Those Victorian women, the ones who wait patiently for their lovers, writing them letters and contenting themselves with weekly, supervised walks around the garden or group tea time in the study, are stronger than me. Much stronger. Remember many months … Continue reading
Happy Monday Dear Readers, I’m back again, with a second blog post for this long weekend. Today, I have something very special to share with you: my engagement photos! I mentioned in a previous post that SS and I had … Continue reading
Hello dear Readers ~ it’s been a long time!
This is going to be a very quick Wednesday note to let you all know what I’ve been up to recently and to apologize profusely for not writing a post in such a long time.
I’ve been very busy recently, which isn’t really an excuse for not writing any posts. However, I’m hoping that once you all know the reasons for my absence, and the fun posts I have lined up for the near future, you’ll consider forgiving me.
My weekends have been hectic, to say the least, and for very good reason. My wedding day is just over a year away (YAY!), and so SS and I recently decided to get some modelling practice and shoot our engagement photos with our wonderful photographer. I cannot wait for you to see them, and I’m hoping to post as many photos as I can on the blog and tell you all about the incredible artist (there really is no other word for her!) we’ve chosen to work with. I should have something to show you very soon, and all I want to say to entice your interest at the moment is that there was definitely a very distinct Christmas theme and feel to the whole photoshoot. Things will definitely be getting festive on the blog!
To that point, I have two glorious weeks of holiday vacation coming up, and I am super excited to write a whole bunch of posts in that time. A few of these I’ve already got planned, so look forward to another yearly post about the awesome Christmas decorations I’ve encountered around the city, as well as one about my dream home.
Amidst all these lifestyle posts will also be more book reviews, I promise! I’m deep in my current read, Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan (Goodreads says I’m about 74% of the way through it), and I think I’ll be finishing it in the next few days. I’m actually really enjoying it so far, and although it’s not as festive as I had hoped, it’s turned out to be less fun and silly than I expected and much more intricate and meaningful. A full review is on the way soon!
So, I think that’s just about all for now. I wanted to update you all and convey that I have not forgotten about this blog that I have grown so fond of and attached to! I have big and exciting plans for it over the holidays and into the New Year, so stay tuned!
Janille N G
Girl with a Green Heart
I have always been attached to objects.
It started when I was a newborn and I was given a soft and inviting blanket by one of my grandmother’s friends. While a newborn will naturally receive many blankets in her day, this one became my absolute favourite, and it stayed wrapped around me for years while I was in my crib. When I progressed to a “big girl” bed, my beloved blanket slept in my arms, and he (yes, I do refer to my blanket as a “he”) evolved into Blankie. Blankie became one of my most trusted companions, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I talked to him every night. Some kids have imaginary friends, but I had something much better – an actual, physical object to hold in my arms while I chatted away to him, silently and in my mind of course. I’m also not embarrassed to say that Blankie slept in my bed all throughout high school, and to this day, he rests on my pillow beside me every night. Introducing my fiancé SS to Blankie when we first started dating was a bit of an ordeal, but I decided to share the secret of my constant bedfellow with him about a month into our relationship, and rather than finding it weird, SS decided to curl up for a little nap with Blankie. They’ve been friends ever since.
Is it possible that becoming so attached to an inanimate object was strange behaviour for a young girl? Sure. But think about who my favourite fictional character was at the time: a soon-to-be princess who lived in an enchanted castle and enjoyed living in the world of literature more than any other. With a friend like Belle, how could I not have a blanket as my closest confidante?
