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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: cheese, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 26
1. Say Cheese! Original watercolor made to order

Cheese, cheese, makes you sneeze
Hang it on your washing line
Rub it on your knees

Original Art (and poem) by me!
Special Offer £24.99 Post Free
Pen and Ink and Watercolour
Size is 6" x 4" in 10" x 8" White Mount
Will be created especially for you. Each one will differ slightly.
Use the Paypal button below to purchase!

original children's illustration for sale
Original Art. £24.99 Post Free

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2. Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

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3. Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!

spacedogcoverOut in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?

It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.


Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?

Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.

Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.


Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.


Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.


Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.


Using this fantastic tutorial from one of my favourite library blogs as a starting point, we created spaceships using paperplates, plastic cups and stickers. Where Pop Goes the Page used toilet cardboard rolls, we used yoghurt pots instead, and aliens were replaced by Space Dog and other astonauts cut out from print-offs of these drawing pages created by Mini Grey.


We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.


Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.


Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…

Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:



We used origami hat tutorials to come up with these millinery masterpieces, including this army cap and samurai helmet with plenty more hat ideas here.

Whilst making our spaceships and competition-winning hats we listened to:

  • The bilingual song Los Planetas by Nathalia
  • Cheese Please by Chris Stapleton – essential listening for any cheese lover :-)
  • Sputniks and Mutniks by Ray Anderson & The Home Folks. I discovered this thanks to this interesting NPR article, Sputniks in Space.

    Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:

  • Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
  • Playing with your food. Mini is just so inventive when it comes to playing with food, but if you want even more ideas, you could take a look at Carl Warner’s A World of Food or The Art of Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli. Both of these books are massive hits with my kids.
  • Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
  • Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.

    2 Comments on Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!, last added: 5/7/2015
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    4. The Best Artist Statement Generator

     I've Seen Yet

    (link directly to generator: http://500letters.org/form_15.php)

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    5. IF: wheel

    Given the prompt "wheel", my swiss soul naturally screamed "cheese". 
    So here you go.

    And I'm sure we all appreciate a break from the bunnies.
    I have more wheel/cheese ideas, so you might want to check back :)

    6 Comments on IF: wheel, last added: 2/6/2013
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    6. 18 facts you never knew about cheese

    Have you often lain awake at night, wishing that you knew more about cheese? Fear not! Your prayers have been answered; below you will find 18 of the most delicious cheese facts, all taken from Michael Tunick’s recent book The Science of Cheese. Prepare to be the envy of everyone at your next dinner party – just try not to be too “cheesy”. Bon Appétit!


    1. The world’s most expensive cheese comes from a Swedish moose farm and the cheese sells for £300 a pound.
    2. You can’t make cheese entirely from human milk since it won’t coagulate properly.
    3. The largest cheese ever made was a Cheddar weighing 56,850 pounds, in 1989.
    4. 97% of British people are ‘Lactose Persistent’ and are the most lactose tolerant population in the world.
    5. Genuine Flor de Guia cheese must be made in the Canary Islands by women, otherwise it won’t be considered the genuine article.
    6. The expression “cheesy” used to mean first-rate, but sarcastic use of the word has caused it to mean the opposite.
    7. The bacteria used for smear-ripened cheeses are closely related to the bacteria that generates sweaty feet odour.
    8. Cheese as we know it today was (accidentally) discovered over 8,000 years ago when milk separated into curds and whey.
    9. Edam was used as cannonballs (and killed two soldiers) in a battle between Montevideo and Buenos Aires in 1841.
    10. An odour found in tomcat urine is considered desirable in Cheddar.
    11. Each American adult consumes an average of 33 pounds of cheese each year.
    12. Descriptions of the defects in the eyes of Swiss-type cheeses include the terms “blowhole” and “frogmouth”.
    13. There are over 1,265,000 dairy cows in the US state of Wisconsin alone.
    14. A northern Italian bank uses Parmesan as loan collateral.
    15. Sardinia’s Cazu Marzu, which means ‘rotten cheese’, is safe to eat only if it contains live maggots.
    16. Cheese consumption in the United Kingdom is at a measly 24.0 pounds per capita.
    17. This cheese consumption isn’t even close to Greece who lead the way with a whopping 68.4 pounds per capita.
    18. Dmitri Mendeleev was a consultant on artisanal cheese production while he was also inventing the periodic table of the elements.

