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Little Isabel and Rainy Days

In honor of all who are affected by Hurricane Matthew this weekend, I thought this story might be appropriate. Praying that everyone is safe and dry!

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Little Isabel and the Leaky Roof

Katherine H. Purdy

Little Isabel awakened to the sound of snoring in the next room and sat up to listen. Snore, snore, whistle, choke and snore, snore some more.

“Isn’t Papa silly?” Isabel whispered into her doll’s ear and then clasped the doll close, rolled over on her tummy and slid off the edge of the bed until her toes reached the floor.

“Wasn’t that fun, Dolly?” She nodded the dolls head in the affirmative. Just as she stepped forward, a drop of water pelted her head. It was then Isabel realized she was standing in a puddle of water. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew rain through the open window as lightning flashed across the sky. The loud clap of thunder sent her running barefoot past the curtain dividing her room from her brothers; into the hallway on the hard wood floor, through the doorway to her parents’ bedroom and jumped onto the fluffy rug at Mama’s bedside.

“Mama, you awake?” Isabel patted the hand on Mama’s pillow and decided to check closer. She stood on her tip-toes and fluttered her eyelashes against Mama’s cheeks without a response. Finally, Isabel placed her forehead against her mother’s and whispered loud enough to be heard. “Mama, are you awake?”

“When someone’s eyes are closed Dear, they are either asleep or praying,” Mama said softly.

“Are your eyes closed Mama?”

“Yes dear and yours should be too.”

“Are you asleep or praying?”

“I was asleep and now I’m praying,” Mama said with a hint of humor in her voice.

“It’s waining in my woom.”

“We have talked about this before, Honey.” Mama said mid-yawn, “Pucker your lips as if you are blowing a kiss. Now say; “rrrrrrrrr”.

“Isabel puckered her lips and slowly repeated the words. “ Rrrrrrrr. Mama, it’s ‘r-r-raining in my room!”

“Very good, Isabel.” Mama murmured sleepily and then suddenly sat up and raised the wick on the oil lamp beside the bed.

“It’s what?” Mama queried just as lightening flashed and a clap of thunder shook the house.

“Oh dear,” Mama said, “We need to close the windows. Climb into our bed, child or you’ll catch a cold!”

“Yes, Mama,” Isabel said and ran to the foot of the bed, climbed on the blanket trunk, onto the foot of the bed and crawled in-between her parents; snuggling close Mama. “Can we still have our tea party when Sally Anne comes over to play today?”

“If everything is nice and dry and Mrs. Albright brings Sally Anne over, we may have a simple tea party! Now go to sleep while I close the windows before the paint on the walls are ruined.”

“It wai – I mean rained on my head too,” Isabel said as she snuggled under the white sheet and the log cabin quilt.

Just then, the room once more shook with the sound of thunder and Papa’s snoring stopped mid whistle. His feet immediately hit the floor and strode near the window. His toe came into contact with the baby cradle, causing him to yelp loudly as he danced around the floor while grasping  the throbbing toe and landing back on the bed causing little Isabel to bounce.

Isabel stood on the bed and clapped, “Papa’s funny. Do it again Papa, Do it again!

Mama reached for Isabel, pulling her back down under the covers and then leaped out of the bed to rescue baby Maggie who joined Papa’s howling.

“Shhh, it’s okay baby; it’s okay.” Mama cooed and then turned to Papa.

“We need to check the rooms and close the windows. Isabel said it is raining in her room. I hope the roof isn’t leaking,” Mama said as she covered the baby with a pink blanket and rocked the cradle gently.

“I’ll close the windows and you get something to catch the water.” Papa said as he searched for a missing slipper. “I’ll be glad when our house on the Meadows farm is ready so we can get out of this shack with all its leaks and creaks. I feel as if we are being robbed every time I pay the rent. Rain will be good for the crops though.”

Mama nodded as she reached for the large bowl holding a water pitcher and placed it strategically under a drip just to the right of the bed before following Papa into the hallway. Moments later, Eugene and Curtis entered the room carrying a quilt and a pillow; bedding down on the floor close to their parents bed.

~*~

“We get to camp out just like cowboys!” Curtis said as he shook water out of his blond hair.

