September 24, 2019

cool stuff i like

Wow, I've been such a MIA blogger and Instagrammer lately. I mentioned on Instagram that the busier I get with the book surprise boxes, the less time I have to create posts for the blog and IG! Last week ALL of the Autumn 'A Forgotten Fairytale' theme boxes were mailed - I still have one to deliver to a friend locally, and I think the last mailing batch will have their boxes arriving on Sept 29. Next week I'll begin putting reveal posts on Instagram, and after that's done, I'll put a blog post compiling all of the reveal photos in one spot here.

I'm still taking orders for 'Little Women' boxes!! I'll be taking orders for those through October. They'll be mailed in mid to late November. Then I'll take a break during Christmas. And then I'll pick back up in January, as these boxes, like the 'Anne of Green Gables' boxes, will be available mostly year round.

NOTE - someone popped me a question and for anyone else who might be confused - I AM TAKING SUBSCRIPTION ORDERS for 2020! For 3 and 6 month packages. I'm NOT yet taking orders for individual boxes like next Winter's Hygge box (which is going to be so cute and fun!). So if you know you want a few boxes next year, you can get set up with a 3 or 6 month box subscription now. Hygge boxes have been popular the past two years, so if you're on the fence, go ahead and get a 3 month as an early holiday gift to yourself or someone else!

If you've had interest in my boxes, now's the time to go for it. I'm committed for 2020, but after that I'll have to reassess, because I have a mental breakdown every month fretting about the carbon footprint of ordering books, and gifts, and then mailing them back out into the world.

Let's talk about the biscuits you see up above. I got them in a nearby town for about $6. Amazon sells them for double that, with the shipping. They come from the U.K. and they are among the very best tea biscuits I've ever had in my life. I nearly fainted when I saw this Apple Custard flavor!! They are absolutely fantastic, and you need to just go ponder over the entire Artisan Biscuits website. Then we can cry together that this stuff isn't easy for U.S. customers to get their hand on.

Online things to look at:

Old fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting.

'The House of Salt and Sorrows'. A ghostly version of  'The Twelve Dancing Princesses'?? Sign me up. New this fall. Yup, this is my Halloween reading!

Fun fact, I've never listened to a podcast before. That's about to change because of this.

I have often wondered about this.


New content on Local Milk.

Design Mom moved to France!

How to cook for every back to school meal.

Happy fall things from MFAMB.

Well these dolls are the cutest things in the world.

Cool Books of the Week: Imagine my delight upon discovering not one, but TWO new 'Little Women' cookbooks coming out new this October! 'The Little Women Cookbook' AND 'The Little Women Cookbook' lol lol. Written by Wini Moranville, and Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada respectively. They both look charming and darling, with recipes like Apple Turnovers and Christmas breakfast treats and Amy's pickled limes - along with quotes from the books and other fun Little Women goodness.

If someone....wanted to really go ALL OUT for the 'Little Women' lover in their life (or themselves).....they could get one of these cookbooks to go along with one of my Little Women boxes and um wow that would be a very impressive gift!

Have a lovely rest of this first week in Fall season! We had no extended summer this year - September arrived and so did the rain and the grey. I put on my flannel duvet cover last night, which is an all time record of earliness - it usually doesn't go on until well into October.

We were supposed to see the 'Downton Abbey' movie last weekend, but my daughter had an audition for a show that ran overtime, and we had to scrap our plans. We're going tonight and I'm so thrilled; it's easily going to be the highlight of my year thus far! Have you seen it already? Did you LOVE it? I don't think I want to hear if you didn't ha ha.

August 28, 2019

little women book surprise box

Well someone (me!!) got a little excited when the trailer for the new 2019 'Little Women' film dropped a couple of weeks ago. But as excited as I was, it was actually a very clever friend of mine who texted me and asked if I had thought of creating a 'Little Women' themed book suprise box.


(gasps and feels grateful for clever and supportive pals.) So let's add a friend next to my 'Anne of Green Gables' boxes.  

(it's my intent to slowly build a small roster of literary classics themed boxes that are available all year long, not to be confused with my Seasonal Themed boxes for grownups and my children's box subscriptions.)

UPDATE! I'll be tweaking the boxes a bit for Little Women boxes purchased for teens/tweens/kids. In those boxes, I'll include a plaid or gingham headband and a vintage pencil bag in lieu of the socks. And I'll also include Baked Apple Cinnamon herbal tea instead of the black tea varieties below.

