Thursday, January 31, 2013

Letters to My Daughters: Decisions

Last year I started this series and, like most things on my blog, it kind of got dropped for a while. These are some of the most fun, most meaningful posts I write (to me, anyway), and they are on my mind a lot. So I decided to keep going. I'll probably post a "Letters to My Daughters" post once a month or so. We'll see how it goes.
* * * * * 
Dear girls,

When I was a senior in high school, I had a big decision to make: should I go to the college I had already committed to, or should I completely change direction and go where I felt God was leading? It was a hard decision because it involved money (my parents would lose the deposit money they had put down at School #1) and it involved the unknown (I didn’t know much about School #2).

In desperation one day I asked my mom what she thought I should do. I’ll never forget her answer: “I can’t make that decision for you. You’re the one who is going to have to live with it, so it has to be your decision.”

To be honest, at the time her answer frustrated me, but today I see how very wise she was. My mom knew that where I would end up going to college would be life-changing . . . for me, not for her. In fact, my decision wouldn’t impact her life much at all. She also knew that it was time for me to own my decisions. If I ended up in a place where I was unhappy, she didn’t want me to look back and blame her for it.

What I remember most about that time in my life was wrestling, really wrestling, with making a decision. And if I’m honest, I’d have to say that I still wrestle with decision-making even today. I play around with the possibilities, rolling them around in my mind, questioning the outcomes, wondering what if I do something wrong or, worse yet, make someone unhappy?

I’m kind of a mess.

But you know that already.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking that you are going to have some big decisions to make in the coming years.

Where to go to college?

What should you do after graduation? Work? Grad school? Where? Doing what?

Even, maybe, whom to date and possibly marry.

The decisions you make will only get bigger as you get older, and I can’t make them for you any more. Just as my mom wisely taught me, you have to be responsible for the decisions you make.

But you might be wondering, how do you make a good decision? I have a few guidelines that have helped me through the years. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Pray. You really shouldn’t make any decision without prayer. Philippians 4:6 (NLT) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He’s done.”

Pretty good instructions for decision making, don’t you think?

Do I always do this? No. But I’ve grown a lot in this area. When I was in my 20s, I thought I had so much control over my life that I didn’t bother God with mundane things like my decisions. But I’ve learned that when I pray, I’m telling God that I really do want what He wants for my life. So now I come knocking on His door regularly.

Listen. After we pray, we really need to learn to step back, take time, and listen to what God might be telling us. He doesn’t speak audibly to us anymore, of course, but He definitely speaks. The more in touch I get with Him, the more I can tell that He speaks to my heart. He prompts me. He guides me. He directs me.

Sometimes He uses other people. As I have conversations with people, sometimes I gain a better understanding of a situation. God definitely uses others in my life to speak to me.

And He uses His word. Part of listening is being in the word, reading what He has to say to us, and heeding His advice.

Finally, and maybe the thing I’ve learned most about making decisions, is to move ahead without fear. When your dad and I were trying to decide how to educate you girls, we felt a prompting to send you to public school, even though most of our friends were choosing Christian school for their kids. We prayed about it and felt strongly that we couldn’t make a decision based on fear. How many times does Scripture say, “Do not fear" or "Be not afraid”? A lot. God is not a God of fear, so if we’re praying about our decision, and we listen for His answer, we should not be afraid to move ahead.

So, three steps: Pray. Listen. Move.

Trust God’s love for you, my dear girls. It is so big. He promises never to fail you nor forsake you. Doesn’t that imply that he will walk with you through your decisions?

Finally, girls, I want to remind you that you are never alone. Sometimes you’ll make great decisions, and we’ll all celebrate together. Sometimes you’ll make a decision that needs tweaking, maybe even completely reversing, and we’ll walk that road with you, too. No matter what, we will be on your side, cheering from here.



P.S. I ended up at School #2. You know the rest of the story. . . .

Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 4

*****Spoiler alert. If you have not yet watched Episode Four, DO NOT read ahead unless you want to know what happens. Seriously. You will be very upset if you have not watched. Just warning you now.*****

Have a seat. We have some discussing to do.

