Thursday, April 30, 2015

Let's talk about: Tom Hiddleston

Thomas William Hiddleston was born in Westminster, London February 9, 1981.
His mother is a former stage manager, and his father, a scientist, was the managing director of a pharmaceutical company.
He has two sisters  (one older, one younger). 
His great-great-grandfather was Sir Edmund Vestey, 1st Baronet, an English importer who became a Baronet for supplying food to British troops during the First World War.

 "I gave myself permission to care, because there are a lot of people in this world who are afraid of caring, or afraid of showing that they care because it's uncool. It's uncool to have passion. It's so much easier to lose when you've shown everyone how much you don't care if you win or lose. It's much harder to lose when you show that you care, but, you'll never win, unless you also stand to lose. Don't be afraid of your passion."

 He grew up in Wimbledon and Oxford, England. 
He attended preparatory school at The Dragon School in Oxford. 
By the time he was 13 he boarded at Eton College (Prince William was one of his schoolmates.)
He got into acting at this age to cope with the divorce of his parents. 

He then went to Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge.
He played Rugby but gave it up for his love of acting.
He earned a double first in Classics and graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2005.

Whilst at University of Cambridge, he was seen in the play "A Streetcar named Desire" by the agency Hamilton Hodell and landed his first TV role in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
 His first feature film was Unrelated, in which his younger sister also made her film debut.
 One thing every fan of Tom can tell you is that he loves to dance.
He says he took up dancing as a teenager to impress girls.

Tom speaks French, Spanish, and Greek.

He is well known for his celebrity impressions including my favorite, a Jurassic Park raptor. 

In January of 2013 he traveled with Unicef UK to Guinea, West Africa, to visit children, families, and communities. He continues to remain involved with the organization.

The first movie I ever saw Tom in was Return to Cranford but I didn't know who he was at the time. 
I first really noticed him when I went to Avengers in the theater. 
Throughout most of the movie I didn't really realize how handsome he was and then he did this laugh/smile and I've been a fan girl ever since. 
He quickly surpassed Henry Cavill as my #1 celebrity crush and has stayed there ever since. 
He is handsome, extremely talented, smart, and above all a really nice guy. 
He is known for apologizing. And when someone brought that up to him in an interview, he apologized. 
He has shown up to a red carpet on a cold day with hot soup for a reporter. 
He has come back to take a picture with a fan after feeling bad about rushing past her. 
He is a truly kind person.

 It is hard to pick favorite roles because I have yet to see all of his films or TV shows.
But here are some of the standouts to me. 

#1 War Horse

I love this movie. Love, love, love this movie. 
It is fantastic in just about every way. 
Tom's role is quite short but very important. 

And in those few minutes he is on screen he makes a large impact. 

#2: The Hollow Crown

This series is incredible. 
Very dramatic. Full of great actors. 
Tom is great as Prince Hal in Henry lV parts one and two and outstanding as King Henry in Henry V

He brought me to tears and months after watching it I would still find myself thinking about it. 
I doubt I will ever get to see Tom doing Shakespeare in real life so this is the closest I can get to it. And it is spectacular. 
He was made to do Shakespeare. 

#3: Thor/ Avengers

Tom originally auditioned for the role of Thor but thankfully Kenneth Branagh decided he would make a better Loki. I think he would have been great as Thor but personally I think there is so much more to the character of Loki. And I think his talent is really suited for the deepest of characters. 

When Thor first came out Tom did a family and friends screening, bringing toys for all his younger cousins. 

#4: Cranford Returns

He played William Buxton. 
He just has one of those faces that works great in a period drama. 

#5: Miss Austen Regrets

He plays the very earnest suitor to Jane Austen's niece to perfection. 

In short, I think Tom is awesome. 

*Do you have a favorite Tom role or quote?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Let's talk about: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

I think all of us know the story of Peter Rabbit. 
It is a timeless classic. 
After talking about Miss Potter last week  I really wanted to pull out my copy of
The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

I love my copy of this book. 
I bought the full box set a little over a year ago from Zulily for just over $20. 

I adore this set. One of my favorite things I have purchased. 

