Tag Archives: books

books to overcome the doldrums part three/virginia wolf

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Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

You can view this one through the lens of the real life Virginia Woolf (two o’s) and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell. Or you can view it completely on its own.




Sometimes the doldrums can leave you feeling downright wolfish. You might hide. And growl. And be generally precarious to be around. That’s what happened to Virginia. Her sister, Vanessa, tried to help. But nothing could get Virginia to come out of bed.




Virginia’s silhouette is simply genius. Her shadow looks just like a wolf. Until the spell of her wolfish mood breaks and she’s a little girl again. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.



images from Isabelle Arsenault’s website, with permission


Vanessa paints a mural on the wall of Virginia’s bedroom containing all the perfect things Virginia wishes were real. A destination she’d fly to, if she could fly. It’s luscious and colorful, full of whimsy and bloom.


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images courtesy of Kids Can Press

That’s how things go from gray-blue to yellow, sunk to lifted, upside down to rightside up again. Vanessa transports her sister through her mural and the whole house goes from gloom to glad. Whew.

Here’s a roundup of ways to  transform your walls to transport yourself should you find yourself in a wolfish mood or any mood at all.

TRAVEL INTO A RETRO VIDEO GAME (The Wall Decal Shop UK) or UNDER THE SEA  (by Vinyl Lettering) with WALL STICKERS.

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GO TO OUTER SPACE (by Colorful Childhood).

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Or, my personal favorite, HELLO KITTY LAND (by Fathead).


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There’s lovely WASHI TAPE  to transform your living room to a Parisian cafe or your laundry room into a love shack.  (image)


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And for those of us looking at a keyboard all the time, minifanfan’s idea transforms a keyboard into something full of life with WASHI TAPE:




Finally, take a wall from ho hum to a lovely lush LIVING one with Woolly Pockets. You might just think you’re in a garden, a forest, or a jungle when actually inside.




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books to overcome the doldrums part one/mrs. biddlebox



One of my strategies for dealing with the doldrums is to read a stack of picture books from the library. Of course, right? But it’s true. And it usually works.


Picture books that explore darker subjects are some of my very favorite ones. I’ve got three examples that give insight into the doldrums and how to beat them. Or at least work with them a little. Here’s the first and stay tuned for the other two.






Mrs. Biddlebox is quite a character. And she has a very bad case of the doldrums. Everything about her day contributes to her bad mood, from annoying birds to bitter tea. But in the course of this enchanting, good-humored book, she gathers and twirls the ingredients that are giving her the grumblies. With the help of her goose companion, she works with the stuff of that bad day as though it were dough.




When she’s finally done in the kitchen, she eats her freshly baked CAKEThe magic of baking allows Mrs. Biddlebox to transform that “dreary little funk” into something far far sweeter in this amazingly charming picture book.

(Marla Frazee’s interview at Cynsations about her process and the author who passed away before it was illustrated is definitely worth a read too.)


illustration images: courtesy of Marla Frazee

Miss Cakehead in the UK has a related project in the oven.  The Depressed Cake Shop pop ups will sell gray treats only. That’s right, gray cakes. It’s a depressed cake shop, after all. The beauty of it is the treats may be made by someone who has personal experience with depression. The proceeds will help fund a mental health charity, ideally even go toward baking therapy sessions to help ease those still suffering.



cake credit: All Mine Patisserie 


Those gray cakes might contain a kick of color inside! They’re edible metaphors. A dark, sad surface, but inside, something full of joy and pizazz. Just waiting to be discovered.




cake credit: Two Little Cats



cake credit: Miss Insomnia Tulip

Aren’t they gorgeous?

What is it about baking that helps beat the doldrums? Creating something? Working with your hands? The process? The senses involved? The comfort of the finished product? Getting to share it? Focusing on each step by step by step?

So many people bake to soothe grief, loss, doubt, feeling stuck, or being at their wit’s end. They bake to beat the doldrums,  like Mrs. Biddlebox. Do you?


Just looking at those cake creations makes me feel better already.

Here’s some final inspiration from INKY CO on etsy. Printable posters of the baking variety:


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