Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Comfy Chair

My grandmother had a green arm chair in her house that was a true comfy chair. It was the kind of chair you could really settle in to and read a book or just doze off. It actually came from my parents house and I remember reading Stuart Little in it when I was little. It's gone now except in memory, but I would love to find a chair like it to call my own.
A very cool but outrageously expensive chair from Anthropologie.

Bedtime Stories

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One of my favorite time of the day, or night rather, is story time. One of the books I've become a huge fan of is "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. I bought it because I knew it was a classic. Honestly, I did not quite get the appeal at first. Now having read it at least fifty times, maybe more, I have fallen in love with the great green room and its inhabitants. It offers up something new each time.

My daughter is trying to read now and knows what is coming up on each page. She finds the little mouse as he moves about the room from page to page and doesn't mind when I turn off the light in her room when the story is finished. How perfect is that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Knit One

Now that it's freezing out I'd really like to get back to some of my knitting projects. I feel like I need a big chunk of time to get going again, but really I just need to decide what and where to start. Also to get excited about finishing a sweater in time to wear it this winter. I would be thrilled to finish just one project before Spring. And by finish, I mean the dreaded sewing part as well.

I find it helps to think about new projects I could start once I make it through the back log of half finished knit wear. Here are three sweaters that are far beyond my current skills but tempting none the less.

Patterns available at Kim Hargreaves from the Precious Collection.

Assembly Required

Wow, I'm glad the rush of Christmas is over. I really find holiday shopping exhausting and while I love wrapping gifts, it felt like I was on a holiday assembly line. There are only so many bows one can tie.

The thing that really almost took me over the edge this Christmas was the assembly required doll house I bought for my daughter. I guess I should not have been surprised that something as large as a dollhouse would not be shipped fully assembled, but I was. Despite a positive attitude and a strong cup of coffee, the assembly did not go smoothly. Suffice it to say replacement pieces are on their way.

The snow storm came as a relief. A message from the skies to chill out. I woke up the morning after the storm thinking okay now we have to make snow angels and a snowman. Sounds fun, but I was so tired that the idea of being out in the cold had little appeal. Luckily, when I asked my little one if she wanted to go out in the snow, she firmly stated "No, it's too cold." The wisdom of a three year old.

So we didn't cross "build a snowman" off our list. It really was way too cold. Instead we stayed inside and just watched the wind whip up the snow. Sometimes the to do list just needs to be ignored.

Plan Toys Victorian Dollhouse above. It's really beautiful but get a helping hand if you ever need to put one together!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Green Bridges

Last night I caught a snippet of a Nature show "Prince of the Alps" about red deer in Austria. The program briefly discussed "green bridges" that have been built in Austria and other European Countries to allow animals safe passage across highways. France started a program of bridges and viaducts designed to allow animals to safely follow their migratory routes in the 50s. What a wonderful idea.

How much better than the walls that are built along US highways to block the noise for nearby housing developments. I sympathize that no one wants a highway in their backyard, but I hate seeing the bodies of deer and other animals who ended up trapped on the highway with no way out. Hurrah for green bridges. I hope we see them popping up along our roads one day.

More about green bridges and wildlife corridors here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Affordable Luxuries # 8: Hot Chocolate

Sunday we spotted Santa in a local parking lot. The little town next to our was throwing a "Meet Santa" event. We stopped long enough to get a photo with Mrs. Santa, grab a balloon and realize the line to see Santa was too long. It was freezing cold. Despite the hot chocolate and cookies that were being handed out by kind elves, my usually adventurous sidekick was more than happy to fore go Santa and head back to the warmth of the car.

Seeing so many people enjoying hot chocolate reminded me how nice it is to sip one on a cold day. Hot chocolate whether a fancy cocoa or a mix with little marshmallows is definitely one of life's affordable luxuries.

Sugar Plum Fairies and Dancing Snowflakes

We are going to see the Act II of the Nutcracker this weekend. It's nice to have something extra special planned. So as I work my way through the week, visions of dancing snowflakes are twirling in my head and keeping a smile on my face.