“Or like soldiers,” Eugene commented. “Just like Papa’s uncles who fought in the war.”

“There won’t be any ‘camping’ tonight- just sleep,” Mama said as she placed a large bowl under another drip. “Papa must get up early so I want you to go back to sleep as quickly as Jim’s old hound dog.” Mama smiled and Isabel giggled at the thought of the sweet old dog that constantly slept on her half-brother Jim’s front porch.”

“That dog won’t hunt!” Eugene lowered his voice to imitate Jim.

“Precisely. Now go to sleep.”

Little Isabel’s First Tea Party ~ Part 3 ~ Tea Time

d6c6dd47d61dc74cc91a4279eea2befb.jpgIsabel stood in awe at the large brick home with white pillars, shutters and trees in urns on either side of the door.

“Can you reach the doorbell, dear?” Mama asked and reached for the round knob beside the door and twisted until lovely music drifted from inside.

“That’s the doorbell, Isabel.” Mama said with a smile. “It rings inside the house to let them know we are here.”

Isabel felt butterflies as she waited. She heard quick footsteps and then the door was opened by a trim young woman in a black dress and white apron.

“Good afternoon,” she said as she presented a small silver tray. “Please come in. If you give me your card, Madame, I will let Mrs. Albright know you are here.”

“My card? I don’t have a card but Mrs. Albright is expecting us,” Mama said softly as her cheeks flamed red. Suddenly, a warm friendly voice drifted to the door. “Angela, please invite Mrs. Greene and the girls in. They don’t need a card; they are close friends.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Angela curtsied and opened the door and motioned for them to come inside.

“That will be all, Angela.” Mrs. Albright said as Sally Anne ran into the foyer to greet Isabel.

“I’m so sorry, Lizzy.” Mrs. Greene said as she ushered them into the parlor. “I should have told her you were coming. You know how society is today. If one doesn’t have a card, one isn’t invited in. A ridiculous tradition if you ask me.”

Mama smiled politely. “Your home is lovely, Lillian. Just the way I remember it from our childhood.”

Sally Anne ushered Isabel into a room with two tables draped in fine linen and china. One large table and one just the right size for little girls.

“Isabel, I’m so glad you came! This is my first tea party and you are my first guest!. We will have so much fun!  Mama and Cookie thought it was going to rain so they set the tables inside but now that the sun is out, the maids are moving everything outside. We may have our tea party in the flower garden!”

Isabel smiled and looked around. “There are pretty flowers everywhere.”

“You should see the treats Cookie made. Even the cake has flowers on it.” Sally Anne ushered Isabel into the kitchen but was shooed out.

“I’m sorry, Miss Sally Anne. You know your grandfather doesn’t want you to come into the kitchen and he is arriving this afternoon. If he sees you in here, I will lose my job for sure.” Mrs. Cook said as she lifted a pain of cookies out of the oven. “Why Miss. Isabel. You look so grown up today! I haven’t seen you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper! Miss Sally Anne, why don’t you show Miss Isabel your room while we finish the preparations?”

Isabel followed Sally Anne up a large, winding staircase. At the top of the stairs, Isabel looked down and felt a little dizzy until she focused on the beautifully carved banister. “Do you ever slide down the banister?”

“Yes,” Sally Anne whispered, “but only when Mother, Father and Grandfather are away and Cookie is busy in the kitchen. You’ll have to try it later when everyone it sometime,” she added with a smile.  She opened the first door on the right of the long hallway and invited Isabel in.

“Wow!” Isabel exclaimed as she looked around the room twice. “It looks like a toy store!” There were dolls of all shapes and sizes on a high shelf on one wall. A cradle contained toy animals of all sizes and her bed overflowed with both under a beautiful canopy. “It’s okay,” Sally Anne said as she looked out the large bay window. “Oh-oh, the other girls are coming in their fancy car. Father asked Mother to invite them. I just wanted you to come but he said that it would be good for business if Mother invited the mothers and daughters of his employees.”

Isabel didn’t know what an employee was but she could see the girls in fancy hats and dresses looking up at the window.” Sometimes they are nice,” Sally Anne said and then rolled her eyes. We won’t let them spoil our party will we Isabel?”