First, how are you? Are you doing O.K. today? Have you come to grips that Downton Abbey is fiction or are you, like me, really feeling something here?

Second, I’m ashamed of my behavior. The crying, the carrying on, because, seriously, it’s FICTION, people.

Of course, I have been known to sob at the ending of a really good book (My Sister’s Keeper, anyone?).

I watched this episode last night with my husband and youngest daughter (and, yes, forgive me, but I kept looking at her and thinking, “what if?”—she’s the youngest of three daughters). And then, stupidly, I watched it again this afternoon to, you know, put me in the mood to write about it. Oh my! Why? I think I cried more the second time around than the first.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Yes, I think I am. Because my blog posts are supposed to be about the five best lines of the episode, and my number five line happened before all the . . . you know . . . happened.

So let’s start with number five, shall we?

5. Happier days, to be sure. When Sybil was awaiting the birth of her baby and all was right with the world. She and Mary are talking in her room, Mary making it all about her (as usual) and how someday she would have a baby, too, when Sybil brings in a reality check.

She tells Mary that she feels as big as a house, her ankles are swelling, and her head hurts (uh oh!), and then she says a line that I think every pregnant woman in her last trimester of pregnancy has uttered a time or two:

“Honestly, I cannot recommend this to anyone.”

Yes, Sybil, I remember those days. My sister, Jodi, is three weeks away from delivering her first child, and I have a feeling she would probably agree with your sentiments right now as well.

Moving on . . .

4. It wouldn’t be a Downton episode without some pitiful remark from Edith now, would it? She’s gotten an opportunity to write for a London newspaper. She’s excited, as she should be, but, of course, Robert’s cutting remarks bring her down a notch or two. Matthew tries to encourage Edith, but she takes the opportunity to present her pathetic side.

“Don’t bother, Matthew. I’ve always been a failure in this family.”

Oh, Edith, you’re getting tiresome.


And now I can’t avoid it. The matter must be taken up—the matter of Sybil’s death, which, I must say, is almost too horrible to even write.

3. I’ve never included myself in this list before (although I would love more than anything to be given the opportunity to do a cameo on Downton Abbey and be able to legitimately quote myself from the show), but today, I think I get the number three spot. Because as everything was going on, the walls crumbling down around them, people screaming madly at one another, doctors standing helplessly by, I shouted (O.K., I may have even pointed) at the television. Robert, more specifically:


Anyone with me?

Talk about living in a delusional, fictional fantasyland—I screamed at the T.V. I actually yelled at Robert through my tears. I was hysterical.

I’m better today.

I think.

And how about Cora basically telling everyone that this is Robert’s fault and that if they had followed Dr. Clarkson's instructions, Sybil would probably still be here? Harsh, but true. (B thought that was the most realistic scene of the night.)

I guess Cora agrees with me.

2. Now let’s talk about all the tributes to our darling Sybil. She really was a favorite, wasn’t she? And with good reason.

Here I’m just going to include my favorite tributes from various characters because they were all so good.

First up, Cora. Could you believe that scene with her sitting next to Sybil saying goodbye? My heart could barely take it in when she said, “My beauty. My baby.”

And then there was Thomas. Oh, Thomas. I might have found just a trickle of sympathy for him last night when he said, “In my life, not that many have been kind to me. She was one of the few.” Finally, some truth spoken from Thomas’s lips.

Mary, to Edith: “She was the only person living who always thought you and I were such nice people.” Yep. Got that right.

Mrs. Hughes, though, put it best: “The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone, and I’m weeping myself.”

1. I think the best lines of the night, however, came from my Lady Vi. Even though I disagree with her sentiments, to a point, I think the delivery was absolutely perfect.

Just at the end, after Cora gave it to Robert in front of everyone and left the room to go write the apology letter to Dr. Clarkson, Violet walked over to her son and, in the midst of palpable grief, delivered such beautiful words. Most needed at the time, I think.

