Tag Archive: birthday

Dear Jane,

I am so sorry for missing these birthday letters. Life has been crazy busy while I was taking two classes this past semester.

My relaxation is watching movies and listening to audio books. Where ever you are these days, do you get a chance to listen to these? I have learned to love them but it really depends on who is doing the reading to make it good or not. Some books done this way can be quite dreadful, especially if the reader doesn’t get the main character.

One book I listened to recently made the two main characters too giggly f

Still Life Audio

or the situations or their own character traits. That to me is really annoying, The other annoying thing is when the speaker’s volume is very loud for one character and very soft for another who are in the same scene. This happened in one book which lead me to turn up the volume for the soft character only to have to quickly turn it down for the next who’s voice was booming.

Well, if you can, I would suggest the Inspector Gamache series on audio. Louise Penny has centered these books in the town of Three Pines, an English settlement in the Quebec province. Our Inspector is French Quebecois but apparently speaks English quite well. These mysteries definitely have an Agatha Christie feel to them. There are many books in this series, each a gem. If you can, get the ones narrated by Ralph Cosham who passed away in 2014.

pride-prejudice-zombies-trailer-poster1Another thing you might want to catch if you can is a movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Is this a great movie? Well, no. But Lily James gives a spirited performance as Lizzie who is an excellent fighter. I think you would be proud of her and this version of your book. I still don’t understand the proposal/fight scene. You will have to watch it to see what I mean. I think it is perfect for watching with teenage or older children, if they don’t mind zombie movies.

But it is your birthday and I hope that your special day is just that. I pray you get some cake and a bit of fun. It seems hard to believe that you lived for a short time and I am now older than you got to be. But your legacy has lived on and inspired so many others. I don’t think any of us can say thank you enough.

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays and a wonderful lazy day to dream of the next book,

Sincerely, your devoted friend, etc.





Another Birthday, Dear Jane.

Dear Jane,

Another birthday has past and yet you do not look a day older than 40.

Your nighttime routine must do wonders (snarkity-snark-snark).

birthday-cakeWell, happy birthday anyway.

It has been cold and snowy at times here. I drove home in snow that wasn’t quite snow, not quite sleet. It kept trying to freeze up on my window, i had to drive with the front defroster and window wipers constantly going.  Otherwise my windshield would have been a solid layer of ice.

Well, the good news in my life is that I start class for the Library Technical Assistant certificate in four weeks. The bad news is nothing right now. There are a few hick-ups but we are managing. Christmas may not be a shower of presents but that is not the important point.

I always ask about you and the responses are few. I hope wherever you are, you are getting fair swipes at the hypocrites who managed to get into the best rooms. Done here, Jimmy Bakker is selling heavenly mortgages and food stores so you have something to eat in heaven. The man is scamming people once more. All I do is hope I will never be like that. Gullible, I mean.

I can be taken in by a good story, especially if there is any bit of plausibility. A good story is a good story whether it is true or not.The thing is, I never want to be so cynical that I look at every story as if it could be false. That is not how I want to live. Oh, I love a good conspiracy theory every now and again. But to live on that on a regular basis is crazy.


It is next to impossible to find a good picture of this man.

I feel the same way about our current political climate. I am not a fan of the President-elect but I have a feeling he will not be thwarted by the Electoral College. So the next four years are going to be filled with constant strife and degradation. The money that man will make of off the office of the President will be legendary by the time he is through.

Oh, but that stuff is boring. I predict Hollywood is going to make many comedies and musicals for the next few years to take our minds off of the mess that is going to be Washington D.C.

One of the most disturbing things I have found in post election life is the use of the word snowflake. Trump supporters are using that word, along with cupcake, to belittle democrats who are protesting Trump’s win. Every time I hear them say ‘snowflake’ I can’t help but feel that they are a bunch of sore winners. Do they realize how they make themselves look – which is meaner and more stupid than they all ready are – when they use these derogatory terms? Probably not.

Well, I have bored you enough. Best wishes and I hope all is well wherever you may be.

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays,

your devoted friend, etc.



Wishing the Best

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

Jane AustenAnother year, another birthday. If I could I would grant you a wonderful birthday, as I would to all of my friends and family.

I wanted to write you a nice letter, I really did. But those darn children of mine have given me a cold. I am a bit wheezy and coughing and having plenty of drainage in the sinus.

I am weak and miserable so I apologize for the not so great letter you are reading at the moment.

