Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strawberry Picking

Three years ago I wrote about how Seth and I went strawberry picking when I was 8 months pregnant with T.
What I did not tell you was that Seth and I WAY overestimated how many strawberries we'd need and therefore ended up with about 27 jars of strawberry jam.
My freezer was full and we would be consuming it for a long time to come. I knew it would be years before we had to restock.
Anyway, this past winter we finally ate it all up and so a trip to go strawberry picking was planned.
This time we had two little girls in tow and they were d-o-n-e after approximately 5 minutes of picking and therefore we ended up with about 9 jars of strawberry jam. Much more manageable.
H particularly delighted in squeezing the strawberries and had very sticky hands.
And both girls liked running up and down the rows and holding the basket.
We are all glad to have our freezer full of jam again!

Sunday, May 11, 2014


About a month ago Seth and I realized we had never taken the girls out for an official picnic so as soon as it got reasonably warm we took them out to a nearby park.
I love H's face.
We were hoping they would get to feed some ducks too but there was only one single solitary goose out there on the lake, so... we made do.
He obviously didn't appreciate our efforts.
Other than that, the picnic was a success. T sat on the blanket and ate as many chips as possible and tried not to get dirty and H wandered around with a stick in her hand and tried to taste test as much of the outdoors as possible.
So, picnicking: check. Feeding the ducks: ....maybe next time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Books: 2014 Part 1

Last year I decided to split my book list into two posts, and this year I've decided to split it into three. Getting crazy!
The reason is because as the girls get older I have more and more free time and I really like to read, ok? It's either this or watch reality t.v. and I think we all know what the better pastime is.

1. The Element by Ken Robinson ***** If you've ever seen his Ted Talk (which you really should if you haven't), this book is an expansion of the ideas he presented there - with some overlap. The element is something you're both good at and passionate about. Very inspiring. Four months later, I am still pondering my "element."

2. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson **** Downloaded this to my kindle on a whim when none of my held books were available. And it was lovely. I grew really attached to the characters and was quite sad when I finished it (it's a fast read) but luckily for me there is a sequel. Who knew I'd actually be interested in a story about a young girl homesteading the Montana prairie? It's a Newbery Honor book, and for good reason.

3. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan ***** Jim Gaffigan is always hilarious, but I especially think parents will enjoy this because the entire theme was parenting and why he both loves and hates it. Get the audiobook - Gaffigan is the narrator so it's like listening to a 5 hour comedy routine from him (Fair warning - He does recycle a few jokes from his previous routines). Seth and I listened to it together and we loved it.

4-6. Divergent, Insurgent and Allegient by Veronica Roth **** I have got to stop reading dystopian novels. They never have happy endings and they seriously depress me (especially the ending on this one!) I thought this series focused a lot more on the relationships than the society compared to other dystopian novels. And I liked her concept of society, but goodness there were so many serums. Serums for everything. It was a page-turner though, so don't start it unless you have a big chunk of time. And if you want to be depressed for days.

7. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell *** It's Malcolm Gladwell, so it was inventive and thought-provoking and fantastic. I especially liked the chapter on being a little fish in a big pond. Out of all his books, however, I think I like this one the least. It probably didn't help that I listened to the audiobook and he was the narrator. He's a bit monotone.

8. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ** I liked the way she wrote it - the point of view alternates between the two main characters. And they were very sweet. BUT I also felt sort of voyeuristic and awkward while reading this - something that's never happened to me before with a romance novel. Maybe because it was about high school students? And the swearing - I'm pretty sure the f-word was used several hundred times. I am generally fine with swearing but this was just way over the top.

9. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan **** I saw a blurb comparing this book to the movie National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code and I thought it was an odd comparison to make, but now that I'm done I totally get it. It's got a secret society, it's got secret codes, it's got thousand year old mysteries, it's got the bad guys out to ruin their mission. There's adventure to be had and yet it still seems grounded in reality. The characters are quirky and optimistic in a refreshing way. Just a really fun read.

10. Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson. ** Eh. This is the sequel to Hattie Big Sky and it didn't quite live up to my expectations after I enjoyed the first one so much. Maybe I set the bar too high.

11. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ***** Loved it, loved it, loved it. The dialogue is just so dang clever, and I thought the story was pretty original. It's about two cancer-ridden kids falling in love, so you will cry while reading it.

12. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson ***** If you like Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, you'll love this. The story and the dialogue are a little more modern and move quicker than a typical Regency Romance, and I love the witty back-and-forth between the two main characters. I loved it so much I may or may not have skimmed it a second time right after I finished reading it.

13. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton **** A mystery. 16-year old Laurel witnesses her mother murdering a man and now years later her mother is on her deathbed and Laurel wants answers. It took me a couple of chapters to get into, but once I did I could not put it down. Rich and compelling writing and I loved how fleshed out the characters were. I thought I had it figured out but the ending actually surprised me (in a good way).

14. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer *** I think by this point I should just stop explaining that I like romance novels. Georgette Heyer is always good and I finished this in about a day. The characters in this particular one are pretty amusing.

15. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman **** I didn't think I would like this but it was wonderful. Very detailed and clear picture of what daily life in a women's Federal Prison is like (spoiler: not as violent as you'd assume). I really enjoyed her descriptions of the way these women bonded and how they found the good in their lives, despite their circumstances. I did have a hard time keeping track of all the names of the women.

16. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman ****  A boy returns to his childhood home and suddenly remembers the fantastic incidents that occurred there. I've only read one other book by Neil Gaiman and I loved it too so I have a feeling you will be seeing more of his books on these lists. I'm amazed at the tales he comes up with. His stories are fairy-tale like without being childish. It's a little bit creepy too.

17. Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley *** Biography of the six men featured in the famous WWII Flag Raising photo. I read the first bit - their early lives prior to enlisting - and thought it was so boring that I ignored it for about three months before finally picking it back up again to finish. And I'm very glad I did! The rest of the book was great. Really good insight into the battle of Iwo Jima, WWII, and the Marine Corps culture/training through the lens of these six boys. It's absolutely mind-boggling and incomprehensible what they went through. If you're interested in any of those topics, I highly recommend.

Granddad reading a favorite book to his granddaughters and Peyton - The Day the Crayons Quit. This book is hilarious. It gets 5 stars.