Some kiddie book reviews

I’m doing something a little different today. I’m not sure if I should count these towards this year’s Empty Shelf, given that I read both books in less than 10 minutes while waiting to teach a lesson. But I’m working on building up the “Hobbit Hole Library”, as I’ve taken to calling it, in preparation for when the baby gets here. (I’ve also been occasionally practicing my read-aloud skills, though it feels a little silly to sit and read a story out loud to my belly. I guess I can say I was reading to the dogs instead, because they were in the room with me, right?) I’m not going to review every story for that, because we all know Dr. Seuss was a genius, Beatrix Potter is charming, etc. But I have also gotten into the habit of collecting the free Kindle picture books that pop up on Amazon, as well as some more educational titles geared towards kids, since that will be an easy way of making sure I have some with me for doctor’s visits and such. Since they’re very quick reads and therefore easy to review, I thought I’d start recording my impressions for those, even though I can’t really say how much (or little) my kid enjoys them yet, just in case this helps anyone out there with young children.

Disclaimer: Both of these books were free on Amazon at the time of purchase, though they both have a charge listed now.

Book #1: Ten Wiggly Worms: A Number and Color Recognition Book

Recommended for: Ages 0-7. I can’t see a 7-year old enjoying the story, given how little plot there is, but I guess this could work as an early reader for a slightly older child.

My thoughts on the writing: This one was a very quick read. The text is a little repetitive, though I hear that young children like that. I’ll admit the grammar threw me off for just a moment–the second page reads “Two is (insert color here)”–until I realized that the author is treating it like the number is the name of the worm. So that works.

My thoughts on the illustrations: Not bad for a freebie. It makes me think of flannelboards and paper collages, which works well for a kid’s book.

Overall: I will admit that I have been leaning more towards books that seem boy-friendly, and I think many little boys would enjoy that it’s a book about worms. It does work well for some basic educational purposes, too. The numbers up to 10 and the colors are there, and there’s even a little basic natural science involved when a robin shows up. The last page was pretty cute, but I won’t say why, because spoilers. (I know it’s a little kid book, but still!)So I’ll hang on to this one and see how he likes it.

Book #2: Pancake Time

Recommended for: Age 2-7.

My thoughts on the text: Personally, I think this one would drive me crazy as a read-aloud. But I can see it being useful for a child learning how to read, since the vocabulary is simple. It does do a nice job of walking a kid through a basic morning routine, and how to make pancakes, minus any measurements. And if you’re the type of parent who enjoys coming up with fun activities to go along with a book, which I can see myself doing, this one would be easy!

My thoughts on the illustrations: I probably should have guessed this from the cover, but they weren’t my favorite. It was colorful, but I kind of wished that they were a little more polished than the Microsoft Paint look.

Overall: Like I said, this wouldn’t be my first pick for a story to read aloud to Hobbit. It’s reviewed very well on Amazon, though, so I’m guessing those people probably have a little more experience in choosing children’s books? I’m undecided whether to keep this one or not, but at least I didn’t lose any more than 5 minutes of my time.

Book #9: Rainbow Valley

Whew…this one took a little longer than I thought. Though, to be fair, I haven’t been reading very much over the last couple of weeks, due to spending a lot of my time working on that list of pre-baby to-dos. And occasionally mixing in chapters of parenting 101-type books.

Title: Rainbow Valley

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Historic Fiction/Children’s Classic

Length: around 225 pages

Read: ~2/28/15-3/20/15

Summary: According to the back of my copy of the book, it’s about Anne and Gilbert’s children “finding adventure” with the new minister’s kids. But really, it was pretty much the misadventures of the minister’s kids, with Anne’s kids showing up as supporting characters. The four Meredith kids befriend the Blythes, hang out in “Rainbow Valley”, try to raise themselves as best as they can, since their mother is dead and their father is extremely absentminded and doesn’t even notice what’s going on half the time, and generally become the talk of the town.

