Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Journal Sparks Review and Give-Away!


Was it really 2012 when I reviewed Emily's first book? It honestly feels like some time last week. But no. Almost 5 years ago. Which means that Birdy was, what, 2 years old then? Sigh. The math is not soothing my heart. She was 9? Because now she is 14, holding Emily's new book. But some things never change. Emily's inspirational brilliance, for one. 

Or Birdy's zeal with the Post-It notes, for another, marking project after project that she can't wait to try. Also, there are pages of gorgeous stickers at the end of this book--created from Emily's lovely little illustrations of such wonderful things as cacti and potion ingredients--and Birdy was beside herself about them because they were not in the original advance review copy we got. But I am getting ahead of myself. 


I wrote a blurb for this book, and although they edited it for sanity, this is it in its entirety: "Journal Sparks is our family’s favorite kind of any-age book—filled with friendly, fabulous imaginative prompts that you can use for journaling, of course, but also as approachably small, stand-alone creative projects. Plus, the artwork is just so crazily appealing. So, yes, you will want to climb into Emily’s inspiring world of pebbles and mice and cheese sandwiches, but, then, you’ll be too busy charting your own world of favorite things and places and words and dreams. You won’t even be able not to." 

You should follow Emily on instagram because then you can think to yourself: I should pick up a paint brush every day. And you won't pick one up every day, but you will pick one up sometimes, which is more than never. Buy yourself or your children this set of watercolors. They are the best.
Birdy's notebook, pre-hacking.
That is entirely true. As is the email I wrote to accompany the blurb: "This is such an incredible book. We are in love with it. Congratulations! Birdy's home sick, and we read it cover to cover, dying over all the projects we wanted to tackle--which is, like, all of them. Drawing a day's food! Making potions! The worst sandwich truck! And then just a million things that struck us: that magnified corn-cob tip, the page of clocks, Emily's lovely sensibility. Beautiful."


Birdy marked out VERY MANY projects, but she started with a pragmatic one from the "Journal Hacks" chapter, and this was making a pocket for her journal. And It turned into kind of a self-referential house of mirrors.


Because, well, the kitten got involved. 


And stayed involved. 

And then Birdy couldn't resist using the pocket she had made to comment on the circumstances of its making.


I'm about to get to the give-away, I am. But let me just show you a few more of the lovely things you'll find in this book. Also, while you look at them, you should picture Emily gorgeously across the street from me, visiting her wonderful parents who live there, and trailing after her the three most exquisite children. You can also picture her feeding our cats while we were college visiting last week. (Thank you, Emily!)


I love these two projects because they're identically simple and wonderful, but kind of opposites: in one, you use a marker to draw simple circular designs and then paint them. In another you paint simple shapes and then use a marker to draw into them--the way you might interpret a cloud. All of Emily's projects are approachable like this--totally undauntingly creative and just super-appealing.

"The stars we are given. The constellations we make." Rebecca Solnit
Okay, the give-away. Storey, the publisher, has generously offered to mail out a copy of the book! (The only requirement, sadly is that you have to live in the United States of Heinousness.) Just comment here to enter, and I will pick a winner on Friday at noon. If there are lots of entries, I might pick another winner too because life is so short, amiright? Also, because we love Storey! Did I mention the book Ava's mom Nicole and I wrote for them? Ha ha, I am being coy. More soon. In the mean time, please enter to win Journal Sparks. You will love it as much as we do.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cheater Smoked Trout


There are some recipes I don’t think to share here, and this is one of them. I mean, it’s kind of peculiar—a recipe to satisfy the craving for smoked fish when there is no smoked fish in the house and the craver is usually too cheap to buy it anyway. But then, if I’m like that, isn’t it likely that some of you are too? That really, if you could, you would be eating passed hors d’oeuvres for every meal? Little wonderful things, little smoked this and that spread on a cracker, a savory filled little something, a delightful fried little something else? Do you know what I’m saying? That’s what I crave. Party food. Holiday food.
The rosemary lover.
And yes, it is a holiday! And no, this recipe is not strictly kosher for Passover, unless you source everything accordingly and feel okay about fish and dairy together. (When I Googled it, I came upon this little tidbit, which is too precious not to share: “May we remind you, banana chips require kosher supervision for year round use as they are sometimes fried in the same oil as unkosher cheese. They are not recommended for Passover use.” Yes, you may remind me, but that is kind of a lot to imagine, what with the supervision and the fried cheese a) That said, the fake smoked trout is delicious with matzo, gefilte fish though it is not.

Dude, where's the *trout*?
This recipe is totally a pull-it-out-of-the-pantry cheat, as well as totally delicious, and you will easily be able to imagine that what you are eating is smoked fish. You do need the liquid smoke, though! I’m sorry if that seems gross to you, but smoked paprika or chipotles won’t quite get the job done here, although they make something that is also good, just not quite hitting the same notes. Oh, also, if what you are actually craving is something more like *whitefish salad,* then you can stir in some finely chopped celery and onions here, and you will get a lovely approximation.


Pesach sameach. And lay off those treyf-ass banana chips!

Cheater Smoked Trout Mousse
Makes an amount that's just right, but easily doubled if you need twice that amount.

1 (5-ounce) can oil-packed tuna (I like the Italian brand Genoa, which I buy at the supermarket)
A big blob of cream cheese, whipped or regular (this is probably about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, drained (scoop it up with a fork and press it to the side of the jar   to get the liquid out of it) (Also, this is optional; I use it because it's in my dad's smoked trout mousse,  which is what I'm trying to approximate here.)
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
The juice of half a lemon
A big pinch of salt
Crackers, matzo, or celery sticks for serving

Drain the tuna, then put everything in a food processor and whiz until smooth and fluffy and blended. Taste to correct the seasonings—it might need more salt or more liquid smoke—then scoop into a bowl and serve. Garnish with celery leaves because you’re too cheap to buy a whole bunch of herbs, and rosemary is not going to cut it here.