Books Read This Month:

Currently Reading:

Still on the Nightstand (Partially Read):

Reading Next:

  • Undecided, but it will be something from my increasingly massive TBR list (on the right).

Please visit 5 Minutes for Books to check out more participants' lists!

Outside my window...the weather is ever-changing these days. Right now it is clear and sunny, but bitterly cold.

I am thinking...about where I might squeeze in another bookshelf. I've got stacks of books everywhere that need to find a home soon, and all of our existing shelves are overloaded.

I am thankful...for my wonderful husband and family.

From the learning is on hold at the moment as the boys appear to have the flu, yet again. I'm praying that we don't all get sick.

From the, coffee, and more coffee. Dinner plans are still undecided.

I am flannel pajamas and thick, cozy socks.

I am going...nowhere, thankfully, for at least the next several days. After an extremely busy weekend, I'm looking forward to some time at home.

I am reading...The Real Oliver Twist: Robert Blincoe: A Life That Illuminates a Violent Age, a rather depressing account of England's industrial age and the life of one poor orphan (whose autobiography may have inspired Dickens). Also, Amelia Dyer: Angel Maker, continuing my quest for information about Victorian society's baby-farmers. Despite all of my recent research into the subject, I'm still deeply shocked and troubled that such a thing ever existed.

I am hoping...that my husband consents to purchasing a piano soon; we've got a lovely one picked out!

I am listening to..."Clair de lune" and other selections from Debussy, perfect for a quiet winter morning such as this.

Around the house...spring cleaning is underway, so the house is currently in a rather frightful state.

One of my favorite books, I'd be lost without them.

Pondering these words...from today's entry, "Making Your Own Imprint," in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach: "The soap in the bathroom, the flowers in the garden, the book on the bedside table are all strong symbols of a life in progress, you look at these details and a world unfolds..." (- Charlotte Moss)

A few plans for the rest of the week: First and foremost, work, of course. I'm also hoping that the boys will get well and we'll be able to resume homeschooling. I've got to get through all of my cleaning and get the house back in respectable order. Friday, my husband will be driving up for a visit and Saturdy we'll have cello and violin lessons.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

"Changeable Weather"
Gustave LĂ©onard de Jonghe (1829-1893)

To read other daybook entries, or join in with your own, please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

I'll begin by summarizing our Valentine's festivities, since I haven't yet posted about them. Nothing went quite according to plan, as usual, so in the end it was a rather quiet weekend-long celebration. We baked sugar cookies (which no one cared to frost later, so they ended up hastily done), raspberry cupcakes from this month's Living (sadly, not very well liked), and candy-coated pretzels. In addition, we had a "candy buffet," cherry and strawberry soda, and an assortment of other festive goodies all weekend long.

For school, this was a short week due to President's Day, and all in all, a very ordinary sort of week (though Jaymon rejoined us from public school).

Personal Highlights ~ LOTS of reading for me this week. In fact, I spent all of Monday curled up with books, which I *never* get to do!

  • I read: The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham (simply wonderful!), The House of Arden by E. Nesbit (loved it!).
  • I also read Ask Me No Questions by Ann Schlee, which I'm very happy I took the trouble to order from Amazon UK. The book is about a notorious Victorian establishment for pauper children, Drouet's farm. Reading it led me to research baby-farmers (some interesting news clippings can be found here), and Charles Dickens' writings on the Drouet scandal, all entirely new to me. A search for the term in Google Books turns up numerous references ~ more than anyone should ever want to know about the subject, really. Nevertheless, morbidly fascinating reading.
  • Ask Me No Questions led to my next book: Mama's Babies by Gary Crew, based on the lives of 3 well-known baby farmers. A brief YA novel, it was extremely chilling and oh-so-hard to put down.
  • I also read the delightful A Child's Journey with Dickens by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, an excerpt from her autobiography.
  • Finally, I read most of the *excellent* Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin (to be finished this weekend!) and continued sporadically reading Diary of a Provincial Lady, which unfortunately puts me to sleep.
  • Book Closeouts is having a fantastic Blowout Sale, so I picked out an enormous selection of new books - most hardbacks for a mere .99 - 1.99!

February sunbeams
Brighter grow each day
Telling that the winter
Soon will pass away.

All in all, this week was merely okay. The twins were home nearly all week due to snow/illness/conferences, which affected our focus a bit, we'll need to work harder next week.

Dominic's Sun

Maddie's Sun

Dominic and I did not start Ethics, Economics or Logic this week as I'd hoped, nor did I read aloud from The Hobbit and Pyle's King Arthur and His Knights. Very disappointing, so hopefully next week we'll be back on track!

Personal Highlights:

This week I was delighted to receive a small package from Ancient Industries, an online shop and blog that I recently discovered via Persephone Books. Ancient Industries offers high-quality traditional household goods and clothing from Europe, America and the British Isles. A New York Times profile of the company can be found here.

So what did I purchase? A bottle brush, made by the Redecker family in Germany, a dish washing brush, made by the visually impaired in Sweden, and a little Riess enamelware pot.

Of the above, I'm most charmed by the Riess enamelware, which is utterly gorgeous and much nicer/heavier than most enamelware (indeed, it's almost too nice to use!). I found this from Cooking Company:

The Riess family of Ybbsitz, Austria has been manufacturing enamelware for over 200 years. Unlike many other lesser brands, the main body of all Riess enamelware products are produced from a single sheet of steel. No joins exist in the main body of the pots. Every item is given a black undercoat and then kiln fired. Each pot is then given a second coat of white, then the interior cream colour is applied. The pot is then ready for its outer colour coating. Every coating is followed by the kiln, which means that all pots in this range are fired 4 times.

At the time of my order, much of their Riess enamelware was out of stock, but fortunately it is now back in the shop.

This day is widely celebrated among persons of all ages by the exchange of missives or gifts called 'valentines.' Although of uncertain origin, the festival has been observed in much the same manner ever since the fourteenth century, or possibly earlier. It is a favorite day for parties, especially among young people. Gay favors and decorations of red paper hearts and chubby cupids, fortune-telling games, and appropriate refreshments of frosted heart cakes and crimson candies, all pay fitting honor to the memory of good Saint Valentine, patron of sweet-hearts and lovers. ~ Book of Festivals by Dorothy Spicer
This week, I've been busy trying to come up with some ideas for our annual Valentine's Day celebration. Last year, I posted this Valentine's Day Craft Compendium, and as always, Martha Stewart has some of my favorite ideas, which can be found here: Valentine's Day Crafts, Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids, and Valentine's Day Treats. The Crafty Crow has excellent posts here and here. For vintage inspiration, see Dame Curtsey's Book of Novel Entertainments for Every Day of the Year by Ellye Howell Glover (c.1908). My list this year isn't quite as extensive as last year's, but there are some cute ideas:
Simply Handcrafted Valentine's Day Decor from Better Homes & Gardens

    Last Saturday, my husband and I spent the afternoon at my favorite antique mall. While there, I was thrilled to find this delightful series of Art Appreciation [Teachers Edition] Textbooks from 1933, written by Cora Elder Stafford and published by Laidlaw Brothers. There are 8 books or "parts" in all, though unfortunately Part III and Part V were missing from the set I purchased.

    Included in the series are: My Brownie Art Book (Part I), My Rainbow Art Book (Part II), My Indian Art Book (Part III), My Pinocchio Art Book (Part IV), Wonderland Art Book (Part V), My Jungle Art Book (Part VI), Round Table Art Book (Part VII), and Modern Art (Part VIII). The books are surprisingly thorough, covering a wide variety of topics, and the illustrations are quite charming. Here are a few of my favorites:

    Drawing Dolls

    Painting Portraits

    Drawing "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

    Color Schemes for Clothing

    Poster Design

    All-Over Patterns

    Costume Illustration

    • On Monday, Maddie read The Wind in the Willows Chapter 2 and had to draw a picture of a gypsy caravan, which led to some impromptu research.
    • I am now reading The Hobbit out loud. Dominic was struggling with it on his own (or rather, pretending to) and Maddie preferred it to The Children of Green Knowe.
    • We also started a second daily read-aloud: King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle (we had attempted The Once and Future King first, but could *not* get into it!); we'll be alternating between this and The Hobbit daily.
    • Continued studying Classical Arithmetic and Latin/Grammar, they're *still* not able to pass the exams!
    • Math facts drill on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Dominic completed Life of Fred Pre-Algebra w/Biology, Chapter 2.

