100 Words #397 - Bel Canto

Last summer a friend and I were visiting one of our favorite bookshops in New Hampshire. A couple of book geeks hanging out, pointing at titles, "Did you read this? SO good."  At the counter there was a shelf of staff picks. CK picked up Bel Canto and asked me if I had read it. When I answered, "no", he put it on the checkout counter exclaiming, "I have to buy it for you."

Bel Canto Ann Patchett

A little more than a year later, I've finally cracked it open. 

"The hostages had begun to believe that they might not be killed. If what a person wants is his life, he tends to be quiet about wanting anything else. Once the life begins to seem secure, one feels the freedom to complain."

Your word (hint, it's in bold) for this week's 100 Words Challenge is: 


100 Words #396

Autumn is here. The winds blew mightily today, bringing with it cold air. While it was still warm I spent the weekend on the road acquiring new book collections, and then indoors preparing packages and letters for the Post. 

Altered Book Page Butterflies

Vintage dictionary butterflies - illustrated and cut. 

Harry Potter Stamps

At the post office I discovered they had Harry Potter stamps for sale!

Snail Mail

I found this note card at an art supply store in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont when I visited for Family Camp. I fell instantly in love with the illustration. I fancy him a literary fox with his wee spectacles, sweater vest, and bow tie. Sent him out in the Post today to one of my Instagram giveaway winners. I researched the illustrator, Barclay Tucker, and he's a professor and bow-tie illustrator living in the NEK.  I'm just in love with his "bow tie guys". 

Literary Gift Box

Another literary gift box with Vermont artisinal tea, vintage dictionary confetti, The Thirteenth Tale (a most interesting read, and perfect for the self-labeled bookish type), Dancing Deer cookies (I highly recommend), and honey. Someone's in for a treat!

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Vintage Grimm's Fairy Tales - just one of the many gorgeous vintage children's books coming to the shop.

Vintage Alice In Wonderland Books

Two vintage editions of Alice in Wonderland. The one on the bottom, illustrated by Gertrude Alice Kay, is a rare, out-of-print edition . 

Your word for the 100 Word Challenge this week (newbies, click here to find out what the challenge is about) is from the dictionary butterfly in the first photo:

Velvet Verbosity Writing Prompt


Happy writing, and be sure to check out the newcomers' posts. Say hello, offer feedback, and welcome them to the word-nerd fold. I'll be making my rounds after this posts.

100 Words #395

It was a clear, beautiful day here in New England. I had some errands around town so I made a day of it and visited some local antique shops and went book shopping. 

Rose Teacup
Vintage Typewriter
Stack of Books

I bought the teacup. I did not buy the typewriter. I bought the books. An old dictionary found at Goodwill to be reborn as butterflies and birds, a gift for an Instagram fan, and two books for me. Neuromancer has been on my to-read list for a while, and of course Neil Gaiman. Incidentally, I'm quite smitten with the cover art of the William Morrow publishing editions. I might have to get them all.

Your word this week is from a short story in Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, called The Facts in the Case.  

"She wore a black leather cap, and a black leather coat, and had black, black hair, pulled tightly back into a small bun, done up with a pottery tie. She wore makeup, expertly applied to give an impression of severity that a professional dominatrix might have envied. Her lips were tight together, and she glared at the world through a pair of definite black-rimmed spectacles--they punctuated her face much too definitely to ever be mere glasses." 

The word is: 


100 Words #394 - Quest

Busy day herding cats (literally) and then having my first go at an official Instagram sale (last week I was posting to Instagram but re-routing folks to Etsy). It was a lesson in failure - or partial failure. There were likes and comments and new folks following, but not a sale. A bit of a drag since I'm determined to shift to full time Literary Lifestyle.

Speaking of, I believe I mentioned a little while back my quest to visit all the bookstores in Vermont. It's slowly starting. I made my first official visit  to one of the oldest antiquarian shops in Woodstock, VT several weeks back but haven't had time to do proper photo editing and put together my thoughts. Yesterday I finished the list. There are 90 independent bookstores in Vermont. 

It's my Fall project to see how many I can visit before the snow flies. Vermont is a smallish state, but not the smallest, and much of the terrain is back roads over mountains.  

