Wednesday, 1 July 2020
Saturday, 27 June 2020
And you want to see what is cool? The clasps on either side are in the shape of bones that you thread through ribbons.
|Red Riding Hood|
Friday, 26 June 2020
Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
Today we look at a tale from Armenia entitled Nourie Hadig. It is an Armenian fairy tale collected by Susie Hoogasian-Villa in 100 Armenian Tales. I first read a version of this tale in Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales and fell in love with it. I started developing a storytelling with props to go with it, but never finished. Perhaps now that the children’s section at the bookshop where I work has expanded there will be an opportunity to tell it.
This is a tale that also uses the moon as the magic mirror. In this tale the mother (not step mother) puts her husband to the test saying, "Tell me, who is more important, your daughter or me?" The husband who SHOULD have said "my daughter because she is not asking me to kill someone I love" pulls a Hansel and Gretel and abandons his own flesh and blood in the woods.
What marks this out as different is that the place she stumbles on to is rather like a reverse Sleeping beauty where she finds a sleeping prince. A disembodied voices tells her "You must look after him for seven years and then the spell will be broken." And so she does, all the while her mother is searching for her to kill her because the moon keeps telling her that her daughter is alive.
It gets lonely tending to a sleeping prince for seven years and so halfway through she recruits a passing Gypsy girl to help with the labour. Now, I am not happy with the emphasis on Gypsy here (and will not say than in my storytelling--I plan to say a village girl) because she is a dishonest sort and I don’t feel comfortable with that connection being drawn just because of her heritage. But when the prince wakes up during the Gypsy girl’s shift, she neglects to mention that the other lady is the true bride and she merely the servant. And so like The Goose Girl, the poor girl and rich girl switch places. The prince offers to buy the servant a gift to celebrate his upcoming wedding to the false bride and she asks for a Stone of Patience. Have you ever heard of one of these? No, nor had I but the stonecutter says, “If the Stone of Patience sees that your troubles are too great to repair, it will swell and break wide open."
Our heroine not wanting to snitch directly on the usurping bride, tells her sorry tale to the stone while the prince secretly listens. The stone swells and cracks and he realises she is the true bride. Here in this version nothing seems to happen to the betrayer, but in the Angela Carter one Nourie Hadig keeps insisting it is fine to be a servant and let the false one be his bride because the wedding preparations are all ready, but you know she secretly is wanting the prince to insist otherwise. Quakers would not put up with that. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” If he had been a Quaker, he would have taken her at her word and married the Gypsy.
So does it end there with a happy ending? No of course not. Her mother asks the moon who is the most beautiful and the moon replies, the Princess of Adana so her mother knows not only is her daughter still alive, but now she is married to royalty. She sends a poison ring as a wedding gift which our heroine duly puts on and falls down in a deep sleep from which she could not be awakened. In a lovely twist of fate, her husband lovingly cares for her for years just as she had cared for him. When it is finally removed, she is revived, and they lived happily ever after. Upon finding out, her mother dies of shock though I would have preferred dancing in red hot shoes.
If you ever come across the Angela Carter version, I would highly suggest you check it out. I think it is more poetic than this version. It is on page 200 in case you happen to pick it up.
How was I going to do this as a storytelling, I hear you cry? Well, once on a tree planting expedition with a bunch of unruly ten year olds a series of interesting rocks were found in the mud. I saw the first one and thought it could be the stone of patience and so asked muddy kids to bring me rocks of various sizes as they slopped about getting filthier by the minute with their spades and little tree branches. I found several identical ones in ever increasing size and for the piece de resistance, I found a large one that was split in two and could easily slot together like a puzzle and then crack open for the final reveal. So I went home from that trip about 20 pounds heavier due to a rucksack full of rocks.
Nourie Hadig source
Once upon a time, there lived a rich couple, and each month the woman asked the new moon, "Am I the most beautiful in the world, or are you?"
Each month the moon replied, "You are most beautiful."
The woman gave birth to a baby girl, and they named her Nourie Hadig which means ‘tiny piece of pomegranate.’ She grew more beautiful with each passing year, and one night when she was 15, her mother asked the moon who was most beautiful. The moon replied, "Nourie Hadig is more beautiful than you or I."
