Archive from September, 2015
Sep 30, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on When Your Favorites Are Better Than You Remember

When Your Favorites Are Better Than You Remember

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how pregnancy can mess with your eating; sometimes, your favorite recipes become intolerable for the duration.  With any luck, though, you’ll eventually be able to make them again, and when you do, there’s that moment of–“Mmmm.  I completely forgot how good this is.”

That’s kind of how I feel about Joan Bauer.  Not that she ever became intolerable, mind you–I just read everything she’d written and then got so distracted by pregnancy and a fourth child that her newest book flew under my radar for a while.  When I finally thought to check her website, I was beyond excited for her latest offering, and what do you know?

She’s even better than I remember.

What I remember was already fabulous, you understand.  Bauer has a gift for creating quirky, likable main characters, and she tells their stories with a near-perfect blend of humor and pathos.  Her books tend to share certain kinds of plot features, true, but they’re so ridiculously enjoyable that it’s never bothered me.  I picked up Hope was Here because it was a Newbery Honor book, and I loved it so much that I went through the rest of hers in short order; Squashed, Thwonk, Sticks, Rules of the Road, Backwater, Stand Tall, and Best Foot Forward.  From there I read Peeled, Close to Famous, and Almost Home as they came out, but as I said, I missed the existence of Tell Me until recently.  I finished it last night.

Tell Me is typical Bauer–a main character with a passion (acting), a loyal and fabulous best friend (Lorenzo), and a community with a purpose (a flower festival and parade).  Where her early novels had fairly black and white characters, however, her later novels have grown in complexity.  The town’s rich, overbearing businessman and his daughter aren’t one dimensional at all; Anna’s parents’ situation is a bit complicated; and what Anna’s trying to accomplish is not as simple as growing a giant pumpkin or winning a pool competition.  Instead, she sees a girl who looks like she’s in trouble, and in the context of the town’s flower festival, she has to decide what to do about it–and how to do it.

I loved watching Anna’s story play out–don’t miss it!  And if you like Tell Me, go back and read more of Joan Bauer.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tell Me


New From: $1.99 USD In Stock

Sep 28, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Alliteration At Its Finest

Alliteration At Its Finest

It took a bit to remember why I grabbed Some Smug Slug at the library; it turned out to be so radically different from what I was expecting that my initial impression was pushed out of my mind.  I was hoping, you see, for a picture book my emerging reader could tackle more or less herself–something in the vein of Sheep in a Jeep, for example.  Some Smug Slug sounded promising, so I checked it out, brought it home, opened it, and thought–OH.

No.

The vocabulary in Pamela Duncan Edwards’ book is not at all conducive to being read by a new reader; on the other hand, the crazy alliteration makes it delightful to read aloud, and my artistic daughter LOVED searching for the “S” on every page.  (It’s harder than you think, by the way.)  The slug of the title is heading up a suspiciously shaped slope, and its choice to do so elicits a wide variety of reactions from the alliterative onlookers.  All choices have consequences, of course–and so the book ends.

Honestly?  I think my 8-year-old enjoyed it more than my 6-year-old, and if I were teaching alliteration to teenagers, I’d be all over this one.  I’m not sure there’s a real age limit.  It’s worth a look-see, folks.

And good luck with those ‘S’s.

Some Smug Slug


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Sep 26, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Tomorrow Is Another Day

Tomorrow Is Another Day

As much as I think Scarlett O’Hara was, well, a word I don’t like and generally prefer not to use, I’m clinging to the reality of this.  Last night my middles both threw up–again.  For the first time since Monday night.  Tonight my baby girl lost her entire bottle, and kept throwing up a little bit more so that I didn’t dare try and offer her more liquid before bed.  She fell asleep, but what do I do when she wakes up?  Do I give her 2 ounces and hope she keeps it down?  Will I end up in the ER for the second Sunday in a row, with another dehydrated girl?  Is she okay in there?

Can tomorrow be a day of getting better–for EVERYONE?

Please?

Sep 24, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A First For Me

A First For Me

My friend Britt has been receiving books to review on her blog (http://bookhabitue.blogspot.com/) for quite some time; I finally asked her how to go about making that happen for myself, and I am pleased as punch to present my very first review of a book sent to me for precisely that purpose.  Wahoo!

