|detail of my painting "the wistful ones"|
©the enchanted easel 2014
|detail of my painting "the wistful ones"|
©the enchanted easel 2014
These colourful designs on gadget cases from Remember are part of Habitat's Christmas gifts range. Habitat's Festive decorations for Christmas 2014 featured the themes of space travel, imaginary worlds, and mystical creatures. The Christmas room at the press preview last week was darkened to show off all the colourful lighting making it impossible to get sharp photographs but here are few IAdd a Comment
Now I know its only June and a lot of us are enjoying Summer but at Cath Kidston have been previewing their Christmas range. These snaps were taken at their press show last week in Covent Garden. The Townhouses plays a big part in the collection with tea towels, mugs, cards, wrapping paper and tree decorations. There are also beautiful gift boxes in the shape of houses in three differentAdd a Comment
My daughter received quite a number of books for Christmas. I must confess to having purchased quite a few of them myself. Here is the full stack:
And here they are listed, with comments (and links):
Jules Feiffer: Bark, George. A friend on Facebook recommended this one back in October, when I was looking for books to read aloud to a mixed age group of preschoolers. I didn't end up using it for that, but I ordered it, and saved it to be a Christmas present. Baby Bookworm think it is hilarious.
Mo Willems: That Is Not a Good Idea! OK, the truth of the matter is that I coveted this book for months, and used Christmas as an excuse to buy it for my daughter. I'm happy to report that she enjoys it, though I don't think she 100% understands the trick that the author pulls on the reader. But she will!
Beverly Cleary: The Complete Ramona Collection. This was a gift from Baby Bookworm's godparents. It was on our Amazon wish list because I look forward to reading it to my daughter when she's just a little bit older. And I wanted to have the books here, ready, when we are. Thanks, G&G!
Charles M. Schulz: Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas. My husband picked this one up. The television special is one of his favorites. He also got the Record a Story: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, but that book is just annoying (it makes noise every time you touch it, and we couldn't figure out how to actually record).
Eileen Rosenthal & Marc Rosenthal: Bobo the Sailor Man! We loved the first two Bobo books (my reviews of I MUST Have Bobo! and I'll Save You Bobo!). I happened to learn right before Christmas that there was a third book out, and couldn't resist.
Deborah Hautzig & Diane Goode: The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet. My husband and I spent some time in a bookstore between a Nutcracker show and dinner reservations. I decided to bring this back for our daughter (who isn't quite old enough to sit through the show - maybe next year).
On the same bookstore visit, I picked up Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (reviewed here), and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins & Paul Zelinsky. This is what happens to me when I go to bookstores. I had a copy of Toys Come Home, and it seemed like we would eventually want to start reading this series from the beginning. I gave Toys Go Out a try with my daughter the other night, but the lack of pictures on the first two pages put her off. "Maybe later."
Cynthia Rylant: Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. My dear friend's daughter loved this series when she was younger, so they picked out this one for Baby Bookworm. I suspect it will be the start of an appreciation of this series in our house, too. They also sent Caroline Repchuk's My Little Supermarket, which is very fun, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers, which was on our wish list. Thanks, my friends!
I also gave my daughter several books that I had ordered from Scholastic Reading Club. In truth, I probably would have given them to her anyway, so they were a bit of a cheat as Christmas presents. But that's how I roll this time of year. And actually, one of them, a set of three Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems in paperback editions, was the (book) hit of Christmas day. We had to stop opening presents and read all three immediately (I Love My New Toy, There Is A Bird on Your Head, and My Friend Is Sad). The other, Dav Pilkey's A Friend for Dragon, we haven't read yet, for some reason.
I think that's it for her pile, not including sticker books and workbooks and the like. I also received Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park (from the same friend who I sent a copy to, in a delightful coincidence) and The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That by Richard Betts. A copy of Cynthia Lord's Half a Chance arrived on my doorstop from Scholastic on Christmas Eve, and that felt like a Christmas present, too. My husband received a Boston Red Sox Stocking Stumpers book.
