Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Price

Just finished Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, M Is for Magic. While I kind of hated the silliness of the first story, many of the other stories more than mad eup for it. I especially loved the shivery-ness of "The Price."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chocolate and Raspberries

This chocolate crepe recipe from The Domestic Goddess is divine. Mine didn't look nearly as pretty as hers, but the taste was killer. Mmmm.....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fine tuning

Here's the latest round-up of what I've been reading and watching.

This little novella is pretty charming. You have to love a book with characters named Ambrose Zephyr and Zappora Ashkenazi. Or at least I do. The End of the Alphabet is charming and sweet.


I may be the last person in the world to read The Outsiders, but I finally did. I listened to it at work and really really liked it. I cannot believe the author was only 16 years old. Geez! I was mostly touched by how caring and sweet the boys were to eachother even though they all identified themselves as hoodlums.



Service Included was a quick breezey nonfiction read about life as a server in a fancy restaurant. Pretty fun reading.

Hmmm.....funny in parts but so painfully (and I do mean squirming in my seat painfully) awkward at times. Knocked Up was somewhat fun, but I have a hard time believing a guy could be so damn socially challenged. And I've known some guys with really awful social skills. Meh.


Population: 485 is such a treasure of a book. The small town characters were so lovingly well described. And now and then I would stumble upon such a gem of a sentence. Like this one:

"Somewhere on I-80, still in Iowa, westbound mile marker 13, a little overpass, a blackbird teeters on a wire, flutters against the crosswind, and just as we pass beneath, he allows himself to be swept aloft and I think, these are the moments that fine-tune the spin of the earth."

Simply gorgeous.

Salty

The other day I was pondering my cupboards and how ugly all those food packages were. I decided to do a little something about that starting with the new canister of salt I had just purchased. So I took off the ugly wrapper with all the nutritional info and glued on something prettier.


Eventually, I intend to do something sorta like this. I'm an avid baker with chaotic cabinets full of a mishmash of all kinds of supplies. I need to get something better organized and nicer to look at. I really need a great solution for my ever-expanding collection of spice jars. Any suggestions?

Otis is Resurected

I just listened to an amazing short story on This American Life. Otis is Resurrected made me laugh and want to bawl. Read it here or listen to it here.

Love the moodyness of that armadillo shot by Slight Clutter.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Disappointing

Isn't that a gorgeous cover and a geat title? Makes you just want to rush out to you library and pick it up, right? Well maybe resist that urge. I liked the first and last stories. All those in the middle were not so impressive.

Just wondering

Anyone know of any really fabulous gardening blogs out there? You know, the kind with beautiful pictures of all kinds of gardens that make your heart long for an enormous back yard (or any backyard at all really)? I feel the need to live vicariously through some garden pictures while its godawful cold outside. Any suggestions?

2 more terrific finds

Here's for sharing! Two other blogs I'm adoring:

HulaSeventy - Lists and prettyness.

Nimoy Creations - She just may be my internet doppel ganger cause she loves the kakapo too as well as goodreads and terrariums. But her crafts are adorable-er.

Sexy dessert

I can't believe I forgot to post about the most delicious thing I've made recently - sexy black pepper cherries. Actually everything on the Blood Sugar blog looks divine, but this one I actually made myself and it tasted as good as it looks and sounds.

Absolutely delicious and unexpected.

Chunkster Challenge Update - Two for One

Remember when I posted that I was going to participate in the Chunkster Challenge? Well I read my first quarter book and actually a bit more than that.

My first choice was Zelda by Nancy Milford, and at 467 pages it seemed to fit. I should have done some further checking. See the book was those probably all those pages in hardback and including the glossary. Oops! My paperback tiny print book was just at 402 pages including glossary.



As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. I really knew very little about the Fitzgerald's beforehand other than I really like The Great Gatsby. The story of their courtship was fascinating. Zelda was a true free spirit and had the run of her hometown and more admirers than she could keep track of. The relationship between Scott & Zelda was intense and flawed and codependent and so ever-changing. I was stunned by Scott's possessiveness of their history as fodder for only his writing. I was equally amazed by Zelda's fragile mental state and how in the world a child was raised among the two of them.
The author obviously has to discuss both of their writings in the book, but it got a bit repetitious for me in parts since both of them wrote very autobiographical novels. I prefer Nancy Milford's biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay over Zelda, but I really like the way this Milford writes so I can't wait to read her next book (which will apparently be about Rose Kennedy according to wikipedia).
So what's a girl to do when her challenge book doesn't live up to the challenge? Why, pick up another book of course!


