Lovers Who Can’t Quit: In Paris

Was all this so wonderful because it was brief and stolen?

Henry Miller wrote that line in a letter to Anais Nin on August 6th, 1932.  Janice MacLeod wrote that same line in her Paris journal on February 24th just a few years back. Eight decades ago Henry was talking about his love affair with a woman. More recently Janice was talking about her love affair with a city. Both refer to a passion that would and could never be quelled.

Janice!

Two years ago we had the pleasure of interviewing Janice here on the blog about her plans following the publication of her New York Times bestselling book Paris Letters.  When we left off with Janice back in March 2015, she was embarking on a new chapter in her life having just left Paris for Canada with her husband Christophe and a carefree sense of wild adventure in hand.  Calgary was clearly a whole different kettle of fish to tackle than France and Janice just wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to unfold now that she had left her dream city for a new frontier.

Newly arrived… A Paris Year

Fast forward two years and life in Canada for Janice produced a baby (Amelie!) and a new book (A Paris Year!).  Like a lover you can’t quit, Janice’s experiences in France ceased to be forgotten in her new surroundings.  The colors of the city, the  accordion lullabies, the memories of wine, cafes, neighborhood walks, market shopping and the speaking of a language she had almost mastered could never be set aside. Paris came to Canada in Janice’s suitcases, a secret house guest that absolutely refused to go home. Once an admirer always an admirer.

Paris Photography by Janice MacLeod

Lucky for us, Janice’s new book A Paris Year keeps the romance of her gorgeous adventure alive. Laid out like a day planner, A Paris Year tracks Janice’s whereabouts in the City of Light from January 1st to December 30th and includes her pretty paintings and feel-like-you-are-there photographs. Based on her actual journals kept while experiencing the city up-close and personal, Janice packs all sorts of interesting history, fun facts and traditions into the everyday observations that make up the charming lifestyle of French living.

Janice’s lively paintings of all things Parisian.

Part travel guide, part European history lesson, part art crawl and part early language primer, reading A Paris Year is as satisfying as hanging out with your best girl friend all afternoon. It’s interesting and vivacious and inspiring. There are funny moments like November 22nd when Janice truly thought she understood all the offerings on a French menu board only to realize it was written in English. There are sad moments (November 14th) which recognizes the anniversary of the 2015 Paris Attacks. And there are plenty of incredibly beautiful moments (February 2, March 4, May 11th, June 20th, practically the whole month of October, etc etc) that bring the heart of the city home to your doorstep.

There are new characters to meet like Antoine the Poet and Colin the ex-pat, both of whom offer intriguing little side stories that will leave you wondering and wanting.  And of course there all the famous French residents that you associate with the city – F.Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Madame Curie, Vincent Van Gogh, Colette, Edith Piaf, Gaston LeRoux, Sylvia Beach and the ever present star of the show, Ernest Hemingway. He weaves his way in and around Janice’s storytelling as she weaves her way in and around Paris, showing up every few pages in her thoughts and his haunts. The moveable feast still very much moving.

In Janice’s first book Paris Letters, she details step by step how she made the big leap from living an unfulfilling corporate life in California to living a creative life in Paris. That book was the story of an artist’s awakening to her true self. This book, A Paris Year is the full color party she threw to celebrate it. Paris Letters showed us how to make a big change. A Paris Year shows us how to enjoy it.

During some months in A Paris Year, Janice seeks out a specific color to photograph, as an hommage to Nichole Roberston’s book Paris in Color. During the month of May the shade in mind was green.

Janice’s story in both books has an interesting way of sticking around long after you read them. As a result of marinating in the visual artistry of A Paris Year I now walk around my own city looking at the sites before me with new eyes and a running dialogue on how I might best describe a building or a season, a person or a park.

Too pretty to end, the only thing I disliked about this book was that it actually had to end. I was super excited to receive an advance copy in the mail which I read just before leaving for Seattle and then re-read on the flight to Seattle and then once again when I returned back home. I loved it that much… three times over!  Like a daily devotional it offers the unique option of reading a page a day if you are looking for a quick shot of escapism, or you can read it cover to cover, as I did  or you can just pick up and read whatever page you want at random whenever the mood strikes. Janice made it so easy for us to experience her Paris.  Its a day planner and a day dream all wrapped up in one.

If you can’t afford the expense or the time to get to Paris personally this summer, don’t fret.  Spend a few hours with Janice in her book and you’ll feel like you’ve been there yourself. It may be a brief and stolen time, but as Henry Miller implies those are the most wonderful.

You can find Janice’s new book A Paris Year here. Her previous book, Paris Letters here and if you find yourself needing even more joie de vivre, subscribe to her Paris Letters mail service and receive a Parisian note from Janice via the postal service once a month.

The April 2016 edition of Paris Letters

Next time on the blog, we are tackling the city of Seattle and the search for Great-Grandma Mabel’s doughnut shop. Did we find it? Did we find it? Stay tuned!

Bright B(old) Things: 9 Book and Movie Suggestions for an Inspired Year Ahead

 

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“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears and new eyes.” So said British author G. K. Chesterton.

Even though he spoke these words of wisdom in the first part of the 20th century, don’t you think they are still absolutely appropriate reminders for today? This new year is bursting at the seams with potential and possibility. And it is up to us to make the most of it – to get our dreams and aspirations from the inside to the outside.   In the land of Ms. Jeannie we are starting the year off with a list of fascinating books and movies that will give you those new ears and new eyes, that new backbone and new soul that Chesterton so smartly referred to. Today we are looking at the magical rewards of life from different perspectives as told by people who muddled their way through the long, wayward process of dream-building and came out the other side with wisdom and wonder to share.

