Saturday, January 31, 2009

beautiful and brave

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths
that are at the beginning of all peoples,
the myths about dragons that at the
last moment turn into princesses;
perhaps all the dragons
of our lives are princesses,
who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being,
something helpless that wants help from us.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, January 30, 2009

Very cool

I posted earlier on my love for a particular J Crew kids outfit. Then I emailed it to EmilyStyle, and she came up with a grown up version. The internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Via Magpie & Cake.


"Summons" by Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

One of my very favorite poems ever.

Blog O' the Day - Behind the Curtain

Behind the Curtain is just the right mix of lovely pictures and thoughtful posts.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blog O' the Day - Bake and Shake

Bake and Shake - cause she cracks me up.

Give a listen

For my friend whose going through her wild girl phase

"I wrote the story myself. It's all about a girl who lost her reputation but never missed it." - Mae West

There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak

In the Bedroom
is bleak. I seem to be on a roll with the bleak actually. After this and this, you'd think I'd be done with it. Apparently not so much.

This movie is gorgeously shot. Every scene seems so deliberate and well thought out. Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek are marvelous. The scene of their fight is so painful it made my chest hurt. And that look on her face!

One complaint though - there's an early scene that gives away exactly where this movie is going. I liked it, but it just left me dreading the outcome that was so obviously on its way.

This one is getting a 7.5 in my book.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I'm reading: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (with a little Curse of the Blue Tattoo snuck in here and there).

What I'm listening to: K'Naan - a recent discovery.

What I'm wishing for: This print (thank to La Dolce Vita)

What I'm working on: Ideas for an upcoming baby shower I'm co-hosting

What's up next: More newspaper poof ideas.

Blog of the Day - Alpineberry

Alpineberry has rather inspirational foodie posts and recipes. And who doesn't love a person whose resolution is to eat more pie?


"Ex Machina" by Lisel Mueller

My word processor does not know Shakespeare.
It balks at ripeness, stops me at Othello
and Desdemona. They are not
in its vocabulary. On the other hand
it does not question arrogance and power,
accepts betrayal, jealousy and grief,
uncomprehending. They are on the list.

I am reminded of the face
of the young killer on the screen
the other night. He knew the words
gun and crime and prison.
He even knew the word guilty,
but when he said it, his eyes were blank.

I like to get my news from flowers

Fear not! I have been doing some crafting. This latest news flower creation is going up in my Bandit Queen shop today.

Snow day

Yay for early morning calls informing me that work has been cancelled due to snow. Its piling up out there, but I'm cozy and warm in my sweet lil house.

The Courtyard Hound

Do yourself a favor and go check out City of Thieves from you local library right now. Its the story of two young Russian guys sent on an impossible mission to find a dozen eggs during WWII. Almost all of my reading about WWII focuses on the Holocaust so it was really different for me to read about the tale of a city under siege.
The story bounces back and forth between humor and friendship to absolute horrors and tragedy. I think that as a reader I couldn't have handled all the horrors of war in this story without the friendship of the two as a buffer. This is a genuine laughing and crying book, and I gotta say that any book that can do both always ranks high with me.
This book is going to stay with me for a long long time. I'm giving it a 9.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Track your goals

Just a quick note to share with you a recent find. Joe's Goals is a neat little goal tracking tool. Perfect for daily tracking of resolutions and blog postings and such.


Netflix kept insisting we'd adore the tv show Weeds so I finally listened to it and had it mailed. It's cute. I'm not in love with it at the moment, but I like a lot of the characters and its got some promise. And the little boy is a doll. I liked it enough to go ahead and get season two and to give it 6 stars.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh my

Does everyone have that one friend who seems capable of everything? My friend Kristen who co-owns our vintage shop Miriam and Eleanor and writes sporadically with me over at So Sweet & So Cold, just launched her very own music page on Myspace. The girl has talent to spare. Go listen.

