years ago and there are now about 30 wallabies living on the island.  Stopped off for a bit in the fishing village of Howth before heading back to Dublin for a fish & chips dinner and a Guiness.

Banquet Hall circa 1690's

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Takes #278; I've been to Ireland and what did I see

  1. Happy July! Hope you all had a wonderful July 4th! With your indulgence I'm going to take you back to June and tell you all about my last week of June which thanks to my wonderful sister C. I spent in Ireland and England.  
  2. Dublin was our first destination and 'home base'. Dublin is a wonderful city which really reminded me of Philadelphia where buildings of past centuries live side-by-side with more modern ~ though in Dublin that means buildings go back to the twelfth century. A very walkable city with different neighborhoods to explore.
  3. Arriving early in the morning we left our luggage at the hotel (Yay!)  and began exploring and trying to stay awake until our first official time point of the day.  We found and crossed the Ha'Penny bridge, paid our respects to Molly Malone, and then found a bench along the River Liffey to take in the moment.  The Vintage Tea Tour was our first tour of the trip and it was perfect and not just because we were very tired ~ being driven through and around Dublin enjoying a lovely tea of sandwiches, cakes & scones while a tour guide gave us the stories of Dublin is a memory I will always cherish.  
  4. After a quick nap at the hotel we were headed to the Brazen Head Pub, one of Dublin's oldest pubs, for a Folklore and Fairies Dinner.   Another great find of my sister; the storyteller was funny and knowledgeable, the food very good, and the Celtic music while we ate our main course a lovely touch to a wonderful evening.  Heading back to the hotel at dusk across the river we declared our first day in Dublin a success.
  5. The next morning started early as we boarded a tour bus for the western coast of Ireland with the Cliffs of Moher as our first destination.  The weather smiled on us and the tour guide was excellent pointing out many sights as we traveled. The Cliffs did not disappoint; being that wonderful combination of everything you expected and then much more in their amazing height and grandeur.  After a couple of hours at the Cliffs we boarded the bus and headed for Galway with a surprise stop along the way at The Burrens; an amazing landscape of limestone astronaut Neil Armstrong once compared to the surface of the moon. Unfortunately it was only a fifteen minute stop so much of the landscape was left to be explored another time. 
  6. After driving past a few thatched roofed cottages and castle ruins we arrived in Galway where we enjoyed a short walking tour and then were set free to explore and find lunch before heading back to Dublin.
  7. More to come but for now the photo dump!!!
Ha'Penny Bridge; because it used to cost a half penny to cross the river.

Statue in honor of Molly Malone

Cliffs of Moher looking northward.
Cliffs of Moher

The Burrens

The Burrens

In Galway
Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's.

Friday, June 14, 2019

First Day ~ Last Day 2018-19

Looking forward to a great summer!
Then 6th, 3rd and 1st Grade here we come!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Open Book ~ June '19

End of school year craziness reigns so please excuse my brevity as all three books reviewed are indeed wonderful.

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon is the second book in the Mitford series featuring Father Tim and his various neighbors in rural North Carolina. I found the pacing of this book better than the first and so enjoyed even more.  The exploration into small town Appalachia is just as wonderful if not even more hilarious.

In Pope Francis; Our Call to Joy author Diane Houdek breaks down Pope Francis's Gaudete et Exsultate  and shares her understanding of Pope Francis and his motivation for this first encyclical.  Houdek uses examples from Pope Francis's life and papacy to show how he is modeling this life of joy and hope in the Gospel laid out in Gaudete et Exsultate.

Be Brave in the Scared by Mary Lenaburg is a wonderful story of God's sustaining love.  Having had the great pleasure of hearing the author speak on a couple of occasions I was excited to read her memoir and learn more about her and her family ~ and this book does not disappoint. It is an amazing story of facing the challenges of a special needs child and troubled marriage and finding the solace not in emotional eating but in prayer and the growing knowledge of God's grace and sustaining love. I was also blown away by how consistently her daughter Courtney life with all its challenges were described as a blessing, not a burden in Mary's life. An amazing, inspiring story!!

Please head over to Carolyn's for more Open Book!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Special Days of Sacraments

     Last Saturday to our great pleasure Liam received his First Communion! Looking very handsome in his new suit; he was nervous but excited.  The Mass was beautiful and lets be honest there is nothing like watching children all dressed up and excited to meet Jesus in such amazing way.

The weather while threatening all week turned out wonderful and our friends and family who came to celebrate with us were also able to enjoy our new patio furniture and we were able to grill as planned.  In addition to being very happy for her brother; Lisbeth was also thrilled to visit with her twin cousin.  Caitlin was happy to party in her Easter dress and was the last of the kids to ask to change.

       Then on Sunday we went to Mass in the city at the University parish where Liam was baptized and he received his 2nd Communion.  

Earlier this week I made a quick trip to Richmond to attend the celebration of my niece's Confirmation.  A beautiful Mass and such an honor to included on her special day.

May the Sacramental Graces fall abundantly on them and all their classmates!