Simple Pleasures.... A List and A Giveaway

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Pleasures
A List and A Giveaway

Five inches of snow is not much, I know. But trust me, here in the southern US, five inches of snow, that turned to ice, is more than enough to stop the mail, close the schools, clear the supermarket shelves and totally strand even the most intrepid of travelers. Here at The House of Edward, we were well prepared for the storm and found it to be a completely pleasurable experience. True, Edward quickly decided that walking on the ice-packed snow was less than thrilling, but there was a fire in the fireplace most of the time, and as Edward is really a fireside sort of fellow, he was most satisfied. The clear light of the snow that flooded our rooms found us indulging in the quieter pleasures of life - knitting and reading, baking and writing, a bit of dreaming, a bit of planning, and the occasional flight of fancy. As we now watch the snow dissipate from our lanes and our gardens and begin to make our way back out in the real world, I thought you all might enjoy this list, crafted especially for snowbound days. Oh, and keep reading, for there’s a wonderful giveaway at the bottom to brighten these wintry hours.


1. Lamplight
Lamps are the jewelry of every room.
Little bits of beauty that provide the crucial difference between a cozy environment and a harsh one.
You need warm, inviting lighting to set the perfect mood on a snowy day and this fabulous lampshade will give you just that.
Find it HERE.


2. Candlelight
Of course, the very best lighting, as any woman will tell you, is candlelight.
These candles are wonderful.
So many colours.
I purchased some for myself.
Find them HERE.


3. Knitting
Yes, okay, here I go again.
But really, isn’t knitting is the best activity on a snowy day?
(Well, reading is up there, of course, but I’m coming to that.)
I’m currently knitting the sweater shown above, and here’s some good news, my favourite knit shop is now online, so you can order their fabulous yarns from anywhere in the world!
They even have the brand new line from that prolifically talented blogger and knit designer, Brooklyn Tweed.
Visit them HERE.


4. Miss Hargreaves
Oh, Miss Hargreaves. Where have you been all my life?
Imagine a young Englishman in the 1930’s, a rather cheeky inventor of tales. Whilst on a holiday in Ireland, this young man, Norman is his name, invents a fictional friend during a conversation with an elderly vicar - a fictional friend of most singular personality and pursuits. He embellishes and embroiders her till she seems almost real. Then imagine that one afternoon, she arrives in his village, complete with her parrot, Dr. Pepusch, her Beddlington Terrier, Sarah. and a hip bath. (Her harp arrives later.) The game, as they say, is afoot. And it’s a complete romp. The perfect book for a cold January day, I can tell you.
I had seen this book on the sidebar of my favourite book blog, Cornflower Books. If you haven’t visited there, you really should. So, so many intriguing titles listed there, I’ll never manage to get to them all. But what fun trying!
Find Miss Hargreaves HERE.
Find Cornflower Books HERE.


5. Socks
These lowly little garments - so ubiquitious, so ordinary - become very important when one is snowbound.
They need to be warm and wooly, and if they can also be a bit magical, more’s the better.
These socks fit the bill so nicely.
Find them HERE.


6. Bed Trays
Snuggled in bed on a snowy evening - a January wind howling outside, dogs sighing softly beside me - with a pot of hot tea, a good book and maybe a cupcake... not much better, is there? Especially when you have your own bed tray like this one, large with pockets on both sides for morning newspapers and magazines. I found this tray, rather worse for wear, at an antique show years ago. I snatched it up, cleaned it up, and told an artist who works with me to just “use your imagination and paint it like Camelot”. And he did, only with animals! To say I was thrilled is an understatement. It’s a treasure and a well-used one.
And by the way, if you decide you do want a cupcake, or two, try this recipe... it’s my favourite!


7. Cupcake Stand
And of course, once you make those Coconut Cupcakes of Ina’s, you simply must complete the experience by putting one in it’s very own cupcake stand.
I am in love with this!
Find it HERE.


8. Flights of Fancy
The mind tends to wander a bit when shut up inside and, during this snowbound week, mine was no exception.
I found myself wondering what life would be like to live in this magnificent setting in Iceland.
I don’t know.... I think I’d be afraid Edward might fall off!
See it HERE.


9. Thoughts of Spring
I love living in a place that has four distinct seasons, each with its own individual personality and feel. As magnificently wintry as this winter is shaping up to be, I know full well that the new greens of Spring will soon awaken from their sleep and begin to stretch leafy arms up from the frozen soil and over the hillsides.
So naturally, I am planning for Spring.
Seed catalogs, garden colour palettes, maybe a new checkerboard pattern for the back porch floor?
Wouldn’t this onion domed playhouse be the most sublime addition to any garden?
Find it HERE.


10. Keep Moving
Edward decided early in the week that icy snow wasn’t his favourite medium on which to travel, even with his natural four wheel drive. He slipped and slid, his paws crunching through the packed snow with every step. He marched through a couple of walks like a drum major, before coming to the conclusion that he found this a most unenjoyable experience. After that, he refused to participate and settled down by the fire.
But a dog, and a woman, need to move around a bit to keep lethargy at bay, so.... we danced. The Songwriter turned the music up to ten, usually The Stones, and we danced in the kitchen like crazy. Edward and Apple love to do this. Before long, they are both rolling and tumbling all over the kitchen floor, and soon are off chasing each other through the house - over ottomans, under tables, up and down on beds and sofas. Eventually, all four of us collapse in a heap, heart rates up, exercise done. And it’s so much fun!!


And as an Extra Treat....

11. Stealing Magnolias
A Very Special Giveaway to Warm the January Hours
A friend of ours escaped the snows of this past week in a land far away from his home in the icy hills of Tennessee. He hid out in New Orleans, and what a lucky fellow he was. I feel a bit like I’ve spent a few precious days in that most enchanting of cities myself, for I have had my nose in a marvelous new book called Stealing Magnolias.
Stealing Magnolias, by Debra Shriver, is a unique paean to the exotic world that is New Orleans. And truly, to enter New Orleans is to enter another world. From its lyrical language to its extraordinary cuisine, from its slightly decadent decor to the lush gardens that break their natural boundries and spill over the courtyards and sidewalks as if bewitched. New Orleans is like no other city in America, or in the world, I dare say. Americans love even the idea of New Orleans, for it proves we are fascinating. No matter how boring or pedestrian we may otherwise appear, we can always point to New Orleans as evidence to the contrary.

It is a place where the improvisational notes of a jazz riff mix and mingle with the heady fragrance of gardenias as both waft through the twists and turns of the French Quarter and out over the cool waters of the Mississippi River. Just think of the vocabulary of this city.... words such as “etouffee” and “jambalaya”, “muffuletta” and “”remoulade”... and of course, “voodoo”, “zydeco” and “mardi gras” - words that roll off the tongue like incantations.
This lovely book manages to capture the illusive quality of New Orleans right between its glossy covers as it leads the reader through all the wonders of this incredible city. There is luscious photography throughout and you’ll even find recipes for both a Banana Pudding Trifle and a love potion!
I’m tickled to offer this magnificent book as a giveaway. I know the lucky winner will treasure it.
You can read more about it HERE.

How to enter?
Just become a follower of this blog if you’re not already and leave a comment here on this post.
The drawing will be at midnight on the 19th, the night of the full moon.
Appropriate, for as Tennesee Williams once said...
New Orleans and the moon have always seemed to me to have an understanding between them”.

Good Luck! and Stay Warm!


Congratulations to Doris!
She's the winner of Stealing Magnolias!
Doris, please email me your address, okay?