Isabel shook her head and followed down the flight of stairs and stood just to the side as Sally Anne greeted her other guests.

“Isabel, I would like you to meet Arlene and Mary Polly. Girls, I would like you to meet my best friend, Isabel”

“Hello,” the girls acknowledged the introduction and then started chattering without including Isabel in the conversation.  Isabel looked across the hall into the parlor where Mama held baby Maggie as two other women gushed about Mrs. Albright’s outfit.

“Tea is served in the dining room,” the maid said as she led the girls and their mothers through French doors into a beautifully decorated room. “Ladies please be seated,” she indicated the large, beautifully decorated table and then directed the little girls to a smaller table set with a small tea set and dishes with a bowl of flowers in the center along with the petite tea set.

Each little girl gasped as they sat down at their table already occupied by toy bunny rabbits!

 

Sally Anne tiptoed to the large table against the wall laden with many treats. “Sally Anne, you should sit down with your guests now. Angela will serve you.

“Yes ma’am,” Sally Anne said softly. “May I serve the tea? Cookie showed me how.”

“Yes, you may. Do you need any help?”

“No thank you,” Sally Anne said with a smile and ran back to the little table set just for her and her little friends.

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After the girls were seated, with Sally Anne at the head of the table, Miss Angela rolled a tea cart to the small table. Sally Anne stood by the tea cart and asked Little Isabel to ask the blessing. After the prayer was said, Sally Anne became very prim and proper. She picked up the creamer and poured until each cup was more than half filled. Next, she laid a pretty strainer and poured the weak tea into each cup. She grasped the silver tongs and picked up a lump of sugar. “Do you want one lump or two?”

“One lump is quite enough Dear,” Mrs. Albright said and then turned back to Mama and the other ladies.

Isabel, Arlene and Mary Polly put their gloved hands over their mouth to stifle giggles as Sally Anne added to more lumps into each cup.

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Each girl chose a sandwich in the shape of a heart and two cookies each. Isabel picked up the soft white napkin and placed it in her lap and then raised her tiny teaspoon with a floral design on the handle and gently stirred her tea; being careful not to spill it on the lovely tablecloth. The clink, clink, clink of spoons against china tea cups almost sounded like music to Isabel.

Found on supergoldenbakes.blogspot.co.uk Earl Grey Tea Cake

After the last sip of tea, the last treat eaten, and the giggling had ceased, Sally Anne stood and smiled at her friends.

“Thank you, Isabel, Arlene and Mary Polly for coming to my tea party! To thank you for coming, we have something special outside for everyone.

“Oh boy!” the girls said in unison as they slid their chairs back. Isabel squeezed the toy rabbit that had occupied the seat with her.

“Be sure to bring your rabbit,” Sally Anne said with a smile, “it’s for you! I have one for little Maggie too.” Sally Anne crossed the room with a small, soft rabbit and presented it to Maggie who was enjoying a cookie in a high chair near Mama.

Mrs. Albright placed her cloth napkin on the table. “Let’s all go into the garden,” she said with a smile.

View More: http://annenunnphotography.passgallery.com/event/wTMDM133297There was a table outside by the hydrangea bush loaded with gifts. Each child had brought a birthday gift for their hostess, Sally Anne which were wrapped in pretty paper, tied with bright satin ribbons. There were also baskets filled with toys and six buckets containing carrots and a book.

“These are for you,” Sally Anne said. My favorite book is The Tale of Peter Rabbit and I thought you would like it too.”

“Are the carrots for feeding the toy rabbits?” Isabel asked softly.

Sally Anne smiled and pointed to the back of the lawn. “Father gave me a Peter Rabbit of my own. I thought we would have fun feeding him!”

Little Isabel smiled as she eyed the soft, brown bunny with a fluffy white tail. She watched her friend give the critter a carrot but what really had Isabel’s attention was the way his nose wiggled and twitched. Soon, all of the girls started laughing as Isabel tried to wiggle her nose and they all joined in.

Sally Anne returned Peter Rabbit to his cage and led her friends in a race to the gift table. The girls stopped suddenly and their eyes grew large at two pink cakes, each containing four candles. “I believe we have two birthday girls here today,” Mrs. Cookie said with a smile.

