Archive from April, 2016
Apr 30, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Belated Applause, of a Sort

Belated Applause, of a Sort

I’ve known I was going to be out of town the last few days for over a month, and do you think I managed to get to an “I’m going to be gone” post?  Nope!  That’s what four kiddos and not enough sleep will do to you.  These past few days, however, I DID get the amazing opportunity to attend BYU Women’s Conference with my mother-in-law and one of my sisters-in-law, and it was wonderful.  I recharged, I relaxed–I ate too much at Cafe Rio–and I was inspired.  The best kind of trip, right?

Here’s the thing.  At the Thursday night concert we were asked to cheer if we were there with our mothers or our sisters, and I didn’t–but not because I don’t love my in-laws to pieces.  (I am truly blessed in that department, and they are fabulous company.)  I didn’t cheer, however, because my first thought when they asked about mothers was guilt that I was there and my own mother was being kept up by my 14-month-old back at my house, and my first thought when they asked about sisters was more guilt that I was there while my big sister was home dealing with children’s dental problems, having JUST found out she didn’t have to show up for jury duty.  I was there with one of my mothers and one of my sisters, however, and so here’s my shout-out for them.  It’s a little late, but I honestly don’t think anyone in the world could have better in-laws than I do.  May you all be so lucky some day!

Apr 26, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Laugh and a Half

A Laugh and a Half

Remember me saying I was reading Buckle and Squash:  The Perilous Princess Plot on the treadmill?  I finished it last night. And OH MY GOSH.

It’s a fast read–my dad read it all last night, actually–and an illustrated one, but most importantly, it is bizarrely hilarious. Eliza and Lavender are about as different as two sisters can be, which is why when Lavender sets out to get herself found by a prince, Eliza sets out after her to rescue her from whatever trouble she’s bound to get herself into.  Add in a kidnapping wizard, a witch in need of knees, a tiny giant, and the symptoms of the Black Death–not to mention a moat monster or two–and you’ve got a laugh-out-loud, entirely non-traditional and completely fabulous fairy tale adventure.

Now, it’s listed for ages 5-9; it’s longer than, say, the Magic Tree House books or Princess Posey, but it’s shorter than most of what my 9-year-old chooses.  The writing and the plot, however, are going to make it a hit with her as well (hey, I got a huge kick out of it!).  Bottom line?  Get this one, read it yourself, and then pass it along to your kiddos.

You’ll be glad you did.

Buckle and Squash: The Perilous Princess Plot

New From: $8.21 USD In Stock

Apr 24, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Currently Reading

Currently Reading

I should begin by saying that I’ve pretty much always been a “more than one book at a time” person.  I recognize that many people aren’t, but I tend to have my main book plus another book or three on the side.  The quantities shift, and my focus shifts, but I rarely have only one bookmark in use.  Keeping that in mind, then, here’s a peek into my “currently reading” list on Goodreads…

1)President Monson’s biography, To the Rescue.  I’ve been reading this on Sundays on and off for years; I’m not in a stage of life to concentrate on biographies very frequently, but I always enjoy it when I pick it up.

2)The Jane Austen Handbook.  This belongs to a friend of mine and is a humorous collection of tips, guidelines, and explanations for Regency life; its format makes it ideal for a downstairs bathroom book.  (Because when you have a toddler and a preschooler, sometimes you need a few minutes alone in a room with a book to recharge.)

3)Thomas S. Monson’s Consider the Blessings.  It’s a collection of inspirational occurrences that he was a witness to, and its format makes it ideal to pull out on Sunday nights.

4)The Seasoning of a Chef:  My Journey from Diner to Ducasse and Beyond.  I got this one free at Borders many moons ago; when I started it, I was planning on reading it straight through.  It’s detailed and a little rambling, however, and while it’s interesting enough that I want to finish it, it’s been a perfect upstairs bathroom book for the last two months.  (And, well, ditto.)

5)Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales:  Big Bad Ironclad!  This one is technically for my daughter, but I had enough fun with the first in the series that this one is in my purse, to be read in the odd free moment while I’m out and about.   When I’m done, it goes downstairs on her shelf.

6)The Perilous Princess Plot.  This one is also for my daughter; I’m just previewing it on the treadmill, and it’s fabulously funny.

