Slip into your silks and satins, your high powdered poufs, your diamonds and tulle. Rouge your cheeks, flutter your fans. Today, a deliciously decadent slice of Marie Antoinette courtesy of Northern New York-based poet Christie Grimes.

I first tasted Christie’s sensual, sensory rich poem in the recently published food anthology, Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse (Richer Resources, 2015). Sweets are often considered a self-indulgent extravagance, and I like how the flavors of Christie’s images are enhanced with a subtle subtext of 18th century notes. How fine the line between berries and blood!


via Glorious Treats

via Glorious Treats

by Christie Grimes

She calls it simply Marie’s,
fills her large store front window
with red velvet cupcakes,
raspberry crescents, cherry turnovers,
loves the clash between sweet and tart
the way it cleaves her tongue in two
seems like it will linger forever
but in a moment,
just the time it takes to blink
or swallow,
it is gone.
Only the remnant
of a seed
or the soft jelly coating

People come through the door
ask for coconut crèmes,
flourless chocolate torts,
lemon meringue
but she refuses to supply them.
“Eat these cakes I have made,” she tells them
as she waves her hand at the window.
There are strawberry preserve cookies,
boysenberry crepes and cranberry blintzes.

She can’t help it.
She loves working the red fruit between her hands,
the way the juices stain her cuticle beds,
deepen the creases of her palms.

When she is baking,
she licks the spoons and spatulas
sucks on her fingertips,
savors the smooth syrup of the crushed berries,
the way they pop in her mouth
or burst under her fork,
darken the side of her bowl.
And, after they are all in the oven,
as she scoops the batter into her mouth
she always runs the edge of the spoon along her lip
indulging in the short slide of steel.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Christie Grimes. All rights reserved.

via Bridget Davis

via Bridget Davis


via Turnips 2 Tangerines

Bumbleberry Pie via Turnips 2 Tangerines

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Guess who’s having a birthday?

You may remember this pretty-in-pink frosted cutie from Terry Border’s delightful debut picture book, Peanut Butter and Cupcake (Philomel, 2014), where she boinged on a pogo stick and bedecked a castle with colorful sprinkles.

This time it’s Cupcake’s birthday, and she’s planning the perfect themed party with the help of her best friend Muffin. But for every one of Cupcake’s bright ideas (beach party! boat party! makeover session! musical chairs! getting down with the limbo!), Muffin counters with reasons why they wouldn’t work (drippy guests! sick soup! disgruntled burger! squished guest of honor! decapitation . . . gulp).

Talk about a party pooper.

What’s a birthday girl to do? Well, she could follow Muffin through the garden gate. Won’t tell you what happens, but let’s just say it turns out to be the happiest, sweetest, tastiest celebration ever (I wanted to devour all the party guests). Looks like Muffin has topped himself. :)

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“I like you very much . . . just as you are.” (Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’s Diary)


Colin: Is it true about Poldark?

Me: Whaaa?

Colin: Has he replaced me in your affections?

Me: Never.

Colin: Haven’t I told you (endlessly) how ardently I admire and love you?

Me: Yes.

Colin: Didn’t I plunge into a mucky lake on your behalf?

Me: Uh-huh.

Colin: And say I like you “just the way you are” despite your blue soup?!

Me: Yes, yes.

Colin: Of all your Eye Candies, don’t I still TAKE THE CAKE??!!

Me: Of course!

Colin: Well then, what’s all this talk of Cornwall this and Aidan Turner that, topless scything, and windswept hair?


Colin: I thought so. You’ve gone all Irish on me, haven’t you? To think that an inadequately bathed whippersnapper on horseback could have stolen your heart! What is the world coming to?!

Me: But Colin, I made crème brûlée.

Colin: Oh well in that case :) . . .


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eight cool things on a tuesday

1. It’s always exciting to discover a quirky new alphabet book — even better when it features fruits and veggies like you’ve never seen them before. Check out Aitch’s Veggie Fruit Alphabet, which the Romanian artist describes as “a playful approach on the traditional alphabet book. Each letter features a fruit or vegetable, depicted as a morph between the fruit’s or veggie’s shape and the female body, a beautiful tribute to natural diversity. Each character has a companion page featuring an illustration of the letter itself and a hand painted pattern based on the fruit or veggie.”

This 56-page gem has super shiny covers, and there’s also a cool art print you can purchase separately (my fave is a toss-up between the Eggplant and the Watermelon). Visit Aitch’s Etsy Shop for more info.


2. You may have noticed that I am slightly mad for English pottery and china. I squealed with delight when I stumbled upon Stokesay Ware — dollhouse miniature china (1:12 scale) in classic English patterns made by hand using completely authentic materials and techniques. The designs/patterns are not applied with decals. Instead, the “decoration is made using specially drawn artwork and hand printed by silk screen using specialist onglaze enamels which are coloured with metal oxides.”

Nursery Tea Set

Sovereign Red

Blue Willow

Victorian Kitchen Ware

Imagine serving your dolls or teddy bears on patterns such as Blue Willow, Asiatic Pheasant, Jubilee Gold, or Sovereign Red or Blue! And there’s an adorable Nursery pattern featuring the alphabet. It almost makes me want to get a dollhouse . . .


3. How about a quilted spot of tea? Canadian quilt pattern designer Laurraine Yuyama combined her love of tea and Japanese country patchwork in these adorable fabric teapots, cups and saucers.

