March 29, 2013

Cool Stuff I Like

Ok let's discuss what we love most about Bunny Hello Kitty. Her little floppy bunny ears? Her bows? Her LITTLE BUNNY SHOES???????  It's totally the little bunny shoes. Is this not the cutest? Julia is going to be peeved at me for not putting this pic on Pink Sparkle Fun. You ready for Easter? I'm ready for Easter. TO BE OVER. I managed to not get a million pounds of candy for Easter this year, but you know what? I'm kinda over holidays right now. I'm ready to be all done. Unless it's an obscure holiday like St. George's Day or the Dragon Boat Festival. I'd be down with celebrating those I think.

COOL STUFF I'm happy to celebrate....

Things on Toast.

Beautiful Swedish blog.

Saw this on Design Mom. Hair chalk! Made by a Melissa from Hawaii! Cool.

Orange and Ginger Teacake.

Friends with Google Readers! Don't use them anymore 'cuz they are going away. Read this for advice on Feedly.  And this for info on Bloglovin'.

A Pinterest board devotedly solely to the hotness/not hotness of James Franco. (my vote: Not Hot)

Spring Risotto.

Are we watching Mr. Selfridge??? We are aren't we?? Let's discuss next week.

Russian Fairy Tales.

Lemon Curd Layer Cake!

Beautiful Japan pictures.

Cool Book of the Week: Ok this is going to sound VERY confusing. Bear with me. We haven't yet read 'E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core!' by William Joyce. What we ARE in the middle of reading is 'Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies' by the same author. Which is BOOK THREE of the 'Rise of the Guardians' chapter book series. Julia saw it with her grammy at the bookstore and would not be deterred. Miss J thought it was the first book.

So we're reading the LAST book in the series, (they do a good job of catching you up to speed, but we're still a bit lost on the backstory of certain characters) and I'm showing you the SECOND book in the series because it's about a bunny and it's Easter. If you want to do this properly, start with the FIRST book in the series, which is 'Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King'. GOT ALL THAT? (we're loving the 'Toothiana' book, even though we really have no clue what's going on. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!)

Incredible art, short chapters, engaging story about beloved holiday heroes (they're heroes!) saving the world from nightmare-inducing bad guys, and Julia's WAY into it so far. I have to explain a lot of words to her. Great to read to your 7 year old (an older 6 might like it too), and awesome for 8-11 yrs olds to read on their own.

Have a lovely weekend! By the way, what's your Easter treat of choice? Jelly bean, chocolate or marshmallow? (jelly bean)


March 28, 2013

Easter Biz

I exhausted myself doing my dissertation on Russian lacquer box fairy tales yesterday (and by dissertation I mean, I shouted an extra amount), so today I'm going to kick back and show you our Easter eggs that we made.

You can look all over the internets and Pinterest and see all kinds of mindblowing eggs. You won't see those kind of eggs here. 'Cuz I like to kick it old school with my Paas kits.

I don't gots the TIME to make a vat of peeled and chopped onion skins and blueberries and fennel with some saffron and whatnot, INTO WHICH, I drop my eggs into their little bath and then they sit for over 24 hours to achieve a hue that looks like a fairy came and blew her breath upon it.


I don't gots the time for that, nopey nope nope. Nor does my child have the patience for that. When she's 10, we'll make us a vat of onion skins and saffron and we'll spend 90 hours on our eggs with sharpies and decorate with washi tape and it will be AWESOME. But that time is not now.

We got ourselves some NEON and TIE DYE Paas kits. Because in this house, less is not more.

More is always more. Gilding the lily? I BRONZE the lily. And then I dip it in chocolate. And then I eat it. (I've lost my mind by the way.) The sun came out and my brain just 'sploded. Cannot. Process. Glowing Orb in Sky.

In the tie dye kit, you Very Helpfully get ONE little plastic squeezy to squirt the tie dye stuff onto your egg. ONE. It's very very small and prolly cost -2 cents to make and put into the box. COULDN'T SPRING FOR TWO PLASTIC SQUEEZIES, eh Paas? Man, I'm on a rant soap box this week. First the lanterns, now the squeezy.

I will be silent now. Please enjoy our tie dye and our neon.

 (I'm not dirty. I have dye stained hands.)

Towards the end we gave up on spoons, tools, and plastic squeezies. I retract my rant about the squeezies. Each additional squeezy will just wind up in the ocean AND THAT'S BAD.

 (see the blob of tie dye ooze? awesome!)

We just began using our hands. Julia literally dipped her whole hand in egg dye before I realized what she was doing. I was like, 'uh PLEASE REFRAIN from the HAND DIPPING please.' We used our fingers to make little neon dots on our eggs. We did some tie dye first, and then dipped them into neon. But only for a few seconds, so it didn't really look very neon. It just looked pastel.

Guess what time of the month it is for me?

