June 29, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

Ohhh....I am trying....so much....to not complain about the weather....some of you are sweltering.....but GAH I CAN'T DO IT, have to complain just a tiny little bit! I recently told a fellow blogger that I think I've turned weather-complaining into a full time hobby, or maybe a competitive sport. Kids around here are still wearing winter coats at times! Weather, I'd settle for 75. I think we've hit 75 maybe twice so far this year. I'm not even asking for 80's. Last weekend I kid you not, it rained so hard it was alarming, (alarming I tell you!) and my umbrella turned inside out. But hey look! Pretty flowers! At least the flowers know it's summer.

Somewhat summery COOL STUFF:

The best fort roundup ever.

DIY summer camp at home.

Awesome goody bags!

LOVE this rug from Land of Nod.

Technicolor Kitchen = food + movies = awesome. (My sweet bloggy friend Patricia makes the best sweet treats!)

Cover Music for Kids.

Tiny Mini Kites.

S'mores Bars.

If you haven't experienced an Edna Lewis cobbler recipe, you haven't tasted summer. Yes, almost 2 sticks of butter.

Independence Day cake with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting.

Cool Book of the Week: 'The Hinky-Pink' by Megan McDonald and Brian Floca. Very cool library find! Julia had super fun with this story about a talented seamstress who's been charged with making the local spoiled princess a fab dress in short order. She could manage it if not for the Hinky-Pink, a vexing sprite who has to have its bed done up just so, or it pinches and won't let the poor seamstress rest. Will the Hinky-Pink get its bed? Will seamstress Anabel get any sleep? Will the princess get her dress? High drama!

Have a lovely weekend! I guess I should start thinking about the 4th coming up. Or more to the point, what kind of desserty to make. Cobbler? Pie? Crisp? I have cherries in the freezer, I guess that's my answer. Cherry pie, yo!

(And thanks so much to all of our new friends who liked us on Facebook and joined up with our silliness here. I so appreciate you all taking the time to hang out with us!)


June 28, 2012

New Pile O' Books

I scored! A great little pile of new reading material that I found at our local used bookshop. I have to credit Andrew for cluing me in about used book stores. I didn't pay more than $4 for any one of these books! 'The Family Under the Bridge' is a bit tool old for Julia but I'm saving it for her. I'd never heard of this one about some French children who befriend a man living under a bridge, but I'm on a mission to collect every book ever illustrated by Garth Williams. That's a kickin' goal, by the way.

And then what else...got a Native American tale by Tomie de Paola that I'd never heard of, so that was rad. I might have missed the window of Julia's Busytown obsession (so last year!), but I picked up 'Richard Scarry's Best Mysteries Ever!' anyway. Got 'Tinkering Tink'  because duh, it's Tinkerbell. The Little Golden Book version of 'Cinderella' made it home as well, Julia seems to be appreciating this fairy tale the most right now.

But the one I'm most excited about showing you is 'George's Marvelous Medicine' by Roald Dahl. It's one of his shorter stories. And I had never read it, so I got to have as much fun as Julia did while reading this book.

AND WHAT FUN WE HAD. Julia seriously screamed with laughter at various parts. The basic gist of the tale is that a little boy has the world's meanest grammy and decides to poison her. SO FUNNY! Yes, we like our humor dark around here and Roald Dahl is the king of dark kid lit humor. (Actually, young George in the tale is trying to 'help' his grandma by 'improving' her normal medicinal tonic by emptying jars of shoe polish and paint and car oil and face powder and it goes on and on and on.....) 

We were all so entranced with this book that even though Andrew and I take turns putting Julia to bed and reading to her, whoever had the off night came in to hear the story, we didn't want to miss any of it! I don't want to spoil any more of this book for you, but let's just say interesting and magical things happen to poor grandma....

Run for this one folks. SO FUNNY! I know, I said that already. But really it is. If you've got some real funnies for me, I'd love to hear about it!

June 26, 2012

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar

Sugar fairy

So my lovelies, you might (or might not) have been thinking to yourself, What I need is a lot more cuteness in my life. I mean, it's often a problem I struggle with. How to get more cuteness in my life? 

Here's how. You need to watch 'A Little Snow Fairy Sugar'. Only then can you say real cuteness has entered your life. Not just any cuteness....... 