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? To continue the series

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Possibly. I think I’d enjoy it a little more for its own merit, now that I know what to expect.

Other notes:
1. It would really be nice if whoever wrote the summaries on the back of these last couple of books had actually, you know, read the book. Once again, I found myself surprised that the main character perspectives were not at all what had been advertised.

2. That being said, it was a charming story overall. I did like the Meredith kids, particularly Faith. And it was nice to go back to those childhood misadventures that made Anne such a delightful character to begin with. Especially since so many of the “scandals” that the townsfolk complained about were simply misunderstandings.

So now it’s finally on to Rilla of Ingleside, and the end of the series. I’ll admit that I have a pretty good idea of certain things that will happen in this next book, because there’s been some very heavy-handed foreshadowing in this and the previous book. So right now, the biggest question in my mind is this: Will this story actually be about Rilla? Or will she be a vague supporting character like her mother was in the previous book? Stay tuned…

Pin-Testing: Baked Chai-Spiced French Toast

imageOr, “The dangers of whim-baking while already cooking something else.”

I decided rather spontaneously to attempt a recipe for overnight-soaked French toast on Friday evening. We had several random bags of bread products that had been sitting for awhile, mostly in the realm of hamburger and hot dog buns that Doug had picked up while we were trying to use up some things we got in an Omaha Steaks gift box. (Yes, we occasionally get gifts of meat from my in-laws. This is what happens when you live with an avowed carnivore.) And while I love French toast, my biggest issue with cooking it is impatience– the middle usually ends up still bready because I’m generally starving in the mornings and don’t want to wait for it to soak up the egg mixture. So I’d figured that prepping it the night before would solve that problem.

So after hunting through my pins to find an overnight-soaking recipe that didn’t use every single last egg in the house, since I needed one left to make baked ziti yesterday, I settled on the Baked Chai-Spiced French Toast from The Kitchn. Because they had me at Chai, which was one of the best discoveries of my college years for a caffeine-deprived girl who wanted to go to coffeeshops, but never developed a taste for coffee.

As I said, this was whim-baking, which I was throwing together while that night’s dinner was simmering in a skillet. And as a result, there were a few issues with following the recipe.

  1. I didn’t have cardamom. A quick Google search said that one part nutmeg + one part cinnamon would substitute nicely. But I already had cinnamon in there, and I think the extra may have made the spice blend a little too bitter.
  2. The other thing that probably didn’t help there was that I accidentally left the sugar out of the custard. Oops.
  3. Since I was using leftover rolls instead of the challah bread that the recipe called for, I think I may have overstuffed the pan a little in order to make sure I used them up. In eating the leftovers, I have found a couple of places in the middle where the custard didn’t touch the bread. Of course, part of that could also be because the recipe called for making that in a loaf pan, and it was so full that probably at least a quarter of the custard ended up on the countertop instead. (Thankfully, I’d thought to put some plastic wrap down around the pan first.)
  4. The one minor change I made that I don’t think had any negative consequences was that I also had a small amount of whipping cream that needed to be used up, left over from another recent recipe. So I substituted that for part of the milk. Ok, so maybe it had negative consequences in the realm of calories, but the actual recipe also called for 2% or whole milk, and we always buy 1%. That means it probably balanced out, right?

All in all, I don’t think I’ll be making this particular recipe again, since the spice blend does leave a rather bitter taste in my mouth when I’m done eating it, even though the lack of sugar in the custard is probably counter-balanced fine by putting maple syrup on top. I’ve taken to avoiding eating the streusel part on top, since that is particularly bitter. But I don’t think this recipe test was a total loss, because I did like being able to have a pastry-type breakfast the next morning and only have to heat up the oven and wait for it to finish baking. (I’ve always been one who can really only stomach sweet things in the morning. Savory breakfast casseroles and the like have to wait for brunch or dinner-times. But stuff like pancakes and waffles and French toast tends to be more occasional treats, because like I said, impatience.) So I think I will try overnight French toast again–just with a different flavor combination.

