Monday, February 28, 2011

Miss. Nelson is Missing!

I was crazy about the book Miss Nelson is Missing! when I was in lower elementary school. I was crazy for it as a librarian reading to that age group as well. Now, as a parent to a rambunctuous toddler and preschooler, I am wishing for a Ms. Viola Swamp to come in and restore order every now and then.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is quite clever and a general crowd pleaser. A group of rowdy students constantly take advantage of their teacher's good nature. So their sweet and patient Miss. Nelson concocts a plan -one day she goes missing and is replaced with a very different type of substitute-Viola Swamp. Ms. Swamp is strict, heavy on the homework, and never allows story hour. Oh, how the children miss Miss. Nelson- and when she finally does return- they are only on their very best behavior... of course, then Ms. Swamp is nowhere to be found....

It seems that most kids love the idea of school children trying to get rid of a crabby substitute and the fact that, at story's end, it appears our beloved Miss. Nelson and the surly Ms. Swamp are one in the same!

This picture book is interesting in that it inspires all sorts of conversations- about respect, identity, fear, but mostly it is just darn funny and fun.

Friday, February 25, 2011

video trio

This clip from the IFC series "Portlandia" makes me laugh - mostly because it's so true (everything is better if you put a bird on it!):

 These videos by EF, "Education First," make me want to run away from home and learn a new language. Here's the Paris video:

And I love, love, love this short by Pixar, titled "Alma." It's spooky and beautiful and begins with the typical childhood experience of peering into a doll shop...

CORRECTION: As one of our wonderfully-informed readers discovered - this short may not be by Pixar, but may instead merely be Pixar-like (see comment). Go here for more information. And thanks Mason!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

a scary thought

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"The Great Gatsby" as video game

It's easy! It's vintage-y old school! It's got a fake Japanese back story! It's canonical literature!

I don't need another way to procrastinate, but this really random Nintendo game based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is really trying to break my spirit...

Play at your own risk:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

House Crush

I first saw this house on the katy elliot blog and then followed her link to the original listing at 1st-Option London. This home is like a breath of fresh air. I love how white, light, and airy it is without feeling cold or stark. It is just so clean and tidy looking.....swoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reason to love rain (#6)

For the literature! One of my favorites is the children's book "Umbrella" (1958) by Taro Yashima. (By the way, if either Lorelei or Mae is reading this post - stop now!! Because I want to get this book for your little girls one day). I adore this book's color palette, cityscape, the choice of perspectives, the way Yashima depicts the streak and fall of rain, but also the heartbreaking story.

"Vintage Kids' Books My Kids Love" sums up the effect of story beautifully as one which, at its conclusion, makes parents cry. It begins simply enough as being about a little girl who receives an umbrella as a gift and can barely wait until she can use it. But wait she must until it actually rains. Finally, a rainy day arrives and she is able to proudly and happily use her umbrella.

This alone would make for a charming and beautiful little picture book story, but then we get the following conclusion and a HUGE lump in our throats:

Momo is a big girl now,
and this is a story
she does not remember at all.
Does she remember or not,
it was not only the first day in her life
that she used her umbrella,
it was also the first day in her life
that she walked alone,
without holding either
her mother's or her father's hand.

Jeez - those last lines get me every time!

Friday, February 18, 2011


I am sure you have seen her. She seems to be everywhere. I did not know a thing about her until my daughter was born, but now Sophie Giraffe is a familiar, much loved, face around here.

In case you have ever wondered, as I did, why this 40-year-old teething toy is so wildly popular (and pricey!) -I did a little research. According to Sophie's site, she is a longtime favorite because she is the first baby toy to stimulate all five senses. She is smooth and soft, with contrasting light and dark coloring from food paints- she squeaks and the distinctive smell of the rubber from the Hevea tree has proved to be pleasing to babies everywhere. In other words....this little giraffe is perfect.

If you are looking for something sweet and practical for that next baby shower- look no further!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday, a taste test, and Etsy

Am I the only one who is late to the game in learning about Etsy's Taste Test? You take a quiz in which you indicate your preferences and then, like magic, Etsy tailors a gift guide suited to your tastes. It's pretty dead on and I think it's such a great way to figure out what to get those people you've been buying presents for for YEARS and feel like you are out of ideas. Here's a sample of the lovely things Etsy found for this lady...


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Prints for Sale

The etsy shop Lori411, photography by Lori H., has a great selection of beautiful fine art prints. There happens to be a BOGO sale going on right now, so I suggest you click on over and check out this gorgeous photography.

I am captivated by the water droplet shots.

All of the floral and foliage compositions are impressive though....

This little fella stood out- I immediately imagined it in a little boy's room!

Overall, just a super impressive collection....and who doesn't love a BOGO?!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Unbirthday to Lorelei!

Tomorrow is our Lorelei's actual birthday so today let's celebrate her unbirthday! Here's to wishing that Lorelei's today (and, I guess, tomorrow) are full of song and love and cups of tea drunk with a drunken mouse... :)

via youtube

kris atomic's girls

Aren't the ladies who populate the illustrations by "kris atomic" so stylish and fun? The artist, also known as Kristina Mordokhovitch, is a UK based freelance illustration who does such beautiful and youthful work mixing vintage patterns, current fashion and the colors pink and (my favorite) orange. Her work reminds me of spring - so bright and happy.

Also check out Kris's blog, flickr, and shop.

 all images via kris atomic's portfolio

Monday, February 14, 2011

Image courtesy of google

New England Confectionary Company, or NECCO, is the creator of conversation hearts. I don't know about there, but around here nothing says it is Valentine's Day like these sweet hearts showing up in the store aisles. My kids are crazy for them (believe me, I know it is because they are 100% sugar) and so we have had a box here and there already.

I noticed that Home and Garden.CraftGossip did a post with 9 Conversation Heart Crafts. My favorite was the Valentine wreath, but I am willing to try any of them to add to my holiday decor (and save my children's teeth!).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Julia's valentines

Julia: "Valentine cards had become a tradition of ours, born of the fact that we could never get ourselves organized in time to send out Christmas cards."

One of the things I loved about the movie "Julie & Julia" was how wonderfully the real life love affair between Julia and her husband, Paul Child, was portrayed. They were fun and romantic and what proves it is the fact that, instead of Christmas cards, they were known to send out sweet and goofy postcards of themselves to family and friends. I think these Valentines are about the cutest (and funniest) things around...
Paul in 1967: "How fortunate we are at this moment in our lives! Each doing what he most wants, in a marvelously adapted place, close to each other, superbly fed and housed, with excellent health, and few interruptions."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Red Velvet Valentines

If you are looking for something a little fancier to make this Valentine's Day- how about the recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes from New York City's famed Magnolia Bakery?

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 recipe Creamy Vanilla Frosting*

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour 2 cupcake pans (24 cupcakes).

To make the batter: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake the cupcakes, switching positions of the pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack before icing. To ice, mound about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of each cupcake and use an icing spatula to make a swirl on top. If desired, decorate with colored sprinkles.

*Creamy Vanilla Frosting

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer—set a timer!). Use immediately.


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