Surely the best part of winter is having reason to drink evenmore tea. Gotta keep warm, right?
‘Tis not the season for mug-in-the-microwave tea. Nay, winter tea calls for the careful selection of just the right teapot, just the right cup and saucer, and your favorite silver teaspoon. It often means turning your nose up at tea bags (gasp!) in favor of that raise-the-eyebrow indulgence, loose tea. Oh yes — you’re worth it, you tea slut, you.
Loose loose loose.
Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mama.
And as long as you’re gonna brew a perky pot (better look sharp as Mr. Darcy is sure to visit), you know very well this will require some patience. Once it’s ready you’ll want to sip and savor ever so slowly, while you dip into that bodice ripper socially redeeming literary novel, or skillfully chat up your dapper British tea companion.
It was for times like these that lovely, adorable, whimsical tea cosies were invented. They likely appeared around the same time the Duchess of Bedford popularized afternoon tea in late 19th century Britain. With so much serious chit chat and juicy gossip going on — and when one is trading scandalous bon mots, one must never rush — they had to find a way to keep their teapots warm.
1. Nothing cuter than a few literary hedgies to get your day off to a cheery start! I’m sure Mrs Tiggy-winkle would be highly pleased. See more Bookish Hedgehogs here.
2. New book alert! Just in time for Fall is Apple Picking Day! by Candice Ransom and Erika Meza (Random House, 2016), a Step Into Reading title that’s a perfect companion to last year’s Pumpkin Day!
Who doesn’t love to go apple picking at the first sign of fall? A sister and brother celebrate autumn with a trip to a local apple orchard in this simple, rhyming Step 1 early reader. The kids bound with glee through the rows of trees, and race against other children to pick the most and the best apples. The story of their day is bright, fun, and full of light action. It’s told in easy-to-follow rhyme, ensuring a successful reading experience.
Congrats on the new book, Candice!
3. Heads up Susan Branch fans! In addition to collecting Susan’s wonderful illustrated cookbooks, 3-part memoir, calendars and greeting cards, you can also enjoy her fabulous designs on fabric, wallpaper, labels, and gift wrap.
Visit her design shop at Spoonflower to see the entire collection. I am especially partial to her dotty, kitchen, and afternoon tea prints, but she also has pretty florals, butterflies, sweet lambs, and a marshmallow world. Just lovely!
4. Recently read a wonderful post (“if quirky is your thing”) at Orange Marmalade about a series of classic children’s books republished in beautiful new editions by New York Review Books (NYRB). In her post, Jill highlights five titles from their Children’s Collection, which currently features around 80 books.
What a great way to discover gems from the past!. I’m especially excited about getting my hands on Junket is Nice and The Magic Pudding, but so many of them look interesting. Visit the New York Review Books Children’s Collection page for more. Actually, I wish I had them all. 🙂
5. Holy guacamole! Have you ever fantasized about being a human burrito? Come on, admit it!
You’ll be happy to know you can now embrace your inner taquito with the ingenious TORTILLA TOWEL. 🙂
This fetching 5-foot round limited edition towel resembles a real flour tortilla. Imagine yourself as a tiny taco filling — a little chicken, refried beans, jalapeno, maybe? Roll around in the grass, become the envy of those snooty sunbathers on the beach, or cuddle up for a nice after-bath nap. Finally, a towel to meet all your Mexican dishy needs!
See how you can become a taco, quesadilla, tostada, enchilada, burrito or taquito. Would you like a little Cholula with that?
It’s made from lead free, toxin-free earthenware clay and is dishwasher and microwave safe. Perfect gift to let friends know you’re mad about them! 🙂
8. What to do with those cute drawings your kids make? Post them on the fridge — or if you’re a creative Mom from Tokyo (aka Konel Bread), you incorporate them into loaves of round bread! KB makes these loaves with natural flavors and colors (beetroot, spinach, cocoa), and many are based on her son’s drawings. I want some mustache bread! See more at Konel Bread’s Instagram.
9. Finally, if you’re a Jacques Pépin fan like I am, you’ll be happy to know his whimsical artwork is featured in a new collection of handcrafted Italian ceramics and table linens available exclusively at Sur La Table.
There are a lot of adorable chickens on mugs, platters, aprons, mitts, and pasta bowls. I especially love this baker, which has one of Jacques’s hand-painted menus on the interior. The entire collection has a fresh French country chic feeling about it.
Jacques has also added new original paintings and signed prints to his art website. You probably know that for years he’s been creating hand-drawn menus of his dinner parties — what beautiful mementos! Some of these are also available as prints. I love a chef who creates art in and out of the kitchen!
1. Just in case you missed it, wanted to point all Julie Paschkis fans to the lovely post about her by Patricia Belyea at Okan Arts. What a treat to get a mini tour of Julie’s gorgeous Seattle home and learn a bit more about her passion for quilting. As one would expect, each room is a creative haven with its many colors, textures and charming objets d’art.
We all know that “there was an old lady” who swallowed lots of things. Now meet the old dragon who swallows pretty much an entire kingdom! Will he ever learn a little moderation?! This rollicking rhyme is full to bursting with sight gags, silly characters, and plenty of burps! Parents and kids alike will delight in Ben Mantle’s precisely funny illustrations and in Penny Parker Klostermann’s wacky rhymes.
