28 Jul

Michael’s Summer Reading Picks!


Vicious by V.E. Schwab — This book has: uncon­ven­tional super­heroes! Moral ambi­gu­ity! Res­ur­rec­tion! (*mild spoiler*) A dog that does not die in the end! Other stuff! This book does *not* have: two-dimensional char­ac­ters! Tropes! A sequel! Though, really, it should.


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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab — An urban fan­tasy that has ele­ments of both Neil Gaiman and China Mieville (who are two other authors you should obvi­ously be read­ing). There’s a swash­buck­ling, gender-bending lady pirate, an inter-dimensional blood magi­cian, AND A WHOLE LOT OF MAGIC. And queer char­ac­ters. Winnnnnnn.




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Seraphina & Shadow Scale by Rachel Hart­man — Drag­ons, mostly, with a Game-of-Thrones-esque atten­tion to world build­ing. The tit­u­lar char­ac­ter here is a sassy flautist with psy­chic abil­i­ties and she COMPLETELY steals the show. Can I com­pare this series to Game of Thrones again? Fine, I think I will.


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Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Ris­ing (The Grisha Tril­ogy) by Leigh Bar­dugo - More magic (are you sens­ing a theme here?). Ele­men­tal magi­cians, alchemists, and shadow– and light-wielders fight and flirt in this Russia-inspired tril­ogy about a nation divided by dark magic. The char­ac­ters are basi­cally sexy ver­sions of Hog­warts stu­dents. So, yeah.



Railsea by China Mieville — A Moby-Dick retelling set in a vast desert instead of the open seas. Giant bur­row­ing owls and mas­sive moles ter­ror­ize any­one caught out in the sand. There’s also a leg­end about angelic trains that guard the rail­ways and pro­tect trav­ellers from dan­ger. Need I continue?


28 Jul

Beatrix Potter: Our Spirit Animal


Beat­rix drew the ani­mals she observed through­out her life

Beat­rix Pot­ter, the mas­ter­mind behind The Tale of Peter Rab­bit, lived a quiet way life, appre­ci­at­ing sim­ple plea­sures.  She shared these sim­ple plea­sures with the masses.  She was born in Lon­don on July 28, 1866 and lived a lonely and shel­tered Vic­to­rian child­hood.  Her par­ents dis­cour­aged her from mak­ing friends her own age.  Beat­rix had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing famous artists, politi­cians, and thinkers, but this means lit­tle to a young girl who just wants a friend.  She was edu­cated at home by gov­ernesses.  Hav­ing lit­tle oppor­tu­nity to make friends, nature became her one true friend for the rest of her life.

Beat­rix spent sum­mer hol­i­days with her fam­ily in an area of the coun­try known as Lake Dis­trict.  She drew from a young age, observ­ing her pets, other ani­mals, and plants.  She devoted much of her life to farm­ing and coun­try­side con­ser­va­tion, prob­a­bly due to her early life and love of her mem­o­ries at Lake District.

Beatrix Potter's house

Beat­rix Potter’s house

A bit of a late bloomer, Beat­rix did not begin her career as a children’s author and illus­tra­tor until she was 35 years old.  She was quite ded­i­cated to her vision of Peter Rab­bit.  More than six pub­lish­ers rejected The Tale of Peter Rab­bit, so she printed two hun­dred and fifty copies pri­vately.  Beat­rix was inter­ested in all aspects of book pro­duc­tion, from the con­cep­tion of the story, to the bind­ing.  She made her books as cheap as pos­si­ble to reach as many chil­dren as she could; after all, they could buy it with pocket change.  Her books were tiny to accom­mo­date her read­ers’ tiny hands.  By the end of 1903, over 50,000 copies of Peter Rab­bit had sold.  The pub­lish­ers that rejected this clas­sic tale must have been regret­ting their rejec­tion.
Being a keen busi­ness­woman, Beat­rix paid close atten­tion to what her audi­ence desired.  She looked for inno­v­a­tive ways to cap­i­tal­ize on her cre­ations.  Shortly after pub­lish­ing Peter Rab­bit, she cre­ated a Peter Rab­bit doll, which was fol­lowed by wall­pa­per and a board game.  She tested her prose on her friends’ chil­dren who were always thrilled by her tales.  The mer­chan­dis­ing began with Beatrix’s inter­est in find­ing new ways to expand her imag­i­nary world.  Her tales have been trans­lated into over 35 lan­guages and have been pub­lished all over the world.

