My Books

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the little things

This has been a weird Christmas. My husband and I are in the midst of a major house renovation on our old fixer-upper, so we have been displaced from home for about 6 weeks now. I am not a major holiday decorater, but I do love our Christmas tree, which we had to forgo this year. Because I am kitchen-less, I could not do any baking, which is difficult since I like making and sharing yummy things, especially this time of year. No chai, no meringue cookies, no rum cakes, no pumpkin chocolate chip bread. We also limited the gift-giving this year, and for the first time, didn't do gifts for each other. I never understood how couples could just "not do gifts"...I mean, really, nothing, not even one little thing? It always seemed so sad and unromantic. So, when my husband suggested it, I thought, "Really, are we already THERE after only 3 years of marriage? Have we already become the no gift-giving couple?" I admit I was a little disappointed—I love picking goodies out for my husband, and he is such a good gift-giver to me—but I also knew it was the right thing for us this year. With all of the demands of this renovation, we needed to simplify, not just financially but also logistically. 

But please don't feel sorry for me, like I used to for couples that didn't do gifts. Not being home for the holidays and a necessity to simplify Christmas turned out to be the biggest gift for both of us. The WHOLE story is that when we were in Savannah for Thanksgiving, and made the pact to not buy gifts, instead we purchased a print that we both loved and could look forward to hanging up in our new old house. Instead we were not up all night wrapping a pile of gifts. Instead we got a hotel room on Christmas Eve so we could have a little quiet bit of time together before the family flurry of the holidays. Instead we were able to focus on what our house needs to become a better home for us. Instead I was better able to appreciate the little things that are not presents wrapped under the tree, like moonlight on the snow, a brisk walk to the bakery, and a woolly pair of boots. Instead of focusing on what I didn't have this year, I was forced to be thankful for what I did have.

Next year, we will finally be home for the holidays, and while I have already announced to my husband that we are going to "do it up" next year, what I really mean, gifts or no gifts, is that we are going to doubly celebrate all the little things of the season that make home so special, like the waft of pumpkin chocolate chip bread baking in the oven and chai simmering on the stove, the soft glow and sparkle of ornaments on a tree, a dog-to-come curled up in a corner, a warm fire, a roomful of laughter (or quiet), and a chilly night to make me thankful for a cozy home. Those are going to be my gifts, and it's worth waiting for.

Happy new year to all. May you find peace in the season and comfort in the little things.

p.s. I found a loophole in the no-gift policy. Santa can still deliver gifts. Like a mercury-glass polar bear ornament you just have to have because it reminds you of "Bear", the stuffed animal your very special grandma gave to you one Christmas long ago. That's allowed, of course (*wink*).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

mermaid birthday girl

I just got my samples in the mail for this card I did for Papyrus a while back. All the gray areas are actually silver glitter foil, so it is really sparkly in person! And it comes with these puffy stickers as well (below...imagine a glittery background!). The art director and I both LOVE anything underwater-related, so this was a really fun project to work on. This is definitely my idea of a "dream" birthday party!

Friday, November 5, 2010

buckeye book fair this saturday!

Come see me at the Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio this Saturday from 9:30-4:00! I'll have 5 different books to sign. It's a great chance to pick up autographed books for holiday gifts, support Ohio authors and contribute to literacy efforts. Click here for all the info.

And don't you love the poster this year? Artwork by Will Hillenbrand from the book Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep.

Friday, October 29, 2010

wicked cool new england trip

Jeff and I took a trip to Maine and New Hampshire in mid-October. Geographically, the New England area is everything we love...mountains, ocean, lakes, rocky coastline. I am definitely dreaming of living there someday, but that's been a dream since I first visited as a kid. Maybe it's meant to be?

While we were there, we attended a family get-together and 90th birthday celebration for my Great Uncle Howard and Great Aunt Trudie (his wife)...this is the 3 of us together. I haven't seen them, or much of this side of the family, for 10 years, so it was a reunion I will definitely treasure, especially since Uncle Howard is the only one still living from my Grandma's generation. Also, my Uncle Don and Aunt Karen live in Maine, so we spent a lot of time with them. 