 I highly recommend snatching it up if you ever see it on their website, or anywhere else for that matter, because I have seen it close to $100 on ebay and Amazon and right now it is on Anthropologie for $49.99. 

These books are adorable. 
They are bigger than the original size but a perfect size for little hands (and big hands) to hold easily.

I think the reason I love Peter Rabbit so much is it feels like a proper bedtime story. 
When you are reading it out loud to your children it feels like something that would come naturally if you were making up one yourself. 
Especially if you were trying to correct a particular behavior. 
It has cute characters that children will love. 
The illustrations are darling.

It has an exciting story for kids. 
At least, my children would get anxious and excited when Peter was trying to get away from Mr. McGregor.
 And it has a moral. 
Peter does not obey his mom but his sisters do. 
That night he is sick, tired, frightened, and is sent to bed with some chamomile tea and nothing else whilst his sisters get to stay up having milk, bread, and blackberries. 
And yet that is all that happens to him. 
Even though he has lost his second pair of shoes and jacket in two weeks time, I think his mother knows that his own consequences are enough punishment this time. 

As I was reading it, it made me think of a blog post I did on my personal blog a few years ago whilst living in Wisconsin where we had plenty of wild little bunny rabbits living in our neighborhood. 

I posted a couple of pictures of bunnies that we encountered on our walk that morning. 

I followed up the pictures by saying, "Can't you just imagine them in little blue coats?" and this picture:

I loved these bunnies and was as happy as a child every time I saw one on a walk. 
However, I also knew that most of the people in the area considered them to be pests and hated having them around. 
As I thought about that I realized that Mr. McGregor, the villain of the story, is just your average guy. 
He is just trying to grow his garden and keep bunnies from eating all his vegetables. 
In this way, I think most of us can relate to one of the characters in this book. 
You might be Mr. McGregor, trying to grow things and hating the little bunnies, you might be the good little bunny that always does what you are told, you might be the naughty little bunny that continues to disobey but pay for it later, the mother that is just trying to keep your kids alive, or you might be like me. I think I am like the little sparrows that are encouraging Peter to free himself of the gooseberry net. 
*Which are you?

(And I love seeing Mr. Warne's name on this book!)


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let's talk about: Downton Abbey (Season 1, episodes 2-4)

In episode 2 we finally start getting to know Matthew and his mother Isobel. 
He made a good impression on me... but not so much on Mary as she walked in right when he was talking about how ridiculous the whole situation was. 
His eyes when he saw her though! You could definitely tell he regretted what he had said and was immediately taken by her. 

There was also a really rare moment in this episode. 
Thomas being charming and kind and fun.

When he danced with Daisy he seemed happy and genuine for once and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. 
I wondered why he couldn't always be like that. 

This episode also showed the first hints of animosity from O'Brien towards Lady Grantham after she caught her talking about Matthew. 
I cheered a bit at that scene ,glad that she stuck up for Matthew.

Something else that made me laugh was when the Dowager Countess was talking at tea and said "Huff and Puff". I had a Harry Potter flashback because it sounded like she said Hufflepuff. 

Episode 3:

I felt a *little* bad for Edith when she was taking Matthew around to churches. 

It was so obvious that she was crushing on him and he couldn't stop thinking about Mary. 

But of course, Mary is not thinking about Matthew. 
She is too smitten with 

Mr. Pamuk, the Turkish diplomat. 
(Recognize him? Theo James is Four in Divergent.)
I don't think Mr. Napier had that in mind when he brought his friend along. 
I thought it was so funny when all the girls were trying to catch a glimpse of him and Mr. Carson comes in asking why they are all congregating. 
Lord Grantham understands when he says, "He's giving the girls a real treat."
Then the real drama takes place. 
When Mr. Pamuk came to Mary's room I thought he was really pushy. 
Everyone keeps saying he was a nice guy. But honestly I don't think he really was that great. 
I can't imagine the trauma Mary felt when realizing he had just died. 
But I loved the Dowager Countess' reaction. 
"No Englishman would think of dying in someone else's house."

This episode also gave us another example of the kindness of Sybil when she became so invested in helping Gwen with her dream of leaving service to become a secretary. 

