Tag: Books

Book Review: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

“Happiness,” wrote Yeats, “is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

Recently I’ve read a new book. Well, new to me – this book has been on the bestsellers list for quite a while now but I finally just managed to getting get around to reading it.

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Serendipitous Artistry

I love reading a good book and then noticing how things in my life crop up that I would have otherwise not appreciated.

I just finished reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany. I fully recommend it to anyone who considers themselves an artist in any sense of the word. It is a fiction novel based on historical facts.

The book , by Susan Vreeland, is about the life of Clara Driscoll, an employee of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the artist who is (now) credited with designing the famous Tiffany lampshades of the early 20th century. The story is filled with meticulous description of the glassblowing, glass-choosing, glass-cutting and glass application processes. As someone who has always wanted to try glassblowing, I found the details quite enchanting.

The book also wades through weighty issues such as the conflicts of artist collaboration, sexism in the professional arts, vocation versus marriage and sacrificing art for the sake of commercial means. Any artist will be able to identity with the creative process and ethical decisions Clara is forced to withstand.

While this book has still been lingering in my mind, I came across this cake design.

It is undoubtedly inspired by the Tiffany lamps.

Clara Driscoll

I love that the ideas of one woman has inspired other artists for over a century. And not only artists in glasswork, like herself, but bakers and writers. Even more so, that she did it all for the sake of art, not the glory.

(Actually, Clara and her 30 “Tiffany Girls” brought the lamps to fruition. And they couldn’t have done it without the male glassblowing and lead welding departments either. The true meaning of artistic collaboration.)

You see, it was only discovered that Clara was the actual designer of the lamps, not Louis Comfort Tiffany, in 2007.

Martin Eidelberg, an Art History Professor at Rutgers University recently came across a large amount of letters from Clara to her family and has been credited with making the discovery.

And while today Tiffany lampshades are not a completely unusual, albeit lovely, sight they were an unheard of in their infancy.

images via

I have always striven to fix beauty
in wood, stone, glass or pottery,
in oil or watercolor
by using whatever seemed
fittest for the expression
of beauty,
that has been my creed.

– Louis Comfort Tiffany

Summer Reading List: Window Shop Wednesday

It’s Window Shop Wednesday again with The Katie Chronicles! This week’s location is my biggest weakness. The place I can walk around aimlessly for hours, scouting out comfy chairs and look longingly at the vanilla lattes but never purchase because I’m too cheap. I used them for their free wi-fi in my college days, and usually walk out satisfied but empty-handed… Barnes & Noble!

As you know, I have an unhealthy obsession with books.

Today I am picking out all the books I would buy at B&N given the chance. (In reality, I will be getting most of these from the library. Libraries rock!! P.S. I just got my new library card for my new town! I love my new library already. Plus, they have a magazine swap bin! I came home with a huge stack of Better Homes & Gardens)


I have a policy. If I want to see the movie, I need to read the book first. I knew that as soon as I saw the new movie trailer for “The Help”, starring the hilarious Emma Stone, I needed to read this book. The Help is a story of a young journalist who shares life stories from the perspective of three African-American maids who work for white families in Mississippi in the 1960s.

I love to read memoirs and biographies. This summer I would like to read A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard’s memoir of her kidnapping. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you would know that Dugard was kidnapped when she was 11 years old and was kept in captivity (while having had two children mind you) for 18 years before she was discovered in 2009. I would love to hear her tale and see how she had remained so positive and grounded throughout such a life-altering experience.

I have actually already read this book. But, I haven’t read it since my dear life-long dog friend/pet/family member Woody passed away almost two years ago. The Art of Racing in the Rain will make you cry. It’s a story of a race car driver and his life told through the perspective of his dog, Enzo. Grab me the tissues already, will you?

I judge novels by the cover. So sue me. I’m a graphic designer. It’s what I do. This cover is just stunning! I always looks for classic books with beautiful covers or bindings whenever I am at used books sales or garage sales. With seven Austen books packed in one, I may actually consider buying this one new!

I read Julie & Julia (duh, see my policy under book #1 listed) a year or so back and also saw the film. I am so intrigued by the life of Julia Child and I would love to learn more about her life via My Life in France. This has nothing to do with the fact that my Dad used to talk in a Julia-Child-voice while making Saturday morning cinnamon buns.

I don’t really know a lot about Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens if you’re tight). This was Twain’s last book that he wrote and was published in 2010. Did you read that correctly? Yes. This is why I want to read this book. Twain wrote his autobiography (a whopping 736 pages) but then laid down restrictions that it couldn’t be published until 100 years had passed after his death, giving Twain the rare privilege of writing a best selling novel in 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Why wouldn’t you want to read about a man that interesting?

