Friday, March 9, 2007

Go For The Real Thing Every Time: Real Girls Eat by Anthea Paul

Ahh. Young Adult. Self Help. Two of the more embarrassing sections to be seen in at your local bookstore. I've never had any qualms about being seen anywhere in B&N (which lead to a delightful scene when several hardbacks fell on my head in the kidlit aisle), but should you choose to brave their cross section and peruse the YA Nonfic rack, you may very well happen upon a treasure like this one.

The Girlosophy series is well known for stunning photography and advice that ranges from the practical to the transcendent. They are essentials for the growing girl's bookshelf. Girlosophy: Real Girls Eat by Anthea Paul is one of the newest additions to the Girlosophy family. A guide to healthy eating and a cookbook, pretty and useful as the best guides are. The Girlosophy look combines clear visuals (and this is real food here, with all of its lumps and bumps and burned bits but still mouthwatering) and tropical colored text with a clean collaged style; very distinctive, very appealing.

Anthea Paul starts us off with a confession: she wasn't born with healthy eating habits, instead snacking and starving her way through her teens and young adulthood. After swinging from one bad habit to its extreme opposite, she took charge of her health and overhauled her eating habits entirely. Her advice here is solid and reassuring (I've been a vegetarian for twelve years and have heard all of it from my doctor at some point or another); she encourages a healthy relationship with food:

The point of Real Girls Eat is to urge you to enjoy your food in whatever form it takes. At the same time, it is also to help you understand how food nourishes you energetically, depending on the origins of the food, who made it, how it was handled and processed etc. Apart from choosing the best food available to you in the first place, you can imbue the food you are about to eat with sacred energy yourself...You communicate with your body every time you eat so make the experience a good one!

The second half of the book is devoted to recipes, 13 photoillustrated by resident Girlosophers and the rest set up around the clock (9-11 AM: French Toast Fingers. 3-6 PM: Spiced Chickpeas and Easy Hummus. 6-9 PM: Vegetable & Cashew Curry. 9-11 PM: Lychee Slushy). There's a good mix of veggie and omnivorous recipes, ingredients are listed in metric and imperial, and--my favorite bit--there's a List of Things With Which To Stock Your Cupboard , a life lesson I missed out on as a wee one.

Absolutely recommended for veteran Girlosophers and newcomers alike.

Girlosophy: Real Girls Eat by Anthea Paul, Barnes and Noble, Powell's

Read it, and feeling inspired?, the premier FLB fansite, has a recipe database for just about every meal mentioned in the Block canon (scroll down for the recipe section).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The New Breed of Scrapbookers: Scrap City by Paul Gambino

So loving parents of large families do it, that one's a given. Professional mermaids do it, too. So do the members of Bettie After Midnight, and tattooed sword-swallowers.

Of course they scrapbook. Everyone does nowadays. Good in that antique key stickers, rub on type and stunning handmade papers can be found in your local Micheal's. Bad in that unless you're into pastels and cutesy sayings, you'll have to dig around for suitable materials to illustrate such events in your life as "My First Day at the Strand, or Why Rie Isn't Allowed to Buy More Books Than She Can Carry" or "Marina's Day Scaring Necking Couples in the Greenbelt." Or maybe that's just my life....

Fortunately, within the past year more publishers have been coming out with material for the atypical scrapbooker and then some, this book being one of them. Featured within Scrap City are artfully preserved memories of a photoshoot in an antique train yard, a season's collection of art bras (no, really, with a collaborative Panty Journal to match), and anti-war protests in Italy. The styles range from Tracy Galasso's deftly simple pages with glassine envelopes and spidery text to the darkly baroque digital collages of Estelle Ever. Each artist was given free range to describe their work and techniques; my only regret is that more of them did not choose to write about the process and emotions going into the work as opposed to the actual construction of them. Though the artists receive top billing, the book closes with a short section on crafting your own scrapbook--I was especially impressed by the thorough discussion on archival materials.

Pick it up if you're a Somerset Studios kind of crafter and want something both pretty and practical for the coffee table.

Scrap City by Paul Gambino
Official Website (history, multimedia bits and bobs, sample pages, a place to submit your own pages, and so on and so forth), Barnes and Noble, Powell's

Inspired? Try Silver Crow Creations for the "
fun to funky, pretty to poetic, esoteric to ethereal - gifts, artistic rubber stamps, art supplies, and sundries of all kinds," Turtle Arts for "journals, sketchbooks, journaling and altered book supplies" and FLAXart for arty gifts and chichi supplies to drool over.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

We Interrupt this Excitement...

Apropos of nothing, the blog now has a mascot. I made this little cutie in between books. Now...what to name her?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Reflect the Soul's Hopes: Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town That Talks To the Dead by Christine Wicker

Women set the tone in this lakeside community where houses are painted in pastels. During the height of the summer season, when twenty thousand visitors come to consult the town's mediums, it resembles nothing so much as a sorority sleepover for aging sisters. They laze about the hotel parlor and fan themselves in the white rockers that line the veranda. They sweep down the streets in flowing dresses. Tinsel stars and crystals hang in windows. Christmas lights twinkle from porches all year long. Stone angels stand sentry on walkways, and plaster elves march across lawns.

Doesn't that sound like the most fascinating setting for a magical realist novel, something about the daughter of the only skeptics in town? Which would be a good thing, as she goes around scaring the hell out of the local charlatans until something real turns up.

I digress.

Lily Dale, New York is one of the last lingering communities founded around the Spiritualist movement. Heard of Victorian seances, table tipping and ghost photographs? All relics of the Spiritualists, who held the belief that contact with the dead was not only possible, but advisable for a fulfilling life. Nowadays, people flock to this tiny town with dreams of greed, or love, or just talking to their Mum or Grandpa or Rover again.

Christine Wicker entered into the project of profiling the town and getting the scoop on mediums with an open-minded yet healthily skeptical viewpoint. This proves frustrating , but never boring in a town full of people like Shelley, angel-loving founder of the Lower Archy of the Pink Sisterhood of the Metafuzzies and Blissninnies, or Lynn, a mother of five well into her twilight years who still takes the time to bicycle around town, bestowing blessings as she goes. After three years of research, Wicker comes to a satisfying personal conclusion that allows balance between being open to wonder and, as Lynn would put it, chatting with the toaster every morning:

Maybe Lily Dale's stories are like ancient myths that don't have to be literally true because facts aren't the point. The point is that such stories resonate with us spiritually. They answer our deep need to believe the universe contains order and purpose. In a post-modern culture, perhaps perfectly sane but spiritually adrift people retreat into their own visions because there are so few alternatives. Maybe Lily Dale fosters that, and maybe it serves a good purpose.

This one's for the Ruby lovers who would like to learn more about the otherworldly occurances that happened to its heroine, or anyone who wants a good dark-and-stormy-night read.

Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town That Talks To The Dead by Christine Wicker
Sadly out of print, but I recommend the fine booksellers at and
You might also get lucky at (as of today, there are a hundred remaindered copies of this book), which sells overstocked books and has some of the best service I've encountered in online bookselling.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Sing Her Stories Out Loud and Fearlessly Dance: International Dress-Up Day

Gala Darling, mistress of the incredible fashion and lifestyle blog iCiNG, had a dream:

I’ve been thinking about forming an Army Of Style. Or a Fancy Procession. Or… something. (It needs a good name!)

Basically, my idea is that one day a month, anyone who wanted to be involved would dress in a way which incorporated a previously decided theme. The ultimate aim, other than having fun, would be to take a photo of yourself “on theme” & then I would publish all the pictures I received. Instant internet fame!

The first International Dress-Up Day was held on February 18th, to wonderful success as young ladies the world over dressed as their favorite song: a "Claire De Lune" in blue petticoats, "How to Save a Life" with a skeleton tee and red glass spiral-y jewelry, and the webmistress herself as a Love Casualty, detailed down the bandages on her tattoo's arms.

Next i.d.u.d. is the 17th of March, theme to be announced. I just might enter, and you should too. The participation page has a ton of cool graphics, like the one above, that you can grab for your blog/Livejournal/MySpace and so forth.

