Cool Stuff I Like

8

April 18, 2014

It's almost Easter!! And it's supposed to rain for the next 5 days straight. We've been lucky with our Easters, I think it hasn't actually rained on Easter since Julia was born. But I think our luck is going to run out this year, we'll see. It's supposed to be rainy most of this wkend, and it's been pouring for the past several days. BUT, it didn't rain earlier in the week when we went to go see a local tulip festival, I'll have pix for you next week. I think these tulips you see up here are called 'Roman Empire'. Uh, that's a very imposing name for a tulip!


Hey friends? HOW did I not know there were Hello Kitty Mad Libs??

Fairy Meadow?? Sign me up. (read about it here)

I need a glue gun.

Rhubarb coffee cake!

5 Natural Air Fresheners for Spring.

I read this book while sitting in a bookstore once, in one sitting.

Kiddo bedroom shoots. Totally obsessed! Want to do more of these!

Smart snack shopping.

Giant Easter Egg coloring page printable.

Awesome place. Wowza/Sigh. Reminds me of the house tours in my sadly departed Cookie magazine.

Origami Birds. Julia would love this!!


Cool Book of the Week: 'A Stick is an Excellent Thing' by Marilyn Singer and LeUyen Pham is a lovely ditty I saw on Pinterest. Doesn't it look enchanting? I love the idea that the poems celebrate universal games/activities that children play and engage in, like hopscotch and making mud pies. April is national poetry month and we should all be reading some poetry! Julia's class has been writing poems all of this month, Julia is way, WAY into it.

Have a lovely weekend! I'm making a lemon tart and getting together Eastery surprises for the girly. I'll show you next week. I have a lot to show you next week, I might have to blog everyday. GASP. Haven't done that in awhile....

~Melissa




Lemon Syrup Cake

16

April 16, 2014

So here I am, yammering on AGAIN about my 'Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook', which is just my favorite cookbook ever. Mostly because it is so pretty. SO much pretty! When I'm sad, or bored, or in need of a lift (which only a Very British Book can help me with), I flip open this book.

In the springtime, I think we should all be eating lemon-y things. So I made a lemon cake from the book last week, and in it, the recipe is called Crunchy Lemon Cake. Friends, please make this cake and tell me how to make it crunchy, because mine never comes out crunchy. It's lovely, but it's not crunchy. Maybe because I'm not using the pan that's called for?

But never mind the non-crunchiness of it. It's a wonderful, easy to make, light and fluffy little lemon cake, which Andrew says tastes like a lemon bar in cake form, and more importantly, he ATE THE CAKE and asked for more, which is a minor miracle. Because he usually hates cakes. He is a friend to all cookies, but very rarely is he a friend to cake. More like frenemies.

As I get older, I like plain-ish cakes. Tea cakes. Snack cakes. Not heavy, two layer, frosting and festooned cakes. This cake lasted exactly one day at our house, which was just the right amount of time to have it be around. It's not too big. Does anyone want a giant cake sitting around for days on end? (If my mother owned a computer and read my blog, she would be quietly raising her hand right now....)

LEMON SYRUP CAKE ~ via 'The Crabtree & Evelyn Cookbook'

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg (or 2 small eggs)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

Syrup: 
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer or by hand until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat at high speed for 1 minute or vigorously by hand. Alternately add buttermilk and flour mixture in 3 additions, with mixer at low speed, or by hand. Stir in lemon zest.

Turn batter into a buttered and floured 8-inch springform pan (i used just a regular 8 inch cake tin), smoothing the top. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Before cake is done baking, combine sugar/lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat, to make a syrup. Spoon syrup evenly over cake as it comes out of the oven. Tip and rotate cake so that syrup is evenly distributed over the cake. Set cake, in the pan, on a rack to cool.

Serves 6-8.

Make yourself a lemon cake! It will make you happy. And please tell me if yours turns out crunchy.




Homelife + Project 52

22

April 14, 2014

Wow, haven't done a Homelife post in maybe over 6 months? Whazzup with that? No idea why. Homelifey types of posts are pretty much the only reason I tune into other blogs! I cleaned off my big table the other day, for seriously the first time in 6 months and my mom gave me a spring gift of a yellow orchid arrangement, and I thought, I should really do a homelife post.  ENJOY THE FABULOUSNESS....of random. :)

My other orchids are not doing awesome. Maybe I need to step up my watering. Actually, they are green and doing fine, but I haven't had a re-bloom in awhile. Maybe I should get out my orchid fertilizer and give things a spring jump start.

