Favorite Period Movies - Part II

These postings on our favorite period movies are not my usual sort of blog posting, but I hope you’re enjoying them. Everyone loves finding a good movie recommendation. I know I do! I’ve seen many more period movies than I list here, but many I could not, in good conscience, recommend to people (nor even watch again myself). But I think I’m giving you a good list of decent movies.

If you are in the mood for Dickens, we would recommend:

Bleak House

It has all the usual elements that you come to expect from Dickens: an excess of words superbly written, snobby artistocrats, eccentrics, dirty London streets, and a virtuous heroine. Our whole family was captivated!

Photo credit here.

Click here for a promotional trailer.

Little Dorrit

As always with Dickens, excellent moral lessons to be learned. Well acted!

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer for Little Dorrit.

Downton Abbey

Like everyone else in America (and England too), our family is hooked(!) on Downton Abbey! A British television series, it follows the tale of the artisocratic Granthams and their household staff in the early 1900′s. The world is changing, and so are the traditional class systems in England. Beautifully costumed! Well acted! You’ll be hooked too!  (Disclaimer: there are a couple of scenes in the first season that you might find objectionable.  Might want to preview them first, if you're watching as a family.)

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer from the first season of Downton Abbey.

Enchanted April

This movie has long been a favorite of mine. It follows the story of several British women as they escape their lives in England and rent a villa in Italy for an extended vacation, and learn some valuable lessons along the way. The movie has a very quiet pace…as though you’re along on their relaxing vacation yourself. Excellent performances. And a plus for me, it also stars Michael Kitchen, who I will watch in nearly anything.

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer. (You will have to click on the yellow button that says "Watch Trailer.")

If Technohubby is in the mood for an action movie, and I am in the mood for a period movie, here are a few that please both of us:

Horatio Hornblower Series

This is a series of DVDs. You should just buy them. They are ever so entertaining…for the whole family!

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Master & Commander

Another movie portraying the glory days of the British Navy, this one stars Russell Crowe. We actually have a friend who's in this movie!  True!  Well acted! Beautiful cello and violin duets! Superb!

Photo credit here.

The Patriot

Far too few films set in the late 1700′s in my opinion, so I do enjoy an occassional viewing of The Patriot. It thrills my colonial-loving heart! Some of the costuming is excellent (like the leading lady’s gowns and the men’s costumes), and some of it is ridiculous (like the leading lady walking about in her corset). Rated R for violence.

The Patriot - Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), his sister-in-law Charlotte Selton (Joely Richardson, right) and the rest of the Martin family take refuge from encroaching war on a stretch of beach that has become safe territory for freed and escaped slaves in the Columbia

Photo credit here.

Moving beyond period movies with war elements…

Lark Rise to Candleford

One of our newer discoveries, this British television series portrays two rival towns…the bustling town of Lark Rise and the rural town of Candleford. Each is filled with its own interesting collection of townspeople…the opinionated post mistress (who only has “one fault”), the impressionable young girl, various handsome young men who come courting, the fussy seasmstresses. When this was first recommended to us, we were told that the family liked it “because the problems the people have are real problems.” And that’s so very true. Everyone is struggling with the sins with which we all struggle. Highly recommend!

Photo credit here.

There are so many episodes to Lark Rise to Candleford, that it’s difficult to choose a trailer. But here is one from the first season. For those of you who are fans of Downton Abbey, you will recognize the valet, Bates, in this series as the young girl’s father.

The Importance of Being Earnest

A perfectly delightful comedy starring Colin Firth, Judi Dench, and Reese Witherspoon! Hilarious from beginning to end!

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer.


It has been said that what little you have to see in small towns is made up for by how much you hear! And that is certainly true in the town of Cranford, populated by spinsters and busybodies. An adaption from another of Elizabeth Glaskell’s novels (like Wives & Daughters and North & South). Once you’ve seen this movie, you will never let a cat get near lace. Just sayin’.

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And last but not least, two different versions of Jane Eyre. Either movie is an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel about a governess who takes a job at the forboding mansion of Mr. Rochester, only to discover that love and secrets abide there.

Jane Eyre (2011 movie)

This one we love for its incredible costuming, cinematography, and musical score.

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Jane Eyre – 2006 Masterpiece Theatre Mini-Series

But for the chemistry between Mr. Rochester and Jane, the 2006 BBC version can’t be beat! I favor this one by quite a bit.

Photo credit here.

Enjoy a movie or two this winter! Comments welcome! If you have some recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!

Favorite Period Movies - Part I

I love winter evenings, because the sun sets sooner and everyone is indoors together and the house is cozy and warm. And in these long nights of January, we’ve been watching some period movies, old favorites and new discoveries. Here is our list of favorite period movies…always with commentary, sometimes with a plot synopsis, and sometimes with a trailer for the lesser known movies.