I was so excited about this theme, I stayed up until 1am the same day that my friend gave me the nudge, fleshing out the box gift and treat ideas for this theme. It's so funny, every new box becomes my favorite child. (This is the part where I say that I love all of my boxes equally ha ha ha.) 

But I am seriously so enchanted with this newest box, because it's just like a COZY HUG in a box. That's what I wanted. That's what I want for all of my boxes, but this one is really going to be just a lovely-blankie-with-tea-on-a-quilt-by-the-fireside type of feel. Substitute 'lovely meadow' if people buy this box in the warmer weather months. Don't substitute the cozy hug idea, that stays the same no matter which season!

Because this box is appropriate for children old enough to read 'Little Women', tweens/teens, and adults - I'm showing and telling some of the items, as is my practice for boxes that might potentially go to a youth audience. My seasonal themed boxes for grownups are always a secret until the box reveal, but for boxes that might go to a younger person, I like for people to have a clearer idea of what they're getting. Now by now, you all should know that in many of my boxes, charming socks are part of the deal. Rustic cozy socks definitely belong in the Little Women box.

And because Jo March was so keen on writing, I'll be including a fountain pen, along with a vintage notepad and/or stationery.

I love partnering with various makers and creative small businesses, promoting their wares in various box themes that I put together. I'm super excited to have discovered Copper and Kraft Candle - I decided that the type of rustic fragrances Theresa specializes in would be perfect for this project. (Please admire her photos up above.) 

I'll be including mini candle tins in a variety of scents: Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, Apple Cider Doughnut, Black Tea & Almond, Caramelized Pear. The scent you receive will be a surprise; please don't request a particular fragrance. It will be a S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E!! I thought all of these sounded very Little Women-ish.

Up above here, I've included a mini sampler of what kind of tea flavors might appear. I love the embroidered vibe of these! I'm not showing the treat item because I will probably change and rotate the treats, depending on the season and my mood. Caramels, honey spoons, tiny jars of apple butter or jams all might make an appearance.

NOTE: I cannot take special dietary requests. My boxes nearly always contain an item that might contain sugar, dairy, wheat, and/or nuts.

Oh, shall we talk about the BOOK??? Virago Press has some utterly charming and lovely new editions that are just now becoming available in the U.S. They are beauties, but then so are the editions from Vintage Classics that you see in the first collage.

When placing your order (see the 'Info' tab up by my blog header), please let me know if you want me to choose a book for you, or if you want the Virago cover. Also - this box is not limited to just 'Little Women'! If you'd like the box with 'Little Men' or 'Jo's Boys' or 'Good Wives', let me know.

The Virago editions are new, and thusly, considerably more expensive. They are absolutely gorgeous! VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The Virago and Vintage Classics editions of 'Little Women' do NOT contain the material from 'Good Wives' aka 'Little Women Part 2', aka 'Jo Does Not Marry Laurie', aka 'Do We All Hate Amy?' aka 'This Is Not a Spoiler Get Real'.

I want to stress this to avoid stress. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THE ABOVE. Go back and read. I'll wait. This a 'Little Women' experience box. For those who love the book or who want a first introduction. But if nothing will do but to have the entire book, I'll put in the edition from Puffin Classics. Here's what it looks like.

The pricing for this box will be like the 'Anne' box - $50 plus shipping. Boxes that don't contain a Virago edition will contain an extra item or two to make up for the pricing disparity among the different book editions. Boxes that contain the complete Puffin Classics edition will still be $50 because I'll incur more shipping fees with the heavier book and it's two books in one. Confused? Don't be - every box is $50 and we can hammer out which book you want when you order.

I am taking pre-orders now, (go hit that 'Info' tab at my blog header I just mentioned for ordering and invoicing details) and these boxes will be sent in November, right before the new movie comes out! What a lovely holiday gift these would be!

August 20, 2019

blackberry days

I was going to pair this photo with a Cool Stuff post, and then I decided I just needed to ramble.

Blackberry days. Back to school planning. September looming. My daughter has fallen headlong into an obsession with 'Sherlock' - ok let's discuss this for a hot minute. My husband and I watched Seasons 1 and 2, and I think I fell asleep in the middle of each episode. Not because I was bored, but because I've reached the age where if you plunk me onto a sofa at 9pm and turn on some television for me and I'll show you MY EXTREME NAPPING POWERS. Sigh. My daughter screeches at me constantly "MOM WAKE UP". I've finally let my husband and Julia know that honestly I don't care what I miss, just let me get my television power napping go on unobstructed, thanks so much.

