♥️ a trio of sweet treats for valentine’s day ♥️

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever noticed how many terms of endearment are related to food?

Just call me Honey, Babycakes, Sugar, Pumpkin, Cookie, Cutie Pie, Cupcake, Pudding, or Dumpling.

Of course I wouldn’t mind a little foreign flavor once in awhile, like “petit chou,” (little cabbage, French), “polpetto/a” (meatball, Italian), or “fasolaki mou” (my little green bean, Greek).

It’s all good, cause food is love, and love is food.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, we’re serving up a little three-course feast just for you, cause we love you more than chocolate . . . well, almost (and that’s saying a lot). 🙂

So put on your best bibs and savor these goodies to your heart’s content (feel free to smack your lips, lick your chops, and kiss your bunched fingertips).



Oh, how I love old timey valentines! They take me right back to grade school. It was exciting to go to the five-and-dime with my mom to buy a pack of valentines for my classmates.

Back then, there weren’t any rules about having to give them to everyone in your class. On Valentine’s Day morning, we’d put our cards in a big box, and when we returned from morning recess, we’d find those addressed to us on our desks.

This was actually both a happy and sad experience, because some kids ended up with a big pile of valentines, while others only received a few. A ranking of popularity there on display for all to see. I still remember how sorry I felt for Ronald, because he only got one. This was over 50 years ago, and it still bothers me.

Anyway, a quick scan of vintage valentines (ca. 1950’s) revealed a preponderance of food-related puns. Some are sweet, some are groan-worthy, and some a little strange. Nevertheless, all harken back to a simpler time and are interesting for different reasons. It’s too bad that for the most part, we’ll never know who the artists were behind these designs. Hope you enjoy this little feast from yesteryear!


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So, did you like those? I think my favorite is the Olive Oyl one. I did find a few raise-the-eyebrow-strange non-foodie ones, too:


Violent, much?


Flattery will get you everywhere.


This one’s probably the weirdest. Just ewww.


I like that the practice of sending Valentine’s Day cards, flowers, chocolates, and other gifts started in the UK. Leave it to those clever Brits! And back in Victorian times, they exchanged fancy valentines made with real lace and ribbons before paper lace was invented. So cool.

Do you still send Valentine’s Day cards? More than just a nod to romantic love, this particular holiday is a wonderful time to celebrate friendships.


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maira kalman’s thomas jefferson: life, liberty and the pursuit of everything (and oh yes, apple pudding)

Happy President’s Day!

Can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than by singing the praises of Maira Kalman’s brand new picture book biography about Thomas Jefferson.

I pretty much adore everything Maira does, and I’ve been fascinated by our red-haired, violin-playing, wine-guzzling, pea-loving, Renaissance Man foodie President ever since I first visited Monticello years ago.

In Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything (Paulsen/Penguin, 2014), Ms. Kalman has accomplished the seemingly impossible, capturing the genius, complexity, contributions, contradictions, and affecting humanness of our third President in just 40 glorious pages.

Her disarming conversational narrative, peppered with just the kind of offbeat detail kids love, is fueled by a contaigious enthusiasm for her subject. She begins:

Thomas Jefferson had red hair and some freckles (about 20 I think), he grew to be very tall and oh yes, he was the third President of the United States . . .

What was he interested in?


I mean it.


She mentions Jefferson’s love of books, music, flora and fauna, and that he could speak seven languages. She spotlights the ingenious design of his beloved Monticello,”a Museum of his Mind” with its famed vegetable garden, citing Jefferson’s advocacy of a mostly vegetarian diet. Though he lived a good life, “full of work and love,” it was tinged with sadness: his wife Martha died young and four of their six children didn’t live to adulthood.

She details Jefferson’s role as a Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence, brilliantly humanizing other illustrious figures like Franklin, Adams and Washington via singular details: Ben’s crazy great hat, John’s fiery temper, George’s false teeth. Then it’s all about Jefferson’s presidency (Louisiana Purchase, Lewis & Clark Expedition), before sensitively introducing the topic of slavery.

The man who said of slavery
was the owner of about 150 slaves.


She tells it straight and true, and does not shy away from mentioning that Jefferson likely had children with Sally Hemings, and what a sad thing it was when people felt the need to hide their background by passing for white. Her despair over these painful issues and puzzlement over Jefferson’s hypocrisy are deftly conveyed in a way that respects young readers and will likely win their trust.