I have also already read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I thought this book was fascinating. Granted, I work in the biotechnology industry, but this woman and her story have impacted every person on this planet and no one knows her name. HeLa (HEnrietta LAcks) cells make up nearly every cell on the planet that is used for medical testing. Her cells have gone into space, are being used to fight AIDS and cancer and help create every vaccine you could imagine. Little would you know her cells were taken from her without her knowing before she died from a vicious bout of cancer. This book is about Henrietta Lacks, her family and racism in the medical testing field in the mid 20th century.

And finally, I would buy a new copy of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, because mine is falling apart. This is a very interesting read and one of my favorite works of Lewis. It’s a series of letters back and forth between the Devil and one of his minions on earth talking about how to tempt his assigned human into sin.

There you have my new reading list!

What are you going to read this summer?

Farewell Harry Potter

Maybe it’s because I know I’d be in the house of Hufflepuff. I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffinndor. I am too much of a goody-two-shoes to be in Slytherin. Ravenclaw is a close second, but I don’t think I would ever be able to figure out the riddle passwords to get into my Hogwarts dorm room.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I know what Butterbeer and treacle tarts taste like. Maybe it’s because I can feel the warm, cozy buzz of sitting in Honeyduke’s on a chilly winter day catching up on Charms homework.

Maybe it’s because I love the thrill of watching a good game of Quidditch or the idea camping out for the World Cup with friends.

Maybe it’s because I know I would never want to be in the Tri-Wizard tournament, that I, too, would have disliked Lavendar Brown, and would cringe at receiving a howler from my Mom.

Maybe because I think my patronus would be a songbird. Maybe because I can see myself reading the Quibbler with Luna on the train.

Maybe because I think I’d be BFFs with Ginny. Maybe because I think I would start to be good friends with Hermione after I got used to her. (At first she would annoy me.)

Maybe because I know I would have joined the DA to protect my sorry self. (I don’t see myself being very good at defensive spells. Lack of rapid response.)

Maybe this is why I, along with many other people, have gotten lost in J.K. Rowling’s world of Harry Potter.

The last installment of Potter films premieres tonight at midnight. I am going tomorrow night (!!!) and can’t wait!

But I also feel a twinge of sadness. The same twinge I felt when I finished the Deathy Hallows book for the first time a few years ago. There was no more Hogwarts to learn about and explore.

Behold the power of a good book.

Fan fiction here I come!

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real? 

-J.K. Rowling, “King’s Cross,” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007, spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore

All images from Pinterest.

Frankly Scarlett

75 years ago today a big fat book was published. It was written on a Remington typewriter at a little desk in front of a little window by a little woman named Peggy who lived in Atlanta and was recovering from a car accident.

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret “Peggy” Mitchell, won the Pulitzer Prize two years later and later was transformed into a American film classic of gargantuan proportion.

I love Gone with the Wind. I remember watching the movie as a kid and covering my eyes during the Atlanta fire and marveling at Scarlett’s famed 18″ waistline (that corset scene still makes me laugh! How she managed to eat eggs after that I would love to know).

As an adult I picked up the book and, despite being intimidated by it’s weightiness, thought I’d give it a shot. I couldn’t put it down! From the lovely parties thrown at Wilkes Manor to the dirt and potatoes of poverty, Scarlett makes you love her, hate her, and love her again. She is one of my most perplexing characters in the literary world. “After all, tomorrow is another day,” she frequently laments.

Here are a few ways to spend your weekend in honor of the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind:

1. Sew curtains!

Or learn how to sew curtains! This is going to be on my list of things to do shortly. Everyone remembers the scene in Gone with the Wind where Mammy transforms the living room drapes into a marvelous dress for Scarlett so she still looks nice and rich when she visits Rhett in jail.

2. Make sun tea!

I know I”m a Yankee and all, but I know Southerners love their sweet tea. I don’t think I’ve ever had sweet tea, but I love sun tea! Or maybe my goal should be to try sweet tea? Don’t they serve that at McDonald’s now?

3. Yardwork!

Some of you may be scratching your head with this one. We tend to only remember Scarlett the southern belle. The one fluttering her eyelashes and making boys bring her cakes while making googlyeyes at Ashley Wilkes. While that character is a quite glamorous, Scarlett spends most of her time in the book taking care of Tara (her family’s plantation, for those who haven’t read the book) by farming the land and tending to animals. After all, thanks to Pa, the concept of land is a major motif throughout the book, so taking care of the land I shall do.

4. Read it, Silly!

Or you could always honor the anniversary the good ole fashioned way – pick up the book and start reading.

Or you could just watch the DVD… “after all, tomorrow is another day.”