    All of these cheese facts are taken from The Science of Cheese. The Science of Cheese is an engaging tour of the science and history of cheese, and the only book to discuss the actual chemistry, biology, and physics of cheese making. Author Michael Tunick is a research chemist with the Dairy and Functional Foods Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

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    Image credit: Weichkaese Soft Cheese. Photo by Eva K. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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    7. The health benefits of cheese

    By Michael H. Tunick

    Lipids (fats and oils) have historically been thought to elevate weight and blood cholesterol and have therefore been considered to have a negative influence on the body. Foods such as full-fat milk and cheese have been avoided by many consumers for this reason. This attitude has been changing in recent years. Some authors are now claiming that consumption of unnecessary carbohydrates rather than fat is responsible for the epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Most people who do consume milk, cheese, and yogurt know that the calcium helps with bones and teeth, but studies have shown that consumption of cheese and other dairy products appears to be beneficial in many other ways. Remember that cheese is a concentrated form of milk. Milk is 87% water and when it is processed into cheese, the nutrients are increased by a factor of ten. The positive attributes of milk are even stronger in cheese. Here are some examples involving protein:

    Some bioactive peptides in casein (the primary protein in cheese) inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme, which has been implicated in hypertension. Large studies have shown that dairy intake reduces blood pressure.

    Cheese helps prevent tooth decay through a combination of bacterial inhibition and remineralization. Further, Lactoferrin, a minor milk protein found in cheese, has anticancer properties. It appears to keep cancer cells from proliferating.

    Vitamins and minerals in cheese may not get enough credit. A meta-analysis of 16 studies showed that consumption of 200 g of cheese and other dairy products per day resulted in a 6% reduction of risk of T2DM, with a significant association between reduction of incidence of T2DM and intake of cheese, yogurt, and low-fat dairy products. Much of this may be due to vitamin K2, which is produced by bacteria in fermented dairy products.

    Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for T2DM and heart disease, but research showed that the incidence of this syndrome decreased as dairy food consumption increased, a result that was associated with calcium intake.

    Image Credit: State Library of South Australia via Creative Commons.

    There is evidence that lipids in cheese are not unhealthy after all. Recent research has shown no connection between the intake of milk fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, or stroke. A meta-analysis of 76 studies concluded that the evidence does not clearly support guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

    Participants in a study who ate cheese and other dairy products at least once per day scored significantly higher in several tests of cognitive function compared with those who rarely or never consumed dairy food. These results appear to be due to a combination of factors.

    Seemingly, the opposite of what people believe about cheese turns out to be the truth. Studies involving thousands of people over a period of years revealed that a high intake of dairy fat was associated with a lower risk of developing central obesity and a low dairy fat intake was associated with a higher risk of central obesity. Higher consumption of cheese has been associated with higher HDL (“good cholesterol”) and lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”), total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

    All-cause mortality showed a reduction associated with dairy food intake in a meta-analysis of five studies in England and Wales covering 509,000 deaths in 2008. The authors concluded that there was a large mismatch between evidence from long-term studies and perceptions of harm from dairy foods.

    Yes, some people are allergic to protein in cheese and others are vegetarians who don’t touch dairy products on principle. Many people can’t digest lactose (milk sugar) very well, but aged cheese contains little of it and lactose-free cheese has been on the market for years. But cheese is quite healthy for most consumers. Moderation in food consumption is always the key: as long as you eat cheese in reasonable amounts, you ought to have no ill effects while reaping the benefits.

    Michael Tunick is a research chemist with the Dairy and Functional Foods Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. He is the author of The Science of Cheese. You can find out more things you never knew about cheese.