Offering equal amounts of inspiration and entertainment, these books and movies were discovered in 2016 but cover a wide time period. On the older side there is a new documentary about a still-living fashion icon born in the 1920’s and an incredibly romantic 2015  movie based on a classic novel written in 1847. On the newer side, we tackle old thoughts on homekeeping in our modern 21st century environment with a book about interior decorating and we spend a year in the life of modern day archaeologist/historians as they recreate authentic farm life in rural Edwardian England.

It’s a fun, eclectic collection but you’ll notice a common thread running between them all – commitment, dedication, confidence. By drawing inspiration from this cast of characters, we can draw parallels to our own lives that will help motivate the dreams that swirl around our heads and hearts and hopefully get us thinking about what steps we can take today that will affect our desires tomorrow.  Let’s look…

In the reading department…

1.No Place Like Home – Brooke Berman (2010)

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Budding playwright Brooke Berman had a simple goal. To find a home that she could call her own. Not one that she purchased. A rental was just fine. Not a house. An apartment would suit. And not even necessarily one that excluded roommates. She just wanted to find a place where she could store her stuff and her self for a permanent amount of time. Longer than thirty days. In 1990’s New York City.

You’d think this would be an easy feat, but for Brooke it took 39 apartments and many years to finally figure out where and how she belonged. For anyone who has ever moved more than a few times in their lives you’ll understand the importance of Brooke’s desire to feel settled. But as much as this memoir is about finding a place of one’s own it is also a step-by-step account of one woman’s journey towards self-realization. Like Janice and her Paris Letters, Brooke tells the real story of what it is like to pursue lofty creative work while fighting through the muck-ridden minutiae of basic daily life. Friendships bloom and wither, romances come and go, jobs begin and end, family members die and tragedy strikes. Despite it all Brooke keeps moving (literally!) towards her dream of a permanent address and a professional career.

Her level of determination is inspiring. Her stay-the-course focus impressive. And if you ever wanted to know what it’s really like to live in New York City, on an artist’s salary, then this is the no-holes barred book for you:)

2. Rethink – Amanda Talbot (2015)

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This book had Ms. Jeannie thinking for weeks and weeks about home design after she finished it. Part history book, part design journal, part holistic living primer, Rethink tackles a lot of issues between it’s pretty covers.  Illustrating how we have become a society of store-ers (owners of so much stuff that storage units are called into action to house the overflow) and accept-ers (of cheaply made, cheaply massed produced short-term furniture), Australian decorator and home style maven Amanda Talbot challenges us to rethink how we use our homes in today’s 21st century world.

Drawing on the nostalgic ideas of home from centuries past when big family, large-scale houses dominated  our landscape, Amanda explains how the history of interior design has affected our mental and physical state for hundreds of years.  Needless to say, times have changed significantly. Big houses are being traded in for micro ones. Traditional function rooms designed for single purposes (dining room, kitchen, bedroom, etc) have now morphed into convertible spaces where we eat, sleep, work and entertain all in the same area. But strangely our thought processes in how we approach these new room layouts has been slow to catch-up.

We require more out of our personal space than ever before in history, yet we fail more often than not to make our rooms fit our lifestyle. Amanda encourages us to break free of the nostalgic past. Beds are now workspaces, mediation zones and offices.   Kitchens are now shipping centers and compost bins and charging stations. Balconies are now vegetable patches, reading rooms and communication hubs. You get the idea!

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In touch with both the practical and spiritual sense of home, Amanda illustrates how certain textures, light sources, and furniture arrangement appeal to our modern minds and moods. She hails the use of soft warm wood and vintage furniture for its steadfast constitution and inherent ability to withstand time – something that is assuring to our psyche in the constantly changing and emotionally abrasive world of the 2010 years.  She proposes new more efficient and intuitive ways to decorate now that we are a world of citizens constantly on the go. She tackles harmony and peacefulness, blended family relationships and plugged in environments, lighting, trash disposal and greenspace with a thoughtfulness that is provoking. By the time you finish the last page, you’ll look at your home environment and understand more about it and yourself. Rethink will make you want to question and refine your style to the infinite degree so that you are paired down and using only what is necessary, what is essential and what is meaningful in order to balance your being.

3. The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller (2014)

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In The Year of Reading Dangerously, Andy Miller had one goal: to read the books on his bookshelf that he thought were important. The ones that he eluded to loving at cocktail parties (Jane Austen? Yes of course! I love all her books!)  or at dinner tables (Tolstoy”s work is amazing!) but secretly had never actually read before.

Andy’s book collection was quite diverse and spanned a multitude of genres and time periods.  Some were classic literature, some popular fiction, some the mark of an intellectual mind and some just complete whimsies of a fun-time book lover. He narrowed his list down to 50 books to be read in 365 days. And he stuck to it, whether he liked or not.

Throughout his year, he juggles his reading list and his job, alongside his enthusiasm, his family, his friends and his small son. He battles his pre-conceived notions, and his fortitude, his sanity and his propensity to weasel out of the ones he doesn’t like (which are a few!). He evens battles the point of the whole project. Who would care what a middle-aged British man read or not read? The truth is, you will. You’ll fall in love with Andy and his funny, honest, highly relate-able book-loving life. As Andy steamrolls his way through the shelf, you’ll begin to think about your own bookshelf, your own sheepish list of good reads you claim to love but have never cracked open. And he’ll inspire you to get started.

4. Love In The Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1988)

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Like Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast which was set in 1930’s Paris, Love in the Time of Cholera transports you to another era. This time, you are in exotic 19th century Columbia – a landscape filled with colorful birds, fragrant flowers and one of the biggest romantics in all of literature.  The goal of the novel’s flawed hero,  Florentino Ariza is to win the heart of  Fermina Daza, a girl he is instantly drawn to in an unexpected moment.

