books, our life, and cool stuff we like. in random order.
Cool Stuff I Like
November 21, 2014
LOVE THIS! A random acts of Christmas kindness Advent calendar.
Warm Russian Tea.
SO MUCH YES. (also, scandi + japanese? More yes.)
This post about Christmas chapter books has been seeing a lot of play on Pinterest lately. :)
Seriously, can I be president of this blog's fan club already? #fangurlllll
A new movie trailer for 'Cinderella'!!!! IT LOOKS SO AWESOME!!!!!!
Books about pie. (thank you Danzel for letting me know about this blog!)
Cinnamon hot chocolate.
Holiday dresses for little girls. (I got the sequin party dress from Mini Boden for J and it's divine)
This Toca Nature app for kids looks really cute.
Little Pringle Pilgrims!
Cool Book of the Week: 'The Tortoise and the Hare' by Jerry Pinkney. I saw this book the other day in a catalog and it looked so familiar to me! Maybe one of my book blogger friends have already covered this one? It strikes me as looking so fall timey, so onto the blog it goes - the art is GOBsmackingly awesome. This version of the classic fable is a visual feast - if Julia were still a tinier tot, I would want this one to live in my home. It just jumped onto my 'Gift Worthy' list!
Melissa Glynn Photography, and sometimes I feel literally chained to my computer, but I'm so grateful to the families who trusted me to make visual memories of their kiddos.
Behold My Teacup.
November 19, 2014
So once a year I get myself a new teacup (or Andrew gets me one after I beg) from Anthropologie, and here's this year's cup! It has a honeybee inside it! Which is super duper fun because my name, Melissa, means 'honeybee' in Greek, did any of you know that? 'Tis true.
I had other pix of the cup, showing the whole thing, but I didn't like them so well so I threw them away. Now I'm sad I did that because I want to show you more of my cup.
Julia told me this morning that she began reading 'Island of the Blue Dolphins' at school, which really blew my mind, because I don't think I read that until the 5th or 6th grade, and she LOVES it. (I recall that book being really sad and boring, but I wasn't so into books that didn't have some kind of magical element involved. I'm still pretty much that way.)
I looked it up online because we were trying to figure out how old the girl is, in the book, and she's 12 at the outset and 30 at the end. (it's pretty sad what actually happens to her, you can read about it here.)
I'm reading 'Emily of New Moon' and I can't say more about it right now, because we need to have a much longer conversation about it and I have many things to say and I want to take a picture of it.
Also - this week on Friday Cool Stuff list - CHRISTMAS books are coming. Yes. Other blogs already have their gift guides up! So it's ok for me to launch into Christmas mode, it really is.
A Very Cute Book About Hedgehogs
November 17, 2014
I got 'The Hedgehog Leaves Home' at Ikea. It is adorable. Delightful. And I believe jackrabbit poop is mentioned. My nephew is getting this copy and I hope he loves the part about the jackrabbit poop! You should all run right down to Ikea and find this charming and fun book.
Want a little more review? Hedgie's mama decides he is big enough to go see the world. Let's ponder on this a moment - basically she's like, time to make like a tree and leave and here's a kissy as the door knocks ya on the back ~ Oh and watch out for the big wide world!
Sound, wise advice.
Always watch out for the big wide world.
So he goes out trying to find a friend to live with, since apparently Mama is tired of being a mom or something. SPOILER ALERT - he winds up with a Bear and they become cave buddies.
Me being a silly pants aside, this book is so cute and sweet, and also Ikea is selling little Hedgie stuffies and we got the stuffy to go with the book, for my nephew. Isn't that so adoraboo?
Have you all seen any books from Ikea? The art is really amazing in all the ones I've seen! (Here's another beautiful Ikea book I reviewed in 2013) The stories all seem to involve plucky little peoples and animals and they're very Scandi, in my opinion. Probably because they appear to be created by real live European people, which makes them way cool. (I have no idea if the writer and artist are actually Scandinavian, but they have very cool sounding names and I'm going to assume wildly about things I know nothing about. Hurray!)
Cool Stuff I Like
November 14, 2014
Hanna Andersson has opened Hanna Home, a decor division.
IT'S NOT TOO EARLY.
Fun crafts for the holiday season.
Thanksgiving recipes that kids will like.
