Oct 5, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Competent Sequel

A Competent Sequel

I’ll grant you that calling a sequel competent might come across as damning with faint praise, but I’m apparently too tired to think of a better description.  (“More of the same” seemed worse to me.)  And really, it’s a good description of The Memory of Lemon.  Neely from The Cake Therapist is right about where we left her, working to make her bakery a success and divorce her philandering football player husband; another story from the past shares the spotlight.  (I liked that story a bit better than Neely’s this time–mostly because the situation with Luke dragged on a bit long for my taste–but it covered more ground than its predecessor, and that possibly cost it some detail I would have appreciated.)  Fans of The Cake Therapist will enjoy The Memory of Lemon, in the same way we enjoy seconds of a good dessert.  The question now is whether the ending left enough room for a sequel–and I’m honestly not sure of the answer.

The Memory of Lemon


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Oct 3, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on It’s Pumpkin Time!

It’s Pumpkin Time!

We had dinner at my in-laws’ on Sunday, and since the weather’s been delightfully cool and I’ve been REVELING in the autumn-ness of it, I decided to make a pumpkin dessert.  (The decision was aided by the fact that the apple and maple dessert I was eyeing required a trip to the store, and THAT wasn’t happening.)  I looked around a bit and decided on these Pumpkin Pie Bars, because I tend to like my pumpkin on the cream cheese-y side but can’t deal with the recipes that call for two 8 oz. packages of it.  (Cream cheese is not as cheap as it used to be.)  I did leave out the pecans and add more oatmeal, because I love my oldest daughter and I’d like to keep her around, but other than that I made the recipe as is…believe it or not.

I have to say, they were tasty.  I want to love pumpkin more than I do, honestly, but these were a nice mix of pumpkin and creaminess, and it’s hard to go wrong with buttery, sugary oatmeal baked on top.  I will say that despite the specific baking instructions, I wish I’d left them in a bit longer or turned the oven to broil for a minute or two; the topping wanted to be browned and more crispy on top.  (It also, in my opinion, wanted cinnamon.)  Overall, though, if you want a dessert that tastes sort of like a pumpkin pie crisp, give these a try!

Oct 1, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Overcome

Overcome

I was trying to gear up to review tonight’s new dessert, but all I ended up thinking about was how grateful I am for the blessings in my life.  I spent the day listening to inspired counsel from my church leaders–surrounded by family.  We had lunch at a park–the nature kind, not the playground kind–where I tailed my two-year-old as she walked back and forth on the bridge over a pond while the rest of my kids played with cousins.  I cross-stitched a little, I exercised, I read a bit, and I visited with family and friends.  I have more incredible family less than a day’s drive away, and I have a car that will get us there.  I have amazing friends…and five library cards at my disposal.

How do you adequately give thanks for the people in your life?  How can we ever spend enough time being grateful for the everyday things we enjoy?  Why do I ever complain?

Now, lest I sound phony, I absolutely will.  I’ll gripe a bit about what to have for dinner tomorrow when my number 2 has dance from 4:50-5:50.  I grouched this morning because I was trying to hurry to get ready to go and the steady flow of interruptions was especially impressive.  I’ll get discouraged at how easily my lower back starts to ache–again–and at how much work it seems to take to keep my house only as messy as it is.  I’ll grit my teeth and growl at my middles, who are currently doing the “he’s kicking me/she’s bothering me” thing with each other on a regular basis, with spectacularly frustrating results.  My two-year-old will take toys from her brother and yell at me for cruelly trying to, say, feed her breakfast, and my oldest will use her “why do you make me suffer by asking me to clean up after myself” voice, AGAIN.  These things are also reality.

At this moment, however, I am bowled over by what I have, and I am grateful–so very grateful–to my Heavenly Father for it all.  May we all have such moments in our lives!

Sep 29, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on On The Fence

On The Fence

I borrowed Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere from my friend Britt a month or so ago because we’ve enjoyed Elise Gravel’s picture books; Olga is one of those highly illustrated not-quite-graphic novels, and I was hoping it would be similar but, well, MORE.  Well, it is–and it isn’t.

Like Gravel’s picture books, Olga is quirky, funny, and somewhat oddly illustrated (but in a fun way!); with added length, however, plus an animal-focused plot, comes a significant number of references to pee, poop, and farts.  Some of that could hardly be avoided, of course, since dealing with an animal means dealing with its bodily functions.  Ultimately, however, it felt like Gravel wasn’t trying as hard to branch out a bit as I wanted her to.  I will say that none of the bodily functions references are thrown in quite gratuitously–they all connect to Olga and her pursuit of animal science, so to speak–I just kind of wanted fewer of them.  Bottom line?  If my kids find it themselves and want to read it, I won’t stop them, but I’m not going to purposefully put it in their books piles when they have so many other books to read.*

*Olga IS fun.  No question.  So if  you weren’t raised by an old-fashioned, incredibly-picky-about-that-sort-of-thing mother, you’re probably fine.  Let me know what you think!

 

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere


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Sep 27, 2017 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Reasons Why I’m Feeling Overwhelmed

This feels totally whiny, since my sister is moving into a new house as I type, but still.

