fresh from frajil farms.

Sep 20

[video]

Sep 10

Cat in the City is now in your local bookstore!

Here is my cat, Houdini, engrossed in his copy of Cat in the CityimageThe German Shepherd on the left is my dog Sadie. She plays Roxie in the story and on the right is Maggie who plays herself. This past Sunday in The New York Times, Julie wrote a poignant and heart warming essay about how our animals enrich our lives and how the story of our character, Pretty Boy evolved. If you missed the article in the paper, please don’t miss it on-line. Just click here!
Filling the Empty Nest With Animals. imageHere is my favorite spread from the book. It was kind of a frightening coincidence that while I was assembling reference material for sketches about the hurricane, Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Washington Square Park was strewn with debris and the statue of Giribaldi was shrouded in fallen limbs. Julie walked through the park sending me pictures of the awful damage. image

I want to share the first two chapters of Cat in the City knowing you will need to read the rest of the story! {click on the title and when the website comes up, just click on the arrow to the right of the title page.}

If you live near me, you can go to the Toadstool bookshop in Milford, New Hampshire. I know they have fresh copies of Cat in the City on their shelves right now. Julie Salamon will be joining me for a book signing there on December the 6th. {I will mention this again when the time gets nearer.} Otherwise books are available at your local bookstore or on line.

You can read all about us at penguin.com.

On amazon.com we are already getting rave reviews from our readers!

Enjoy!

Sep 04

Labor Day, summer’s end …

imageLabor Day feels like New Year’s to me. End of the summer, beginning of a new season and I find myself making the resolutions one makes when the new year begins. Mostly things that pertain to self-discipline. We will see how that works out!imageIt has been a wonderful summer. At the beginning of July we took a trip to France. Our trip started and ended in Paris, but most of our time was spent in a lovely little resort town on the south west corner on the Atlantic ocean. Every morning we walked into town to get our cafe au lait and croissants and then strolled into the marché. It was there we decided what the day’s fare would be. No lists, no supermarkets and no planning beyond the day. A truly bonne vacance! image

The weekend we returned, we decided to make do with what was in the fridge, not quite ready to face the world. One of the loveliest accidents was our bag didn’t make it home with us, so we didn’t have to unpack our vacation thus adding a couple of vacation days at Frajil Farms. I ran to the farm stand for milk and while I was gone our friends called to say they had just processed their chickens and had a huge bag of necks and backs for stock along with our eggs and beautiful fresh chickens livers. So our first dinner home, we went to our marché in the garden and picked everything else and had much the same meal we had been eating in France, while a pot of stock simmered on the stove—onions, celery and carrots fresh picked. My garden was full of weeds and quite overgrown when we came home. But c’est le vie.imageFall is right around the corner. Tomatoes are ripening, the peach tree hangs heavy with fruit, ready any minute. The pumpkins are turning orange. I have replanted greens but I am also preparing portions for winter. This month, there is usually a pot of something on the stove to go into the freezer. image

Finally, Happy Anniversary to Remy and Ori! 12 years ago we pitched a tent at Frajil Farms and made a wedding. Such a happy day!image

Aug 11

Hot off the Press! and more good reviews!

imageI know I keep blogging the same picture, but this is the first advance copy of Cat in the City, the one that will be in the stores in a few weeks, followed by two new really good reviews… I am so thankful for my author and my friend, Julie and the excellent team at Dial Books.

But without Julie’s brilliant story, there would be no pictures. How very lucky for me the day that she agreed to write this story. It’s been a joy filled collaboration. www.juliesalamon.com/about/

Publishers Weekly said my illustrations were “little love letters to the Big Apple that also capture the bohemian bonhomie of Pretty Boy’s circle.” It’s the truth—I love New York! 

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Booklist

Issue: July 1, 2014

Cat in the City.
Salamon, Julie (Author) , Weber, Jill (Illustrator)

Sep 2014. 208 p. Dial, hardcover, $16.99. (9780803740563).

