The first meeting of my “in real life” Tending the Heart of Virtue book club was last night and I am positively glowing this morning. For a year I prayed about this idea. I knew that I wanted a local book club that would celebrate the role that books have in our quest for holiness and virtue. I wasn’t sure what book list or guide I would use, but I felt called to pray in big and small ways for an opportunity to watch the Lord build something special. I told my book club sisters last night that when I read Tending the Heart of Virtue, I felt as though the book imposed itself on me for this purpose. By imposed, I mean that it offered me so much inspiration and encouragement, that I just knew that this would be a book that would give us focus, empower us, and give us permission to fall in love with fairy tales all over again.
Last night six of us met for the first time as a club. Two of the members are women I have come to know through social media and our Potato Peel Pie Book Community, but whom I had never met in real life until we started these book clubs. Another club member is a dear friend. The fourth member, whom I met for the first time last night, is sure to become a dear friend. When we went around the room to tell our stories and why we came to the club, my heart was swelling with joy. These beautiful souls and I share a common call to pursue holiness and virtue in our own lives and to help cultivate it in the lives of our families. I left the meeting feeling truly blessed.
In this first session, we took the time to get acquainted and to talk about how this would work each month. We briefly talked about the moral imagination, why fairy tales are so important, how these stories feed the minds of our children, and how characters in these stories become friends to our children. Part of why we are so careful about giving our children the best books is because we want to make sure that their literary friends will encourage them to goodness and truth.
As per usual, I find it extremely difficult to host a book club without providing snacks. For this club, I wanted to make something new. Since we are a new group of friends, I wanted to mark this beginning with a treat that I would always remember as being part of this milestone. Because we are embarking on a reading adventure of traditional fairy tales and children’s stories, I wanted a snack that would capture the magic of those old tales by drawing on foods traditionally present in these kinds of stories. Apples feature prominently in fairy tales just like ginger which is also very spicy and magical tasting. Bread is present in so many stories. And cranberries just make me happy. So, I threw them in too. Playing around with old-world tea bread recipes, I used the chemistry of traditional bread recipes with my own special flavorings.
Fairy Tale Tea Bread
8 oz. finely diced apples (about 2 medium apples)
4 oz. dried cranberries
3 T. finely diced crystallized ginger (feel free to omit)
3/4 c. Brown Sugar
10 oz. Hot Black Tea
1 egg, beaten
10 oz. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
- Pour freshly brewed tea over the apples, cranberries, ginger, and brown sugar. Cover and let stand for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare a loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour egg into the center.
- Pour the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Pour the combined mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the bread pan for 20 minutes.
- Remove bread from the pan and finishing cooling on a cooling rack.
Note: Tending the Heart of Virtue is very pricey. My local bookshop owner told me that in her research she discovered that the hefty price was due to it coming directly from Oxford. I, however, was able to find a used hardbound copy for $9 plus shipping last May.
Tending the Heart of Virtue Book Review
Monthly Reading Plan
Fairy Tale Quote Bookmark Front
Fairy Tale Quote Bookmark Back
Virtue Quote Bookmark Front
Virtue Quote Bookmark Back
Tending the Heart of Virtue Book Club Main Page
Next month we will discuss Chapter Two: On Becoming Real, and Pinocchio.
Pinocchio is a very interesting story. Parents read it very differently from the way children read it. I personally found that having an illustrated version helped me to read it aloud correctly and helped my children to delight in what they were hearing. I am very partial to the Cooper Edens edition. Edens compiled the best illustration from eight Pinocchio illustrators into one oversized hardback book. The varied illustration really helped me to see the story from different points of view. It helped me to see texture in the story. While out of print, you can find used copies at Amazon. I happen to like the Martin Jarvis audio version best.
Here are some photos from this delightful edition: