September 29, 2012

Teeny Halloweenies

This? It's nothing. Just the Teenie Halloweenies. Just the cutest, sweetest, most adorable Halloween book for Tiny Tots that you will ever ever see. So if you're not interested in that, then just move it along. Just shuffle right on by the Extremeliest Adorable-est Darlingest booky-book you've ever peeked at. It's best that way actually, not to know about this much cuteness. Someone's eyeballs might get hurt.

(I read this to Julia all the time when she was about 2. Also, did I mention this book last year in a Cool Stuff post? I have no idea.)

September 28, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

I love this picture beyond words. I hope you don't mind me admiring my own photography. It's from last year, and I just happened upon it and oh the love! No idea what we were making there. Julia is much less keen on cooking projects these days, but she's usually still game for some mixing and of course, batter removal from a spatula or spoon. I'm super happy about the weekend! Going to see some law school friends. AND GETTIN' THE HALLOWEEN DECOR out, oh yes-a-doodle cinnamon strudel.

Super COOL (and yummy) STUFF:

Did you all have a chance to peruse the JULIA'S BOOKBAG BOOKSTORE? And didya see our Awesomely Fab Halloween Booklist?

My favorite show comes back on this weekend!

These pumpkins in a box are so delightful, but what I want to know is, do people really do this? Buy pumpkins to be delivered? I guess someone out there must or why would they offer it? I am bemused.

Would you paint your pumpkin? I WOULD! Especially this color!

Leelee Sobieski has a lot of books. Scroll thru. Did you see the giraffe? I dig her house!

Might be an all treat day! Pumpkin Doughnut Mini Muffins.

Cool Book of the Week: 'Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen' by Carol Odell and Anna Pignataro. Don't judge me friends. I totally bought this while on vacation last month. It's a cookbook! With snippets of classic Kid Lit! One page excerpts from stories like Dr. Doolittle, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Jungle Book, Wind in the Willows, to name a few. Along with easy, kid friendly recipes that are inspired by the stories, such as 'Mowgli's Meusli' and 'Neverland Baked Bananas'. I want to try nearly every single recipe!
Have a lovely weekend! Speaking of weekends, last weekend was fun ~ Julia was at a sleepover, (one of only 2 places we would let her have one at this age) and Andrew and I had a date night! We went to a bookstore! That's what we like to do with our free time, for reals. We are so wild and cray-zay! I spent the better portion of an hour in the children's section and only came home with ONE thing! That's called WILLPOWER, my friends.


September 27, 2012

Home Life

Earlier this spring/summer, this thing was going around in the blog world, people getting disenchanted with the facade of 'perfect lives' and folks were either getting angry with some blogs for perpetuating this perfect life idea or apologizing for making people feel that way.

Every time I saw a blog discussing this issue, I would always leave a comment saying, 'Don't stop! I like your pretty pictures! If I want to see a dirty laundry basket, I'll look at my own, with the bras sitting on the top and if I want to see someone's mess, I'll go take a peek at my kitchen sink filled with rapidly congealing leftover breakfast food. No thanks!'

There's a lot of sadness, illness, frustration, and true unhappiness in the world. If I can in the smallest way make someone smile, or call attention to a pretty flower turning colors in the sun, or inspire someone to celebrate their own baking accomplishments, or help find a book that will make a kid happy, well then I'm gonna to. (That's a Melissa-ism. I snagged it from a neighbor boy who used to tell his mother, "I'm not gonna to" when he didn't want to do what he was told. Hilarious!)

I could document myself paying bills, or vaccuming up cat litter, or take a picture of my mouth guard sitting in cleaning fluid, but why would anyone want to see that?? I can promise you that you do not want to see the PIT OF DESPAIR that is my car. (Actually you might. That would be entertaining!) Wouldn't you rather see a picture of cake? I would. Friends, I've got issues. (oh my. of so many flavors. pick an issue. I might have it! anxiety? got it. PMS? yes. all month long PMS? more yes. hypochondria? yessee. real health probs? yessir.) Everyone has issues. But I like to escape from my issues sometimes, and I think blogs (and Pinterest) are the perfect vehicle to achieve that end.

Also, here's my laundry basket. No bras. Just my kiddo's cute Ikea duvet. I think it looks very pretty! And please notice how my child signed her nature leaf collage. DON'T YOU LOVE IT?

September 26, 2012

The Big Halloween Booklist!