Okay, so we’ve established that I’m somewhat unhealthily attached to items and things. Well, imagine how great my attachment has been to each gift that SS has given me. Having a boyfriend for the first time is one source of excitement…but receiving a piece of jewelry from that boyfriend is quite another. I’m not overly superficial and I’m not jewelry obsessed, but having a physical token of my boyfriend’s love, something that I can wear and show to the world, something to give me reassurance and joy every time I look at it…that is quite magical. And an engagement ring…I think there can be no more incredible token than that. You wear it on this finger that everyone knows is so significant, and it sparkles in the sunlight and even (although it seems impossible) on the rainy days, and it gives you butterflies every time you catch a glimpse of it in your peripheral vision. Needless to say, I’ve grown so very attached to my engagement ring, my custom-made rose gold ring and the gorgeous (green, green, GREEN!) emerald that it harbours. There has been no greater joy in my life than slipping it on my finger each morning – it is the absolute best start to my day.
But engagement rings, as with anything else, need care. Every now and then, they need some TLC, a spa getaway, to come back glistening and new. And because SS has remarkable foresight and did an admirable amount of research before having my ring made, he purchased a lifetime warranty from the jeweler that allows me to have my glorious emerald ring polished and buffed and inspected every six months.
Fantastic! Except for the fact that I have to give my ring to the jeweler for two to three weeks. They have to take it from me, literally remove it from my finger, and send it off to some faraway land where engagement rings get pampered and hopefully treated like royalty. For someone who’s attached to inanimate objects, that whole ordeal is daunting.
But, today, my six months were up (Sidenote: It has been six months since I got engaged which is amazing to think of!) and I had to take my ring in. There was no avoiding it, and to be honest his (yes, my ring is a boy like Blankie!) band was a little scuffed and scratched. I of course want him to feel loved and well taken care of…but two to three weeks of absence won’t just make the heart grow fonder, it’s likely to make me crazy!
This post is coming to you late at night, and that’s because I can’t sleep without thinking of my ring, sleeping somewhere that isn’t beside me in my room. It’s a terrible thought, but totally unavoidable. So, here we are, me writing away to ease my anxiety while my ring hopefully rests peacefully elsewhere.
Here’s hoping he comes home to me SOON!
Girl with a Green Heart
“Jane, I want a wife. I want a wife, not a nursemaid to look after me. I want a wife to share my bed every night. All day if we wish. If I can’t have that, I’d rather die. We’re not the platonic sort, Jane.”
– Jane Eyre, 2006 BBC Miniseries
“Her entire world ceased to exist except to study Richard’s face…”
“She reached deep into herself for her control.”
– The Three Colonels, Jack Caldwell
Soon enough, I will be finished my current read, my rescue book, The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell. Given the fact that I unexpectedly stumbled across the book in the Dollar Store, I wasn’t at all anticipating that I would become quite so attached to the story and the characters. My expectations were not at all lifted by the fact that the plot centers on three rather unpopular female characters from Jane Austen’s novels, Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility. I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (it’s the only Austen novel I have left to conquer), but my own experience of Pride and Prejudice and my discussion of it with several other readers have made me convinced that no one really likes or is at all interested in Caroline Bingley or Anne de Bourgh. If anything, the presence of these two women in the plot is mostly just a nuisance to the main, beloved characters.
Having said that, I have grown to really like and enjoy my time with Caroline, Anne and Marianne (who I admittedly don’t know very much about). I have found Caldwell’s story to be very lovely, peaceful and calming to read. I have become thoroughly engrossed in it during my lunch breaks and my long bus rides home, and I have found myself looking forward to reading it throughout my day. I am dreading finishing these next 50 or so pages (hence the fact that I’m writing this post rather than reading) because I don’t want to give up living in the comfortable and warm world that Caldwell, with much help from Miss Austen, has created. This world has been a source of solace and escape for me.
More than that though, I have been taken in by the marital and domestic bliss that Caldwell portrays in his Austen adaptation. As you all know already, especially since I can’t seem to stop talking about it, I am recently engaged. I am also in the midst of planning a Christmas wedding inspired by my favourite literary characters and Victorian time period. This is undoubtedly the most exciting, fun and wonderful time of my life, and I cannot wait until my wedding day in just under 15 months. However, wedding someone is so much more than having a party, feasting for hours and dancing the night away. There are vows to be said and promises to be made, and these precious moments cannot be overlooked.
