Thursday, December 16, 2010

Persephone Secret Santa 2010

Thank you to my Persephone Secret Santa! What a treat to receive a beautiful copy of The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens, and an afterward by AS Byatt. Stacy from was my Secret Santa and she was so thoughtful to include a cute little tape measure for all of my crafty projects :)

I had so much fun on the giving end too (getting to know my S.S. through her blog, choosing a book, thinking of the little additional gift, wrapping, and even delivering it right to her door!). I will definitely be participating again next year.

A BIG thank you to Paperback Reader for hosting the Secret Santa, and organizing everything. Here is a list of all the Secret Santa swaps--it's really fun to see what books were given, and all of the surrounding creativity! I am sorry for the delay in the post--I was stuck in Minneapolis for three days during the huge snow storm, and have been running around trying to get caught up.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 Photo Round-up

5 Photos November: Pt. 4

Here's my November 29:

Here's MP's November 29: (I love the evocative atmosphere of these!)

And I have a surprise guest blogger this week! G (4 yrs) has gotten very interested in me taking pictures and asked if she could do it this week. Here's what she came up with! I was very impressed.

G's November 29:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 Photos November: Pt. 3

My November 20:

As you can see I am preparing for Christmas already! S woke up at 5 am on Saturday, so I made Herttaisetrinkil├Ąt (cardamom rings) a Scandinavian holiday treat. I also put up our advent calendar drawers (the reindeer).

MP's November 20:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5 Photos November: Pt. 2

So, echoing MP's post... I have not a lot to add, except for apologies for the delay. I have been under the weather, and I am posting 6 photos, not five. I just like the look of an even number better than an odd!

So here is my November 16th (and 17th):

These were all taken with my iPhone. I have been experimenting with three different photo apps: Cross Process (center), Color Splash (upper right), and InstaClassic (remaining four).

And I don't know that I have actually posted anything of the two babies I had last December on here yet!  They are the best pals, as you can see.

Here is MP's November 16th (and 17th):

I particularly like the jams one in the lower right. Makes me think of that stick candy that we used to pick out when ever our family would go on road trips. I'm not sure why :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

5 Photos November: Pt. 1

My friend MP at Ten Thousand Places and I were inspired by 10.10.10 and decided to do a take on it. We are going to be taking photos every Saturday in November, and will be posting 5 of them on the following Tuesdays at noon.

My November 6, 2010:

M's November 6, 2010:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Song for a Lark

Next up on my reading list is Willa Cather's Song for a Lark. I have been doing a little background research and found a couple of great sources of info on Cather. The Willa Cather Archive has many (if not all) of her works available online, with textual analysis on many of them. 

HL Mencken reviewed, and loved, Willa Cather--though I am still trying to find where his review of Song of the Lark is located. 

Evidently, this piece appeared first in the Chicago News and was reprinted in the Baltimore Sun on June 29, 1921 (a month or so after Sinclair Lewis's praise of Cather).

Blithe Mencken he sat on his Baltimore stoop,
Singing "Willa, git Willa! git Willa!"
The red-headed Lewis joined in with a whoop,
Singing, "Willa, read Willa! read Willa!"
They woke every bird from the Bronx to the Loop
Singing "Willa, git Willa! git Willa!"
So we, willy nilly, got Willa and read
And Willa proved all that the booster birds said.

Penguin Books published this list of Reading Guide Questions for Song of the Lark:
  1. What is Cather's message about beginnings and separations? How do these facets shape the life of an individual? Is Thea's separation from her family and primary environment necessary for promoting her growth as an individual or was she simply destined to be different? Does Cather imply by the later lives of the Moonstone people that severing ties is a positive or negative experience?
  2. Some critics have characterized Thea as indulgent and self-centered. Is this a fair assessment of the character?
  3. Compare the marriages of Dr. Archie and Fred Ottenburg. Is there a common thread between these two men? In what way are they both strivers?
  4. What is the significance of Aunt Tillie in the novel? Why did Cather include this character?
  5. Why is romance so difficult for Thea? Is Cather at all critical about the artist's renouncing of romantic love? What price is paid for Thea's success? Does Thea nurse any regrets?
  6. Does the town's treatment of the "tramp" reflect on their morality or their fear? What does the tramp's spiteful act say about the inherent nature of man?
  7. When Thea refuses Fred's monetary assistance with her trip to Germany, she is obviously hurt by his revelation. She elects to borrow money from Dr. Archie because taking money from Fred would make her feel like she was being "kept." Is this her true motivation or is it an act of retribution against Fred for misleading her?
  8. Discuss the complexities of Dr. Archie's love for Thea. Why does it never blossom to romance when she is old enough and Dr. Archie is free? Does Thea perceive him as too much of a father figure for this ever to occur?
  9. Towards the end of the novel Spanish Johnny reappears, moved to tears by Thea's success. As she leaves the theater he sees her but does not step forward or call to her. He seems to keep his "place." What does this convey about the climate of the country at that time and the characters' own feelings on race, class and propriety?

