Thursday, August 26, 2021

A Recipe for Disaster

Hello everyone!

Right at the nick of time (the deadline is August 27th), I bring you my entry for the Summer 2021 contest in the Sylvanian Families Collectors Community: Cooking with Pearl Babblebrook.

I don't own any Babblebrook figures, so I had to get creative. I hope you enjoy this story!

Basil Hazelwood was in quite the predicament. As he stared at his notebook, still blank despite the long hours he had been sitting alone in his living room racking his brains, he felt completely stumped. The snacks his daughter Evie had brought him a while ago where still untouched, forgotten on the small side table.

There was a slight sound when the living room door opened quietly. It was Evie once again.

Basil's daughter looked worried as her eyes glazed over the untouched snacks. She seemed even more concerned when she looked at his expression, despite his best attempts to look calm and carefree.

"What's the matter, dad? Your tea has gone cold".

"I'm sorry, sweetheart". Basil replied, making a great effort to sound cheery. "I'm just worried about something from work. Nothing you should be concerned about".

"Why don't you tell me, daddy?" asked Evie, approaching him. "Maybe I can help somehow?".

Basil sighed; he didn't like to burden his daughter with his troubles, but Evie had always been very sensible and perceptive, and he knew she would keep worrying until she found out what was happening. It couldn't hurt to let her listen and maybe offer some words of support to him. So he told her about the difficult situation he was in:

Basil worked as a chef in a restaurant in Town, and his workplace was expecting the visit of a very important guest, an investor and businessman who had travelled to the area from quite far away. He would be coming with his family, and Basil's boss had asked him to make something truly spectacular, something truly "impactful"; the problem was that Basil was quite traditional in his cooking, and try as he might, he couldn't think of anything suitable for these special guests. Thus, he worried he would end up letting his boss down.

After hearing her father's story, Evie seemed pensive for a few minutes, and then, all of a sudden, her face lit up.

"I have the perfect solution, daddy!"

It turned out that one of Evie's classmates, Freya Chocolate, had told her a story about an elderly lady that lived in the same village where she and her family had resided before moving to Arcfield. This ageing rabbit, whose name was Pearl Babblebrook, always prepared a most astonishing dish for a local holiday, enough for the whole village to enjoy. Freya hadn't tried it herself, but it was a recurrent topic of conversation amongst the villagers. The taste was, apparently, unforgettable.

"Freya was smiling so widely when she told me about it, dad! It might just be what you need!" Evie said, beaming.

Basil also smiled widely at hearing this, and urged Evie to invite her friend over to talk to her and get the details on Pearl Babblebrook's amazing recipe.

Freya came to visit the Hazelwoods soon after and, sweetly grinning the whole time, gave them the rest of the details. Apparently, the "miracle dish", as she called it, had been a big pot of soup. Basil started swiftly taking notes as Freya described what she had been told about it, his experience as a chef letting him guess at the ingredients and techniques Pearl Babblebrook might have used to prepare it.

"From what you're telling me, there must have been a special ingredient. Something unique to this recipe that gave it that special flavour that everyone kept talking about. Do you have any idea what it might be?" Basil asked Freya, momentarily taking his eyes away from his notebook to look at her.

"Of course I know!" Freya proudly exclaimed then, letting a few seconds pass for dramatic effect before announcing her answer. "It was liquorice! Black liquorice!". 

Basil wrote this down as his wife and daughter looked at him with hopeful smiles. The three of them failed to notice the impish smile that appeared in Freya's face for just a split second at that moment...

And so, Basil ran to Arcfield's central plaza to speak with César López, who was usually there with his candy wagon. He seemed quite surprised at his request.

"A whole bag of black liquorice? Are you certain, amigo mío?"

"Yes, please, César! It's for a special recipe I need to make at work in just a couple of days, and there's no way the restaurant will be able to acquire it in time. Can you do this for me?"

"But of course! You can always count on me!" Grinning widely, the candy wagon's owner bowed theatrically, which made Basil laugh. The chihuahua's enthusiasm was contagious. 

Everything seemed to be working out, and Basil felt quite happy and contented. He had a wonderful feeling about all of this!

And so, the big day came. Basil spent the whole morning at the restaurant's kitchen, working on not only Pearl's famous soup, but a whole course of dishes containing black liquorice. He couldn't stop smiling as he cut and measured the ingredients, stirred the content of the pots and pans and gave the final touches to each dish. He was convinced his special menu was going to be a big success!