So much cuteness it might make you feel like you just ate twenty-five doughnuts (frosted) followed by a chaser of straight sugar syrup, followed by dipping pink marshmallows (also frosted) into chocolate sauce and then rolling them in candy sprinkles. With a side of extra frosting.

You may think so much cuteness is too much, but your kiddo probably won't. Your kiddo won't mind listening to the high pitched baby voices all cooing at each other for an hour and a half. No, not at all.

Nothing bad, scary or remotely dangerous happens in this first video ('Sweet Mischief'), unless you consider a fairy eating too many waffles and repeatedly kissing her human friend on the nose while giggling and tossing her pink hair scary and dangerous. I was convinced it might be just minorly terrifying after the first fifteen minutes. I'm a little nervous about having nightmares involving pink-haired fairies demanding waffles and blinking her large eyes sweetly at me....over and over and over and over and over.....

All I can say is, be careful when you go off on a quest for cute. You may find more than you bargained for. If you really want to know what I mean, hop over to Pink Sparkle Fun to see the trailer. And then see if you can erase the song 'Sugar Baby Love' from your head....good luck!

I never thought there could be such a thing as too much cuteness. I think a lot of things, which ultimately turn out to be incorrect. Julia thought this was one of the greatest things she's ever seen in her life, and now that Andrew has tracked down the rest of the episodes on Netflix for us, it seems that there may be a great many more mental cavities in my future. 

June 25, 2012

My Very Own Fairy Stories

So I've been talking about this fairy book for weeks now. Sorry for being such a tease. TA-DA! 'My Very Own Fairy Stories' by Johnny Gruelle. You guys might not even think it looks worth all the build up, but I'm telling you, when the book came out of the package, I gasped and squealed. Books that make me gasp and squeal, more so than usual, that's a special kind of adrenaline rush. 

My heart pounds over special books.

When I found out that Johnny Gruelle, creator of my beloved Raggedy Ann books, had written this one, I had it ordered in five fiftieths of a second. WILL YOU LOOK AT THIS SWEET LITTLE BOOK?

Now don't be disturbed if you get it too and are like, where's all the fairies, yo? Not a lot of actual fairy action. Some. Mostly these are funny little fairy tales. And in one story some moles get turned into a mole skin cloak.  

(yeah. it happens. Julia was like, 'did they die?' And then she calmly waited for the rest of the story. it's best that you hear these things from me first. but they magically come back to life and everyone is fine and yay! so don't freak over that story.)

We haven't read every single story yet, but we're read several. I'm excited to read the one about a 'Witchess'. The story about the funny caterpillar lady (see above) is really cute.

I just love books like these. They don't make books like these days. A lot of awesome books are made every day. But not like these. Oh and this book has been reprinted so you can get it brand new!

June 22, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like -- FAIRIES

Fairy friends! Some Very Important Business to discuss. Things are all topsy turvy this week. I was going to talk more about chapter books, but that will have to wait. Because June 24 (this Sunday) is Fairy Day and I feel I must talk a little fairy talk with you. And I PROMISE to show you a special fairy book I've been wanting to show you...next week. It's been a week of Bothersome Events. So bear with me. Also, does anyone know the source or artist for this delightful picture above? Please tell if you do so I can source properly! Also, way back in the vast reaches of time (last year), I wrote about this beautiful book and also fairy doors. Fairy doors can pop up at any time, so be aware.

So let's just dive into FAIRY COOL STUFF:

(and I'll have more fairy action next week because there can never be too much fairy action.)

FAB list of fairy books and crafts.

The most beautiful fairy picture ever by the genius Arthur Rackham.

Wonderful fairy decal! (also by Rackham. I have this print in Julia's room.)

Fairy Bread. 

Things to do on Fairy Day. (don't know about the bonfire...keep a fire extinguisher handy!)

Fairy Charms.

Fairy Parties book.

Fairy Crafts book.

Best fairy story CD ever! (the book is great too, but we lost it on a trip.)

Fairy Cakes from Sweetapolita (scroll all the way down)

Pocket Magic Fairy Dust

Cool Book of the Week: 'Fairy Houses' by Tracy Kane. This is one of a trilogy that includes 'Fairy Boat' and 'Fairy Flight'. Not read this one yet. Want to. Very much! And then I want to build a fairy house with Julia. At the end of the story, the book apparently gives you great ideas about how to make them. (in case you hadn't figured it out, my Cool Book series often features books I WANT to read because they look COOL.)

