Dec 22, 2012

Pretty pretty

My Ideal Home is full of pretty pretty design ideas.

Dec 14, 2012


The Queen of Versailles is a documentary about an insanely wealthy couple building the largest home in America and what happens when their finances take a turn.  It sounded fascinating and it kinda was.  However, I feel uncomfortable watching documentaries where the people have no concept of how they come off.  The couple in this film are oblivious monster types - and it's their unawareness that makes them monsters not that they are bad people per se).  I felt much like when I watched Grey Gardens - more pitying than entertained.  4/10.

Dec 13, 2012

More fun

I'm a lot bit addicted to Jonathan Adler design books these days.  I love how much fun is reflected in his rooms and how he scoffs at rules and snobbery.  I aim for more eclectic fun in my house.  My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living and 100 Ways to Happy Chic Up Your Life were both great fun.  8/10.

Dec 5, 2012



Superlittlecute's necklaces are all pretty amazing.


This recipe for white beans with leeks is pretty darn good. Been in a new recipe kind of mood these days.

Dec 2, 2012

Nov 29, 2012


Nov 28, 2012

Pissing you off

Hot Coffee is a documentary that raises questions and will very likely piss you off.  I'm a fan of pissing folks off in the best ways - ways that lead to action.  Tort reform sounds like a dry subject until you see the folks screwed over by it.  This film explains a few cases in which people are hurt by award limits and shows how business interests have changed local elections.  It's something that shows how important it is to take part in every election to make a difference locally.

Nov 27, 2012


Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other is a sweet little memoir written by NPR's Scott Simon.  He talks about the adoption of his two daughters.  It does not dive into issues in any depth, but it is super sweet and honest about his own personal experience.  6/10.

Nov 26, 2012

Little big thing

I treated myself to this darling little whale the other day.

Nov 25, 2012

Cassoulets, soufflés, and pates

My Julia Child obsession is well documented.  Imagine my delight to stumble upon a picture book about the great lady.  Minette's Feast is about Julia and Paul's cat.  It's darling - full of pretty artwork and direct quotes from Julia's letters.  A very sweet book to read to the baby.  I particularly loved the index in the back telling the reader how to pronounce the various French phrases.  8/10.

Nov 24, 2012

So true!

McSweeney's bit on strangers offering advice to new mums.


I have been on a photo printing binge I'm determined to not rely on electronic storage of photos and actually print the suckers and put them in an album. Here's one I love:
Winnifred in the bathtub.

Nov 14, 2012


Nov 12, 2012

Nov 11, 2012


The Lifespan of a Fact is a fascinating back and forth between an essayist and a factchecker.  It is at times hysterical and at other times poignant.  The book has an interesting format with the essay in the middle of the page and the conversation happening all around it.  Really good read.  7/10.


Want this!

Nov 10, 2012


I'm tempted to try my hand at making a rag rug.  This pretty one is listed on etsy. 

Any suggested resources for trying my hand at this?

Nov 9, 2012

Hang down your head

Woke up with this song in my head this morning.

Advice from strangers

Sucks.  This McSweeney's piece hit the spot rather well.

As does this onesie on etsy:

Nov 7, 2012


Bwthyn glan môr by Valériane Leblond
Bwthyn glan môr, a photo by Valériane Leblond on Flickr.

Love this whole set of paintings.

Nov 5, 2012


I didn't realize that the seed pods on radishes were edible.  So going to harvest them next year.  Useful!

Nov 4, 2012

Illusion as science

Glamour in Glass is the unexpected sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey.  Unexpected mainly by me I suppose.  The first book didn't seem to need a sequel.  Still, it was nice to revisit a world where illusion is a science and art of its own and magic is a normal thing during the time of Napoleon.  I am certain now that there will be a third book, and I suspect I'll read that one too.  6/10. 

Nov 3, 2012


I think I just don't get Pedro Almodovar most times.  I watched Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown the other day and did not get any amazingness.  It's a silly sort of story that didn't translate itself to much humor.  I much prefered Volver.  2/10.