She fell instantly sick with jealousy. When Nourie Hadig noticed her mother's fevered brow, she ran to her father. When he asked his wife what was wrong, she said, "Tell me, who is more important, your daughter or me?"
"I cannot answer such a question," he said.
But she would not be calmed; she insisted her husband kill their daughter.
The man was sick with grief, but he felt he must somehow cure his wife of her illness. And so he told his daughter they must go into the forest to seek help. This they did, but at sunset the father tearfully looked at Nourie Hadig and said, "Wait here for my return."
Nourie Hadig waited, but after many days when he did not appear, she began to search for him. She came to a house where she hoped she might find shelter. As she reached to knock, the door opened. She walked inside, and the door closed behind her. She turned to open it, but she could not.
Nourie Hadig discovered rooms full of silver and gold, silks and satins, rugs and candelabra, jewels and chandeliers, and at last a room where a handsome young man lay fast asleep. When she spoke, he did not answer or move.
And then she heard a disembodied voice that told her the prince was under a spell. "You must look after him for seven years," the voice said, "and then the spell will be broken."
And Nourie Hadig's work began.
Three years passed, and Nourie Hadig tended to the sleeping prince.
One night her mother smiled up at the new moon, and for the first time since her daughter's death, she asked, "Tell me, am I still the most beautiful in the world?"
The moon gleamed, as if winking, and said, "Nourie Hadig is most beautiful."
And the woman understood her husband had not killed their daughter as she'd asked, and so she knew she must do it herself.
So the mother set off to find Nourie Hadig.
Each month the mother asked the moon, "Who is most beautiful?" and each month the moon answered, "Nourie Hadig."
Another year passed.
One day in her loneliness Nourie Hadig cried out the window to a group of Gypsies, "Will someone help me tend to a sleeping prince?" She dropped a rope, and one young girl agreed to climb the rope and help.
Nourie and the Gypsy girl took care of the prince together, and three more years passed.
One summery day, the Gypsy girl sat beside the bed when the young man woke. "You have broken my spell, and I shall marry you and make you my princess!" he said, and naturally the girl agreed.
Nourie Hadig loved the prince, but she did not say a word. When the prince asked if she would like a gift for her service, she told him she would like the Stone of Patience.
"And your happiness," she said.
In the city the prince bought a ring and a bridal gown, and he went to see a stonecutter to ask if he might have the Stone of Patience.
The stonecutter smiled. "Yes," he said, "but you must know this: If the Stone of Patience sees that your troubles are too great to repair, it will swell and break wide open."
He agreed to sell the stone to the prince.
Back home the prince gave Nourie Hadig the Stone of Patience. At once she began to tell her tale.
"My father left me," Nourie Hadig said, and the stone swelled to twice its size. She went on to tell of the four years she took care of the prince all alone, and it swelled still more. She spoke of the three years she and the bride-to-be worked, and she asked the stone, "Tell me, am I more patient, or are you?"
With those words the Stone of Patience broke open, and the prince understood Nourie Hadig had saved him. He asked her to become his wife.
And she became Princess of Adana.
Soon after, when her mother asked the moon who was most beautiful, the moon answered, "Princess of Adana."
Now she knew how to find her daughter, and so she had a beautiful ring made and filled it with poison. She sent a servant to deliver the ring with a note asking for forgiveness.
Overjoyed by this, Nourie Hadig slipped the ring onto her finger. At once she fell into a deep sleep from which no one could wake her.
Three years passed, and just as his wife had looked after him, the prince looked after Nourie Hadig.
One day a healer came, and as he tended to Nourie Hadig, he noticed the ring. Hoping no one would see, he slipped the ring from her finger, and she woke.
He knew he had discovered a secret. He returned the ring to her finger.
"I can cure your wife," he told the prince, "if you'll pay me in silver and gold."
Naturally, the prince agreed.
The healer removed every necklace, bracelet and ring Nourie Hadig wore.
Last of all, he slipped off the mother's ring from her finger, and Nourie Hadig awoke at once.
That night, when her mother asked the new moon who was most beautiful, the moon answered, "Nourie Hadig, Princess of Adana."
And the mother, shocked at this news, died that night.
But Nourie Hadig and the prince lived happily ever after.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale with a scorpion necklace.
Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Hello lovelies! I wanted to make something decadent, but easy and reasonably healthy last week and so I was googling recipes and hit the motherlode. This recipe from the blog Fit Mitten Kitchen and it was really impressive. At first, I was worried because it seemed to make such a small amount (you make it in a loaf pan) because we are two greedy vegans, but they are so rich that a little dab will satisfy you. Spiderman said, “I can’t believe I am saying this and I have never uttered this phrase in my life but one really is enough.”
This is also a no bake recipe as the weather has hotted up again. It is easy to make, takes about a half hour in total with some fridge chilling time for each layer as you make the next layer. It is made with mostly wholefood ingredients and was all stuff I had in my pantry.
Millionaire Shortbread is something I only ever remember eating in the UK. Is there a US equivalent? I guess it is like a posh Twix. You have a layer of shortbread at the bottom, then a layer of caramel in the middle and topped with chocolate. Mmmmmm. Let’s get cracking.
For once I have made this recipe almost exactly like it says to (I did have a few tiny tweaks because I cannot help myself). This recipe came from FIT MITTEN KITCHEN
First line a loaf tin with (reusable) parchment paper letting it hang over the sides to make it easy to get out later.
1/2 cup + 3 TBS coconut flour (70g)
1/4 cup liquid sweetener—she used maple syrup, I used golden syrup, but agave would work too
Mix everything in your food processor and pulse til combined. Or mix in a bowl, but that takes more elbow grease. Spoon into parchment lined loaf tin and press down to an even layer. Then pop in the fridge and rinse out your food processor to make the caramel.
Soft, squidgy dates, 1 cup loosely packed (175g), pitted
1-2 TB non-dairy milk (I used soya milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100g dairy free chocolate bar (or equivalent of vegan chocolate chips)
1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in medium microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments, stirring in between until fully melted. Or do it like I do it in a bain marie by putting a glass bowl on top of a pot with an inch of simmering water. It takes longer this way, but we don’t have a microwave. Pour melted chocolate into pan and spread smooth.
Place pan in fridge and allow bars to set for 20-30 minutes (Don’t put the bars in freezer here as it makes the crust too hard).
Once the bars have set, lift the (reusable) parchment paper out and place on cutting board. Using a large sharp knife slice bars into 8 squares. She got 16 bars out of it. We made it into 8—so I guess we are still greedy vegans.
Bars can be enjoyed at room temperature but store in container in fridge.
These were so rich and decadent. Worth it for the date caramel alone. This would easily impress nonvegans and vegans alike.
Sunday, 21 June 2020
Hello lovelies! Here we are at the end of our journey .If you are like me and don’t want it to end, then remember there are thirteen other Oz books by L Frank Baum (plus other good ones like The Sea Fairies, Sky Island and the Life and Adventures of Santa Claus) out there just waiting to be read! You can read them all for free here on [PROJECT GUTENBERG}
It has been so wonderful to revisit this book. I truly believe it holds up well and is as delightful as when my mother first shared it with me all those years ago, side by side in the brown recliner. She read me two chapters a night for two years and it is my happiest memory of time spent with her.
Here are the last two pages:
I made the rainbow just like I did at the start of the book by using torn tissue paper and had it lead diagonally into the desert which I made out of sandpaper and then back to the sepia of Kansas. I made the sepia just a little brighter this time and not as dreary to show that Dorothy had brought a little of the rainbow back with her and is no way an indication that I couldn’t remember how I had made the sepia at the start of the book since it was the first illustration. I did NOT have trouble remembering which paints I used and the story about Dorothy bringing back some magic is in no way a cover story for my inability to have written down my paint formula. So there. I made their little house similar, but slightly different as it did have to be rebuilt.
Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying:
"Take me home to Aunt Em!"
Instantly she was whirling through the air, so swiftly that all she could see or feel was the wind whistling past her ears.
The Silver Shoes took but three steps, and then she stopped so suddenly that she rolled over upon the grass several times before she knew where she was.
At length, however, she sat up and looked about her.
"Good gracious!" she cried.
For she was sitting on the broad Kansas prairie, and just before her was the new farmhouse Uncle Henry built after the cyclone had carried away the old one. Uncle Henry was milking the cows in the barnyard, and Toto had jumped out of her arms and was running toward the barn, barking furiously.
