Books, Celebrated Authors

Marilla’s Famous Plum Preserves {from author L.M. Montgomery}

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Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on this day in history, 143 years ago, in Clifton, Prince Edward Island.

She was a brilliant author and one of my favorites. And because I am such a nerd of all things AOGG, I wanted to bring a particular aspect of the books to life.

So I will share a few of my favorite plummy quotes about Marilla’s famous plum preserves.

And why plum preserves? Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see 😉

 

Yellow Plum Preserves

The rarer of the two types of preserves was the yellow plum preserves. Reserved more for special company, and for Davey, apparently.

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“We’re to have two kinds of jelly…and fruitcake, and Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps especially for ministers…”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 22


 

“Anne had came home from school the previous evening, to find Marilla away at an Aide meeting, Dora asleep on the kitchen sofa, and Davy in the sitting room closet, blissfully absorbing the contents of a jar of Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves…”company jam, ” Davy called it…which he had been forbidden to touch.”

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 14

 

Blue Plum Preserves

More of the regular sort, these blue plum preserves were still fit for a king. Or even an Earl, as Anne points out. I imagine that these plums were picked by Marilla from her own tree on the Green Gables farm.

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“Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the pantry.”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 18


“I daresay even the English earl himself wouldn’t have turned up his aristocratic nose at Marilla’s plum preserves,” said Anne proudly.

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 2


“Anne’s laugh, as blithe and irresistible as of yore, with an added note of sweetness and maturity, rang through the garret. Marilla in the kitchen below, compounding blue plum preserve, heard it and smiled…”

-from Anne’s House of Dreams, Chapter 1


So…what about Marilla’s plum preserves? Well…I happen to have some. Ok I admit it. I cooked and canned them on purpose because of the particular reference to it in the Anne of Green Gables books.

And folks, it was divine.

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Preserves aren’t jam exactly. They are thicker, with peices of fruit left unmashed. Not chunky but not smooth. Very rich, flavorful and good.

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I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice tea with my toast and preserves, keeping with the plum theme.

What do you think? Do you like plum preserves? Have you ever tried it? Have you ever made any particular book-themed treat?

~Rachel

Books, Celebrated Authors

Remembering Louisa May Alcott with Favorite Quotes from “Little Women”

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Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott! She was born 185 years ago *today, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She was the second oldest of four daughters. Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth and Abigail were the four girls born to Amos and Abigail Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott wrote quite a few books and short stories in her lifetime. Little Women is the most well known of her works and is followed by the books Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

Her contemporaries were such authors as Charles Dickens (1812-70), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), Alexandre Dumas (1802-70) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81). One of my favorite time periods for literature for sure.

Since I posted an in-depth e-book review on The Courtship of Jo March last week, I thought it would be fun to write up a simpler post full of my favorite quotes from Little Women.

Enjoy!

Favorite Quotes from Little Women

From Part 1 (Chapters 1-23)

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“Meg’s high heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo’s nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but dear me, let us be elegant or die!”

-from Chapter 3


You don’t look a bit like yourself, but you are very nice.”

-from Chapter 9, Sallie to Meg.


I don’t like fuss and feathers.”

-from Chapter 9, Laurie to Meg.

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You’d have nothing but horses, inkstands and novels in yours,” answered Meg petulantly.

Wouldn’t I, though? I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled high with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle-something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.”

-from Chapter 13


From Part 2 (Chapters 24-47)

“By-and-by Jo roamed away upstairs, for it was rainy, and she could not walk. A restless spirit possessed her, and the old feeling came again, not bitter as it once was, but a sorrowfully patient wonder why one sister should have all she asked, the other nothing.”

-from Chapter 42

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“The boy early developed a mechanical genius which delighted his father and distracted his mother, for he tried to imitate every machine he saw, and kept the nursery in a chaotic condition, with his “sewin-sheen”-a mysterious structure of string, chairs, clothespins, and spools, for wheels to go “wound and wound”; also a basket hung over the back of a chair, in which he vainly tried to hoist his too confiding sister, who, with feminine devotion, allowed her little head to be bumped till rescued, when the young inventor indignantly remarked, “Why, Marmar, dat’s my lellywaiter, and me’s trying to pull her up.”

-from Chapter 45 (the antics of John and Meg’s twin children Daisy and Demi).


 

Have you read any books by or about Louisa May Alcott lately? Which novel is your favorite? I’d love to hear about it 😊

~Rachel

*For some reason, WordPress marked my post as 11/30, when I wrote it at 8pm on 11/29, which is Louisa May Alcott’s birthday. Not the 30th.

Books, Celebrated Authors

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl! {7 Lesser Known Facts About His Life}

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Roald Dahl is easily one of the greatest children’s book authors of all time. Because yesterday was his birthday, (he would have been 101!) I wanted to write up a few lesser-known facts about his life.

Many people know that Dahl was Norwegian. That he was zany and fun and a bit wild. His books are in a league all their own and I believe his unique life experiences inspired a bit of his style.

7 Lesser Known Facts About Roald Dahl

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1. His mother inspired him.

Like Theodor Geisel (or Dr. Seuss), Dahl’s inspiration began with his mother. Sofie Magdalene often told her children lively tales from Norse mythology. This, along with a 20+ year span of correspondence with his mother enabled his storytelling skills to take root.

2. He faced deep struggles in his life.

And he persevered. When he was just 4 years old, he lost his father and a sister.

In 1960, his infant son struggled to overcome severe head injuries after his stroller was hit by a taxi.

