100 Words #387 - Summer Rush

So begins my annual flurry of summer activity all revolving around a 10 day working retreat. Over the next couple of weeks, posts will be short and sweet. 

Currently working on this watercolor and quote: 

Watercolor cherry blossoms

And currently reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Your word from the book for this week's 100 Words writing prompt is: 

Weekly Writing Prompt



Keep the spirit alive while I'm joyfully, and temporarily extra busy. Happy writing!

Bookish Weddings for Bibliophiles

The peak of wedding season has passed, but in researching wedding ideas for my sister's upcoming wedding next year, I couldn't help but go down the rabbit hole of literary themed weddings. 

Bookstore Engagement.jpg

Bookstore engagement photos via Buzzfeed.

Bibliophile Wedding

Wedding in a gorgeous library...why didn't I think of that? See the rest of the photos here.

Bookish Wedding

Various bookish decor ideas, source unknown. Oh, and hey look, that bottom middle looks a lot like my altered book confetti! (Image below) 

People do seem to like it for weddings. I like to throw it into envelopes myself. 

Bookish Nerd Wedding

Described as a "geeky, bibliophile wedding", this couple mixed their love of books and all things geeky. From the book arch, to the lego boutonnieres, to the xkcd styled invitations, to the altered bookpage and paper flower bouquets, and more. So much more

Bookish Wedding Invitations

Bookish wedding invitations. More at BookRiot.

Bibliophile Wedding Invitations

Image from OHF, but I can't find the original post.

Wedding Library Index File

Library index file seating cards via Style Me Pretty.

Wedding Typewriter Guest Book

Vintage typewriter for guest messages via tressugar.com


And finally, cake. Last two photos from this gorgeous wedding.

100 Words #386 - Summer Bookishness

Summer is in full swing, and life seems accordingly busy in that particular way of summer. Activities, events, much to do on the outside of the house and in the garden.

I love the full buzz of summer - the long days, the various travels, the cheerful methods of keeping cool. But I already look forward to the curling in Autumn will bring. In the meantime, I satisfy a slower, more sensuous nature with art, reading, and the treasure hunt for beautiful old bookish things. 

All the more delightful when I get to send them off. I cherish sending things through the Post. Carefully packaging, writing a note, imagining the delight when the package arrives and is opened. 

Most recently, a beautiful vintage copy of The Russian Ballet by Ellen Terry, sets of my altered book-page bird and butterfly confetti, and one dear brass armadillo paperweight claimed by a poet and friend before it could make an appearance on Etsy

The Russian Ballet Illustrated
Literary LIfestyle
Post Office Packages

In other bookish life news, these books are currently on my bookshelf. 

2014-06-25 20.06.34.jpg

Other than the Joan Didion, and the two children's books on the bottom (for illustration inspiration), these were recommendations by various friends when I asked for books in the "magical realism" genre. I'm looking to recapture the emotional aura of reading Ocean at the End of the Lane last summer. So far I've read Garden Spells, which was decent, but didn't come close to the same resonance. I'm hopeful about Winter's Tale after reading last night that Neil Gaiman himself highly recommends both the book and movie

Speaking of Winter's Tale, let me crack it open right now and choose a word for this week's challenge. 

Your word this week is: 


Happy writing! 

100 Words #385 - Gone Girl

I'm just off a whirlwind week of family and friends events, and all through it my new tag-sale find has been along for the ride so I could sneak in a chapter before bed, or in between visiting. 

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

Before Gone Girl, I finished up Garden Spells and was thus inspired. 

Candied Violas

Later this week I'll post a review of Garden Spells along with a recipe inspired by the book. For now, let's get to this week's 100 Words prompt. 

100 Words Writing Prompt

From Gone Girl, your word is: 


100 Words #384 - Literary Lifestyle in Northampton, MA

Visited my old stomping grounds in Northampton this past weekend. 

Webster's Dictionary 1956
Antique Typewriter Northampton
Quill and Fox Notebook Journal
Wrapping Paper Northampton
Raven Used Books Northampton
Raven Used Bookstore Northampton
Raven Bookstore Northampton MA
Vintage Bike Northampton

1. 1956 Webster's dictionary found at a tag sale. No, I didn't get it. Too big to pack in my suitcase. 

