Monday, November 23, 2015

November Reading Report

Blogged: October's Reading Report! Link in profile. 📚About four chapters away from finishing this read aloud. It's a pumpkin spice kind of day for afternoon reading. #sscoffeechroniclesNew read aloud started today. I've managed to put off reading this one for at least a year! This closes the chapter of reading this series outloud to the girls ... but on the bright side, I get to read it all over with the boy! #readaloudrevival

We have had a good month of read-aloud here but a less impressive month of personal reading. Report in for November, I finished:
  • The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (read-aloud). I wrote more about this book last month, but it was a winner for us. The story of a young boy, recently orphaned and forced to live with his abusive step-brother. He longs to be a gold smith, but because of his brother's cruelty he is forced to be apprenticed as a stone cutter. He starts to suspect that his brother is up to something evil and with the help of two friends, another apprentice and an old man and his donkey, he decides to do something about it. A wonderful story depicting early Egyptian life and how their society works, as well as bravery and courage.
  • The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read-aloud). We have FINALLY finished our read-aloud of the Little House books. This short tale of Laura and Almonzo's first four years of marriage is hard to read and truthfully just not as much fun as pretty much any other book in the series. In looking on the bright side, I will probably start the series over with the boy in the next year or so.
  • The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. I read Kelly's first book about Calpurnia Tate several years ago when it won the Newberry award and really enjoyed it. Her observation of nature, and in this book it spreads to other sciences like weather, is not understood by her family (especially her mother), but Calpurnia uses her pluck and ambition to find herself assisting the local vet on his calls and helping her brother hide and train and half dog/half coyote stray.
  • Still Life, A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery by Louise Penny. I've seen multiple recommendations for Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series so I finally read the first book, Still Life. It was just meh for me. Here's the thing: it wasn't overly gory, I liked the main detective, and the characters, and I didn't figure out who did it (bonus). However, I don't know if it's the fact that I just finished a Sherlock Holmes and have recently read some Agatha Christie's that I had a hard time relaxing into this mystery set in our modern age of cell phones, Internet searches, etc. I'm not sure that I'm going to write off Inspector Gamache just yet, because there was something about it I liked. But I think what I wanted was another old-fashioned mystery story. This wanted to be, but it had a few things in it that made it ... not.
Untitled

Currently we are reading The Secret of the Old Clock as our pre-Thanksgiving break (not a history-related) read-aloud. I hate to say it because we aren't done with the book but I'm not sure that Nancy makes a good read aloud. (I hate saying that out loud!) We are still enjoying it - especially my 9-almost-10 year old who is the PERFECT age for Nancy. Maybe she'll gravitate to the series finally! I'm at a run to figure out something to pick up next. I have started and discarded several books this month that I did not like: the newest Rick Riordan set among the Norse gods (didn't enjoy in general), The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (weird and creepy), and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (too much bad language in a teen book, an not appropriate bad language but just sloppy and crude). Ugh. It has been a bad month for fiction choices around here!

I'm toying with an idea of a challenge for myself for 2016 to help my reading selection be a bit more focused ... this needs a little fine tuning and a few parameters so stay tuned, but there is the faintest flicker of an idea there that I need to fan. : ) (I felt very Anne Shirley as I said that last remark).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and happy reading!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rebooting Dinner

I have gotten into a massive dinnertime run around these parts - making the same meals over and over and over again. A few weeks ago I asked for some dinner suggestions and when I got several of the same comments - "I'm so tired of tacos!"; "Can you never make _____ again?" - I laughed. : ) Really, I wasn't hurt. I was tired of our taco Tuesdays and the quick turkey kielbasa meal I make before Awana or on soccer nights. There are no shortage of meals that I want to try and add into our rotation. It's just all to easy for me to get lazy in the kitchen because I'm tired by the time I need to get started on dinner! All that to say, we've found a few winners in the last couple weeks and I want to remember that these got a good response from (most of) the family.

Just did a taste test of @thepioneerwoman Salisbury steak and gravy. Oh my yum.

Pioneer Woman Salisbury steak - husband approved and super yum.

Life as Mom cheese enchiladas - (no photo) super easy meatless main dish. And bonus - the recipe makes enough for TWO 9x13 pans so I served our family one and popped the other into the freezer for a meal for friends awaiting the arrival of a baby. So good. I pretty much ate all the leftovers of this by myself and didn't share.

Last night's leftovers. I might have rushed a little to get to these before anyone else.

Pioneer Woman's Chickpea Curry with Rice - so good! I actually made this with chicken instead of chick peas but her sauce was what sealed it for me.

Confession: you know how Facebook now has all these 1 minute recipe videos? I watch them. And tonight I made one. Mozzarella stuffed meatballs recommended by @megduerksen. 👍👍

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs - I don't know if you have noticed all the 1-minute food / recipe videos that are on facebook now, but I tend to watch them all. And then I made this one. Another winner. Bonus - it's a crockpot meal that I whipped up after lunch and let cook for the afternoon and it was delicious.

