Cool Stuff I Like


November 30, 2012

Oh my friendsies, this has been one miserable cold that I've been dealing with this week! I seriously didn't know my nose and eyes could run so much. I went through half a box of tissues in a 3 hour period. Andrew made me Jello. And he bought me apple juice and sparkling apple juice and most very importantly, he patiently listened to me complain about how miserable I was, which I did at least every 10 minutes over a 3 day period. Do you like my mug? I hope so because I've taken a million pictures of it. I LOVE IT. Cost Plus! I can't find the mug online so I can't link to it, boo. You must get Cost Plus factored into your holiday shopping plans. Also, Smith teas are very pleasing. It's not Kusmi, mind you, but they come in really cute, compostable boxes. I like cute boxes. I'm very medicated right now.

Holiday COOL STUFF!! We can really get to it!

Speaking of Cost Plus, check out these Russian doll ornaments.

And this pillow!!

Darling, darling paint set.

Christmas Ball Elf game from Haba.

It's not the holidays at our house without Chocolate Cream Pie.

I want to have one of these parties!

Apple Cider Hot Toddy.

Oh Anthro.......

GORGEOUS painted wooden puzzles!

Sad about Twinkies? Me too. Let's try this.

'Brave' Ultimate Sticker Book.

Calafant Toys. You make it, then you play with it! Very cool.

Love this candy-colored sweater. I liked it so much I got it.

Cool Book of the Week: We just saw 'Rise of the Guardians' and Julia loooooooved it. Silly me didn't know it was based on a series of books. Her favorite character was the Sandman, and I am pretty sure Santa is going to get her this glorious looking picture book! Actually, I think both 'The Sandman: The Tale of Sanderson Mansnoozie' and 'The Man in the Moon' look amazing.

The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie
Have a lovely weekend! Advent begins! We're doing teeny, tiny little treats and notes and fun things for Advent this year, in addition to our usual chocolate calendar. Andrew says now I've committed myself until Julia is 18.....


The Last Tiger


November 29, 2012

Before it turns into All Christmas, All the Time around here, I wanted to share the most darling book I received to review the other day. I was going to use it for a giveaway, but Julia was so enchanted with it, she was in tears at the thought of it leaving! So sorry! She's plumb wild about every kind of cat...big cats, little cats, wild cats...I guess she's inherited her father's crazy-for-cats gene.

So 'The Last Tiger' by Rebecca Elliott is staying with us. But if you have a cat loving youngster at YOUR house, then they too will be loving this sweet, sweet story centering on the friendship between a little boy and yep, you guessed it, The Last Tiger.

I'm super impressed at how concisely and cleverly the message of this tale is laid out. In a way that isn't preachy or heavy-handed, and remains easy for even a preschooler to grasp: If you trash the environment, there will be nothing left in nature to enjoy. So let's take care of and appreciate the natural world!

After we read the story for the first time, Julia said " Mom! This would be a great book for Earth Day!"  Indeed, wise grasshopper.

Again, I'm really blown away with how this message was handled. "A strange world where the people had forgotten what was important."

It's an interesting topic to discuss with kids. Imagine a world without animals! Without flowers. Or trees.

But all is not lost, friends! Because a plucky little guy named Luka befriends the shy tiger and the two pals bring beauty back to the world in the form of a secret oasis. 

And everyone remembers that once the world was lovely. And wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if it were so again? 

This uplifting message is important. And no child is too young to learn the value of taking care and appreciating the natural world of which we are just a part. I'm so thrilled I had the opportunity to review and share this one with you! The text is so tight and well done, and the art was absolutely gorgeous to my adult eye while also being engaging on a kid level.

If you want to see more of Rebecca Elliott's work, look here.

Maui No Ka Oi


November 28, 2012

_DSC0146Still sick here! I’ve been blowing my nose about every 5 seconds. My colds tend to be the kind where my nose runs like a faucet, as opposed to being all stuffy. I’m wondering how I got this silly cold? If/when the super flu comes around, I’m totally a goner, by the way. I touch my face or stick my fingers in my eyes, nose, ears or mouth on average about 15 times per minute. I’m worse than the grubbiest toddler.

So I’m sickypoo, its been freezing over night and despite the fact I was on Maui visiting my dad less than 2 weeks ago, it seems like it happened a long long time ago.

Let’s look at some Maui pix! And I will feel better, and you will feel happier than listening to me yack about my inconsequential cold. (and in the past 2 seconds I touched my gums and the inside of my nose. Then my keyboard. I wonder why I’m sick???)

_DSC0026By the by, ‘Maui No Ka Oi’ means ‘Maui is the best’. Andrew likes to tell me how the Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai are way way better than Maui, despite the fact that he’s never been to Kauai. I’m going to go wipe my fingers on him. I just touched my lip.

I’m from ‘Historic Makawao’, if you were wondering! See the sign above? ‘Paniolo’ means ‘cowboy’ in Hawaiian. I've never been a paniolo, also in case you were wondering.

_DSC0055My dad lives a little way up this street. I tell people that I grew up in a pineapple field. That’s only a little lie. I grew up very near a pineapple field.

PicMonkey CollageThere are lots of eucalyptus trees along our road. My dad has a koi fish pond, but I think the koi might have died? Not sure. I forgot to look. That big mass of tree business is what you see behind my dad’s house, it’s across a ravine or gulch of some kind. I lived in the FLIPPING STICKS. Pretty sticks, though.

_DSC0150Gardenias grow like weeds. WEEDS. Gardenias! Why don’t all weeds look like gardenias??

_DSC0051_DSC0053_DSC0054More Makawao. Best shopping on the island! Also Paia, I’ll show you that town next. Want to ‘Have a Maui Christmas’? Sure you do!

_DSC0066Here I am taking my life into my hands by pulling off to the side of the road so that I can show you how I am travelling downcountry. There is upcountry and downcountry. And there is the middle, halfway up the mountain part, which is where I lived.

_DSC0072Now we’re downcountry! In the little town of Paia. Which is now a really cute town with cute shops and cute eateries. When I was growing up, only hippies and out of work surfers frequented Paia. Now hippies, out of work surfers, and tourists frequent Paia.

_DSC0077Please don’t pronounce Paia the same way as “paella”, which is what Andrew likes to do, to annoy me. It sounds like “pie-EE-uh”.

Just past Paia is Ho’okipa, which is considered the windsurfing capital of the world. You don’t get in the water at Ho’okipa unless you totally know what you’re doing, swimming and surfing-wise.

I have never put one toe in the water at Ho’okipa.

_DSC0086_DSC0124_DSC0130(that’s a kid, by the way.)

I did however, climb under a fence that I wasn’t supposed to, because 1) everyone else was doing it, which is always the best reason to do something, and 2) how else was I going to get any awesome water shots? My telephoto only goes so far.

Ho’okipa is beautiful but scary. Like, this kind of scary.

_DSC0137_DSC0109_DSC0107Don’t fall off yo surfboards! I have never in my life been surfing, except once when I was a baby and my dad paddled me around on a surfboard. I’m glad I have no memory of this. I’ve been windsurfing a couple times. Correction: once or twice I have STOOD UP on a windsurfing board. That’s as far as I got.

Want more Maui? With some Julia in it? Here’s last year’s trip. Maui No Ka Oi! Mele Kalikimaka!

Pajama Time


November 27, 2012

Well my friends, I am sick today. And I was sick yesterday. So I wrote this post about pajamas while IN my pajamas. Believe it or not, most of the time, I do wear real clothing when I create posts. Notice I said, most of the time

But I have a great love for pajamas, even when I am not sick and not blogging! If you were to ask my friends, they would be happy to tell you that I have gone upstairs in the middle of dinner gatherings and come back down in my pajamas. Andrew finds it a most embarrassing habit. 

I'm going to keep the chatter to a minimum today because my throat is so sore and my head is pounding. But I did want to share some cozy flannel PJ's I found recently, and if you are like me, maybe you'll be putting some new pajamas on your holiday wish list? 

1) Eddie Bauer Printed Knit Sleep Pants, $44.95. 2) Birdwatching Flannel Coat Set, $29.99. 3) Garnet Hill Mandarin Holiday Pajamas, $82. 4) Gilligan & O' Malley Women's Flannel Coatset (assorted colors), $24.99.

I'm also fond of these pink cozies!

When wearing your cozytime pajamas, might I suggest drinking this tea (again. and always. I'll never stop suggesting it until enough of you write to me exclaiming, Yes! It really is fabulous! THANK YOU MELISSA!), and perhaps reading this book? (which I am wanting very much to read soon)

Cozy on, my friends.

Julia's Bookbag Holiday Book List!!!


November 26, 2012

WOO-HOO! Ok my merry elves, strap on yo holiday cheer! Got it strapped? On yo...whatever? I have to preface this by saying I'm also going to be throwing out a Vintage Christmas book list as well. There are a MILLION holiday books. This list is just a teensy grain of sand in the ocean of holiday books. But we have to start somewhere, no? Some I've read, some I'm ordering, some are favorites from last year.

Top row across: 

~ 'Another Night Before Christmas' ~ illustrated by the King of Art Fantastic (he did 'Mouk'!) himself, Mr. Marc Boutevant.

~ 'A Merry Little Christmas' has the most charming and fun and DARLING and adorable art I've ever seen in a Christmas book. Yes you heard right, THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN! We've had it since Julia was 3.

~ 'Findus At Christmas'...hurry up library! We're waiting for this one! Love this series of books. (update: we got it! and read it! it's adorable. Among other happenings, Findus gives Pettson a potato peeler wrapped in a tea towel.)

Middle row:

~ 'Little Fairy's Christmas' has enchanting art and the sweetest story about a lost little fairy finding a place to rest on this special holiday. The moral? Kindness to others is a good thing!

~ 'The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher' is one I'm buying this year, after hankering after it since last year. It's been described as one of the all time great Christmas stories, a Must Read, and the most fun Christmas tale ever. People just lose their minds over this book. I must have it and Purple House Press has brought it back into print!

~ 'The Nutcracker: A Magic Theater Book' looks amazing. I have about 5 different versions of this most fabulous of holiday stories! This one is GORGEOUS and just came out October 2012.

Bottom row:

~ 'Richard Scarry's The Animals' Merry Christmas' is the one book you should get off this list, if you are thinking of adding only one new book to your holiday collection. You have to have it! Poems, short stories, longer stories, magical illustrations, and FUN -- I wrote about it last year as well. Truly a book the whole family can enjoy, as there are tales for Tiny Tots, as well as stories that older children can read that are more challenging in complexity and length. This would make a fantastic gift. That's how it came into our lives, from Julia's great-aunt!

~ 'Snowmen at Christmas' is for all of those who have wondered, what do snowmen do when no one is looking?? (Lots of fun cool stuff!)

~ 'Big Susan' is a TREASURE. A delightful chapter book that you can read to your kids ages 5 and up, or a great one for 7-9 year olds to read on their own. MAGIC. Dollhouse dolls come alive on one night a year. Christmas Eve.

So I hope that this gives you a place to start. I'll have my more vintage picks next week! May I remind you once again that NOW is the time to go find holiday books at the library....

Cool Stuff I Like


November 23, 2012

Are you still eating?? What did you eat? Pie? What kind of pie? I would very much like to know about what kind of foodings you all ate. Do tell! Do share! Guess what happens this weekend? My orange Halloween lights come down and my awesome Ikea multi colored star light strand goes up. I would link it but it appears to not exist on the website, however if you're in a store, in the lighting section, and you see a strand of star-shaped lights called 'Kilometer' ~ that's what I got and I LOVE them and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get two.

COOL STUFF I found this week, while eating pie:

This blew my mind! Never heard about this way of hanging lights on a Christmas tree.

Spice Infused Simple Syrup.

I linked to this Fairytale Cottage Advent calendar last year and I'm doing it again b/c it's FLIPPING AMAZING!

2013 Caravan of Dreams Calendar.

Elsa Beskow 2013 Calendar!!

If you aren't holiday shopping at Cost Plus World Market, you are missing THE BEST holiday everything-awesome source.

This cake. Oh my. And the photography! Took my breath away.

More advent calendar coolness. I think we'll just do our standard candy-in-the-window calendar, but this DIY advent calendar is simply amazing, as are Kate's ideas on what to use as gifts and treats.

Aaaaaand, this advent calendar garland. SO CUTE!

Darling Holiday paper chains from eeBoo.

Hearty Potato Leek Soup.

Cool Book of the Week: Books. Lately I've been covering series of books, haven't I? I didn't think I would be writing about the 'Mrs. Piggle Wiggle' books by Betty MacDonald (and so charmingly illustrated by the greats Hilary Knight and Maurice Sendak!) for at least another year. But Julia discovered them on the shelf and wanted me to read them to her and I did, and she LOVES THEM. Well duh. Because they're amazing! And she's been trying to read a few chapters herself!

