June 19, 2017

cool stuff i like

Hello lovely friends! It feels wonderful to be typing here. The past month has been the busiest month I think I've had in....maybe the past few years?? Those fuzzy little purple guys you see up in the bowl are chive blossoms, which grew on my chive bush. And I'm going to make chive blossom vinegar. When I saw how pretty and PINK it looked, I decided I could make it too. It's brewing away in my laundry room in little bottles, and it really is pink! I'm going to give some away as a Christmas present. Summer has not been particularly hot yet here, but in the Pacific Northwest, there's a saying that summer doesn't really start around here until after July 4. My husband's birthday came and went, then the end of school, end of school year activities, and then Father's Day, and the busy just keeps on rolling. I detest busy. I hate being busy, I really do - and I'm firmly on the side of those who argue that our culture is perpetually busy, to our detriment. One week, I was spending about 3 hours a day on the road, with all the places I needed to drive. So here's to moments of doing nothing, wherever and whenever they might present themselves!

Cool Stuff I've been collecting over the past week:

There's a new Smitten Kitchen cookbook coming this fall.

I love this list of small holidays to celebrate throughout the summer - and no, these aren't make a ton of work for the parent type of things - more like, hey let's get a book from the library or eat outside type of deals.

Chicken that tastes like pizza.

Really want to see this.

101 books to read before you grow up.

This rosy red lip balm.

Oh em gee, someone is selling frocks and smocks!

The 100 best home cooks of all time.

Such. Incredible. Photos. Kirsty Mitchell photography.

I'm making some kind of cake like this next weekend for Midsummer's Eve.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Colette's Lost Pet' by the magical Isabelle Arsenault, just appeared on the scene last month, and Isabelle's gorgeous art is served up in the story as graphic novel style. The entire story is drawn in shades of grey, blue and pops of yellow. After being asked if she has a pet, instead of telling the truth (she does not), Colette says she has a pet who is lost, and the neighborhood kids accompany her around town, looking for her imaginary pet and listening to her fantastical stories about this pet that doesn't really exist. The story sweetly deals with the idea of how a fib escalates. Best for grades preschool - Grade 2.

 Do you have a Midsummer's Eve plans? We like to set things out in our yard for fairies. You can read more about traditional Scandinavian Midsummer celebrations HERE.


June 4, 2017

cool stuff i like

Happy Monday! There's a new 5 Hours 'til Bedtime post up, go take a gander. How I love this group! I hadn't picked up my camera very much in the past few weeks -- I'm glad I got a shot of the kiddo hard at work making yet another batch of one of her kitchen concoctions. Sometimes it's slime, sometimes a 'potion', sometimes sparkly goo. Her obsession lately is Bubble Pop Kids. Go on, give it a listen. And then I defy you to get that voice out of your head. I think that lady has a degree in hypnotism because I'll sit down to watch for 20 seconds and then I blink and 20 minutes has gone by.

Things to read, make, and see:

Making THIS asap!

This is the best thing I've ever put on my face. I'm so not joking. I have the most intolerant skin in the world. Someone described this stuff as 'unicorn tears'. NO LIE! Kills me that it doesn't come as a standalone serum, but after you use the mask, there's enough serum left over to last about a week. 

The prettiest cake.

An older article, but whoa.

A little cottage on the prairie.

My summer Pinterest board.

Adore this IKEA outdoor lamp and also this one. And this one.

Summer in the tea shed. (um, LOVE.)

Cool Book of the Week: 'When Mischief Came to Town' by Katrina Nannestad. Supposedly this is somewhat reminiscent of 'Pippi Longstocking' AND 'Anne of Green Gables' - no idea if that's really true, but I'm willing to bite even on the off chance that it's somewhere even in the same distant neighborhood of being true. The tale of a young girl named Inge Marie going to live with her stern grandmother (and then brightening up her life) is set on an island off the coast of Denmark. I'm confused about the age levels for this chapter book - Amazon ranged it all over the map - for grades 3-5, and then another part listed it for grades 5-7, ten to twelve year old kids. I'm going to try and get it from my library and see what's what with it, but the cover grabbed me as I was strolling along Amazon lane, (as I so often do) and I thought that we should all investigate this one together.