Found at Essentials of Northampton (in my list of top 10 favorite stores): 2. Antique typewriter. 3. Gorgeously illustrated notebook by Quill & Fox. 4. Rack of wrapping paper. I found the dog print reminiscent of some of The New Yorker illustrations.

Found at Raven Used Books (bookstores in Northampton are still going strong): 5. Raven screen printed tote bag. 6. Bookshelf overflow. 7. Books upon books upon books. 

8. Nothing to do with anything else, but hello banana seat! 


Not pictured, I did snag a hardcover copy of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn at the tag sale. Superb writing! From the book, your word this week is: 




The Trouble With Cats

Happily chalkboarding a quote one minute...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Quote
The Trouble With Cats
Cat and Chalk

Ah, the trouble with cats. This is why we can't have nice things. Oliver is still happily sleeping on the chalkboard, covered in a fine white dust.

The quote is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Vintage Brass Armadillo Paperweight

I found this vintage armadillo paperweight over the winter and intended to put it in the store, but I kept hesitating. For a while he lived on my nightstand amidst whatever books I was reading. Then I started taking pictures of him. 

Vintage Brass Armadillo
Brass Armadillo Paper Weight

In my head I continuously thought of him as a hedgehog, knowing that to be wrong, but unable to shake the label. 

Vintage Brass Paper Weight
Brass Armadillo

I didn't name him, but I did start imagining a traveling gnome life for him.  After posting a picture on Facebook, a poet friend in TX asked me to send it to her - she's writing a poem called "Armadillo".  Perhaps I should tell her he's meant to travel, and she ought to tuck him into her suitcase when she goes off to read poetry - take his photo in Vegas, New York, Connecticut, San Francisco, etc. 

Armadillo Dict2.JPG
Vintage Brass Paperweight

100 Words #383

It's been a rough couple of weeks at the Velvet Verbosity homestead. An unexpected death in the family stopped us all cold in our tracks. Amidst the grieving and comforting, I also picked up a virus that laid me out flat for close to a week. Hence my absence last week.

Like a foot falling through the air where you thought a stair would be. Yes, it's been like that - shock and bewilderment. It has also been terrifically sad for some of my family, and that grief carries shockwaves rippling to and from. 

And yet, life paces forward. The grief, the shock, the bewilderment, simply must come along for the ride, getting processed, digested, in small bits even as the eggs pass our lips, the coffee slides down, the toast shivers into crumbs between our teeth. 

There is no cheerful way to transition to the writing challenge, but don't let yourselves feel too heavy over this. This is life. It's ok. 

100 Word Challenge.jpeg



Your word this week: 



100 Words #382 - Swooning Over Vintage Books

I spent part of the weekend sorting and photographing my small collection of vintage books, writing tools, and library items. The way others swoon over baseball card collections, or lovingly fondle a collection of heirloom gems, or swell with pride over that special antique they restored - that happens for me when I sit surrounded by old books, or hold a vintage pen made in a time when craftsmanship was the standard.

Brass armadillo paper weight. 

Beautiful textured back book cover of a vintage story book.


Sterling silver mechanical pencil with loop to hang on a chain.

Vintage German stationary made for Lord + Taylor.

Vintage children's book.

Gorgeous textured binding and cover. 

And yes, many of these items will soon be coming to the Velvet Verbosity shop

Your word this week is: 


100 Words #381 - Metamorphosis

There are so many books in the world slated for the dumpster. Broken bindings, too many copies to keep the old, out of date information. I like to give them new life.

In this case, as butterflies from old dictionaries. How apropos to represent the transformation. These, as well as some newly listed vintage books are now available on Etsy



Your word this week, from one of the butterflies pictured here, is: 





Write on word-nerds. You have until Sunday at midnight to get your 100 words in to the linky list below.

100 Words #380 - Honoring in Words

The most famous Memorial Day speech, hailed for its literary genius, was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in 1884.

"Every year--in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life--there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier's grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march--honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away."

You can read the essay in its entirety here

100 Word Challenge #380

Your word prompt from the essay is: 


100 Words #379 - The Book Thief

From around the web, a collection of things inspired by The Book Thief, which I'm just finishing up. 

The book is so plump with Magical Realism that it seemed it would be easy to gather a treasury of items on Etsy, but once you step away from the book, you realize how sparse and gloomy the landscape actually is. They had so little of anything. Still, there were symbols and themes that stuck out, like the train, death, the giving and receiving of bread, the snowman in the basement, Rudy's lemon colored hair, Papa's accordian, etc.

