Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Category: Elf-Files (page 1 of 2)

DIY Fey Christmas Presents for the Adventurous Gourmet

Hey, how are you holding up in the mad rush of the pre-Christmas days?

We are flying out of Doha on Friday but the suitcases aren’t packed yet. Too much ginger bread house making events (every child has their own event at school because their age gap is so big), last Jiu Jitsu training before the Xmas break, Christmas concert for our young piano player …

While looking at last minute gifts, I just came across a product from a Dawanda-Shop that I thought you guys might like. The shop’s name is Erbstuecke which means “heirloom pieces” in German.

They sell a set with 6 vials with a dry dip base and 6 vials of olive oil. Each vial contains only 10 g (dip) or 20 ml (oil), so if you made your own,  you’d have a enough for several gifts from one mammoth fruit-veggie drying session.

erbstuecke_dip_set

Dips sold by Erbstuecke at Dawanda. Click on photo for link.

How do these dips work?

The Italian way to sample some nice fresh bread is: pour a very good olive oil into a small bowl or plate. Drop a few drops of a mild, good Aceto Balsamico vinegar into that, add a few sprinkles of ground sea salt (or another salt of your choice), stir with a piece of bread and enjoy.

For dried dips like this, you need olive oil as a base.

You can either dip bread in olive oil and then dunk it into the dip (which works but isn’t very pretty), or you dip the bread, then scatter a tiny bit of the dip powder over the bread. We use this kind of stuff the way Dukkah powder is used in the Middle East: you add a little bit of the powder to a bit of olive oil, stir it in well and then let it sit for a bit before you scoop it up with bread or use a teaspoon to transfer it to your bread.

What’s in a dip?

Erbstücke, the Dawanda Shop, combined some interesting stuff for their dips.

They say that their dips are made from dried and ground fruit and vegetables with NO ADDED ANYTHING. (Some of the dips have sugar and salt.)

I imagine if elves do the bread-and-dip thing, they’ll use exotic mixes like these for the dip. :-)

The 6 tastes at Erbstuecke are:

  • Carrot-Pineapple: carrot, pineapple, coconut, ginger, salt
  • Red beet-Pear: red beet, pear, orange peel, vanilla, salt
  • Red bell pepper-Mango: red bell pepper, mango, almonds, oregano, chili powder, sugar, salt
  • Pomegranate: pomegranate seeds, lemon peel, cardamom, cumin, cinnemon, cane sugar, pepper
  • Spinach-Ginger: spinach, garlic, ginger, vanilla, salt, pepper
  • Eggplant-Sesame: eggplant, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, salt, garlic

Since Dawanda is Germany’s answer to Etsy, Erbstuecke might not ship abroad, but if you have a dehydrator — or some time, patience and an oven– you can make these as Christmas presents at home.

All you need is dehydrator/oven, good quality fruit and veggies, and some nice containers with a stopper, like vials. We have also used the small jam glasses you get in hotels to the same effect. Sometimes you can buy a tray with 10 or 12 of the small glasses at the supermarket. Keep them when the jam is gone – they make lovely packaging for edible Christmas presents.

Dry the fruit/veggies in a dehydrator according to your machine’s settings. If fruit is very wet, use silicone inlays or baking paper that you poke holes into for circulation.

In the oven, heat it up to 330 degrees F / 170 degrees C, leave the door a bit open and stir fruit/veggies every 30 minutes. The slower you dry, the better the taste, but unless you have a dehydrator, you might go for higher temperature and be done in 6 to 8 hours.

Let the finished dried fruit / veggies rest for a day, then grind them in a food processor. Then play around, mixing and matching. :-)

I hope you enjoy — concoct something that would make Harcos, the elf, proud. ;-)

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If you’re wondering who Harcos is: He plays a big part in my 2012 Christmas novel “Three Days of Christmas”. At the moment, I took it down from Amazon because I’ve been trying to make it permafree, without success. You can find it on Smashwords and iBooks.

The spam trolls eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open, so I close them. But I’d love to hear what you think, so talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Poison Patch just came out, Book 2 of the Astoria Files series. You can find Brida at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a kobold who still pretends she’s a cat.

Does he kiss with elven, Elfish or Elfin skill?

“Shush.” Mattis pressed a finger to my lips. “I was frightened for you.” Shielding me from view, he pulled me into his arms and claimed my mouth in a kiss. It was fierce, desperate, as if he was drowning out the world. I wrapped my arms around his neck. My arm grazed the fresh wound on his cheek and Mattis gasped with pain.

