Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reading Challenge 2015

Since returning to work a few years ago, my reading has taken a big hit. Before the girls were born--and even when they were still tiny--I read two books a month at least. Now, I'm more likely to read one book every two months.

Last year, through Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 20 books. If I finish the book I'm currently reading (The Physics of Christmas by Roger Highfield), my book count for 2014 will be 23! I'm very proud of myself because I do like overachievement, plus I read some excellent books this year.

Now (because I'm the competitive type) I've decided to add another element to the book challenge. I'm going to read twenty books on theme and pick the first five books in advance. I don't know about you, but that's always been the hardest thing for me. If I read an excellent book, I have so much trouble finding the next book to read. By assigning myself the first five, I'm hoping that I'll have enough momentum to randomly pick the next 15.

So, here's my reading challenge for 2015. I'm going to read at least 20 books that have been adapted to film or television. If you didn't already know,  I love film and television. I've already read a slew of books that have been adapted, but there are a good bit that I've always wanted to read but never got the chance, so here we go! The first five on my list:

1. Atonement by Ian McEwan 
Atonement, the film, is excellent, and I bought the book almost immediately after seeing it. It's been sitting on my shelf ever since.

2. Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman
This book became Somone Like You... a rom-com from 2001 starring Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, and Hugh Jackman. I thought the movie was fun even though it was quite fluffy. I'm hoping the book gives me a nice reprieve from the heaviness of Atonement.

3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Everyone everywhere raves about this novel and the movie. I haven't seen the movie, so the novel will be first.

4. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Of course something sci-fi has to be on my list. And if I'm going to go sci-fi, I'm going back to the original. I did not think John Carter was all that wonderful, but I was entertained enough to definitely check out Burroughs' novel. (I'd also like to read the Tarzan books.)

5. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
Excellent film. I've also wanted to read this book for a long time, but I've always had trouble with non-fiction. Hopefully this story is engaging enough to keep me invovled.

What would you recommend? Have you read any of my first five?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Avocados are Yummy

I went grocery shopping and bought four avocados. For those who love avocado, you know that this is dangerous because this lovely, creamy fruit has a very small window of deliciousness.

But I was prepared. I have recipes lined up that feature avocado, and the one I tried yesterday was just an experiment. A delicious, delicious experiment.

I present Avocado Mint Chicken Salad.

And the recipe I threw together was too much for the amount of chicken I made, so I put the rest in a bowl, and is a perfect dip for chips and crackers too.

Here's the recipe. As I said, I just threw it together, so adjust as necessary.

Avocado Mint Chicken Salad

Blend the following in the food processor: 
2 avocados
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
6 mint leaves (I'll probably add more next time.)
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix with 2 cups of chopped chicken. (I cooked my chicken with rosemary & garlic in the slow cooker.)

Or don't mix with chicken and enjoy with bread, crackers, or chips!

Monday, June 9, 2014

In Our Bookcase

I love books. And, thankfully, Lillie and Dani love books too. Going to the library is a fun activity for them, and I'm slowly building a nice library filled with books from my childhood and books with which they've fallen in love.

I absolutely judge a book by its cover when I'm just browsing at the library, and when it comes to children's books, I think there's nothing wrong with that. We've found some great books this way! We find an author or illustrator we like, and we tend to devour all of his/her work.

I thought I would share a few of our favorites because I truly enjoy spreading the book love.

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
Lillie absolutely adores this book. When we checked it out at the library, we kept it for nearly nine weeks. I knew I had to buy it. 

Jasper loves carrots, but the carrots don't love that he loves carrots. The carrots devise a plan to scare Jasper out of his carrot-snacking ways. 

There are a handful of reviews on Amazon claiming this book isn't appropriate for kids because it's just too scary. It is definitely a little on the dark side (with carrots hiding in sheds and under beds), but it's all in good fun. Also, my kids love Monster House and Halloween, so this story is perfect for them.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket
If you have a child that's afraid of the dark, this book might help. Laszlo is afraid of the dark, so he visits it every day in the hopes that it won't visit him. One day, though, the dark comes to his room for a visit. 

My girls like it because they think the artwork is cool, but they also like that the dark talks back. I don't think they're particularly afraid of the dark, but this book really helped them realize that it's not as scary a thing as they may have imagined.

Angelina at the Fair by Katharine Holabird
We've read nearly the entire original Angelina Ballerina series, and Lillie and Dani both love this one. It's got rides and a scary house and balloons! (Plus, Angelina is a ballerina, and that's a total win right now.)

Angelina doesn't want to take her younger cousin Henry to the fair with her, so instead of listening to what he wants to do, she drags him on every ride she wants. They get separated, and Angelina realizes that she can have fun while Henry's having fun too.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae
Gerald is clumsy and falls over himself, but when he finds the perfect music, he floats on air. 

The girls love the story and like seeing all the animals dance.  I love the beautiful illustrations and the wonderful message about being yourself. 

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Warning! The bear eats the rabbit. Some parents may not like to read a story to their children in which the bear eats a rabbit. I am not one of those parents. Plus, this story is hilarious! I probably laughed harder than the girls.

It's quite simple. The bear misses his hat, and he wants it back. The rabbit took it. 

The illustrations remind me of Oliver Jeffers, which is probably why I picked it up in the first place. They're simple and add to the humor.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
I grew up with this book, and it was one of the first books I put on their wishlist for Christmas. I started reading it to them when they were very little, but not until the last year or so did they start asking for it. 

They love Peter (A Letter for Amy is another favorite), and they absolutely love to watch him play in the snow.

OK. Wow. I could go on for awhile on this list. I think I may need to do another one soon!

I'm wanting to get into some longer books with the girls soon. We've read Charlotte's Web, and even though they didn't grasp the entire story, they both listened. Dani enjoyed it more than Lillie, but I think Dani likes to hear me read while Lillie is more about pictures right now.

What books do you recommend? What is your book-picking strategy at the library or bookstore?