Among my favorite finds was this Grim Reaper cologne oil, described as "Forest damp earth, graveyard scented". I'm tempted to buy it just to see what a graveyard smells like when translated to a perfume scent.

And these vintage German flash cards, which look nothing like the hand-drawn flash cards Papa makes for Liesel, but I'm a sucker for beautiful typeface in any language. 

That pea soup. That awful pea soup they had to eat every day. It was so painful to read, at times I wanted to reach into the pages with something fragrant and delicious to offer. Or at least a more palatable version of the same. Only Martha could make pea soup look so luxurious (click image for full recipe). Imagine this showing up on the table. Liesel and Papa would think they had died and gone to Heaven.

100 Words #379

Your word this week comes from the last page of The Book Thief: 


For all you newcomers, remember to provide a link back here so that your readers know where to find the prompt. Happy writing!

100 Words #378 and My Date with Vermont Poetry

There aren't many cultural events in the small Vermont town I'm living in. Unless you count park juggling. So when I saw a postcard announcing a poetry reading at the library, I grabbed my bag and took the short walk to the little town library. 

A small group of people slowly gathered in the small children's room. As we waited for the poets to take their seats, I ran my fingers across the spines of beautifully illustrated children's stories, and thicker spines of Young Adult Fiction series featuring dragons, lost worlds, young adventurers, and mysteries. A twinge of nostalgia pressed into my ribcage. 

Daniel Lusk on the left, Angela Patten on the right.

Daniel Lusk on the left, Angela Patten on the right.

Then there was the reading. Two poets, a married couple as it turns out, swapped back and forth. There are few things I find so delicious as listening to a poet read his/her own work. I wanted to crawl into their laps, have them stroke my hair with their words - stories of the lake, of mothers and fathers, of dying, of a kidnapping, of hearth, of broken glass and a bleeding mouth, of frogs and goldfish, of yearnings and findings, love and loss. 

Daniel Lusk Kin

When asked about the technical aspects of writing poetry, Angela Patten talked about the love of language, the romance, and how poetry -- good poetry  -- can say so much with so little. Indeed. The experience, then, of the listener, must be one of focus with an unclenched mind. One must let the words move straight from the ear canal to the chest, letting them gather and dance there. One must be prepared for the inevitable impact, or the sigh -- the compression or the release. 

100 Words 378


This week's prompt is taken from the poem, "Not the Coat", found in Kin by Daniel Lusk:





100 Words #377 - Admin and Jazz

Welcome back word-nerds. I've only got a moment before being sucked back into the vortex of the second largest floral holiday of the year - Mother's Day. (PSA - order your flowers early...it makes life so much easier for everyone.)

So just three quick things. 

1. Coming Soon - Last week I used Google Maps to locate every independent Vermont bookstore, and yes, I plan to visit every one of them over the coming weeks. Along with famous author sites, and who knows, maybe some interviews. A literary road trip. Stay tuned for notes from the road!

2. Shout out - to Barbara PurpleMoose who sent me a copy of The Book Thief, and a surprise book from Anne Lamott. Pretty swell to find packages in the mailbox, especially when it's full of books! Thanks m'dear, you made my day, and you have officially started the Velvet Verbosity Readers Library. ;)

3. Welcome - to all the newcomers who found their way to the challenge last week! Fun, isn't it If you're new to the challenge, I would love for you to introduce yourself in comments. 

100 Word Challenge.jpeg

This week's prompt, from Help, Thanks, Wow


100 Words #375 - This Week in Literary Lifestyle

Cool things I found in Literary Lifestyle this week.

1. The Affair - Cult literature t-shirts, prints, and digital wallpapers. 

"After much beard-stroking and bickering amidst the rubble of broken dreams and the boozers of East London, the original literature-inspired fashion brand was born in late 2007. With an insatiable curiosity for knowledge, we delve deeper than hackneyed pop culture for our inspiration. We make clothing fashioned by cult literature. We are The-Affair."

2. Mark Crick - author of four household tips books inspired by famous authors. Kafka's Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 17 Recipes, Machiavelli's Lawn: The Great Writers' Garden Companion, Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY, and Household Tips of the Great Writers.

