Author Archive

Welcome to Grandma’s table

May 8th, 2019

Do you remember the clear vinyl your grandmother rolled out over the nice tablecloth during family gatherings?

I never thought much of it as a kid, of course; but when I was looking back to it from my teen years I was filled with all the disdain teens are known for.

“I’ll never cover my tablecloths,” I thought. “Let people spill on them. It’s only a tablecloth. It’ll wash. And if it doesn’t? It’s only a tablecloth.”

I’ve followed through, setting my table with my grandma’s tablecloths and some I’ve acquired along the way. My tablecloths have seen spaghetti spills, chili spills, grape juice spills (oh. so. many. grape juice spills during seders). I’ve happily reassured the spillers (and their parents) that it’s no problem at all – it’s only a tablecloth.

This spring, I saw a tablecloth at ALDI that was quite pretty and I impulse-bought it. I spread it across the table and I was in love.

You see, I love our table. I like how easy it is to get around the oval. It’s just the right size for six when it’s leafless – and the leaf allows me to seat ten (albeit a little tight). But our table desperately needs refinished.

Problem is, ain’t nobody got time for that.

The tablecloth kept all the magic of our table – without the reminder of yet another thing I don’t have time to do.

And then we ate lunch on it.

Folks, I have a four-year-old, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and a ten-month-old. You know where this is going, right?

The tablecloth had to go in the washer right after lunch.

But I was in love with the tablecloth concept, so I pulled out another. I put placemats on top of the tablecloth for supper.

The tablecloth still had to go in the washer right after supper.

I swallowed hard, got on Amazon, and ordered myself a Grandma table protector.

My table with its grandma cover

A Dark Day

April 19th, 2019

Yesterday afternoon, my doctor gave me the news I’d been dreading.

I am miscarrying.

Our baby is dead.

I expected that. I started spotting on Tuesday and the bleeding and cramping has intensified over the last couple of days. The ultrasound and first blood test were inconclusive. We needed a second blood test for a trend. But my doctor and I both suspected what we would find.

Our baby is dead.

I grieve the loss of our fourth child. I grieve my children’s loss of a sibling. I grieve for baby hands I will never hold, for baby smiles I will never see.

But I do not grieve as those who have no hope.

I need not question whether or not God is for me.

His Son died.

That is answer enough. He is for me.

His Son rose.

That is answer enough. I have hope.

Please pray for us as we grieve.

Recipe: Mother Wilder’s Baked Beans

April 15th, 2019

Daniel had fond memories of his grandmother’s baked beans – but every time he had tried baked beans from a can or a restaurant, he was disappointed.

A wife has two options when faced with such a problem. She can see it as a challenge and set out to make some baked beans her husband will love – or she can assume she can never win and just opt to not make baked beans.

I chose the latter.

Until February of 2015 when I decided to cook my way through Farmer Boy for Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge.

Baked beans, cornbread, stir fry veggies, and peaches

I made baked beans using Mother Wilder’s technique – and Daniel liked them quite a lot.

Since then, with only a few modifications, I’ve been making them almost every month.


“In the pantry Mother was filling the six-quart pan with boiled beans, putting in onions and peppers and the piece of fat pork, and pouring scrolls of molasses over all. Then Almanzo saw her open the flour barrels. She flung rye flour and cornmeal into the big yellow crock, and stirred in milk and eggs and things, and poured the big baking-pan full of the yellow-gray rye’n’injun dough.

‘You fetch the rye’n’injun, Almanzo; don’t spill it,’ she said. She snatched up the pan of beans and Almanzo followed more slowly with the heavy pan of rye’n’injun. Father opened the big doors of the oven in the heater, and Mother slid the beans and the bread inside. They would slowly bake there, till Sunday dinner-time”


Ingredients:

  • Ham bone with some meat still on bone
  • 8 oz dry Great Northern beans or navy beans
  • Water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 0.75 cups molasses
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions:

  1. Stick ham bone and beans in crockpot. Cover with water and cook (on low or high, doesn’t matter which) until beans are soft (I usually start mine in the morning and let them cook on low until mid-afternoon – but you can do it on high in as little as four hours.)
  2. Beans, beans

