Monday, March 30, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

C'est La Vie | Spice Cake

           

"Love is stupid monkeys dancing in a slapstick hurricane." - The F Word/What If 

"Let us go and do some of these things we can't do." -Michael Moon, Manalive

***

It is very easy to look at other people's pictures and assume their lives are neat and tidy and that just beyond the camera lens, there isn't even a little chaos. But that would be incorrect. It would be better to look at those pictures of gorgeous views, beautiful people (all the babies!), and good food and acknowledge that life isn't all peachy, but we will fight to celebrate the beautiful/true, or die trying. Anyway, just something I realized a while ago. 

When you're out for the weekend, come downstairs in the house you're staying in,
and find that it's just you and the chandelier awake. Lovely moments, those. 




You know that part of Lent where you begin to really appreciate Sunday/Solemnity foods? And so you begin to freak out a little and start taking pictures of hot chocolate and Victoria Sponge sandwiches? Yeah. Well, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I went and made a spice-cake. The desire for sugar even overshadowed my intense dislike of making icing, so it was frosted, too. I'd never made spice-cake before, and it was delicious, so here is the recipe. There was a note scribbled at the top of the paper saying it was from a cookbook my grandmother owns called God is Great, and that's all the information I have about it. 
[Please note that these photos are edited because (a) editing is fun, and (b) the lighting in the room where it was served has this annoying tendency to make all photos taken in that room look extra-shiny and unattractive. The first photograph pretty accurately portrays what the cake looked like in real life.]


3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (so just a cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar, if you wanted to make your own)
2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt, alternately with the buttermilk. Bake in a greased 9x12 inch pan until lightish-brown (mine was burnt a little, or I'd show you a picture of the colour). 
Then, if you so desire, you can slather it in buttery icing, that is just a bit too rich because you got frustrated at its thinness and started pouring icing-sugar in like there was no tomorrow. Or decent icing. Your call. 



Another thing that happened: I received a beautiful cord rosary from Sarah. Pictures will be forthcoming. Is there anything you'd like me to pray for, to start using it?

Bless you,
G

Friday, March 27, 2015

Acted On



Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good- above all, that we are better than someone else- I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil.
-- Mere Christianity


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"I'm Sorry You Think I'm Dead" : the Lesson of 'An Education'

*Spoilers galore. Pretty much the entire plot. Read at your own risk.

Some time ago, I was bored and, as is often the way with being bored, decided to watch a movie. Lo and behold, there was a movie Rose had given me that I hadn't seen, and I thought, "Hey, that looks lovely! I'll just watch, knit, and live-tweet!"
The film (obviously) was An Education, starring Carey Mulligan. You can watch the trailer here; if you do, you might come away with the impression that this is an awful show that I shouldn't have been watching, which glorifies temporary rushes of happy-peppy brain-chemicals over the ultimate good, promotes premarital relations and inappropriate age-gaps in romantic relationships, and tries to make shallow people admirable figures.
The show takes place in 1961 London, when Jenny, a sixteen-year-old Oxford-hopeful, meets David, a charming older fellow who drives her home from cello practice one evening. Because it was raining and the... cello would be hurt? I don't know much about cello-cases, so maybe hers wasn't adequate protection?


He sends her flowers, asks her to a concert, takes her to dinner, and introduces her to his sketchy friends, Danny and Helen. They are care-free people who live expensively, and are a bit disdainful- if interested at all- of Jenny's goals to read English at Oxford.

Jenny and Helen livin' it up. If you ever wanted to see Rosamund Pike with fluffy
early-sixties hair, there ya go. 

David, despite being 'the older man' whom Jenny's family knows nothing about, is so charming that he wins her parents (who were extremely rude to another of Jenny's admirers because he wasn't ambitious enough) over and has permission to date Jenny, smoothly lying about having an elderly aunt who accompanies them. He actually takes Jenny to Oxford for an overnight, under the pretext of getting a book signed by CS Lewis (whose signature he forges to back up their deception). For Jenny's seventeenth birthday, he shows up at her house with armloads of fancy presents, and then shares the news that he plans to take Jenny to Paris for her birthday (when Jenny's parents don't want to go, he pulls out the elderly aunt bit again). He and Jenny go to Paris alone, have a magical holiday, sleep together, go back to London, and then the stuff hits the fan.