We naturally gave away quite a few books as gifts, too. But I'll have to share those another day. Did the holiday season bring new books to your house, too? Wishing you plenty of time for reading in the New Year.
We’ve always known of their existence, but for the first time ever, caught in mid listless, despondency, is what experts commonly refer to as the Post-holiday Doldrumoid…in the flesh……or rather, in the doodle.
No matter. It’s official. We have a Doldrumoid pandemic on our hands. They are here and we have got to deal with them.
1. Ignore them. Doldrumoids have been known to eventually lose interest in their host and reluctantly disappear after a week or two.
2. Keep that crunchy Christmas tree up for another month, along with the exterior icicle lights and the inflatable snow globe on your lawn. Do this while ignoring the fact that the holidays are over. This method seems to keep the Doldrumoids at bay, but leaves the door wide open for Lackus Deselfrespectus spors to take hold.
3. For those of us who need to get back to business… pronto, there are some drastic measures that can be implemented. Take tree and exterior lights down, box up Christmas decorations, shove said boxes up in garage rafters, eat salad, go to the gym and then actually make that deadline for your employer/client as opposed to staring blankly at the computer monitor (close mouth, wipe drool off chin, mind don’t get any on the keyboard.)
In the event none of the above methods prove effective, one can always hold on until February 14 when a virulent strain of Guiltus Cupidus overcomes the weakened Doldrumoids, offering minimal relief to some sufferers.
This has been an important public service announcement. You may now return to your regularly scheduled program. Thank you.
Another redraw and a repost from a few years ago. Thought it might be apropos.
Get ready to load up those new kindles with some fantastic ebooks that will be specially priced at $.99 from December 26th through December 29th. Loads of authors in various genres are joining in on this holiday sale. Click the logo above to check out the main page for this sale and start downloading today.
Our children’s holiday story, The Christmas Owl, will be reduced to $.99 during this sale. An Amazon best selling children’s story, The Christmas Owl , is sure to become a holiday classic. A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word. This colorful tale told in verse is vividly illustrated to capture the attention of children aged eight and under.
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!
Thanks for following along with my making, doing, and exploring this year. I hope you’re having a cozy and relaxing time with loved ones now.
Today, my kids are making the nativity set from madebyjoel. It’s a paper print-out that you can color and put together. Fun times.
I made this mixed-media collage as a card about 15 years ago. Thought it was time it saw the light of day again. Hope you enjoy, and I’ll see you in the new year.
We served these yesterday to non-gluten-free guests, and they were a hit with everyone, kids and grown-ups alike. They have a nice, chewy texture.
I actually made them egg-free as well (using egg substitute) since one of our guests is allergic to eggs. The cookies have a lot of butter in them, but next time I may try coconut oil, since I’ve made similar cookies with regular flour and coconut oil in the past, and they were great.
Today, we made a little candy! So I’ll show you that when I have time. Hope you’re cozied up with loved ones and enjoying festivities.
P.S. We got a special Christmas supplement to the newspaper today: a cup of water and an earthworm fell out when I removed plastic bag #1! Luckily the paper itself was dry and wormless. Gives you an idea of how much rain we’ve had in the last day or so.
Happy Holidays to all of my fans from all over the world. I hope 2014 brings you lots of laughter, good health, and happiness. Here is a little painting I did for the season. Cheers!
Here is a quote from one of my favorite author’s Neil Gaiman. You can view the entire message and previous years wishes on his blog here.
I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. -Neil Gaiman 2008
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I’d been planning to do something for our front door since our old wreath was so decrepit, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I’d never considered using live greenery since the only ones I’d ever seen looked like they’d take a master’s degree in wreath artistry and a few months to create. Hello, Martha Stewart!
But the blog post made me see how pretty a quick, natural wreath could be, and I realized we had plenty of greenery in the back yard. I bought a form at Michael’s (about $4) and clipped various bushes: magnolia, Yaupon holly, rosemary, and wax myrtle.
