Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year's End

2011 was a tremendously difficult year for many around the world & right here in Giulia's world, too. Here's to a much better one for all. Thank you so much for visiting us every day or every week. It means so much. xoxo


(photograph by Martina Karlsson)

New Year's Eve Day

As usual on New Year's Eve Day, GG's editor is running late, running out & running last-minute errands. And Giulia is asleep, though quite sparkly. Back tonight! (Happy New Year to our Antipodean amis!)

PS: There will be a live webcast from Times Square starting at 6pm EST. Cheers!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Telling Jokes

Can you tell a joke & tell it well? Do you have good timing? Do you know the difference between a joke & a funny story? We're no slouch, really, but GG's editor almost always fluffs the punchline. We're on a mission to change that embarrassing state of affairs in 2012. First up, some basics from Toastmasters International. Then you can move on to Prairie Home Companion's Pretty Good Jokes. (You can find jokes for almost any audience there. We love all sorts but we don't tell really dirty ones.)

If you like topical/political humor, you will probably enjoy the Sexy Liberal show. Until they visit Washington, DC, we'll have to make do with their new CD & occasionally listen to Stephanie Miller's daily radio show. (An already-bestselling CD is available on iTunes & Amazon.)

Off to see ZooLights which is still on today & New Year's Day. No matter where you live, lights are sparkling & festivities are ongoing. Don't be grouchy, go see some lights. Have an Irish coffee, relax!

ciao-meow/GG's in-house comedian

(Woody Allen by Bill Ray for LIFE)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Alert: GG's editor spotted a first crop of primroses today at the local market. A few dollars for a flowering plant that will keep giving for weeks (if cared for properly) is a must-do. During the day, make sure it gets some light; in early evening, put it where you'll see it regularly. Instant cheer.

If you've always walked past them, consider buying one (or 3). If you have a garden or balcony, plant them when they are spent. We ended up with a true primrose path many years ago at our former home.


PS: Primrose tip: pinch off spent blooms at the base. This will help new flowers bloom.

(photograph via
Meadowbrook Farm)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Irish Coffee

There's an Irish coffee in our Friday future. If only we'd thought to replace the Jameson's sooner rather than later it could be our Wednesday treat. Mimph.

Here's Martha Stewart's delicious recipe which uses real whipping cream & you should; otherwise, you'll start making "skinny" Irish coffees. If you don't have cream in the house but want to make this tonight, maybe you have vanilla ice cream. It works. Here's another good Irish coffee recipe using brown sugar from a local-to-us chef. (More hot drink recipes from Saveur)

ciao-meow/the management

PS: Happy last night of Hanukkah! Happy 4th day of Christmas!

(photograph via Martha Stewart)

How to Draw a Dragon

Love love love The Guardian's How to Draw series. The last one this year features the hilarious dragon Cedric as created by talented Emily Gravett. Her website is terrific & you can watch her draw Cedric or play a game or learn about her other books.

As with the other series, draw a dragon & send it to
The Guardian via
childrens (dot) books@guardian (dot) co (dot) uk. Maybe your little monster's monster will be featured.


(photograph by
Emily Gravett)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Bird Count

The 112th Christmas Bird Count organized by The Audubon Society is on through 5 Jan 2012. It's a good way to get everyone outside & walking off those holiday calories. If you can't participate in a nearby count or it's already been done, catch up with Science Friday & listen to the particulars. And get ready for the next Great Backyard Bird Count scheduled for February 17-20, 2012.


(Male cardinal by
Thomas Grim)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Reading

One of the great pleasures of the week between Christmas & New Year's is stealing some extra reading time. It's to be quite rainy here tomorrow. Perfect reading weather. GG's editor is busy reading a manuscript, a book-to-be (it's good!).

If you didn't have a chance to get to the library or the bookstore last week, you can catch up at The New Yorker on some features & the blogs. Check out The Guardian book section for winter reading suggestions. Also Poets & Writers annual Inspiration issue arrived in the mail recently. Some of the features are accessible online.


