“Pieography” My life is like a pie!

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

2013-06-17_1241I’ve recently had an essay published in the Summer 2013 issue of Where Women Cook. The challenge was to write a 500 word essay for “Pieography – If my life were a pie…”  In addition to the essay, contributors were asked to share the recipe for the “life-pie.”  I wrote about my life-long love affair with books and reading, and how it is resembles a yummy brownie-peanut butter pie.  I call it:  “So Many Books, So Little Time, Pie.”  You should definitely buy this issue just to get my recipe! It’s delicious and simple!  You can make this pie to enjoy while you kick your feet up to read a good book! This short essay was so fun to write, and I thank Jo Packham and the editors of WWC for the opportunity to share my life and my pie.

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If you don’t think your life resembles a pie, think again.  The 42 recipes and essays shared in the book Pieography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham will have you thinking otherwise!  Seriously, this book will introduce you to Alice Currah’s Kahlua Chocolate Pecan PIe, and Michelle Muska’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Pie with Rhubarb, Peaches and Raspberries.  Is your mouth watering yet?!

Pieography-cover1-280x280Happy baking and happy reading!

Book Review: “The School of Essential Ingredients”

“Life is beautiful. Some people just remind you of that more than others.”
― Erica Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

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My book club read this lovely title a couple of years ago, and it still stands out as one of my all-time favorite “foodie” novels.  Today I learned that the author has recently published its sequel, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed it, so I thought I would share a little bit about it with you.  I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy and when your done, please send me a note and share your thoughts.  Happy Reading!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister  (Putnam Adult)

As a young girl, Lillian learned that by combining certain ingredients in the kitchen she could make a connection with her wounded and withdrawn mother.  As an adult, Lillian uses this gift to run a first-class restaurant as well as a weekly cooking class. On Monday evenings, students are allowed to conquer their fears in the kitchen as well as create delicious, simple food.  In doing so, each of them discovers what “essential ingredients” will not only improve their culinary skills, but also bring flavor to their lives. Told in a series of vignettes, readers will step into the personal struggles of each character and delight in the way stirring, slicing, smelling and tasting can inspire friendship and renewal. This tender novel will seduce your senses and inspire you to create loving menus with enticing ingredients. More importantly, through its tender glimpses into challenges of each character, it will encourage you to embrace your own abundance of small pleasures.  With captivating language and believable characters, this insightful novel will leave you as satisfied as a delicious meal.

It’s Spring…. Really!

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”
–Mark Twain

Montanans love to say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait another ten minutes.”  This is especially true in the spring.  No matter the snow flurries of the past weekend, I still see signs of peonies popping through the earth!

I thought I would share a vintage advertisement from my stash of Saturday Evening Post magazines found literally – in my grandmother’s attic.  I love these old magazines and the nostalgia they inspire. This one was from the ’50′s. Unfortunately, the pages were too big for my scanner, but you get the idea. So, here’s to grandma’s attic, but equally as important, here’s to spring!

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Book Review – “Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share”

“For the person for whom small things do not exist, the great is not great.”
~Jose Ortega y Gasset

 

Microcrafts:  Tiny Treasures to Make and Share  compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Friends (Quirk Books)

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Take a regular item, make it smaller, and what do you get?  Something that’s just plain adorable!  Miniatures have always been popular for their “cute-factor” and this book is BIG on cute.  Prepare yourself for the dilemma of deciding which of the twenty-five unique and completely different projects you will want to make first.  Will it be the scrumptious looking candy charms, the adorable little spool dolls, or perhaps the itty-bitty houseplants and terrariums?  Whatever you choose to make, you will have something to decorate your dollhouse, give as a gift, wear as jewelry, or simply add some charm to a darling little shelf.  Each project comes with simple, easy-to-follow directions as well as diagrams and illustrations that will make craft-time a joy.  The photographs are lovely, and the overall feel of the book a blend of sophisticated whimsy.  You will want your own copy of Microcrafts to turn to again-and-again– if for nothing more than to get your daily-dose of cute!  We want to extend a big thank you to Quirk Books for sharing the “Book” and “Deer Head” projects from Microcrafts with us for this issue.  Go ahead, give them a try, and don’t be surprised if you start dreaming up your own microcraft ideas!

(This review was first published in the Christmas issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  The publisher, Quirk Books, was generous enough to share two amazing projects from the book with readers of the magazine. The images below come from the magazine, not the actual book.  Hop on over to Amy’s site to check them out, and then grab yourself a copy of the book to see all of the other amazing projects!)