Cold weather accessories a la cute. (that didn't make sense, I know)
I will be 1ST in line for this new translation of Grimms' Fairy Tales, with much scarier, undiluted, original versions of the stories!
Saw this tree skirt and thought, oh that's pretty! And then saw it was almost $300. Oh Anthro.....
Did you know there was a website called Stuffingandmore.com? Now you do.
Swedish Christmas Books. Yep. We're officially doing Christmas now!
Cool Book(s) of the Week: The 'Ever After High' series, by Shannon Hale. Alright. How to proceed......well, basically - MY KIDDO ADORES THESE BOOKS. Like, looooooooooves. Super loves. I've noticed that sometimes, if a book is too long, or doesn't capture her interest in just the right way, she will abandon that book and just move on. I'm trying to encourage her to focus on one book at a time and not be too scattered with her reading. But I didn't have to encourage with these books - she just tore through them until she was done, and then she begged for the next one. The set would make for a nice giftaroo for the holidays.....
the show. Julia is in stitches over how confused I get about what's going on. (Is that guy a bad guy? Why is he bad? Why did they throw that book down a well? What do you mean, it's not the REAL book? What the hey is going on????) All the offspring of fairy tale characters go to school together and Do Stuff. One of the main characters, Raven Queen, is the daughter of The Evil Queen, (but Raven's good) and everyone who goes to the school is supposed to sign some Book of Legend because.....I don't know why. Life will then unfold the way it's been predetermined. Or something. But Raven doesn't want to because she wants to make her own story and chart her own path. So there are two groups of kids, Royals and Rebels. Royals are like the preppy, do-goody kids, and the Rebels are kids who don't care as much about fitting in perfectly. Or something. That's about all I know.
Anyhoo, Julia's wild about the books and if I had had these books when I was her age, I would have been too! I kind of want to read them so I'll understand the show a little better.
Ok so that was neither short or to the point. OH WELL. Have a lovely weekend!
Chocolate Pear Muffins
November 12, 2014
My big favorites are Bartletts, but I just got some other kind of pear that was Not a Bartlett (maybe Bosc? But I don't think so, it was something else, and I don't remember now) and that was almost as good as my beloved Bartletts.
I didn't grow up eating a lot of pears, what with all that tropical fruit biz I had going on in Hawaii. So something as seemingly mundane as a wonderful pear was A Very Great Treat. Sometimes people would send us pears as Christmas gifts from the company Harry & David, and I swear they have magical pear growing fairies working for them. Those pears were AMAZING.
I washed it really well not long ago, and decided to put it away. Andrew applauded that notion heartily. And then I didn't put it away. It's still on my counter and now it has muffins in it.
But these were....GREAT. I will list the reasons why: Not too sweet. These days too sweet things make me gag and make my heart race. The texture was amazing! Almost like....they had been steamed in the middle. My non-scientific guess? The moisture from the pears makes the interior extra moist! Good chocolate flavor - pleasingly apparent, but not overpowering or too rich. We all LOVED these muffins, and you must have them a little warm, with some butter.
This is yet another wonderful recipe I've made from a delightful little book called 'Cooking with Apples & Pears' by Laura Washburn - I make the Apple-Parsnip Soup all the time, and it's a darling and fab book, with savories, bakes, tarts & pies, desserts and chutneys/jellies. I'm going to be making the Spiced Apple Cake recipe next.
PEAR AND CHOCOLATE MUFFINS - via 'Cooking With Apples & Pears'
3 and 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
7 oz. cream cheese (not low fat), room temp
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of fine sea salt
14 oz. ripe pears (about 2-3), peeled, cored, and diced
3 and 1/2 oz. chocolate chips
Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners or muffin wrappers, or grease well instead. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter either in a double boiler set over simmering water or you can do what I did, and melt them in the microwave. (I microwave 30 seconds at a time, until barely melted and then stir to melt the remainder.) Set aside until needed.
Combine the sugar and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until well blended. Add the eggs and melted chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.
Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Tip into the chocolate mixture and, with the whisk on low, mix until just blended. Fold in the pears and chocolate chips. Spoon the mixture into paper liners or greased muffins wells, dividing evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out almost clean, about 20-30 minutes. (mine took exactly 23 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving. (If not using liners, wait 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges and turning out.)
~Makes 12 muffins.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!