August 16, 2018

cool stuff i like

Hello!!! Happy Friday! Has it really been almost a month? That's bananas! Getting out the summer book boxes took a lot of my time, and I'll be doing the book reveal in another blog post - I already talked about it on Instagram. Is everyone ready for fall? I really thought that this year, I'd be holding onto every last bit of summer....but......well I'm always ready for fall. Oh! More box news. Next week I'll do a post on a fun box I'm doing for kids/tweens for the end of summer. It's just a little bee I had in my bonnet, and I only have 5 of these boxes available. Also! I will be doing a fall box, and if you didn't get a summer box, now would be the time to pre-order - I'll be announcing the theme in early September. I won't be doing as many as I did for the summer boxes - I'll be capping orders to 25-30 max. I'm totally enchanted with the book that I've chosen!

It's been hot and smoky and hazy and I've been waking up at 5am everyday and not really able to go back to sleep. NOT COOL.  So my list this week is going to be a bit short, just like my sleep cycle!

How to let go.


Curried couscous with cauliflower.

This all sounds wonderful!

I just ordered this book. As a lifelong anxiety sufferer, I was intrigued. Now that's a cover!

Oh Nigel Slater, this is why I love you so much.

My dear friend Heather Sleightholm has created the most beautiful calendar of her amazing art.

Cool Book of the Week: I really want to get my hands on 'Clockwork' by Philip Pullman (of 'The Golden Compass' fame) - it's a short story and he considers it one of his finest creations - and this is the kicker for me - it's a fairy tale. Reviews call it an "underrated masterpiece" and reminiscent of a Brothers Grimm story. I really have no idea what the book is actually about, but I have great faith in Pullman's literary abilities, and I'm going to get this one and gift it to the family at holiday time. (my husband loves Philip Pullman, I love fairy tales, and my daughter is happy to unwrap pretty much anything ha ha ha).

Have a lovely weekend! I'm going to be watching (finally!) 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society' film, which I've been waiting and longing to see. After a whirlwind of friends passing through town, home projects, plumbing appointments (and an entire house filled with leaky bathrooms), back to school endeavors, end of summer craziness.....I'm going to SIT and DO NOTHING.


July 20, 2018

cool stuff i like

Summer book boxes are flying out as we speak! If yours hasn't arrived yet, it's coming! They've been going out all week, and they'll be going out all next week. I exhausted the stock of the book that I'm using from Amazon, so I had to move on to my source in the UK, and I have books flying in from there as well. But we're in good shape now, and little boxes of summer happy will be making their way to their homes. Yay!

Less yay - started watching the new season of 'Anne with an 'E', and oh my what in the world is happening - I'm liking the show just fine - if it were a show about random people....because it just does not follow anything happening in the Anne of Green Gables books in any way shape or form. WHY IS GILBERT ON A BOAT. Don't we all want to see more Anne and Gilbert interaction??? I feel like maybe they met, like, only once or twice in Season 1?? Oh well. I'm just pretending it's a show about people who are not in the Anne books.

Cool stuff to check out:


Also fascinating.

And this.

CHOCOLATE SNACK CAKE. Oh how I love my snack cakes.

Such pretty lemonade!

These would be so perfect for a Harry Potter party.

Blackberry Crumb Squares.

This just jumped to the top of my Must See movie list. And also this.

Where to eat in Seattle. I guess I should take a look.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Duels & Deception' by Cindy Anstey. All I have to say about this is......YA fiction Jane Austen-style?? YES PLEASE. I'm allllllllll over this. You're welcome! Doesn't this look so fun? Have I already linked to this before?? I'm having a moment of confusion.

Have a lovely weekend! ~ It's supposed to get crazy hot next week, but all in all, so far summer has not been a roaster here, and I'm super grateful about that. #heatwimp


July 8, 2018

My Summer Reading List 2018

Hello friends! Oh my we have so much to talk about. First of all, can we marvel that I'm producing an actual blog post? Slow clap. I hang out so much more on Instagram, but can I just tell you something? Typing on my phone trying to get something loaded on IG is really hard and fiddly and it stresses me out. Here on the blog, I can type, I can SEE what I'm doing, and if I make a mistake, well I can mosey on in and CORRECT it without disrupting the IG hashtag algorithm. Yes that's a thing, and it's beyond ridiculous.

Second of all, HELLO to all the new friends who came to visit me over the weekend! Or maybe they came to visit, took a look, and decided yeah, bye see you never! Ha ha ha. Anyhoo, many lovely folks came over to see what I do here (oh dear, more ha ha) after Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy gave my book surprise boxes a little mention over on her site. So that was a big excitement for me, because I worship at the shrine of Alicia and the fact that she's even aware I exist makes my heart flutter with joy. I wear my fangirl cape loud and proud.

