A Feature on Apartment Therapy!

13

February 29, 2012

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Well my peeps, I’ve been blogging a bit shy of one year and I just got the best anniversary present – Julia’s reading corner was featured on Apartment Therapy! (I don’t think it even qualifies as a blog anymore, its become such an entity of awesome.)

Can there be such a thing as a mega-squee? If there is, than I was doing it.

In case anyone in the known universe is unfamiliar with the mother-ship mega-site that is Apartment Therapy, it's a design based website that features everything related to home decor, family life and cooking, among other topics.

AT is the first thing I read every morning of my life, so to be featured there was really a hefty dose of thrill. It was so exciting and odd to see Julia’s little reading corner right there on this site that I have read for years!

Also, I noticed that I overuse exclamation points. But if overusing exclamation points is wrong than I don’t want to be right.  !!!!!!!

This proves my theory: READING IS COOL. (It really is, you know.)

You can see the whole feature on Apartment Therapy here.




A Perfectly Pink Birthday

16

February 28, 2012


My daughter requested a Strawberry Shortcake doll theme for her birthday this year. (Next year, she wants a Pokemon party. She’s into collecting the cards now. She’s never seen the show or played the video game, mind you. Nothing like planning a year in advance!)

So I decided that if this was the theme, we were going PINK IT UP.

Pink balloons.

Pink party attire, if the kiddos wanted to wear it. (10 little girls? OF COURSE THEY DID!)

Pink milk.

Pink tea sandwiches (Strawberry cream cheese).

Pink ice cream. (Strawberry, but the kind with the most artificial color.)

AND THE PINKEST CAKE YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. If you want to see more details and the recipe for the cake (OF COURSE YOU DO!), hop on over to Pink Sparkle Fun. It exceeded my pinkest strawberry dreams and my kid lost her mind over it.

So we wallowed and reveled in PURE PINK AWESOME.

(Note: Having parties in your house for relatively small children means that YOU are the entertainment. I think they were entertained by our games and whatnot, but oh the tiredness. The party was over a week ago and I still have not cleaned off our dining room table or taken down all of the balloons.)

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(There’s Rosebud sneaking down the stairs. Andrew says our cats have mastered the art of photo bombing – which is when one skillfully manages to insert oneself into any given photo.)

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There was a lot of hugging.

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Hiding in balloons after the party is also fun! I think a good PINK time was had by all. You’d think that all this pink would have put me off pink for awhile. YOU’D BE WRONG.


(Note: To get the cute Strawberry Shortcake party supplies, instead of modern less-cute Strawberry Shortcake, I had to order most of it from Ebay. It all came quicker than quick and I got it for really great prices.)




Downton Abbey Is Over. Now What?

16

February 27, 2012

Well, if you are feeling bereft and miserable now that ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 2 has hightailed it off of our television screens, here’s a little wee consolation prize for you:


North and South
I recently watched the 4 part mini-series ‘North & South’ (NO, NOT THE ONE WITH PATRICK SWAYZE – ALTHOUGH THAT TOO IS AWESOME. The ‘80’s were so rad!!). It was great! This version is set in England and focuses on the cultural divide between the privileged rich in southern England/London and the privileged rich in an industrial cotton mill city further north. The barest nutshell of the plot is that it’s a more realistic version of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, set in a factory town.

And guess who’s in it:


It’s Mr. Bates! I mean, Brendan Coyle! He’s got a great part in ‘North & South’, playing a head honcho factory worker dude. He’s sporting more hair in this show, both on his head and on his chest. I thought it was important that I share that information with you, so I did.

See? It’s really him! I was STOKED. I didn’t know he was in it before I watched it.


Ok so here is what’s awesome about the show. The show plot itself is a bit of a downer, (No Dowager Violet jokies here) but friends, the chemistry between the two leads is CRAZY HOT. Which is my main beef with ‘Downton’ – the yawn factor between Matthew and Mary.


Matthew & Mary are so NOT HOT.


HOT.

Let me put it to you this way. The Kiss, which basically marks the end of any English period drama, in ‘North & South’ made my knees feel wobbly. FOR REAL. The Kiss, at the end of ‘Downton’ Season 2 made me giggle. And made me feel bored. This is bad. They need to fix this. I would rather watch Mary and Sir Richard fight it out. Why couldn't she have reformed him or something?

There’s a book by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was written in 1854. I’m going to be reading it right after I finish up my current book.

North & South Trailer

So go check out ‘North & South’. And come back and tell me 1) How hot is Richard Armitage? and 2) How hot is Mr. Bates in his factory-working man-unbuttoned-halfway-down shirt?? (HOT.)



(Image credits: http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/4400000/Margaret-and-John-north-and-south-4435023-900-350.jpg)




Cool Stuff I Like – Fairytale Style

7

February 24, 2012

Snow White
Once Upon a Time cast
Ok so am I alone in my ‘Once Upon a Time’ obsession? And I do mean obsession. Every Sunday night, WITHOUT FAIL, I inevitably freeze, look around wildly and shriek “Is ‘Once Upon a Time’ being recorded???” I am so into this show! Andrew has deemed it “the worst written show on TV.” BUT HE WATCHES IT WITH ME ANYWAY, so I take this to mean that he secretly likes it.