Sadly, the regular floral wire was out at Michael’s, so I bought this stuff that’s kind of like a never-ending green twist tie. It’s not so bad. And I basically twist-tied the greenery on in a haphazard, overlapping circle. It took me about half an hour. The best part was not having to follow any directions.
Personally, I’m kind of smitten with its exuberant cowlicks. I would totally do this again. What about you? Have you made a wreath of your own?
In other news, with this being the last day of school for the year, I’m winding down my latest draft of my young adult novel and am readying it to send to a reader/ writer/ friend. Scary and exciting at the same time.
Hopefully I’ll be around a little bit over the break, but if not, Happy Holidays to you!
and p.s. We’ve been watching this hilarious show called Lilyhammer. It’s about an American mafioso-turned-informant who chooses Norway as his relocation destination. All kinds of funny cross-cultural issues come up. It stars Steven Van Zandt, of Sopranos and E-Street Band fame. You can find it on Netflix.
On the 12 days of Christmas, my library system gave to me:
One new library catalog
Two busy self-check-outs
Three new children’s tables
Four prizes for summer reading
Five book displays
Six wonderful weekly story times
Seven freshly painted walls
Eight interesting book series
Nine outreach events
Ten chairs in our conference room
Eleven special preschool programs
Twelve happy children (and many, many more!)
While some of these numbers are only a brief representation of the total figure, other quantities are right on target. Regardless of the number, all of these examples are just some of the gifts I received while working at our community branch library in 2013.
The highlight, of course, was sharing time with the people, both customers and staff members, I have been blessed to work with this year.
What has been the greatest gift you have received at work this year? What upcoming opportunity are you most anticipating in 2014? Please share in the comments below!Add a Comment
Turns out my recipe for almondy cookies easily adapts to a gluten-free version. I made a half-batch last week just to test it out. Everyone loved them, including visiting gluten-eaters. They are not too sweet and have a nice shortbready-type texture.
GLUTEN-FREE ALMONDY CUT-OUT COOKIES (adapted from this cooks.com recipe)
Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cutters, but you can easily halve it if you don’t want that many.
2 sticks butter (I’ll have to try subbing coconut oil another time….)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3 cups gluten-free flour blend (homemade or purchased)
pinch of salt
Cream together butter, sugar, egg, and almond extract. Beat in flour, almond meal, and salt.
Make a ball and flatten it, wrap in wax paper and place in the fridge for an hour or a day.
Preheat oven to 325°, roll out dough, and use cutters to cut shapes. Ours were a little thicker—in the 1/4 inch range, but you could go thinner, depending on how crispy or chewy you want yours. Just watch the time—you definitely don’t want to overcook them.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or more. They should be very lightly browned. I should’ve cooked ours a little longer, but I got impatient.
I’m tempted to up the almond meal further and lower the flour portion. Maybe next time. Also hoping to try out a GF molasses cookie recipe. Stay tuned. For other eating and cooking adventures (including gluten-free) click here.
I’ve done a few readings at a local independent bookstore and I always enjoy the reactions I get to see from children as I read my stories. As an author I know there are many children whose reactions I never get to see. Today I received an email from this bookstore detailing a visit from a faith-based school that blew me away. Lots of first and second graders gathered in the store while one of my books, Suzy Snowflake, was read. Suzy is a snowflake fairy who prays to God when she feels different than her friends and teaches her good friend, Frost, how to pray. The children talked about how they can be a witness to their friends who may be in need of God’s grace.
Our books can have an impact on others that we never get to see. I’m so thankful that the bookstore knew enough to capture this moment for me and tell me about it. This reading….that I didn’t even attend, has reminded me that we touch other people every day. I’m so thankful my stories are having a positive impact on children.
This is why I write.
My husband and I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original Boris Karloff animated version) with our three year old daughter last week. She was utterly enchanted. Of course I made sure to tell her that the story was originally from a book by Dr. Seuss. But for some reason, we didn't have a copy of the book. I made a mental note to rectify the situation, but then it slipped through the cracks.