1) 'Over in the Hollow'. 2) 'Ghosts in the House'. 3) 'The Three Little Witches Storybook'. 4) 'A Woggle of Witches'. 5) 'The Monsters' Monster'. 6) 'Ant and Honeybee A Pair of Friends'. 7) 'Vampirina Ballerina'. 8) 'The Witch Kitten'. 9) 'Winnie the Witch'. 10) 'Trick or Treat'. 11) 'The Vanishing Pumpkin'. 12) 'There's No Such Thing as Ghosts!'.

Andrew thinks that the title caption above the books kinda looks like a ransom note, with a bunch of mismatched lettering action. Here's a ransom note for Andrew: "I have the cat. Now go get me some chocolate." He also says that the title up above could be read in SO MANY WAYS, like this: 'Julia's Cool List of Bookbag Halloween Fun!' or 'Cool List of Julia's Bookbag Halloween Fun!' or 'Halloween Fun! Julia's Bookbag! Cool List!'.

Fun, cute Halloween is what we're after folks, not scary and creepy. Miss Julia don't do scary and creepy. With the exception of 'The Witch Kitten', (which I haven't seen but oh my, it looks darling), I have read every one of these books and most of them are sitting in my house RIGHT NOW.

Which is why I've prepared this booklist for you this week, because you can't mosey on into the library midway through October and expect any holiday books to be there ~ the time to get your Halloweeny books from the library is RIGHT NOW, before they're gone, gone, gone.

Quick notes: #2 and #12 are great for Tiny Tots! So simple and cute. #10 is loooooovely, a really quaint tale of an old fashioned trick-or-treating excursion, complete with popcorn balls and chocolate marshmallows.  My personal fav is #11 ~ hilarious and has the added bonus of Tomie dePaola illustrations. #5 and #7 are brand spanking new and really, really sweet. Julia is wild about #3 ~ little witch girls in school! She also ADORES #9. #4 looks scary, but isn't.

SO YOU MIGHT THINK I'LL HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT COME OCTOBER. Wrongey wrong wrong! These are the books I checked out from the library. If I had to pick some of them to own, I'd choose #10, #5 and #11. Starting next week, I'll share the Halloween books that I do own!

September 25, 2012

Making Pizza

(Guess what! I wrote a post LAST SPRING and forgot to run it! So here it is now! Also, I messed up the scheduling the other day and set it to publish...IN JULY (as in July of this past summer), so if that threw any of you off last week, many apologies and this post obviously wants to time travel or wants to never be posted or I don't know what...)

Julia loves her pizza. And she loves to make pizza. No jokey, she can roll out the pizza dough better than I can. She was so proud of herself the first time she assembled (most of it) herself. We usually get our pizza dough from Trader Joe's, but when there's no time (or I've wasted too much time), I go for naan breads, which is a pizza-making tip I got from my BFF Nigella.

Sometimes I like to pretend that Nigella is my glamorous, beautiful older sister. Sometimes I like to pretend she's my besty and we're going to someday have a grand time playing board games, watching movies and chatting about what's the best kind of bread pudding. (Her ginger-jam bread pudding OF COURSE.) And then we'll giggle and paint each other's toes. Please don't tell me to stop with this fantasy. My life will be a colorless place without this dream.)

Julia thinks that I actually KNOW Nigella, since I talk about her so much. She was really surprised to discover that I am not, in fact, best buddies with Nigella. I'm really surprised about it too!

Back to pizza! Um, I don't have anything else to say. Pizza is awesome? I just realized I might love Nigella more than Hello Kitty and I'm not sure how to process all of that. Also, my aunty made Julia the little apron she's wearing and isn't she just so cute in it???

(Also, just noticed that most of these pix have a big ol' brandy bottle in them. No, we don't let Julia take swigs while she cooks. That's just for Mommy and  Daddy. Ok, we don't do that either. Really. Andrew was fighting a cold and had made a hot toddy the night before...and once something makes its way to the kitchen counter, there it stays for at least a week...)

September 24, 2012

Julia's Bookshop

Friends!!! Ok where to start, and how to keep this brief (ish), so I don't bore you. (Internet shouting might happen.)

I'm on a mission. A QUEST. To let people know about all the FLIPPING AWESOME BOOKS out there for kids. Like, I spend a lot of my spare time looking FOR books, looking AT books, placing orders for books at the library, obsessively poring over Scholastic book orders, haunting used book stores, and trolling publishing sites and lists on Amazon.

Most people, I think (aside from Robyn & Whitney, Vanessa, Danzel, Leanne and Burgin) are not doing this so much. AND THAT'S FINE.