Come on people, IT’S A SOAP OPERA ABOUT FAIRY TALE CHARACTERS! I mean really, whoever pitched that idea to the networks gets an extreme tip of my bonnet. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I am getting pretty annoyed with the Snow White/Prince Charming situation, however. Fairytale-land Prince Charming is so much cooler than his modern self; what the heck is his problem with the whole standing around doing nothing but being a heel? Eck. I’m really committed to the show largely for Mr. Gold a.k.a Rumpelstiltskin. Mr. Gold is the best thing in the entire program. The dude who plays him, Robert Carlyle, is amazing.


Some fairy tale-esque COOL STUFF for you:

Stone Soup Garden Kit. So awesome!

Very cool ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vintage art print.

I want to read this gorgeous version of ‘Snow White’.

Can I get one of these? Create Your Own Enchanted Storybook.

Cute Princess and the Pea game for toddlers.

Little Red Riding Hood pencil cases.

Modern Fairytale Dress.

We have this amazing Fairytale Story CD and Julia LOVES it. The narrator is FANTASTIC! We also have Uncle Wiggly and Animal Tales. Cannot say enough great things about these CD’s!!

The cutest fairy party hats I have ever seen.

This is DARLING: Three Bears Porridge. The baby bear porridge looks so cute and yummy!


Cool Book of the Week: ‘Pickle Chiffon Pie’ by Jolly Roger Bradfield. A good friend put me on to this very silly fable with a great take on the typical win-the-princess storyline. A kind and honest heart trumps brawns, brains and popularity in this vintage fairytale, which has been re-issued and is so worth seeking out!

Pickle Chiffon Pie
Have a lovely weekend! Much as we try to lay low, it always seems like everything gets crammed into the weekends. We’ve got chores, a birthday party (Apparently everyone we know was born in February.), and we’re going to try to see ‘Arietty’. Oh, and the Academy Awards!

~Melissa



(Image Credits: http://sciencefiction.com/2011/11/06/meet-the-cast-of-once-upon-a-time/, http://www-hollywoodlife-com.)




Cinderella

18

February 22, 2012

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I wonder how many versions of ‘Cinderella’ exist in the world?

Hilary Knight is one of my favorite illustrators – I wrote about the work he did in my ‘When I Have a Little Girl’ post. He did the art in my most beloved books of my childhood – the ‘Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’ series. He’s responsible for ‘Eloise’. He’s the bees knees. (rhymes with Eloise, JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN’T CATCH THAT!)

I love this quote from a reviewer on Amazon about Hilary Knight, it’s so spot on:
“If you're a fan of Hilary Knight's artwork (and if you're not, you ought to be), you will definitely want this book.”
So when I got wind of the fact that he did his own version of ‘Cinderella’ – well I had to get my hands on that one. And I did. Get my hands on it. And it’s charming and sweet and awesome! And BLUE. I love this decidedly blue-tinged rendition of this most classic of fairy tales! The sad bits are not-so-sad in this one.

You should go get your hands on it too.

Mr. Knight also did a version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which I haven’t read. . .YET.




Fairytale Finds

7

February 21, 2012

I could not believe my eyes when I saw these fairytale garden kits from ROMP the other day…SO darling! Such a great price point! Would these not be a perfect birthday party gift or Easter present? (Yes! it’s coming!)

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The Princess’ Pea, $14.

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Jack’s Magic Beans, $14.

In other fairytale news, I have to share my great love for some of my favorite fairy tale books.(Oh I have so many MORE…) I have so much fairy tale material I want to share, I’ve become overwhelmed and have sat on the project for 6 months. I’m just going to start rolling it out, little by little…

Fav Fairytale1
‘My First Fairy Tales’ by Tomie dePaola. LOVELY for toddlers! Julia adored this one!


Sleeping Beauty
‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Usborne First Fairytales. Also great for the littles. I am wild for the puppet art!


Fav Fairytales2
‘Mary Engelbreit’s Fairy Tales’ is one we’re currently enjoying from the library. I wish I owned it. Big, colorful, pretty pictures. The stories have been written in their most benign versions. Nothing to scare or intimidate here. Tons of stories, it’s big hefty book that is bargain priced at Amazon right now for $8!

Friends, I have more, more, more. It’s fairy tale time!




The Easiest Cupcakes

5

February 20, 2012

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Let’s say you find out that you need cupcakes for your kiddo’s school and you TOTALLY FORGOT. Or let’s say you just REALLY TREMENDOUSLY want to make cupcakes, but even though you KNOW that measuring flour and creaming butter is NOT THAT HARD, it just seems like TOO MUCH EFFORT.

Let’s imagine all of those scenarios plus a million more.

I’ve always loved to bake and I do it a lot of the time, but not all the time. No matter what you read in cookbooks, let me share with you that A BOX MIX REALLY IS EASIER. Is it better? Nope. But I don’t think better is what we’re after here – I think we’re after easy and sanity preserving. The moments when you just cannot summon your inner Nigella no matter how much you try.