The story winds through 53 years of these two characters lives despite other lovers, other passions and other pursuits, while also dealing with conflicting temperaments and grim possibilities.  Readers fly high on a captivating whirlwind of passion as Florentino boldly and consistently declares his love for Fermina with no assured possibility that it will ever be equally reciprocated. He can’t help himself. Once he sets eyes on the love of his life (literally!) there is no going back. So he marches forward day after day, year after year, on a road that wraps in circles around Fermina’s landscape. It’s a delirious concept. Delicious in its intensity and honorable in its day after day dedication.  “There is no greater glory than to die for love,” pronounces Florentino early on. With that mindset firmly established, nothing can stop Florentino from fighting for his heart’s desire.

5. Stories I Only Tell My Friends – Rob Lowe (2011)

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If you ever wanted to learn the inside story on how an actor makes it in Hollywood, this is the book. From his childhood in Ohio to his first movie (The Outsiders, 1983) to the established and extensive career he enjoys now in California, Rob Lowe like Brook Berman is the ultimate soldier in the battle field of staying true to your chosen calling. Sure he’s handsome, and he’s talented, and he’s a major A-List actor but it wasn’t always that way and Rob had to learn about his strengths and weaknesses, one micro-experience at a time, just like everybody else.

In Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob candidly talks about the long-road to fulfillment: how he struggled to find friends, find self-worth and find balance in an industry that doesn’t authentically nurture any of these. He talks about his 20+ year marriage, the raising of his two sons and the hopes and dreams he still aspires to in this middle section of his life. And he talks about Hollywood. The interesting stories of celebrity friends, behind-the-scenes movie making and project collaborations on super successful pop-culture productions like The West Wing, Parks and Rec and St. Elmo’s Fire. Alongside all that achievement are stories about embarrassing missteps, awkward associations and risky gambles.  There are setbacks and uncertainties, self-doubt and insecurity, but through it all there is Rob.  For over 40 years holding tight to his acting profession and  thoughtfully digesting all the successes and failures that a creative life consumes. He never gives up on acting. He never gives up on himself.

In the watching department…

6. Edwardian Farm (2010)

Edwardian Farm was a BBC television series which first aired in 2010 in the U.K. It is a fascinating look at the modern viability of living a handmade, handspun life void of 21st century technology as experienced by three history loving professionals – one historian and two archaeologists. For one complete calendar year, this trio set up farm in England’s beautiful Devon countryside and experienced what rural life would have been like in the early 1900’s. Their mission was to answer questions about the efficiencies and possibilities and practicalities of our modern mindsets. Knowing what we know now in 2017, could we successfully return to 1900 and survive?

The trio was tasked with not only daily living activities but also business ventures as well. So moneymaking crops had to be planted, chickens had to be raised and cows had to be milked in order to keep the farm and themselves afloat physically and financially through four seasons.  What was really interesting about this reality experience is that it was thankfully short on relationship drama and heavy on information. You don’t watch people complaining, bickering or tearing each other down. You watch instead about people utilizing their strengths and their ideas to propel the farm and each other forward.

In the 365 days of the project a lot of interesting endeavors were tackled including making their own cheese, chicken houses and lime ash. They plow fields with horses and attempt to spawn fish in a nearby creek. They smoke meat, make their own ice cream and bake traditional food all without the use of electricity. They wash and mend and reuse and recycle and re-purpose so much so that you’ll be inspired by how little equipment one really needs in order to get a good job done. And you’ll be inspired to try out some of their projects like smoking your own meat or planting your own market flower garden. It is fun entertainment that also happens to be highly informative. And like Amanda Talbot’s book, it will make you rethink the purpose of all that stuff in your life. Is it necessary? Is it needed? Is it functional?

7. Iris (2015)

Color, confidence and a little dose of charisma (okay a big dose) are what make 96 year old design maven and style icon, Iris Apfel one of the most shining examples of how to live life on your own terms.  By courageously and unapologetically letting her natural instincts and interests guide her throughout nine decades of her artistic life Iris has followed her heart all around the creative industry.  From fashion publishing to textile design, antique collecting, to clothing scout, interior designer to museum exhibit stylist Iris circumnavigated the globe while exploring everything and anything that appealed to her.

Inspiration came calling in all forms from tiny details like the quality of a certain type of thread, or the line of an unusual sculpture or the buoyancy of a puffed sleeve. Wherever she went, Iris found the unusual, and then packed it up, and shipped it home only for it to trigger a new opportunity later down the road.  An antique turns into an accessories line, a satin fabric spawns a textile company, a thrift store outfit propels a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is how Iris’s life has gone. By sticking to her gut instincts on everything and always saying yes to opportunities that presented themselves Iris was able to enjoy a diverse and fulfilling life that consistently kept her engaged and excited. It is hard to argue with reason when it comes to things you inherently love. Iris never argued in that department. She just listened. And if this documentary teaches you anything, if Iris teaches you anything,  it is just to travel through life as yourself. Just be yourself. Listen to your gut. And above all else, cherish your individuality.

8. Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)

Thomas Hardy wrote this book in 1847 which seems incredible now because his main heroine Bathsheba Everdene is as thoroughly modern as any woman today. In the 1960’s Hardy’s book was made into a movie starring Julie Christie but this recent version starring Carey Mulligan is by far better.  If you are unfamiliar with the story-line, Carey Mulligan plays Bathsheba –  a headstrong, independent woman who inherits a farm of her own in rural England. Determined to run the farm and her life, in her own way, Bathsheba struggles with the balance between independence and vulnerability.  She doesn’t want to be governed by anyone yet she doesn’t want to be alone either. Love in Bathsheba’s eyes is balanced yet also wild, mutual yet individualistic, and supportive without being smothering.  Three very different  men converge on her life and a relationship with each unfolds. Without giving away the ending if you have not yet seen it, Ms. Jeannie will just say that Bathsheba’s choices throughout her life are as bohemian as any 1920’s flapper or any 1980’s career woman or any 2017 independent spirit. Which makes this 150 year old character quite remarkable. She’ll inspire you to forge your own way, to mold a life dependent on personal viewpoint and to reject the notions of other people’s ideas for your happiness.

