Friday, January 27, 2012

Creative Writing Month of January: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie Bean!

To refresh our crazy month of January theme… this month, your Mimi and I are writing you a story with specific weekly guidelines.  I will write a piece, then your Mimi has to finish it and we will do this every week for the four parts.  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot.  Anything is fair game- except we have to continue the same story, no starting over.  However, we are giving ourselves a time limit (because we know otherwise we will fall in love with this creative writing project and get nothing else done)- 45 minutes total (so whether that means 3 sentences or 3 pages, that’s what the other person has to work with).  And we each have an additional 30 minutes every week to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime tale for you and future generations. 

We wanted to also stick to our goal of including two recipes each month for you to have so we asked a well-known chef (who happens to be your cousin), Craig Russell, to contribute two of his own crafted recipes (and they sound amazing and delicious, we can’t wait to try them).  We had so much fun writing this story and having our cousin help us out too… I definitely think Ellie and the Magic Teapot will need another adventure soon! .  So alas, here is the 4th and final installment (your Mimi’s part will be in italics and mine will be in regular font):

Ellie and The Magic Teapot: Part 3

            The map showed the castle to be one giant maze.  Even with the map, the group found themselves in three dead ends because of the intricacy and detailed pattern that spanned five floors of the castle at least.  Baby was scared and started whimpering again.  Ellie realized very quickly that someone could be lost in this maze forever.  It was Great-Gram who made them take a deep breath, put the map on the floor near a lantern, and take their time to understand where they should go to not waste anymore time.  Following the map more closely, the group took eight more right turns, went down a few steps, took six more left turns, and then they consulted the map again.  Seemingly they should come upon one of the towers around the next bend and head upstairs.  Ellie got the goose bumps anticipating what was at the top of those stairs…
            But when they reached the top, they saw a stonewall that blocked them to go any further.  “Another dead end?” asked a defeated Mine-Mine.
            “Not according to the map,” Mimi said as she scrutinized the paper once more.  Great-Gram peered over her shoulder and noticed something different from the real setting and the one that was drawn.  “Look here,” she pointed at the map. “Do you see how this lantern is in a different position than the one in front of us?  Maybe this isn’t a real lantern but a lever to open a secret door, “ she said as she gave it a tug. 
            Within seconds the wall opened like a door and they could hear someone singing.  “I am Sir Jelephant, the Greatest Elephant.  I am scary but not too hairy.  Don’t cross me or I will sting you like a bee…” and he ended his tune with a threatening hum, “Hee ho ho hee,” then a bang on what sounded like a wooden table.
            The group gulped.  “Baby, can you put Jelephant to sleep so we can free Blanket?” Mimi whispered.
            He was shivering out of fear but shook his head in agreement.  And then with complete bravery, he started singing his own song and walking closer to where Sir Jelephant sat.  He was singing a lullaby.  “Go to sleep, Baby Elephant.  Go to sleep, go to sleep.  Fall into a deep sleep Big Boy!”  With Baby out of sight now, the group held their breath until they heard a faint snoring sound.  Mine-Mine flew ahead to check on Baby and he came back with both feathers up. 
The group rushed in and saw Blanket nestled in a corner of the dining room.  Sir Jelephant sat at the head of the table sound asleep.   Baby crept over to wear Blanket was and snatched him.  Blanket smiled gratefully.  The group tiptoed out of the room and then started to run towards the stairs.  Ellie was the last one in line and as she started down the tower steps, she could hear someone crying.  It was very faint and soft at first but then gasping loud sobs soon followed.  Ellie couldn’t help but turn around to see who was so sad.  “Ellie,” Mimi yelled frantically, “what are you doing?  We don’t have much time before Sir Jelephant wakes up!” 
“I think he already is awake,” Ellie responded back curiously.  She walked courageously back into the dining room as big tears poured out of Sir Jelephant’s eyes.  Ellie took a tissue out from her pocket and patted Sir Jelephant’s trunk.  “Is this another trick?” Ellie asked him skeptically.  With that, the elephant started sobbing all over again.  He hiccupped before he said, “No.  I’m so lonely.  Being mean makes people pay attention to me.  I thought if I borrowed blanket, I would have a friend.”
“You can’t force someone to be your friend,” Ellie said with her hand on her hip.  But then she felt some compassion as he started crying again so she put her hand around his enormous shoulder.
“Will you be my friend?” he said as his eyes met hers.
“Being a friend means getting to know each other freely.  And you have to be kind and polite.  And I think you owe Blanket an apology,” Ellie told him matter-of-factly.
“I never had a friend before.  Maybe you could all stay for dinner and we could get to know each other.  I am an excellent cook.”
“Hmmmmm… well, we have had a long day and my friends and I have not even had a snack this whole adventure,” she said as she thought hungrily about her only tootsie roll, which she had given to the salamander.  Her stomach grumbled just then, which pretty much was the yes answer Sir Jelephant was looking for.
Ellie told Sir Jelephant to start cooking and she would find the group.  Sir Jelephant’s eyes stopped tearing up and a glimmer of excitement replaced the sadness as Ellie walked out of the dining room.
“What?  You did what?” Mine-Mine squeaked as he heard that Ellie agreed to stay for dinner at the castle.
“I promise, you will like him.  He’s no different than you or I.  He just needs a friend and he needs to learn how to be a friend.  And what a better way then to show him by example?  Look how well our friendship helped us to work together to find Blanket,” Ellie explained.
            “Ellie, I’m proud of you,” Mimi and Great-Gram said at the exact same time.  “Let’s go have some dinner and give Jelephant a chance.”
            “Sir Jelephant actually was really sweet.  He made me all kinds of yummy desserts since I’ve been here and he tells silly stories,” Blanket said, “I think we should stay for dinner.”
            As they walked into the dining room, they noticed it had magically been transformed.  Light was gleaming in from all the windows through beautiful stained glass.  The colors that reflected were every color of the rainbow.  A beautiful white lace tablecloth had been put down on the wooden table with plates, silverware, and cups atop it.  Already seated at the table were a few of the Moat Goats (who were no longer the Not-So-Nice-mice) but very pretty goats who were breathing out bubbles!  Ellie then noticed the salamander seated at one end of the table and she waved to him.
 The group sat down and couldn’t wait to eat.  And as if on command, Sir Jelephant walked through with a tray of food that could have fed an army.  The dinner party feasted on Baby Backed Ribs for the main course and Strawberry Shortcake for dessert over hours of endless conversation and much laughter.  Sir Jelephant was actually quite the comedian too!
“I must have your recipe,” said a very full Great-Gram as she sat back in her chair. 
“My cousin Craig the Hyrax works as a chef at a very famous restaurant in the city,” Sir Jelephant said proudly, “Let me write down his recipes for you.  This is what he gave to Great-Gram:

