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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nine cool things on a tuesday

cooldimsumposterbig1. Few things make me happier than the thought of Dim Sum, so this delectable giclée print by Ellen Blonder pretty much gets me where I live. The watercolor paintings are from Ellen’s wonderful book, Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch (Clarkson Potter, 2002). Love the precise detail and quiet beauty of her work.

cooldimsumcoverAlso available is this print featuring art from Ellen’s award winning cookbook Every Grain of Rice: A Taste of Our Chinese Childhood in America (1998), which she co-wrote with Annabel Low. Both prints are signed, available in several sizes and are printed with archival-quality ink on acid-free paper. Gorgeous!

cooleerygrainbiggraincoverBe sure to visit Ellen’s website to see more of her exquisite paintings and her impressive list of awards, commercial clients and projects. Prints are available at her Etsy Shop.

*ETA: Ellen is on a short break, and will re-open her shop March 15.

Since 2017 is the year of the Rooster, here’s one of Ellen’s rooster paintings (she lives on Kaua’i where roosters run free).

coolrooster*

2. These chilly winter days are perfect for indoor craft projects. Check out Margaret Bloom’s latest book, Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys That Spin, Fly, and Bring Sweet Dreams (Hawthorn Press, 2014):

mollycover2This inspiring new collection by Margaret Bloom builds on the success of her first book Making Peg Dolls. With peg dolls at the heart of each design, you’ll discover how easy it is to create toys which fly and spin, pin cushions, herbal pocket friends, wall-hangings, and much more. All projects are richly illustrated throughout with hand-drawn diagrams and full color photos.

The easy-to-follow instructions will guide you through a selection of simple and more advanced designs. Many of the projects are suitable for young children and will only take an hour or two to complete. Interwoven with poems, songs and stories, the projects can engage the whole family in the art of crafting and playing with these magical toys!

margaret-bloom-making-peg-dolls-favourite-page-vegetablesmolly3mollyonemolly4These dolls, which come from the Waldorf handcraft tradition,  are so sweet and will inspire hours of imaginative play and storytelling. Don’t you want to enter this tiny world of enchantment?

Here’s the cover of Margaret’s first book, Making Peg Dolls (Hawthorn Press, 2013):

mollycoverOh, and my foodie self was especially happy to see tutorials for making a peg doll dining table and tiny cakes (!) at Margaret’s blog, We Bloom Herewhere she regularly features fun projects for the whole family to enjoy. 🙂

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[review + recipe + giveaway!] Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls by Kristi Carlson

Mmmmmm! What’s that delicious aroma wafting over here from just two days away?

*closes eyes, inhales deeply*

Well, I think it’s mainly COFFEE –a freshly brewed good morning sunshine rich medium roast, fog up my glasses keep me humming all day kind of coffee.

Wait. There’s also pizza, cheeseburgers, chili fries. Risotto, spaghetti and meatballs, and glazed donuts. Is that pie? Oh, marry me chocolate pudding, beef-a-roni, oatmeal cookies!

They’re almost here, they’re almost here:

GILMORE GIRLS!!!!

Credit: Netflix

This Friday, November 25, 2016, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” premieres on Netflix!

Finally, finally, finally, after nine l-o-n-g years of clenched fetal position withdrawal patiently waiting, we’re getting four, count ’em, FOUR, brand new 90-minute episodes all at the same time!

All I can say is, Copper Boom! Pop-Tarts! Huzzah!!

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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.

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Winnie-the-Pooh and The Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess (+ Honey Chocolate Pie)

Mr Cornelius practicing the royal wave.

Hello Hello!

What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?

Feature them both in a beary good story, of course. 🙂

All art copyright © 2016 Mark Burgess.

Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.

Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.

What does this Palace Guard have stashed under his hat?

Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?

So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.

 

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