the biggest grocery list I’ve ever made

I just thought I’d give a little “buggy list” update, though this will be pretty much just dealing with the food thing. It took some research, and experimenting with how well a favorite recipe of D’s and mine would work, but I now have a list of recipes to prep. And a HUGE grocery list, since I went back and made a spreadsheet of every single ingredient listed on every single recipe, except for water. I sound so organized, right? Honestly, this is more so I survive this massive cooking project with my sanity intact and without having to run to the grocery store every time I forget something. Plus I needed to know how much meat I really need to buy for this. (Hint: it’s a lot.)

I ended up with a list consisting of over 250 lines on the spreadsheet. Granted, lots of ingredients are listed multiple times, since I also wanted to see how much I’d need per recipe. But still. 250. YIKES.

As I said earlier, the big challenge was finding recipes that aren’t “winter” foods–soups and stews and the like, which is what a lot of freezer recipes tend to be. I can see why, but June going into July gets pretty hot and humid around here, so there’s no way we’ll want to eat that! I think I also did a fairly good job of coming up with breakfast/lunch options that I can eat one-handed. So here’s my plan:

Breakfasts: I’m mostly relying on muffins and baked oatmeal for this one, since I’m also trying to mix in as many foods that are considered good for nursing as possible. Apricots, oatmeal, berries and almonds are all on the list.
1. Apricot Muffins. I’m ok with both gluten and dairy, so I’m planning on swapping out the gluten free flour and almond milk for the regular stuff.
2. Baked Oatmeal, which I’m basing off of this recipe– I’m planning a double batch with blueberries and raspberries, though I’m still trying to decide whether to separate or mix the berries. Should be easy enough to dump in a bowl and add some milk, right? I’ll probably skip the scrambled eggs just to make things easier, though.
3. Cranberry orange muffins– I already have a recipe I like for this, and it’s one of my favorite flavor combos in breakfasty baked goods. Of course, this is assuming I can still find frozen cranberries, since we’re nowhere near Thanksgiving…if that doesn’t work, I’ll probably do something like lemon-blueberry instead.
4. Pumpkin quinoa muffins. I got this recipe from a friend who tried them and let me sample. I actually have a lot of the stuff to make them already, including an extra can of pumpkin, and extra quinoa, because I made a batch back in the fall, thinking that would be a great pregnancy snack. Unfortunately, a couple of days later, the morning all-day sickness set in, and I just couldn’t handle them and ended up having to throw them out. But I think my stomach should be able to handle them better post-pregnancy, quinoa is supposed to be amazing for nursing, and who says you can’t eat pumpkin when it’s not fall?
5. Banana-almond muffins. Another recipe that I’ve made a few times and liked, and I can’t remember where I got it from.

I’ll be honest and say one regular-sized muffin really doesn’t fill me up sufficiently for a meal. So assuming I eat two muffins at a time, and since D generally doesn’t eat breakfast at all (when he does, it’s usually a bowl of cereal), this should set me up for a little over a month.

Lunches: I may end up with less time out of these, since D gets a week of paternity leave and is planning on using some vacation time right after to help me out while I’m recovering. So I’m sure he’ll be eating some of these too. I got most of these meals from the same website, and hope they work out–finding healthy lunch options has been a struggle for me while I’ve been home more, especially since peanut butter is one of those things I just don’t want any part of right now and that’s what I used to eat every day. So being able to prep several thaw-and-go lunches at a time would be lovely, even once I get a better handle on life with a baby! There’s a couple of things on here that I’m not sure if they’ll be filling enough on their own, so here’s hoping…
1. Cheeseburger Eggrolls
2. Chicken Alfredo Calzones
3. Chicken parmesan meatloaf “cupcakes”
4. Chicken quesadillas (I’m planning a double batch of these, since we both loooove quesadillas.)
5. Mexican turkey roll-ups (Since this one is just thaw-and-eat, I’ll probably skip the red onion, because I am not a fan of raw onion. At. All.)
6. Pizza spirals (I’ll just use my usual pizza dough recipe for this one. And probably ditch the red onion, because even though it’ll be cooked, I still don’t want extra onion in my pizza. But I like that they’ve got extra other veggies in them!)

