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Wednesday Book Review: “Pride 1 2 3,” by Michael Joosten & Wednesday Holmes

June 10th, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  πŸ’œ

(Photo by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

i like book reviews.Β 

For the month of June, we’re celebrating so much. Black Lives Matter, Father’s Day, someday (not soon, but someday) the Covid-19 pandemic will be over… and summer’s arrival. My birthday. And last but definitely not least, Gay Pride.

“Pride 1 2 3,” written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Wednesday Holmes (Hey! Happy Wednesday, Wednesday) is a new release. (Little Simon, 2020, unpaged, ages babies and up, $7.99.) This colorful little board book takes us right back to the days of “Free to Be, You and Me,”Β and there is nothing wrong with that. From the bright pink bubble lettering on the title, to the signs (“Be Kind!”) to the diverse families, this is just a great book at just the right time.

Peace. I’ve said it my entire life and I’ll keep saying it, even after it finally happens. PEACE, BABIES.

Β 

Tuesday Book Review — prayers & meditation & finding my way: “The Little Book of Prayers,” Santa Biblia/Holy Bible, “Brave Enough,” “Prayers for Hope & Comfort,” “A Year with Rumi” & “Teaching with Fire”

June 9th, 2020

So once upon a time, America was a mess. This has been going on since Christopher Columbus showed up, so let’s start in 1492. That’s a long time, babies. Too long.

I’m not protesting in the streets this time, but I have been lighting my candles at home, talking with family and friends, praying. Meditating. Writing. It’s been intense to see and hear about everyone making changes that people have been trying to make for centuries now. Rest in peace to everyone, all over the world, who has died in the fight, who has died, fighting for justice. Peace and love to everyone out there who is fighting.

It’s long overdue, peace and justice. It should have happened a long time ago, but if it’s finally going to happen… now? I’ll take now.

Here are the books that are getting me through, it’s the usual cast of characters:

“The Little Book of Prayers,” edited by David Schiller. I think this one is just about perfect.

Santa Biblia/Holy Bible — various authors. My kids’ dad gifted me this, many years ago. I like practicing my Spanish. :)

“Brave Enough,” by Cheryl Strayed

“Prayers for Hope and Comfort,” by Maggie Oman Shannon

“A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings”

“Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach,” edited by Sam M. Intrator & Megan Scribner

Book Reviews: “Wreck This Journal,” “In My Heart” and “Human(Kind)”

April 19th, 2020

Woof and meow πŸ’œ

Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

Woof and meow πŸ’œ

At home, a couple of years ago — Photo by Steve Rawley/use with permission only

Well, how about some book reviews? We can still read. Books are allowed, even in a pandemic. Even though the libraries are closing. And the bookstores. Rough times. I am not a medical expert, I’m just a worried mom. We’re okay at our house; hope you and yours are as well. Let’s all be well together, apart. I can’t do much about any of this, but I can keep posting recipes, and book reviews. It’s not much but it’s all I’ve got.

Here’s a good bread recipe that I have been baking in our breadmaker a bunch lately. Bon appetit, babies.

Yummy White Bread a la Wacky Mommy

1 1/4 cups warm (not hot) water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, butter or shortening
1 package (2 teaspoons) dry yeast

Add to breadmaker in order given; bake on setting for 2-pound loaf, light crust. Enjoy.

And now, book reviews… what’s in the hopper?

“Wreck This Journal,” by Keri Smith (A Penguin Book, 2020, $16). This series is a lot of fun, my kids, their friends and my students have enjoyed the books over the years. This one is in color, which is cool. Pages encourage the user to “work only with colors you hate,” “drip something here” or “mix so many colors they turn to mud.” All of the prompts are pretty fun.Β 

The author also has a website and some inspiration exploration on Instagram.

“In My Heart,” by Mackenzie Porter, illustrated by Jenny Lovile (Little Simon, 2020, all ages, $7.99). This sweet board book was released on March 10th, just before many of us in America went into quarantine, and before the schools all closed. It’s a tender, beautifully illustrated book about a little girl who is missing her mom, who is busy at work. But she knows she will see her soon, likes that they are eating the same food, just in two different places, and they know that even “though we’re not together, we’re never truly apart, because you’re always on my mind and you’re always in my heart.”

The poignancy of that little refrain takes on a whole new meaning now, and it makes the book even more lovely than it already was.

