Saturday, June 22, 2013

Midsummer Mystique

Elsa Beskow

Who doesn't like midsummer?  It's magic, it's flowers, it's fairies, it's Shakespeare, it's summer, it's moonlight, and lots of moss!  

And who doesn't like fairy wings, tutus and dancing on the lawn!

It is one of the most important holidays in Sweden.  People have been making wildflower crowns for hundreds of years.  So of course, I made one too (I had to wear it around my neck though)! I had lots of fun collecting wildflowers with my young friends, who also enjoyed making bouquets and crowns!

My personal designer created this outfit on a gloomy, January day and I have long awaited the moment I could don this ensemble and flit with the fairies (fortunately I didn't get carried off to Fairyland!).

Elsa Beskow's book The Flowers' Festival is a very sweet children's book that takes place on Midsummer at the flowers' Midsummer celebration.  Growing up with her storybooks, this one was a favorite; I always enjoyed imagining what might happen if the flowers in my garden came to life too!

Arthur Rackham 

I have always loved Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream!  The confusion, the magic, the fairies and the donkey head make for a truly great Shakespearean comedy!  

Arthur Rackham 

Over hill, over dale,
Through brush, through brier,
Over park, over pale,
Through flood, through fire!
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear. 

-Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Arthur Rackham 

Arthur Rackham is another one of my favorite illustrators.  His illustrations of A Midsummer Night's Dream perfectly capture the fairies' other worldly countenance and the magical, mysteriousness of the forest at night. 

Titania the Fairy Queen....

K.D. the Fairy Princess.

Many people celebrate with bonfires, but I didn't want to chance it with my tutu, so I went for some nice lanterns; they were a bit more my size and speed

Under a bower of fairy lights, it was a scene straight out of Shakespeare's Athenian forest.

Arthur Rackham

                 To see the Summer Sky
                 Is Poetry, though never in a book it lie -
                 True Poems flee.
-Emily Dickinson

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Box Sweet Box"

Boxes have always intrigued and inspired me, perhaps it's their endless possibilities.  In my youth I spent many hours playing in cardboard boxes.  I think it's very important for children and puppies to play with boxes because it fuels the imagination, and the act of transforming a box engages creativity.  Often it seems boxes get overlooked with so many other toys available, but when it comes down to it many children and puppies are happy with the simplest things.    

This photo of me as a puppy later inspired me to write a short fictional story (my first encounter with writing), which began my lifelong love of words.

I have always enjoyed dabbling in art and crafting.  A small, endearing child I know is celebrating her first birthday, and though I am not especially fond of her using me as an aid for learning to walk, I thought I would be able to make her a nice gift to encourage her imaginative play.  Of course I had to try it out for size...  

"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old 
because we stop playing." 
-Source Unknown

I had some architectural help from my personal designer.  She also shares my love of boxes, and we have collaborated on many, many box projects!  Here she is as a toddler enjoying her boxes; she had a very minimalist decorating style at that age.


"Play is the only 
way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold"
-Joseph Chilton Pearce

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Everything's Coming Up Roses

This week I've been feeling slightly under the weather, and nothing cheers me up like roses.  We have a humble rose garden by our door, and I just love to sit in the shade of the roses and smell their sweet perfume.  Roses have been admired for centuries for their delicate beauty and fragrance.  In the language of flowers, roses are the symbol of love.  The language of flowers enjoyed renewed popularity during the Victorian era; one could send a message through a bouquet via the flowers one chose.  

Here is a view of our simple rose garden,
 although the photograph really doesn't 
do it justice.

Our climbing roses are doing better this year 
than ever!

Naturally, roses have also inspired many artists.  I will let some of my favorite paintings of roses speak for themselves.

Auguste Renoir 

Auguste Renoir

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot

Georgia O'Keefe

 Not only are roses beautiful to look at, they are edible too!  Candied rose petals are a lovely, decorative touch to most any dessert.  Their crystalline beauty is not their only virtue, they also have a sweet, delicate rose scent and taste.  Below is a simple recipe for candied rose petals.   

Candied Rose Petals 

  • Gently wash desired amount of organic, unsprayed rose petals and cut off small white heel at base of petal. 
  • Lightly beat one egg white (pasteurized, if desired), dip a petal in egg white (fully coating it), then dip in shallow dish of castor sugar (also called superfine sugar) to coat completely (without clumps).
  • Once these steps are completed, place petal on a wire rack covered in parchment paper.
  • Repeat steps until all the petals are evenly coated. Place rack of petals in oven at lowest setting until completely dry.
  • Store in airtight container, not in refrigerator. I find these are best enjoyed within the first couple days.  

I enjoyed my rose petals on a small gelato in the garden.  
Rose petals are also perfect for cakes, cupcakes and any other light desserts; they make wonderful favors for tea parties too! 

"O my love's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O my love's like the melody
That's sweetly played in tune."

-Robert Burns

"A rose is a rose is a rose "
 -Gertrude Stein