For me specifically, wedding my fiancé SS means becoming a wife. This is something that I have always fantasized and dreamed of. The concept of being a wife first started to truly intrigue me in high school, when I opened the pages of Jane Eyre and beheld a love unlike any other. A love between two equals who lived and breathed entirely for each other, this romance began to serve as a guideline for me, as a goal for what I hoped to achieve in my own life. At the same time as I wanted passionate love, I also craved the comfort and security that Jane felt with her Rochester. When I watched the 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation for the first time, and heard Edward Rochester declare in the final scene that he wanted a wife to be his companion and helpmate as well as his passionate romantic partner, I was immediately swept up by the idea. Being a wife would mean, I began to understand, desiring someone, wanting them, but also supporting and encouraging them under all circumstances. It would mean giving my life for them in all capacities.
Now that I am a fiancée, this idea of being a wife has taken on new meaning and significance. What will it mean for me to become SS’s wife? Will it mean losing my identity? Certainly not – my Victorian role models would never allow that. But, it will mean taking on a new identity, among the many identities I now possess. It will mean becoming the person (even more than I am now) on whom SS consistently relies. That is a thought that makes my heart soar.
I have many examples of happily married couples all around me, starting with my own parents. I am a reader, though, and so I always like to look to literature to present models for my every day life. And, this is the very reason I have grown so fond of Jack Caldwell’s The Three Colonels. In it, I have found three models for being a wife, and they have provided me with an image of married life that is at once exhilarating and safe.
In The Three Colonels…
Being a wife means loving and idolizing and respecting your partner above all others. Anne de Bourgh is taken by Richard Fitzwilliam, although society may not find him conventionally handsome or extraordinary. She is overcome by his intelligence, his kindness and his impressive work ethic. She is proud of his military accomplishments and his reputation. She is attracted to his personality, his manner of speaking to her, his inclination to ask for her advice and give her the power to form her own opinions. She grows to love how he looks because of who he is, and he becomes the most handsome man in the world to her. Her eyes look on him with love, and he becomes the only person she can ever imagine being with. She is devoted only to him.
Being a wife means being strong and supporting your partner, despite your own fears and anxieties. I have learned, particularly recently, that being part of a couple means facing stressful situations together. Sometimes it also means staying firm and having the confidence that your partner lacks. Marianne, Caroline and Anne must each watch as their beloved men go off to fight a war against Napoleon. They must wait at home as their men work diligently to protect not just their loved ones, but their entire country. It is not easy to be the one sitting at home, or to be the one who supports from the sidelines, but it is one of the most important functions that a wife (or any partner for that matter) has. Being a constant source of strength is essential, and these three women are able to dispel their husbands’ fears even when their own hearts and minds are racing. They put their own nervousness aside and bear so much burden so that the men they love can have but a little relief from their anxieties. They are the pillars that hold their husbands up.
Being a wife means never, ever losing your own identity and sense of self. Caroline Bingley becomes Caroline Buford, but she never stops being the woman she always was. She is far too feisty for that. Anne de Bourgh is the mistress of Rosings; it is her property and her relationship with Fitzwilliam does not call that into question, but rather encourages her to be even more forceful about her powers and her responsibilities. She takes on the finances and the politics with class and intellect, and she is truly a match for her politically-inclined beloved. Rather than becoming quiet through her love for him, she becomes louder and more confident in herself. She is anything but sickly and silent.
Being a wife sometimes means being a mother. It means creating a family, a home base. It means creating a life for your husband that will be mutually pleasurable and peaceful.
Of course, being a husband has its own challenges and responsibilities too…but I’ll leave that to SS to discover! 😉
I am hesitating to finish The Three Colonels because I have so enjoyed witnessing three women become accustomed to married life. I have easily identified with all three women, in their different stages of marital bliss, and I have recognized aspects of myself in them and traits that I would like to assume and apply to my own life.