Nov 2, 2012

Not even the rain

The babe has put this line in my head.  Seemed appropriate to put on the porch blackboard.  Entire poem here.

Nov 1, 2012

Ghost ship

Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of an advice column but that sounds way too simple.  It's full of gut-wrenching, beautiful, soulful responses.  It's the best thing I've written in a long time. 
“I'll never know, and neither will you of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” 

So good!

Oct 28, 2012

Never too early

We've started reading to the baby - no such thing as too early!  The following books were wonderful finds.




Oct 27, 2012

Local color

The House at Royal Oak is a sweet memoir about a couple who decide to buy a ruined old house and turn it into a bed and breakfast.  The author writes about the decision to change their lives completely and the challenges of fixing up an old building.  I loved reading about the locals and the trials of starting such a project.  8/10.

Oct 26, 2012


I love a good BBC mystery series, and was psyched to stumble upon another one that fit the bill.  Vera is about a crochety investigator in Northumberland.  The murders are interesting and complicated.  The scenery is lovely and the characters are really interesting and multi-faceted.  It hits all the right spots for me.

Oct 25, 2012


The Everafter is a YA novel told from the confused point of view of a dead girl.  It's a fast read, and I really appreciated how all the protaganist's relationships were important - not just the romantic one.  I really liked all the mystery to it - the rules of the afterlife, how she died, and the meanings of the objects she finds.  6/10.

Oct 24, 2012


A bookmobile that only shows up at night?  Intriguing.  The Night Bookmobile was an interesting concept for a story but I couldn't find any way to understand its draw for the protaganist.  It has a flaw that would make it any avid reader's worst nightmare.  3/10.

Oct 23, 2012



This made me smile.

Oct 19, 2012

Instant mood lifter

Big Man On Campus by Back in the Pack
Big Man On Campus, a photo by Back in the Pack on Flickr.
The other day I stumbled upon the nearby dog daycare. Seen it so many times but not during the day when dozens of dogs are folicking in the yard. Frolicking!

A basset puppy was chasing the bigger faster lab mixes around the grounds. So happy making. I may have to lurk around this place more often.

Oct 18, 2012

Lovely to scale

The Secret World of Arietty is another gorgeous animation from Studio Ghibli.  I confess that I never read The Borrowers, but I remember it sitting on my grandma's bookshelf.  I love how non-formulaic the Studio's movies are.  The animation is fabulous - all those plants and details.  Really lovely to watch. 6/10.

Oct 17, 2012


Life is certainly an adjustment these days.  I'm on work leave which seems like it would lend itself to loads of free time.  However, the baby is certainly and completely in charge.  Sleep comes in 3 hour increments (when we're lucky!).  Time is taken up with lots of feedings and diaper changes and naps (many of which happen while lying on me).  We're cloth diapering so laundry is a daily task.  Pretty soon, pumping is gonna be a regular job. 

This means that books are generally things that can be read in the middle of the night during feedings.  They must be easy to follow and light to hold up (seeing as how one hand is busy holding the babe). 

Movies get started in the morning during feedings (did I mention that feeding is a pretty constant thing), paused when the babe is down for a nap so I can do luxurious things like shower or eat, and watched in 20 minute to half hour segments - longer when someone conks out on me.

However, we do enjoy lots of snuggles and milky grins and walks in the neighborhood while someone is conked out in the sling. 

So expect more ramblings, movie reviewlets, and info on shorter and less complicated books - some of them children's books.

Dark and sweet

Bernie was an interesting watch.  Based on a true story, the film is told with a mix of actors and the real townsfolk who knew the people involved.  Jack Black is perfectly cast for the first time ever.  It's a bit of a black comedy with a bit of sweet ridiculousness.  I just love things that get the small town feel right, and this fits that bill.  6/10.

Oct 12, 2012


Talk about timely - Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? is about a teacher with no political experience running for a Congressional seat.  The political ads are tiresome these days (particularly if you live in a swing state!) but this documentary is refreshing.  The staffers enthusiasm and hardwork will make you smile.  6/10.