“My dear when tragedies strike we try to find someone to blame. And in the absence of a suitable candidate, we usually blame ourselves. You are not to blame. No one is to blame. Our darling Sybil has died during childbirth, like too many women before her, and all we can do now is cherish her memory, and her child.”

And so, cherish we will. 


Just in case you didn't get enough last night, I found this on the PBS website. Grab some kleenex and watch:

Watch Downton Abbey: Sybil and Tom on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.


Talk amongst yourselves in the comments.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 3

Oh, the drama this week. Strange, unidentified men running through town in the rain. Sybil gone missing. Bates and Anna not getting their mail.

And wasn’t our Violet in rare form this week? Is it just me or is she getting more one-liners every week?

Let’s start with Violet, shall we? Let's end with Violet, too.

5. My fifth pick this week surrounds the Tom-drama and the trouble he got himself into in Dublin.  (Who knew that he and Sybil had even returned to Dublin? That, itself, was a shocker to me.)

Anyway, Tom tells the whole dreadful story about the estate home being burned to the ground (thank goodness they got the family out first!). I swear, every pair of Crawley eyes in the room was the size of saucers. (These Grantham/Crawleys really haven’t seen much of real life, have they?) They discuss how they knew the family that was attacked. How they had visited their home a while back. How they were people just like them, only, apparently, living in sub-par housing.

Edith: What a tragedy.
Violet: Well, rather yes and no. That house was hideous.

4. Don’t you just love Daisy and her father-in-law? To me, they are two of the most precious characters on the show.  He loves her like a daughter, and Daisy loves him, too, in her own way.

The scene between the two of them this week was just adorable, I thought. Daisy took it upon herself to practically ask Mr. Mason’s permission to “have eyes” for someone else.

Daisy: This’ll be hard for you. . . but . . . what would you say if I’d met a man I liked. Because the last thing I’d ever do would be to hurt you.
Mr. Mason: What? D’you think I’d want you to be alone your whole life long?
Daisy: No.
Mr. Mason: Well, William wouldn’t want it neither.

Daisy then acknowledges that there might be someone who has caught her eye and asks Mr. Mason for some advice. She wonders if he thinks it would be O.K. for her to let this boy know that she likes him.

Mr. Mason’s response is so sweet, and earns my number four spot this week:

“Oh. This is too modern for me, Daisy. I’d only say this. You have a pure heart and if he’s a proper man, he’ll know that. But take your time. Prepare what you’ll say. Make sure your words cannot be misconstrued.”

Some great advice there.

3. More Downstairs antics, this time played by Mrs. Hughes. I truly think the woman bought a toaster just so Carson could deliver this gem-of-a-line:

“Is it not enough that we are sheltering a dangerous revolutionary, Mrs. Hughes? Could you not have spared me that?” (Pointing at the toaster.)


2. Robert’s only cue this week was “scowling.” He scowled, harrumphed, growled, shouted, and acted incredulously throughout this episode.

I, for one, was glad to see the man find his backbone—it’s about time he took some action on behalf of his family. All of his impotence is going to catch up with him pretty soon, I have a feeling. After all, Matthew’s got his nose in the books now.

You’ve got to feel kind of sad for Robert, though, as he pines to his mother about the latest debacle involving Tom.

Robert: Other men have normal families with sons-in-law who farm or preach or serve their countries in the army.
Violet: Maybe they do, but no family is ever what it seems from the outside.

Truth, Violet. Truth.

1. You’ve probably already guessed my favorite line from Episode 3, but just in case, let me set the scene. Edith (“Finally! Something about me!”) has paid a visit to her Grandmama, and Violet asks how she’s getting along.

Violet: I worry about you, dear. That sort of thing is so horrid.
Edith: Being jilted at the altar. Yes it is horrid, multiplied by about ten thousand million.

Edith wonders what she will do with her life now that it seems she’s destined to be a spinster. (Take up gardening? Horrors! No!)

Finally, Violet gets right to the heart of the matter: Edith dear, you’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.

Hands raised if you’ve wanted to slap THAT line on someone a time or two in your life. Hands raised again if you plan to tuck it away for the future.