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

So, about that skilled kisser. Does he speak Elfish? Or Elvish?

Are his looks Elfin or Elfish, or elven?

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

(copyright) Nicolas McComber, iStock

Elfish

When I was writing Hedge Games, I chose to use “Elfish” for everything: the language, the adjective, the people themselves. The same way I’d use Spanish: he’s Spanish, he speaks Spanish, the Spanish swords are of excellent quality.

I love the word “elven” and that the language of elves has its own name, Elvish, but I wasn’t sure if using that gets the LOTR fans up in arms when used in another world.

The editor of Hedge Games concurred, and so Elfish it was.

Elfin

Now the editor of Poison Patch corrected many instances of Elfish to “Elfin”.

To my ears, Elfin sounds like a human who has Elfish/elven qualities, especially a child. It probably got that way because it’s used outside of Fantasy literature to describe someone, usually a girl or a child, with fey qualities.

So I spent the morning researching Elfin, Elfish, elven, and found interesting theories on when to use which.

Elven

My editor would point out that Wikipedia and Google finds are not a trustworthy source, especially when it comes to spelling. ;-) If you ignore that, an interesting theory from two different grammar forums was this:

  • if you write in the tradition of Tolkien, D & D and other computer games/roleplaying systems who follow in that tradition, it’s elves with a v and the adjective is elven. The language is Elvish.
  • if you write in a remotely Walt Disney kind of style or world—one poster called it “Tinkerbelly” :-)—the plural is elfs (doesn’t have to be, though) and the adjective is Elfish. The elfs in that tradition are usually based on Tinkerbell-kind of fairies or Christmas elfs which usually don’t have their own language.

One argument that nailed it for me (revisions, here we go!) was the comparison to thieves. Thief / elf, plural thieves / elves. The old noun based on that wasn’t theft but thievery. The adjective is thieving.

So elf / elves / elven / Elvish makes a lot of sense, even if you had never heard of Tolkien. I’ll change it in Hedge Games and Poison Patch. But let’s get back to the more important things ;-)

Not wanting to ask Mattis for assistance, I used elven sorcery on his glamor. Elven magic worked with intent instead of sigils, so I scrunched up my face in concentration and thought with as much force as I could, Put something decent on me.

The dress flared green for a moment then disappeared. Which left me, once more, buck naked. Ooops.

“Okay, you win,” Mattis drawled by my ear, “I prefer your spell.”

from: Brida Anderson: Poison Patch (Rule of Thorns, Season 2). Coming in fall 2015

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The spam trolls try to eat this blog for breakfast if I leave comments open. I’d love to hear what you think, though, so if you’d like to leave a comment, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. Hedge Games released in December 2013. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Straight from Faerie: Sea-green jasper

I just came across this heart made from sea-green jasper on Etsy (in the Laveo Beads-shop) and wanted to share with you.

Look at this beauty! Looks like it beamed straight over from Faerie, doesn’t it?

 

Green Sea Jasper (c) by Laveo Beads

Green Sea Jasper (c) by Laveo Beads

It’s drilled with a hole so I can just (barely) keep myself from buying it. (I like whole stones that I just have lying around the house); but maybe one of you can use it in making stunning jewelry. :-)

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Poetry challenge – favorite lines

My friend Istvan tagged me on Facebook for the Hungarian Poetrix Challenge. A chance to pour something else than ice water or kittens (yeah, guilty since we adopted one a short while ago! ;-) into each other’s timeline.
Istvan writes:

The Hungarian Poetrix Challenge: some guy some time ago tagged ten of his friends and challenged them to share their favorite poems on their timelines. I am pushing it beyond the borders of Hungary, challenging you hereby. Spread it! No cold water is involved, however, you are free to soothe your conscience by donating to whatever charity you like. Let us know your favorite piece of poetry and tag three friends.

One of my favorite poems is from Emily Dickinson, “I taste a liquor never brewed”.

Photo: Brida Anderson

Photo: Brida Anderson

I taste a liquor never brewed
From Tankards scooped in pearl
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of Air am I
And Debauchee of Dew
Reeling thru endless summer days
From inns of Molten Blue

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door
When Butterflies renounce their “drams”
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy hats
And Saints to windows run
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the—Sun.