Wives & Daughters

Hands down, this is my all-time favorite period movie. Based on the novel by Elizabeth Glaskell, it is set in England in the 1850′s. The acting is superb! The costuming exquisite! (And you know that’s so very, very important to me.) And the movie is just so perfectly decent. While Jane Austen is pretty decent too, there’s usually the hint of a scandal somewhere. This is not so in Wives & Daughters. Humor and excellent dialogue all help to make it my favorite!

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All the various Jane Austen movies:

Pride & Prejudice

I like both versions. Colin Firth, the beautiful civility, the elegance, the dialogue, and more all make me like the first version best.

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In the newer version, I really enjoy: the mother being kindly and silly rather than ridiculous, the realism that runs throughout the movie (especially in the first dancing scene), and the sumptous, fabric-like feel to the cinematography. (Shown: my favorite scene.)

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy played by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice (2005) 2

Photo credit here.

Sense & Sensibility

A dear friend of mine described the version with Emma Thompson as, “...a perfect movie.” So true. Can’t find one flaw in it. Perfectly acted and costumed. Beautiful cinematography. Great sets. Elegant musical score.

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Our favorite is the version with Gwyneth Paltrow. Humorous story of a young matchmaker, who is quick to recognize love for everyone except herself. The archery scene always make us chuckle.

Photo credit here.

Amazing Grace

Moving on from Jane Austen movies now… Our whole family loves Amazing Grace! Inspiring, true story of Wilbur Willberforce, who succeeded in abolishing slavery from England, and his friendship with John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Stellar performances by all the actors and actresses in this movie. Beautifully costumed.

Photo credit here.

North & South

Also based on a novel by Elizabeth Glaskell (as was “Wives & Daughters), this is a new favorite of ours. It has NOTHING to do with the American Civil War, but is instead set in 1850′s England. A minister’s family moves from the cosmopolitan area of southern England to a northern mill town, where their genteel manners are in contrast to the sometimes-rough tradespeople who surround them. Can the minister’s daughter find love there?

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer from North & South.

The Four Feathers

This movie differs a bit from all the previously mentioned ones, as it is often violent and portrays some really wretched prison scenes, but I do like it. Heath Ledger portrays a young British officer who is given four feathers, symbols of cowardice, from his fellow officer friends and his fiance when he decides not to follow his commrades to war. Beautiful scenes in England. Excellent costuming. A touching story of friendship and atonement.

Photo credit here.

And here is a trailer for "The Four Feathers".

Under the Greenwood Tree

This is the story of a young teacher who creates quite a stir when she moves to a small, English town. Soon she finds herself with three suitors. Hilarious, at times.

Photo credit here.

Little Women

A favorite, especially at Christmas time! Good for the whole family!

Photo credit here.

Anna and the King

This is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. The costuming is flawless! The cinematography exquisite! The acting superb! Heavy subject matter at times, and humorous at other times.

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Comments and other movie recommendations welcome!  More of our favorites in my next posting.

Cowboy Caviar

My family keeps asking me, "When is the Super Bowl?"  And I keep asking, "Why?  We don't even watch football.  Why do you want to watch the Super Bowl?"  And every single one of them has responded, "I don't care about the game.  I just like the FOOD!"

I haven't decided on the complete menu for the Super Bowl of Food, but Cowboy Caviar will be making an appearance.

Cowboy Caviar

1 (14 oz.) can black-eyed peas
1 (7 oz.) can Jolly Green Giant Mexicorn
1 ripe avocado, cubed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
5 roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
5 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. olive oil (can be omitted for a really low-cal recipe)
juice of one lime
Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to meld.  Serve with tortilla chips with a hint of lime.

New York City - Part II

Here I am by the giant button and needle in the heart of the New York Garment District, which includes fabric stores.

Near the giant button was this statue.

We spent most of the day shopping here, on 39th Street, which is just one fabric store after another. It drizzled slightly on us, but nothing in the way of daunting rain, for which we were very grateful. I found the selection incredible, but the prices not as good as L.A. Still, I was able to find some great buys on linen, cashmere, and ribbon. More on that to come.

A sweet sign in a shop window on 40th Street.

Here I am, just shopping the streets of New York City! I believe if you walked a few blocks beyond me, you’d be at Times Square.

Then we walked down to 37th Street to experience the most famous store in the district, Mood Fabrics. According to others who are “in the know”, Mood Fabrics is featured in the television show “Project Runway”…never watched it, so I have no idea. We took this elevator (that man is the elevator operator) to the thrid floor location of Mood.

Hands down, this is THE MOST amazing fabric store I have ever expereienced! The top floor, this one, holds only linen and wool. This is just one row of wools.

I didn’t even know that alpaca yardage existed. But just look at the selection they have here…and pictured is only about half of it.

The bottom floor has decorator fabrics. And the main floor has apparel fabrics and trims. This is just a glimpse at some of their trims. The first five veritcal rows of ribbons on the right are just velvet ribbons! Oh my! I putchased some chestnut brown velvet ribbon from here.

