Marcella Cooper: Beauty in Simple Things

What could be more relaxing than sitting in your back garden with a steamy pot of tea, a good book, and a snuggly feline friend?

British artist Marcella Cooper captures the joy of simple pleasures in her lovely paintings, each an invitation to live in the moment.

photo of Marcella by Sarah Lane

Based in rural Suffolk, Marcella lives with her family in a 16th century thatched cottage. Interested in art since childhood, she had always been drawn to British flora and fauna. 

While living in a quiet village and homeschooling her two children, she was inspired by her picturesque surroundings and began to dabble in drawing and painting. She sold these early pieces to family and friends. 

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[scrumptious review] Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram and Inés de Antuñano

Dumplings? Did someone say dumplings?

Count me in!

In this mouthwatering story-counting book, ten ethnically diverse families make ten different kinds of dumplings for a neighborhood potluck. What could be more fun or delicious?

Dumpling party today in town!
Let's all cook and hurry down.

Meera Sriram and Inés de Antuñano invite us to step into ten busy, bustling kitchens to see samosas, apple dumplings, wu-gok, fufu balls, gyoza, bourekas, tamales, shish barak, pelmeni, and ravioli being prepared by enthusiastic and hungry adults and children. Drooling yet?

Spicy samosas point to the sky.
Didi is bringing chutney to try.

1 little dumpling on our plate now!
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nine cool things on a tuesday

Emperor Penguin Chick” by Ashley Wolff

1. Ho Ho Ho and Happy Almost December! So, are you feeling festive this week? If, by chance, you need a little holiday lift, please enjoy some of Ashley Wolff’s gorgeous art. 

Isn’t this penguin chick adorable? Ashley’s handpainted one-of-a-kind mini bird ornaments would make the perfect gift for a special someone — or maybe it’s just the thing to give your tree an added touch of beauty. 🙂

These 3” by 3” ornaments are painted with acrylic gouache and mounted on a painted 4.5” easel. These can either be hung or set on a table or shelf for display. Nice way to own an original piece of art!

Many of you know Ashley from her wonderful picture books — the beloved Miss Bindergarten series, Baby Bear, Compost Stew, etc., but did you know she’s also an accomplished landscape painter? I’m blown away by her versatility as an artist, and love her Vermont landscapes as much as I do her book illustrations.

Check out her Etsy Shop for limited edition prints, original paintings, and of course, lots of bird and keepsake ornaments. For even more, check out my recent interviews with Ashley for How to Help a Pumpkin Grow, and Only the Cat Saw.

And don’t forget Ashley’s latest picture book, WILDFIRE! (Beach Lane Books, 2021), just released last month. 🙂

**ETA: Ashley’s running a holiday special: 20% off a combined purchase of $75 or more, plus free shipping!

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[savory poem + recipe] sing a song of soup

“It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it.” ~ M.F. K. Fisher

“Vegetable Soup” by Joe Anna Arnett
SOUP ALLURE
by Nancy Dymond
Combine the following and stir:
A fragrant powder of savory herbs
Tree nuts tossed and gently toasted
Vegetables oiled and slowly roasted
Broth of beef, honey of bee
Flake of parsley, salt of sea

In a great pot over a medium flame
Provoke rolling bubbles of rising steam
Turn to the lettuces; wash, chop, mix
Color with celery and carrot strips
Raisins? Almonds? Olives and cheese?
Tomatoes? Scallions? All of these?

Reduce the flame to a quiet simmer
Set the table for evening dinner
A scalloped knife beside the bread
Jam to sweeten and butter to spread
What more could a person want from life
Than a salad, a soup, and a loaf with a knife?


~ from Sleep Barn (Stockport Flats, 2015).
“Salad Bowl” by Tjalf Sparnaay (oil on linen, 2006)

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It’s always nice when soup season returns each fall. There is something so comforting about having a pot of soup simmering on the stove with its promise of a satisfying meal later on. Making soup is calming and therapeutic — you can’t rush homemade soup.

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sara pulver’s quirky animals and pet people

Maira Kalman once said, “There’s a good reason to love dogs more than people because they don’t talk.”

I wholly agree, and would even go so far as to say that if dogs were in charge, the world would be a lot more fun. 

Sara with one of her larger paintings.

That seems to be Sara Pulver’s feeling too. In her colorful, offbeat paintings, animals and humans play a rollicking game of role reversal. Dogs and cats do very humanlike things with people as their pets.

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