Tuesday, February 23, 2021

I Read Canadian 2021 + Oatmeal Cookies!

It's that time of year again. That day in February to take 15 minutes to read Canadian. Here are a few picture book favourites, and since we're still having snowy days here in Ontario, many of the books have an element of winter within their pages.  

The Tea Party in the Woods - Words & Pictures by Akiko Miyakoshi - Publisher - Kids Can Press

Malaika's Winter Carnival - By Author Nadia L. Hohn & Illustrator Irene Luxbacher - Groundwood Books

Small in the City by Sydney Smith & Groundwood Books

Birdsong by Julie Flett - Publisher:  Greystone Books

Bear's Winter Party - Written by Deborah Hodge & Illustrated by Lisa Cinar and published by Orca Books

And my 'read' for I Read Canadian Day? A Stopwatch from Grampa - Written by Loretta Garbutt & Illustrated by Carmen Mok - Published by Kids Can Press. A beautiful book about remembering, and the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild.

Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries & Walnuts

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Inspiration:  Anna Olson's Oatmeal Cookies from Sugar (2009)

My version has cranberries and toasted walnuts as my pantry was lacking raisins! Rather than soft and chewy, these cookies are crispy and light - my preference in an oat-y cookie. 

2/3 cup (150 gr) unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 cup (100 gr) golden cane sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup  (75 gr) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup (250 gr) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (250 gr) oats
3/4 cup (100 gr) dried cranberries
1/3 cup (50 gr) toasted, chopped walnuts
Orange zest, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

2.  Cream the butter and sugars together until smooth and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla until well-blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder & soda, salt and spices. Add to the butter mixture and blend. Add the oats, cranberries and walnuts and stir gently but thoroughly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined.

3.  Place spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a drinking glass into flour and gently press down on each cookie to flatten slightly. If desired, sprinkle tops of cookie dough with sugar.

4.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, turning baking sheet halfway through cooking time, until lightly browned.

5.  Cool on a rack. Enjoy.

And don't forgot to time how long it takes to eat one cookie...but maybe, just maybe, you'll have more than one.

Such deliciousness - in books & baking. Now, more than ever, we need both.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

I Read Canadian!

February 19th, 2020 marks the debut of 'I Read Canadian' Day which celebrates Canadian children's literature. Students, parents, teachers, librarians, any and all, are being encouraged to drop everything and read Canadian for 15 minutes on this day.

Author Eric Walters initiated the program with the help of colleague, writer and President of CANSCAIP, Sharon Jennings, along with Shelagh Paterson (OLA), Meredith Tutching (Forest of Reading) and Rose Vespa (CCBC).

So get ready to read!

And for some inspiration...

Here a seven fabulous books which were chosen for Gallery Stratford's BABY ART WALK program during Fall 2019. Special guests Shannon Taylor, Graylen Howard, Kris Von Kleist, Jennifer Paquette, Claire Chapple, Liza Balkan and Terry Manzo, helped us celebrate Canadian children's authors, illustrators, publishers, each in their own unique way. And any one of these books would be a remarkable read for 'I Read Canadian' Day!

Actor Shannon Taylor read the beautiful picture book Cloth Lullaby (words by Amy Novelsky & pictures by Canadian illustrator, Isabelle Arsenault) on September 27th and engaged parents, caregivers and babies with rhythm, movement and imagination, using nursery rhymes/fingerplays, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Little Miss Muffet.

On October 11th, Graylen Howard, music therapist and musician, provided a gentle background of calming cello music as the board book Forest Baby by Laurie Elmquist and Shantala Robinson was read aloud. A kinder circle followed with guitar music, singing, playing of instruments both conventional and homemade.

Julie Morstad's beautiful book, how to, was read by Claire Chapple of The Yoga Chapple on November 22nd as she took us all on a joyful journey of exploration, movement, meditation and yoga.

Kris von Kleist, local Stratford videographer shared her incredible skills of capturing unique moments with babies on October 25th. The SITE nature-themed exhibit by Tracey-Mae Chambers was a perfect companion to THE HONEYBEE, another book illustrated by Montreal-based artist Isabelle Arsenault with words by Kirsten Hall.

Jennifer Paquette joined us on November 8th to share her tender picture book wish stunningly illustrated with paintings by Shane Norrie. The fabulous and inventive follow-up baby painting activity was enjoyed by all.

