"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to Pemberley (Unabridged)

I finally finished the audiobook Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. I had been so looking forward to this book that I think the disappointment was all the sharper for it. I just found the story tedious and drawn out. It took me a very long time to make it through the story. I found no one to pull the story forward among the characters as there was in Charles Maddox in the book Murder at Mansfield Park. Perhaps it was also having read that book that this Jane Austen themed mystery really fell short of the mark for me.

Darcy and Elizabeth are planning a ball at Pemberley. The arrival of a carriage carrying the hysterical sister Lydia crying that her husband has been killed sets the house in an uproar. Darcy sets off with Colonel FitzWilliam to search the woodland for Wickham which starts the wheels in motion to bring a killer to justice.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dutch stir-fry

As I have mentioned before, we are big Brussel sprouts lovers. I have posted a recipe for sprouts with rice before but this one has not developed into this more spicy version. So here is a very tasty way to dress up Brussel sprouts with.....

Dutch Stir-fry
250 gr (about 1/2 lb) Brussel sprouts, cut in half and washed
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips and cut in bite sized pieces
1 red chili pepper, remove seeds and finely chopped
125 gr (about 1/4 lb) bacon lardons or chunks
3 spring onions, sliced
good pinch of thyme
3/4 cup of rice, cooked and set aside

Parboil the sprouts about 3 minutes, drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon and red pepper in a little olive oil adding thyme to the meat.

Now add the spring onions and finely chopped red chili. Then add the cooked sprouts to the mixture and warm through. Last, add the cooked rice, mixing well and serve.

Note:  The heat of your chosen chili pepper will determine the spiciness of this dish. Ours are mildly hot.

Eet smakelijk!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tom's Midnight Garden

I saw Tom's Midnight Garden as a film on TV a couple of years ago. Well...actually I only got to see half of it as I started watching it too late. I was totally charmed and knew I had to get the book of the same name by Philippa Pearce. I have not been disappointed. This is a wonderful story which ranks up there with classics like Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden and others.

Tom is not happy as he has to go stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their apartment because his brother Peter has the measles. He knows there will be no place to play or others to play with.

One night the grandfather clock in the hall of the big old house now split up into apartments strikes 13 times. Tom investigates and finds himself traveling back in time. There he meets Hatty in her garden. A beautiful place that he plays in together with Hatty.

But this place is not there behind the house by day. Instead it is a small paved area with dustbins and a parked car. By night, he has adventures with Hatty but he does not seem to see at first that she is growing while he has only been away for a day. Tom convinces Hatty to leave him her skates under the floorboards and when he looks the next day...they are there. Surely Hatty and the garden are real! In the end, the secret of the garden is revealed as Tom is to return home to his family.

Tom's Midnight Garden XXIII

This is the most magical story. I wonder that I had never heard of it before chancing upon the film. It is full of the charms of the garden, house and villages described in its pages. It is filled with a touching friendship across time. This books is for children of all ages. I promise you will be also be filled with its charms when you read it.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is the first in the new (to me) Magical Cats Mysteries by  Sofie Kelly. And what a start she makes with this one!

Kathleen Paulson has moved from Boston to small town Mayville Heights in Minnesota to oversee the renovations of the library. While orientating herself in her new temporary hometown, she stumbles onto a big old abadoned house called Wisteria Hill. Cats galore are wondering around there and two follow her home. She adopts these two cats naming them Hercules and Owen. Or is it as cat rules go...they adopted her. But she feels like her mind is playing tricks on her when she seems to see Owen literally disappear into thin air. But when Hercules goes through a solid wooden door right in front of her eyes, she begins to think she might be becoming the 'crazy cat lady' she doesn't want to become.

But the restoration of the library seems to hit one snag after another with as many mishaps to boot. The biggest mishap seems to her to be finding not only a dead body at the local theater but finding the dead man in question also had spilled some blood in the library before he died. When a note supposedly from her shows up in his pocket, she decides she needs to find some proof of her innocence before it is too late. Sofie is helped along by several new friends and her cats making her feel like Mayville Heights is starting to feel like home.

This book has all the right ingredients with its cozy mystery set in a characterful small town and cats.

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Snyder County Quilting Bee - Story one

The Snyder County Quilting Bee - Volume 1 - Nanette's Needle and Thread

When my mother read the first sentence of this short story, she wanted to read it and lent it to me. The Snyder County Quilting Bee is a series of short stories by Marsha Hubler. But when I read the first sentence, this quilter and stitcher broke out in hives...lol.

"I hate quilting! I hate sewing! I hate anything that has to do with needles and thread!" These are the thoughts of Nanette Peachey but she has to go to the Saturday quilting bee with her mother. Nanette would much rather be out in the barn tending her beloved horses. She is trying to come up with a reason to get out of going to the bees. Her mother comes up with a solution and she is pleased. But when she is out riding with her future husband, she looses a border of a quilt she was working on. Will it turn up?

A fun short story which once again left me wishing I had the complete short stories to read.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pastures New

Pastures New is yet another entertaining book Julia Williams which has a gardening theme. This really attracts me to her books especially with my longing to get back out into the garden.

Amy Nicolson sells her apartment and takes her son to the Suffolk village of Nevermorewell to start a new life. She is missing her boyfriend and son Josh's father so much after his death that it seems the best thing to do. Right away, Amy starts to feel part of the community and meets many new people through the allotments just outside her back garden. The house she has rented comes with one of those allotments which is just perfect for Amy. Part of her trying to deal with her grief was taking a gardening course so she is looking forward to getting out and digging in the dirt.

She has however gotten off to a bad start with Dr. Ben Martin. A series of mishaps seems to make them see each other in quite a bad light. But then when Amy looks again, Ben is a very handsome man who makes her feels comfortable in her new surroundings...

She meets her neighbor Harry who becomes the father to her and grandfather to Josh that they never had...

She runs into Saffron while walking to school one morning with Josh. What she doesn't know is that she and Saffron share a love of gardening that will bring Amy a new job...

With Gerry who is Saffron's ex-husband and his girlfriend Maddy, her landlady Caroline who was traveling the world but suddenly shows up to upset everyone, Linda the pole-dancing teacher and Edie and Ada with their cakes, there is a fun mix of characters in this little English village. Julia Williams has a way of making the villages she writes about come to life in your mind's eye.

Happy reading!