I would highly recommend Caldwell’s novel to any reader that enjoys becoming a part of Miss Austen’s world. You will get sucked into the story, I promise you that!
The Future Wife,
Girl with a Green Heart
“‘I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.’”
– Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
This is a bit of a belated blog post. I should’ve written about this quote last weekend, in a #JNGReads entry, but I had such a busy schedule that I didn’t get around to discussing these powerful words. This week, I started reading a new novel, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and I don’t quite know how I feel about it yet, so I didn’t feel the urge to discuss any passages from the book right now. I decided, then, that it would be a good time to fill you in on my past weekend and discuss one of the lines from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey that I was particularly fond of.
Last weekend, my fiancé SS and I had a small but cozy engagement party with our dearest friends and family. We wanted to keep the event intimate and comfortable, so we focused on honouring and introducing some of the people who have been the most supportive and incredible to us throughout our lives. These young men and women will form our bridal party, and we really felt like getting them all together and formally asking them to share in our Special Day with us.
The barbecue/garden party was a huge success! We had tons of delicious food and drinks in SS’s immaculately landscaped backyard (his parents designed and constructed it themselves!), and it was amazing to see all of our friends and family conversing and getting along so well. We truly feel that we have the best wedding party in the entire world – they are all individuals who are kind, open-minded, genuine and so loving. We know they are going to be a huge help to us in the next year and 5 months (Ahh!) until the wedding.
The line quoted above from Northanger Abbey portrays exactly how I feel about these remarkable people that have agreed to be there for us on our Big Day. I’m an emotional person and I don’t censor my feelings in the least. So, although I wasn’t particularly fond of the character Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey, I did absolutely connect to her statement that she cannot love others only “‘by halves’” – it is in her “‘nature’”, it is a crucial part of her identity that she gives her heart to people fully and without restraint. I feel the same way about the people I choose to let into my life, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I rely on these special friends, and I am attached to them without holding myself back.
On that note, I’d like to take this moment to introduce my side of the lovely bridal party to you all here on the blog. Since wedding planning is so exciting and there are so many literary aspects I’d like to incorporate into my big day, I know I will be speaking about these people very often, and I thought it would be helpful for you all to get a sense for who they are. I’ve decided to go with a bit of a royal theme for my half of the wedding party (SS is slowly following suit), so I’ve given each of my maidens and my Man of Honour a regal wedding alias for the duration of the planning and events. Here is JNG’s Wedding Party…
- Lady Camille ~ My dear friend since second year university, CV is an absolute force to be reckoned with in terms of creativity and ingenuity. She is passionate about literature (particularly a certain Miss Austen), as well as psychology and various technological advances in these fields. She is my absolute soul mate, my bosom buddy, my most effortless companion, and my love for her knows no bounds. I can go to her with absolutely any concern and she always puts me at ease and is a shoulder to lean on in all circumstances. I am so glad that we found each other in university, and I know she will be my lifelong companion and support.
- Lady Courtney ~ I’ve known hilarious, beautiful and fiery CL since elementary school, but it was high school when we became close and started to bond quickly. With a job in the entertainment industry and a love for all things pop culture, CL is an absolute blast to be around. She is also unfailingly loyal and supportive; she is always on my side and she is eager to boost my confidence and my self-esteem in any dire situation. I relied on her strength so much in high school, and she has continued to be a huge support to me in every regard. I love spending time with her because she always has me laughing and puts a smile on my face.
- Lady Kailah ~ KM is my oldest friend, meaning that I’ve known her for the longest time. We met in grade 4 and became utterly inseparable. Although KM moved to California for a short time during our high school years, our connection is so strong that our friendship remained perfectly intact; when she came back for visits, it was just as if she had never left. With a degree in kinesiology and a mind that can memorize absolutely anything, KM is a professional roller figure skater (she competed in the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games!), and her commitment to her craft has always inspired me to be better and stronger. She has been with me for most of my life, standing by my side and urging me to get out of my comfort zone, try new things and be a more self-assured version of myself…and I adore her for it!
