Archives for posts with tag: great books

Post image for 8 Things To Do Alone… For A ChangeThe idea of solitude has a somber ring to it; the thought of being alone can bring about memories touched with lonely sadness, while thoughts of being surrounded by others can bring memories of joy. But solitude, like all things, truly depends on the way you look at it. 

I, for one, absolutely love being alone. Some of the best times I’ve had are ones where I’ve been in no one else’s company but my own. I always enjoy hanging out with myself at home, and I equally love going shopping alone. I find that I’m productive and relaxed… and I always make sure to remain just as silly as when I’m with others.

There are certain activities, though, that I would never dream of doing alone. Sure, some things are just more fun with others by my side, but maybe sometimes I want those people to be there partly because the idea of them not being there… scares me. I fear I won’t know what to do when I’m there by myself (wherever that “there” may be). I fear I’ll have a question and I’ll be forced to ask an unfamiliar face. I fear that others will see me and think, “What’s wrong with that girl? Why is she here by herself?”

But you know what? Please pardon my language, but those fears are complete and total bullshit. Truly. I won’t know what to do when I’m there by myself? I’m a pretty smart girl. I’m sure I can figure it out. I’ll have a question and I have to ask an unfamiliar face? Great! Where’s the problem there? Meeting new people is healthy thing to do. People are just people, just as you and I are. People will think there’s something wrong with me? They’ll question why I’m alone? Well, I mean, maybe one or two will wonder why I’m alone, but I have a feeling the conclusion they come to will have nothing to do with there being something wrong with me. And if it does… why should I care? I’ll never even know! Am I really worried about a thought that a person I don’t knowMIGHT have? Silliness. Pure silliness. Madness, even.

Yet I’m sure I’m not alone in these worries. If you’re with me, let’s do something about it. Together… yet separately. I challenge you to go somewhere alone. Somewhere you’ve never before dreamt of going alone. Go. Just go. Even if it’s for four and a half minutes. Do it. You might just find out you like it better that way.


Go for a drive. Grab your film camera and take yourself for a scenic drive, with no destination in sight. Roll down the windows, blast that song again and again, and truly experience the freedom you’ve been given. Stop often, or not at all. If something you see sparks your interest, pull over. Maybe it’s a retro-looking diner up ahead, or a field of flowers you spot in the distance. Go there, be there, and take it all in.


Hang out at a cafe. You know that cafe, the one with an atmosphere so cozy you could just live in it. Go there, sans computer. Bring a book or some watercolors , bring your headphones… or not. Sip slowly, taking in not just the beautiful flavor and aroma, but also the warm, calming energy around you. Allow yourself to sink into that perfectly worn-in cushion, and stay all afternoon.

Book on ladder

Relax at the library. Choose the oldest looking fiction book you can find, and open it midway. Sit on the floor, crossed-legged, between two bookcases. Maybe even take your shoes off. Start reading and don’t stop. Make up the first half of the book in your mind. Pretend you’re one of the characters. Feel her emotions. Experience her experiences. Cry if you need to. Allow yourself to get lost in the world that exists on those pages before your eyes

Garlic painting

Wander through a museum. It could be an old favorite, or one you’ve never before experienced. In either case, go with a fresh perspective. Seek to learn something new and to be inspired to think, make, or do in a brand new way. Don’t feel the need to visit every room or stay for a certain amount of time. Go to experience it as it comes, and when you come to a point where you feel fulfilled, head on home.

Jeffery Campbell heels on towel

Treat yourself to a fancy meal. Get dressed up for a date with no one but yourself. Feel confident, and go. Order something you can’t pronounce. Save room for dessert. Take every bite as if it were your first. Learn your waiter’s name. When you say “thank you,” mean it. Feel gratitude for all of those who partook in making this meal possible, from the person who planted that tomato seed that became part of your salad, all the way to the one who delivered the chair on which you sit. Marvel at the incredible skills possessed by each of those people, and then marvel at all of your own.

Blood Orange Purple

Go to a show. Music is a powerful thing. Choose a band that you know will make you feel something. Go alone and ready to dance. Close your eyes, let the beautiful vibrations move you, internally and externally. Make a new friend, just for the night. Leave feeling refreshed and full of positivity.

Painting, crochet

Take an art class. Be it painting, pottery, improv, or anything else, put yourself in a situation that teaches you to harness your creativity in new ways. Use your hands, your eyes, your brain, and your soul. Let creative energy flow through you, and express it in ways you never thought possible. Let it in, let it out, and never think twice about it.

Popcorn on black

See a movie. Get a huge bucket of popcorn (or sneak in your own). Get there early. Find the best seat. Watch every preview. Look around from time to time, at this room filled with strangers who are all sharing a similar experience at once. Feel comfort in this sense of community, as you all laugh and cry together. Realize that, while you may be by yourself, you’re certainly not alone.

What will you venture off to do on your own?

Source: Inspiration: 8 Things To Do Alone… For A Change | Free People Blog


This fantastic reading list is worth your time! I will be ploughing into it very soon…

A Small Press Life

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I just picked up this book on a whim at the library.  Honestly, I thought it was about food, which I could pore over 24/7.  In fact, it didn’t have a thing to do with eating or food at all.   Instead, I found a true gem.

Travels with Epicurus, by (the salty old) Daniel Klein is lovely. I highly recommend it to anyone who is getting older (ha ha, i.e. everyone).  In his case, he’s getting on into his 70’s and a visit to the dentist has him questioning how to tread a more graceful path into his golden years.  It takes him on a journey to Greece…part travelogue, part meditation on life (he does have a philosophy degree from Harvard), it will capture you, make you think, smile, and ponder your own particular life’s journey.