It's interesting to look at the different interpretations of the Dance of the Snowflakes. The top photo is from the National Ballet of Canada and the bottom photo from The Washington Ballet. Very different but both very beautiful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Slowing Down: Crossword Puzzles

The idea of relaxing with a cup of good coffee while solving the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle seems a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. I say the idea because in reality Sunday mornings are anything but slow in my world. Oh, and I'd be the first to admit that the Times puzzle is way above my head. But I'm working my way up.

One of my daily rituals is to pick up the two free papers with crosswords included. True crossword aficionados would laugh but I enjoy solving these novice puzzles on the train ride home. It stops my mind from running and pushes back the work day. So even while my mind is working it feels as if I'm slowing down.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Knock, knock, can I live in your house?

Ever wish you could move into someone elses home? That was my reaction when I saw these photos of this home in Holland. It's stylish, cozy, minimal but not cold. I love that there is a fire place, plenty of wool to knit with and a super cozy looking sleeping loft. Knock, knock.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

YSL Rocks the French Manicure

Wow, after not being crazy about some of the odd brown, grey and blue polishes that have been gracing fingers and toes this past summer and fall, I'm excited to get adventurous with nail color again.

Leave it to YSL to add some oh la la to the usually demure french manicure. I'm still undecided which of the nail color duos from the Fall 2010 Rock and Baroque make up line is my favorite, but I'm going to take extra good care of my nails so I can try one for the holidays.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful for the Little Stuff #1: The Hess Truck

A day set aside for thanks is a great idea but remembering to be thankful once annually is skimping on the gratitude. So I'm going to try and remember to be thankful more often and record some of my gratitude here especially for the little things.

I just want to make it very clear first that I am thankful for the big things, like my daughter (who is actually little), my family, a roof over my head, my health which I like to think is well, healthy. And so on.

But my focus here is the small things in life that can either make or break a day. Here's to the little things that get us through.

So my first little thing I'm thankful for is the "Hess Truck and Jeff". Yes, you may have seen it advertised on TV lately. It is that time of year, so yesterday we drove to our local Hess station to get this year's Hess Truck for my nephew and daughter.

I managed to purchases the vehicles and get them in the trunk of the car without my daughter noticing. She did however spot the multiple signs that were plastered all over the station and stated "I want a truck and Jeff toy."

Ah priceless! Well she just kept at it while we had a full tank of gas pumped. We said maybe Santa will bring you one for Christmas. To which she replied"But what about me?"and pushed out her lower lip. I must have heard "I want a truck and Jeff" twenty more times. I'm not a big fan of the I'll repeat myself until I get what I want tactic, but every time she mispronounced "jet" and said "Jeef" I couldn't help smiling.

The "truck and Jeff" are still in the trunk waiting to be wrapped and she will have to wait until Christmas Day. Come December 25th I fully expect to hear a joyous "I got a truck and Jeff, a truck and Jeff, a truck and Jeff toy!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Be Kind

Some Monday inspiration and wise words from Plato. Amazing when you think he was born c. 427 BC. The human condition and concerns seem to translate across the centuries.

Image via FFFFound.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slowness: A Spot of Tea

Can you imagine taking tea in the afternoon? Actually sitting down with a nice pot of perfectly brewed tea nestled under a knitted tea cozy with a plate biscuits or tea sandwiches nearby. Such niceties are almost laughable in our society. But why? It is certainly seems more productive to grab something out of a vending machine and scarf it down with a soda right out of the can. Our need to be productive seems to have overridden any need to be civil or sociable.

Last week when I came home, I was informed that my daughter had thrown a tea party with her new stuffed puppy who she has pragmatically named "Dog". She and Dog played host to their guests, including a plastic dragon capable of spitting water (a fact I have hidden from her) and miscellaneous other characters both plastic and stuffed.

I'm glad someone in the family has time to sit down and share a spot of tea with friends, even if the tea imaginary. I can only imagine the topics discussed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I can't remember how long ago I read "Slowness" by Milan Kundera nor most of the plot. I'm pretty sure I didn't own a cell phone yet. I do remember that the contrast of pace between the lives of the 18th century courtesans and the contemporary characters. Now more than a decade after the book was published, the question "Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared?" posed by the narrator seems even more apt. The 15 year old book seems prophetic of our ever accelerating lives in a digitally driven world.

