FLORAL STRAWBERRY CAKE

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I was so thrilled to try out this floral cake pan from Williams Sonoma I saw awhile back and finally picked it up in the store. Williams Sonoma has such beautiful floral pans right now! I had my whole Sunday planned out. Wake up early, make chocolate Belgian waffles for breakfast, spend the day reading and writing, etc. I was quite excited for it all. Sadly, I woke up feeling absolutely dismal and exhausted. I couldn't get out of bed. It seems as if my thyroid issues are really catching up to me. I've been off the medication for a couple of months now and the issues are finally getting too much to bear unfortunately. Especially these last couple of weeks which has prompted me to make an appointment with my doctor to get my medication again. Sigh. I am not the best at keeping up with my health and there are periods when I don't take my medicine and then this happens and I get very sick. So, Sunday I could hardly keep my eyes open and stayed in bed falling asleep every so often and just feeling miserable mentally, too. V was very worried and finally made me eat something and then came back a bit later and told me to get out of bed and get dressed because we were going on a day trip and it was a surprise. This was his way of helping me. And so I did. We drove an hour up north and had lunch by the lake and then just drove back to the city. Thank goodness for people who care and take care of you. After that, I felt much better. Physically and mentally. So much so I was able to make the cake and I had a lovely Sunday after all. 

Currently I am sitting in my living room having a slice of it with a side of whipped cream and berries. It's making me feel very summery which is nice because it is actually 35 degrees outside right now. I just got back from my local bookstore where I picked up Float by Anne Carson. Really excited to go through this one because the format of the book is so interesting and brilliant. But Anne Carson is always brilliant you should know. April is Poetry Month so I will be reading even more poetry than I usually do and will try and share with you what it is I'm reading. Until next time!

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LIII

SPRING IS COMING

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Hello my dear readers, I am so happy that it is now March and winter is ending and spring will be here soon. Back home in Texas, it's already warm but here in the Midwest it is still quite cold and sometimes still snowing. Totally mind-blowing to me! It's March, where is the heat and the humidity?! I must say, I do miss it. I love winter. I love the beauty of the snow and the stillness and the quiet but it really does make you love and yearn for spring even more so. So I have just been waiting patiently for it. 

I have been keeping busy by reading a lot. In particular, I started a wonderful old book series that I had never heard of before which was odd because it's exactly the sort of books I read when I was a young girl. For some reason, this particular series and author escaped me and I discovered them while searching for another book to read. The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. It's a series that follows best friends for life Betsy and Tacy from when they were very little to high school and takes place at the turn of the century 1900s. So so charming and very fitting considering it takes place in the Midwest and Betsy even visits Milwaukee so I really love that I came across the series at this point that I'm living here. I've been enjoying it so much that I don't want them to end. It's so refreshing to disconnect from this modern world and just lose myself in the simplicity of life in the early 1900s. And they have such funny sayings that it's very amusing!

I've read quite a few other books, as well. Besides the Betsy-Tacy series there has been Marlena by Julie Buntin, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjaming, Concluding by Henry Green, These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata, The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert and A Good Comb by Muriel Spark. Currently reading The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai, too. And a stack to be read on my side table. You can follow along with my readings on Goodreads.

Other wonderful things as of late: Planning a visit from my parents and our days together including a weekend stay at our favorite hotel in Chicago, The Thompson. Lots and lots of vintage findings like beautiful dresses and bags, writing letters to penpals, buying a new bureau for the bedroom and going to the ten year anniversary show in Milwaukee of Bon Iver's album For Emma, Forever Ago. I drank lots of wine and cried. 

xxx

As always, thank you for reading.

Mari 

LII

VINTAGE JAPANESE HOME

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I always love a visit the Kunikuniya, the Japanese bookstore here in Chicago. It doesn't have as good of a selection as the one I went to while living in San Francisco but I always come home with something regardless! Also, I request any Japanese book and they can order and bring it in for me which is amazing. I already have a list to take them next time. This particular book I was so glad to have stumbled upon. Exactly my favorite kind of interiors. Vintage, dark, moody. The whole book is full of amazing photographs of the insides of a handful of homes along with text, which is in Japanese and I cannot read. I wanted to share just a few of these inspiring images with you. 

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LI

FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS

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A floral arrangement from local florist and purveyor of beautiful special antique objects, Alt's. Alt is a florist, gardener, antique finder and collector and a custom builder! His place is a one stop show for everything. Fresh flowers, unique antique pieces...even a good conversation. It was one of the first places I discovered in my neighborhood of Walker's Point when I first moved to Milwaukee. And how fitting it was. Everything I love in one beautiful store. I was in awe when I first walked in. It's such a special place, unlike anything I've ever been in before. Really it felt like I had traveled back in time. Every corner filled with curious looking antiques and flowers hanging upside down from the ceiling to dry, plants everywhere. It's really the loveliest experience walking in. 

