three coveted cups of coffee and a crisp croissant

“Why, yes, I could start my day without coffee. But I like being able to remember things like how to say words and put on pants.” ~ Nanea Hoffman

Good Morning. Let’s wake up and smell the coffee!

Happy to see you’re wearing your spiffy pants and speaking in full sentences. Do you owe it all to coffee?

Yes, I thought so. Sip, sip. Ah, arabica!

I must confess to being an anomaly when it comes to jump-starting the day with high octane java. Don’t know why, but I’ve never actually had a cup of coffee in my entire life (all 29 years). 😀

I mean, I LOVE the smell of freshly brewed coffee — walking into the kitchen with that divine aroma greeting me — but I’ve never  been tempted to pour myself a cup. Strange, no?

Guess I’m just a diehard teatotaler. English Breakfast, Darjeeling or Yorkshire Gold for me, if you please.

Still, I can appreciate coffee’s universal appeal and certainly enjoy seeing how it’s inspired poets and artists. 

Today we’re serving up a little sampler of coffee poems paired with Karen Eland’s amazing coffee art (yes, she painted these pieces with just espresso and water). And, because I can’t imagine having any hot beverage without a little something to nibble on, please enjoy a croissant.

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“Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Karen Eland (2006)
COFFEE FIRST
by Dory Hudspeth

The day begins with order
and quiet, broken
only by the small ringing
of the spoon against coffee mug.
If this small ritual goes well,
no spilling, no drips,
there is hope for the day.

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[tasty review] ABC El Salvador by Holly Ayala and Elizabeth Gómez

#59 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Hola, ¿cómo estás?

At this very moment I’m enjoying a piece of Quesadilla Salvadoreña along with a nice warm cup of atol de elote. Want some? 🙂

Now we’re all set to travel around San Salvador and the town of Witzapan with young Xiomara (pronounced see-oh-MAR-ah). Friendly and oh so proud of her home country, Xiomara introduces us to her family, shows us places she likes to visit, and shares interesting tidbits of history, geography and culture in both Spanish and English.

Young readers will enjoy ABC El Salvador whether they are familiar with El Salvador or not. Since kids’ books on the subject are few and far between, Salvadoran children all over the world will be happy to see themselves represented in this book. 

Those unfamiliar with this unique place — the smallest country in continental America — will have fun learning the Spanish alphabet through Xiomara’s personal perspective.

She’s a girl after my own heart, since she begins with Atol, a sweet corn beverage she likes nice and warm (bien calientito!).

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[chat + giveaway] Ashley Wolff on How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

Today we’re happy to welcome back Ashley Wolff to talk about her latest picture book, How to Help a Pumpkin Grow (Beach Lane Books, 2021).

This delectable charmer about gardening and unexpected friendship is the perfect way to celebrate fall and will definitely make you want to wrap your lips around a piece of freshly baked pumpkin pie. 🙂

The star of this toothsome tale is an amiable, dedicated dog farmer — a handsome border collie modeled after Ashley’s own dog Rufus. Decked out in a red bandanna and matching yellow gloves and boots, Dog eagerly plants his pumpkin seeds in spring, then carefully protects, feeds, weeds, waters, and guards his precious sprouts from any barnyard creatures who may wish to take a nibble.

When hungry Crow eyes up the sprouts, Dog asks him if he wants to “help a pumpkin grow,” so Crow helps with weeding. As time passes and the plants get bigger, Dog also asks Rabbit, Duck, and Goat if they’d like to help too. As the new friends work together, they take pride in vining, twining, and watching their beautiful pumpkins flourish until it’s time to harvest them.

The fun continues as they then gather in the kitchen to “roast,” “toast,” and roll out dough for perfect pumpkin pies. After feasting on them, they happily carve jack-o-lanterns in time for a glowing Halloween.

With its spare, pitch-perfect rhyming text and richly hued and textured acrylic gouache illustrations, How to Help a Pumpkin Grow is sure to become a favorite autumn read aloud (observant munchkins will also love following a wee mouse from spread to spread). With its gentle themes of patience, industry, friendship, cooperation, and pride in accomplishment, this heartwarming story also reminds us that sometimes perceived enemies can turn out to be good friends.

Big thanks to Ashley for stopping by (yes, she’s also sharing a favorite pumpkin recipe). Enjoy!

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. A lovely way to brighten your day: pictures by Israeli artist Jenny MeilihovLove her gentle, whimsical style. There’s a sweetness and innocence about her little people and animals that’s very comforting. Of course I can’t resist teacups and cake. 🙂 

Jenny studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem, where she majored in illustration.

To purchase original gouache paintings, prints, postcards, sketches, and mobiles, check out Jenny’s Etsy shop behappynow. Keep up with her latest creations at her Instagram.

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A Canine Celebration for Mary Oliver’s Birthday

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” ~ Mary Oliver

Today, in honor of Mary Oliver’s 86th birthday, I’m sharing several tender and affecting tail waggers from Dog Songs (Penguin Press, 2013) and Red Bird (Beacon Press, 2009).

Even now, it’s easy to imagine Mary roaming the woods, fields, and shore with her faithful canine companions Luke, Benjamin, Bear, Sammy, Ricky, and especially Percy, for whom she seemed to have held special affection.

Mary Oliver with her dog, Ricky, at her home in Hobe Sound, FL (2013)

Simple, unadorned words, maximum emotional resonance. She wrote about dogs and humans, but it was always about so much more.

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“Percy” by John Burgoyne
PERCY

Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,
ate a book which unfortunately we had
     left unguarded.
Fortunately it was the Bhagavad Gita,
of which many copies are available.
Every day now, as Percy grows
into the beauty of his life, we touch
his wild, curly head and say,

“Oh, wisest of little dogs.”

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