February 25, 2011

Fancy Friday: Rosamund Pike

Good morning bloggers, and welcome to this week's edition of Fancy Friday. Today's leading lady? None other than the beautiful Rosamund Pike. 
Rosamund pike is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. She always seems to be looking adorable, have perfect hair, and sporting that sweet, demure look of hers. It should be mentioned, however, that she was excessively hard to find good pictures of. Nearly all of her photo shoots involve being scantily clad and looking quite "come hither". That aside, she has the vintage look down to a tee, and I adored her performance as Helen in An Education. She also was a near perfect Jane Bennet- shy, reserved, unfailingly sweet and a bit naive- in Pride and Prejudice. But her first slot in a real film was as one of James Bond's (many) leading ladies. 
As with most British actors and actresses, she has been in quite a few BBC and Masterpiece productions- I first saw her as Lady Harriet in Wives and Daughters. Her love for the stage and drama keeps her at the top of my list of favorite actresses.

Rosamund's other accomplishments include a fluent knowledge of the French and German languages, as well as being an excellent cellist and lover of English literature. 

She also is the only person I know who manages to look only a slightly ridiculous while holding large, black birds.

Okay, so maybe it's a little more than just slightly ridiculous.
Other News Includes...

...The fact that I'm nearly done with high school!
In case you didn't know this, I am homeschooled. 
I love being homeschooled.
I adore it.
I am, and always have been, so thankful to my parents for educating me at home. It has provided me with ample opportunities to do many varied and wonderful things that public schoolers cannot boast of.
Growing up, I could never understand why all the children my age that went to a public school didn't like learning. I would always hear talk about how much they disliked school, thought it was boring, etc. It would be a few years before I began to understand the difference between an environment that encourages curiosity and learning, vs. an environment that squelches it nearly entirely.
People seem to think that homeschoolers are either extremely smart and nerdy, or that they get to sleep in, and lounge around in their pajamas all day. This is not so.
We were (and still are) woken up at 6:00 to 6:30 AM each morning, prompted to get dressed, and then gathered around the table for a family Bible time and breakfast. The rest of the day would be filled with assignments, reading, fun, and whatever else the day happened to provide. 
And we did it all voluntarily.
Okay. Except math.
We (or I) did everything but math voluntarily. 
Of the many blessings of a home education, I'd have to say that the ability to worship God and pursue His Word on a daily basis was the greatest. Not for one minute would our "religious practices" been acceptable at a public or even a private school. 
These days are now drawing to a close as I finish up one "phase" of my educated life and look to the future, wishing to enter into it nobly and with honor, always seeking wisdom and endorsing the just and the good.


That was funny.
If I ever start acting like the above, please, let me know and I will seek mental help and therapy. Not that there's much danger of my ever becoming a noble, rational adult. Just a strange, slightly skewed one. 

What are my plans, you ask?
For now, I hope to make it to the great and glorious stage as a musical theater major. I am aware and prepared for the six to eight years of grueling college and hard work ahead of me, but I'm utterly excited too. 
No, I have no plans to wander down Broadway- one of the smaller theater groups in Seattle or some such place is the only real long-time goal I have for now. Wherever God leads, I am willing to follow (unless it's through a bunch of spiders. I may have some trouble being a willing follower in that case. And clowns- I have a strong dislike for clowns.) 

Now, I have to go and start my last assignment- a seven to ten page term paper on a particular aspect of a famous author- subject and author yet to be chosen. This will involve my trudging through some two or three miles (both ways) to the library to do some research. I somehow always end up spending at least an hour or two in the library, so I will bid you all adieu and I hope you all have an excessively Fancy Friday.

February 23, 2011

Picnic Dreams

I, for some strange reason, cannot get this yearning for Spring and Summer out of my head!
What has caused it?
Could it be those brief days the other week- the ones that savored so strongly of warm weather, birdsong, and growth? Perhaps it is. Either way, I can't stop thinking about how lovely would it be to set out tomorrow morning, a bright a cheery day, and take a picnic in an obliging field somewhere. 
I wish for nothing else right now. 

(images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6)

Of course a picnic wouldn't be complete without cupcakes! And that is exactly the kind of bike I would love to own. I think that may be at the top of my list of things to buy this summer: a shiny, vintage bicycle.

Won't you take a picnic with me?