Fairy Houses (The Fairy Houses Series)
Have a lovely fairy filled weekend! Remember, if you don't believe in them, they will stop believing in you. I have to be totally straight with you guys. If a discovery of a tiny fairy bones were made somewhere in Ireland or something, I wouldn't be surprised or shocked. I'd be like, "I FLIPPING KNEW IT!!!" I believe, peeps, I believe.


June 21, 2012

Little Bits of Home

Afternoon sunlight, growing things, new sheets (is there anything better?), outside easel painting. Little views of our world lately.

(And a note about our art display -- looking at this area makes me happier than happy -- what feeling is that exactly? Super happy? I call it my nearly free art wall. The pineapple-butterfly picture was given to me by a dear friend from Hawaii. The blue Stonehenge picture used to be my dad's and had been tossed into a closet. I told him one day, I'm a-takin' it and he was cool with it -- I've been gazing at this piece of art since I was 6 years old. I love it so. The Chinese calligraphy picture is my name and Andrew's name done in Chinese characters, made by a street artist in Seattle for about 5 dollars. The pencil drawing of baby Julia was done in Italy by a street artist -- my mom and step dad went on a trip during Julia's first year and had it made from a photo. And the Very Colorful Pictures were done by Miss Julia and those pictures make me smile every single day. They're the first and last things I look at when I wake up and go to sleep!)

June 20, 2012

We Made a Castle

We had some old boxes around, and after being inspired by this project which came from here originally, I decided to put my chief architect and castle builder (Andrew) in charge of building a castle. This is what we came up with.

If you're familiar with my project tutorials (of which there aren't many), you'll know that they go a little something like this: 'Um, we had some stuff and we did this with it. I'm actually not sure what we did.' Helpful, no?

So.....we had some boxes....and Andrew taped them together...you can tunnel through if you lay flat on your belly....I cut the castle ridge top design thingys with a box cutter (that was hard)...and then I taped a boatload of neon duct tape all over it. The neon tape is key. Must have the neon. That provides all the awesome.

We had a working drawbridge at one point, but the cats ate the string, so that was the end of that.

All in all, I think it looks super cool, but honestly, it's a bit wee for any kid over toddler size. Unless a kid wants to only sit down in it. Julia's not one for sitting down, like, ever.

Our next project is gonna be to get our hands on a refrigerator box and paint it and make a little summer playhouse. But she probably won't want to sit in that either. Basically Andrew and I did this for ourselves and it made us feel very self-congratulatory, which is always a feeling to shoot for, I think. Any opportunity to pat oneself on the back, you know. 

Tootle-pip! (I'm signing off all week this way. I'm more sorry than you are at my inability to stop.)

June 18, 2012

Old School Chapter Books

Hi Peeps! Feeling cozy? Settled in? Because I've got some chatting to do today. There's change in the air...I can feel it....it's scary...and fun...and wow...because my baby girl is on that line. That line between picture books and chapter books. I've been talking a lot about this with some friends who are in the same boat with their kiddos.

So here's where we're at. Julia is able to handle various levels of the Early Reader books and many picture books on her own. Don't get me wrong, she's still waaaay into picture books, and if we read a book that is light on picture-pretty, she's like, 'where's the art action, yo?' (I haven't really taught her to say yo yet, but give me time.)

But at night time story reading, she's ready for more. MORE STORY. Stuff that's got a bit more meat on it. So we've been reading a variety of things, which I'll touch on throughout the week. 

I love classic stuff. So we're reading some classic stuff. We've been reading 'The World of Pooh' off and on since early Spring. For those adults or kids who say 'pooh-pooh' to Pooh (did you catch that? I'M SO AWESOME), I say, have you really read it? It's not for babies. Half the time, Julia is all, 'What are they talking about mom?' These are books meant for older kiddo reading, like I wouldn't start until ages 6 or 7. Probably not until age 8 or 9 would a kiddo be able to read it on their own. So much funny! J just loooooooooves 'Pooh'. Ditto the 'Uncle Wiggly' book. Very sweet, very fun, smallish short stories that are chapter-length.