“That’s right,” Mrs. Albright said as she lit the candles. “Let’s all wish Sally Anne and Isabel a happy birthday!”

Isabel looked at the cake and then at Mama who urged her to blow the candles. “When I say, ‘go’ blow them out together,” Mama said. It was then Isabel saw two piles of birthday gifts.  Mama had each girl sit in a decorated chair to open their gifts before having a piece of cake. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The girls slowly opened the gifts, exclaiming over each one and all five girls were given a basket of gifts, including a tin of Beatrix Potter Tea, cookies, paper dolls, a large coloring book and crayons. Isabel’s favorite was the Peter Rabbit tea set from Sally Anne.

 

Little Isabel Kathie Kathie

“Isabel,” Mama said softly. “Did you enjoy your first tea party?

“Oh yes! It is my favorite day of all!”

~*~

Photos used from Pinterest. Little Isabel photograph is used with permission.

Little Isabel’s First Tea Party ~ Part 2 ~ Anticipation

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Little Isabel awakened to the song of the rooster who delighted in crowing as soon as the sun peeped through the curtain of darkness. A shaft of light through the curtain cast a glow about the room. Isabel stretched and reached for her favorite item of the week – her first tea party invitation. She looked at the picture of  little girls on the card drinking tea and eating cake.

   ~*~

“Just one more sleep,” Mama said last night after bedtime prayers. Isabel tried to sleep but every time she closed her eyes, she thought about the upcoming tea party. .

“My eyes won’t stay closed. I want to go to the tea party now!”

“I’m sorry Dear but Sally Anne isn’t ready for your party yet.”

“How come?
“Well, Mama said softly as she pushed Isabel’s hair back, “there is much to prepare for a tea party – especially if it is also a birthday party.  Sally Anne’s mother and Mrs. Cookie will bake special treats, they will set a pretty table and Sally Anne will probably have a new dress to wear for her special occasion. So you see, they want everything to be perfect for the party.”

“Will they have cake?” Isabel licked her lips in anticipation. “Chocolate cake?”

“Perhaps.” Mama answered with a smile. “Is that the kind of cake you would like for your birthday?”

“Oh, yes Mama!” Isabel sat on her knees and clapped at the thought. “With candy flowers on it too! Will they have cookies?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Mama said as she eased the child back under the covers. “There may be finger sandwiches too.”

“Finger sandwiches?” Isabel popped up again but this time with trepidation as she looked down at her hands.”

” Finger sandwiches are very small sandwiches.  So small that you can pick them up with your fingers and eat daintily. Just like a lady or a princess.. Now go to sleep. The faster you go to sleep, the more quickly time will pass. Besides, we have a busy day tomorrow. Remember? We are going berry picking and then after dinner we will add hair to the dolly we made as Sally Anne’s gift. Then there will be one more sleep before the party.”

“Yes ma’am.” Isabel said as she pressed her invitation close to her face. “It smells sweet like peppermint.”

“Indeed.” Mama said as she kissed the child’s forehead and pulled the covers up to Isabel’s chin. “Sweet dreams, little ~*~

Isabel stretched again and slid her legs over the side of the bed. “Good Morning!” she called to her two older brothers on the other side of the curtain wall that separated their rooms. When no one responded, she called again. “It’s morning. Wake up Eugene. Wake up, Curtis!”

~*~

After breakfast, Isabel stood on a stool beside Mama at the sink. “I love washing dishes!”

“You are my good helper, Isabel!”

A bright smile lit her face at Mama’s compliment. At that very moment, baby Maggie banged on her high chair with her rattle.

“Baby Maggie wants to help too,” Mama said with a smile as she washed the dish cloth and dish towel and hung them on the rod by the stove to dry. She scooped up the baby and led Isabel back into her room. “While I’m changing baby Maggie, you may put on the clothes I laid out for you on your bed.”

Isabel ran into her room and returned to Mama with a pair of her brother’s old overalls. “Oh-oh Mama. You put Curtis’ clothes on my bed. I can’t find my dress.”

“Since we are going berry picking, I thought it would be better if you wear pants today. I don’t want the mosquitoes and chiggers to bite you.”