p_32.2.7_article_detail 14712608871_2db7b03620_o d4619302r Peter-Rabbit-Board-Game
Beat­rix always wrote what she knew and was inspired by real ani­mals and their unique per­son­al­i­ties.  The real Peter Rab­bit was Beatrix’s pet, “Peter Piper.”  She often sketched him in front of the fire lying on the hearth rug.  The Tale of Ben­jamin Bunny is mod­eled after her first pet rab­bit who she smug­gled into the nurs­ery in a brown bag.  His name was “Ben­jamin H. Bouncer” and he was fond of treats and hot but­tered toasts!

Beatrix with Peter Rabbit

Beat­rix with Peter Rabbit


The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, is based on a farm duck who often scam­pered off to lay eggs in secret nest­ing places.  Some­times Beat­rix had to use a hen to sit on Jemima’s eggs.  Jemima was always scam­per­ing off some­where, neglect­ing her eggs.  Beat­rix blended fan­tasy and real­ity flaw­lessly.  Her imag­i­nary world was filled with truth.  This tale in par­tic­u­lar is so closely asso­ci­ated with Hill Top Farm that it has been described as a “poem of the farm itself.”  The farm’s idyl­lic land­scapes are still rec­og­niz­able today.

For the last thirty years of her life, Beat­rix focused on pre­serv­ing her beloved land that inspired so many sto­ries.  She pre­served Lake Dis­trict for future gen­er­a­tions and ensured the area would be untouched by devel­op­ers.  In her sev­en­ties she wrote, “as I lie in bed, I can walk step by step on the fells and rough lands, see­ing every stone and flower…where my old legs will never take me again.”  Towards the end of her life she stated, “If I have done any­thing — even a lit­tle — to help small chil­dren appre­ci­ate hon­est, sim­ple plea­sures, I have done a bit of good.”

Beatrix at her beloved Hill  Top Farm

Beat­rix at her beloved Hill Top Farm

Beat­rix Pot­ter has done quite a bit of good.  We at Kards Unlim­ited love her to pieces!  She shares our love of ani­mals, nature, sim­plic­ity, gar­den­ing, chil­dren, and imag­i­na­tion!!!  We have a com­plete col­lec­tion of her tales that includes even more infor­ma­tion on this amaz­ing woman’s life.  Did you know she was engaged and within a month her fiance died?  Yep, that tragic bit of infor­ma­tion is in the book, along with much more!  If you have kids, or you are a kid at heart, these tales will warm your soul and make you want to find ani­mals to observe!  So come in to KU, grab a sketch­book, then go back out and bond with nature!  And if this post gave you the gar­den­ing itch, we sell “Garden-in-a-Bag,” it makes gar­den­ing a sitch.  Go forth into the world and make Beat­rix Pot­ter proud on her birth­day!!!!

27 Jul

Cooking With Kards: Barefoot Contessa at Home

IMG_20150727_101140I admit, I’ve been drawn towards try­ing the fun and strange cook books we have in stock. I mean, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Big Gay Book of Ice Cream: those aren’t nec­es­sar­ily titles of cook­books that one would buy to help with every day cook­ing ideas.

So I decided to switch it up a lit­tle, and review Ina Garten’s Bare­foot Con­tessa at Home. Ina’s whole deal through this book is giv­ing the reader access to great, sim­ple, every­day recipes that make your mouth water but aren’t crazy to make.

Here at Kards, we are huge fans of Ina Garten, Nigella Law­son, and Jamie Oliver. We carry a pretty good selec­tion of their cook­books, so when I was try­ing to choose a rea­son­able every­day cook­book, I had plenty of big names to choose from. For me, though, Ina Garten’s books stood out the most. Law­son and Oliver have some pretty great recipes, but they have a ten­dency to be too fancy for every day life. The pic­tures are great and big and the food looks won­der­ful, but the ingre­di­ents called for are some­time hard to track down.