Yes, that was my favorite line from this episode, maybe even my favorite of all time, it was that good. But I want to leave you with one more this week:

“I give you my blessings for your whole life long, my darling boy.”

I can’t take it.


So what did I miss? What were your favorite lines this week? Speak up in the Comments!

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Photos: 1|2|3


Friday, January 18, 2013

Fabulous Friday Food - Braised Short Ribs

Well, hello there. I just checked my archives and found that I haven't done a Friday food post since October. And before that, it was August. And June.

I guess I haven't been very faithful in that, have I?

Oh, let's be honest. I haven't been faithful at all.

I'm no food blogger, and I never will be--Ree Drummond can have the spotlight in that arena. But what I do know is that I can cook me some real good food. (Ree's got nothing on me in the area of execution, if I do say so myself.)

And what I also know is that I love to share my food with you.

So one goal that I have for this year is to share more recipes with you. I promise you I won't blog about food every week, but maybe every two or three weeks might be reasonable. At least once a month--how about that?

So, with that out of the way, let's move on.

Let's talk about pots, shall we? 

I've become a collector of pots, it seems, because my cupboard is bulging with them.

Here's one of the earliest pots I acquired. I think I stole this from one of my college roommates, but I'm not sure. I don't think it was my moms. That's how old this pot is--I can't even remember when or where I got it.

It's kind of hideous, isn't it?

But it still works great, and I'm sure some college girls will LOVE using it next year.

The next pot is one of my favorites--you've seen it featured here many times before. It's a Magnalite roaster that dates back to probably the 1950s.

But this one is special because it belonged to my Grandma Nell. She gave it to me when I was in college, so I have had this since before I got married. This beautiful roaster has made many a meal, has seen many a disaster, and has given me many moments of happiness.

I'll be sad to ever see it go.

Several years ago, when I worked at Williams-Sonoma during the Christmas season (yeah, it was fun and no, I didn't make a dime because I spent it all), I bought this shiny Calphalon pot. Lots and lots of delicious soup has been made in this one.

I also have a 12-quart stock pot complete with both a steaming AND a pasta basket. But I didn't give you a picture because I need to move on.

This Christmas my dear husband gave me this.

Isn't it beautiful?

I will love him (and it) forever.

I have been hinting and hinting for YEARS that I would love to have a Le Creuset, ever since the Williams-Sonoma incident, I think. He finally took the bait.

I've already used it at least four times since Christmas, but I wanted to share with you my inaugural recipe for the Le Creuset: Braised Short Ribs. I made these on New Year's Eve for our family. Get ready to lick your chops. These are GOOD.

Never had short ribs before? Never even heard of short ribs? Me too, until a few years ago when my husband took me to the most amazing French restaurant that served Short Rib Ravioli with Sherry Cream Sauce. Heaven!

Short ribs (known in the UK as "thin ribs" or "Jacob's ladder") are a strange little cut of beef. They can be tough, which is why they require long, slow cooking methods. I get mine at Costco where they come boneless and cut in long strips, but you could probably get them at a butcher shop, too.

I saw Anne Burrell make these on the Food Network a couple of years ago and thought, I could do that, because Anne makes everything look so easy. Turns out they were! This is pretty much Anne's recipe.

Take your beautiful pot. Or your old dingy one. It really doesn't matter.

Get it good and hot and put a little olive oil in the bottom. Add the meat and brown it well on both sides with plenty of salt and pepper.

While the meat is browning, take some onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and pulse it in a food processor. Go ahead. Pulse away. Anne says to make a paste out of it.

When the short ribs have finished browning, set them aside on a plate.

Then add a little more olive oil to the pot and add the vegetables. Anne says to brown the vegetables until a "crud" forms on the bottom of the pot. Scrape it, brown some more, and scrape again.

Then add 1 1/2 cups of tomato paste (that's a big can--12 ounces) to the crud on the bottom of your pan.

Appetizing, no?

Keep browning and scraping, browning and scraping, because this is where all the flavor comes from. Trust me, it's worth it.

Now add lots of red wine and let the whole thing bubble and reduce for a while. In the end, you'll get a sauce that looks like this.

