Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Nook - Owl At Home

Last night, I actually fell asleep at the computer.  When I woke up, I dragged myself upstairs & into bed & as soon as I laid down, I thought....oh no!  Book Nook!  So, today, I bring you a special Tuesday edition of Book Nook!

When I wrote my posting last week about baking & thanking, I asked myself - are there any books that I'm thankful for?  A book (or books) that enhances and enriches the world.  A book that things just wouldn't be the same without.  That's a lot to ask out of a book, but I think there are many that fit that bill.  But for me, there is one book that really stands out, and mostly for the reason that it is from my childhood.

  I remember reading Owl At Home by Arnold Lobel as a child & loving it.  There are several stories in the book - the guest, strange bumps, tear-water tea, upstairs and downstairs and owl and the moon.  I think my favorite one has always been owl and the moon.  In this story, owl befriends the moon.  But when he says goodbye to the moon & leaves for home, the moon follows owl like a little lost puppy!  Reading the book to the Bachsters, they seem to request strange bumps the most.  In this story, owl is in bed & sees two strange bumps at the foot of his bed under the blankets.  Strangely, when he moves one foot, one of the bumps moves too.  This story cracks my kids up, and I remember reading it as a child & laughing about it too.

The illustrations are done in soft muted earth tones.  Owl's house is very adorable and cozy - you want to go inside and have a cup of tea with him.  Owl himself is very friendly and warm - I love that he is in his robe and slippers for most of the book.  The story and the illustrations pair up nicely - both are soft, sweet, warm and inviting.  No wonder I have always loved this book!

Interestingly, I asked my Mom about this book several months ago to see if she and my Dad still had it at their house.  If they did, I was going to "borrow" it.  But my Mom couldn't recall the book & I didn't see it on the bookshelves when I looked.  About a month later, the Bachsters and I were at a book sale at our local library, and there it was: Owl At Home.  The same hardback version I had as a child (a different book though, as it was inscribed with someone else's name).  It was fate - and only a buck!

Do yourself a favor: if you've never read Owl At Home, please do.  It is a wonderful book, one that I truly treasure.

Is there any special book that you treasure and are thankful for?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baking & Thanking

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you & your family & loved ones all had a wonderful day!

DH and I decided to spend the day with both sides of the family this year, which makes for a very busy (but nice) day.  In preparation, I had planned on making 3 recipes, all new, to take to our Thanksgiving locales.  I'm happy to say that 2 out of 3 were great recipes....the third, not so much.  It was too embarrassing to take!

The first successful recipe (and I'm sorry I don't have any pics to share) was a from-scratch green bean casserole.  I'm sort of the designated green bean casserole person in our family, so I usually bring it to the feast.  But this year it occurred to me that you don't have to make it with canned soup (why it took me so long to figure this out, I don't know).  So I found, and made, this recipe, which absolutely rocks!  I'll never make green bean casserole the canned-soup way anymore.  It was soooo good & everyone loved it.  Many thanks, as always, Martha!

The second successful recipe was a pumpkin roll.  I love all things pumpkin, and pumpkin rolls are no exception.  But I don't think I've ever made one before.  Couldn't have been easier or any more delicious than it was.  Everyone gobbled it up at my DH's family get-together, and no one touched the pumpkin pie that was there!  Here is where I got the recipe.  Thanks, Libby!

I won't say who the culprit is that provided the "turkey" among my 3 Thanksgiving recipes, but let's just say that it was for pecan pie and that it's bound for the trash can.  Oh well, you can't win them all!

I've also been thinking about a few things that I'm thankful for.  Of course I am thankful for my family, and good health and happiness (not to mention food and shelter and yarn).  But there are a few other things that I've thought about recently that I'd like to share.  So, here goes:

I am thankful for.......

  • the fact that I don't have a raging case of poison ivy.  Very, very thankful for this!
  • the fact that you never stop learning.  I feel like I've been learning and growing a lot lately.  Thank goodness you CAN teach an old dog (and 30-something SAHM) new tricks!
  • friendly Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies that will land right on your arm and entertain you & your kids for hours on warm days in November:

  • any time the kitchen sink is empty
  • any time the park's recycling bin is full (yay for recyclers)
  • all the pages of original artwork the Bachsters have created that are scattered all over our house.  They are wonderful!
  • that my DH works so hard so that I can stay home with the kids.  I am grateful for this every single day.
  • that there are no current leaks in the ceiling of the kitchen.  Also thankful that DH is so handy!
  • very thankful that we were not involved in the accident we drove by on the highway tonight
  • ravelry.com - I'm on there almost every day!

On this Thanksgiving, what are some things that you are Thankful for?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Nook - Mad Hungry

Well, it's Fall and I've been cooking up a storm (one thing I love to do when the cold weather hits).  Cooking for a family of 5 can seem like a rather hum drum task at times, so I'm always looking for new recipes to please the crowd - and the cook.

Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn is a great cookbook to have on hand.  There are tons of great recipes here, many of which I've tried.  Want to hear about them?

First, the lentil vegetable soup is just delicious.  I was worried that it would be bland & boring, but the recipe has just the right amount of salt & seasonings.  The croutons are a nice addition too.  Definitely recommend this one!  Last night, I made the creamed spinach.  I really liked how the author coaches you on how to steam spinach properly - her advice was very helpful & the recipe turned out great.  I also made the cheddar corn bread.  I thought this one was just so-so, but the kids liked it!  I also made the apple crisp, which was good.  The busy day chocolate cake was good & really easy to make.  As it's a vegan cake, you can't help but think, there's something amuck with this cake (anyone seen the movie Two Weeks Off with the Hugh Grant character asking that about the cheesecake?  Anyhoo....).  The cake does stay very moist for a couple of days & is a great recipe not only for those who are vegans, but also those that are short on basic baking ingredients!  The final recipe from the book I've tried is the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  These are soooo yummy!  Just the right combination of sweet & salty.  This recipe just might replace my usual go-to chocolate chip recipe.