    • Maddie missed her cello lesson on Monday because she was sick, but practiced for about 20 minutes each day.
    • In music, we backtracked a bit and reviewed the parts of the orchestra and listened to a CD of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf while following along with the book. Later in the week, we watched and discussed this *excellent* animated short film (which won an Oscar in 2008).
    • On Monday, we read "The Story of the Cattle Raid of Cooley" from English Literature for Boys & Girls. Tuesday, we read "Beowulf" from Legends of the Middle Ages and on Wednesday, we read "Tom Tit Tot" from English Fairy Tales. Thursday, we began reading about Geoffrey Chaucer in Stories from Old English Poetry and on Friday we read "The Tempest" in Tales from Shakespeare. This will more or less be our new weekly schedule for literature - one selection from each book daily, which gives us a nice variety.
    • Finished reading Once Upon a Crime (The Sisters Grimm, Book 4) (Maddie).
    • Nature Study: We observed many Sparrows, Chickadees, Juncos, and even two Cardinals at our backyard feeders, and read about them in Nature Study in Elementary Schools (clicking on the bird below will take you to the appropriate section).
    • We completed the discussion questions on stars from For the Beauty of the Earth and copied several star poems.
    • The kids completed a number of experiments from Nature in a Nutshell on their own. They learned about how pinecones protect their seeds, the effects of acid rain, and cloud formation.

    Personal Highlights (This was quite the week for new discoveries, scroll down on the page for *much* more!):

    A few of the new Google/Espresso Book Machine Books!

    Yet another fabulous find, The Pictorial Webster's:

    "Featuring over 1,500 engravings that originally graced the pages of Webster's dictionaries in the 19th century, this chunky volume is an irresistible treasure trove for art lovers, designers, and anyone with an interest in visual history. Meticulously cleaned and restored by fine-press bookmaker Johnny Carrera, the engravings in Pictorial Webster's have been compiled into an alluring and unusual visual reference guide for the modern day. Images range from the entirely mysterious to the classically iconic. From Acorns to Zebras, Bell Jars to Velocipedes, these alphabetically arranged archetypes and curiosities create enigmatic juxtapositions and illustrate the items deemed important to the Victorian mind. Sure to inspire and delight, Pictorial Webster's is at once a fascinating historical record and a stunning jewel of a book."

    Also available:

    This past week I've encountered a number of publishers devoted to reprinting classics, including some previously rare or hard-to-find titles. I thought I would share a few of my favorites here!

    For Children

    Jane Nissen Books (UK)

    Jane Nissen Books is an imprint founded by a former Associate Publisher at Penguin Children's Books. "The purpose of this personal venture is to bring back into print some of the best-loved children’s books of the 20th century and to enable a new generation of readers to discover for themselves high-quality, timeless titles that should not be lost." A list of titles and descriptions can be found here (*wonderful* selections!). Many of the books are available to US customers via The Book Depository, the rest can be found at Amazon UK.

    "The New York Review Children's Collection began in 2003 in an attempt to reward readers who have long wished for the return of their favorite titles and to introduce those books to a new generation of readers. The line publishes picture books for preschoolers through to chapter books and novels for older children. Praised for their elegant design and sturdy bindings, these books set a new standard for the definition of a "classic." Among the titles you will find Wee Gillis, a Caldecott Honor Book by the creators of The Story of Ferdinand; Esther Averill's time-honored Jenny and the Cat Club series; The House of Arden by E. Nesbit, one of J.K. Rowling's favorite writers; several titles by the award-winning team of Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, including their Book of Norse Myths and Book of Animals; James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks and The Wonderful O, both with illustrations by Marc Simont..."

    "Publisher of fiction from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. We have many of your favorite girls fiction books and series - and more to come! Image Cascade publishes heart warming stories of family, love, and timeless values. Our authors have written novels that are rich with nostalgia, true to life social and dating situations, strong families, and, of course, love and romance. This is the cornerstone of Image Cascade. There is something for everyone - tweens to teens, young adults to adults."

    Purple House Press

    "Our mission is to revive long lost, but well loved children's books. Today's children deserve to read wholesome stories from a simpler time and we know grownups want to revisit with old childhood friends too!"

    Fidra Books (UK)

    "We are an independent publishing company specialising in rescuing neglected children’s fiction and making it available to a new generation of readers. Our books range from 1940s adventure stories to iconic 1960s fantasy novels, and from pony books by Carnegie medal winning authors to rare boarding school stories from the 1990s." Fidra Books are available to US customers from The Book Depository.