9. The Age of Adaline (2015)

Ms.Jeannie was so in love with this movie she watched it twice back to back. Stunning in its cinematography, wardrobe and set design it is also posses interesting questions about mortality, relationships and familiar connections. Adaline has a secret and because of her elusiveness few people know how to understand her which leads to a loneliness that seems inescapable. Again, without giving away too much of the story for those of you who have not yet seen it, you follow Adaline’s life through decades of history and important milestones. Like Iris and Bathsheba she forges her own life, and in doing so discovers later on the impact she had on other people.  It is an interesting viewpoint on how one person can affect many without ever knowing it.

On a technical side, this movie is flawless. The acting is marvelous and the attention to detail incredible.  The camera follows Adaline through all the changing style trends of 20th century America which makes the visual appearance of this film fascinating in a time capsule sort of way. Years of pre-production added an authenticity to the layers of storytelling that added multiple layers of depth to every scene and set.  An added bonus not to be missed is a fascinating step-by-step behind the scenes documentary on how the cast and crew accomplished such visually impactful storytelling.  So this selection is two fold when it comes to inspiration. The script is one magical piece of writing and the mesmerizing production value is another. No bit of scene or set was thrown together, no character half-realized, no string of dialogue awkwardly phrased. All aspects of this movie-making process were thoughtfully executed making the end result seamless in regards to complete storytelling.

As you can see from this list a little inspiration goes a long, long way. In the land of Ms. Jeannie we are challenging ourselves  to find a moment of new inspiration in each and every day. Some days this a tricky feat. Looking for small pockets of wonder requires an open mindset and eyes that are constantly aware of the environment around us.  The fun is in the search for the small details like a falling leaf or a patch of graffiti or an almond crusted cookie.  And it’s in the big obvious things too like fireworks or flower beds or snow fields.  It’s in music we hear, food we eat and conversation we start. Sometimes it is in an interesting article, or a pesky problem and sometimes it is even in the frustrations that fog up up our brains. The trick in this tricky project is to be able to take the time to notice and then process what it is that we are seeing, hearing and thinking.  Life moves fast. In an instant a moment of magic is upon us. Our imaginations quickly carry us away. If it captures our attention long enough a dream or a desire begins to form. Then we have to make choices. Do we sit on that dream or do we we do something with that dream? Ms. Jeannie hopes this batch of books and movies will help you get going, get noticing and ultimately get started down that road to realization.

Cheers and good luck to a new year and to new eyes.  And to new ears and to new feet and to new souls and backbones and all those wonderful new (old) words by G.K. Chesterton!

For more book and movie suggestions see 2015’s best of list here.

 

 

 

The In-Between Places of Life and Book

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In the land of Ms. Jeannie the creatures are stirring. All week the boxes have been building higher and higher – propping up all the anticipation and all the possibilities of new horizons. A brand-new adventure is about to take place!

At the end of the week Ms. Jeannie will say goodbye to life in the 1930’s schoolhouse and hello to a new space in a new state.  Where is she headed exactly? Stay tuned to see where the gang winds up…

In the meantime, Ms. Jeannie owes a big BIG thank you to blog reader Elizabeth E. who reminded Ms. Jeannie two whole years ago that there was an absolutely fantastic gem of a book waiting to be read in the MJO bookshelves.

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Coming across Outlander while packing bookshelves was just about the most perfect escapist read to dive into while tackling all the every day realities of relocation. Like Ms. Jeannie juggling the in-between time of life in Georgia and life in her new town,  Claire, the heroine of Outlander, (a vintage 1990’s fiction novel) finds herself caught up in two worlds  – that of 1940’s England and then mysteriously of 1700’s Scotland.

It is a fantastic fish-out-of-water story, full of history, romance and adventure as Claire struggles to survive two centuries of time travel. It’s also just about the most fantastic book to fall into after endless hours of packing boxes:) Outlander is the first book out of nine in the series, so if you want to spend the the next few months wrapped up in the mystical and turbulent Scottish highlands then you are in for a most eventful summer of reading.

To make things even more exciting,  Outlander was recently made into an award-winning television show as well. Now into its second season with two more seasons in pre-production, Outlander, the show, is beautifully filmed and equally entertaining. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the original trailer from season 1:

 

In the next coming weeks, once Ms. Jeannie is settled, she’ll be sharing more summer reading suggestions from her best of the first half of 2016 list, featuring books, movies and documentaries. So stay tuned on that front as well!

More to come….move to commence…memories to cultivate…

It’s summer 2016 in the land of Ms. Jeannie!

 

9 Ways to While Away Your Holiday Weekend!

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It’s here! It’s here! The summer holiday season has officially started. Happy Memorial Day dear readers! If you are looking for some fun activity suggestions look no further, Ms. Jeannie has just the thing. Whether you want to get out or stay-in, celebrate or sleep, here is a list of nine different ways to while away your weekend…

  1. Go Stargazing!

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The How and Why Wonder Book of Stars. 1960 edition. Find it here in the bookshop.

Give that neck of yours a break from always looking down, down, down at computer and phone screens! Nothing is more relaxing or more magical than taking some time to simply look up at the stars. Right now, in Ms. Jeannie’s section of the globe, the constellation Hercules is taking center stage in the night sky, which is appropriate for the holiday weekend because Hercules led an exhausting life performing all sorts of daunting tasks in service to King Eurystheus before succumbing to a fiery death. He needed a restful break, just like you and he finally got it in his after-life as star of the spring/summer sky. His kneeling pose proves that he is truly relaxed (finally!) in the night sky.

Hercules is the upside man in gold. Photo courtesy of RetroPrintMaker.

Hercules is the upside man in gold at the top of the picture. This antique constellation print can be found at RetroPrintMaker via Etsy!

You are never to old to enjoy astronomy from a child’s point of view, and that is exactly what the How & Why Wonder Book of the Stars brings to you directly from 1960. Whether you read it to yourself or to a little one, you’ll come away with a new found sense of the solar system that is both whimsical and wise. Find the book here. And visit EarthSky to find out what stars will be appearing in your specific section of sky tonight.