Happy Easter time!

March 27, 2013

Russian Lacquer Fairy Tales

Hello lovelies! So, I've been wanting to do some Ukranian egg decorating, which one of Andrew's aunties knows how to do! But it's pretty complex, and we're going to hold off on getting into that activity until Julia is a couple years older.

I've always admired the art form though, as well as the art found on Russian lacquer boxes. (want to see some crazy expensive ones? sure you do! you can find some though at really great prices if you search around.)

My mom got one as a gift when I was about 8, and I begged her for it every year until she gave it me. At some point my parents also gave me 'Russian Lacquer, Legends and Fairy Tales' by Lucy Maxym, as well as 'Russian Lacquer, Legends and Fairy Tales, Vol II'. There aren't too many reasonably priced used or new options on Amazon. (it's an out of print book.) 

 ('Vasilisa the Beautiful' is a Baba-Yaga story! Love Baba-Yaga.)

I think it sounds kind of ridiculous to tell you how beautiful these books are. BECAUSE IT'S TOTALLY OBVIOUS HOW DROP DEAD GORGEOUS THEY ARE. Sorry for the extra shouty today, but CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW AMAZING, THIS ART? Each story has accompanying pictures of and from Russian lacquer boxes.

Amazing. Maybe Russian art doesn't float your boat, but it does mine! I think the reason I liked it so much was because the first time I saw a Russian lacquer box, I thought, 'Oh, it looks just like a fairy tale!' And I lived and breathed fairy tales when I was young.

Here's how Lucy Maxym, the author, describes her own fascination with Russian lacquer:

" eye was caught by a gleaming little black lacquer box on the coffee table. I had never seen anything like it, and found it utterly charming. This is how my love affair with Russian lacquer miniatures started."

The reason that the boxes look like fairy tales images is because they are.

Lucy writes:

"It is of course impossible to include all the Russian fairy tales, songs, legends, operas and ballets. Therefore, the stories in this book consist of those which are the inspiration for a great majority of the paintings done by lacquer miniaturists."


As you can tell from the text density, this is not reading for your 4 or 5 year old. But I would say, 6 and up, have at it. On average, most of the stories are about six pages long.

There are Spirits of the Lake! There are evil warlocks disguised as birds! Guards in drunken stupors! There are bad witches! Girls with golden hair that turns water to gold! Magical daughters who appear from the snow! ('The Snowmaiden', which is one of my favorite fairy tales, and I also talked about it in my Cold Books post.)

Also included on Vol 1 is one of the most famous of Russian fairy tales, 'The Tale of the Firebird'. This version looks gorgeous as well!

(my Russian box. please ignore the weird shadow in the top corner that now you won't ignore since I pointed it out.)

Oh friends! Are you enchanted? These books have been collecting dust in my bookshelf for over 20 years (I got them when I was a teen). And now they are OUT and dusted off, and I just showed Julia my Russian box for the very first time (I collect all kinds of small trinket boxes and they were all packed away, ever since we moved to our current home, because I didn't know where to put a bunch of random little ceramic boxes), and she LOVED it! So I told her we could share the Russian box. (after a few minutes of 'oooh', she was back playing with her My Little Ponies.) But we're going to start reading some of these fairy tales now, and I'm so so excited.

(UPDATE: OMG. EBAY HAS THE FIRST VOLUME FOR $15. Says there are 14 available. And there are other used copies for even less! Some are $5! Go go go!!!!!!!)

ALSO: Snowmaiden and Rabbit fairy tale box for $22!!! Ebay is too fabulous sometimes.

March 26, 2013

Spring Paper Lanterns

 (look, my yellow orchids regrew themselves! I take no credit, they just like this location in the window.)

Hello friends!! My friend Gretchen thought up the most brilliant word for the new season so many of us have been having: SPINTER. I love it! She's so clever! (not to be confused with sphincter, Andrew wants you all to know.) Anyway, up until this week (it's supposed to be several days worth of sunshine this week!), it's been dark. Rainy. Hail-y. Snow-y. Or ish. We didn't get much at our house though. And as some of you know, especially since I get sad from S.A.D.,

I like my lights,

my glowy things,

and my Japanese paper lanterns. These kind of lanterns and also this kind!

This year, I did something different. I bought myself a paper lantern garland. I have Many Things To Say about my new lanterns. Here they are:


2) They are not worth the money I spent on them

3) Overpriced (see above)

4) %$#@!*&% difficult to put together, making the #2 and #3 thoughts particularly acute

5) Several of them broke while I was putting them together, because they are made out of PAPER and the wire inserts were NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to put into the lanterns, so I had to tape them back together; also getting the assembled lanterns onto the light strand was VERY DIFFICULT.

All of this was not helping my S.A.D.