So, sometimes I do a Summer Reading list for grownups and sometimes I don't - I did one last year, and hey I'm doing one this year! I feel proud of myself!  I've linked to previous lists so many times in the past, but now I'm even lazier than my already high level of lazy, so I'm not linking to all the old posts, but as they were co-written by my hilarious husband, let me tell you they are well worth seeking out - Type in 'Summer Reading List' in the search bar and get ready to waste some time.

Ok let's get to it: Here's what I picked and why. 'The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore' by Kim Fu just came out this past February - and I'm a sucker for camp stories. I went off to camp for a MONTH when I was a kid. Are there still camps like that around?? A month! Did my parents go off on an ocean voyage to Europe?? I've no idea. I swear, my camp was a lot like camp from 'The Parent Trap'. I didn't discover an identical twin at my camp, but I did discover that my cabin counselor was a very distant cousin. True story! This book apparently deals with a 'camp-gone-wrong' scenario and how the fall-out impacts the girls even into their adult years. Cool!

Switching gears to Deborah Needleman's 'The Perfectly Imperfect Home'. Deb used to be the editor-in-chief of Domino magazine, back in its heyday. Sorry, but the new Domino is just NOT THE SAME as it was in its glory days. And much of that glory was because of Deborah's leadership at the helm. I've been longing to see this book for awhile - and get this - all of the pictures in the book, all the ideas for rooms etc - are hand drawn instead of photographed. Also cool!

'Dream On' by Kerstin Grier is the second book in her YA 'Silver' series. I read the first book, 'Dream a Little Dream' a few weeks ago and it was fun - fun enough for me to want to read this second one. I didn't think it was as great as Grier's 'Ruby Red' series, which I ADORE ADORE, and let me tell you that if/when I make a TIME TRAVELING TEEN BOOK BOX, (that's an awesome idea BTW) -- 'Ruby Red' is heading my list of possible books to use. Grier has a really fun and witty writing style, and her plots move right along. So yeah, I'm totally going to go forward with this series about a girl and her friends who can walk around in each other's dreams. Is it astral projection? I'm really not sure what they're doing. But they can basically have group chats in each other's dreams. Or something. Cool!

I've been meaning to read the 'Her Royal Spyness' books by Rhys Bowen for YEARS. I just need to get on it already! Period British mystery stories involving a flighty socialite who also has a knack for solving crime, OF COURSE. These books are supposed to be light, breezy and fun - the heroine is 34th in line for the British throne and has the name Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie. I wish I had 4 names. Did I ever share that if I had had another girl, I was going to name her Wilhelmina? And call her Mina? Julia is outraged that she didn't get that name.

I read 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber last year and I wanted SO BADLY for it to be the successor to the throne currently occupied by 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern. (Sadly it was not, but it IS good fun.) NOTHING EVER WILL BE AS GREAT. Oh Erin. You break my heart. WHERE IS HER NEXT BOOK? Oh we're talking about another series, my bad. So 'Legendary' picks up where 'Caraval' ended and I assume that we learn more about how the mysterious & magical carnival came to be? And more about the anti-hero ringmaster/mastermind's back story?

And lastly, I'm switching gears wildly and leaving you with 'The Story Girl' by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It has occurred to me that if I'm going to read ALL of LM Montgomery's books like I intend to, I need to get going with that and stop reading 'The Blue Castle' for the ninety-millionth time in a row. This one about a girl who likes to spin tall tales and yarns for her friends seems so lovely and sweet.

What do you think? Fun? A good mix I think. If you're reading something extraordinary this summer, please remember that sharing is caring!

June 24, 2018

a vintage summer box

*UPDATE* - thank you so very much for all of your orders! This theme is now sold out! Please check back in September, when I'll be announcing the autumn box - which will go out in October. xoxo, Melissa

Hello friends! Well I'm gonna tell ya - lately with the the state of  the world, I feel plumb ridiculous writing about boxes and books and such. But this is what I do here.

Breathing, breathing, breathing........

But that said, I'll be making Vintage Summer book surprise boxes for adults from now through July - seasonal subscribers, look for your boxes to be sent out in the next couple of weeks! This box will feature a cookbook/food memoir that of my favorite books in the entire universe. No joke. I've read it more times than I can count. And the recipes are DELIGHTFUL. The boxes will have fun  summery treats and small gifts, and they are $31 plus shipping/handling to U.S. and Canadian addresses.

