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valentinegarland

(click for free downloadables to make your own Love Letters from Cupid garland)

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, hearts are popping up everywhere. I don’t mind one bit, because I’ve always loved hearts. I usually draw one with my signature, like to collect heart tokens, pins and jewelry, and have a definite weakness for heart-shaped cookies and scones.

Thought you might like these lovely handmade, heartmade things, just in case you’re looking for a special little something for a friend — or yourself :). Just click on any image to purchase. Enjoy! ♥ ♥ ♥

valentinebunnies

Valentine Bunnies Original Watercolor by Margie Moore

 

dogs

Dogs in Love Valentine’s Day Necklace by hanaletters

 

heartspoon

Recycled Hand-stamped Silverware by Bella Jackson Studios

 

valentinecards

Boxed Set of Victorian-inspired Valentine Cards by LilyandVal

 

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Help yourself to tea and a world peace cookie.

When is a cookie more than just a cookie?

In Jeff Gundy’s chewy list poem, we are invited to look at ourselves and ponder questions about life and faith. Despite our fortunes and failings, and the many labels we might use to separate ourselves from others, we are beloved by a benevolent being who delights in us all just as we find joy and grace through him.

via Makoto Kagoshima

THE COOKIE POEM
by Jeff Gundy

“Here are my sad cookies.”

The sad cookies. The once and future cookies.
The broken sweet cookies. The cookies
of heartbreaking beauty. The stony cookies
of Palestine. The gummy and delicious
olive and honey cookie. The pasty
damp cookie trapped in the child’s hand.

Sad cookies, weird cookies, slippery
and dangerous cookies. Brilliant helpless
soiled and torn cookies, feverish and sweaty
cookies. Sullen cookies, sassy cookies,
the cookies of tantrum and the cookie of joy
and the sweet dark cookie of peace.

The faithful cookie of Rotterdam. The wild-eyed
cookie of Muenster. The salty Atlantic cookie.
Cookies in black coats, in coveralls,
in business suits, cookies in bonnets
and coverings and heels, cookies scratching
their heads and their bellies, cookies utterly
and shamelessly naked before the beloved.

Cookies of the Amish division, cookies
of the Wahlerhof, cookies of Zurich and
Strassburg and Volhynia and Chortitza,
Nairobi Djakarta Winnipeg Goshen.
Cookies who hand their children off
to strangers, who admonish their sons
to remember the Lord’s Prayer, cookies
who say all right, baptize my children
and then sneak back to the hidden church anyway.
Cookies who cave in utterly. Cookies
who die with their boots on. Cookies
with fists, and with contusions.
The black hearted cookie. The cookie with issues.
Hard cookies, hot cookies, compassionate
conservative cookies, cookies we loathe
and love, cookies lost, fallen, stolen,
crushed, abandoned, shunned. Weary
and heroic cookies, scathingly noted cookies,
flawed cookies who did their best.
Single cookies, queer cookies, cookies of color,
homeless cookie families sleeping in the car,
obsolete cookies broken down on the information
highway. Sad cookies, silent cookies,
loud cookies, loved cookies, your cookies,
my cookies our cookies, all cookies
God’s cookies, strange sweet hapless cookies
marked each one by the Imago Dei,
oh the Father the Son the Mother the Daughter
and the Holy Ghost all love cookies,
love all cookies, God’s mouth is full
of cookies, God chews and swallows and flings
hands wide in joy, the crumbs fly
everywhere, oh God loves us all.

~ from Rhapsody with Dark Matter (Bottom Dog Press, 2000).

via Gourmet Mom On-the-Go

*   *   *

Continue Reading »

Boy is it cold . . . and we know full well there is only one sure-fire way to warm up.

Yes, dear friends, the hotTEAs are back!

Feel free to sigh, swoon, and drool to your heart’s content.

“Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better.”

 

I once saw Mr. Redford breeze by in an off-white linen suit at the Salt Lake City airport — carrying a nifty leather briefcase. What’s not to love about the sandy hair, the ski tan, the little bumps on his face? I’ve never been the same since.

My fave Redford roles: Sundance Kid, Paul Bratter (“Barefoot in the Park”), Hubbell Gardiner (“The Way We Were”), Jay Gatsby.

*fans self*

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? :)

Look for a new HotTEA every week.

Better put on your oven mitts.

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved

Fancy hats on, pinkies up — it’s time for a Tea Party!

Wait a minute. Do you know the proper way to behave at a tea party? Are your best manners in check? Hmmmm, sounds like you need a little help. Have no fear: thanks to Madelyn Rosenberg and Heather Ross, How to Behave at a Tea Party (Katherine Tegen Books, 2014) is here!