And finally, Dinners:
1. A big batch of our favorite baked chicken tenders–I found this recipe years ago, and I’m not sure where it’s from. But this was my experiment recipe, because we both think they’re delicious and D specifically requested this if it worked. I’ll probably do a separate post on this at some point. But I did find that they stay pretty juicy after freezing, though I think I’ll stick with freezing them raw instead of cooked. I tried both ways, and the pre-cooked ones really didn’t reheat much faster. So I might as well go with the way that cooked them a little better.
2. Taco meatloaf– another favorite around here. So I’ll probably make a double batch and then freeze it raw, so I can either throw it in the oven or crockpot and be done with it.
3. Slow cooker bacon ranch chicken and pasta- I tried it once, and we both liked it. So I just need to work out how the freezer prep part of this will work.
4. Crock pot Jamaican chicken stew- ditto. Yes, I know I said I wasn’t planning on making too many stews, but this one reminds us of our summer Jamaican honeymoon. So it can stay.
5. Hearty Western Casserole- it’s labeled as basically a Tex-mex sloppy joe, so how can it be bad?
Crock pot lasagna- a recipe I got from my mom, which has become an extended family favorite. This one I’ll probably freeze in smaller containers, just for ease of thawing out in single-night servings. She usually makes a huge batch in a roaster oven, which works just as well as a crock pot for this, so I may go that route.
6. Barbecue turkey meatloaf- Did I mention D loves meatloaf?
7. Family favorite Pasta Sauce- Because surely if the sauce is done, I can handle cooking spaghetti noodles with a baby. Right?
8. I’m also planning on pre-cooking some batches of taco meat and regular sloppy joe meat, because even though they’ll require adding shells and buns and such at the end, cooking the meat is the most time-consuming part of throwing those meals together.
As for sides to go with these meat-laden dishes, if there is any room left in our regular freezer + small upright freezer after all of this, I’m probably going to stock up on some of those Green Giant veggie steamers (because EASY and we both like them), make a batch of mac & cheese (because I’ve tried this recipe before, and it made so much that I had to freeze several small containers full, and it worked pretty well), and try out these mashed potato cups from a specifically freezer food magazine that I’ve had for awhile. I may try to work in some bagged salad mixes too, because maybe between having two of us there for dinner, we may be able to take the time to eat that.

Did I mention that I need a lot of meat to pull this off? Looks like there’s a Costco run or two in my future…

So the next thing I need to do is to go through my massive grocery list and see what I already have here. Probably mostly herbs and spices, though I may already have a few other things in the pantry. And then I need to figure out what the most time-efficient/inexpensive way to do this is. I’m planning on saving the baked goods for last, since they’ll probably hold up in the freezer for the shortest amount of time. But I need to figure out the rest, and hopefully start actually preparing these things around the end of this month/beginning of April.

Have you ever done this type of freezer cooking? Any tips?

Book #8: Anne of Ingleside

This book gave me a lot to say, and I’m trying to do a better job of dealing with actual plot themes for the Classics Club reads. So bear with me, please.

Title: Anne of Ingleside

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Historic Fiction/Children’s Classic

Length: 277 pages

Read: 2/14/15-2/25/15

Summary: Disclaimer: I don’t think this is a good summary, but it’s important for my commentary on the book itself, so this is what it says on the back of my copy. “Anne, now a mother of five, presided over a happy, lively home. Mrs. Doctor for some fifteen years, Anne suddenly began to worry that perhaps her adored Gilbert no longer loved her. But how could he not? After all, she may have been older, but she was still the lively, irrepressible, irreplaceable redhead–the wonderful Anne of Green Gables, grown up.”

