book sale finds
Dear Mom,

I found some good books at a library sale on Thursday. I've especially been enjoying this version of "A Child's Christmas in Wales," illustrated by one of our favorites, Trina Schart Hyman. I only recently (maybe last year?) put two and two together about Dylan Thomas and the PBS Christmas special we loved to watch, and this book does not disappoint. It is charming.

new books
Almost as charming as the circumstances through which I acquired this other kids' book this week. We were driving back from the garden last weekend, going a slightly different way to admire the changing leaves and old houses, when we saw two little girls run over to edge of the curb (stopping carefully before the street), and wave at us. They had 8 1/2x 11" pieces of paper taped to their shirts, upon which was written, in pencil, "Book Sale." I pulled the Buick over.

I asked them which of their books they thought my three year-old niece might like, and one of the girls picked out this one (and I think she did a good job). I handed them the money, which they directed me to put in the jar labeled "Jar for $," then I asked them why they were selling their books. "For the animal shelter!" they said. I said that was great, and that I had gotten my guinea pig from the shelter. They liked that. "I got my kitty there!" one said, and the other said she was going to get her puppy there.

But back to "A Child's Christmas in Wales" - I will bring this book to our Christmas, and we'll have a good time reading it. Here are the
"Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all. . ."
'Useful Gifts'

And, of course, Auntie Hannah, "who liked port," in the garden "singing like a big-bosomed thrush."
'Auntie Hannah, who liked port'

And the cats! There's a very satisfying number of cats represented in the illustrations. You'll just have to wait to see, and then you will also have "Good King Wenceslas" stuck in your head.

We also did a bit of autumnal festive cooking this week. This is the "Stuffed Pumpkin Stew" recipe from the Oct. 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and it was wonderful! But we needed a family of Welsh proportions to help us eat it because I'm still finishing the last of it. It wasn't a simple recipe, but also not difficult - just a lot of vegetable prep.

Pumpkin stew

How are the 'collars' this year?


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