October 27, 2011

Books and kids

The title pretty much sums up the spare time in my life--it is filled with books and kids. Sometimes reading with those kids and sometime's reading my own books in spite of those kids. I feel slightly lazy about this. Some people knit, some people quilt, some people exercise, some people write letters, some people reorganize closets in their spare time. I read. And I am not even reading to improve my mind. Just reading for the fun of it. It is my dirty little secret. Lets all pretend that I actually organize closets, knit, AND write letters in my spare time. It will make me feel more worthwhile.

To make the time I spend on books (during meals and right before sleep generally) useful, I will give you a run down on the books I have been reading lately and tell you whether you should bother wasting your spare time on them.

But first, just a few kid pictures. Today was mis-matched day at school. This week is drug awareness week, so mis-match day is to show that drugs and I don't match. (Alright, total tangent here. I was just reading Parents magazine this morning about prescription drug abuse among young mothers. Pretty scary. Heroin and Opiates are the same drug. One you can buy in the store, the other you can't. Apparently some people don't realize how addictive they are, how addicted they have become, or how unfunctional they are. One lady was finally sent to rehab by her husband and two kids with funds raised from the church community. Humbling! The withdrawl is as bad as being on heroin. And the terrifying thing is that you can hardly go to the doctors office these days without the doctor offering you a little something for the pain.One lady, I don't even know how this is possible, was taking a cocktail of 53 pills, FOUR times a day. She overdosed, but didn't die even though the drug levels were high enough to kill 3 people. Help us. I think doctors need to re-evaluate their prescribing habits.)

Back to Orianna and her innocent self. She got to choose her clothes and did her best to make sure they didn't match. I think she did a good job.

Last night on the way to meeting, Orianna fell asleep and only woke up intermittently when we got to meeting, took her back to the car, and put her in bed, so she got about 12 hours sleep and was full of beans this morning, refusing to look normal for even one picture.

Gilbert and Lily with their tea yesterday morning. Gilbert had Chai vanilla and Lily had Peppermint. They were in love. 

Popping popcorn. I am a really bad mother--occasionally I let them just eat popcorn for lunch. Lily likes to call herself a popcorn piggy.  

Lily with her tea and toast this morning. I don't just feed her crusts, I promise. 

Lily rediscovered the headlamp grandpa got her for her birthday, so she has been wearing it a lot. This morning after breakfast, she decided to keep the lights off in her room so she could wear it while drawing. Last night, I was in the bathroom trying to change Gilbert's diaper and put on jammies without waking him too thoroughly, so I had the lights off. She comes in and promptly trots back out. A few minutes later she came slowly in, stopping to peer at everything on the floor because it was suddenly so much more interesting in the glow of her headlamp. And then she perched on the potty, headlamp and all. I think she might be a miner when she grows up. 

Now that I have put some cute kid pictures up and this post is now much more about kids and less about books, I think I will start into the books. 

As I told you awhile ago, I was reading Pat of Silver Bush by LM Montgomery to soothe my soul after reading (or at least beginning) some frightful book. I am now reading Mistress Pat. Clover said she didn't see how the Pat books could soothe my soul, since they were some of the most depressing of the books Montgomery wrote. And this is true. But LM Montgomery's worse is still better than a lot of authors best. And these aren't really her worst. They are just the least, everything-falls-into-place. They are realistic. I shamelessly pull book images off Amazon to put them on her, hence the weird, double shot of the Pat books and I found this book cover, which is delightful. Especially since Pat is dark haired and definitely NOT into wearing 1950's clothes in a seductive pose. But it is still pretty great.  

Pat of Silver Bush

Girls in White Dresses

And no, you can't click to look inside this book. 

Girls in White Dresses 
Jennifer Close

This was an interesting book. All about a group of college friends and their journey through the mid-twenties in New York City. Mostly about the various friends getting married and the rest being roped in as bridesmaids. It was unemotional, which was interesting. You felt like an observer, rather than a participant. It was refreshing to not feel like the author was trying to manipulate your feelings every other page. But when you get right down to it, this book is about a completely different demographic than I am. I am not a city girl, I am not a liberal, and I don't drink. So while I enjoyed this book, it wasn't a MUST READ this kind of one. If you want to know more about this demographic, it is a must read.

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In the Small Kitchen: 100 recipes from our year of cooking in the big world
Cara Eisenpress and Pheobe LaPine

This is the cookbook for the NYC, mid-twenties demographic. Again, I enjoyed it, and some of the recipes look great. BUT a lot of them are vegetarian (check it out, Ver), which is okay, but they often call for ingredients that are a lot more difficult to find in NNY than in NYC. They are budget conscious, but still... it just isn't a Justin and kids will like this cookbook. Still worth a read if you like reading cookbooks. Apparently these two girls have a blog, big girls in little kitchens. 
One thing I have really enjoyed since reading this is their spinach pie Quesidillias. Basically you cook your scrambled egg add ins (spinach, whatever you want) throw in whipped eggs, cook, remove from pan, coat pan with oil, put in tortilla, sprinkle in some feta (or any cheese) and put the scarmbled eggs in, fold, and cook, flipping once. YUM! I have had this more times for breakfast AND lunch than you need to know. 

