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Friday, February 28, 2014

orla kiely

It's been a busy week, so I'll just leave you with this amazing Orla Kiely display from the Container Store. I mean, who wouldn't want to store everything and anything in these magical containers???

Monday, February 24, 2014

winter reading

I thought it was time I shared what I've been reading lately. There was some serious hunkering down and reading over winter break in addition to my usual reading-in-the-kids'-school-parking-lots-as-I-wait-for-carpool reading. 


So, here's the recent list - a variety of adult and young adult choices, both fiction and nonfiction. I've starred my favorites. The blurbs come from Amazon.  Let me know what you've been reading! I've always got time for a good book. 

FICTION



1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
 
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.
 
An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

*The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

THE GOLDFINCH is a mesmerizing, tell-all-your-friends triumph, hailed by Stephen King as "a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind." (New York Times Book Review)





In a small town in northern India, a house still smolders from a devastating fire. Inside a young girl is found severely beaten and barely alive, along with the lifeless bodies of thirteen people. Inexplicably, the local police accuse the girl of the murders. But Simran Singh, an independent-minded, unconventional social worker, is convinced of the girl's innocence. As Simran goes against the authorities to seek out the truth, she discovers a terrifying web of deceit that will change her forever. Seamlessly weaving themes of sexism, police corruption, and infanticide, this captivating mystery plunges readers into the thrilling heart of modern India.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld


From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
 
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
 
Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.



Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

My Education by Susan Choi


Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill.  He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.

My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.


YOUNG ADULT



In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.


*Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.




Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

NON-FICTION

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan


An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity. 

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened? 

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.




In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, and over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the whiff of urban legend. But it really happened, and many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Thomas Edison, and those 6600 volts of alternating current together that day. Tracing them all in Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, journalist Michael Daly weaves together a fascinating popular history, the first book on this astonishing tale.

At the turn of the century, the circus in America was at its apex with the circuses of P.T. Barnum and Adam Forepaugh (or 4-Paw) competing in a War of the Elephants, with declarations of whose pachyderms were younger, bigger, or more “sacred”. This brought Topsy to America, fraudulently billed as the first native-born, and caught between the circus disputes and the War of the Currents, in which Edison and George Westinghouse (and Nikola Tesla) battled over alternating versus direct current.

Rich in period Americana, and full of circus tidbits and larger than life characters—both human and elephant—Topsy is a touching tale and an entertaining read.




Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

quinoa raspberry scones

I made these cranberry and quinoa scones over the weekend. They were to die for! Instead of using cranberries, I opted for fresh raspberries. 


They turned out fluffy and light (instead of dense like some scones can be.)


Hope over to canelle and vanille to get the recipe, which is gluten free!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

sochi and hat party

Last weekend we attended a "Sochi and Hat Dinner Party" hosted by close friends. We brought the kids and had a blast! We tried to stick with a Russian theme.

Champagne, caviar and homemade buckwheat blinis: 


Our hosts made an amazing Russian Meatball soup (not photographed)

And can anyone guess the theme of this cake?


Does this photo help?


It's the now famous Sochi bathroom wall that was kicked in by bobsledder, Johnny Quinn!! Bathroom walls never tasted so good!

There were also plenty of hats:



And a signature coctail: From Moscow with Love (it involved vodka and muddled grapes. Dangerously delicious)


We went for the gold and kept our kids up super late. 


Some nights are just worth it. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Korean-inspired meatballs

Recently inspired by a recipe by this recipe from The Kitchn, I made my own version of Korean Pumkin Porridge with Rice Dumplings:



I decided to expand on this delectable theme and throw some Korean-inspired meatball lettuce cups into the mix. Not only are they easy to make, but the leftovers can be repurposed in so many different ways. (Think served in broth over ramen or simply insert toothpicks for an appetizer.)


Korean-Inspired Meatball Lettuce Cups
makes 30-40 

For the meatballs:

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 egg
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 lbs ground turkey
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs diced ginger
1 tbs soy sauce

For the lettuce cups:


butter lettuce

scallions, chopped
shredded carrots
kimchi (from a jar - cut into small pieces)
black sesame seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees.


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. (kitchen tip: try wetting your hands with some cold water so things don't get too sticky.)


Form into ping-pong-sized balls.


Place on baking sheet for 20 minutes. 


Assemble lettuce cups: Separate butter lettuce leaves. Place three meatballs on each leaf. Top with scallions, carrots and kimchi.


Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add some sriracha for a little extra heat. Serve with a bowl of rice and extra kimchi for a complete meal. 



Monday, February 17, 2014

happy long weekend!

We are enjoying a nice, long weekend filled with playdates and dinner parties and a beach getaway! 



Mr. Meremade unearthed some of his old childhood toys and the kids were smitten:







There was lounging:


and beautiful sunsets:


 This is really our dog, Reba's favorite place in the whole wide world. And who can blame her?? (sorry to those of you who are buried in snow….)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's day Giveaway! (closes February 24th)

Feeling lucky in love? Here's your chance to win a copy of one of the following titles (Chosen at random) to award one lucky reader!
Be My Valentine Charlie Brown Deluxe Edition 

A Charlie Brown Valentine 

Bugs Bunny’s Cupid Capers 

Happiness is... Peanuts: Friends Forever 

Elmo Loves You 

Looney Tunes Pepe Le Pew Collection 

Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales: For The Love Of Snack


Want more fun with a Blog App??
Who is Your Cartoon Crush? - Everyone has had a crush at some point in their lives, but do you know who your cartoon crush is? Is it Scooby-Doo? Charlie Brown? or maybe Bugs Bunny? Find out who you would be romantically perfect with!



Valentine’s Day Recipes! When I think of movie night, the first thing I want to know is... What are the snacks? Here are three easy and fun recipe’s perfect for your Valentine!



Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Valentines Day DVD Chosen at Random via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

TO ENTER: Simply let me know who your cartoon crush is OR your favorite Valentine's Day Recipe! A winner will be selected on February 25th. This contest closes February 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm et. Please be sure and leave your email address in the comments below!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

nature arrow valentines

We had a blast making our non-traditional Valentines this year. (Mr. P. doesn't have school tomorrow so they had to be done by today.)

Materials Needed
sticks
adhesive felt
paper / printer
scissors

First step was to take a nature walk to collect the sticks. 


Next up, we cut the adhesive felt into triangles and stuck the sticks in between two triangles. I then made a Valentine's message on my printer, and printed them out. I cut them into strips, then cut out two holes for the sticks to be woven through. (Make sure the sticks go behind the message otherwise you won't be able to see it) Then I cut the back into a "V" and added some arrow-like frills. 


Short, sweet and off the beaten path.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

simple heart pillows

I wanted to make the boys something for Valentine's Day and since they have a current obsession with pillows, I thought it would be a fun craft! 

I was inspired by this sweater I bought a few years ago at Target. I love the asymmetry of the partial heart and I wanted to create the same effect with the hearts on the pillows. 


Materials needed:
1/2 yard fabric
1/4 yard contrasting fabric (I chose one with texture)
sewing machine
bag of batting

1. Cut 2 squares out of your primary fabric. I made one pillow 22 x 22 and one pillow 18 x 18.


2. Folding your contrasting material in half, cut out a heart (the same way you used to do with paper in grade school.)

3. Place the heart where you want it on the pillow. Keep in mind you will lose at least 1/2 of the heart when you sew. Pin in place. 



4. Sew heart to pillow. I used contrasting thread and a zigzag stitch.

5. Switch your zigzag stitch to a straight stitch and place your two squares right sides facing. Sew around the circumference of the entire pillow using a 1/2 seam allowance. Leave about a 5 or 6 inch gap at the top where you can insert your batting. 


6. Turn right side out and trim any loose threads. 


7. Stuff batting into pillow, focusing on filling the corners first. Continue to place batting until the pillow is as bulky as you want it. 

8. Sew up the stuffing hole by placing seams together and sewing carefully. This will be awkward because of all the bulk of the pillow, but you can do it!

9. Fluff and punch your pillow until the batting spreads evening and enjoy!



Monday, February 10, 2014

v day roundup

I've shared my personal thoughts on Valentine's Day before - it's not my thing, however, that doesn't mean I have to rain on everybody else's love parade. 

This year, I've decided to assemble V-Day projects that are off the beaten path (so long doilies!!)

I think I'll dive into those stick arrows for Mr. P's school festivities. 


First up, Vday mini notebooks from Everything Etsy:



Next up, make your own tea from a beautiful mess:



How about some confetti-filled hearts from Crafts Tuts:



Arrows two ways, inspiration ave offers this version:



And then this, more rustic version (love it!!) from the crafty crow:



Here's a magnetic chalkboard with magnets from modpodge rocks:



And finally, these fun vday wafers with dipping toppings:






See, I'm not such a fuddy duddy afterall.