Me, even though I’m a big girl? Missing mommy. She’s doing fine, and we’re all checking on her. We’ll get to see each other soon. Or eventually. But we will see each other, and I’m looking forward to taking her out for brunch, and having our coffee. Together.

I’m getting some guidance and support from “Human(Kind): How Reclaiming Human Worth and Embracing Radical Kindness Will Bring Us Back Together,” by Ashlee Eiland (WaterBrook, 2020, 224 pages, $15.99). Inspirational book by the formation and preaching pastor at Mars Hills Bible Church. Each personal essay has a title and a theme (curiosity, belonging, expectation). They’re thoughtful. Words can hurt, but with books like Eiland’s? Words help.

Be safe, be well, talk soon.

NancyΒ Β 

(PS — disclaimer — my family is employed by Amazon, but we aren’t paid for my book links.)

Β 

Sunday Recipe Club: Seven-Layer Salad

April 5th, 2020

Woof and meow πŸ’œ



Recipe of the Day β€” Seven-Layer Salad with Creamy Salsa Vinaigrette

– For the Dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or coconut milk
1/2 cup mild or med salsa
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

– For the Salad
1 to 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 med red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
3/4 cup corn kernels (thawed from frozen or fresh from the cob – no need to cook)
fresh mango.
1 avocado, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, dill, and/or basil, chopped

Bon appetit!ReplyForward

Getting through Pandemic 2020, one damn recipe at a time

March 28th, 2020

Do you know how long the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 (102 years ago) lasted? About three years. That’s right. From January 1918, approximately, til December 1920. That is insane. Three years.

Let’s not do that, okay? Please.

My great-grandmother, Miz Pearline, died in the epidemic, the story has been passed down to us. “I know,” my daughter told me yesterday, “She was my age. I know, I know, Gma told me. She was my age, Mom!!”) (Thanks, Ma. Now my baby is worried.) She left behind my then 3-year-old grandfather (Mom’s dad) and his 1 1/2 year old sister. They never got over the loss, understandably, and the rest of us really haven’t, either. That kind of grief cuts deep.

So let’s hope we get out in front of this soon. Do everything you can, in your power, ok? Start by calling, e-mailing or IM’ing some friends and family and telling them you love them fiercely.

I’m going to re-run a recipe a day, alright? Alright.

Let’s start with Chocolate Chip Cookies (I usually do them as a 9×12 pan of bar cookies) and some Lemon (or Orange) Snaps.

Xo and I love you.

WM

Building a new/old life, one plant and one chicken at a time… and Pandemic 2020

March 22nd, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  πŸ’œ

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  πŸ’œ

“Dancing Chickens” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

I started this draft a few weeks ago, then got busy getting back to teaching (reading groups, recess and cafeteria duty, and assisting students with special needs. I miss my library and computer lab work, I’ve only been doing a little of that). The kids and I spent the fall and winter doing our usual stuff — being stressed, fighting various viruses, dealing with homework and school and work, pets and livestock, taking care of errands and trying to figure out plans for spring and summer break.

Then the entire world fell apart.

Here are my notes for the draft:

  • planter box/trellis for grapes
  • blackberry cobbler — yes, if you rip out all the blackberries, you’ll have your backyard back, but what will you do for cobblers and crisps? (she says, then rips out all the blackberries and mows down the roots)
  • chickens
  • plants
  • the deer leave these plants alone: herbs, hellebores, daffodils, snowdrops, violets, rhodies and azaleas

I would give anything to go back and remember what it was, exactly, I was doing with that draft. To see where I would have gone with it. To be living in the world that was week before last and not in this fresh hell we’re in right now.

I miss my husband. He’s there for me, for us, for the kids. But I miss being married. But we both have support, and good, kind people in our lives. Our friends and extended families, the grandparents, our neighbors — everyone is okay. So that is good enough for today. For now. We’re still partners, we’re still there for each other. It’s just really different than what it was.

It’s 59 degrees here in the Willamette Valley, sunny and perfect. It’s spring break. And in our state, and others, the governors are telling us we’re in lockdown, please stay at home, please don’t go out unless you have to go to the doctor’s office, or the hospital, or to the store, or to get some exercise, but keep your distance from the other walkers/hikers/skiers/players.

Social distancing. 

And wash your hands. Don’t cough and sneeze on people. Look in on your neighbors. 

I am worried. We’re all scared. There have been so many deaths already from the corona virus, and more to come. But there are also so many people who are having mild cases and getting through it, or even terrible cases of it and getting through it.