Mimi'lou, French company of Extreme Cuteness and Extreme Aggravation? I shan't be buying this product again. (but if you want to advertise on my site that's ok, b/c I'm morally ambiguous that way.)

DESPITE ALL OF THAT, I love them, I love them, I love them. They are so pretty! They glow in the most lovely pastel way. I love them so much that it almost makes up for the hassle and the overpricedness. I had justified the price to myself thinking that I would love them and have them forever, not knowing that I would instantly break half of them during the putting-together process, gah.

If you want to love them too and DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU about how hard they are to put together, you can order them here from Olive & Cocoa. Handmade in France my #@*. I almost sent them back and was going to demand another set, plus a merchandise credit, but I wasn't wearing my argumentative lawyer hat that day. Pickle. I totally should have done that.

Ooooooh but the lanterns are so pretty.....they needed to reinforce the paper somehow, or use another not-as-rippable material, maybe a sheer fabric or something? When I'm done with the lights in the kitchen, I think I'm going to hang them in Julia's room.

Here they are at night:

Love hate love hate love hate.

March 25, 2013

The Easter Bonnet

Can you believe this hat?? I did a little gasp when I saw it. (Junie B. has affected my speech.) Is it not incredible? Can you tell I think it's incredible? It's flipping incredible!

My kiddo went to a birthday party, one of her closest friends, and her mom is just the bees knees and a sweet friend of mine. It was a craft party of sorts and the kids made the hats there, as well as wooden birdhouses that they painted. My friend supplied the hats (from Target I think?) and the flowers (craft store) and her older daughter manned the hot glue gun. Apparently my daughter won the award for Most Flowers on a Hat.

And now we've deemed it her Easter Bonnet!

Several thoughts. I WANT A HAT LIKE THAT. I am dressing up for Easter, this year and every year, I've decided. And for the past several years, I've been wanting to watch 'Easter Parade' with Judy Garland, and I keep forgetting to order it from Netflix, and so I think I just need to buy the silly thing, because I've been trying to see this film for like, fifteen years, and it keeps not happening.

So here was our Sunday, because it was the most productive day I've had in about a decade: I changed the sheets on the beds. (Andrew helped.) I realized that the top of the missy's bed tent hadn't been dusted. EVER. (we've had the bed for 3 years.) That was a lot of dust. Did you know that dust is like, sticky? Then my husband and I prepped our vegetable garden area, pulled weeds, raked. I was tired after that but for some insane reason decided to keep doing more stuff. I started taking melatonin and I swear it has taken away almost all of my tiredness. We'll see how long that lasts.

I took J to the birthday party. I picked her up. We went to the store and then I made a pear cobbler. For some reason, it wouldn't cook in the oven. I KID YOU NOT, this weird mutant cobbler refused to be done in the middle, even after more than an hour in the oven. We're just going to eat around the middle. I made these little turkey veggie pie thingys. I took pix of the kiddo. I edited pix of the kiddo. I did a post. Then forgot to schedule it for publishing. Also, I vacuumed a tiny bit. I had a day of productivity the likes of which will not be seen in my house again any time soon, or maybe ever. It's not good to be productive all the time. Otherwise, one wouldn't have any goals, you know? I realized that we missed the first day of spring soccer last week.

I need me one of these hats, I need an Easter parade, and I need a stripey ruffle dress. I always keep wondering if kids have any clue how good they've got it? I don't think they have a clue.

(This is a most wonderful book about an Easter bonnet.)

March 22, 2013

Cool Stuff I Like

Spring is being a funny friend so far. Actually it's been a frenemy. It really hasn't been acting like a good friend AT ALL. Cold. Sunny. Breezy. Hail. Rainy. How are we supposed to know what to wear in weather like this? Also, the whole world is still sick. Have you ever had what I call A Double Tea Bag Day? I finally kicked a cold that rivaled the epic cold I had last fall. Not quite as bad, but it was a stealthy, long-lived bugger that made my voice hoarse and scratchy for a week. And I realized that I'm out of rosehip tea (which is magical for colds). So I made a concoction of green tea plus lemon/ginger tea, with a squeeze of lemon and honey. At night I left out the green tea and added bourbon. But sadly, the addition of the bourbon didn't do much. My cold got worserer. ('worser' wasn't enough of a word destroyer for me. I thought I'd gild the lily and make it 'worserer'.)

More Springy COOL STUFF ~

Have you seen Kindergallery?

Chocolatey Croissanty Custardy Jammy Pudding. (link via darling Danzel)


Vintage Story Boxes. (the clever amongst you could make these)

This LED Bunny light is super cute.

Next year's Easter Tree. Leaves!

Silk Dyed Easter Egg Kit.

OH MY. Another mac 'n cheese I MUST make. 

You have to see this Children's Book Illustration blog.