In 1962, his oldest child Olivia passed away. She had developed complications from the measles.

Then in 1964 his wife Patricia suddenly had a stroke. She was pregnant at the time and faced a long recovery. Her doctor doubted she would make it through but with her husband’s help she made a full recovery. And with that recovery came the birth of their 5th child (Lucy).

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It was during these trying times that his first children’s books were published. James and the Giant Peach was written in 1961 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964.

Good writers don’t let personal struggles stop their dreams from becoming a reality.

3. He found faith in God difficult.

Dahl struggled with understanding faith and religion after the death of his daughter Olivia. A deep sadness overtook him during this time and he turned away from God and religion in general.

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4. A severe head injury jumpstarted his writing career.

In 1939, when he was 23, Dahl enlisted in the RAF (Royal Air Force) at the onset of WWII. But in 1940, Dahl crash landed his plane and sustained severe head injuries. This resulted in headaches and blackouts which meant he was unfit for flying.

Though discouraged, I love Dahl’s humorous take on the situation:

“…I got a cracked skull which seemed to qualify me for being sent to Washington. There I began to write some stories in the evenings. Now I have become quite excited about it and writing stories is the only thing that I want to do.”

-from the jacket of Over to You, by Roald Dahl (1945)

5. He got to hang out with a lot of cool people.

After his life as a pilot came to an end, he went to Washington D.C to work for the British Embassy. His official title was Assistant Air Attaché. Essentially it was his job to get the American public excited and supportive of the war effort.

At any rate, he rose to popularity pretty quickly. He was charismatic and quickly made connections with Vice President Henry Wallace as well as the Roosevelts. Here is an awesome picture of Dahl with Ernest Hemingway.

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6.  He lived in the U.S. for many years.

Because Dahl was a British writer, I assumed he lived mostly in the UK. Not so. From 1942-45 and then from 1947-1962 he lived in Washington and New York.  He had a few jobs that kept him busy but he also married an American woman (Patricia Neal) in 1953 and they raised a family together before they moved to England.

7. He did more than just write kids books.

Dahl proved to be surprisingly versatile as an author. He wrote for The Saturday Evening Post, published over 60 short stories for adults, a book of poetry, two screenplays (The James Bond film You Only Live Twice and everyone’s favorite movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and he also wrote for a few tv programs. All in addition to the 10 children’s books we know and love today.

~Rachel

~~~

Sources:

Love From Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother, edited by Donald Sturrock

http://www.roalddahl.com

Celebrated Authors

Remembering Thoreau: That Odd Man From Massachusetts

 

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I just noticed that yesterday, exactly 200 years ago, a man by the name of Henry David Thoreau was born.

Which is interesting, because I just finished reading a book about him. And then I started reading Walking again a few nights ago. And I wondered…

Who was he? What was he about?

He was a poet. A naturalist (he had an intense love and respect of nature), transcendentalist and abolitionist.

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If you want to learn more about transcendentalism, I recommend checking out dictionary.com, as well as this article.

Friends and fellow transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott (father and daughter), and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Amongst these folks his work was accepted.

But Thoreau was not always understood by his fellow man. Those who lived in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts saw him as a loafer, didn’t think he contributed much to society.

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Which was fair enough. Because although he was a Harvard grad, he didn’t have any specific employment or job title. Although he did have some work as surveyor and handyman for a time.

But that wasn’t his passion. He loved to study nature. In Walking (published after his death) his level of detail and study of the natural world is amazing. But passion and paycheck don’t always intersect.

Enter Emerson. Emerson was a close friend who helped Thoreau further his dreams. He was the one who provided the land on which Thoreau built his famous Walden cabin. Here he could write and dream without fear or impediment.

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I am so intrigued by the life he lived here. He built a little house (only 10’x15′!) and for 2 years he had this experiment where he lived such a simple and minimalistic life. He farmed and lived off of the land. He studied nature and walked for hours each day. Man that sounds so relaxing!

His book Walden (also called Life In The Woods) covers this time period.

The remainder of his life he spent exploring parts of Maine and Canada and recording his thoughts. He saw himself as a “reporter in nature” and thought it his responsibility to observe and record what he could.

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He is also well-known for his anti-government essay entitled Civil Disobedience. This essay was sparked by the night he spent in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax. The theme is peaceful protest against blindly following unfair governmental laws and regulations. This particular work is part of the inspiration behind a few of the advocates for peace that we know today, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

“In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and the Iliad, in all the scriptures and mythologies, not learned in the schools, that delights us.”

-from Walking, by Henry David Thoreau

The abolition of slavery was likewise important to Thoreau. He wrote the essay “Slavery In Massachusetts” and the speech “A Plea For Capt. John Brown” both in defense of abolishing slavery, one of the evils of his day.

For a man obsessed with all things nature, he was surprisingly humanitarian.

I picture Thoreau as a bit of an oddball. No wife and kids, no real job, writing about things and issues that didn’t gain acceptance till after his death on May 6th, 1862.

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He was different, but he didn’t let that stop him. His differences defined him. Like many authors, his works didn’t become popular until after his death.

He was a quiet, simple man who knew what he believed and stood by it. That quiet, odd man from Massachusetts.

~Rachel


 

For further reading:

Online:

Henry David Thoreau

The Power Of Peace Thoreau, Gandhi, And King

Photographs of Walden Pond and Concord, Mass

 

Books & e-books:

Henry David Thoreau: American Naturalist, by Peter Anderson

Walking (free e-book)

Walden (free e-book)