If there is anyone unfamiliar with these treasures, I'll give a very quick rundown: basically the nicest lady in the whole world who is also magical, gives advice to parents on how to deal with their kids who have Tattle-itis, who are Never-Want-to-go-to-Bedders, who are Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Takers, who are Interrupters or Whisperers or Headless get the gist. These books were some of the DEFINING BOOKS OF MY CHILDHOOD. You simply must have them. A set of the entire series would be the best gift! 

Have a lovely weekend! Who's doing any Christmas decorating this weekend? Anyone? Just me? I'm just doing a little bit.


Maui Whole Child


November 21, 2012

So I promised you some pix of Hawaii! Remember I was visiting my dad for a few days last week? He's recovering from surgery and doing fabulously well. I have a lot more photos to share with you, but today, I want to talk about a magical little bookshop.

If you ever find yourself on Maui, in the upcountry (that means up on the mountain of Haleakala, as opposed to down by the beachy areas) town of Makawao, you must seek out a tiny gem of a toy and book store called Maui Whole Child. It's like a secret treasure trunk of childhood fantastic. I discovered it on last year's trip to Maui, and when I went back, I was gushing like a rabid fangirl to the owner who runs the shop. "Hi, do you remember me? I was here last year! Do you remember? I was here with my daughter, but she's not here this time! I write a blog about children's books! Do you remember? I was here before and I loved your store! I LOVE this store!"

(Friends, I promise you this is pretty much exactly what I said. This is how I talk. And I usually immediately begin by asking really personal questions. Beware.)

The store itself is not very big, but every square inch is packed with beautiful toys, games, puzzles, handmade blankets and textiles, and the types of new and used books that you won't see in any other shop. Each time I've been to the store, I have found things that I've never seen before, or have only been able to find online.

There are just exquisite books here. The owner has amazing book taste! I was super enthralled by 'Aurelie, A Faerie Tale' and 'Auntie Tigress and Other Favorite Chinese Folktales':

And the selection of children's books about Hawaii is The Bestest.

I didn't get the copy of  'The Fables of La Fontaine' and I am mentally flagellating myself. Gah, I hate it when I talk myself into going against my better judgment! That one I should have gone for, I was trying not to overload my that matters when there are BOOK TREASURES to be had. I'm going to swear now. Because if you can't swear over a good book, then what is the point, people? WTF WAS I THINKING??

I did get a couple of holiday books, which I'll be trotting out pretty soon. I should amend my prior assertion just a bit ~ you should seek out this shop even if you DON'T find yourself in Makawao...if you're staying in the more resort or beach areas, get into your little driving mobile and make the 25-35 minute trek (depending on where you are) up to Makawao and hit the shops because Makawao has some of the the best shopping on the island, which tourists are beginning to discover. MAUI WHOLE CHILD, don't forget!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...


November 20, 2012

So I have a little gift guide for you today! I must preface with a couple of things. One, I have a 6 year old GIRL. Sorry my friends with boys. I don't know what boys are into. But my kiddo is into lots of different things and there are definitely products on this list that will appeal to both genders. And two, some are items that I've never seen or used before, but several are toys/games that we own and have LOVED. Loved as in my kid has played with them overandoverandover for a good solid year. I'll point those out.

Third, I am not scared by plastic. I mean, I'm scared of it being in the ocean, but I'm not scared of it being in my home. My belief is that kids can't just play with natural colored wood all the time. I mean, they could, but um, that wouldn't be so fun, in my opinion.

1.) Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablets, $30-35. My father gave this to Julia for Christmas TWO YEARS AGO and she uses it almost everyday. I'm not joking. In terms of amount of use, this is BY FAR the gift she has loved and used most in her entire 6 yrs. And we never lost the pen! (although once it did fall into the toilet. Guess who got to retrieve it? ME. This is my #1 pick, I can't recommend it highly enough!

2) Barefoot Books World Atlas, $19.99. Julia loves facts. Right now she's very into learning about world geography and I'm strongly considering this book. I've never been let down by a book from Barefoot Books, ever.

3.) Crazy Cats game by Haba, $10.79. This tiny game, perfectly stocking-sized, is proof that great things come in small packages. Simply the most fun game that we currently own. I reviewed it completely here (ignore the terrible photos, I was just starting the blog).

4.) Free to Be You and Me CD, $6.28. I listened to this compilation of stories, songs and poems only a HUNDRED MILLION TIMES when I was about Julia's age. I adored it. So I'm getting it for her and reliving my childhood!