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The Tale of Castle Cottage
Susan Wittig Albert

I had a really hard time getting into this one. It wasn't gripping from page one and then, of all the stupid things, the animals started talking. This is based on the life of Beatrix Potter, so I should have been warned about the talking animals. As I soldiered through it, I realized that the animals weren't talking to the people, just each other, which made it sort of okay. And there was a very interesting story here. I ended up really, really enjoying this. Beatrix Potter was a really interesting character. Buying a farm against her parents wishes, and then buying more and more farms as she got more money from her little books. She was worried about the farms being chopped up into subdivisions. And this was in the 1910's. At the time of her death, her husband and her owned some 3000 acres in the lake district and deeded it to the National Trust. One word of warning, this appears to be the last of the series, so don't start on this one. It is difficult to make interesting fiction books based on non-fiction, but this author seems to do it. 
A great, cozy, low key read. 

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Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta
Carole Nelson Douglas

I read this one before the Castle Cottage one, and to be honest, I never finished it. Apparently this series started with A and is not to V. I might give A a read at some point, but the cat seemed to be talking to his mistress, which I canNOT put up with when you combine it with a cat like character who would wear a fedora, smoke a cigar, put his feet up on the desk, and refer to clients as "little ladies" if given half a chance. I just wasn't in the mood. And plus, Vegas is not my favorite place. Entirely too much heat and vice in one spot in my humble opinion. We visit Justin's family there and enjoy them, but not the city so much. 
So I didn't give this one a fair chance, but it just wasn't me.

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Oh Danny Boy
Ryhs Bowen

I am not sure if I have mentioned this author, but I love her! I discovered her after reading Her Royal Spyness which I got from a library book sale. This series, seperate from the Royal Spyness one, is about Molly Murphy in New York City at the turn of the century. She becomes a private investigator. A bit of a stretch of the imagination, but she is a really spicy, freshly arrived Irish girl, so it seems plausible. In this book, she comes up againt Sibella Goodwin, the first female investigator on the NYPD. And Molly realizes she isn't a female Sherlock, she has basically been lucky in stumbling across things. Which made this book more enjoyable. I have enjoyed the other ones, but it was difficult to pretend that she was a marvelous detective. To be fair, I am not sure that the author was trying to make you think that or not, but I just liked that Molly realized it. If you like history with a bit of fictional spice thrown in, you will probably enjoy these books. They are fairly true to the era, not like some books where characters act like people from the 1990's in the 1890's. 
If you want to read these, start with Murphy's Law, the first one. 
Love it.

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Pardonable Lies
Jacqueline Winspear

This is the third Maisie Dobbs book. Again, a fictional historical woman detective. I might be a bit in a rut in my reading genre. This was my favorite Maisie Dobb book yet. They are  set in the between the wars era of London. Maisie came through the Great War as a nurse and she is a very reserved girl, which made the first book or two sort of... stand-off-ish. I think you get to see a much more human Maisie in this one. Her cases are generally not life threatening, but there is generally someone wanting her out of the way. So a little bit of danger, but a lot of good historical fact, tons of interesting tidbits about this time period in England. In this book, she travels back to France, which is a majorly emotional trip for her. 

Enjoyed it! 

Magic for Marigold (L.M. Montgomery Books)

Magic for Marigold
LM Montgomery

When we were at Clover's a week and a half ago, I finally decided I was going to read this one. Clover is the only person I know who has a copy of it. Clover told me it was utterly too-too. Which is easy to imagine with LM Montgomery, since she has never turned down an opportunity to call stars fairy dust or to describe the evening sky as purple. But I enjoyed this one. I don't think it was too-too. Yes, it has a LOT of that in there, but LM sensibly threw in several very UN-fairy like people and situations, which salvaged it in my opinion. If you like LM Montgomery (as right thinking people should) you will like it. Clover admits she may have been in a bad mood when she read it. 

And now, after all that, I am off to meet a pediatrician in Malone to FINALLY try to switch our kids to a pediatrician who is not an hour and 5 minutes away. Brilliant! 


laura said...

Thanks for the reviews AND pictures of Cute (capital "C") kids!!

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

I like how Lily and Gilbert can make sipping tea look very NOT pretentious. And Orianna did a great job with the mis-matched day, though I humbly think Rilla could crush them all in a head-to-head competition. And I want to read Rhys Bowen, I don't know if I have read one, or I've just seen you have them, but they sound familiar. Maisie Dobbs gets WAAAAY better as the series goes on, I think she's up to #8 or so, I really like them. As soon as you return my Magic for Marigold book (thief!!) I will have to give it another go. And I have lost my appetite for most city girl chick lit books, unless it is really funny and/or smart. And I HATE talking cat books. Whew, I'm talk-y tonight, apparently. I'm off to bed, I might read some more of Bel Canto, I'm two chapters in and enjoying it!

Verity Earl said...

Hey, what is up with this tea = pretentious thing the Vaughans seem to have? For the record, it is not. It's delicious, and frankly, way better than coffee. So there you have it. And I'm so glad to see Lily and Gilbert are in on the secret!

Thanks for the recommendation! I will have to look at that cookbook. And would you believe I've never read a L.M. Montgomery book?? I've only ever seen the Anne of Green Gables movie. Man! I am so behind. :)

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

All of us Vaughan kids love tea, Verity! Most of us don't even drink coffee. There *are* quite a few pretentious tea drinkers out there (and quite a few pretentious coffee drinkers, too!), so I was just enjoying the hearty, non-pretentious way Lily and Gilbert were imbibing! :-)