Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm a delinquent...

   It's been a few days since I last posted, and for those lovely people that have been checking in, I'm sorry. The temperature has been scary-hot here, so I've been keeping my little guy inside. No running at the park means no rest time; no rest time means no computer time for Momma! We made it out today, though, and I have a big pile of loot from my local library, with delicious titles like Eve's Diary (Mark Twain); The Dyer's Hand (W.H. Auden); Wild Fruits (Thoreau); Shakespeare's Sisters (Sandra Gilbert); Fire of the Goddess (Katalan Koda); Ravensong (Catherine Feher-Elston); and If You Want to Write (Brenda Ueland).
   The air conditioner's running, iced tea is dripping condensation on the coffee table, and I've got plenty of books to keep me occupied. Now, if only it weren't too hot to bake cookies....

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies are proof that the Goddess loves us and wants us to be happy, joyful, and fat.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • Waxed paper
    In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.


    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Create an Altered Book Journal, continued

    A week or so ago I posted directions on how to make a journal out of an altered book. After sorting through my collection, I found a 1922 edition of Charlotte Bronte's The Professor, my least favorite of her books, purchased because I am a fan and I felt that I ought to own every one of her books, whether I liked them or not. (Also, it was an inscribed antique book for $6.50. Really, I couldn't go wrong.) But I really don't like The Professor, and so it has become the chosen one:

    I am no artist, as you can see, but I love the concept so much I decided to go ahead and make a commonplace book, filled with whatever strikes my fancy, and a few attempts at drawing as I see fit. My incredibly crafty and artistic daughter has asked if she can make one, but her excitement was a bit quelled when I told her she had to use one of her books. Mean, mean mom.

    It's summer! Let's garden!

       Now that it's officially summer (okay, midnight tomorrow is officially summer, but unless you're Pagan, who's counting?) it's time to contemplate one of our world's most wonderful features: dirt. Who doesn't like the smell of rich, freshly-turned soil, dark as good chocolate, filled with plant-potential? Okay, you may not like dirt, but you must like food, and without lovely chocolatey-brown dirt, you have no lovely food.
       For the last thirteen years I have lived in an apartment in the middle of downtown Turners Falls. While it had enough room for my large family, there was no yard, and the only green in sight was the strip of scraggly grass on the edge of the road. (I also had the apartment with north- and west-facing windows. Direct sunlight was a rare treasure, usually obtained at 6 AM and 4:30 PM). Two months ago my family finally moved. We are in another yardless apartment, still in downtown Turners Falls, but with one huge difference. (well, two, if you count the abundance of windows that face EVERY DIRECTION! I can sunbathe in my living room! My kitchen! My bedroom! My fourteen year old cat oozes around the house from sunlit patch to sunlit patch. She's blissfully happy.)
       My lovely new home has back stairs. South-facing, sunlight-gilded back stairs, and they're all mine! Check it out:

    I'm not sure which part of my back step garden I like best. Maybe the sun-drenched tomato and pepper pots. Or maybe my little herb and pansy window box. Actually, it's probably the vine-shaded corner on the first landing, where I can sit with a mug of tea and a book, and read outside without the sun glaring off the page into my eyes. This little garden is a work in progress: we're just getting into our growing season here in western MA, and I've got plans for a few more additions: a second window box of herbs, because I put them in everything, even cookies (I'll even share my favorite savory cookie with you here at the end); a cluster of cucumber plants and one of zucchini plants; and just because I'm a faerie-tale princess at heart, a rosebush, if I can find one that will thrive in a pot. At the very bottom of the stairs is a pot of morning glories that have just begun sending spindly tendrils up the railing to twine with the grapevine. (The vine came with the apartment, and I love it. I'm thinking of adding a hops vine...they're beautiful, and I do live over a restaurant/bar. I think the owners would appreciate that.) Anyway, today being a glorious sunny day, I've got plans to go play in the dirt. How about you?
    And now.....COOKIES!!!!
    Rosemary Cornmeal Cookies

    1/2 C (1 stick) butter, softened
    1/3 C sugar
    1/4 C pine nuts (I've substituted blanched almonds before...they're cheaper than pine nuts)
    1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
    1 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary OR 1/2 Tbs of dried rosemary, finely ground with a mortar and pestle
    4 cracks of fresh black pepper
    3/4 C all-purpose flour
    1/2 C cornmeal
    1 tsp salt

    Preheat oven to 300F
    Mix butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy and smooth.  Add nuts, Parmesan, rosemary and black pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add flour, cornmeal and salt.  Stir to combine. 
    Form into 1-inch balls with your hands and place on a prepared baking sheet, flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.

    Bake about 25 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack.  (These cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container.)

    Enjoy! Preferably outside, with a mug of tea, and whatever book you're treating yourself to this summer. (I'm currently working my way through Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers for the umpteenth time.)

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Midnight ramblings, because I'm sad and I have insomnia. (I'm cheerful, huh?)

         It was a rough day here, readers. Four years ago my grandmother Ellie passed away, and the pain is still as raw now as it was then. I didn't get to say goodbye, so I'll never really have closure. I suppose the pain never really goes away, but over time it becomes softened, the sharp edges are worn away to a dull ache. I'll have to wait and see.
         On a brighter note, I'm at 100 views, which is AMAZING, thank you all so very much. People from the Netherlands, Armenia, Spain, Venezuela, Germany and Mexico have stopped by, as well as readers in the US. That makes me feel all sparkley inside, like a rainbow exploded or....something.       Anyway, THANK YOU, all of you, any of you, who stop in a read my rambling posts about posty-ness. I am forming a better idea about where I want this blog to go and how I want it to grow into a big, strong, proud blog when it grows up, so if you kind and lovely people just bear with us (me and the blog) we'll become something worth reading, I promise.

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    We're making ice cream!!!!

    Thanx Natalie at Super Healthy Kids!!

    Raspberry and Cream Banana Ice Cream (I'm using strawberries, tho )

    To make this, blend in a food processor:
    • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
    • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
    • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
    Blend until smooth and creamy.  Eat immediately or place in the freezer for a harder consistency.  This flavor is creamy and delicious, but also refreshing!

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    Summer Reading, Continued

    It's been raining rather steadily here for a few days, long enough for me to have made some progress on my stack of summer reading books. Thus far I have finished:

    The Peabody Sisters by Megan Marshall (An incredible 20 year's worth of work on a group of sisters that made an enormous impact on education in the nineteenth century.)

    Saffron and Brimstone by Elizabeth Hand (I'm buying this one. The stories were GREAT!)

    Anam Cara by John O'Donohue (not as moving or thought-provoking as I'd hoped.)

    Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (Fascinating. I've always liked crows, but other than looking up and thinking 'oh, look, a crow,' I've never really thought about them. Haupt has encouraged me to look at them--really look at them, that is, in a whole new way.)

    I still have a huge pile to work my way through, including a ludicrously decrepit copy of the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton. Can't wait to travel with Sir Richard!!

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Grace is Overrated!!! (Well, not really, but Christie Zimmer's blog is SO KOOL!!!)


    I think this is my new favorite place. A blog about journaling? I'm there. She even has downloadable/printable pages for kids' journals! Christie, I think I'm in love.

    Grace is Overrated

    Practicing gratitude, for everything, anything, and then some :)

       In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.


    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Create and Altered Journal or Commonplace Book, via Crafting a Green World!

    How To: Create an Altered Journal

    A fabulous Repurposed Book as Sketchbook tutorial by Livividli Lifestyle Blog was linked up to our Green Crafts Showcase this month. I was so inspired by it that it will not only be featured tomorrow as one of the top 5 projects, but I wanted to create my own version. Instead of a sketchbook, I repurposed my book into a journal.

    What You Will Need:

    1. An old book. You can easily find these at garage sales or thrift stores.
    2. Crayons or any other items to decorate your journal.

    How To Do It:

    1. Decide what the purpose of your journal will be. Here are some ideas:
      • a travel journal
      • a place for quotes or poetry
    How To: Create an Altered Journal
      • a scrapbook (almost like a smashbook!)
      • a sketchbook like Livividli Lifestyle Blog
      • write down creative project ideas– I always have a journal in my purse for when ideas pop in my head!
      • an everyday journal
    How To: Create an Altered Journal
    2. Go for it! The great thing about this project is that there aren’t any guidelines or rules. Envision what you want for your journal and then put it on paper.
    3. Optional: Decorate the outside of the book. You can easily glue recycled paper to the outside of your book to cover it and make your own “title.” I didn’t decorate the outside of mine because I like that it’s “incognito.”
    What do I do with mine? I like to write different quotes from Pinterest that inspire me, ideas for projects, and everyday journal entries. As Laura from Livividli said, I love the layered look of the words underneath and the surprise aspect of someone opening the book and finding something different.

    What kind of journal would you create?

    Nicole Ellie says: I LOVE books. (For those of you that know me I'm sure this is an understatement.) I love to read them, look at them, write in them, art in them. I've never thought of doing an altered book like this; I always put way too much work into making the book a canvas for some failed art project or something like that. This is so much easier, and way more fun. So easy, in fact, that I'm pretty sure I and my little guy can each begin one today. If I don't have a book lying around that I can sacrifice, I can always hit the Salvation Army or my town's Little Free Library. (Not necessarily what the Little Free Library is for, but I make regular donations. They won't mind.)
       Getting back to Crafty Green Bonnie's question, what kind of journal will I create?? I've already got a journal: I've been keeping one steadily for a couple years now. However, amid daily complaints about washing dishes (will they ever learn to wash themselves???), random cookie recipes, introspective soul-searching (I'll find it one of these days), and scrawled story and poetry ideas, I add quotes from books, snatches of poetry that move me like mine never can, and my thoughts on them. 
       These are the grounds for a Commonplace Book, a journal-like device most popular in the 17th through 19th centuries, though the poet W.H. Auden and novelist E.M. Forster both kept and published, Commonplace Books. My first experience with the Commonplace Book was in my Western Lit class (aka, the Dead White Guys class) at GCC some years ago. I found the concept difficult, mostly because we were creating a Commonplace Book about the class' reading material, and with the exception of Sappho and Hilda Doolittle (thrown in so it could avoid being called the Dead White Guys class), I found the reading material exceedingly boring. That, and I'd already translated Virgil's The Aenead from the original Latin in high school, thus earning the wretched book my everlasting hate.
       And yet, while rereading my stack of journals, I came to realize that I had an appreciation of the Commonplace Book and continued to include it in my regular journal. No more! I have a large-print copy of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress sitting on my shelf. I had intended to read it...after all, it was Louis May Alcott's favorite book, and if it's good enough for my idol, it's certainly good enough for me. However......

    Friday, June 7, 2013

       Rainy, rainy day. What to do with a rambunctious three year old when he can't go outside and ride his beloved bike? Something needs to be done: the cat is beginning to fear for her life.
       Days like today make me wish I had heeded Sarah Ban Breathnach's advice and created a Rainy Day Cabinet, after the manner of Victorian mamas the world over. Lacking a Rainy Day Cabinet, I've turned to Amanda Blake Soule's The Creative Family to see what I can come up with before the cat loses any more whiskers.
       We are recently installed in a new apartment with an abundance of space and naked walls. Let's play.....Art Gallery!
       Mr. Rambunctious has been given free reign with all the art supplies his little heart desires, and I've gone digging through boxes for picture frames. I'll replace the photos with pieces of my kids' artwork, and viola! Naked wall in living room becomes Wall of Pride. And, like every true gallery, we can change the art work out every so often, to keep the display "fresh."
    Before.....sad, embarrassed, naked wall!
                                                       After! Are they not just so talented?? Already the living room looks brighter and more welcoming. I have to admit I'm rather persnickety about decorating. I want my home cozy and welcoming, but pretty, too, and so I try to keep the decorating in each room to a select color and style scheme. Do the kids' pictures really fit with my scarlet Art Deco style couch and the paisley rug (red, robin's egg blue, tan and turquoise)? Nope, not really. But my children are 20, 17, 16, 14 and 3, and childhood is rushing away from our family so fast (or already gone). So I will sacrifice my 'Country Living' living room for the sake of my children's pride, and in the end, make all of us, even persnickety me, a whole lot happier. (Especially the cat, who was able to find a secure hiding place while we arted.)

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Dinnertime musings

    My little Bubbah, my Bean, and I spent a glorious afternoon at my mother's today, playing outside and watching a pair of spastic squirrels square off over Bubb's dropped peanut butter cracker. (We eventually tossed them another one, just to make it fair. I surmised the squirrels were sisters--they still went after each other's cracker.) After spending a day sunning and relaxing, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking an elaborate dinner. Plus, it's shopping day. The inside of the fridge looks remarkably like Antarctica: white and empty. Soooooo...what's for dinner? Let's hop over to http://yummymummykitchen.com for inspiration!

    Bakes Spaghetti with Burrata it is. Thank you Marina!!!

    Baked Spaghetti with Burrata 
    serves 8 

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
    1 small yellow onion 
    4 cloves garlic, minced 
    1 teaspoon dried basil 
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon sea salt 
    1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper 
    1 (28 oz) plus 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or my favorite, 1-2 boxes Pomi strained tomatoes) 
    1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste  
    1 cup sliced bell pepper, any color 
    1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms 
    2 tablespoons capers (optional) 
    8 oz. cooked meatballs (optional)
    1 lb. spaghetti (whole wheat, gluten free, high protein, etc.) 
    8 oz burrata or fresh mozzarella (packed in water), drained 
    In a large pot over medium heat saute onion in olive oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and saute another minute. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste and cook 15 minutes. Add peppers, mushrooms, capers, and meatballs and simmer until vegetables are just softened, about 3 minutes. 

    Meanwhile, cook spaghetti until al dente according to package directions and drain. Preheat broiler. 

    Toss spaghetti with sauce and transfer to a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Tear cheese into pieces and scatter over pasta. Place dish under broiler and cook 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted and browned in spots. 

    Make Ahead Option: 
    Assemble the entire dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate for up to 1 day. Instead of broiling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browned. 

    Vegan Option: 
    Use vegan meatless meatballs and vegan mozzarella or parmesan cheese. 

    Gluten Free Option: 
    Use gluten free spaghetti and meatballs 
    I used gemelli instead of spaghetti, and mozzarella, but it was still fabulous: fast and tastie. Yummy Mummy is one of my favorite food blogs, AND Marina has a cookbook available. Guess what I'm itching to pick up??

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Morning Meditation?

       Happy Morning, everyone! (No, I'm not one of those delightfully chipper morning persons you read about--my husband will be the first to tell you.) I've been awake for a couple hours now, and feeling mostly human, so you get nice Cole instead of evil just-woken-up Cole. So why am I so chipper this morning? It's a beautifully sunny summer morning (Okay, almost summer. I know it's not summer yet...I'm Pagan. We get that stuff. No big party? Not a new season then. See? Perfect logic.) and I woke up to birds singing at the birdfeeder, and had a chance to meditate. Yes, meditate. Not meditate as in sitting pretzeled up making funny sounds with my breath while warbling Vedic chants (not to say that's not a great way to do it) but just lying in bed, watching the leaf shadows move on the walls, listening to my baby breathe beside me.
       Meditation is about finding peace within. Allowing yourself to relax fully so that you may achieve a true sense of peace and calm, thereby gaining the ability to do...anything. If you are at peace with yourself, centered within your Self, you begin to see that the small irritating things that fly at you during the day like rabid mosquitos really are just small, insignificant things that aren't worth your anger or worry. And the big things that suddenly fly up before you, wings outstretched, talons bared? You find yourself more able to deal with them. You are calm, able to look the issue in the face and stare it down into submission.
       Do yourself a favor, give yourself a gift of time. (I know, what's that??) Tomorrow, when you first wake up, give yourself 5 minutes. Listen to yourself breathe. Listen to the birds outside. Have a cat? Give them a scratch and listen to them purr. If it's raining, listen to that. See how much better you feel over the course of the day. I know I'm feeling pretty good this morning. And now I'm off to clean up some spilled grape juice. http://www.meditatelikeagirl.com/


    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    It's Summer! Let's Read! (Okay...We're Breathing! Let's Read!)


       Soo...it being that most marvelous time of year, SUMMER, what are your plans? Mine, being Momma and Writer, are going to be the same as my plans for spring, fall, and winter (minus the hot cocoa and quilts, and with a few sandy-beach reading spots thrown in). Somehow, tho, it does seem that I have more time for reading through the summer, probably because my idea of dinner in the summer is salad, not stew; ergo, I'm only cooking for about 15 minutes instead of 45.
       Anyway, here you are, my summer reading list. I have not read all (most!) of these, so I can't guarantee they're worth the time, but the ones I have read, I'll let you know. ;) ***All of the photos and info found here are via Goodreads. Know Goodreads? You DON'T?!? Check it out today!!! http://www.goodreads.com

    Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    Discover the Celtic Circle of Belonging John O'Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death.

    The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American RomanticismThe Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
    Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters — and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life. Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray. Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era. Its publication is destined to become an event in American biography. This book is highly recommended for students and reading groups interested in American history, American literature, and women's studies. It is a wonderful look into 19th-century life

    Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories

    Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories
    Widely praised and widely read, Elizabeth Hand is regarded as one of America's leading literary fantasists. This new collection (an expansion of the limited-release Bibliomancy, which won the World Fantasy Award in 2005) showcases a wildly inventive author at the height of her powers. Included in this collection are "The Least Trumps," in which a lonely women reaches out to the world through symbols, tattooing, and the Tarot, and "Pavane for a Prince of the Air," where neo-pagan rituals bring a recently departed soul to something very different than eternal rest. Written in the author's characteristic poetic prose and rich with the details of traumatic lives that are luminously transformed, Saffron and Brimstone is a worthy addition to an outstanding career.

    Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness
    Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness
    There are more crows now than ever. Their abundance is both an indicator of ecological imbalance and a generous opportunity to connect with the animal world. CROW PLANET reminds us that we do not need to head to faraway places to encounter "nature." Rather, even in the suburbs and cities where we live we are surrounded by wild life such as crows, and through observing them we can enhance our appreciation of the world's natural order. CROW PLANET richly weaves Haupt's own "crow stories" as well as scientific and scholarly research and the history and mythology of crows, culminating in a book that is sure to make readers see the world around them in a very different way

    Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey

    Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey
    More than a quarter of a million Americans crossed the continental United States between 1840 and 1870, going west in one of the greatest migrations of modern times. The frontiersmen have become an integral part of our history and folklore, but the Westering experiences of American women are equally central to an accurate picture of what life was like on the frontier.
    Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah: Volume 1Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah
    ***This review is by Goodreads user Torben. Thanx Torben!
    Burton is one of the great characters of the Victorian age. Brave and adventurous like many of his contemporaries but with a personal attitude that was very different from the hypocritical and puritanical attitude commonplace in Victorian society.

    This book tells of how Burton made the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, in disguise. A thoroughly dangerous undertaking as any Non-Muslims entering the holy cities would likely have been killed if discovered. Burton tells his story with an eye for detail and a great sense of humour. His descriptions of the characters, savoury and unsavoury, he meets on the way are excellent. He very much comes across as an intelligent man with a great thirst for knowledge. If you are interested in Islam, Arab life or Burton himself then I couldn't recommend this book enough.

    Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women WritersForbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers
    As these eleven dark and wild stories demonstrate, fairy tales by Victorian women constitute a distinct literary tradition, one startlingly subversive of the society that fostered it. From Anne Thackeray Ritchie's adaptations of "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood" to Christina Rossetti's unsettling antifantasies in Speaking Likenesses, these are breathtaking acts of imaginative freedom, by turns amusing, charming, and disturbing. Besides their social and historical implications, they are extraordinary stories, full of strange delights for readers of any age. *** My planned degree is in Nineteenth Century Literature and Women's Studies. This book looks like fun!
    Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to ShareMirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to Share
    With more than 200 books to her name, popular storyteller Yolen (editor of Favorite Folktales Around the World) can be forgiven for one that doesn't quite measure up. The subtitle notwithstanding, this collection compiled with her grown daughter, with whom she has co-authored two children's books, is more apt to resonate with women than kids, for whom the authors' commentaries on parental expectations, sex and abuse, which are sprinkled with references to psychology and feminist texts, will be too didactic. Impatient teens who want to read a story only once may also balk at the structure. Each section highlights several variations of either a particular tale -- including ones about Persephone, Rapunzel and Snow White -- or a theme -- such as caring daughters, mothers-in-law or bad seeds. On the other hand, mothers of all ages will welcome the opportunity to get reacquainted with mother-daughter folk stories like the French "Diamonds and Toads" (also known as "The Fairy") about just rewards, as well as ones from Bengal, Nigeria and Armenia that are less familiar in the West. Some stories are unnerving, like "Daughter, My Little Bread", an Indian tale about a newlywed who kills her mother and then is killed by her husband, while the Lebanese tale of self-sacrifice, "The Mother", is heart-warming in the best sense. There's no denying the pleasure of a well-told tale, or in this case forty of them, although mothers may need to do some extra work to spark conversation about them.

    The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter
    After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

    A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.

    The DovekeepersThe Dovekeepers
    Blends mythology, magic, archaeology and women. Traces four women, their path to the Masada massacre. In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived.

    Four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. ***I don't know how many times I've read this book. It doesn't matter. I love this book. I will read it again this summer. And probably again.
    Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who WriteFruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write
    Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!  **One of my favorite "about writing" books ever!

    The Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary Princess
    Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries . . . or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away and, because she's so ordinary, easily becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen maid at a neighboring palace. And there . . . much to everyone's surprise . . . she meets a prince just as ordinary (and special) as she is! ***Because I refuse to grow up. LOVE this book!!



       Having an insatiable urge to write, here I am, prepared to embark on this quest in the Blogosphere. What will I write about? Don't know. (Aren't you glad you stopped by?)
       Food? I'm no chef (that would be my sister), but I love to cook. Books? That goes without saying. I am a writer, after all. Kids? Have five of 'em. They'll manage to wriggle in here somewhere, I expect. (Yes, that's five.)
       Dreams, wishes, whacky dinner conversation, book reviews and cookies gone....bad? To the Dark Side? Sacrificed to my husband's tummy? Dunno. They're just gone. You'll find it all here with Ellie @ Home. (Well, all except the missing cookies.)
       And for the record, no, I'm not Ellie, I'm Nicole Ellie. Ellie is my Gramma. I dithered around trying to think of a name for this blog. PaganDreamr in Peskeomskut Falls? Too long. And I don't live in Peskeomskut Falls, though I should. (Long story there.) Gramma kept popping her curly white head up, though, and I thought, Ellie's Kitchen? Great for a food blog. Ellie's Corner? Makes her sound like a naughty girl. Ellie's Hooks? Gramma was an avid and talented crocheter. Crochetess? Is there a word for that? Should there be? Definition: A woman who likes to crochet. Word: ????
       Anyway, welcome to Ellie @ Home. Because she is, here in my heart, always. We're glad to see you.