December 4, 2018

cool stuff i like



I have been so crazy lately getting the Holiday Book Surprise Boxes out, I realized to my dismay that I have exactly ZERO pictures that I can use for blogging. I have taken next to no pictures this year and that makes me very sad. Next year I vow to take more pictures of our everyday life. This year just got away from me. How can a whole year do that? And yet, here we are. So please enjoy this photo of my wedding bouquet - my husband and I got married in December and we had a very Christmasy wedding. Back to the holiday boxes! Those went out only to my 2018 seasonal subscribers, and this time of year is so....how it is.....that I think I'll keep on with that plan. I'll show and tell about the contents a little closer to Christmas. The Holiday Box will only be included with my yearly subscription plan - which includes four seasonal boxes, plus a British Box and a Holiday Box. For more info on pricing and plans, please click on the 'Info' tab up above my blog header!


Lots of holiday cool stuff this week:

10 IKEA holiday kitchens.

A Dream Tonic? Tips for restful Sleep? I'm bookmarking this.

This is so great! Movie + cozy throw blanket pairings.

These holiday cards.

And lots of new holiday art goodness from my friend Heather Sleightholm.

Love these ornaments from Magnolia at Target.

A friend put this shop on my radar. Look at these pretty 2019 calendars!

Pecan Pie Pudding Cake.

Avoiding holiday stress tips.

The Local Milk 2018 gift guide.

Loved this post from Heather Bruggman about how her family exchanges gifts.


Cool Book of the Week: 'The Fox at the Manger' by P.L. Travers. (the author of 'Mary Poppins') - look at this beauty! It's a fable of sorts, about the nativity story told from the perspective of a fox, who has a unique gift to offer. Look at this beautiful cover! I've never seen or read this before - have you??


Where are you all at with your holiday planning? I'm limping along. I think I'm just about done with my family holiday gift procurement. Except for my father. It's impossible to find a gift for him. Someone needs to create the Impossible Father's Holiday Gift Guide.

I'll be back with two posts that I really want to just ramble about - Trader Joe's at Christmas, and an absolutely amazing book I just got. Wish me SO MUCH LUCK in my blogging, I really miss blogging here! I actually like talking about more things than just my book boxes lol lol.

xo,
Melissa

November 27, 2018

bella's bunnies


Oh my friends. I have the biggest treat for you, and I am so excited to create this post. I can't even describe how happy I am to share about these bunnies, and the talent behind them.

Last summer, a box arrived for Julia, from my husband's cousin, Danielle. Danielle is just sort of this....angel. She's lovely, she's kind, and she's the type of person who brings beauty to everything she touches. And she's wildly talented when it comes to all things creative with sewing and knitting.

Anyway this box arrives. Julia opens it, and nestled in tissue was the most beautiful hand made fabric bunny doll I have ever seen. Julia and I stared at each other with our mouths open. Then I started to cry. Julia had just received something that we will treasure forever, and hand down to grandchildren!


We knew that Danielle had been creating bunny dolls as a way to pass the time and keep her mind diverted from constant worry, when her daughter Isabella spent half of this past year recovering from viral meningitis. But we had NO idea how spectacular they were until one showed up at our house.

I immediately FREAKED OUT, and asked Danielle if she was planning on making and selling these beauties, and her answer was yes.

Now unlike me, who woke up one day last winter and decided I AM SELLING BOOK BOXES NOW, with no real plan in place (still pretty much operating that way ha ha) - Danielle took her time, created an inventory of bunnies, designed a beautiful website, and got her ducks, I mean bunnies, in a row. Please admire my wit. Or forgive it. Your choice.


And behold the results. Danielle named her new business, Bella's Bunnies, and words seriously fail me in expressing how beautiful and charming these bunny dollies are!

First of all, the dolls are big enough to hold and hug in your arms - they are 23 inches tall, and they are sturdy and double stitched tight as a drum. They are so meticulously well constructed.