He is just a stray white cat until he wanders into a dog park, follows a dog walker, and lands in a New York City knickknack shop. Fed by the owner and adored by the next-door hairdresser, the newly dubbed
Pretty Boy finds himself sitting pretty indeed. Human friends, canine friends—what else does a cat need? Salamon’s breezy but sophisticated chapter book has New York down cold—street musicians, subway rats, ridiculous rents, and all. The animal characters witness everything from a pet’s-eye (or kid’s-eye, really) point of view, not comprehending everything but gleaning enough about the grown-up worries. Each of Pretty Boy’s episodes, from surviving a hurricane to getting stuck in a car bound for Maine, is underplayed with a subtle, dry style that should make this a hit with adults as much as kids. Weber’s glossy, full-color spot illustrations have plenty of Greenwich Village quirk and find a charming balance with an animal-centered story line that is both naturalistic and believable. A sweet love letter to New York, cats, and what it means to be “home.”— Daniel Kraus

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 School Library Journal

07/01/2014
Gr 4–6—A stray cat—later named Pretty Boy—is living on the streets of New York City when he is befriended by Roxie, Maggie, and Henry, a canine trio that often frequents Washington Square. Through his newfound friendship, Pretty Boy is taken in by Dee, the salon stylist who lives next door to Roxie’s owner, and meets Eli, a lonely boy with a love of music, whose family has recently moved to the city. Just as Pretty Boy begins settling down, Dee decides to move and must leave him behind. Salamon interweaves the lives of several characters together, all of whom impact Pretty Boy as he learns to value friendship and family. With the theme of belonging at the forefront of the novel—from Pretty Boy’s search for a home to Eli’s struggle to adjust to urban life—the author successfully offers a story for young readers trying to discover their place in the world and their niche in life, and the flux and uncertainty that often goes with it. Weber’s full-color illustrations brighten the pages, further adding to the charm of the book,and the ending, in which Pretty Boy finally finds a permanent, happy home, is satisfying. Bittersweet and meaningful, Cat in the City shows the solemnity and inevitability of change and the importance of finding a family and a home to call your own.—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

Jun 29

Early Summer Garden

imageSo here is the garden at the end of June. I just learned how to use my panoramic feature on my iphone camera.

imageWe have been eating lettuce for the last couple of months, spinach is all done and in the freezer. Now we are eating the thinnings of Swiss chard, Asian greens, and baby beet greens. Nothing better than a stir fry of mixed greens in olive oil and garlic scapes topped with a fried egg.

imageOf course there is always some timely garden chore that must be done. This time it was the garlic scapes to be cut so there will be lovely heads of garlic to dig up at the end of the month. So I made a delicious garlic scape pesto for the freezer with still lots of scapes to share. This recipe just about fills two ice cube trays.

Garlic Scape Pesto

large handful of basil and Italian parsley

2 cups of chopped garlic scapes

1/4 cup pignolis

good squeeze of fresh lemon

1 cup of olive oil 

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put first 4 ingredients  into the food processor, adding the olive oil as it is processing. Add the parmesan at the end. Some say to leave the cheese out for freezing, but I never do and always have had good results. Serve over pasta with more cheese and toasted pignolis.

This is an unusual year for us, because just as everything is bursting and blooming with the long days and warm sun, we are leaving for two weeks. I have no idea what everything will look like when we return. In anticipation, I have planted more greens and beans and there is still plenty of time to plant to again. But I won’t worry about any of this while we are dining in Paris tomorrow night.

Jun 27

Homespun Mom Book Cover

When I was given this assignment, not only was the essay so inspiring and full of imagery…it also hit a little close to home. I am including just a small excerpt.