2. Feed Your Friends and Family!

Cooking for a Crowd - vintage style!

Cooking for a Crowd – vintage style!

Whether you are grilling out, picnic-ing, pot-lucking or just plain partying this weekend bring something new to the festivities with a vintage recipe! Find all the inspiration you need in Ms. Jeannie’s instagram feed and in the vintage kitchen section of the blog, where she features recipes from all the vintage cookbooks available in her bookshop.

3. Plant Some Flowers!

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Liven up your indoor spaces with some outdoor plants and flowers! These versatile vintage planters transition so well between all the seasons. Great for herb gardens, micro plants and artistic succulent-scapes these ceramic vessels bring pretty personality to any shelf, table top or sill. Find the the above assortment here.

4. Go Birdwatching!

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Fall in love with your favorite birds day after day after day with these vintage 1950s bird botanical prints. Find a large assortment here.

This past week Ms. Jeannie’s neighborhood was taken over by an unexpected kite festival. Not the colorful cloth kite flyers that you find at the beach but the bird species, the Mississippi Kite.

The falcon-like Mississippi Kite in all it's silvery beauty. Photo via pinterest.

The falcon-like Mississippi Kite in all it’s silvery beauty. Photo via pinterest.

Dozens of these intriguing characters swooped and dipped and dived for days around the house giving Ms. Jeannie the opportunity to take a break and look at the wonderful world happening around her. Closely resembling falcons, kites have silver under-bellies that shimmer in the sky like diamonds. And just like star-gazing there is something both calming and curious about looking and listening to the bird world around us.

5. Get Back to You!

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Bright and cheery vintage tea treasures can be found in the bookshop here.

Sometimes we all just need to calm the heck down. Tea helps in this department immensely! A pretty personalized tea service and some embroidered vintage linens make the presentation of your soothing experience all the more zen-like. Dive into a novel set in China, written by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck, and you have set the mood for a mini-vacation in the making.

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A vintage 1969 edition of The Three Daughters of Madame Liang can be found in the bookshop!

6. Go to the Zoo!

Speaking of unusual nature sightings, if you want a little bit of whimsy take yourself to the zoo! In the land of Ms. Jeannie curiosity comes in all forms, and travel happens both literally and metaphorically, so if you find that you don’t have access or ability to a real-life zoo – no problem! Take your imagination on a pictorial adventure with Robert Lopshire and his polka-dotted pal. Find them here.

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This 1960 edition of Put Me In the Zoo is so cute and colorful! Find it here.

7. Go on a Date!

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Sometimes all the dinner date inspiration you need is wrapped up in one vintage clothing piece. Make new memories with old classics like this 1960s beaded cashmere sweater or this snappy vintage silk bowtie.

One of the few seriously great and often overlooked activities in the warmer months is eating outdoors. In the South practically no one eats outside because of the humidity except for Ms. Jeannie! Whether its a bustling city cafe, a rural garden restaurant or even just the back patio of your favorite local hangout, nothing says easy summer like a breezy Memorial Day dinner that you have no hand in preparing (or cleaning up!). So pull out your best dress and your date’s summer suit and make this Memorial Day the most romantic one on record!

8. Have a Cocktail!

Vintage 1950's flash card spells out the sentiment of the holiday weekend! Find it here

Vintage 1940’s flash card spells out the sentiment of the holiday weekend! Find it here.

Or maybe two or three! It’s the sign of a spirited environment when your fellow weekenders say “I’ll have another please!” One of Craig Claiborne’s favorite May-inspired cocktails was Luchow’s May Wine Bowl, which featured two stars of the late spring/early summer growing season: woodruff and strawberries. If woodruff (the herb) is unavailable in your area you can substitute it for vanilla.

Luchow’s May Wine Bowl

1/2 cup dried woodruff (or two teaspoons of vanilla)

1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar

1/2 cup cognac

2 bottles Rhine or Moselle  wine

1 bottle champagne or club soda

1/2 cup whole fresh strawberries

  1. Tie the woodruff up in a small piece of cheesecloth. Place in a bowl and add sugar, cognac and one-half bottle of wine. Cover closely and let stand overnight.
  2. Strain the woodruff-wine mixture into a punch bowl containing ice cubes or a large chunk of ice. And the remaining still wine, champagne and strawberries. Serve in stemmed glasses. Yields eight to 10 cups.

This recipe was featured in Craig’s Herb and Spice Cook Book which you can find here.

9. Take a Trip!

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Find a bevy of assorted travel books and other vintage reads in the bookshop here.

This may be the ultimate luxury on a three day weekend! But if you can’t afford a trip away this holiday, do not fret! Traveling is a mindset as much as it is an experience. Relish in the adventure of reading with this selection of travel inspired books that will transport you to other places and other times.

Hitchhike your way around 1970’s Europe in the Hitchhiker’s Road Book; kiss the shore goodbye as you head out on ocean waters in Let’s Explore the Seas; fly through 1930s Africa in Following the Sun Shadow; explore 1960s New York City with composer Ned Rorem; learn how to parlez vous in French like a local with Collins French Phrase Book; and take in the sights around London with adorable Zachary Zween.

As you can see, holiday adventures await in an assorted number of ways. However you chose to spend this festive weekend, Ms. Jeannie hopes that it is magical!  Happy Memorial Day dear readers. Now… let the summer begin!

*** From Friday through Tuesday, take 20% off your purchase in Ms. Jeannie’s shop using the coupon code: MEMORIAL2016 ***

 

 

 

 

 

Indonesian Inspiration: It’s Summer in the Vintage Kitchen!

Roedjack Manis

This week in the vintage kitchen we are traveling culinary style to the exotic locale of Indonesia with a flavorful summer salad recipe that capitalizes on the best of fresh garden vegetables. The recipe, Roedjak Manis, hails from the vintage 1967 cookbook A World of Nuts by Morton Gill Clark...