There's lots I love about technology, like being able to talk to friends on the long train ride home or track down long lost friends who should have never fallen out of my life. On the other hand, I don't like the 24/7 connectedness, the platform for stupidity (I will not name political movements here), or seeing how engrossed people are with their various devices. There's something chilling about watching people text. Is this what we were given opposable thumbs for?

I don't think I would be happy in living in a horse drawn world where getting to the next town is a major effort. I would not like to wait weeks for a message to arrive from a friend. I do however wonder what happened to the world where Sunday dinners were not rushed. Where activities like taking a loaf of bread to the duck pond to feed the ducks was more likely than rushing around to stock up at Mega Stores.

I fondly remember Sunday afternoons where there was time to read or take a nap while football played on the TV in the other room. It was normal to just take a ride in the car with no real purpose other than to take a look around while the roast was cooking. Then the whole family would sit down at my Grandmother's dinning room table and enjoy a meal together. There was no sense of rushing.

This month I'm planning on lots of posts that celebrate Slowness.

Slowing Down

I missed the start of the work week yesterday to a root canal, but last Monday was one of those mornings when everyone seemed to be struggling. It was a real Monday Rush hour with lots of unhappy faces and visible frustration. The MTA ticket machines seemed particularly unforgiving.

The woman in front of me at the ticket machine could not get the machine to issue her a ticket no matter what she tried. She finally went off in a huff and though she made me wait and added to my Monday anxiety, I felt real sympathy.

It seems when you are in a rush, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. "Haste makes waste." I know for myself when I'm rushing every possible obstacle seems to surface. When I'm struggling to find my glasses or metro card and stuff starts flying out of my purse, sometimes I wisely remember to slow down before things really spiral out of control.

This month I'm taking a "slow and steady wins the race" approach. I'm going to try and take deep breaths when things get crazy and most of all explore the power of slow. Here's to all things slow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recession Fun # 11: Sweet Potato Plant

One of our sweet potatoes hung out too long in our bowl of spuds and onions that always sits on the kitchen counter and sprouted. The little leaves were so small and perfect, like little purple hearts, and so I decided to set it in a bowl of water and watch it grow. Grow it has. We now have a full-blown plant that threatens to take over the kitchen.

My mom said her grandmother used to sprout sweet potatoes and always had one hanging in her house. It's nice to know our little horticultural project ties us to our past.

Photo above from The Great Plant Escape which has a nice little "how to" description for kids.

Affordable Luxuries # 7: A Warm Plaid Flannel Shirt

There's something so cozy about a plaid flannel shirt. It may not be the most glamorous item in a girl's closet, but pair it with an equally comfortable tee shirt and favorite pair of jeans and who's missing the dress-up clothes? Actually there's a lot of stylish options this year.

Flannel shirts make me want to take a walk in crisp weather followed by a nice long lounge in a comfortable chair. Add a good read and heaven! I just bought myself an inexpensive one. I was tempted by some of the fancier tailored styles available with ruffles but opted for a classic version slightly oversized and very comfy.

Lumber jack style flannel shirts with grey patches by Untold.

Rushing the Holidays: Part One

On Halloween as we were leaving the grocery store with my daughter in her Halloween costume ready for trick or treating, we passed the Christmas tree display that had already been set up. We had to stop as my daughter was very excited to see the trees. While she was happy to see signs of Christmas, I was less than charmed.

In reality Christmas decorations have been making their way into the stores for weeks already but the contrast of her costume and the wintry display really struck me. Why must we rush everything? Why in the land of retail is everything blending together in to a "Buy fest"? Do I even have to ask? In the retail world it is about extending the buying season. But what about in our lives?