Here are some photo highlights of the trip:

We stayed in the White Mountains for a few days...

some views of Mt. Washington...

coastal Maine beachcombing...

so many snails!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

eric carle is the cutest!

Just a little post to say I think Eric Carle is the cutest (I have the biggest crush). Have you seen his blog?  What I think is so sweet is that when I read his posts, I totally see "him" in his books. I mean, he writes a little account about his day and it sounds like a book...I love it. He has such a beautiful way of relating to the world that is so simple and wholesome and universal. What an inspiration to so many. What a difference just one person can make.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

peaceable kingdom sticker kits

I noticed these sticker kits I did for Peaceable Kingdom Press up on their website, so I guess it's okay to share now! I got to meet some of the great people I work with there back in May when I was visiting my brother in Berkeley—it was so nice to meet everyone in person. 

I have some more fun products coming out with them in the future, but for now they're secret—I'll share them when I can.

Monday, September 27, 2010

new mexico art and writing retreat

A week ago I got back from an intimate art and writing retreat near Taos, New Mexico. Jenny Kostecki-Shaw, an artist-author friend, began planning and organizing back in February, and on Sept. 16-20, we had the first retreat of which I hope will be many more. The location was perfect—right in Jenny's backyard, abundant with flowers, veggies, chickens and sunshine. 

Being a freelancer is so rewarding in many ways, but it can be quite solitary and time-demanding. To avoid burn-out, it's important to me to feel connected to others and stay inspired and passionate about what I do. Sometimes I forget I really need to get out of my comfort zone and mix things up. I expected to come back from the retreat somewhat creatively recharged, and of course, I did—but it was much more than that for me. I almost feel re-set as a person. For me, this workshop retreat wasn't so much about producing great creative stuff—it was more about needing to physically step out of my creative life for a few days and have a new experience. And it certainly helped to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, and most especially, 4 wonderfully talented women. It was an honor to be included and share ideas in this circle. I feel an awakened connection and a sense of belonging to other artists facing the same challenges that I struggle with, and knowing that I don't bear that alone gives me a new kind of strength that I will carry with me.

See lots of retreat and Santa Fe Folk Art Museum photos on my facebook page "Betsy Snyder Illustration"

And please check out the work of these very talented artists and authors (I know the inside scoop on what's in the pipeline for all of them and it is VERY exciting!):

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

gram's lemon frost pie in chocolate shell

I made a special treat this 4th of July...lemon frost pie in chocolate shell. I think it will be a new summer holiday tradition. I hadn't made it in years, but it is hands-down my most favorite dessert EVER. I mean it. I've never had anything like it—it's heaven on a fork. The recipe belonged to my dear Grandma Lyon (not sure where it came from originally, though I'd love to give credit). It was the dessert I requested most often for my birthday "cake", and I remember Gram always teasing me, "Are you SURE you want that?" because it took some effort to make with four different uses of the mixing bowl. But I know she secretly enjoyed it as much as I did, at least the eating part. And the watching-me-eat-it part.

So when I made the pie this time, vivid memories of my Gram (who I lost last November) came flooding back. The memories were welcomed but unexpected and certainly unintended—I simply set out to make some yummy pie for a picnic. But I suddenly found myself in one of those powerful, all-encompassing sensory recollections I mourn for and thought I'd never experience again, like a hello kiss on her cheek, the character of her hand, the lingering of her Lily of the Valley perfume, or in this instance, the intimacy of a shared and sacred treat. Sure, I have plenty of material reminders of Gram around me every day—sentimental keepsakes such as old photographs, the necklace of hers that I wore at my wedding, a playbill from a Robert Goulet performance of South Pacific we saw together, a cow-shaped milk pitcher that served me breakfast-in-bed during our many sleep-overs. But what I thought I'd lost forever were the nuances of my grandma's presence—the way the room just felt like her. For a brief moment in the kitchen, time stopped, even reversed, and the bright wafts and taste-tests of the lemon pie gave me back my Gram, fully and completely, reminding me that no one we love is ever truly lost or taken from us, that even the permanence and physical separation of death is temporary and only perceived. I found myself instantly in tears, not because I was sad for my loss, but because I was thankfully surprised that the feelings and memories recalled were as tangibly strong as the day they were first lived. What I learned: you can't necessarily summon those organic memories of loved ones gone, or even intentionally reconstruct them, but they do return at their own will, just as tangible and real as the physical life that once created them. What I already knew: I am lucky to associate my Gram with lemon frost pie.