    Chemistry Book Giveaway! In time for the 2014 American Chemical Society fall meeting and in honor of the publication of The Oxford Handbook of Food Fermentations, edited by Charles W. Bamforth and Robert E. Ward, Oxford University Press is running a paired giveaway with this new handbook and Charles Bamforth’s other must-read book, the third edition of Beer. The sweepstakes ends on Thursday, August 14th at 5:30 p.m. EST.

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    Image credit: Hand milking a cow, by the State Library of Australia. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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    8. Mouse Sketch 1

    val-mouse 2up

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    9. What’s the difference between artisanal and mass-produced cheese?

    American consumers have increased their purchases of artisanal foods in recent years. Grant McCracken, an anthropologist who reports on American culture and business, identifies ten concepts that the artisanal movement is composed of and driven by. These include preferences for things that are handmade, on the human scale, relatively raw and untransformed, unbranded, personalized [...]

    The post What’s the difference between artisanal and mass-produced cheese? appeared first on OUPblog.

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    10. Here Comes the Cheese!

    I know it’s hard to get back into the swing of things after a holiday when we have so many exciting things to think about—decorating our homes for Christmas, shopping, digging out our boots and hats after the first snowfall, wondering where those four pounds came from and why they settled right there… So, here’s a little writing exercise for those of us whose thinking caps are clogged with leftover turkey gravy sandwiches. Time yourself for five minutes, ala Natalie Goldberg, and write about all the things that you love. Don’t worry if it sounds silly, and don’t edit, just keep your hand moving!

    Some of the things I love…

    I love California. The beach at Malibu where my son spent the happiest day of his life, digging and drawing unrecognizable shapes with a random stick, chasing after seagulls, hoping for a glimpse of dolphins or whales. Santa Barbara’s pier and seal lions, the pink sun setting over the Pacific. Mendocino’s craggy waterfront, the sea caves and witch-broom-kelp, the Tiki head and spouting whales, and the lighthouse in the distance.

    I love sledding. That anticipation just before you plunge over the edge for the first time—even though you’re thirty-six years old and you’ve done it a million times. I love the thrill of snow flying in your face as you speed down the hill and then the successful landing. I love the tingle in my pink cheeks when we finally go inside and pull on dry socks.

    I love walking in the rain and in the dark especially when I’m sad, because the sap in me believes that at least the sky understands me.

    I love spaghetti night! I love thin spaghetti steaming with plain red sauce and loads of parmesan cheese melting and giving texture to the noodles, and a side of hot buttered wheat toast, because I know that the kids will eat it.

    And that’s it. Five minutes—if not great writing, at least you are writing!

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    11. cheese

    china ink, watercolors and photoshop

    2 Comments on cheese, last added: 1/31/2009
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    12. cheese

    china ink, watercolors and photoshop

    3 Comments on cheese, last added: 2/4/2009
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    13. Murten & Emmental

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009: After the post office in the morning, we ended up driving a ways to Murten, a town that still dons its castle and protective city walls, which you can still trek across. Cobblestone streets, store fronts, and a glass of white wine from the vineyard across the river, a pleasant afternoon of strolling and helping Blondie up and down countless century-old steps.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009: We hopped in the car this morning for a day trip to the Emmental region, where the famous cheese is produced, not far from Bern. The cheese factory was interesting and tasty. We had an outdoor lunch of bread, meats, and cheeses.

    Blondie played on the playground, the usual slide, swing, and see-saw. She was fascinated by the horses that stopped to drink from the trough. She even commented on their horse poops, which were apparent in the parking lot, and said "we can't eat 'em" as more of a question than comment. It rained some of the way home. Not a nice weather day, grey and overcast. Thinking of opening a laxative bar in the Emmental region. Could be profitable.

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    14. Illustration Friday ~ Pattern

    I’m told if you leave a mouse sized morsel next to a pile of socks that need darning, pants that need patches or a shirt with missing buttons, in the morning you’ll find the cheese gone and your clothes carefully mended.

    I’ve also heard he’s partial to Gouda!