Bare­foot Con­tessa at Home claimed to be a book that you could actu­ally use every day, and it’s true to its word. The recipes I read through were all pretty down to earth. Not bland or ‘nor­mal’, but def­i­nitely not com­pli­cated. I wouldn’t need to have a per­sonal shop­per and an in house butcher to gather my ingre­di­ents for me.

This is a big deal for me per­son­ally. I often feel like a lot of those TV cook­ing stars for­get that nor­mal peo­ple have to go to nor­mal gro­cery stores to find ingre­di­ents. We can track down fun ingre­di­ents if we have the time, but you have to be pretty seri­ous about good food to want to make time to find some of the harder to find ingredients.

So, to me, the Bare­foot Con­tessa already has one up on those other guys. She knows how to make a book for peo­ple who want to cook good things for not a lot of money and not a lot of time.


Doesn’t it look amaz­ing? It tastes even better.

Choos­ing the recipe was a bit hard.… there are a lot of good ones in there, but in the end I just HAD to go with her Chicken with Goat C heese and Basil. There are only 5 ingre­di­ents, and one two of them are olive oil and salt.

The only odd or exotic part of this recipe was that it calls for bone­less chicken breasts with skin on. They don’t really sell that prepack­aged at gro­cery stores. But it does have a note in the book that you can ask your butcher to de-bone some skin-on breasts for you. And I did! IT was easy-peasy. I just went up to the meat counter at mar­ket dis­trict and was like, hey, I need 6 chicken breast with skin on de-boned please! And they were like, great! come back in 5 minutes!

Seri­ously, that was the biggest has­sle of the whole thing. Well, that and the first time I went shop­ping, I bough the prepack­age bone­less chicken breasts because I didn’t actu­ally read the recipe and real­ize that there’s a REASON that it calls for skin on!

Mak­ing this dish took me like 5 min­utes, once I had all the ingre­di­ents. 5 min­utes, pop it in the oven for 30 min­utes, and it was ready to go.

And it was GOOD. Seri­ously. I mean, I love goats cheese, so I knew I was going to love it, but some­thing amaz­ing hap­pened to those things while they were in the oven. The goat’s cheese melted into the chicken in this awe­some way so that it ended up hav­ing the tex­ture of cooked ricotta cheese, and all of the fla­vor was every­where. The skin gets nice and brown and crunchy and the salt and pep­per make it oh so yummy.

Like, seri­ously, full con­fes­sion here: I made the mis­take of mak­ing these while I was home alone. And I ate three of them. THREE. gross. but SO YUMMY.

Ina Garten says right in the book: “Every­one needs a few dishes they can assem­ble ten min­utes after they walk in the door at night.” This is it. She has done it. This dish is ridicu­lously easy to buy for, make, and serve up pip­ing hot. It’s deli­cious and it looks really fancy. When you have that next din­ner party and make this dish, peo­ple are going to think that you are either a culi­nary genius or that you spent hours in the kitchen.

I highly HIGHLY rec­om­mend this recipe and this book as a kitchen basic. Seri­ously. This book is FULL of things that you can and will actu­ally use in every day life. Your life will be more yummy and more sane because of it.



Bare­foot Con­tessa at Home
Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil

6 bone­less chicken breast, skin on
8 to 10 ounces gar­lic and herb goat cheese, such as Mon­tra­chet
6 large fresh basil leaves
good olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre­heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fin­gers, leav­ing one side attached. Cut the goat cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place 1 or 2 slices plus a large basil leaf under the skin of each chicken breast. Pill the skin over as much of the meat as pos­si­ble so that it won’t dry out. With your find­ers, rub each piece with olive oil, then sprin­kle them very gen­er­ously with salt and pep­per. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 min­utes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature.




25 Jul

10 Movies to Help Remind You What Being Cold Feels Like

Is the sum­mer heat finally get­ting to you? Do you find your­self col­laps­ing, face down on the floor in front of fan when you get home? Can you even remem­ber what it feels like to be cold? Don’t panic, we’re here to help with a list of ten films to cool you off.

