cool stuff i like


March 23, 2017

Hello my friends! I'm here a day early! Because my site is getting looked at for a wee makeover and if we're down for a few days, I wanted to be sure and get this post out. So...yeah. Say goodbye to those horrible horrible bluebirds! It's so funny, I used to be so fond of them in the beginning. Now I can't stand the sight of 'em, ha ha ha. It was either - get rid of the bluebirds or I need to stop blogging. Ugh. They were haunting me in my sleep! I'm not a big enough blogger to warrant throwing a ton of $$ at this site to make it have every bell and whistle in the world and custom graphics and all that jazz, but I really needed to look at something other than what I've been looking at, and I think a change will be nice for you all as well. I've been working on de-cluttering the site and my sidebars. So let's hope it works out!

Cool things for everyone this week:

Postcards from the resistance. Please check out these beautiful creations, many of them from my favorite photographers! Beautiful work from amazing artists, for a worthy cause. So worth your time to take a peek, apparently they are flying out the door.

Let this be good and not mess up Mulan.

THE COLORS. You will love love love my friend Cindy Cavanaugh's photos. Incredible.

Spring chickens.

Apple cinnamon breakfast muffins.

More amazing photos. Girls going to school all around the globe.

Put an egg on it.

An English cottage garden.

A week of healthy meals.

Cool Book of the Week: 'The Lightning Queen' by Laura Resau is one I've been checking out for awhile. I almost got Julia to buy it but she saw something else that she was really hankering for, so this was lost in the shuffle. But I really want someone to read it! You, me, or whoever. Ha! I love the cover, which is always a big seller for me, as you know. It sounds so unusual and fantastic - a Romani girl and a Mixteco boy in a 1950's mountain village in Mexico become friends after a fortuneteller predicts the two will form a lifelong friendship. She eventually becomes a film star and he becomes a healer, and they lose track of each other only to be brought back together by their grandchildren. It got rave reviews on Amazon.

Have a lovely weekend! I just finished reading 'The Help'. Oh my word it's so great, I can't believe I hadn't ever read it before. And I've been watching the back episodes of 'Victoria' that I missed, because now I signed up for PBS Passport. And eating....nothing exciting really. I did make some sweet potato, coconut and date muffins from this cookbook and they were fabulous! It's a beautiful cookbook. Ok see you on the other side of my blog remodel - let's hope all goes well and I never have to see those bluebirds again.


moomins forever


March 21, 2017

 I have a whole PILE of new books to wade through with you guys, but I have to read a few of them first and I have to get a few styling props for some of the others, and I'm waiting for that stuff to arrive. OH BOOKS, why must they be so complicated??

But in the meantime, here's me, once again giving a public service announcement on Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books. I've mentioned them again and again and again (to lazy to link this evening, but take my word on it) and I'll keep on talking about them because someone may stumble across my blog who hasn't heard me yammering away on the topic and then they'll read my latest Moomin post and be amazed at the world of Moomins and off happily away they'll go, getting their Very Own Moomin book, and I'll have done a MIGHTY FINE THING for the world. Did you get all that?

 As you can see, we have all of them. I had to get brand new copies because mine from my childhood fell apart. For those that aren't up to speed, Moomins are friendly little creatures who live in the wild mountains on Finland. They have adventures. That's what they do. They also like tea and treats.

The main family that anchors the series is the Moomintroll clan, which consists of Moominpapa, Moominmama (who carries her purse everywhere because everything but the kitchen sink is in it) and their son, Moomintroll. Although there are only three of them, they have some permanent friends who reside with/near them - Snuffkin (Moomintroll's bestie), the Snorkmaiden (who looks just like Moomintroll only she's a girl with bangs. Also she loves Moomintroll.), Mymble (a nervous girl who likes to clean, oh wait no, the one who loves cleaning is the Fillyjonk) and her tiny sister, Little My, who I'll follow up on further down.

There are loads of other assorted friends and frenemies who feature in the stories - including characters like Too-ticky and Sorry-oo, and Thingumy and Bob. And even someone named The Ancestor, who lives behind Moominmama's stove.
See? The Snorkmaiden is basically Moomintroll's twin, only with bangs. 'Moomintroll's lady friend and very occupied with romantic fantasies' -- don't you love it??

Little My is my favorite. I think she might be everyone's favorite, given the amount of Moomin merchandise I see featuring her. The above description is spot on. You don't mess with Little My. She'll leave you hanging upside down nine ways to Sunday if you get on the wrong side of her. I LOVE HER SO MUCH. Little My is my spirit animal.
 As you can see, above and below - we have some Moomin gear. My father went to Finland on a business trip a couple of years ago. I told him to please get us some Moomin stuff, and I think I did not use the word please.

He had no clue what the deal was about Moomins. He was amazed to discover "this stuff was everywhere!". Uh, YEAH. Moomins are hugely popular in Europe, less so in the States. I'm not sure why.