I simply do not have the energy or wherewithal to make witty comments and stunning put downs.

Not that there have not been a few opportunities.

The Tea Party Republicans have been making silly demands such as one senatorial candidate in North Carolina who thinks public schools should be closed and that women do not need birth control. Then there are the idiots in the House of Representatives who finally admitted they did not think the government shutdown would really de-fund the ACA, only after the government had been shutdown for 16 days.

Image from Wikipdeia

Image from Wikipdeia

When your Republican Speaker of the house finally says “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I think the faction might have taken things too far. Those goofs are about to find out how much they are not needed to get laws passed that needed to be passed.

But enough on politics.

Life at my house has consisted of Christmas activities and sickness. Our 16 y.o. had bronchitis while the daughter and I are in the midst of colds. I watched way more TV than usual today because what energy I had was zapped up almost immediately. Imagine getting winded from sweeping up the kitchen.

Picture by Mensatic.

Picture by Mensatic.

Soon it will be my birthday. I hope that you can stop by as I am sure there will be some delightful bit of cake. Perhaps over a wonderfully hot cup of tea we can discuss the plot points of my book that need improvement. It is nearly done, I need only one or two more chapters.

Then comes the fun part – editing.

Until next year, wishing you the happiest and a healthy birthday.

Your devoted fan, etc…

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


This week the Bowman family is celebrating.


We are celebrating because the youngest member of the family turns 8 years old.


As some of you may know, Sam was not planned or even expected. But he came as a present on my 40th year. He has been the most challenging as he has the most energy of them all. Sam is in constant movement until it is time to go to bed. Chances are he will fall asleep wherever he is at the moment.


Poster Image from Wikipedia

So I asked him to tell me his favorite movie. I expected a batman movie or some cartoon. But not him. He went straight for the gusto with Transformers 2.


For those not familiar with the series, Transformers are aliens who are giant mechanical robots that can take the shape of vehicles. They have to see one in order to change into that car.


The favorite one seems to be Bumblebee which is a yellow Chevy that has black strips detailing. He is a loyal friend to the lead character, also named Sam, but Bumblebee cannot speak although he can channel music or movie dialogue to express his feelings.


The leader is Optimus Prime who changes into a blue and red semi truck. Optimus is the last member of the Prime family. He believes in freedom for all, not for some, and is the sworn enemy of Megatron.


In the first movie which stars Shia LaBoeuf as high school senior, Sam Witwicky, who wants a car and his father buys him an old junker that is yellow with black strips. Soon enough, Sam will discover the secret of his car as well as the rest of the group. Eventually, they will save the world from Megatron and his ilk.


But, of course, that is never enough. In the second movie, Megatron is brought back from the depths of the ocean and is helping a greater being who wants to literally devour the sun. But he needs a few things from Earth.


Meanwhile, Sam is going away for college while leaving behind Mikaela and Bumblebee. His first few days do not go as planned as Sam begins to see images of a plan. Then he discovers that an assassin has been sent for him in a very pretty package. Soon enough, he is back with Agent Simmons trying to figure out the images and saving the world once more.


This is an intense movie as there is constant fighting going on. The noise level is very loud with constant explosions, gunfire and the vrooming of vehicles. We will be taken around the world, into museums, through the pyramids and finally back to home. It is a bombastic adventure with comedic moments involving new transformers. And there is a good chance that we will watch this movie sometime this week.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.



Dear Jane,


Image by Melodi2

I wanted to take a few minutes out of this holiday season to wish you a happy birthday on the 16th. If it is possible, I would love to share tea time with you but when is always the question. With all of the events flying around our family, I scarcely get a moment to breathe and think.


Last night, our daughter and her Girl Scout troop sang carols at a senior living facility. Later in the evening, our second oldest played in a band concert. I had to run youth group at church and missed out on the concert. Tonight, half of the family will take part in the 4H Christmas party while I attend my daughter’s band concert. Friday night is my office party.


My house is getting quite messy. Toys or pieces of toys are strewn about and the dog insists on shedding. Dust is everywhere. I am hoping to spend some time cleaning on Saturday morning before heading to the stores to buy a birthday gift and a grab bag gift suitable for a boy or girl. My daughter is voting for candy although one of her classmates is diabetic.


Saturday afternoon my daughter heads to the birthday party while I am off to a Christmas party for children at my church. Then there is a singing time at my church from 5 p.m. till 7 p.m. Our church choir will sing four songs and our youngest member will do a solo of “Emmanuel.” Then I plan to go home, eat some soup and go to bed. I am hoping to stay there till New Year’s but you and I know that is not practical.


