July 18, 2017

cool stuff i like


Hello friends! I have some cool news to share! - recently I had a series of photos and a small article published in a beautiful fine art magazine, 'The Long Way Home'. It's full of essays, short stories, and photographs (oh the photographs!) that speak to the creative spirit in all of us. I seriously CRIED when I saw the issue - I was completely bowled over to have my work featured alongside some lovely artists that I've admired from afar. If you'd like to see the full series of my photos, as well as the complete piece I wrote (I actually wrote in complete sentences), please see here for the issue, which is available in both print and digital format.


Other cool things to look at:

A sneak peek at the new 'A Wrinkle in Time' movie.

One of my favorite books turns 50!

Speaking of movies, I guess we'll be seeing this. I didn't know this was a movie until today.

Iced Honey Tea au Lait.

I love pom-poms. And you know what? I have a huge pom-pom strand that I display at Christmas time. I'm gonna go get it out and hang it up. 'Cuz why not? My husband will be SO DELIGHTED!

Oh look! A new hygge book!

S'mores cookie bars.

Best protective swimwear for kids.

Look at alllll the walllllllpaperrrrrrr! Love it.

I love watching French people talk about French beauty stuff. Here and here.


Cool Book of the Week: 'The Little Fox in the Forest' by Stephanie Graegien is about as charming as they come. A wordless picture book that depicts the adventures of two friends as they follow a little fox in the woods (the fox has run away with the stuffed fox doll belonging to one of the kids). The children discover an enchanted, vibrant world of animals living colorful lives amidst the trees. Totally in love with the art style here.


Let's see...reading, watching, eating - this book, DUH this show, and lots and lots of cherries and raspberries. And you?

~Melissa

July 13, 2017

melissa's 5th annual summer book list


HI FRIENDS!

Ok so let's get all the sadness out of the way and then get to business. First, I missed doing a summer book list last year, that should have been Year 5 (i think?) and that's sad. Also, this year's list is not terribly big. Also sad. And MOST SAD OF ALL - I will not have Very Illuminating Commentary from my husband Andrew on this year's list. That's super sad! But he wasn't home on the day I was making this list, and I'm not sure how much witty banter he can offer up on some cookbooks, you feel me?

(actually he probably could, but never mind.)

To make it up to you, I'll do another Mysterious & Cozy autumn book reading post this year, and I promise that I'll enlist his help in writing the summaries. (P.S. - my promises are worth less than nothing. I'm a speaker of half truths and lies, but I really do have the best of intentions! Some of the nonsense I spout does indeed come to pass.)


Quality over quantity this year, ma petites. That's what I'm selling, ha ha!

 'The Lost Kitchen' by Erin French. Isn't that cover BEAUTIFUL?? I've been fascinated by Erin's story for awhile - you can read about her here.  Her career as a chef began when she started creating secret suppers from her apartment. (I want to go to a secret supper!) Erin then began making pop-up dinners from within a kitchen in an Airstream, before finally finding a permanent home for her creative and seasonal menus in her hometown of Freedom, Maine. After being amazed at how she up and created, not just a restaurant per se, but an entire dining experience - I can't wait to check out her recipes, which include a Sweet Parsnip Cake.

'Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm - Recipes from Land and Sea' by Annemarie Ahearn had me at that title. Full Moon Suppers? First of all, I love the word "supper". Its homey and cozy status is something that the word "dinner" will never ever attain. And I love cookbooks that give you creative menus that make the most from each season. Twelve months, twelve meals, along with snapshots of each month's climate, its traditions, as well as things to do in the kitchen during each month and season of the year. This one sounds very cool and unusual and I would love to see it - just published this past May.


I've got a little bit of a mixed bag thing going with these next picks. Something to take to the pool, beach, or backyard (or in my case - my car, as I wait for my kiddo at her various activities) - as well as something to sit and read in your coziest shorts while stuffing your face with brownies and a vat of iced tea, AND a little something to get later in the summer to place on your table LOOKING PRETTY. Actually, all of these would look pretty sitting around.

'Belgravia' by my beloved 'Downton Abbey' creator, Julian Fellowes. I'm so excited and I only have to wait a few more days until this is released on July 18. Amazon says that if you loved 'Downton Abbey' (how absurd to use the word "IF"), this tale of upstairs/downstairs life in an Edwardian home with "star crossed lovers and scandalous secrets" is for you. Apparently it traces a certain slice of society from the eve of the Battle of Waterloo to 25 years later when the newly wealthy Trenchard family seeks to move within the old money circles in the swanky neighborhood of Belgravia. I'm so there.

'The Moon in the Palace' by Weina Dai Randal is based on the life of Empress Wu - China's only female ruler - during the Tang dynasty. It details the origins of Mei (the future empress) - as she navigates her way through the imperial court starting from the age of 13 years old - moving from little girl to concubine, to chief consort, to emperor. The concubine political intrigue is laid out in intricate detail, and I'm really wanting to read this tale of how a highly intelligent and educated girl rose from the level of one of TEN THOUSAND imperial slaves to the highest position in China.