So bleak

I read Carmac McCarthy's novel The Road in a single day. The story about a father and son just trying to survive a desolate hopeless world was completely engrossing. I loved the writing style. The way he created the world - whole and never explaining more than need be. This book could have easily fallen into annoying preachy territory, but it never did.

It also avoided filling me with dread. The world is a hopeless one, but I loved that there was never an "uh-oh" mistake moment when the character does something that the reader knows will end in doom.

This is a strong strong book, and highly recommended by me. I give it an eight. But make sure to have something uplifting to pick up immediately after finishing this one. So dark!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Only half worth it

Hotel World is made up of six interconnected tales about women. A dead girl, a street person, a sick woman, a liar, a lost girl, and a chance encounter. I wish the second through the fourth stories had been cut. I loved the opening piece told by the ghost. It felt like a good whimsical modern day Our Town. However, the next three women's stories don't add anything great.
Then comes the sister's piece, and it is touching. The last story is wonderful in so many ways. I loved the snippets of people's lives in the end piece. Had we given those three in-between stories a miss, this would easily be a 9. The three women feel like small parts made big for filler, and pissed me off so well that I can only rate this one a 5.
As it is, this is a Booker finalist and short stories so I'm counting it towards 100 Shots of Short and my 101 list.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Full of amazement

The miste and I watched The Fall last night, and it left me chock full of wonder and amazement. This movie is gorgeous and perfect. The movie is about a stuntman for the silent movies who is injured and in a hospital. He tells a fantastic adventurous tale to a little girl in the hospital.

The story jumps back and forth from the hospital to the tale he is telling. It is beautiful. The costumes, the creativity, the humor and the anguish. All of it.

Also, it has whirling dervishes. Whirling dervishes!

And the little girl is the cutest thing i've ever seen. I'd take her home and adopt her lil chubby cheeked self in a heartbeat.

This one is a solid ten in my book.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I watched Reign Over Me the other day while crafting. Don Cheadle is always a pleasure to watch. I wish I could say the same for anyone else in this film. The absolute worst is the crazy tall chick. Her story is astoundingly unbelievable. Liv Tyler appears to only be in here for something pretty to look at, and Adam Sandler's Bob Dylan look is distracting.

Maybe they should have let Don act out all the parts. He could have handled it better than this. Giving it a 3.

I will admit to coveting the dress Liv is wearing above though. The dress gets an 8. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What I should have said was nothing

After hearing him on This American Life and The Moth podcasts, we had to check out Mike Birbiglia's comic dvd. This man is wonderfully absurd. It made me laugh til I hurt. Giving this a 9.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Simply gorgeous.

Requiem for demonic Dexter

The second season of Dexter was even better than the first. Dark and funny and smart, I strongly suggest you check it out. I really adore the brother and sister dynamic on here.


I feel the exact same way. Here's to our future!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What It Is

An artist friend of mine recommended What It Is to me, and I rarely can resist a book recommendation (ermmm... unless its 1,000 pages of Ulysses S. Grant! A dilemma that has yet to be solved).

This book is a lot of things - a work of art, an autobiography, a workbook for creative impulses, and a graphic novel. It's a treasure trove.

My favorite bit was the following:

There are certain children who are told they are too sensitive, and there are certain adults who believe sensitivity is a problem that can be fixed in the way that crooked teeth can be fixed and made straight. And when these two come together you get a fairytale, a kind of story with hopelessness in it.

I believe there is something in these old stories that does what singing does to words. They have transformational capabilities, in the way melody can transform mood.

They can't transform your actual situation, but they can transform your experience of it. We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay. I believe we have always done this, used images to stand and understand what otherwise would be intolerable.

This is a book you could open a thousand times and still find something new each time. I'm giving it an 8, and declare it well worth a read especially for all you dreamers and artists.

Sometimes I just like to say "edamame"

We made lentil-edamame stew last night and it was delicious.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
1 cup dried lentils
3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups minced red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves


1. Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.

2. Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well.

3. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beautiful toxic jungles

I watched Nausicaa on a slow afternoon. The tale is wonderfully inventive. Moldy toxic jungles and giant insects have taken over the world, and, as the poisonous mold spores spread, mankind is being wiped out. This movie shows how civilization tries to survive and take back the earth.
The Good:
1. Those toxic jungles and insects are wildly imaginative and beautifully realized. I loved the plants most of all.
2. This movie doesn't pull a lot of punches. People are awful to eachother and bad stuff happens. (Can you tell I hate adventure stories and movies that take place in a lala land where there are no bad consequences?)
3. I want a super cool glider and a deerfox of my very own.
The Not-So-Good:
1. Princess Nausicaa is a bit too-clever-good-wholesome-magical-perfect. She has no flaws whatsoever and everyone worships her. Its kinda annoying.
2. I'm a wee bit tired of movies with a message about the environment. I like it too be a bit less heavy-handed and pummelly.
Rating this one a 5. Visually, this is amazing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Hot Yoga Morning Remix
Originally uploaded by MissMaryah
Okay this lady is my new muse. I simply adore her style and she has the most awesome headbands on sale on etsy. But seriously, check out her photostream and be inspired too.

On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a Small Town was an ideal escapism read for an Ohio girl stuck with too much snow and below zero temperatures. The author write about moving to France to write a cookbook along with her husband and very young son. She discusses the fifferent way of life, the people, the food, the landscape. Its a great read for travel buffs or escapists. Food factors into the stories but only here and there and she follows each chapter with some delicious-sounding recipes.
She jumps around in time a bit in the story. And I use story very loosely. Its really more of a loose memoir and rather dreamy. My favorite bits were the tales of remodeling their crumbling old house and the description of the weekly farmers' market.
I'll give this a 6. Anything that takes my mind off the cold is alright by me.

Today today today

The mister and I went and donated some food and blood in honor of the MLK weekend of service and the upcoming inauguration. Now we've got that good deed glow. There's still time to get yours! Find something happening in your neck of the woods.

Friday, January 16, 2009

After the wedding

After the Wedding is a stunner of a film. The story is gorgeous and stirring and utterly not what I expected. Its so well told. I don't want to give anything away. I just want you all to watch and discover this one for yourselves.
It's a 10 in my books.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Bloody Jack is such an inspired YA novel. Its all about an orphan girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can join the navy and go to sea. It's full of adventure, humor, loss, and romance. It pulls no punches at all when dealing with some pretty heavy stuff which is partly why I think kids and teens will love it. Jacky is a terrific character, and the story was almost impossible to put down. I'm so glad there are more of these so I can see where Jacky's adventures take her next. Giving this an enthusiastic 9!

Dream blower

D is for Dahl is a biography of Roald Dahl told alphabetically. In it you will learn curious things such as:
Footprints - in the church-yard at Great Missenden, big friendly giant footprints lead to Roald Dahl's grave.
After-dinner chocolate - If you were invited to dinner at Roald Dahl's house, at the end of the meal, you'd be offered a red plastic box containing all of Roald's favorite chocolates - Twix, Kit Kats, Rolos, Smarties, Flakes and Maltesers.
Pretty adorable and deserving of a 7 in my book. (Woulda been higher except for all those "Don't try this at home, kids" warnings. Dahl would have never stood for that.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cause I like to share good things

This patty melt recipe is fan-freaking-tastic:

Patty Melt with Grilled Onions

4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Cooking spray
1 pound extralean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons creamy mustard blend (such as Dijonnaise)
8 (1-ounce) slices rye bread
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Jarlsberg cheese

1. Arrange onion slices on a plate. Drizzle vinegar over onion slices. Heat a large grill pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; cover and cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm.

2. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Divide beef into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Sprinkle patties evenly with salt and pepper. Add patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

3. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard blend over 4 bread slices; layer each slice with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 patty, 2 onion slices, and 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread about 1 teaspoon mustard blend over remaining bread slices; place, mustard side down, on top of sandwiches.