    Please keep voting for Sorry Doesn’t Clean it Up in the ABC’s Children’s Picture Book Competition. Vote daily until Oct. 4, 2009


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    15. The Road to Better Health is Bound to be Bumpy - Healthy Eating

    Obesity is epidemic in this country and the news is full of stories about the excesses that are ruining our health and shortening the lives of our children. Before you get defensive you need to understand that as parents we are only partly responsible for the situation. Food manufacturers and restaurant owners, and yes, our government must share the blame, but we need to do something about it.

    Everyday there is a news story telling us that what we were once told about a particular food is now considered incorrect and what we once thought was good for us is now thought to be bad for us. While the government is telling us obesity in children is a major problem, fast food restaurants are advertising bigger, fatter, more calorie-laden options. It is confusing for all of us. How can we keep up? What can we do about it?

    I believe certain basics are true. I believe the closer our food is to its natural state the better it is for us.That doesn't mean meateaters should eat their meat raw, but if it isn't covered with cheese or creamy gravy it is probably better for you. I personally believe we eat too much meat in this country but this post isn't about that. I am not interested in changing meateaters to vegetarians. This post is about healthier eating and making changes toward better health.

    I married a meat and potatoes man.  One day I decided, after a lot of reading on the subject, that we should become vegetarians. Vegetarian cookbooks that were available at the time were not encouraging. Becoming a vegetarian seemed to involve mixing and matching different kinds of protein foods to get the right combination to make up for not eating meat. After reading the cookbooks I was sure there was no way I would be able to convert my husband to a vegetarian lifestyle. I almost gave up, but I had the cookbooks so I figured I had to at least try a few recipes. I did and I was right, hubby wouldn't eat them.

    Then it dawned on me! I could fix most of the dishes that we were accustomed to eating but make them vegetarian. And that is what I did. If I removed meat from a recipe I replaced it with something else  to make up for what was missing. (Portabello mushrooms have a texture similar to meat. Today the stores have many meat substitutes.)I didn't worry about complementarity but instead I concentrated on preparing good meals, that tasted good and that fit our style but without meat. Why should this matter to you? Read on...

    On the road to healthier eating you have to expect a few bumps, but that shouldn't stop you. It is a retraining of our thinking and our tastebuds. If you are used to eating food that is drowning in cheese sauce it will take a while to adjust to the idea of eating food without cheese sauce, but it can be done. Make changes slowly. Perhaps you will need to slowly reduce the amount of cheese in the sauce, and reduce the quantity of sauce in a serving. Look for other healthier ways to season your food, and eat the less-healthy choices less often until you can elimate them completely. Concentrate on the foods that you like that are healthier choices.

    Lightly salt foods before serving and take the salt off of the table. Make eating healthier a family project and get the kids involved. Teach them, and yourself, to read product labels. Know what unhealthy things to look for (high fructose corn syrup, all kinds of sugars, sodium quantities, che

    2 Comments on The Road to Better Health is Bound to be Bumpy - Healthy Eating, last added: 4/21/2010
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    16. Illustration Friday: "Equipment"

    If you want to successfully steal the cheese, a mouse must have the right equipment.  Now, are there supposed to be extra parts?

    6 Comments on Illustration Friday: "Equipment", last added: 5/21/2010
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    17. Fusenews: Now with more earthquaky goodness

    The fabulous Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker-Robinson have come up with a clever notion.  Kidlitcon, the yearly conference for bloggers of child and teen literature, fast approacheth and this year, things are getting a bit switched.  As Colleen says on her blog, “What we decided was to shift things just a bit, both by moving away from publisher donated ARCs as raffle prizes and also toward a long term partnership with one organization. Ultimately what we came up with made sense in so many ways that in retrospect it was one of the easiest things we decided. I am delighted to announce that KidLit Con is now entering into a partnership with Reading Is Fundamental which we hope will extend for many years into the future and make a powerful difference in the lives of many.”  There’s more information to be found here, including info on how to donate to RIF yourself.  So far the fund has reached $1,056, which is fantastic though more is needed.  And a cheer is going out to Carol Rasco for her mention of me in a recent thank you.