That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. So that you can come see some fab books and not have to struggle though the hordes and piles so much. I have a sense that Julia is not going to be the X-Treme reader that I was. The girl has too much energy to sit still. So I feel like it's on me to make sure she reads some quality stuff, and the classics, and isn't left wandering lost through a vast literary landscape. (Sounds kind of awesome, actually.)

Also, I haven't organized this blog so well. And I haven't done much better on Pinterest.

SO I'VE CREATED THIS ONLINE SHOP. Most of the books on the blog I've talked about will be in the shop. If you've forgotten about a certain book and want to find it but don't know the title and don't want to wade through old posts, go look in the shop! I'll also have books on there that might not be on Pinterest and might not be discussed on the blog. And if you didn't know already, I love baths and tea and treats. So I have some favorites in those categories in the Cool Stuff I Like section of the shoppy. I have a bloggy and a shoppy!

Loveys, I get it. The free money fairies are in short supply. I get most of my books through the library. But I do feel strongly that there are great books that should live in your home that your kids should grow up with, that you should OWN. My dad has passed on his old books to me, and I am passing down to Julia, and hopefully she will pass down to her kids.

So if you feel like owning some books, please do go look in my shop, and if you like, buy one, and then you will have a wonderful book and I will have 4 pennies! (Affiliate links aren't exactly a cash cow of revenue. I'm not sure they are any kind of revenue. At least they're not for me!) I've tried to only place books in there that are classics, are beautiful, are unusual, and are worth actually owning. The books that Julia and/or I have read overandoverandover. And the lists will grow and evolve as time goes on and Julia gets older.

Some books in there will be out-of-print books that are only available used ~ that's ok. I order used books all the time and the ones I've received have always been in really decent condition.


September 22, 2012

Sally Wears Shoes

Happy First Day of Fall Saturday! Do your kitties like to wear shoes too??

September 21, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

Late summer flowers are some of the prettiest, I think ~ the hydrangeas, the dahlias, the sunflowers! It will really for truly officially be Fall tomorrow. Do you realize that after next week, it's October?? I can once again resume addressing you all as 'My spookies!' Julia's costume arrived....oh my. Wait until you see THE HAIR. You know what I'm talking about right? For those who don't, please direct your attention here. Did you know that we're planning on making it a family coordinated event? I need to find some kind of medieval looking dress to be Queen Elinor, and Andrew has decided to inflict The Beard upon us again, while he readies himself to be King Angus. Omg it's even the the right color!

COOL STUFF I like, of the fall time variety...

My favorite Autumn book for kids.

I just found out about the Tashi books. They sound AMAZING!! I think Julia is going to looooove these stories.

The coolest Slinkies.

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops.

DIY Marble Ramp!

I made this recipe and it was awesome. Then I turned it into chili and that was awesome too!

Enchanting Foliage Stamp Set.

I loooove the mix of textiles in this shared kiddo bedroom.

Pumpkin for Breakfast.

Cool Book of the Week: So basically, Gecko Press is a goldmine of beautiful books! Including 'My Village, Rhymes from Around the World' by Danielle Wright and Mique Moriuchi. What's particularly cool, in addition to the amazing art, and the engaging and fun rhymes, is that each page has the rhymes written in English, as well as the native country from which the rhyme hails.

I read nursery rhymes non-stop to Julia when she was a toddler. She would listen to them on my lap in our rocker for a good half hour stretch, whereas with a story, she would often grow restless. I'm a big, big fan of reading rhymes to children!

Have a lovely weekend! Doing anything fall-esque? I want to know!


September 20, 2012

Swedish Fairy Tales

_DSC0022Oh friends…I share only what I’m really excited about, but I feel like I might have done you a disservice with all my bouncing around and yelling about books – how will you know which ones I’m really, really, REALLY keen on? The ones you MUST OWN? The ones you will remember FOREVER?

'Great Swedish Fairy Tales' was given to me when I was eight years old…it’s definitely showing its age…if I had to save one book I own from my collection, this one might be it. It would be a fight to the finish between that and 'Canadian Wonder Tales'.

I was going to photograph my book for you, but then I found this site with perfect scans that will show you in so much better detail, the fantastic that is John Bauer’s art. Go see! There’s a ton more scans over there! I have the same reaction to his work now as I did when I was a child…he paints such a vivid world of enchantment and each illustration is more incredible than the last.

