Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

7 Vintage Postcards For Easter

April 6th, 2009 by Amy

I thought these vintage postcards were priceless!


Who better to convey your Easter greetings than a smoking rooster or a small circus chick in a pink tutu?


Printed between 1908 and 1912, these lovely little bits of history are all for sale at Moody’s Postcards.

(click to enlarge)

Seven Quotes About Spring

March 9th, 2009 by Amy

Fresh and flirtatious!

It’s spring where I live and “everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.”


1. Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise! 

Wallace Stevens


2.  It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! 

Mark Twain


3.  In springtime, love is carried on the breeze.  Watch out for flying passion or kisses whizzing by your head. 

Emma Racine deFleur


4.  If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. 

Audra Foveo-Alba


5.  Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. 

Rainer Maria Rilke


6.  If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. 

Nadine Stair

7.  In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. 

Margaret Atwood

7 Examples Of Thought Provoking Translation

February 24th, 2009 by Amy

My grammar and spelling suck … which is unfortunate since I’m a writer. While I know folks who stress and strain over proper syntax, I routinely misuse semi-colons and flagrantly overuse ellipses. The rules regarding serial commas, verb agreement, and the subtle distinctions between words like “further,” “farther,” “then,” and “than” feel like speed bumps in the suburbs – nice suggestions, but hardly urgent.


When I was 20, I lived in France for a year and have returned several times to travel extensively, which basically means I have had plenty of experience mangling a language other than my native one. My grasp of French is so poor you’d think I’d be ashamed to have practiced so much for such small gain. (Listen to David Sedaris reading The Sex Of French Nouns.) But, where the words may have missed their mark, the smiles more than made up the difference. 

I know I should care more, I am certainly old enough to know better, and I have had enough education to have no excuse. It’s just that somehow language seems more fun when it’s more free-form. Every culture loves its own – in the hands of both experts and amateurs.

(All photos from Click to enlarge)


7 Snippets

February 23rd, 2009 by Jane

This week past was bookended by two conferences I was fortunate enough to attend. I spent Valentine’s evening listening to President Clinton address the crowd at the Clinton Global Initiative University that was held in Austin. Then I was able to spend two fine days with some very talented and funny women at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Houston. Here are some snippets of speeches, conversations and comments that have stayed with me. I have attributed the speaker where possible. If you see your words, but not your name, please contact me and I will rectify that toot sweet.

It is a mistake to bet against any free people who can think and feel and work.
           -President Bill Clinton

 Do you have good shitake?
           -Guy Kawasaki

I’m the Shame Girl.
             -Brene’ Brown 

 …and they acted according to their own lights.
           -President Bill Clinton

I cannot keep everyone’s aliases straight.

I would’ve been braver and more dogged.
             -Katherine Center

She just threw a nursing bra on stage!
(during a surprise performance by Nathan Pacheco at the Mom 2.0 Summit…he turned blood red!)

7 Children’s Books About Chickens

February 18th, 2009 by Amy

A friend of mine, author Erica Perl, is about to publish her second picture book about chickens. If you listen closely, her books are much more about the lilt and lyric of language, but the point is why chickens?


I know for a fact that as a child, Erica met Big Bird. Yep! She found her way to Sesame Street and met Big Bird. Perhaps the enormity of that experience branded her impressionable consciousness with a big feathered friend, but what about the rest of us?


Could be that we relate to the constant flapping without ever getting off the ground? The scurrying around to no avail? The peck, peck, pecking at the tiniest little thing until it shatters? Concern about the sky? Or, maybe it’s our ongoing obsession with the eternal riddle of the very first egg … or the very first chicken … and the maddening mystery of it all?


I just don’t know.


Sure there are books about mice, monkeys, pigs, and pigeons, but today, we’ll celebrate the extraordinary chickens … and the wonderful books written about them.