  3. Remove beans from crockpot with slotted spoon. Place in a casserole (I use a 9″x9″ or 9″x13″ baking pan) along with onion, green pepper, and any ham you can pull from the bone and chop up (If I have extra, I sometimes add diced ham that didn’t get cooked with the beans.)
  4. Molasses plus garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and liquid smoke

  5. Mix together molasses, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and liquid smoke in a 1 cup liquid measure. Pour mixture over beans. Give one more good mix.
  6. Beans with onions and peppers and "scrolls of molasses"

  7. Bake at 350 (or 400 if that’s what your cornbread needs!) for 30-45 minutes or until just a bit crispy on top. Serve and enjoy!
  8. Baked beans, cornbread, and coleslaw

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.04.12)

April 12th, 2019

After a rather excessive week last week, buying meat for several months, I toned things back this week. Just the necessities (mostly).

What I Spent:

Friday, April 5

Walmart – $4.19

The aforementioned coffee (that I didn’t have a receipt for last week).

Tuesday, April 9

Sam’s Club Pickup – $5.18

Sam's Club 2019.04.09

Walmart Pickup – $36.81

Walmart 2019.04.09

Fruit can be an expensive item, but eating a combo of fresh, canned, frozen, and dried fruit can help you get your minimum 2-3 servings daily for a little less. We generally eat one fresh fruit, one canned fruit, and either a frozen or a dried fruit every day. I get seasonal fruit when they’re in season – which is why our recent selections have been rather boring.

Friday, April 12

ALDI – $39.85

ALDI 209.04.12

Do you see the six pounds of butter back there? ALDI had butter for $1.99 per pound, which is about $0.40 less per pound than the cheapest I usually see it (with no sales, it often runs close to $3 per pound). So I got the limit as per last week’s meat post. I keep a couple pounds in the fridge (butter has a relatively long refrigerated shelf life) and put the rest in the freezer for later use.


That’s $86.03, which is $21.97 under my newly jiggered budget of $108 per week.

So…
Week 1 – $156.79 ($48.79 over)
Week 2 – $86.03 ($21.97 under)


What We Ate:

Saturday, April 6
Breakfast – Pancakes and scrambled eggs with canned peaches

Supper – Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Peas, Spinach Salad

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Spinach Salad, Peas

Sunday, April 7
Lunch – BBQ Pork sandwiches, Potato Salad, 3 Bean Salad

BBQ Pork with Three Bean Salad and Potato Salad

Supper – Leftovers

Monday, April 8
Ham, Pineapple, Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots, Broccoli

Ham, Pineapple, Maple Mustard Carrots, and Broccoli

Tuesday, April 2
Eggs Benedict with Grapes and Tater Tots (I intended to make hashbrowns with this but only remembered after it was much too late to get hashbrowns started.)

Eggs Benedict, Grapes, and Tater Tots

Wednesday, April 10
Black Beans and Rice (I modified this recipe to use a crockpot instead of a pressure cooker.)

Black Beans and Rice

Thursday, April 11
Great Grams’ Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, and Green Olives

Great Grams Spaghetti with Lettuce and Olives

Friday, April 12
We’ll be having chef salad tonight with leftover ham, shredded cheddar, boiled eggs, green onions, and peas.

Children’s Nonfiction Reading Report (March 2019)

April 10th, 2019

Fiction isn’t the only thing we consume here at Prairie Elms – in fact, if anything, my kids are more avid consumers of nonfiction than anything else. I force them to read my fiction picture books while they clamor to read more about whatever their current topics of choice are. When we go to the library, the kids overwhelm me for requests for “another baby book”, “another truck book”, whatever.


Baby Books:

Tirzah Mae’s obsession with pregnancy and birth continues unabated.