Add the short ribs to the sauce and add enough water so that liquid covers the meat. Place a bundle of thyme on top, along with a bay leaf or two, and put the whole thing in the oven for three hours.

(Here's another shot of my pot going in the oven. Isn't she pretty?)

That's right. Three hours. (About halfway through you'll want to turn the meat over and add more water if you think they need it.)

When finished, the short ribs will be tender and, ohmygoodness, so delicious.

Serve them on a pile of homemade mashed potatoes.

Your family will think they've died and gone to heaven.

And they have!

So there you go. It's a long weekend, it's supposed to get cold, so you need something to do. Go make this recipe. Don't be afraid of it. You can do this!

And if you want a printable copy of this recipe, click here.

Linking this post to Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading Link-up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 2

Well now. Wasn't that fun?

I mean, fun for us, but not for poor Edith. And poor, poor Edith is where I think I'll start this week with my Top Five Lines from last night's episode of Downton Abbey.

5. Did anyone else want to slap Edith as she exclaimed, while giddily watched everyone else working so hard to get ready for her wedding, “Something happening in this house is actually about me!” Anyone? Anyone?

But I did love her "Papa's" comeback to Sir Anthony when he asked Robert if he was happy about the marriage: "I’m happy Edith is happy. I’m happy you mean to keep her happy. That is quite enough happiness to be going on with."

Oh those English, they really know how to evade an answer, don't they?

4. Isobel has got to be the most self-righteous, falsely-pious do-gooder I've ever seen, and I, for one, am getting just a leeettle bit tired of it. Surely she's going to get knocked down a peg pretty soon. Or at least gain an ounce of humility.

But in the meantime, it's Violet's job to keep Isobel humble, and she's certainly earning her keep.

This week brought another subtle jab from Violet. Isobel ever-so humbly (not!) joined the chauffeur in the front seat of the car during the "family outing" to Downton Place (you know, that dump the family might have had to move into if Matthew hadn't come to his senses). Sir Anthony says he would have gladly sat in front, but Isobel waves him off with another one of her placating remarks: "Oh, I've sat in the front seat plenty of times" or something like that.

Violet grimaces, then jabs: "Oh, aren't you a wild thing?"

Touche, Violet! Touche!

3. For newlyweds, Mary and Matthew are sure doing their fair share of bickering over money. This does not bode well for the future, I have a feeling. Mary, you've got to stop hen-pecking your husband over his inheritance. It's getting annoying, even to me.

But Matthew had a great comeback for her after she practically forced him to read the letter from Reggie Swire: "Are you sure you didn't write it?"

Bless you, Matthew, for taking her on.

2. My second-favorite moment of the episode came when Cora confronted Mrs. Hughes about the possibility of her being sick. She rambles on and on while Mrs. Hughes just stands there, mouth hanging open, completely stunned that Cora even knows anything about her "situation."

Before Mrs. Hughes can get a word in, Cora tells her, "I don’t want you to have any concerns about where you will go or who will care for you because the answer is 'here' and 'we will.'”

Such a sweet moment of grace and compassion.
1. Soooo, Edith's wedding doesn't quite go as planned. In fact, we could discuss what happened there for a long time (i.e. the way Sir Anthony's head shot up when Edith mentioned Lady So-And-So getting a divorce, or the way Sir Anthony practically RAN to the car when he ditched the wedding scene).

And there was no shortage of discussion at the Big House, either. Leave it to our Lady Violet to lighten up any situation with her sardonic wit. Remember the dining room scene right after the not-happening-wedding?

Cora: Oh, that reminds me, Carson. I don’t want Lady Edith to see any of the wedding food.

Carson: Mrs. Hughes and Anna are taking what’s left down to Mr. Travis tomorrow--for the poor.

Violet: If the poor don’t want it, you can bring it over to me.

Oh, Madam Dowager, I do so love you!


And with that, I'd like to congratulate Maggie Smith on receiving a Golden Globe award, which was probably handed out at just about the same time Downton Abbey was airing last night. 

Dame Maggie, you're the best!! (Please sign on for Season 4! Please?)