1.  Chicken Butt! (Erica S. Perl)

Chicken Butt! is a rousing tale of a tail end. This new picture book by Erica S. Perl is scheduled to hit the shelves in April … the potty talk should hit your house soon after! Fowl or not, Chicken Butt! is good, clean, rhyming fun. Erica is also the mastermind behind Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early.


2.  Chicken Cheeks (Michael Ian Black)

A cheeky story of stacking derrieres to reach a goal. Sound odd? So is Michael Ian Black.


3.  Chickens To The Rescue (John Himmelman)

According to author John Himmelman, chickens can be a great help in a crisis … especially on Greenstalk Farm. The colored pencil artwork in this charming book is priceless.



4.  First The Egg (Laura Vaccaro Seeger)

Boldly, simply, yet profoundly, this darling book tackles one of the most eggs-tential questions of all time.



5.  Philadelphia Chickens (Sandra Boynton & Michael Ford)

Talented chickens, super cute Sandra Boynton illustrations, and a CD full of catchy – but not irritating – songs helped make this collection an instant classic.


6.  Louise, The Adventures Of A Chicken (Kate DiCamillo)

The madcap adventures of Louise, “the not-so-chicken chicken.”



7.  Chicken Little (Rebecca Emberley & Ed Emberley)

This brand new release promises an old tale refreshed at the hands of old pros.

7 Books for a Book Buffet

February 17th, 2009 by Jane

I have been in a monthly book club with the same group of women for over 5 years. All of them are whip smart, funny, generous, talented and connected to their communities. When we get together there is more conversation than will fit in the allotted time, fabulous food and  more wine (or cosmos, or vodka tonics) than we should drink. Lately, we have not reached a consensus on our monthly book choice, so we are now doing what I call a book club buffet each month. We each read what we want, then bring the book to our next get together and give a mini-review. Then if anyone is interested in any book, she may take it home to borrow. We thought this would give us a chance to save a little money and spread some book love around to many more authors. So, here is what I am going to be bringing to the next few book club buffets.

1. Happiness Delayed
I have been wanting to read Stumbling on Happiness  for a few years. Esteemed Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, reveals the science of being happy.

2. Real Food
I am a huge fan of Michael Pollan’s writing and I loved The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. So, I am anticipating another literary treat with In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

3. Poetry
Poetry is an acquired taste for many, myself included, but the works of Mary Oliver could win over most anyone. I’ll be bringing Thirst to a book club this year.

4. Short Stories
Jhumpa Lahiri’s stories are engaging and haunting. I am looking forward to another of her books, Unaccustomed Earth.

5. Tattoo
I read a review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and now I am hooked! Going to buy this book tomorrow.

6. True 
I recently finished the novel Run by Ann Patchett and loved it. Truth & Beauty is her memoir about friendship that sounds irresistible.

7. Too Funny
I mean that, literally. David Sedaris’ books are so funny that I expect I will have to give them up eventually because my twin-pregnancy-abused-bladder will not hold up to the stress and I’ll only be able to read them at home while wearing a Poise pad. I’ve decided to chance it and get When You Are Engulfed In Flames. In my family, if you make someone laugh so hard that they wet their pants, then you win the award for Funniest Person in the Room. It’s a compliment. Really.

7 Retro Children’s Books

February 5th, 2009 by Jane

We all have fond memories of books we loved as kids like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys books or the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Here are a few slightly less well-known books that are still great!

1. Old Fashioned Friendship
I adored the Betsy, Tacy and Tib series when I was a kid and I am sure your children will love this charming set of books about three childhood friends and their adventures.

2. Rhyming
“Stand Back” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” is a fun and funny read aloud book to add to your child’s library. 

3. In the Pink
 I coveted my sister’s copy of this wonderfully illustrated book about a girl with a messy room.  Thank goodness The Big Tidy-Up is back in print!

4. It’s Elementary!
Kids can learn analytical thinking from reading the Encyclopedia Brown boy detective series.  The books are now an updated classic and a great deal in a boxed set. 