Call me superficial. But when my soul is fully expressed by my body, she can leave her dark room, sing her stories out loud and fearlessly dance. ~Francesca Lia Block

Friday, March 2, 2007

Your Daughter's Quite a Character: Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip

In her ten-fact bio provided at the end of The Zine Scene, Hillary Carlip offered tantalizing hints about her past: she juggled and ate fire, performed in a punk rock band, and befriended famous songstresses in her youth.

"Wow," mused little 13-year-old Rie, "I wish she'd write about all those crazy things she did."

The funny thing about musings of that nature is that sometimes, when you're really lucky, they come true.

Queen of the Oddballs follows Ms. Carlip from her youthful days of being expelled from school for imitating Audrey Hepburn and dancing at a cotillion with children of the stars to tumultuous teen years where radical self-acceptance circles leave your butt itchy and your mind blown to winning The Gong Show and dramatic wooing of dancers on the set of Xanadu and I haven't even started telling you about the juggling or baking banana bread for Carly Simon:

All that week, bringing gifts of pumpkin, date nut, cinnamon-raisin and honey-walnut bread, recipes courtesy of The Tassajara Bread Book, Molly and I hung out in Carly's dressing room. On the third night, she added us to the guest list--a great relief, since with the $4.00 ticket price and the cost of baking ingredients, my weekly allowance was barely enough to keep up.

Her writing is inviting and very, very funny, and the cast is oddball enough that they positively have to be real. I especially love how Carlip shook things up with different story formats-diary entries for "The King Case," a letter for "Dear Olivia Newton John," and the 45 steps to fame for "Anyone Can Be a Rock Star; or How to Be an Impostor." Every story begins with a list of notable facts from the year in which it took place; all end with a collage of ephemera central to its plot. Never boring, always inspiring, Queen of the Oddballs is a must-read.

A few words of advice for us young oddballs from the author herself, from an interview at Pink World:

I was a total outsider, the weird, chubby writer girl, until I began to Think Pink, that is! Queen of the Oddballs, what advice would you give to readers who feel like no one gets them and that life is a bit sucky right now?
GO FOR IT! Be who you are – FULLY! Be an eccentric, a trail-blazer, somewhat mistrustful of the tasteful and the restrained. Act 45 when you’re 13, and 13 when you’re 45. Travel off the beaten-path. Do things unaccording to plan, and not only embrace your oddballness, but CELEBRATE IT! As long as YOU get yourself, and decide that who you are is freakin’ AWESOME no matter what, then others will think you’re awesome, too.

Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip, Barnes and Noble, Powell's

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Would You Like Some Truth Serum With Your Endamame, or the excellence that is readergirlz

Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Lori Ann Grover and Justina Chen Headley (all talented authors in their own right) have put their brilliant heads together and come up with an online community I would have been crazy for as a younger Rie.

(I was all about back in the day. That's where I learned about the Weetzie Bat books! I digress.)

Readergirlz is dedicated to girls, books, books about girls, girls talking about books, and so on and so forth. A new book will be featured every month; March's selection is Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by founding member Justina Chen Headley. The newsletter not only features the usual bookclub accoutrements like discussion questions and an author interview, but contains a while-you-read playlist, call to action (this month: shatter the social barriers in your school cafeteria), and instructions for throwing a "fabulous East-Meets-West book party" for your readergirlz book club.

The manifesta describes their mission briefly but beautifully:

Reading a book isn't the same thing as experiencing a book. You know what we mean. There's a reason why we readergirlz are known to shove books at our best friends: books that have rocked our world, books that have revealed our souls, books that are gifts of the heart.

So here's our official readergirlz Manifesta: what we stand for, what we believe, what we promise YOU:

* Readergirlz is about having serious fun while talking about books with the author and your friends!

* Readergirlz is about getting the inside scoop about why the novel was written, the tears and joys and real-world angst that the author has lived and layered into her story.

* Readergirlz is about reading great books to get to know yourself, your friends, and yes, even your mother, better.

* Readergirlz is about celebrating strong girls in books who've got the guts to dream.

* Readergirlz is about reaching out to others based on what you've read.

* And most of all, readergirlz is about inspiring girls to make history of their own

Thank you, Wands and Words, for the heads up!

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