As usual with Emily Dickinson, the poem can be about a lot of things. An ode to earthly delights. Maybe the beauty and mystery of nature – or pleasures of any other kind. I like the ambiguity of it. And the underlying sense of being inebriated from nature, the very air around us thrumming with it. The summery feeling of the poem. Surrounded by all sorts of bees, butterflies, “molten blue” flowers, foxgloves (fey flowers, by the way). Overdoing it, till “seraphs swing their snowy hats (…) to see the little tippler leaning against the sun”. Just beautiful. :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Escape to Faerie with these photos … or into your dreams

I’m in love ;-)

Look at the photos in this Flickr photostream. In case Rosie Ann’s style changes, I captured a screenshot.
I find the dystopian photos also intriguing, but my favorites are the ones that remind me of Faerie.

Go and have a look at Rosie Anne’s page … to dream.

rosie_anne_photos_brida_anderson
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Elf-Fashion for the summer

They are here, the days of the Summer Solstice, of lying in the grass, listening to the whispering trees and murmuring brooks nearby …

To take this summery feeling back into town with you, there’s thankfully more and more “elf-fashion” around. As one of the elf-fashion creators, Babacool, calls it “fairytale clothes for reality”.

Speaking of: The guys from Babacool just sent out their summer catalogue. I have only one shirt from them so far, it’s all I could afford (maybe it’s because they’re based in Switzerland?). But seeing the photos for their newest summer elf-fashion makes me dream:

 

Babacool Summer 2014 Elf Fashion

Image: Babacool 2014

 

If you get the chance, you should check out their bricks-and-mortar store in Solothurn, Switzerland (Löwengasse 4), it’s where, according to them,

… fairy-tale beings and far-east ambience embrace. […]. Even if you’re not looking for Alaadin pants, goblin jackets or elf dresses, you’ll find all kinds of wonderful things in the store, for example fluorescent jewelry, Asian carvings, airbrushed wall hangings.

While you check out that store, I’ll follow coincidence somewhere else:

I ordered some outfits via ebay to wear to a summer LARP festival. I had them sent to my parents-in-law who live in a small town in the middle of Germany. In the middle of nowhere, basically. If you want to go shopping, you drive about one hour to the next biggest town.

The ebay seller contacted me and told me to come by their shop before I left for the summer LARP, to make sure the stuff fit. Turns out,  they not only have an online-business but a real store for LARP and fantasy/elf wear – and it’s in a village next to the town where my in-laws live!

I never knew while visiting them. :-) If you’re driving by: the shop name is Ansuma Magica; they’re at Vierbacher Str. 46, 37290 Germerode/ Meißner. Opening hours depend on when you want to go: drop them an email or give them a call to arrange a visit.

I’m compiling more elf-wear addresses for you over the summer. If you know of a shop that you like, drop me a message or a tweet and I’ll include it.

Faerie’s Warriors of Faeruna

istock_000011375808“I want to know why they keep calling you the Judge. And a Warrior of Faeruna. Oh, and about that whole Silvermeadow thing. That’s a place in Faerie, right?”

“You hardly stop once you get going with questions …” Mattis chuckled, but his expression was serious. Would he try to brush me off again?

Apparently yes, as he didn’t say anything.

“Don’t you see how stupid I feel, running around with you and everybody goes ‘aha, Pix here, haha’ and ‘oh, the Judge? I’m going to piss my pants’, and I have no clue what they’re talking about?”

Mattis sighed. “Yeah, you’re right.” He looked into the distance.

“So?”

“So, the long and short of it is …” Mattis took a deep breath as if diving into a murky pond. He looked about as thrilled, too. “I did something that displeased the Queen. Since I am a Warrior of Faeruna, she couldn’t sentence me to death. The warriors are a precious commodity. So instead she gave me … a new job, as you’d call it. She made me Judge of Silvermeadow. It’s the only place in Faerie comparable to one of your cities. It isn’t allied to one of the Courts. Absolute freedom — and absolute chaos.”

“And the Judge upholds the peace?”

Mattis grinned. A vicious glitter had crept into his eyes. “The Judge’s ruling is indisputable. So every fae with a shady agenda has one goal once a new Judge is appointed: to kill him as quickly as possible. Because when he is dead, it might be a few decades before the next Judge is appointed.”

I gulped. “So what’s the average life expectancy of a Judge of that city?” It might not be so bad — we were talking about immortal fae, after all.

“One year. The Queen sent me to Silvermeadow to die.”

