Navel gazing

All posts in the Navel gazing category

Puffin clothbound classics

Published May 1, 2013 by Kat

Had to share this picture on this blog as well as my personal one–my daughter’s future bedtime stories.


My father read chapter books to me at bedtime starting when I was four or five years old. I remember The Secret Garden and Black Beauty, The Wizard Of Oz and Gulliver’s Travels and The Gift Of The Mikado.

Two years till I start reading them to Mimi. Meanwhile, they’re beautiful.


A running-away list

Published April 29, 2013 by Kat

If I were exiled from my life and sent to a small cottage covered in climbing roses, I’d take:

My laptop
My Kindle Fire HD
My B&N uniform pocket editions
Any Penguin/Puffin clothbound classics I owned
My jeans
My tweed skirts
My sweaters
My blouses
My pajamas
My robe and slippers
My walking shoes
My jackets
My underwear
A jewelry roll with my pearls and my France Luxe barrettes
One tote of well-curated yarn and my knitting needle roll
Buckets full of Digitalis mertonensis and Alcea rosea from my garden
All the bars of English lavender soap in my cupboard
My Mason-Pearson hairbrush

If my husband was banished to the cottage with me, he’d have to pack for himself. I think he would take his underwear, kitchen knives, coffee machine, and collection of LPs. Possibly a turntable, tube amp, and Klipsch speakers.

For my daughter, I’d take

Dollie, Froggie, Dragon, Giraffe
The dinosaurs
Wooden building blocks
Little People house
Berenstain Bears storybook
Curious George storybook
Little Critter storybook
Richard Scarry storybook
Bedtime Stories book

My own Wren Bay-esque outline

Published October 18, 2010 by Kat

Suppose you were to write a novel like Wren Bay, all about the experience of coming upon a house and conquering it, in the domestic sense. What would the outline look like to you? How would you tackle things? Chronologically? Room by room? Chore by chore?

For myself, maybe it would be like…

1. Rooms and furniture
2. Cupboards and drawers
3. Attics and outbuildings
4. Unexpected repairs
5. Unexpected upgrades
6. Heavy cleaning
7. Light cleaning
8. Eating and washing up
9. Dust and laundry
10. A daily routine
11. Holiday cheer
12. Sorting through the nonsense

Seasonal reading

Published September 30, 2010 by Kat

There are some books that, for me, are distinctly seasonal pleasures. I’ve been meditating on this as the weather changes. Here are my suggestions.

Howard’s End
Brambly Hedge
Tasha Tudor’s lifestyle books

A Little Princess
The Story of Holly and Ivy (Christmas)

The Secret Garden
The Wind in the Willows

The Story Girl
The Golden Road

More packing love

Published June 2, 2010 by Kat

The new Vera Bradley things have arrived, and I have already sold off enough old stuff to defray the cost of them, woohoo! The Bali Gold pattern is delicious–it’s very loud, and reminds me of hot days, sultry nights, and the hot colors favored by some of the world’s most exciting destinations. I absolutely love it all.

I’m checking in so that I can publish some info about two items that isn’t on the Vera Bradley website.

First, the Knot Just A Clutch is great. It is much larger than I expected, and certainly has the capacity of the Maggie purse, if not more. There would have been no problem fitting a full-size wallet into it, along with sunglasses, keys, and lipstick. The strap is not removable (it can just be tucked inside the purse, when you want to carry it as a clutch) and seems shorter than 35″. When I wear it over my shoulder, the purse is at ribcage-level, just right to clutch it against me in a crowd.

Second, the redesigned Hanging Organizer has won me over. Previously I had complained that the top pocket is no longer see-through. What they aren’t telling you is that it contains a lot of smaller pockets, which will be great for sorting out makeup. With the zipper undone, this pocket will probably gape open a little bit, providing visual access to the contents.

And that new, deep bottom pocket? Total love. It’s lined in waterproof material.

I also bought three Bali Gold napkins off of eBay. I am going to sew them up into simple drawstring bags, to use for shoes and lingerie.