4. Heat pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sandwiches to pan. Place a cast-iron or other heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook).

Just don't

We watched Hamlet 2 the other night. Other than the bits from the actual play (which did make me giggle), the whole thing is pretty awfully unfunny. Just lame. Gets a 2 outta 10.

Devastating and brutal and beautiful

I'm telling you right off, that this collection gets a 10 on the Claire scale. I adore it - as harsh as it is. This is the collection that Brokeback Mountain came from (a movie I love), but so many other stories in here would make great movies too. I'm using this as a jump off point for yet another challenge - 100 Shots of Short. And now the stories:

Half-Skinned Steer - Brothers Mero and Rollo raised on a ranch with their father and his girlfriend. This story revolves around one brother returning to the ranch after being long gone for a very long time. The story within a story that everything revolves around is absolutely nightmare-inducing.

The Mud Below - About a teenage boy who gets into bull riding. The ending - particularly the last two paragraphs - are beautiful. A poignant look at how we get to where we are in life.

Job History - This story was one of my favorites. A rushed telling of a man's life from beginning to end. Everything is told emotionlessly in just highlights and snippets. I loved this partially because it reminded me of sitting on the porch of one of my mother's closest friends. I was elementary school aged, and the lady's house was just down the street from my school in a tiny tiny one street township. Nothing happened in that little pocket of the word without everyone taking note. I would sit on the floor of that beat-up rickety porch and listen to my mother and her friend gossip about any and everyone - their whole lives reduced to just a few instances and decisions. This story took me right back there.

The Blood Bay - This is a fun bit of a punchline at the end of a gruesome bit of a story.

People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water - The most powerful one in the whole book. It tells the story of parents dealing with the prodigal son who is disfigured by a terrible accident. This one is going to haunt me for a long long time. If you read any of these stories, make it this one.

The Bunchgrass at the End of the World - This one ventures into a bit of magical realism. (I swear every time I turned to a new story, Proulx managed to surprise me with her skill in storytelling). This story is about a couple living on a ranch with the husband's difficult father as well as their lonely, plump daughter. There is a beautiful bit in here about a wedding where the guests, unable to afford rice, shower the couple with wheat. The imagery made my fingers ache to pick up a paintbrush. (I so need some more art classes so I can give into this sort of ache more often).

Pair of Spurs - This is the only story of the bunch that I didn't adore. I liked all the components to the story - the characters, the situations, and so on. I just didn't feel that it all came together that well.

Lonely Coast - Another gorgeous story that could have been plucked out of any small town. The mood of boredom and desperation that swirls around the main characters is perfect.

The Governors of Wyoming -

55 Miles to the Gas Pump - Never have I been so chilled by so few words.

Brokeback Mountain - The movie stays so true to this brief little tale. It's gorgeous and spare and absolutely heart-wrenching.

I finished this book convinced that Proulx can do anything with her words. It's a hard read. There's so much brutality. At first, I was concerned that I wouldn't make it through; it seemed that every story contained malevolence towards women. And things aren't pretty for most of the women in these stories, but neither are they so great for the men. She paints Wyoming, both is past and its present, as an amazing, beautiful and harsher than can be imagined place. It really is a gorgeous and stirring read.

Winnie's new favorite

If you're a dog owner, I'd like to introduce you to Tugzees.

Winnie, our rambunctious one year old airedale mix received one of these for Christmas, and she loves it. Its a brightly colored really long boiled wool tug toy. She plays tug of war with our older dog Lincoln. She brings it to us. She tosses it around the house to chase after herself. Its so fun to watch her with it.

She has managed to divide it into several pieces, but that just means more toys! Seriously, this dog is hell on toys. They usually remain intact for all of 6.6 seconds. This has lasted a great deal longer for her, and its adorable.