Itsy Bitsy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Cool Book of the Week: One for us bigger people! Who have been sick! And who deserve awesome books too! I think I've mentioned that I have a secret book source in Lainey, from Lainey Gossip. She has never let me down, I've enjoyed all of her book picks. (although she did not feel the love I felt about 'The Night Circus' but nobody's perfect.) ANYWAY, she got a preview read of Kate Atkinson's new book 'Life After Life' which blew her away, along with pretty much everyone else who's been able to read it so far. It'll be released on April 2 and I CANNOT WAIT. Go read about it. It's too complicated for me to describe here. (The 'life after life' aspect is literal, the main character dies and is reborn repeatedly, and has parallel lives going on at the same time.)

Folks have said this is the kind of book that they began to read again, immediately after finishing it.

Have a lovely weekend!! I really would like to plant something, but it keeps raining and I don't know what to plant. Oh I guess I should prepare the ground first. I guess I'll be doing that. Tootle-pip!


March 21, 2013

Kiki & Coco in Paris

Who hasn't dreamed about springtime in Paris? I'm not sure spring is actually a good time to go anywhere, other than Hawaii, but let's nevermind that. I am SO delighted to show you 'Kiki & Coco in Paris' by Nina Gruener, Stephanie Rausser and Jess Brown. I ordered it from the library, hoping it would deliver on the cuteness apparent on the cover, and holy croissant! It did. (sorry for that. i don't know why i insist on punishing you all this way with my writing.)

A little girl and her best friend/dolly take a trip to Paris and have Ever So Many Delightful Adventures, of the kind that only a little girl and her dolly can fully appreciate.

They have tea parties. They have bubble baths. They go and get their hair cut in a Parisian hair salon. They ride a carousel and explore museums. They see the Eiffel Tower.

They visit "REAL PALACES".

Can you imagine how thrilling for a 7 or 8 or 9 year old girl? That special age between preschool and kindergarten-land and being-just-too-bored-and-over-it-to-care?

 The photography is just insanely gorgeous. So vibrant and really perfectly captures the joy and love of young girl and her most special doll, in one of the most beautiful cities of the world. To more fully showcase the exquisite photos, the book is nicely oversized.

I can't imagine any girl from ages 4 on up through 8 not just LOVING this one! (Coco is lost briefly, but never fear! She is found and mended ~ a fluffy doggy carries her around a bit.)

And guess what ~ you can actually get a Coco doll, made by Jess Brown! (she made the original doll.) They aren't cheap, my friends, but totally handmade by Jess and Coco is just absolutely gorgeous, don't you think? Heirloom quality!

It honestly never occurred to me to think about a trip to Paris centered around what would be pleasing to a smallish child, but just imagine la magnifique of it all! A boat ride down the Seine River. The TREATS. The CAROUSELS. (Look here for a great post about carousels in Paris.)

March 20, 2013

Springtime in Noisy Village


Oh how I love Spring. Nevermind that usually there's another month of rainy, breezy, fluctuating around in the 40's and 50's weather on tap here for us in the Seattle area. It doesn't matter. BECAUSE IT'S SPRING, and things are only going to get better, not worse. (i hope)

I love cherry blossoms! I love jelly beans. I love spring asparagus. I love rhubarb. I love all the things I never got to experience in Hawaii where there are only two seasons: the rainy season and the not rainy season. But really, both of those seasons are just....FABULOUS. However, even perfection can wear thin after awhile. (no it doesn't, I'm saying this to make myself feel better about not living in Hawaii anymore.)

I had to put the cover of  'Springtime in Noisy Village' by Astrid Lindgren and Ilon Wikland down below and use one of the interior art pix as my lead photo, because this is a library book that has stickers all over it and isn't in the best shape. But that's ok, because the story inside, and the illustrations, are in the finest tippy top shape and if you don't feel like 1) shouting YAY SPRING! when it's over and 2) LET'S MOVE TO SWEDEN!, well then, I don't know what I can do for you. Just hand you a jellybean, I guess.

Swedish children from a collection of neighboring farms all play together, and take care of a baby lamb, walk on top of a barn roof, cavort and romp (yes, CAVORT and ROMP) in the pasture and bicker and chase animals and have tea party lunches out in a meadow and get muddy and OH PLEASE LET ME BE A SWEDISH FARM CHILD in my next life.

We've read several of the 'Noisy Village' books.  Some are picture books great for ages 5-7 and some are chapter books perfect for your 7-10 year old. While not as stupendous as Astrid's 'Pippi' books (few things are), they are charming and so sweetly illustrated and when you're done reading, you'll look around and sigh that you're not in Sweden. Unless you ARE in Sweden, and then I guess you won't be sighing, you'll be patting yourself on the back for having the Very Good Sense to be living in Sweden.

And if you don't believe me that living in the Swedish countryside seems awesome,

  well then you need to take a look-see at THIS feature from Lonny magazine.