Debut author Penny Klostermann has penned a zany send-up of “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly” that’s a riot to read aloud. She proves her Medievalish muster by featuring a delirious dragon sans decorum whose antics inevitably lead to much bloating and burping (what do you expect when you guzzle and gulp like there’s no tomorrow?). It’s one thing to swallow a knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, and a lady — but a castle and a moat??!! Ben Mantle captures all the gustatory gulping and nonstop nonsense with his colorful, vigorous, high-octane illos. Clippity, clippity, clippity clop to your nearest bookstore and (politely) swallow this one whole. It is, in short, a GAS. 😀 😀 😀 (Click here for Dragon’s Blog Tour.)
3. Shopping for just the right gift for a bookish friend? Check out these cool mugs from The Literary Gift Company. Pick a pre-printed classic or order a personalized mug with any title and author’s name on it (eg., “Pies I Have Loved” by Cornelius Rattigan). 🙂
4. On what would have been Princess Diana’s 54th birthday, blogger Tori Avey celebrated the People’s Princess with a batch of her favorite Bread and Butter Pudding as prepared by Chef Darren McGrady, who cooked for the royal family at Buckingham Palace for over a decade before moving into Kensington Palace to cook for Diana and her boys.
Like Tori, I remember vividly that fateful Sunday when I first heard the saw news of Diana’s death. Can you believe August 31 marks 18 years that she’s been gone? How Diana would have doted on Prince George and Princess Charlotte if she were alive today! The Bread and Butter Pudding was a special treat in Diana’s otherwise health-conscious diet.
5. Having a baaaaad day? Then you need a Mary Kilvert sheep fix! This Somerset-based artist has created a distinctive line of sheepish homeware products reflecting her love of the English countryside. She first began making miniature needle-felted sheep back in 2008, inspired by a fictional character she created called Baatholomew, who knitted himself a colorful jumper (sweater) so he could stand out from the flock. Naturally all the other sheep copied him by knitting jumpers too (different colors and patterns to reflect their distinctive personalities).
Well, wouldn’t ewe know it? As soon as word got out about Mary’s baaaaad sheep (whose fleece was white as snow) — they became an instant success, and very soon their likenesses began appearing on plates, mugs, dishes, aprons, tea towels, stationery and bags. Adorable and fun! Visit Mary’s website for more (don’t worry, if sheep are not your thing, she has some equally irresistible doggy stuff). 😀
6. One of the books I read and especially enjoyed during my summer blog break was Anne Bustard’s debut middle grade historical novel, Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont USA, 2015).There are so few children’s books set in Hawai’i, even fewer that explore the subject of bullying in which the victim is a white character among ethnically diverse kids.
It’s 1960 and Peggy Sue has just been transplanted from Texas to Hawaii for her father’s new job. Her cat, Howdy, is stuck in animal quarantine, and she’s baffled by Hawaiian customs and words. Worst of all, eighth grader Kiki Kahana targets Peggy Sue because she is haole–white–warning her that unless she does what Kiki wants, she will be a victim on “kill haole day,” the last day of school. Peggy Sue’s home ec teacher insists that she help Kiki with her sewing project or risk failing. Life looks bleak until Peggy Sue meets Malina, whose mother gives hula lessons. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, leaving Peggy Sue at Malina’s, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Peggy Sue is knocked unconscious and wakes to learn that her parents safety and whereabouts are unknown. Peggy Sue has to summon all her courage to have hope that they will return safely.
This story will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. Peggy Sue’s voice is engaging and compelling, and I found myself remembering those times when I felt intimidated by tough, mean girls who hung out in the restroom smoking, giving anyone who dared to enter a menacing stare. The book also brought back pleasant memories of taking hula and sewing lessons, and basking in the warmth and talkiness of extended family. Of course it felt good to “return” to a familiar setting and culture. Be sure to check this one out!
7. Would you like to host (or virtually attend) a Harry Potter themed dinner party? What about a nice Wind in the Willows picnic, a Peter Rabbit Easter Brunch, a Queen of Hearts Tea Party, or a Hobbits Party complete with seed cakes, scones, apple tarts and mince pies? Sound good? Head over to Food in Literature, a thoroughly delicious and inspiring site hosted by Australia-based blogger Bryton Taylor. Bryt serves up recipes based on some of her favorite books (mostly children’s and YA fantasy), along with great craft and entertaining ideas. She is especially fond of Harry Potter (hear that, Julia?), but also whets the reader’s appetite for noshes à la Sherlock Holmes, The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, Ulysses, Pride and Prejudice, and The Da Vinci Code. Both printable recipes and video demonstrations can be viewed at Bryt’s site. Here’s a sample video of Bryt making Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee:
Today’s spot of creativiTEA is brought to you by San Francisco-based artist Stacy Polson.
She created these needle-felted teapot sculptures for an exhibition at the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, MA. She chose “If Ducks Ran the Circus” as her theme for these beautiful and whimsical pieces.
She initially got into needle felting while trying to re-create 17th century Japanese woodcuts in wool. I love the gorgeous colors and quirky details of her wool paintings. Isn’t it simply amazing what can be done with a needle, some wool, “a little determination,” and lots of imagination?
Stacy is self-taught and tells me she’ll be making more teapots, which makes me very happy indeed. 🙂