Cool Stuff I Like

14

August 31, 2012

School starts next week! And I am...ready for school to start next week. I'll miss my little lovey but I feel like I gotta whip myself and my house and my life into shape and I'm ready to get to it. Fall is very energizing for me, for some reason. We've had a great last week of summer. The other day our next door neighbor family invited Julia over for ice cream sundaes after dinner. Now that's a party I want to attend! People should have that kind of get-together more often. 'Hey, want to come over and make ice cream sundaes??' Or, 'Hey, want to come over and eat gingerbread and watch English period films?' Doesn't that one sound fabulous?????? I think it does. Andrew's version of that would involve video games...


I'm always, always seeing COOL STUFF in the world:

Fairytale Tea.

Another really darling site -- crafts, clothes, decor, and general cuteness for kids!

A week of healthy bento box lunches.

The perfect little girl fall dress. (My fall splurge for Julia)

Fentiman's Dandelion & Burdock Soda is the best soda I've ever had. It's amazing.

Poketo for Target is out right now (see here for store details) -- if you can't get to one, check out the main website! I love it all!

Blackberry Sonker. (it's like a cobbler)

Pretty crayons and a pretty notebook.

Ok Downton peeps, want to see the funniest thing you will ever see in ALL OF YOUR LIFE? Here you go!  Courtesy of my pal Leanne from Vintage Books for the Very Young. I am indebted to her forever for putting this onto my radar....seriously...I might have to cough up an organ or something....

And do you want to see the CUTEST THING you will ever seen in all of your life? (check out the looks they give each other, priceless!)


Cool Book of the Week: 'Chloe Instead' by Micah Player. Oh this story is so darn cute....And the colors are so bright and fun! This book could have been written about me and my brother. I was hoping for a sister, and I got my brother, instead. No offense bro! He turned out to be pretty cool. Ish. (Ha ha)

Molly wants to have a sister who is just like her. She likes to draw. Chloe like to eat crayons. Soon Molly realizes that competing interests can sometimes be complementary, and she learns to have a good time with her little sis. Great for smaller kids learning to deal with the arrival of a new sibling!

Chloe, Instead
This one is new from Chronicle Books just this past spring, and it's charming and darling and....funny thing -- It actually hit home to me on another level because I thought when I had Julia, I would be getting a little junior me and that turned out so not to be the case. She loves science! And loves parties! And is the opposite of me in nearly every way, personality-wise! And I love her all the more for it.

Have a lovely weekend, see you in September!

~Melissa






Fresh Plum Cake

10

August 30, 2012

plums_DSC0088_DSC0090_DSC0093_DSC0094_DSC0096_DSC0111I have four great loves. The first two are Andrew and Julia OF COURSE. And then the other two are books and food. And cookbooks. Wait, that goes under books. And chocolate. But that goes under food. Ok, books and food and Downton Abbey. And tea. And sleeping.

Alright I have many great loves. Don’t judge me! Judging is wrong. Except that I do it all the time…

OK seriously. I should have Andrew write this for me since I am unable to form coherent thoughts today…

Y’all know that I really want to be a food blogger. And a book blogger. And talk about my kid and my cats and funny videos and have inane conversations with my husband. So I’M GONNA DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS. We’ll have our home food posts, our booky posts, our home life posts and kitty cat posts. And everything else will get squelched in that I find amusing, hilarious and awesome. Is that cool with you? Would you like it if I talked about all of those things? Because my feet will fall asleep if I only talk about books. (I’ve been basically doing that stuff anyway, but I’m Making It Official.) Are you with me?

Let’s talk about Plum Cake. Please ignore the fact that this cake looks like someone put their insides on a plate and basically looks like open heart surgery gone terribly awry. It’s SUCH A GOOD CAKE you simply have to believe me or I’ll cry. What I really like about plain cakes like this one, is that you can eat some and feel like you didn’t just ingest 15 tons of sugar and now you feel really ill, and upset at yourself and the cake and it just all is BAD NEWS that makes you unhappy.

No, no, no. This cake isn’t like that. It’s basically upside-down plum cake and it will only make you happy. The first time I made it last year, we ate it all in under two days and then I immediately made another one. And when I just made this one, I was like, OH YEAH, I forgot how flipping awesome this cake is! Hot dog! And I’m so AWESOME for making it!

Also, it’s really easy, like, for real.