Ok so this is this season's stick tree and can I tell you a few things. I just taped washi tape all over the branches, which I saw somewheres on Pinterest, I honestly cannot recall where because I didn't pin it at the time. I had the hardest time photographing this thing because I didn't line up the polka dot washi tape just right so everytime I did a closeup it looked out of focus, 'cept it wasn't really, or it looked washed out, or spindly and OH BLOGGING PROBLEMS, they are so inane eh?

So what we've got here are my sticks, a bunch of washi tape flags, and a few tissue paper blooms. I didn't want any blue. Julia wanted blue. So we have blue.

I'm not super impressed with this year's spring tree, and I'm not fishing for compliments ~ it just doesn't rise to the level of last year's Easter Swedish Tree.


We have a globe now and it's awesome!

 Attempting to watch TV while using the mixer. (enjoy this week's Project 52 photo!)

After being lectured about keeping her eyes on the bowl. (we made a lemon cake, I'll share the recipe soon!)

Julia has so many tiny pieces of crap, garbage, LOVELY TRINKETS & TREASURES, that it was either throw them in a giant bin never to be seen again or get a proper display case for them, so we got the display case. It is very Not Safely Not Attached to the wall. I guess we should rectify that at some point.....


For those of you who might have missed it when I took a photo of it before, please admire my Hello Kitty poster. IT IS MINE. I just allow it to live in Julia's room, because I am so generous and kind that way. #goodmama #HelloKittyLove #notcrazy #PINKHAIR4EVER

 You need to make these miso-mayo asian pork sliders,

from the cookbook 'Keepers'. $14! Um, that's a good price. This recipe alone is worth buying the book, no jokey. Andrew almost fainted with happy when I made them awhile back. And he's not the get excited sort. I kid you not, the man's eyebrows shot up a good inch when he bit into the sliders. (the meat is marinated in pineapple juice!) Easily in the Top 10 things I've ever made.

Potions! J made it at a friend's house ~ I think this is some kind of combo of cinnamon, food coloring, mint and tea leaves? (i'm torn. it kinda looks like a urine sample gone horribly awry or maybe it looks like a lovely ruby cordial. i'll let you make up your own mind!)

I'm so sorry that I felt the need to end this nice springy-post-filled-with-pretty on a urine sample note. This is why I'm a Bad Blogger.....




Cool Stuff I Like

8

April 11, 2014

Is today seriously Friday?? I totally wrote a regular post and got it all ready and scheduled it....and then as I was setting the date I realized that I was almost going to run it on a Friday, instead of my regular Friday post. OH THE HORROR. Can you imagine? These choco cookies up above are really really great. (as far as I can tell, there isn't any bourbon in them. very disappointing.) They've become my favorite tea time treat, along with these Custard Cream cookies, which I wrote about awhile back in my British Tea Treats post.


THIS TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND TOTALLY.

50 Great Books That Will Change Your Life.

Banana cake with chocolate glaze.

The most gorgeous bedding! Serious love.

Good gravy I love this blog ~ chocolate and avocado!? 

Lavender-vanilla bean rice krispie treats.

A friend posted about these cute animals wrapped like burritos on Facebook and we all just lost our minds. NUMBER 9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm kinda getting obsessed again with Shabby Chic stuff. Did I suddenly time travel to 1994 in my soul or something? I want a wee cottage all decked out in Shabby Chic.

Slow blogging. AMEN SISTER. And in other news, I'm joining Twitter!

Look at these measuring spoons. And then freak out.

Lots of kid book events at local book place 'o fab, University Bookstore!

OMG who wants to see 'Godzilla'??????!!!!! I DO, I DO, I DO!!!!!!!!!! look at the cast! Juliette Binoche is in it (although seemingly not for long....), I love her!


Cool Book of the Week: 'Dragonology Bringing Up Baby Dragons: A Guide for Beginners' is a book Julia brought home from her school library recently, and if your kid enjoys dragons, well by gum, they will enjoy reading about baby dragons EVEN MORE, I can tell you. So cute! And cool! With a great many helpful charts and diagrams and is smaller and cuter in size than the regular Dragonlogy books. The pages are sepia toned, and with scrolly, antiquated writing that seriously looks like it was created in some secret cavern in Wales or something. Totally awesome for boys and girls, 6 and up.