Finally, with our suitcases stuffed, we turned our minds to lunch…at 4:00 p.m. If I’d known how late we would eat lunch, I would’ve eaten more than a bagel and juice for breakfast. We spotted this tempting restaurant name, and headed for it.

They served up sandwiches, soups, pizza, and build-your-own salads. I opted for a small salad and a large slice of pizza. Technohubby had pizza.

Without a doubt, I wanted to stop at Macaron, a new bakery that sells miniature macarons in delightful flavors.

This box, plus two more in a small bag, were my purchases. We took them home, cut each one in fourths, and shared them all. The flavors are, from left to right: dark chocolate, raspberry, chocolate-coconut, honey-lavender, caramel fleur de sel, and blackberry. And in the bag (not pictured) were: pistachio and creme brulee.

None of us had ever had a macaron before. We didn’t know what we were missing! When you bite into them, they are soft as a pillow. Then they are chewy and squishy all together. And the flavor! It’s a veritable burst of flavor in your mouth…and taste exactly as the flavors they are. On any return trips, a stop at Macaron is a must!

Next up…a glimpse of the fabrics I purchased.

New York City - Part I

Ever since we moved to New Hampshire, I’ve been searching for fabric sources. We have Jo-Ann’s, one little store that carries an eclectic mix of stuff (most of which I would never use), and three other stores (two of which are an hour away from me…in opposite directions). But none of them compare to the L.A. Fabric District…in selection or price.  (If you happen to live in New England and know of any great fabric stores, could you leave me a comment or email me?  I would be forever grateful.  And not just fashion fabric stores, but decorator fabric stores as well.  Thanks!)

For my birthday two years ago, Technohubby took me in to Boston to explore the Boston Fabric District, which turned out to have shrunk from a bustling area to just one store.

So, this year for my birthday, I asked for a trip to New York City to explore the fabric district there. I was inspired to try when I discovered a blog devoted to the New York fabric districtThe blogger is so thorough, that her site includes: a map, a list of shops, where to go for high-end fashion fabric, where to shop for bargains, where to stay, where to eat, and even which stores have public restrooms (no small detail). We carefully planned out our trip, especially to be on a day with good weather (and since it has hardly snowed all winter, we weren’t too worried). Then the forecast changed suddenly, and when it was too late to change our reservations, and we were expecting 6″ of snow at home, and rain in New York City. Oh dear. Oh well.

So off the two of us went to the Big City! We got lost, in the dark, in the rain, because our GPS refused to recognize a main street in midtown Manhattan. Whatever. We were just happy to finally find it, and get settled in, although the rain and the late hour deterred us from walking a few blocks to Times Square. (Incidently, if you think actually staying in NYC is terribly expensive, I’m here to tell you that you can get a decent hotel, in this case a Comfort Inn, for less than $150/night! No pictures of the outside of the hotel, because it was undergoing some renovation and was encased in scafolding.) However, I did take some interesting photos inside. I took some photos from this trip with my good camera, and some I snapped quickly with my phone, so the picture quality is not always great.

Even though the hotel was a modern chain hotel, the building it was in was old and had some fun features! Can you guess what this is? It was next to the elevator on the fourth floor, where our room was.

It’s a mail chute! You place the mail in this little slot just above the eagle’s head, and it goes shooting down to the lobby. And you can watch it through the long glass windows on the chute!

Down in the lobby, it lands in the U.S. Mail Chute Box built into the lobby wall. Isn’t it just too cool? Now that’s a way to get children to write postcards!

It rained all night long, and we awoke to light showers the next morning. This was the view from our hotel window, where the top of the building near us was shrouded in clouds.

The next morning, we enjoyed the complementary hotel breakfast buffet in the beautiful dining room.

Then we checked out of the hotel and walked to the parking garage. It was a multi-story structure with 100% valet parking. We wanted to store some stuff in our car, so we had to wait for an attendant to walk us up to it. While we were waiting, we saw the most amazing thing! These parking attendants, to avoid having to walk up and down multiple stories all day long, have a personal elevator! It’s basically a series of holes, slightly bigger than a manhole, cut through all the layers of the parking garage. Up and down, through this hole, runs a conveyer belt. And, every so often on the conveyer belt, is placed a block. The parking attendants step onto the block and tuck their arms in, and up (or down) they go! Technohubby’s thoughts, “That’s really dangerous!” Here’s my sketchy picture of it, with the block just a bit too high for anyone to catch a ride this time.

Here were the posted safety rules for the elevator. My favorite, “Don’t daydream.” That, along with a healthy attachment to my limbs, prevents me from ever using such a device.

So we stored some of our overnight belongings in the car, and we set off with two small rolling suitcases (to hold fabric purchases) to find the New York Fabric District!


Sometimes the cuteness around here, of one kind...

or another...

is wonderfully overwhelming!
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