I found the recipe on Stephanie Nielson’s food site, Cuisine Nie. Thank you Nie Nie!

FRESH PLUM CAKE

Ingredients:
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 red plums, (about 1 pound), halved and pitted, each cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (I left these out.)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch round cake pan; melt in preheating oven, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle melted butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Arrange overlapping plum wedges in a circle around edge of pan; repeat in center, covering bottom of pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together remaining 6 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and egg. Beat in sour cream until blended. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin-pie spice, and walnuts. Stir flour mixture into sour-cream mixture until just combined (batter will be thick).
  4. Spread batter evenly over plums. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. (CHECK AFTER 40 MINUTES, mine was done at 43 minutes.) Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan; invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.
Go get yourself some plummy plums and make this plum cake and we can all congratulate ourselves on being awesome!




A Dignity of Dragons

14

August 29, 2012

_DSC0133_DSC0134_DSC0138Oh my friends. I’m sorry. I have to get shouty. I cannot jump and down on the internets, so I have to get shouty instead. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH AND SO DOES JULIA, IT’S SO INCREDIBLE AND WE’RE GOING TO BUY OUR OWN COPY because otherwise the library police are a-coming for us to take away our library cards.

I’ve been after this book for a couple of years now. I guess I was stalking a book, which sounds bizarre, right? There’s some books out there that I really want, but either Julia isn’t ready for them at that moment or I’m in a hurry, and I plan to buy it later and then I forget or for various reasons, I’m just thwarted in my attempts to get my hands on a particularly rad book.

Such has been the case with ‘A Dignity of Dragons’ by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and Nicoletta Ceccoli. I wanted it two years ago but knew Julia would be like, “What the hey?”

I finally got it for her from the library and it has not left our hot little hands in over two months. We play 20 questions guessing games about the mythical creatures described in the book. We gaze at the pictures over and over and over and over. AND OVER.

We just can’t get enough of this book.

Here’s why: (because it’s the coolest book with the awesomest art and it has MONSTERS and creatures and cool stuff and FIRE and things that FLY and YETIS and FENG HWANGS.

_DSC0145You know what a feng hwang is, yes?? (A Chinese phoenix.)

_DSC0140And you’ve heard of a murder of crows, right? Or a charm of hummingbirds? There are some weird collective nouns out there describing groups of various animals. That’s the premise of this book.
So you’ll find things like:

a pandemonium of fauns

a glare of cockatrice

a dazzlement of Quetzalcoatls

Julia’s favorite? A ROARING OF MANTICORES. She’s waaaaaay into the manticores.

_DSC0139_DSC0142_DSC0135I love the art by Nicoletta Ceccoli. I’m OBSESSED with her art. I want to LIVE in her art.

I loooooove her art. Just sayin’. A FEW HUNDRED TIMES. The other neat thing is at the very end of the book, there are several pages devoted to describing each mythical creature in more complete detail. I, for one, had zero clue as to what a Thunderbird was. Or that “were” is the general prefix  for a shape-shifter. Are y’all up on your shapeshifters?? You will be after reading this book!

_DSC0141_DSC0144This has been one of Julia’s favorite books ever. Ever, ever. It rocks our socks. Floats our boat. (I’m going to stop rhyming now.) We’ve literally either read it, looked at it or talked about it everyday since we checked it out. This book MUST BE MINE. And also, Julia is on a huge Yeti kick now as well. I think a Yeti stuffy is in her future for Christmastime...




Home Life

19

August 28, 2012

_DSC0255_DSC0123_DSC0128_DSC0105P1010997_DSC0103_DSC0107_DSC0232P1020318A hodge podge sampler of what we’ve been up to, as summer is reaching its conclusion.

Going through collections of old photos that were hiding in boxes at my mom’s house.

Sofa dancing.

Visits with family and baby cousins. (Love my sis-in-law’s tangerine nails!)

Outdoor picnic dinners.

Sally-boo kitty and me and J. At the beach. (Beaches in the Pac NW sometimes necessitate the wearing of a full outfit of clothes.)

Grilled flatbread mini pizzas. Where has this dose of fab been all of my life?? For some of them, I spread on pesto and then topped with sauteed zucchini, prociutto, and goat cheese. Awesome!! We made Julia’s just regular with tomato sauce and pepperoni.