So who can't wait for next week? I'm sure there will be plenty more surprises to discuss.

In the meantime, head to the Comments and start talking! I want to know what you thought about last night's episode. Any favorite lines I missed?

My other DA Season 3 posts:

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One Word 2013 :: Love

I smelled him before I saw him.

That sounds terrible, I know, but the smoke and body odor was so strong that it made me look up from my basket of groceries.

I saw the culprit, two people in front of me in the checkout line, as he struggled with shaking hands to stuff change and chocolate bars into the pocket of his red hooded sweatshirt. His hair was disheveled. His beard bore the signs of several days growth. His brown pants, tattered and too big. And on his feet he wore not shoes, but blue corduroy slippers.

Not your typical Trader Joes shopper.

At the end of the counter stood another man, neatly dressed, a kind smile on his face. A friend? He watched, patiently, as the bedraggled man struggled to zip the pocket holding the cherished chocolate bars.

“He just got out of the hospital,” the man at the end of the counter said to the cashier.

“Oh, that’s too bad,” said the guy at checkout.

“But you’re going to be O.K., Jim, right?” said his patient friend.


Shuffle, shuffle. The pocket just wouldn’t accept the change. Not quickly, anyway.

They finally finished their transaction and the friend said goodbye to the cashier, not a trace of impatience or embarrassment on his face. “Come on, Jim. Let’s get going,” his friend said in no particular hurry at all, despite the growing line in the Express Lane.

Jim shuffled behind his friend, head bent, barely taking in the busy scene of the grocery store, while his friend gently took his elbow and guided him out of the store.

In that moment, it wasn’t Jim who had caught my attention, it was his friend. A friend who had obviously seen a need—a need for chocolate, a need for a ride to the store, a need for attention—and had responded in love. It showed on his face, in his demeanor, in his actions.

This man, who looked nothing like Jim, who looked more like the “rest of us,” was not concerned about appearance. He was concerned about Jim.

He loved.

* * * * *

Two years ago I gave in to the “One Word” craze and chose “Grace” as my word for 2011. Even though my skeptical heart was quite cynical about the whole thing, I have to say, it worked.

Grace stayed on my mind. It permeated my thoughts. I began to see it everywhere, and pretty soon I started to show it a little more. I hope.

Last year I had a word in my mind, but I never wrote about it. I never even talked about it. With anyone. I kept it tucked away, probably because it seemed like too much, too hard.

But this year, I think it’s time to come clean and expose the word I’ve been rolling around in my head for the past year. In fact, I’m just going to claim it for this year and see what happens, because two years ago Grace walked in, sat down, and became a better part of my life. I hope this word will do the same.

You’re probably scratching your head, wondering why I’m choosing Love as my word for the year. If you know me at all, you probably think I love enough already. I have a wonderful family to love. I have great friends to love. I even have a room full of students to love.

And I do. I love each one.

But you know what? I don’t think I love any of them well.

As I thought about love, unspoken, throughout the year last year, I realized that my love is often so conditional. You love me; I’ll love you back. I know that’s not how it’s supposed to be. I’m not even sure I know fully what love means.

For so long I have thought that love means commitment, and it does, but it’s more than that. You see, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor who could very possibly be someone we don’t know well at all, someone to whom we may not be committed. So what kind of love is that?

God is teaching me that love has so little to do with me and so very much to do with those around me. He’s showing me that love has everything to do with putting myself in the shoes of another, walking through their day, seeing life through their eyes. He’s teaching me that love cannot be on my terms—that it needs to be freely given with no strings attached. Love is letting myself go and putting others first.

I wonder, how many times have I just assumed something about someone without really stepping into their world, seeing things through their eyes? How many times have I made snap judgments based on what my experience tells me rather than learning what their experience has really been?

Love takes time. Love listens. Love observes. Sometimes, Love shuts her mouth.

And this is just the beginning. I know I have so much to learn about how to love well.

Trust me, this is scary. I don’t know what God might call me to do in the process of really learning how to love. I mean, might He call me to love the homeless man in the Express Lane at Trader Joes?