    • And now let’s raise a glass and toast my profession.  Isn’t it nice to have a profession that can, without so much as a stray drop of guilt, be toasted?  Lucky that.  In any case, the I Love My Librarian awards are starting up again and that means you need to get out there and vote for your beloved holders of MLIS degrees.  You may nominate a school, public, and academic librarian if you like.  Doesn’t cost you a thing and maybe your one true library love will get the credit they so richly deserve. Stranger things have happened, no?
    • Speaking of honoring folks, the Eric Carle Museum Honors have been announced.  Each year four categories are filled with folks who have done some good in the name of children’s literature.  This year the recipients include:

    Lois Ehlert ▪ Artist
    Jeanne Steig ▪ Angel
    Michael di Capua ▪ Mentor
    Karen Nelson Hoyle ▪ Bridge

    On Thursday, September 22nd the Honors will be at Guastavino’s here in town.  The usual auction that takes place at that time is seeing a bit of a shake-up as well.  According to the website, “Our fourth annual art auction will feature original works of art donated by some of the industry’s most celebrated artists. This year also offers the opportunity to bid on ‘experiences’ with authors and artists.”  If one of those “experiences” can include a chance to go pubbing with Tomi Ungerer I am in!  At last year’s event I discovered that I was pregnant mere hours before attending.  This year will have to top that, right?

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    18. Cheese

    Linda Urban's in town, and she and I talked cheese at Jaleo's last night.

    Okay, we talked about more than cheese. We talked craft, and art, and fears and dreams in our current writing projects.  But cheese did get me riled up.  We ordered the six cheese sampler, and it was fantastic, a delectable collage of varied pungencies and textures, served with honeyed apricots, each triangle or round of cheese hand-crafted to perfection.  And I ranted about the newest campaign against cheese (spokes-demon: The Grim Reaper) pushed by some doctors who feel it's the main source of fat in American diets.  That may be. But it's also sublime.  It's an rustic art form, for pete's sake!  I'm offended it's under attack.

    I guess it was also because we'd just visited the National Gallery, and seen their exhibit of artist's books, called Text as Inspiration: Artists' Books and Literature.  And let me tell you, it was tiny---one petite gallery with four glassed cases. And some of those books were as quirky as artisanal cheese.   I loved the book that featured a poem called EVE, which unfolded out of a cover made to be Adam's intricately designed, highly realistic paper rib. And the one with the slightly off-color poem that could be read two ways with the bold wire design of a cat proudly sitting in front of it.

    Worth savoring, it was.

    I guess what I'm saying is that campaigning against cheese is like saying life is a dry sandwich.  And everything I saw at the National Gallery---from that tiny exhibit to the arresting and often highly individualistic portraits in the Chester Dale collection---says that ain't so.

    Give me some cheese. And some great art. And a friend to share both.

    4 Comments on Cheese, last added: 10/27/2011
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    19. Who Cut the Cheese?

    My agent gets quite a odd rights requests come across her desk, but this one was the cheesiest: A library in, you guessed it, Wisconsin recently had a book party/cheese cutting party featuring Elephant & Piggie, Knuffle Bunny, & Trixie. No. Really. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. You cheddar believe it was Awesome!   And thanks to Newsday for naming HOORAY

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    20. cheesy people and cheesy things ~ watercolour playset

    Filed under: little boxes

    9 Comments on cheesy people and cheesy things ~ watercolour playset, last added: 2/12/2012
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    21. SkADaMo Day 7

    Watching the detectives.

    This is an old illustration that I’ve re-sketched in an effort to hone my new digital pencil skills.

    And, yes, I  know, I missed a day. But, come on, yesterday was a pretty big deal! I was distracted.


    I’ll try to include the list of sketchers on every one of my SkADaMo posts throughout the month. Otherwise, there are no other rules, regulations, themes, daily words, Facebook pages or anything else resembling organization. Just lots of sketching, commenting back and forth and hopefully lots of inspiration and craft honing!

    If I forgot anyone, misspelled anyone’s name or any other heinous act was performed, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct it.

    Carry on sketchers!

