    For Mothers

    Persephone Books (UK)

    "Persephone prints mainly neglected 20th-century fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget." Authors include Noel Streatfield, Frances Hodson Burnett, Dorothy Whipple, and many, many others. (For US customers, these books are most easily acquired from The Book Depository)

    The Bloomsbury Group

    "Bloomsbury Publishing is delighted to bring you The Bloomsbury Group. This is a wonderful new series of lost novels from the early twentieth century, books recommended by readers for readers, being brought back into print for a new audience. Literary bloggers, authors, friends and colleagues have shared their suggestions of cherished books worthy of revival." Four of the six republished titles are shown above, the two additional titles are: Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys and Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson. Available for pre-order at Amazon in the US.

    Penguin Classics (UK; Exclusive to Waterstone's Editions)

    A simply gorgeous line of cloth-bound classics, designed exclusively for Waterstone's in the UK. The titles include: Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Cranford, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Jane Eyre, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Fortunately, the books are now also available at Amazon in the US. An interview with the designer, Coralie Bickford-Smith can be found here.

    This morning was spent attempting to search out information on Corinne Malvern, an illustrator whom I loved as a child and was just recently re-introduced to. Though she was an incredibly prolific and talented artist, there is sadly little known about her life.

    Corinne Malvern was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1905/6 (dates vary). Her mother was Cora L. Malvern of Virgina, born in 1868, and a widow by 1920. Nothing is known about her father.

    From a very early age, Corinne and her elder sister Gladys became regulars on the vaudeville circuit and were well-known child actors. In 1908, Corinne appeared on stage in, among other things, "The Man Who Stood Still" at the Circle Theater on Broadway in New York. A New York Times article from the same year praised her "natural, unaffected acting" and notes that, though the plays presented were "grewsome and in parts revolting" she "completely captivated the audience."

    By 1910, both Corinne and Gladys were moonlighting in motion pictures as well, and profiled in the series of newspaper articles, "On the Moving Picture Stage: Have You Seen this Face?" More details can be found here. The only film that Corinne actually received credit for appearing in is "The Luring Lights" in 1915. In a later interview, Gladys would state that, "[growing up] home to me was anywhere - hotels, trains, boarding houses; for my sister and I were 'stage children.'"

    A railroad accident put an end to Corinne's acting career and left her crippled for two years. In the 1920's she attended the Art Students League in New York and then moved to Los Angeles with her mother and sister, studying with Theodore Lukits. The 1930 census indicates that, at that time, she was employed as a fashion artist for a millinery studio, while her sister Gladys was a Sales Manager at a department store. Corinne continued her art education in Los Angeles by taking night classes, and occasionally selling her paintings to earn extra money.

    By at least 1937, Corinne was back in New York where she shared a studio apartment with her sister and worked as a [freelance?] art editor for Ladies' Home Journal (one of her covers is shown on the left), contributing work to other publications as well. In 1939, her first book, co-written with Gladys, was published by McLaughlin. The book was entitled Brownie, The Little Bear Who Liked People. In 1942, she illustrated one of the very first Little Golden Books, Nursery Songs.

    During the 1940's, Corinne worked as an illustrator for Ginn Readers, in particular, their Faith and Freedom series, while also continuing to illustrate books for both McLaughlin and Random House. This she continued throughout the 1940's - 50's, and when her sister began publishing novels, she illustrated those as well. Frosty the Snow Man (1951), Twas the Night Before Christmas (1949), Doctor Dan the Bandage Man (1951) and Nurse Nancy (1958) were among her most popular Golden Books; only these last two have been re-printed in recent years. (Am I the only one who would love to see a Corinne Malvern anthology?! Surely not!)

    A 1953 biography notes that "she divides her time between New York and Connecticut, where she indulges in her favorite hobby of gardening." Corinne Malvern passed away at a Weston, Connecticut convalescent home at the age of 50, on November 9, 1956. She was survived by her sister Gladys.


    Susie's New Stove, The Little Chef's Cookbook, 1950
    Gladys A. Malvern was born in 1900-1903 (again, dates vary) in Newark, New Jersey. After ending her stage career at the age of twenty-one, she worked in a variety of positions ranging from advertising manager and radio script writer to producer of fashion shows. In the late 1930s, she began writing and publishing books, eventually starting the series of historic romance novels for teenage girls which garnered her greatest success (and are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity among homeschoolers). Her novel, Valiant Minstrel: The Story of Sir Henry Lauder won the 1943 Julia Ellsworth Ford Foundation Award. A mostly complete bibliography, including downloads of eighteen of her books, can be found here. Gladys Malvern died in Weston, Connecticut on November 16, 1962.