I love how Maira’s hand-lettering alternates with the standard font to highlight asides, personal thoughts and select facts. These words just brim with personality, keeping things from sounding too textbook-y, ultimately strengthening the intimate bond between author and reader.

Illuminated and expanded by vibrant and whimsical gouache paintings rendered in striking jewel-tones, Kalman’s account of Jefferson as President, scholar, statesman, architect, scientist, botanist, connoisseur, author, inventor, and plantation owner is recommended for readers of all ages who appreciate spirited storytelling and creative nonfiction infused with wit, wisdom, and the excitement of discovery.

Who better to tell about the man who was interested in “everything” than a writer and artist who herself is endlessly curious and so brilliant at curating the idiosyncratic ‘everythings’ she encounters in her own life?


If you want to understand this country and its people and what it means to be OPTIMISTIC and COMPLEX and Tragic and Wrong and Courageous, You Need to go to Monticello.

Walk around the house and the gardens.
The linden trees might be in bloom, filling the air with their delicious perfume.
Maybe you will lie down under a tree
and fall asleep thinking about
LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of EVERYTHING.

Five Big Soup Spoons for this one!

*   *   *

♥ Call Me Ms. Pudding ♥

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friday feast: to love a bear


I first met him in the fourth stall on a cool, misty Saturday morning in Portobello Road market, London. The dowdy, red-cheeked antique dealer told me four teddies had come in the day before. Three of them sat there placidly. But one spoke.

“I like you.”

“How much for this teddy?” I asked.

“Twenty quid,” said the woman, nodding. “That one is a bit of a flirt.”

I looked closer. His fur was badly worn, and there was a big bald spot on the back of his head. His joints were very weak. Should I?

“You already have too many bears,” my husband reminded me.

Turning to go, I saw how disappointed the bear was.

“Please,” he said. “I won’t be any trouble.” He was too old and tired to hold his head up.

For hours, I dodged vegetable carts and pushy people, while gleaming silver teaspoons, clown puppets, felt hats, Victorian jewelry, and mysterious clocks tried to tempt me. But it was no use. Even the hurdy-gurdy man, with his clever monkey and cheeky parrot, couldn’t make me forget. I had to go back.

I pushed through the crowd, weaving in and out, so worried I had missed my chance. When I finally got back to the fourth stall, the others were gone but he was still there, staring forlornly at the ground.

When I picked him up, he said, “I waited. I knew you’d come back.”

He told me his name was Pudding. “You know, dessert. The best part.”

I wrapped Pudding up carefully and took him home to America. Later, I found him in a bear book. He was more than 50 years old. As a collectible, his age, maker, condition and rarity determined his monetary value. What nonsense! Who could presume to put a price on a battle-worn appearance which spoke of dunks in a rain barrel and drags along the sidewalk?

I have seen the saddest threadbare remnants of a bear and have felt his soul, alive and reaching. Once a bear has been loved by a human being, its expression is forever marked. How much for that faraway look, 50 years in the making?

The teddy bear is childhood’s most enduring toy. Never judgmental, teddies are equally loved by both sexes, in all age groups. I had lots of dolls as a child, but no bears. I might have lived the rest of my life bearless, if it hadn’t been for Brideshead Revisited. Do you remember Sebastian Flyte, carrying Aloysius around Oxford University? Evelyn Waugh modeled Aloysius after John Betjeman’s bear, Archibald Ormsby-Gore. Betjeman, a poet who also attended Oxford, died with Archibald in his arms.

Seeing Aloysius made it more than okay to have a bear. I made up for the missing bears in my childhood by acquiring close to 300 bears. Pudding is very special, though, because he came from England.

Today, I’m sharing “Teddy Bear,” by A.A. Milne, who would have been 126 years old today. Though he wanted to be remembered for his other writing, Winnie the Pooh still reigns supreme. Milne captured the very essence of friendship in those stories, and nothing matters more than that.

 Milne with the real Christopher Robin and Pooh.

“Teddy Bear” was first published in PUNCH magazine (1923), and was later included in When We Were Very Young (1924). This was the world’s first introduction to Edward Bear, aka Winnie the Pooh. I hope you have some extra honey for him.

by A.A. Milne


A bear, however hard he tries
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge one exercise and air.”

(Read the rest here.)

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Farm School.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
~ Christopher Robin to Pooh, by A.A. Milne