(click to enlarge)

In this delightful story, Julia briefs her younger brother Charles on the finer points of tea party etiquette. Apparently this includes washing strategic parts of his body (left elbow, right knee, ears, nose), donning fancy clothes and hat, bringing a stuffed animal and present (no snakes), holding the teacup just so, and definitely not inviting the McKagan brothers or the frog.

Also crucial? Not eating the peonies or the tablecloth. And no slurping or burping. “Please” and “thank you” are the mark of civilized guests, who ideally would nibble ever-so-daintily on little sponge cakes with jam and cookie cutter sandwiches.

Well.

Charles and the McKagan brothers have their own ideas. Julia’s perfectly laid plans deterioriate rapidly as the boys make rocket ships out of sugar cubes and towers out of teacups. They are champion burpers and slurpers. Not surprisingly, things come to a CRASHING halt and Julia has a meltdown.

But is this the proper way for a hostess to behave? One certainly can’t have a tea party without any guests. Maybe sugar cube rocket ships could be fun after all, along with castles, moats and dragons. While you’re at it, let’s juggle saucers, put spoons on our noses, and use the tablecloth as a cape! Now you’re talkin’.

Heather Ross’s emotive, action-packed illustrations effectively dramatize Rosenberg’s spare text, heightening the humor at every turn. When Julia reminds Charles to clean his ears, we see Charles brushing the dog’s ears with Julia’s toothbrush. The McKagan brothers are appropriately rambunctious as they tie the stuffed bear to its chair and balance teacups on their heads. And who can resist a dog in a pink tutu or that feisty frog, as he laughs, points, and hot-tubs in a cup (drying himself off with a napkin, of course)?

Julia’s spot-on facial expressions aptly chart her gradual unraveling — from cool, confident and authoritative, to doubtful, peeved, harried, frustrated, exasperated, just plain FED-UP. Ross also deftly captures Julia’s change of heart as she decides to re-invite her guests, and it’s amusing to see Charles and the McKagan brothers treading a little more carefully the second time around as they all settle into a fun afternoon (high tea in a treehouse, anyone?).

How to Behave at a Tea Party serves up the classic older sister-mischievous younger brother scenario with a skillful nod at the importance of remaining flexible, keeping an open mind, and learning how to go with the flow. Since life is often unpredictable, the art of compromise is key. Some will see themselves in Julia, with her need for control, while others will identify with Charles, who has his own definition of fun. Either way, kids will love the face-off between Prim-and-Proper vs. Let’s-Wing-It. One lump or two? :)

*   *   *

TEA PARTY TREATS!

By now you’re probably anxious to host your own winter tea. What to serve? Madelyn and Heather both like to nibble on homemade cookies with their tea. Madelyn says, “For tea parties, I like anything with jam.” Me too! :)

Be sure to whip up batches of these goodies and read How to Behave at a Tea Party aloud to all your guests. Fancy hats and superhero capes, optional. Just have fun!

JAM THUMBPRINTS
from Madelyn Rosenberg

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • One egg (yolk only)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and both sugars (by hand). Mix in the egg yolk and gradually add the flour. Finally, add the vanilla and mix well.

Take the dough by teaspoon and roll into balls. You’ll flatten those a bit as you place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Put your thumbprint in the middle. Fill with jam (I usually put the jam in a sandwich bag and cut off the end to make it easier to deal with.)

Bake for around 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Careful not to overbake.

Yields 4 dozen cookies.

~ Adapted from the Words Worth Eating Cookbook‘s recipe for German Christmas Cookies.

*

(PERFECT?) PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
from Heather Ross

I have been working on this recipe for quite some time, and I am happy to report that I have succeeded in making batch after batch that actually stay soft for up to a week without using icky corn syrup. The list of ingredients might sound like something that only our yoga teacher would consider to be the makings of a cookie, but trust me. These are chewy heaven.

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup plus one tablespoon peanut butter (my favorite brand is Arrowhead Mills Organic Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter)
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar (I like Hain Organic)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar or raw cane sugar (also perfect in your morning coffee!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and set to speed 3, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until well blended. Some of the sugar will still be granulated.

Add egg and mix well.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt together (I use a whisk). Add these ingredients to the butter mixture and blend on speed 2.

Add chocolate chips, mix on speed 1 until well distributed.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Press each cookie lightly with a fork to flatten.

Bake for exactly 13 minutes, then remove (cookies will still look very soft and squishy) and place baking sheet on the top of your stove and leave your oven on, for about twenty minutes.

Transfer cookies to a plate or cooling rack and allow to cool.

Makes 12 – 20 cookies, depending on size.

Store in an airtight container if possible.

~ This recipe appeared in Heather’s “Weekend” blog.