While I've made several recipes from the book, there are a bunch that I'd like to try: the Italian fries look really tasty; I'd like to try the fat girl red rice (I love sun-dried tomatoes); the Chinese celery salad looks good, although I don't think I could get the kids to go for that one.  And the author gushes about pies so much that I just have to try one!  Many of the recipes seem like solid recipes to have on hand for feeding a hungry family.  There are lots of basics like hot chocolate (which is also on my to-try list), but none seem boring.

One thing I love about this cookbook is the photography (of course)!  The photographer uses what is known as an "action" to finish his photos in a uniform style, with muted colors.  The plates are styled on gauze & linen fabrics, or well-worn wood.  I love the look of it all!  Plus, I really appreciate when a recipe comes with a photo, and most of the recipes in the book do.  Also, most of the recipes (in fact, I think all of them) have their own devoted page, so that you don't have to flip back and forth among pages when you're following the instructions.  I'm so glad, because I hate "flipping" when I'm trying to be cooking!  I also appreciate all of Lucinda Scala Quinn's intro's to each recipe, her advice on cooking in general that is scattered throughout and the personal stories she tells about her family.  All that adds up to the feeling that you have a friend in the kitchen with you!

I must admit, there is one thing I dislike about this cookbook: I don't like the marketing schtick about cooking for men & boys.  Honestly, this cookbook would be perfect for anyone, not just Moms cooking for boys.  I think they should have just marketed the book for what it is: great, solid recipes that you'll go to again and again for delicious, homemade meals. 


Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Nook - Harry Potter

I'm happy to report that my computer problems are a thing of the past!  Hopefully, I can get some pics on the blog soon, as I have some exciting news to share!  I'll keep you in suspense for a day or two, though!

If you were to ask me what my favorite book is, I'd have to say Harry Potter.  But it's hard to pick just one.  That's why I've picked 7 - all 7 of the Harry Potter books.  So this week's Book Nook is dedicated to my favorite book(s) - the Harry Potter series.  And this will be a short post.  Because if you've read the books, you already know how great they are.  And if you haven't read them.....well, you must.  It's that simple.

I've read each book at least twice and they are such an enjoyable read.  I love JK Rowling's writing style, her sense of humor and her amazing ability to write 7 books with such strong, fascinating characters, complicated & interesting plot lines and a whole new, magical world for us Muggles to enter into again & again.  I know many people who say they have not read the books but have seen the movies.....the movies are great, don' get me wrong, but you are really missing out if you don't read the books.

I've recommended books on CD before, but these are probably my favorite stories to listen to on CD.  Read by Jim Dale, he gives each character their own distinct voice & the imagery that will present itself with his reading & Rowling's excellent writing is like watching a movie....only better.

So I will leave it at that!  There is a good reason the Harry Potter series is so popular & for those who haven't read the books, you will see what all the fuss is about once you do!

PS - As you probably have heard, the 7th Harry Potter movie is opening on Friday.  DH & I are going this weekend - I'm so excited!  If you are planning on seeing it too, have fun!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Nook - More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

I apologize for not posting since my last Book Nook - that means it's been a whole week!  Our computer has been down, but luckily, will be back home in a few days, all patched up.  Even more fortunate is the fact that I won't lose any of my pictures - I was sweating it there!  Most of them are backed up, but not all.  Backing pics up is now on the top of my to-do list!

Speaking of to-do lists, if yours consists of knitting some goodies for the holidays, I would suggest you check out this week's Book Nook selection: More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.  This is a beautiful book with lots of great ideas for knitted projects.  They are categorized by how much time they should take you to complete, which is very thoughtful especially if the reader is looking through this at the 11th hour, as is usually the case with me!

Since my pc is down, I can only provide this link to amazon.com instead of my usual nifty link + picture.  There are several projects which I have post-it-noted that I'd love to make: kelly's mittens & the big lace scarf (for myself, ahem), and the kid's vest.  I also love the fingerless gloves, and usually I don't like fingerless gloves at all.  She has me interested in making a pair (again, for myself.....blush).  I've never actually knit anything for myself before, but I think I need to get started!

Other patterns that I really like, but probably won't be making in the foreseeable future are the bookmarks, pointy elf hat, coasters, house (this is a cute knitted toy idea), toe-up socks and all the baby-related projects in the book.

The photography is gorgeous & spot-on.  I love that many of the projects are photographed in a beautiful outdoor setting or with rustic wood as the backdrop.  I was intrigued when I read through the list of model names that the photographer is actually one of the models.  I've been trying to guess which one since!  I also really loved the last section, with some neat ideas on how to wrap up your handmade gift to make it extra special.  The cards with the extra yarn & buttons is a great idea that I'll definitely be using in the future!

I should mention that this is the 2nd book the author has done on knitted gifts (you probably figured that out by the title).  I'd like to check out the first one, as I have not done so yet.  I'm sure it's packed with great little knitting projects just like this one.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Nook - The Spooky boo.....k

This week's Book Nook selection is very special - and very spooky!  This book was recently (= yesterday) published and actually has 3 authors - my Bachsters!  It is by far the best book I have ever read & I highly recommend it to you.  Can't find it at your bookstore?  No problem!  Here it is, in its entirety!

This was a true sibling collaboration, with everyone doing at least one page & sissies helping their little brother make a scary face on his page.  I'm not sure the dates of the upcoming book tour, but I'll keep you posted.  I know for certain that they will gladly come to your hometown on tour, as long as they are promised leftover Halloween candy.