New or re-read? New read

Why did I pick it up? To continue the series.

Rating: 3/5

Would I read it again? Probably not, unless it was in the context of a full series re-read. Out of all the ones I’ve read so far, this is the one I’d be least likely to revisit.

Other notes: I was frankly surprised at what a slog this book turned out to be, since it’s familiar characters and I’m usually a fast reader. But it seemed like this book took me forever to get through. While discussing this one with my BFF, it struck me that my problem is that I feel like I was misled this time. The title and the description on the back of my copy of the book made me start it thinking that it was going to be about Anne’s life as a mother, when in reality, this book was really all about her children. I think I might have been all right with it if I had expected it, like I know the last two books of this series will be. But even though I could see some of Anne’s personality and imagination coming through in her children, I felt like Anne herself got lost–reduced to being only a supporting character in her own story. Sure, the kids all adore her. Overall, it sounds like she’s happy with her life. But I can’t help but wonder what’s really going on in her head through all of this.

To be fair, I think that’s hit me harder than it might have before, had I read this book sooner. But now that I’m on the edge of beginning life-as-mom, it kind of scares me. Yes, I want to be a good mother, and give this child all the time and love that he deserves. But at the same time, I don’t want to be that woman who gets so caught up in mommyhood that I lose sight of my relationship with my husband, my friends, the things I enjoy doing that help keep me grounded, etc.

And now for actual plot commentary, which I’m putting under a cut for spoilers.

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Book #7: Anne’s House of Dreams

Title: Anne’s House of Dreams

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Historic Fiction/Children’s Classic

Length: Approx. 146 pages (once again, I left mine in the basement on the Empty Shelf)

Read: 2/6/15-2/14/15

Summary: Anne gets married, settles in a new town with Gilbert, makes some new friends, and adjusts to married life.

New or re-read? Let’s call this a new read, since this is the first time in my life I’ve actually made it all the way through.

Why did I pick it up? To continue the series, and because this is the book I always got stuck on as a kid.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Yes

Other notes: I guess I had to be ready for it? Considering I never made it past this book in multiple attempts, it actually wasn’t a bad read. I could appreciate her adjustments to married life a little better now that I’m older, some of the new characters were truly charming (Captain Jim in particular), and this book felt like it had a little more connection to Anne’s former life than some of the other books, since there was more time with Diana and Marilla and especially Gilbert. I did also enjoy the descriptions of life in what was essentially a beach town, having grown up in a coastal state where day trips to the beach were a relatively easy thing to do and the most frequent family vacations were the yearly pilgrimages to an aunt’s family’s beach house to hang out with my cousins for a few days.

Putting the rest of this one under a cut to avoid spoilers.

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Pin-testing: Dulche de Leche Cheesecake

My husband and I grew up in very different worlds when it came to desserts. I grew up going to extended family gatherings with a mother and a lot of aunts (and, as we got older, cousins) who could bake very well. So I have a definite weakness for cake, homemade cookies, brownies, and the like. Especially if chocolate is involved! Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes, on the other hand, grew up with a family who mostly bought grocery store or Walmart baked goods, and I guess he never really developed a taste for them. So he’s much more likely to grab a smaller helping of whatever meaty dish is on the menu for “dessert”, and really only likes a few select things that are sweet. And #1 on the list is cheesecake.

But it can’t be just any cheesecake. Fruity-flavored or topped ones ones are definitely out. And while he’ll occasionally allow a candy flavor in there–I made him one that had Reeses’ cups in the filling once and he was fine with that–his favorites are either just plain, New York-style cheesecake, or the dulche de leche flavor at the Cheesecake Factory. His birthday was earlier this week, and since he’s picky about his desserts, I usually check with him now about the flavor before making his birthday cheesecake. So this year, he suggested dulche de leche.

I actually get to talk two pin-tests for this one, because the grocery store didn’t have any pre-made dulche de leche!