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Hello Bunny!

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born.” 

~Alice Freeman Palmer

I was wrapping up a gift yesterday, and I wanted to give it an extra-special touch. Lucky me,  I found this free pattern and whipped up this sweet little bunny to give it some Easter flair.  It worked up quickly and was super easy! I used Caron Simply Soft yarn and a size I crochet hook.  I think I will make more in pink, green and white.  Won’t that be festive?

bunny1The pattern came from Love the Bluebird but I changed the tail and used the tutorial from Vivid Please.

Happy Easter and Happy Stitching!

“Inspired Ideas” Spring Issue – It’s Here!

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  ~Hal Borland

covernoshadowI loved working on the spring issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  Once again, I helped edit the articles and wrote several book reviews.  This issue includes several more book reviews for craft titles as well as three amazing fiction titles. This time I chose three novels with a flower “theme.”  All of them are very different, but very good!  Isn’t this the perfect time of year to settle in a sunny window and crack open a good book?bookclub

My favorite non-fiction book review this go-around was a fantastic little book by Lilla Rogers called I Just Like to Make Things.  This book is just a treasure-trove of advice and inspiration for those of us who want to maximize our creativity.  It’s especially for those who want to turn their creative passion into a career.  Pick up a copy soon.  You won’t be disappointed!lillarogersbookHowever, it’s really the crafts that make Amy’s publication so special.  Each unique craft idea is full of cheer and whimsy.  You’ll have a hard time deciding which project to try first!  To be honest, Amy’s bird nests are at the top of my list, as well as the sweet little Easter cloches designed by Ashlee Parkashleecloche2 nests

If you’re in the mood to bust some of the stashes in your craft closet, head on over and check out all of the great ideas in this issue.  It’s quite an amazing deal for so much loveliness!  Be sure to stop back by and let me know if you read one of the recommended books or whip up something special for spring!

Happy crafting and happy reading!

Gettin’ My Green On!

“If I keep a green bough in my heart, then the singing bird will come.”       –Chinese Proverb

Today I’m sharing a little gallery of some green treasures in my stash – in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, of course.  It’s right around the corner, and I’m sure everyone is thinking green!

marchThis sweet little vintage planter says “Relpo” on the bottom and I don’t often see St. Patrick’s Day vintage items, so this is a favorite second-hand find.

march2This miniature chair came with a red couch at my favorite consignment shop!  they make quite a pair!  My chair fetish is legendary, but this one fit in my car and doesn’t need re-upholstered.  Bonus!

march3I found this vintage strand of beads at the thrift store that are chunky, funky and definitely in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope you’re ready to get your green on!  Erin go Bragh!

The Night Circus: For the Creative Book Club

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”  – Oscar Wilde

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“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.  But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.  True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”  (Excerpted from:  http://erinmorgenstern.com/)

Do you need a great pick for your next book club?  Look no further…

The Night Circus is a magical book that will have your group talking into the night!  Without a doubt, it will be like no other book you’ve read before!  If you want to get creative, there are so many fun things you can do to make your guests feel as if they have entered:         Le Cirque des Rêves.

Invitations:  Most book clubs are pretty informal, but if you want to make this meeting a little more enticing, try coming up with a unique, circus themed invitation.  Check out these ones from Zazzle.  Not only are they circus-themed, but they are black, white and red – just like everything in the book!

black_white_circus_tent_with_red_ticket_birthday_invitation-rcc36fa3942de4545a2a683549b61b568_8dnm8_8byvr_512Be sure to invite your guests to wear Night Circus inspired clothing:  black, white, and of, course red!  As the Rêveurs, they should definitely wear a lovely red scarf!  This outfit is from Restyle, and it may be a little over the top.

754_3The gals in my book club would probably opt for something a little more casual, but we all love scarves!  This ruffled one from Etsy’s Maha Maha creations has a fun, circus-vibe, don’t you think?

il_570xN.430267579_8qsnDecorations:  Without a doubt, the decorations for your Night Circus party could  be out of this world.  However, if you have a real life, and can’t spend a fortune on decorations, here are a few ideas!

There were so many interesting tents at the circus, you could simply try to re-create one of them.  One of my favorite tents was “The Wishing Tree.”  Check out this tree from Kaboodle.  Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests make a wish and light a candle, just like in the book?

large-71-metal-candle-tree-145One of the tents was papered with playing cards. It would be simple and easy to create a fun, playing-card garland to drape on the food table or across your fireplace.  This one came from Etsy’s Country Chiq.