Book Cover image from barnesandnoble.com

I am being quite rude as I have not asked how you are doing or if you are working on anything new. I look in the stores and hope some forgotten manuscripts have been found but I am always disappointed. I am hoping to begin work on the series by Rebecca Ann Collins which looks at the lives of various characters after “Pride and Prejudice.” Perhaps that will be my goal for the new year.


Please let me know when we could have tea together. If it cannot be in December, perhaps we could get together in January. Life slows down considerably and my biggest concern will be cleaning out the ‘closet of doom.’


Your devoted fan wishing you the best on your birthday,



Related Posts:

Notes From Rumbly Cottage: Curling Up with a Good Book
Notes From Rumbly Cottage: Wishing the Happiest of Birthdays

Notes From Rumbly Cottage: My Dream Casting Wishes for Jane Bites Back 

Notes From Rumbly Cottage: Austenland – My Dream Cast

Some days, you just know what you are going to write for that day’s post. And it is going to be brilliant. Then your daughter, who is having her birthday says she wants you to do something.

Sara with her birthday fruit tart.

When it is her birthday, you cave just a little. Because it is her tenth birthday and she is your only daughter. Someone suggested to me that I should have another baby since I enjoy playing with a friend’s newborn.

The problem with that is I am 47 and my friend is 32. fifteen years of energy that I no longer have. Those late nights of crying and fussing. Those days of complete exhaustion. I prefer playing with Emma now and again.

But back to my daughter whose birthday is today. Ten years ago, I went to the hospital for an inducement. (Ladies, don’t do it if you do not have to.) A couple of days later I took home a girl. Later this week she will get her ears pierced. She has been begging me to do it for the last two years and I promised when she hit ten we would do it. Today, she hits ten.

As you may remember, each Sunday a different family member at our house chooses the menu and makes the meal. So this Sunday’s supper was her choice which she traded in order to have it. It was the perfect meal for a cold spring day. Roast beef that had been in the crock pot all afternoon along with potatoes and carrots. Biscuits were on the side. But dessert, dessert was the kicker.

It was a tart made in my smallest springform pan. We did not have the cute fluted sided pan but the springform allowed for easier removal. But once the pastry was ready, we put down a layer of melted chocolate chips, a layer of sugared neufchatel cheese and topped with fresh halved strawberries.

Written by Liz Franklin; Image from Borders.com

The recipe came from Cooking Italian with Kids by Liz Franklin. Ever since I have had this book, it has been nothing but a godsend of recipe ideas. Rosemary potatoes, tomato and bread soup, and sugared ricotta with fresh fruit are just a few of the recipes we have made and enjoyed.

This time around it was the Summer Fruit Tart and here is the exact recipe.

For the Pastry

12 Tablespoons of butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to sprinkle

Chocolate Base

2 1/2 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate


8 oz Marscarpone cheese

2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 lbs mixed summer fruit

a 9-inch loose-bottomed tart pan

a pastry brush

I have to admit we changed a few things around. Without marscapone, we went for the neufchatel cheese. We may have spread more chocolate than needed on the tart. Just strawberries were requested because the b-day girl did not want blueberries.

The recipe was fairly easy for my daughter to make on her own for the most part. I showed her how to cut the strawberries and corrected her form a few times. Then I had to stop watching because I kept imagining the worst.

When it came time for eating the tart, we were ready. None of that tart lasted beyond a half an hour. Which means it is on the list of desserts to make again.

I can’t imagine what it will taste like when we get berries from the berry farm. The crust makes enough for two tarts.

We might have to make several.

I hate my trainer.

Last week on Facebook, one of my friends made a comment about how tough the new Jillian Michaels yoga workout has turned out to be.

I made a jokey comment that I think the woman must be a sadist, just like my boxing coach on Wii.

Except I was not kidding.

I really think the Mii used as the boxing coach is an SOB. He is mean and tough and makes me crazy. I considered firing him except he is not real and I do not pay him. I feel a little crazy talking about an animated figure like this.

I still hate him.

My quest to lose weight has hit a plateau. I am only 13 pounds from my goal weight and it is the Christmas season. I know I am going to eat any rich and fatty dish put before me. I know I could use moderation and not eat as much.

Instead, I have chosen to amp up the exercise a bit by doing the boxing training modules on Wii in an effort to whittle down my waist. I still do the walk with the dog every day and have added an extra block to up the ante. I am still working the diet with yogurt and fresh fruit. A recent cold has made me up my liquid intake.