Thus ends my public service announcement for dog owners.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too funny!

When it's all over

Amelia Curran singing "Scattered and Small"

In which our valiant blogger is struck dumb

After out trip to the gorgeous city of Savannah, me and the bubs both read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We both mostly liked it too. Now usually, the mister sticks to history books - generally presidential history concerning the founding fathers or Abraham Lincoln. He's what you might call a "buff." I read all over the map, and, while I have increased my nonfiction reading thanks to my 101 list, I tend towards more fluffish nonfiction.

I had a (I thought) genius idea. My husband and I could start our own two person bookclub. We'd alternate choosing that month's book. This would expand both our readings and give us something extra to discuss. I graciously gave the mister the first choice.

After an onnoxiously snowy weekend, we ventured out to the bookstore on Sunday. Not to buy the book since I'm an avid library card user, just to browse and for him to pick said book. After some wandering around, he admits that he'd actually made his choice a few days before.

"Oh," asks me all innocent and brightly, "What are we reading?"

"There's a book by Grant that's supposed to be really good. His memoirs!"

"Ullysses S. Grant," I ask thinking that I'll never get this boy outta the Civil War.

"Yep, it's supposed to be really good Here it is."

And the man holds aloft a fricking brick of a book triumphantly. I wait for him to crack a smile and laugh himself silly. It doesn't happen.

"That's enormous. Does it cover everything?"

"His whole life. He didn't really want to write it, but had to cause he was broke."

"Was he paid by the word?"

Glowering looks from my boy.

I try again, "So you really want to kick off our little project with an enormous book by a long dead man who was not a writer who didn't want to even write his book?"

More glowering looks. "I thought I had the first pick."

"But this book is like 5 books! I'll never stay awake to read the entire thing!"

"So you'd rather I picked something like that?" he asks, pointing at a book titled The Civil War for Dummies.

At this point, I wallop him and grumblingly, we leave the store.

This morning, I looked the book up via the library's website. It is 1,199 pages long. I made one last emailed plea to my husband to come up with another pick. If I can't convince him, you can bet I'll be spending many painful weeks cursing this man:

Oh, Ira

I have a deep and lasting crush on Ira Glass. I'm completely hooked on the The American Life radio show. I wish more things could be This American Life-like. So of course, I jumped on the chance to watch the first season of their Showtime TV show.
I don't think anything can take the place of the hour long podcasts I love, but these shows are a wonderful fix. They cover things like hot dog stands, childhood fads, and cloning beloved animals. It ranges from the all out quirky to the upsetting to the heart wrenching (my god - the man who spends so much time at his wife's grave - sob!).
This show is so wonderful! I'm giving it a 9.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


How pretty is this wee little knot ring?


For dinner tonight we had the most amazing soup. Everytime we make it, it's eye-rollingly good. Here it is:

Mushroom Barley Soup

4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
4 3/4 cups rich turkey stock
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and mushrooms; sauté 7 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in barley, and sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, celery, and salt, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add thyme, and cook 5 minutes.

It's from Cokking Light magazine and so seriously good. Oh - and you can easily substitute chicken stock for the turkey stock. I thought it was better with the chicken stock actually.

Regular rotation

South African stories

Yet another online Netflix watching, The Cape of Good Hope is about a bunch of people in South Africa connected by an animal shelter. Its a whole bunch of fluff, and only some of it is good fluff. The film tries to tell 3 different stories, but only one of them is interesting. I liked the bit about the refugee and the domestic. It was well done and nice to watch. The rest of it was kind of dull.
Only giving this one a 4 on the Claire-o-meter.

Blog o' the Day - A Striped Armchair

A Striped Armchair is another litblog! This one I blame completely for getting me involved in too many reading challenges. She makes them look like so much fun.

Resolution Check-In Time

Cause I need to be held accountable.

1. Prettify the house.
- I realized that the paint I re-did the window with was far too flat so I picked up new paint and am trying again today. Cross your fingers for me. I'm also gonna touch up the other window frames where I tore out some old fixtures.