At 819 pages, Libba Bray's The Sweet Far Thing easily fit the challenge requirements. The last of Bray's books about Gemma Doyle, this YA novel was really enjoyable and hard to put down.
First off, I have to say though that book one had the loveliest cover, book two was prettyish, but this cover really didn't do much for me. Meh.
As for the story, I have to rave. For one, it isn't all predictable. I was as confused as Gemma about who could be trusted and who couldn't. Also the author doesn't shy away from some pretty adult themes and idea. And best of all its a trilogy and not a never-ending series looking to milk every last bit out of the idea and the readers' pocketbooks. (Can you tell who recently visited the bookstore and was horrified by all the never-ending YA series that looked like cheap knockoffs of Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?)
I'm sure to send this to my niece. She'll love the mix of strong female characters, magic, adventure, and a bit of romance. Plus the themes are a perfect mind expanding stretch for a girl in her early teens.
Also - wow! Being part of one of these challenges forces a girl to write a real review rather than just my too easy "liked it" or "didn't much like it." I feel as if I'm back in school a bit.

Recent finds

My lack of productivity can somewhat be blamed on internet distractedyness. Two of the culprits:

The Scent of Water - such a beautiful blog full of gorgeous photos, crafts, quotes and flickr finds. I'm immersed in its archives.

Simply Breakfast - Its food and its pretty and it makes me want to get up earlier in the morning.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Win something, dammit!

If you're a Georgette Heyer fan (like me!) who has yet to read An Infamous Army (like me!), hie you over to Estella's Revenge and enter their prize drawing for a copy of your very own.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fleur de lis

I couldn't resist featuring one of our listings over at the MiriamandEleanor shop on etsy. This fleur de lis planter was such a lucky find. (The birdy was a great find too - too great to let go of him. But he does look great next to the pretty planter).


Girl Culture


Girl Culture, a book of photographs and essays covers a wide variety of girls and women. A few positives here and there, but for the most part this left me wondering what the fuck we're doing to little girls' minds out there. Pretty disturbing stuff.

It'll turn you into mush


Okay, so I should have known that a book written by and about a man who lost his wife very young in life would turn me into a teary eyed mushball. Sometimes, its good to be a mushball! Read Love is a Mix Tape if you're in need of some musical nostalgia and a good cathartic bawl. I really really liked it.


We breezed through the first season on Monarch of the Glen over the long weekend. The husband put it right when he referred to it as Northern Exposure in Scotland. Very fun and cute with scenery that makes me want to smack myself for not having a passport right now.


I watched only half of the David Attenborough special The Life of Birds before i had to return it to the library. It's stunning! I'm going to have to check it out again and just sit in front of it with my sketchbook at the ready to try to capture some of its interestingness. The best was this bird:


The kakapo is very endangered and ridiculously cute. Flightless, it looks like a cartoon version of a pudgy parrot/owl/groundhog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Restoring some good feelings for humanity

Sometimes at about this time of year I start not really liking the general population. Bad weather and worse drivers, cranky old women at the grocery store, mindlessly blathering co-workers, and other stupid stuff generally makes me want to hole up in a closet and avoid the world at large until summertime when its all so much easier to handle. However, a slew of sweet books and movies has me smiling til my face aches.

So if you're in need of a pick-me-up, try any of the following.

Loved this book! So sweet and funny! Dan Savage's book, The Kid, is all about he and his boyfriend's experience with adopting a child. Its a wonderful read! (Really do I need to use any more exclamation points to convince you to pick this book up?)


The Uncommon Reader is a really short little novella all about the queen of England icovering the joy of reading. Very sweet and breezy.


How's Your News? was the real heartwarmer. Its a documentary about 5 mentally disabled camp members who travel across the US interviewing people for their news show. Its so wonderful! So many times I flinched thinking that someone approached by these reporters wouldn't be nice, but the response of the general public is so great. And the reporters are so enthusiastic and have such a great time with it. The scenes with Larry (in the picture above) were my favorites. I also have the overwhelming urge to roll down a grassy hill - something that will have to be put off until summertime of course.


