cool stuff i like

3

February 18, 2017

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry for the lack of book blogging and lack of blogging in general. February is a crazy month. Everyone I know has a birthday this month, including my kiddo.There's just been a lot going on! Try and catch up with me on Instagram - I'm over there more than I'm here, these days. But I have several books I'm very excited about, enough to devote a whole post to them, so that's coming. In the meantime, you can entertain yourself, as I did ha, by checking out the links below:


OH how I can relate to this. Seriously.

Speaking of parties and birthdays, I have a fun Pinterest board devoted to the topic.

A Pink Moon tea ritual?? I have no idea what this is all about, but it sounds lovely.

A group of my friends and I were freaking out on Facebook about this upcoming program on PBS about the Bronte sisters, and I wanted to make sure that you knew about it as well.

This food blog is awesome! I went on a pinning spree!

Yes Valentine's Day is over. But look at this Valentine's Day stick tree - so lovely. I do love my stick trees.

This chicken pot pie looks beautiful.

I'm so excited about this show - you guys know about my literary boarding school love, right? More on that topic in the spring, there's a few books I need to read first.

A sneak peek at IKEA's 2017 summer collection.

Best books for 5th graders. And....best books for tween girls.


Cool Book of the Week: 'Sloth's Birthday Party' by Diane Redfield Massie is a vintage treasure that was my favorite book when I was five. I wrote about it in my first year of blogging, but my scans for the book are terrible - I really need to re-do the entire post. But it's so worth mentioning from time to time, and it really is the cutest, most unique little book, with beautiful watercolor-y art on every page. You can only find it used. But don't let that stop you! There are so many treasures that haven't been republished for whatever reason, but I find well preserved used books all the time. In this charming tale, Sloth wants to invite his friends to his birthday party in his treehouse home, but his housekeeping habits are so terrible that his house is in utter disarray and his pals are hesitant to come visit. Luckily his friends know just what to give him for his birthday to help him tidy up his home....

Have a lovely weekend! Are you buried under snow? Are you washed out by rain? The West Coast has been rainy rainy rainy. And yet I see a foot of snow in other parts of the land.....oh P.S. - I got this lovely wrapping paper up above from Cost Plus. They have such great paper!

~Melissa




cool stuff i like - valentine's edition

4

February 10, 2017

Happy Friday! My goodness what a week. I meant to get this post out earlier, but it SNOWED on Monday and Tuesday, and it was the excitement of the land around here, I tell you. All winter we've been waiting our turn for some snow. School everywhere pretty much was canceled for two days. On Day 2, Julia and her neighbor decided to create a 'Farm Girl Chic' fashion show. It was truly hilarious. They came up with names for all of the different outfits. The gems in the collection were 'The Shy Hay Bale' (whaaaaaat??), '1920's Punk Barn', 'The Egg Messenger' (my personal favorite), and 'The Lumberjack's Daughter'. Oh and there was also 'Pretty Pasture', and 'Parisian Farmgirl'. (are there farm girls in Paris????)  By the time it ended, I was seriously crying with laughter.


So let's talk about Valentine's Day! My kiddo and I LOVE this holiday. LOVE it. Chocolate and pink, what's not to like?

Yoda Valentine printable. Julia decided she totally wants to do this.

We were gifted with these Valentine's paper chains in 2015 - twice! - so we had them up last year and this year we made another one - got a long strand hanging in the kitchen right now.

I love this woman so much, I feel like we are soul sisters. Fabulous post that made me laugh HARD and how cool, Valentine Making Kits!

The prettiest heart shaped chocolate cake with pink frosting.

12 colorful Valentine's Day arts and crafts for kids.

You have to see this picture.

Peanut Butter Valentine's Day Panda Chow.

The best romantic novels of all time.

How pretty is this liberty heart garland?

I have a very cool Valentine's Day Pinterest board.


Cool Book of the Week: 'The Secret Life of Squirrels - A Love Story' by Nancy Rose just came out December 2016, and come on. COME ON. Are you all familiar with the first book? Have you ever seen it? Prepare for amazement, my friends. Nancy Rose created little scenes and then photographed real squirrels interacting with the props. IT IS THE CUTEST. And in this one, the squirrels are seen going to a bookstore and meeting up at a library! Apparently, Rose hides peanuts within the scenes to get the squirrels to move around and explore the environments she's created. Adorable doesn't even scratch the surface. If these had come out when Julia was a tinier tot, we would have owned the entire series already.