(from “Hedge Games“, Chapter 26)

One day, Mattis – oh, sorry: Mattis, Lightdefender, son of Dagani and Tyla, Judge of Silvermeadow, a Warrior of Faeruna – just stepped into my head.

While I wrote the story he and Alanna told me (which eventually turned into “Hedge Games“), I kept nibbling on that job description Mattis had so casually thrown out there. “A Warrior of Faeruna”. What the heck were they? Apparently precious enough that even if they pissed off an elven queen they were only banished … And who’s that Faeruna chick anyway? A goddess, perhaps?

Some months later, I was writing a fantasy short story together with a friend. And up popped another Warrior of Faeruna – Harcos Sunblade. (Harcos is Hungarian for knight.) Where Mattis lives in our times, an elf faced with urban cityscapes, Harcos lives in a medieval fantasy setting. When we first meet both men/elves, there is something sad and dark at the core of both characters, connected to their “job” as Warriors of Faeruna.

These warriors are chosen (nobody knows yet how, some say by the Goddess Faeruna) while they’re still in the womb. As children, their parents have to give them up, to be raised together, trained to be the fighting machines they are.

Each warrior has at least one special talent, often more than one. Harcos is a shapechanger (man and hound of the Wild Hunt), Mattis can switch between what he calls “dark form” and “light form”. What that is exactly, you can find out in autumn in the sequel to “Hedge Games“. ;-)

When a Warrior of Faeruna is fully trained, one of the Courts of Faerie claims him or her. They are that Court’s last line of defense. Originally, a Warrior served the Court he was born into — since the Goddess Faeruna obviously chose that court for him. Over time, this custom was changed and Courts exchanged their warrior for contracts with other courts. Since the Warrior belongs to the Queen of a Court she can deploy him wherever and however she sees fit.

As Harcos finds out when he protects his friends: disobey the Queen, and your life’s forfeit in Faerie.  The short-story “Three Days of Christmas” finds Harcos after he fell in disgrace and the Queen sent the Wild Hunt after him. Because for a Queen, a rogue Warrior of Faeruna is the ultimate threat, even more so than the fear of a vrall-invasion.

Mermaid Marbled Cake

I wrote this post back in May. Now that my son is sick again, I remembered it and uploaded it for you.

My youngest is sleeping, finally the fever is high enough that it plateaued and gave him a chance to sleep. I should use the chance to jump on my notebook and write like the wind on the nonfiction book that’s due in August (how to “Find Calm inside Yourself”). But as it is when you write the books you’d actually love to READ: Writing them changes you.

 

Blue marbled Mermaid Cake

Blue marbled Mermaid Cake (my tablet’s camera can’t capture the pretty blue tone)

The more I work on “Finding Calm inside Yourself”, the more reluctant I am to disregard my own peace of mind.
So after three hours of holding, comforting, calming, entertaining, I didn’t sit down to research month 7 and 8 of the book (it’s a year-long companion book, giving one relaxation technique for each week).
Instead, I had fun converting our juicy Marbled Cake-recipe into a simple mermaid cake.

While it baked, I sat outside in the shade, ogling my thriving clematis, eating a juicy peach. Just letting the balmy (cough) 44 degrees (celsius, that is) thaw me like a sauna. :-)

 

Why a blue marbled cake??

When I had asked my son if there was something I could do for him, he had said: “I want to make cake with you. Blue cake!” I told him that there wasn’t blue cake, and that he was too sick to help me bake.
He slowly toddled into the kitchen and pulled out the box with icing colors we had bought last weekend on our trip to Dubai. “Here’s the blue color! Please – I so want a blue cake.”
I tried to sway him to German “Marmorkuchen” (dough half regular, half infused with cocoa). It’s a kiddie favorite. He nodded, but said “only blue instead of chocolate!” Then he promptly fell asleep on the couch.
Blue marbled cake?
I haven’t baked with these food colors before, and I’m not exactly a fan of them. They were for salt dough and home-made playdough.

Homemade Playdough Brida Anderson

… this is how the home-made playdough turned out. Post following soon

But: It was such a pleasure to create a rippled blue and white cake, for once without “help” from my children ;-)

And a breeze to do, too, at least with a kitchen machine.

I didn’t mix the blue into a uniform color but left it lighter in places and darker in others, to look like the sea. :-)

Dough for blue marbled cake

Dough for the blue marbled cake. My tablet’s camera can’t capture the pretty blue tones :-(

Recipe for Marbled Cake, German style

Cooking time is vastly different from oven to oven. Ours here in Qatar is bad, it burns cake on the outside while the inside is still moist. So I can only guess at oven times.

