The Charm of Beatrix Potter

“Helen Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist.

She is best known for her children’s books featuring animals, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was her first published work in 1902.

Her books…have sold more than 250 million copies…Potter [left] almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now constitutes the Lake District National Park.” (wikipedia)

Peter lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.

Beatrix Potter’s first book “was rejected by several publishers, so she privately printed 250 copies of it herself. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was a great success with family and friends. In 1902, Frederick Warne & Co agreed to publish an initial quantity of 8,000. They sold out instantly and Beatrix’s career as a storyteller was launched.” – Beatrix Potter National Trust

Beatrix Potter spent much of her childhood in Scotland and the north of England where she could indulge in her love of animals and the natural world.

“I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.” – Beatrix Potter

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” – Beatrix Potter

Later in life she settled in the Lake District and purchased thirty-four-acre Hill Top Farm, the perfect place for her to paint, write, and garden.

Among other portrayals based on her life, is the 2006 film, Miss Potter.

“If I have done anything, even a little, to help small children enjoy honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”

(images from my Pinterest boards)

April — in New York City

(Excerpts from my novel, The Notebooks of Honora Gorman: Fairytales, Whimsy, and Wonder)

“Is April a time or a place? Honora wondered. Right now, as she looked out her window, the rain gurgling in the gutters, the trees full of white blossoms and tiny bright leaves against a pearl gray sky, it seemed a place – a land of beginnings, of youth, of beauty, a place to breathe deeply and stroll through, to enjoy its flowers and first greens, the cool soft air. She grabbed an umbrella and decided to wander through Central Park, down the Poet’s Walk to the lake, and absorb the April beauty.”

“Blossom time. The spring was cold, with occasional snow. Then a few warm days came and the pear trees along the street burst into bloom. Honora waited all year for this month with the fluttering white blossoms, lovely against the old brick, the gray slate roofs, the softer gray of the sky. The temperature had dropped again and she hoped the cold would keep the blossoms on the trees a little longer. But already she saw a bit of green – the leaves were beginning to show. Soon, the rains would loosen the blossoms, whisking them into the air. And she would have to wait another year for April blossoms.”

“Honora walked the streets of her pretty neighborhood almost every day. In the spring it was bursting with color – shooting rays of yellow forsythias, azalea bushes so thick with purple or red or coral blooms that they scarcely showed any leaves. There weren’t many lilac bushes but Honora knew where they were and would linger next to them, or stand under the ones arching over a tall fence, to breath in their fragrance.”

“There had been a magnificent old wisteria plant with massive, thick ropes of vines climbing an old sycamore, draping sweetness and pale-purple beauty overhead every spring. It had been pure magic and every April Honora looked forward to seeing it, raising her face to bathe in its perfume, filling herself with its beauty.”

The Notebooks of Honora Gorman: Fairytales, Whimsy, and Wonder

“Not a love story – and yet a story of love. Love for a city, for the artist’s way, and dreams.”

https://amzn.to/3TSchqO

https://amzn.to/3TSchqO

(Images from my Pinterest boards.)

Vintage Books

When I come across vintage books, I am often surprised by the beauty of the covers – and the amount of time and effort and creativity that went into them.

It reminds me of how important artwork and photography were for the record album covers of my generation and how people lamented the loss of “creative space” when cassettes and then CDs replaced them. Which isn’t to say that covers are not still extremely important, even in this digital age. I have spent countless hours working with designers on my own book covers to try to capture the mood and tone of the stories inside.

But there is something immensely appealing in the original artwork of those old hardback covers that evoke the aesthetics and charm of an earlier era.

Like other people, I sometimes use old books as decorations around the house, just to enjoy the vintage feel and beautiful colors of these little works of art.

The next time you’re at a used book store, or a garage sale, or at an odds and ends shop, keep you eyes open for these beautiful treasures from another time.

(All images are from my Pinterest boards.)

Valentine’s Day 1946: Sequel to the Christmastime Series

I was so sure that Christmastime 1945 would be last book in the Christmastime series — just as I was sure that Christmastime 1940 would be the first book. Yet all it took was the suggestion that perhaps I could write a brief prequel, and then a maybe think about a short sequel, perhaps a Valentine’s Day book, and those little planted seeds grew into two more books.

Once again, I’m sure that the series is now complete. However, at this point, I’ve learned never to say never.

Here’s a link to a post related to the series: Valentine’s Day in Mrs. Kuntzman’s Kitchen: https://bit.ly/3J1tP0g

And for those of you who haven’t read one of my earliest books (short short stories), it will be FREE on Amazon Kindle from February 1st-5th, and available on Kindle Unlimited through March.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

(all images from my Pinterest boards)

A New Year, a new beginning

I went to Pinterest to find images for my post about 2023, and while I found many beautiful and inspiring pictures, I also came upon several quotes. So as I wish you all the best for the coming new year, I offer some quotes that might cheer you on in your goals and pursuits.

