Monday, November 13, 2017

Ordinary Moments Make Extraordinary Days

I've always been convinced that extraordinary days are days made up of ordinary moments we choose to cherish. And if that's really the case, then this week was extra extraordinary! The week started off last Monday with the workman showing up to start work in the basement on our epoxy floor. Ten years ago our basement took on water, quite a bit of water, and we had to have the basement people come and put in an Ever Dry System. This of course meant that we had to tear out the finished portions of our basement. Due to vehicle break downs, major appliances dying, and other such things, it took us this long to be able to put our basement back together, so the flooring being completed puts us oh so close to being finished which is definitely worth cherishing.



Next, I decided to use up the orange marmalade our neighbors bring us back from Florida each spring. I don't have the heart to tell them we don't like orange marmalade, so I've had a few jars sitting in the cupboard for a while. When I searched for recipes on Pinterest, I found one for orange crockpot chicken. This seemed a perfect way to use up the marmalade and to cook a few recipes my mom handed down to me. As the holidays draw near, I more keenly feel her loss; so making fried rice and chicken won tons to go with the orange chicken brought me comfort.



The following day, Emily was invited to a bowling birthday party. She put particular time and effort into making a card for her friend, and as usual, I was blown away by her creation. She looked for art samples online and found one she liked. Her modified version was so beautiful, Bobby even suggested she should keep the card and make another for the b-day girl. She just laughed.



I also received a wonderful package in the mail from Mrs. Jene Daub and the North Tama second grade class. The kids sent me letters telling me how much they enjoyed my Quack and Daisy stories. One of my favorites ended with the following, "Warm regards from your friend illustrator Tyler." My hope is that all of Tyler's illustration aspirations come true.



And I ended this extraordinary week by reading one of my friend's, Josh Funk, picture books titled Dear Dragon. It is the story of how two very different teachers conspired to get their two very different classes to practice the art of letter writing and poetry by assigning each of them a pen pal. George and Blaise write each other diligently and can't wait to meet in person at the end of year picnic. You can imagine their surprise when they discover just how different they are, but they don't let that stop them from becoming the best of friends. This adorable book is a definite must read!


Ammi-Joan Paquette, Josh, Funk, and Me



Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Pie, A New Floor, A Retelling, And A Beginning Reader

I decided when farmers' market ended that I was going to spend the fall and winter season trying new recipes, and I have indeed been doing so. This past week I made my first ever coconut cream pie which turned out beautifully and wasn't nearly as difficult to create as I had previously imagined.


As I look ahead to this coming week, I think I shall use the orange marmalade from Florida that my neighbor gifted me to make easy orange chicken. I love Asian dishes, but have yet to try this one. I'm thinking it will pair perfectly with my fried rice and chicken won tons. I'll be sure to let you know next week how it turns out.

Here at the Stewart house we have also been getting ready for the flooring people who are starting work on our epoxy basement floor this week. I'm so excited that our basement remodel is finally coming together and will hopefully be ready for Christmas.

And last but not least, I read two books for review. The first is a retelling of one of my favorite Little Golden Book stories from my childhood, Country Mouse, City Mouse. This version is titled Moustropolis and is both written and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with this very modern retelling. It's just a personal thing, much like I don't care for modern art. The story just seemed a bit too sparse with words for my taste, but that doesn't  mean you shouldn't find a copy and let your kids decide for themselves.


The second book is a chapter book for beginning readers. It is just one of several in what appears to be a series and is titled King and Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse. The five short chapters are easy to navigate but lead the reader on an interesting mystery which Kayla and her dog King must solve. The mystery__ who is Mouse and what has he done with King's favorite blue ball?


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Love to Win

I love to win. I love to win sweepstakes. I love to win board games. I love to win prizes. I pretty much love to win anything. Don't you?

My family won this week when I made them a triple berry pie.


But I won as well with my discovery of a site called shop your way which is sponsored by Sears and K-mart. Not only do my reward points from Sears purchases accumulate, but there are also daily sweepstakes and instant win games. I haven't managed to win any prizes yet, but I have won quite a slew of points which I used to purchase a new orbital sander for half price after mine quit working. I also managed to snag free socks, spatulas, crayons, mascara, and screw drivers.


This week I also won in the literary world. No, I did not receive an offer from an agent yet; but I did win a super great picture book by Lori Alexander called Famously Phoebe. Phoebe is a girl who has visions of grandeur because her family are always taking pictures of her. As I began reading about Pheobe, I thought about the hundreds of picture I've taken over the course of twelve years of my daughter Emily. And just when I thought I knew where Lori was taking me with her narrative, I was pleasantly surprised. Phoebe, however, was not so pleasantly surprised. She, who had basked in the glorious limelight shared with no other, suddenly found herself with a rival.


This story of an only child losing her status because of the arrival of a sister is incredibly well written, beautifully illustrated, and just plain fun. So whether or not you have an only or a passel of kids, I'm pretty sure they will all enjoy Famously Phoebe.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Field Trip With Friends

This past week we had the pleasure of taking a field trip with some fellow home school friends. The sun shone brightly, the breeze blew lightly, and we put on our science and history caps as we visited The Olentangy Indian Caverns in Delaware, Ohio.




We saw first hand the capillary action of the water dripping through the bedrock. You know, that mineral laden water that a forms stalactites and stalagmites. I found this to be quite interesting since Emily has just performed a similar experiment for science with salt saturated water.



We also visited the small museum at the entrance to the caverns and learned that the Hopewell Indians (one of the mound building groups of Ohio) had used the caverns back in the day. Another fact we recently read about in our Ohio History.