Have a lovely weekend! Will you be making Valentines? I'm knee deep in birthday prep - Julia's is coming up soon. On Valentine's Day, we make pink pancakes with chocolate chips. I used to get a mix, but when I can't find it, I just make regular pancake batter and add the tiniest drop of red food coloring and add in mini chocolate chips. And are you dreaming of spring? I'm dreaming of spring.

~Melissa




valentine's day tea

4

February 3, 2017

Hello friends! So it is Friday, but instead of Cool Stuff, I have tea. I'll have Cool Stuff early next week. It's topsy turvy land out there, and my brain feels topsy turvy, and that's just the way the ball is rolling right now. Or the way the cookie is crumbling. Or the sky is falling. Or.....hey, is it spring yet? When February rolls around, I start the countdown to spring, even though there is a good month and a half left of winter.

I found some pretty teas that might be nice for Valentine's Day. My husband loathes Valentine's Day. I think he thinks it's a time of excessively priced flowers and romantic nonsense that he'd rather pretend doesn't exist ha ha ha, but I LOVE Valentine's Day, and so does Julia. I love the pink, I love the chocolate and I love pretty cards. And when I discovered these beautiful teas, I got very excited to let you all know about them.

1) Dark Obsession Chocolate Rose Tea from Mariebelle is so lovely. I had it many years ago - I found a small tin of it in Anthropologie and the tin was so beautiful, I kept it long after the tea was gone. I still have it! This is a black Ceylon tea infused with chocolate extract and rose petals. It's WONDERFUL.

2) Now we embark on Let's Suppose Land because the rest of these teas, I haven't tried. But they look absolutely gorgeous. Harney & Sons 'Valentine's Blend' is another black tea blended with chocolate and rose petals. Can't answer as to how it compares to the Mariebelle blend, but that's a taste test I'd happily perform any day of the week if I could.

3) Now, many of you might have heard me mention a few half million times how much I ADORE tea from Kusmi. I'M DRINKING SOME RIGHT NOW, no fooling. ( the 'Detox' blend - green tea with lemongrass and mate.) I usually get variety packs from Kusmi, and they have ALL been amazing. Every flavor. Astoundingly, I haven't tried the Sweet Love variety, but this is a black tea blended with licorice, various spices, guarana and pink pepper. You can find it in a variety of sizes here, or in sachets from Amazon.

4) I really want to try Lov tea, which is new to me, and it appears to be Scandinavian? They might be affiliated somehow with Kusmi. This 'Lov is Pur' blend is green tea mixed with yerbe mate, with pieces of dried apple and citrus notes. There's also a 'Linden Rose' flavor that comes in a pink tin and looks lovely and floral.

5) And lastly I leave you with tea from Nina's Paris, which comes in the prettiest tin ever. Sorry the picture is so small, and not easy to see. But seriously, this is tea as kitchen decor! This one is called 'Tea L'Original de Marie-Antoinette' and MY WORD it looks exquisite. A black tea blend with apples and rose petals. The tea is made in France, and the apples supposedly come from Versailles. I guess that's how they are justifying the cost?? I actually am not offended by this pricing, considering that the tin is something to KEEP FOREVER. Many reviewers proclaimed this was the best tea they had ever had. You can also get it in a box of tea bags. I think we're on the rose petal theme with most of these, mais oui? There's also a 'Tea Fete de Versailles', which comes in an equally enchanting tin.

You can check out all of the varieties at the Nina tea website, and you can read a more complete review with beautiful photos about the Marie-Antoinette tea HERE. And you can see photos of the actual Nina's teashop in Paris HERE.

New life goal. Go to Paris and sit in teashops! What do you think - tea for Valentine's Day? Awesome right?




cool stuff i like

10

January 27, 2017

Happy Friday! Is it Friday? I've lost all sense of time. All the days seem like endless repeats of the previous days. What? I'm not talking about anything political. Sigh. Sorry - I will try so very strenuously to keep this space a happy place but I have to say....if it weren't for the National Park Service right now giving me something to cheer about, I'd be hiding under my bed. Moving on. So this Saturday is the Lunar New Year! Are you doing anything to celebrate the Year of the Rooster? That's my year! Fun fact - I spent most of life thinking I was born in the year of the Dog, because I was born in 1970. But then I found out that for Chinese astrological purposes, because my birthday in January occurred before the Lunar New Year that particular year, I'm actually considered to be born in 1969! Thus making me a Rooster.  I got some treats for Julia and our neighbors' kids. Chocolate coins, plus some real coins, and orange jelly candies are going into some Hello Kitty and My Melody lucky money envelopes. They have holes in them because at one point I had them strung up on one of my holiday stick trees.