To a little girl growing up on Maui, nothing seemed more magical than the land of ice and snow and trolls and wondrous beasties (second time I’ve used that word this week for anyone keeping track). Perhaps that’s why I was equally entranced by the Moomintroll books as well.

To this day, all things Scandinavian just thrill me to the core. Take a peek and tell me 1) Have you read this INCREDIBLE book? and 2) Can you believe this art? I mean really, can you believe it?

“At night, Troll Mother would sneak out to get a whiff of coffee and bacon. If only the people hadn’t had dogs it might have been bearable. Troll Father became more cross and sullen as time went on. They carried their troll kettle between them on a pole. Troll Mother decided that here was the wife for her son.”
--When Mother Troll Took in the King's Washing, 'Great Swedish Fairy Tales'.
If you love children’s books, you must have this book in your life. YOU MUST. That’s all there is to it. I think I read it for an entire year straight when I was 8 years old. Right now this copy is available in hardcover for $14, and I think I’m going to get one and replace my old copy, which is really in pretty beat-up has food smudges all over it because I used to eat snacks and read it…

(UPDATE: I got so excited about this book, I forgot to say more about what the stories are like! Trolls, trolls, lots of trolls -- they're a standard in Swedish folklore. Changelings, brave princesses, intrepid youths, magical animals and good deeds being rewarded, typical fairy tale fare, but with an element of fun and humor that I find to be missing in a lot of Grimm and Andersen stories...)

(ANOTHER UPDATE: It appears that reviewers on Amazon have found that the art in 'Swedish Folk Tales' -- it's the same book as the one discussed in this post -- is the best reprinted edition. So get that one! If you click on the links above it will take you to 'Swedish Folk Tales' so don't be confused, it's the same book as 'Great Swedish Fairy Tales'!)

(Image credits for the various art scans:

September 18, 2012

Poo Bum

Hey you guys! I just want you to know that I laughed AND squealed AND clapped my hands when I saw this book, oh so endearingly titled, ‘Poo Bum’. I have the humor of a 5 year old and someone wrote a children’s book to reflect that, just for me!

PooBum2PooBum1PooBum3Now, I don’t know what your personal beliefs entail, but my personal belief is that the word “Poo” is really, really funny. So is the word “Poop.” My daughter thinks so too! My husband thinks we are both deranged, but mostly me, because I should know better. I DON’T KNOW BETTER.

All I know is that this book looks brilliantly hilarious and apparently author Stephanie Blake’s next book coming out (this October 2012!) is called ‘Stupid Baby’. I love it already!

Oh I forgot that I also really adore the word “poopy”. Poopy poppy poop poop is super amusing to say, ten times fast. Try it and tell me if I’m wrong!

September 17, 2012

Books & Treats for Fall

It seems like everyone is greatly enamored of the fall season, but the other day it suddenly dawned on me why I reeeeeaaaallly love it ~ there is no autumn season in Hawaii, where I grew up. There are no cool, crisp days, no changing leaves, no time change, no pumpkin patches. There just was none of that when I was a little girl. When I went away to college on the East coast, I mailed leaves to my Hawaii friends, I was so totally blown away by the piles and piles of red, yellow, and orange leaves. I'd never seen a pile of fall leaves in real life before, only in movies!

Long story short: Me = a Fan of Fall. Plus, I'm a sucker for all things pretty, and well, is there anything prettier than a maple turning colors?

I was stumped as to how I wanted to arrange this post to best show the things I love about it, and then I realized it all comes down to BOOKS & TREATS. Like it always does. Books and treats, baby!

1) 'Wild Child' by Lynn Plourde. 2) Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes. 3) 'Woody, Hazel and Little Pip' by Elsa Beskow. 4) Harvest Loaf Muffins. 5) Petite Pumpkin Spice Donuts. 6) 'Now It's Fall' by Lois Lenski. 7) Apple-Buttermilk Cupcakes with Maple Frosting. 8) 'The Apple Pie that Papa Baked' by Lauren Thompson. 9) Mom's Apple Cake. 10) 'Apples, Apples, Apples' by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.

Enjoy the season my friends! And if you're hankering for MORE fall goodness, I have a great many additional treats and recipes and books on my Autumn Pinterest board!

September 14, 2012

Cool Stuff I Like

We lost internet, phone and cable for 2 whole days this week! Andrew and I had to go to a Starbucks to get online. Oh my goodness, it was harrowing. And...peaceful. Technology is really a double edged sword isn't it? I really missed Lainey Gossip. Do you know about my love for this site? I love a lot of blogs. But I love Lainey Gossip sooooooo much. It's gossip with a side of intelligence. I adore her book reviews. (except she didn't love 'The Night Circus'. ?????) Oh also speaking of blog love, my sis-in-law just turned me onto this site, and well, what rock have I been under? SO FUNNY!

