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!
2. New Picture Book Alert: Just released in October is Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown by Candice Ransom and Nan Lawson (Eerdman’s BFYR, 2021):
When Halley’s comet arrived in 1910, so did an extraordinary person: Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret had a boundless imagination and a gift for spinning stories. Most grown-ups thought children’s books were frivolous and silly, but Margaret didn’t agree. Could writing stories for children be important work—a incredible way to share truth, beauty, and wonder?
Other people might call Margaret strange, and sometimes her own worries and doubts felt overwhelming. But only Margaret and her original ideas could lead to Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other classics beloved by children around the world.
From smuggling rabbits onto trains, to scribbling stories about island whispers, Margaret embraced adventure in life and on the page. This whimsically illustrated biography shares how an independent, fun-loving woman became a trailblazing pioneer of the picture-book form.
So glad to see this picture book biography about the one and only Margaret Wise Brown. Young readers will find learning about the author who wrote such beloved classics as Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny interesting and fascinating.
Congrats to Candice and Nan!
3. Ceramics Fix: For a fun bit of whimsy, check out Santino DiPiazza’s Walking Pottery. Yes, his pieces probably remind you of the Carleton Ware Walking Ware teacups and egg cups I occasionally share here on this blog.
Carleton Ware manufactured their Walking Ware line (designed by Roger Michell) in the 1970s, and since they don’t make them any more, they are now collector’s items.
Santino DiPiazza was born in Stoke-on-Trent and worked in the Staffordshire Potteries for 20+ years. Upon the demise of the UK pottery industry, he established his own studio in Thailand (2009), where he now produces his own Walking Pottery entirely by hand.
I don’t know if Santino ever worked for Carleton Ware, but he was surely inspired by their Walking Ware. It’s nice to know someone is making these novelty pieces, albeit with his own individual spin.
Check out Santino’s Etsy Shop to see his full line of Walking Pottery coffee mugs, teacups, teapots, pet bowls and even bathroom accessories. These pieces are always on the move, so don’t miss them! 🙂
4. Heads Up, Bridgerton Fans! Here are two new cookbooks to help you extend your enjoyment of this very popular Netflix series.
First up, this one just released November 23: The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook: From the Viscount’s Mushroom Miniatures and the Royal Wedding Oysters to Debutante Punch and the Duke’s Favorite, by Lex Taylor (Adams Media, 2021).
Blue satin ball gowns, chocolates and high tea, five course meals with family, scandal, and romance. Welcome to the dashing world of Bridgerton. Grosvenor Square is buzzing with ladies and lords dressed to the nines, promenading in the park, and sharing lemonade at the evening’s ball. And while you might not be able to score the jewels and frocks of the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons, you can still eat like them with The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook.
From dazzling canapes, savory meat pies, sparkling wine, gooseberry pie, delicious finger sandwiches, and more, you’ll be eating like a Bridgerton in no time. Nevermind what Lady Whistledown says, it’s time to eat! These 100 recipes inspired by the delectable foods from Regency England will have you dining Duke and Duchess style with recipes like:
-The Duke’s Gooseberry Pie
-Penelope’s Cucumber Sandwiches
-Queen Charlotte’s Cakes
-And many more!
Now you can feast like high society and devour these delectable recipes perfect for any social event.
And there’s this one, which came out in June 2021: Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton (75 Delectable Recipes), by Dahlia Clearwater (Skyhorse, 2021):
Delightful food and drink recipes inspired by Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton and Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels. Finger sandwiches, pastries, roasts, desserts, cocktails, and more!
You are cordially invited to dine with society’s finest! From the magnificent macaron towers to the heavenly fruit-topped trifles, the food of Bridgerton steals the show. Teatime at Grosvenor Square brings you 75 tempting recipes inspired by those candy-colored treats and opulent feasts.
Now you can create a spread of delicate finger sandwiches, captivating canapés, and bite-sized sweets scrumptious enough to impress Queen Charlotte herself! Plus, you’ll find a few recipes worthy of a Bridgerton family supper.
Whether you choose to enjoy a delicious confection with Daphne or a strong cocktail with the Duke, Teatime at Grosvenor Square will make binge-watching Bridgerton even better!
Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, looks like there’s no shortage of delectables to keep you busy. These books make great holiday gifts; they’re really lovely to receive since they’re not the kind of book you’d necessarily purchase for yourself. Adding them to my Wish List. 🙂
5. Speaking of food, have you seen this fun British Vogue taste test video featuring Adele? She’s blindfolded and tries to identify about a dozen traditional British favorites. She does pretty well and I love her candor. Enjoy!
