Our New Nightime Ritual

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Hello, everyone! I hope today finds you well and appreciating the fact that we’re one day closer to spring. Even in cold and snowy Minnesota, the days are starting to get longer and it’s made a world of difference in my mood. Thank goodness for light! Outside of the longer days, I’ve also been sleeping so much better and I’m excited to let you in on my secret.

I’ve always been a nighttime reader, turning pages until well past my bedtime and drinking one too many cups of coffee the next day as retribution. And as much as this was worth it, I always felt somewhat guilty a) leaving the light on b) isolating Brady during these rare quiet minutes. Never did I think that getting a Nook would be the solution.

I’m traditional in almost every sense of the word and the familiar feel and weight of books has been a comfort to me for as long as I can remember. I also loved the sense of accomplishment from growing my own library and lending favorite reads to friends; not to mention decorating with books. So it was with keen resistance that I let Brady get me a Nook for Valentines. My impetus was that it would make traveling light so much easier-and it has-but it’s also made our nighttime ritual much sweeter.

Instead of delving into my private world, we’ve fell into the routine of listening to audio books together. We recently finished The Jungle Book and have just started A Tale of Two Cities and since starting this routine, we’ve both been sleeping better. Maybe it’s the comfort of being read to or the fact that you can’t dwell on worries when you’re listening to a story, but it’s one of the best things we’ve done together this year. Simple and worthwhile.

Do you always read before bed? Have you ever listened to audio books before falling asleep?

Image courtesy of @NookBN

 

 

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What Are Your V-Day Plans?

loveTomorrow (tomorrow!) B and I will at last be flying out of this icebox and heading west to the Sunshine State. Our trip to visit B’s brother in San Diego inadvertently fell over Valentine’s, and while it won’t exactly be a romantic getaway, I’m more than thrilled to be getting away. Maybe it’s because this will be one of the first Valentines B and I have celebrated together or because I’ve been dreaming up V-day getaways over on DreamPlanGo today, but I’m really feeling the *romance* this year.

With that, if you could go anywhere in the world with your amour this weekend, where would it be? My fourteen favorite destinations can be found here. X

Image courtesy of jump-thenfallintome.tumblr.com

The North Shore

It feels like ages since I wrote, so I hope you can forgive me. B and I were up along the North Shore celebrating our anniversary and even though this is my first day back at work, I’m ready to go back. Our lodge was cosy and our room had almost a full-length window facing Lake Superior.

This part of Minnesota is quiet and simple already with only little hole in the wall cafes and cabins dotting the 110 mile stretch between Duluth and Grand Marais, but visiting in the off-peak season made it feel even more remote. It was delicious feeling like we had the place all to ourselves.

We ate way too much, took naps and never tired of admiring the views of the water.

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The drive itself felt like an adventure and I love how greatly the landscape changes from southern Minnesota.

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We had enjoyed some unexpectedly good pizza at a tiny bar near our lodge.

duluth1We also had our share of the best smoked fish this side of Norway.

1376282_10201151941142113_981436999_nWe spent an afternoon near the Canadian border in Grand Marais and this tiny little town reminded me so much of my time in Lillehammer, Norway.

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We had lunch at the New York Time reviewed restaurant The Angry Trout and it didn’t disappoint.

duluth3Best of all was, of course, spending uninterrupted time with my favorite person.

Do anyone of you have any getaway trips coming up? Even if it’s just planning an easy stay-cation, it’s so important to prioritize time to just be.  If you ever do find yourself in the Midwest, I certainly recommend your own escape to the North Shore.

 

On the Shelf: Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle

captureI hope it’s true  I’m not the only book fiend who hadn’t yet read Dodie Smith’s beloved novel I Capture the Castle and hope that if you haven’t already gulped it down, you’ll do so right away. As The Weekly Standard quipped upon its reissue fifty years after its release, the novel is “much more fun than the reader has any right to expect.”I call it the sort of novel which goes down like a warm cup of tea and plump slice of butter cream cake. In short, Cassandra Mortmain’s journal entries which sharply and freshly chronicle her eccentric family’s curious life and unexpected adventures are a delightful indulgence.

My first experience with the novel took place when I was seventeen. My older sister had moved to British Columbia for school and returned innately more fascinating and worldly.  She had brought the movie with her and curled up in the basement with our family’s dachshunds, I met Cassandra played by the brilliant Romola Garai and her classically beautiful sister, Rose (Rose Byrne). My naïve, culpable self instantly related to Cassandra’s keen observations about love and relationships and finally reading the novel this past month felt like returning to my formative years; to the days before boyfriends, college and marriage when the future was a deliciously clean canvas.

Before I gush about the sparkling writing, I’ll briefly mention the clever, instantly engaging story-line which follows the Mortmain Family’s comically sad life. Living in an old English castle, the family somehow subsides off stale biscuits and tea until the unexpected appearance of two brothers, one of which whom owns the castle the Mortmains call home. The brothers, Neil and Simon, are opposites much like Cassandra and Rose, and as the sisters and Topaz, their colorful stepmother, attempt to conceal their poverty, Neil and Simon are amused. The action which follows is satisfying, unpredictable and ever witty.

Smith’s lush yet specific language makes the story float right along and this is the first book since Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic which made me belly-laugh. Cassandra’s antidotes and descriptions of everyday life are dry and always on the mark. During a dinner party with the Fox-Cottons, Cassandra asks Neil how he likes Rose’s dress. His reply:

“Not very much, if you want the honest truth—it’s too fussy for me. But she looks very pretty in it. Knows it, too, doesn’t she?”

There was a twinkle in his eye which took off the rudeness. And I must admit that Rose was knowing it all over the place.

When the Mortmains, to their glee, receive a gift of ham from the Fox-Cottons, Cassandra describes it as “a meal of glory.” After hearing the cistern bubble and remembering it is her night to bathe, Cassandra’s romantic logic continues: “Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cure for depression.”

Another beautifully captured scene is Cassandra’s desperate swim with Neil in the mote in which she recalls:

I felt like with the moonlight, the music, the scent of the stocks and having swum round a six-hundred-year-old-mote, romance was really getting a splendid leg up and it seemed an awful waste that we weren’t in love with each other…

If you find yourself with time before bed tonight or a few spare hours this weekend, find a copy of I Capture the Castle and prepare to have your cake and eat it too.