Isabel’s eyes grew large at the thought of bugs chowing down on her. “Mama, do I have’ta go?”

“Certainly. Berry picking is fun – especially if you dress properly. There’s no need to be afraid. I will be right there with you.”

“Mama, are you wearing overalls too?”

“Oh yes. I will wear a pair of Papa’s dungarees. We might look funny but we will be protected from the sun and insects. Besides, no one should see us.” Mama laughed as they changed into the “boys” clothes and checked out there image in the mirror.

“I look like a boy,” little Isabel said as she looked at herself in the mirror.”

“You could never look like a boy, dear. Come and sit down at the vanity and we fix your hair so that no one could mistake you for a boy. Okay?”

“Yes, Mama.” Isabel began to smile as Mama parted her hair, pulled up one side in one hand and wrapped twine around the little tail, tied it securely, and repeated the process with the other side. “They look like piggy tails,” Isabel squealed and shook her head, watching the pig tails bounce.

“Now,” Mama said as she securely pinned the coverall straps to prevent them from falling off Isabel’s tiny shoulders. “How’s that? Did you noticed I embroidered little hearts on your pants? No little boy would wear that!”

Isabel studied Mama’s handiwork  and twirled around. “They don’t swish like a dress,” Isabel said as she tried to get her pants to swish with her. She giggled as Mama cinched the belt to Papa’s dungarees and joined Isabel in twirling. “You’re right. They’re not as much fun to wear but we won’t get insect bites or scratches from briars. Now, off to the berry patch!”

Isabel and Mama rode in the buggy to the nearest berry patch. “Just think, Isabel. Soon we will have our own berry patch and not have to pay a penny to anyone to pick them.” Isabel grinned as Mama pulled baskets out of the back of the buggy. “We need as many berries as we can carry. We will have preserves and jam to last all winter! Just remember to put more berries in the baskets and less into your mouth. Okay?”

By the end of the day, Little Isabel had been washed, fed and into bed before sunset. When Mama checked on her an hour later, Isabel was still sleeping soundly with her doll on her arm and the invitation in her hand. Goodnight, little Isabel. Tomorrow you will attend your long awaited tea party!

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Photos used with permission.

Little Isabel’s First Tea Party ~ Part 1 ~ The Invitation

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“Mama, Mama!” Little Isabel called as she skipped on the bottom of the steps leading to the back porch.

“Isabel,” Mama said as she walked up to the screen door, wiping her hands on her apron. “What’s wrong?”

“I got a letter! See? Mr. Ratcliffe said it’s just for me!” Isabel said as she waved an envelope above her head.

“A letter?” Isabel looked back to the mail man as the screen door squeaked and closed with a gentle clap.

“Good morning, Mr. Ratcliffe,” Mama said as she reached for the mail.

“Mornin’ Mrs. Greene, hope you don’t mind that I gave the little one her mail,” he said with a smile at Isabel who continued jumping.

“It’s always fun to see children respond to having something of their own to open. Sure wish adults responded with as much joy as your little girl. The last home I delivered to had a fierce-looking dog growling at me. I was tempted to throw their mail in the yard and take off.” Mr. Ratliff removed his hat and wiped his head with a handkerchief, then fanned himself with his hat. “Sure is a scorcher and the day has barely begun.”

“Why don’t you take a moment to rest in the shade? Would you prefer water or milk? Mama asked with concern in her voice. Isabel turned and waved her envelope. “Bend down, Mr. Ratcliffe,” she said mirroring Mama’s concern. “I’ll fan your face. Isn’t that better?”

“Much better,” he said with a smile and patted the child’s head. “I think I will sit in the shade for just a minute.”

Mama returned with a pitcher of cold milk, two glasses and a plate of cookies. “Why are you walking in this heat? I noticed you didn’t come in the horse and wagon.” Mama said as she  poured a tall glass of milk for the mailman and a small pewter cup for Isabel. Each took a cookie and smiled at each other as if sharing a special treat.

“Hello Charley,” Papa’s voice boomed as he stepped out of the barn and walked quickly to the guest. “Something happen to ol’ Nellie?”

“Avil Greene, you’re just the man I was looking for. Nellie’s fine but I think I broke an axle on the wagon about two miles back. I wondered if you might be able to repair it?”

