nine cool things on a tuesday

1. It’s Spring and time to revel in bright colors, animal friends, and the beauty of the natural world. Why not treat yourself or a friend to a charming archival giclée print by author/illustrator Elisa Kleven?

You can choose from a lovely selection of illustrations from some of her wonderful picture books. Do you recognize the above image from the cover of  Sun Bread? One of my fave foodie books! Wouldn’t it be a perfect print to hang in a nursery? I feel happy every time I look at it. 🙂

Bird and Sunrise

 

Glasswings

 

Spider Monkey and Mama

All prints are produced on 100% cotton acid free paper and Elisa will sign and inscribe them for you. These come in various sizes and are available via her website. Check out all the choices and add some gorgeousness to your life! In case you missed it, click here for my interview with Elisa about her newest picture book, The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy.

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your table’s ready

by Rudi Hurzlmeier

Hello and Happy New Year!

We’re baaaaaaack! Hope you had a nice holiday. Other than a little adventure with our well pump on New Year’s Eve, we managed to survive all the busyness, insane consumption of cookies and undue pressure to be merry and jingly and ho ho ho all the time, and now we’re just happy to get back to our quiet routine here in the woods with bears, books, and warm cups of tea.

Like that wonderful bear in Mr. Hurzlmeier’s painting, I’m tipping my hat to you. I’m glad you’re here because we’ve saved a special seat for you at the table. If you please, says Mr. Bear, make yourself at home.

I hope you don’t mind, but we had to make today’s tea with bottled water. That’s because our tap water still smells like bleach. When the new pump was installed, the contractor sanitized our well. We were lucky to find someone on a holiday weekend who provides emergency service. One minute you’re washing and rinsing the dishes, the next minute you turn on the bathroom tap to brush your teeth and no water at all. 😦

It’s good to know you can actually call someone close to midnight and they’re actually cordial and patient and try to troubleshoot with you over the phone before agreeing to come over bright and early the next morning. So we welcomed 2017 without clean water and there was no dumpling soup or any other cooking going on but we were just relieved we didn’t have to check into a hotel and wait days and days to get someone to fix things.

Did I mention one reason the well pump failed was because we had a power outage on Christmas Eve? Chain of events, chain of events. Never a dull moment.

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a blog birthday, coming attractions, and the fuzzy one

*enters kitchen, turns on the stove, takes a bite*

Hello, Cutie Pies! We’re b – a – a – a – c – k!

Hope you had a nice summer feasting on sweet corn on-the-cob, juicy watermelon, garden tomatoes and fresh peach pie. How was that hammock working for you? 🙂

Today there’s a lovely back-to-school-ish feeling in the air. New pens and pencils! New spiral-bound notebooks! Smell that clean, crisp paper — blank pages just begging to be written upon.

We’re munching on a little fruit danish this morning to celebrate Alphabet Soup’s 9th Birthday. I’m amazed that someone like me, who’s usually so *cough* quiet, always manages to find something to say. You know who’s to blame, don’t you? YOU!!

Yes, YOU!! You’re the one who’s kept me going, challenging me to do better, dropping by to chew the fat, telling me about new books I have to read, eating all my cookies. Really, I don’t mind. To you, I say, THANK YOU! Thank you for continuing to take a seat at this humble table, for reading my posts, commenting, sharing, and teaching me something new with every visit. In a world of a million blogs, I really appreciate your support!

Thanks, too, to all the authors, illustrators, poets, and indie artists who’ve chatted with me about their work over the years and shared personal recipes (about 200 now!). 🙂

It’s always Colin o’clock at Alphabet Soup!

In fact, I like you so much I don’t even mind sharing Colin and Aidan with you. :). No, wait. I take that back. C&A are mine, all mine!!

Are the stars out tonight
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright
I only have pies for you, dear.

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Winnie-the-Pooh and The Royal Birthday by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess (+ Honey Chocolate Pie)

Mr Cornelius practicing the royal wave.

Hello Hello!

What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?

Feature them both in a beary good story, of course. 🙂

All art copyright © 2016 Mark Burgess.

Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.

Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.

What does this Palace Guard have stashed under his hat?

Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?

So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.

 

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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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