Archive for good books

Pretty Books and Magazines to Read

Heather Ross Prints book

I haven’t gotten a chance to use the DVD of Heather Ross’ exquisite designs that come with this book, but I really should give it a try, because this book is filled with incredibly creative ideas and instructions on how to use her patterns. Learn how to make things like a stationery suite, a toddler duvet and pillowcase, even customized wallpaper! It also comes with tear out sheets of thick glossy patterned paper to use for wrapping small gifts or whatever you’d like. Highly recommended purchase.

The Fir Tree illustrated by Sanna Annukka

I love Finnish artist Sanna Annukka and can’t wait to get my hands on her interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Fir Tree. If you are not familiar with Sanna’s work, you can see the various blog posts I’ve written about her here and/or visit her website.

I splurged on this Donna Hay kids magazine (an annual issue) because it’s pretty to look at, has good ideas and recipes, and is the kind of magazine that I’ll hang on to for quite awhile. In the US, you can find it at Barnes & Noble (and hopefully your local bookstore too).


I took advantage of a subscription deal for UK-based magazine Mollie Makes because it indulges my fantasies about being craftier than I actually am. And maybe I am hoping that my daughters will look through the issues and be inspired to make things, too.

Plus, the name has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

You can buy single issues of these at the bookstore (note: they’re imported, so they’re expensive), and I think I’ve also seen it at the fabric store.

Mollie Makes Christmas

I don’t own this yet, but I’m thinking about it. The magazine is fun and pretty, so I am betting the book is too.

The Simple Things

The Simple Things is a sister magazine to Mollie Makes. I don’t subscribe to this, but I did pick up a copy at the bookstore. It’s one of those magazines that you like to look through again and again. Beautiful page layouts.

Mollie Makes, The Simple Things and Donna Hay are all available as iPad subscriptions. I don’t know that I’m one of those people who has to have the hard copy, but I just haven’t gotten into the habit of digital subscriptions yet.

What other pretty books and magazines would you add to this list?


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Cute Alert! Craft-A-Day by Sarah Goldschadt

Craft a Day by Sarah Goldschadt

Sewn animals by Sarah Goldschadt from her Craft a Day book

Craft a Day by Sarah Goldschadt

Cupcake toppers by Sarah Goldschadt for Craft a Day Book

This new Craft-a-Day book by Sarah Goldschadt is almost too cute for words.

Sarah picks a theme for each week of the year – robots, or snowflakes, or penguins, or hexagons, or sailboats  (you get the picture) – and then she offers a week’s worth of different crafts related to the theme. Cupcake toppers, plush animals, garlands, stationery, tote bags, and more.

The instructions are easy to follow, the crafts are simple and sweet, and the book is beautifully designed. If you’re like me – you like to make things now and then, but nothing too elaborate or requiring advanced skills – this is the perfect book.

In fact, this book ranks high on the list of craft books you ought to have in your library, along with Kid Made Modern and the various Usborne “Things to Make and Do” books. It would also make a terrific gift for any of your crafty friends.

For more about Sarah, visit her website.

The book will be available to purchase  beginning October 2, 2012; I received an advance copy from Quirk Books (who also published this great Halloween craft book that I featured a couple of years ago).

Images: Sarah Goldschadt / Quirk Books

Have a great weekend!

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What We’re Reading

Got a bookworm in the house? I sure do. Here are just a handful of the books she’s read recently:

Kids book reading recommendations by Charlotte's Fancy

Sideways Schools books

The Wayside School series by Louis Sachar (who also wrote the Newberry award-winning book Holes)

Borrowers and Moomins

The Borrowers and The Moomins (more books in each of these series)

Magic by the Lake and the Four Story Mistake

Magic by the Lake and The Four Story Mistake (more books in each of these series)

Jeremy Fink and 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and 11 Birthdays. (Also recommended: The Candymakers by Wendy Mass)

Mount Majestic and Westin Game

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic and The Westing Game

You may be familiar with many of these books – most of them were written 30 or more years ago (classics!). Only the two Wendy Mass books and The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic are recent. All of these books are appropriate for (approximately) 7 to 12 year olds.

If you want more reading recommendations, see this list I compiled a couple of summers ago (note the additions in the comments too).

Images: Charlotte’s Fancy

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Recommended: Ruby Redfort

Ruby Redfort Look Into My Eyes by Lauren Child

I bought this book about two weeks ago for my 8 year old bookworm, and I believe she’s read it cover to cover about three times so far. (True story.) So, that’s recommendation enough, right? But it’s the work of author and illustrator Lauren Child – whom you may know from the extremely charming Charlie and Lola books and cartoons, and the Clarice Bean series – so there’s no way it’s not a great book.

Ruby Redfort (a character in the Clarice Bean books, now with her own book) is a “genius code-cracker and daring detective, along with her sidekick butler, Hitch, working for a secret crime-busting organization called Spectrum.”  What makes the book unique is that Lauren Child partnered with math professor Marcus du Sautoy, who created tricky math puzzles and codes especially for Ruby to solve.

It is a clever book and is especially well-suited for kids who are intrigued with spying and detective work.

There is a website here, with a code-breaking contest, a fun video and links to buy the book.

Book jacket design by David Mackintosh
Published in the US by Candlewick Press

From the archives: Summer reading recommendations for kids, including the Lauren Child illustrated version of Pippi Longstocking. Happy reading!

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I ♥ Stationery

You might have expected me to write a book called, “I ♥ Stationery,” but Charlotte Rivers, who has written several design books, beat me to it. She also wrote The Little Book of Letterpress, which you may be familiar with.

