[#MoreforAKR] celebrating amy krouse rosenthal’s birthday with COOKIE book illustrator jane dyer (+ amy’s favorite cookies and a giveaway!)

“INSPIRE means, Seeing what you’ve done here fills me with energy and new thoughts and the desire to now try to see what I can do!” ~ Amy Krouse Rosenthal (One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Years and Beyond)

About ten years ago, I read my first Amy Krouse Rosenthal book, her adult memoir Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. It spoke to me because I’m an alphabet freak, and I’d never seen anyone tell her life’s story in a series of quirky alphabetized entries, a free-flowing yet carefully curated non-linear celebration of simply being alive.

I loved Amy’s penchant for cataloging ideas, recalibrating time, pruning memory. She embraced spontaneity and serendipity, indulging an irrepressible passion for making, creating and connecting. In the playground of her brilliant mind, she made the muddy, crystal clear; the cliché, passé; the ordinary, extraordinary.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal lost her battle with ovarian cancer on March 13, 2017.

After reading her memoir, I looked forward to each of her children’s picture books. Like a fairy godmother, Amy could wave her intuitive magic wand and make time-worn concepts and storylines fresh, relevant, and fun. Her joy and heart were infectious, and she had an uncanny knack for imparting advice and wisdom with a light, whimsical touch.

Goldie and Baby Bear

About twenty-five years ago, I purchased a copy of Baby Bear’s Bedtime Book, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jane Dyer. As an avid teddy bear collector, I was mad for bear books and instantly fell in love with Goldie and Baby Bear. There was such warmth in Jane Dyer’s pictures, a quaint old-fashioned charm and innocence that made me feel safe and comforted.

I’ve been a Dyer fan ever since, swooning over her work in Piggins, Time for Bed, Animal Crackers, I Love You Like Crazycakes, Blue Moon Soup, the Little Brown Bear series, and more recently, Oh My Baby, Little One, The House That’s Your Home, and All We Know. Sweet, but never cloying, gentle and endearing, her human and animal characters are always rendered with such love.

from The House That’s Your Home, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones (2015)

I want to inhabit her cozy interiors with their wainscoted walls, polka dot curtains and checked tablecloths, and befriend the adorable dogs, cats, bunnies and sheep dressed in human clothing.

GENEROUS means offering some to others (COOKIES: Bite-Size Life Lessons)

Needless to say, I was over the moon when I saw Amy and Jane’s first COOKIE book. Two of the very people I’d admired for so long in the same book!  Double the goodness, double the joy! 🙂

Continue reading

[review + recipe] I Heart You by Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright

❤️ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️

So glad you’re here. You’re just in time for a cup of tea and a freshly baked brownie! Please help yourself. 🙂

I’ve got the perfect picture book to share with you today: I Heart You by Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright (Beach Lane Books, 2016). Have you seen this one yet?

Debut author Meg Fleming celebrates the love between parent and child in a series of endearing animal vignettes. Her spare, lyrical text — just four 3-word sentences for each animal pair — captures different ways parents express love for their little ones.

We first see a young bunny snatching a carrot from a garden, then running back to a waiting parent with it — a cheerful reunion that ends with them snuggling in their burrow.

I see you.
I miss you.

I hug you.
I kiss you.

Foxes play a game of hide and seek; bears chase, frolic in the grass, then pick apples; ducks swim, hop and cuddle; birds “sway” and “swing” before returning to the nest for a song. The book ends with a doe watching over her fawn as it encounters a human child, who has just picked berries with her mother.

I hear you.
I let you.

I know you.
I get you.

Continue reading

cookie capers, reindeer poems, and a holiday blog break

Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight;
Make me a child again just for tonight.”
~ Elizabeth Akers Allen

Ramona Quimby dropped by!

‘Tis the season for cookies, cookies, cookies, those crispy chewy crumbly tokens of love, sweet love ❤️.

If pies are the best part of Thanksgiving, then cookies are definitely the best part of Christmas. We all have our favorites — cookies we make for gifts, parties, exchanges, or just for ourselves (because we deserve it, right?). What will be on your cookie platter this year?

from Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin (1980)

Hmmmm, let me guess — sugar cookies cut in the shapes of stars, bells, or candy canes? Or maybe Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Mexican Wedding Cakes, rich Butter Cookies or old fashioned Gingerbread? Oh, I know! Molasses Spice! Spritz! Raspberry Thumbprints! Pecan Shortbread, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Classic Chocolate Chip? Maybe you’re into Stained Glass Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, or (you saucy minx) Rum Balls! Oh ho! 🙂

Continue reading

cornelius meets hillary: of cookies, chiles, and scrambled eggs

Some of you may know we love talking about Presidential Food here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen.

Whether it’s polishing off a bowl of JFK’s clam chowder, whipping up a batch of George Washington’s hoecakes, or wrapping our lips around Barack Obama’s homemade chili, learning about our leaders’ favorite foods makes them more human and accessible.

I like associating Ronald Reagan with jelly beans, George Bush with pork rinds, Jimmy Carter with peanuts. But what of the first female presidential nominee?

I guess Hillary Rodham Clinton can be summed up this way: she’s a hot pepper and a smart cookie. 🙂

Continue reading

Celebrating Susan Branch’s Latest Books with Tasty Words, Pics, and Potato Chip Cookies

“Never let anyone tell you magic doesn’t exist or that fairies aren’t real. It isn’t cynicism that will change the world. Do your best to believe in yourself, and even if you don’t, keep trying to and never give up. If all else fails, use your imagination and pretend.” ~ Susan Branch (Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams)

Though I’ve been a Susan Branch fan for decades, until I read her 3-part illustrated memoir I knew only a little about her personal life or how she started painting, writing, and publishing.

It was love at first sight when I discovered her greeting cards, calendars and illustrated cookbooks back in the late 80’s — I just couldn’t get enough of her beautiful handwritten recipes and inspirational quotes, the cozy, quaint watercolors of old fashioned baskets, bowls, and quilts, those scrumptious fruits, veggies, cakes and pies. Oh, the checkered floors! The Laura Ashley hats and exquisite floral borders! That iconic vintage stove! I wanted to inhabit the world of her homemade books; they were charming, unique, and most important, personal.

You may remember how much I adored A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside (review here). It convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Susan was even more of a kindred spirit with her love of Beatrix Potter, the Yorkshire Dales, afternoon tea, the Cotswolds, Emma Bridgewater, and the Queen!

But it wasn’t until I read the prequels to A Fine RomanceThe Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams  (both based on her diaries) — that I gained a true appreciation for how this self-taught artist built her career from scratch, how the first seeds were actually planted in childhood, and how she’s been able to effectively elevate the various facets of homemaking (cooking, sewing, gardening, interior decorating) to a fine art.

*

Continue reading