I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of multiple other bookmarks in multiple other books, of course.  What can I say?  I already told you I had issues!

Apr 22, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Well, Then.

Well, Then.

I’m not often at a loss for words, but I have to say–reading Nine Open Arms was an odd experience.  The description inside the front cover made it sound totally like my thing; a family moves to an isolated house and learns about its previous owners’ history as well as its own.  (Okay, that wasn’t the best description, but it works.)  And it wasn’t exactly not my thing.  It was just, well…a bit different.

Really, I think that most of the difference was cultural, just as the slightly different writing style was the result of being translated from Dutch into English.  The story was interesting and read fairly easily, and while I felt slightly removed from the characters, I was certainly invested in them.  I rather liked the story telling feel of it, and the way the author dealt with the two time periods worked pretty well for me.  My only real issue is that our library shelves the book in juvenile fiction–and Amazon thinks it’s for “Grade 3 and up”, or “Age 9 and  up.”


I am violently opposed to censorship, folks, and I absolutely believe my library should continue to carry this book, but I have a 9-year-old.  There’s an attempted sexual assault in this book; there are also some wildly adult dilemmas and situations.  Why on EARTH this isn’t shelved in Young Adult is beyond me.  I’m not offended by it, I’m not scared of it, I’m not angered by it–it’s a good book.  It is NOT, however, appropriate for a 9-year-old.

Okay, rant over.  And the bottom line?  It’s a little different, but I liked it; I think it’s worth reading.

Just pretend that the listed age range reads “Age 12 and up” instead.

Nine Open Arms

New From: $8.05 USD In Stock

Apr 20, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Just Plain Tired

Just Plain Tired

I was totally going to review tonight’s new recipe, but sadly, I haven’t the energy.  We’re getting a new bathtub in our upstairs bathroom, which means everyone is showering/bathing downstairs and I’m best off taking my curious toddler and preschooler out of the house while the work is being done, and said toddler has a nasty nose which is, OF COURSE, negatively impacting her sleep, and my oldest had a church activity tonight from 5-6 which rendered dinner and everything else late for the evening (I’m so not in love with that time), and tomorrow is my son’s preschool field trip…I’m just poopered.  Which means that a)the baked tortellini recipe will just have to wait and b)I’m signing off.  Good night all!

Apr 18, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Oreo Goodness

Oreo Goodness

I’ve mentioned that my third pregnancy was the Oreo pregnancy, right?  Before then I could take or leave milk’s favorite cookie. Since then…well, let’s just say that my friend Britt calls me from the store every time she sees a new Oreo flavor.  Do you feel a need to try New Flavor #427?  (Sadly, yes.  Yes, I do.)

I don’t just try new flavors, though–I keep a package of originals hidden in my house pretty much at all times, because you never know when you might want to make, say, Oreo Pudding Dream Bars.  I tried them yesterday–my college student nephew came for dinner–and believe you me, you’re going to want to make them eventually.  Picture a lovely Oreo crust (made of crushed Oreos and melted butter), with layers of cream-cheese-powdered-sugar-whipped-topping, Cookies and Cream pudding, straight whipped topping, and crushed Oreos on top.  What’s not to love, right?  (Nothing.  There’s NOTHING not to love.)  Cool, creamy Oreo goodness on a warm day.

Life is good.


Apr 16, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Dum Dum Idea

A Dum Dum Idea

In case you were wondering, a Dum Dum idea is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a dumb idea.  It’s practical brilliance.  Have you heard the story behind mystery-flavored Dum Dums?  When they’re switching from one flavor to another in the mixer, they don’t clean the last of the first flavor out; they just add the new and label the pops that have a bit of both flavors with mystery wrappers.  No ingredients get wasted, no labor is spent cleaning out the old flavor–brilliant, right?  Money-saving marketed as fun.  What’s not to love?

Okay, so it’s not a perfect analogy–there’s no money saving involved in this recipe for Almond Joy Brownies.  There is, however, an inspired idea.  Just as the guy who came up with the Dum Dum idea must have wowed somebody with the sheer brilliance of it, the person who first thought of using a brownie mix as a base for a Hello Dolly bar should be publicly celebrated.   What’s not to love, right?  In all fairness, it does change the texture quite a bit–it becomes a Hello Dolly brownie–but still.  Brownie, sweetened condensed milk, toffee, chocolate chips, coconut…you really can’t go wrong.

