Category Archives: Bright Stars

A-Visiting I Shall Go

The weather outside isn’t worth talking about, so to cheer myself up I decided to visit some of my favourite domestically-minded blogs.

First up was the much needed Paris Breakfast, home of Carol Gillot’s exquisitely done watercolours. I love the way she chooses a topic and runs with it, sharing not just her watercolours but her photos, often dropping in one or two tidbits of historical trivia that I would never otherwise learn. The best part (aside from the writing, the photos and the paintings)? No sugar rush.

Next was a visit to Sandra’s Ravenhill Cottage. I discovered her blog a few months ago, and a visit with her always leaves me pondering something new. A fellow fan of the defunct Victoria magazine, she’s constantly sourcing out interesting and sometimes little known books about a variety of vintage or domestic topics. Her past few posts have ranged from home decor tips and victorian doll houses to the joys of tea.

Melange is a Virginian blog that I simply don’t visit as often as I ought, and I’m reminded of this every time I finally do get there. Her life and past expereinces are far different from mine, and I think that’s exactly what brings me back – she writes about a Southern life I’ve only read about in books…

A more recent discovery is Under a Blue Moon. Written by Andrea out of Northen California, it’s an absolute trove of goodies. I always enjoy her posts, and love the fact that she shares her home and surroundings – it appeals to the voyeur in me. I love where I live, but every once in a while I have random daydreams about a bungalow built for two with a rose garden and room for dogs, and visiting her is the next best thing.

A trip of this type is never complete without dropping in to Christine’s Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea site. I’ve mentioned it recently in relation to the US’s National Hot Tea Month, but that only nicked the tip of what she writes about. If you like yummy recipes (or just want to ooh and aah over the related food porn photos), hers is one of the best sites to go to. Visiting her reminds me of one of my more attainable goals, which is to get out of my comfort zone and try new flavours.

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Making Life Brighter: Beatrix Potter

I was not one of those children that grew up reading Beatrix Potter and AE Milne – my world wasn’t populated by talking bears and mischievous beasties, and perhaps I was the poorer for it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually read all the Potter books, and knew I would have loved her world. Then, a few months ago, I found out that fiction-writer Susan Wittig Albert had embarked on a mystery series called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and was drawn in even further. I wanted to learn more about the person behind the stories.

So when I heard that a movie was being made about her life, I was intrigued. What I’d read had made her out to be a rather put-upon young woman who eventually found a way to make her own life, in her own way, despite parents that were on the over side of bearing.

The movie itself focuses on her friendship and eventual engagement with her publisher, Norman Warne. Living up to the mongoose code (Run and Find Out!) I went a-hunting and found: The Miss Potter Movie Blog, a Wikipedia entry and, of course, the World of Peter Rabbit website which links to the uk movie site.

From all accounts the movie ought to be quite good, and I look forward to a lazy afternoon in the company of Miss Potter (Renée Zellweger), Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor) and Millie Warne (Emily Watson) in the new year.

Making Life Brighter: Sandra Boynton

I must share a secret with y’all.

I’m NEVER growing up.

While everyone else is reading the latest tomes of Canadian fiction and nodding sagely at the meaningfulness of it all, I’m happily ensconced in the kids section, insanely giggling to myself while gorging on the antics of Sandra Boynton’s characters.

Dancing hippos, ewes galore, confused cats, running bunnies, hip cows, turkeys, turkeys and more turkeys… this isn’t a bad trip – it’s the world she’s created for herself and her readers.

I’ve tried many times to figure out the appeal – is it the expressions on her characters faces, and the way you expect them to dance (or run or leap or drive) off the page? The inspired silliness that helps her puts words like ‘hippo’ and ‘berserk’ in the same sentence? The fact that she’s succesfully put out a book and cd called Grunt: Pigorian Chant from Snouto Domoinko de Silo, which is composed entirely of Pig Latin & real Latin?

Or is it simply that she takes so much joy in joy that there’s nothing for it but to join in? Even her surname has bounce – it’s so close to BOING!

I’ve yet to figure it out, and no serious scholarly work has been published on the Boynton phenom. I do know this though: I’ve not met a single adult who doesn’t at least crack a smile while reading one of her books.

I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone in my love of all things Boynton. Type her name into google, and you’ll find she has her own website (finally), a Wikepedia entry, and won the 1992 Greeting Card award from the National Cartoonists Association. Turns out she got her start greeting cards.

She definitely has a sense of where she stands in the world too – listed as her biography on Simonsays (the website for simon & Schuster, INC, publishers of Boynton goodness) is one lone line:

Sandra Boynton is an internationally ignored authority on romance.

So what’s not to love?