Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 1, 2011

Into the New Year

I’ve been reading with awe other bloggers’ accomplishments and resolutions. I’m not inclined to look at the pile of books by desk, sofa, and bed and list those I’ve yet to read. It’s a bit of downer when you haven’t cracked hardbacks that are now out in paperback. So what can I do but resolve to read more this year. Novels, as well as a re-immersion in picture books, which I start reviewing this month for Shop Talk: Connecting People and Picture Books  at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  I’ll be filling in with Top of the Shelf recommendations while writer/editor/educator Barbara Elleman takes a winter break. I look forward to keeping blog company with Andy Laties and Eliza Brown who run the well-stocked shop beautifully. Their entries run from fun to pensive, through quizzes, books on themes, children’s book news, and notices of some pretty amazing sales, so it’s a good blog to bookmark.

And I’ve started writing some picture book biography manuscripts again, a form I’ve always loved, but is hard to sell. Then what isn’t? So I resolve to explore this genre as well as poetry. And my husband is urging me to collaborate with him. I kind of think 27 years of marriage is collaboration enough. We have a different aesthetic, and I like working alone, and really could he deal with me? This morning I was making cranberry bread to take to brunch at friends. Peter asked if he could help, and I asked if he’d cut the cranberries in half. After about a cup he asked why they couldn’t go in whole. I said they could, which my niece Tori taught me by making it once in our kitchen. She threw them in and the bread was delicious. But, I explained to Peter, who also suggested a chopper, this is for a holiday with friends and should be as perfect as it can get.

So do you want them cut vertically or horizontally? he asked.

I’m not that obsessive, I said.

Eyebrows were raised.

Okay, not so obsessive about cranberries (and other things, such as centering pictures on this blog). Editing is different.

Anyway, who knows about collaboration. I’ll try to be more open in 2011. And do more yoga, which may or may not be connected.

Happy new year full of joy, creativity, and love from my family to yours!



  1. I will confess that collaborating with you on our Christmas card this year has whetted my appetite for further adventures of a like nature… but if our only future collaboration is to be a continuing marital one, I think I could be satisfied with that.
    ( …which is not to say that I won’t continue to bring it up!) — PL

  2. Happy New Year, Jeannine! I’m looking forward to reading your posts at Shop Talk :).
    BTW, when I make cranberry bread or muffins, I don’t cut them in half, but chop them up in the food processor — would this qualify for extensive eyebrow raising as well?
    Beautiful photo of a beautiful family.
    Congrats on having Borrowed Names making the Cybils shortlist!

  3. Thanks, Peter.
    And Jama! And you know I’d never ever raise my eyebrows at you in the kitchen. I’m just averse to washing the food processor.

  4. What a lovely picture — happy reading new year 😀

  5. Beautiful picture! Happy New Year Jeannine!

  6. Have a lovely New Year!

  7. I agree with you – the cranberries are best when cut in half. Choppers or food processors cut them more finely, and putting them in whole sometimes results in holes when you slice the loaves later. Yep. You and I could make cranberry bread together just fine.

  8. I hear you. Collaborating with HH on a writing project is never going to be a possibility. With BD, it’s possible, but improbable. Someone tends to get a bit overbearing and it’s neither of them….
    I join you in the more yoga resolution and look forward to reading your reviews.

  9. Thanks… and best wishes for your reading new year (to one of those people I aspire to be!)

  10. Laura, I know your new year will be full of creativity, and I hope all the joy you deserve. Dog trained. The kids are all right. And we hope your good health continues.

  11. Barbara, I hope your favorite dreams come true in 2011!

  12. I’m glad we could be happy bakers together, Kelly, and appreciate your opinion as hours after the oven was turned off, and bread delivered, and party enjoyed, the methodology is still under debate. My husband remains unconvinced of the superiority of the method, though he concedes it has virtues. And is enjoying the loaf we kept for us.
    He does wonder if there could be special device just to split cranberries.
    Fascinating? We kind of think so, but I think our daughter is ready to get to the airport tomorrow…

  13. Kathy, you made me laugh. Can’t imagine who can get a bit overbearing here. There is a reason we don’t share a roof with our critique buddies and editors. We need them, but sometimes we need a respite, too.
    Yay for more yoga in 2011! Best wishes for your year.