Anyway, he brought us back (yes I claim 50% ownership along with Julia) stickers, a pillow case (ah young love! isn't it adorable?), and a Moomintroll stuffy and BEST OF ALL -- a tiny Little My doll.

What makes these books so special? I think because...there's nothing else like them in children's literature. I seriously have not ever come across anything like their sweet, whimsical vibe. Comets may threaten to fall, the Moomin house might flood, nobody might know their lines when the Moomins turn into theater performers, but those Moomins keep trudging happily along in the most civilized and polite fashion.

I think these books really hit the sweet spot for kiddos ages 8-10. Although they look like little creatures that a 5 year old would enjoy, the subtle humor exhibited throughout the books is really best suited to a slightly older kid - 3rd through 5th grades.

So please. Hear my plea again. And if you don't, you can hear it next year, because I do some kind of Moomin post every year and I'll do so as long as I keep up this blog.....go get yo-self some Moomin books!

st. patrick's day books


March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We'll be eating our slow cooker corned beef and cabbage later in the day and my husband will be on Irish Soda Bread patrol. It's one of two things he makes. The other one being sandwiches. (insert crying emoji)

Well, if I had been a Good Blogger, I would have put together this list a couple of weeks ago. But hey. I think these would be fun to look through, whether it's St. Paddy's Day or not, mais non? They all strike me as 'Springy'. And because I'm decidedly NOT a Good Blogger, let run these books past the 'micro' blogging routine shall we? Let's see how fast I can sum up each one.

Starting from the top left - 'A History of Irish Fairies' by Carolyn White is very pretty. The cover is selling me here. Fun fact - I chose ALL of these based on their covers. (none of which I've read, we're all in this together my sweets! I'll tell you which one I'm going to look for at the library though.) What I like about this one is that it apparently serves as an "ultimate guide to the Wee People, from cluricauns and leprechauns, to Silkies, Banshees, and Pookas. Chapters include: Fairies and the Devil, Fairy Clothes and Appearance, Immortality of Fairies, and How to Provoke a Fairy." I want to provoke a fairy!! Also, WHAT is a cluricaun???

I'm already off to a rough start at being brief.

Next is 'Irish Tales of the Fairies and the Ghost World' by Jeremiah Curtain. Curtain is considered an expert on Irish folklore and he collected these tales from people living all over Ireland. I love ghost stories. This one I think I'll read next fall at Halloween time, actually.

'Irish Fairy and Folk Tales' was collected and put together by William Butler Yeats. Did you know he was Irish? I didn't. Or I forgot. I'm a sad excuse for an English major. This lovely has quite a lot of legends thrown in with the fairy lore.

And the next book, 'The Teapots Are Out and other Eccentric Tales from Ireland' by John B. Keane - THIS is the one I'm actually trotting off the library to go and find. Keane is one of Ireland's favorite tale spinners, so says Amazon - and this collection of humorous short stories looks really charming. And here's why I REALLY want to read it - because of this review! "Sorry I bought it. Terrible writing and most of the stories makes no sense at all." HA HA HA HA! Reviewer on just totally sold me on this. It's supposed to be funny and fun and sweet and I'm thinking it needs to be in my bedtime reading stack.

Lastly, we have a very awesome looking find - 'Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions' by Lady Wilde. Guess who that is? Oscar Wilde's mama! How cool. There's information about fairies, as well as information on the traditional uses of herbs, and nuggets on Irish sayings and superstitions. 

FUN RIGHT?? I think they all look delightful.

Oh speaking of all things Irish today, do you know about the blog Farmette?? I have her cookbook. I love her blog. If you don't know it, or her story, you're in for a treat. (an American meets an Irish farmer and moves her whole life to Ireland!)

Any St. Paddy's Day plans? I hope the leprechauns haven't been too naughty at your house.

P.S. programming note - I know my blogging has been a bit scarce. BUT. I have sitting in my house FOUR of the coolest and sweetest new books! I'm so happy I could cry about them. I went on a bit of a book buying spree. I can't WAIT to show them off to you!!

cool stuff i like


March 10, 2017

Happy Friday! Look at my orchids! Specifically, look at the big orchid bloom. That there is representative of some patience, my friends. This particular orchid plant hasn't bloomed in over four years! I've almost tossed it several times. But I kept it because it was the first orchid plant I ever purchased, and I just kept it as a green plant, even thought it hadn't bloomed in ages. And look at that perfect blossom! All of my orchid plants are in bloom right now. I wish I could make a claim as some kind of orchid whisperer but it's not me. It's the window. My plants loooooove this window. I water once a week, I don't fertilize, and sometimes I move them down from the sill in the summer if it gets too much direct sun, but that's it! And I wait. Sometimes I wait for a long time, but what's amazing about orchids is that when in bloom, they last for weeks and weeks and weeks.

After a two week hiatus, I rustled up some cool stuff:

This is an amazing looking book list. As in I seriously want to read (and re-read) every book on the list. And YES to 'The Secret History', one of my favorite books of all time.