That afternoon, Freya and Evie went to Arcfield's bus stop to wait for Basil's return. When he got off the bus he grinned at them as they approached.

"How was it, daddy?" asked Evie, quite eagerly. Freya just looked at him with an innocent smile.

"It was a huge success!" Basil announced, and his daughter's yelp of joy at the good news kept him from noticing the look of confusion on Freya's face. He happily offered two sticks of liquorice at the girls, speaking as they took them.

"You won't believe this amazing coincidence, Freya, but it turns out that Mister Van Dyke was originally from the village where you used to live! He said that he had spent his childhood eating Grandma Babblebrook's dishes and that my soup made him feel amazingly nostalgic for his days as a young boy. He even made the manager call me to give me his compliments for the food in person!".

"That's wonderful, daddy!" Evie exclaimed, looking happily at Freya, that still seemed quite taken aback.

"B-but", the young Chocolate rabbit girl asked "did you really use black liquorice on the food...?"

"Of course I did!" Basil replied, smiling softly. "Well, truth be told, I didn't use pure liquorice root, of course, but the candy version that Mr López sells! Using the root would have given everything a very bitter taste. Although, from what Mr Van Dyke was telling me, the soup he had when he was young might have been made with the root; Grandma Babblebrook was probably intending to make a medicinal soup, you see. But my version was much milder, and I made sure that the other ingredients complemented the taste."

As father and daughter celebrated Freya just stood there, holding her candy liquorice stick and feeling quite perplexed. When Evie had come to her asking for Pearl Babblebrook's recipe, she had just thought of how hilarious it would be if Mr Hazelwood served the horrible, bitter soup she had heard about in the posh Town restaurant he worked at. She hadn't thought for a second of the differences between candy liquorice and actual liquorice. She felt as if Mr Hazelwood had outsmarted her without even trying to!

As she looked at Evie's father once again, she couldn't help but feel admiration for him. He had managed to turn one of Grandma Babblebrook's terrible recipes into a dish celebrated at a fancy restaurant! And, willingly or not, Freya had ended up helping him do it. She felt a strange sense of pride at this as the three of them walked away from the bus stop on their way back to the village.

She also made a mental note that some adults were much harder to prank than her mother and father. She would have to amp up her game in the future!


The End!

I hope you enjoyed the story and pictures, and I'm sorry if you're fed up with my naughty Freya appearing at every single one of my contest entries, haha! I wasn't planning to feature her this time, but my boyfriend Marcos is a big fan of her and her trickster ways and insisted, so I just had to. He also gave me quite a few ideas for the tale! :)

I had fun setting up the different scenes. I briefly considered buying the Town restaurant for the only purpose of taking pictures and then re-selling it, haha (since I don't collect the Town buildings), but in the end I decided to make my own scenes for the kitchen and the restaurant. I made Basil's tiny chef hat out of paper (I only have the shirt part of his chef outfit), and the liquorice sticks are tiny strands of actual black liquorice. I also had the opportunity to re-use my bus stop and to finally feature the beautiful Van Dyke otters!

Thank you for reading, and best of luck to all the other participants!

Monday, August 16, 2021

August 2021 Calendar Picture

Hello everyone,

I apologise as I'm quite late for this month's calendar picture! But our holidays got a bit longer than planned and we just got back home about a week ago.

Please check the beautiful picture for the month of August in the homemade calendar my friend Cutata sent to me:

Isn't this picture perfect for this month (in this part of the world, at least!)? Our favourite Sylvanian couple, Peter and Peace, are having a moment together while working at their beach bar. I can just hear the seawaves and smell the salt by looking at this picture! I adore the stand with all the tiny pieces and the couple's big beach chair. It's perfect for them with its fun colours and comfortable mattress. Peace's bikini is also very her, such a cheerful yellow!

You can see this picture and many amazing others in detail in this post from Cutata's blog.

I'm currently working on my entry for the forum contest regarding Pearl Babblebrook. I'm a bit short of time and unsure if I'll be able to make it by the deadline, but I'm going to try. I can always just post the story though. I hope you'll enjoy it! :)

I've also been trying to make some improvements to the blog. Now, when you scroll down, you'll see a leaf to the right of the page that'll take you back to the top. And in my "Families" page, I've started implementing a feature that will take you directly to each family's biography. That page is in dire need of updating, and I hope to keep working on in the weeks/months to come.

We're experiencing an awful heatwave in this part of the world. I hope you're all OK, wherever you are!

Hope the rest of the month goes well for you all!