cool stuff i like

7

May 20, 2016

Happy Friday, lovely friends. My LAND, (does anyone say that still?) can you believe these peonies?? They're growing in my mother's garden, and they are the size of CABBAGES. I have some pink ones that grow in my yard, but these ivory blooms with inner blush pink really take my breath way. The peony kind of breaks my heart though, sort of like lilacs. Why with only the one blooming cycle? I understand now why roses are so special. Of course, if peonies and lilacs bloomed all the time, all summer long, I guess they wouldn't be so magical. My husband has been taking great delight in telling me how stinky I'm making the house with all of this peony biz.....he and I have a little disagreement as to the awesome/not awesome status of peonies. I'm tremendously sad for him that he's so very, very wrong.


Online beauty this week:

Cardamom pound cake. A beautiful cake, a beautiful post. I might have linked this before?? Who knows.

A book of old fashioned street rhymes.

Clean-the-fridge casserole.

I honestly feel like a total loser that I knew NOTHING about this new Jane Austen movie.

A TEA SHED?? I won't rest until I've accomplished something like this in my yard.

Fascinating new article about the Bronte sisters.

Summer skin care ~ favorites from Terrain.

London Fog Cupcakes.

Raising a daughter?


Cool Book of the Week: I kid you not, I almost had a pants accident when I saw the news about this book. I'm a huge huge MEGA huge fan of the magical art work and stories from Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire, and now there's going to be a new printing of 'D'Aulaires' Book of Norwegian Folk Tales', which first came out in 1938, the year my father was born. Seriously, THANK YOU UNIVERSE. Thank you. I am flipping pre-ordering this instant. I cannot, cannot wait!! Princesses. Tales from the land of Norway. Trolls! (which figure hugely in Nordic fairy tales) GO. Do your Christmas shopping now and get one for every kid you think is awesome. This is going to be incredible, I can feel it in my bones.

 Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Oh em gee. Seriously that book, it's all I can think about!

~Melissa




apple cake with sugar and cinnamon topping

4

May 16, 2016

We've had this unusually warm spring this year, and my husband wants to know if I've received the memo about that, because the other day I made gingerbread, and last week I made this apple cake. Both seem like the type of thing more suited towards cooler, sweater-ish, misty weather.

BUT NO.

I'm here to tell you, apple cake is good any time, any weather, and gingerbread as well, but I'll touch on that in a different post I have planned. Of course, now the weather has changed and cooled off and we're supposed to have a week of overcast skies.

I mentioned recently on Instagram that I love the cookbooks of Tessa Kiros, and her book 'Apples for Jam' is one of my great great great favorites. So great in fact, it sits in a permanent place of honor on my kitchen counter, one of only five cookbooks to do so, and I'll talk more about that later. I've only been promising to talk about what my all time favorite cookbooks are, for about....three years I think??


I checked out 'Apples for Jam' over and over again from the library until Andrew finally put me out of my misery last year and got it for me for some holiday or my birthday, I can't remember which. I remember the first time I saw it, actually - it was in a bookstore in Hawaii, when I was there visiting my dad, and I saw the cover and was like what??? It's like someone created a cookbook JUST TO MAKE ME HAPPY. How nice. Tessa, thank you!

The photos in this book.....if I were doing my own cookbook, I would want them just like these. There are pictures of Tessa's children just doing nothing in particular, candids, Poloroid style. Art scribbles done by the kids. There are baby pictures of her grandparents. Snapshots from the holidays. And the food....whimsical and colorful and rustic and charming and not too fussy - the photos in this book are as much fun as the food. The art direction, styling and photography are really well done.

I'm slowly working my way through the book, and I've been wanting to make the apple cake recipe for ages, so I just went ahead and did it. This is a sad time in our lives at the moment, because we're going to lose my beloved stepfather any day now. I've been doing a lot of baking, and making a lot of photo books. Last week I made nine photo books, I think I mentioned - because I just don't know what else to do except grasp at memories. And make treats for my daughter.