Oct 11, 2012


Today was one of those perfectly lovely days.  It was gorgeous and sunny, so I popped the baby in a sling and wandered off to the coffee shop for some chai while listening to the Double X podcast.  Then we visited the new little flower shop on the corner and bought some pretty orange dahlias to brighten up the house.  So great!


Little Bee was a really unique book - about a refugee teenager and an English mother.  I knew that pretty much everyone had read it, and that it had great reviews so I picked it up.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

The book is good.  It's well-written and tells an important story.  It is not however a great read for a new mother whose hormones have yet to settle into normal status yet.  It was a brutal read and towards the end I was just determined to finish so I could move onto something that wouldn't freak me the hell out and decide to lock my baby up somewhere safe for all time. 

So if you're feeling a bit fragile, maybe put this one off until you've shored yourself way up. 5/10.

Oct 10, 2012

Oct 9, 2012

Still wondering

The Coffins of Little Hope was a charming read about a mystery in a small town.  It had passages like this:

“We could endlessly reminisce, live in the past to an unhealthy degree, then politely kill each other some winter night before bedtime, stirring poison into our cups of whiskey-spiked chamomile tea, wearing party hats. Then, nervous about our double homicide, we could lie in bed together, holding hands again, frightened and waiting, still wondering, after all these years, if we even believed in our own souls.” 

Gorgeous, right?  I adored the characters (an octogenarian obit writer and her family) and the premise was fascinating.  At the end though, it felt like things petered out a bit.  Still a pretty great read.  6/10.


Oct 8, 2012


Sidewalls is an Argentinian film following two people who are a great match but have not met.  It's charming and rather sweet.  The beginning of the film is rather visually dark and claustrophobic (which totally fits the story).  However, if that sort of thing gets to you, watch it on a sunny day with the blinds wide open.  I loved how the story concludes.  6/10.


Home is a documentary following a single mother and her children who live in public housing and want to better their situation.  It's an honest look at the struggles one family faces and how hard it can be to change.  I work for a social service charity, and we often lament how those in need are expected to be perfect in order to be considered the "deserving poor."  Everyone is human and flawed.  That does not mean that folks do not deserve compassion.  /end rant.  7/10.

Oct 7, 2012

'Cause "sexy crayons" are dumb

Take Back Halloween is a resource for women who don't feel the need to limit their Halloween costume choices to "sexy _______."  Awesome!  (Kinda tickled that two of the costumes featured are for ladies I dressed up as the last couple of years - Medusa and Frida Kahlo.)


Cool idea.  Was just talking to the boy-o the other night about how house locks need to be more like car locks.

Oct 6, 2012


Anyone else catching the Stewart O'Reilly debate tonight?

Dipping into

More Baths Less Talking is the perfect book for someone in my situation.  Almost two weeks ago, our little babe made an early arrival.  We're ecstatic and adjusting to interupted sleep, feeding the kiddo every two hours or so, and lots and lots of diaper changing.  It's absolutely fantastic.  (Keeping my promise not to turn into a mommy blogger though!)

This book was perfect for dipping into during late night feedings while absolutely exhausted.  Hornby writes about the books he's purchased, the books he'd read, and his opinions on all.  I so enjoy these essays.  This is his fourth book like this - all collected from his column in The Believer.  I may need to go ahead and get a subscription.  8/10.

Anyone have other books about books to suggest?

Oct 3, 2012

At least there is the scenery

A Good Year sounded up my alley.  An Englishman inherits a vineyard in France and hijinks ensue.  It kind of missed the mark though.  The actors seemed pretty mis-cast.  The story was not so great.  But the scenery was rather lovely.  3/10.

Oct 2, 2012

Sadly disturbing

My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel recounting the high school years of the infamous serial killer.  My little brother (aka my library fairy) reserved it for me at the library - his way of making a suggestion. 

I would not have picked this one up on my own but I'm glad I did read it.  It did not delve into gruesomeness.  It was more sad and disturbing.  6/10.