  • Before You Were Born by Ann Douglas, illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes, photographs by Gilbert Duclos
    "Before You Were Born"
    Written in second person (as in the title), this describes what a baby does inside the womb – and includes little “experiments” for children to do to get a feel for what life was like in the womb. The photographs are pretty 90s (this was published in 2000), but the information is solid. Good for someone who wants to discuss what’s happening during pregnancy without getting into the mechanics of reproduction or anything to sciencey (like many of the other books that discuss fetal development do). Warning: the cover of this is terrible.
  • Twin Tales: The Magic and the Mystery of Multiple Birth by Donna M. Jackson
    "Twin Tales"
    An interesting book about multiples, featuring lots of profiles of multiples. This is not an early reader’s book. You’ll want to read it in sections if you’re reading to younger children.
  • Welcome with Love by Jenni Overend, illustrated by Julie Vivas
    "Welcome with Love"
    A little boy narrates what’s happening as his mother gives birth to his baby brother at their home in Australia. This features homebirth, children present at birth, and cosleeping. The illustrations are well-done – but they do depict a woman giving birth (baby emerging from between legs, bare breasts, baby’s penis, etc.) Really a lovely book – but some may find it a bit much.
  • Drugs and Birth Defects by Nancy Shniderman and Sue Hurwitz
    "Drugs and Birth Defects"
    Ugh, ugh, ugh. Scare tactics galore. Dated photos and language. Very “just say no”. But Tirzah Mae is all about fetal alcohol syndrome after Daniel and I did a series of webinars on it for continuing education for our foster home. And this is what the library has on the topic. So I read it and reread it and reread it again.
  • Baby on the Way by William Sears, Martha Sears, and Christie Watts Kelly, illustrated by Renee Andriani
    "Baby on the Way"
    A “what to expect when mama’s pregnant” book that (thankfully) doesn’t focus on jealousy. This is a little more comprehensive than most of this genre since it explains what to expect both before, during, and after the baby comes (mama may be extra tired during pregnancy, her belly will get bigger and her lap smaller, she’ll probably go to the hospital to have the baby, she’ll breastfeed and you might be able to hold the baby, etc.)

Giraffe Books:

Louis’s current favorite animal is (without a doubt) the giraffe – so we picked up some books about them (of course!)

    Giraffe Books

  • Giraffe by Anders Hanson
    Very simple and straightforward – just a couple of sentences per page.
  • Giraffes and Their Babies by Marianne Johnston
    "Giraffes and Their Babies"
    Straightforward picture book nonfiction – double-page spreads that could stand on their own (but at 24 pages, the book is short enough to be read aloud easily in one sitting), full-page photographs, and a glossary and index in the back. Unlike many nonfiction books of this type, this is graphically uniform and not unpleasant to look at.
  • Giraffes by Patricia Kendell
    "Giraffes"
    Similar to Giraffes and Their Babies except even fewer words per page. The graphics are a bit busier but not at all nightmarish.
  • Giraffes by Emily U. Lephthien
    Slightly longer chapters than the rest of the books in this category. The graphics are also slightly more busy than all the rest.

Health Books:

  • Let’s Talk about Down Syndrome by Melanie Apel Gordon
    "Let's Talk about Down Syndrome"
    There are ten photos in this book. Of those, only three depict a child with Down Syndrome. Instead they show a stock photo of ordinary kids with captions like “The doctor listens to this girl’s heart just the way he listens to the heart of a child with Down syndrome”. Seriously?

Truck Books:

  • I Drive a Dump Truck by Sara Bridges, illustrated by Derrick Alderman and Denise Shea
    "I Drive a Dump Truck"
    Large text gives a narrative (“Henry” describes his truck and what he does with it) while smaller text in call-out boxes give additional information related to the narrative. The illustrations are simple, pleasant, and engaging. I could see this being classified either as nonfiction (as in my library) or in the general picture books section.

My Garden Grows Despite

April 9th, 2019

Gardening takes a special sort of person. A person who is willing to work consistently. To water, to weed, to plant, to leave alone.

An apple tree

Our apple trees made it through their second winter. Time will tell if my pruning was good for them or not.

I am not that sort of person.

My forsythia

I transplanted this forsythia from elsewhere in our yard a couple years ago. Last year’s dramatic pruning is showing its fruit this year in increased flowering and shoot production. Project forsythia rehab continues!

I am a project person, a dig around in the dirt for hours and then leave it alone for months kind of person.

Daffodills

These daffodils are now past their prime – but I’ve gained plenty of enjoyment out of the buckets of bulbs my aunt brought me the past couple of years.

And so, while I’ve put in a garden every year since I first became a homeowner, I’ve never been particularly successful at it.

Daylilies

The daylilies I got from a neighbor and which I have been transferring from place to place seem to be settling well into their (hopefully) permanent home.

