Monthly Archives: February 2014

admiring: 28 february 2014

Lego Movie

Everything is Awesome! If you aren’t singing that in your head non-stop, then you need to stop what you are doing and go see The Lego Movie. Take it from someone who bows out of most “children’s” movies, this one is fun for everyone. After each initial Lego kit “by the instruction book” build, we are a Lego free-for-all family – so the movie was especially fun for us to watch. We don’t keep our kits separated, and the girls build anything and everything with their bricks. Recently, E made a Hogwarts mash up and F built some corresponding Hogwarts garages for her matchbox maintenance vehicles. (We make a lot of garages in our house.)

Hogwarts Remix

Hogwarts Garages

If you are still in the Lego mood after watching the movie, here’s a tiny, adventurous Lego photographer that will completely make your day.

Or even a Lego family portrait  DIY for the camera shy. 

I promise I’m not really hinting but if anything from Heidi Swanson’s Quitokeeto shop mysteriously ended up on my kitchen counter I wouldn’t complain.

Like, say, this Mono Filio Teapot. I’m almost just as happy to look at her photographs on those gorgeous kitchen countertops.


And since we’re on the subject of kitchens, can I tell you how much I love the Found Recipe series on All Things Considered? Last week’s (Purple) Sweet Potato Gnocchi has me ready to hunt down some Stokes Purple sweet potatoes this weekend.

purple-gnocchi-11Celina della Croce and Nathan Hoyt/Courtesy of Julia della Croce

Frascatelli is on my radar.

I also heard wind just yesterday that Jeni Britton is coming out with a second cookbook this summer – just in time for summer birthdays! (Your guess is as good as mine as to when summer might actually start this year – spring is holding out for sure.) When the pelting ice begins on Sunday, I’ll dream of delicious summer ice cream flavors, dripping in the heat.

Mad Art Gallery has a nice exhibition going on, I particularly enjoyed Travis Lawrence’s work, as well as John Selberg’s.

Next weekend the St. Louis Craft Mafia presents the Green with Indie Craft Show at Webster University – I’m looking forward to going with the girls (and bringing along my visiting mom as well).

Green with Indie Flyer

My favorite vendor will be there – The Mad Magnolia Candle Co. – check out her foodie inspired candles here, and then stop in and pick one up for yourself and a few for gifts. Area favorite food trucks will be there, and the whole thing sounds like a great time. Let me know if you are going – maybe we can meet up for a cup of coffee and a spin around the booths.


admiring: blogs (in the beginning)

I remember first being interested in reading blogs about ten or eleven years ago – around the time E was born. I followed a handful of bloggers out there writing and doing interesting things – and most were having children about the same time. A few of those early reads are no longer writing – but several are still going strong more than a decade later. Here’s a roundup of the first people that got me interested in this platform.

Sweet Juniper – there were so many things I loved about Dutch and Wood (their early days monikers). Raising their daughter, Juniper, first in San Francisco, and then later in Detroit (in a fantastic Mies van der Rohe townhouse), Jim’s stories about their adventures in and around the city, and his fantastic homemade costumes and play things were such a delight. His posts are less frequent now, but I still enjoy seeing what they are up to. I also love the fact that they commission a different artist each year to do a family portrait for their holiday cards.sweet juniper

I’ve always loved Hilary’s creations and her writing at Wee Wonderfuls – but my favorite part was her Olive and Archie story / make along adventure. Everything she creates is so spot-on perfect, and I was thrilled when she paired up with The Land of Nod to produce some of her dolls. We own Winx (aka Brave Irene, in our house). Hilary always has the best Christmas trees, hands down.

Wee wonderfuls

A blog that I used to read religiously (although now retired) was The Trixie Update. It was actually one of several blogs written by stay-at-home dad’s that I loved. I’m not sure how I came to follow so many of those – but it was probably because they all followed one another, and so the connections were made between blogs. I was sort of an obsessive note taker with E when she was an infant – charting her naps and her daily intake of food, and Ben’s obsession with doing the same (and organizing it into detailed charts and graphs) was so fun to watch. He eventually created the Trixie Tracker – a way to keep all your own baby data organized and at the ready for analysis (if you are into that sort of thing). 


Dooce has changed a lot over the years, but I still enjoy reading her posts occasionally. Her daughters are almost exactly the same age as my own girls, and their personalities are very similar. I admired her openness on the topic of her postpartum depression, something I was suffering from right along with her. I’m not a big fan of the blog-as-career path for the most part, but in between her numerous sponsored posts are still some real gems that make me laugh out loud.

dooceDesign*Sponge has been one of my consistent favorites for almost a decade – even back when it looked like this:

Design SPonge

I love Grace’s style and eye for design trends, and I admire the way her blog has evolved over the years. I still draw more inspiration from that site than any other, and you’ll see various posts referenced occasionally in my own blog.

(story)time: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. I’m terribly, terribly sorry that I didn’t mention this book before Valentine’s Day, but hopefully you will forgive me after adding it to your library. The story first centers around the holiday, but it’s certainly a book you will enjoy reading all year long. My mother taught elementary school, and this book was a favorite of hers. She bought it for E many years ago, and now it is a favorite of ours.

The story begins with a very quiet and withdrawn Mr. Hatch. There is a predictable pattern to his days, and a loneliness as well. He crosses paths with others, but he never interacts with them, and at first he seems perfectly content to order his life in this manner.

And then the postman shows up on his doorstep with a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary package, and Mr. Hatch discovers that he has a secret admirer. At first he doesn’t even know how to react – he tries to go about his weekend chores as if nothing has changed. Except that he finally realizes that everything has changed, and the very changed Mr. Hatch becomes the most generous, fun-loving guy in the neighborhood simply because he believes that someone, somewhere, loves him. When, a few months later, a very distraught and apologetic postman shows back up at his door confessing his delivery error, the book takes a very abrupt turn, and Mr. Hatch immediately reverts back to his lonely existence. His absence in his neighbors’ lives leaves such a tremendous hole that they come together to convince him that – valentine or no valentine – he is very, very loved.

Do you ever read the copyright page of books? I do, especially illustrated books. You can sometimes find interesting information about the illustrator’s medium there, especially if there isn’t information on the fly leaf. I’ve always admired the colored pencil drawings in this book, and the perfectly uniform “texture” that appears throughout the renderings. I like the “Note on the Art” on the copyright page of the book illustrator Paul Yalowitz’s work – it reads as follows:

The illustrations in this book were first drawn with ebony pencil on bristol plate paper and then colored over with Derwent colored pencils. Because the artist is right-handed, he starts drawing on the left side of the paper and moves to the right so that the picture won’t smudge. The paper is very smooth, and only the artist knows where that mysterious texture comes from. 

E and I read that and thought it was so cool. And mysterious. I love studying the details, and understanding the process behind the illustrations. I love paying attention to the objects the artist puts onto each page, as well as the ones that are purposefully left out. We love Mr. Hatch in our house, and I think you just might too.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!