Online goodness this week:

Darcy's photos of the Women's March in Washington are FANTASTIC.

8 picture books to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

These granola bars look incredibly good and simple.

Winter white rooms.

What a cool decorating idea - DIY sun prints.

5 ideas for winter fun.

Have you heard of Raddish, a cooking project subscription box for kids?

This would be a perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Want to see Gwyneth Paltrow's pantry? I laughed. I could only look at it for 3 seconds before I had to click away.

This was a great read.


Cool Book of the Week: 'The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living' by Meik Wiking is finally out! Just published this January 17. I've been waiting! I'm off to see if I can find it. I know, you all are probably sick of hearing me drone on and on about hygge, the Scandinavian concept of X-treme Coziness, but it's basically the closest thing I have to a religion, and I've spent the better part of the past decade chasing down the concept and trying to incorporate it into my life, even before I knew there was a word associated with this lifestyle notion I was trying to pursue. YES THAT WAS A LONG SENTENCE. Every English professor I ever had is weeping right now. The author writes: "Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience," Wiking explains. "It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe." Wow, we could all use some of that these days, no?

 Have a great weekend! I sort of cleaned my house in preparation for the Lunar New Year. I didn't do a very good job. I'd have to clean for two weeks if I wanted to really do a good job, and I know some people who really want to go ALL IN for the Lunar New Year do in fact clean that much. I did manage to put away the remainder of my leftover holiday and 'winter' decorations, because I've had enough of winter and I'm ready to just be holiday-free for awhile. I did leave up my IKEA star lights because they keep me sane during the December thru February months, even though it really doesn't seem like it from the immense run-on sentences I'm unable to stop creating today. BE WELL, my friends. Happy New Year! Again!

~Melissa




a year full of stories

5

January 24, 2017

Hello friends! It seems like a long long time since we've chatted here. It seems like so much has happened in the past two weeks, it's been hard for me to keep up with it all.

But here we are, and it's still winter. My birthday came and went, the Lunar New Year is this weekend, and then I have to prepare for Julia's birthday! I've been wanting to share this book for weeks now, and I have to get on it quickly, because I took pictures of the more winter themed months in the book and I need to show them to you while it's still indeed winter....

I got this beautiful book, 'A Year Full of Stories' by Angela McAllister for my nephew for Christmas. The book is so fabulously illustrated by Christopher Corr. This one was HARD you guys, it was so hard for me to give it up and let it leave my hands! So amazing! I really want a copy for myself. I considered it a huge effort to part with it. I hope he loves it as much as I do!

This is a collection of folk tales and legends from all over the globe, and the whole thing is just WONDERFUL. Let's take a peek:

Did you see the endpapers up above? Did you SEE them? So gorgeous. And did you see the table of contents? I loooooove how this book is put together. It takes you through the calendar year, and gives you tales that correspond with certain festival days and holidays from various cultures around the world. Times like International Day of Friendship, Midwinter, Lammas Day, St. Andrew's Day, and many other festival celebrations I had never heard of before, as well as more traditional holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Yom Kippur and Kwanzaa.

Another aspect I love is that each story tells you the month of the festival or holiday, as well as the season, and the country from which the story hails. See below - 'Why the Evergreens Keep Their Leaves'. At this point, I think I'm pretty conversant in regards to nearly every myth or fairy tale archetype that ever there was. There's not a lot out there that is NEW to me, you know?

But this book, this is all NEW to me. Every story was like a breath of fresh air, and I had heard of practically none of them. I don't know any Inuit stories! I don't know about folk tales from Brazil! I didn't know there is a World Wildlife Day!

I love it when a book blows me away with things I've never seen before.

 Isn't it beautiful? Seriously. Let's talk about the art. The whole package really sold me, the unique nature of the stories, the world wide celebration of folk tales, and the ART. You know me by now - if the art is stunning, I'm gonna buy the book. The rich vibrancy, the rustic folk art nature of the illustrations just blew me away. This is a special one guys, and like I said, I gave it as Christmas present - that's how special and amazing I thought this book. So gift worthy! I think it just came out last fall, and it deserves to be passed around far and wide. Kids from grades 2-5 will adore. Looking at these photos makes me sad all over again that I had to give it away - I won't be super happy until I get it back into my permanent collection!




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