I didn't grow up having proper afternoon snack. I don't think it was A Thing in the late-70's, or maybe it was, but just not at my house. I either grabbed a spoonful of peanut butter (or 4), or stole Pop Tarts (I really did that. Just once.), or used my allowance to go buy candy bars at the golf store down the street from my house, near the beach in Hawaii.

But I was always reading constantly about cakes and milk and afternoon teas and dinner and 'supper' and all of that jazz in my storybooks, so I became obsessed with two things when I grew up - casseroles and afternoon snack. My daughter probably thinks I'm crazy because she'll be running out the door to go play and I'm shrieking behind her, "BUT YOU HAVEN'T HAD YOUR SNACK!"

So if you're looking for a lovely treat/snack for you or a friend or your kids, make this. It has a lot of walnuts, which I adored, and my more nut-ambivalent daughter and husband didn't even notice. There's so much crumbly topping going on, I think to delete the nuts would be taking away the wholesome grounding nature of the cake, but if there's a nut allergy present in your life, by all means just leave out the nuts. Actually I take that back - there's so many nuts in the bread and topping, that if they are a problem for you, best to find another apple recipe I think.

Apple Bread with Sugar and Cinnamon Topping ~ via 'Apples for Jam'

Ingredients:

scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound plus 3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
2/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

2/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12 by 4 inch loaf pan. (i think mine was 10 by 6 inches and it was fine, and I just lined it with a sheet of parchment paper.) Beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat them in well. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, and cinnamon and pinch of salt, and then mix well into the butter/sugar mixture. Add the apples, walnuts, and vanilla and mix those through well. Scrape the mixture into the pan.

For the topping, mix together the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, and then scatter abundantly over the top of the batter - bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is crusty brown and skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and cover the top with foil if it is already quite brown.