(painting by Gabriel Ferrier via Art Inconnu)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

From us to you. xoxo
GG & her editor

Christmas Eve Day

Giulia opened a present without permission thereby reassuring her editor that the house feline is feeling good. Carry on. We'll be back tonight (North American time). Halloo friends in Australia, New Zealand, & Asia. Merry Christmas! ciao-meow/GGCM

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Tracker

A reminder to anyone child-wrangling today & tomorrow. Check out this fun Santa Tracker. To complete your digital holiday needs: if you're on Twitter follow the Santa Tracker feed. Also for leetle ones: free coloring pages & some art projects from the archives. The Washington Post's KidsPost is fun wherever you live.

We only wish little GG responded to threats of
Santa is watching. She's asleep in a sunspot now but only after a mad dash through the apartment dragging a red bead garland retrieved from the Christmas tree. Ahem.
Off to run some errands!

ciao-meow/GG Holiday Central

(photograph by Anneke)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

London Lights

A little calm in the midst of a political storm. We'll be visiting our Washington, DC holiday market today. Meanwhile, you should visit Annie's lovely blog
Insideology. She posts on photography studies, architecture, interior design, London (lots of great London posts), & much more. Really worth a visit.

And from last year, Coldplay's Christmas Lights. It, too, is a popular search again this year. We confess: it's one of only 3 songs we own of theirs, but we do like the video of London. And even though it references Oxford Street, these photographs are from Carnaby Street.

pip pip & a merry ciao-meow/GGCM

PS: Liberty London Girl's Bond Street decorations.

(photography & collage by

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Story a Day Awaits

Head's up, readers: a free website with a new children's story each day.

By giving you a new story every day of every month, knowonder! is the perfect answer to help your child read twenty or thirty minutes every day and enjoy doing it!

Back to our holiday prep & re-prep: Giulia has just opened two packages. Not hers, either. Oof.

merry ciao-meow

(illustration via the Children's Room via Pinterest)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Be An Angel

...and give some of your time or hard-earned cash to any of the worthy causes in GG's right side-bar titled Who, What, Where, When, Why To Help. That's really what we want for Christmas. (Well, that, & better health for the little redheaded feline.) Also random acts of kindness are super fun & calorie-free:) Happy first night of Hanukkah to everyone who celebrates!

ciao-meow/the Management

PS: Darling angel (easy) paper craft via The Guardian.

(photograph by the lovely

Monday, December 19, 2011

Simple Christmas Prep

We were out today doing some errands. Everywhere we went, people were worrying aloud about Christmas preparations. It made us nervous, too. People: calm down!

1. If you don't have any (or much) holiday music & you'd like some, put on Pandora's Christmas radio. If you have more than 30 minutes, try Spotify.

2. Check in with
Real Simple. Make a few to-do lists (be reasonable).

3. Check in with Martha Stewart's site for good last-minute ideas. There is still time to bake cookies & cakes. But if it gives you a tightening in your chest, stop. Now. Buy some good cookie dough & have fun with the icing & decorations. Make some orangettes (you'll seem fancy & sophisticated).

4. If you'd like to send cards but know you won't get to it, you might like
Jacquie Lawson's site. We use them & we're into snail mail. It's a low price for an entire year of unlimited ad-free cards; they've added a line of note cards, as well.

5. Rent some movies; if you live in North America & don't have Netflix, at least streaming, you are nutz. Do it. A two-week free trial membership is exactly as advertised: free.

6. Magically turn into a Scandinavian because they have this simple Christmas thing down.

ciao-om-meow/GG Holiday Central

(photograph by jutta)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reindeer Cheer

How can it be the 18th of December already? Oh dear. To cheer everyone up, here is our very favorite reindeer. We're working our way through this 'brass reindeer' search on Etsy. Clearly, things like that are why we're so behind in holiday prep. Back tomorrow. Update - We'll be back tonight (Monday)

ciao-meow/GG & her editor

(photograph by

Friday, December 16, 2011

Everyday Luxury - Farmer's Market Eggs

At double the price of regular eggs, it's not quite "every day" but for a lunch or supper or a poached egg for breakfast a few times a month, (really) fresh eggs are lovely. The point of everyday luxury is to make GG's editor look at ingredients/food in a different way.