The premise of You Look Yummy amused me from the get-go.  What’s not to love about a baby herbivore who hears a Tyrannosaurus say “You look Yummy!” and assumes that he’s his daddy, calling him by name?  The surprised ‘father figure’ (that phrase will ALWAYS make me think of George Michael) finds himself in an unexpected role; he steps up, however, and like any good parent, puts his “child’s” needs ahead of his own.  (Warning:  Parents might shed a tear or two at the ending.)  Tatsuya Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus series is wildly popular in Japan, and Museyon, an independent publisher, is releasing You Look Yummy this November.  The art is simple and bold–Bob Shea comes to mind, although that’s not quite it–and the text is straightforward in a way that allows the reader to fill in the Tyrannosaurus’s emotions for herself.  Or himself.  If you have a dinosaur lover at home, don’t miss this.

You Look Yummy! (Tyrannosaurus Series)


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Sep 22, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Trilogy Complete

A Trilogy Complete

Despite all of the vomit–four of us were throwing up last night, and I completely lost count of how many bowls I emptied, including my own–I did manage to finish William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return, and it was a satisfying end to a fabulous trilogy.  I actually found it a little harder to concentrate on the words in this one, but that’s because I’ve seen “Jedi” more than I’ve seen the other films, so the actual lines were floating in my head more, and they sometimes collided with their Shakespearan counterparts.  The bantering action scenes were delightful (think Jabba’s palace, the speed bikes, and the scene where they’re trying to open the door of the bunker), Luke’s reaction to Leia’s metal bikini made me giggle, and I rather appreciated the asides that gave insights into the characters’ thoughts.  I wouldn’t choose to read anything like this with so much sickness in the house again, but that was a concentration issue, because oh, the lack of sleep!  (And I didn’t know how much sickness there was going to be when I started it.)

My last word?  There is a perfect bonding opportunity for ‘Star Wars’ fans and English majors in this world, and it is Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy.

Sep 20, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on The ER on a Sunday Afternoon

The ER on a Sunday Afternoon

After taking the baby in on Friday and getting Amoxicillin for her ear infection (they tried a breathing treatment for the wheezing from her bronchiolitis, but it didn’t change anything), I really thought the sick was winding down at our house.  The boy still coughs a gunky cough from time to time, but he’s mostly better, and baby girl is sleeping again.

Then came the throwing up.

My oldest ran upstairs this morning, calling for “Mom!” in a tone of voice that didn’t bode well; her sister was throwing up on the steps leading up to her loft bed.  As far as cleanup, it was actually pretty simple; her stomach was apparently empty to start with.  Unfortunately, the emptiness didn’t seem to deter her stomach from its efforts.  She threw up phlegm and bile every 10-20 minutes–for SIX HOURS.

By that point, I’d gotten hold of the on call doctor at our pediatrician’s office, who told me to get ahead and take her in.  Thankfully, the hospital with the children’s wing is close enough that I just went there (she told me I could choose between instacare and the ER, but instacare wouldn’t do an iv if she needed it).  It was completely empty, and they took good care of us; half a Zofran dissolved under her tongue, two teaspoons of liquid every 5 minutes for an hour and a half, and home we went.  (By way of an open pharmacy, that is–for more Zofran, just to be on the safe side.)  She ate one waffle and drank more water at home, and now ALL the kids are asleep–including her older sister, who is either getting sick or very tired and anxious about the possibility of getting sick.

Sigh.

I have at least two recipes to blog about, and at least one book to review, but all I can think about are my poor sick kiddos and how badly I need sleep.  It is what it is.

Goodnight, folks.

Sep 18, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale

Last Friday, when I ran to the grocery store for ingredients to make the Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars, I was stopped in my tracks in the middle of the produce section.  And I wasn’t the only one, either.  I have a tendency to think out loud, and my “Strawberries for $.88 a pound–in SEPTEMBER?” elicited similar observations from the nearest customer.  Not only were we floored by the price (because really, you JUST DON’T SEE THAT), but we were impressed by the quality.  They weren’t perfect, but they were awfully impressive for September strawberries in Utah.  I bought some, of course, and while some are still in the fridge, and some went to a baptism on Saturday, the rest starred in these Strawberry Lemonade Bars, which I was psyched to try.