So, yeah, I only meant to share my favorite recipe, but I guess I had more to share today. Didn't even know I had it in me. Please enjoy and share with a very special someone!

(Yes, you will really use the mixing bowl 4 separate times. And in case you're wondering, it does take a while to whip the cream and egg parts.)

2 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 T. granulated sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
3 eggs, separated
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 c. shaved German sweet chocolate

Combine cocoa and 2 T. sugar. Whip 1 c. heavy cream, fold into cocoa mixture. Add 1 T. lemon zest. Spread evenly in 9" or 10" pie pan (you might end up with some extra filling at the end with the smaller pan). Chill in freezer until firm. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add 2/3 c. sugar and beat until glossy. Beat yolks until thick and lemon-colored and fold into whites. Whip remaining 1 c. heavy cream. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Fold cream into egg mixture and turn into frozen chocolate shell. Garnish with shaved chocolate (or garnish individual slices before serving if there is no room left in the pan). Freeze until firm. Set out at room temperature for a few minutes for easier slicing and serving.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

happy 4th of july!

Mister Mouse is riding by to wish you a happy Fourth of July! Happy stars-stripes-sparklers-fireworks-picnics-parades-celebrate-our-independence day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

pajama story-time at the library!

Hey, Clevelanders (especially east-siders)! I am doing a special pajama story-time at the Orange branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on Weds., June 30 at 7:00pm. Geared towards ages 2-5, little ones can wear their jammies, bring a blanket and pillow and snuggle in while I read some of my books, including Sweet Dreams Lullaby. We'll end with this bunny puppet craft. Books will be available for purchase and autograph at the end of the program (cash or check only, please). This is a free event, but registration is required, so click here to sign up or get more info. Please pass along to anyone that might be interested. Thanks!

Friday, May 21, 2010

wvxu radio interview link

Click here for the wvxu radio interview about Sweet Dreams Lullaby from last week's Around Cincinnati.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

around cincinnati radio interview

A few months ago when I was in southern Ohio for a few book signings, I did a taped interview about my book Sweet Dreams Lullaby with Barbara Gray for Cincinnati radio station WVXU, the local NPR affiliate. I had never done radio before, so I was a little nervous, but I actually loved it and hope I get the opportunity to do it again sometime...being in the studio was a lot more comfortable than I expected. The interview is airing this Sunday evening at 7:00 pm as part of their "Around Cincinnati" arts program. Click here for this week's program line-up, where there is also a special link to order the book from Amazon and have a portion of the proceeds benefit WVXU. If you're not local to Cincinnati, you can get a live stream here, get the podcast here, or I will also post a link to the audio file next week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

long time no blog

I've been busy working away on some new projects. I just finished up the art for a game by Peaceable Kingdom Press—I've been doing a lot of work for PK Press over the past couple of years and I really love collaborating with them. They are so good to their freelance artists and have recently added an "artist gallery" on their website...check it out! Anyways, it just so happens I am headed out to San Francisco, Berkeley and Sonoma/Napa in a few days, and since PK Press is located in Berkeley, I am going to have the opportunity to meet some of the designers and art directors that I've been working with over there. It will be nice to finally put faces with names and chat with everyone in person.

Here are a few past projects I've done for PK's not the best product photo, but it's the best I can do with my iphone for now.

I also wanted to share a few new reviews of Sweet Dreams Lullaby that I stumbled across online today. Both reviews are by We Heart Books, who have done some nice features of my books in the past. If you're not familiar with their blog, and you "heart" books too, you should really check it out! The first review is here, right on the We Heart Books blog. The second review is here, on Mini Gaga, a blog for "beautiful things for baby."