2. Feel more comfortable.
- Serious menu planning happening this week will help me keep eating healthy.

3. Take some classes.
- I signed up for pottery and it starts on Tuesday. Very happy to take this up again!

4. Change the world.
- As posted below, the hubs and I are donating blood next Saturday. His closet is also do for a clean-out and many items will be donated to the local mens shelter. I've also gotten better at taking my own sacks to shops instead of using plastic bags.

- We've also talked about upping our charitable giving. Right now I donate $70 monthly to the charity I work for. I want to up my overall giving to $100 monthly so we're gonna pick one charity a month and send them $30. Very excited about this!

Little girls are so darn lucky!

This outfit is from Crew Cuts and I found it on Shimmy Shake. It's darling! I want it in my size! I could totally wear that and it would make me so happy. Any ideas on where to find similar pieces?

MLK Day of Service

I'm very excited about next weekend. Not only is it a long weekend for many of us (hurrah!), but it's also a Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King. Apparently, it's been a national day of service since 1994, but this is the first I've learned of it somehow.

President-elect Obama is doing a big call for people to do some service for their community over the long weekend. The charity I work at has been inundated with calls from groups wanting to help. This is perfect timing as a lot of the excitement over helping our fellow man seems to die down after January 1st every year. You can find an event near you by searching the Obama site, contacting your local volunteer organization, or just by planning your own event.

Hold a bakesale and donate proceeds to a local community organization. Pick up litter around your neighborhood. Ask friends and family to gather some nonperishable food items and take them to a local food bank or pantry. Take some warm clothes, blankets, hats, and gloves to the local shelter. Write out a check and send it to that charity whose work you've always admired. Send them an email while you're at it and ask them what kind of help they are most in need of. Do whatever is close to your heart to help those in need in your neighborhood.

I'm so excited about the buzz happening around this event. Just think of the how better the world can be if we all took just a bit of time to help.

My husband and I have decided to go give blood that day. I'm pondering what other good deed we shall tackle. Since I work in a nonprofit there are several that are near and dear to my heart. I think we'll manage some clothing donations to the shelter this week as well.

Oh no

You know when you hear about a movie that's being planned, and think, "Why in the world would they do that?" I give you Will Smith & Steven Spielberg in talks over remaking Oldboy. What could they be thinking?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spooks and ghosties

This was not the cover of the book I read, but its so far superior that I'm using it instead. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book was delightful. It was fun and not predictable and had wonderful characters throughout. The villain was perfect. I learned oh-so-much about things like ghoul gates. Everything was to the point and not overly explained or told (so maybe I'm still smarting from the previously reviewed Heyer novel).
Anyway, I'm giving this one an 8.

Best voice

Blog o' the Day - Sweetie Pie Pumpkin Noodle

Sweetie Pie Pumpkin Noodle is just as fun as it sounds. Chock full of prettiness and design.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blog o' the Day - A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Sometimes my brain is so full of words (almost all the time actually but I'm not complaining) that its nice to check out a blog that's absolutely free of them. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words is just that.

Feel good

Want to see an adorable feel good movie you may never have heard of? Check out Arranged. Its all about two teachers, an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim, bonding over their parents' desires to arrange their marriages for them. It's the kind of movie that leaves you kind of beaming and uplifted. Plus the two lead actresses are really good and I'd happily check out other movies they've done..

Giving this big warm fuzzy hug of a nine.

Biggest big town banker

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blog o' the Day - Garden Rooms

The shortest day of the year is behind us so I can officially start daydreaming about garden plans again. Garden Rooms is such a good source of inspiration.

Love them!

Especially live.

What am I missing?