People are stepping up like crazy. Except for the President and his crew, they’re just all crazy. We’ll survive them, and the virus.

My friend Elaine has me hooked on the Hallmark Channel — we’re watching nonstop “Golden Girls” re-runs and Christmas movies over here, even though it’s March. I picked up a bunch of four-dollar sale books from Winco; I’ve started them and they’re all good. 

Adriana Trigiani’s “Kiss Carlo”

Wally Lamb’s “I’ll Take You There”

Phillip Lewis’s “The Barrowfields”

Sara Blaedel’s “The Undertaker’s Daughter”

Prayers, peace, and good thoughts. Be well and be safe.

xo

Wacky Mommy

Hey, hey, what’s up? New Book Review, a la Wacky Mommy: “The Bug Girl (A True Story,” by Sophia Spencer, Margaret McNamara & Kerascoet; “Hello, World!” series: “Rainforest Animals” & “Construction Site,” by Jill McDonald; “The Story Pirates Present: Quest for the Crystal Crown,” by Annabeth Bondor-Stone, Connor White & Joe Todd-Stanton

February 16th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(My Favorite Piano, photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yay, new books, yay!

* “The Bug Girl (A True Story)” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020, ages 4 and older, 44 pages, $17.99). This one was written by the “Bug Girl herself,” the cover says, Sophia Spencer, with Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoet. Wow, that was a mouthful. But not a mouthful of bugs, which, as we all know, is no dang fun.

Being bullied is also no dang fun, and that’s what Sophia faced in real life, just because she loved bugs. But she got through it, with the help of her mom and some cool scientist friends. And now we can all hear her story. Sophia’s story is inspiring and beautiful. She’s a fourth grader now, and lives with her mama in Canada.

* Two new books board books have been released from the “Hello, World!” series. Both were written by Jill McDonald. “Rainforest Animals” and “Construction Site” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020, 0-3 years, $7.99 apiece). I do love this series. The candy colors are inviting and sweet, and just like “The Bug Girl,” both books are full of good words and facts.

* Book of the week: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis (Scholastic, 1950, 189 pages). I’m re-reading this with the second graders at the school where I’m working this year. Haven’t read it since I was a kid, and it’s neat to see it through their eyes. “Hey, was this a movie?” Yes, and the movie was good, but the book is even better. (Smiles.)

* “Quest for the Crystal Crown,” a new release in the Story Pirates Series, is a lot of fun. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020, ages 8-12, 288 pages, $13.99.) My students are liking this series, too, with its “Choose Your Own Adventure” spirit.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Monday Recipe Club: Lemon Snaps & Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 27th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

The holidays seem like forever ago now, but we had fun. Hope you did, too.

I did a lot of baking to share with friends, co-workers and us, the cookie monsters. I baked a spiral-cut ham, thank you Winco, homemade mac and cheese, meatballs, more meatballs, and lots and lots of cookies. I was watching the Sopranos (for the dozenth time. My version of the 12 Days of Christmas) and Carmela… with the ziti. With the sweet sausage. With the lasagna with the layer of fresh basil. With the espresso and the Lemon Snaps for the church bake sale. I love that girl, I love that character.

These are my two new/old favorite recipes.

Lemon Snaps

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets.

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. (Wait. I didn’t have lemons so I used satsumas and oh yes. Great idea.)

Pour in the oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls into the powdered sugar, then transfer to cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 12 mins or until browned.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (I like a mix of white and milk chocolate)

Cream together butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, adding chocolate chips last. Drop by teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheets, bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. I prefer these as a bar cookie. Spread the dough into a greased 9×13 pan, bake about 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit, babes. Happy Year of the Rat.

Saturday Book Review: “Rover Throws a Party,” by Kristin L. Gray & Scott Magoon; “Rumple Buttercup,” by Matthew Gray Gubler; “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read,” by Philippa Perry; and Dubravka Kolanovic’s “Hello, Bunny” & “Love You, Baby”

December 28th, 2019

December 2019 + old shots

Sky and ocean

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yes, my loves. Here is another book review, this time with kids and babies in mind.

“Rover Throws a Party,”written by Kristin L. Gray, with illustrations by Scott Magoon (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; scheduled for release March 31, 2020; ages 3-7; 40 pages; $17.99). This neat picture book is inspired by NASA’s Curiosity on Mars, and really, this is pretty cool, even for those of us who aren’t space geeks. The book will be released March 31, 2020, and is a good one to keep in mind, especially to gift a classroom teacher with.