- Lord Brandon ~ My brother BBG was the obvious choice to be my Man of Honour. Although I have some incredible female friends (as you can probably tell by now), BBG has been attached to me since birth, and he knows absolutely everything about me. It’s not always easy for brothers and sisters to get along, but I can honestly say that BBG is a great support to me; he understands things about my personality that no one else ever will, and he has shared all of my experiences. He is a lover of books and writing (he’s even written his own novel, which is a complete masterpiece and will hopefully be featured on this blog someday!), and he is incredibly creative. Yes, he can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but as we’ve grown older and our relationship has matured, BBG and I have begun to truly rely on each other. I know that he will protect me in all circumstances, and I never doubt that he will be there for me and be rooting me on. He is the most dear and important person in my life and I am lucky to have him. He is exactly what he is supposed to be…a true man of honour.
And there you have it…that’s my wedding party! They’re all so different and unique, but I value them each and couldn’t imagine my life without them. I love them all so fully…never by halves and always 100% completely!
Bride with a Green Heart
I have to apologize. I totally missed posting a number of #JNGListens quotes on Twitter this week. I began the week by quoting lines from my all-time favourite Bruce Springsteen song “I’ll Work for Your Love” – a song that I plan to feature prominently at my future nuptials – but I soon forgot to keep posting lyrics because of how hectic and busy the week became.
On Wednesday evening, SS and I selected a wedding venue and date. I’d like to keep the date a secret for now but it is in December 2017, as we planned, and now that the big decision of where to get married is out of the way, we feel a lot calmer and as though we can go about all our other plans in a more relaxed manner. But, needless to say, making this decision took time and research, and now that the decision is made, we have been so excited and overwhelmed with joy…so that’s why I’ve been a bit scatter-brained lately.
Having said that, because I knew I wasn’t going to have a consistent week on the #JNGListens front, I did take the time this week to do something a little special when I found myself on the University of Toronto campus. I completed what I can only call an Engagement Ring Photoshoot! I walked around the campus, visited some of my favourite sites and locations, and photographed my gorgeous emerald and rose gold ring around UofT. I thought I would share the photos with you now…sorry if you’ve all already gotten tired of this wedding news, but I’m a little obsessed!
Here is the ring at University College, one of my favourite buildings on the UofT campus (although I was part of Victoria College). The area you can see behind my ring is the quad, a lovely Austen-esque courtyard with lush grass, wood benches and tall trees. I used to read the novels for my English classes in this area, and dream of my own dashing gentleman!
This is a picture of my ring with my dragon. Let me explain: I used to pass this dragon sculpture (also at University College) every day on my way to my Linguistics tutorial in first year and to my Alice Munro fourth year seminar. For whatever reason, this dragon made me feel strong and secure; every time I looked at him or rubbed his head, I was reminded that I had the force necessary, way deep inside me, to get through my degree and battle the demons that tried to hold me back (whether they were my professors or my own anxieties). I’ve taken pictures with my dragon before (see below), but I definitely thought it was appropriate to introduce him to my engagement ring, a symbol of the fact that I have conquered everything I set my mind to (so far at least).
And the final photo in the first wave of the JNG Engagement Ring Series (see that, I even named this endeavour) is a photo of my ring in the room in Hart House where SS and I first met. Here I am, sat at a table just like the one I sat down at when I met SS. I had to take this photo stealthily, but you get a general impression of what the room looks like. And is it any coincidence that the chairs, which SS and I sat in when we had our first ever conversation, are decorated with hearts?
I anticipate that there may be more posts in the JNG Engagement Ring Series in the near future, so stay tuned!