I'm making a concerted effort to fill in some of my gaps when it comes to films. In that vein, I watched Woody Allen's Manhattan. Here's the good:
1. It was great to see Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway all looking so striking. They are all stunning women, and in this movie they could all stop traffic.
2. The city is even prettoer. I liked how well the movie portrayed a feel of the city.
The bad:
1 (and only 1). I just don't get Woody Allen. What am I missing here? I get the story and I get how its kind of entertaining, but I find Allen so repulsive generally that it is hard to get beyond that. All the whining and the manipulation of other characters. I see value in its honesty, but mostly I just want to reach out and smack his character in this film. From snippets of his other films that I've seen, I think I'd get the same feeling no matter which one I'm watching. Is there some great film of his that will change my mind?

That moment

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan is a slim little novel. I must admit that I'm a bit hooked on McEwan's work. His very exact way of describing things would probably drive me crazy were it anyone else's novel, but he does it so skillfully.

The book is about a man learning about his in-laws and trying to get to the core of a single day that drove them apart even though they never stopped loving eachother. The story is told in bits and pieces as he learns more and more from either side.

I really liked how firmly in place this was set. It bounces a bit from England to France and the time frame changes swiftly in places. Each time, I felt firmly anchored in what was being told.

The story hits on two particular points that really reonated with me. The first was that a single turning point in anyone's life is an odd thing and its more likely that they've grasped at one thing to help them explain their changes. This really struck me since this was coming from a novelist who as far as I can tell specializes in telling how a single moment can change the lives of several people. This is his thing! My thought is that single moments can change our lives, but that we never recognize them as such - certainly not while they are happening and even rarely in looking back. We pick what we want to be our moments more so than what they really are (just my two cents!)

His other point was about evil and how its always out there. I admit that this aspect gave me such a chill. It was so very well done.

My quibbles? The dogs. I loved the imagery of them. I loved how they became a family thing. I didn't really think their background story worked. We learn a bit more about them right near the end, and what we learn feels off to me - like it didn't fit the story. Also, the cover, while striking and beautiful, annoys me cause its showing the wrong kind of dogs. They appear to be dobermans, but the story describes the dogs as huge mastiff type dogs. Little details like this bother me.

All in all, it was an interesting read. I can give Mr. McEwan a 6 on this one.

Oh and I had to share this quote from it:

It is photography itself that creates the illusion of innocence. Its ironies of frozen narrative lend to its subjects an apparent unawareness that they will change or die. It is the future they are innocent of. Fifty years on we look at them with the godly knowledge of how they turne dout after all - who they married, the date of their death - with no thought for who will one day be holding photographs of us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dumbly dumb

Georgette Heyer is kinda like Jane Austen-lite. Wonderful comedies of manners and society that are well written. When I pick up a Heyer book from the library, I look forward to emmersing myself into her world. These Old Shades was a big let down.
The story is interesting enough - The Duke of Avon finds a interesting French boy and makes him his page. The page turns out to be a girl of noble birth that the Duke decides to use to revenge himself against his biggest enemy. (The revenge bit is a little complicated, but interesting). The set up and the characters are all right until we come to the page / Cinderella girl, Leonie. She's written as a blithering idiot. At first I chalked it up to Heyer writing in a way that shows the girl's difficulty with the English language, but latter for a brief bit it tells you what she's thinking and that is done in the same blithering idiot style.
Leonie's motives (when she has any) are those of a small child - even though she's 19 and has been raised in a rough neighborhood. Its all so frustrating!
Plus there was the endlessly annoying habit of needing to fill in each character as they caught up with the main two. Even though it wasn't a complete re-hashing, even reading, "and then they were filled in" and so on drove me batty - absolutely batty! Ack!
Anyway, I give this a 2 - and the two was only gained because a few of the characters were interesting enough to redeem it a bit.

When I grow up

Cracking me up

Blog o' the Day - Lobster and Swan

Lobster and Swan is one of the prettiest blogs I've found in a while.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Until you came along

Blog o' the Day - Cher Ami

Perfect for bird and design lovers, Cher Ami is a regular read of mine.