We're lucky that our neighborhood farmer's market is open year-round. Perhaps that's the case for you, too. Or maybe there's a local shop or market that sells local farm eggs. If you don't have your Christmas tree or wreath or greens yet, you can probably pick those up, along with holiday flowers, at the same time.

La Tartine Gourmande has some wonderful egg recipes. And if you're feeling a bit low & sad about the gloom settling in around 3-4pm (or sooner!), take a summer stroll with Béatrice & family through a French farmer's market.


(photograph by
La Tartine Gourmand)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ballet at the Movies

An alert to all ballet lovers, whether in the States, Europe, or Australia. The New York City Ballet's Nutcracker played live to audiences in movie theatres across America on Tuesday. (Here's the New York Times review.) The Bolshoi's Nutcracker is showing near us in the Washington, DC-area on Friday afternoon.*

These are positive developments for the ballet-loving public. Many do not have regular access to live in-theatre performances. Those who do may be unable to afford the tickets in this economy. And ballet companies win, too, by this introduction to a new audience: those who travel to New York & other ballet centers will surely be more likely to add a ballet performance to their itinerary.


(photograph by Paul Kolnik via The New York Times)

*The live capture will be shown several times for those who cannot be at the 2pm performance.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Toys for Tots

There aren't enough toys being dropped off at Toys for Tots locations to ensure that all children will have a toy--one toy--on Christmas. The news overflows with stories about the uptick in spending this holiday season. We sure hope that this means that toy collection charities will have overflowing donation bins by the weekend; somehow, we're not that optimistic. In some areas, the request for toys is up a whopping 25%.

Of course, we support IKEA's Soft Toy Aid but there is a call, as always, for toys for the older children (13-17 years). If you would like to donate cash, that is a good option, especially by tonight/tomorrow. Toys for Tots can then purchase what they need to fill the gift gap.


(photograph from
Miracle on 34th Street)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beagle Candy

That is: beagle eye candy. This is a pointillist art work by Canadian Joel Brochu. He based it on an image of a beagle by Shingo Uchiyama, a Japanese photographer. (We can absolutely understand why Joel chose this great photograph, appropriately titled 'Be Patient.') This time of year, we have beagle cravings, probably stemming from our Snoopy love. If you're on Twitter, you should follow him. Even GG loves Snoopy. Read the full scoop here; thanks to Hazel at The Clever Pup for posting it on Facebook.


(photographs by Joel Brochu; see the whole Flickr set)

Hanukkah Prep

Hanukkah begins in just (slightly) over six days. Even if you do not celebrate the Festival of Lights, you probably know those who do. Wouldn't it be nice if you made something for their holiday? Imagine their surprise (& delight) when you offer them something you made, whether it's a quick card, a dreidel, a yummy edible, or a something slightly more elaborate. That could be your holiday gift to them. If you know they don't have a menorah that they really like, why not look here & see if one of these less-conventional designs might be something they'd like.

ciao-shalom-meow/GG Holiday Central

(marshmallow dreidels via Martha Stewart)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Wallpaper

...of the computer kind. We're under-the-weather & also trying to troubleshoot Spotify, the music service. It downloads but then does zip. This is causing all manner of upset here. (Well, Giulia is not bothered one bit, of course. She likes the Christmas music/Beatles iTunes playlist currently in rotation. But her editor will not rest until she has more more more & can tell everyone about it.)

We decorated for Christmas on Twitter, take a look (you can, you know, even if you're not signed up). We're decorating our tree today/tonight (it's an ongoing process:), & also our laptop. Here's one of a million free Christmas wallpaper sites. We chose a glittering Paris scene; no doubt we'll switch it up to London, New York City, Rome, & Strasbourg before the holidays are over. We feel more festive already. Joyeux Noël!