5. Adolescent Angst
In sixth grade, I was obsessed with the young adult books by S.E. Hinton.  This acclaimed writer is still writing and her books are readily available

6. Magical Mischief
These books about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the adventures she has in her upside-down house have been a hit with children for over 50 years.  Still available and still hilarious!

7. If You Lived in a Tree…
I wanted to grow up to have a house just like the one in Miss Twiggley’s Tree.  This book has a wonderful message about sharing that you can impart to your kids. 

7 Reasons I Love Magazines

January 30th, 2009 by Jane

This post was supposed to be a list of my seven favorite magazines, but then I got a postcard in the mail yesterday alerting me that yet another publication that I subscribe to is closing. When I started to count how many magazines I love that have had the same fate in the last two years, I got depressed. It seems that the small advertising pool has become overcrowded with publications and as a result of lost advertising dollars, many publishers are streamlining. This distresses me because I am a magazine-aholic. I cannot walk by a rack, a stack or a singleton without picking one up and thumbing through it. I’ll even read the dog-eared, slightly moist issues lying on the table in the doctor’s office-germs be damned! I remember my first young-girl’s magazine, I believe it was Young Miss and it had a feature article about Carly Simon. And even now, I consider it a good day when an issue arrives in the mail. My heart beats a little faster and I am filled with anticipation. Thoughts of bowls filled with shiny green apples that perfectly match the throw pillows on the oh-so-current sofa swirl in my brain. But due to downsizing in the publishing world, this is happening far less frequently. My mailbox seems a little sad. So let’s have a moment of silence for Budget Living, Blueprint, Home Companion,  Cottage Living, Home, House and Garden, O at Home and Domino. Oh, and Young Miss.

1. Paper
I love the feel of magazine paper. It is shiny and crisp and feels full of possibility.

2. Information
I love the format of magazines. It perfectly suits my brain. Every category in a magazine is ground I cover in one day. Recipes? Definitely need inspiration to make dinner for 5 people every night. Health and Fitness? Need to manage the upkeep on my aging body. Decorating? That furniture arrangement would help hide the pet stains on my rug. Style? Trying to have some. News and Information? I like to carry on informed conversations when I get out. Arts and Culture? I’ll recommend that book for our next book club selection.

3. Inspiration
I have used magazines as inspiration for years. Yes, I have used those tips to clean out my closet. I have made those crafts for Christmas gifts. I have dragged out my crockpot.  And used it.

4. Glossy Pictures
I love the perfection of a magazine photo. Well, not the airbrushed type of perfection. The beautiful rooms, the fabulous products, the great accessories; I have enjoyed them all. 

5. Tear-Outs  I recycle my old issues, but I do not give them to nursing homes or the public library because there are so many pages missing when I get finished with them that it would only cause disappointment. I tear out the recipes I like and put them in a file box in my kitchen.  I like to pull out photos of interesting products and research them. Pages of gift ideas are placed in a file for the holidays. In my studio, I tack up photos of clothes that serve as inspiration for a jewelry design.

6. Collage
I use pictures and text from magazines in collages that I make. I love cutting and tearing images to layer for artwork and greeting cards.

7. Hope
Magazines are full of ideas and possibility that make me believe I can be better organized, more stylish and smarter.  Call me a marketer’s dream, but over my decades-long fetish, I have become better organized, a little more stylish and definitely smarter in all ways. 

7 Soups for National Soup Month

January 26th, 2009 by Jane

It is no wonder that the ultimate comfort food has a month dedicated in it’s honor.  Soup exists in all cultures and is the essence of what humans need to survive: water, vegetables, and protein.  It can be a humble dish of broth and leftovers to the most sophisticated layering of ingredients. The Japanese even eat soup for breakfast. I must be in perpetual need of comfort, because soup is one of my favorite foods. Some of the most memorable soups are those I ate while we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you are visiting any time soon, try the Hangover Stew at Carlos’ Gospel Café, the Santa Fe Trails soup at Gabriel’s in Pojoaque and everything at Back Street Bistro. I swear, the Hungarian Cream of Mushroom soup that is served there is the best thing that you have ever put in your mouth. So, try a few of these recipes or visit the websites that use soup to help others and you will feel sated and restored.

