soup of the day: at the boardwalk by kelly ramsdell fineman and mónica armiño


Breathe in that fresh salty air and come along for some summertime fun!

I’m positively giddy that Kelly Ramsdell Fineman’s very first picture book, At the Boardwalk (illustrated by Mónica Armiño and published by Tiger Tales), is officially out today. WooHoo!!

*cartwheels, backflips, crazy dazy somersaults*

The reason I’m so happy is that Kelly was one of the first LiveJournal friends I met online when I started blogging about five years ago. I was impressed by her brilliant, witty, insightful reviews and interviews, candid musings about writing and life in general, enlightening explications of classic poems, and month-long Shakespeare and Jane Austen love fests, for which she is known far and wide.

Only Kelly could wax poetic about Wordsworth one moment, then talk about garden gnomes gone wild the next. I’d taken to calling her,”abnormal,” since I didn’t know anyone else who could read as fast, retain so many details, and then instantly offer stunning, eloquent commentary while brandishing an épée and singing along to her brainradio precisely on key. She once remarked how she looked forward to the day when it would finally be her name spelled out in alphabet pasta in her very own celebration soup.

Well, Kelly, that day is finally here!!

*trumpet fanfare*

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friday feast: two poetic peas in a pod


Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month?

Let’s celebrate with PEAS!


Today, we have not one, but TWO perfectly penned pea poems (one of them by a poet named Penny). I’ve titled this post “Two Poetic Peas in a Pod,” because the similarities between the poems are quite uncanny. Both are entitled “Shelling Peas,” both refer to fond childhood memories with grandmothers, both contain references to little boats from children’s literature, and both are written in seven stanzas. To top it off, both poets live in New Jersey (the Garden State), and their first names contain five letters (“e” + double consonant + “y”). I mean, what are the chances?!

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sitting down with kelly fineman

#19 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

  “Tea with Rosebuds in Romantic Cup” by Michael Paul.
(Available as a print here.)


You’re just in time for a cup of tea!

Now, if I said, “Jane Austen,” “poetic forms,” “dead white poets” and garden gnomes, whom would you think of?

Kelly Fineman of course! Like me, you’re probably a fan of Writing and Ruminating, where Kelly displays her literary brilliance on a daily basis. For almost three years, I’ve been reading her amazing blog and I’m not bragging one bit when I say that as a result I’m much smarter ☺. *basks in newfound intelligence*

When it comes to poetry, Kelly knows her stuff. When she features a poem, there’s usually a detailed explication, a bit of backstory, personal notes, even illuminating digression. Yes, Kelly loves to digress . . .

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friday feast: the educated cookie

Happy (burp) Holidays!

Do you think it’s possible to have too many cookies?

You see, for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been swimming in them.


Don’t misunderstand. I’ve been happier than clam cookies — dropping, rolling, sugaring, pressing, slicing, and yes, even inhaling them. By all accounts, I haven’t suffered any side effects, except for one teeny tiny thing.

Remember last week, when Sara Lewis Holmes came by with her Oatmeal Coconut Crisps? I admit I felt a little twinge then. She’s a doozy of a poet, apparently. Still, my behavior remained relatively normal.

Until — the lovely Kelly Fineman brought her Lumberjacks.

You know, there really is no way anyone can remain unaffected by Kelly’s presence. How many of you feel instantly smarter, more cultured, more refined, egads —  more apt to don a bonnet, after reading one of Kelly’s fabulous blog posts? Are you often reminded of how beautiful, versatile and exacting the English language really is, and do you feel inspired to read more, learn more, write more?

I thought so.

Now, having said all that, why didn’t anybody warn me? I made the mistake of eating some of Kelly’s Lumberjacks straight up. That’s right — no milk, no tea, no cider. Within minutes, I was waxing poetic. I began to breathe in dactyls.  Everything, even my eyebrows, wanted to rhyme.

So, with advance and profuse apologies, I present my first (and last) acrostic poem. In the spirit of the season, I beg your good will, and if you dare to try Kelly’s Lumberjacks, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

(for Kelly Fineman, the original Smart Cookie)

K elly took Jane to the cookie soiree,

E legant iambs gleamed on her tray.

L o, and behold —

L umberjack Lou fancied Jane,

Y earned for a kiss, that gingery swain.

F ie on thee, Woodman! Kelly cried in disgust.

I nch your way back to your forest of dust!

N o man is worthy of Jane’s witty crumb;

E at pride with your doggerel and lace it with rum.

M arry me, plaid-clad Jack, I’m high-born and well read,

A usten and Wordsworth are my daily bread.

N o matter the time, I’m bound to digress —

R adio waves in my brain rob me of rest.

O n top of these

C ookies

K elly’s sweetness is plain.

S ing thee her praises for she writes of Jane!

For those who crave poesy, intellectual stimulation, and weather reports of yore, these molasses cookies will sate your literary hunger. 

(makes 7 dozen)


1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening (I use butter; can use margarine or Crisco)
1 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Cream sugar and shortening. Add molasses and eggs, then the dry ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours. Have a small dish of sugar at hand (regular sugar, not colored or powdered or anything fancy). Dip fingers in sugar, pinch off a ball of cookie dough and roll. Place on ungreased tray and bake at 350 degrees F. “Underdone” at 12-15 minutes.

Note: Best enjoyed with a cup of tea. Wearing an empire-waisted gown, a bonnet, (and a spencer if it’s chilly), will enhance flavor. Feel free to ingest with abandon, as minimal undergarments are required with your costume.

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at AmoXicalli.

We’d love to see you at the Cookie Party! Post your favorite recipe on your blog, then leave the link in the comments, or email your recipe to:  readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot com).