March 31, 2012

Learned Tot: Astronomy

I am hardly the first or the most keen parent, especially in our neck of the woods, to wish academic success for my offspring. But more than anything I want to pass on to the Klatch boys the love of knowledge for the sake of itself, love of learning widely dispersed across disciplines. So I find myself supplementing vague preschool curriculum with science experiments, art projects, and worksheets.

Surely other National Geographic-reading hipster-glasses-wearing parents are searching scouring for ideas, kits, books, and project. So I will be gathering reputable resources for above-average kid folk, starting with Astronomy.

We didn't discover Thames & Kosmos Little Labs kits, Santy Clause did.  There is nothing out of ordinary in the box (pack of seeds, picture of solar system, bit of string), but with the handy booklet it is everything one needs for astronomy experiments and set us squarely on the path to space exploration.

Parent involvement: HIGH
By now we own just about the entire Basher Science collection (you are welcome, Simon Basher) and Astronomy is, well, as the author said, out of this world. We are all learning about the space!

Parent Involvement: HIGH (the book is written for 10+ year olds so a translation is required for the younger set)

 Generally I am not in favor of loud battery-operated toys, but this Leap Frog Solar System kit is like an electronic tutor with a strange accent full of facts and drills.
Parent Involvement: LOW (You will need the Leap Frog's Tag wand to use this kit, otherwise this is very hands off, by the time dinner is done your tot will be lecturing you about Jupiter's Red Spot)

A few other resources:
Activity: head outside for some stargazing, you will feel like a kid seeing planets for the first time. 

March 28, 2012

Modern Still Life

This is a perfectly modern still life with a quaint twist. This box chock full of goodies, gala apples, bananas, and bell peppers, is our recent delivery from Washington's Green Grocer. Happy Wednesday!

March 23, 2012

From Irises to Abstract

When it comes to appreciating art, most of us first learn about Monet’s lilies or perhaps Van Gogh’s sunflowers before getting to the really good stuff. I am not here to judge anyone on the account of art tastes, especially since Van Gogh’s irises are perhaps my first art memory, but I’ve been pondering art a lot lately and noticed that my tastes evolved.

First it was the palatable and easy art. Bright colors, sunny day, what’s not to like?

Vincent Van Gogh, Irises (1889) from The J. Paul Getty Museum

Then I moved on to art with a story, with characters with complex relationships with each other and their viewers. Like Toulouse Lautrec, Marc Chagall,. Or Edward Hopper. Who is this woman waiting for in the hotel? Is she sad, lonely, or merely indifferent?

Edward Hopper, Hotel Window (1955) from Smithsonian American Art Museum, their Hopper Scrapbook is pretty awesome, by the way. 

I begun to truly appreciate the Old Masters, Frans Hals, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Ingres, after learning about oil painting process, pigments, and composition. I still have much to learn...

Frans Hals, Youth with a Skull (1626-28)

Lately, I turned another leaf and am drawn to abstract pieces. I don’t know what it means, it does not invoke any deep thoughts or meaning. But I like it. Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Brice Marden, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, or Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Robert Motherwell, Elegy to the Spanish Republic 70 - at the Met
Brice Marden Vine (1991-93) from

You might enjoy:

March 15, 2012

Mad As March Hare: GCB to Queen V

It’s time for March round up. First, we continue to mourn the end of the Downton season. But one must cope, be it by reading Ms. Georgette Heyer or by turning to other television shows. And that is how I found GCB.

For starters if Kristin Chenoweth is in it, I will watch it. High brow it is not but one would be hard pressed to find a better show to watch with a glass of tempranillo on a Sunday evening after junior members of the household are asnooze in their cozy beds. GCB is great fun thanks to catty big-haired Neiman Marcus-clad cast of characters.

From Queen B to Queen Victoria. I started watching “Mrs. Brown” in my Netflix queue with Dame Judi Dench portraying the Queen. What about the mysterious Scotsman John Brown? I investigated. Turns out John Brown was indeed a great favorite with the Queen. Despite much speculation the exact nature of the Scottish servant and his Queen will never be known. How about them Victorians.

Lastly, my hip NYC friend Anne alerted me to the arrival of the West Coast’s Blue Bottle Coffee. Would you look at this beauty? This is not a coffee machine, it is a steampunk work of art from a mad scientist’s lab with coffee aroma percolating all around! (P.S. Anne assures me that the establishment’s coffee lives up to the hype).

Photo credit: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

A few recent posts:

March 7, 2012

Wednesday: Woman with Hat

Even Leo Stein, Gertrude's cantankerous brother, dismissed this portrait. Beauty is the eye of the beholder. So behold.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
Woman with a Hat (1905)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bequest of Elise S. Haas
© 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

March 6, 2012

The Lake House

For months now I've been meaning to post these photos from lake house visit last fall. In the midst of daily chaos (did you expect Modern Klatch called a day spa home?) I long for the calm of the log cabin over the lake. And fried green tomatoes.

A word about said tomatoes and this is where things get weird. My cousin's cabin isn't in the Dixie but the green tomatoes were abound. She ingeniously turned an abandoned tennis court into a kitchen garden. We picked enormous tomatoes in the cool late fall and it felt like a visit to Mrs. Haversham, if she ever took up gardening that it. Oddly in the middle of this wilderness kitchen was stocked with buttermilk and cornmeal, so naturally we made amazing fried green tomatoes.

The cabin is lovely.  One drives past corn fields and turns left after passing the third herd of cows, onto an unpaved road.  Inside are rustic logs, well stocked book shelves, and wonderful coffee.

The lake is wild - it was such a high zipping around!

Is there anything better than a fall walk through the rustling leafs?

March 2, 2012

Guilty-Pleasure Books

I would like to be the person that reads Proust for pleasure. But most days meaningful reading is out of the question. So I find myself on a quest for easy reads that one would not be embarrassed to hold in public or mortified to read in private (my self-esteem is still recovering from reading the first 50 pages of smutty The Other Boylen Girl). Think Pride & Prejudice and Cold Comfort Farm.

Then I found Georgette Heyer. The Grand Sophy was my gateway book. Regency Buck, The Corinthian, and Arabella followed, each with a decisive and eligible heros and heroines full of pluck What the books lack in originality of plot, they make up for in delicious twists and turns of Regency courting. Historic accuracy and correct language keep her books on the right side of tawdry.

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

Though Ms. Heyer was prolific, the search for more light reads continues. Next on my list are Lucia & Mapp.

Other book posts you might like:

March 1, 2012

Almost Wed: Federico Degetau y Gonzalez

Lately, I've been lusting after portraits - and stories they tell. This post is to make up for yesterday, which I missed. Great colors and unconventional composition. Love!

Federico Degetau y Gonzalez
oil by Samuel Sanchez (1956) - featured by the National Portrait Gallery


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