I made a peach pie a few days ago. (This is now my favorite pie dough recipe.) It lasted one evening dessert and one breakfast. Poof! Such a lot of work and it's not like cookies or a cake, that you can cut into over the course of several days. I could never eat a whole pint of ice cream, or gobs of cake at once, or 15 cookies or whatever else you can think of to binge eat, but I honestly think I could maybe almost eat an entire pie in one go.

There was a clicking noise outside my living room window. I'd been hearing it for weeks. I'd go look, couldn't see anything. Click click. Andrew heard it as well. Finally we listen together, and he thinks that maybe it might be some type of insect. INSIDE OUR WALLS. We see some yellow jackets. I freak out. We go and get a wasp trap thingy, and trap lots and lots of yellow jackets. We call the exterminators, who come and spray around and inside the cracks outside, more clicking noises! The exterminator pounded on the wall to get them to come out and be sprayed, and YES we had yellow jackets! Building a nest in our wall! Insert frowny face.

Over the past couple of weeks, Julia and I have been re-watching all of the 'Harry Potter' movies. It's been loads of fun. I think it's time for me to re-read the books.

Stayed up until 1am the other night planning a brand new box. I'm so thrilled about it, I can't even tell you. I WILL tell you about it probably next week, after I hear back from a vendor about an item I want to include in it. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOX. 

I've also been planning next winter's hygge box. I strongly encourage you to get your pre-order in now, I only do small batches of the seasonally themed boxes! See the 'Info' tab up above by my blog header for pricing and ordering details. I'm sort of torn between two themes but one is in the lead and the planning is coming into place more readily for that one so I'll probably roll with that and I'm ALSO VERY EXCITED ABOUT THAT BOX.

My big summer project of cleaning the garage didn't happen. But we need to go get some garage shelving and such from IKEA so we can then put items lying around on the ground ON THE SHELVES, so a trip to IKEA is happening soon and that's always A Big Excitement in my book.

There's more late summer ramble on my Instagram as well.

August 12, 2019

a simple french cake for summer

Hello Summer Warriors! I know many of you have kids back to school, but we still have a few weeks left. This summer went by at the speed of light, don't you think? I can't think of the last time I posted a recipe in this space. It's been so long, I had to go and check. It was this chocolate cake that I wrote about last February.

'Lunch in Paris, A Love Story with Recipes' by Elizabeth Bard -  is one of the books I had under consideration for my recent 'Summer in Paris' book surprise box. It didn't make the cut for a variety of reasons, mostly because I went FULL THROTTLE VINTAGE with the book I chose. But I'm actually considering buying this one. And I don't really buy that many books anymore. Because of the recipes. There are tons and tons of recipes and the ones I've tried have been fabulous, and the ones I haven't tried yet also look fabulous.

This cake. EVER SO NICE. It goes well with tea. It wouldn't be 'wrong' to eat it with breakfast. It's lovely for dessert. It's not too heavy. It would be a lovely idea to take it on a picnic. This cake can be for whatever occasion you want it to be! It bakes up like a pillowy, soft, apricot cloud. And you can make it even if it's not summer because you use a can of apricots. I have yet to eat an apricot out of hand that tastes like how I think apricots should taste. At this point, I've decided that, gasp - canned apricots are better than fresh.

And it's so simple to make. I actually didn't make it - my 13 year old daughter did! What's nice about the yogurt cake base is that any kind of fruit would work - fresh peaches or plums, raspberries or blackberries, pears in the fall - all of those options would work fabulously.

I think you should jump all over this one.



1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
large pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 and 2/3 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
one 15 or 16 oz can apricots, drained and quartered


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 10 inch round cake or pie pan and line it with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, salt, and vanilla - whisk until smooth. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Add the eggs one by one, whisking to incorporate after each addition.

Sift together the flour, caking powder, and baking soda; add to yogurt mixture; whisk lightly to combine. Stir in lemon zest.

Transfer batter to cake pan; top with the chopped apricots. Bake on center rack of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and slightly risen. A toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean. 

Lift the cake by the parchment paper onto a wire rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. This cake actually gets moister with age, so it tastes great the next day. Simply cover the fully cooled cake with foil (I cover cakes with a tea towel - foil is so awful for the environment) ; an airtight container or plastic bag will make it soggy. 