This year, I’m not certain whether I’ll get a garden in. What with a new foster baby and a new baby on the way and finishing our basement (did I say we’re getting our basement finished? I don’t believe I have. But we are.) What with all the excitement ’round here, I haven’t started any seeds – and plants are awfully expensive given my poor track record at getting any produce.

A peony shoot

I planted six peonies last fall, a pair of three different varieties. I’m thrilled to see that they made it through the winter – five of the six have put out shoots (and I’m hopeful that the sixth will soon since its pair only poked through soil today.)

But I’m delighting in the bits of life that are springing up here and there in my garden nonetheless.

Sage plant
I'm-not-sure-what-kind-of-mint
Peppermint
Spearmint

My herb garden delights, with three different varieties of mint and a nice bush of sage growing strong. We picked the first of the spearmint and have been enjoying spearmint-infused water in our bottles the past couple of days – and I’m planning to pick and dry my first batch of sage at the end of this week or beginning of the next. I’m also pleased to see that at least some of the milkweed seeds that I saved and planted last fall have germinated.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.04.05)

April 5th, 2019

What I Spent:

Sunday, March 31

Walmart – $13.36

Apples and coffee from Walmart

I needed apples for the apples’n’onions I had been promising the kids we could have with our pork (I really DO love that they want to do everything they read about!) so we dropped by Walmart after church to get some – and some extra coffee since we were on our way to out. We have since determined that we are not fans of Seattle’s Best – this particular one tastes burnt and overly acidic.

Tuesday, April 2

Sam’s Club Pickup – $7.46

Sam's Club Pickup 2019.04.02

Walmart Pickup – $79.07

Walmart Pickup 2019.04.02

Thursday, April 4

ALDI – $135.90

ALDI finds 2019.04.04

And this is where I realize I should explain something. My budget isn’t actually $115 per week. It’s $123 per week – except that I subtracted $8 per week to spread the quarter of beef I bought last fall out over the whole year. You see, one of the wonderful things about not living paycheck to paycheck is that I can stock up on things when they’re inexpensive. I can go way overbudget one week and then make it up in other weeks without decreasing food quality. In fact, we can actually eat better and afford more that way.

Which is why I bought almost 55 lbs of meat this week.

Meat from ALDI 2019.04.04

We just started a new menu cycle – one that includes ham and pork roasts once a month. ALDI sells a shank ham for $1.19/lb, nearly $0.40/lb cheaper than Walmart’s cheapest ham – but ALDI only has ham some of the time. In order to ensure that I can be eating the less expensive ham for the entirety of my spring cycle, I bought two hams today and stuck them in the deep freeze (I already have a ham for our first go-round in the fridge.) And those pork roasts? It just so happens that shoulder roasts were one of ALDIs fresh meat specials this week. I bought a couple (enough for the rest of this cycle) at $1.49/lb.

The family pack chicken breasts were another fresh meat special this week – $1.69/lb. I bought two family packs and plunked them in the crockpot as soon as I got home. As soon as they were cooked through, I cut enough up for Friday’s chicken salad, then shredded the rest with my hand mixer in the crockpot’s crock. Then I portioned the meat into containers and stuck them in the deep freeze too. I’ll pull them out and use them as needed – it’s likely they’ll get me through a couple of menu cycles.

The Italian sausage is for Great Grams’ spaghetti sauce, which I’ll be making next week. And, of course, I’ll be making a second batch to stick in the freezer for the second time through the menu cycle.

So, especially once I consider the beef that was already in the freezer from last fall’s quarter, I now have most of the meat I need for the next three months of meals – all of it (except the Italian sausage) at less than $2 per pound, some significantly less. I spent a lot this week and went way overbudget – but ultimately, this allows me to stay within my budget all around.

I realize that not everyone has this luxury; but for those who do have wiggle room, I think this strategy of intentionally overshooting your budget when you can get meat on sale is a good one. You just have to remember to adjust your weekly budget down from then on out to keep from just staying in a deficit.

In this case, I spent $79 on meat. I’m going to spread that over the next 12 weeks (which is how long I expect the meat to last before I have to buy more). So I’m going to decrease my weekly budget by $7 per week, making it $108 per week.