Sartres Sink Mark Crick.jpg

3. Booklovers Map of America Showing Certain Landmarks of Literary Geography - created by Paul M. Paine in 1933. Prints available at the link provided. 

via BrainPickings

via BrainPickings

4. Edgar Allan Poe statue to be unveiled in Boston in October - Below is the clay model of the statue by artist Stephanie Rocknak.  Just added to my calendar.

via i09

via i09

Find anything interesting in Literary Lifestyle this week? Send me a link, or share in comments. 


Now for the 100 Words challenge for this week. Inspired by The Affair, your word this week is: 


Open until midnight Sun 4/27/14



100 Words #374 - 10 Delicious Poetry Readings

Continuing in the celebration of National Poetry Month 2014, enjoy these 10 readings or spoken word performances. From famous British dudes born to read poetry, to a 12 year old Bronx prodigy, to emerging poets, to Poet Laureates, and more. In no particular order.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a natural at reading Shakespeare with his resonant baritone, the refined British accent, his impeccable pacing and enunciation. 

Actually, Cumberbatch is just a natural at reading period. Here he is reading "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats.

The following is a book trailer for A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying by Laurie Ann Guerrero, who was just named Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX. I've seen Laurie read several times (she's a friend), and it's always powerful. I couldn't find a video of a live reading, but she does read, "My Mother Woke a Rooster" at the beginning of the video.

Meet Kioni "Popcorn" Marshall, a young Bronx poet who at the time of this video was 12 years old. A force of words and cadence and brevity. 

This one is just beautiful and inspiring. 

Anthony Hopkins. Is there anything more to be said? Perhaps only that the fellow introducing the poem is also perfectly delightful to listen to in all his buttoned-up splendor.

"Patrick Stewart Recites A Poem In His Native Huddersfield." Could also be titled, "Patrick Stewart Recites A Poem You Can't Understand And We Can't Tell What's More Delightful: The Sound Of It Or His Childlike Joy". 

James Earl Jones reading Edgar Allen Poe. 

Kay Ryan, 16th U.S. Poet Laureate, introduced by Garrison Keillor. 

To close, Josephine Hart and Jeremy Irons on poetry reading. Hart expresses the "compressed power" of poetry, and Irons says of poetry, "it's only when you read it aloud that it starts to sing". 

Bonus: Stephen Fry reading The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. Not a poem. A bonus.


For this week's 100 Words writing challenge, I've pulled a word from Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser: 


100 Words #373 - National Poetry Month

"Instructions to live a life; pay attention, be astonished, tell about it." ~Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver Quote

These words from the poet Mary Oliver work equally as well as instructions for writing, but then, we are all of us storytellers, and perhaps that is what she means. Writer or not, let life astonish you, and then tell about it. 

April is National Poetry Month. It was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, and is meant to celebrate the importance of poetry in our culture. 

Aside from writing poetry, reading poetry, and attending local reading events, here are a few other ways to be involved.


Poem in Your Pocket: Thursday, April 24th, is a day to carry a poem in your pocket and share it with others in person and on Twitter with the hashtag #pocketpoem. More here.


Get free poetry archive issues from poetryfoundation.org for your book reading group or other related organization. Sign up here




30 more ideas to celebrate and share poetry from Poets.org. My favorites: "Write a letter to a poet", "put a poem on pavement", and "watch a poetry movie". Find the rest here.

And follow these 38 talented poets on Twitter as curated by Social Media giant Mashable. 

Share in comments anything else you're participating in to celebrate NPM! 

On another note: 


Dawn of Lingering Visions won the drawing from last week to receive a literary gift box! 



This week's prompt for 100 Words is from Mary Oliver's poem, The Journey



100 Words #372 - This Week In Literary Lifestyle

Welcome to another 100 Words challenge, and a smattering of interesting Literary Lifestyle findings from around the Web, or my own back yard. Be prepared to lose yourself for a couple of hours. Perhaps more.

On Your Tablet - For those of you who like to cuddle up with your tablet for some Flipboard browsing, I created a Literary Lifestyle collection. Here's a preview of the cover. 

At The Movies - Kill Your Darlings, a movie about the early Libertine Circle of the Beat Poets, featuring Allen Ginsburg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs...and a murder. Based on a true story, the facts of which are still in debate. If you can stand the insufferable narcissistic rebelliousness of the Beat Poets, this is a stellar movie starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, who not only strikes a handsome young Allen Ginsburg sporting literary sweaters and jackets, but firmly sheds the legacy of Harry Potter and steps fully into a radically different role. (Ok yes, he's still off to school sporting glasses, but all other similarities stop there.)

