The Night Circus: For the Creative Book Club

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“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?

fortune teller closedunnamed

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!

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My Ideal Bookshelf

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“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!

Illustration Eye Candy

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“Who ever converses among old books will be hard to please among the new.”
-William Temple

Of course, I adore everything old.  I love the patina, the layers and the story seemingly contained within anything that had a life before it entered mine.  My love of vintage is especially strong for books.  I cannot stop collecting beautiful old books.  However, I am most enamored by vintage storybooks of a certain era.  I can’t get enough of the graphics from illustrated children’s books from the 60’s and 70’s.  There is just something about the artistic style of the time that reaches out and grabs me.  Here’s one I picked up last weekend.

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This lovely book is about a number of things that float and fly in the wind.  Here are a couple of my favorite illustrations. Aren’t they beautiful?

Feathers

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Take a minute to search your attic and old boxes of books.  I’ll bet you have some treasures.  Of course new books are wonderful, but the style of illustrations just can’t compare with some of the gems I find hidden in the dusty corners!  Happy Reading!

Book Review: “Bliss Remembered” by Frank Deford

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“I think that when you’re falling in love you see everything brighter and clearer.  Everything is more vivid.  That’s what love does to the whole world around you.”  –Bliss Remembered, Frank Deford

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“Bliss, Remembered is the saga of Sydney Stringfellow’s life from 1934, when she was a lonely 16-year-old innocent growing up in the Depression in a small town on The Eastern Shore of Maryland, until 1942, when war with Germany has begun and she finds herself personally caught up in it in a way she could never have imagined.” (excerpt from Frank Deford’s website.)

If you’re looking for a great book to start off the year, here’s your next check-out or download!  I recently finished this gem of a novel that incorporates history, love, mystery and a whopping twist at the end to keep you turning the pages.

As Sydney reaches the end of her long, eventful life, she chooses to tell her son, Teddy, the secret of her trip to Berlin to swim in the Olympics.  Almost by accident, she discovers the incredible talent she possesses for swimming as a sixteen year old girl mourning the death of her beloved father. As she follows her bliss, she finds herself crossing the ocean and wrapped-up in a whirlwind romance with a handsome German. This is a turbulent time in world history, and the implications of this love affair shape the rest of her life…as well as history.

I know you will love this book as much as I did.  It’s a perfect book to while away a long January afternoon.  Don’t forget your blanket and tea!

“A natural.  Is there anything better anybody can tell you but that you’re a natural?  I don’t think so.”   -Sydney Stringfellow, Bliss Remembered

“A Green Tree….”

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“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. “Martin Luther

I can’t claim credit for this idea.  Like many good ideas, I saw some amazing book trees on Pinterest, and we decided to try our own at the high school where I work.  I think it turned out really well, don’t you?  I probably should have taken some time to post this before the holidays, but, oh well.  We already have some ideas for improving our design for next year, so I hope you’ll check back in about 11 months or so!  It’s New Year’s Day, so, technically, I can still say, “Happy Holidays!”  May lots of green trees and good books await you in 2013!
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It’s Finally Here! Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas: The Christmas Issue

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I am so excited to announce that the Christmas issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas has finally been published!  If you’ve never had a chance to experience her beautiful, inspiring online publication, it’s time to head on over to her website to take a peek!  Once you start looking at this issue, as well as back issues, you will become enamored and will want to read them all! This publication is a unique mixture of craft ideas and tutorials with a vintage feel that is strong on whimsy.   Christmas is right around the corner, and I know you will be heading to the craft store right away so you can whip-up an adorable vintage mesh stocking (just like the one you got as a kid!), some shiny tin ornaments for your tree or perhaps a miniature deer mount as a gift for the friend who has it all!  All of the directions, along with fantastic pictures, are provided to make it a piece-of-cake to create something delightful to get into the holiday spirit!

I was thrilled to contribute to this issue by reviewing some heart-warming holiday reads.  Furthermore, I served as the editor of this issue, and was able to lend a scrutinizing eye for typos and other small nit-picky details that perhaps only someone with an English degree would even bother to notice!

To experience some unique craft ideas and be introduced to some adorable new products — and of course, read my inspiring book reviews — hurry over and take a look! If you read (or have read) any of the book titles that I recommend in my article, I sincerely hope that you will stop back and leave me a comment with your thoughts.  It’s so much fun to talk books!

Happy Holidays, happy crafting, and happy reading!

For the Creative Book Club: “The Thirteenth Day of Christmas”

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“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”  –C.S. Lewis

(This is a quote from the book.  Marva gives Charlee’s dad his own special apron with this saying to honor his penchant for storytelling.)

“This new Christmas novel by New York Times bestselling author Jason F. Wright is filled with laughter, tenderness, and of course, hope as these delightful characters watch an old Christmas favorite turn into a  true Christmas miracle.”  Shadow Mountain Press

I recently reviewed this book for my upcoming article in Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  It’s not too early to start thinking about a good book for your book club’s holiday gathering!  This book is a fast read, and would be perfect for the busy season when many of us are caught up with holiday preparations.  So, if you want to make your next book club gathering extra-special…. here are some fun ideas!

Food: 

One of Marva’s favorite aprons from her collection was embroidered with the quote, “If life gives you lemons, throw them through the candy shop window and grab some taffy.” That’s not the only reference to candy in the book! Charlee’s father describes her hair as the color of “Hershey’s Kisses.”  Miss Marva fills her advent calendar with gumdrops (except for the 26th day, of course). Oh, and Charlee receives some yummy Milk Maid caramels as one of her secret gifts. Why not fill some sweet little candy dishes with saltwater taffy, Kisses, gumdrops and caramels and place them around the room for your guests to enjoy?

If your plan is to just serve munchies, don’t forget to fill some big bowls with popcorn.  After all, Marva and Charlee spent a beautiful afternoon decorating for Christmas which included stringing, and eating, popcorn!

If you want something more substantial, and you don’t want to try to recreate Miss Marva’s entire Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings, perhaps you would like to make “Anything Goes Nachos” that the Alexander’s they enjoy when Charlee comes home from the hospital.

Decor:  This one’s easy!  Since the book is a Christmas story, it’s fitting to decorate for the holidays. However, in the book, it’s important for Marva to have Christmas lights and her nativity, so you won’t want to forget these.

In decorating for this book, you absolutely MUST have an advent calendar.  Can you find one with 26 days?  If so, that would be the ultimate tribute to Marva and Charlee!  If you don’t have one, perhaps you might want to splurge and give yourself an early gift.  The one pictured here is available from WilliamMarie Designs on Etsy.  Check it out!

Any decorations that pay homage to the “Twelve Days of Christmas” would also be appropriate.  I might not be able to resist this set of drinking glasses from The Sisters Pick on Etsy.

Finally, Miss Marva is very proud, both of her apron collection, and also her habit of hanging her clothes on the line to try.  How about hanging a string or wire across an open area, and using clothespins to display a collection of vintage aprons, or perhaps some cute ones made with lovely scrapbook paper.  Better yet, have each guest come to the meeting wearing an apron of her choice – with a prize for the one that Miss Marva would have appreciated the most!  Like this one from CreativeMama213 on Etsy….

Or this one from Sweet Magnolia’s Farm

Discussion:

* Let everyone in the group share a special holiday tradition.  Each of us has such unique and special ways to honor the season.  Why not share them with others?
*Talk about the ways you can, or already do, extend the attitude of Christmas beyond December 25.
*Tell about a special adult mentor or friend who made a difference to you when you were young.

Activity: 

In Charlee’s family, it was a birthday tradition to gather after dinner, and before cake, to say something that they had learned that year from the person celebrating his or her birthday.  This would be a fun, easy activity for book club.  Have each person choose another member of the group and share something they learned from her this past year.

Ask each member of the club to bring a gift inspired by the Traveling Elves during the “Thirteen Days of Christmas.”  Gather these gifts and deliver them to a children’s Christmas charity in your community.  What could they bring?  Rubber ducks, stuffed toy dogs, kazoos, a Big Bird stuffed animal, purple gloves, or perhaps even a stuffed monkey like Charlee’s beloved Melvin.

Gifts/Favors:

I’m sure everyone in your group would be honored to receive a lovely apron with a cute or wise saying on it.  Each time they put it on, they would be reminded of Marva and her selfless acts of kindness.  Or, you could create some of these mini-aprons from the blog Hostess with the Mostess in Christmas fabric and they could be used as little favors.

Feeling Crafty?  I’ll bet you could make something simple and special with these charms from Etsy shop Jewel Be Charmed.

Final Thoughts:

I hope your book club will enjoy this heartwarming book during this holiday season.  Ideally, each person who reads it will be inspired to do something kind for someone in need, and if it leads to your own version of the “Thirteen Days of Christmas”  all the better!  Perhaps a new tradition will begin this year — as a tribute to Marva Ferguson!

I hope you and your book club will enjoy this sweet, holiday story.  I would love to hear from you about your group’s discussion, and whether or not any of these creative ideas worked for you!  Happy Reading, and Happy Holidays!

Photo Credits:  <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/veggiefrog/2145862702/”>veggiefrog</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/unprose/67242158/”>unprose</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastian_bergmann/334297130/”>Sebastian Bergmann</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/375042268/”>Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mukumbura/4180968389/”>Mukumbura</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Book Review: “World of Pies” by Karen Stolz

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“The main facts in human life are five:  birth, food, sleep, love and death.”