'Open House - Reinventing Space for Simple Living' by Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen. Moving on from ancient China palace schemes to decorating - actors-turned-designers Pays & Bernsen have been married for ages, and have also built a thriving home remodeling business together. After stumbling across some of their designs on Remodelista, I realized that I loved their brand of laid back home refurbishment, and wished I could see more of their work. And then I saw that they have a book coming out later this summer. I wish all my wishes could be so readily granted! I'm now going to wish very hard for a chocolate cake.

And in case you're sitting there feeling shorted and cheated and you just need more books - here are previous summer reading book posts: this one. Also this one. Oh look! This one. BUT WAIT, there's more. This one.

And if you are also feeling like you just can't WAIT for Autumn to arrive, here is a fall book post and also ANOTHER one. And one more. Knock yourself out!

July 4, 2017

cool stuff i like


Hello lovely friends! For those of you in the United States, a very Happy 4th of July to you. We're going to a parade, and then as we do every year - we'll be at home making sure the house doesn't burn down. I'm making Polynesian Chicken Wings - I've linked to a recipe on Epicurious and there's a bad review, which BAFFLES me - I've made these for years and years and they are amazing, and people go crazy for them. Ignore that review and try out these wings - they're a summer staple in our house!


Cool things to look at while you too might be hiding from the fireworks??

Interesting pool idea.

Birthday cake bread.

7 Dollar Tee Shirts.

This cookbook has me sold on the cover alone. (you can read more about it here.)

FAIRY TALE TEAS. Have I linked this before? So cute.

Reading aloud to older kids.

Did you know certain IKEA products are available through Amazon????

July vibes via MFAMB.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies.

A lazy girl's guide to a healthy summer.


Cool Book of the Week: 'The Bear and The Nightingale' by Katherine Arden is a book I just picked up for myself, after seeing it as a staff pick at a local bookstore. I really just need to stay OUT of bookstores. If I don't go in, I don't come out with a book! Of which I have too many! But the cover grabbed me, and the premise grabbed me, and I liked the idea of the Russian fairy tale Vasilisa the Brave written for a YA or adult readers. A young woman, who lives at the edge of the Russian wilderness, has been raised to revere the spirits that protect her house and village. After her new stepmother comes in and tried to dismantle the balance between their home and the spirit world, things begin to terribly awry in Vasilisa's village. The young girl must use her concealed talents to confront a threat that appears to have emerged from the darkest fairy tales she grew up hearing. Nothing like some Russian winter magic reading for a hot summer's day eh?


Have a lovely 4th of July! I'll be sitting with the dog, hoping our windows aren't zinged with fireworks like they were a couple of years ago, when our neighborhood went insane with Too Many Fireworks. I might have the hose turned on, just in case. One year it was so hot, we seriously wet down our roof and our front lawn. There were giant industrial sized fireworks going off 50 feet away from our house, it was so......exciting. I love fireworks, don't get me wrong, but I love them far far away, up in the sky. Not 50 feet away from the house. Hurray for the 4th! Humbug. I think I'm making some cherry turnovers and I'll just sit and read my new book while the neighborhood goes bonkers. See you on the other side!

~Melissa

June 27, 2017

chirri & chirra in the tall grass


Oh I hope you love this as much as I do. You might remember me losing what was left of my marbles over the first Chirri & Chirra book, and at the time, I was so excited about the 2017 spring release of Kaya Doi's second book - and here it is! 'Chirri & Chirra In the Tall Grass'. Just published this June. And.....spoiler alert:

It's JUST AS ADORABLE AS THE FIRST BOOK.




Once more with the amaaaaaazing end papers. Loooooooook at this loveliness! I think I might even like this story a little better. It's HYPNOTIC in its beauty.


Once again, little Chirri and Chirra are off on a wee forest adventure. After riding their bikes through some tall grass - once they emerge from the grasses, the twins find themselves tiny-sized. They follow a bumblebee and arrive at the bee's house. IT'S SO CUTE. The bees have been making....

.....honey sponge cake balls wrapped in flower petals.  Aaaaaaaaaah.

Then the kiddos follow another kind of buggy friend who happens to be making some kind of juice, made from YUMBERRY fruit. Yumberry!!!


Then a little lizard guy crosses their path. He's very darling and I love him.

The lizard's house happens to be made of sparkly fluorite crystals, and the lizard needs Chirri and Chirra to assist in the making of.....

.....CRYSTAL CANDY. Whaaaaaaaaaat.

When I was 5 years old, I would have slept with this book. I would have carried it everywhere with me. I would have been straight up OBSESSED.


The only disappointing thing is that the candies that the kiddos get to take home with them disappear, after they ride back through the grass in the twilight. Bummer! But I guess it's alright seeing as how they already had cake and YUMBERRY juice. Doesn't do to be too greedy, I suppose.

Friends, these books are among the most enchanting picture books I've ever seen in my life. Give one to everyone you know! This holiday season, any preschool or kinder aged kiddo in my life is going to get one. Oh and as I was putting in the link for the book, I saw that there's a WINTER themed Chirri & Chirra book coming this fall. 'Chirri & Chirra, The Snowy Day'. WHAT? Off to pre-order immediately, see you later bye.

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.

~Melissa
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