The ugly along with the stunning

I really enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire. The scenes were amazing - from the filthiest and meanest slums to glorious vistas all set along side eachother. The three main characters are wonderful to watch. The setting of a story told between questions on India's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" game show is such a clever idea. I'll be reccomending this one to lots and lots of folks. I'm giving it an 8.5.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blog o' the Day - A Room Somewhere

A Room Somewhere has my favorite mix of cool finds and inspiration.

Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves.

You know those movies that you've heard about for ages, but you don't actually get around to seeing for a long long while? The ones that are so awesome that you could just kick yourself for not watching years earlier? Harold and Maude is that movie for me. Its definitely a favorite. I love the quirkiness and the hope and the fun and the meaning that's wrapped all up in this perfectly perfect movie. I adore it and give it a 10. If you've not yet seen it, do yourself a favor and ceck it out immediately.

A weakness for Irish folk

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Such an f'ing sad song

Simply adorable

I watched It Happened One Night online on Netflix while the husband was in his forty-billionth hour of watching West Wing. (Why did I get him the whole series all at once when I knew this would happen?) Anyway, this movie is absolutely adorable. The main characters are so much fun and so individual. Its better than any romantic comedy I've seen in ages. Clark Gable is great as the somewhat untrustworthy newsman and Claudette Colbert is such a perfect mix of sophisticated and naive. Giving this one an 8.5.

Blog o' the day - Awesome!

Awesome! has the most amazing finds and even better commentary. Such an appropriately named blog.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not listening

Blog o' the Day - Once Wed

While my wedding was years ago, I can easily admit to subscribing to Once Wed. So many of the pretty decorating ideas can be applied to other events and dwellings.

Unapologetically fun

I really enjoyed Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. She completely reminded me of some of my wonderfully snarky and hilarious friends. The footnotes were fun. The story was great. The bit about scaring her dogs with a bearskin rug had me laughing uncontrollably for a long long while. I'm definitely checking out her previous memoirs. Giving this one an 8.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Makes you catch your breath

Take a look at this painting from Gritty Art Studio. So beautiful.

They paved the roads eventually

Blog o' the Day - Sugar Pie Express

Sugar Pie Express is full of creative prettiness. Very inspirational.


You may have noticed that I've stepped up my posting around these parts. I confess that it's all due to a greater number of days off and the miracle that is the ability to schedule posts in advance. I stumbled upon Sophisticated Dorkiness's blog improvement challenge and jumped on the bandwagon.

The first assignment is to determine what my blog is for.'s my supposing:

1. To encourage me to complete my goals whether it be crafty, reading, lifestyle, whatever. Something about writing things up for the whole world to see makes me more accountable.

2. To connect with kindred spirits out in the great wide world.

3. As a vehicle to share my finds whaever they may be.


I read about The Girl Who Lived in a Castle in a Museum, a cute little children's book, on some blog somewhere that I can't for the life of me remember. Its cute and all full of dreamy art.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I love my Sun subscription

For good reason. Check out this poem from their December issue:

"Christmas Eve, Almost Midnight" by David Denney

Driving through the mist after delivering
packages, I come upon a family of deer
palking down the middle of the street.
I cut my lights and engine and coast
behind them awhile. They are cruising
the neighborhood, nibbling the frosty lawns,
looking for nasturtiums. I glide behind them
around a corner and down another street,
the only sound the crunching of newly formed ice
beneath my tires, until they disappear onto the dark,
soggy soccer fields of the middle school.
I tell you I can count on one hand
the number of times I’ve been happier.


Another thing that makes me happy? Church bells. I am an absolutely un-religious girl, but I sure do love the sound when those bells are rung.

Blog o' the Day - Popgadget

A recent addiction is Popgadget. Lots of cool technology news and lifestle posts for us girls. (I think I'm turning into a closet tech junky. Don't tell anyone).

Love this

Perfectly perfect and it makes me feel all glowy inside. Here's to endless possibilities!