COOL STUFF I liked this week:

Sparklestories. I'm so trying this out for Julia ~

Roasted Apple Scones with Ginger.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE'S A LAURA ASHLEY BLOG?? Back in the day, no one loved Laura Ashley more than I did ~ NO ONE. Their site is really darling and has a kid's section!

And while over at the Laura Ashley site, check out Jeska's cozy reading corner.

The prettiest blocks.

This issue of LMNOP is all about books!

Love this Halloween countdown calendar. (I'm just gonna start talking Halloween now until it's Halloween. I just can't help it anymore.)

If I lived in Ireland, Julia and I would eat this yogurt ALL THE TIME.

What a cool website ~ and take a look at their fabulous maps!

Flora's Forest iPad app looks super darling and fun.

Cool Book of the Week: 'At the Farmers' Market With Kids' by Leslie Jonath & Ethel Brennan. Want to make some Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with your kids? Of course you do! I think that sounds really intriguing and good, actually. This cookbook has such fun and simple recipes that an older kid would be able to handle with some supervision, or for you and your kids to cook together. Simple and wholesome. I sound like an old fashioned cereal ad, but really, that's how I find the recipes in this book! Plus, most farmers' markets are open until the end of October and there is such wonderful produce to be had right now...

At the Farmer's Market with Kids: Recipes and Projects for Little Hands
Have a lovely weekend! I really want to start decorating the house for Halloween. I think instead I might try out my new doughnut pan...


September 13, 2012

Pasta That Will Make Your Child Cry

P1010902P1010908P1010910P1010915P1010918P1010919I've been making a variation of this Emeril Lagasse roasted cherry and angel hair pasta dish for years, but I haven’t really served it to Julia very much, until recently.

You would've thought I had served her a dish of toad droppings sprinkled with rotten milk droplets, when I presented her with this dinner.

She cried. She yelled. She refused to eat. She had a Class ‘A’ hissy fit.

So. . . will you believe me when I say it’s really, really good, one of my favorite things that I make?

Will you believe me when I tell you that when we finally managed to get her to take one tiny actual bite, she stopped crying and said, “This is really good! I love tomatoes!”

I love children. . . SO MUCH.


  • 1 pound red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound small green heirloom tomatoes, quartered (I just use cherry tomatoes, 2 lbs.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons slivered garlic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (go easy, I use less, so I don’t make it too spicy for kids)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves (what? no. too much work for me!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces whole-milk ricotta salata, crumbled (I just use Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Additional chopped fresh herbs, garnish
  • Hot French or Italian bread, accompaniment


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a large, glass baking dish, toss the tomatoes with the oil, garlic, vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the basil, parsley, and oregano. (Most times I skip all of these herbs if pressed for time.) Stir well.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Toss with the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the tomatoes and pan juices and cook over low heat until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ricotta salata cheese (I don’t use this and never have, I just use parmesan.) and stir until mostly melted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Toss with the pine nuts (I don’t use the pine nuts.) and Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional herbs, as desired (nah), and serve immediately.

September 12, 2012

For Just One Day

_DSC0210_DSC0211_DSC0213_DSC0214_DSC0216_DSC0218_DSC0220There are a great many picture books involving the imaginings of a child as he or she tries to envision life as someone or something else, but ‘For Just One Day’ brings something different to the table. And that something different is the artistic genius of Marc Boutevant. So vivid, so colorful, and just so welcoming – I feel like looking at Marc’s art is akin to taking a field trip into a child’s imagination in all of its Technicolor glory.

Books like this are such a springboard into fun discussions with kiddos – what would be great about being a gorilla? Which part of a snail’s body is the coolest part? Where would you go with butterfly wings? Would you rather be a huge animal or a small animal?

What would you be if you could be anything???

These are Deep Thoughts, friends. Made accessible to the tiniest reader. ‘For Just One Day’ has been around for a few years now and we’ve owned it for awhile, but I keep finding it on the floor every so often. Julia loves it!

If for some reason Marc’s art has escaped you, you must do a couple of things. Go find ‘Mouk’. (I’ll accept your extreme thanks in the form of doughnuts and cute stickers.) And get yourself ready for ‘The Great House Hunt’, which will be released Spring 2013!

I can’t wait!!