Archive for the ‘cookie recipes’ Category

Emma modeling an Orla Kiely for Uniqlo floral t-shirt.

I can’t remember whether it was “La Petit Patisserie” or “The Flower Shop” that initially caught my eye, only that it was love at first sight and I wanted more.

I soon discovered that the artist behind these winsome and enchantingly feminine illustrations was none other than 20-something-year-old Emma Block of London, England.

Click to see the process behind “The Flower Shop”

Inspired by vintage clothing, 30′s jazz, 50′s illustrations, old photos, travel and people watching, Emma’s work is delightfully retro and thoroughly modern at the same time. Using paint, colored pencil, ink, cut-paper collage and Photoshop, she creates charming, spritely, a little bit quirky, always refreshing pictures in an inimitable style that has a distinctive handmade quality about it.

“La Petit Patisserie” is available as an archival print via Etsy.


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(click for Homemade Cotton Candy recipe via Cooking Books)

Do you remember the last Barbara Crooker poem I shared, where her ailing mother refused to eat her food, but demanded marshmallow Peeps?

This craving for sweets seems to be common among the elderly. A good friend of ours with an incurable lung disease would always pick at her dinner, but had no trouble at all polishing off a big piece of coconut pie. I could always make her smile just by saying,”crème brûleé.”

When I saw my mother in Hawai’i last month, I noted her diminished appetite and drastic weight loss. She did enjoy my Christmas cookies, though, along with chocolate truffles, bread pudding, cranberry muffins, apple and lemon meringue pie, Chantilly cake. No coaxing needed when it came to dessert.


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“England, with its history and air of magic, the soil and woods thick with meanings that survive in fragments, is an empire of imagination.” ~ T.S. Eliot


Help yourself to a cup of organic darjeeling and a lemon butter cookie.

Fancy a drive along a winding country road, rolling green hills and grey stone walls as far as the eye can see? Perhaps a leisurely stroll along an ancient footpath across a meadow resplendent with wildflowers?

Maybe you’d rather visit Beatrix Potter’s house, explore the formal gardens of a stately home, find a welcoming inn for a spot of tea, or join the convivial conversation at a neighborhood pub.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate all that is glorious, interesting, inspiring, beautiful, memorable, unique and charming about England than to pore over the pages of Susan Branch’s latest book, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside (Vineyard Stories, 2013).

This gorgeous, handwritten, illustrated diary chronicles the two months in 2012 when Susan and her true love Joe wandered around England from Tenterden, Kent, up to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, and down through the Cotswolds.



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Just in case you were wondering, the reason we usually look so spiffy around here is because we have the best washerwoman.

Her name is Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and she hails from the Lake District. Do you know her too? A tidier, more conscientious “clear-starcher” you’d be hard pressed to find. The other day, when untimely Spring (?) snowflakes were drifting down from the sky, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle chanced by to deliver a freshly laundered stack of tea towels and table linens.

We couldn’t very well turn her out in a snowstorm, so we invited her in for tea. Coincidentally, Cornelius and I had just baked a fresh batch of Littletown-Farm Carrot Cookies. Every Easter we get into a “Peter Rabbit mood” and crave carrots. We found the cookie recipe in Peter Rabbit’s Natural Foods Cookbook, and since we’d made Fierce Bad Rabbit’s Carrot-Raisin Salad from that book many times before, we thought the cookies would also be a good bet.

lucie and tiggy large

“Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s hand, holding the tea-cup, was very very brown, and very very wrinkly with the soap-suds; and all through her gown and her cap, there were hair-pins sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie didn’t like to sit too near her.”


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Daisy and Mrs. Patmore teach Lady Sybil how to make a cake in happier days (ITV photo).

If, like me, you’re a Downton Abbey fan still reeling from the tragic events of this past Sunday’s Episode 4 and are in dire need of comfort, you’ve come to the right place.

There now, have a nice cup of tea and we’ll talk.


Lady Sybil was my favorite Crawley sister, and as Mrs. Hughes said, “The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone.” I’ll certainly miss her progressive thinking, optimism and open-hearted goodness. The episode was a painful reminder of how powerless even upper class women were when it came to critical medical decisions. Who knows a patient better than her lifelong physician? Who knows a child better than her own mother? And what about a husband’s right to decide what happens to his wife?

Downton Abbey Joss Barratt Photographer

Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil and Allen Leech as Tom Branson (Carnival Film & Television, Ltd., 2012)


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