Spring Is Here

Spring Is Here by Lois Lenski. Oxford University Press, 1945.

Here is a sweet bit of vintage springtime goodness for you, on this Good Friday. This book came to me courtesy of a wonderful Instagram friend in Washington State - the very one who sent Little Sis this doll. I've been waiting until now to share it with you. Enjoy!

And here's one more look at that Easter Bunny. I think he looks a little angry. What do you think?

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Mac & Cheese Wednesday: Blue Cheese Mac

Today's Mac & Cheese Wednesday is my favorite fancy mac: blue cheese mac with caramelized onions. I found this recipe in a Better Homes & Gardens "bookazine" called "Quick & Easy Recipes." It's listed as "Creamy Macaroni and Cheese." The magazine is in my lap right now, the page dog-eared and wrinkled, because I've made it so often. The original recipe is a little different. I'll share my version with you first, then I'll tell you how the magazine says to do it.

Blue cheese and mozzarella...  Mmmmmm...

Blue Cheese Mac (adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)


1 to 2 Tablespoons butter or oil
half to a whole large sweet onion, thinly sliced (I vary this, due to digestive issues in my family)
6 oz. dry elbow macaroni or small shells
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 to 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup half-and-half
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sautee the onion in the butter or oil. I cook it until it's nice, brown, and starting to caramelize. Once it's done, set it aside, while you cook your pasta (according to package directions, of course). Drain and place in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Stir in the onion, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, blue cheese, half-and-half and pepper. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then stir it gently. Top it with the rest of the mozzarella, and back for another 10 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

I let my onion cook another few minutes after this.

I made this recipe this week using the plain blue cheese Private Selection crumbles from the Dillon's fancy cheese case. I've played around with it, though. Once, I used super-strong Maytag Blue Cheese. The girls and I loved it, but Mr. B couldn't handle it. Another time, I used milder gorgonzola, which he liked, but the girls and I thought it was too plain. There's an Amish smokehouse blue that's delicious in this.

Obviously, I don't make this one as often as last week's recipe, or even the butternut mac from two weeks ago. This is usually reserved for special occasions. And now, I'll tell you how I'm supposed to make it, according to Better Homes & Gardens.

The first ingredient is actually supposed to be "4 strips of bacon," which you cook in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon, cook the onion in the drippings. I don't eat bacon, although the rest of my family is a different story. We have made it both ways. Mr. B and the girls loved it with the bacon, but I'll have to take their word for it.

I don't have one book to recommend you to go with this recipe. I suggest you eat this fairylicious mac & cheese with a helping of fairy tales. I've shared some wonderful compilations here, here, here, here,  herehere and here. Looking forward to sharing more fairy goodness with you soon!

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Oklahoma Aquarium (Jenks, OK)

Hey, look, kids! It's Nemo and Marlin and an anemonone. An anemonone. An - Yeah, I've seen Finding Nemo a few too many times.

The girls and I were treated to a visit to the Oklahoma Aquarium over spring break. It's pretty impressive. There's a walk-through shark tunnel! It didn't photograph well (too dark), unfortunately, but other stuff did. I thought I'd share a few with you today.

It was our first time visiting the Tulsa area, which is funny, since it isn't exactly far. I need to do more exploring, but the aquarium visit (and visiting friends) made for a delightful spring break Saturday!

Whenever I see these things, I start singing, "'Twas brillig and the slithy toves..." because I think they look like mome raths - the Disney version, at least!

Peach said hi! 

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Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (Women's History Month)

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad.
Chronicle, 2015.

Little Sis received Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova for her eighth birthday. It is the only book about a dancer I have to share with you this Women's History Month, and it's so, so beautiful, it warrants its own post.

The book begins on a snowy evening, as Anna's sleigh arrives at the theatre. The ballet is Sleeping Beauty. Anna is mesmerized. "Her feet wake up! Her skin prickles. There is a song, suddenly, inside her."

Anna dances all the time. She tries to go to ballet school, but is too young. Anna must wait two years. "Shirt, shirt, laundry. Shirt, shirt, laundry. Even the squirrels lose interest."

At last she begins school. It is hard work, but she finally takes the stage. "It shouldn't be that she should be this good. Her legs too thin, her feet all wrong - and ooh, those toes!"

However, "Anna was born for this."

Anna becomes a sensation, the beautiful swan.

Anna takes her dance all over the world. Her goal is to bring the beauty of dance to all people, rich or poor. During her travels, her homeland changes. It isn't the city she remembers. "There has been a war there, a wall. Everything is changed... Anna builds a new life, a different fairy tale."

Then one night, Anna is outside a train, no boots or mittens. She coughs. It will not go away. She will never dance again.

The book is told in spare, poetic language. Some of the gaps - the wait to attend school, her final illness - are better filled by the "From the Author" note at the end of the book.

Julie Morstad's art speaks for itself, of course. The endpapers, even the back cover are perfect. As always, my weak photography cannot begin to do it justice. Just check the book out for yourself.

If you love ballet or gorgeous art, this one is a treasure.

As for its subject: you can read more about Anna Pavlova at Wikipedia or Biography.com, or watch this video from the Royal Opera House's "Ballet Evolved." I'll leave you with a few grainy films I found on YouTube.

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