5.) Novi Stars dolls, $15.97. If you read the reviews, these dolls are supposedly very very cute and very very not the sturdiest. I'm getting one anyway for Julia because I know my kid and I know she's going to adore these dolls. Extra space galaxy clothes are available, which I am also going to get because these dollies appear to need some help in this arena, as 'scantily clad' would be a kind understatement. Aliens don't like clothes?

6.) Rainy Day Survival Kit, $39. One of Julia's aunts got this arts and crafts kit from the Land of Nod last year and she had the best time doing the projects all throughout the year. This was an EXCELLENT product and Julia loved it! This year's kit is a little different, but I imagine just as fun.

7.) Deluxe Combo Scratch Art Set, $14.23. Scratch art is totally fun. We have a mini scratch art pad that Julia adores. This mega kit looks reeeaalllly cool!

8.) Djeco Glitter Boards, $16-23. Djeco is one of my absolute favorite toy companies. The most beautiful art kits ever! Anything Djeco is gorgeous and amazing.

9.) Enchanted Forest game by Ravensburger, $18.40. I'm getting this for J. No idea if it will fly or not, but sometimes one has to take a leap of faith with a new game. For the most part, reviewers RAVED about this game, describing it as the 'defining game' of their childhoods. If your kids like 'Memory' type games (Julia does) and fairy tales, this game is supposed to be IT.

We LOVE games in our family and I'm looking to usher in a whole new round of board games, since I feel like my kiddo is ready to graduate to a new level of board gaming beyond the preschooler-type fare we've had for the past couple of years. (you can read the reviews on Amazon and also HERE.)

10.) eeBoo Play Papers, $7.95. Like Djeco crafts, every game or craft from eeBoo is super high quality and beautiful. The Play Papers would be fun to use....for most anything!

11.) Moulin Roty Shadow Puppet Theater, $46. SO BEAUTIFUL! And the shadow puppets?? Amazing.

12.) Beads Set from England, $19.50. This was described as the 'nicest bead set in the world.' Well alrighty! If you can't tell, I'm a big fan of crafty type gifts ~ I think they lend themselves to creativity and longevity so much more than a standard toy that will sit around getting dusty.


If you have any hot toy/game/holiday gift ideas that you think I should know about, YOU BETTER TELL ME, 'cuz I really want to know! My new motto this season ~ if you stop by, you better be in the mood to share. Books, games, treats, cool stuff, I want to know what you know! Or we can revel in our ignorance together, that's always fun too. XO

Autumn Leaf Tree That is Awesome


November 19, 2012

I apologize for not getting this up in a more timely fashion, happens. Still feel like decorating for Autumn? I've been forbidden from putting up any Christmas deco until after Thanksgiving. Such shackles they put on me, my family. Such restraint do they administer upon my CHRISTMAS LOVING SOUL.

Well file this away because 1) the stick tree really is retiring (I feel like Joaquin Phoenix, who keeps saying he's retiring from acting, and that keeps not happening.) and 2) even if it's too late for further autumnal deco, this concept could so easily be done in a Christmasy or Winterific fashion, or even Springified or made Summery. (yes I just directed you to all of my seasonal Pinterest boards because they are GREAT and I am the Queen of Self Promotion.)

I'm so happy with how this version of the stick tree came out! For all of those who have been waiting with baited breath for me to do a stick tree retrospective, that's coming soon and I'll make a collage of ALL versions of the stick tree that we did this past year and we will all gaze at it and love it forever. Or maybe just me. That's ok too because I am my own best audience. I laughed so hard at the Andrew Has Opinions post, he was like, "I can't let you run this, you're laughing too hard, that must mean it's way too embarrassing."

(Oh hi Sally! Homewrecker.)

All we did here was cut out leafy shapes. Julia's take: "This is more fun than I thought it would be, Mom." If that's not enough of an endorsement for you, I don't know what would be. Then we took seriously, a really minuscule amount of fabric scraps that we had from our paper dolls materials box and glued them onto the leaves. I did front and back and still only used not very much fabric. I was going for a sort of a quilt look.

I like cutting and pasting. I could cut and paste ALL DAY LONG.

Since the stick tree is maybe probably retiring, I'm going to save all of my little leaflets and string them into a garland for next year.

I like all the color ~ I like bringing color into the GREY COLORLESS WORLD that is my life in the winter months here. It makes me feel like a party is happening!

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