two yummy recipes from The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook (+ a giveaway!)

“If you took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening, listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, you might enjoy life more. Joy is there for the taking.” ~Tasha Tudor

It must have been lovely to join Tasha Tudor for afternoon tea at her beloved Corgi Cottage in southeastern Vermont.

Perhaps her Corgis would greet me at the door, and if I was a little early, she’d put me to work, melting semi-sweet chocolate to fill her speckled cookies. I would happily set the table with her favorite heirloom Blue Canton or hand painted pink lustre tea set, basking in the warmth and charm of her cozy kitchen, only too willing to immerse myself in her 19th century world.

Tasha’s older son Seth built Corgi Cottage in 1970 using only hand tools (photo via Tasha Tudor & Family).

I can’t remember when I first encountered Tasha’s work; it seems like her enchanting pastel watercolors were always part of my read-write-teach existence as they adorned nearly one hundred children’s books and a myriad of greeting cards and calendars. How I appreciated this gentle reminder of simpler times, the idyllic views of New England people, villages, woods, fields, farms, and gardens!

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Tasha’s life was a work of art. She often remarked that she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from about 1800 to 1840. Here was an artist who wholeheartedly lived and dressed the part, making her own clothes from flax she grew, raising her own farm animals, indulging her passions for gardening and traditional handcrafts such as basket-making, candle-making, calligraphy, weaving, sewing, knitting, and doll-making.

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

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a three course meal with billy collins

“There’s something very authentic about humor, when you think about it. Anybody can pretend to be serious. But you can’t pretend to be funny.” ~ Billy Collins

Billy Collins (NYC, 2016)

Today we’re serving up a three-course poetic meal in celebration of Billy Collins’s 76th birthday on March 22.

Heidi Mordhorst, who’s hosting Poetry Friday today, is encouraging everyone to share their favorite Collins poems (or Collins-inspired originals).

Naturally I am partial to Billy’s food-related verse. Since he’s written so many good ones it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I love the wit and tenderness of “Litany” (you will always be the bread and the knife,/not to mention the crystal goblet and — somehow — the wine), and the wisdom and beauty of “Old Man Eating Alone in a Chinese Restaurant” (and I should mention the light/that falls through the big windows this time of day/italicizing everything it touches).

Come to think of it, Billy always seems to be eating in restaurants. Maybe that’s where he does his best thinking. My kind of poet. 🙂

Ossobuco e risotto alla milanese by mWP

He once said he would rather have his poetry be described as “hospitable” rather than “accessible” (which brings to mind “on-ramps for the poetically handicapped”).

Like it or not, he is undeniably both, a large part of why he remains America’s favorite poet. Doesn’t just seeing his name make you feel good?

Ever hospitable, he welcomes us into each poem with an easy conversational tone and generous spirit, engaging us with humor that lends a deeper poignancy to serious subjects. Continue reading

time to get your cosy on

cosycardigan
Hand Knitted Christmas Cardigan Cosy by rTracyO

Surely the best part of winter is having reason to drink even more tea. Gotta keep warm, right?

‘Tis not the season for mug-in-the-microwave tea. Nay, winter tea calls for the careful selection of just the right teapot, just the right cup and saucer, and your favorite silver teaspoon. It often means turning your nose up at tea bags (gasp!) in favor of that raise-the-eyebrow indulgence, loose tea. Oh yes — you’re worth it, you tea slut, you.

Loose loose loose.

Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mama.

And as long as you’re gonna brew a perky pot (better look sharp as Mr. Darcy is sure to visit), you know very well this will require some patience. Once it’s ready you’ll want to sip and savor ever so slowly, while you dip into that bodice ripper socially redeeming literary novel, or skillfully chat up your dapper British tea companion.

cosyfeltflowers
Vintage Felt Cosy

It was for times like these that lovely, adorable, whimsical tea cosies were invented. They likely appeared around the same time the Duchess of Bedford popularized afternoon tea in late 19th century Britain. With so much serious chit chat and juicy gossip going on — and when one is trading scandalous bon mots, one must never rush — they had to find a way to keep their teapots warm.

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[author chat + recipe + giveaway] Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

One of my very favorite things to do is to feature children’s books by first time authors, especially when they’re written by dear online friends.

I’ve been a fan of Elaine Magliaro’s poetry and blog Wild Rose Reader for about ten years now. I first began reading her wonderful posts at Blue Rose Girls before she launched Wild Rose Reader in April 2007.  A retired elementary school teacher and librarian, Elaine is extremely knowledgeable and unfailingly passionate about children’s poetry, which she shared in the classroom for over three decades, and which she herself has written for many, many years.

Though I’ve loved the insightful book reviews, fascinating interviews, and general wealth of amazing educational resources available at Wild Rose Reader, I was always most excited when Elaine posted her own poetry. Over the years, her poems appeared in several anthologies, but now (hooray, hooray!), she finally has her own book!

Things to Do (Chronicle Books, 2017) is an absolutely stunning debut and I’m thoroughly delighted to sing its praises. The fourteen list poems, paired with Catia Chien’s evocative acrylic paintings, chronicle the small, sweet moments of a child’s day. Most illuminate wonders of the natural world: sun, moon, sky, rain, a bird, an acorn, a honeybee, crickets, a snail — from a uniquely childlike perspective that is refreshing, innocent, and thoroughly charming.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

coolteacard1. Love finding cute notecards, and when they have TEA written on them I can’t resist! Louise Neumann of LouPaper calls herself a professional doodler. It certainly looks like she’s having a lot of fun celebrating “things that make life lovely” (food, travel, gardens, and cocktails) with her bright cheery designs.

coolpastariesnotebookHer Etsy Shop contains a nice selection of notecards, notebooks, prints and calendars. She has a cool series that features various states and the things commonly associated with them. She hasn’t done Hawai’i yet, but the Virginia one includes Williamsburg, Jamestown, peanuts, and the red cardinal.

coolvirginiacoolgardennotebookNaturally I’m partial to her food designs, which includes donuts, shellfish, beer, sushi, cheese and bread. And all done with marker pens! Check it out. 🙂

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2. New Book Alert: Hooray, Barbara Crooker has just published another poetry collection! Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017) was just released a couple of weeks ago:

coolbarbarabookLES FAUVES is, as the title suggests, a collection of ekphrastic poetry, meditations on paintings from the Fauve and Post-Impressionist movements. But it also contains poetry’s equivalent to Fauvism, poems that take a walk on the wild side. There are language experiment poems, poems of word play, poems in form both usual (end rhymes, sonnets, ghazals) and unusual (abecedaries, traditional, embedded, and double helix), palindromes, anagrams, and word scrambles. Crazy word salad poems. Crooker’s subjects range widely, from living and working in a small village in the South of France, love in a long-term relationship, food as more than sustenance, faith in a secular age, grammar and usage, the pains and pleasures of the aging body. But always, what engages her most is what it means to be human on this fragile planet, at this time in our troubled history, still believing that “Beauty will save the world” (Fyodor Dostoevsky).

I just got my copy and can’t wait to dig in!

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