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One of the most memorable tents was the Ice Garden.  Beautiful decorations could be made from clear vases, crystal-like accents, or perhaps these actual ice vases from HGTV.

ice_vase_2_lgOther decorating ideas that would fit with the book are:  mirrors, candles, bird cages, feathers, etc.

Food:  There are so many yummy foods that the characters enjoyed at the circus:  caramel corn, caramel apples, cinnamon twists, mulled cider and of course, the gourmet midnight dinners were feasts accompanied by decadent cakes and chocolate covered strawberries!  However, my favorite food at the carnival were the chocolate mice.  According to author, Erin Morgenstern, the mice were inspired by these ones from L.A. Burdick. Aren’t they adorable?

MiceTriangleThere are numerous chocolate mice recipes online.  Try this one from All Recipes.

133081Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests enjoy yummy food on these amazing plates from Pottery Barn?  Perhaps you can find (or make) something similar!  The clock at the circus is an important part of the story, and time is something that affects the characters dramatically.  These would be perfect!

img15bPerhaps you want to add more circus flair by picking up some vintage popcorn bags from Etsy shop Spiral Sage.

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Activity: Many of the characters relied on the fortune telling abilities of Isobel, who discovered the secrets of others while keeping a very big secret about herself!  Set up a fun fortune teller’s table.  Get an “8-Ball” toy, buy a pack of Tarot Cards, spread out some tea-leaves. See what kind of fun you and your friends can have telling the future!  Sycamore Street Press has a lovely origami fortune teller party favor!  Remember these from when you were a kid?

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Discussion:  Well, we all hope that our book club gatherings end up with at least a little bit of discussion about the book, right?  Author, Erin Morgenstern, recommends the questions provided from the publisher at Random House.

Favors:  You probably couldn’t help going a bit overboard for this book club gathering, so why not send your guests off with a small token of your time together?  I think they would all love to settle in with a gooey caramel apple and your next book selection, don’t you? These ones are from Matisse Chocolatier, but you can try your hand at making your own!

applechocolateMissing Pieces Studio makes beautiful charms like this circus inspired beauty!

il_570xN.413758839_6ggdI hope your Night Circus book club gathering is as magical as the book. It just might last until midnight!

My Ideal Bookshelf

“A man’s bookcase will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about him.”
― Walter Mosley

Lately, I have become enamored by the ideal bookshelf artwork of Jane Mount.  I stumbled upon her website on a Pinterest binge and suddenly became obsessed with trying to decide what books would go on my ideal bookshelf!  I love the slightly whimsical quality of the paintings, and I could browse the site for hours admiring the “shelves” that have been created for others.

idealbookshelf2I’m thinking I would want to choose books that had important meaning in my life, but of course, I would try to avoid being a book snob and choosing books simply to impress others.  I mean, most folks would know that War and Peace wasn’t really one of my favorite books!

So, off the top of my  head here are a few of my picks:

1.  Where the Lilies Bloom (Cleaver):  I read this book numerous times in my childhood and was enthralled by the way a group of siblings took care of themselves after their parents died.

2.  The Master Butchers Singing Club (Erdrich):  I can’t remember many books that draw me in the way this one did.  When it ended, I felt sad that my time with the characters was over.

3.  Autobiography of a Face (Grealy):  This sad story was written with such honesty and some of the most beautifully crafted language I’ve read.

4.  A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini):  One of the most moving friendship stories I can remember.  This book touched me deeply.

Oh, it’s so hard to pick, but I’m going to keep brainstorming.  I just worry that there will be too many books on my shelf!  I really look forward to having one created just for me, and I think I know exactly where it will go!  Happy reading!

Still Feeling the Love

“Everything’s coming up roses– for me.”  –Ethel Merman

I’m still feeling the February love.  It’s such a short month, and I haven’t lost my mood for red, pink, roses and of course, chocolate.  There are so many lovely crochet patterns floating around online for flowers, that I decided to try a rose in honor of February.  I love the way it came together, and I think I’ll try some more.  Hey, there are still a few days left in the love-month!

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Many thanks to Hille Knits for sharing the free rose pattern. ( I altered the leaves somewhat from the pattern so that it only had three leaves instead of four.) So much less expensive than the florist, right?

Happy February, and happy stitching!