6. New Poetry Anthology Alert: Just released in the UK in October 2021: Everyone Sang: A Poem for Every Feeling, edited by William Sieghart and illustrated by Emily Sutton (Walker Books, 2021):
This exquisite gift-book contains over a hundred poems, chosen by creator of the bestselling The Poetry Pharmacy, William Sieghart, and illustrated in sensational style by picture-book star Emily Sutton. Divided into four thoughtfully-curated sections, including Poems to Make You Smile, Poems to Move You, Poems to Give You Hope and Poems to Calm and Connect You, the poems originate from an extraordinary and diverse range of sources, from Maya Angelou to Roger McGough, Lemn Sissay, Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Joseph Coelho, Kae Tempest, W.B. Yeats, Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson, among many others. Combining traditional favourites with recent gems, here are poems to delight, inspire, entertain, intrigue, console and uplift readers of all ages.
As soon as Emily announced this had been published, I knew I had to have it. As a big fan of her work, I collect all her illustrated books. And this one is simply GORGEOUS — 176 glorious pages in a generous 10.5″ x 11.5″ trim size. That’s a LOT of poetry and art. Again, this is one book any poetry (or art) lover would be thrilled to receive as a gift. Trust me on this!
Enjoy this sneak peek:
7. All I want for Christmas is a Jellycat: I’ve long been a plush animal/soft toy lover (oh, you’ve noticed?), and enjoy keeping up with Jellycat’s new designs. Are you familiar with this brand?
The company started in London back in 1999 with a small line of high quality, innovative soft toys; then in 2001, they set up shop in Minneapolis, and now their unique products are stocked by retailers around the globe. They continue to stand out in the industry because of their attention to quality control, use of luxurious fabrics, and commitment to sourcing cool designs from artists all around England.
Jellycat soft toys are loveable and irresistibly cuddly, with just the right touch of quirkiness to endear them to kids as well as young-at-heart adult collectors.
They not only have a wide range of animals, but lots of FOOD, in addition to inanimate objects with personality plus (rulers, microphones, yoga mats, potted plants, notebooks, pencils) — all too cute and soooooo soft!
Browse their official website and see if some of their creations don’t elicit squeals of delight. Gift someone this holiday season with a Jellycat and he/she will love you forever. 🙂
8. More Foodie Books: One can never read or have too many food-related books, and I love this recent “Kids in the Kitchen” Roundup from Publishers Weekly. They list lots of delicious new and recent titles.
Was happy to see some of the picture books we’ve featured here at the blog, including:
- Delicious!: Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World by Julie Larios and Julie Paschkis
- Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration and Cake by Marilyn Singer and Marjorie Priceman
- Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak, Debbi Michiko Florence and Yuko Jones
- Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
- Right This Very Minute: A Table-to-Farm Book about Food and Farming by Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renee Kurilla
Be sure to check the roundup for more picture books as well as great middle grade and young adult titles for all the foodie-loving readers you know. 🙂
9. So, we began with beautiful art, and now we’ll close with beautiful art. I’ve mentioned several times before how much I love Phoebe Wahl’s work. You may know that she’s published five picture books so far: Sonya’s Chickens, Paper Mice, Backyard Fairies, The Blue House, and most recently, Little Witch Hazel.
At her website shop, she also sells a lovely collection of greeting cards, prints, stickers, and gift wrap in addition to her books. All attest to the unique world of wonder, enchantment, comfort, and intimacy with nature she so lovingly portrays in her art. Here are a few more holiday themed cards and prints:
BONUS KICK: Love this 2021 Barbour Holiday Advert featuring Paddington Bear:
For our blue song this week, a classic by singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, whom we lost this past August at age 68. I was sad to hear of her passing, as I’ve enjoyed her music through the years and saw her perform in person several times. What a great storyteller she was; she seemed beautiful inside and out, and was equally at home with folk, country, and bluegrass music.
“Once in a Very Blue Moon”was the title track from her third studio album, a pivotal one for her, as it “established her musical identity,” and “marked the emergence of a major talent.” Here’s Nanci singing on “Austin City Limits” in 1984, the year the album was released.
BECOME AN ELF
TRIM A TREE
BAKE AND EAT COOKIES
WELCOME THE WINTER SOLSTICE
BELIEVE IN BLUE
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**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.