No Better Way To Get To Know A Recipe Book…

Than to cook from it. Or rather, you and several (about 30?) other friends. I joined my friend, Linsey’s, book club called From Left 2 Write. It’s my kind of book club. I join in whenever I can, eliminating the stress to constantly acquire a new book and come up with new and different ways to describe and evaluate it. Well, this was certainly the best way to get to know this particular book, The Earthbound Cookbook by Myra Goodman.

Thirty of us from the book club each chose a recipe to try and brought it over to Linsey’s to share. Now, rather than only having a single dish to test out the genius behind the recipes, I had 30 delicious dishes to sample. And you know what? I’m really looking forward to trying out even more recipes.

There were several dishes I hadn’t yet run across and several more that I wouldn’t have thought to test. Wow. Each and every dish was scrumptious. I made the pumpkin and winter squash (butternut – my fave!) pie. Though the recipe said it would make one 9″ pie, I eked out two. There was quite a bit more filling than would fit into one 9″ pie crust, so I split the two. I left the second one for my family to enjoy…well, and me…tomorrow. How was it? Fabulous! It wasn’t all that sweet but the flavor really packed a punch. YUM! And it was the same for the other dishes I tried. From soups to breads to appetizers to main dishes and desserts, the mix of textures and flavors in each dish was intense.

Talk about selling a book. It would have taken me far longer to get to know the recipes in this book if left to my own devices. Though I feel inspired to cook something new every now and then, my interest in trying new dishes usually wanes rather quickly. But now, I want to forge ahead in exploring this cookbook because I know that there are about 29 other recipes well worth the time and effort.

But probably most importantly, I learned a few things about environmentally-friendly cooking, like fowl having less of an environmental impact than beef and why. The point of this cookbook is not only to encourage us to eat healthy and cook with fresh ingredients but to demonstrate that it’s not difficult to cook delicious meals while being conscious about what and how we could cook to sustain our planet. A good read and great food – now that’s a combo I can enjoy.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

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Treat Yourself To A Lot of Feel Good Laughs With “32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny”

6a00e00991f3ca883301157071a3f5970b-120wi Warning: do not read this book if in a state of PMS or are otherwise feeling emotionally sensitive, for whatever reason. It will make you smile, weep, chuckle, sob, and laugh out loud (making everyone around you wonder at your emotional instability). It will make you reminisce fondly about your own grade school days or fill you with hope for your own children that one day, they will have a teacher much like Phillip Done (we can only dream). “32 Third Graders and A Class Bunny,” is a publication that every parent with young children should own. And I am glad I do.

I don’t usually write reviews of any sort mainly because I simply don’t have the time. However, when I heard about this book from fellow SVMoms blogger, Jill, I had to check it out. And though this review is way overdue (with apologies to Mr. Done), I still wanted to write it as I believe that if you haven’t heard of it or read it yet, it’s the next book purchase you should make. Why is that?

Well, for one, it’s a quick read…that is, if you don’t read it like I do. I mean, as a mom of twin 5-year-olds and an entrepreneur in the middle of starting a new business, I rarely have a good chunk of time to sit down and relax with a good book. There are so many wonderful stories, anecdotes and quips in this book, that I often don’t return to the point I left off. I tend to go back a few pages…or a chapter…to familiarize myself with where I left off and smoothly move into the new unread section. Savor is the word that comes to mind.

As our twins are about to enter Kindergarten, I wonder at how much they have already picked up in the few years of daycare and preschool they have experienced. I am amazed at the little girls they have become – schooled in politeness, relatively peaceful conflict resolution (an ongoing process), creative projects, artists, music and free play. My thoughts about their future usually linger in the very near future or skip to when they’re teenagers. I don’t often reflect on their grade school years until I read other moms’ stories of their kids in grade school out of curiosity and the hope that I might pick up a good tip here and there to file away in my brain until needed.

But reading Mr. Done’s book brought me back to the earlier years – before the complexities of puberty, when innocence was still abundant in young kids’ minds. Third grade. I really think this is the last age of their being real children. According to another mommy friend of mine, her third grade daughter is doing long division, times tables and cursive writing. Their world of understanding is expanding through geography and current events. And with the many questions they have that are answered, they begin to lose that last bit of innocence – Santa Claus becomes only a legend, the Tooth Fairy ceases to leave presents under their pillows at night, the leprechauns no longer dance around the pot of gold at the end of the rainbows and the Halloween Fairy is discovered as a ruse that parents use to reduce the intake of sweets after an evening of amassing their collections.