And the feel of them - SO soft, and their flannel faces have the most charming and gentle expressions. But let's talk about the CLOTHES.

Danielle hand knits the sweaters, and then pairs them with matching skirts, pants, hats, and/or scarves that she also creates.


As pretty as these look here, they are even more exquisite in person.


LOOK AT THOSE SWEATERS. Are you losing your mind??

So. A few things - you need to read the full story about how these bunnies came to be, and why Seattle's Children's Hospital benefits from each bunny sold.

Then you are going to want to read THIS, which tells alllllll about the bunny specifications and details.


And if you are ready to shop, you need to click HERE where you can gaze at even more bunny doll goodness.

No two bunnies are the same - every doll is handmade, unique, and you guys - these are HEIRLOOM quality. Each doll is priced at $125, and please believe me when I say that these would make the best holiday gifts, the best birthday gifts, just the BEST GIFTS - and you get to support an entity committed to healing sick children....there is no downside to this.

There are several bunny dolls in stock right now that would be so amazing for the holidays! There are girl bunnies. Boy bunnies. Gender neutral bunnies. And a discount for two bunnies!

Are you enchanted?? Oh and to see each new bunny as it arrives, be sure and follow Bella's Bunnies Instagram! Julia's doll takes our breath away every time we look at her.

(and a note personally to Danielle: you and Isabella are fairies walking among us, and your bunnies are going to make so many people happy, and help so many kids! Julia and I love you both so very much.)

November 5, 2018

cool stuff i like


Hey friends! This lovely book is up on my Instagram right now, and it's getting packed up in a British Box. Book surprise care package updates: someone on Instagram asked if I was making a Holiday Box. Well....the answer is yes, but.......only for my 2018 seasonal subscribers. I've already gathered the materials, and I can't make anymore past what I have. I'll put out the reminder once more - the best way to not miss a spot for any 2019 boxes is to get a subscription! See my 'Info' tab up above for pricing and FAQ's. You will notice that there has been a price increase. Wayyyyyyy too much time and content was going into my boxes for what I was charging. As in, people were actually writing to me and saying um, you need to charge more! One friend in Hawaii gently argued with me about the price of the boxes she was ordering (said it seemed wacky I wasn't charging more!). Anyway, I've looked around and no one is doing what I'm doing - and the ones who are at all similar are charging a fortune. So effective immediately - there's a bit of a price increase. Remember - I only take orders via email!

Tuesday is Election Day and please please please get out there and vote, if you haven't already.

I was mentioning the other day on Instagram that I used to really dislike November. Or as I used to call it: the speed bump between Halloween and Christmas. I'm now starting to embrace it as an autumnal respite between those holiday windstorms! It's also my prep month ha ha - I'm trying to get a lot of my holiday planning done this month, so that I won't be in such a scramble come December.


Things to share this week:

How to paint a bedroom in one hour.

Sometimes you just need macaroni and cheese.

What a charming and uplifting book story - thanks to my friend Laura for showing me this!

You have to see all the bookish treats from Sweet Sequels.

Aaaaaand you have to see the holiday goodness from Lucy in the Sky creations!

AND you must see the holiday Nutcracker collection from Latherati!

Ok this you REALLY HAVE TO SEE....you will FREAK OUT......I NEED this book in my life! 'Miss Violet's Doll House'.

Two years ago, I did a post about Cozy Mysteries - some of you might not have seen it and might enjoy!

Go get yourself a treat and a cup of tea. Then go read this post.

Wabi-Sabi, explained.


