Everyday Life and Menu Plan (10.30.16)

I kicked off this lovely week with a trip to Elliot Bay Book Company, as I mentioned in my book haul post, for a reading from Brit Bennett. Again, a wonderful novel that I highly recommend.

Then the latter part of our week was dominated by soccer: Thursday a makeup game, Friday practice and Saturday was his last regular season game.
My daughter always finds other siblings to play and hang out with while we watch, and it was super awesome that she had one of her favorite classmates with an older brother on the team this year. They slay me.

Today we totally got our fall on with chili in the crock pot and I baked a favorite apple cake while my husband helped the kids with pumpkin carving. Thank goodness he's down for this task (well, I bribe him with the cake he loves), because I HATE this yearly task on my least favorite holiday.
We have a super busy schedule ahead this week, with THREE nights of activities for the kids. I'm looking forward to changing up our Halloween routine and going trick or treating with friends this year, in lieu of doing our local downtown safe Halloween. We also have the end of season pizza party for soccer and literacy night festivities at school. It's all fun stuff, but the introvert in me will be TIRED. We are going to pat ourselves on the back for all the running around with one of our most indulgent Saturday meals!
  • Monday - Halloween! Tacos and Trick or Treating at a friends house!
  • Tuesday - End of the season pizza party for my son's soccer team!
  • Wednesday - Pesto Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Roasted Asparagus (a favorite from Damn Delicious)
  • Thursday - Kung Pao Stir Fry from Trader Joes with Brown Rice (then off to literacy night!)
  • Friday - Enchilada Quinoa Bake with Ground Turkey (using a great recipe from Pink Parsley)
  • Saturday - Top Sirloin Steaks, Twice Baked Potatoes and Wilted Garlic Spinach (The recipes from The Girl Who Ate Everything and The Harvest Kitchen are pretty much how we've prepared these side dishes with our Omaha Steaks for years!)
  • Sunday - Autumn Chopped Salad (from Espresso and Cream)
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


The Stack - October Book Haul (So Much Book Goodness This Month!)

Yep, this has evolved to just plain ol' book haul, instead of just my library haul. Book of the Month has got it's claws in me. I may have to skip a month or two to catch up on all the great books - yep, you can skip months. But I won't give it up, it's just too awesome. (As always, if you wanna get it on the fun, too - use my referral link for 30% off a 3 month subscription and a free tote!) And I already devoured this month's book, The Mothers by Brit Bennett and LOVED it. I also adore the beautiful cover.
AND I got it signed earlier this week when she was in town for a reading!
Okay, back to the top of the stack! I put the digital copy of It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover on hold, and lo, there was a copy on the choice reads shelf. I've yet to read a book by this author I've been hearing a lot about and I'm excited to dive into a straight up romance, which I haven't done in AGES. The A to Z of You and Me was an impulse grab from the same shelf, as I've seen the title floating around, but I'm not sure if I'll be up for the depressing nature of someone my age dying in hospice... My hold for the second Louise Penny Inspector Gamache novel has arrived: A Fatal Grace. It's perfect timing for a cozy mystery novel! The War That Saved My Life is this year's Newberry Award winner, so I had to check it out and may read it with my older kiddo after I'm done. Speaking of my older kiddo, it's no secret that we loved Smile and Sisters (which I didn't review here, but it was just as poignant and uproariously funny as the former), so we went ahead and purchased Ghosts on a recent trip to the bookstore.
This was the face he made when I said I might read it first! He loved it and I plan to read it this weekend. The Little Stranger should be interesting because I have one book I LOVED by Sarah Waters (Fingersmith) and one book I did NOT love (The Paying Guests). It's my online book club's pick for October and hopefully I won't fall too far behind. However, I did just pick up the selection ahead of time for November - my first two week checkout from the library!
The pressure of 14 days held me back until I saw Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. There were about 200 people ahead of me in the queue for my hold on this book, AND it's our November pick, so I snatched it up and began reading it yesterday. Already I can see what it's an eye opening and significant read.

New digital books in the queue/ARCs:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (winner of this year's Man Booker! The first American to do so! I put it on hold immediately after the announcement and luckily got 26th in line for 27 copies - it's up to over 200 holds now.)
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry (the Book of the Month description got me curious!)
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (author of Where'd You Go Bernadette? which I LOVED.)
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian (a NetGalley ARC)
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (another NetGalley ARC, also out in January)

Still in the queue:
The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater 
Shelter: A Novel by Jung Yun
Moonburner by Claire Luana 
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

As always, I'm interested in any thoughts/if you've read the books on this list or others I should know about!


Everyday Life and Menu Plan (10.23.16)

It's been a great week, and not just because we were illness free and didn't experience any power outages - although, that alone would have made for a good week in my book. Things were a little hectic because it was conference week for our district, so the kids were out of school by noon most days and there was a teacher in-service day on Friday. In lieu of our usual ice cream outing after conferences, we decided to take the kids to dinner and moved pizza night to Tuesday, hitting up a favorite local joint.
She lined her crayons up in rainbow ROYGBIV order, haha!

And on the kid's day off from school, I acquiesced and took them to one of those indoor trampoline parks, including a few games of air hockey.

We followed it up with a visit to the fruit market where we got our pumpkins, and a trip to 7-11 for slurpees - best day ever! (Kids are pretty easy to please.) 