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.  ~Albert Camus

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.  ~Sam Keen

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson

February 22, 2011

In Which The Gypsy Settles Down (Or At Least Tries To)

After much deciding, many tutorials, lots of poking, prodding, and jabbing, and a bit of luck, I think I have finally landed on and adopted my new blog layout. I like this one infinitely better than my last two, even if it's not quite as put together as my first one was- I've personalized this, so I like to think of it as my baby. I've spent the entire morning putting the finishing touches on it, and even went so far as to forgo my morning ramble to get it all fixed up. 
These past two weeks have seen a lot of change for me. I've been learning to let go and follow closer to God than I ever have before. I also have begun to feel as if I'm finally settling into myself- who I am, what I want to be, where God is going to lead me. To put it simply: I think I'm growing up. 
What? Me? Grow up? Never!
However much one never wants to become a rational adult, there comes a point where one has to realize they cannot always be a silly child, and I feel as if I've reached this point. I'm cleaning out the old, dusty attic that is my head, and letting God open new windows. The many decisions I am facing and will be facing in the near future (physically real decisions more than mental and otherwise) are going to have a huge affect on my life.
It's very scary stuff. 
This change has brought about a lot of things, including my cleaning out my room. I do this every so often, if not because the room I share with my little sister is devoid of space, but because I don't relish the idea of owning lots of stuff. I want more simplicity, not junk that I never use. However, I'm also a rather sentimental person, so I tend to hang onto things that I think of as keepsakes. But this can get absurd. Old ticket stubs, for example. Why am I hanging on to ticket stubs from movies I didn't even like or shows I don't remember? 
So, last week, I resolved to trash any extra junk I had lying around.
"If I don't use it, lose it" was my motto.
I have far less stuff now.

Have you ever had that great feeling of release, happy success, and strange joy whenever you get rid of things? As if you've dropped a burden you didn't know you were carrying?
This is what I feel like.

This morning I got up early and made madeleines to go with breakfast. Madeleines are a French, scallop-shaped, biscuit-like cookie. They are absolutely addicting, and relatively easy to make. They were so delicious with our porridge- I used honey to sweeten them, and they were almond flavoured as well- and I may have to make them for breakfast more often. They were a big hit with the family!

Well, bloggers, I hope you like the new layout! Tell me what you think (although I probably won't be changing anything, I just like some feedback anyway). For now, I've got some reading to do- Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (one of my favorites!)- a school year to finish (thank heavens for being homeschooled! I finish my last math classes this week and then I'm free from high school forever!), and I plan on running around Meridian today for various reasons. I'm also going to go claim that morning ramble after all- my gypsies feet are beginning to itch.

February 18, 2011

Fancy Friday: Royal Fairytale

Welcome back to another Fancy Friday! Your choice for this week was (not, to my great disappointment and chagrin, Romola Garai. I was so hoping to do a post on her...) Prince William and his lovely fiancĂ©e, Kate Middleton! The entire relationship has a fairytale feel- Kate being the daughter of two middle class parents, previously flight attendants- and hasn't always been a bed of roses. The two met in college, and have since then pursued a relationship, broken up (due to Kate's feeling harassed by the media) and are now back together and royally engaged.

Prince Will has always been a dapper, princely stereotype- good looking, charming, and poised no matter what he's doing, be it lounging, playing polo, or golfing with the rich and famous. Kate, however, has an amazing sense of style and excellent taste in fashion, something for which she is now known for, and there is much speculation as to what the wedding dress will look like. The wedding is set for this coming April 29th, and the couple will, in the tradition of royal marriages, receive a dukedom and a happily ever after (we hope!) upon that occasion.

As you can see, Kate seldom looks anything but smashing, and I am inclined to like her in general, if only because she majored in Art History- one of my favorite subjects.

And I am hard pressed to dislike anyone who hangs out with sheep (the rumored source for wool and other yarn substances). So Prince William passes in my book as well.

 I sincerely hope for this couple's happiness, and am practically praying that their marriage doesn't fall through. However, it can be said here that this relationship is another kind of fairytale entirely than that of the famed Diana. This relationship has lasted many a year, taken turns for the worse, and Kate has had time to dwell on the well-known emotional ups and downs of this family. She has been the one stretching the relationship over many years, and has been given (and earned, might I say,) the nickname "Waity Katey". However, the firmer they are in their relationship, and the less she expects him to turn from frog to prince (or vice versa) after the wedding, the better. Let's raise our glasses to this very fancy couple, and wish them well as they build a pair of stairs to marriage.