Travels with Epicurus


This is a short book, only 164 pages, but worth every moment you will spend reading it. I don’t care if you’re 30, 40, 50 or more, it is relevant for every adult.

Let me share a few tidbits with you that he elaborates on in the book…

The Greeks have two words for time, Chronos, which is the dimension of time and its duration from past to present to future, but they also have another word, Kairos, which denotes not only the quality of time spent, but it’s particular significance to an individual.  Too bad we don’t have such a delineation in the English language.  Perhaps we might learn to have more Kairos time rather than Chronos time…

He references an Ingmar Bergman Film called Wild Strawberries, which I haven’t seen, but am going to.  It is the story of a man reviewing his life captured in the course of a single day, as well as Federico Fellini’s film 8 1/2.  Both films depict characters who learn to accept their lives, warts and all.

He references many philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle to modern thinkers.  He also quotes poets and authors including this transcendent passage from William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” that I will leave you with:

To see the World in a Grain of Sand, And Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.




From Luckyscent, one of my FAVORITE sites for all things fragrance…

The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent
by Denyse Beaulieu

The Scoop
What if the most beautiful night in your life inspired a perfume?

When Denyse Beaulieu was growing up near Montreal, perfume was forbidden in her house, spurring a childhood curiosity that became an intellectual and sensual passion. It is this passion she pursued all the way to Paris, where she now lives, and which led her to become a respected fragrance writer. But little did she know that it would also lead her to achieve a perfume lover’s wildest dream: When Denyse tells famous perfumer Betrand Duchaufour at L’Artisan Parfumeur of a sensual night spent in Seville under a blossoming orange tree, wrapped in the arms of a beautiful man, the story stirs his imagination and together they create a scent that captures the essence of that night. As their unique creative collaboration unfolds, the perfume-in-progress conjures intimate memories, leading Beaulieu to make sense of her life through scents. Throughout the book, she weaves the evocative history of perfumery into her personal journey, in an intensely passionate voice: the masters and the masterpieces, the myths and the myth-busting, down to the molecular mysteries that weld our flesh to flowers.

The Perfume Lover is a candid personal account of the process of composing a fragrance (Seville a l’Aube), filled with sensual scent descriptions, sexy tidbits, and historical vignettes.

It reminded me of several other compelling books about fragrance I have read…

A Scented Palace: the secret history of Marie Antoinette’s perfumer by J. Feydeau (2006).  An interesting account of one family business who provided Marie Antoinette’s ‘toilette’ directly…

Perfume: the story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind (2001).  A deeply disturbing story about one man’s obsession to find the perfect scent.  I couldn’t put it down…gripping, horrific and poetic all at the same time.

Do you have books about scent you enjoyed?  If so, please share them!

I might just have to get this cookbook…doesn’t that cake look delish?

I was inspired reading Flora’s Table post about her new copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales for her daughter, and thought I’d share my copy with you.  I dug it out at an antique store somewhere, and although the cover is a bit torn up, the rest of the book is pristine, and I paid a hefty $6 for it!


It was published in 1889, and the illustrations in black and white, were done by E. H. Wehnert and the color ones by F.A. Fraser. Here is the first one in the book….


There is an inscription from 1890 on the inside cover page as it was obviously given as a gift…amazing that something well over 100 years could be so beautiful today…


BTW, the Grimm fairy tales original title was “Kinder und Hausmarchen”, which translates literally to Children and House stories versus what we know today as ‘fairy tales’…interesting…

In this new age of Kindle’s, Nooks, iPads, ad nauseum, the tactile pleasure of a book is quickly being replaced with something far less enjoyable.  Even the books that are made today (with the exception of a very few publishers like Taschen and Phaidon) are so cheaply made that the sensory pleasure is all but lost.

I still fondly remember turning the parchment-like pages of my grandfathers 1919 edition Encyclopedia Britannica …its pages fragrant and substantial.

I collect books, the older the better.  My proudest publications are a Grimm Household Stories from 1889 (you know, Grimm Fairy Tales) with 240 illustrations, a few plates in color with sheer vellum to protect them, and a first edition (1940) “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson, loving and incredibly dedicated wife of Martin Johnson…the cover is in a fabric-like zebra patterned basketweave and the pages transport me to Africa, Borneo and all the far-flung places they visited.  Even just looking at the cover makes me happy.

My other FAVORITE is by Vincent & Mary Price, A Treasure of Great Recipes, which is incredibly hard to find as well as two other cookbooks they cowrote.  I truly feel their passion and love of cooking when reading through the pages…

Yesterday, while with a bit of extra time to spare in Greensboro (home of UNC-G, where I’m getting my Masters currently) I stumbled upon not one, but two used bookstores adjacent to each other (on Spring Garden Street if you’re ever in the area).  One of them is owned by a relatively young guy (30 maybe) and there I found old, but not rare books like Return to Sender by Raymond Mungo, The World of Venice by Jan Morris (I was just there in November so feeling a bit nostalgic) and Nigella’s tome on being a domestic goddess (I already am, my fiancé would say!).  What can I say, I love to cook/bake!



The last book I picked up at the other store, the one with older, more rare titles.  Its a 1926 first edition called “A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy” with lovely illustrations by Norah Guinness, like this one…



I’m going to have fun, once I find the time to read them…still have a boatload of reading to do on Marie Antoinette, who I am writing about in my final paper for my class on Dress, Identity and Society…

Do you like old books?  Is there a favorite you’d like to share?