To cap off an already lovely week, the CUBS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES OMG! And, yes, we took pictures of our television.
It's rather difficult to watch from afar, thinking of how I used to live just blocks away from Wrigley and that I can't partake in the fun. But I am so grateful to be able to witness this momentous hometown achievement. And though I'm not a religious person, I know my dad (who instilled our love of the team no matter what) is probably lookin' down on his beloved Cubbies, too.

If you could say a prayer, chant or positive thought for them this week, our family would appreciate it! Meanwhile we'll be eating...

  • Monday - Pizza
  • Tuesday - everyone fend for themselves because I'm going out to an author event in Seattle!
  • Wednesday - Burgers on the Grill (easy dinner for soccer practice night)
  • Thursday - Hoisin Stir Fry Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce (tasty recipe from Budget Bytes)
  • Friday - Chicken Fajitas with Frontera Sauce and Fixins
  • Saturday - Spinach Lasagna (great recipe via Chowhound)
  • Sunday - Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili (from Food and Wine)
And the chicken nachos from last week were DELICIOUS! So fun to have nachos for dinner, don't know why I never thought of it.
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus! 


When the Movie is BETTER Than the Book (Brooklyn by Colm Toibin)

When it comes to books and the movie counterparts, I have a pretty firm philosophy. I believe one should always read the book first. Throughout my life, this has led to some late night reading sessions - I clearly remember being in high school and devouring The Silence of the Lambs as quickly as humanly possible before a Friday night trip to the movies. And I have passed this philosophy on to my kids (or mandated it?) with the Harry Potter films: you don't read it, you don't see it!

And my other steadfast philosophy has been that the film usually: falls short of the book, can live up to it occasionally, and never surpasses the author's original work. The occasional films that I think live up to the books are definitely The Silence of the Lambs (the way they shot that ending sequence of Clarice on the wrong, but right, doorstep was JUST as chilling as the book), The Harry Potter films, The Martian, A Time to Kill, The Hunt for Red October, and Bridget Jones' Diary, to name a few.

I read Brooklyn earlier this year and kept meaning to check out the Oscar nominated film version, but never did. When my online book club chose it as our September pick to compare and contrast with the film, I finally sat down to watch.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was slightly underwhelmed by the novel, but the movie surpassed my expectations. I have always loved Saoirse Ronan (and have not so secretly harbored a love of her name), and she is just marvelous in this role. I honestly thought she breathed more life into the character than her paper counterpart, as did all of the supporting cast (especially Tony). Which I think is hard to do, because (more often than not) in the book we get to read all of the innermost thoughts of the character. 

When it comes to conveying a setting, for me, films actually have a slight advantage over written descriptions and I think this was definitely the case. Brooklyn and Ireland were standalone characters in the book and all of the crew behind the camera did an amazing job in this regard. The glimpses of everyday life during the 1950s in both settings were so evocative: the buildings, the dance halls, the stores, the beaches, the people, and the COSTUME DESIGN. Love love love. 

Lastly, I certainly don't mind an ambiguous ending to a book, but in the case where there is a CLEAR DECISION the main character is making and we don't get to be in on it? NO. And the movie delivered on this as well! An ending! A good one! 

Now I've been racking my brain to think of a film that I liked better than the book and I'm not coming up with much... Maybe The Lord of the Rings because, again, I didn't love the books (so slow! too long!) and Peter Jackson's films are some of the best of all time. Any recommendations? 


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 10.16.16

Well, the big news around here was that we dodged a bullet and did not have the disastrous wind storm we were expecting. I was mostly thinking that I did NOT want to postpone one of my favorite meals AGAIN.

But we got it all prepped and, worst case, planned to make it by lantern light. Thankfully we have a gas stove top. And thankfully we didn't even have to do that, AND thankfully we weren't without power for more than FIVE DAYS - which is was happened during the worst windstorm we've experienced during our time living in the Pacific Northwest. That was nearly 10 years ago and beyond terrible. 

Now we're overflowing with batteries, extra lanterns purchased last minute from Amazon, and books! Yes, our disaster preparedness plan calls for a trip to the library. 
By the way, local yokels, from what I understand - this is one of only FIVE shelves of two week checkouts in all the King County Library System. Get thee to the Kingsgate Library for some new and notable releases, or figure out where the other four offerings are!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus! 


Great 'Odd Couple' Pairings in Children's Books

It's been such a joy to watch my six year old develop as a reader. She consumes the usual stuff - The Puppy Place books, Magic Tree House, any nonfiction about animals, you name it. But, I've noticed that both of my kids tend to re-read and gravitate towards things that are just below their reading level and that are humorous. Funny reigns supreme in our house and for awhile now, my girl has been infatuated with the adorable pairing of Frog and Toad.

Reading Lobel's classics with her has been SO FUN, and the way these two play off each other cracks me up. My favorite story is 'Cookies' wherein they try to have the willpower to stop eating cookies by making the treats harder and harder to reach. Eventually, Frog puts them in a box tied with string on top of the refrigerator. When Toad points out that that he could just climb a ladder to get the cookies, Frog gives them to the birds and, although they've achieved 'willpower', Toad declares he will go home and bake a cake. I am SO a Toad. They make us laugh as much as Elephant and Piggie, whom she still adores, and they are always on the top of the pile in her room.
And that got me thinking about the completely obvious connection between the two: the hilarity of an 'odd couple' pairing. There are so many great early readers she still loves that fit this mold: Fred and Ted .

Mac and Cheese
Toot & Puddle

Bink and Gollie
And probably so many more that I should keep a lookout for, maybe a good Bert and Ernie book...
If you have a six year old, what are they loving right now? Recommendations for readers from six to a hundred are always welcome!