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Gift ideas 2022

November 23rd, 2022

Bok!

(“Last summer…” photo by Nancy)

Hello, dear friends and readers, how are you today? It’s cold and clear here, but not pouring like it was yesterday. I was out and about, and the roads resembled lakes. The underside of my car is washed clean now.

But today I’m home and rocketing through a list of books for you. Any and all would be great holiday or birthday or no-reason-needed gifts. I’m going to organize it a bit differently, and just throw some great titles at you. I wouldn’t mind uncovering my dining room table, I think it’s there, somewhere, under the stacks and stacks of new titles. So here we go. I’ll give you three categories: All ages, big kids and little kids.

Please support authors, illustrators, book publishers and the work they do, and your local booksellers, too. I always include Amazon links because they’re easy. Check with local booksellers, though, because they often ship or sometimes even deliver in person, or let you do a drive-by pick up.

XO and happy shopping.

WM

For all ages:

“Lunar New Year Mad Libs,” yes, I said Mad Libs. Super fun way to entertain the kids and each other at a gathering or party.

“Give This Book Away!” by Darren Farrell, illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa (Random House Kids, 2022, $18.99). This is a super idea — take this pretty picture book, take the love, take the words, take the kindness, spread it around. Pass it on. Especially love the flyleaves — lines and space to write the names (and cities) of everyone the book has gone to. Aw. Y’all know I live for stuff like this. Share the soup, share the space, share the compassion. Just do it. (Nike didn’t make that up… I did. LOL.)

“Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea,” by Ashley Herring Blake, is a middle grade book, but I’m including it under all ages because it deals with grief (loss of a parent) in such a thoughtful way. I really love this book, which includes a family story, a mystery from the past, a mermaid’s tale, and, of course, the deep blue sea. Highly recommended.

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Life in Native America,” young readers adaptation, and “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” the grown-up edition will be good additions to your bookshelf. (David Treuer, who is Ojibwe, from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist; Penguin Young Readers, 2022, ages 12 and up, 275 pages, $19.99.)

For the big kids:

“We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963,” written by Shelia P. Moses (Penguin Young Readers/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, ages 8-12, 159 pages, $17.99), is moving historical fiction about the American Civil Rights Movement. This one should really be included in the all ages list, it’s powerful and needed.

“Core 52 Family Edition,” by Mark E. Moore and Megan Howerton (WaterBrook/Multnomah, 2022, 223 pages, $16.99), is a guide to building kids’ Bible confidence. (There is a “Core 52” for the grownups, too.)

Fairy tales! Always. “Cinderella — with Dogs!” is a great new title from Linda Bailey, with hilarious and sweet illustrations by Freya Hartas (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, $18.99). Woof!

For the little kids:

“Chinese New Year,” a Mr. Men Little Miss Book, originated by Roger Hargreaves (written and illustrated by Adam Hargreaves, Grosset & Dunlap, 2018, $4.99). This series, which started in 1971, is just a lot of fun. We catch up with our friends, Little Miss Neat, Mr. Greedy, Little Miss Shy and all the others, trying to celebrate the New Year and messing it up thoroughly. Completely. Is there any hope for this crowd? Haha.

Two more for Lunar New Year, which is coming up early for 2023… Jan. 22nd. Yes! Year of the Rabbit, on of my favorites. Beautiful. * “Alex’s Good Fortune,” by Benson Shum (Penguin Workshop, 2020, $4.99). and… * “Natasha Wing’s The Night Before Lunar New Year,” with Lingfeng Ho, art by Amy Wummer.

Uni the Unicorn is my new best friend, yo. So cute. Hello, “The Haunted Pumpkin Patch,” (with stickers! Sorry. Little late on this title); “How to Say Thank You” (includes punch-out thank you cards) and… “Reindeer Helper.” All titles are written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, with illustrations by Brigette Barrager. (Random House, 2022, $6.99-$10.99.)

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” and other new titles

September 29th, 2022

Bok!

“Oh what you can see from the Ester Lee!” Highway 101, Oregon Coast (vintage postcard)

Good morning, readers. It’s a beautiful, rainy fall morning in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Hope it is good where you are.

What’s up? Leave a comment if you feel like it. I like to know you’re out there.

First up for review today:

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” (part of the Purple World series) is a new title by actress/author Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2022, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $18.99). Penny Purple takes us on a wild ride through her school, where we learn about learning, how to give back to the community, and the importance of being silly. And purple.

“Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure” hits the shelves Oct. 18, the second book in the new series written by Hena Khan, with illustrations by Wastana Haikal. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022, ages 7-10, 130 pages, $17.99). Zara takes off on another mission, this time to find funds to replace her stolen bike. Will sales from a Treasure Wagon bring in the much-needed money? Zara is an engaging character, and her family and friends are lively, too. Enjoy.

Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons was always a fave of mine. Now along comes another “Witch Hazel,” this one dreamt up by author Molly Idle (“Pearl,” “Coral,” the Tea Rex series, and “Flora and the Flamingo”). (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Little, Brown and Company; on sale: Oct. 11, 2022; ages 4-8; $18.99.) You will love the old-fashioned art and the charming family story.

Bon appetit, loves!

WM

Fall books for the kiddos

September 28th, 2022

2021

(Diamond painting by me, WM)

Yeah, I sometimes start projects and then don’t finish them. Doesn’t everyone? I like that meme that says, Yes, procrastinate! That way you have something to do tomorrow and all of this free time now.

#truth

I do like diamond painting, writing books, gardening, fixing up the house. Blogging and playing the piano, rearranging the furniture. It’s a simple life, overall, and it’s mine. I like it.

So what’s on the nightstand this week? Kids’ books about fall, leaves, pumpkins, all of it, and more books on the way. That means fun and good art. First up…

If you’re looking for a books about fall and leaves, start with these:

“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves: A Fall Book for Kids,” by Julie Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

“Leaves Falling Down: Learning About Autumn Leaves,” written by Lisa Marie Bullard, illustrated by Nadine Rita Takvorian

“Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom (DK Our World in Pictures)” (hardcover, illustrated, 2019)

“The Leaf Thief,” by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater

Received a lovely review copy of “If You Find a Leaf,” a new picture book by Aimee Sicuro (Random House Studio, 2022, $17.99). Let’s start with the cover, a little girl, with her doggy, in a boat with a big red leaf for a sail. And the flyleaves: leaves! Of course. Little leaf linden, Japanese cherry and elm, American basswood… just beautiful. The story takes us on an imaginative journey, travelled by our hero and her pup, high up in the air, sailing on the ocean and having a parade with her friends. In the back, you’ll find instructions on how best to preserve leaves. All in all, an amazing book.

Welcome, autumn. Glad to see you again.

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)  💜

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

“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

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon Coast

August 31st, 2018

#westcoastbestcoast

This is one of our favorite spots, forever and always, on the Oregon coast. Leave the dogs at home or in the car (if the weather is cool, which it generally is.) All photos by me and my kid.

Enjoy your weekend.

WM

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Yaquina Head, Newport, Ore. August 2018

Friday Book Review: Tiny Bible Tales — “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” & “Miriam and Pharaoh’s Daughter,” by W.C. Bauers & Marta Costa; Loryn Brantz’s “Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice!”; plus Maria Shriver’s “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life”

June 2nd, 2018

All photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley, and are not for steal.

Chickens
“The Girls, Strutting”

More from Tiny Bible Tales… “Daniel in the Lions’ Den,” and “Miriam and Pharaoh’s Daughter,” both written by W.C. Bauers and illustrated by Marta Costa (Grosset & Dunlap, 2018, ages 3-5, $7.99). More from this series of board books. Daniel is trapped in the lions’ den, but an angel and God watch over him and he is free. Miriam and her mother save their brother and son, Moses, by setting him adrift in a basket, where Pharaoh’s daughter finds him. Sweet illustrations and rhyming words make for an easy introduction to these Bible stories.

Chickens
“Mine”

“Feminist Baby Finds her Voice!” by Loryn Brantz. (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, all ages, but especially 2-5, $9.99.) This crazy series… The naked baby girls are back, fighting for their rights to milk, equality, love, flair, the right to speak and all the rest. Really good fun, and the lettering and illustrations are lively.

Chickens
“My Boy”

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” — Ann Landers, quoted in Maria Shriver’s new book, “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life.” (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 2018, 225 pages, $20.)

This latest collection of essays, prayers and affirmations is a solid little self-help book. Shriver has been through a lot, to put it mildly, and so has her family. Self-inflicted? Sure. A mess they landed in? That, too. Bad decisions? Often. Bad luck? Some of it. It’s inspiring to see what she’s made to help fight her demons. Her books are useful, and that’s all we’re looking for sometimes, and in need of.

Peace.

Spring garden — Corvallis

All for now. Bon appetit, darlings.

WM

anatomy of my marriage. plus pictures of roses.

May 16th, 2018

me and my first doggie

(Photo by my late father, James David Row, probably. Circa 1966.)

See how happy I am there, age 2, with my dog, Peaches? I’m wearing slippers that my granny knitted for me. Cuz she loved me. The dolly? The doll cradle that we will later sand and paint and turn into a doll cradle for our daughter, and oh, my Lord. The sweetness of our daughter, age 2, climbing into the cradle with her dolly and her blankie and smiling up at us. Best.

Date nite

(Photo by us.)

Steve + Nancy on a date, Los Lobos concert, 8/12/12, Tualatin Valley Parks & Rec summer show, Beaverton, Ore. How do I remember the date and the details? Because we blogged our whole lives. Then it blew up. Then next thing you know…

Yeah. I’ll spare you the gory details.

So what does this tell you, other than dog people should marry dog people and cat people should marry cat people? (“War of the Roses.” War of the Rawleys.)

Don’t marry someone who tells you what you can and cannot plant in your garden.

He doesn’t like roses; I do.

I’m a June baby, they’re my birth month flower, I’m from the City of Roses. But the way he whined about them — the black spot! The aphids! The thorns and the hassle and what is the point of roses, exactly? NO ROSES FOR YOU. (Except a bouquet if you demand them, for Valentine’s Day or your birthday or something.)

My new place? So many roses. (All of these photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley.)

Spring garden — Corvallis

These are the first ones to bloom. They came out today. They’re hanging over a trellis in my garden. Note the black spot? I do not give care about the black spot. It’s only May, how can there already be black spot, aiiiiiii, etc. Come on. You can cut off those leaves and little branches, try not to water at night (it makes it worse), but end of the day? Who cares? The old lady who lived here before me, Boots, was Welsh, and her whole goal in life was to recreate the Welsh countryside. I’m Irish. I appreciate everything she did around here, it’s gorgeous.

Spring garden — Corvallis

(Rhodies galore, mostly light and dark pinks, very girly.)

Spring garden — Corvallis

Nice yellow.

Spring garden — Corvallis

I can’t tell yet what color these are going to be, but I’ll tell you one thing — they’re already covered with aphids and I do not care. I hosed them off, they’re beautiful. They’re big, and they’re climbing all over the place. Next to them is the big, overgrown forsythia, and I’m not pruning it back much, because the chickens need a place to hide and stay cool this summer.

Spring garden — Corvallis

Spring garden — Corvallis

Iris, more iris, and life, always sweeter over the other side of the septic tank. (That’s what you want to plant in your septic field, by the way. Something with low-growing roots, not deep roots, with lots of space to let the clean, run-off water evaporate. (My garden is uphill from the septic tank and field, thank you.)

Lots of big oaks around here. That’s actually a maple, sorry. There are oaks up and down the road, they’re majestic. I kinda love Corvallis, and all the trees. It’s good here.

Spring garden — Corvallis

Here’s all I have to say: I loved my old man. I did my best, we have these two great kids, and I finally have my roses. (I’ve counted nine or ten bushes so far, including some wild roses that are going nuts from having a little attention. The garden hadn’t received enough loving the past few years. It happens.)

xoxoxoxox and bon appetit!

WM

We lost our first chicken…

April 20th, 2018

Untitled

(“Historia, Historia,” pic by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

When Gardenburgers ™ were first invented, by a Portland guy who owned a really superfine supercool house in Southeast Portland, btw, one of the other tasty tidbits they invented was a Gardentaco.

They did a funny ad, black & white as I recall, and it had a line drawing of the Gardentaco in a shell.

“Looks funny, but fits!”

But the best line? “The average person, in their lifetime, eats 700 chickens! Let your 700 live!” I thought that was cute.

Did you know you can toast Gardenburgers in the toaster? You can. So when my vegetarian sis and I were in college, and broke, we toasted a *lot* of Gardenburgers.

My cousin, visiting and heading straight to the kitchen, used to say, “Something about walking into your house makes me want to toast a Gardenburger.” lol.

Oh, Historia, Historia… She was our chicken. She was egg-bound (the eggs couldn’t come out. She was a big girl who laid big, gorgeous eggs.) There were two stuck in there. So I took her to the vet and they told me that for a grown chicken to be egg-bound like that was generally a “secondary symptom,” or something, meaning she had another problem and the eggs not coming out was just a sign that something else was wrong. Tumors. She hadn’t been grooming herself, was listless and in pain. She had a lame foot and it hurt her to walk.

So I had her euthanized and now I’m just sad because, dammit, chickens. And also? I don’t really want to eat chicken anymore, it depresses me. Do you know how much chicken is always on the menu? A lot. My friend Gigi says, kindly, “Chickens are disposable.”

(huge sigh.)

Let your 700 live.

Sorry this post is sad but life in the country is sometimes sad. PS the gardener said next time he’ll take care of it, if one of the chickens gets old and sick (which they will. That’s life). Also? Can I deal with the poison oak out back cuz he’s hugely allergic to it?

I’m hoping I’m not.

I miss Steve all the time, not just some of the time. That sucks. Twenty years is a long time to be married, and then have your partner go missing on you.

xo

WM

Wednesday Book Review, with love from me to you: “Poe Won’t Go,” by Kelly DiPucchio & Zachariah Ohora; “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins; “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick & Chris Raschka; plus an update on your girl, Wacky Mommy

April 4th, 2018

Untitled

(Photo by Nancy R.)

Hello, loveys!

I’m writing at Starbucks, sucking up their handy free wifi, because the country doesn’t have internet. Well, it will once the cable guy shows up, but who knows when that will happen. Above? Those are my chickens! Hello, ladies! I have a little flock now. They’re not too much work. They like to snuggle, WTH? I didn’t expect that. But they sometimes have ticks, mites and chicken lice and dang, the country is sure fun! One of them laid an egg without a shell, that was weird. (Yes, they’re getting their calcium, it was stress from the skunks living under their coop, I think? So we have an appointment with the pest control guy, the ladies and I. Country living, it’s where it’s at.)

Yes, I do have the theme to “Green Acres” going through my head several times a day, thanks for asking.

The neighbor girls are enthralled by the chickens, my son is great about helping clean the coop and care for them, and I have eggs to sell and give away. So… long-time readers will recall all the times I made fun of “chicken people.” hahahahahahaha, the joke is on me, babies. I (heart) chickens.

Silver linings, here and there. Steve and I got divorced, I moved to a new town, found a new job, made some new friends and caught up with old friends. My kids get some freedom and don’t have to deal with dueling parents anymore, I have a house in the country now (see: ticks, see: skunks, see: my dogs chasing deer), and I still write. And someone gave me a flock of chickens, food and a coop, and there I go. “Reboot Time,” as my late ex-husband would say. The dogs have expressed an interest in “getting to know” the chickens better. This request has been denied.

Untitled
(Photo by Nancy R.)

Nice, fresh, organic eggs. Because chickens.

On to the book reviews…

* “Poe Won’t Go,” written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). What is up with Poe? He’s sitting in the middle of the road in Prickly Valley and just. Won’t. Move.