Ah, the teenage crisis. We've all been there, Jenny. 

Jenny is confronted by her English teacher, to whom she is extremely rude (the quote in the title of this post is from the English teacher during this conversation), as well as by her headmistress- to whom she is also rude (look, I'm not saying that her headmistress is exactly Miss Peach Pie and Sunshine, either)- before packing up and leaving her school, putting her Oxford prospects in terrible danger. She is proposed to by David, and accepts, prompting her ambitious family to also abandon the educational plans they'd been working towards for years, in light of her potential marriage. However, when David takes them out for dinner to celebrate the engagement, Jenny finds letters in his glove-compartment addressed to a Mr and Mrs David Goldman. Rather than explain to her parents, David roars off in his car after dropping them off; and later, Jenny goes to the address which had been on the letters, to find a Mrs Goldman and a young boy, where she learns that she hadn't been the first of David's affairs. Jenny finds Danny and Helen entirely unsympathetic to her plight, and attempts to go back to school, where she is turned down by the headmistress. It is then that Jenny turns to her English teacher, Miss Stubbs, whom she visits and asks for help in regaining her grades and hopefully getting into Oxford, after all. Their work pays off, and the movie ends with Jenny being accepted.



Now, the ending surely has valuable lessons, but is very short compared to the long occasion of depravity beforehand, so you can decide whether it's worth sitting through Unwise Decisions With Jenny 101 just to get to the part where she and her parents grow emotionally old; whether you'd like to sit through scene after scene of a blackguard using a teenage girl/being repeatedly unfaithful to his wife and son. In its defense, this is a very well-made movie with an excellent soundtrack.
The one specific lesson I'm talking about here is not that pursuing academic success is superior to getting married, or that one should go ahead and enter into hasty relationships because all will be well eventually, or that it was all Jenny's fault (David is indisputably the villain here); rather, it is the lesson of Miss Stubbs. Miss Stubbs has what David's crowd might call a wasted life. She is beautiful, she has a Cambridge education, and yet she spends her days marking essays of which very few are high-caliber. Her life isn't explicitly fun; even her clothing looks boring. Yet when Jenny visits her flat, she finds it to be lovely: it is a real home, with books and prints and colour. Is it really any better to be like David and Danny and Helen, spending lots of money which they get from illegal business practices, and never doing any honest work whatsoever, so that they can attend an endless stream of parties and be easily bored, than it is to be like Miss Stubbs? Miss Stubbs is a teacher, her job is 'hard and boring', yet she can come home everyday to a home that is hers, which she earned, and she has the ability to tutor people like Jenny (who is, believe it or not, quite intelligent). I am certainly not saying anything against fun. Fun is lovely, traveling is lovely, jazz music, nice restaurants, concerts, dances can all be good things, and there is no shame in wearing a pretty dress or eating good food, just as there is no shame in reading philosophy, or exercising. What I'm trying to say is that only the loud and the fast do not make a life, anymore than only the hard and the dull. I would say it is arguably better to be like Miss Stubbs: to work a job that doesn't involve stealing, in order to come home to a place that, while not particularly expensive, has a part of her heart in it; to partake in the quiet triumphs and little joys of life, authentically. Miss Stubbs, quite probably, is far less easily-bored... and I would bet you that she is much happier than David.
And yes, a good deal of this post could have been summed up effectively with this one CS Lewis quote.
And while we're here, we may as well show the product of the live-tweeting.




"You sound very old and wise."
"I feel old... but not very wise."

Neither old nor wise, but sincerely yours,
Grace

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thrillsville

*

It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst things you can do. Let the thrill go- let it die away- go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow- and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.
-- Mere Christianity


Much love,
G




*No, flowers aren't blooming here. This picture is from summer a few years back. Sorry.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Liebstering Away

I wanted the artistic 'blogging supplies' sort of picture, but here. Please ignore
the ugly carpet. 