I know, I know it is not real exercise. Heck, I could just sit on the couch and do the movements with only my hands. But I am making the effort to sock it to the punching bags and dodge those laser fast tennis balls the trainer shoots at me with what seems like bazookas for hands.

I know there is a benefit to all of that punching and moving back and forth. I need the physicality of this exercise before I jump back into working out with my kickboxing tape. I am trying to make sure I have a good stance and punch that bag as hard as I can. A lot of the tightness that has been in my shoulders is starting to loosen up.

Missed me this time!

But then the trainer has to throw balls at me to make me learn how to dodge punches – the bastard. Just when I think I have the rhythm down, he throws them even faster. And lets not forget the double ball throws he makes every now and again. The beautiful girl who is my Mii should have had several concussions by this time. I would be on the disabled list if I were an NFL player.

Does it get me a break? Not a chance.

What is a girl going to do but just keep coming back for more punishment. After all, my waist measurement has now hit just under 42 inches. With my birthday only a few weeks away it would be great to suddenly be at only 40 inches. That might be a pipe dream but it is my pipe dream that does not involve crack.

Oops. I missed the paddle again.

Just a trainer who seems intent on my destruction. At least I can give it right back to him on the paddle punching excise.

That’s right, coach, I did mean to miss the paddle – a little on purpose.

Family Movie Night

Dear Jane,

I wanted to drop a quick note to wish you a happy birthday. We won’t mention the year (235) or the fact you have been gone for nearly 200 years. If you are free, you are more than welcomed to stop by for some tea and cake. Just let me know what time you can make it. You need to have a discussion with the person who operates your Facebook page because your birth date is not listed.

Picture from Barnes and Noble.com

 I would love to discuss with you the current “Austenmania.” There are writers who are adding sequels to your novels, turning Darcy and Elizabeth or yourself into detectives and mashing your novels with horror genre monsters. My favorite makes you into a vampire. Plus, you get to have an affair with the most dashing man in English literature.

 Then there are the movies. So many handsome and wonderful men have been used to depict your romantic heroes. Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995) may be the most romantic version of this character. There is a scene in which he reads poetry to Marianne (not a scene from the book) that makes many of us modern women swoon.

 The BBC has put out new movie renditions of your books a few years ago and really outdid themselves. David Morrissey stars as Colonel Brandon, making me swoon in a completely different way. He was given the opportunity to duel a young man on-screen and it was wonderful.

 Colin Firth has been called the definitive Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries. He is quite delicious, especially the scene in which he swims in the lake right before meeting Elizabeth again at Pemberly (another scene not in the book). But there is a part of me that really loves Matthew MacFadyen’s version of Darcy from the 2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly as Lizzie.

Picture by Karyn Bowman

When you come for tea, I will show you the cup I found at a sale this summer that looks similar to one I saw in Persuasion (1995). Ciaràn Hinds is the good captain and I have never forgotten his looks at Anne when he thought she wasn’t looking. He uses a very similar cup during a conversation with Charles Musgrove.

 At this point of the column I usually discuss a Christmas movie to watch for the season. One of my old time favorites is A Christmas Carol (1951) starring Alastair Sims. The Sims version has a non-quantitative something about it that brings joy to the heart and thoughtfulness to the brain.

There are many versions of this story in movie form but the 1951 version is my favorite, completely suitable for all family members with just enough scary moments to remind us of the total joy of Christmas.

 It is based on a short story by Charles Dickens, a Victorian-era writer whose work seemed to constantly explore the theme of not having enough money or charitable spirit.

Picture from IMDb.com

 Another British movie set during the holidays in our modern times is Love, Actually and it stars various actors from the movies based on your books – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Kiera Knightly.  It is a modern tale of several people discovering their way to love or through love. Liam Neeson is also in this movie and I find him quite yummy.

Please let me know if you can make it for tea. After recently re-reading Lady Susan, I suddenly realized that only Kate Winslet could play her at this time in a movie and we must discuss. If not, please let me wish you a happy birthday on the 16th.

Your sincerely devoted reader.

 Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below. Become my friend on Facebook.

A Few New Releases

Family Movie Night 

Recovering from the Pumpkin Fest should not be that difficult. No more will our family take nightly bike rides to find Waldo. No longer are we going to look at all of the scarecrows. 

Happy Birthday, Sam. Picture by J. Durham.