Well, folks, that's all for now. I've somehow managed to procure a Friday off work, but instead of being fancy I plan on Spring-ish cleaning the entire kitchen.

Yes, I'm volunteering to clean the kitchen. Scrubbing out the refrigerator and freezer? Psh- piece of cake! Standing on a counter with a bucket of soapy water and a cloth to wash and dust ever knick-knack, blind, and cabinet? I live for it! Scrubbing the floor? That's my favourite! And let's not forget cleaning out, alphabetizing, and otherwise marshalling the larder into submission and shape! All in a day-off-work's work! At the end of the day, though, I hope to be exhausted, have a happy mother, a pot of chai (made from scratch) brewing on the stove, and a very clean kitchen. Cheerio, dears, and have a perfectly spiffy Fancy Friday! 

February 16, 2011

Pardon My Dust

As you can see, I've been doing some renovations on my blog's look. There seems to be a redesigning bug going 'round, and I've been seeing more and more blogs updating their look. I'm now joining the crowd, but it may take a while. I have this idea of layout perfection, but I'm not nearly computer savvy enough to have figured out how to adopt the change I seek, so you'll probably see a lot of changes (good and bad) over the next few days. Please bear with me whilst I poke, prod, and otherwise marshal my blog's 'do into shape, and enjoy the posts as they come. All advice and tips are more than welcome! 

February 15, 2011

Springing Forward

I honestly wish I knew what science there is behind the groundhog and his climatic predictions, for for the past two years his shadow hasn't lied. We indeed are experiencing an early Spring. The weather is warming, there is a light stirring breeze, and I have already seen a Robin Redbreast hunting for a worm in a sad-looking flower bed. Anyone who knows me well will be surprised when I say that I cannot help but revel in it. I- the lover of rain and wet, the Ice Queen, the only one who ever welcomes Winter and weeps as she makes her yearly withdrawal- am thoroughly enjoying the coming of Spring. Uncharacteristic, yes, but I cannot indulge my inner Charlotte Bronte, with her sweeping moors and misty weather, forever. I've been feeling very Austen-tatious of late, and I do declare that I know exactly how Elizabeth Bennet felt when she meandered through flowery fields and quiet woods on her many walks.

I myself do a lot of walking. And when I say a lot, I mean more than just a great deal. In a flight of romantic fancy I like to call myself a modern-day gypsy with an incredible case of wanderlust. One of my siblings, however, has suggested that I'm merely inflicted with and am going to die of restless leg syndrome. As it is, nothing pleases me more than to spend hours and hours out of doors, wandering and walking willy-nilly, with hardly any idea of where I'm going and no wish to arrive at any destination.

Sometimes I listen to music when I go on my many walks, but more and more I'm learning to enjoy the silence and solitude that my own mind affords me. This morning was one such occasion and I am glad for it, because there were at least three birds for every tree, all singing raucously and making a sunny day all the brighter for it. I even saw one chap constructing a nest in the still bare branches of a tree. I can't wait for the cherry trees to bloom and the heavenly aroma of the cherry blossoms- my favorite flower- to fill the air.

I was looking through my pictures and found this one from last Spring, taken right after we moved into our new house. This is what I refer to as "The Magic Pathway", and I walk along most or all of it daily. Something must be wrong with me, because I simply can't wait for the grass to be this green and inviting again.

I'm not sure where I found this photo, but it's my idea of the perfect kitchen. Simple, sweet, inviting, and with great lighting (not to mention clean). It just seems so Spring-y to me, and I've been itching to get some baking done. I think this weather calls for a batch of French Honey Madelienes.

This weather also calls for cup of chai tea, and some of Priscilla Ahn's music, not to mention a day spent shopping with my mother. With the promise of fair weather and and new season all around, what do you feel like doing? What's your idea of the perfect Spring afternoon? Is it a glass of raspberry lemonade after preparing the new garden? Arriving home to a pot of tea, some crafting (or reading) and a Jane Austen film? I really do want to know, so feel free to comment and tell! I may even post them in an upcoming post. In the mean time, don't forget to vote for this week's Fancy Friday post; Prince William and his blushing bride, Kate, seem to be winning by a landslide (I will admit I was hoping Romola Garai would win). I hope you all have a lovely afternoon and sweet week.