Funny thing is, He already has.

I just want to learn more about how that should look.

I want to love well.

* * * * *

How about you?  Have you chosen a word for this year? I'd love it if you'd share it in the comments.

* * * * *

 A huge thank you to Melanie at Only a Breath who chose "give" for her word and is GIVING these beautiful "One Word" buttons to anyone who requests one. Visit her. Follow her. I know she'd love to hear from you.

* * * * *

Linking this post to Melanie's One Word blog party at Only a Breath and to Word of the Year link party at The Lettered Cottage.The Lettered Cottage

Monday, January 7, 2013

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 1

They're back!

It feels like it's been a year since we've had fun with the Grantham/Crawley clan. Wait. It almost has been a year! The waiting has been grueling, but it's finally over and Season 3 has begun.

What fun!

And, as promised, I'm going to record my Top Five (or Ten) favorite lines from each episode. Will you join me?

It was a challenge, folks, to find only five great lines in the opening episode of this new season of Downton Abbey. I mean, when Robert refers to himself as a "Chicago bootlegger," who can resist?

(Personally, I had to roll my eyes at that one. I think many people in England still think of Chicago as the land of Al Capone. Good grief!)

And the words of wisdom that were bandied about in this episode! Like when Anna tells Bates: "Never make an enemy by accident." I may have to do a separate post on all the aphorisms used. Stay tuned.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode; it seemed to me to be kind of flat. I'm sure they were just setting us up for the rest of the season, which is important, but it seemed like nothing much really happened.

Well, aside from Matthew and Mary finally getting married. Whew! So glad that's official.

And that brings me to my Number Five quote(s) from the episode. I just loved when Matthew and Mary were standing at the altar (pretty much the only thing they showed us of the wedding, by the way) and Matthew looked at Mary and said, "To be honest, I wasn't sure you'd show up." To which Mary replied, "Good, I'd hate to be predictable."

That's my girl, Mary. Gotta keep him on his toes.

And while we're on the subject, did anyone else just crack up at the interchange between Robert and Matthew when M&M returned from their honeymoon?

Robert: How was the honeymoon? 

Matthew: My eyes have been opened.

Robert: Don't I know it.

Um, yeah. Awkward. How many of you would actually talk to your in-laws about your honeymoon? Like, ever?

I didn't think so.

Moving on to Number Four. Matthew and Tom had a couple of nice scenes together; I hope they continue this friendship.

Matthew: "We're brothers-in-law with high minded wives. We've got to stick together."

Ha! I've got a husband and a couple of brothers-in-law who could probably say the same thing.

Or how about this one, as Matthew is asking Tom to be his best man?

"If we're man enough to take on the Crawley girls, we've got to stick together." 

Think Matthew wants them to stick together? Redundant, yes, but cute.

Finally, I think Tom has Matthew pegged. As his best man, Tom has to do the job of convincing Matthew to just forget petty arguments about the family fortune and go ahead, bite the bullet, and get married. He tells Matthew this: “But you’re meant to be together. . . . Because I’ll tell you this. You won’t be happy with anyone else while Lady Mary walks the earth.”

Isn't that so true? So true!

Number Three. Tom was great last night, and I'm kind of liking his character. He's good for the Crawleys. I loved this interchange between Isobel, Violet, and Tom.

Tom: “I want to apologize for last night.”

Isobel: “Oh, there’s no need. We know it wasn’t your fault.”

Violet: “You weren’t the first drunk in that dining room, I can assure you.”

Tom: “Only the first Republican.”

Violet: “You’ve got me there.”

Number Two. We have to include the scene between Robert and Cora, don't we, when Robert confesses that he really didn't know how to handle the family finances and has lost everything. (Even I know the first rule of finance: diversify. Oh, Robert, Robert, Robert.)

Anyway, he tearfully confesses his idiocy to his wife and Cora responds surprisingly graciously.

Cora: Oh my dear. How terrible for you.

Robert: It’s not so good for you either.

Cora: Don’t worry about me. I’m an American. Have gun will travel.