Cool Book of the Week: Alrighty so I wish you all could have seen my FACE when I came across this online - I really wish my husband had been around as well - I was home by myself and I saw that 'Noel Streatfeild's Christmas Stories', a new collection of unpublished short stories from my beloved Noel Streatfeild, was to be published this year. Friends - first there was the GASP, and then I seriously RACED up the stairs to get onto my computer and I ordered this in about 5 seconds flat. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, well have you heard of the 'Shoes' books? Did you worship them like I did? 'Ballet Shoes'? 'Skating Shoes'(there's a brand new edition of that one coming out this November! Just ordered it. Please save me from myself!) These books were read, and read, and read again by me as a child. I have more Streatfeild book goodness to talk about in a future post; I've got a lot more to say on this subject! ANYWAY - as soon as I saw this Christmas book, I had to share the news with you asap.


You voted/are voting right??! Jumping juniper I hope hope hope that our country manages to begin pulling itself out of the muck. OH! Let's end on a high note! You have GOT to see THIS news about a yarn advent calendar from the magical Alicia Paulson. Sounds so beautiful! I wish I was a knitter.

~Melissa

October 31, 2018

halloween 2018!


Happy Halloween!! I hope your day is magical!! I wanted to pop in and show these delightfully pretty cards I got from The Moon Journal - you must go see her beautiful shop! Cards, calendars, art work, all of it fabulous. What you are seeing here is the Mini Moon Deck, but I really long for the full deck of Moon cards which have the most beautiful floral designs.

I can tell you right now - the 'Breathe' affirmation card - that's one I should look at DAILY.


I also really love the card that shows the different moon phases, do you see it up there? Balsamic Moon! I've never heard of that one before, so cool.


Do you collect pretty stones or semi-precious rocks? We've been collecting since Julia was a tiny tot. We have a lot of pink quartz and amethyst, because those are our favorites.

Tonight we're having pizza - I used to try to make a whole Halloween fancy dinner but realized that the kiddo CARES NOT about food, and just wants to eat in five seconds and then hit the road, so now we throw a frozen pizza in the oven and call it a day.

OH - so usually during the whole month of October my husband likes to watch scary movies, and I used to but my tolerance has decreased in recent years - the real news is scary enough! - but we did watch 'The Haunting of Hill House' - WOW. I haven't been so impressed with a show in a long long time. It's scary, but not off-putting in my opinion - really it's a melancholy portrait of the breakdown (and renewal) of a family. The script works much like a stage play - there are tons of long monologues and long takes, and I really adored the whole thing from start to finish.

And hey 'Downton Abbey' lovers! I just discovered last night that about 10 years ago, Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens (Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley) were in a BBC version of 'The Turn of the Screw'. We started watching last night and I liked it! It got late so we had to hit pause on the last 20 minutes, so we'll finish that up this evening after Julia goes to bed. It's available free on Amazon Prime.

What are you up to today/tonight? I think before I go to bed, I'll open up 'The Night Circus' randomly and read wherever I open the book. I practically know it by heart. My assertion is that there never was, and never will be, a more perfect book for fall time reading.

October 25, 2018

Autumn Book Surprise Box Reveal


Hello my spookies! It's time to talk about what was in those 'Back of the Attic' Autumn book surprise boxes. It was time two weeks ago, but I AM SLOW.

THANK YOU to all of you who ordered!! I hit my capacity in less than 12 hours; I was floored that this idea sounded cool to anyone else besides myself HA HA HA.

Just to remind - this theme is CLOSED, and after the holidays, I will be announcing my winter theme. I am not taking pre-orders for individual 2019 boxes at this time, but I am taking 3 or 6 month 2019 subscriptions. If you are interested in getting set up for that, starting with the Winter 2019 box, email me at juliasbookbag (at) gmail (dot) com. My email is the only way to place orders.

So let's chat about everything! I am so excited to finally have the chance to really chat about the book. I've decided that trying to type on Instagram is like a slow exercise in torture, I really much prefer typing on my laptop. My husband is going to see if he can get me set up with a remote keyboard for my phone, because seriously, I cannot type on that thing AT ALL.

So there was a bit of Trick or Treat going on with the book for this box. Or should I say.....BOOKS.