Textual Note:
Incidentally, there are two very different versions of "Song of the Lark" available. Most editions reprint the 1915 text, since it is in the public domain. This earlier version is far more detailed and, some have argued, overwritten; her British publisher complained that she "told everything about everyone." For the 1932 Autograph Edition, Cather revised the book substantially, cutting it by seven thousand words and streamlining the overall text. Descriptive passages were pared; Thea's and Fred Ottenburg's roles were altered; and style, opinion, and matters of taste were polished and modernized. This version is still under copyright restriction, and I believe it is available only in the Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin) edition. The original version is regarded by many readers and scholars as better (and certainly truer to Cather's original intent); this is the book that Mencken praised for its "sharp bits of observation, sly touches of humor, [and] gestures of that gentle pity which is the fruit of understanding."

84 Charring Cross Road Secret Santa!

I am really excited to be participating in this year's Persephone Books Secret Santa, as hosted by Paperback Reader. It's not too late to sign up! For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Persephone Books, they reprint neglected 20th C. books, mostly by women. Top on my list to read are Few Eggs and No OrangesHouse-Bound (preface by Penelope Fitzgerald), The Winds of Heaven (preface by AS Byatt), A London Child of the 1870s, (preface by Adam Gopnik) & Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book pairings, Pt. 3

As a follow-up: I read a biography and autobiography, both of literary merit. I chose The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout and a choice of one of H.L. Mencken's Days books: Happy Days, Newspaper Days, or Heathen Days. I chose Happy Days.

It was a good exercise, and both were good reads. Teachout's biography was very nicely limited in scope, and thoughtfully written. He makes the point that Mencken was actually a Victorian, and as such could not survive Modernism. The biography also helped place Mencken in history for me (cultural literacy is always a plus!), specially with regard to the evolution debate that is so polarized to this day.

The Days books were a great read, giving a full sense of Mencken's style and wit. Happy Days was light, nicely anecdotal, and really an interesting history of the city of Baltimore.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ancient Industries

...looking through their shop makes me want just about everything in it! I love the enamel ware and the scrubby brushes. They have an excellent blog too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cox Farms

Cox Farms is so much fun! I went with G for the first time 3 years ago, and have gone each fall ever since. I love how much there is to do, and how low-tech it all is. Good old fashioned fun. Their fall festival is still open for those of you who have not gotten a chance to go yet--do!
Posted by Picasa

Window shopping on my Mac

There are so many fun buyer clubs these days... One Kings Lane, Zulily, Guilt, The Mini Social, etc. etc. I have fun looking at all of the crazy things available these days. I rarely succumb to temptation. Yesterday I did however--and got this Elephantito (my absolute favorite in little girl clothes right now) suit for G's Christmas outfit. She's going to rock it with her gold sequin shoes.

ps. If you want to join any of those sites, email me and I'll invite you!

Blog Updated

Spoon has recently been updated a little bit. 

I am trying to make some sort of sense of the randomness that is found here... So I have begun to put labels on the posts. All the past posts have been updated to fit into the following categories:

- home and local
- art
- books and comments
- kids
- food
- things
- places
- pop-culture

All of the blogs fit into those categories to some degree. So I hope that will make it easier to find things that you may be looking for, or to browse past posts that you may have missed, but are in a category of interest.

Starting with October I am going to post a photo collage round-up of what we've been up to at the end of each month.

J and I are also starting a new blog called 12. It's about our 12 one month long resolutions for 2011. Check back in January for the start of our challenges.

I hope this makes Spoon more enjoyable for you!

Top Cookbooks Part 2

Here's a quick link to the Observer's follow up to the top 50 Cookbooks, the top 10 list.