Have a great week! I've been reading this, watching this (I started over and began watching it all again from the beginning - it's been GLORIOUS, just as amazing the second time around!!), and I just made this to take to a backyard party - then we ate the leftovers for breakfast. And you?


June 1, 2017

the adventures of miss petitfour

I have to thank my delightful daughter for finding this for me. We went to a bookstore, as we often do, to hang out and pass the time. It sounds nice doesn't it? IT'S NOT NICE. I HAVE TOO MANY BOOKS AS IT IS. And now, after that sweet trip, I have EVEN MORE.

She was sitting in a chair, reading a comic book, and she casually passed me 'The Adventures of Miss Petitfour' -- "I thought this looked like a book you might like, mom."

Oh my sweet daughter. She truly knows my innermost soul. Indeed I did/do LOVE it. This enchanting little creation written with immense charm and wit by Anne Michaels and illustrated by some magical fairy named Emma Block, was put into the 'purchase' pile and came home with us.

As you can see, the art is just like a petitfour! Sweet. Pastel. Delicate. Each drawing, big or small, is like a little treasure.

Let's talk about the story. Miss Petitfour is kind of like....a young, modern-day Mary Poppins, but with cats instead of kids. She breezes/flies all over her town with her kitties and a magical tablecloth that she uses like a balloon. Basically she has sweet little mini sized adventures - fun and cute, nothing scary or perilous (the craziest things get is when there's an explosion of shimmering, glittering CONFETTI) - and then likes to be home in time for tea and eclairs.

She loses a rare stamp. She and her cats go looking for it. She plans a birthday party for one of her cats. She's ever so sweetly wooed by a gentleman neighbor. She helps organize a community sale, where the wares (DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) are art creations made from old belongings.
And Miss Petitfour never goes anywhere, or does anything, without the presence and company of her 16 cats: Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdela, Earring, Grigorovitch, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Cothespin, Your Shyness and Sizzles.

Miss Petitfour is the world's most darling crazy cat lady.

You might have noticed up above in some of the pictures that a great many of the words are BOLDED, or italicized. This of course, is my preferred way of writing, so it appealed to me greatly. Woven within the short chapters (which are standalone little stories) is a variety of wordplay. As in, discussions and asides from the author to the reader, explaining in a gentle, humorous way what a DIGRESSION is, or why that might be useful to utilize in a story. Descriptive words like UNBELIEVABLY, BY GREAT GOOD FORTUNE and BY CHANCE are also used and explained as to why they are good writing devices.
"Some words are like rays of light, white knights or a safety pin at the right moment, and these words are as useful as sticky tape just when the page has ripped, fixing up a story in an instant."
The book is full of Very Useful Information like that. I thought it might have been a little too young for Julia, but we did read it aloud and she was immensely charmed by it. I'd say it's a lovely, whimsical selection for kiddos ages 7-11. It's packed with literary wit sized just right for children. I ADORED it, and the whole thing goes down like the sweet treat petitfour that features in the title.

May 15, 2017

cool stuff i like

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day! It was a day of movies for us, which made it a great day in my book. We saw the new 'Guardians of the Galaxy' movie with my mom, and then later in the evening Andrew's mom mentioned that she had never seen 'Frozen' and I couldn't let her go another second in that state of affairs, so right after dinner, we watched it, and that was glorious. I'm an unapologetic 'Frozen' lover. It's one of my top 5 movie favorites I think. I got the new Domino decorating book that I asked for, which made me happy, and ate waffles and rhubarb upside down cake and popcorn. I'll be drinking a lot of green tea today, and I feel kind of sick, but it was all WORTH IT.

Cool Stuff to start off your week, since I didn't get it together last Friday:

My friend sent me the link to this Folklore Coffee Pot and it's the CUTEST.

Great article with some great advice. Should kids go to college? 

7 Big Summer Books.

What a beautiful food blog!

Very cool interview with Erin Morgenstern ('The Night Circus' author, aka my favorite book). She has been working on another book!

While I was looking up the link to 'The Night Circus' I happened across 'The Paper Magician' and I think I'll give it a whirl.

This is turning into a book heavy Cool Stuff list -  I was gonna get a certain book for Andrew for his birthday this year, but I had a feeling he had already read most of the material, so I asked him about it and yes he has. He's a spoiler of birthdays. But some of you might like to know about this Ursula K. Le Guin collection?