First of all, take the plunge – Begin.

And believe that change is possible.

Don’t underestimate the power of a day

or the power of putting in the time and work.

Take control of the way you shape your life and allow for possibility.

And always, seek out beauty and wonder.

Christmas Shopping

Ah, the bustle of Christmas! Decorating your house for the holidays, cooking traditional family favorites,

shopping. Braving the crowds, the weather, the choices —

and returning home to relax with a mug of hot chocolate or a cup of tea.

In the Christmastime Series, Christmas shopping adds a sense of merriment and celebration to the season — whether it’s Lillian preparing for Christmas Night at the Brooklyn department store where she works (Christmastime 1939),

or Mrs. Murphy taking a store escalator up to the “North Pole” toy section to do some shopping for her nieces and nephews (Christmastime 1941),

or Izzy stopping to enjoy the window displays as she walks to work (Christmastime 1943),

or the sisters Ursula and Jessica browsing at the small-town stores in rural Illinois.

Christmas shopping. The sparkle of lights and tinsel, the scent of pine and cloves, the sounds of bells ringing and Christmas caroling heighten enjoyment of the season and deepen the pleasure of gift-giving.

Then —

And now.

Autumn in New York – The Notebooks of Honora Gorman

My latest novel — The Notebooks of Honora Gorman: Fairytales, Whimsy, and Wonder — takes place in New York City. The back cover describes it as:

Not a love story—and yet a story of love. Love for a city, the artist’s way, and dreams. 

New York City becomes more than just the setting. It becomes almost a character itself that Honora interacts with. I hope you enjoy these images from my Pinterest boards that capture the special beauty of New York in the fall.

(all images from my Pinterest boards)

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.

Summertime in Greenberry, 1970 (And So We Dream, a novel)

A nostalgic look at the summers of not so long ago…

(The fictional small town of Greenberry is the setting for my latest novel, And So We Dream.)

Back when watermelons had shiny black seeds set in deep ruby red.

Back when corn was grown in wide discernable rows, “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”

Back when the sky was clear of satellite dishes and cellphone towers, when a bike ride uptown to the concert on the square or to the ice cream shop was high adventure.

And dreams were the soul and sustenance of three teenage girls — Anne, Vita, and Beth — and Joey, the twelve-year-old boy who spends the summer with them.

Coming from Chicago, “Joey thinks of the small town of Greenberry as ‘boyland’ – a world of riding bikes, fishing, going barefoot, and the county fair.”

A place where summer meant vegetables fresh from the garden,

and evenings were for enjoying homemade ice cream with neighbors.

When the days were filled with lemonade stands and swimming,

and all the skies were cotton candy skies.

And the magic of summer came from the belief that everything begins with a dream.

(Images from my Pinterest boards.)

A brilliantly engaging, entertaining, and at times poignant coming-of-age story, ‘And So We Dream’ is a compelling read that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf. From the author of the ‘Christmastime’ series, ‘And So We Dream is unreservedly recommended…” -the MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW)

A dream garden…

“A dream garden is better than no garden at all. At least your mind is filled with flowers and color and beauty. And I think, without even being aware of it, we slowly move towards what we hold in our minds.” (Words from Millie to her daughter Vita in my novel And So We Dream)

If I had a garden, I’d take my breakfast there.

I’d find a hammock or a garden chair and enjoy the peaceful shade.

I’d invite a friend to join me for lunch among the blooms,

and I’d find a quiet spot in the fragrant afternoons.

In the garden’s comfort, I’d indulge in a book or two,

and include a pot of tea and a floral china cup.

And in the scented evenings, the garden all aglow,

I’d sleep among the flowers and dream the sweetest dreams.

(images from my Pinterest boards)

A late spring

While much of the country has already experienced soaring temperatures, here in New York, this has been an especially beautiful spring. Cooler temperatures have prolonged the season of lilacs, irises, and azaleas.

Even the rhododendrons and peonies are just now in full bloom.

I think of these kinds of days as “gift” days, allowing me to more fully enjoy the cool mornings and to take longer end-of-day strolls through the neighborhood, with its profusion of flowering bushes and small flower-filled gardens.

I hope wherever you experience spring, you have an abundance of flowers and blooms to enrich your day —

including bouquets of fresh-cut flowers that also bring about that same springtime joy.

(images from my Pinterest boards – and my neighborhood!)