A house in the Japanese countryside. There's hardly any furniture in this house! And I love it!

The best thing I read this week. "....sometimes when I love something sooooo much, my eyes sweat."

 White walls or no? I say sure. What I say no to is beige. Ours are beige. Bleh. #firstworldproblems

We're making this Irish Soda Bread recipe this year for St. Patrick's Day.

This was also a great read.

Why have I never heard of this? Sheet pan pancakes.

5 cups of tea.

New things coming to IKEA in April.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Flowers Are Calling' by Rita Gray and Kenard Pak is a little book I saw at a local book shop not long ago that stopped me in mid stride. It was so sweet! I'm so longing for spring, and even though it seems nowhere near on the horizon, I'm still feeling very drawn to all things springy and flowery right now. The art is SUBLIME - a sort of brushed matte watercolor look. Each page is beauty beauty beauty - and the book takes the reader through the interplay of animals and insects and plants and flowers...all co-existing together harmoniously. There are also pages that give specific details on particular plants and flowers. A hybrid of sorts between gentle story and nature-related facts. Poetically lyrical and such a visual treat!

Have a lovely weekend! What are you eating, watching, reading? I'm eating Girl Scout Cookies. (curse this time of year) And I'm watching 'Big, Little Lies' - SUPER GOOD. And I'm trying desperately to finish the last couple of chapters of 'Wolf Hall' - I've been paused on the last 50 pages for 3 months, I need to just FINISH IT.


mary poppins up, up and away


March 7, 2017

Helloooooo darling friends! It's been awhile. I have to be honest, I feel the pull of Instagram ever more strongly these days. It's fun, it's quick, it's easy to engage with others and easy for them to engage with you.....but there are times when just a quick glance at a cover doesn't quite cut it, and that's why I keep the blog going. Sometimes you have to see what's going on inside, and this is one of those times.

'Mary Poppins Up, Up and Away' by Helene Druvert, adapted from P.L. Travers' legendary works is a book that just came out this past January and it's a WORK OF ART. It took me less than 10 seconds to decide whether I wanted to buy it. I was with my husband at the time and he got it immediately as well. ART.

Paper cut art, to be specific.

The book is all in black and white, so I took pictures in black and white. The story of Mary Poppins and her arrival into the lives of Jane and Michael Banks is distilled here into the most charming and simple prose. Very sweet. Helene Druvert has taken the bare bones of the Mary Poppins tale and laid it within a landscape of the most gorgeous and intricate paper cut illustrations, which serve to convey even more of the story than the simple and spare words do. Look below.
Incredible! The first picture on the left - that's what it looks like with the paper cut black art against the background. In the second photo, I've lifted the paper cut page up a bit, so you can get a better sense of the detail.

Now, let me right now give you a word of caution. DO NOT let your kids handle this book. This book is a treasure and an instant-heirloom, but DO NOT let the kids touch it unless you are right there. In fact, someone needs to be there WHEN I TOUCH IT. I ever so slightly bent a couple of pieces of the paper cut pictures while trying to photograph them and I was so mad at myself. They bent back into place, but let me stress to you - the book is DELICATE and there's a reason that the front and back covers are so thick - to better keep and preserve the paper cut art. This one needs to be kept high on the shelf and brought out as a special treat.

But don't let me words of caution deter you in any way from owning this stunning masterpiece. Yeah I said it. And while I've used 'charming', 'beautiful', 'delightful' TWENTY MILLION times on this blog - I'm not sure I've ever said anything was a masterpiece. I'm going to say right now this book is one of the most lovely children's books I've ever come across.
The story is basically a show and tell of a day in the life of Mary Poppins and the kids. They go to the park, they see the sights of London, they go for a bike ride, they get caught in the rain.....

(forgive my fingers up above - I had to press the page down very flat so you could really get the full effect of the light trails of the comets flashing through the night sky. COMETS OVER LONDON. The best, right??!)

And as bedtime nears, Jane and Michael see a constellation of circus animals and attractions up in the sky - a magical illusion spun by their most unusual of nannies. Do you see her up there, sitting on a sliver of the moon? At this point, my jaw was on the floor. A circus in the sky!

I'm going to give you a little spiel, that I've been spinning more and more lately. I put in my time several years ago, blogging almost daily, and showing great books sure, but I was also trying to really just churn out the content. Those days are gone for me. At this point in my blogging game, I only want to show you incredible. There are other book blogs who do fantastic book lists with tons of titles, and they do that kind of thing really well. But I like to photograph things, and if I'm going to go to the effort of photographing, and editing, and putting together a whole post on a book...THAT BOOKS NEEDS TO BE CHOCK FULL OF AWESOME.

This is one to have for your kids, or to have for yourself, just as a work of art. It's that amazing! (But pleeeeeeeeze don't get it and hand it off to your four year old to handle on their own, unless your four year old happens to have fingers like butterfly wings and also happens to be a surgeon. You feel me?) If you're looking for a unique and special gift to give, here it is.

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