A World of Nuts Cookbook by Morton Gill Clark

and features one of the South’s most prolific crops – the peanut. Poor peanuts have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to all the nut allergy problems, but if you don’t suffer from any such malady than this recipe might just become your most favorite salad of the season.

As colorful as Indonesia’s  floating marketplace in Lok Baintan Kalimantan…

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this coleslaw like salad is bursting with a bright bouquet of garden goodness that not only makes it delicious in the flavor department but also pretty on the plate.

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And unlike some international recipes, if your garden isn’t yielding this type of produce just yet, no worries, you can find all these ingredients easily at the farmers market or the grocery.

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s look at the place where our salad hails from…

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Home to over 6,000 islands, Indonesia is an epicenter of culture and cuisine combining Chinese, Indian, European and Middle Eastern nationalities. This unique blend of heritage paired with it’s lush tropical environment provide the platform for some of the most flavorful cuisine in the world. 

Morton Gill Clark, traveled around the world gathering inspiration for his nut cookbook, picking up recipes that not only were not only indigenous of the places he visited but also easily adaptable for American cooks and kitchens. As a mid-century food journalist for Gourmet Magazine and Vogue, he had a refined palette for good, clean food that was easy to prepare and interesting to play around with. His recipe for Roedjak Manis is a shining example of both. Loaded with vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats, it offers a variety of serving options – a side salad, an appetizer, a snack, a unique hors d’ouevre – it is literally a feast for your imagination and for your belly.

If your summer scrapbook doesn’t include a trip to the idyllic islands of Indonesia, don’t fret, your senses will transport you on a trip of a lifetime with this culinary kitchen adventure. Are you ready dear readers? Let’s go!

Roedjak Manis (serves 4-6)

2 sweet red peppers or 8 mini bell peppers in assorted colors, seeded

1 cup peanuts

1 tblsp. brown sugar

1 tsp anchovy paste

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/4 cups finely shredded green cabbage

1 cup finely shredded lettuce (spring salad mix, romaine, etc)

1 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots

1/4 cup slivered scallions

1/3 cup whole toasted peanuts

1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

A quick note on ingredients: Ms. Jeannie purchased a bag of dry roasted, salted peanuts in the shell, which she then de-shelled for this recipe. If you don’t have this extra few minutes you can use a jar of already shelled peanuts. Bamboo shoots come in cans packed with water and can be found in the Asian section of the grocery.   

Roughly chop the peppers. Combine peppers and peanuts in a blender and pulse until they form a creamy paste similar to hummus. Depending on the water content of your peppers you might need to add a few squeezes of lemon juice to get the appropriate consistency. After a few minutes in the blender, peanuts and peppers should look like this…

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Next, add the sugar, anchovy paste and lemon juice to the pepper mixture and blend until combined. Set aside.

Thinly slice the cabbage, lettuce and bamboo shoots and toss together in a large mixing bowl.

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Then add the pepper mixture, whole peanuts and scallions with the lettuce and toss. It’s easiest to use your hands for this process since the pepper mixture is thick.

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Once all the ingredients are combined, set salad aside while you chop the egg and slice the cucumber. You can serve these last two ingredients either on top of the salad or on the side depending on your preference. Ms. Jeannie served her egg/cucumber on the side and put the salad in a big bowl, family-style so her dinner mates could serve themselves.

Roedjack Manis

Because this salad is packed with peanut protein, you could make this a meat-free meal or it would also be delicious with simple sautéed or poached chicken breasts, carrot chips or steamed rice. Like the summer season itself, it is easy breezy in the adaptability department and transports well as a picnic component.

Find more nut-based recipes in Morton’s cookbook here.  And find more around-the-world inspiration in the vintage kitchen with these previous cooking related posts.

Cheers and happy cooking!

 

Dinner with Downton Abbey

Camembert, Sweet Onion & Spinach Tart

It’s not every day that a woman receives a castle for Christmas, but indeed that is just exactly what happened to Ms. Jeannie last December. That’s right dear readers, a castle! It might as well have been a box full of magic that’s how excited Ms. Jeannie was with her gift!

Downton Abbey Christmas Ornament

Gold, glittery and delicate, Ms. Jeannie hung her magical manor house on a nail above her kitchen doorframe, where it remains year–round as a symbol for whimsy, wonder and unexpected surprises. Passing underneath it every day, she is inspired by the stories it symbolizes and by the possibilities of passion. Without Julian Fellowes interest in history and his love of storytelling we would have never known Downton Abbey and in turn we would have never known this blog post.

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This week Ms. Jeannie is featuring a twist on a recipe from the 2014 coffee table book, A Year In the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (Julian’s niece!). This is one of several Downton Abbey coffee table books that has been released throughout the series, but by far this is Ms. Jeannie’s favorite. It breaks down Season 5 specifically month by month as far as story lines and contains a lot of behind the scenes info on costumes, hair and makeup and cast/crew interviews. It also contains recipes of the types of fare that the Crawley family would have enjoyed with each passing season.

A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

On page 132 in the middle of the month of May, you’ll find this elegant recipe…

Asparagus Tart - Downton Abbey style!

tucked amidst the stories swirling around Rose’s coming out season. Her presentation at Court signifies her debutante status for the season, and the chapter is filled with the proper attire, mannerisms and preoccupations that such a lady would have experienced during this exciting time in the mid-1920’s. In all its behind-the-scenes glory, the chapter is also filled with the challenges the crew faced in filming the stand-in location for Buckingham Palace (which was actually Lancaster House in London) and the massive undertaking of outfitting and making up the large ensemble cast of extras at the debutante ball.

Rose as a debutante!