I enjoyed seeing so many of my favorite stationery designers included in this pretty book, from Egg Press, Ink + Wit, and Darling Clementine, to Alyssa Nassner, Present & Correct and Smock. It was also fun to see the beautiful calligraphy work by Michele Hatty Fritz of Meant to Be Calligraphy and her partnership with Claudia Smith of Fig. 2 Design.

And, I discovered many new-to-me designers too, like Tuesday DesignsPainted Fish Studio, Cabin + Cub, Sakura Snow, and Pine Street Makery.

Here’s a peek at the pages:

Tuesday Designs for I Love Stationery

Have and to Hold Designs for I Love Stationery

Ink and Wit for I Love Stationery

Fig 2 and Meant to Be Calligraphy for I Love Stationery

The book is divided into different printing techniques, explaining each of them: hand-drawn illustration; screenprinting, letterpress printing; block printing; digital illustration; calligraphy; paper cutting; and collage/3D/sewn. It also includes a good resources section at the back for designers/printers (e.g. trade shows, paper suppliers, etc.), and I was surprised to see my other blog Pushing Papers  listed under the “Blog and Online Community” section – bittersweet, since I am not writing it anymore, but a nice surprise nevertheless. (You can still see the Pushing Papers archives btw.)

If you want to know more about Charlotte Rivers, see her website, or follow her on Twitter.

If you are a paper lover, or know someone who is, this would make a nice little gift for them. In addition to this and to Charlotte’s Little Book of Letterpress, another book you might love is “Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress and Graphic Design” by Gestalten (which I wrote about here).

Images: I ♥ Stationery / Jacqui Small Publishing

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Three New Favorite Books

Recommended reading for the new year:

Food Rules illustrated by Maira Kalman

A re-issue of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules illustrated by one of my heroes, Maira Kalman. This book is smart, useful and beautiful. (And timely, for any of you who have food/health-related new year’s resolutions).

Elements of Style illustrated by Maira Kalman

Another beautifully illustrated, incredibly useful book. I write every day – whether at work or at home – and occasionally, I need a refresher on a rule or two (don’t you?). This book will live at my office.

A very funny and quick read. If you liked Bossypants, you’ll like this book too.

What books are you reading? I’d love to hear.

Oh, and speaking of new year’s resolutions, did you see this “Be It Resolved” article in the New York Times? If you are goal oriented (or want to be, or struggle to be), you should read it.

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The Native Trees of Canada

Native Trees of Canada 1 by Leanne Shapton Native Trees of Canada 2 by Leanne Shapton

Native Trees of Canada 3 by Leanne Shapton


Stumbled across this book this morning and thought it was far too pretty not to share it. Artist and designer Leanne Shapton reinterpreted a century-old book with these beautifully bold paintings of leaves.

This book would make a wonderful gift, wouldn’t it?

See all of Leanne’s gorgeous work on her website, especially her lettering and design section.

Images: Leanne Shapton / published (November 2010) by Drawn + Quarterly

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Milk + Bookies

Milk and Bookies cup and book logo Milk and Bookies Milk and Cookie Birthday Artwork

Between Rosa’s birthday (right before Christmas), Christmas itself, and Elena’s birthday (in January), we have a very concentrated four weeks in which we are inundated with gifts every year. I always feel overwhelmed by it.

I already suggested to the girls that we take a year off from the parties. Predictably, that didn’t go over so well. So I’m happy to have run across Milk + Bookies (via Small Magazine’s blog) as a possible birthday party idea.

Milk + Bookies is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps children give to their community and foster literacy skills through book donations. They promote several different kinds of Milk + Bookies events. At a Milk + Bookies birthday party, guests bring a hardcover book instead of a gift, and all of the books get donated to the birthday child’s organization of choice.

Milk + Bookies makes it easy for parents to throw a birthday party, with a free invitation template on their website as well as several party activity ideas. Also, parents order a “Bookies Box” for $30, which includes bookmarks, bookplates if the children want to inscribe their donated books, and “I Donated” stickers to give to all the party guests. I could add my own creative touches to the party through decorations, storytelling activities and food.

Seems like a winner to me!

And, how great is their branding? I love the artwork.

For more information about birthday parties, how to host your own event as well as events going on in your area, and donating to a good cause:

Milk + Bookies website
Milk + Bookies blog

All next week I’m sharing my Holiday Gift Guides, featuring my favorite unique, beautiful handmade finds for everyone on your list this year.

Wishing you all a happy and fun Halloween this weekend!

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Witch Craft Giveaway Winner!

witch craft crafting book by quirk books


Emily! I’ll be in touch to get the book to you. I think you’re going to love it.

To everyone else who left a comment: thank you! I wish I could send each one of you the book.

I’m back from Iceland (which I loved), trying to get settled into the regular routine again. I’ll see you here tomorrow with handmade favorites, and later in the week, I’ll share a handful of Iceland photos.

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Ghosts in the House!

I started the week with a Halloween book, and I’m going to end it with a Halloween book too.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is about a little witch who moves into a haunted house and makes friends with the ghosts. The illustrations are so sweet.

children's halloween book by kazuno kohara

children's halloween book by kazuno kohara

children's halloween book by kazuno kohara

children's halloween book by kazuno kohara

children's halloween book by kazuno kohara

Now I’m going to have to check out Here Comes Jack Frost too.

Images from Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara, published by Square Fish for Macmillan

I’ll be back on Monday with another Halloween craft — and remember that Monday is the last day to enter the Witch Craft book giveaway. Happy weekend!

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