Craig's Famous Baby Back Ribs (serves 2-4)
1 bottle of generic brand bbq sauce (whichever kind you prefer)
1 liter of ginger ale
1 1/2 cups of strawberry jam/jelly
1-2 full racks of pork baby back ribs
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Season ribs with salt and pepper
2. Roast ribs in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes
3. Mix bbq sauce, ginger ale and strawberry jam/jelly in a pot and bring to a simmer
4. Put ribs in glass (Pyrex) dish and pour sauce over top
5. Put back in oven at 250 degrees and roast for 4-6 hours
6. Check ribs and baste every 20 minutes (with sauce) and add water if sauce becomes too thick and ribs are not tender yet
7. Ribs should fall off the bone when finished and sauce should be thick and sticky

Strawberry Shortcake (serves approx 10)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter (cold, cubed)
3/4 cup milk

1. Mix flour, salt, sugar and baking powder until combined
2. In a food processor, mix flour and butter until incorporated (little balls form)
3. Gradually add milk until mixed thoroughly
4. Roll dough out to 1-inch thickness
5. Cut into desired shape
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes

         "Why thank you Sir Jelephant!" Great-Gram kindly commented.  "I can't wait to share these recipes with my family!”
         As happy as Sir Jelephant was with Great Gram's comment, he was equally as sad with the realization that the evening was coming to an end and he would be alone again.
         Blanket noticed Sir Jelephant's smile slowly fade, so he quickly crawled up onto his lap.  Baby saw what Blanket saw and walked swiftly over to Sir Jelephant's right side.  Mine-Mine saw what Blanket and Baby saw, so he flew overhead eyeing the upper corner of Sir Jelephant's ear to perch on.  Mickey Mouse saw what Blanket, Baby and Mine-Mine saw, so he moseyed on over to stand on Sir Jelephant's left side.  Ellie saw what Blanket, Baby, Mine-Mine and Mickey Mouse saw and teared up when she realized just how caring all of her friends became.  So she too walked towards Sir Jelephant stopping directly in front of him.  Great-Gram and Mimi smiled as they slid in behind her.
         Ellie took Sir Jelephant's hand into her own when she spoke.  "Sir Jelephant... while you were busily traveling back and forth with deliciously filled platters from the kitchen to the dining room, my friends and I gathered together and chatted about what a wonderful host you are and how entertaining your story-telling has been.  We are all in agreement that you should turn one of the castle towers into a restaurant!"  
"Yes, yes!" squawked Mine-Mine.  Mickey Mouse added, "You could call it Friendly Jely Cafe!"  Baby cooed in, "Oooooooooo, and maybe have a Story Reading during a breakfast, lunch and dinner hour!"
         A couple of Moat Goats ba-a-a-bbled in unison, "We would be ha-a-a-a-ppy to help you Sir Jelephant.  It would be fun to see lots of pe-e-e-e-e-eople visit the castle again!"  "Wha-a-a-a-a-a-t do you think?"
         Sir Jelephant had never thought about such an endeavor before.  And the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea and his frown started to turn right side up again!  "Ellie... you and your friends have made me realize that no one likes a bully and to have a friend, you need to be a friend.  I think I would like to have lots and lots of friends and your idea may be the perfect way to start.  How can I ever thank you?" he asked in his friendliest tone.
         "I know how,” squealed Blanket with excitement.  "Send us all an invitation to your Grand Opening so that we can celebrate with you!"
         "It's a deal!"  Sir Jelephant trumpeted.
         "Alright," smiled Mimi.  "I think it is time we say goodbye to our new friends.  This has been a very long day and everyone needs to be getting home now."
         So smiles, hugs and kisses were given to everyone in the room.  Great Gram Mundy set off for the kitchen and quickly returned with a tray holding seven teacups and a teapot filled with a delicious aroma of steaming tea!  Upon seeing her, Mimi gathered the group and had each of them take a teacup.  When Great Gram was given a nod to start pouring the tea, they waved a final good-bye to Sir Jelephant just as the ABC song musically filled the air and the sparkles swirled around the tea group whisking them away!
         Kerplunk!  They found themselves sitting once more at Great-Grandmom Mundy's kitchen table.  Not meaning to rush them off, Great-Gram had no choice as her cookie supply was very low and she needed to begin baking again.  So she set the tea in motion sending them off with a kiss good-bye and the last plateful of her delicious chocolate chip cookies.