Test #1: a method of using the oven to make dulche de leche from sweetened condensed milk. I’d tried a crock pot method before, also found on Pinterest, and that worked fine. But I didn’t have any empty glass jars this time–after the last time I did that, I used the leftovers to sort out buttons for sewing! I think I actually liked this oven method a little better. For one thing, I could just use my normal baking dishes instead of worrying about finding jars every time I want to make a caramel-y dessert. It was also much faster, and the resulting caramel was a thinner consistency, which made it much easier to blend into a dessert. I’d imagine it would also be much easier to spread over something if needed, too! (According to the original poster, it also makes great apple dip.)

Test #2: The actual cheesecake. The entire website is dedicated to CF copycat recipes, and I’m a little curious to try out some of the other recipes sometime. (Personally, I’ve learned that I actually like fruity cheesecakes better than chocolate ones, because the chocolate ones are often so rich I can only eat a few bites. I saw recipes for both banana cream and key lime cheesecakes on there, and those have become two of my favorite flavors there!)

Doug's birthday cheesecakeThis was how my cheesecake turned out–not quite as pretty as the one in the picture, which I’m not entirely convinced isn’t the actual Cheesecake Factory cake anyway. I did make a couple of changes, and there were a couple of points in the instructions that I felt were unclear. So here’s how it went down:

  • The crust calls for golden Oreos and butter. A question was asked in the comments regarding whether this meant whole crushed Oreos, or with the cream removed. I assumed the latter, since that’s how most recipes calling for Oreos go. I probably should have used my food processor to make the crumbs, but I was having fun smashing them with my meat mallet. I was feeling rather frustrated about the pregnancy nausea relapse I’ve been having lately (worse and more constant again, arrrrrrgh), and taking it out on food was therapeutic! That being said, I didn’t quite smash them up well enough in some spots, and I’m also wondering if I should have used more butter, because I was having trouble getting the crumbs to hold together for the crust. But that also could be a result of the smashing.
  • This is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made where the recipe didn’t call for slightly pre-baking the crust before adding the filling–it said to freeze it for 30 minutes instead. I did follow that, but I wonder if that’s why the crust ended up sticking to the bottom of my pan when we were slicing it up, and if the pre-baking would be better next time?
  • I did make the filling as-is, aside from having to DIY the dulche de leche part. Wow, there is a LOT in this filling–3 packages of cream cheese, sour cream, caramel sauce, whipping cream, and even flour! Among other things. This is definitely a special occasion cheesecake, given the number of ingredients. I’m pretty sure that half of my grocery bill last week was things for this cake–though I did have to buy a few things that I normally would have had on hand, since I was running very low on vanilla extract and the brown sugar accidentally got dropped and scattered over the kitchen floor. We have two very food-oriented golden retrievers. There is no 5-second rule in this house–neither of us want to eat off the floor that they constantly lick for crumbs!
  • The other point of the recipe that was unclear was the following: “Place springform pan in a large baking pan. I use a 9×13 pan.Pour filling into springform pan over crust. Batter will come to a 1/4 inch of top of pan. Fill pan 1/2 way up the side of the springform pan.”
    Umm… fill pan with what? A quick Google search revealed that cheesecakes are often cooked in a water bath, which was new to me–I got my usual recipe for plain cheesecake from a friend, since cheesecake was never really a thing in my family, and there was no water involved in that recipe at all. So that’s what I did, and the cheesecake top looked great. At first. Except it wasn’t quite cooked all the way the first time I checked, I didn’t hear the timer the second time, and the cake ended up a little overcooked/cracked on top. Oops. So I’m not sure if this is a necessary step or not. I also had to scrounge for a pan to use for this one–fortunately, my mother-in-law randomly gave us some squarish, colorful baking dishes for Christmas, because my springform pan was too large to sit in the bottom of a 9×13.
  • As for the topping, I was looking at the recipe and trying to figure out why on earth a cheesecake would be topped with what basically looked like buttercream frosting. I asked my husband if he’d prefer that or just whipped cream, and he said the latter. So I made a quick batch of homemade whipped cream instead. It’s super-easy–the same friend who walked me through how to make a cheesecake taught me how. I just used the leftover heavy whipping cream, a dash of vanilla, and enough powdered sugar to make it a little sweet, and beat it all together until it got kind of stiff. Then I just spread that on top of the cheesecake.

