Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman has done it again. I was first captivated by his Coraline (soon to be a Major Motion Picture), then drawn in by the campy Neverwhere miniseries, then entranced by his collection of short stories, Smoke and Mirrors. This time it is another book for younger readers — a sort of re-telling of Kipling’s The Jungle Book. This book is absolutely charming.

The Graveyard Book begins with a gruesome murder by a man only identified as “the man Jack”. The only survivor is a toddler who escapes to a nearby cemetery and, after some discussion, is taken in by the occupants. The rest of the story contains elements of romance, mystery, horror and adventure.

If you’d like to hear the first chapter (read by Gaiman himself), click the play button on the widget below.

Readers, as far as the eye could see

On Saturday, Clare and I went to the National Book Festival on the National Mall. I began attending the festival in 2003 when I volunteered to hang out at the Teens and Children pavilion and to help with crowd control in the signing lines. I saw a few of my favorite authors that year — the authors I especially came to see that year were Avi, Nancy Farmer, Jane Yolen and Sharon Creech — all young adult authors whose books I’d been using in my classroom and been reading to my own children.

In 2004 I volunteered again, but this time was assigned to go between the children’s and children’s and teens pavillions. This was less fun because I didn’t really feel needed, so I pretty much just hung out and listened to authors that I wanted to hear. That was also the year I first heard about Neil Gaiman.

Continue reading Readers, as far as the eye could see

Hollyhock Dolls part 2

Hollyhock dolls with a friend To make a hollyhock doll, pick a fully blossomed hollyhock flower from the stalk, keeping about 3/4 of an inch of stem (this will become the neck).

Now, pick a bud that has some of the color of the flower showing through the green sepal. Gently peel the green sepal from the bud, exposing the tightly closed bud and the white bit near where the stem was. Notice it has holes. Gently push one of the holes onto the stem of the fully opened flower. The other holes will create the effect of eyes and the part where the stem was attached is the mouth.

Your doll is now made and will last a few hours before closing up.

Secret Garden



You know about me and fairies, don’t you? How I really believe they exist and all? So much that I use improper grammar when blogging about them?

Well, a few years ago I bought a fairy garden for Clare. She liked it. It grew. It died and then Dean threw away all the stuff that went with it.


Recently Clare’s been thinking about that fairy garden. I saw a version of it, but it wasn’t the same — it had no house. Then, one day at an art store (of course) we found the identical fairy garden from her past and bought it, even though it was the same price as a huge canvas she needed for school (which, by the way is STILL in my trunk). (Don’t encourage your kids to get into art — it’s expensive! And messy!)

Clare planted the garden that evening and we thought it would be fun to do a time-lapse film of it growing.

It grew fast. And I think the fairies have settled in…

Hollyhock Dolls

P8140377.JPG When I was a little girl my mom taught me how to make hollyhock dolls. We had hollyhocks growing next to the house where I grew up and I’d make hollyhock dolls whenever the fancy struck me and I had the right ingredients.

I taught Clare how to make them a few years ago, but have never been successful at growing hollyhocks myself.

first hollyhocks Until this year — and, while it is far from successful, we have two hollyhock flowers blooming as I type.

So, while I cannot make any hollyhock dolls this year, maybe the flowers will produce seeds which will sow themselves and we’ll be able to make them next year.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh no — not another one…

So yesterday I wanted to make an apple cake that I’d made before. It wasn’t in any of our dozens of cookbooks — I’d gotten the recipe from a Penzey’s spice catalog a few years ago. I misplaced the catalog but found the recipe online the last time I needed it. This time, however, Penzey’s no longer had the recipe online. I ended up finding it, using the Internet Wayback Machine, but it took a freaking long time.

This kind of thing has happened before. Whenever I want to make my mother-in-law’s cole slaw or cucumber salad I have to email my sister-in-law for the recipes. I’m pretty sure she’s tired of sending them to me. (although I may need to ask her one last time).

pile of recipes

My cookbook recipes are safe (except for the ones that I use a lot and are falling out of the books) but my other recipes — the ones that I’ve either cut out of the newspaper or people have given me — are a mess as you can see in the illustration on this entry. Yes, that’s my recipe pile.

So, I thought, how can I keep a database of these recipes in a place that will be safe and tidy and be fun to update.

A blog of course!

Presenting Recipes our Family Loves Although I may change the name to Recipes that at least one member of our family has eaten and not said “Oh Gross!” because we don’t all love the same recipes.