         Kerplunk!  Now they found themselves at Mimi's kitchen table.  She too did not want to hurry them away, but Poppy was on his way home from work and would be quite hungry when he arrived.  Mimi wanted to surprise him with Craig the Hyrax' Baby Back Ribs dish and she knew there was a lot of prep work to be done.  So she set the tea to boil and placed fresh teacups around the table.  Then she excused herself for a moment and disappeared down the hallway.  Mimi re-emerged with a small delicately carved wooden jewelry box in her hands.  She sat down with everyone at the table and gently opened its lid.  Inside were beautiful and exquisitely crafted pins.  Mimi knew exactly what she was looking for as she reached in and lifted out a tiny gold butterfly with wings patterned in purple and turquoise.  Its eyes gleamed with tiny diamond chips.  
         "Ellie," Mimi said quietly... "Before you go I want you to have this.  This butterfly pin has been in our family for many, many years and has been passed down from generation to generation.  I think it is time that I pass it on to you for it will keep you safe and always remind you of who you are and where you have come from.  Promise me you will wear it," Mimi said with urgency.
         " Oh Mim's... it is beautiful!  I will wear it close to my heart!" she beamed.
         "Alright then, off with you all.... And don't forget me when planning your next tea party!" Mimi giggled as she poured the tea.  In a blink, the group disappeared into a mist of beautiful rainbow colored sparkles!
         Kerplunk!  Ellie and her friends found themselves sitting at her little table and chairs in the living room of her home once again.  "Wow!" Ellie said aloud.  Looking at her little tea friends and speaking to no one in particular, she dreamily commented, "That was some tea party!"
         Just then, Ellie's Mommy walked over to her and said "Ellie, it is getting late and I think it is time you clean up your little kitchen area.  You played quite nicely today and if you would like, I will help you."
         "Thanks Mom," Ellie said, relieved for the help.
         As her mom started to remove the teacups from the little table, she noticed a plate of homemade chocolate chips cookies in the tables center.  Quizzically she looked at Ellie and mumbled, "Hmmmm.... that's strange.  I don't remember putting those there.  If I didn't know better, I would say my late grandmother who lived in Philadelphia many years ago made them.  She made the best cookies around!  Ellie, what do you know about......."
         "Yes Mom?" Ellie innocently answered.
         "Hummmmmm.”  “And that pin you are wearing...  Where did you find that?  If I didn't know better I would say that it looks just like your Mimi's favorite pin.  But I'm pretty sure she hasn't been ready to pass it on to us yet.  She lives so far, far away... could she have mailed it...?" Ellie’s Mommy said confusingly to herself,  "It has been a long day and I must be imagining things!" she tiredly confessed, "Come on, let's get you ready for bed!  Grab your little friends and your blanket and let's go upstairs." she yawned.
         With a quick wink to her friends, Ellie scooped them up into her arms and headed for the steps.  Once upstairs she skipped to her room and laid each of them in their usual spot on her bed.  Ellie's Mom helped her into her pajamas, combed her hair and had her brush her teeth.  Before tucking her into bed she tried to make a bit more room for Ellie by repositioning some of the stuffed animals and her blanket.  But just like every other night, Ellie moved them right back to their original spots.   "Oh Ellie Spaghetti... how ever do you sleep?"   And with that her Mommy kissed her goodnight singing, "Sweet dreams Ellie girl!"  Ellie bent her head down low and whispered to her little friends quietly, "Thank you for coming to my tea party adventure.  Let's have another one soon!  Ok?" she questioned.  And just after her Mommy turned off the light, Ellie thought she heard them all whisper back, "Yes Ellie... we'd love to come to another one of your tea party adventures!  But for now, Goodnight!"

Love you Ellie Girl!
Mom & Mimi


  1. Sorry Kim and Mic did not get a chance to read the final version of the story until now. I think you two did a great job. Loved the way you incorporated Ellie's personality and the cookies from your grandmother and even Mickey's pins. The story reminds me of Wizard of OZ and Dorothy looking for the way home, and teaching lessons along the way, do not judge people by their appearance. Keep on writing you both have such a gift.

  2. I love that you got the story down to each lesson- thank you for taking the time to read it! We love you and all the positive things you have to say!