Papa accepted a glass of milk from Mama and sat in the wicker chair facing the guest. “I can give it a try. Lets have a few of those delicious cookies first though,” Papa said with a smile and drank the milk in one gulp.

“Funny Papa!” Isabel said, “Your mustache is drinking milk too.” Papa smiled and wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt.

“Look what I got, Papa. I got mail!” Isabel said as she started to jump for joy.

“Well, will you look at that! Who’s it from?”

Isabel’s smile began to fade. “Who is it from, Mama?” Isabel said as she watched Mama carefully open the envelope.

Mama smiled and pulled out a card. “Isabel, It looks like you have been invited to a tea party!”

“A tea party for me?”

“Lets read the card and see,” Mama said as she sat on the remaining white wicker chair and pulled Isabel onto her lap.

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Mama read the poem on the card and read a note inside.

Miss Isabel Greene is cordially invited to a tea party

Saturday afternoon at the home of

Miss Sally Anne Albright.

Just bring a smile and your baby sister too.

We are looking forward to having tea and cake with you!

“Oh boy, we’re going to a tea party, we’re going to a tea party!” Isabel sang as she ran around the yard. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to Mama.

“What’s a tea party?”

“A wonderful occasion,” Mama said with a smile. “After dinner, we will have a practice tea party, and you may use a real tea cup. We will celebrate Sally Anne’s fourth birthday so you and I will make a special gift for her. Won’t that be fun?” Mama smiled as Isabel vigorously nodded her head.

“When’s the party?”

“Saturday,” Mama said with a smile. “Today is Tuesday. Saturday is after four nights – bedtimes. Lets count the days together.”

Isabel held up her hand and imitated Mama.  “Tonight is Tuesday” she said as she raised one finger. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and finally, Saturday! One- two-three-four!”

“Four,” Isabel said as she recounted her fingers and smiled. “Tea Party is on Thumpkin day!” Isabel said to Papa and Mr. Ratcliffe who smiled and ruffled her hair before turning to hitch the buggy to Papa’s horse.

“Thank you for my in-inv-a-mail!” Isabel shouted at the buggy turned out of the yard.

“Now,” Mama said as she gathered the glasses and placed them on the tray. “Lets go inside and decide what to make for Sally Anne before baby Maggie wakes up from her nap and your brothers get home from school.”

Isabel skipped ahead and opened the screen door. “I like tea parties!” Isabel said with a smile.

“Me too,” Mama said softly. “My little girl is growing up!”

~*~

A Word from the author:

I can just imagine the excitement Isabel and her friend Sally Anne must have shared as they waited for the day of the tea party. Mrs. Albright and Cookie’s excitement must have rivaled the children as they planned the tea party.

You can read more about Isabel in the novel, The Vision of a Mother’s Heart which was inspired by my grandmother, Isabel’s childhood. Set in rural Virginia in 1924. The Little Isabel stories would of course have taken place around 1917. As of this month, the real Isabel would have been 100 years old.

 To commemorate Isabel’s birthday, we are reprinting The Vision of a Mother’s Heart through Create Space and have it published as an e-book. It should be available on line soon!

I saw the following recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be amazing for a child’s tea party.

 

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/962361/edible-teacup-cookies-recipe

“Little Isabel”

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When I started writing The Vision of a Mother’s Heart, Isabel was almost ten years old. I tried to keep the story as close to the stories my Grandmother Isabel (Nannie) often told me through the years.

I often held a photograph of her sweet mother as I listened and could almost see the scenes enfold before me. However, as the Isabel in the story grew older in the book, I felt sad to leave that childhood stage behind and felt led to write stories about “Little Isabel” in this blog.

My friend, who is a photographer colorized the picture of my grandmother and we played around with covers for an e-book. While I was contemplating the possibilities, my friend was posting pictures of her adorable little granddaughter. She was so cute, I practically squealed, “AAAhhhhhh, so cute!” and with her cute smiles and poses, inspired stories for Isabel when she was little. So, I will try to post a Little Isabel story at least once a month.

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Meet the model for our Little Isabel stories!

Coming soon!

Little Isabel stories!

Pictures used with permission.