  14. Splitting cranberries with a purpose-built gadget
    “He does wonder if there could be special device just to split cranberries.”
    I do believe it is possible, but the little bit of thought I have put into it since bringing it up while walking the dogs today has given me pause, as I consider the wide variety of sizes in the cranberries which I rendered into halves today. I suppose there could be yet more variation from brand to brand, and possibly from season to season, region to region even. Given that my idea (which has not changed much in the last eight hours) involved a hand crank-powered gizmo with a hopper into which one would pour an entire bag of cranberries (or maybe a cup would be better), said berries being fed by gravity down into a single-cranberry-sized chute and sliced by a sharp rotating blade which turns and slices as the crank handle is turned by the user, very large cranberries could jam up the works, while very small cranberries might simply pass through unscathed (i.e. unsliced).
    I can see that this problem may require more cogitation. — PL

  15. Cranberries — cloven or not?
    “I agree with you – the cranberries are best when cut in half. Choppers or food processors cut them more finely, and putting them in whole sometimes results in holes when you slice the loaves later.”
    I concur with your comment about cranberries which are too finely chopped, as the wonderful power of the cranberry flavor tends to then be muted and dispersed all too much — the mixture of batter and cranberries becoming a bit too homogeneous for my tastes.
    However, as one who loves the tangy explosion of flavor from biting into a whole cranberry or two when they are baked into a loaf of cranberry bread, or cranberry muffins, or cooked in cranberry pancakes, I am more than willing to put up with a cranberry-sized void when slicing the loaf (no slicing involved with the muffins or pancakes). — PL

  16. I got the recipe from Kelly and cut the cranberries in half with my scissors. Easier than a knife as they couldn’t roll away. Then I forgot to put the egg in, but the bread was good anyhow!!
    I love the picture and I wish you a happy new year!

  17. Re: Splitting cranberries with a purpose-built gadget
    This is cracking me up.
    Also – this just in, but I shared my recipe with a blog friend, who made it today and get this: she cut the cranberries in half with a pair of scissors and said it was quick & easy.
    I haven’t tried it, but I sure as heck WILL.

  18. Jeannine. When it comes to yoga, everything’s connected 🙂
    Happy New Year to you, and on and on and on….

  19. What a beautiful picture!
    I know that Erik and I could never collaborate on a writing project..we both have serious control issues. Probably ditto on cooking except that I can’t cook and he can so he gets it all to himself!

  20. Thanks, Patty. You are my style of cook. Creative with the scissors. And forgetting the egg, but being perfectly happy. Of course hard to go wrong with cranberries!
    Wishing you a wonderful new year.

  21. Liz, it’s always good to have more nudges toward yoga, so thank you. And sending back big wishes for all things wonderful in the new year.

  22. How do Leo and Diane Dillon do it? I’ve always wondered. Maybe if you start collaborating early in your marriage it’s more likely to be part of the whole?
    Susan, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Wishing you the great new year your good soul deserves.

  23. I loved the cranberry story. 🙂 And your daughter is beautiful. Happy New Year!

  24. What a great photo, Jeannine, and a great post. Happy New Year to you!

  25. “How do Leo and Diane Dillon do it? I’ve always wondered. Maybe if you start collaborating early in your marriage it’s more likely to be part of the whole?”
    I’m not sure about the timing thing — maybe it’s easier starting earlier, maybe not. Maybe for some people it takes a long time to get to the point where a collaboration of this sort is possible.
    It’s my belief that several key elements are necessary for collaboration, and I think they are basically:
    — shared interest in the subject matter to be collaborated upon
    — willingness to take the time needed for collaboration
    — sufficient creative flexibility to admit when your collaborator’s ideas are better than yours, and the strength to be able to tell your collaborator when when you think they are not
    — being able to accept that the work produced from the collaboration can never be fairly described as something you did by yourself
    (That last one may seem utterly simplistic and painfully obvious, but for the creative person who has always worked alone, it is vital.)
    If even one of these elements is missing, you should probably forget about collaboration — because like the old saying about teaching a pig to dance goes, “It’s a waste of your time and it irritates the pig.” — PL

  26. Happy new year back to you, Jeni!

  27. Mary, hope your new year is filled with many good words. And not too much aching on their way into the world.

  28. My mom always snipped them in half with scissors, too. I like the idea of that Rube Goldberg device, but I think it should include some other things — maybe a squirrel, a whistle, and a pair of white gloves.

  29. Thanks for the vote on scissors. And your creative engineering — I like a woman of many talents!

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