From the Writers - While you're in video watching mode, Jonathan Fields interviews Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing (more here), on Writing as a Spiritual Path. A gentle gem full of insights and philosophical musings on writing and publishing. 

The essay she wrote about Twitter hashtag #amwriting is here

More food for the writer in this interview of E.B. White, The Art of the Essay No. 1, by George Plimptom and Frank H. Crowther for the Paris Review. 

At the Illustration Board - I couldn't find any evidence that Kathleen Lolley is illustrating for books, but she should be. Covers, spines, and pages. For now, her work is available on Etsy.

Kathleen Lolley - Wild Flowers

Kathleen Lolley - Wild Flowers

Writing Toolkit - A couple of new tools I came across for writing. 

  • Freedom App - Dani Shapiro mentions this desktop app in the #amwriting essay (linked above). It keeps you away from the attention-sucking Internet for as long as you tell it to so you can get down to the business of writing (or reading, or working, or whatever). It's $10, and as the website says, "If online distractions kill your productivity, Freedom could be the best $10 you'll ever spend." 
  • Hi - Why yes, another writing app-slash-community. With a twist. Designer Craig Mod (former Flipboard designer) has launched hi.co as an iterative and collaborative writing app that takes you from initial inspiration through drafting, sharing, feedback, polish, and sharing. It all starts with gathering snippets with your smartphone.  

Out and About - If you're in Anaheim, CA, or plan to pass through anytime soon, do check out the new Ink and Bean Coffee Saloon and Wordshop. Let me repeat. Coffee saloon and wordshop. They sell coffee and writing supplies. Why has no one thought of this before? I've reached out to the owners for an interview. 

Our City Lights Blog

Our City Lights Blog

In the Post - Lance Burson won a copy of Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, but I decided to send more than the book and put together a literary gift box. These will soon be available in the upcoming store, but while I'm testing, I'm giving away another (different book, different content). Your entry is automatic by participating in this week's 100 Words challenge, but you can add your name up to three times. Details below the picture. 

Velvet Verbosity Gift Box

Get a Velvet Verbosity Literary Gift Box. Here's how: 

  1. Join this week's 100 Word Challenge. See below for the prompt and to enter your link. If this is your first time, find the guidelines here. I'm going to be a stickler about entries on this. No spam, must be a genuine effort weighing in at exactly 100 words (not including title), must be linked via LinkyTools below, and your post must link back here. This is all to avoid any lazy entries just looking for free swag. 
  2. You can add two more entries with the following (1 per), but only if you participated in the challenge and your link is added: 
    • Tweet, Facebook, Pin, whatever - pick your Social Media tool and share this post OR Velvet Verbosity generally. Be sure to mention me so I see the post, and if the medium you chose won't notify me, let me know in comments. 
    • Leave a comment and share one or some of your favorite reading rituals - what's your drink of choice? Do you have a favorite spot? Do you prefer electronic books over physical books? Really, whatever you want to tell me. I want to hear how you read.

Your entries will be added to an online random selector (or to a basket from which I'll let the cat choose). **Due to prohibitive costs of shipping, I can only offer this to my U.S. readers. And now, without further ado...

100 Word Challenge 372


Your word this week, from my current reading material - The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz: 


100 Words #371 - Meet Me at the Montague Book Mill

Welcome to the Montague Book Mill - "Books you don't need, in a place you can't find". One of my favorite spots in Western Massachusetts. One of my favorite spots period.

The Lady Killigrew is the resident café. They have the best tangerine-ginger tea and a chicken curry sandwich you'll dream about for months. I hear the other dishes are equally delicious. Micro-brew beer and wine too, and tables overlooking the river.

Antique Easter books on display in the literature section downstairs.

A section for everything. 

Treasure found everywhere.

An abundance of nooks and sunlight. 

The big room upstairs is a favorite place to study, gather, read, work, and write. 

If two stories of books and a café aren't enough, there's a local artisan gallery and a used CD/DVD store as well. It's a rustic, mini-cluster of culture and you may never want to leave.

If you ever find yourself traveling through Massachusetts, drop me a line. I'll meet you there.

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Your word this week, dear word-nerds, is: