Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Lion's Tales: February 21-27

Inspired by Sadie's Saturday 7 and Jessica's Weekly Ramble, this weekly recap is where I blog about anything and everything from the past week. It could be about books, my kids, my garden... Random things in my life that don't fill enough space for their own post!

1. I'm going to my first ever freezer-cooking workshop today. I LOVE the idea of cooking and prepping things in bulk, but the only freezer we currently have is the small one above our refrigerator. So I'm usually limited to things like bags of grilled, sliced chicken or packs of hamburger that I've separated into 1-lb packages. In the next couple years we will hopefully move, and once we settle into our more permanent home we'll get a deep freezer -- but we don't want to get one now and have to move it. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quick Lit: February 2015

My 2016 Goodreads goal is 36 books -- 3 books a month -- after not quite making that goal last year.

(This doesn't count the books I read to/with my kids -- I try to post a few times a month what my kids are reading too, click here to read those reviews)

I'm more than a month ahead! [for now...]

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Lion's Tales: February 14-20

Inspired by Sadie's Saturday 7 and Jessica's Weekly Ramble, this weekly recap is where I blog about anything and everything from the past week. It could be about books, my kids, my garden... Random things in my life that don't fill enough space for their own post!

1. I ran my first ever Usborne Book Fair this week! It was at my daughter's preschool, and the church that I attend and work at part time. I had both cash & carry and an ordering table. I had SUCH a great time! I met a lot of people, sold a lot of books, and got some reading done during the downtime. :) It was 2.5 long days (setup Tuesday night, and 8:30-5:30 Wednesday & Thursday), but it was worth it.

I like the balance I'm finding with Usborne. I'm not really searching out too many opportunities for parties and booths, so I'm not earning the monthly awards, but I'm okay with that. I could push harder, but since there are no quotas to meet I'm really just pursuing things when I feel like it! I love the flexibility of this company.

2. Does anyone have any tips for finding cheap airfare? In July I'm going to be heading to Montana for the Annual GEMS Leadership Conference, and all of the round-trip flights I'm finding are $500-600+. The conference itself is $400, and while I'm getting some financial support from my club, I'll definitely have to pay quite a bit out of pocket.

3. My Sugar Fast is going alright. I'm 10 days in, and while physically I'm not feeling any different (no change in weight or energy), emotionally my cravings will either be non-existent or nearly unbearable. Mornings are pretty bad, and I'm thankful I've allowed myself to naturally sweeten my coffee with honey or maple syrup. Evenings are the second-worst, my girls are allowed one piece of Valentine candy if they finish their dinner, and Rocky still has ice cream every night while we hang out before bed (watching a show or playing a game). We have small group tonight, and I volunteered to bring dessert so that I can make something without refined sugar. :)

It's not very exciting, but here's my log for the week:

Day 4 - Saturday Feb 13
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: Homemade granola (contains honey and maple syrup) with milk
Lunch: Leftover homemade pizza
Snack: Handful of cashews
Dinner: Homemade "hamburger helper" - burger, pasta, spices

Day 5 - Sunday Feb 14
Coffee with heavy cream and honey
Breakfast: Homemade bread (honey) with butter
Lunch: French toast with butter, strawberries, and maple syrup
Snack: Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup (I tried doing just cream, it was flavored coffee, and could only drink a little bit. Maybe eventually I'll get there, but not yet. Added a little syrup.)
Dinner: Pan-fried salmon (first time cooking it!), homemade alfredo sauce on heart-shaped noodles from Aldi, broccoli, french bread

Day 6 - Monday Feb 15
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: Homemade granola with milk
Lunch: Leftover salmon, alfredo, broccoli
Snack: Strawberry fruit strip, handful of cashews, homemade chai tea latte (Celestial Seasonings chai, with honey and cream)
Dinner: Tomato soup and grilled cheese/bacon sandwiches

Day 7 - Tuesday Feb 16
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: Green smoothie (spinach, coconut water, pineapple, mango, banana)
Lunch: Cheese, summer sausage, crackers
Dinner: Beef enchiladas with rice, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce

Day 8 - Wednesday Feb 17
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: Shredded wheat cereal with milk
Snacks throughout the day (ran a book fair): Cashews, cheese, pretzel chips, strawberry fruit strip
Dinner: Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce (no sugar in the tomato sauce)

Day 9 - Thursday Feb 18
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: shredded wheat cereal with milk
Lunch: leftover enchilada
Snacks (throughout the book fair): Blueberry Larabar, cashews, pretzel chips, black coffee
Dinner (8:30pm...) Fried egg and buttered toast

Day 10 - Friday Feb 19
Almond-flavored coffee with heavy cream and honey
Breakfast: Homemade granola with milk
Lunch: Roast beef, cheese, lettuce, bacon, mayo wrapped in tortilla
Snack: Cashews, strawberry fruit strip, coffee with heavy cream
Dinner: Concession stand pizza at basketball game

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Judging Books By Their Covers: Julie of the Wolves

The Judging Books By Their Covers idea originally came from Jessica at Quirky Bookworm. While she no longer hosts a linkup for them, every so often I get inspired to look into what other covers there might be for a book that I'm reading!