Imagine my pleasure, then, when a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the book, showed up on my doorstep yesterday, sent by the folks at Random House. As soon as my daughter saw it, she insisted that I put aside my work to read it to her (despite a babysitter also being present). I was, naturally, unable to resist.
This was my first read-aloud of the book ... perhaps ever. But the lines trip off the tongue, familiar after more years than I care to admit of watching the TV/video/DVD version. And in truth, they would trip off the tongue anyway, because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is Dr. Seuss at his best. The movie isn't 100% true to book, but close enough. Sitting, reading this book to my daughter for the first time is destined to be one of my favorite memories from the 2013 holiday season.
I can't imagine that Random House is looking for reviews of a 56 year old classic. But they are trying to spread the word about a new campaign to "extend the Grinch's heartwarming message into an annual tradition of good-deed-doing and giving back to the community with 25 Days of Grinch-mas." Here's a bit from the website:
"Grinch-mas is a new holiday tradition inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! that encourages readers to “grow your heart three sizes” through the celebration of family reading, giving from the heart and community spirit. National Grinch Day, on December 1, will kick start the 25 Days of Grinch-mas. During this time, bookstores and local retailers all over the country will be hosting Grinch-mas events that will incorporate holiday story times for families and opportunities for kids to win special prizes for giving back to their communities by doing good deeds throughout the month of December."
The website features kid-accessible Daily Good Deed suggestions, like: "Make someone laugh." There are also printables and activities and the like, If you have kids who are fans of the book or the movie, it certainly couldn't hurt to use 25 Days of Grinch-mas as a springboard for fun and the spreading of good cheer.
I think it's safe to say that I'll be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas quite a lot in the coming days.
Another wee redraw of last year’s “Mice Skates”
Skate on over here and check out my fellow HoHoDooDaers!
Wasn’t able to squeeze out a doodle today, (hmmm, that didn’t sound quite right, did it?)
Anywho, I thought I’d post this guy from a couple of years ago. Also, it seemed like a wee bit of color was in order.
Hope y’all are having a great holiday season so far!
Why not stop on by here, to see what my fellow doodlers are up to.
(Click for larger view of Santa and his crew gettin’ down with their bad elves.)
Why not hip hop over here and see what the other HoHoDooDa Doodlers are up to!
In the past I’ve done posts about Weirdo Picture Books and others on Out-of-Print Crimes Against Humanity. Today’s featured book could have fallen into both categories, were it not for the fact that there is justice in the universe. Previously out of print, 1997′s A Small Miracle by Peter Collington is back by popular demand and now available from Knopf in paperback. And well it should be. There’s a reason it was featured in the Publishers Weekly 12th Annual Off-the-Cuff Awards as booksellers’ Book We’re Sorriest to See Go Out of Print.
Here is the plot of the book as described in the SLJ review:
“An old woman, living alone in a trailer, spends her days playing an accordion on the street for money. But times are especially difficult, even in this middle-class town. Desperate, she sells her accordion for cash, only to have it stolen by a masked bandit who then pilfers the poor box from the local church and vandalizes its manger scene. Intercepting the thief, the woman is able to return the money and does her best to set the scene to rights. Then, exhausted and hungry, she collapses in the snow. The manger figures come to life and take her home, where they all pitch in to see that she has her accordion back and that she has food. It’s all part of the miracle that none of the merchants or townspeople are at all surprised at the sight of the small figures making deals at the pawn shop or prowling the aisles at the supermarket.”
I’m glad they mentioned the supermarket because that may have been the point in the book when it totally won me over. Stealing from old ladies can be pretty dark stuff, and the elderly collapsing in the snow is worse, but there’s something so ridiculously charming about the tiny creche figures pushing shopping carts down fluorescent lighted lanes that you can’t help but give in to it.