Emily also took a trip to the petting zoo to spend some time with the pot bellied pig, some goats, and some exotic cows. We even saw some beautiful deer in an other enclosure.





It was a splendid day spent with friends, and it just so happens that one of the books I read this week was about friends as well. A sequel in the Snail and Worm series by Tina Kugler, Snail and Worm Again offers beginning readers three fun stories where Snail and Worm encourage each other and point out each of the other's best qualities.


The second book, What Are You Waiting For, tells a tale of two friends who are waiting. Rabbit is waiting but won't tell Badger what he's waiting for. All day long Badger asks questions trying to figure out what exactly Rabbit won't tell  him. And as the day ends and Badger finally sees the long awaited object he is most excited. It is a very calm book but quite fun!


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A is for Aligator

As my basement reno draws closer to being finished, I grow excited. I can't wait to start decorating with all my bookish things like event swag, autographed books, and my letter project. Recently I purchased four letters from my local Jo Ann Fabric store along with some fifty cent books from the thrift store. My objective was to take the letters and cover them in bits of book pages and seal them with modge podge thus creating the word read. I have three of the letters finished, and they are even cuter than I imagined they would be.




Emily had a project going on this week as well. She had a teen church party to attend, so she made soft batch chocolate chip cookies from a recipe we found on Pinterest. The youth minister particularly enjoyed them!


And since I had two books in my reading pile about alligators, I decided that "A" would be the letter of the week. The first book, Dance is for Everyone, tells the story of an alligator who decided to join ballet class. The students become used to having an alligator perform with them and soon name her Tonya. Of course, there are problems that come with having an alligator in class, but creative ideas soon take care of those problems. The ending is particularly unexpected and the end papers are worth admiring.


The second book, Alan's Big, Scary Teeth, takes the reader on an amusing journey. Alan the alligator spends his days scaring the other animals in the forest with his big scary teeth. But Alan has a secret. His teeth aren't real. When Alan's teeth come up missing, he goes from be the scariest to being the most laughed at. To find out who took Alan's teeth, how he gets them back, and what he does afterwards instead of scaring everyone you are going to have to find a copy to read for yourself!


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Things

This week since I didn't have all the farmers' market baking to do, I tried some new recipes out on my family. I made homemade garlic cheese bread sticks and apple cider pulled pork. Both were delicious, but the bread was extra good! I also found several new cookie recipes on Pinterest that I want to try this Christmas.


In addition, I finished canning pears, peeled, sliced and froze apples for fried apples this winter, and I am probably cooking apple butter as you read this. I certainly do love fall harvest!

And finally, I found an autographed book at the bottom of one of my piles that I had not read yet. It is titled The Little Ships and is a historical fiction picture book that I received when I attended Nerd Camp this summer. But don't let the words historical fiction fool you any, this book is based on the real life heroic rescue at Dunkirk.


I don't know about you, but I love autographed books, and although I wouldn't probably have gravitated to this book on my own, I'm glad it's now part of my growing collection. The Little Ships is a story of a boy in a fishing town fifty miles from Dunkirk England during WWII. His father and he, along with many other fishermen in their small ships, set sail for Dunkirk to ferry thousands of sailors to the navy ships waiting nearby. In all, 338,226 soldiers both French and English were rescued by the little ships. This amazing feat is brought to life by Louise Borden in a believable manner and the story is given depth with the muted water colors of illustrator Michael Foreman.

So my suggestion for all you history buffs, WWII enthusiasts, or just plain curious persons is to find a copy for yourself either from your library or at your favorite book store and get to reading!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Three Cats, Three Books

The weather this past weekend was a bit chilly, but it didn't keep kids from creating a little art at the market chalk-a-palooza where I manage. I passed out chalk and caramel apple suckers to the kids and sold almost everything from my table making it a pretty stellar day. And while I love the market, I am glad it's behind me as I am looking forward to taking a little break from baking until the holidays.




Something else I did this past month was run a cross a blurb showing that September was designated as Happy Cat Month. And though we are a few days into October now, I thought it would be fun to share three cat books I read for the occasion. But before I do, I'd like to introduce you to our family's three cats, Max, Daisy, and Fluffy.

Max

Daisy
Fluffy
 Do you see the theme I snuck in there?  Three cats owned, three books read!

The first book I read was titled, The big Meow. The story tells the tale of Little Cat who has a big meow. A meow much bigger than the meow's of his peers, and one that causes the others to leave him out of all their fun and games. That is until Little Cat uses his big meow to save the other kittens from Bruno the bullying Bulldog.


The next title was a cute book called, Cat Skidoo. Cat Skidoo takes the reader on a journey as they follow two kittens who are curious and manage to get into lots of mischief. This book would be great for kids four to six and has some very fun illustrations to admire along the way.


And last but certainly not least since it was my favorite of the three books was Goyangi Means Cat. It is the story of a small girl from Korea, Soo Min, who comes to America after being adopted. Her new parents only know four words of Korean but they have a Goyangi or cat. The cat helps Soo Min adjust to her new home that is different from anything she has ever known. But one day, the cat slips out the door and, Soo Min and her mother spend the day combing the neighbor hood for the naughty kitty.


I loved so many things about this book. I love the story's depiction of how a child might feel in a new and strange place no matter how loving the adoptive parents are. I love that she finds comfort in the family cat. and I love how both the parents and Soo Min make effort to learn each other's languages. But most of all, I loved the illustrations by husband and wife team Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. What they created on the pages of this book was a tapestry of Asian characters and patterns that made me the Korean culture a bit more deeply.

Since all these titles are a little older, I suggest you check you local library first. If that fails, there are some used copies floating around and Goyangi Means Cat is readily available in both Kindle and Nook form.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter  @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.