1. Year-Round Tomato Soup
Try this recipe from television chef Michael Chiarello for a twist on the childhood classic. It uses canned tomatoes so you can make this anytime. Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’ve got a meal any one of any age will love. Don’t forget the pickle on the side.

2. Chicken Noodle Soup
Driven by my parents’ refusal to stop adding onions to every main dish, my middle sister survived on Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup for approximately two years during her adolescence. If you want to make it from scratch, you can never go wrong with any recipe from Tyler Florence. We like it with Saltine crackers!

3. Bean Soup
Black bean soup is one of my favorites. Add some grated cheddar, a dollop of plain yogurt, chopped tomatoes and loads of cilantro on top and you will have a filling, healthy meal that stretches easily for a crowd.

4. Need Your Sinuses Cleared?
In Texas, when you are feeling poorly, someone who loves you might bring you Tortilla Soup from your favorite restaurant.  If not, try this recipe from Rachel Ray and keep some in the freezer! It will cure what ails you.

5. Vegetable Soup
I can throw together a pot of homemade vegetable soup in twenty minutes.  Just keep some good-quality broth on hand and use what you have.  Here is a recipe to use as a guideline. Throw in some alphabet noodles and trick your kids into studying their spelling words.

6. From Soup to Jobs
The Soup Peddler in Austin, Texas has one of the best jobs in the world. David Ansel started selling homemade soups to his neighbors, delivering the yummy goodness on his bike. Years later, he is a food business phenom! Check out his site and buy his cookbook for an entertaining read. The Women’s Bean Project teaches job and life skills to women when they are hired to work in this gourmet food company. Sales of soup mixes help fund the Denver, Colorado non-profit dedicated to stopping the poverty cycle.

7. Book Soup
Soup has even been the inspiration for many books including the children’s classic Stone Soup. This heartfelt tale about a village of stingy people illustrates a wonderful lesson on sharing. The charming book of poetry for children, Soup for Breakfast, would make a lovely gift for a child or teacher.

7 Thoughts on Tea

January 16th, 2009 by Jane

The healing properties of tea have been in the press  a lot over the last decade. These days you can find a flavor to suit any mood or ailment, if the shelves of the tea aisle in my local grocery store are an indicator. I love a light, lemony green tea with honey sometimes, or a spicy chai with soy milk, and I can always get boost of energy with a cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon. Since January is National Hot Tea Month, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about the lovely leaves.

1. Brew a Proper Pot or Pitcher
Do you know how to brew a good pot of tea? Before I educated myself, mine would sometimes turn out too bitter to drink. Can you make a clear, delicious pitcher of iced tea? Now that I know how to undo a cloudy batch, I can invite Martha Stewart over without embarrassment!

2. History
Tea has had an ancient and sometimes bloody history. To find out more, read this book by Beatrice Hohenegger.

3. Mystical Leaves
Learn how to read tea leaves! It’s like a little fortune cookie in your cup.

4. My New Favorite
Look for zhi tea for a sophisticated cup of loveliness. My favorite is pinhead gunpowder.

5. The Road to Peace
Taking the time for a cup of tea in the middle of your busy day can lead to a sense of calm and peace. Read Three Cups of Tea to see how that can be expanded on a global scale.

6.Not Just for Drinking
Yes, tea can be used for cooking! That’s right, tea can be used to make duck or salmon dishes more complex and interesting. Prepare either this tea-infused souffle’ or this green tea ice cream and be a hit with guests at your next pot-luck.

7. Tea Party
Treat yourself to a fabulous new tea cup or teapot and have a tea party for one. You will feel restored and pampered.

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