Here's the top ten most used cookbooks in my kitchen (in no particular order):

1. Donna Hay, Off the Shelf
2. Jamie Oliver, Jamie's Dinners
3. Jenni Fleetwood and Catherine Atkinson, Best-Ever Slow Cooker One-Pot & Casserole Cookbook (the updated version of the One-Pot, Slow-Pot Cooking)
4. Julia Child, The Way to Cook
5. Julia Child, Baking with Julia
6. Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins, Silver Palate Cookbook
7. Beatrice Ojakangas, The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
8. Gretchen Quie, The Governor's Table
9. (Does this count?!)
10. The Wegmans monthly magazine

What is on your most used/favorite/best cookbook list?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Hilda Grahnat, a wonderful photographer and blogger living in Sweeden, was invited to participate in a project called 10.10. They asked 10 photographers in 10 places around the world to take 10 photographs on 10/10/10. Here's the link.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fairfax Fall Festival--fun and a find

This year G enjoyed the rides (including her first ferris wheel!) and I found this great handmade, felted brooch to wear on the awesome coat that J gave me for Christmas last year--I was too hugely pregnant to wear it though, so I am looking forward to sporting this as it gets colder.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stribbling 2010

To Autumn

John Keats (1820)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Sweet Paul

I just discovered this gorgeous new(ish) online magazine: Sweet Paul.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Gene Weingarten: I hate Facebook sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much..."

An excellent piece by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post on Facebook:

"Critics contend I am unfair to Facebook merely because I have described it as an ocean of banalities shared among persons with lives so empty they echo. I defend my thesis but admit my evidence has been unscientific -- entirely anecdotal -- based on my occasional dips into this tepid, lifeless lagoon of dishwater-dull discourse."

By the way, GW does not extend his point on how bored Facebook users are, but I will. The medium is the message (as dear old Marshall MacLuhan said), and perhaps one should think about picking up a book, or pen and paper, or even go for a walk... rather than sit and type, "I'm bored."

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Here's a fun site: They rank an area's walkability (including how many various types of amenities are within walking distance). They also rank cities around the US, and have a walk score "heat"map for some major cities.

Fairfax gets a great 83% score :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Baby Name Map

Here's a time waster... It turns out that in 2008 there were only 552 Simone's named in the USA.

Speaking of iPhone/iPad Apps...

...Here are two really cool ones for kids:

My cousin designed this interactive alphabet for kids (and it's been #2 on kids iPad apps!).

I just read about Paper Town Friends (created by a former Martha Stewart Magazine designer)--paper dress ups--that looks adorable.

The Man Booker Prize

So, along with the exciting announcement of this year's Booker Shortlist (I think C looks like the most interesting by far--can't wait to read it), the Booker also has a new iPhone App. So cool.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Baby Food

So I posted four years ago on my two favorite books on introducing solids & child nutrition. I also posted this great article on making baby food more taste-ful (or why do we start them off bland?!). 

I love the new baby things that are finally coming out it being popular to have babies right now. People are using great materials and design that is more aesthetically pleasing. Silicon is my new favorite thing--it's BPA free, freezer, dishwasher and oven safe. I got these Green Sprouts trays to make baby foods. They are perfect for making huge batches of baby food and freezing perfect 1 ounce portions. 

I also got these Kinderville bowls, cups, and lidded jars. They are great for transporting food, as well as storing food. They also have popsicle molds which will be fun to try some day. 

The babies are 8 months old, and here's what I have introduced so far (in the approximate order of introduction):

rice cereal
sweet potato
chicken (dark meat pureed)
cottage cheese (this was not a success--the curds were too big, and i did not have the patience to mash them, so it's off the menu for now, and will be reintroduced later)
herbs de provence
egg yolk (hard boiled then dissolved in breast milk or water)
yogurt (both soy yogurt and whole milk yogurt)
turnips and parsnips
blue berry
purple carrot
apple sauce
curry powder
fish (halibut)
sunflower seed butter ("sunbutter" like peanut butter)
Kirkland brand No Salt Seasoning
rice seasoning like this:  (you can get them at the asian markets--I look for the ones that are mainly vegetables) 
green beans

Thursday, August 19, 2010

50 Best Cookbooks, Pt. 1 (courtesy The Guardian)

Here's a great list of the top 50 cookbooks of all time. On Sunday The Guardian will release the top 10.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On [university] Students

'I have to work very seriously now,' he told her. 'If we are ever to get married, I must apply myself. I sit up late at night, reading.'