10. Alive


When your plane crashes in the Andes, and you have lit­tle to no food, what do you eat to sur­vive? The answer may haunt you, or per­haps CHILL you to the bone.

9. The Edge


When your plane crashes in the Alaskan wilder­ness and you must not only sur­vive the man eat­ing griz­zly bear that’s hunt­ing you, but also the man who wants to kill you and take your wife. Damn, that’s COLD blooded.

8. The Grey


When your plane crashes in the Yukon ter­ri­tory and you’re being hunted down by a pack of wolves, who are pick­ing off your group, one by one. Are you sens­ing a theme here? Don’t fly over des­o­late snowy areas or you’ll end up ON ICE.

7. Jere­miah Johnson

jerry j

Robert Red­ford with a beard? Yes, please. This rugged story of a man fed up with soci­ety and leav­ing the mod­ern world for the harsh com­fort of mother nature’s moun­tains will leave you yearn­ing for fresh pow­der and the smell of pine.

6. The Shining


Ghosts are cold, made colder by the dead of win­ter in the high moun­tains of Col­orado. Will the Tor­rence fam­ily per­ish and freeze under the icy grip of The Over­look Hotel? You’re going to want to wrap your­self in a blan­ket after this one.

5. Mys­tery, Alaska


The laughs come loud and often as small Alaskan town’s frozen pond hockey team takes on the pro­fes­sion New York Rangers… in Alaska.…outside.…in win­ter. Burrrr.

4. Death Hunt


Lee Mar­vin leads a man­hunt across the Yukon ter­ri­tory in search of the sup­posed vio­lent crim­i­nal played by Charles Bron­son. Guns and guts galore in this fast paced action thriller.

3. Frozen


This is not that movie with the song you know all the words to. This is the ter­ri­fy­ing story of three skiers stuck on a ski lift for three days with no food in the freez­ing tem­per­a­tures of Col­orado. You’ll never look at a ski lift the same way again.

2. The Thing


Trapped in the des­o­late waste­land of Antarc­tica, bat­tling with a shape shift­ing alien life-form that can per­fectly repli­cate any­one, who is human and who is a thing? More impor­tantly, who will survive?

1. Happy Peo­ple: A Year in the Taiga


Film­maker and all around crazy man, Werner Her­zog spent a year in the arguably cold­est place on earth where humans live year round. This fas­ci­nat­ing odyssey will warm your heart, and make so very thank­ful for your hot summer.

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23 Jul

A Tribute to Daniel Radcliffe

Today’s Daniel Radcliffe’s birth­day and we wanted to cel­e­brate the won­der­ful man he is.

Here he is rap­ping Eminem.

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Here he is walk­ing like, a bil­lion dogs.

Daniel Radcliffe films a scene on the set of the motion picture "Trainwreck" in Bryant Park. CREDIT: Abaca USA/AKM-GSI [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Daniel Rad­cliffe films a scene on the set of the motion pic­ture “Train­wreck” in Bryant Park. CREDIT: Abaca USA/AKM-GSI [Via Mer­lin­FTP Drop]

Here he is um, being HARRY POTTER.


Angsty Harry was my favorite

Don’t you just want to be BFF with him?

Happy Dan

He gives to great char­i­ties, and look, here he is with a cute PUPPY!


I have no idea what this pic­ture is for/about but I don’t really care.

He’s weird, but he’s my kind of weird.

Dan bongos


22 Jul

Seven Books to Make Your Summer Even Hotter

The Witches by Roald Dahl

This is a children’s story you must re-read as an adult!  Supremely creepy.


The Com­plete Works of Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

I love the fact that there’s a sec­tion detail­ing Poe’s life and that his poetry is included.  Poe is more than just The Tell-Tale Heart!  Plus if you’ve never read The Bells out loud, you may want to get on that.


The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey

This is the absolute best zom­bie novel I have ever read!  A won­der­ful story that delves into what it means to be human, what it takes to sur­vive, and who one becomes in the face of destruc­tion.  Plus, the zom­bie virus in the novel is inspired by the fun­gus that infects ants in the Ama­zon com­monly referred to as the “zom­bie fun­gus.”  If you don’t know, the fun­gus even­tu­ally bursts forth from the ant’s head. Then, they die.  Oh hey, this is also being turned into a movie!