While the scenes in the book (and on film!) were quite elaborate for the month of May, the recipe was quite simple… Asparagus Tart. Ideal in the eating seasonably chart, asparagus is at its peek of flavor in late Spring and can be enjoyed in any dish ranging from breakfast to dinner. It is also party perfect because of its straight-lined style and a lovely way of being quite adaptable to artistic displays of culinary wonder.

There was only one slight problem with all this.  After discovering the recipe,  Ms. Jeannie had just returned from market with a basketful of two other shooting stars of the spring season – sweet onions and spinach and sadly, no asparagus. So she improvised, playing a little game of surprise with Mrs. Patmore. By switching out some ingredients for others but retaining the same tart crust and the same measurements of additional ingredients, Ms. Jeannie made a similar tart that would have served all party-goers just as well during the season. This is what she made…

Simple Ingrediants for a simple spring tart

Spinach, Sweet Onion & Camembert Tart

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

Salt and Pepper to taste

5 tablespoons butter

1/4th cup ice water

A handful of fresh spinach

½ of a large sweet onion, very thinly sliced

4 eggs

1 1/4th cups organic vanilla soy milk (or light cream if you prefer)

4 tablespoons of chopped Camembert cheese

One pinch of nutmeg

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour in a mixing bowl with a large pinch of salt. Cut up the butter in small chunks and incorporate it into the flour until you get a crumb-like texture. Add the ice water and mix together with your hands until you can form a ball of dough.
  3. Dust your workspace with flour and roll dough out in all directions so that it becomes large enough to fill an 8”inch tart pan. Place the dough in the pan, trim the extra edges with a knife and prick the dough all over with a fork. Insert baking beans into the tart shell and place in oven for 20 minutes. If you don’t have baking beans, which help weight down the dough and keep it from puffing up, you can place a pan on top of the dough – just make sure that the pan is oven friendly and fits the entire inside dimension of the tart.
  4. While the crust is baking, rinse the spinach and thinly slice the onions (so thin that they are almost transparent!). Set both ingredients aside.
  5. In a bowl beat together the eggs, milk and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. Remove the tart crust from the oven. Remove the baking beans or the weighted pan and return the tart crust back to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove the tart crust from the oven and fill it with the egg mixture until it is about ¾ full. You might have extra egg left over. Evenly sprinkle the cheese in the egg mixture. Gently float the onions in a circular pattern on top of the eggs and cheese. Then add the spinach on top of the onions in the same circular fashion. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes checking often to make sure that the tart is not bubbling over or browning too quickly. Serve immediately right out of the oven!

Camembert, Sweet Onion and Spinach Tart

Depending on the time of day that you enjoy this tart, additional accompaniments that would work great alongside it include:  a mixed fruit/berry sampler or a vegetable salad, potato pancakes, buttered rolls with jam compote, a juice smoothie or sliced chicken for a more protein packed affair. Or just embrace your inner purist and serve it as is!

Just like the pretty presentation of Rose’s debut, this tart also makes perfectly wonderful party food for modern day May. Whether you are surprising Mom with brunch on Mother’s Day, hosting a bridal shower for your best friend or just getting together for an informal event, this recipe promises easy and effortless entertaining.

Camembert, Sweet Onion and Spinach Tart

*If you’d like to make the asparagus version simply omit the spinach, onion and camembert and replace them with 8-10 stalks of asparagus, 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh thyme.

Cheers and happy Downton daydreaming!

Downton Abbey Christmas ornament

And as a final side note: new items were added to the shop last week all with an “F’ theme: french books, fire hoses and florals! Stop by for a peek!

A Book By Its Cover

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It is not often that Ms. Jeannie will tell you to judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Destiny Bay, a vintage fiction novel recently listed in her shop, she wholeheartedly recommends it. In an on-going conversation about book collections and what fuels them, we’ve talked about book batches centered around a favorite author (F. Scott Fitzgerald!) or a common theme (Africa!). Today’s post is all about the first impressions that draw us in and keep us going – the face of the book.  A book’s aesthetic is often one of the key motivations in amassing a collection. Some people collect books with eye-catching covers for their color arrangement…

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or for their stunning graphic layout and design…

Book covers from the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's

Book covers from the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s

Collections can be built around books from a specific time period, like this antique collection…

This is an antique collection with gorgeous decorated book spines.

This is an antique collection with gorgeous decorated book spines.

or for the artist behind the image like these contemporary book covers designed by Chip Kidd…

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In the case of Destiny Bay, there are a lot of things going for it in the pretty presentation department. By far, it is one of the most attractive books that has ever come across Ms. Jeannie’s bookshelves.

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From its whimsical illustration, complimentary color palette and stylish graphics this edition of Destiny Bay fires on all cylinders in the book cover department.

The story, originally published in 1925 by Irish American writer Donn Bryne, centers around the MacFarlane family of Ulster County, Ireland and combines romance, comedy and tragedy. The story is set against the sweeping Irish countryside with its beautiful topography, exiting horse race tracks, and idyllic country estates and features an eccentric cast of characters including blind Aunt Jenepher, gypsy Lady Clontarf, butler James Carabine and red-blooded Uncle Valentino to name a few. Combining the themes and characters of the book  California artist Frank McIntosh (1901-1985) illustrated a cover that symbolizes the bright green landscape of Ireland and the colorful personalities of the family.

The stylized dust jacket via font and graphics are a nod towards art deco  – the 1920’s style that was popular when the book first debuted.  The colors are a compliment in opposites with bright spring greens and tangerine oranges each elegantly outlined in black ink. An overall dramatic and glamorous aesthetic that always seems to be in vogue no matter what the decade!

