December 15, 2011

Woodland Nutcracker and Holiday Treats

Kristin B., you won my Zomsters giveaway! Email me!

Well, it’s going to be a bit tame and quiet here today following all the hoopla surrounding Andrew’s vastly entertaining Holiday Gift Guide (even though it was filled with many factual errors. ‘Twilight’ / deco pillows/ and iced cookies are all AWESOME thanks very much. Ha, I got the last word. Zing!).

But I’ve got some real Yuletide loveliness for you. Julia and I are going to be reading ‘Woodland Nutcracker’ by Avril and Frances Tyrrell ALL winter long. I found it in Hawaii, surprisingly, in a tiny little children’s bookshop. I’ll share my Hawaii pictures with you next week, promise!

I’ve seen ‘The Nutcracker’ performed by the Honolulu City Ballet, the New York City Ballet (the Balanchine version!) and about four times by the Pacific Northwest Ballet (whose sets were designed Maurice Sendak). Not too mention the countless times my mom and I watched it being performed on TV.

I was even IN a play version of ‘The Nutcracker’ in my youth theatre days in Hawaii. There was no ballet involved in that show, thankfully for all involved. I used to act, I used to sing a teensy little bit but I was no triple threat – dancing and I stayed FAR FAR away from each other. I can barely walk down the street without tripping or stumbling.

So in case you were missing my vibe – I ADORE ‘THE NUTCRACKER’ in whatever shape or form it comes in. In this case, bears. All kinds of bears.

Are you flipping out over these illustrations? Look at the dancing pandas! Look at the Chinese lanterns! Look at the floating tea pot! Stunning.

The Sugarplum Fairy is missing in this version. She is delightfully replaced instead by Ursa Major, the great bear. For those not up on their constellations, may I remind that Ursa Major is the formal name for The Big Dipper. Ursa Minor serves as Ursa Major’s palace assistant in this story.

This breathtaking vision is ‘Sarita Thapa, a lesser panda from Nepal’.

This is a truly unique and original book of exquisite loveliness. I can’t say enough good things about it! The text is just perfect for ages 4-8.

I’m also super enthused about ‘Usborne Christmas Baking for Children’, which is crammed with so many yummies, I don’t know where to start.

Well here’s where we’re going to start – along with my little helper, I’m planning on making these ‘White Chocolate Brownies’ for the annual Christmas Eve party with our family. If you look at this on a regular-sized computer screen, I think you’ll be able to see the recipe, if you want to join along in making these with us!

Julia also really wants to try out these ‘Christmas Cupcakes’:

Some cookbooks have a few good-looking recipes sprinkled here and there. But the really good ones have recipe after recipe that you can’t wait to make! This is one of those. Again, treats appropriate for all winter long, not just Christmas, in my opinion.

I’m going to be holiday baking like a madwoman for the next week. I’m making a lot of my gifts this year in the form of baked goods, which I am wondering now why I thought this was a good idea?? What about you, has the holiday treat making begun in earnest at your house? What are you making?


  1. Gah! I'll be lucky if I make a batch of sugar cookies this year. Instead of baking, I've been sewing like a madwoman... and I'm still not done yet. What are you baking?

  2. Noe just saw the Joffrey ballet nutcracker with grandma which i thought may be a little much for her age and she LOVED it. Of course grandma got her the book which would take a week to finish, so thank you for the more kid friendly version.

  3. Hey Miss Michelle! Well I'm making the above recipe for the white chocolate brownies, I'm making a cake that my mom loves for a christmas present, I'm making Andrew homemade granola (shhh), I've already made vanilla sugar for my ma and mom in law, and I'm making these cheese-rosemary crackers for Andrew/ my brother. Oh and fudge for my step dad. And at some point, prolly AFTER Christmas, Nigella Lawson's gingerbread cake recipe. I'm big into baking! My nights are going to be spent in the kitchen! xo ~Melissa

  4. hi- that recipe book looks fantastic! thanks for sharing. fyi, (since I know you love jan brett so much) I made the noseprint cookies featured in "home for christmas" the recipe isn't actually in the book but Whitney (who blogs with me) picked up a copy of it at Jan's book signing. The cookies are so easy and really really tasty. If you are interested I'd be happy to send it your way. :)

  5. Have you seen this version yet ( I saw it at Molbaks and fell in love. I think I'm going to have to start collecting Nutcracker stories each year.

  6. Fun Tats! I'm so glad Miss Noe had a good time xo

    Oh yes Robyn please do send!!! I'd love that!

    Katy, I haven't seen that one, it looks lovely!!! I think that would be the most darling kind of collection to do :) ~Melissa