The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

160469789x-1Timber Press in April is publishing The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid and I must insist we all gift this book to our favorite Anne Shirley bibliophile as it is simply perfection!

When I read landscapes in the title I wrongly assumed this would be in the style of a coffee table book with only beautiful photographs of Prince Edward Island. While that is true, the photography is stunning, it’s the history and descriptions of the island, Maud and her rich family backstory that sets this book apart. It should be required reading when finishing the series for the first time.

I had the pleasure of cycling the island for 12 days with my family a few years back and seeing the island from the viewpoint of old railroad tracks, following bike paths along beaches and crossing through forests. It was such a unique way to stumble upon the Lake of Shining Waters or Haunted Woods and the intimate images in this book brought me right back to these memories.

I am going to have to purchase this book for my father-in-law as he planned out our cycling routes with the intention of seeing as much of the island as possible. These photos will bring him right back to those sun (and two rain) filled days. The descriptions and history behind these photos I hope will enrich his understanding of own my love/fandom for Lucy Maud Montgomery and remind him of an incredible adventure we all undertook. For your own gifting pleasure I would suggest finding the perfect picnic basket to fill with The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, a bottle of raspberry cordial or tea and some scones for the Anne of Green Gables fan in your life.


Plum Pudding Recipe for the Holidays

“Everything went right until I saw Marilla coming with the plum pudding in one hand and the pitcher of pudding sauce warmed up, in the other”

@emily_kw combines that rare mix of  thoughtful, kindness and intelligence that you find once in a lifetime. We have cross stitched and drank wine for hours on her couch as the snow falls down around in us in Calgary, we have explored Chicago together on vacation and can be found together at all high holidays giggling over silver goblets sunk into a cushion of pillows and quilts.

We started our friendship off making dates to visit all of Calgary’s top named restaurants almost 6 years ago and food has continued to take a starring role on our adventures. Thanksgivings, Christmas dinners, themed brunches…you name it and she can put a meal plan, table runner and themed decor faster then you can say Julia Child.  So it’s no surprise that when I want to combine a literary plum pudding moment from Anne of Green Gables and the original 1845 English recipe book that referenced plum pudding as Christmas pudding I would bribe @emily_kw to help. And by help, I mean do the majority of work as I perch on her table with a look of fear, respect and curiosity. I’m basically her house cat while she cooks though I’m very good at keeping her wine glass full- I can be taught! being the greatest of all resources has a 1882 reprinted copy of Eliza Acton’s book Modern Cookery for Private Families online.  It’s here we first see plum pudding reference to Christmas. Eliza previously had published poetry but at the behest of her publisher (what, no male poets could also cook?) she took up researching, borrowed from friends and ended up publishing a cookbook that became the standard in the industry.

The plum pudding scene has become so iconic thanks to the Sullivan 1985 mini series and even on their website they have a plum pudding recipe from their Anne of Green Gables Cookbook.  But plum puddings have rich English history steeped back possibly as far as King George I. These recipes would have been brought over to North America as families began immigrating and  it’s possible that Lucy Maud Montgomery ‘s inclusion of the scene was due to her mother’s family special plum pudding moments.

So if I can bribe @emily_kw correctly you may see our Twitter and Instagram accounts light up with photos of us trying to create a new pudding Christmas memory this year. Comment below with your own special holiday traditions.  If you get snowed this season in visit to read Modern Cookery for Private Families and try to recreate your favorite family recipe from the original.




Share-Day Post: Vintage Needlework Books Online

Kindred blogger! You all know my obsession with when researching a post and Rabbit Girl Crafts has assembled a collection of free resources for vintage patterns! Throw on a Netflix marathon and start crafting tonight!

Thanks to university libraries and dedicated individuals in the United States and around the world, it is possible to find hundreds of free, out-of-copyright needlework and embroidery books and patterns online. If you are interested in embroidery history or vintage patterns, here are some resources to get you started. Warning: You may get lost for […]

via Free Vintage Needlework Patterns Online — Rabbit Girl Crafts

Montgomery Tour of PEI

A perfect checklist for anyone head to Prince Edward Island!  I wish I had watched this prior to my bike trip so I could have gauged better what I had to see versus what I could wait on for the next trip.  We missed out on a few places simply due to our biking route but I did get to see the house she was born in by accident.

We were biking through New London along the road when I saw the sign coming up on the left. I managed to veer quickly and found myself yelling from the parking lot for everyone else to join me. It was the happy accidents during the trip that still remain the brightest memories.