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    22. Misunderstood Lands, Prairie Lands, and Dairy Lands: South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

    So far we’ve gone 10,956 miles in 49 days, with only 6 days to go. As I type we’re whooshing down Route I-94 heading toward Michigan. Not too long ago we went into Indiana, a state we’re passing through for only a few minutes—but it still counts! :-) The grass and shrubs have definitely looked more shaggy since Illinois, but that’s new. For the past few days we’ve been in clean, manicured farm country.

    Let’s catch up:

    Wall Drug, SD and the Badlands

    Wednesday, the day after we saw Mount Rushmore, was a long driving day (about 700 miles!), but Karen is never one to let a cool-sounding place pass by without calling out “Stop!” So that’s what we did in Wall Drug, South Dakota, where the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was in full swing. The entire town, which was originally built around a drug store, was filled with bikers, bikers, and more bikers. How could we pass up a chance to buy a Harley Davidson t-shirt in the biker heartland of America?


    The badlands: Truly bad, or just misunderstood? Here’s Evan:

    EVAN: The Badlands were covered with white rock and it seemed sort of like the moon. It was very hot and I liked it because in some places the rock was burned so badly that it made colors
    (Mark’s note: actually, this was different levels of sediment—and way cool) and suddenly when you leave the Badlands it looks like you’re in the regular world again. There were a lot of motorcycle guys everywhere too.


    So then we reached Minnesota. The photo above was the most difficult "entering a new state" photo we've taken. The sign was on the highway, and we had to climb up a hill, through some brambles, and then squeeze into a tiny area of dirt in the middle of some bushes. Note that Evan is parting a shrub with his arm so the state name can be seen.

    In Minnesota we stayed Chaska, just outside of Minneapolis, with our friends Patricia Danielson, Vicki Boeddeker, and Mike Weinkauf. Patricia took a couple of days off work to show us around the Twin Cities. We saw first-hand the damaged remains of the collapsed bridge on I-35W—just awful. Five weeks and two days after crossing the Mississippi in the south (into Louisiana), we crossed it in the north. It’s a lot calmer in the north! We also saw the beautiful state capital building. Thanks Patricia, Vicki, and Mike!

    A note from KAREN: Mark asked why I’ve only been writing about bad experiences. I don’t see it that way, I see them as different experiences than life in Wayland, MA. For example, my 2nd night in Vicki’s house. Here we are, comfy cozy, away from bears and rattlesnakes, what else could happen at night? My first big lightening storm on the prairies of Minnesota, that’s what!! Holy cow ! I got out of bed and was blinded by the flashing lightning, and then jumped out of my PJ’s when I heard the loud crack and kaboom of the lightning right outside the window! Did a tree fall down? Did we get hit by lightning? Another night of no sleeping because of fear!! The next morning, as usual, everyone including Mark said it was a normal storm, no big deal . WELL, we got an email from a friend in the area who said the storm blew out windows like a tornado and power was out for a few days. She asked if we were in the eye of the storm! See, I’m not crazy!!


    Wild Rupus was wild indeed. An amazing independent bookstore in Minneapolis, the whole store was designed to look like it was transforming from an inside space to the outdoors. Helping to create the effect were a whole menagerie of animals, including chickens, ferrets, Australian flying squirrels, fish, tarantulas, rats and many more. The kids were in heaven. Here we are with Manager Kristin Bergsagel bookseller Josh Harrod, Poopsie the ferret, and a Japanese chicken named Elvis. Thanks, Wild Rumpus—you are terrific!


    Like a matching bookend to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, St. Paul is home to another amazing bookstore called The Red Balloon. Susan Hepburn
    was a terrific host, serving up lemon drops and lemonade. The Red Balloon is another must-visit bookstore for anyone the St. Paul area!

    As a nice surprise, we were lucky enough to meet Shelley Swanson Sateren, fellow SCBWI member and author of the middle-grade novel Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof. Here’s Evan’s review:

    EVAN’S REVIEW: Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof is a fun book about a girl who is geeky who when her friend moves away from Paris she finds a new friend who is stylish and cool. It was an interesting story because it’s interesting to see how a girl with so much smarts can try and be cool and fit in with everyone else. You should read it.