Fence painting. I thought Julia and her pal would make some kind of scene, or little mural. Nope, they just started PAINTING, like, just back and forth painting. And I thought it was washable because I used washable poster paint. THAT PAINT IS HERE TO STAY MY FRIENDS! Ah well, it looks cheerful.

And....signs of fall. Apple cider!




The Adventures of Fifi and Noni

11

August 27, 2012

_DSC0333Have you ever wanted to live inside of a snow globe? I have.

_DSC0363And why am I talking about snow globes at the end of summer?

_DSC0339Because I just received a copy of ‘The Adventures of Fifi and Noni’ by Kimberly Jacobs Muller and Chad Attie, and this isn’t just a book about travelling to a magical land through a snow globe.

Have you ever felt odd or different?

Have you ever been teased?

Has your child?

Because that’s what this book is really about ~ how a little girl named Fifi learns to embrace her individuality after enduring ridicule. In this case, about her flaming red hair.

_DSC0347After journeying to Aipotu (utopia spelled backwards!), Fifi and her tagalong little brother Noni, discover a kindly guide called Llamaroo.

Llamaroo is fun, wise and likes to speak French. Llamaroo wants Fifi to look on the bright side of life and celebrate that which makes her stand out from others.

This is one of life’s most difficult lessons, I find. Easy to say, hard to really embody within. And it’s one I want Julia to hear from a variety of sources, as she embarks upon her elementary school years.

_DSC0346“We are a world of different. Look at me, Fifi. We are all different. We are all free to be.”

_DSC0343_DSC0361_DSC0366Julia has reached the age where she is going to experience life events without me. Which is such an odd feeling. For the most part up until now, I have been there to watch, to see what she has experienced right as she was experiencing it. That will happen less and less as she starts to enter the world without me constantly at her side.

It scares the pants off of me.

Which is why I want her to love herself, to be proud of who she is, of how she thinks and how she looks and what she’s interested in doing. I want her to be a kind friend and respectful of people who are unlike her.

_DSC0362These ideas are all at play in the story. The thematic concepts are laid out in a magical and uplifting way that kids 5 and up can grasp.

_DSC0355_DSC0357I found this book to be completely unlike anything I’ve seen lately. Kimberly Muller is clearly on a huge roll! Do you recall the post I did on her earlier book, ‘Last Night I Swam With a Mermaid’? Her stories are gusts of fresh air and I feel like I’m seeing something new with her books. Muller’s stories make me think and see the world in a different way. They’re trippy and unusual in the best possible sense.

(And I haven’t been so excited about the art in a book since I discovered Nicoletta Ceccoli. I am now in total awe of Chad Attie! You have to check out his site. Extreme beauty. Apparently he can do anything, from mixed media collages to abstract paintings to intricate detail work. He also has an amazing Pinterest page.)

What a magical, exquisite story. This is a book I would give as a gift, it’s that special.


(I received a copy of this book for review purposes, but the opinions expressed are my own. I was knocked out by the level of talent and skill that went into it and I’m happy happy to do what I can to help promote this lovely story!)





Cool Stuff I Like

20

August 24, 2012

Just a little over one week. Until the little girl goes back to school. We've been clothes collecting and school supply amassing and we've got the backpack and it's all under control. While my heart is getting trampled upon. I don't know why, I feel a little more bereft about the start of this school year than last year when the Big K was being ushered in. Maybe because the Big K was such a BIG DEAL, there was little room for any mama drama angst. In my mind, a kindergartener is still a bit of a tiny person. A first grader might as well be headed off to college, it seems like such a big kid! A first grader is firmly in elementary school. The situation is not helped by Julia informing me every other day how in 6 and a half more years, she'll be thirteen. Gasp inducing right??


Some COOL STUFF I liked this week.....


Mini Cherry Pies made in a cupcake tin.

Really supercute animal masks made from boxes. (Future Halloween idea? I know. Too early.)

I made this tomato & goat cheese tart from Bon Appetit years ago and lost the recipe. Thank you Pinterest!

Discovered a new-to-me site devoted to all things charming and darling in children's decor.

+Fiffa is a shop that takes basic Ikea items and makes them divine. (hover over the images to see!)

LOVE this Asian Landscape Wall Sticker set. And this one and this one.

Nutritious Chocolate Pudding. Is there such a thing? This recipe looks great!

I think this is going to be my book to read during Halloween season. (Did I just mention Halloween again??)


