Archive for the ‘Grownup Books’ Category

I Got Some Amazing Books for Christmas

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

My in-laws used to get nervous that they gave me too many books as gifts, that I’d get tired of them. They have learned by now that nothing makes me happier, and they’ve joined my own family in helping me build my library every year. And this year, the selection of books I was given was pretty astoundingly good. Some of these were on my own wishlist, some of them were given with great thought and care, and one of them was a gift to myself.

Quilting Modern:Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts was on my wishlist that I was really excited for, andInstinctive Quilt Art: Fusing Techniques and Design (right) was from my in-laws. And it has the most amazing, vivid art quilts in it. Both books really focus on free form, go-with-what-you-feel quilting, so maybe this is the universe telling me to just start cutting and sewing this year.

Felt Mistress: Creature Couture is an insanely strange and sublimely cool find from my brother-in-law Thomas. The Felt Mistress is heretofore unfamiliar to me, but apparently she is a force in British fashion, toy design, puppetry, and window displays. This giant art book details piles of her original stuff and her work with Jonathan Edwards creating some of the most awesome felt creatures I’ve ever seen. This is one of those fabulous, only-available-in-Britain treasures that I could spend hours upon hours poring over.

And to add to my ever-growing arsenal of food tomes are The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, this great resource that explains how to make everything from pop tarts to ketchup at home in your own kitchen. The feeling is more retro Home Ec than depressing preservative-free food Nazi, and that is infinitely cooler and more accessible.

I also got On a Stick to add to my party food collection and Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit. This one was actually written by a girl who was in the graduate Library and Information Science program with me at Pratt. We didn’t know each other, but Laena McCarthy is one of those faces you remember from the halls and somehow end up Facebook friends with. So I knew she’d become kind of this legendary artisanal jam maker in Brooklyn, which is very cool in and of itself. But when I found out she was publishing a book about jam at the end of the summer when I discovered this art form I got REALLY excited. All of the food books were on my wishlist.

My Ideal Bookshelf is also one from my wishlist. Again, I’m a little obsessed and plan on spending hours poring over this one. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but any book that includes the favorite books of James Franco AND Nancy Pearl Librarian Extraordinaire in the same book is perfection. Plus, the bookshelves are illustrated. Very cool.

And then finally, Dancers Among Us. This was my present to myself, and I am so smitten with this book. And don’t you dare judge me for reading about it in O magazine’s December issue. Look at the cover, how could you not be in love with this? And look at this photo:

This is the ultimate, cure-a-bad-day book of photos. Pure joy, and I love every page. We have 3 students from my school all battling relapsed leukemia, and the one I’ve taught the most (her mom is a teacher in the building) just went back into the hospital in December. She’s in 3rd grade, so I sent her a copy of Hugo Cabret, the next 2 books in the Bone series after the last one she checked out of the library, and this book for her whole family. I may send this book to everyone I know from here on out that could use a smile.

So, all in all I’d say this was one of my best hauls of books ever. I’m kind of over the moon.


Sweet Designs by Amy Atlas

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Let me preface this with a confession. Part of why I’m so excited to be a mom is to finally have an excuse to go crazy with the party planning. I think I do a pretty good job entertaining our grownup friends, but the options for kid parties are just neverending. This is not the sole reason I wanted to start a family, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Don’t get me started on the sewing options for homemade Halloween costumes. This Mommy business completely appeals to my inner home ec goddess.

I love Amy Atlas. I’ve been a big fan of her dessert tables for a few years now, and I’ve made my own shaky attempts at putting them together for our parties and cookouts. So I preordered Sweet Designs as soon as I heard about it, and I wasn’t disappointed. Finally I can get some insight into why my own tables never quite look like hers. I’ve learned that I should overstock the table even if it’s for a small crowd…this is why mine often look emaciated, I’m afraid to have TOO much. Mixing supermarket treats with homemade nibbles and gourmet goodies is perfectly acceptable! I do not have to spend a fortune or weeks of my life in the kitchen prepping for parties! I can finally feel comfortable busting out my Cricut for decorations without worrying about being too cutesy! I need to find my hot glue gun!

Anyway, you get the idea. The book features 14 fully styled dessert tables with step-by-step instructions for recreating them at home. But it’s not just a cookie cutter manual. The idea is to be inspired by the spreads and put your own spin on them. Amy’s packed it with tons of tips, including her list of favorite suppliers (thank you thank you!). There are recipes and templates, and encouragement to try out small-scale touches to make even regular weeknights a little jazzy.

I haven’t had much free time since Hannah was born (I can’t believe she’s 3 months old already!), but I did take the small-scale advise to heart and tried out one of the recipes from the book just because. About a month ago I made the Caramel Buttercream from the “Grandma Dotty’s Rocky Road Cupcakes” recipe. Adam’s a little funny about stuff in his cupcakes, so rather than make the chocolate chip-filled, Marshmallow Fluff-stuffed Rocky Road cupcakes I used our go-to Dark Chocolate Cupcakes recipe. I didn’t have any Fluff anyway, but at the last minute I thought I’d see how he did with some mini marshmallows in the batter. Result: he didn’t mind them, but they also basically disintegrated and brought nothing to the table. If anything somehow the cupcakes were drier than usual.

Anyway, I did make the Caramel Buttercream frosting, and it was absurdly good. I love making caramel, and this actually made me start feeling like my old self again after weeks in the Newborn Zone.

With the 4th around the corner, our summer party-planning is in full swing. I can’t wait to bust out some more tips and tricks.



48 Hour Book Challenge

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I will be participating in #48HBC this year. The idea is to read and review as many books as possible in a 48 hour timespan, and this is the 6th readathon MotherReader has organized. It gets bigger every year. And every year I see it’s happening when it’s too late to participate, but this year I am getting on board with it. I don’t know how much I’ll actually be able to read this weekend (especially since I left several ARCs at school!), but I want to set the goal for myself this summer and dedicate more uninterrupted time to the things I love.

I’m setting my time as 9pm tonight (in about half an hour) to 9pm Sunday night.

It’s not too late to sign up for this year. Happy reading!

Books and Chocolate

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

I went out to Lambertville, NJ today for my sorority alumni’s Founders Day luncheon. I love this area, Adam and I spent our 1st wedding anniversary in New Hope and Lambertville (across a walkable bridge from each other).

The best thing about lunch at Lambertville Station was this chocolate truffle dessert.


Water for Elephants and A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Friday, January 21st, 2011

By complete coincidence, I finished the audio book of Sara Gruen’s astounding Water for Elephants the same day that my copy of Philip and Erin Stead’s A Sick Day for Amos McGee arrived in the mail. That book is hard to get your hands on these days, so it was the first chance I’d actually had to read this year’s Caldecott medalist. And something about experiencing these books on the same day made me feel so euphoric that I couldn’t escape how similar the experiences were.