I put off watching Ratatouille forever. Something to do with my growing dislike of most things Disney (Why does every f'ing dress up costume for girls in the toy store have to be a stupid Disney princess? Can't girls want to dress up as other things?!) . However, Pixar is wonderful and this film was cute and funny and about cooking which I love. Not my favorite Pixar film story (that's reserved for Finding Nemo), but this is probably the most stunning animation I've seen.

Also as a side note - I'm a rabid overuser of parenthesis. I can't help it, but I can confess and apologize for it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Miriam and Eleanor

Besides just working on sosweetandsocold together, Kristen and I love to shop the resale shops. Finding too many wonderful things that either a. don't fit us or b. we don't have room for has led to yet another project. Announcing (da da da da dum) MiriamAndEleanor - our brand new shop full of vintage goodies. Named after two very stylish grandmums, we're really excited about this excuse to hit even more shops.


Wiling away the hours

Actually, I've been crazy busy with work and some exciting new projects (which I tell more about soon). But in between all that, I finished a book and watched two movies.

Brideshead Revisited is a pretty gripping tale about a family in England during World War II. Cordelia may be my new favorite fictional character. She's hysterical.



Superbad was cute and sweet in between all the silly humor. I liked the friendship between the two main characters and I have to admit that McLovin cracked me up. And the dick drawings at the end are pretty awesome.


Juno is so good! So funny and cool and with a soundtrack chock full of the Moldy Peaches. Loved it!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Felt puppetry

I've been feverishly working on felt finger puppets for scads of nieces and nephews. First I made this elephant, cat and queen:


Then dogs (one for each of three families)
Kings - who look a bit Amish to me:
Ninjas - who the husband pointed out really look like women wearing burkas:

And mermaids:

And here's a grouping of the last four. To me they kind of look like the begining line of some obscure joke. "A mermaid, a ninja, a king, and a dog walk into a bar..."

There mermaid is my fave so far.

Looks so funny

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bookishness



I've resisted participating in one of these reading challenges, but a fresh new year has me prepared to throw myself headfirst into two of them. I always have to overdo everything.



The first I'm doing is the Mythopoeic Challege to read 7 award winners this year. Mostly chosen cause I love mythic lit. My list is:

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (which I've been meaning to read forever.)

2. Something Rich and Strange by Patricia McKillip

3. The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt

4. The Porelain Dove by Delia Sherman

5. The Line Between by Peter S. Beagle

6. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (Adore everything she ever wrote)

7. Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand



And two just-in-case-I-hate-something substitutes are:

1. Summerland by Michale Chabon

2. Giant Bones by Peter S. Beagle




The second challenge I cannot resist is the Chunkster Challenge.




I have to read 4 books of 450 pages or more regular type. Sounds like fun!

Here's my picks:

1. Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford (just edging in at 467 pages)

2. The Mitford Girls by Mary Lovell (624 pages)

3. Misfortune by Wesley Stace (544 pages)

4. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (at a whopping 900+ pages)

Alternates:
1. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (640 pages)

2. Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

Oh my! Better keep my library card handy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Heart wrenching, fluffy, and disappointing

That title might be all the review you need really.


Finished On Chesil Beach yesterday. What a brief and absorbingly detailed look into a couple's relationship! Utterly heart wrenching! I liked it very much.


I watched Three Coins in a Fountain tonight. Super fluffy romance classic about three secretaries looking for romance in Rome. Watchable if only for the stylish dresses and the incredibly cheesy theme song.


Round Ireland with a Fridge was a bit of a letdown. All about a man who bets a buddy that he can hitchhike his way all around Ireland with a fridge. Seems like a fun story, right? I was disappointed that he had the help of a big radio station to accomplish his feat. The betting part was funny, but all the rest was only mildly amusing.

I'm on to reading Zelda: A Biography about Zelda Fitzgerald and listening to Brideshead Revisited. Both are thoroughly fascinating.

New Years Resolutions

I'm a firm believer in resolutions. I make them throughout the year (break them too, but it's the thought that counts!).

Here's the goals I have right now for 2008:

1. Be kinder to my body. More moving around, better eating, less vodka, and all that stuff. I'd really like to keep myself in better health all around.
2. Start my very own Ladies Activity Club. More news on this soon.
3. Do more on my 101 list.
4. Frequent the farmers markets more...uh...frequently.
5. Go on some of the local parks department's hikes.