In February for the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club we're reading Julie of the Wolves. I remember reading it in probably 4th or 5th grade, and I became obsessed with wolves. My friends and I would play "animals" outside at recess, and I would always choose to be a wolf. I didn't remember much of the storyline, so I was glad for this chance to re-read it. 

First edition cover: 1972
This is the one I got from my library.

I can't find a specific date for these, but I'm 95% sure I had a copy of
the one on the left when I was in elementary school in the early '90s. 

2003 edition

Not a true cover, but in 2012 Travis Jonker of SLJ
created this fan art cover using an image from Flickr.

Which cover is your favorite? 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Lion's Tales: February 7-13

Inspired by Sadie's Saturday 7 and Jessica's Weekly Ramble, this weekly recap is where I blog about anything and everything from the past week. It could be about books, my kids, my garden... Random things in my life that don't fill enough space for their own post!

1. Both of my girls had school Valentine's parties this week. It's nice that they're both in semi-small schools, so I could buy a box of 32 Valentines and a bag of candy and it was enough to cover both of their classes. :) I did start my Sugar Fast on Wednesday (more about that in a point below), and my eyes went wide when our counter exploded when they dumped out their bags of candy after school. At least I'm not tempted to sneak a Tootsie Roll whenever I walk by like I usually would be...

2. The opportunity came up to go see my all-time FAVORITE musical (not to mention my favorite movie :)  professionally performed last night. Ohhhh all the feels.... The casting was perfect, the sets were gorgeous, the singing was flawless. I was wiping away tears when the lights came up at intermission ("Climb Ev'ry Mountain"... nuff said!).

A photo posted by Carrie Roer (@carrieroer) on

I was quite the shy kid in school, and I definitely played up my introverted-ness (though people thought I was "breaking out of my shell" at church and in 4H - I still remained quiet at school). And when many of my friends were part of the school play each year and they told me I should try out too, I always refused. I remember going to their performance my senior year and sitting in the audience thinking "why didn't I do this??". But after high school there aren't many opportunities for drama/theater unless you want to pursue it professionally. Oh there are some local theater groups, but everything takes time. Maybe someday I'll look into it, or maybe I'll just go on dreaming about performing as Maria...

3. I started my Sugar Fast this week. I'm trying to be really conscious about as much as I can, but won't beat myself up if I miss something. I've been a label-reading fiend. I'm keeping track of what I eat, and am debating whether to have one big post/page with everything or not (like Jessica Fisher's Sugar Fast page here). If nothing else, I'll recap here weekly to keep myself accountable!

Day 1 - Wednesday Feb 10
Coffee with heavy cream and honey
Breakfast: Shredded wheat cereal from Aldi (the ONLY ingredient is wheat), milk, banana
Snack: Hard boiled egg with salt
Lunch: roast beef (seemed to not be sugar cured), provolone, lettuce wrapped in a tortilla (lots of tortillas and bread contain sugar, but the tortillas I had on hand didn't!)
Snack: Strawberry fruit strip from Aldi (basically dried fruit - if I had a dehydrator I'd make these myself) and handful of cashews, coffee with heavy cream and honey
Dinner: Scrambled eggs with leftover sausage and ham, cheese, wrapped in a tortilla, with orange juice

Day 2 - Thursday Feb 11
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup (yum! a new favorite!)
Breakfast: Homemade granola (contains honey and maple syrup) with milk
Lunch: No-sugar peanut butter from Aldi on toast, with a banana
Snack: Lemon Larabar and handful of cashews
Dinner: Grilled hamburger with cheese, mayo (sugar was one of the last ingredients but the label said 0g), mustard, dill relish, lettuce on a bun (didn't check the bun, I'm sure it does have sugar though. I wasn't too concerned). No ketchup, the second ingredient was sugar. I wish I'd had a tomato.

Day 3 - Friday Feb 12
Coffee with heavy cream and maple syrup
Breakfast: Shredded wheat with milk and banana
Lunch: Leftover homemade jambalaya (rice, chicken, ham, smoked sausage [didn't check the label], tomato sauce, chicken broth, seasoning)
Snack: Handful of cashews and Aldi strawberry fruit strip
Dinner: Homemade pizza (I make my own crust and leave out the sugar anyway, and use homemade tomato sauce and add my own seasonings for the pizza sauce. Didn't check the labels on the meats, but this is a meal I'm not concerned about)
Snack: Bluberry Larabar (see point 2, the musical didn't start until 8:00 and we were still on the road at midnight when my stomach started growling...)

