Tiny Tot Tuesday: Cherry Blossoms & Roses


June 7, 2011

To honor the end of Spring (I won’t miss it much because it never really showed up), here are some cherry blossom pictures from last year that will help me remember that Spring can be lovely, if it puts its mind to it.

I’ve sort of forgotten that it’s technically still spring! But I am soooooo ready for summer seeing as how anything resembling spring never really materialized here until just a couple days ago.

Take a look at this lovely, lovely book that celebrates the most famous of floral beauties, The Rose.

Nora is home sick with a cold. She gazes out her window all day and sees all the passers-by enjoying the rosebush just outside. Nora wishes she could be enjoying the flowers as well, when magically she is transported into the world of roses and spends an enchanted afternoon with the lovely blooms. At day’s end, when there is only one bloom left on the bush, she decides to draw the last rose so that she’ll have a memory of it forever. Beautiful.

If you are interested in making your own rose tea, you can find rosebuds suitable for tea steeping here. And the more adventurous palates among you might like to try rose candy.

Many of Satomi Ichikawa’s books are only available used, as they are out of print. But I am so intrigued by her quiet, understated watercolor-and-ink illustrations and gentle stories, I am going to pick up used copies of these next three books if I can’t find them at the library. Don’t be afraid of buying used books! The prices are usually outstanding and you miss out on some real finds if you only stick to what’s new.

Nora’s Castle is a tale of a little girl, her doll and her teddy bear exploring a mysterious castle, which turns out to be a magical place allowing the animals who live in and around the castle to speak. I can’t wait to read it!

I don’t even care what Nora’s Stars is about, I would get it based on the cover alone. (Sometimes the old adage of not judging a book by its cover doesn’t hold true!) But it has been described as the perfect bedtime book, gentle enough for the smallest reader.

The description on Amazon from the School Library Journal says:
“(Nora) discovers an old trunk full of toys that come magically to life at bedtime. That night when Nora wishes that she could have the stars that appear to be so close, the toys gather them up from the sky and bring them to her. They spend an enchanted evening playing with the stars; when Nora realizes how sad and dark the sky is without any twinkling lights, she sends them back where they belong and falls contentedly asleep. Soft pastel drawings evoke the lush tropical setting and capture the whimsical mood of this quiet bedtime fantasy.”

La, La Rose is available new. Julia just walked by and said What’s THAT! I think we’re definitely going to have to check this one out. The story follows a beloved stuffed bunny as it gets lost and is accidentally passed around through the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, before being reunited with her little girl owner, Clementine.

Lovely books, lovely flowers – both make me feel oh so happy!

Peonies & Lilacs


June 6, 2011

Hey friends! Welcome to Flower Week! The weather here decided to catch up with the rest of the known world and act seasonally appropriate for a change. Sunny skies in June? I know, I should calm down, I may be expecting too much but for once the weather delivered!

Want to see my favorite flower? I think the peony is the favorite flower of many and deservedly so. And although it makes an appearance for only a brief period, its fragrance and prolific petal profusion (I live to alliterate, I’m sorry!) make it a bloom that surpasses even the rose. In my humble opinion. Look at this:

This grew in my garden and I kid you not, it had a size across akin to a head of cabbage or cauliflower. I’d like to say I did something special to grow such a specimen but my gardening skills boil down to survival of the fittest plants. This monster peony grew itself! I definitely did not have any hand in the process.

I think of myself as one who tries to be kind to all things in nature. (Except spiders.) And yet....

Me = Destroyer of Plants.

This fact is especially disheartening because I come from a long line of gardening geniuses, truly gifted ones. My mom can produce the most magical roses you’ve ever seen. She’s a rosarian. (That’s someone who knows too much about roses.) My aunt could start her own nursery or farmers’ market. It goes on and on in my family, but it all came to a dead end in me. So I rely on Nature’s goodwill and sheer luck to keep things alive!

The lovely lilac is another favorite flower:

Once again I am plant stymied. I planted a lilac bush last year and got this one lovely sprig from it. I watered it like crazy all that first year. This spring? Nothing. I think it’s not receiving enough sun, so maybe I need to transplant it to an area that gets more sunlight throughout the day? Any thoughts you’d like to share on the care and feeding of lilacs?

Actually, here is my most favorite flower of all, wearing her favorite flower shirt:

THIS one gets all the attention I don’t give to my plants!

Lately, we’ve come across some fantastic books that are all florally titled. How do you feel about Marigolds and Petunias?

Petunia is a silly goose. Really, it says so in the book. And speaking of books, she thinks that because she has found a book and has taken to carrying it around, she is now wise beyond measure.

(She’s not.)

So she waddles about and gives extraordinarily bad advice to her barnyard friends. This sad state of affairs would probably go on and on until she mistakes a box of firecrackers for CANDY and gives the ok for everyone to chow down.

