not just for kids: the art of fern bisel peat

The zoo has long since lost its childhood magic for me. The work of Fern Bisel Peat, however, continues to captivate. She lived from 1893 to 1971 and while her illustrations appeared in books, magazines and paper doll collections and on tin toys and puzzles throughout the ’30s and ’40s, I can find little of her work after that. My favorite is still the first one I saw, “Cinderella,” published in 1943, which was my Mom’s growing up. The stepsisters look rotten enough to make your molars ache and Cinderella has lost none of her charm. You can find Cinderella, and other great examples of her work, at One I’ve just discovered is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales, a retelling of the Greek myths for children, which show a different side of Peat’s work. Thankfully, it seems I’m not alone in thinking her work has lost nothing over time. Single-page folios from books, original watercolors, and this new puzzle can also be found on Esty and eBay. — Sarah L.

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want to read: wicked plants

There are thousands of deadly plants out there, but some are particularly villainous. It’s the plants that “you don’t want to meet in a dark alley” that made it into best-selling gardening author Amy Stewart‘s latest book, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. According to Stewart, “wicked plants” include plants that “have been used as a murder weapon, plants that are illegal or immoral, plants that have started wars, plants that inflict pain, and plants that are badly behaved — they explode, they burst into flames, they smell terrible or destroy other plants in particularly diabolical ways.” Only those plants with back stories and body counts made the cut, and this sounds so deliciously terrifying that I must read it immediately. Let the killer algae nightmares begin! –Sarah C.

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gift idea: 18 short stories


Give someone the gift of One Story, and your recipient will receive a new short story in the mail every three weeks for a year. At $21, it’s a steal, especially considering the quality of the writing. (You can view some author information here.) Processing takes 4-6 weeks, so if you want the first story to arrive close to the holidays, it’s not too early to add One Story to your list. I gave it to my youngest sister last year. She loved it so much, when my birthday came up a few months later, I gifted myself! — Sarah L.

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metropolitan home is latest shelter mag to fold


The losses just keep coming. Hachette Filipacchi Media US announced today that it will fold Metropolitan Home and focus its energies solely on Elle Décor; the December 2009 issue will be Metropolitan Home’s last. As Elle Décor Editor-In-Chief Margaret Russell mentioned at this year’s Women in Design event, good magazines fold due to issues of the economy, not content — and as always, we wish it weren’t so. Older content from Metropolitan Home can still be found at, but the ever-shrinking world of shelter publications won’t be the same without it. — Sarah C.

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etsy finds from country living

With all the great magazines that have come and gone over the past couple of years, I’m glad to see that Country Living is staying fresh. (And supplying me with great easy projects.) The November issue featured two Etsy finds I’d love to call my own. The first is this great Power Suit Tote Bag by CLEVERSCENE, which is in fact a bag made from an old suit coat. The second find is a steal at $25: a handwoven cotton wrap basket from kittyallen. –Sarah L.

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