'But why do you do all this reading? You are not a student anymore.'

'He would not read if he was,' said the Mandelsloh. 'Students do not read, they drink.'

'Why do they drink?' Sophie asked.

'Because they desire to know the whole truth,' said Fritz, 'and that makes them desperate.'

Gunther, who had been half asleep, came to, and protested.

'What would it cost them,' Sophie asked, 'to know the whole truth?'

'They can't reckon that,' said Fritz, 'but they know they can get drunk for three groschen.'

-- The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Art Time

G and I went to Toy R Us yesterday--they are having a huge sale on Crayola products. She and I picked out a bunch of fun crayons, etc. But our favorite by far is the no-drip watercolor set that she picked out. We used it today, and she LOVED it. And I did too... no mess... and she got to paint! So much fun...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Book Pairings, Pt. 2

Recently, I have been plowing through a lot of fiction and history about World War Two. I recently started reading C.S. Lewis' collection of essays, The Weight of Glory. As I was reading W of G I thought how interesting it would be to read more books, essays, novels, etc. written during the war to get more of a sense of the kinds of things that folks were grappling with in the moment. 

Any suggestions for WWII? 

On my list is:
Few Eggs and No Oranges: Vere Hodgson's Diary, 1940-45, Vere Hodgson
David Golder, The Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair, by Irene Nemirovsky

Any other suggestions, specially on essays (kind of reflections, op-ed types, arguments, etc.) written during the war, would be most appreciated. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Book Pairings Pt. 1

I have had this idea to read a biography and an autobiography of the same person. My requirement was, however, that they both be of literary merit. So I wrote to Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post for his advice. He graciously responded with the following suggestion:

Happy Days, Newspaper Days, or Heathen Days, by H.L. Mencken & The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout 

J also came up with a good pairing in Douglas MacArthur's Reminiscences & American Caesar, by William Manchester.

And here's another: Curiculum Vitae, by Muriel Spark &  Muriel Spark: The Biography, by Martin Stannard (though I have heard some mixed reviews of this biography). 

Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Here's an interesting article from the Smithsonian's Food and Think blog on food and cravings... something I've always wondered about. Sadly, there still isn't much information that we have on the phenomena. 

Two excerpts: 

--a wacky story: One exception may be iron-deficient anemia, which is sometimes linked to an eating disorder called pica, in which a person has a craving for ice, dirt or other non-food items. Pelchat related the story of a woman who was in the hospital with both iron-deficient anemia and mercury poisoning; she was eating a box of facial tissues a day. The anemia was brought under control, and the mercury poisoning also resolved. It turned out that, at home, the woman had been buying used paperback books to eat because they were less expensive than tissues—and until a couple of decades ago, mercury was used in the processing of paper.

....ummm... wouldn't you call your doctor before you started putting "cheap paperbacks at Used Bookstore" on your grocery list?

--more to food than nutrition: If much about cravings is still a mystery, one thing has been clear in Pelchat’s research: a monotonous diet is likely to trigger them. In studies in which participants were fed only an Ensure-like liquid that provided all their nutritional and caloric needs for three weeks (and were required to finish it so they were full), she says, it took only two days for young adults to report huge increases in cravings. They all craved non-sweet foods. “We don’t know if it’s boredom, or the idea of restriction,” she says, “but clearly it isn’t nutritional need.”

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

Another great selection of old slides that have been digitized. 

These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.


...these are from a great site called 'How to Be a Retronaut'. They have superimposed old WWII photographs taken at the exact same place as ones from present day. For some reason they are incredibly moving.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Janelle Monae

...combining my love for asylums, tuxedos, and saddle shoes....

Friday, June 04, 2010

Paper Craft Projects

I just ran across these paper craft project downloads (free!):

-- Puppet theatre: So cute! G and I made this this week.

-- Canon Cards
    -- Father's Day cards & origami father's day cards
    -- Envelopes (and they have tons more fun ones)
    -- Animal puzzles and other crazy things that you can download, print and create--for all ages.

-- Amy Butler paper crafts:  flowers, cards, etc.


...always has great toys--but these blocks are awesome. They have all sorts of other architectural styles too.