I wish I could find an image of the shopping scene because it really is worth it. The book is just chock full of these small details that make you want to read and reread the story. There is, for example, the fact that Mary is always holding the Baby Jesus, but that doesn’t get in the way of her helping out. Though obviously she’s not able to remove the old woman from the snow with the other guys, note that she’s holding their Three Kings gifts, crooks, etc. while they take care of things. You know what the book really reminded me of? The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s that remarkable combination of humor and affection and an honestly religious tone. This is a straight up Christian Christmas book. Really good ones are out there, but they’re often a bit more difficult to find than you’d think. This is one of the few.
And who is Peter Collington? Well, according to his website he’s an Englishman residing in Dorset. In his picture books he prefers a kind of wordless paneled technique reminiscent of folks like Raymond Briggs. As far as I can ascertain he’s done a lot of other things lately, but not so much in the way of picture books. He seems to have stopped sometime around the late 90s. If anyone knows more about him, I’d love to hear it.
So there you go. Should you feel inclined to locate a weirdly touching little wordless tale for your holiday enjoyment, seek thee this puppy. I guarantee it’s like nothing you’ve read. And should you have other odd holiday books you’d like to give a shout out to, feel free to list them in the comments here.
For the record, someone did turn this book into a short film, but I feel like the weirdness of the book is completely lost in the translation. Still, if you’re curious you can go here.
Thanks to Alison Morris for the introduction to this book!Display Comments Add a Comment
So, everyone here likes stories about spinsters getting back a bit of their own, right? “The Bachelor’s Christmas” isn’t that, but thematically it’s a cross between that and Colonel Crockett’s Co-operative Christmas. As you can probably imagine, I’m super into it.
Tom Wiggin is the rare Christmas story protagonist who doesn’t have any major problems. I mean, he didn’t get to marry the girl he was in love with, and his servants sometimes break things, but that’s about it. He’s also an incredibly delightful person; when we’re introduced to him it’s Christmas Eve and he’s generously tipping his servants for Christmas preparatory to hand-delivering presents to his married siblings and their families. They’re all booked for dinner with their in-laws, and Tom isn’t invited, which is the problem around which the story is centered, but not an actual problem. And Tom is such a mensch that he’s using his lonely Christmas to provide another, less well-off bachelor with a nice dinner.
And then he expands his plan. He knows a lot of other bachelors who have no Christmas plans, and a lot of spinsters, too — all the members of his social set who never got married, including the girl he wanted to marry. And they’re all in their late twenties and thirties now — old enough to take care of themselves, as he puts it on his invitations — so he throws a Christmas dinner party, with a dance afterwards, and everything is great.
The ending struck a bit of a false note for me, but I still recommend “The Bachelor’s Christmas” unreservedly, because the rest of it is pure Christmas story glee.
Undaunted by his recent breakup, Murgatroyd continues to troll for love.
Murgatroyd and myself wish y’all a Merry Kissmas! Also a Happy Egg Snog (for our friends in the UK!)
Ok now, if you can tear yourself away from these groan-worthy puns, come on over here to see what my fellow HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.
Title: A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree
Author: Colleen Monroe
Illustrator: Michael Glenn Monroe
Publisher/Year: Sleeping Bear Press/2000
A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree is a gorgeously illustrated holiday picture book told in flawless rhyme. It is sweet, magical, and heartwarming. The story is about a sad evergreen tree that has watched year after year as the trees around him are chosen to be Christmas trees. He knows it’s too late for him because he has grown too big and tall. He is heartbroken because being a Christmas tree has always been his dream. In order to cheer him, the woodland creatures find a way to show him just how much he is appreciated. This book is just beautiful in so many ways. First, look at the wonderful cover image above. From the sparkling snow, to the glowing background, to the character in the tree’s face, this picture makes you want to open the book to see more. Even the title is in the shape of a tree. And if you open the book, you won’t be disappointed. My favorite illustration depicts songbirds perched in the tree’s branches. The picture accompanies wonderful text such as this: “The first morning sun brought a wondrous sight, as icicles glimmered and captured the light. Colorful birds perched all over the pine, as beautiful as bulbs and just as fine.” Love it! Besides being visually stunning and a joy to read, the story conveys a message of friendship and caring. A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree is a must read!