Ingredients for one small marbled cake

  • 3 eggs medium-sized
  • 150 g regular sugar (white or brown)
  • 150 ml rapeseed-oil, coconut oil or other oil with “neutral” taste
  • 150 plain yoghurt – I used soy yoghurt to make the cake dairy-free
  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • oil for the baking mouldfor the colored half:
  • ca. 1-2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder OR food coloring of your choice OR very ripe blueberries
    If you use cocoa, like the in the German original version of this cake, you can add 1 tablespoon Nutella or melted chocolate to the dark dough to make it even more chocolaty :-)

Prep

  • Heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.
  • Whisk 3 eggs in the kitchen machine at high speed, pour the sugar into the eggs and beat until creamy (takes a few minutes). Slowly pour the oil into the mix while beating.
  • Mix the flour and the baking powder.
  • Add the yoghurt to the dough and stir. Then add the flour-baking powder mix and stir again. The dough will be quite liquid – that’s fine!
  • Oil either a box form or a bundt-cake form. I used a small rectangular silicone form from Lurch.
  • Spoon about half or two-thirds of the dough into the mould.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of flour and your coloring ingredient (cocoa or food color) to the remaining dough in the bowl.
  • —If you don’t want to use food coloring or don’t have it on hand, you can also use natural ingredients that “color” the dough, be it cocoa powder or mashed ripe fruits like blueberries. Just adjust the amount of flour so the consistency is comparable to the light dough. —
  • Mix in the ingredients and check the color and consistency. If it’s too runny, add a little more flour. If you want a uniform color, mix thoroughly. If you’d like different colors, mix lightly (see photos).
  • Add the colored dough to the mould, mixing it with the light dough in a pattern of your preference. One technique is to pull it under the light dough with a spoon or fork. Just don’t mix it too much – then the endresult will be a speckled cake. You want a thick “vein” of color inside the light cake.
  • Put it in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes — depending on mould.

Check after 35 minutes so the cake doesn’t burn. If it’s turning dark on top, protect it with a (double)layer of aluminium foil and turn the heat down to 180°C / 360°F.

Let it sit in the mould for ca. 10 minutes before gently easing it out of the mould.
Let it cool completely before cutting. Serve cut into thick slices.
Also tastes great with a chocolate “coat” or icecold from the fridge.

Edit:

I’ll go back to using natural colorants. Changing diapers with blue poo is a bit scary … ;-) And no, it’s not the same kind of look as when a kid overdosed on blueberries.

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Looking for fairy-themed social icons

Hey, I’ve found a niche for graphic designers ;-)

Well, not a well-paying niche, I guess.

I’ve been turning Google search and DeviantArt upside down looking for faerie-themed social media icons for this blog. Without success, so far. Either the links are expired or, usually, the rights are unclear.

What am I looking for?

A hint of elfishness/fae. Nothing too cute (pink fairies? ;-) Glitter) since it’s for Urban Fantasy.

Maybe moss-tones or tree-green, maybe a hint of wing or snaking tendril …

 

This “Green Jelly” icon set is the closest I could find (via DeviantArt):

Green jelly icon set

(No mention of rights, but lots of positive replies on people using them, so I hope it’s okay.)

 

I can’t afford much but I would have paid up to 10$ for a ready-made icon set, provided it includes E-Mail, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr, RSS, Facebook, Google+

Coming up empty on anything “faerie”-themed, I would have settled for one of the beautiful watercolour-type icon sets in green hues. But either the rights were murky or some icons I needed were missing.

Put up an “ad” in the Facebook Faeries group, maybe they have a link for me. And will trail Etsy for someone offering customization for little money. I’d love to pay more for a graphic designer with nice ideas but as indie-author I’m glad if what I make from my books pays for my coffee … ;-)

If you know of an icon set that might fit this site: I’d love to hear it! :-)

I need coffee-fairy (figurine)

I need coffee-fairy (figurine)

“I need coffee” fairy figurine by Amy Brown

Amy Brown just revealed a series of coffee-/tea fairy figurines.

My favorite is (what a surprise ;-) “I need coffee”.

The little elf/fairy just looks so blissed out that she finally got her coffee.
Had to put it on my Faerieland-Pinterest board too :-)

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