McIntosh built quite a career utilizing the sleek lines and sophisticated detailings that became so iconic of his work. He came of age in the 1920’s which no doubt left quite an impression on him and he carried that passion throughout his design career.  Taking him from California all the way around the world to Paris and back again, he traveled in both commercial art circles and fine art circles.  These are three of his beautiful covers for Asia Magazine…

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We know from Destiny Bay, he was also a book designer and most of his work in the publishing world carried the same delicate disposition…

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A robust career in advertising and freelance illustration left time to exhibit independently as well and kept his title of working artist relevant throughout most of the 20th century. Examples of his work in popular poster form are all so highly collectible now…

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That makes Mr. Frank McIntosh a superstar in Ms. Jeannie’s world! His books look stunning on a shelf and his posters look equally amazing next to the shelf! So go ahead dear readers appreciate Destiny Bay for face value, and in doing so you’ll be pleased to discover that the story is equally beautiful as well! A gem of vintage book collecting all wrapped up in pretty package! Find the book here.

Open up more discussion on why you like to collect books by adding your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

 

The New “Old”…

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Ms. Jeannie is hard at work on a new art related blog post that will be coming out shortly. In the meantime, she wanted to share the new batch of old items that have just arrived in her shop. In this mix you’ll find:

The fun thing about this mix is that they are all hand-touched. From the choice of colors on the magnificent horse head bust to the choice of beads in the gracefully delicate sweater, each piece has been crafted with an artist’s eye and close attention has been paid to detail.

They also make for unique decorating and festive conversations! The decanter set is ready for a little outdoor entertaining, the antique basket is ready for a little garden gathering and nothing says rest and relaxation like a pot of tea and a good book. A new season is here and new stories are now unfolding!

If you like being kept abreast of new shop items in this fashion, please let Ms. Jeannie know in the comments section.  Some new changes are coming to the blog over the next month and Ms. Jeannie wants to be sure to include all your favorite topics.

Cheers to a wonderful weekend ahead and Happy April!

60 Pieces of Curiosity: Vintage Scraps of Paper Found in Old Books

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As a vintage bookseller, Ms. Jeannie often comes into contact with various bits and pieces of paper tucked inside old books. Sometimes they are just blank scraps acting as an impromptu bookmark or place holder and other times they are incredible finds worthy of their own story like the White House letter Ms. Jeannie found tucked away in a vintage art book last year.

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Today’s picture post is all about the pieces of paper ephemera that Ms. Jeannie has found in vintage books over the past few years.   Each tells their own story about past readers, past events and past importance. They range from the commonplace (names, numbers and business cards) to the intimate (photographs, holiday cards, a letter to family that mentions Hitler and the war in Europe); from the topical (advertisements, recipes, lists) to the nostalgic (a letter detailing what to pack for camp) and from the unusual (a receipt from a cat breeder) to the campy (travel postcards).  All these pieces of paper came from books published before 1970 but they cover a wide time span of the last century. The oldest is a scrap of paper dating to the late 1800’s and the most current is a handwritten recipe from 1980. Because they offer glimpses into past lives, Ms. Jeannie has blocked out any personal info that might still be traceable today so you’ll notice a few have some blocked out parts, but other than that they are unaltered. Let’s look..

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Photographs are especially interesting. Was this woman below someone’s sweetheart? A sister, a friend, a reminder not to be forgotten?

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In the swoop of a cursive letter or the fold of an envelope or the mark of a typewriter key each piece denotes a moment in someone’s life that ties us to humanity. From the 1950’s photographer who was late on his bills to the woman “enduring life as it comes” to the first time camper getting ready to spend a summer week away, these moments of tangible history are compelling in a timeless way. Just like vintage books! Endlessly fascinating, a book is not only a story between two boards but also a holder of life between two worlds.

This is just Part One of the paper collection. Look for Part Two coming soon later this season…

until then… happy reading!

 

Brush Up on Your Brogue: 1895 Style!

Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian Maclaren

Happy happy St. Patrick’s Day dear readers! In celebration of the holiday Ms. Jeannie is highlighting the biggest deal of the day in publishing back in 1895.  The book is Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Scottish author Ian Maclaren.

Ian Maclaren (1860-1907)

Ian Maclaren (1860-1907)

This book is a beauty in the presentation department with decorated board covers in deep green and pale olive accentuated with gold embossed lettering and a four leaf clover design…

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An immediate international sensation Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush sold over 700,000 copies upon release and set Maclaren on the literary road to becoming the most prominent Scottish writer of his generation.

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The pen name of John Watson, Maclaren, in addition to being a writer, was also a student of religion. The Bonnie Brier, his first book tells the stories of a cast of colorful characters from rural Scotland using  their true dialect which makes it fun to read aloud. The settings and characters were inspired by Maclaren’s own experiences as a traveling minister in and around Perthshire, Scotland, which is still wonderfully pastoral today…

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Perthshire, Scotland. Photo courtesy of the Perthshire Visitor Center.

As Ms. Jeannie mentioned in her previous post, over the next several months she’ll be discussing book collections and how and why they are formed. This book in particular is a part of Ms. Jeannie’s character-ridden collection because it contains loose pages, lots of pencil markings and frayed edging.  Ms. Jeannie loves these books most of all because of their appearance. Like the antique leather bound law books she she sold out of in her shop, this book contains so much personality in its shabby demeanor.

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The pencil and pen marks are a real source of wonder. Who made them? When, why and how long ago? How many people over the course of the last one hundred years have read this book, flipped through it’s pages, touched its cover? Has it traveled by satchel, by boat, by carriage? Was it carried in-hand via motor car, trolley, subway or bicycle? Has it seen the inside of a dozen bookshops, or one public library or lived on bookshelves in countless private homes? Just what exactly could this story behind the story be?  Its a definite source of endless day dreaming?!

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A popular pastime on St. Patrick’s Day is reciting limericks at the pub. But this year Ms. Jeannie challenges you to reading a page in authentic Scottish brogue, Maclaren style, as pints travel ’round the table tonight.

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He may not be there in person to witness your brogue-ish attempts, but Maclaren will definietly be there in spirit as you lift your glass and toast to Scotch-Irish heritage! Cheers to a merry night dear readers direct from the Bonnie Brier Bush.

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