Friday, November 30, 2012

The Tomten

In 1961, Astrid Lindgren, widely recognized as the author of Pippi Longstocking, wrote one of best winter picture books to ever be published- The Tomten.
The tale, based on a Swedish poem, manages to be both cozy and mysterious, telling the story of a troll-like creature who lives on and watches over a remote farm, but only at night and without being seen does he care for this home. His presence is reassuring and magical.
It has to be said that a large part of the success of this story is because of the impressive illustration of Harald Wiberg. He captures the personality of night that is at once still and filled with life, eerie and comforting, and filled with the chill of winter and the warmth of love. A perfect bedtime story for those cold nights ahead....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

musical parody

Four minutes of musical parody is nothing to sneeze at....

video: youtube

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

kissing ball

Off of the porches and in the yards around here I noticed people hang kissing balls for the holiday season.
Much like mistletoe, the kissing ball has a rich history as a nostalgic symbol of holiday goodwill and romance. With origins in the Middle Ages, evergreen kissing balls were hung in passageways and doorways to bring good fortune and blessings to all who passed beneath them. Centuries later, these evergreens evolved into bundles of holly sprigs and sweet herbs to symbolize various well-wishes. The kissing ball we know now is joined by flowers and foliage for a fragrant ornament, still symbolizing kindness and love .- shopterrain
They have been around for centuries, these balls of mistletoe, holly, evergreen , or whatever suits your holiday decor and if you pick them up at the local nursery, they can be quite expensive. So I searched for some DIY tutorials and came up with a couple....
One from Southern Living on how to make a mistletoe ball like the images above...
And one from The Gathering Place Design, that is applied to make a variety of kissing balls. The one pictured above is my favorite.

Monday, November 26, 2012

child's own studio

A friend of mine told me about Child's Own Studio , where talented artisan Wendy Tsao takes children's drawings and brings them to life in softie form. Unfortunately, she is not taking new orders right now, but it is actually the shop's flickr photostream that inspired me to post about it. The pictures of all the childrens' designs and Ms. Tsao's creations based on the art are guaranteed to bring you cheer! (hopefully she will take new orders again soon...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cora and her hats

There is nothing about Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) from Downton Abbey that I don't love....her elegance, beauty, and general savvy. I have a special appreciation for her hat collection, however, it makes me wish we still wore elaborate chapeaus today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Denmark: Land of Lovely Chairs

I recently had the good fortune to travel to Copenhagen for work and was impressed by how prevalent beautiful design is there. It's as though all of Denmark--perhaps all of Scandinavia--lives by Ikea's mission statement, better everyday life through good, functional design. The airport lounges looked space-age, every bathroom was a model of minimalism, and store windows were full of gorgeous furniture and speakers. I left Copenhagen with a taste for pegs (hooks are so...excessive) and very expensive chairs.

So, dear readers, here I share with you my dreams of chairs, Danish and otherwise. Unfortunately my wallet doesn't yet accommodate most. (And speaking of my wallet, why is it so bulky and awkward?)

A few snapshots from store windows:

Design Within Reach has the best selection of chairs, in my opinion, offering many of the same choices as Scandinavian design house Illums Bolighus and actually giving prices, unlike House of Denmark. And, until Design Within Reach is actually within my reach, there's always Ikea. Sigh.

From Design Within Reach:

P. S. I was given a hint from a friendly Dane that is a sort of Scandinavian ebay with great selection. Worth checking out if your enthusiasm for shopping encompasses shipping.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mannix Vanilla

It is that time of year- you need to think about finding the perfect gift. If you want to give something that is unique, but practical- I have just the thing... 

Since 2001, the Mannix family has been producing premium vanilla extract the old-fashioned way. Our organic, double-strength vanilla extract is brewed using a natural, cold-extraction process without chemicals, additives, sugar or corn syrup.
Continuing with our labor of love, we now produce double-strength almond vanilla extract, ground organic vanilla beans, organic vanilla sugar, and vanilla-infused extra virgin olive oil. We also sell the freshest Madagascan vanilla beans around.

Experience the difference of Mannix vanilla--hand-made, hand-labeled and hand-packed with vanilla beans in every collectible Italian glass bottle. -Mannix Vanilla
Whether you are buying for your favorite foodie or just want something different for the individual that is on your list every year, this is a great option. Check out the Mannix Vanilla site for ordering options and amazing recipes!

Images: Mannix Vanilla and flickr

Thursday, November 8, 2012

best pumpkin bread ever

 Image: streaminggourmet, Recipe: allrecipes
It is a bold claim, but I stand by the Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread recipe as the best. It makes the perfect bread and the recipe, as given, is for three 7 x 3 loaves- so one for now, one to freeze and one to give!
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Monday, November 5, 2012

vintage toys

Often, when I am completely charmed by a nursery or children's room, it is because of the little touches. I think the addition of a small vintage toy on the shelf or dresser top always works. It is a wonderful way to incorporate a family treasure or antique shop find. And of course, Etsy, has some great choices....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

sugar skulls

Sugar skulls are offerings traditionally made to the living and the dead during the Mexican holiday,  Day of the Dead ( Día de los Muertos). They are decorated, edible gifts often left for the departed, but the image of the sugar skull can be found in various forms of art.
There are numerous tutorials for painting your face like that of a sugar skull. Since the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st, this may be in order for those joining the celebration.


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