February 11, 2011

Snow Sneak

Hello bloggers! I have finally returned from my week-long sabbatical away from many things, and am ever so excited to tell you about all the things I've done since last Friday.

First, let me apologize for today's lack of fancy-ness. However, to make up for it I'm going to steal an idea from Kori over at Blonde Episodes and make a poll on the subject available. Only, instead of Fine-Man Friday votes, you get to decide who or what the subject of each Fancy Friday will be. I'll have a poll up there as soon as I can get to it, so be sure to vote!

Last weekend up in McCall and Cascade, Idaho's Winter playground and all around backyard, was absolutely wonderful. I am so honored and excited to be graduating with the people of my class, and there are so many inside jokes and games that we now have, thanks to this past weekend. However, upon arriving home I found I'd caught a nasty cold, and I've spent the entire week either being sick, recovering, or feeling stuffy and coughy in general. I'm doing far better now, though, and am already looking forward to our next big event with the Homeschool Graduating Class of 2011. Here are a few pictures of the weekend.

We all spent the afternoon on a sleigh covered in bales of hay, providing a snack for and speculating over a large pack of Elk in Donnelly.

It was a nice enough experience- the deer were absolutely amazing up close, if not a little pushy. Imagine having this shoved into you, merely for sitting upon a choice patch of wet hay. I was nipped on the backside a number of times, and very nearly gored to death by a bull elk once, but we had an enjoyable time none-the-less.

The next day, after many goodbyes to our group, Brianne and I (in the company of Jim and Sophie) wandered around the McCall Winter Carnival, admired the ice sculptures, and were "serenaded" by a one-man band playing "Oh Susanna".

I particularly liked (and agree with) this comical fellow's plea to the general public.

After this, we stopped into a fabulous, very hippie (I wish I'd snapped a picture of the "Hippies Welcome" sign visible in the kitchen), independent pizza joint. The pizza was heavenly, and the mushy picture opportunities between Jim and Sophie were numberless.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend, and I'm honored to be graduating with this group of people, mature and sensible as we all are.
Or not...

Now I've got a stack of letter writing to be done and work to prepare for today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and a reasonably Fancy Friday. 

February 3, 2011

In Which The Gypsy...Gypsies.

Dear readers of the world, and faithful blog followers (all twenty of you! Seriously, though- when did this happen? You've certainly made a girl feel special and happy with just a click of that button). I am here to bid adieu for the weekend. I'm going up to Cascade and McCall tomorrow- that great mountainous metropolis of Idaho- and the day after for some fun in the sun, Ice Festival fun.

I'll be tubing, burrowing, hooliganing, and wandering with the best of the best (meaning Brianne, Jim, and his wonderful girlfriend Sophie) as well as a group of fellow Seniors that I'm graduating with. It shall be fun and exhausting, but it will also be devoid of blogging. So I'm signing off now, and wishing you all a wonderful weekend as this gypsy wanders to new places.

February 1, 2011

Taking Tea (On A Tuesday)

Good afternoon, all you lovely people. Following in my recent (obsessive) tradition, I've found a way to make today's post all about the alliteration: Welcome to Tea Tuesday.

Working in a tea room has both its pros and cons, with all the pros admittedly far outweighing their competition. First and foremost, I get to sample and brew some of the most delightful teas and tisanes on the market, and occasionally pair them with the perfect food (I'm not talking just scones and crumpets here, either- I prefer to think outside the box). Of course, toiling alongside some of the greatest coworkers and with a wonderful boss isn't horrible either.

Of the cons, I can only think of two things, both of them seemingly monstrous in their own standing but both of no stature on a larger scale. Dealing mostly in loose teas means that it's hard for me to recommend them to people with little access to such things, those who can't make it to the shop, and those who won't. It also tends to be more expensive to purchase tea by the ounce, and loose, when you can just as easily go to the supermarket and pick up the brand name, already measured-out bagged teas. However, on this front you have to consider the fact that bagged teas are generally poorer in quality, and it is better to sacrifice a little money when the superior taste compensates for it (at least I like to think so).

So, on that note, let me present you with some of my favorite, easy(er) to find teas in bag form!