In pursuit of our self-sufficiency, I didn’t realize that I had actually become a type. Even if we’ve never met, you know me. I am part of a new cadre of women – the Über-Moms. We are the over-educated over-achievers, sidestepping the conventional rat race in favor of an alternative maelstrom. In school we were taught that our careers could be our lives, and instead, we’ve opted to make our lives our careers. You can see us every week at your farmers’ market. When consumers cried out for “food with a face,” we stepped forward and offered you our sun-kissed complexions, breast-fed babies and homegrown products. We nourish our families on grassfed meats, homemade kefir, raw farmers’ cheese and yogurt; we knit sweaters, sew quilts and hand stitch Halloween costumes; we gather eggs, milk the family cow, weed the vegetable patch and eviscerate chickens with our babies strapped to our backs; we compost everything from dinner scraps to organic diapers to placentas. Our children are home-birthed, unvaccinated and home-schooled. We forbid white flour, white sugar, television, Disney films and plastic toys. We bake wholesome cookies and make believe they taste delicious. We sit on panels at farmer-chef dinners, host workshops and write newsletter articles. We claim to know nothing about cell phones, blackberries or iPods, but we have websites and PowerPoint presentations featuring idyllic pictures of our children bottle feeding lambs or nuzzling chicks. We blog. 

And when you approach us at the weekly market, we offer to sell you our eggs, homegrown tomatoes, or a grassfed steak or freshly processed chicken. But really, we are selling you more than that. We are selling you our lifestyle. “Buy from me,” it feels as though we’re saying, “Because I represent your values.”

But what I really feel like saying is “Buy from me, because I want to pick up a bottle of gin on the way home.” Somehow, on our paths toward this noble life, one more group of girls has fallen prey to another impossible feminine ideal. And I, for one, am crumbling under the pressure of Über-Momming. Our gardens are a mess, my kids are throwing up on the way to the market, my fingers ache from milking the cow, we’re running out of homemade soap, and attachment parenting is causing my back to ache. The cat has made a bed in my unfinished knitting, the firewood pile’s getting rained on, and despite our best efforts, our four-year-old still longs to be a Disney Princess. 

Shannon’s website is http://www.grassfedcooking.com/

Jun 17

Some wonderful snippets from Publisher’s Weekly!

Our first official review!

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Jun 04

Cat in the City

So here is what I have been doing the past year and it is at the printers right now—ready for publication this fall! Below are the final proofs of the jacket, front and back.

imageThis has been a true work of love, from a seed of an article sent to me more than a few years ago—which then inspired me to send it to Julie, who I knew would create a world full of wonder. That’s how our cat, Pretty Boy came to life.image

These are the endpapers.

Here’s our page in the catalogue. I hope we will be signing books in your neighborhood!
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Here is the Amazon site where you can pre-order your very own copy. Be sure to put this on your Christmas list!

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Guess what our next book is about? Dogs! Of course.

May 28

Snow to Spring

imageIn April it seemed like the snow was going to last forever, but then the sun grew warmer and the days a little longer. For the first time in months the cold frame was visible and things were beginning to grow.imageWith Spring comes Merle. He is a master pruner and at 80, he may stand as crooked as our old trees, but nearly a dozen trees were perfectly pruned by mid afternoon. imageFinally the snow melted and little sprouts of greens from my planting last fall popped up—arugula, Asian greens, and spring lettuce. I placed a protective hoop over it to keep the soil warm enough that everything would begin to grow again. Good thing it was covered, because the snow kept coming. A month later and we are salad ready!imageSince the end of April, the cold frame has been full of spinach and lettuce. I planted lots of spinach in the garden last fall and now that is also ready to harvest.imageIn the meantime, all the rest of the vegetables and flowers have been given a head start indoors. On warm days they get to go outside and bask in the sun. Next week everything goes in the ground! Fingers crossed that there will be no more frost. imageHere comes the color!

May 27

Elmer

imageBefore I get to the business of catching up on both garden and work news, I thought I would post my painting of Elmer. It seemed fitting as I seem to be drawing mostly animals these days—having just finished a wonderful story about a remarkable cat and soon to begin a story about a remarkable family of dogs. Elmer belongs to my friend Judy who was just here visiting Frajil Farms. Judy rescued Elmer many years ago. He is so devoted to her that when they moved from their house to a condominium on the ninth floor, Elmer managed not only to open the door, but to also operate the elevator in pursuit of Judy. They finally had to replace the doorhandle with a knob that required actual thumbs to operate.

This was done for Judy’s birthday and the little frame is from my favorite store in Peterborough, New Hampshire called Bowerbird.