Now, to go further into the nitty-gritty, I’m going to take my $135.90 ALDI bill and subtract the $79 in meat. That’s $56.90. That’s how much I’m going to say I spent this week at ALDI.

Friday, April 5

We bought more coffee because we really did NOT like the Seattle’s Best stuff. We really, really need to make sure we buy enough coffee at the Spice Merchant next week!

Unfortunately, Daniel made this purchase and I don’t have the receipt for it (and it hasn’t posted to our account yet) – so I think I’ll just count it towards next week’s budget.


That’s $156.79, which is $48.79 over my newly jiggered budget of $108 per week. Ouch! I’m going to have to tighten the belt – but that should be easier to do (fingers crossed) now that I’m heading back to ALDI (cheaper prices on several things and less food waste from poorly picked produce at Walmart) and since I shouldn’t have to buy much meat.


What We Ate:

Saturday, March 30
Breakfast – Daniel bought us donuts to go with the eggs he made us. And we had fruit.

Supper – Dumplings and Kraut and Bratwursts (I think.)

Sunday, March 31
Lunch – Good question. Leftovers?

Supper – Quickpea Curry (made with this recipe from Taste of Home except that Daniel doesn’t like chickpeas, so we use cannelini beans. And I added some shredded chicken because we’re meat eaters. And I didn’t have enough curry powder the first time we made it so we use 1 Tbsp of yellow curry paste and just 2 tsp of curry powder instead of the called for 1 Tbsp of curry powder. And we serve it on quinoa instead of couscous. So, you know, basically the same thing all :-)

Quickpea Curry

Monday, April 1
Pork roast, apples’n’onions (from Farmer Boy, but which I burned horribly), and coleslaw

Pork roast, apples'n'onions', and coleslaw

Tuesday, April 2
Frittata with green beans and peaches

Frittata with green beans and peaches

Wednesday, April 3
Oven beef fajitas (made using the older version of this recipe by Budget Bytes except with beef instead of chicken), lettuce salad, and burrito beans

Beef Fajitas, lettuce salad, burrito beans

Thursday, April 4
Pizza, Three-Bean Salad, and Coleslaw

Pizza, 3 bean salad, and coleslaw

Friday, April 5
Chicken salad on lettuce with sliced oranges (I used this Dijon Chicken Salad recipe from Taste of Home. It was good but a bit bland.)

Chicken Salad on lettuce with Orange slices

Picture Book Reading Report (March 2019)

April 4th, 2019

I fell short of my goal of 45 picture books author last name “C” this month – we only got in 37. The children have really started to love nonfiction and re-reading, both of which cut down on my ability to quickly work my way through this section of the library. Altogether, we’ve read 108 “C” books here in the first three months of the year, which is 19% of the approximately 560 I estimate that are in this section. So I definitely need to step on it if I’m going to get it done this year!


Asterisks represent books I recommend (3 stars or above).

Authors Last Name CAR

  • Henry and the Bully, written and illustrated by Nancy Carlson
    I’m not a big fan of Carlson’s illustrations – and even less a fan of books about bullying (which I tend to see as giving kids instructions on how to bully rather than being particularly helpful at avoiding or managing bullying.)
  • *Melanie, written by Carol Carrick, illustrated by Alisher Dianov
    We read several of Carrick’s other books in February and I held off reading this one because it was longer than the rest. I totally shouldn’t have waited. This is a lovely fairy tale story that was a true delight to read.
  • "Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole"

  • Alice and Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole by Lewis Carroll, retold by Joe Rhatigan and Charles Nurnber, and illustrated by Eric Puybaret
    A very nice abbreviated introduction to the classic story.

Written by Mary Casanova and Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

Books by Mary Casanova

  • One-Dog Sleigh
    One animal after another joins in to ride in the “one-dog sleigh”. Okay.
  • Some Cat!
    A rescued cat and her new owners’ dogs make peace with one another. I’m not a cat person, or a dog person really, so this didn’t really float my boat. Your results may vary.
  • *Utterly Otterly Day and *Utterly Otterly Night
    A truly delightful couple of tales. They tell of the adventures of a young otter in a sing-song rhyme. In one tale, otter thinks he’s a big boy and doesn’t need to obey (with predictable results). In the other, otter senses something amiss and does as he ought to save the family. I will definitely read these again.