My style has been described as “country chic” which mixes elements of old and new to create a sophisticated timeless quality. I like to incorporate machine-appliqué, hand-embroidery and buttons along with at least a splash of linen in everything I make. I enjoy combining elements from both my passions of patchwork and pottery– creating dishes with patches of intricate patterns, and quilting three-dimensional teapots and teacups.

Such a unique idea! Laurraine began selling patterns online when the demand for finished pieces became overwhelming. To date, her patterns have been included in at least 11 craft books, and she hopes to publish her own book someday. Find out more about her downloadable pattern booklets here, and view more of her finished work here.


4. Whoever thought “biting the biscuit” could be so creative, stylish and fun? Behold the Hairdo Cookie Cutter designed by Avihai Shurin! Now with each bite you can style Sam’s hair :). A little nibble here, a strategic munch there, go short or shaggy, round or square. It’s totally up to you. No such thing as a bad hair day when your cookies taste so good. :)


5. It’s never too early to think about holiday gifts, especially those you’d like to have personalized. What about a lovely  folk art print by Catherine Holman? Ever dream of having your own cupcake or tea shoppe? Maybe you have a friend who’d love to see her name on the awning of this cute and cozy cakery and cafe.

Visit Catherine’s Etsy Shop to see her selection of personalized and other folk art prints, all of which come signed and dated by the artist. Thanks to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for the link!


6. Love this delicious post by Cara Nicoletti which was featured at Food52 recently. You may know Cara from her wonderful blog Yummy Books. In “Cook Like Hermione Granger and 11 Other Ladies of Literature,” Cara serves up a splendid dinner party menu inspired by some of her favorite characters.

Tomato Jam Toast|Harriet M. Welsch|Harriet the Spy

Though we see the likes of Elizabeth Bennet’s White Gazpacho and Bathsheba Everdene’s Grilled Corn with Basil Butter, the majority of dishes are linked to children’s book characters (Anne Shirley, Jo March, Lucy Pevensie, Ramona Quimby, Mary Lennox).

Cara’s new book Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books (Little, Brown, 2015), was just released August 18, and is definitely on my TBR list!


7. It’s here, it’s here! Though its official pub date is September 15, Jeannine Atkins’s Little Woman in Blue (She Writes Press, 2015), is already available via online booksellers. In her first historical novel for adults, Jeannine shines the spotlight on the youngest Alcott sister May.

At last, a book about the other artistic Alcott sister. May Alcott, dismissed in Little Women as the pampered youngest March sister Amy, explodes onto the pages of this wonderful novel as a real and hugely likeable woman, passionate about life, art, and adventure, and struggling to make sense of her relationship with an older sister who will never appreciate her for who she really is. Thank you, Jeannine, for giving Amy March a voice of her own! (Gabrielle Donnelly, author of The Little Woman Letters)

I’ve only just started to read it, but so far — wow! As one might expect from an author who’s also a poet, each sentence, each scene is beautifully crafted, informed by thorough research and illuminated by an indeniable passion for her subject. Friends who’ve finished the book have deemed it a must read. A rivalry between two talented sisters, and May’s internal struggle over the desire for artistic achievement as well as having a family of her own will make for a compelling read. Check out these excellent reviews by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman and Melodye Shore.


8. Start with the alphabet, end with the alphabet. Love Emma Block’s beautiful floral alphabet, now available as an archival print at her Etsy Shop. All prints are signed and dated by Emma, whom we spotlighted in this interview. A is for Anenome, J is for Jasmine, O is for Orchid. Perfect for the flower lover and/or gardener on your list (and for you)!


Be kind. Don’t forget to smile, and have a lovely Tuesday!


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

Today I’m doubly pleased to welcome poet and author Nancy Tupper Ling, who’s here to tell us all about her new book Double Happiness (Chronicle Books, 2015), a heartwarming story about a family moving from San Francisco to the East Coast.

Beautifully told through a series of lyrical poems in the alternating voices of Gracie and her little brother Jake, Double Happiness deftly captures the mixed emotions of leaving loved ones behind, traveling across country, and seeing one’s new home and surroundings for the first time.

It is especially hard saying goodbye to Nai Nai (Grandmother), Auntie Su and Uncle Woo. To help ease the transition, Nai Nai gives each of the children a special box, suggesting they fill it with four treasures “leading from this home to your new.” She explains that when she was young she had her own “happiness box,” which enabled her to keep special memories close.

(click to enlarge)

Jake is as much excited, adventurous, and playful as Gracie is apprehensive, reflective, and sad. The treasures they add to their boxes (panda, marble, lucky penny, leaf, snake) mark specific moments in their journey with attendant feelings and impressions.

Both Gracie’s and Jake’s voices ring true, and the poems seamlessly keep the engaging storyline moving forward. Alina Chau incorporates cultural elements (Chinese calligraphy, Jake’s mystical dragon, first dinner) in her charming soft watercolor illustrations, illuminating this gentle gem of a story that will surely resonate with young readers.

(click to enlarge)

In Chinese tradition, “double happiness” is usually associated with weddings, but Nancy’s story artfully extends the concept: two homes, two coasts, two cultures, two boxes, the old and the new, two children, a dragon and a phoenix, two halves of a perfect whole coming full circle in the blessed harmony of family.

I know you’ll enjoy learning more about how and why Nancy wrote this book. And yes, she’s sharing a favorite recipe! Enjoy!

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