*   *   *

FROG TEA SANDWICH
from Mr. Cornelius

  • two slices bread of your choice
  • one slice bologna (or your favorite cold cut)
  • one slice white cheddar cheese
  • 3″- 4″ piece of cucumber
  • two stuffed Manzanilla green olives
  • a little mayo (optional)

1. Wash your paws.

2. Cut each slice of bread into rounds using a 2-1/2″ biscuit or cookie cutter.

3. Slice the bologna into pie-shaped fourths.

4. Cut the corners off the cheese slice, then trim to make a jagged edge all the way around.

5. Slice the cucumber vertically (about 1/8″ thickness), making sure to include the rounded end.

6. If using, spread mayo on one of the bread slices.

7. Carefully roll the baloney pieces and lay on the bread. Place cheese slice and cucumber “tongue” over them.

8. Place other piece of bread on top, and position the olive eyes.

9. Ribbet before eating. Burp afterwards.

*   *   *

HOW TO BEHAVE AT A TEA PARTY
written by Madelyn Rosenberg
illustrated by Heather Ross
published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2014
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.

*Read an excerpt at the publisher’s website.

**Check out this fun book trailer:

*   *   *

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!

We have a brand new copy of How to Behave at a Tea Party to give away to one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite teatime treat is no later than midnight (EST) Sunday, January 25, 2014. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!

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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. No fancy hats or raised pinkies required to join the culinary fun. :)

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*Spreads from How to Behave at a Tea Party posted by permission of the publisher. Text copyright © 2014 Madelyn Rosenberg, illustrations © 2014 Heather Ross, published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

via AHA

PRODUCE AISLE
by Rebecca McClanahan

The artichoke keeps her distance.
She has been taken too many times. Now
the armadillo armor hides her secret heart.

Everyone counts on the onion, staple of stews
and pottage. But deep in the crowded bin, her skin
is thin as moth wing. It peels away before their eyes.

Green peppers are modern women who take
their muscles seriously. They hunch their shoulders,
broad, shiny beneath a fluorescent sun.

Close by in cellophane the carrots keep for weeks,
the last to lose their figures. All legs,
tapering to slim ankles–and above,

wild profusion of hair. They gather in knots
of conversation and whisper about the apples,
those aging showgirls who didn’t know when to quit,

redheads buffed an unnatural blush, a shine
that shouts forever while inside the white flesh softens.
In the center aisle, bananas in bunches

curl like firm young girls in sleep. Soon they will turn
like their half-price sisters, learn the bruise,
dark print that begins beneath the skin and grows.

Oh to be the avocado! She ages so well.
Time makes love to her daily, finding her sweeter
the softer she grows. Beside her the potato,

peasant woman in brown, comes into her own slowly.
She stays in the shadows, blindly remembers
her place. Come to me! I will make you whole!

coos the eggplant mother. And from the corner bin
a chorus: Oranges, Oranges, Oranges, Oranges.
We are what we seem. We speak our own name.

*

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 1989 Rebecca McClanahan, from Mrs. Houdini (UP of Florida).

*   *   *

Well, grocery shopping will never be the same. I mean, who knew? :)

Love the whimsy in this poem, but also the relatable truths. What lies beneath, when you peel away the layers? Many of us are simply not what we seem. Since the items described here are all female, do you think women conceal more of their true selves than men do? And what interesting statements about aging — for sure, I’d like to be an avocado.

I can think of someone I know in real life who matches each of these fruit and vegetable personality types. Which do you most identify with?

While you’re contemplating that, enjoy this little gallery of reimagined fresh produce:

Portraits by Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive

Cafe M Food Sculptures by Carl Kleiner

via Techno Crazed

 

*   *   *

Rebecca McClanahan’s tenth book is THE TRIBAL KNOT,: A MEMOIR OF FAMILY, COMMUNITY, AND A CENTURY OF CHANGE. She has also published five books of poetry and a suite of essays, THE RIDDLE SONG AND OTHER REMEMBERINGS, winner of the Glasgow prize in nonfiction. Her three books of writing instruction include WORD PAINTING: A GUIDE TO WRITING MORE DESCRIPTIVELY, which is used as a text in numerous writing programs. For more, check out her official website.

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HAPPY NEWS

Big Congratulations to Diane DeCillis! Her debut poetry book, STRINGS ATTACHED, was just named a 2015 Michigan Notable Book! Hers was one of 20 books selected for this honor by the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Education. You may remember when I shared “Music from Another Room” and “Last Night I Dreamed I Stole the Croissants” from this book as well as Diane’s hummus recipe. If you still haven’t seen STRINGS ATTACHED, treat yourself to a copy to celebrate the New Year. It’s a rich, sumptuous feast of words, impressions, and ideas sure to satisfy your literary palate.

*   *   *

poetryfriday180The lovely and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup at Live Your Poem. Is she an onion or an orange? Stroll over to peruse the full menu of poetic goodies being served up in the blogosphere this week. If you go grocery shopping this weekend, be sure to pay close attention to the tomatoes.

Yours truly,

Miss Potato, née Banana
xoxoo

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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