Cool slightly before turning out carefully. Do this over your serving plate so that you don't lose any topping. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature, on it's own, or with whipped cream, or with vanilla ice cream. (if you use parchment, you can just lift the cake out no problem from the pan)

~~~~~~~~
This little cake was MARVELOUS. Moist, light and nicely dense at the same time, how??  And check out the book - you won't be sorry!




cool stuff i like

6

May 13, 2016

 Happy Friday! I'm very excited about this weekend. Because we're not doing anything. Although last weekend was so nice because we hauled ourselves out to a local park and had a picnic together, and then on Mother's Day, Andrew and Julia made homemade monkey bread (post on the cookbook from whence the recipe came coming soon), and then we had an amazing lunch at my mom-in-law's house (she made homemade clam chowder and apple crisp, and we brought bread and salad and it was the nicest lunch!) and then we went out for sushi with my mom for dinner. There was a lot of foooooood that day. Oh and we also ate Japanese hot dogs for dinner the night before Mama's Day. (these consist of sausages with things like bonito flakes and teriyaki onions and wasabi mayo and nori fries, it was all extremely awesome.) There was a lot of foooooood that entire weekend. It might not be a coincidence that my Mama's Day gift to myself was the new Gwynnie cookbook, which really seems great, and the new Deliciously Ella cookbook. I'm going make many healthy things from both of them, and not just sit looking at the pictures.


Cool stuff this week:

Korean tacos.

What an amazing kid!

Have you heard of these books??

BEAUTIFUL Instagram account.

Really fun cool read. I wish these people had a reality show, THAT would be one I'd watch.

And even better fun cool read. Have you ever heard this story, found in some unpublished works of Douglas Adams? Andrew clued me into this; I think it's one of the funniest stories I've ever heard IN MY LIFE. Oh the Brits......

Indoor swings. Would you? Could you? At this point, J is too close to the teen years for us to bother, but oh my stars how I love the idea. Except the ones in the bedrooms really look amazing and that would be fun for any age right? I'll never forget the one I saw in an Anthro catalog for point 10 million dollars....

Loved these photos.

CANNOT WAIT for this book.


Cool Book of the Week: 'When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons' by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad is the prettiest creation. A poetry book set to the seasons! Loooooove that idea so much! The poems begin and end with the spring equinox, traveling along the changes that occur within a year's time. The poems all start off with a calendar date, so they read like diary entries, and they're written in free form verse, so they don't rhyme. The art looks absolutely magical, and other reviewers said it's the kind of book they purchased and then immediately bought additional copies for friends. 


Have a lovely weekend! Have you seen the newest 'Fantastic Beasts' trailer yet? It looks so AMAZING.

~Melissa




new pippi longstocking

12

May 10, 2016

Every so often, I write about my love for Pippi Longstocking - you can see evidence of that love in this post, wherein the kiddo dressed as Pippi. I'm Pippi's biggest fan! And I own all the Pippi books already, but I knew that there was a new Puffin Chalk edition that had come down the pike a couple of years ago (along with a 'Peter Pan' and 'The Wizard of Oz').

I saw it in a store and I just had to have it. Come home with me, little Pippi book. There's always room for more Pippi!

I love it when Pippi makes her pancakes! The illustrations are exactly the same as in the originals.

(this up above is my favorite picture - when Pippi goes to a grownup lady tea party and tries SO hard to be polite and fails miserably.)

The pages in this new edition are nicely and old parchment like ruffled at the edges. Otherwise, aside from the VERY COOL cover, there's nothing new to see, it's the same amazing story. I don't know if the 'Peter Pan' book is shortened from the original or not, but this is the whole Pippi story here. Robbers, pirates, pancake making, feats of Pippi derring-do, and all.

THAT COVER THOUGH. These Puffin Chalk covers are just the coolest! If they make some kid (who might have previously passed over these classics) buy the book based on the vibrant and awesome covers, then so much the better. I already own the Pippi series, and the cover of this one made me buy it again. Honestly, there's no shame in buying multiple copies of the same book, my friends. I fully intend to add the Lauren Child version to my bookshelf at some point as well.

Oh there's also a version of 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Black Beauty'. AND 'A Christmas Carol'!

Go forth and Pippi!

(ugh - photos were taken with my phone and the quality of this batch was pretty lacking, but sometimes, you just gotta roll with these things....;)




cool stuff i like

9

May 6, 2016

Happy Friday! This is our cat Sally. She eats things. Like, all of our clothes, our pillow cases, our sheets, our shoelaces, stuffed animals....if it's made of fabric, she will try and eat it. A friend of mine came to visit once and thought maybe I was embellishing a wee bit about my cat. And then my cat ate her favorite shirt that she had brought on the trip. My friend then became a True Believer. Ok so I have to apologize for the extreme lack of blogging going on here. I sat down in front of the computer EVERY DAY this past week. And every day I was like, um this isn't happening. I photographed two whole posts worth of stuff. Still couldn't get anything put down in this space. I've been seized by spring cleaning mania. And a sudden need to print out every photo on my computer into a photo book. My current count is 8 photo books this week, and my linen closet was completely taken apart and put back together. I have an extended family member who is critically ill, and I can't control that, but I can make photo books. So that's what I've been doing.


Speaking of photos:

I'm getting this gorgeous print. I was obsessed the moment I saw it! All the images in Bear+Bee are beautiful.

So I flipped through Gwneth's new cookbook in a bookstore and I wants it bad. I love the photos and I love the recipes. Never went for any of her other books, but I'm going for this one.

And here's Gwynnie's spring veggie ramen.

This. Moms & family photos.

Amazing treehouse. Thanks for the link Allison!

May Days.

Mad May Eve. This is a thing? I want to do this next year!

Paper flying dragons.

BUTTERMILK ROASTED BANANA CUPCAKES WITH LINDT TRUFFLE FILLING AND MARSHMALLOW FROSTING.

Lifting your mood and changing your energy. I am in need of this.


Cool Book of the Week: My husband told me about 'Tiny Hats on Cats' by Adam Ellis and I don't know anything about this book, other than I would like to also do this to my cats. If you need more help in deciding if this needs to be in your life, check out Adam's Tiny Hats Instagram.

 Have a lovely weekend! And a beautiful and hopefully relaxing Mother's Day! I'm giving my mother and mother-in-law, guess what, photo books! I'm obsessed.

~Melissa




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