In the interest of full disclosure, I substituted walnuts because that’s what I had; I wish I’d used almonds, though.  Other than that?

Gooey goodness.



Apr 14, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on You Really Can’t Go Wrong

You Really Can’t Go Wrong

Yesterday my friend Britt and I were looking at asparagus recipes, because who doesn’t love to get together and eat asparagus? (We sure do!)  We ended up with some delightful baked asparagus fries–complete with homemade dip–partly because we were too full from piecing to go with this Creamy Pasta with Asparagus and Bacon.  Tonight for dinner, however, was a completely different story, and let me tell you what–it was fabulous.  It’s true that you really can’t go wrong with these ingredients, but still, I was more than happy with how it turned out.  I did substitute for the heavy cream, because GENETICALLY HIGH CHOLESTEROL and oh, hey, I didn’t have any; one can of evaporated milk topped off to two cups with whole milk from the baby’s jug worked nicely.  I forgot to go out and cut the parsley when I meant to (that about broke my heart!), but the only other change I made was more of a fix.  The description of the recipe mentions “steamed asparagus,” but nowhere in the directions did it actually say to steam it; I just threw it in the pasta water for the last 2 minutes and it was perfect.  (Oh, and I used penne, because it’s so easy for finger feeders to pick up and eat.)

If you like alfredo–the Parmesan-y kind–you should try this.  If you like bacon and asparagus–try it this week!

Apr 12, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Beautiful Picture Books: Part 1

Beautiful Picture Books: Part 1

As we were reading the “due and not renewable” library books one last time, I decided it would be a crime not to showcase a few of my favorite.  (Would that I had the time to blog about them individually, but I’m just really not in that stage of life at the moment!)

Swan:  The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova won my six-year-old’s heart (that would be the one who adores the emotionally complex).  I can’t describe the illustrations nearly as well as my mother could–she has an art education degree–but they were lovely.  What overwhelmed me, however, was the beauty of the text; it has a lyrical, haunting quality, especially at the beginning and the end.  It manages to be poetic and yet convey a great deal of information about Pavlova’s life without seeming to, and it inspired my girls and me to search Youtube for footage of her dancing.  (It was there, by the way, which is impressive–she died in 1931.)

ABC Dream (by Kim Krans) is the kind of text-less picture book that one most definitely still reads.  Each letter of the alphabet is given 1-2 pages; the A page has an apple core being eaten by ants, another apple with arrows through it, and an argyle pattern within the A itself.  My kiddos all enjoyed examining each page, and they certainly learned some new flower names (zinnia comes to mind!).  Even adults will have to search, which makes it fun for everyone.

Pamela Zagarenski’s The Whisper has incredible illustrations, full of whimsical detail and fancy.  A little girl who loves stories borrows a book from her teacher, but finds when she brings it home that it is only pictures, no words.  A whisper on the wind tells her not to be disappointed, and sets her to using her imagination in delightful ways.  The next day the words are returned to her–they had “spilled away”–by a visitor from a well-known story collection; it ends with a twist that delighted me.

All of these are well worth your time–I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Apr 10, 2016 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Teddy Mars

Teddy Mars

It’s been a while since I’ve managed to read non-fluff on the treadmill; whatever I read there has to distract me sufficiently from the fact that I don’t enjoy exercising to make the time pass quickly.  Teddy Mars:  Almost a World Record Breaker, however, did the trick.  Teddy’s narration pulled me in and entertained me from the get-go, and his family, friends, and neighbor were all people I enjoyed inviting into my head.  His passion for The Guinness Book of World Records makes for all sorts of fun, and the results of his attempts to set one himself are varied (and not always predictable).

I will say that I have a well-developed sense of fair play and would have handled Teddy’s younger brother differently than their mother did; on the other hand, I know parents who wouldn’t agree with me.  Ultimately, it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story–I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel.

Bottom line?  This should appeal to boys and girls in middle elementary and up.  (And you’ll enjoy it, too!)