Girl with a Green Heart (and Ring)
I had a #JNGReads post written and scheduled for upload today, but then things got a little bit Jane Eyre for me and I had to deviate from my plan. This is totally unlike me, to not post my regular #JNGReads entry, BUT, Readers, I have some extremely exciting news to share…
… I am ENGAGED! Reader, I’m marrying him – MY Edward Rochester, my Prince Charming, the love of my life. My boyfriend, that wonderful, caring and kind SS that I rant and rave about, is no longer my boyfriend. He is my fiancé!
Okay, so I don’t even know where to begin, but all I know is that I have to share this story with you all. It was the most perfect, literary proposal, from SS’s planning to my reaction, and I want you all to know every detail.
SS and I have talked about marriage for a long time…since our 3 month anniversary, actually, when I was incredibly sleepy and blurted out that I wanted to marry SS one day. From that moment, we’ve been planning and scheming and discussing…and we had pretty well decided that once SS finishes his last few university courses this upcoming August, we would get engaged. So I had a timeline in mind – engaged by Fall 2016, ideally married by the end of 2017.
And then, SS went rogue, as he often does. He decided that he wanted the proposal to be a total surprise for me…so he had to do it on a different timeline, when I wouldn’t be expecting a thing. He sat down with my parents and brother, told them about his plan, and they were thrilled. The wheels were in motion.
That was apparently a month and a half ago. SS had his work cut out for him then, getting the most gorgeous engagement ring I’ve ever seen CUSTOM MADE for me.
When the girl you’re in love with has a green heart, you have to get her an emerald, right? Truth be told, I have always adored emeralds, and SS hit the nail on the head with this beautiful ring from Peoples, complete with a rose gold setting to reflect my Victorian sensibilities. So he had the ring…now what?
Here’s where I come in, oblivious and hopelessly romantic. SS knew he wanted to propose to me where we first met, at the University of Toronto in a building called Hart House. But how would he get me there, the girl who controls every aspect of our schedule and keeps a detailed agenda of all events? Well, he brilliantly decided to book us a hotel room to celebrate the end of his winter semester, and then he expertly told me he would need to quickly drop off a textbook to a friend at UofT during our stay, for her to use for summer classes. She apparently wanted to meet us right by Hart House and I thought it would be cute to revisit the site of our first acquaintance.
So we went, started walking toward our beloved school, and somehow weddings came up. I got a bit frustrated because all I’ve been wanting for months is a ring to wear and show to the world to commemorate our longstanding level of commitment, so I said to SS, “Stop! I refuse to talk about weddings until I have a ring on this finger!” He must’ve found that hilarious as he was carrying the ring with him the whole time.
We got to Hart House and were standing in the hallway outside the room where we met. I looked inside to see that the room was closed and locked, and when I turned back around, SS was rifling in his bag for a book. He pulled out a copy of Jane Eyre and I thought, “How sweet! He bought me a new copy of the book!”
Then, I noticed that he wasn’t getting up – he was still down on one knee. He opened the front cover of Charlotte’s story and I saw written inside as an inscription, “Reader, Will you marry him?” And there was an emerald, rose gold ring tucked inside the pages.
So I, of course, had an appropriate Janian reaction. “No! You are a liar!” I shouted. “This is a cruel joke! That ring is not even real!” SS was alarmed and stood up, coming toward me to put the ring on my finger (he knew that, no matter what my reaction was, I was saying Yes), but I rebelled. “No, stay away from me, don’t touch me!” Like Jane Eyre, I refused to believe that any of it was real. I refused to accept that SS was in ernest. I couldn’t wrap my mind around such happiness.
But eventually, like Rochester with his Jane, SS was able to coax me into being calm and listening to him. I looked at this sparkling gem on my finger and I had to believe. He was my SS and I was his fiancée…at last!
So there it is – SS and I are engaged! We are getting married…and we will be planning a wedding that will make my literary heroines proud!
“‘Make my happiness—I will make yours.'”- Edward Rochester to Jane Eyre
Janille N G
Girl with an Emerald Green Heart