ABCs of Christmas, a yummy recipe, and a holiday blog break

#58 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Please help yourself to some of Susan Branch’s Christmas Coffee Cake 🙂

 

Ho Ho Ho!

To celebrate the season, here’s an old fashioned Christmas abecedarian by American poet Carolyn Wells. This verse was first published as a picture book by McLoughlin Brothers in 1900, and describes how many of us still define Christmas more than a century later.

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A CHRISTMAS ALPHABET
by Carolyn Wells

A is for Angel who graces the tree.
B is for Bells that chime out in glee.
C is for Candle to light Christmas Eve.
D is for Dreams which we truly believe.
E is for Evergreens cut for the room.
F is for Flowers of exquisite perfume.
G is for Gifts that bring us delight.
H is for Holly with red berries bright.
I is for Ice, so shining and clear.
J is the Jingle of bells far and near.
K is Kriss Kringle with fur cap and coat.
L is for Letters the children all wrote.
M is for Mother, who’s trimming the bough.
N is for Night, see the stars sparkling now.
O is for Ornaments, dazzling with light.
P for Plum Pudding that tasted just right.
Q the Quadrille, in which each one must dance.
R is for Reindeer that gallop and prance.
S is for Snow that falls silently down.
T is for Turkey, so tender and brown.
U is for Uproar that goes on all day.
V is for Voices that carol a lay.
W is for Wreaths hung up on the wall.
X is for Xmas, with pleasures for all.
Y is for Yule log that burns clear and bright.
Z is for Zest shown from morning till night.

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[review + recipe] All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

When I was nine, there was nothing I wanted more than to belong to the All-of-a-Kind Family.

I loved the idea of having four sisters, all of us wearing our white pinafores as we traipsed to the library Friday afternoons and spent our pennies for treats on Rivington Street. Would I get a warm sweet potato like Ella, hot chick peas like Sarah, or candied fruit on sticks like Charlotte and Gertie? I don’t think I’d opt for a fat, juicy sour pickle like Henny did. 🙂

I’m guessing most of us who loved Sydney Taylor’s classic AOAKF books imagined ourselves as one of these girls, perhaps the one closest to our own age. But since we got to know them all so well, we were probably able to find parts of ourselves in each of them.

Months ago, when I first learned that Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky were publishing a new picture book based on Taylor’s series, I reread all five books and fell in love with them all over again. So wonderful to feel the comforting embrace of this close-knit family and immerse myself in their turn-of-the-century world. I was once again charmed and captivated by Taylor’s writing, appreciating anew her ability to speak of and to a child’s heart with such candor and truth.

But I did wonder how Emily and Paul would be able to create the same kind of magic in a 40-page picture book. I needn’t have worried. I love All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. In fact, it’s my favorite food-related picture book of 2018!

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a good gobble

“If you think about a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really like making a large chicken.” ~ Ina Garten

Art by Mary Engelbreit

 

Just wanted to pop in briefly to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll be away from the blog until next week, since I’ll be busy turkey plucking, cranberry gathering, green bean snapping, potato mashing, and pie baking eating devouring.

(Okay, fine. So I’m getting a little help from Whole Foods this year . . .)

Still, I must be in full concentration mode as I dig out the big platters and serving dishes, wash plates, goblets and silverware that don’t often see the light of day, and — my favorite part — set the table. 🙂

 

Art by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

 

Here are some things I am especially thankful for this year:

1. My father turned 104 years old on November 17. He has been in a slow decline since contracting pneumonia recently, and is not on his computer anymore. It’s been touch and go; we weren’t sure he’d make it till his birthday, but he did. This is something he wanted to do, so he did it. We remain in awe of his resiliency, and are thankful for each day he chooses to remain with us in this world.

2. There are no words to describe the devastation and heartbreak of the California wild fires. We are so grateful for the courage and strength of the firefighters, first responders, rescue workers, and forensic teams who continue to labor above and beyond. In the painful aftermaths of this and other recent tragedies (Pittsburgh, Thousand Oaks, Puerto Rico, Parkland), unsung heroes have given us hope by proving that human beings are capable of infinite goodness.