Dorothy stood up and found she was in her stocking-feet. For the Silver Shoes had fallen off in her flight through the air and were lost forever in the desert. Note: As the silver shoes were lost in flight there is no way that she can return to Oz this way—but there are many ways to get to Oz! There is also a fantastic indie comic called The Royal Historian of Oz by Tommy Kovak and Andy Hirsch which is based on the idea of what would happen if the silver shoes were ever found. This is a great adventure with so many Oz references from all fourteen of the books that it is a joy to read.
"My darling child!" she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. "Where in the world did you come from?"
"From the Land of Oz," said Dorothy gravely. "And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!"
There’s no place like home! This book is always home to me—it is my first love. The first book that really inspired me and fired up my imagination. All of my first stories were re-tellings of Oz with me as the heroine and whichever characters were in the book my mother was currently reading aloud to me. When we became British citizens I got a tattoo of a woodcut of Oz from the book Ozma of Oz to remind me “there’s no place like home.” It is my source of comfort and joy. It was the perfect project to work on during lockdown and I needed the comfort of Oz to see me through. Thank you to L Frank Baum for such wonderful stories. Thank you to my Mum for introducing me to the world of Oz. Thank you to my beloved Amazing Spiderman who feeds my habit of Oz memorabilia. And thank all of you for coming on this magical journey with me.
Saturday, 20 June 2020
Hello lovelies! Today is the penultimate illustration in my altered book of Oz. can you believe it? Today we look at saying goodbye and how Dorothy got home. It is bittersweet both in her staying goodbye to beings she has loved and that we are nearing the end of the book. But don’t get too tearful. In the film they gaslight Dorothy into thinking it was all a dream but in the book it was real and Dorothy goes back many times to Oz in her lifetime. This is not goodbye forever.
Here are the pages side by side:
"The Silver Shoes," said the Good Witch, "have wonderful powers. And one of the most curious things about them is that they can carry you to any place in the world in three steps, and each step will be made in the wink of an eye. All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go."
"If that is so," said the child joyfully, "I will ask them to carry me back to Kansas at once."
This is my second picture. I used the words knock your heels together three times (the film says tap instead of knock) and had Glinda tapping her feet with the magic ruby wand from her bosom. Even though textually this comes first, her actually leaving comes after the goodbyes so I felt it was acceptable to have this on the right page.
She threw her arms around the Lion's neck and kissed him, patting his big head tenderly. Then she kissed the Tin Woodman, who was weeping in a way most dangerous to his joints. But she hugged the soft, stuffed body of the Scarecrow in her arms instead of kissing his painted face, and found she was crying herself at this sorrowful parting from her loving comrades.
You can’t really tell but the Lion and the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow’s words all have a colour wash with an appropriate colour for them—orange, silver and blue, respectively. I coloured the background with gold paint mixed with pink streaks then added four glitter hearts—one for each of our friends.
Glinda the Good stepped down from her ruby throne to give the little girl a good-bye kiss, and Dorothy thanked her for all the kindness she had shown to her friends and herself.
Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying:
"Take me home to Aunt Em!"
I am getting quite emotional at this point, so I will leave it here. Tomorrow we see her flight home back to Kansas and the book will be finished.
Friday, 19 June 2020
Before they went to see Glinda, however, they were taken to a room of the Castle, where Dorothy washed her face and combed her hair, and the Lion shook the dust out of his mane, and the Scarecrow patted himself into his best shape, and the Woodman polished his tin and oiled his joints.
When they were all quite presentable, they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda sat upon a throne of rubies.
She was both beautiful and young to their eyes. Her hair was a rich red in colour and fell in flowing ringlets over her shoulders. Her dress was pure white, but her eyes were blue, and they looked kindly upon the little girl.
"What can I do for you, my child?" she asked.
Dorothy told the Witch all her story: how the cyclone had brought her to the Land of Oz, how she had found her companions, and of the wonderful adventures they had met with.
Note: Later Oz books by Baum have Glinda use the Great Book of Record where everything that happens in Oz in recorded in her book and she can see at a glance what is happening in the furthest corner of the country. This would have been really handy here and could have saved Dorothy all that trouble!
"My greatest wish now," she added, "is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it."