Hello, dears! I am honoured to have received the Liebster Award from Mady of Socks for Supper. (do go and check her blog out; it's awesomesauce). Thank you muchly, Mady!

RULES:
1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you (Mady, linked to above!)
2. Answer the 11 questions
3. Nominate other bloggers
4. Create 11 new questions
5. Notify the bloggers you nominated of the award

QUESTIONS
1. Favourite quote? One's favourite quote(s) change(s) over time as more and more quotes are amassed, of course, but currently:
"My friends, remember this, there are no bad plants or bad men. There is only bad husbandry." - Valjean, Les Miserables
2. Be thrown into the Marvel universe or Middle Earth? Middle Earth. The Marvel Universe doesn't stand a chance. (Sorry).
3. Go to your dream college for free or get a house with all expenses paid upon graduation? Dream college for free, I think.
4. Dream pet and its name? Cats. One brown one named Minerva (after Professor McG), one white one named Buttermilk (why? Who knows or cares?), and a grey one named Newman (when attending the megachurch, the pastor once said that he would like to be able to come home and say, “Hello, Newman!” to a cat; I have no idea why. I have adopted his dream- who doesn’t want a cat named Newman?). But if I could have more than three cats, I probably would, and there would be the inner conflict of choosing a name out of all the awesome names to call a cat. Like Ferdinand. Louisa. Euphrasie. Then there could be a cranky one called The Shrew. I’ll stop before this gets out of hand. Do you have cats, and what are their names?
5. What is worse: dad jokes or bad pick up lines? Dad jokes. I greatly enjoy (appropriate) pick-up lines. Please don’t take that the wrong way.
6. Favourite painting? I’m not too cultured. I haven’t seen many paintings, and don’t exactly know where to start; and when I see one that I like, I always forget its name (don’t hurt me, artsy types). But I really like this one.
7. If I left you alone in a room with a sleeve of oreos and told you not to eat them, how long would it take before you ate them? Well, if you wanted the oreos, I would press you to take them until it became like a threat. And you obviously want the oreos. So take them. No, really, take them. I’m fine. You want them, and therefore I do not. TAKE THE OREOS.


8. How seriously do you take a game of Monopoly? More seriously than I take my actual finances, obviously. There is no point to playing Monopoly if you aren't willing to go all out; same with Settlers of Catan.
9. What is your favourite flavor of Skittle? The purply-brown kind, whatever they are. Yum. The green-apple ones are rather a disgrace.
10. Maxi dresses or knee length dresses? Well, it depends on the circumstances, doesn't it? Usually maxi; they're very comfortable.
11. If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? This question is very unfair. It is extraordinarily unfair. This question threatens to ruin one’s life. HAVE YOU NO COMPASSION.


MY QUESTIONS
1.) What is your current favourite song?
2.) What is the most unique gift you've ever received?
3.) Favourite music album?
4.) Suppose that, for a year, you had to make all of your soap or sew all of your clothing. Which would you choose?
5.) The longest book you've read so far?
6.) Socks or slippers? Or both?
7.) Would you rather live in the countryside or the city?
8.) If you were offered a trip, all expenses paid for by a benefactor, for one summer to study, where would you go and what would you study when you got there?
9.) Do you do Hallowe'en?
10.) What, in your opinion, is the best-sounding word?
11.) Toast or breakfast cereal?

PEOPLE I NOMINATE (if I've nominated you before, then great, here we are again. If you don't want to do this, it's hardly as though you're obligated by law or morality. Pax et bonum, lovelies!)
Peregrin from Traveling Home
Samantha from Heavenly Aspirations
Iris from The Starving Inspired
Melvina from Day Dawns
Anyone else who'd like to pick this up- please do! The more the merrier! (But separately where we can't bother each other #introvertprobs).

Have fun, y'all!

God bless and much love,
Grace 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Looking Up

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that- and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison- you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as your are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
-- Mere Christianity

You know, while it stings, there's really something so refreshing and wonderful about recognizing that one isn't, in fact, the center of the universe. It's a lesson we're all probably going to be learning for the rest of our natural lives, but it's a good lesson, isn't it?



Best of luck today, whatever it is you may be doing.
Grace


***

Also, this.

Previous Rambles