I am planning to place my hiker guy scarecrow in the front yard as soon as there is a free moment or the husband is done with touching up the paint on our trim. Plus, we have a birthday to celebrate. Our youngest turns six this Friday and there is a party to get ready. Cupcakes, pizzas and other boys sleeping over for the night. Should be fun. 

One thing he can look forward to is the DVD release this week of Iron Man 2 which stars Robert Downey Jr. This time around, people know him and his alter ego. But we see the man is having problems, difficulties with adjusting to real life, difficulties with the relationships most dear to him. 

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, having a donut while sitting in a large donut. Picture from IMDb.com.


He must also deal with other issues regarding his suit that are good and bad. And there is the man whose father helped create the suit that Tony wears. It is a tangled web.  

 This movie is rated PG-13 and is one that makes me cautious with the younger members of the family. However, we saw it in the drive-in this summer and thought for the most part it was OK viewing for our youngest. It will not be played at the party but saved for a family-only time. 

 We do not always get to the theater to see movies the first time around. The husband and I try to sneak out for date nights but this is not always possible. So some nights we stay up late and watch a movie we rent for us. 

 This week the movie coming out on DVD that is best for adults only is Get Him To The Greek starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. My every attempt to rent this movie since Tuesday has been met with disappointment as it is always gone. 

This movie was produced by Judd Apatow, so you should feel pretty confident in knowing that there is going to be boozing, sex, swear words and blue humor galore, especially if you get the un-cut version. Otherwise, it is a solid ‘R’ rating. 

Jonah Hill and Russell Brand in Get Him To The Greek. Picture from IMDB.com

 The story is about an intern (Hill) who must get a former rock god (Brand) to the Greek Auditorium in Los Angeles from London to start his comeback tour on time. It is going to take cunning and trickery to do it but Hill is prepared to do anything and everything to keep his job. 

 I have enjoyed the adult-specific comedies that Apatow has specialized in over the last few years. I am hoping this will be a good flick that will make me laugh heartily at someone else’s mistakes and foibles. Plus, I do enjoy how Brand can be incredible sensitive and the next second a total jerk. Perhaps he, like Jack Black, is an acquired taste. 

 Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

 Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below. Become my friend on Facebook

Pint Size Perfection

Having one girl in a house of boys is a breathe of fresh air.

 Whereas the boys play yu-gi-oh, cars and beat each other up, my daughter wants to play dolls, games and cook. Granted she can get bossy with her friends and whining moves into an art form. Last week she performed her first “You guys hate me” melt-down because I demanded she come home at the time I set for her.

 Then there are those times are totally sweet and endearing, like last Friday night.

 One of our friends was having a birthday party for his wife, her fiftieth birthday, at a bowling alley on the near-north side of Chicago. The pizza was great with margarita, ham and pineapple, veggie and pepperoni varieties. The table also held chicken wings from mild to ‘OMG-my-lips-are-burning’ hot. The specialty drink was a pineapple-infused vodka.

Picture by Phae Wilk

 We were happy to be with friends, especially the ones whose daughter is about the same-age as our daughter. They get along well and as it turns out have the same taste in music. As the night went along, we found out there was going to be a karaoke time.

 Yes, I partook in the karaoke but only after sipping on that pineapple-infused vodka (tasty).

 Now the girls had been hanging out with us and looking at the karaoke list. disappointment came when the could not find Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana or Taylor Swift. I would say something else that was close but not for these girls.

 So people went up and down. Some of us were great, some bad and all having a great time. The girls, after a break in the game room, decided they were going to sing their song no matter what. However, they did not want anyone to see them. No way, no how. That is when A’s mom suggested they go under the table.

 We were sitting next to the stage. Plus, the microphone had a long wire. It could be done. All it took was someone getting the mic and handing it to them, which I did.

Picture by Monosodium

 The next thing that happens is the sound of girls singing but there are no bodies on the stage. They work through “You Belong With Me” in kid-flawless fashion and sound cute. Everyone else in the room is looking around to see where are the singers. A’s mom and I are pointing our fingers under the table and clued-in adults smile.

 Someone comes around with a camera and takes their picture but they keep going. Once the song is done, the girls hand back the mic and pretend it wasn’t them.

 We left soon after but not before our girl gives A a goodbye hug.

 We drove home admiring the city lights. By the time we had left downtown Chicago, the kids were leaning on each other passed out and the husband was sound asleep on my right.

It is what one calls perfection.