  1.  The paperwork.  I now have three children in elementary school, and OH MY GOSH, THE PAPERWORK!
  2.  The toy situation.  I need to cull again, as my two-year-old gets older, but what to cull?  When to do it (and not get caught)?
  3.  The clothes.  My son’s clothes are now big enough that the drawers that hold them are on the small side, and I haven’t actually packed away all of the summer stuff yet.  We need short sleeves and long at the moment, and there is no convenient place to put them.
  4.  The flies.  They must be gleefully rushing in every time one of the kids stands with the door open, because it’s getting cold for them outside.
  5.  The dishes.  Because, you know, we eat.

Okay, I know there’s more, but I’m going to make an effort to stop being whiny and do some dishes instead.  Why are YOU feeling overwhelmed?   And if you’re not, would you like to come play with a two-year-old so I can put things away without her taking them right back out again?

Sep 25, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Our Neighbors’ Apples

Our Neighbors’ Apples

My neighbors have what they’ve decided to call an ‘apple bush’ in their backyard; it’s not large or impressive and they don’t spray, but they do get some fruit in late summer.  My children have been eating little apples from their tree for weeks now (with their blessing!), and they’ve brought me enough to make a few pints of applesauce.  (We’re not talking jars here–I just cooked down what I could salvage from the worms, blended it up skin and all, and stuck it in the fridge.)  I went looking for recipes using applesauce, since my kids don’t love the blended texture and I wasn’t about to pull out the food mill for such small quantities, and I found this Glazed Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread.

My son is now obsessed.

Thankfully, it’s fairly simple, delicious, and has some decent nutritional value.  I subbed out 3/4 cup of the white flour for wheat and used regular yogurt, since I didn’t have Greek; I also split the cinnamon into half cinnamon, half nutmeg, because who bakes with apples without both?  (Not this girl, I tell you what!)  It’s sticky and messy and best just a little bit warm, but the leftovers are certainly still tasty.  If you could see my son’s face when he realizes I’m making it…

Anyway.  Try it.  You’ll like it.  We do!

Sep 23, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Feeling Thankful

Feeling Thankful

Tonight I took my two older girlies to the General Women’s session of our church’s twice-yearly general conference.  The speakers were inspired (and inspiring), the company was lovely, and I came home feeling blessed.  It’s very easy to focus on the minutiae; the dishes, the laundry, the homework, the ferrying of kids to school and dance and piano and appointments.  Those things are repetitive but important, after all.  Evenings like these, however, remind me to redirect my focus to Christ.  If you have the time, visit lds.org and gain a respite from the world!

Sep 21, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Oy Gevalt!

Oy Gevalt!

I’ve read a book or three by Sid Fleischman; he’s got at least one Newbery, and he does a mean adventure story.  The Entertainer and the Dybbuk, however, is unlike anything else of his that I’ve read–possibly, it’s unlike anything else, period.  A dybbuk is a Jewish spirit capable of possessing the living, which is exactly what Avrom Amos, murdered by the Nazis and seeking revenge, proceeds to do.  His chosen vessel is one Freddie, formerly an American GI, now a ventriloquist bouncing around Europe a few years after the end of WWII.  The dybbuk wants revenge on his Nazi murderer; Freddie needs a way to stop moving his lips during his ventriloquist act.  The unlikely partnership ends up helping them both.

Here’s the thing about this one.  I thought it was fascinating and hilarious; I’m not sure kids in its intended age range, however, are going to fully appreciate it. On the other hand, I’d recommend it to a slew of adults, so I guess it’s up to you.  I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Freddie’s initial search for someone to perform an exorcism for him; it may help you decide.

              A taxi pulled up at last.  Freddie leaned forward and told the driver to find him a Jew.

              “Any particular Jew?” asked the driver.

              “There’s more than one?”

              “A few are coming back.”

You see?  Fleischman specifically set out, he said, to incorporate the Jewish sense of humor into a book about the Holocaust.  I’d say he succeeded.  You’ll have to tell me what you think!

 

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk


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Sep 19, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Expectations

Expectations

When I received a copy of Pancakes!:  An Interactive Recipe Book for review, I was somehow expecting a book with different varieties of pancake recipes; when I realized it was a board book following one recipe, with tabs and other young-child-friendly activities, I was sadly disappointed.  (I wanted that book of different recipes.)  I came back to it eventually, however, and this time I realized that it’s actually a delightful little book when you’re not expecting it to be something entirely different.  In addition to several tabs, there’s a page with one of those rotating wheels at the edge (I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I’m tired) and a removable pancake towards the end.   This would be a perfect gift for someone looking to begin cooking with a toddler.  Or a baby shower gift–accompanied by a toddler-sized apron?

Hmm.  I wonder if anyone I know is having a baby…

Sep 17, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Poet to the Core

A Poet to the Core

I’ve read quite a few of Margarita Engle’s verse novels and more or less loved them all; she tells stories I know nothing about in language that sings.  I think, however, that I’ve been too tired with the start of school to fully appreciate Silver People:  Voices from the Panama Canal.  The intertwined stories were engrossing, the ‘Forest’ sections brilliant, and the story as a whole simply amazing; it was difficult, however, to focus on the plot as easily as I usually do, because she evokes the setting so poetically.  (I wish I’d read this at a time in my life that I wasn’t going to bed at midnight-ish and waking up before seven.)  It’s a fascinating book, mind you, and it tells quite a different side of the story than I remember learning in junior high, but Engle’s verse novels are closer to the verse end of the spectrum than the novel end.  Read this one and more–they’re fabulous–but try and read them when you’re at least partially rested.

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal


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