–E.M. Forster

This E.M. Forster quote is fitting to accompany my review of the novel World of Pies by Karen Stolz, for each of these elements…. birth, food, sleep, love and death,  plays a role in the life of the main character, Roxanne Milner.

This novel is a quick read that takes the reader on a journey to Annette, Texas, and spans the turmoil of racial tensions in the 1960′s to the scars of those returning from the Vietnam war.  Although larger social issues are present, the real story is the very normal journey from childhood to adolescence, and eventually adulthood, experienced by Roxanne.  Each chapter paints a picture of an important period of time in the life of the extremely likeable main character.  The reader is granted a glimpse into the small moments that formed Roxanne into a caring, sentimental, and supportive wife and mother.

From her first experience with racism at the  town’s first pie-baking contest, Roxanne learned from her mother the importance of holding true to one’s convictions.  When she gets to meet her mother’s first high-school boyfriend, she sees her mother as a person with a story that is more complex than she ever imagined.  When her beloved cousin returns from Vietnam injured and addicted, she learns the importance of family and how time can heal wounds.

These experience, and many more, are framed by the Milner family’s love of food, and each chapter is concluded with a down-home recipe–one of which is sure to inspire the reader to roll up her sleeves!  Doreen’s Frozen Fruit Salad is sure to evoke nostalgia and making it will surely connect you to the daily ritual enjoyed by Roxanne and her father at the local lunch-counter…swivel-stools and all!  I’m sure if you indulge in Christina’s Lemon Meringue Pie, each bite will thrill you with tangy sweetness and remind you of her courage and conviction in a time when the color of one’s skin seemed to prompt exclusion.  We’re all familiar with the power of food to heal, and Aunt Ruthie’s Lemon Pound Cake did just that when Roxanne’s mother had surgery, and she was faced with the reality of her mother’s mortality.

If you’re in the mood for a coming-of-age story that will make you laugh and cry…this is it!  The recipes are a bonus!  Happy reading!

For the Creative Book Club: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

I just finished reading a book that has left me transported, moved and hesitant to start a new book because I don’t want to break the spell I’m under!  Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in you life?  Well, that’s how I felt when I started this magnificent novel.  This book is about so many important things…. family relationships, loyalty, overcoming grief, and especially the important connections we form with our pets.  Having just said good-bye to our beloved seventeen year old Aussie, and adopting a puppy really connected me to this book in a meaningful way.

Unable to speak from birth, Edgar is a special boy who has found a way to feel completely normal helping his family raise and train the unique breed of dogs that they sell.  When tragedy strikes their family, Edgar must rely on his keen instincts, as well as his unshakable bond with his dogs, to seek the truth and find his own way in the world.

Favorite quote from the book:

“So much of the world was governed by chance… Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed… You swam in a river of chance and coincidence.  You clung to the happiest accidents– the rest you let float by.”  (p. 457)

Creative Book Club Ideas:

Food:  Edgar’s beloved dog, Almondine, is his best friend and protector.  Their bond goes beyond the ordinary.  So, why not choose an almondine recipe to share with your book club members? Simply put, almondine means “Garnished with almond slices.”  If your club enjoys a full meal together, there are numerous almondine recipes for chicken, vegetables or fish.  This one for citrus glazed swordfish almondine looks amazing!  If your club traditionally serves a dessert, try this delicious Strawberry Almondine treat!  OR perhaps you want to recreate the meal that Henry used to “lure” in Edgar and the pups while they watched from the field:  Root beer, baked beans, barbecued brats, potato salad, and lemon meringue pie.  Yummy!

Decor:  One of Edgar’s jobs is naming the new pups.  He relies on his dictionary to help him choose such important names as:  Baboo, Forte, Essay, and Tinder.  For a creative table decoration, take pages from an old dictionary and either remove them from the book or make photocopies to make simple place mats and/or coasters.  Check out this table runner for inspiration!  Or perhaps make some cute candle holders with canine inspired pictures and/or words.

Activity:  Take inspiration from this poster that illustrates different dog breeds and create your own display of dog pictures.  Give a prize to the guest who can identify the most breeds correctly.  OR  Ask guests to bring a picture of their dog  or a special dog they once had and put them on display.  This post from “How Does She” gives some really great ideas!  Be sure to give guests the chance to talk about their special dog(s) and tell a fun story.  Of course, don’t forget to take a look at the author’s website for background information and discussion questions.

Our beloved Hondo enjoying a high mountain lake

Gifts/Favors:  Edgar communicates entirely through sign-language and written notes.  Why not honor this part of the story by giving your book-club friends a token inspired by sign-language such as this charming pendant necklace.

