[tealicious review + recipe] Mr. Pumpkin’s Tea Party by Erin Barker

On a fine autumn day, what could be better than finding this lovely handwritten note in your mailbox?

You are cordially invited to a tea party in the back garden at dusk. ~ P

You probably know I’m always up for a tea party, and this one just happens to be doubly delightful. It’s being hosted by none other than the ever dapper Mr. Pumpkin, who really knows how to rock a waistcoat and top hat (I could never resist a top hat). Besides, taking tea at twilight is just too tempting. 🙂

Mr. Pumpkin’s Tea Party, a seasonally spooky story and counting book in one, was written and illustrated by Cincinnati-based author and illustrator Erin Barker, who first sketched a “pumpkin-head guy” having tea with a “skeleton person” for Inktober back in 2016.

They weren’t your average run-of-the-mill pumpkin and skeleton, though. They were dressed up as proper English gentlemen, and were saying things like, “I dare say,” and “Indeed.” Erin’s Instagram followers loved the sketch, and months later her editor suggested the characters should have their own book. So Erin developed a charming storyline inspired by her own love of hosting get-togethers with friends and good food.

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a fond farewell to downton abbey

“All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.” ~ Violet

The soufflés are sinking, the puddings are pouting, the meringues have taken to incessant weeping.

I fear much of our “unbridled joy” is rapidly dissipating — Downton Abbey is ending its 6-year run on PBS with the series finale on March 6!

Only one more episode to go. No! 😦 😦 😦

Treated myself to a Crawley family Spode Stafford White cup and saucer just to drown my sorrows.

I’ve been hooked since Season One, Episode 1, only too willing to spend my Sunday evenings with the entire Crawley family at their opulent digs in Yorkshire. Not since the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971-1975) have I been so emotionally invested in the lives of an aristocratic British family and their servants. I find the entire class system fascinating, rooting for those who would dare defy the established social order, sympathetic to characters grappling with changes beyond their control.

Today serving Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea: “This decadent dessert tea has the homemade flavors of vanilla cake drizzled with rich caramel sauce.” Good afternoon tea, a perfect pairing with puddings, scones, and shortbread.

Indeed, when I first started watching Downton, I was instantly reminded of “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The time periods somewhat overlapped, with UD beginning about a decade before the sinking of the Titanic and ending in 1930. Both series revealed interesting aspects of post-Edwardian social life set against significant historical events. Instead of Mrs Patmore there was Mrs Bridges, instead of Daisy, there was kitchen maid Ruby. Bellamy son James marries his secretary Hazel as Crawley daughter Sybil marries chauffeur Tom Branson — both compelling, frowned-upon liaisons championing the triumph of true love over all impediments.

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some yummy oat scones from elliot’s extraordinary cookbook

Though I’m a longtime Christina Björk and Lena Anderson fan (they’re the Swedish author and illustrator team who created Linnea in Monet’s Garden and Linnea’s Almanac, among many others), I didn’t know about Elliot’s Extraordinary Cookbook (1990) until just recently.

Why didn’t you tell me? You know how nuts I am about illustrated cookbooks. 🙂

I snatched up a like-new copy and swooned over every page of this thoroughly charming and delightful book, which is narrated by Linnea’s neighbor Elliot, quite likely the most enthusiastic young cook ever to bake a potato or scramble an egg.

It all begins when Elliot locks himself out of his apartment and meets his neighbor Stella Delight, a kind widow and former ship’s cook who invites him to wait upstairs at her place.

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friday feast: happiness is a may sarton poem and a cream scone

The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room . . . “ ~ May Sarton

 

When it’s cold and snowy out, there’s nothing better than treating yourself to a little cream tea.

I like to split a warm scone, spread on some strawberry jam and clotted cream, and sip a nice cup of Yorkshire Gold.

Gone are the winter blues, and I’m quite content to while away the hours reading, writing, thinking. I’m safe and warm in a room I’ve filled with some of my favorite things: a copper teapot, Dickens books from Foyles in London, a dozen antique teddy bears, an English phone booth, an Addams Family “Thing” bank, a kazoo, and a bone china bouquet of violets (one broken).

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shortbread and scones from the unofficial downton abbey cookbook

“Are we going to have tea, or not?” ~ Violet, the Dowager Countess

Yes, we are definitely having tea today, along with a couple of treats from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines (Adams Media, 2012)!

Thank goodness Season 3 is finally underway, as I was suffering from extreme DA withdrawal for the last several months. So thrilled that the always brilliant Dame Maggie Smith won a Golden Globe on Sunday, that Mrs. Hughes is okay, and that the Crawleys don’t have to sell the Abbey after all. I’m also crushing on Thomas after seeing Rob James-Collier on numerous talk shows — his character may be slick-haired surly and restrained, but when he smiles in real life — hubba hubba!

I think he would work at Alphabet Soup, don’t you? (ITV)

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