February 23, 2010

What to play blog tag with me?

If I were to assign a theme to this month, it would most definitely be "catching up". When I took a few days off (from blogging) earlier in February, I made a list of things that I wanted to try and devote some time to catching up on. That inventory included no less than twenty eight different online activities – and twelve “real world” ones – that I planned to focus a percentage of my time on. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get completely up to speed on such a tall stack of projects, commitments, interests, etc, but so far I have made noticeable strides towards brining several of these areas up-to-date.

As to be expected, some areas have required more time than I’d initially suspected. With others however, I was able to take care of much quicker than I’d initially suspected (and a few haven’t even been touched yet, but I will get to them sooner or later!). Along the way, as certain “catch-up” jobs were checked off my list, others (that I’d either forgotten about or which emerged through the process of working on different tasks) popped up and are now goals for the next few weeks (and months).

I plan to keep pushing myself quite hard (but not, I hope, too hard) to catch-up on various tasks over the last few days of February. When the first of March rolls around, I’m going to revise my list and readjust where I’m spending my time, as necessary (and will be spending more visiting other people’s wonderful blogs again). I’m finding that having a working list like this is really helping me feel less like I’m falling hopelessly behind on everything I want to accomplish online (and to a less extent, off-line, too) – a sensation that had been plaguing me for years, I came to realize this month.

All work and no play however, is bound to burn anyone out! (And, let’s face it, even when you enjoy writing most of them, anytime you reply to more than four hundred different emails in less than three weeks, that constitutes work!) So I thought that I’d put my goal (perhaps the largest one on my list) of reaching "inbox zero" on hold for a few moments and have fun answering some questions that I was tagged with, by the immensely sweet Nicolette of Simply Colette, all the way back at the start of last October.

If you’ve not had the great pleasure of visiting Nicolette yet, I highly recommend you zip by her site. It’s a treasure trove of beautiful and imaginative images, inspiring ideas and terrific writing from one of the loveliest souls I’ve met online.

Today’s game of blog tag consists of answering five questions (the replies for which sound like the makings of a fantastic party or evening in with friends), so I’m going to do just that – followed by a list of ten other bloggers who are welcome to carry on this enjoyable post, if they’d like (as always, anyone who reads this post is welcome to keep the meme going themselves, even if I don’t specifically tag you).

Tag, I’m it!

{Two adorable children run gleefully after one another down a street in New York, perhaps engaged in their game of tag, in this snapshot from 1942. Vintage photo via epicharmus’ Flickr stream.}

What books are on your favourite shelf?

As a lifelong bookworm and very avid reader, this question is always tricky for me to answer concisely for there is such an overabundance of books that I consider to be true favourites. However, if I stick to the parameters of the question and base my answers of off books that I actually own a copy of (and thus have on my bookshelf) at the moment, a roundup of my favourites would have to include the following (which I think lend credence to my deeply eclectic tastes).

-Forties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look by Jonathan Walford (Without a doubt, this is the most in-depth, well researched, engagingly written book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading on the subject of fashion and the impact that clothing had on the world during the 1940s. If I could only have one title on my shelf about clothing from the forties, hands down, this image laden book would be it.)

-Collected Poems 1947-1997 Allen Ginsberg (Legend, master, artist, historian, inspiration, Allen Ginsberg was all these things and countless more. His work, at times avant-garde, at others hauntingly ageless, was one of my first introductions to the world of The Beat Generation writers as child, and remains to this day a beloved favourite of mine.)

-Pattern: Using Pattern to Create Sophisticated, Show Stopping Interiors by Tricia Guild (While I can see their appeal, I’ve never been a fan of stark white, minimally furnished rooms – even if my husband fancies them! Give me colour, depth, artistry, soul and intrigue on – and between the – the walls of a home and I’m a happy interior design camper. No other book I’ve encountered thus far brings so much beauty, vibrancy and allure into the rooms it highlights – all the while melding a menagerie of design styles and decades together – as this beguiling title does. From the moment you pick up this hefty book with its flocked flower pattern bedecked cover, you know you’re in a massive treat - and each page that follows confirms and exceeds that expectation.)

-French Inspired Jewelry: Creating with Vintage Beads, Buttons & Babbles by Kaari Meng (Whether you love to create your own jewelry or wear the works of others, this book – by celebrated jewelry artesian owner of the famed Hollywood store French General - is an absolute must for those who adore shabby chic, French provincial, Victorian and vintage styles. Aside from being easy to follow and well explained, each project is presented against a backdrop of the incredibly pretty little treasures, turning the images into scrapbook-like works of charming, timelessly wonderful art in and of themselves.)

-The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (While my fashion preferences veer towards the 1940s and 50s, my taste in music encompasses groups and artists from every era, and like many people, I’m a massive fan of the Beatles. From their early bubble gum tunes to the soul-gripping songs like "Let It Be", and everything in between, there is so much to adore and extract inspiration from in the Beatles’s work. This book is a thrill for the senses. Each pair of pages highlights one of the many songs from the Beatles' vast catalog, coupled with a mod era illustration that promises to evoke memories (even if you weren’t alive during the 1960s) and help you fall even further in love with the Fab Four.)

What DVDs are on your favourite shelf?

Truth be told, we really do not own many DVDs. We tend to watch our movies at the theatre, on TV or via services like zip.ca (a Canadian site that's similar to NetFlicks), so my answers come from the “shelf of life” rather than the literal spot on our little TV stand where our teensy DVD collection residess.

Five fantastic movies that I would recommend everybody watches at least once in their lifetime, and each of which has impacted me deeply for various reasons, are:

The Pianist (2002)

La Dolce Vita (1960)

The Secret Life of Words (2005) (I saw this movie last year for the first time and must say it was the most stirring and touching film I watched in 2009. In my opinion it truly should have been an Oscar nominee – if not a winner - in two categories: best actress [Sarah Polley] and best film.)