But. . . those box mix ingredients. So evil. And doctor after doctor and nutritionist after nutritionist has gone on record stating that there is basically no acceptable level of partially hydrogenated oils, which run rampant in the standard box cake mix. Like, it should never really be in our bodies. Oh dear. It has definitely been put in my body over the years! (This is sad for me because now I feel like I can't have Sara Lee Original Cream Cheesecake, which is the best cheesecake ever.)

So what then? This is what then. This mix. This box. No evil ingredients, no yuckies. Takes less than 10 minutes from package to into-the-oven.

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I find Dr. Oetker mixes in the baking aisle of every grocery store I frequent, so I don’t think this brand is too hard to find. Just add sprinkles after you’re all done, because a cupcake without a sprinkle is a sad and lonely cupcake. Plus they make your teeth feel nice and gritty. We made the ones above for Julia’s birthday celebration at school and she decided that every sprinkle we owned should go on top of these little babies.




Cool Stuff I Like – the Health List

3

February 17, 2012

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So I don’t know what it is about this time of year specifically, (Uh, winter I guess?) but this seems to me to be the primo sick time of year for folks. Stomach virus has been running rampant where we live and this is definitely the time of year when we get the sickies, much more so than autumn. I don’t have any intention of debating anyone (I do that enough with Andrew when he looks at the latest health supplement I’ve brought home and pronounced it sugar water.), but I do feel strongly that foods can heal and that there are many herbs and wonderful things in nature that can complement Western pharmaceutical medicines.

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: yes, I feel compelled to say this – Anything you read here is NOT INTENDED TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE – I run every herbal or alternative supplement past Julia’s pediatrician before giving it to her and get the doc’s ok first – always read your ingredient labels carefully and check for allergies!)


HEALTHY COOL STUFF this week:

Julia LOVES this ‘Just For Kids Organic Cold Care’ tea – its got elder flower, chamomile and peppermint and after I add honey to it, she just drinks it in one fast gulp.

I make this carrot-apple soup recipe often. It’s FANTASTIC.

Old Indian Syrup for Kids is amazing for constant non-productive coughing.

Natural Remedies for cold and flu.

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Smoothie!

Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.

I love and adore Japanese Hot Springs Bath Salts when I feel run down. They tint the water!

I want to start adding Ginger Syrup to everything.

And I use this Ginger Drink all the time – it will CLEAR YOUR NOSE.

Julia takes these vitamins -- and so do I!

Healthy, easy food ideas for feeding your toddler. (I left a little recipe in the comments section!)

Hot Lemonade is really super awesome for colds.

This is the best Green Tea.


Cool Book of the Week: ‘I'm Really Ever So Not Well’ by Lauren Child. You know we love our ‘Charlie & Lola’ around here! Here, Lola doesn’t quite get why her snuffle is making her beloved pink milk taste not so great. Her illness does not prevent her from demanding every second of Charlie’s time and attention, however. This is one we own and it’s one of our favorite C & L books!

I'm Really Ever So Not Well (Charlie and Lola Series)
Have a lovely weekend! Stay healthy! Wish me luck in surviving Julia’s BIRTHDAY PARTY! I’ll share more about it next week.

~Melissa




Now We Are Six

13

February 16, 2012

Now we are 6
My little baby is a baby no more. It’s been six years of life-changing fun, craziness, hair-pulling, tears and unspeakable joy. Her moods change by the second. Her emotions are. . .intense. And oh how silly she is! She just seems to be riding this existence a little bit MORE than the rest of us. So there’s more happy but also a lot more angst.

Some people just vibrate at a different frequency, you know? My husband, he is at a steady, low hum. Me, I’m at a high pitch followed by tones too faint to hear.

My kiddo is a full blown orchestra of sound and life.

Happy birthday to my sweetpea! Now she is six. (If you want to see more of A.A. Milne’s classic book of poems, ‘Now We Are Six’, click here or on the image.)




Scenes from Valentine’s Day

6

February 15, 2012

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I love how my sweetie wrote peace all over her Valentine’s Day card for me. I think we should all remember to go in peace on Valentine’s Day. Here I was thinking we were supposed to ‘go in chocolate’. I feel very shallow right about now.

Like that disgusting looking Red Velvet pancake mix? I tried to shut my eyes and not notice what was on the ingredient label list. Aren’t the pancakes a sight? We added mini-chocolate chips. I tried to make one into a heart shape and then gave up. My kiddo pronounced them “the best things I have ever tasted!” I found the mix at my primo holiday shopping source, Cost Plus World Market. And the Hello Panda cookies I have seen in a variety of places, Asian grocery stores, Target, Cost Plus and you can also order them online.

I was going to make this Valentine’s Pizza for dinner but J was having a special pizza lunch at school. So I made turkey meatballs, which is her all-time favorite dinner. What did y’all do? AND HOW MUCH CHOCOLATE DID YOU EAT?




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