    It was great to meet you, Shelley!


    Penelope’s rattling got kind of dubious so we stopped at the Honda dealer in Hopkins, MN. $560 later, (replaced ‘severely cracked’ exhaust manifold and gaskets, oil change, new battery) the minivan sounded a bit better—at least for the first twenty miles or so. After that, we’re pretty much back to the rattling we started out with. Oh well, it’s only money. :-)

    Here’s Shane Beals, the Honda guy who washed Penelope—she badly needed it. Thanks, Shane!


    Next we drove through Wisconsin, a land of beautiful manicured farms and more red barns than you can shake a cheddar wheel at. So lovely!

    In Green Bay we stopped to see a surprisingly large athletic facility where a local team plays a sport that apparently involves feet and leather hats. I hear that the locals are rather enthusiastic about it.


    Just south of Green Bay, in DePere, is Butterfly Books, a roomy and cheerful independent bookstore run by Barbara Wilson. Barbara and her friendly team of booksellers were very kind, staying open later than usual on a Saturday afternoon just so that we could visit. Here I am with Barbara and Samantha Parker, bookseller and saxophone player. Great to meet you!


    In Milwaukee we stayed with our friends Posh (really Josh, but he’s yet another friend with a mysterious nickname given by Karen) and Boris. They showed us around Milwaukee, and took us for custard at Kopps, a Milwaukee thing-to-do. The custard was a lot like ice cream except a lot denser—it’s made with eggs and who-knows-what-else and it sneaks up on you. Thank god I only had a small cone—by bedtime I felt so full that I rolled around in pain clutching at my stomach. But honestly, it was so tasty it was worth it! :-)


    As any fan of Laverne and Shirley can tell you, Milwaukee is home to many breweries, so how could we pass up the opportunity to tour the Miller factory?


    In beautiful Cedarburg, WI, about twenty minutes north of Milwaukee, is the terrific Creekside Books. Owner Glen Switalski is a man with an amazing story: After his doctor told him he needed to lose weight, he lost well over 100 lbs by exercise, diet and sheer force of will. Today he can be seen riding his exercise bike in and around his store every day. The guy is an aerobic, bookselling powerhouse! Creekside Books is a great independent bookstore, and Gary is a truly an inspirational guy.

    Here I am with Lindsay McLaughlin, a reader and artist who came to see me. She was fun to talk with, and very helpful in suggesting places we could go in the area. Great to meet you, Lindsay! :-)

    Illinois: An All-Too-Short Trip Through the Land of Lincoln

    Southward from Milwaukee...! Unfortunately, we had only a few hours in Illinois. Still, it counts as state number 31 on our trip! :-)


    In Grayslake, Illinois, about forty minutes north of Chicago, is a magical bookstore called Under the Sycamore Tree. A new independent store, owner Jackie Harris opened up shop this past November. It’s a roomy, bright place with a big “sycamore tree” inside. The store has taken inspiration from Wild Rumpus (see Minnesota) and filled its space with wild animals. My kids were in their element. Zoe ran at me with a giant grin and a very big python named ‘Snakey’. Under the Sycamore Tree is yet another example of how independent bookstores tend to be run by smart, thoughtful, nice people. Jackie, it was a pleasure to meet you!

    Here I am with Jackie and her daughter, Haley:

    Because we’re meeting a friend in Michigan later today, we had only about an hour or so to see Chicago. I know, I know—not even close to scratching the surface. So on top of just driving around a little, we decided that with our limited time we’d stop by Lake Michigan. As far as my eyes could tell, the lake might as well have been an ocean. Way cool. Next time, we’ll plan to spend more time here!

    Our Trip Through Indiana: Don’t Blink Or You’ll Miss It

    If you thought our stop in Chicago was too short, Indiana is only about a half hour of highway to us. Still, it counts as state #32. :-)

    Next stop, Michigan!