Written and illustrated by Judith Casely

"Field Day Friday"

  • Field Day Friday
    Two friends compete on the same team for their school’s field day – but only one wins the single foot race.
  • Mama, Coming and Going
    After mama has a new baby, she can’t tell whether she’s coming and going – and she gets into all sorts of absent-minded scrapes.
  • On the Town
    A little boy explores his community as part of a school assignment
  • Sisters
    Melissa’s family adopts a girl from somewhere overseas – and the two girls must learn what it means to be sisters

Authors Last Name CAS

Books by Authors CAS

  • A Lullaby for Little One by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Charles Fuge
    A gentle little story of a little rabbit and his big daddy rabbit.
  • The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit by John Carter Cash, illustrated by Scott Nash
    A showdown of sorts with plenty of wild west imagery. Not my thing.
  • Kibby the Space Dog? by Andrea Cassel, illustrated by Melanie Regier
    A first person story about a dog who had to wear a cone of shame. The dog is both overly self-aware and overly didactic: “I was being rejected because people thought I was now different. My life was not the same anymore. I lost my fun, playful spirit.”
  • Kazaak! written and illustrated by Sean Cassidy
    A moderately fun story about a couple of porcupines, one of whom is afraid of bears, the other who is full of bravado thanks to his quills. Turns out, Mr. Fearful has to save Mr. Bravado :-)
  • Sterling, Best Dog Ever

  • Sterling, Best Dog Ever written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
    Sterling is delivered with a shipment of silver and tries to be good cutlery – but he soon learns that his family loves him for who he really is. Eh.
  • "Beach House"

  • *Beach House written by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Amy June Bates
    Caswell tells the story of a family traveling to the beach in short sentences of sweet poetry. Bates’s illustrations are just right. Lovely.

Written and Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Books by Lauren Castillo

  • Nana in the City
    A little boy is scared about his grandma living in the city – but she teaches him that the city is a wonderful place to live. Okay, but not particularly applicable to us.
  • The Troublemaker
    Someone is taking off with a little boy’s precious belongings – but who can it be? A cute little story.

Written and Illustrated by Peter Catalanotto

Books by Peter Catalanotto

  • Ivan the Terrier
    The title character keeps interrupting the author’s attempts at retelling fairy tales. Silly.
  • *Kitten, red, yellow blue
    How does a woman keep track of the sixteen calico cats her cat gave birth to? Using colors, of course! A fun little book.
  • Matthew A.B.C

  • Matthew A.B.C
    Mrs. Tuttle’s kindergarten class has 25 students, all named Matthew. How on earth does she tell them apart? Easy, actually. And the 26th student fills the gap nicely.
  • More books by Peter Catalanotto

  • The Newbies
    When Luke’s parents seem to be too busy preparing for the birth of the new baby, he imagines himself some new parents (only to find out the old ones are better after all.
  • Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All
    What if everyone was a superhero in costume – and the child who always has a question meets the child who always knows the answers? I enjoyed the story of their little show-down – and so did Tirzah Mae (probably because Little Miss Know-It-All wears a tiara!)

Authors Last Name CAT-CAZ

The Magic Rabbit

  • The Magic Rabbit written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate
    When a boy magician and his rabbit get separated, will the rabbit find his way back to his friend?
  • Treasure Hunt written and illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
    Let your kids go on a treasure hunt along with the characters of this book – all the way to a picnic in a clearing in the woods. The clues and illustrations were just the right difficulty for my two preschoolers (4.5 and almost 3).
  • Books by Author CAU-CAZ

  • *Nothing at All written and illustrated by Denys Cazet
    Various members of the farmyard do all sorts of things – but what does the scarecrow do? I enjoyed the surprise ending.

Written and Illustrated by Randy Cecil

Books by Randy Cecil

  • Gator
    When an amusement park shuts down, the gator from the carousel goes out to explore the world. Eh.
  • One Dark and Dreadful Night
    A director keeps trying to put on a dreadful play – but his young actors keep turning them into ridiculous fairy tales. Double eh.

Written by Melanie Cecka and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

"Violet" books by Melanie Cecka

  • Violet Comes to Stay
    Cecka channels Cynthia Coppersmith or Jan Karon’s Mitford series – to present a story of Violet the white cat. It was okay but not amazing.
  • Viiolet Goes to the Country
    Ditto the above.