Here's a little sneak peak at the Woodstock shop. 

Pleasant Street Book Store Woodstock VT

A little of what I'm up to. Speaking of quests...

Word prompt for 9/8 - 9/13


100 Words #393 - All the Books

Twas a muggy labor day weekend and I hear there were BBQs. I needed me time, so I got out the books and the camera and had a sale on Instagram (come find me @velvetverbosity and say hello). 

Vintage Oscar Wilde tales and fairy tales in German. Gorgeous gilding on cover. 

Classic 60's style cover illustration.

Classic 60's style cover illustration.

Vintage 70's Sherlock Holmes cookbook. Deliciously fun. 

Vintage 70's Sherlock Holmes cookbook. Deliciously fun. 

The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde. 

The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde. 

Technically you could say it was a working holiday, but it was pretty blissful.

100 Words Challenge

Your word, this week (and I DO need to catch up with all of your blogs!) is from The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde: 


100 Words #392 - All I Want

The dark side of taking time away is that the world doesn't take a vacation with you. You come home to find piles in your mailbox, in your inbox, stacked messages in your voicemail, and a growing to-do list that threatens never to be done. 

I was feeling frustrated about the lack of time for reading and writing, frustrated that I have a back log of things I want to share with you and can't carve out the time for - bemoaning that I can't just live a literary lifestyle full time.  

Then I remembered sharing an anecdote about E.B. White during a client meeting to move her past a resistance, and later lying next to my sister and reading to each other from David Sedaris and E.B. White, and then the High Tea with the matriarchs of my family.

Scone and jam

Or the reminder of a favorite poem and the introduction to a new one when shared by a friend on Facebook, or laughing at dinner over a library card disaster and my oldest boy fondly noting what a dork I am, and our subsequent discussion about the life of the mind. 

The literary thread still weaves through, even when my schedule is stuffed to bursting with obligations of a different nature.

Oh, and the vintage copy of Rilke's poetry that came in the mail while I was away. From Die Funfte Elegie (The Fifth Elegy): 

And the youngster, the man, like the son of a neck and a nun: so tautly and smartly filled with muscle and simpleness.



Your word this week, from that passage, is: 




100 Words #391 - Zen and Wit in One Man's Meat

The first night of the meditation/family retreat, I was delighted to discover a dear friend would be my neighbor for the week, both of us bunking in rooms in the main house. 

"You left your door open", he said when we ran into each other on the stairs. 

"Oh yes, I was just down the hall for a minute." 

"I noticed that book, One Man's Meat by E.B. White on your stand. What's it about?"

I lit up. "I'm so excited about that book. It's a book of E.B. White's essays - one I haven't yet read. I found it at a vintage book sale in Woodstock VT last weekend. Have you read his essays?" 


"Oh! You must! I think you'd like them. He had quite a charming sense of humor -- really witty in a way few are anymore, and he has this non-obtrusive way of weaving in social commentary. He just writes about life in the most delightful, self-effacing, intelligently amusing way. From what I understand, these essays were written when he first went to the farm in Maine, before he wrote Charlotte's Web." 

A rare photo of E.B. White (as in I couldn't find it on Google) fills the back cover. 

A rare photo of E.B. White (as in I couldn't find it on Google) fills the back cover. 

No one, least of all E.B. White himself, expected essays of farm life to become a classic.

"The Classics edition opened with an introduction by Morriss Bishop, and this delighted me, because it was Professor Bishop who, years before, when he discovered I was headed for the country, had said, "I trust that you will spare the reading public your little adventures in contentment."  

The charm of a good book at the right time is the way parallels jump off the page. As I was immersed in meditation--a discipline of waking up--while surrounded by children of all ages, I read White's new introduction to this 1982 reprint of the 1938 original. 

"Once in everyone's life there is apt to be a period when he is fully awake, instead of half asleep. I think of those five years in Maine as the time when this happened to me. Confronted by new challenges, surrounded by new acquaintances--including the characters in the barnyard, who were later to reappear in Charlotte's Web--I was suddenly seeing, feeling, and listening as a child sees, feels, and listens. It was one of those rare interludes that can never be repeated, a time of enchantment."