The galleys look good — lots of reds, blues and purples. The illustrations and photos are great, and I always appreciate a good bibliography and a fact page, which this book includes. Lots of different fonts, plus science facts included with a sweet story about Rover’s one-year birthday party in space make for a fun read that will engage kids of all ages.

My apologies, because I wrote a draft review of this one ages ago, and forget to hit publish. Whoops. “Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself,” by Matthew Gray Gubler (who my big kids know from the show “Criminal Minds,” but of course) (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019, all ages, $14.99).

Rumple Buttercup kinda looks like a mess, with his five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and left foot which is slightly bigger than his right foot. But he’s the coolest guy. I think readers will really be able to identify with our hero, and his imaginary friend Candy Corn Carl.

The format of the book is cool — novel, graphic novel and picture book all in one, with simple illustrations in green, yellow and pink, on a cream background. The story is delightful.

Next up: Philippa Perry’s parenting book, “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read” (Pamela Dorman Books Life; scheduled for release Feb. 4, 2020; 300 pages; $24). It’s getting great reviews ’round the world and all. Perry is a psychotherapist and “agony aunt” with a couple of decades’ worth of experience behind her, who lives in London.

She’s funny (she’s not kidding around, though) and I like her thinking. Give it a read.

Last but not least… board books for babies!

Two new titles in the Welcome, Baby series, from author/illustrator Dubravka Kolanovic, “Hello, Bunny” and “Love you, Baby” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019, ages 0-3, $7.99-$9.99 apiece). Kolanovic is a fantastic painter from Zagreb, Croatia. The books are beautiful — one shaped with scalloped edges, and one shaped with hearts. Perfect for spring or any other time. Fun rhymes and sweet critters.

Kolanovic has illustrated a ton of stuff, so go look up her work.

Bon appetit, babies.

Wacky Mommy

Thursday Book Review: “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” by Ronan Farrow; “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball,” by Jeff Kinney; “Dog Man,” by Dav Pilkey; “From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot ™,” by Polly Conner & Rachel Tiemeyer; “The Power of Showing Up,” by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

December 26th, 2019

December 2019 + old shots

(“Black n Blue,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Hello, cats and kittens,

I generally don’t review everything all at once, I do try to break it down by genre (or “jenner,” as my friend Milly used to say), but today? All of it. Cuz we’re reading a lot this winter.

* A cookbook arrived, just in time for these cold, foggy, dark winter days. The recipes are mwaaah!! Perfecto. Cool recipes for breakfast (Denver Omelet Casserole, or Peanut Butter Cup Steel-Cut Oats); lunch (Creamy Tomato Basil Soup, or Asian Lettuce Wraps), dinner (Mouth-Watering Brisket with Balsamic Glaze, Fake-Out Lasagna) and snacks in between (Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches, anyone?).

Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer (from the “Thriving Home” blog) have done a lovely job with their new cookbook, “From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot” (Rodale Books; on sale Jan. 14, 2020; 256 pages; $22.99).

The authors were inspired by memories of a freezer cooking club they were part of, back in the day, with some other mamas. For many of us, this is where we get our favorite recipes. They’ve done a cool switch-up with recipes that can be cooked in the slow cooker, or the Instant Pot ™. Ingredients can easily be adjusted accordingly, if you’re feeding two of you, or a big crowd.

I’m trying out the Autumn Chowder first, because I’m a soup girl. Followed by Potluck Pumpkin Chili, Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, and White Chicken Chili.

What else are we reading over here? Lots, lots, lots.

* “Hamlet,” by that one guy. Super depressing, but don’t let that stop you.

* “Crash & Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” Ronan Farrow’s extraordinary book about breaking the Harvey Weinstein story. Intense, and you won’t be able to stop flipping the pages, it’s that good. (And yes, I know this is quite the eclectic review, sorry about that.)

* “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball,” by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, 2019, 217 pages, $14.99). This is the 14th book in the series that just continues to be a lot of fun. Love the “Dog Man” series by Dav Pilkey (“Captain Underpants”).

“The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired,” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson is being released Jan. 7, 2020. (Ballantine, 2020, 256 pages, $27.00). I’ve been reading the advanced copy I was sent of this how-to — it’s interesting. I appreciate their perspective. Parenting is hard, dude.

Now I have to go grocery shopping, clean the house again, clean the chicken coop again, and declutter. Talk later.

Bon appetit!

Much love, and happy holidays to you, wherever you are,

WM

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