 ***If you'd like a Vintage Summer Box, email me at juliasbookbag (at) gmail (dot) com with a working email address to which I can send an invoice.  (I don't order books until invoices are confirmed and paid.) Please also let me know where you are located, so I can estimate shipping! After the books and other materials arrive, I pack up the boxes and mail them USPS priority mail.*** 

A note about the gifts & treats! Sometimes within a given theme, there might be different items in different boxes! But no matter what else goes inside, you can always expect to consistently find a tea product, a paper product, and some type of TREAT.  With my Vintage Summer boxes, I'm using several different kinds of candy, for example. I'm often scooping up bits and bobs as I find them, because I like the thrill of the hunt, and I get bored faster than a 3 year old toddler.

For example, with my Anne of Green Gables boxes, I found a vendor in Asia and they had this amazing Anne fabric. Well I snatched it up quick as quick, and guess what - now I can't get that same fabric anymore from that vendor! But I found another just as cute.

 (Oh some fiddly bits of info - books are ordered and boxes created on a first come first serve basis in order of invoice completion - if invoices are left outstanding after 48 hours, and there is a wait list, I have to move on to the next person on the list.)

So! If you feel like you need a summery lift, or want to make someone's day happy, consider this month's box! This book I'm putting in is very special, and has really delighted me over the years.

Next month, I'll be announcing a special August box for kids/teens. And then I'll be moving into the fall box themes......

XO friends. I'll be back soon with a summer reading book list!

June 21, 2018

not so cool stuff

Happy Summer Solstice, my friends. We love our solstice and equinox celebrations around here! Up above are some bookmarks given to my kiddo, which I have purloined, given to us from my mom in law - she got 'em when she was in NYC recently. Cool Japanese cats! Rad.

OK, now for the not so rad. I am so outraged about what is happening in our country. I have been for some time. THIS sums up my feelings pretty well.

Here's an article on how you can help fight family separation at the border.

Here is a fantastic list of links and websites to check out.

And here's an article from Gabrielle Blair - this is an EXCELLENT summary of the situation. As an attorney (non-practicing, but I'm still a member of the Washington State Bar), I'm horrified. As a mom, I'm horrified. AS A HUMAN BEING, I'm horrified.

Also, let me make this request - this is my very small place on the internet. My happy place of books. I try to bring some book joy to others through my boxes and book suggestions.  If you are indeed living in an Everything In Our Country is Awesome realm in your own imagination, you need to please refrain from spreading that delusional state on my blog or my Facebook page.

I'm not finding it possible to engage in polite civil discourse on this topic. Because you can't argue with crazy. And what's happening is wrong in EVERY WAY possible for a thing to be wrong. If someone really wants to 'debate' these issues, have a peek at what this immigration attorney wrote HERE - and then have yourself a good time.

I wish most heartily that if there are folks who endorse and support the policies of anyone who think what is happening to these children is acceptable (about 1/3 of our country, but that's 1/3 too many)....well what I wish is that such people would just give my blog and social media outlets a wide berth.

Books will not be our common ground. There is no common ground to be had with evil or those that support it.

I will not further debate with these types of individuals about whether or not what is happening to these children is ok. (*SPOILER ALERT, IT IS NOT OK.) And from here on out, if anyone feels a strong need to spread their dystopian agenda, they will have to find another outlet in which to express those opinions - because I will not tolerate it here. I have to protect my blood pressure.

This statement on Twitter is the most succinct reflection of my inner thoughts. If it offends anyone out there.....I really don't mind that at all.

If you have the ability to donate, here is an organization worth your time.

AND.......breathe. I've been trying all week to calm myself down. Haven't been successful. 

If you need a moment of zen, check out these links.

John Derian's house ~ I would so love to see his shop someday. His wares have an aesthetic that jives with what I try to do with my boxes - random, cool little treasures that look like someone found them in the back of an attic. Remember that phrase - because I just described a theme I'm going to make into standalone boxes and a subscription - Back of the Attic boxes....

Making this chocolate banana bundt cake as soon as I can.

Amazing snippets of Shakespeare appropriate for our times.

Some DIY summer projects to try. (I probably won't try any of them ha, but you might)

A kitchen inspired by Japanese tea houses.

One of my FAVORITE cookbook authors, Diana Henry, has a new book out.

I'll be making this stone fruit tart when a dear friend who is gluten-free comes to visit, later this summer.

A round-up of 25 favorite children's books from Wit & Delight.

And that's it. There's no cool book of the week this week. If you want to check out my summer surprise box for grownups, it'll be over on my Instagram later today.