This is Sadie was shared by Liza Balkan. There were babies and boxes, flying horses, swimming fish and a mermaid in the deep blue sea, a howling wolf/dog, birds chirp-chirping in trees, a big, big box which became a boat, then a castle and of course, there was Sadie! Such fun.

And Terry Manzo, Stratford photographer extraordinaire, read the lovely Moon Wishes, with words by Guy and Patricia Storms, and pictures by Milan Pavlovic, and showed us how to take phenomenal photos of little ones.

So, it seems, any day is a good day for reading Canadian.

Books can provide enjoyment, inspire us to use our imaginations, take us on a special journey, get us moving, help us to make sense of our world and so much more.

What will you be reading on Wednesday, February 19th?

I'm still deciding. But in the meantime, I'm making something sweet to accompany my read on this chilly but otherwise heartwarming February day.

Baked Rice Pudding with Maple Syrup
Serves 4 - 6 

Inspiration:  a memory of my mother's creamy baked rice pudding
Be patient as this recipe takes some time to bake!

1/3 cup (75 gr) arborio rice or other short-grained rice
1/4 cup (50 gr) golden cane sugar
3 cups (750 ml) of milk and 1 cup (250 ml) of heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
1 dollop butter
pinch of sea salt
1/8 cup (20 gr) raisins (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

2. Mix all ingredients together in a 4 quart (4L) ceramic/glass pan.

3. Place in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes. Give a stir. Bake for another 30 minutes. Stir again. 

4. Continue baking and stirring every 10-15 minutes or so until the mixture becomes creamy, rice is cooked and most, but not all, of the milk has been absorbed by the rice.

5. Remove from oven. Let pudding rest and cool down a bit.

6. Scoop into serving dishes. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with a drizzle of  classic Canadian maple syrup or maple whipped cream and a few toasted walnuts or sliced almonds. The pudding can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed within 2 days - if there's any left over, that is.

Happy Reading! Happy 'I Read Canadian' Day!

And on Friday, February 21st, join Gallery Stratford's Baby Art Walk program as it, too, continues to celebrate Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

String along with me...

A line. A loop. A length.

A swirl. A coil. A wave.

A squiggle. A curl. A knot.

In ONE PIECE OF STRING, Marthe Jocelyn takes us on a wordless journey of forms, shapes, contours along with appealing patterns and vibrant colours. All these elements combine to offer a spin of limitless yarns. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

By the light of the moon

Love you to the moon and back.
Harvest moon.
Dark side of the moon.
Moonlight Sonata.
Moon River.
Au clair de la lune.
Fly me to the moon.
Man in the moon.
Man on the moon.
Howl at the moon
It's only a paper moon.
The cow jumped over the moon.

In January, the moon was blue. And red.
And...there were two super moons.

New moon.


Friday, September 1, 2017

All the way home

Summertime is nearing its end. Cooler temperatures, shorter days, longer nights are arriving. It's time to say goodbye to our recent relaxed routines of these summer months and return to some structure, schedules. A time of transition.

Back to school. Back to work. Back to just about everything.
And, of course, back to bedtimes...and likely, earlier ones. Perhaps for all of us.

So...here's a beautiful book for an upcoming bedtime read - The Way Home in the Night, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi, and published by Kids Can Press. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

To be shared

Ah, winter.

Making snow angels, building snowmen, sledding down hills, cheeks becoming rosy, bundling up against the chill. 

Snowsuits, hats, scarves, boots and, of course, mittens. 

This book caught my eye while browsing through the gift shop at the Art Gallery of Ontario in December. It had to be that gorgeous cover - soft yet bold - which drew my attention. And the title - Mittens to Share. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How quickly things can change...

We're fast approaching the end of November. In the midst of fall. Cooler temperatures. Breezy breaths of wind. Trees scattering their leaves. Squirrels scrounging. Birds gathering at the feeders. Winter creeping ever closer. A first flurry of snow. Changes all around.

But wasn't it just summer? Where did the time go? 

Change is in the air. 
All things are in a constant state of change. 
Change is inevitable.

How quickly things - living and non-living - can, and do, change, transform, evolve. 
Seasons, weather, water, minds, emotions... 

And babies - especially babies during their first year of life. It's a year of many firsts - for both parent and child.

YOU ARE One, written by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Karen Klassen and published by Owlkids Books is a book celebrating all this and more. It's a lovely, lively little book about the highlights of becoming one - what you once were, what you're becoming, what you are now - so many changes over twelve months. And grasping, with all your senses, and with these changes, love given to you freely and unconditionally.