Glinda leaned forward and kissed the sweet, upturned face of the loving little girl.
"Bless your dear heart," she said, "I am sure I can tell you of a way to get back to Kansas." Then she added, "But, if I do, you must give me the Golden Cap." Note: I hope she doesn't mean in the southern way, but she is the good witch of the south after all so maybe she does.
"Willingly!" exclaimed Dorothy; "indeed, it is of no use to me now, and when you have it you can command the Winged Monkeys three times."
"And I think I shall need their service just those three times," answered Glinda, smiling.
Dorothy then gave her the Golden Cap, and the Witch said to the Scarecrow, "What will you do when Dorothy has left us?"
"I will return to the Emerald City," he replied, "for Oz has made me its ruler and the people like me. The only thing that worries me is how to cross the hill of the Hammer-Heads."
"By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City," said Glinda, "for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler."
"Am I really wonderful?" asked the Scarecrow.
"You are unusual," replied Glinda.
Turning to the Tin Woodman, she asked, "What will become of you when Dorothy leaves this country?"
He leaned on his axe and thought a moment. Then he said, "The Winkies were very kind to me, and wanted me to rule over them after the Wicked Witch died. I am fond of the Winkies, and if I could get back again to the Country of the West, I should like nothing better than to rule over them forever."
"My second command to the Winged Monkeys," said Glinda "will be that they carry you safely to the land of the Winkies. Your brain may not be so large to look at as those of the Scarecrow, but you are really brighter than he is--when you are well polished--and I am sure you will rule the Winkies wisely and well."
This is my first page. As the Scarecrow wants to go back to the Emerald City and the Tin Woodman wants to go back to the country of the Winkies, I have painted their triangles green and yellow respectively. In some illustrations the Scarecrow is pictured wearing a gold crown until Ozma becomes the rightful ruler of Oz and he steps down, so I have given him a gold jewelled crown. The Tin Woodman was given a silver oil-can, inlaid with gold and set with precious jewels so I made him a silver jewelled oil-can. You can't tell the Scarecrow's words and washed with iridescent blue and the Tin Woodman's with silver.
Then the Witch looked at the big, shaggy Lion and asked, "When Dorothy has returned to her own home, what will become of you?"
"Over the hill of the Hammer-Heads," he answered, "lies a grand old forest, and all the beasts that live there have made me their King. If I could only get back to this forest, I would pass my life very happily there."
"My third command to the Winged Monkeys," said Glinda, "shall be to carry you to your forest. Then, having used up the powers of the Golden Cap, I shall give it to the King of the Monkeys, that he and his band may thereafter be free for evermore."
The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and the Lion now thanked the Good Witch earnestly for her kindness; and Dorothy exclaimed:
"You are certainly as good as you are beautiful! But you have not yet told me how to get back to Kansas."
"Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," replied Glinda. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country."
This is my second illustration. I made the Lion’s triangle red because his forest in in Quadling country and Dorothy’s a sort of sepia to represent Kansas. Since the Lion will be king of the beasts, I made him a crown that looks like it was carved out of a tree since he will live in a forest and I gave Dorothy one of her silver shoes. The Lion's words are iridescent orange and Dorothy's are a wash or brown.
Note: This quote about "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country" works in the book because she has never met Glinda before. Remember in the book it is a whole different witch who meets her when she first arrives in Oz. In the film Glinda says the same thing, but it makes her come across as a “psycho glitter bitch” for making Dorothy go through all that. The film tries to fob Dorothy off with the line “If I had told you, you wouldn’t have believed me” which always made me mad. Why wouldn’t she believe you? You need two witches to pull this off.
"But then I should not have had my wonderful brains!" cried the Scarecrow. "I might have passed my whole life in the farmer's cornfield."
"And I should not have had my lovely heart," said the Tin Woodman. "I might have stood and rusted in the forest till the end of the world."
"And I should have lived a coward forever," declared the Lion, "and no beast in all the forest would have had a good word to say to me."
"This is all true," said Dorothy, "and I am glad I was of use to these good friends. But now that each of them has had what he most desired, and each is happy in having a kingdom to rule besides, I think I should like to go back to Kansas."
Stay tuned tomorrow as Dorothy says goodbye to her companions.