Luckily, it is a short five minute walk from my apartment and so I go there quite often to look at what new antiques he's found and to pick up a floral arrangement. I love fresh flowers but I have such an affinity for dried flowers, as well. Everlasting bouquets. I love that I can keep them for such a long time, as I never get tired of them anyway. Yesterday I stopped in and picked out a few stems of dried florals and leaves that caught my eye. Then he found me a vessel amongst his collection that would be fitting and created a really beautiful piece. This is what I love about it. Going in and seeing what he's got, perusing the store to look for a vessel that catches your eye. He has so many different kinds of vessels, all antiques, all unique. And then, right then and there, he creates something stunning. 

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This next one was the first arrangement I ever got from Alt's, more than six months ago. It's still just as beautiful and still on my coffee table in the living room.

 

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These arrangements I made myself with dried florals I picked up from Alt's. I had three ceramic vases by Judy Jackson I wanted to fill. I also still have these decorating my bookshelves.

 

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L

 

ON MY BOOKSHELF / FLEUR JAEGGY

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Sometimes in your life you come across a writer who speaks volumes to you, who is like a kindred spirit, who makes you feel better knowing there is someone else who thinks and feels as you do, and who can put everything into words that you cannot. They become like best of friends for you and you reach for their words when you need inspiration and strength. In my late teens and early twenties, I discovered Anais Nin. And now, at thirty, there is Fleur Jaeggy.

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Although of Swiss nationality, she has lived in Italy for decades and writes in Italian. She's been described as reclusive and a "monumental loner" and her writing is sparse, austere, moody. Intelligent. Haunting and terse and absolutely stunning. I feel such pleasurable solitude while reading her. Her publishing home in the United States is New Directions and that is how I first came across her books. I find her work and life completely fascinating. She rarely does interviews or anything of that sort so it's a bit difficult to know anything extensive about her life but I will read anything about her I can find. I think if you are of a certain temperament, you will find her as brilliant as I do.

I Am the Brother of XX // "Fleur Jaeggy is often noted for her terse and telegraphic style, which somehow brews up a profound paradox that seems bent on haunting the reader: despite a sort of zero-at-the-bone baseline, her fiction is weirdly also incredibly moving. How does she do it? No one knows. But here, in her newest collection, I Am the Brother of XX, she does it again. Like a magician or a master criminal, who can say how she gets away with it, but whether the stories involve famous writers (Calvino, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Brodsky) or baronesses or 13th-century visionaries or tormented siblings bred up in elite Swiss boarding schools, they somehow steal your heart. And they don’t rest at that, but endlessly disturb your mind."

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Sweet Days of Discipline // "Set in postwar Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy’s eerily beautiful novel begins simply and innocently enough: "At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell." But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the off-handed knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the apparently perfect new girl, Fréderique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. Now translated into six languages, I beati anni del castigo in its Italian original won the 1990 Premio Bagutta and the 1990 Premio Speciale Rapallo. In Tim Parks’ consummate translation (with its "spare, haunting quality of a prose poem"), Sweet Days of Discipline was selected as one of the London Times Literary Supplement’s Notable Books of 1992: "In a period when novels are generally overblown and scarcely portable, it is good to be able to recommend [one that is] miraculously short and beautifully written."

These Possible Lives: Essays // "New Directions is proud to present Fleur Jaeggy’s strange and mesmerizing essays about the writers Thomas De Quincey, John Keats, and Marcel Schwob. A renowned stylist of hyper-brevity in fiction, Fleur Jaeggy proves herself an even more concise master of the essay form, albeit in a most peculiar and lapidary poetic vein. Of De Quincey’s early nineteenth-century world we hear of the habits of writers: Charles Lamb “spoke of ‘Lilliputian rabbits’ when eating frog fricassse”; Henry Fuseli “ate a diet of raw meat in order to obtain splendid dreams”; “Hazlitt was perceptive about musculature and boxers”; and “Wordsworth used a buttery knife to cut the pages of a first-edition Burke.” In a book of “blue devils” and night visions, the Keats essay opens: “In 1803, the guillotine was a common child’s toy.” And poor Schwob’s end comes as he feels “like a ‘dog cut open alive’”: “His face colored slightly, turning into a mask of gold. His eyes stayed open imperiously. No one could shut his eyelids. The room smoked of grief.” Fleur Jaeggy’s essays―or are they prose poems?―smoke of necessity: the pages are on fire."

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