Friday, April 8, 2016

THE BEAUTY OF A BOOK PARCEL



                                          
  THE OUTLANDER VERSION of a BOOK PARCEL

Books.
An unfolding world with hours of joy. Word by word. Page by page.

I have a fondness for books. I consider myself the most important part of the Book Equation. The Reader. I have been the Writer. And the Researcher and the Pain Bearer. But the Reader is my favorite. The recipient of the gift.

I can mark almost every memorable moment of my life by the book I was reading. Each Book a cobblestone in the road. Looking back, it is a beautiful road.

But giving the gift of Books is almost as sweet.
It is my favorite gift to give….
Especially when it involves a treasured Book…

I recently made some OUTLANDER Themed Book Boxes for my friends here at Delicious Reads and they asked me to tell you a little about them.


I started out thinking about what an 18th Century Book Box might contain. Since this was about Outlander, and I was in the process of planning an adventure in Scotland. I thought it might be fun to put together a Book Parcel based on that. Like something Lord John would have sent Jamie and Claire. (Lord John is a prominent character in these books but he is introduced as a 16 year old in Dragonfly in Amber)
The time I spent travelling through England and Scotland was magical. From the gritty streets of London and the adorable charm of the Lake District to the rainy soot stained magic of Edinburgh and the pure, cold ghosts of the Scottish Highlands. For any Book Lover it was a dream. I was forever changed.

I thought about these Book Parcels a lot while I was there. I was on a quest. I started working on these several months before I actually gave them and before my trip and the process was amazing. It added a layer of richness to my adventure….

One of my favorite parts of making a Book Box is this part. Thinking about the person who will enjoy this Parcel. Whatever it contains. Each and every item.

Of course it would contain a Book. Or Books.

Books were precious and possibly rare and treasured, to be sure. They were read and re-read over and over.

So I included a really beautiful Book. My favorite one of course, it needed to be special with meaning and with a ribbon book mark. (I am not sure why but I have a thing for those).

This particular one included a map of all the places. THE PLACES!!! I don’t know about you, but books with maps and letters and family trees are so delicious! It makes them feel so personal. As if you found someone’s hidden journal.

And a Candle. Something to read by. I remember being little and reading past my bedtime with a flashlight under the covers. Yes. There needed to be a candle. Not just any candle but the right one. One that smelled of the Highlands and the Heather and all the things. THE THINGS!!! I always imagined that reading way back then had a different sort of feeling with the flickering candle and the crackling fire. Maybe the wind whistling outside or the thunder and lightning. The ghosts.

There should also be something to keep them warm. The Highlands are very cold and one of the things I noticed, especially in Scotland, was that everyone wore sweaters or some sort of knitted wool. From the tiny babies and messy toddlers to the old men and workers. The sheep are everywhere! 

I was fascinated by this. The wool was a thing of beauty. I imagined that in the 18th Century it would have been such a necessity to have wool. Might even mean the difference between surviving or not. I thought about that a lot.

When I knit for someone I always start the same way. First, I pick the yarn. (Or the yarn picks me) Arm warmers are my particular favorite to knit for a number of reasons. It is on my favorite size of needle for one thing. (I don’t know why but the Size 8 Knitting Needle is a joy)

Cast on 32 stitches and knit 4 rows of stocking stitch.

This creates my signature curl. I stop here. For me knitting is personal. My Mum taught me to knit and at this point I always think of her. I picture the stitches flying off her needles. This is where I decide how to proceed. I don’t really decide. I think of the person I am knitting for and the decision is made for me. I love this part so much! No two pair of arm warmers are ever the same and even if I don’t know the person, I feel like I do. Or I might. It seems like a good way to begin to know someone. This part is precious. The wool! I love the wool.


Shortbread. Scotland. I am not sure how to elaborate on this. There just needed to be Shortbread.

Bannocks were a staple food in Scotland. Especially in the 18th Century when Oats were so necessary for survival. I have made many kinds of Bannocks but the Cheese ones are my best. My husband Matt and I made the Wine Jelly in the summer for the very purpose of these Boxes. I remember thinking about putting it in these Special Parcels way back then. Even before we went to Scotland. Just from reading the books. And Cheese Bannocks and Wine Jelly? They go so well together. They were part of Scotland.
cheesy bannocks

When we were in Great Britain I learned to make basic scones from a lady who owned a little café/bakery in one of the villages. She had invited us into her home and we had Tea and Scones. She told us stories about her home and her farm. It had once been owned by Beatrix Potter! She told me she had made scones every day of her life. Every single day. She had clothes hanging on the line outside her farmhouse and she was wearing an old apron with a little smear of flour on her cheek.  She looked so pretty. For some reason at that moment, I wanted that life. It was perfect.



And the Brown SugarScones. My goodness. My very favorite things.  I have made them so many times. The process is so beautiful. And Strawberry Jam. I think of Jamie’s Strawberry Fields in Drums of Autumn (book 4) and I picture Claire making batches of jam.
brown sugar scones

I figure there would be a letter. Detailed and full of news. 


parchment

Parchment was rare back then. It was sometimes considered a luxury. Sometimes used and re-used. Correspondence told the stories of so many lives. Both sides were needed to tell the tale. There needed to be a letter. Handwritten in beautiful script. It had to be carefully sealed to insure it had not been intercepted. In Dragonfly in Amber, intercepted correspondence proves dangerous. I have a particular fondness for handwriting and beautiful paper. This particular parchment was found at the ShakespeareMuseum in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England. The Home of William Shakespeare. And it’s beautiful.
parchment

And all of these things needed to be carefully packed in a basket so it could be transported, by carriage probably, and delivered to these special people.

I would imagine back then, when material things were not so abundant, that receiving a Book was maybe the best thing ever.
Photo by Delicious Reads
I could have included a million things in these Parcels. The Coloring Book and the Matches are added luxuries. Each item brought me particular joy.
I had to stop somewhere though.

Thanks you guys. For having me. It has been a pleasure J
I hope you enter the Giveaway for your own 18th Century Book Parcel.


XoXo, Staci

2 comments :

Ronda said...

You are a most delightful human!

Kellie H said...

Thank you so much. This is just perfect and I still dream of eating those scones.