A Birthday for Tasha Tudor - 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Well my goodness, it seems it's that time of year again! Autumn has come to Southeast Alaska, and with it the birthday of Tasha Tudor.

The famed illustrator and writer would have celebrated her 102nd birthday Monday. She has been such an inspiration to me, and if you aren't familiar with her I encourage you to look her up and to read some of her books.

But lets get on to the party, shall we?

Tasha's birthday snuck up on me this year, compared to last year when I had planned weeks in advance. As you well know from my last couple of posts our summer was quite lacking this year (there were only ten good days of sunny weather!), so a gathering out on the porch was the closest we would get to a proper picnic.

After securing Sunday afternoon as the appropriate time for the party, Quinn and I set to planning a menu. Early Sunday morning we awoke to start baking and cooking a whole feast of treats! Our menu was as follows: Cucumber sandwiches, my lavender shortbread, and from Tasha's cookbook - Robie's blueberry muffins, stuffed eggs, and home-made lemonade! Oh, there is simply nothing like smelling muffins bake in the oven early in the morning, it will wake you right up! To find some of the recipes (or 'receipts' as Tasha called them) from Tasha's cookbook, go to her website to read up on all the yummy things you can make!

While I worked on baking muffins, a pot boiled on the stove with the soon-to-be hardboiled eggs and Quinn worked hard squeezing lemon after lemon for the home-made lemonade. It was quite the chore! We don't have a proper lemon juicer, so Quinn had to use his mountain-man strength to squeeze the lemon juice. I had just enough time to pop my lavender shortbread into the oven while doing my hair for church! Phew! Busy mornings are always an exciting time at Blueberry Barn!
I got my shortbread pan for a few dollars at our local second-hand store. I had been wanting one for such a long time and I was so happy to find such a pretty one in my price range! And just look at all those muffins there...I speak honestly when I say that Quinn had a rather hard time waiting for this party to start. It's always difficult when the food is smelling so good!

Since we took a break at this point of the morning to go off to church, I will take a break from the party preparations and tell you a silly story from this last week. As Quinn and I sat at the kitchen counter eating dinner I looked out the window to see something moving along the base of Melissa's rose bush in the front yard. It was early evening, and the light was still good enough for us to see that it was a porcupine. Well, well! We hadn't seen a porcupine for some time, so naturally I grabbed the camera and headed outside to snap a picture of it. (Thankfully, Greta and Lupin were out with Paul on a walk and weren't in any danger!)
The poor thing got rather spooked, though I was trying most carefully not to scare it, and it ran off down the yard. I thought for sure I had lost it, but I saw it's prickly tail going into the woodshed. I was able to get a few pictures of my bashful friend, and in no time at all he was off to find yummy plants to eat elsewhere. But here he is, the shy little thing (he had climbed up the wood pile to get even farther away from me):
Doesn't he blend in so well? I'll have to tell Paul to be careful when going into the woodshed from now on. Not only could there be fairies, but there could be a scared porcupine as well!

Upon arriving home from church we set to work on the eggs, the lemonade, and the cucumber sandwiches. This was my first time peeling eggs - it was so much fun! - and I felt very accomplished when they turned out looking so pretty! 

And what would a party for Tasha be without the dolls? The whole post office came down to sit on the porch with several of the dolls inside sending out birthday cards and packages to Tasha's Corgi Cottage so far away. Quinn and I made this post office back in February for Melissa as a Valentine's Day present, and today it was all decorated with bunting in celebration!

Meanwhile in the main house, Melissa was working hard in her own kitchen as well. She was busy making gluten-free sandwiches, cookies, tarts, and a whole host of other things. This would certainly be an amazing party! 

Lupin and Greta were all too happy to help clean up any crumbs that fell on the kitchen floor while everyone rushed about cooking. Look at Lupin's face, how could you possibly so no to her? Just outside the kitchen in the music room, Paul took a nap on the couch. He and Quinn have been busy building a new shed on our property, I've even been helping! So after several hours of work he was ready for a rest and some good food. Lupin soon joined him in sleep, for life is hard when you're a cute puppy. 

Now that most of the cooking and baking was done, it was time to decorate! We hung up some tablecloths from the windows and back door so that no one would be able to see the pretty things going up outside...

What do you think? Doesn't their old porch look just lovely? It took us quite a while to hang those curtains, to sweep, and to move the main dining table out there. I hope you'll agree with me that it was well worth all the work! Now we just had to set out the food, and what a lovely table we had when we were finished:

Fresh picked nasturtiums decorated the humus and the hardboiled eggs, three pots of tea were set out (chamomile, peach, and Tasha's English Breakfast), and to the lemonade we added ice and lemon wedges. I used my vintage punch bowl and cups that my mother got me for Christmas last year - it's always a joy to use them because it means there are guests and a party going on! As I'm sure you can imagine, the party guests for Tasha's birthday were thrilled with the beautiful scene that met their eyes upon coming from the dark kitchen inside.

Our dear friend Rebecca Friedlander was able to join us. She's visiting Juneau filming her next movie, and she's used almost all of us for parts in it! It's always fun when she visits us, we always wind up helping with some wonderful project. And since we're on the subject, here's a few photos of Quinn and I in the middle of one of her film shoots. The costumes she made herself with a borrowed sewing machine - I wish I was that talented! We are portraying the parents of Saint Hilda, who is played by Abigail in the film. 

If you'd like to know more about Rebecca and the movie she is making on Celtic Christianity (or see any of her other projects) you can find out more about her on her website.

I simply can't put into words how much fun we had that evening. The food was delicious and the company most excellent. Near the end of the meal Quinn and Laura read 'Becky's Birthday', a favorite book of ours from Tasha Tudor about the birthday party she held for her daughter Bethany. 

Lupin was much happier sitting in Laura's lap, though I had a difficult time getting Greta to stay still for even a moment. She was busy running around the table in laps looking cute for anyone she thought would give her a little something. 
She succeeded more than I liked, but then again she is pretty cute!

 As it started to get dark we sat around and talked and listened to the rain that started to fall lightly on the roof. Rebecca left the party a bit early to go and do another film shoot, and the rest of us munched on a second helping of dessert. The lights above our heads twinkled and soon we were startled to hear a squeaking noise above us! Two bats were flapping around the house, making large arcs and swoops in the air. We only saw them a few times, and sadly I wasn't able to get a photo because of the darkness, but how exciting! Those were the first bats I have ever seen here in Alaska.

As the night got darker and darker we sleepily packed up the food and plates and promised ourselves that tomorrow we would do all those dishes...

Happy birthday Tasha Tudor.
You are such an inspiration to us, in so many areas of our lives. You taught us to live simply and to find joy and peace in the little things in life. Thank you Tasha, for the things you continue to teach us through your books. Again, we wish you a happy birthday!

Goodnight, dear reader! I hope you enjoyed this look into the preparations and party for our beloved Tasha. I hope it inspires you to host a party or to read a book or to have a cup of tea. 
Much love, -Emily


  1. Lovely party, Emily! Thank you so much for sharing:-)

  2. What a lovely party! I'm so glad you introduced me to Tasha, too. ❤️


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