But Phillip Done’s book made me laugh out loud at the antics of his third graders. At times, I think, “Wow, by the time my girls get to third grade, they’re going to seem so grown up.” And then I read about how his entire classroom of kids consistently erupts into laughter each year when Mr. Done says the word “ass” as he reads Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Yup, they’re still kids.

There’s so much to love about this book, it’s difficult to pull out a single story or anecdote to highlight. He brings us through a school year from the first day in fall to the last one before summer break. Mr. Done has amassed over 20 years of experiences to relate – which he does with just the right amount of humor, sensitivity and affection. His love for teaching, his sense of humor and practical approach to dealing with the varying personalities of students (and parents!) as the year marches on from September through June shines through. It’s a quick read and a wonderful trip back in time.

If you’re trying to come up with a different kind of gift for a parent of young kids or a special teacher, take a look at this book. You’ll be glad you did.

An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.

You may also find MommyTwinGirls at Silicon Valley Moms Blog telling tales of parenting in Silicon Valley, at Mad About Multipes recounting the ups and downs of raising twins and at Solheim Photography posting favorites from her latest photo shoots.

Simply Maria

Simplymaria One of the perks in contributing to a collaborative blog such as Silicon Valley Moms Blog is getting to meet a few famous people here and there. Last night, I got to meet Maria Shriver during a private book signing with other Silicon Valley Moms Blog contributors at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.

Yes, Maria Shriver of many titles – the First Lady of California, the award-winning journalist, the NBC news anchor, the Kennedy, the mother. Last night, she was simply Maria. And as we all had the chance to read her latest book, “Just Who Will You Be?” we were very intrigued by a woman who grew up among a renowned family, managed a high-profile career while raising four children and being married to a rather famous actor-turned-politician who is running the state with the 6th largest economy in the world.

Her book is based on a speech she gave at her nephew’s high school graduation. As most graduation speeches are often inspirational and humorous, hers did not disappoint. If I were sitting in that audience of family and friends of the students, I would have been laughing non-stop, hanging on every word, anticipating the next joke. I’m always amazed at people who are able to deliver an inspirational message while making you laugh at the images their words conjure in your mind one minute and then motivating you to delve within yourself for a moment of self reflection the next.

And you know what? How wonderful she (and her publishers) decided to share that speech with the rest of us. Adding even more personal anecdotes around that graduation speech for the book gave me a more complete vision of what’s been going on inside her own person. She wrote about something we all face throughout our lives – crossroads, curve balls – whatever you want to call it and who you become in working through these challenges. And she wrote it in such an engaging, eloquent manner…no wonder she’s so famous! Ha ha ha No seriously. She wrote it in such a way that it made me consider that important question Just Who Will You Be? and what it means to me in my life right now. It made me think of the future and how I could encourage my girls as they get older, to look inside themselves and find the passions that will carry them through the rest of their lives and help them find inner joy.

Listening to her speak last night, I saw a connection between Maria the person and the thoughts she laid out in her book. She is real. I was impressed with the fact that her other books all related to someone or something in her life. She mentioned that they are designed to initiate dialogue. The topics are ones that have touched her personally and she felt the need to help others understand and to encourage them to talk about them. I bought three of them before I left. “What is Heaven?” is a book she wrote to help her children understand death and dying. “What’s Wrong With Timmy?” is a book about understanding and accepting children with intellectual disabilities. The third book was, “And One More Thing Before You Go…” because she had a friend who found herself in the “empty nest” stage of her life. Her friend’s daughter was heading off to college and she articulated the advice many mothers would love to give to their daughters before they go. The title alone peaked my interest and resonated with me.

I have to say that I didn’t know much about Maria Shriver before last night’s event except that she was part of the famous Kennedy clan, a journalist and married to Arnold. After last night (and after reading her book), I’m feeling a bit of a connection with her as a mother and as a person. It’s not often that you get to glimpse the real person behind a famous name and I thank Silicon Valley Moms Blog for that opportunity.

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Original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post by MommyTwinGirls.