A Pile of Halloween Books


October 22, 2014

Well I was going to show you these books little by little over the course of the month, but that hasn't happened (fall for photography is like March/April is for tax preparers, I read just recently), so here's our whole stack of Halloween books all at once. And what's funny is that we haven't read A SINGLE ONE because we're still happily plowing through 'The Witches'. Next week we'll have time to sit down with some of these.

I'm going to slap down some mini reviews b/c 1) I've had the sickies and lost about a week of productivity and 2) lazy. So here we go:

Zen Ghosts: This book kinda blew my mind. There's a Chinese tale-within-the tale thing going on about a spirit girl who is seemingly in two places at once, and there's a whole idea happening of are you you? What's your true self? These are some Deep Thoughts, yo. The art is breathtaking and while a younger kiddo is not going to get any of the Zen philosophy underscoring the story, your 8, 9, 10 year old will be able to ponder upon all this with you. Or maybe explain it to you.

The Power of Poppy Pendle: Julia read this book way back last February and it's the only book I've ever seen her just sit down and read for 2 hours straight. My kiddo doesn't sit for 2 hours for much of anything. She powered right on through this thing. And she told me in great detail about every last little bit of the plot. It's super charming about a little girl witch who isn't terribly interested in her magical powers - she wants to be a pastry chef! And at the end of the book, there's about a half dozen recipes for tea cakes, cookies, and other assorted goodies.

Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost: Julia hasn't read this yet, but I found it at a used book store and it's about some kids who team up with an ASG (Averagely Spooky Ghost) in order to get rid of an IRG (Incredibly Revolting Ghost). The chapters are short and cute, and it's all very silly and fun.

The Witch Who Went For a Walk: Really beautiful library find with incredible art! Best for the toddler, preschool set, it features a witch strolling around, and seeing and commenting on things like the moon, owls and trick-or-treaters that she sees on her walk.

John Pig's Halloween: This is SUPER darling! Really adorable art and a very cute rhyming story about a timid little pig who wants nothing to do with Halloween activities until a witch crash lands on his stoop. She soon gets him making Halloween treats and hanging out with her Halloweeny pals at an impromptu party.

There ya go, my spookies! What are you all reading during all this Octobery biz??

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October 20, 2014

(a portrait of my daughter once a week, every week in 2014)

Julia: windblown and having a swell time on the coast. we saw some beach!

Hmm. I think I'm 3 weeks behind, which means I probably won't be wrapping up my Project 52 until mid January! Oh well.

I have been SO down with the worstest cold! Every time I get a cold, I say it's the worst one I've ever had, but this one was truly terrible. I blew my nose nearly constantly for 4 days straight. That starts to get very tiring. And then I lost my voice in a pretty spectacular way, I sound like a gravelly frog right now. And I made the terrible mistake (again) of taking some Nyquil. Oh no no. I must never take Nyquil! It makes me feel worse than the cold does! That stuff is just evil and it doesn't even really do much of anything, other than make my head feel like it was filled with nothing but scrambled eggs. Omg for a minute I forgot how to spell 'scrambled'.

If anyone has some truly magical suggestions on how to kick colds out from the outset, I would LOVE to hear. I've given up all faith in my echinacea. It really doesn't do squat for me, even if I use a tincture. I never hit it with zinc early on, I wonder if that really helps? 

One time I swear I was able to ward off a terrible flu that was sending people I was working with to the hospital, no jokey, and I was eating about 5-10 cloves of cooked garlic a day, plus 2 packs of Emergen-C a day, all of this for about a week, and I never got the flu that was going around. But if I had already come down with the flu, I'm not sure my garlic regimen would have done anything, maybe it's better as a preventative?

And one time I swear I cured my mother of a terrible virus by using this Chinese remedy called Yin Chiao. (no idea what's in it, it could be full of lead for all I know. my mother didn't mind me experimenting on her!) But I've never used it on myself, maybe that would have cured my terrible cold? I'm going to go get some.

I'm really super tired of these super colds kicking my booty, so if you have some tried and true remedies, I would REALLY love to hear ALL about it! I usually get 2 super colds a year. And before I had the light of my life, my sweet daughter, guess how many I would get -- um, I basically didn't get ANY colds for about 20 years. I had other illnesses, but not very many colds. But my kiddo is worth 15 colds a year, at least. :) Probably more. 

I really didn't think this entire post was going to be about my cold. Oh you know what else is awesome for colds, AND I DON'T HAVE ANY IN THE HOUSE - rosehip tea! Really really great stuff. I'm going to order some right now.

Cool Stuff I Like


October 17, 2014

Happy Friday my spookies!!! Want to know something Andrew doesn't know? He doesn't know *yet* about all the pumpkin products I got at Trader Joe's. Here's what I got, I do this every year, go on a pumpkin product buying binge. I got frozen pumpkin waffles, pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin cinnamon buns, pumpkin tea, mini pumpkin pies, and pumpkin bread mix. They were giving samples at the store of the pumpkin bread, and they had baked it in a cake pan instead of a loaf pan, and they put chocolate chips in with it and it was the BESTEST. And I also fished out the maple pumpkin butter I had sitting in our pantry. I eat lots and lots of pumpkin in October and then I don't touch it again until the following October. Andrew's gonna freak out, but I fail to see the problem with this.

It was VERY good week for fun internet finding!

An Autumn bedroom makeover.

Sweet and salty caramel corn.