The Trick was that I used not one, not two, but THREE different books! All by the same author, Eva Ibbotson. I used 'Magic Flutes', 'The Secret Countess' and  'The Morning Gift'. ALL of them are absolutely wonderful, and they were at the top of my favorites list of books that I read this past year. After I read 'Magic Flutes', I was so enchanted, I immediately moved on to the other books, and I was just in love with all of them!

The Treat is that ALL OF THE BOOKS ARE AWESOME, so no matter which book I put in, each one was/is delightful.


I describe all of Eva's stories as sort of fairy tales for grownups. They are sweetly romantic, and all have similar-ish themes - a Viennese princess who conceals her identity while working in an opera house - a Russian countess who flees the Russian Revolution and moves to England and finds work as a house maid in a British country manor. A young Jewish Austrian girl whose family must find another home in London after the Nazis invade. (I loved this story so, from 'The Morning Gift'.) Despite the similarities, each story is quaintly charming in its own way.

HEY HOW ABOUT THOSE COVERS EH? Aren't they so pretty? That's what initially sold me on these books; then when I read about the story lines, I was like, um yeah these are perfect for the Autumn boxes!



The Treats! The actual treats. These took the form of L'Ancienne Hot Chocolate packets and Walker's Dark Chocolate & Ginger biscuits, alternating with Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscuits. These cookies are Autumn-in-a-cookie. And the hot chocolate is so intense and dark, it makes one feel like they are in a Paris cafe while the rain comes down outside. A scarlet red jaunty beret is optional.


When it came to the stationery item, I had a whole assortment of vintage charm. I used sticky notes that look like actual old pieces of paper, these were a stroke of genius on the part of whoever came up with idea - I could only find a few of them. Likewise, I could only get my hands on a few of these John Derian postcards. Who's John Derian? Check out his website. My dream is to go to his shop in New York someday!

There were also supremely darling vintage-esque sticky notes, and washi tapes. I found DREAM CATCHER washi tape! And washi tape that looked like old clocks, black lace, feathers, oh and autumn foliage assortment stickers. I was in love with all of it, and whatever went into a box was something I really wanted to keep for myself.


So cute right?? Oh and everything was wrapped up in charming toile tissue paper, which is just the PRETTIEST. Honestly, I'm not trying to toot my own horn (much), but if I got this box in the mail, I would have fainted with happiness. That's my goal with each box theme I create. Would I be utterly delighted if it came to me in the mail? If the answer is a resounding yes, then I know I did a good job.


And the last really lovely surprise in the box were these autumnal scarves. Several different prints, and each one gorgeous.

I have to share a lovely note from a darling person who adored her box, and who shares my love of all caps emphasis and the use of the word 'delightful' - I hope she doesn't mind:

"I am SO THRILLED with my book box! Oh what a lovely gift (from me to me!)
You have done such a wonderful job, everything was just delightful. What a
lovely cozy experience this will be: an enchanting book, fancy hot
chocolate, MY FAVORITE SHORTBREAD COOKIE, and a pretty
scarf to wrap myself in while I read. AND those adorable sticky notes for
bookmarks and journal entries. Honestly, all sorts of things I love in one
place."

And another kindred spirit wrote me this:

"Your autumn attic box was a huge hit with my mom and my daughter, thank you. As for me, it was such a treat to get a great mystery box with things I really like (that I didn’t have to majorly hint about to my husband or kids).  Please sign me up for a years subscription, especially for the British boxes. I lived in Scotland when I was young and am a huge Anglophile now. I also lived in northern Japan when I was young and read Peach Boy and other Japanese Fairy Tales to my kids which was why I had so much fun reading your blog from the beginning."

It gives me great joy to see that others out there are really enjoying the same things that I do!


Everything was wrapped in vintage-style paper, bags, and tissue, and I hope everyone got a perfect dose of fall time cheer when their box arrived ~  Fall time is the best time. If you're reading something wonderful right now, be sure and let me know please!