(Not the best idea.)

So, poor Petunia learns a hard lesson. You have to actually READ that leafy white stuff in the middle of books!

Like the old school art style? It was written/illustrated in 1950.

And then we have The One and Only Marigold, a precocious monkey. (What’s up with all the animals being named after flowers?)

This book is fun -- it has four little story sections all about Marigold’s interactions with her favorite purple coat, as well as her love-hate relationship with her BFF Maxine.

Julia also has an often angst-filled relationship with her BFF from preschool and she is VERY interested in this book, we’ve been reading this one over and over!

The stories can be read individually or together as one narrative. Julia got all excited, “It’s like a chapter book!

What I want to know is, where can I find a purple parasol like that for myself? People might say “Who is that?” But I’m thinking not in a good way.

A is for Amusement Park


June 3, 2011

I have to tell you Julia’s latest nugget of drama she has chosen to lay on me – whenever she is in trouble or she is disciplined in any way – she looks at us and says “My heart is broken.”

No wonder I’m writing about books all the time! Living with my daughter is like living with a character from a Victorian melodrama. Or comedy?

But she was all smiles for our outing with our California friends to the Santa Monica Pier, which is an amusement park right smack on the water. Here’s the water:

It looks a little like Waikiki in Hawaii!

Seeing all this beach and sun made me sooooo happy! And made my sun shunning skin sooooo unhappy! It is still making me pay, one week later.

And here’s the amusement:

You may remember (as I breathlessly did!) the Santa Monica Pier as featuring prominently in this movie (which used to be one of my favorite movies!):

And when I say “one of my favorite movies”, I mean I dressed up like Starr (Jamie Gertz) for Halloween one year. Oh how I wish I had a picture to show you!

Anyhoo, it was vastly thrilling for me to be anywhere associated with that Movie of Extreme Fabulousness.

Julia, on the other hand, was happy to discover the thrills of Whack-A-Mole:

It made her extra happy when the the grownups stepped in to win prizes for the kids.

We were there for hours and were all exhausted at the end of the day but it was super fun!

Speaking of fabulous things, how about A Fabulous Fair Alphabet?

There are a lot of themed alphabet books out there, but this one is just perfect for summer, don’t you think?

Have a great weekend and we’ll chat next week! It’s either going to be Flower Week or Bedtime Week, I haven’t decided. Write to me in the comments section and help me make up my mind!

Starry Stargazing


June 1, 2011

When I was a little girl, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, for the longest time, I would say ASTRONOMER. For years and years I thought astronomy was My Destiny. I thought Carl Sagan was way cool. (He is, right?) I read every book about astronomy I could get my hands on.

(Photo courtesy of http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110406.html)

If you want to see truly stunning pix of all things astronomical, go check out the NASA site at http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html for their astronomy picture of the day.

Sometime in elementary school, I sadly realized that being an astronomer meant having a fundamental grasp of basic adding and subtracting skills. Time for a career change!

(Then I decided that I wanted to be an editor. What teen thinks they want to be an editor? After that, I was convinced I was going to be an actress. In N.Y. mind you, not L.A. I was big on making that distinction. Are we getting this? Astronomer, Editor, Actress. Professional weirdo is more like it!)

(Photo via R. Jay Gabany/Apod.Nasa.gov)

Summer and star gazing seem to go together, don’t you think? I picked up this new Fancy Nancy Stellar Stargazer book in the grocery store, of all places. (I’ve found that you can find some cool books in grocery stores!)

I love that the story (and her Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire book) has loads of factual information presented in such a fun way.

Fancy Nancy goes camping in her backyard with her family, looks for constellations, goes on a pretend lunar trip to the moon and of course, makes s’mores. Julia and I are going to replicate this entire adventure this summer!

My Book of Planets is a perfect introduction to the world of celestial objects in our own solar system, suitable for the Very Small Astronomer:

Each page has a peekaboo hole leading to the next one!

I am getting this, whoopsie daisy, I mean Julia is getting this . . .some time. Either next Christmas or next birthday! My heart literally started getting fluttery and excited when I discovered Dumpling Dynasty kits of indescribable cuteness:

These kits are just to die for adorable. There are stationary kits, hair accessory kits, make your own doll kits, a baking kit. And more. AND the star gazer kit, which I have found in numerous places but I found the best price here.

The kit contents include: Aspherical (I don’t know what that means but it sounds rad) telescope with pull focus, a box of glow-in-the-dark stars, adhesive stickers and a star explorer journal. IS THAT COOL OR WHAT?

I’d love to hear about your own starry-related kid adventures or favorite books! It will make me feel like I’m not alone in my astronomical dorkiness. Oh and my husband spent a long time lecturing me that astrology and astronomy are not related subjects. Bummer.

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