The bonus of that: Even though I got the smallest carton of whipping cream that the store had to offer, and had used some in the actual cheesecake filling, I still had quite a bit of whipped cream left over after icing the cake. So I got to make fancy-looking hot chocolate! And there’s enough left for at least one more batch. Yum.

mmm hot chocolate

Book #6: Anne of Windy Poplars

For once, I found a picture on Amazon with the cover art that my book actually has!

 

 

Title: Anne of Windy Poplars

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Historic Fiction/Children’s Classic

Length: 258 pages

Read: 1/29/15- 2/6/15

Recommended age for reading: On this one, Amazon is estimating 8-12.

Summary: Anne moves to the town of Summerside to work as the principal of the high school there, boarding with two old widows and their indomitable housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. While there, she faces challenges with the “royal family” of Summerside, the Pringles, finds herself involved in the romantic entanglements of several young couples, and touches the lives of many other people in town.

New or re-read? Re-read

Why did I pick it up? To continue the series, of course.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Yes.

Would my kid enjoy this?  Chances are pretty good that a girl would. I doubt that this boy would ever get this far into the series, if he was willing to read it at all.

Other notes: This one was a surprisingly slow start for me. I was discussing it via Twitter with my “bosom friend” that I’m going through the series with, and we decided that the reason was probably an overall lack of Gilbert Avonlea characters. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, it just took a little longer to get into it.

Of course, that probably is partially due to how much time I’ve been spending on my pre-baby sewing list lately, too.

Book #5: Anne of the Island

This one turned out to be a pretty quick read, actually.

Title: Anne of the Island

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Historic Fiction/Children’s Classic

Length: 244 pages

Read: 1/27/15- 1/28/15

Recommended age for reading: On this one, Amazon is estimating 8-12. Interesting that it’s an earlier age than the first book…

Summary: Anne leaves Avonlea and Prince Edward Island for college–the first girl in Avonlea to do so, as one neighbor mentions early on. This story follows her throughout her four years at Redmond, the new friends she meets and places she falls in love with, and her struggles in sorting out her feelings for Gilbert Blythe.

New or re-read? Re-read

Why did I pick it up? To continue the series, of course.

Rating: 4/5

Would I read it again? Yes.

Would my kid enjoy this?  See book #1 review, since I’m easing into “boy mom” role.

Other notes: The big theme in this one seems to be transitioning from childhood to adulthood, and the changes in Anne and the lives of her friends that comes with it. *cut for some spoilers*

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the “buggy list”

I’m borrowing the title from one of the chick-lit books I read late last year. Now that I’m around halfway through this pregnancy thing (currently approaching the end of week 20), I’ve been trying to think through all the things that need to get done before our little Hobbit arrives.

Incidentally, this whole week-to-month translation thing is still boggling my mind, just as it has every time I’ve heard mom friends of mine mention it. I will freely admit that math was never my strongest subject, but I do know that 20 weeks = 5 months. And they say a full-term pregnancy is 9 months, but 40 weeks is really 10 months. What. The. Heck. I just hope that when this is all over, I finally get a day where I’m not nauseous after I eat. (Though I really shouldn’t complain, since it’s at a much more manageable level than it was for months.)

Anyway. Since prepping for this is obviously a big part of my life right now, why not make it a little blog project to go on the side of trying to read All The Things? So here’s my list so far, minus the one organization project I already did and crossed off last weekend (yay!)