  If you’re crafty, you can order a digital print of these charming images and make your own sign-language charms as favors.  This Etsy find is also a sweet, affordable gift idea – a Scrabble tile pendant that says “I Love You” in sign language.

Final Thoughts:  If you choose this title for your book club, please send me feedback on your discussion and if any of these ideas worked for your group.  I know you will have a lot to discuss, and your members will have several ideas to debate!

Book Review: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life”

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“At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”    –Dame Rose Macaulay (1881-1958)

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life:  How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. (Rizzoli New York)                                     by Mary Randolph Carter  

Have you ever read a book, and thought that perhaps it was written specifically for you?  This lovely book is likely to strike a chord with many of us who live with: collections, memories, children, pets, clutter, work and lots of creativity. Mary Randolph Carter, author of several books dedicated to “junk,”  has written a book that provides much-needed affirmation for those of us who experience a love-hate relationship with our houses.  We hate the burden of keeping them clean and tidy all of the time, but we love to bring lovely things into them, and fill them with the items that speak to us and bring us joy.  Somehow these two desires create a conflict.  Carter’s solution?  Give up the idea that our houses have to be perfect, and simply live in them in a way that brings comfort and joy not only to you, but perhaps more surprisingly, your guests as well!

Seriously, think about the houses you enjoy visiting.  Are they the stark homes in which you feel nervous to set foot inside?  The homes where not a picture frame or throw pillow is out of place?  If you’re like me, you much prefer your friend’s house where you can admire the refrigerator filled with family pictures, paw through the stack of books on the ottoman, tuck your feet under you in a cushy chair, and delight in the creative vignette of collected whimsical items on the mantel.  A little dust?  Who cares.  A friendly dog giving you a friendly greeting?  All the better!

This book is a treasure-trove of lovely photography that gives readers a glimpse into the collected items and lovingly “lived-in” homes of not only the author, but a host of other diverse folks.  These are the kind of homes you want to sneak into and peer into every nook and cranny admiring the chipped vases, distressed picture frames, frayed quilts and stacks of books.  (Take a look at the picture on page 114-115 and you’ll see what I mean!) Truthfully, when I look at the homes featured in many decorating magazines, I say to myself, “No way!  Where’s all of there STUFF?”

Take Away’s:

1.  There really are other people out there who have a compulsion to bring something home from the side of the road or from a junk shop.  They don’t NEED this item, they just love it for some unexplainable reason, and it makes them happy to look at it.

2.  For many beauty lies in the imperfect and the informal.

3.  It’s okay to embrace your home less with the “housekeeper’s broom and more with the homemaker’s heart.”

5.  On page 131, Carter shares her practice of keeping a personal welcome book… a place for friends to jot down their memories of visiting your home.  This idea stuck with me and it is my intention to purchase a simple blank book and some colored pens to encourage my guests to chronicle their time at our cabin in the mountains.  Isn’t that a fun, simple idea?

6.  There’s a fine-line between living with our treasures and being on the next episode of Hoarders.  Be mindful that you don’t cross the line!

7.  It’s okay to have a “purposeless room!”

Favorite Quotes:

“At times you may think you’re crazy to own all these things or else brilliant for finding these treasures so many other eyes missed!”— Liza Carter Norton (p. 27)

“Clutter is the poetry of our homes.  It is a fingerprint of an experience, a souvenir of our childhoods, an expression of our humor, a collection of things that we just can’t live without… Embrace it, make peace with it, take control of it, share it, reorganize it, and when the time seems right, bid it farewell.” (p. 51)

“Never stop to think, “Do I have a place for this?” (p. 259)

Happy Reading! I hope you will pick up a copy of Carter’s book soon.  I found mine at my local library, of course!  Sit down in a comfortable chair with a glass of ice-tea  (Be sure to bring the sticky-notes so you can mark all of the pictures and quotes you will want to re-visit!)  and spend a few quiet hours honoring your creative, imperfect home.  After all, you can dust later!  (You might also like my review of Dottie Angel: the Peachy Crafty World of Tif Fussellhttps://kerriemore.com/2011/10/06/dottie/)

Aside:  On more than one occasion, I have mentioned my favorite magazine Where Women Create created by Jo Packham –  which is a quarterly gallery showcasing the creative spaces of a diverse group of artists.  If you are a fan of this publication, you will know what I mean when I say you want to slow down and savor each picture, admiring each lovely item in these creative spaces.  I felt the same way about Carter’s book. On more than one occasion,  I would put the book right up close to my nose to try to figure out what lovely item was tucked on the corner of a shelf or under a table.  That’s how I enjoy each lovely issue of “Where Women Create”!

(Photo CreditsA Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter published by Rizzoli New York.)