“People begged. Please? And booed. Jeez! and bribed. Cheese? But Poe still wouldn’t go.”

Retro illustrations, a funny story, and who doesn’t love a stubborn elephant?

* “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion, on sale June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 48 pages, $17.99). C’mon, Penelope Rex. You can want to eat your friends up, but you can’t actually eat your friends up. Where do people come up with these cool ideas for kids’ books? Cracks me up that they put a disclaimer in the front: “You will never be eaten by a T. rex. They are extinct. I promise.” Lol.

Penelope is nervous about starting school, in spite of being reassured by her parents. In spite of her new backpack with ponies on it. In spite of her lunch of 300 tuna sandwiches (and one apple juice). Will everyone like her before she accidentally eats them up? Cool illustrations, a funny (and educational!) story, and a goldfish named Walter. Perfecto.

* “Dear Substitute,” by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Chris Raschka (Disney-Hyperion, release date June 19, 2018, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). This book is so good that if I was rich, I’d buy a copy and give it to every substitute teacher I could find. Where’s Mrs. Giordano? Who is this Miss Pelly-like-a-pelican? Doesn’t she know that library is today? And that the classroom turtle might die if his tank doesn’t get cleaned?

Something that adults really minimize is that children worry. Oh, how they worry. Adults know this, but they assume that they know what kids are worrying about.

They don’t.

Sweet illustrations by the ever-talented Chris Raschka, great poetry by Scanlon and Vernick. Two thumbs up.

Untitled
(Photo by Nancy R.)

Those are daffodils from my yard. I’ve counted half a dozen different varieties. They make me happy. The Lenox vase was a wedding gift, twenty years ago this summer, from my first grade teacher. She was there, with her daughter. Love & marriage/love & marriage. It’s true with (mostly) everything, right? Silver linings. I miss being married, but I don’t miss being lonely.

All for now.

xo and bon appetit!

WM

PS — my disclaimer. It needs an update — I haven’t sold ads on here in years. They kept crashing shit.

Sunday Recipe Club: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread; love & marriage & bread

March 12th, 2017

Locked myself out of my blog, but here I am, back in. The breadmaker broke. Everything breaks at once (“when it rains/it pours”) — the fence, the breadmaker, the thermostat outside that tells us inside how cold/hot it is, the carpets are trashed, the puppy ate the entire irrigation system in the backyard, which didn’t work all that well, anyway, truth be told, and on and on.

I thought I’d use Steve’s recipe for homemade bread, couldn’t find it, then I remembered we wrote this cookbook and there it was. Only it’s too hard, I hadn’t remembered that until I saw it again.

But right next to it… my bread recipe. That I don’t even remember at all. I don’t remember baking it, writing it down, including it in the cookbook, nothing. But there it was, here it is, it’s simple and rises fast and the 2 loaves I baked turned out awesome.

So my kid, who only loves only homemade bread, and always has, is happy. I’m happy about that, and other stuff. Spring. Our crazy puppy. My other kid is happy, too. One kid is out walking the dog right now, the other is playing video games. Later, we’ll go for dinner with friends.

Things will settle down someday. In the meantime, I write, and bake bread.

Some things don’t change.

xo wm

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

Dissolve 2 tablespoons yeast in 2 cups warm water; leave for five minutes
Stir in 1/2 cup sugar or honey
Add one cup oats
Add 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix in 2 eggs
Add 2 cups white flour & 3 cups whole wheat flour, stirring in as you go. Depending on the weather, you might need a little more or a little less flour
Add in 2 teaspoons salt as you stir

Turn onto floured bread board. Knead nine or ten times.

Put into greased bowl, cover with towel, put it somewhere that’s not too cold, not too hot, not too drafty, and let rise until double in size.

Grease pans or cooking sheets, form dough into 2 loaves of bread or 24 rolls.
Leave again and let rise until doubled.
Bake at 375 degrees until nice and brown and yummy. Brush with butter when done.

Bon appetit, babies!
wm

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