Sep 26, 2012


Happenstance sounded promising - big cast, quirky French story, adorable lead.  Not so much though.  I felt pretty uninterested in all the players and in all the ways that one small thing led to another.  Yawn.  3/10.

Sep 24, 2012


Love this.

Sep 23, 2012


Savage Beauty is a gorgeous gorgeous book of Alexander McQueen's designs.  I don't love every piece but so many of them are jaw-droppingly amazing.  

So sad that he cut his career so short.  8/10.

Sep 22, 2012


Tuesdays at the Castle is a pretty adorable YA read about kids who live in a castle that changes on a whim - adding rooms, stretching halls, tormenting inhabitants it doesn't like.  The character / location of the castle is a fun touch, but I really loved how some characters surprised the reader.  It was a really quick and enjoyable read and apparently the beginning of a series.  6/10.

Sep 21, 2012


MacArthurLane Ties has such pretty patterns and colors.

Sep 20, 2012


I stumbled across the photo collection Right recently.  It's portraits of students at Patrick Henry College, and I was intrigued after reading God's Harvard.  I thought it was well done.  Sympathetic and enlightening. 

I'm about as far as you can get from the politics involved there, but I am fascinated by the culture.  6/10.

Sep 19, 2012


I love The Decemberists, and, when I spotted that Colin Meloy wrote a fantasy for middle schoolers, I was super excited.  So why has this book been languishing on my nightstand?  Wildwood feels like a mix of Narnia and The Labyrinth, but its so darn boring.  Boooooooorrring!  The book is 500+ pages long and I stuck with it for about 130 before taking pity on myself and tossing it aside.  The pace is so slow. 

It does have some pretty terrific illustrations, but that wasn't enough to keep me slogging through.  1/10.

Sep 18, 2012

Awful and fun

Friends brought this over to play the other night, and I laughed so hard.  Cards Against Humanity is awful and twisted and hysterical.  It's for grown-ups only and apparently hard to get your hands on.  Loved it!

Sep 16, 2012

Rhinos on the wall

Werner Herzog is an odd man.  I don't always follow his meanderings but I did appreciate the opportunity to see inside of Chauvet Cave.  Cave of Forgotten Dreams was weird but worth it.  5/10.

P.S.  I would love it if someone came and drew some rhinos on my living room wall.

Sep 14, 2012

Pretty adorable

I picked up Attachments after seeing it  suggested by Linda Holmes from Pop Culture Hour, and it was so worth it.  It's told in narrative from the lead guy character and via emails from the two female best friends.  The romance bit is sweet but the very best part is the emails.  The story is funny and sweet and touching.  7/10.

Sep 5, 2012


I have been a bad blogger. My apologies! Excuses are just that, but I have them. It's been a long hot summer and I have been distracted by sweating, a horrible weeklong power outage thanks to the derecho, and then wrapping my mind around impending parenthood. Boy-o and I are expecting a baby in just about a month. I've been pretty mum online, but the day is coming fast. Thanks to Miss Lu for pulling me back. I doubt that I can be a super regular blogger, but there are some great books that I've felt bad about not sharing (ahem - Code Name Verity). I do not see me becoming a mommmy blogger, and hopefully this kiddo will allow me some reading time. That's my long-winded excuse, but I do promise to try to be a bit more sharey of lovely reads and finds.

May 7, 2012

Angels in the architecture

I will always love this song.

May 5, 2012

Manhole covers

Painted manhole covers in Japan.  I love it when the ordinary utilitarian object is made beautiful.

Apr 24, 2012

Seriously delicious

Boy-o made fried chicken last night using this recipe  I have never had better.  So good!.

Apr 18, 2012


The Cement Garden is such a disturbing, skin-crawly kind of story.  I really like Ian McEwan, but I did not know what I was getting into with this one.  Disturbing. Unwashed, uncared for children, dead parents, seriously taboo relationships - all of that. I can appreciate writing even when the story is so messed up.  5/10.  (But I can't imagine ever ever reccomending this book to anyone).