Well I wanted show you this bunny tutu dress, but they're all sold out. So here are some bunny leggings instead. (little girl sizes) And here are they are in baby/toddler sizes. (maybe the bunny tutu dress will come back? really cute site!)

Fall blooms.

What a darling Halloween party!

I found Hello Kitty Yoplait yogurt cups at Target. It was a good day.

A darling Halloween picture book collection from Pen Pals & Picture Books.

Hello cutest cake ever.

'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' is out!!! I've been waiting and waiting.

Noodle-loaded chicken soup.


For lovers of 'The Night Circus' -- you can order chocolate mice!

Ok I just discovered 'Ew!' and it made me giggle a LOT.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch' by Eric Orchard. Saw this over on the A Mighty Girl site and thought it looked super cool. It's a graphic novel about an 11 year old girl who travels in a moon balloon while attempting to rescue her parents, who've been transformed into kangaroo rats. She battles scarecrow warriors and spider goblins and winds up in the Thimblewitch's castle. Apparently it's very 'Wizard of Oz'-esque and the art looks amazing!

Have a lovely weekend! I think we'll be pumpkin patching. I've got my first full blown cold of the season, which I'm preparing to drown in hot cider and doughnuts.


My Chocolate Cake Disaster


October 15, 2014

So there's this chocolate cake recipe currently pretty much everywhere on the various food bloggies ~ you can see it here and here and oh looky, here's the original recipe. Oh and if you fancy a mini-sized version, that's an option as well.

This cake is EVERYWHERE, and I linked to it in a Cool Stuff post a couple of weeks ago. Right here.

Ok so we've established that there are many places in which you can find a recipe for Izy's Swedish Chocolate Cake, yes? (which is why i'm not writing it down again.)

Izy is a delightful British girl who has a delightful food blog called Top With Cinnamon (I think she began it when she was 16? I think she's 19 now?) and she's recently come out with a delightful-looking cookbook, also called Top With Cinnamon, that I'm really hoping to get for Christmas.

So you might notice that my cake does not look very much like the other incarnations of the cake on the other blogs. Like, not at all. Mine kind of looks like a big chocolate brick. You know why? Because it's a big chocolate brick.

I messed up the recipe because there was a typo in one of the recipes I was following, (which has now been all fixed, so don't worry if you too want to try making this!) and basically it called for adding about 3 times as much chocolate as the original recipe called for.


A pal of mine had also made the cake and she invited me to her house for lunch. We had a lovely lunch and then she produced her perfect cake, which she baked in a loaf pan, and the end result was somewhere between the most wonderful soft cake and a brownie. It was DIVINE.

So when my giant brick of a cake came out of the oven, and I started cross-referencing recipes, I realized something had gone very awry with my chocolate equation. I frantically emailed my friend, and asked her how much chocolate she had used.

(A normal amount, she wasn't as easily confused and led astray as I was, apparently. She measured in grams. I measured in cups, which at the time, was written with a typo. Andrew informed me that I measured in CRAZY.)

But here's thing. The cake was still really good! Just very very intense. If you like deep, dark intense chocolate explosion flavor, well just follow along with my mistake and add.....wait for it.....1 and 3/4 cups of cocoa powder. The original recipe calls for a 1/2 cup.


Try it both ways, if you like! This is a very forgiving cake. You can make it in a round pan. You can make it in a loaf pan. You can add 50 trillion pounds of too much chocolate and it will still be awesome, apparently. Everyone who tried it, loved it.

Just don't overbake it. So anyhoo, that's my little chocolate story and I hope you liked it.

Revisiting The Night Circus


October 13, 2014

Well I thought it was time to re-read one of the best books that has ever ever ever come into my life. I've been wanting to read it again for over a year now, but I was afraid! I was worried that a 2nd reading would sully the out-of-body experience I had reading it the first time.

Happily, I was wrong. It's BETTER this time around. The first time I read 'The Night Circus', I was in such a frenzy of what-happens-next, that I pretty much tore through it and I tried to slow myself down, but I just couldn't. And certain aspects of the story were a bit confusing to me, but instead of taking my time to fully digest what was happening, I just could NOT stop my bullet train hurtle to the end of this book.

Now I can control myself. I know what's going to happen (although I'm surprised at how many many details I totally forgot - I think I read this 3 years ago?), and I can just slowly enjoy myself.

I wrote a post on the book right after it came out and right after I read it, and it was before I knew how to cull pictures for clarity or make a collage in Picmonkey, so the resolution of the pictures I freely lifted from my Night Circus Pinterest board aren't really the best for displaying here on the blog. But they give you a VIBE and a general idea of what the mood of the book is all about, for those of you (are you insane??? go now and read it!) who might haven't read it yet. (seriously, is that even possible???)

 Oh and if you didn't fancy this book WITH ALL OF YOUR BEING, just keep on walking, I don't want to know. 'Cuz that would be a friendship-ender right there. Let me just continue on in ignorance, if that's the case.

I'm not going to summarize the plot again, because honestly, the less said the better. Bottom line: a magical circus that only appears at night, and which serves as the arena for two magicians to engage in a competition of illusion....to the death. And the catch? They love each other desperately.

It's one of the few wholly perfect book reading experiences I've ever had. Oh - pay attention to the dates in the chapter titles -- I didn't really the first time around and that led to some confusion on my part.

If you're looking for the perfect fall book, you found it! I'm not even remotely fooling. Save it for when you have some time, because you won't be able to focus on anything else until you're done.

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