Watching the video now while I’m writing is making me want to reread Maud by Melanie Fishbane (yea! for advance copies). If you haven’t per-ordered you still have time. Well the sun is finally back in Calgary so it’s time to make a cup of tea and find a sun beam on the porch (probably still with a blanket) and read Maud again.

Video Published on Mar 2, 2015
Soundtrack: “Anne’s Theme” by Hagood Hardy
All photos by Bernadeta Milewski

Heritage Theft on the Macneill Property


I was told this story by Jennie at the Macneill farm bookstore. If you haven’t been able to visit Green Gables think of your experience as broken into two parts. The Green Gables house is on a beautiful property with vegetable gardens and a barn similar to a farm found on Prince Edward Island in the late 1800’s.  What surprised me was the walking paths that allowed you to explore the ‘haunted woods’, the old school property, the local cemetery and across the road you’ll find the Macneill farm. It’s on this farm property that Maud spent half her life. The farm is still in the Macneill family to this day and they operate the bookstore and showcase the foundations of the original house. on the edge of their property. Jennie Macneill was at the bookstore the day I was visiting and it was such a surprise and special experience that I didn’t expect and could never have predicted. It was while she was showcasing some of the historic pieces in the bookstore that I found out about the theft.

I studied art history in University and looting of historic or artistic pieces happens for various reasons but the end result is usually the same. We will most likely never see this seal in the thief’s’ lifetime. It will probably remain hidden from the world until the thief or the collector, the thief sold it to, dies. Typically these pieces don’t come back from the black market until the next generation finds them and either returns them after immediately discovering the theft or sells them to a new owner. Sometimes this can take generations. There are still stories that emerge of paintings in museums that are found to be have been looted from European families during World War II.  These paintings could have been legitimately donated or purchased at auction but after years of displaying a historian or family member will stumble across the piece and a long legal battle ensues between the original owner and the museum. Its a very messy business with few victories. We however can help with sharing the story so when the piece does emerge on the legitimate stage again we can all be quick to point out it origin. The piece was stolen on May 31, 2013 and special attention is to be payed at auctions and antique shops in the Greater Toronto Area and Mississauga, Ontario or Winter Garden, Ft. Lauderdale or Orlando, Florida area according to  LM Montgomery Literary Society. Below is the print version of the CBC story and remember to click on the link to view the video.

“A piece of history from Anne of Green Gables’ author Lucy Maud Montgomery has gone missing from a P.E.I. museum.

A postal cancellation seal — which is a stamp that was used to seal letters and cancel postage — that Montgomery used during her lifetime has gone missing from her former home in Cavendish, P.E.I.

After holding a few teaching positions on P.E.I. following a brief stint at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Montgomery moved to Cavendish in 1898 to help her grandmother at the local post office. She worked there for 13 years.

The missing stamp was used in the community’s post office for nearly 200 years.

The item was kept in a bookshop at the Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish Home, which is now a museum and designated a Canadian National Historic Site.

Montgomery’s descendants, who now live and maintain the property where the author lived for more than 30 years, say they discovered the artifact was missing on Friday.

The family is waiting to make contact with the RCMP to provide them with further details.

Montgomery introduced readers to one of Canada’s most enduring fictional characters, Anne . The heartwarming story of the red-headed orphan with a penchant for trouble has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of copies and became the basis for numerous television, film and stage adaptations.”

photo from Night Owl City

MAUD by Melanie J. Fishbane

51a8xh5j0glI was very excited to see a new book surrounding L.M. Montgomery coming out this spring. I had just started following Melanie Fishbane on Twitter which is how I originally found out her book, Maud, was being published. After reading the book  last week, I’m sorry I was unable to follow her  journey from the beginning as she shifted through research, interviewing historians and any 140 character insights into her writing process. It would have been interesting to see the choices she made as  her academic research was molded into novel form; what concessions Ms. Fishbane felt she needed to make, plot lines she dropped and liberties she took with her character’s intent.

The novel follows a young Lucy Maud Montgomery’s development from lonely childhood into her teens as she moves between caregivers, unravels her parents’ past and discovers her priorities in love.  Ms. Montgomery was extremely controlling with her public image even going so far as to rewrite her journals for her son to publish posthumously; which has always made an study of her difficult. Using the novel form allowed Ms. Fishbane to take license with her materiel and make natural leaps regarding Ms. Montgomery’s thoughts during these years of intense transition between her grandparents’ and father’s homes.  I appreciated the structure that Ms. Fishbane gave her novel breaking her writing into three parts based on location as well as introducing her characters at the beginning of book one similar to following a script.