Did it seem to you that there were an awful lot of silly American references last night? Maybe Julian Fellowes needs to take a trip over here. I'd gladly show him around Chicago just to prove that the ghost of Al Capone has been put to rest.

Anyway, just after that Robert and Cora share a very sweet exchange. (And, BTW, I'm so happy Robert has put Housemaid Jane behind him.)

Robert: Thank God for you.

Cora: You know what? I’m glad we have a wedding to celebrate. Let’s make sure it’s a great day. If it’s to be our last, let’s make it a wonderful last. And enjoy our lovely home and the lovely people we spend our life among.

Cora may be an American, but she's one of the only ones with some decent perspective.

Number One. We couldn't recap this episode without some Violet quotes now, could we? She and Martha Levinson (played by Shirley MacLaine) have some awesome sparring matches. Didn't you just love this line by Violet, referring to Martha?

“She is like a homing pigeon. She finds our underbelly every time.”

Or how about when Martha sees Violet for the first time? She says, "Oh dear, it seems the war has made old women of us both." To which Violet replies, "I wouldn’t say that. But then, I always keep out of the sun."


Anyway, my favorite line of the evening came as Cora announces to the family that her mother is coming for a visit.

Violet: I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.

Matthew: Isn’t she American?

Violet: Exactly.

And with that, I will leave you to contemplate for another week.

Wasn't it fun? Did I miss some of your favorite lines? Tell me in the comments!

Be sure to sign up for email updates or RSS feed so you don't miss any of my Downton Abbey Top Five Lines posts. You can sign up just over there ---------> 

Photos: 1|2|3


Friday, January 4, 2013

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

O.K., you guys.

You know what Sunday is?

It's the day we've been waiting for since, oh, February 19, 2012. The day when the Downton Abbey Christmas episode aired here in the U.S.

Sunday is the day that Downton Abbey Season 3 begins!

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that some of you haven't watched it already. Probably illegally, I might add. But I know you're out there.

You know who you are.

Anyway . . . when last we left the manor, Matthew had just proposed to Mary, Sybil was pregnant with the chauffeur's baby, and Edith was still desperate to be loved by just about anyone.

So many questions still to be answered.

Will Matthew and Mary actually . . . marry?

Will Sybil have her baby? Will she be welcomed back to the manor?

Will Edith ever find true love?

And what about Robert and Cora? I mean, Housemaid Jane nearly ruined them without Cora even noticing anything was wrong. Will Jane show up again? Will the Grantham's attend marital counseling?


And then there's Bates. Dear John Bates, still in jail, and Sweet Anna left behind with her bottom lip quivering. Hopefully all the "Free Bates" t-shirt sales have added something to his legal fund and he'll be able to come back to Lord Grantham, living to brush his shoulders yet another day. But will he be released? We still don't know.

So, if you're a Downton Abbey fan, Sunday is your day. I'm not foolish enough to suggest that ALL of our questions will be answered, but hopefully some of them will.

I haven't watched Season 3 yet. I decided last fall that I wanted to watch each episode in the U.S. as they happen.

So I'll be watching for the first time on Sunday. And on Monday I'll be posting, once again, my Top Five lines from the previous night's episode.

Last year I started posting these recaps sometime in the middle of the season. I had a fantastic response from all of you, so I thought I'd do it again. Besides, these posts are so much fun to write--the Grantham family practically writes them for me!

Just in case you missed some of my Top Five (or Ten) Lines posts, here are the links so you can get caught up.

Top Five Lines from Season 2, Episode 3

Top Five Lines from Season 2, Episode 4

Top Five Lines from Season 2, Episode 5

Top Ten Lines from Season 2, Episode 6

Top Ten Lines from Downton Abbey's Season 2 Christmas Episode

Have fun catching up, and I'll see you on Monday!

Now tell me, what is you favorite Downton Abbey moment so far? What do you hope happens in Season 3? And, please, no spoilers!!

Make sure you don't miss a single moment of Downton Abbey fun over here. Why not sign up to get email updates of Life on the Wild Side? You can do that just over there ------>.