Julia loves funny. The more absurd and funny, the better. 'Lotta Says No' by Astrid Lindgren (we'll be onto 'Pippi' before the year is out, I'm sure.) is fun and funny and features a sassy, spunky, little girl who knows her own mind. Julia can relate. Go read this and then read the sequel.

I read the ENTIRE line, pretty much, of Steven Cosgrove's 'Serendipity' books when I was just about Julia's age. Not chapter books, but longer stories with plenty of amazing illustration along with the text. We have 'Leo the Lop', which J ADORED, and 'Zippity Zoom', and I'm about to do a massive order of these out-of-print gems. (I don't mind getting used books, you shouldn't either! Sometimes it's the only way to get hold of something amazing.)

The last thing I want to leave you with today is a book I've already posted about, but I think I should talk about at least 2x a year really, AT LEAST. Gyo Fujikawa's 'Fairy Tale and Fables' is not a chapter book per se, but all fairy tale books kind of are in a way -- a bunch of short stories lumped in together. Julia can handle the longer-in-length story action and the art is more incredible than most fairy tale books you'll see around. Plus, Y'ALL SHOULD BE READING FAIRY TALES. (Here's a great essay on why.) So, there's that.

June 15, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

My kiddo and I have a relationship that can be like a tornado, at times. Swirling, strong emotions that carry us away. Very intense. Both in the highs and the lows. But my husband is the calm that our easily inflamed personalities so need. He is always our port in the storm, and truly is the best person I know. When I watch his way of being a parent, I just thank the alignment of stars that led him to be my husband and my daughter's daddy.

(He's gonna be thrilled that this week is coming to an end and Andrew-on-the-blog-week will be over.)

COOL STUFF, my lovelies....

Coolest idea EVER. Little free libraries.

Cloud Cake.

Magnetic Wallpaper. (looooooove!)

I used to be really into everything Shabby Chic. I'm feeling it again! Got some sheets for Julia. (At my Target store, they had pink rosebud sheets, which are the ones I got.)

For the crafty among you, DIY colorblocked coasters. I will admire from afar.

Mini S'mores.

The most awesome notebook -- when you're done with it, it looks like a magazine!

I want every one of Angela Carter's books.

Remember these cookies? Anyone? Well, now there are Momofuku box mix cookies.

Darlybird is so cute you cannot believe. You have to check out their site.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Happy' by Mies Van Hout is the most amazing looking thing I've seen in awhile. Each fishy pictured in the book depicts a particular emotion, with the word also written. The colors snapping off from the black background are really unbelievable, don't you think? I'm totally getting this for my baby nephew.


Have a lovely weekend! Have fun with any and all rad dads in your life.

June 14, 2012

Julia and Her Daddy

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One of the great joys of my life is to watch the relationship between Julia and Andrew. I had/have a complicated relationship with my own dad. We get along ok now for the most part, but basically, we are two travelers on different paths.

Andrew and I considered ourselves really fortunate that we were able to be around so much when J was teeny tiny. He made the choice to work from home, which has worked out amazingly well -- we only bother him maybe about 35% of the time. Forty-five percent?

I could go on and on about the patience, the kindness, the time, the endless games of tossing-the kiddo-into-a-pile-of-pillows, the horseyback rides, the running and chasing and swinging, the hours of stories that Andrew puts in, but what I really admire is his ability to remain awake and conscious when Julia shoves a My Little Pony in his hand and insists that he play a pretend game with her.

The best thing I ever did for my daughter was give her Andrew as a daddy.

June 13, 2012

A Really Rad Rose Garden

What does my mother’s extraordinary rose garden have to do with Father’s Day? Or for that matter, Andrew? Nothing. Except we went to visit last weekend and I got some great pictures of the flowers and Andrew photobombed a few of them, so in the blog they go!

But first you have to see these flowers. They are amaaazing. My mom has a rose thumb! She just adores them (roses, not thumbs) and spends hours deadheading, tying, pruning, watering…

And here’s where things took a turn…lovely flowers, lovely garden, my ma in her cute gardening hat...and look it’s Andrew!

I spy Andrew’s eye. Cheeky devil.

And then I got this, which made me instantly forgive Andrew’s photobombing:

My best loveys in the whole wide world.