The Power and the Glory by Gra­ham Greene

One of my favorite char­ac­ters of all time is the “whiskey priest.”  He is flawed in many ways, but stays true his moral code.  He doesn’t take any shit.  He does what he wants.  Like Eric Cartman.


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Every­time I read this novel, I find more truth within it.  Huxley’s writ­ing style is lyri­cal and at times reads as phi­los­o­phy.  If you buy this book you will read it for years to come.


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Maze-like mur­der mansion….need I say more?  I’ve read a few books focus­ing on ser­ial killers, but HH Holmes’ story is one of the most intrigu­ing and bizarre.  Also Leonardo Dicaprio is mak­ing this book into a movie.  Win!

That's Leo buying up those film rights.

That’s Leo buy­ing up those film rights.

Bud­ding Prospects by TC Boyle

This book is like if On the Road had any direc­tion what­so­ever.  It’s a humor­ous novel and a great intro­duc­tion to TC Boyle if you’re unfa­mil­iar with his work.


21 Jul

Zoo Keeper Week

I went to the Zoo just about every year when I was a kid. But for some rea­son, my most vivid mem­ory from the zoo is scrap­ing my knee and cry­ing by the polar bears. It was a great time.

How­ever, when we were choos­ing blogs this month, I just knew that I needed to write some­thing. Because despite not really being like the most enthu­si­as­tic per­son when it comes to zoo vis­its, I can per­son­ally tell you about my time at Steve Irwin’s house.

Okay, no. That’s a lie. I was at his Zoo. But he grew up there! At the zoo! his house is on the prop­erty! He got to wake up every morn­ing and feed those croc­o­diles.

The day I was at Steve Irwin’s zoo, it was pretty cloudy. So my pic­tures aren’t the best. But I wanted to share them with you, because it was super cool to be walk­ing the same ground that Steve Irwin walked on. In Aus­tralia. Oh, hey. did I men­tion that I went to Aus­tralia? yeahhhhh.

Any­way, here are some pic­tures of Steve Irwin’s back yard. Literally.

steve jumps

There were pic­tures of Steve everywhere.

koala inside

We got to pet this guy.

koala in a tree

So sleepy! .…Which was mostly what they were like the whole day.

roo heaven

You get to just wan­der loose with the Roos

kanga kisses

Roo Kisses!!

feeding me

I got to feed the lit­tle guys! And also scritch them.


no, that is not a real croc. It IS, how­ever, a life-sized model. OMG.

croc in water

This crock is about to get fed. in front of us.

croc feeding

That really brave guy is hand­ing the giant male croc meats. From his hand. He does it mul­ti­ple times a day, but he was still ner­vous as hell.


20 Jul

Who Said That? A Guide to Ventriloquism Week

The late, great Edgar Bergen and his pal Charlie McCarthy

The late, great Edgar Bergen and his pal Char­lie McCarthy

Pretty much every­one knows what ven­tril­o­quism is, but in case you don’t, ven­tril­o­quism is the art of throw­ing one’s voice.  The abil­ity to speak while appear­ing not to speak.  Great ven­tril­o­quists can have full con­ver­sa­tions with thin air!  Can give life to oth­er­wise inert objects!  (Usu­ally a pup­pet of some kind, but it’s fun when it’s some­thing else too!)  Ven­tril­o­quists, in short, make bor­ing (and, depend­ing on the pup­pet, some­times creepy) things fun!

National Ven­tril­o­quism Week is coor­di­nated through the Vent Haven Museum in Cincin­nati.  William Berger, a Cincin­nati indus­tri­al­ist, founded the museum using his large col­lec­tion of ventriloquist’s dum­mies that he had accu­mu­lated over many years and busi­ness trips.  The week is cel­e­brated on the third week of July every year (that’s the 19th through the 25th this year).

Even if you can’t make it out to Cincin­nati for the cel­e­bra­tion, appre­ci­ate the fine art of ven­tril­o­quism by see­ing a show or watch­ing one on Net­flix if there isn’t a live one con­ve­nient.  Or prac­tice some ven­tril­o­quism of your own!  You never know when it might come in handy!

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