After these meat heavy dishes, I need a few salad nights, but my husband was sure happy! I have a split pea soup that I want to try (which will be just for me as no one else here cares for it) as well as a lemon orzo chicken soup that sounds delicious. I have also saved several cranberry recipes because it's the season. And after posting all these yummy meals, I feel like I need to make a full disclosure that I've promised the kids frozen taquitos for dinner since Daddy won't be here for dinner. Real life dinner planning here. : )

Friday, November 13, 2015

#NaNoReadMo

I've been having fun on Instagram participating in a fun bookish challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy. November is apparently NaNoWriMo month - a month in which inspiring authors are challenged to take up their pens (or keyboards) and write on a novel for a month straight. Concurrently, there was a challenge issued to post a picture of a novel every day for the month of November with the hashtag #NaNoReadMo. Now that I can do! I've had a blast combing my shelves and pulling out favorite books - some that I have probably mentioned on the blog or to friends a hundred times. Others may be obscure childhood favorites that I've forgotten about until just such a challenge as this one that makes me sit of take notice of them once again.

I started the challenge about three days late, but I thought I would share my first seven novels that I posted via Instagram. (If you are on there, you can follow me at @mrs_stephanie.shepherd).

Untitled

11.4.2015 // The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder //

New read aloud started today. I've managed to put off reading this one for at least a year! This closes the chapter of reading this series out-loud to the girls ... but on the bright side, I get to read it all over with the boy! 

Untitled

11.5.2015 // The Austin Family Chronicles by Madeleine L'Engle //

This is one of those book series that I didn't discover until I was adult and I momentarily suffered that I missed out on many years of reading and re-reading these books! I had no idea that Madeleine L'Engle had written anything beyond A Wrinkle in Time and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Austin family and can't wait until my girls are old enough for this series.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series // One of the best kids' series I've read in my quest to find good stuff for my kids. Quirky characters, orphans raised by wolves, delicious dialogue ... fun for mama and munchkins to read. It would make a

11.6.2015 // The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Mary Rose Wood //

One of the best kids' series I've read in my quest to find good stuff for my kids. Quirky characters, orphans raised by wolves, delicious dialogue ... fun for mama and munchkins to read. It would make a great read aloud for any age and an independent read for 9(ish) and up.

Village School by Miss Read // If you love Mitford or stories set in quaint English villages, you will love Miss Read. She is a spinster school teacher in a small town in England and personalities and characters abound. There are quite a few books in the

11.7.2015 // Village School by Miss Read //

If you love Mitford or stories set in quaint English villages, you will love Miss Read. She is a spinster school teacher in a small town in England and personalities and characters abound. There are quite a few books in the series and it is perfect for winter weather / cozy reading especially if you have hot tea and perhaps some biscuits and jam nearby.

Untitled

11.8.2015 // Inkheart by Cornelia Funke //

This book about the power of a story (and its storyteller) was utterly spellbinding the first time I read it. There are two more books in the series but the first book is magical. (The movie version isn't half bad either but read the book first). And fantastical fantasy story for 9ish and up independently or a read aloud for almost any age.

Untitled

11.9.2015 // Christy and Julie by Catherine Marshall //

Two of the books that challenged and encouraged me in high school. Christy is the biographical novel of Catherine Marshall's mother as a young 19 year old teaching in the rural Appalachian Mountains. Julie is her own autobiographical novel as a young girl learning her writing voice and what she is passionate about in the midst of a great tragedy in her community. Highly highly recommend if you have teen girls that love to read and haven't discovered these gems.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene // One of my goals as a child was to collect all the original hardback Nancy Drew books; I finished sometime in high school. Still hoping that one of my three girls falls in love with the teenage auburn haired super sleuth. :fl

11.10.2015 // Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene //

One of my goals as a child was to collect all the original hardback Nancy Drew books; I finished sometime in high school. Still hoping that one of my three girls falls in love with the teenage auburn haired super sleuth.

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery // one of her less known works but my favorite for introducing my girls to the author of Anne. Jane is a young girl who lives with her horridly strict grandmother and her mother, believing that her father is dead. W

11.11.2015 // Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery //

One of her less known works but my favorite for introducing my girls to the author of Anne. Jane is a young girl who lives with her horridly strict grandmother and her mother, believing that her father is dead. When lo and behold, a letter from him arrives! Jane is one of my favorite characters of all time and it's a shame if you miss reading about her.

Papa's Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn // A story about a young 18 year old girl who becomes the housekeeper to a Swedish pastor, marries him, and has a handful of children. One that I fondly remember reading as a teen and haven't picked up in years! I just rem

11.12.2015 // Papa's Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn //

A story about a young 18 year old girl who becomes the housekeeper to a Swedish pastor, marries him, and has a handful of children. One that I fondly remember reading as a teen and haven't picked up in years! I just remember the lessons I learned in faith and loving a family well.

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sunday Sunshine

UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Capturing the light around our house is one of my favorite things to do. I was home on Sunday with a sniffly boy and took advantage of being downstairs in our kitchen and dining room . We normally are upstairs in our school room during those hours so I miss seeing the way the light streams in the kitchen and across our tables. While I missed being at church, it was almost as restorative to slowly prepare lunch in a quiet peaceful kitchen in the sunshine.