Another relationship we get more of a glimpse into is the relationship between Mary and Mr. Carson. It becomes very obvious that they are very close and more like family than anyone would admit. 

The last thing that stood out in this episode was how horrifying Bates leg was after having that brace on. It made me cringe. 
I was so glad that Mrs. Hughes got to the bottom of it and so happy when that thing was thrown in the lake!

Episode 4:

We get our introduction to Tom, the chauffeur. 

I really liked him right away. 
I love how Lord Grantham offered him use of the books in the library. 
You could tell he was surprised by this. 

This episode also brought us the town fair and Mrs. Hughes getting a proposal. 
I felt happy and sad for her at the same time. 
I kind of wanted her to accept but then you could tell it wasn't the right thing. 
I loved the moment between she and Mr. Carson when she was telling him about it and he said, "What would be the point of living if we didn't let life change us."
There seemed to be a lot of emotion in this episode (not that there usually isn't.)
I really understood Mary's frustration when she felt like her father wasn't really fighting for her but instead just accepting things they way they were. 
I hated the fact that Daisy was letting Thomas influence her so much that she started becoming mean. 
And I felt so bad for poor William. I just wanted to shake her and make her notice him. 
One of my favorite moments of this episode was when Sybil came out in this outfit. 
It was just such a fun moment and she was so happy. 
But my favorite thing about it was when we saw Tom peeking through the window at her. 

*What are your favorite moments from these episodes?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Let's talk about: Travel News

That's right!
Scones and Crackers is going to London!

For years I have dreamt of going to Europe, especially England. 
It has been my #1 travel dream since marking Prince Edward Island, Canada off of my bucket list. 
My husband Doug and I have talked about it many times. How to afford it? When to go?

Then last summer he said, "We can't go for a while with the kids but you should see if your mom wants to go with you."
My mom is one of my favorite travel buddies. She lets me plan pretty much everything (I admit I am a control freak.), she puts up with (and enjoys, I think) my commando type traveling, and we like so many of the same things that it makes it easy to figure out which are the most important things to see. 

So I called her up. 
We talked about it and have been planning ever since. 
Finally over the last couple of months we have put our plan into full speed ahead. 
And we are going!

Our trip is still about a year away but I have most of our hotels booked and am holding out hope for a good airline deal. 
We will be visiting England, Wales,  France, Switzerland, and Germany for three weeks.
But on this blog I will only post about England and Wales where we will be spending the most time.

I wanted to bring up my trip so that I can post occasionally about the places we have found to stay in, things we plan on seeing, and of course a full report on everything when we get back.
But I also want to post on places I find that we won't be staying in and things we might not do... just in case any of you are planning a trip and could do those things. 

I hope you will all enjoy the travel posts as much as I will enjoy writing them!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Let's talk about: Miss Potter

Miss Potter is one of my favorite movies. 
It tells the life story of Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit books and many other wonderful stories. 
As much as I have always loved Beatrix Potter's books, I didn't know much about her as a person. 
This movie lets us in on her story. 
We see Beatrix as a young girl already telling stories and drawing her beautiful watercolor pictures. 
(played by adorable Lucy Boynton)

Most of the movie takes place as she is finally finding success with her books. 
A publishing house agrees to publish her but doesn't believe it will be a success. 
They use her as a way to keep their youngest brother busy so they can be in charge of the books they think are actually important. 
Norman Warne, played by Ewan McGregor, is wonderful.

He is as enchanted by her books as we are. 

I think we all fall in love with him alongside her.

Through her acquaintance with him she also makes a best friend of his single sister Millie Warne (played by Emily Watson). 

This movie is filled with magic, 

beautiful scenery (that breathtaking Lake District!), 

and a kiss that got my vote as one of the best movie kisses ever. 

It is charming, sweet, romantic, heartbreaking, and inspiring. 

Renee Zellweger does a tremendous job of bringing Beatrix to life.

Lloyd Owen also does a fantastic job at helping us to soothe our heartbreak with his portrayal of William Heelis. 

You don't have to be a huge fan of Beatrix Potter to love this movie (though it does make it even more special!). It is a wonderful story. 

Here is the trailer:

  And for those of you who have already seen it I think you will love this video as much as I do.