    LEMONADE MOUTH (Delacorte Press, 2007)
    I AM THE WALLPAPER (Delacorte Press, 2005)

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    23. Crack Heard Round The World: Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels

    Over the weekend Whole Food Market attempted to earn a Guinness World Record for “Most Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels Ever Cracked” at the same time. Gillian Riley, author of The Oxford Companion to Italian Food weighs in on this cheesy affair.

    An almighty crack.

    As the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano surges towards the Guinness Book of Records the thought of all those craggy wheels simultaneously rent asunder reminds us of Michelangelo’s labours at the rock face in Pietrasanta near Lucca in Tus-cany in the summer of 1518. He and his team were selecting marble for the tomb of Pope Julius II, and his titanic struggles with the obdurate raw material were as blistering as the clashes between the artist and his client. Using the strength within the marble to detach the desired lump was a prelude to releasing the form already latent in the block, described in a sonnet by Michelangelo:

    Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto
    c’un marmo solo in sé non circonscriva
    col suo superchio, e solo a quello arriva
    la man che ubbidisce all’intelletto.

    The greatest artist has no concept
    that is not already present in a block of marble
    beneath its outward form, and this can only be reached
    by the hand that obeys the intellect.

    The combination of hands on physical skills and sublime inspiration expounded in this sonnet are the qualities deployed in the making of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The great wheels contain the imagined essence of grass and hay and milk and the odours of pas-tures and fragrant byres, released by the tool of the cheesemonger, exploring fault lines in the mature cheese as the sculptor teases form and meaning from the rock. The large heart-shaped tool, a sharp point at the bottom and a stout handle at the top, will prize off a lump of cheese the desired size as accurately as the stonemason’s tools.

    The crystalline graininess found in parmesan is umami, a natural flavour enhancer. The concept of umami was unknown to Michelangelo, although he enjoyed the effects of it when parmesan was used as a condiment or as an ingredient in many cooked dishes. This combination of various ingredients to get an enhanced burst of flavour is similar to his use of colori cangianti in the Sistine Chapel, where a loose application of con-trasting colours one on top of the other produces a shimmering intensity.

    Although not rejecting Vasari’s claim that he had a mind above material pleasures, Michelangelo cared enough about his food and drink to jot down some menus on the back of a letter, probably during his time in Pietrasanta. These were Lenten menus so no cheese or eggs, [more maybe in some other blog…] Pasta and some sophisticated vegetable dishes, (braised fennel, spinach, a salad) with umami effect from salt herrings and anchovies, show an enthusiasm for simple but sophisticated eating. He would have enjoyed the full impact of parmesan at the banquets organised by Bartolomeo Scappi, where it was served as it often is today in chunks hewn from a larger lump. We too can enjoy the michelangelesque qualities of Parmigiano-Reggiano, towering as it does above all other cheeses as the artist towered over his contemporaries.


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    With his cheeks packed for the journey to the mouse hole, Hector faced an unpleasant delay.

    14 Comments on ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY ~ PACKED, last added: 9/30/2008
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    25. It's a Day to Celebrate...Umm, Moldy Cheese??

    I was compiling my list of Little Known Holidays here in the United States, when I came across this one: Moldy Cheese Day - October 9.

    Hold on...moldy cheese? There's a celebration for that? Well, jeez, if I had known, I wouldn't have kept on throwing out the darn stuff when the fuzz showed up. (I'm referring to cheese and mold, of course, not "stuff" and, ahem, law enforcement...)

    Here's the real deal: Moldy Cheese Day is set aside to celebrate those cheeses that are supposed to be moldy. Bleu. Camembert. Gorgonzola. Maytag Blue (the cheese - yes, it's really a cheese - not the washing machine). Roquefort (the cheese - not the little mouse from The Aristocats). Brie (the cheese - not the Desperate Housewife). Stilton (the cheese - not the children's chapter book character). 

    So, on October 9th, take a gander in your fridge. If you find some regular cheese in there that's a bit furry, throw it out! But, if you have some of the "on purpose" moldy cheese, then by all means, set it out with some crackers, and join the celebration.

    Places to read about cheese (moldy or otherwise):

    1 Comments on It's a Day to Celebrate...Umm, Moldy Cheese??, last added: 10/9/2008
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