Crockpot summer recipes.

Great tips on photographing your kids.

So sweet! Books to prepare your kids for a new baby.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded' by Sage Blackwood is one I happened across recently, and thought, um hi there book-for-Melissa. I like when people write books-for-Melissa. This just came out spring 2017, and I LOVE the cover, which is always a big seller for me ha ha ha - and I'm loving the sound of a tale that features a heroine trying to find her way fitting in a school for 'magical maidens'. Boarding school and magic? Sign me up. You already know how I feel about boarding school books!

So......as I leave you today - let's make a plan to check back in and have a lengthy conversation about the new 'Anne with an E' series. Many, many thoughts running through my head. Not ALL of them are bad. But....we need to talk. I almost feel like we need to have a live Twitter conversation or on Facebook. If you all want to jump over there on FB, we can chat more!


May 8, 2017

apple brown betty

Hello friends! I've got the easiest sweet treat (it's fairly easy - the only hard part is apple peeling) and it's from a DARLING book called 'Mary Poppins in the Kitchen' and I'll show it off more completely in a different post. But I made one of the recipes and it was so nice! In the book, it was called 'Apple Brown Betty or Apple Charlotte'. I can tell you that I'm fairly certain that this is in fact apple brown betty, which is a dessert that calls for layering apples with sweetened bread crumbs, as opposed to apple charlotte, which I believe is a molded dessert consisting of apples baked in a sort of soft bready crust affair. I might be wrong, so if you are really up on your Betty vs. Charlotte lore, please be kind and tell me so that I can put my ignorance behind me.

I can't fully express how adorable this book is ~ apparently there are lots and lots of food scenes and food prep scenes and food eating scenes in the various Mary Poppins stories. So much so that there were enough to collect many of the kitchen and food parts of the books and weave them together in a collection with full color illustrations by Mary Shepard. (fun fact: i've never actually read all the way through the original Mary Poppins! are you shocked?) After the snippets of Mary Poppins food stories, there is a set of the most delightful recipes, and I'm looking forward to working our way through them.

Roast Chicken and Bread Sauce. Zodiac Cake (a sort of chocolate nut cake decorated with silver stars). Yorkshire Pudding. Lemon souffle. Lancashire Hot Pot! I can't wait to try them all.

I was so surprised by how much I liked the apple brown betty. I'm going with betty rather than charlotte. I wasn't too hopeful about a bunch of apples with breadcrumbs and brown sugar, but the whole thing was so...light. Pie is my favorite thing in the whole world, but sometimes it can be HEAVY. This was not heavy, and despite the amount of butter and brown sugar called for, it tasted....wholesome. It was like sweetened, crunchy-fied, buttery applesauce. It almost tasted like apple PUDDING. Not pudding like the British use it (meaning a dessert) but pudding as in American pudding, creamy and airy.

We ate the whole thing up in about a day and a half, and I wish I could impress upon you how old fashioned and tea time-ish it tastes.

The next time I make it - cream is going to be drizzled on top. And eaten for breakfast. I'm so sorry for what I'm about to say but....YOLO.

Here's the recipe:
Apple Brown Betty ~ 'Mary Poppins in the Kitchen'
2 pounds tart apples
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
deep pie dish or souffle pan that will hold at least 1 quart

"Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peek and core apples as thin as you can. Butter the pie dish, using a little of the 1/2 cup butter.  Sprinkle with some bread crumbs. They will stick to the butter and make a comfortable bed for the apples. Lay a thick layer of sliced apples on the bread crumbs and scatter some brown sugar on top. Dot all over with little pieces of butter. Start all over again with a layer of apples, bread crumbs, sugar, and butter and continue the layers until the dish is full. Make the last layer of bread crumbs. Pile it high. The apples shrink as they cook. Bake for 1 hour. Mary Poppins serves this pudding lukewarm with whipped cream."
Try this out my lovelies! Despite the fall time seeming nature of this dessert, it's good any season. The crunchy bits of buttery, brown sugared breadcrumbs are truly wonderful. Oh -- I recently mentioned this blog before, but I'm totally obsessed with every new post from The Little Library Cafe - if you love food and food references in books, or if you read books and imagine what kinds of foods should be in them, you have to see this blog.

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