Or driving around the region chatting with another friend of my plan to grow old with a couple of chickens, a cat, and an old shadow of a dog among the hills in this Northeast corner of Vermont. White writes:

"Despite the great blizzard of April, the swallows arrived on schedule and are busy remodeling the mud nests in the barn. The goose sits. Rhubarb is showing. (I used to eat rhubarb because I loved rhubarb. Now I eat it because it retards arthritis.) The Egg has been an enduring theme in my life, and I have allowed my small flock of laying hens to grow old in service. Cosmetically they leave much to be desired, but their ovulation is brisk, and I greet them with the same old gag when I enter the pen: "White here. Cubism is dead."

There are mechanical books of farm life, and there are romanticized books of farm life, and then there is E.B. White who mingles his mischievous humor with clear-eyed observations of the rhythms of life--the things that stay, the things that decay. It is applicable to all of life. Just as the Buddhist contemplates emptiness and impermanence, so too did White from the vantage point of his saltwater farm.

E.B. White One Man's Meat

At the end of retreat I was given this handwoven bookmark by the Buddhist Teacher-In-Residence as a thank-you for work I had done. She had no idea how beautifully this tied it all together. 

Writing Prompt Weekly Challenge

From One Man's Meat, your word prompt for this week's 100 Word Challenge is: 


100 Words #390 - Books and Tea

Ten days were spent in a combination of meditation, time with long-standing cherished friends, my own family and the company of 80 others, 700+ acres of wooded and meadowed land, food direct from garden to table, the absolute joyous chaos of over 100 children ranging from 6 weeks to 18 years old, campfires, music, dancing, and so on. 

Back home, the cat curls into me in greeting, the moon close and full, my heart broken and tenderized in the best possible way. 

Missing people, missing experience, but happy to curl back in to quiet with books and tea.

Book and tea
Tea and book

On an admin note, I've heard from a couple of people that posting comments is ranging from wonky to impossible. If you're having trouble leaving a comment (and let me take this opportunity to say how nice it is when you do comment), hit me up on Facebook so I can see if I can get to the bottom of the problem. 

100 Word Writing Prompt

Your word prompt this week for the 100 Word Challenge is from The Thirteenth Tale by Jane Setterfield. Let me just say, if you're a total book nerd and have ever fantasized about living in a used and/or antiquarian bookstore, you should get this book. 


100 Words #389 - Out of Range

I'm here, I'm here. I'm in a place where time stands still and Internet access is spotty at best. I should have thought to warn you, but I always forget how much the sway of the land takes over and how easy it is to forget about the online world when it's difficult to connect. 

My world since last Thursday has been equal parts meditation, lakeside lounging, old and new friends, family, and all the ordinary magic that entails. 

Just before coming to meditation camp, I stopped in at a Literary Festival in Woodstock, VT. I'll be posting about that soon, but here's a teaser. 


Tonight I picked up a copy of Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood by Jane Yolen. 

Your word this week from that book is: 




100 Words #388 - A Love Letter

Lately I find you on my mind frequently. A sense of you that has become familiar, and ever-present. 

I see something funny or cool or inspiring, and immediately want to share it with you. I am moved by a passage in a book, and just know that you would be too. I stumble upon a nook of a bookshop on a road trip and wish you were there with me to delight in the shopkeeper's charms, run your fingers along the spines of ancient, leather-bound books, poke into dusty corners, and inhale the enchanting scent of decomposing paper and leather and ink. 

You have grown on me, you see. In a way I didn't imagine all those years ago when this all got started on a lark. I had no idea you would stick with me for so long. That you would hold me gently in your thoughts, as I did you. That you would show up, again and again, faithfully, cheerfully, week after week, year after year. 

I am amazed by this. Constantly. I know there are more effusive and exciting choices out there. I know there are many times I didn't or couldn't show up for you. I know, I know, how much competition I'm up against.

Thank you for this. For showing up. For what you give. 

Thank you for sticking this out with me. 

Thank you for inspiring me. 

Thank you, dear reader, j'adore. 


Your word this week is from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: 


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.