So far so good. It's definitely easier during the day when it's just Ellie and me. Rocky and Abby have mid-winter break this weekend, so they were home on Friday and will be on Monday too. At least I'm not at all tempted to have fruit snacks with the kids, or ice cream with Rocky at night. The "sweets" that are obviously off-limits are the easy things...

Have you ever been in a play/musical/drama
in school or as an adult? 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Lion's Tales: January 31 - February 6

Inspired by Sadie's Saturday 7 and Jessica's Weekly Ramble, this weekly recap is where I blog about anything and everything from the past week. It could be about books, my kids, my garden... Random things in my life that don't fill enough space for their own post!

1. I mentioned last week that I'm seriously considering something crazy - giving up sugar/sweets for Lent. I continued my research this week, and really took the time to look at labels while grocery shopping. I managed to find a jar of peanut butter without sugar (who knew THAT would be so difficult...), and every meal I ate I found myself questioning whether I'd be able to eat it during my fast. I feel like I've been slowly weaning myself off most sugar the last couple of weeks, as I've become more mindful. So I think I'm actually going to do it, starting on Wednesday!

Of course, I did have chocolate covered raisins with Ellie for a snack, and still haven't weaned myself off from my daily sweetened coffee, and am planning to get at least one shamrock shake before Wednesday...

2. Last fall a friend asked if I'd be willing to watch her 18-month old daughter for a few hours on Monday mornings while she went to a college class. I said sure, and our weekly kid-swaps began. On Friday mornings Ellie goes to her house so I can have a few hours to myself. Last fall when we were dealing with the flea disaster, I spent those hours at home vacuuming (Ellie hates the sound of the vacuum - she would run downstairs and start bawling) and other housework.

For the last couple of weeks, after I drop Ellie off I've been stopping at our local coffee shop and bringing a to-go cup with me to the library. Then I set up shop at a table in a quiet room and work on all of those little computer things I want to do but don't normally take the time for during the week (it's hard to "work" with a 3-year-old around). Writing blog posts (like this one!), doing Usborne stuff, etc.

And I got to thinking -- is this what life will be like once my kids are in school full-time?? I feel so good about myself when I leave the library, because I've accomplished things on my to-do list that aren't part of the never-ending list of housework!

3. I've become obsessed with podcasts. Late last summer I subscribed to a couple of them to listen to while I took my evening walk. I forced myself to not listen to them any other time. Then I discovered the Sorta Awesome podcast, and the weather turned cold and dark and I couldn't go for walks anymore, so I started listening on Friday mornings while house cleaning.

Now I listen every spare chance I get when I'm not doing something that involves my brain, like reading or being on the computer. I listen in the car, I listen while folding laundry, I listen while cooking dinner. I try to balance it by letting Ellie listen to her music or audiobooks sometimes too. And I'm trying really hard to not subscribe to any new ones, knowing that I already have barely enough time in the week to keep up with my regulars. :)

I've heard people say that 2015 was "the year of the podcast" and that podcasts are becoming the next big thing -- like what blogging was 10-15 years ago. I have NO desire to start my own, but I'll gladly listen to others!

Here are the podcasts I currently subscribe to, in case you want to become obsessed too:

  • Sorta Awesome - Megan Tietz - Weekly episodes cover everything from food to Myers Briggs to family life to books to seasons... basically anything that anyone might consider awesome
  • The Simple Show - Tsh Oxenreider - About every two weeks, a companion to her amazing blog The Art of Simple. She talks with other people who are also interested in living a simple life - not just about "stuff", but a simple life
  • The Slow Home Podcast - Brooke McAlary - Now posting twice a week, Brooke and Ben's Australian accents sooth you into desiring a slower life. 
  • What Should I Read Next? - Anne Bogel - Only a few weeks old, Modern Mrs. Darcy's "literary matchmaking" podcast is a fun way to add ideas to your already-too-big stack of to-be-read books. 
  • Personality Hacker - Joel Mark Witt & Antonia Dodge - Companion to the Personality Hacker website, there are weekly (and often more frequent) episodes about understanding personality. I don't listen to every episode here, just the ones that talk about my own personal pieces of my Myers Briggs type (ISFJ) :) 
  • Read-Aloud Revival - Sarah Mackenzie - This is the podcast I've added to my list most recently, and I'm still going back through some of the older episodes. As my kids get older, I know I don't want to stop reading aloud to them just because they're learning to read on their own. This podcast gives me the inspiration to keep reading to them! 
  • That Sounds Fun - Annie F. Downs - Annie hasn't done any new podcasts since last summer, but I looove listening to her. I heard her speak at last year's GEMS Leadership Conference, and she is such a fun outgoing person who speaks her mind, and she has interviewed some great people. 

What are some of your favorite podcasts?
Or have you not gotten into them yet? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Quick Lit: January 2015

My library haul from a trip in mid-January
In 2015 my Goodreads goal was to read 36 books -- 3 books a month -- after only reading 24 the year before. I came so close, finishing 31 books. So my goal for 2016 is also going to be 36 books (and that doesn't count the books I read to/with my kids).

(I try to post a few times a month what my kids are reading too, click here to read those reviews)

I'm starting off well -- I finished 5 books already in January. Yay!


Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I have a tendency to jump on a best-selling-series bandwagon after all of the books in the series have been published (Harry Potter, Divergent, etc). And boy am I glad I waited on these, because I am just eating them up. In fact, I requested book 3 at the library as soon as I started book 2... and I'm still anxiously waiting (delivery day is tomorrow!). I had a friend ask what book I was reading, and it sounded really strange for me to explain "well it's a dystopian/futuristic book, and there's this girl who's a cyborg - you know, part robot part human - and it's a little like the story of Cinderella, but there's this plague..." These have been a great easy-read for when I only have a few minutes here and there, and I love the fairy tale undertones in each one.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The January/February topic in the RTFEBC is the Arctic, and some discussion came up in the Facebook group about Arctic books for adults. This one came highly recommended, and my library had it on the shelf so I gave it a try. It took a couple days for me to get fully immersed in the story (it was difficult with my small snippets of reading time), but once I did I just couldn't put it down. It's been a long time since I last stayed up late to finish a book! The bits of Arctic homesteading appealed to me, as well as all of the feelings of longing for a child (I had two miscarriages before my girls were born). It's a great novel that I don't think I would have picked up without others' glowing recommendations!

Four by Veronica Roth
I was a Divergent junkie when I read the trilogy. It wasn't like it was a new concept, there has been lots of dystopian YA lately. But I really liked the series, and was impressed by the first movie when it came out (though I have yet to see the others! ahh!). So when I needed something last week to tide me over until my library holds came in, I saw this book in the YA section and picked it up. It's essentially a prequel to the trilogy, a collection of short stories told from the perspective of the main character named Four. I don't think it would appeal to anyone who hasn't read the original trilogy, or at least the original book, but for fans like me it was a fun quick read.
In fact, I'm going to count it for the MMD 2016 Reading Challenge as "a book you can finish in a day". (I didn't read it in one calendar day -- mom-life is way too crazy for that -- but I did finish it in a 24-hour time span! :)

I also read The Year of Miss Agnes for the RTFEBC, and counted it only because it was the first time I've read it and I didn't actually read it with my kids. I wouldn't usually count an easy chapter book like that. :)

Are you on track with your reading goals for the year
or have you already fallen behind? :)

Linking up with Anne Bogel's February Quick Lit!

This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make after clicking through will help support The Lion is a Bookworm, without changing the cost to you!

Monday, February 1, 2016

What the Cubs are Reading: February 1

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Kathryn of The Book Date. Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers have adapted it to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books. Since I recap what I'm personally reading each month with Modern Mrs. Darcy, for this linkup I post what Abby (age 5.5) and Ellie (age 3.5) have been enjoying. 


by David Soman. March 2011
We've been fans of the Ladybug Girl books off and on, since we received Ladybug Girl and Bingo from the Imagination Library a few years ago. But suddenly Ellie decided she REALLY likes them, and we currently have five books from the series checked out from our library! Both of my girls are really getting into imaginative play (lately it's been Star Wars related...), and this particular book has been great for encouraging them to not be bossy and always telling everyone exactly how to play. 


Surprise Island (Boxcar Children) 
by Gertrude Chandler Warner. 
I discovered that Abby's teacher had been reading aloud the first book in the Boxcar Children series to her kindergarten class, and just finished on Friday. I remember loooooving the series as a kid, and knew I wanted to some day introduce my kids to it. I also want to get in the habit of reading aloud chapter books more, so this was a perfect opportunity! My church library has most of them, so we checked out book #2 and started it. While the image above is what my series looked like as a kid, this is what the books in the church library look like: 
I knew the series was old, but I didn't realize just how old - when looking for a publish date to put with this post, I found on Wikipedia that the first book was originally published in 1924, and reissued in a shorter revised form in 1942. Surprise Island is shown to be published in 1949, with re-prints in 1977 (blue cover above) and 1989.


We've also been reading a stack of picture books about the Arctic, for the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club (check out those reviews here). We'd love to have more of you join us for the club! Click here for more info about it.


Check out what others are reading in today's linkup

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases you make help support The Lion is a Bookworm a little bit without changing the cost to you!