Let me start out by saying that the recipe isn’t kidding around about the cooling time required–two hours is really not enough unless you’ve got a plate, fork, and napkin.  Luckily, I did follow the recipe (surprise!) and so I didn’t even try to cut them any earlier.  As for how they were….hmmm.

My parents tried them and enjoyed them.  My son nibbled and then bailed (he’s an ‘eat off the frosting’ kind of kid), my oldest seemed to like them, my second girlie was ambivalent, my husband’s reaction was predictable (they weren’t so much his thing) and I–was ambivalent, too.  Here’s the thing–the shortbread crust was lovely, and it combined very nicely with the fruity tang.  The combination of strawberry and lemon, however, was a bit odd in these.  My carpooling friend said they were very different, and mentioned that the strawberry seeds were not so desirable if you’re looking for the smoothness of a typical lemon bar.  I just didn’t love the flavor combo, I guess–I’d rather have a lemon bar with the crust and filling, maybe, and a strawberry cream cheese bar on a different day. Unfortunately, while I’m still ambivalent, I’m also a sucker for home-baked treats, acidity, and shortbread.  The bars are gone.

Yeah…I don’t really want to talk about it.  Let’s just say that the next time I make a treat that I know the rest of my household will NOT enjoy as much as I do, I’m making up plates to share with neighborhood friends before I break out the fork and open the container holding the leftovers.  I’m already having eater’s remorse.  Learn from my mistakes, friends.

Someone has to.

Sep 16, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on What’s New in Fruit: Part Two

What’s New in Fruit: Part Two

I couldn’t resist trying the SunGold kiwis I found at Costco the other day (because really, my need to try things is only intensifying with age!).  Have you?  If your tastes run a bit sweeter, you may prefer them; I love acidity, however, and so I’ll probably stick with the green in the future.  They’re good, you understand.  Just not as tangy.  (Speaking of green, I did try an emerald plum once upon a time, and it was tasty.)

Interestingly, I’ve only just learned that yellow watermelons exist as well–which leaves me wondering how many other fruit variations I’ve been missing out on all this time.  What’s out there?  What should I try?  Anyone?

Sep 14, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Can We Fast Forward?

Can We Fast Forward?

I’m not wanting to wish away this period of life, mind you, but the sick littles are miserable and I never do well when I’m up in the night too many nights in a row.  My 7-month-old has a nightmarish cough and my 3-year-old spends all day melting down over, well, everything.  (“I want to go to the store and get a golden delicious melon!”)

Surely I’m not the only parent to want to fast forward to whenever the virus of the moment has run its course, right?

(The bright spot for the day?  We found pants for the girlies to wear to school tomorrow, since the weather’s changing.  AND they fit. AND they’re both thrilled with them!)

Sep 12, 2015 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Cinnamon Goodness (With Cream Cheese Frosting)

Cinnamon Goodness (With Cream Cheese Frosting)

Normally I’m feeling chatty about a successful new recipe, but my littles are both sick, and the lack of sleep is kind of putting a damper on coherent thought.  Be that as it may, however, these Cinnamon Roll Cookie Bars were AMAZING.  I had to bring dessert to a thing on Friday night AND today, and I was intending to try two different new recipes, but again with the sick littles (my poor kiddos!).  I settled for making these on Friday and only sending a couple of platefuls with my hubby and the girlies; the rest came to the family baptism today, although there were so many desserts that I still took some home.

Here’s the best thing.  Other than a quick run to the corner grocery store because I don’t normally stock cook and serve pudding, these were INCREDIBLY easy.  They’re a cake mix bar, and you just dump the ingredients in a bowl (including the lovely two tablespoons of cinnamon), stir, and spread the batter in the pan. The only change I made was to add vanilla to the cream cheese frosting, because who wouldn’t want vanilla in the frosting for this recipe?  (Speaking of the frosting, there was PLENTY.  I didn’t actually use all that I made.)

These are buttery, cinnamon-y, cream cheese frosting-y, and altogether lovely.  I’d spend more time convincing you to make them, but really, those adjectives say it all–and why should I keep typing when I could be eating one more of what I brought home today?

Mmmmmm.

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