  1. Finish typing up/printing the keeper recipes. I have a binder that has (mostly) the recipes that my husband and I have enjoyed, and I do have a little backlog of things I’ve tried over the last year or so that need to go into it. Better to get that taken care of while I still have uninterrupted time. (I say mostly, because he’s way less into desserts than I am, and the binder was originally a gift from an aunt, who added several recipes to start me off and I haven’t tried them all yet.)
  2. Get my stupid computer fixed. I’ve been having issues with both the mouse and the internet, ever since we moved it from what is now the nursery. (Yes, I’m on the internet, but both Windows and iTunes refuse to acknowledge that, and it’s screwing things up.) Hoping my dad, aka my IT guy, can help me with that soon.
  3. Finish the nursery. It’s coming along well, mostly thanks to my husband, who’s been quite eager to get the painting done and furniture set up. (And thanks to my in-laws, who accompanied us to Ikea a couple of weekends ago and insisted on buying us the crib and a dresser that I plan to double as a changing table.) This is actually at the point where there really isn’t a whole lot we can do until after the baby shower that my mom’s already been planning for months. Then it’ll be just a case of organizing all the little bits and bobs. I’ll probably post a picture when it’s done. Because I’m doing a book theme, and of course that fits in well here!
  4. Finish getting my hard drive organized/cleaned out. I started this sometime last year, and actually have my photos pretty much done by now. But I still have a bunch of documents and such that need to be dealt with, and I’d rather get things cleaned up now so I have room to add baby photos and such.
  5. Wash and put away all the baby clothes. Which, again, will have to wait until after the shower, since I’ve mostly been holding off on buying stuff until I see what holes will actually need to be filled.
  6. Clean ALL the things! Yeah, this one’s been needing to be done anyway. And it’s not like I’m not planning to clean at all for the next couple of months. But D (my husband) has said more than once that he wants to do a really deep clean before Hobbit arrives. My own involvement may be limited, depending on how tired and huge I am at that point, but it’s still on the list.
  7. Lots of sewing. My mom and I are teaming up to make cloth diapers, so we can mostly avoid buying disposables and save a nice chunk of change that way. (I can’t go 100%, both for church nursery and in-law babysitting purposes, but I can at least minimize it, right? And I’ve been doing the math, and this is one of the cases where sewing is actually saving me money. I’m currently at $4.25 per cloth diaper, vs. $18-20+ at the stores.) I also plan to sew a diaper bag, and there’s a couple of little toys and nursery things I’m working on as well. These things will probably mostly be documented on my other blog, but still mentioning it here.
  8. Stock the freezer with as much food as I can. I’m hoping to get around a month’s worth of food in there. So far, I’ve been working on using up older things that have been in there for awhile and compiling a list of recipes to make. I am trying to consider breakfast and lunch foods as well, since that’s when I’ll be completely on my own with Hobbit while D is at work, and therefore having someone else watch him while I cook won’t be an option.

    Incidentally, since I keep reading that I shouldn’t have too much tomato-based or spicy stuff if I’m nursing, and we’re having a summer baby, it’s making it a lot harder than I would have thought to find good, freezable recipes! It seems like everything is either pasta or Tex-Mex based, or soup. And I know that we’re not going to want to eat soup in June and July.

  9. Get the hospital bag prepped/stock up on necessary toiletries. Yeah, I’m probably not going to want to have to run out for shampoo or toilet paper for awhile.
  10. Stock the Kindle! I’m purposely trying to concentrate my reading efforts on physical books that are on my shelf for now, while I have two hands free. And while I have plenty of books on my Kindle, mostly of the Amazon freebie variety, I do think it would be good for me to purchase some things I’ve been wanting to read/newer releases from favorite authors. I’d like to have something to look forward to reading while I’m nursing at awkward times like the middle of the night, and while I’ve really liked some of the freebies I read last year and in previous years, they can admittedly be of uneven quality. I can think of at least two books off the top of my head that I got bored with and deleted partway through last year, and never mentioned on here.

Is there anything major I overlooked? Also, any suggestions for good prep-and-freeze type meals that aren’t soups or spicy?

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