Makes one 10 inch cake. If using pears, mix with a bit of brown sugar. A streusel topping can be added as well!

Have you read this book? I've made the lentils with white wine, herbs, and tomatoes as well and that recipe is WONDERFUL. I'm going to go buy some gorgeous mushrooms I saw at a local Farmer's Market and make her mushroom turnovers next.

August 1, 2019

summer in paris box reveal

I've already done the full reveal of this box on Instagram, but I thought it would be nice to add all the photos in one place over here. This was one of my favorite boxes to put together! I really struggled with the book, in the sense that there are SO MANY books about Paris, and I wanted to have the right book for my vintage Parisian theme. After reading about ten books, I finally settled on 'The Ladies' Paradise' by Emile Zola. I had a fabulous experience watching the period drama 'The Paradise' a few years back and when I made the connection that the show was based on this book, I knew I had my winner! The show is set in a London department store, while the original book is based in Paris.

The story follows the dramas in the lives of the staff workers who live in and work at the largest department store in Paris, at a time when the notion of one giant store containing everything one might want to buy under one roof was a novel concept - one that disturbed and uprooted established  late 19th century independent shopkeepers. The heroine of the book is Denise, a young shop girl who starts in a lowly position and eventually rises in the ranks of the department store hierarchy.

It's VERY over the top and dramatic, and the book is basically an old fashioned baroque soap opera. I had loads of fun with it and hope others did as well! It was difficult keeping the cast of characters straight at first, but eventually I got it. I couldn't decide which cover art I liked best, so I did a half half split of the two editions you see above. SO pretty!

I also included various vintage-esque Parisian inspired notecards. I wanted this box to just be PRETTY. Everything had to be pretty! My inspiration was a Laduree macaron. Pretty, pastel, and vintage.

I talked a bit on Instagram about why I use wrapping paper on my books - 1) I use paperbacks and I have to protect them. Also, I like adjusting my tissue paper and wrapping paper depending on what theme I'm creating. And 2), I find wrapping to be as close to meditation as I will ever get to in this life.

Oh my goodness, these hankies! So you see the little black dog by the gate? I knew that including vintage style hankies in a variety of pastel hues was going to be so darling in this box, and that they would provide just the right touch of whimsy.

Also added to the mix were these beautiful floral porcelain favor boxes with lids. I squealed when I saw these in person. EACH BOX IS DIFFERENT. Aren't they fabulous? From one of my favorite online shops, Victorian Trading Company.

THESE COOKIES. French biscuits that are unlike anything I've ever tried before! Thick and buttery, with a slight hint of sea salt. These cookies are flipping incredible. Julia and I had them with hot chocolate one day and we just stared at each other, we couldn't believe how good they were. Grand Galettes from St. Michel. These are made in France, and don't be fooled by their unassuming and rather plain appearance. They are some of the best cookies I've ever had.

I was also excited to include Lavender Lemonade lollipops from Leccare Lollipops. This Etsy shop is delightful, and the amount of flavors available are dizzying. I knew this flavor profile was just right for the Paris box. I love supporting small business owners who create unique wares!

OK THE TEA. Basically I created this entire box theme as a showcase not for the book ha ha ha, but so that I could finally put Marie Antoinette Tea from Nina's Paris into the boxes. HOW PRETTY IS THIS TEA. And let me tell you, as pretty as these look, the taste is even better. A black Ceylon tea blend flavored with apples and rose. My daughter requests this tea as often as we're willing to make it for her. It's so, SO good, and I can't say enough good things about it. One of my very favorite teas in the world, and my big dream is to sometime visit the actual Nina's tea shop in Paris.

Books, cards, hankies, tea, floral favor boxes, cookies and candy - this box was like a perfumed breeze that wafts in and sweetly kisses you on the cheek. I love putting all of my boxes together, but this one really was special! Thank you so much to all who ordered. One client emailed me and used my favorite word to describe it - "Enchanting!" (I love getting emails from happy box recipients!)

I have only a small handful of spots left for my Autumn box coming in late September - in case you missed the news, the theme is 'A Forgotten Fairytale' and books and treats are already planned and arriving. This is going to be a gloriously cool box. To order, check out the 'Info' tab at my blog header. The books have to be ordered from England, so I need to allow about 2-3 weeks for them to arrive to me. I'm taking orders now in August, so the boxes can be ready for September mailing. A bientot, ma petites!