Dragon Pearl Jasmine (Harney & Sons)

Ahhh, Harney & Sons, or, as I like to call them The Saviour of Bagged Tea. They take high quality tea leaves, and stick them in beautiful muslin tea sachets, readily available- although not something you can procure at your local WinCo or Albertson's- to the general populace. I have a particular soft spot for them because they've made a tea bag for my favorite tea in the entire world: Jasmine Phoenix Pearl Oolong. It's the most beautiful, simple, and aromatic teas I've ever had the good fortune to drink, and theirs is more affordable than the loose pearls I buy (which go for about six and a half dollars and ounce). The only con of the sachet is that you can't see the pearls bloom, and there may be too many for your taste. However, you can remedy this by simply removing the pearls from the sachet and dropping as many as you'd like into your mug.

Moroccan Mint Green Tea (Stash)

I've never been a huge fan of the Stash brand's teas, but they do have a few that I believe are rather nice. This one is on that list, and mostly because it's much like Celestial Seasoning's Candy Cane Lane (see next on list), which is only available during the Holiday season. Although it's not quite the same, it's still tasty in its own rights, and is the perfect after-dinner (or any meal) tea.

Candy Cane Lane (Celestial Seasonings)

It took me quite awhile to try this with an open mind (I mean, Celestial Seasonings is so common! Their tea is probably more like dust than actual leaves! Or so my reasoning was.) but once I did, I was hooked. It's a heavenly blend of green tea, orange peel, spices, and mint. I always have a miniature breakdown when I go through my last tea bag, and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to be able to find and stock up on the supermarket's last boxes before they run out completely. However, I quite recently discovered that you can continue to buy this on their website, maybe even year round.

Sleepytime Throat Tamer (Celestial Seasonings)

This is the tea I turn to whenever I've got the flu/a fever/allergy problems. with just a bit of honey, it can work wonders, and when paired with a couple of Benedryl tablets, I'm out like a light for the rest of the day.

White Chocolate Kisses (Bigelow)

This is my latest discovery. It's almost as good as the Red Velvet Chocolate (see last on this list) from Republic of Tea, but in a different way. This is white chocolate decadence, and the perfect, beneficial, low-calorie alternative to that bar of chocolate you've been craving. It's 100% guilt free and delicious by itself, but if you prefer your tea to be sweet you can add some honey (I personally go for brown sugar) and a splash of milk- yum!

Vanilla Chai (Good Earth)

I've always loved Good Earth tea for their excellent taste and environmentally (not to mention economically- they are not a licensed  fair trade participator, but they work towards the same goals) friendly stance. Their teas are good, and this one in particular is a favorite.

Chocolate Chai (Zhena's Gypsy Tea)

Anyone who knows my taste in teas knows how much I love this brand. Their teas may be bagged, but they have all the body and flavor of a loose blend, and their choices are so varied and spectacular, it's hard to work your way through them all and nearly impossible to choose a favorite. These organic teas are also fair trade, and come in the coolest tins- I like to save mine and re-purpose them when I've finished the tea. This chocolate chai is the perfect pairing of some of my favorite things: chocolate, chai, and tea. Whoever invented this one deserves a big, shiny award.

Coconut Chai (Zhena's Gypsy Tea)

This tea is amazing. It's a fantastic, fruity take on the favorite spiced tea. I go through this tea like it's becoming extinct. It's particularly good as an iced chai latte during those long summer months, but feel free to enjoy it either way.

Raspberry Earl Grey (Zhena's Gypsy Tea)

When I have this tea on hand, it automatically becomes a morning staple for me. I drink it before and during breakfast, and occasionally break it out during the afternoon for my tea-time treat. It's perfect with a shortbread cookie or fruit scone, and a dash of heavy cream compliments it perfectly.

Red Lavender (Zhena's Gypsy Tea

This tea answered all of my prayers when I was searching for what I refer to as my "wind-down tea". This demands to be drunk in the evenings, preferably right before bed, as you wind down. The red tea is naturally decaffeinated, and lavender, known for its calming effects, is blended for the perfect taste- not too much of either herb, just enough to make every taste bud sigh in happiness.
Red Velvet Chocolate (The Republic Of Tea)

Have your cake and drink it too! That is exactly what I think when I have a cup of this tea. It's red velvet chocolate cake when taken by itself, but adding some sugar and milk makes it an absolute indulgent treat.

Well, I'm off to bake madelienes in my new pan, something I'm extremely excited about. I've wanted one of these pans forever, and I finally scored one at Bed Bath and Beyond this afternoon. Happy tea drinking and a merry Tuesday (and Wednesday) to you all!