Merry ciao-meow/GGCM

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Candied Orange

Forget all the hideous candied fruit you've had in the past. You didn't make it, now you will. A lovely way to incorporate the traditional Christmas orange into your holiday is to make orangettes & candy barks that use orange peel. If you'd prefer to bake, we can vouch for this clementine cake. (Any of these would make a lovely gift.)


(sweet photograph by
Aya Brackett)

Adopt a Circus, Put on a Show

People, it is wild here lately. Giulia is up to all sorts of nonsense; this is a huge relief because she's been ill for a week. Signs of feeling better? She's eating breakfast + dinner + snacks + getting into trouble.

So from our circus to yours: please remember IKEA's Soft Toy Aid Campaign to benefit Save the Children & UNICEF. Many of you will not be near an IKEA this holiday season but the website has finally put a few of the soft toys available for purchase online, here.


(photograph via IKEA)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Shop at FEED Projects

FEED Projects is a big favorite of ours. They've added many lovely products, including a holiday stocking (it's out-of-stock at the moment, but sign up for the re-stock notice), with a wide range of prices. You can even custom design a bag with your organization or company on one side & FEED Projects on the other. Visit the website & be inspired!


(image courtesy of FEED Projects)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Swedish Home Style

A frustrating day. Not productive. Rain-turning-to-snow this evening. Nothing to do for this except put the kettle on & look at Swedish real estate websites. What?! Yep. The clever stylists make properties look inviting. But...

Some bloggers featuring these blogs (!) indicate that their homes would look great, too, if they had all this cool "stuff." Pardon us if we demur. Look closely. You will likely see many familiar elements. You might own many of these items. Swedish & other Scandinavians we've known had abodes like these. So de-clutter, employ white & bright paints wisely, & re-purpose items. Add some flowers, perhaps a topiary, & yes, go to IKEA.

The top photograph has been on so many blogs but it's a favorite. Visit the inspiration label on Alvhem. Bet you get some ideas even if Swedish style is not your style.


(photographs via Alvhem)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brain Pickings

Do you know about Brain Pickings? We highly recommend you subscribe to "interestingness curator" Maria Popova's daily feed or her weekly newsletter (delivered on Sundays) or follow her on Twitter.

Whatever your interests, Brain Pickings will make you think, pique your curiosity, & make you laugh. Every day. That Ms. Popova does this for free is stunning: she spends 450+ hours a month curating this site. She also writes for several publications including
Wired UK, The Atlantic, & Design Observer. She accepts donations & we hope that her readers think of her this holiday season.

ciao-meow/GG Central

(Winnie & Piglet via Winniepedia)

Monday, December 5, 2011

War is Over! (If You Want It)

This is another popular search on GG. You can download any number of the more than 100 translations of the famous card by John & Yoko, here, on flickr. There is also a request from the administrators to help with translations & a big thank you for those who have helped so far. Check it out if you see something that needs attention.

Yoko suggests that people print & display in windows, schools, workplaces, cars & elsewhere over the holiday season, and send as postcards to your friends. We have a few hanging up on the wall near our desk.
Also visit Imagine Peace for more updates about projects there.


(photograph Times Square, NYC, 1969 via
Yoko Ono Official)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have a Romantic Evening

Take a break from shopping madness to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Breakfast at Tiffany's; it's available on Netflix Instant (here in the States). We're under-the-weather here (both editor & redheaded cat) but we hope to pick up the posting rate soon. Cheers!


PS: Please remember Toys for Tots & other holiday collection activities in your part of the world.

(photograph via

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome, December

It's a been a terribly busy day but we're excited to think about putting up a tree. Last night we watched the Rockefeller Center tree lighting on television. While GG's editor was tweeting, suddenly a new follower. Guess who? The Rockefeller Tree is one cheeky tweeter!

Tonight in our backyard (well, not literally), the President & his family lit the National Christmas Tree. The
website even has virtual tree decorations. You can make a card & email it to friends. To gently slip into holiday prep, Sweet Paul began the holiday countdown today. Have fun!


(photograph by
Jackie Rueda via Pinterest)