8MM (1999)

The Illusionist (2006)

What are your two favourite cookbooks?

It’s impossible for me to narrow down this epically diverse category into two all-time favourites. For as long as I can recall, I’ve adored reading and learning from cookery and gastronomy related books. I read them with the fervour and intensity that many do novels, and value the wisdom and inspiration that comes from cookbooks no end. To that extent, I would say two of my perpetual favourite cookbooks are:

-Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes by Tessa Kiros (For me cookbooks have always been about so much more than just recipes on paper. What endears me to a title that devotes itself to the realm of food is the writer’s ability to draw me into their kitchen, their relationship with what they eat and prepare for their family, and their admiration for culinary ingredients. Few writers have mastered the skill of transmitting this information – nor presented it so exquisitely beautifully – as Tessa Kiros does in this visually lyrical tome of recipes gathered from her diverse travels around the globe.)

-The Silver Spoon (The use of the word "tome" is often applied liberally to books of all kind, but this classic Italian masterpiece (first published in 1950) truly qualifies for that prestigious title. Overflowing with more than 2000 recipes from every corner of Italy, this book jumps right to the point, filling each page with an average of two or three different recipes, from those that almost verge on being ostentatious to the most humble of “cucina povera” dishes. If you’re serious about cooking, eating, and getting to be know the world of Italian food, The Silver Spoon is worthy of a spot on your kitchen counter and bookshelf alike – it certainly has one on mine :-))

Select 1-3 recipes you would cook for your guests

{Nothing like the joy of whipping up a wonderful meal for a group of dear friends! Vintage image from 1948 of a woman hard at work baking bread from the pages of the Life Magazine photo archives.}

As some of you may know, cooking is a profound passion of mine and there are few things in this world I gather pleasure from more than preparing a meal for those dear to me. Given that many of us are still trapped in the throes of winter, I would invite every one of my dear readers over for a warming, relaxed weekend lunch, during which I’d feed you my Creamy Gala Apple, Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup, Balderson Cheddar and Fresh Thyme Country Biscuits, and Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean and Bosc Pear Bread Pudding for dessert.

What will be drinking that’s available?

{It would be so marvellously lovely to partake in afternoon tea with all you! Glamorous vintage image from ∆Sabine Davis∆’s Flickr stream.}

Sticking with the theme of ensuring we’re all toasty, I’d heat as many kettlefuls of water as needed and lay out a spread of teas and tisanes for all of us to pick and choose from. Naturally I'd ensure they were served with a selection of honeys, sugars, milk, cream, soy milk, cinnamon sticks, and citrus slices.

Tag, you’re it!

{Though this photo which hails from 1901 is technically more on the antique side, I thought it was too preciously adorable not to include in this post centred around playing tag. Image from jflangjr’s Flickr stream.}

A Vintage Chic

Just a Happy Housewife

The Frog’s Eyebrows

A Chock-Full of Rants and Raves from a Thirty-Something Mama

Roses R Red

The Art of Living Beautifully

Random Thoughts of a Very Boring Girl

Rue and Hyssop

It’s All Make-Believe, Isn’t It?

Madeleine’s Wunderkammer

I should note that if you want to carry on this game of tag, there are no real rules. I answered the same questions that Nicolette had on her blog, but you could change them up if you wanted. Please let me know if you keep this game going, I’d love to read your replies!

Thank you very much for this delightfully enjoyable tag, Nicolette dear! It was oodles of fun to escape from more mundane activities this evening and share some of my favourite books, films and recipes with my treasured readers.


  1. Great to read more about some of yr passions, Jessica! btw Many I share especially love of making my own jewelry & the Beatles!

    Have a great week!

    XOXO Lola:)

  2. what a fun post to read Jessica!

  3. Happy Wednesday to you my darling gal! Awe, you tagged me! Thank you ;) I will most definitely partake in this fun game of tag with you. I should have some answers by tomorrow so please check back when you get a moment. Oh, and also, I keep forgetting to tell you that I have a little something for you at my page as well...http://mzhollygolightly.blogspot.com/2010/02/moi-creative.html
    Thank you for giving us an insight on the things you love and make you happy my darling gal :) and if someday you decide to have one of those fantastic tea parties, don't forget to invite me ;)
    Tons of hugs,

  4. I will do my best to answer these questions. I'm not sure when I will get around to them, but when I do, I will let you know!

  5. As always...it's fun to read lists and question and answer type posts...

    Love your tag photos too!!!! Definitely adorable!

    Blessings & Aloha!
    I have something for you...and even if you have had this one given to you already...just know that I was thinking of ya! Please come and take a peek at what it is...

  6. Loved your answers. I was looking for something new to read, and I'm tempted to give one of your suggestions a try. I have to agree with your cookbook picks. The Silver Spoon is one of my favorites.

    Best Wishes

  7. Blog tags are always fun and a great way to get to know people in cyberland. :) I enjoyed this very much!

  8. Ooh yes i wanna play! I'll let you know as soon as i get my answers up :)
    I have wanted that Forties Fashion book for aaages, i must get my hands on one asap! I hope your feeling much better my lovely and getting on top of your jobs! xx

  9. I have put my two cents worth in and played along!

  10. Thank you for for tag answers. It was fun getting a little insight into who the lovely Jessica is! I pray you're having a blessed week, my sweet.


  11. Thanks for tagging me, dearie! I'm coming late to the party, I'm afraid. Being a bookkeeper means the first three months of the year are a bit of a nightmare for me, and I'm struggling to keep up with blogging and reading my fave bloggers like you!