Maud is clearly a labor of love. The structure is clear and the plot moves at a brisk pace keeping the reader’s attention; it’s the Montgomery research and provincial history that stands out in Maud though. Tackling this beloved author, with a diverse fan base, would be herculean as each reader brings their own experiences into one of Ms. Montgomery’s series. To pull the author back from her fans and separate her from Emily of New Moon or Anne of Green Gables is daunting. Ms. Fishbane attempts to illuminate her subject’s  lonely and emotionally isolated personal history against the later fictional orphans Ms. Montgomery would create.  While Ms. Montgomery was constantly reminded of the burden she placed on the family, Anne would be cherished at Green Gables and within the Avonlea community. While Ms. Montgomery was rejected by her stepmother and her weak father, Anne would be loved by her natural parents as well as Marilla and Mathew.  Ms. Fishbane says at the end of her novel directly to her readers, “My hope is that you will find something in my Maud to inspire you to ask questions, read her fiction and discover your own ideas, your own truth, about who you think she is.”

I believe Ms. Fishbane succeeded in creating a study of Ms. Montgomery’s background and character. She deftly created chapters around elusive moments in her subject’s biography. For example, Ms. Montgomery records that she burned her childhood journals during her adolescence but never states a reason. Ms. Fishbane constructs a family environment where you begin to understand the uncertainty of living off the kindness of relations and how this could inform your sense of privacy and public persona. This era of raising children  to be seen and not heard and limited female roles could have been emotionally stifling for someone of Ms. Montgomery’s artistic temperament in which Maud demonstrates through relationships between her grandparents and later her stepmother.

Maud should become a stopping point in the canon of discovering Ms. Montgomery’s works. After Anne and before Emily everyone should read Maud. With such happy endings it’s important to realize the author’s experiences and motivations in creating these   worlds of kindred souls.  Young readers will tear through this book and will be richer for understanding the relationship between an author and their works. For older readers, such as myself, Maud will provide the perfect quick read for the nostalgic and a welcomed break from the dryer nonfiction accounts of our favorite author.  Ms. Fishbane strikes that rare balance in a young adult book where older readers find a rich value at a quick pace.  I came away impressed with how much information Ms. Fishbane was able to pack into her novel without it ever lagging between chapters. I selfishly wished she had expanded on a few academic themes within the novel but only because it was clear she had so much knowledge backing each line I knew she would be equal to the task.  Any expansion though would have tipped Maud from one book into a series.  Which selfishly, I am still crossing my fingers that I see another Maud book and the reversal of caregiver between Ms. Montgomery and her grandmother, her late marriage and her career in publishing.

Remember to ask your local bookstores to order this title in for you and the other readers in your community. It would be the perfect gift in 2017 for any fan of the Anne of Green Gables but the book also stands on it’s own merits. Please comment with your thoughts below when you finish the book. I can be reached @decidedlyread on Twitter as well for comments.

DIY for Book Lovers

tinybookBuzzfeed is killing me on the DIY tiny book necklace!!  All the supplies are on Amazon but you could also  hunt them down across your local toy/miniature/jewelry  stores.  You’re going to need a tiny book (think dollhouse), a spacer bar and mod podge. The hardest part will be sizing down a book cover down to your dollhouse book dimensions.  Check out the link below for full instructions.


necklaceIn case DIY scares you but you NEED a book necklace in your life defiantly start checking around Etsy because there are some amazing artists.  I found the shop Tiddy Bits that will be receiving my next paycheck.



paperbooksIf you’re not into DIY jewelry have you thought about making your own book collection?  Ever After Miniatures shop on Etsy has these amazing paper books available via pdf download. You would put together the books and the case!  These pieces would also look amazing in shadow boxes or paired within a larger art exhibit.


bookplateIf you want to create something directly for your book though look no further then to Martha Stewart’s amazing tutorials! (When I have a bad day at work it’s her site I go to unwind and rediscover the happy)  She had some book plate templates that are necessary to my library. These would also make an amazing birthday/shower/Christmas presents.  She provides some beautiful downloadable templates and you can experiment with different papers colors. Just remember to use acid free glue when placing them in your books.

Of course the best part of crafting is experimenting and making it all your own! Don’t be scared and push yourself each time you create!  Contact me via Twitter or Instagram with your results!  @decidedlyread