Have a lovely weekend! Did I say something about pulling weeds last week? This time for real. The garden is a trash heap and I'm just going to put on my big girl pants, take a Benadryl and put on some gloves and go PULL SOME WEEDS.

~Melissa




Hey You! Are You Reading Beatrix Potter?!

23

April 9, 2014

Happy almost-but-not-quite Easter! I have some pretty for you. Let me answer this question for you right now ~ I use, of all things....Julia's dresses as book backdrops. SO CLEVER yes? This one happens to be her spring Easter dress from Mini Boden, so I thought it was exceptionally well suited. Because it's all blown up ginormousy sized, the print looks really super vivid, but actually, it's a smallish violetty print that is really pretty subtle and not too loud.

And because I assume you all are blind by being internet junkies like me, I crank up the saturation in an attempt to blind you even more. But anyway....it's a very pretty, calming and lovely Easter dress. No I don't work with Boden. BUT IF THEY WANT TO MAIL ME FREE CLOTHES, who am I to stand in their way?? (I would not stand in their way)

Let's discuss the topic at hand, shall we? BEATRIX POTTER. The original Potter. (still love you Harry P.!)

Am I wrong in thinking that many of you think that Beatrix is for 3 year olds and too quaint and twee for reading 1) at all and 2) to bigger kids? If I'm wrong, lets just all gaze at Beatrix' (is it Beatrix' or Beatrix's??) art and sigh and smile.

 "I will just lock up the spoons!" (i have often thought this to myself as i run out the door)

But if I'm not wrong, then let me tell you how wrong you are and why you are wrong. So many many of her books are totally not suited at all for younger kids.

Would a three year year old know, or want to know, what the word "wainscot" means?? But your 8 year old would. I know, because my one and only 8 year old asked me. Believe me, I find it very crucial on nearly a daily basis to know the difference between a WAISTCOAT and a WAINSCOT.

First of all, there is the Art of Beatrix. Beatrix is one of the grandmasters in Kid Lit, art-wise, but what really makes her Great & Amazing in my eyes is the way she writes. I get what she's doing now. She's basically like a kiddy Jane Austen, in that she wrote about life and peculiarities and foibles in English society at the time ~ only she has set it all within the animal world.

You will learn everything there is to know about old fashioned English life ~ from patty pans, to window-shutters to how much to charge for jam and other random assorted bobbins. You will learn about cream crackers and roly-poly puddings. 'Samuel Whiskers and The Roly Poly Pudding' is one of our great great favorites.

And lest you think (see how Englishy I sound??) that life is all bonnets and corsets and jam tarts within the covers of a Beatrix Potter book, OH NO friends. No no. There are KILLER OWLS who want to skin squirrels and eat them, there are vicious rats that want to eat kittens, there are bunnies who get shot, there are meat pies filled with cooked mice that are almost eaten by dogs (only cats like those kind of pies) and just so much VIOLENCE AND MAYHEM, you can't believe it. (don't believe it, it's not true. except for those other things I mentioned.)

I really think sometimes we are in danger of overlooking Beatrix because she's Beatrix. We take her for granted. Like, oh I won't read this because I think maybe I already did, or maybe I just think I did, or maybe my grandma did, so I don't have to, or maybe I won't because it's too boring and or I can't remember?

Nah, I just won't bother reading Beatrix.

DON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE. 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' is actually one of her least interesting books, I think. I much prefer 'Mrs. Tiggywinkle', 'The Pie and the Patty Pan', 'The Tailor of Gloucester' and tons of others. Do you have the set? YOU NEED THE SET. It is my job to push books on you and I'm telling you, if you don't have the set, you need the set. (i linked it 3x so you would get my point. :)

And go read her longer stories with your older kids, if you haven't already! Go! Before they get too old and jaded! These books will un-jade you. They remind me of 'Winnie the Pooh' in that way -- you cannot read 'Pooh' to a 3 year old, they totally won't get the tone and humor of it at all.


(this post contains, like, fifty trillion affiliate links. i know, because they took forever to put in.)




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