3. I am relieved and thankful that as a result of the midterm elections, a check on the executive branch has been restored. Faced with an egregious lack of leadership in this country, we have seen that our votes and our voices do matter and can make a difference.

4. Though it’s been a tough 2 years with our democracy being challenged at every turn, I am actually grateful for the enormous wake-up call. Since we have a President who has succeeded at bringing out the worst in this country (instances of hate, racism, bigotry, violence, xenophobia, corporate corruption, incivility, moral bankruptcy), we’ve all been forced to re-evaluate what it means to be good citizens, and to take action when and where we can. I do think for too long we took for granted what we “thought” we had all along. As flawed human beings, too often we value something more when faced with losing it (e.g., free speech).

5. Artists, musicians, writers, and creatives of all kinds: thankful for how their work sustains and inspires me each and every day. Much is being destroyed in this world. I stand wholeheartedly with those who devote their lives to making, building, birthing, uplifting.

6. YOU.

What are you especially thankful for this year?

 

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 🍗 HAPPY GOBBLING! 🍗

 

“What I love about Thanksgiving is that it’s purely about getting together with friends or family and enjoying food. It’s really for everybody, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” ~ Daniel Humm

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.” ~ Erma Bombeck


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Don’t forget to vote in today’s critical midterm elections!

This cool poster was created by Missouri artist Mary Engelbreit and is available as a free download from her official website. The image fits on an 11″ x 17″ size sheet.

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2. Some of you may know that my mother served in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. She was one of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist (she wrote about her experiences in this short chronology).

Just so happens Maryland author Ann McCallum read my post about Margaret not too long ago and asked to include her in a new book she was writing about women in the U.S. Army. This past summer, I shared more information and photos via email with Ann, who wrote a chapter about Margaret.

Ann recently shared the final cover of the book on social media — what a surprise to see Margaret’s photo right on the front! I know my mother would be thrilled and amazed. Women Heroes of the U.S. Army will be published in July 2019 — can’t wait to see it! Pretty cool, no? 🙂

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3. Speaking of notable women, check out this cool print by Massachusetts illustrator Karen Hallion. Her first “She Series” collage features these 9 kickass role models:

Wonder Woman
Rey from Star Wars
Mulan
Moana
Princess Leia
Anne of Green Gables
Angelica Schulyer from the musical Hamilton
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okoye from Black Panther

You can purchase this 11″ x 14″ open edition print at Karen’s Etsy Shop — a great place to browse, especially if you’re a Star Wars, Harry Potter, Buffy or steampunk fan. Each of these female heroes is also available separately as small 8″ x 10″ signed Lustre prints.

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[spooky review + giveaway] Monster School by Kate Coombs and Lee Gatlin

Twilight’s here.
The death bell rings.
Everyone knows what
the death bell brings . . .

It’s time for class. You’re in the place
where goblins wail and zombies drool.

 

Welcome, you’re just in time.

Monster School is in session — come right in and meet the gang!

These just might be the scariest, spookiest students ever — a class where nobody blinks twice about the odd hairy eyeball on the floor or having a teacher who’s a screaming banshee.

Strangely enough, when you read about them, these spirited scholars seem to feel freakishly familiar. 🙂

In her newest children’s book Monster School (Chronicle Books, 2018), poetry wizard Kate Coombs has conjured up 18 fangtastic poems just perfect for some Halloweenish fun. Illustrated by Georgia cartoonist Lee Gatlin (who professes to love drawing monsters most of all), this cauldron of creepiness will cast you under its spell and tickle your skeletal funny bone.

Written in a variety of poetic forms, the mostly rhyming poems introduce us to some very interesting pupils, two weird teachers, and one voracious class pet.

Take “Fernanda Kabul” (please) — she has a way of instilling dread at the mere mention of her name. Part brat, part bully, and a vengeful liar, this “terrible, heartless” dressed-all-in-black “princess of hex” thrives on terrorizing her classmates:

One time Josh was laughing at something I said
and she thought he was laughing at her.
By the time she was finished he wasn’t a kid:
He was three inches long. He was covered with fur.

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