Monday, August 4, 2014

Books To Cheer One Up!

This past week was a normal week full of both highs and lows. The kind of week most everyone has. The biggest high had to be the KitchenAid mixer and shredder attachment with which my sister surprised me. Of course, I had to immediately try it out by shredding cups and cups of zucchini as well as mixing the quick breads I sell at my local farmer's market. I even tried a new recipe for chocolate zucchini bread which I will post at the end of this article.

Another high was the night we went bowling and I scored the highest score of my entire bowling career... a 129. And just in case you might be laughing, I want you to know that what I lack in bowling ability I make up with enthusiasm!

The first low which actually wasn't all that bad was the day I mowed my mother's lawn and it started to rain. At least it was light and It cleared up after only about fifteen minutes. The next not so great moment occurred during the farmer's market where it once again started to rain. Not having a tent when you have books for sale, does tend to worry one a bit. But I just popped the books into ziplock bags and waited for the sprinkles to stop. Despite the misty start to the morning, my sales of baked goods were pretty darn good.

The final low showed its face at the end of the week when I entered photographs in my local county fair. I entered nine photos and thought I would do pretty well. To my surprise, I only received two second place ribbons, one for a rooster and one for some pampas grass in winter. Of course I was disappointed, but I really was happy to have won any ribbons at all.

But that wasn't the low, the true low, the one that almost made me cry, the low that brought a frown to my face was the fact that so few people entered anything in the fair. The arts and crafts building was almost bare. There were barely a dozen jars of canned goods. There were only a half dozen decorated cakes. There weren't that many photos. And there weren't even that many fruits and vegetables entered. You don't know how truly sad the only plate of grapes looked despite its first place blue ribbon. How can a person be excited about winning when they are the only one that entered?

So saddened by the demise of fair participation, I rode home in silence. And for anyone who knows me well, that is an almost unheard of happening. Thankfully, I had a pile of good books to read. And thankfully, that and writing this review worked wonders and cheered me up immensely.

The first book I read was a truly funny read called Captain Pajamas: Defender of the Universe. I'm pretty sure you can only find this book used or at your library, but I recommend  you make the effort to find and read it. It is the hilarious tale of a super boy and his super dog working hard to defend his sister form the aliens he believes are in his home.

Captain Pajamas

The second book I read was The Paint Box and it was a beautifully told story of  a young Venetian girl in the late 1500's who had to dress like a boy in order to accompany her artist father around  Venice to galleries and workshops. Although this story is fictional, the main character, Marietta, really existed and was a fine painter.

The Paint Box

And now for the promised recipe:

Mini Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 cups sugar
1 cup extra light olive oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

NOTE: (If you are using zucchini that has been frozen be sure to use the water as well as the zucchini. If you are using freshly grated zucchini, be sure to add about 1/4 cup of water to the mix)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour five mini loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl mix sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. evenly divide batter between the five loaf pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of a load cleanly. Cool a few minutes and remove from pans to cool the rest of the way.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


  1. Awww.. your story about the fair, made me sad, too. I understand. It is nice to have books to cheer you up, right? Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Cool Mom! Say hello to Katrina and Stanly for me :0)

  3. I feel I need some cheering up this is the very first posts I visited from the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Thank you for a nice post and ideas. I will be trying your Mini Chocolate Zucchini Bread

    Maria @

    1. Thanks you for stopping by Maria and I am so sorry you are having one of those kind of days! Hope you enjoy the bread :0)

  4. So much to comment on! The rooster pic is my favorite. Congrats on placing in the contest! I don't see the "chocolate" in the zucchini bread. Did I miss something? I like your book selections and am glad they cheered you up.

    1. Thanks C.L. sometimes I need an editor, lol. I forgot the cocoa powder. I will correct that asap :0)