Cool Book of the Week: 'Pancakes for Findus' by Sven Nordqvist. Have you all read any 'Pettson & Findus' books? There's a whole slew of them, and they are so much fun! We've had 'Pancakes for Findus' for a year now, and both Julia and I are still really enjoying the adventures of  this eccentric older man named Pettson and his precocious kitty, Findus. In this book, Pettson is trying to make a Swedish birthday cake (a stack of pancakes with whipped cream, traditionally) for his cat's birthday and things don't go to plan, let's leave it at that. The art is fun and colorful and the more you look, the more details you see! Great for ages 5-8.


Have a LOVELY weekend! The last one in August, I can't believe it. I really didn't think time could go by any faster and I swear, each week whizzes by more quickly than the previous one. It'll be Christmas in three weeks, I'm convinced. Time will just race and skip forward and boom, hello Christmas! You watch.

~Melissa





Off to a Wedding

17

August 23, 2012

_DSC0168
Just a short drop in today – I don’t know about you but these last few weeks of summer have been insane. It’s like everyone realized that Summer is On Its Way Out and we’re all flying around like headless chickens. (Sorry for that imagery.)

So here’s Miss J wearing her first pair of white patent shoes. We had a family wedding to attend. I remember when I used to wear shoes like that when I was small. My mom of course, was involved with this. My ma is obsessed with shoes. She buys my fancy shoes. She buys Julia’s fancy shoes. It makes her happy, bless her. I guess it’s a good thing because otherwise we’d be wearing flip flops to weddings, because THAT’S HOW I ROLL. I am not obsessed with shoes or handbags. I’m a very girly girl but I don’t care much about footwear and purses. Not sure why. Am I supposed to?

The last pic, well let’s just say that this is what one gets when one very nicely asks Andrew and his twin brother for a nice photo. So what is one to do? I warned them that it was going on the blog if they didn’t cooperate. And here we are.

Cheeky devils.




Cool Kid Music

9

August 22, 2012

CD 1
CD 3
CD 2

/Renee & Jeremy ‘It’s a Big World’/ Renee & Jeremy ‘A Little Love’/ Sophie & Les Petits ‘Bonjour’/ ‘Tumble Bee’ Laura Veirs Sings Songs for Children/

Cover music for kids, songs sung in le francais, fun folk songs. . .I’ve heard these CD’s for children are greater than great. Like, super great. Plus, they look amazing and as I’ve said before, if you wrap something up in a pretty package, I for one, will go for it! I judge books by covers.




Real Simple Family & Martha

14

August 21, 2012

I’ve shared, time and again, that I have a deep and unending love for the great magazines in my life. Yes, I still get forlorn about the loss of ‘Cookie’ and ‘Domino’. I honestly think I’ll be a little sad about those two magazines forever. But let’s focus on the positive! I have the fall issue of ‘Whole Living’ to look forward to! That’s one of my big favorites.

I’m also super peachy keen on Real Simple, and once or twice yearly, they come out with a special family edition, which I instantly seize upon and pore over obsessively until the next one comes out. Such fun ideas for living your life with the kiddos who also inhabit your world. Such Good Food recipes! Take a peek, and then I’ll meet you at the bottom of the pix to discuss my Martha-love….


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_DSC0115_DSC0123
_DSC0121
Oh Martha. Once upon a time I did not fancy this magazine. I MUST HAVE BEEN CRAZY. How could I not have always loved it? Because I do love it now, oh so very much! Her recipes are divine, there’s always a home décor spread that thrills me and it just has so much Cool Stuff I Like. And you know I love Cool Stuff. I think I thought it was full of impossible crafts I would never be able to do…I really just never gave it a proper chance. And then one day I bought an issue. And another. And now I love me my Martha!

The pom-poms craft, the chicken salad dinner, the RAD RED SEQUIN pillow – all in the September 2012 Martha issue. Real Simple Family had a ton of recipes, the kind I like to call real Home Food – the kind of not-too-fancy or hard-to-prepare food I like to cook and eat. I’m totally going to try out the Chicken Sausage and Broccoli pockets, and the blondies.

And did you see the Tell A Bedtime story idea flowchart? So genius! (I’m awful at thinking up homemade bedtime stories – isn’t that why we have a thousand books??)

These two issues were big winners in my book! Sigh. I love my magazines.




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