My old Riviera Blue Weekender bag sold, and went out in the mail today. I will admit… it hurt my heart a little to let it go. It’s so adorable. Unfortunately, it really is very small, and I always had to pack other bags. My new Large Duffel looks super roomy; I think it will hold a whole week’s worth of clothes and toiletries, and a spare pair of shoes to boot.

Blogs make magic?

Published May 28, 2010 by Kat

Empirical observation is leading me to conclude that this is a magical blog, through which my wishes are granted. I blogged about Joanna Lumley and less than two weeks later she was in a production of the very story I pictured her in. I then blogged about Vera Bradley stuff, and less than a week later, the color I was coveting went on clearance.

My VB stuff

I have put all my old stuff up on eBay (and happily, the new-with-tags stuff I blogged about last week has already sold). This trousseau is all I need. Putting my money where my mouth was, in the end I bought:

Large Duffel: the workhorse for road trips
Large Cosmetic: big, waterproof, and well-priced
Hanging Organizer: love love love
Knot Just A Clutch: pretty, lightweight, with a shoulder strap
Clip Zip ID: to go in the clutch, with ID and cash
Large Backpack: as a carry-on, as an “entertainment” bag while riding in the car, has a handy clear ID slot under the flap. Love!

Packing to go

Published May 25, 2010 by Kat

Let me start out with a note about my previous entry Traveling Light with Joanna Lumley: less than two weeks later, there was a new Miss Marple series, and it premiered with The Mirror Crack’d, and Joanna Lumley was in it. And she wasn’t Marina Gregg. I howled and squealed. Oh well, she did a great job of capturing Dolly Bantry’s daffy vivaciousness.

But back to packing, darlings. What IS it about packing for a trip that is soooo beguiling? Is it the pure joy of putting things into small compartments? Is it the joy of planning out an efficient and useful wardrobe? Is it the special beauty of beautiful luggage? I don’t know, dears, I just don’t know.

Mighty Girl shares her traveling dopp kit right here.

Martha Stewart, whose magazine tends to run an article about how to pack every five years or so, shares some tips in this article.

And I, oh me oh my, indulged myself in some more pieces of Vera Bradley luggage last week. My pattern, Riviera Blue, is on clearance, so I just had to. I just LOVE to look through the details of all their different bags, and try to plot out what would be the PERFECT suite of pieces for traveling. Here is my best theory right now:

1) The Large Duffel. It’s the roomiest bag they offer. I already own a Weekender, and while it’s adorable, it really is just big enough for a weekend.
2) The Large Cosmetic. Unlike the ever-alluring Travel Cosmetic, this one is lined in waterproof material. It’s also twice as big, and costs much less, than the Trip Kit.
3) The Hanging Organizer. I have the old model, and it is the best thing ever. All of those small, waterproof compartments hold your tiny bits and bobs safely and visibly, and when you arrive at your destination you hang it in the bathroom and off you go. Regarding the new version… I love the deeper compartment at the bottom. I don’t like that the top one is no longer see-through.

4) It looks like the new Knot Just A Clutch would be a great purse to carry for doing touristy things. It’s fabric so it won’t be damaged by being sweated on the way leather would be, it’s small and light so it won’t gimp you up, and the strap is long enough to be worn cross-body, to discourage purse snatchers. Me, I have a Maggie purse that is almost big enough to stuff a Zip-Around Wallet into.
5) Clip Zip ID is a tiny piece that would surely fit into the clutch… I can’t find a picture of the inside of the clutch, but the description sounds like it does NOT have a clear ID slot. Boo. You could also stuff your currency inside it, for extra safety.
6) The Large Backpack sounds like a great option for touristing when you need to carry more stuff, for using as a carry-on, and it also has a clear ID slot right under the flap. Neat!

7) Perhaps a Vera or a Villager to use as a purse during the actual traveling process… plenty of room for snacks, water, electronics, books, and knitting. I have a Villager. It makes quite a nice pillow when the need arises, too.