Why do we put up with this "Christmas in October" pace? I begin to think as people spend more and more hours at work, away form their families and rushed in general, the blur of one holiday into another actually has some appeal. My theory is that people with little time to appreciate the moment feel as if they are getting more of the holidays. Instead of taking the seasons and holidays one at a time, appreciating their meaning and celebrating them discreetly we now have mash ups. I have to say, I'm used to Thanksgiving and Christmas getting squashed together but Halloween and Christmas, it's going too far.

Photo of Macy's Christmas display from Running With Cake.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Inspiration Ondine

James Pearse wool rib beanie.

Foxford classic red check blanket.

Flowery Seal print from Papa Stour.

Beechnut and limpet shell hanging also from Papa Stour.

Jacques print by Wayne Pate.

Bat Houses

When we were kids in middle school we liked to sit under the street light at night and just hang out. It seemed cool and the bat that flew above our heads, to catch moths drawn by the light, made it seem even cooler.
I say bat because, I always thought of it as one solitary creature rather than a slew of bats taking turns. The street light is long gone and now it's not so easy to spot our flying mammal friend(s) but I'm hoping some are still around. While I as a tween I appreciated our local bat(s), I did not realize what an important member(s) of our community he (they) were.
Eventually, I would like to put a bat house in our yard to let them know they are welcome. While the photos of bat house attached to the sides of buildings (pictured above) are cool, I think I might want to chose a free standing version and put a little more space between us.

Here are some links to interesting articles:

Build a Bat House

Top photo: Bat House Project form This Old House.
Bottom photo: Buy a bat house prefab from Gardener's Supply Company.


Hanging out in a parking lot should not be fun, but add food, kids, a football, old college buddies, family and of course a college football game and you're there.

We had a great outing two Saturday's ago and even though our team didn't win, it was a wonderful day. Every weekend should be as great.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I love that there are always cheap DVDs available now at the super market and big box stores. I picked up Ondine for less than half the price of a movie ticket and was able to enjoy this little gem quietly at home. Home was the perfect setting to view this modern fairytale.

Some films are just not suited to big theater viewing with a crowd. For me, it really takes an in-your-face blockbuster style film to overcome the presence of so many people rustling, snacking, making asides, etc. Ondine is not that type of film. I was not really surprised to find the film discounted already, but was a little saddened after watching the film that it had not found a significant audience.

The film is beautifully shot and acted and the story is sweet and gritty at the same time. The film quietly deals with how lives that are broken can be mended, even if somewhat imperfectly. It allows that redemption is possible in a modern world where "Once upon a time" and "Happily ever after" are faced with skepticism even by children.

It brought to mind the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I also loved because it was not afraid to have a "happy" ending. Both works allow for the characters to have a positive resolution in an imperfect world. It's not exactly the "happily ever after" of traditional fairytales but the acknowledgement that people can find what they need and the real happiness that accompanies that amongst the difficulties of life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Little Love Bug

She was actually a little lady bug and loved every minute in her costume. We had a wonderful, if too short Halloween weekend. We never got around to making the cupcakes but did manage to finally carve our pumpkin and do some real trick or treating in the dark. It's amazing how any fear of the dark disappeared when the treats started dropping in our plastic pumpkin.

I was amazed at how well she did. I think she studies up on things while I'm at work. To see her ring the bell and step back ready to say trick or treat, you'd think she were a real pro with several years experience under her belt. I was also pleased to see how polite she was, picking just one piece of candy and saying "thank you." I was really the proud mama lady bug.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

End of the Weekend Inspiration

I love quiet Sundays at home and wish they could be twice as long. It's time to make sure that everything is set for the beginning of the work week and I can already feel its pull. As Sunday night winds down this print titled "Homestead" from Beauchamping sums up where my head and heart are tonight.

An Old Friend Stops By

The deer have been moving in closer to the house as Fall really sets in. There is one female who always stops by and peers in through the back doors to see if she can beg an apple. She is the boldest of all the deer who make the woods behind our house home. Today she came by and scored a few apples before a special visitor stopped by.

This old male has shown up in the Fall for the past three years and hangs around through the winter months. He was injured last winter and I thought for sure he was not going to make it. So I was especially happy to see him today and treated him to apples and carrots before he decided to retreat back into the woods. I'm hoping this is just the first of many visits this year.