Authors Last Name CE-CL

"Elbow Grease"

  • Elbow Grease by John Cena, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
    A book about gumption – not giving up, whether you win or lose. Monster Truck “Elbow Grease” isn’t as tough or fast or smart or brave as his brothers – but he has gumption enough to finish the Grand Prix despite the odds. Good point but the story isn’t really my thing (but it might be yours or your child’s).
  • Swing

  • The Swing written and illustrated by Joe Cepeda
    A very surreal story about a family who always loses things and a (magic?) swing that retrieves the lost things.
  • One Little Mouse

  • *One Little Mouse by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
    A lovely, lyrical little counting book. A little mouse tries to find a new home – and, after trying on other people’s homes, discovers that his own is best after all!
  • The Backwards Birthday Party

  • The Backwards Birthday Party by Tom Chapin and John Forster, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
    A very, very silly birthday party. The endpapers include music to go along with the words, but alas, the library’s cover hides half the notes so I didn’t sing it to my kids.
  • Marco Goes to School

  • Marco Goes to School written and illustrated by Roz Chast
    Fairly run-of-the-mill story of going to school and making a new friend.
  • *Tiger Days: A Book of Feelings by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Anna Hurley
    A very nice book about emotions – how we can feel different things at different times and still be the same person. We’re working on managing emotions at home – and I picked this up ahead of schedule after I read Dawn’s review at 5 Minutes for Books. Very good.

Books about Construction

  • Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
    A sweet story of a little excavator who tries to do everything that the big trucks do, with little success. But when a certain task needs done, Little E is the kid for the job.
  • Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    A sequel (or maybe prequel?) to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, this favorite describes how different construction vehicles must work together to get a job done. Very well done.

Back Where I Belong

April 3rd, 2019

It’s been nearly 15 months, but I’m finally back where I belong…

Barefoot, Pregnant, in the Kitchen.

Barefoot ✔
Pregnant ✔
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Newest model expected in December 2019.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2019.03.22)

March 22nd, 2019

A new baby in the house means I simplify, simplify, simplify – which for me means skipping any outings that require taking kids out of the car. So no ALDI and no library storytime. We pick up all our groceries instead.

Also, simplifying means very few pictures. Sorry folks!


What I Spent:

Sunday, March 24

Sam’s Club Pickup – $27.48

Sam's Club pickup 2019.03.17

Walmart Pickup – $64.26

Walmart pickup 2019.03.17

Walmart was out of the generic for my “unhealthy cereal” so I ended up with name-brand. Can you tell which one it is?


That’s $91.74, which is $23.26 under my budget of $115 per week. Hooray!


What We Ate:

Saturday, March 16
Breakfast – Daniel made us scrambled eggs and… pancakes? toast? I can’t remember

Supper – Beef Papriganoff over noodles with…some kind of fruit

I had peppers and mushrooms – so I mixed a recipe for beef stroganoff and one for chicken paprikash to make a hybrid – that we enjoyed quite a lot. I think I’m going to add it to my rotation on weeks where I’m buying mushrooms anyway.

Sunday, March 17
Lunch – Arbys on our way to pick up groceries

Supper – Daniel and I had a foster/adoptive parent dinner at our church
The kids ate Crockpot BBQ meatballs over rice with peas

Monday, March 18
Chipped beef gravy over cornbread with broccoli and peaches

Chipped beef gravy on cornbread with broccoli and peaches

Tuesday, March 19
Pot Roast (Beef) with carrots and potatoes

Pot Roast - really attractive, I know
I forgot to take a picture until after I’d eaten everything on my plate and was full. So this is what’s left on the platter after we’ve all eaten. Really attractive, I know.

Wednesday, March 20
Leftovers (since I was going crazy getting ready for our annual state licensure visit)

Thursday, March 21
Black beans and rice, lettuce salad, and cowboy caviar from our neighbor (who had extra)

Black beans and rice
This is an old photo of my recipe – this time I piled my beans and rice right on top of my lettuce, dumped a bunch of my neighbor’s homemade salsa on top and then spread the whole thing with ranch. Delicious!

Friday, March 22
We’ll have lasagna with a lettuce salad and some sort of canned fruit tonight.

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