Monthly Archives: March 2014

April List

I’m a little ahead of the game, posting this while it’s still March, but I have a good feeling about April. I’m hoping it means we’ll have consistently nicer weather and hopefully a spot of rain.



Cooking : dinner for two while Ryan was out of town for a bit
Drinking : decaf green tea in the evenings
Reading : Redefining Girly
Wanting : to downsize more of my stuff, a slow process
Looking : at tulips growing across the street – maybe spring really is here?
Playing : with several iPhone photo apps and feeling my head spin – which is the best and why??
Deciding : I’d like to try a Project 365 again
Watching : Sesame Street Old School, much better than what Sesame Street is now (which is still better than other children’s shows)
Hearing : a zombie coach me through the Couch to 5K process (if being chased by a zombie is not motivational for you, for some reason, you can choose different coaches)

Do you want to play along too?


Review: Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior

Jo Frost's Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper BehaviorJo Frost’s Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior by Jo Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jo Frost, of Supernanny fame, has written a down-to-earth book full of handy tips for a variety of situations that you’re guaranteed to run into if you have a toddler. I really enjoyed her take on discipline – it’s not punishment, it’s a sense of structure and routine for your child’s (and your) life. She covers five different areas of concern – sleep, food, social, early learning, and good behavior – with two chapters each: one outlining basic routines and ideas, and one in Q&A format that serves as an “SOS” guide for that topic. Frost also includes valuable chapters on tantrums, helping parents identify what may be triggering the tantrum and giving ideas about how those triggers can be avoided – or at least defused in the moment.

Frost keeps an encouraging and understanding tone throughout the book, which is nice for parents who read books about parenting and feel like they are doing nothing right. This book absolutely did not make me feel this way, so it gets bonus points for that.

Also a bonus, the book is very short and in very bite-size pieces, with handy boxes of need-to-know information. If you’re a busy parent (I’ve never met one who’s not), you can easily find the information you need RIGHT-THIS-MINUTE and then hit the rest later.

View all my reviews

Roundup: Great Books for Parents

I’m a librarian, so it follows that I do a fair amount of reading. I’m also a parent, so I tend to do a fair amount of parenting as well. I love reading books that help guide me on the crazy journey my family is undertaking and (let’s be honest) that validate what I’m doing at the same time.


Here’s a roundup of some of the best books I’ve read lately (and a few on my to-read shelf) on the topic of parenting:

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman – This was the first parenting book I read, while I was still pregnant. Druckerman, an American living in France with her family, noticed that parents acted differently with their children there rather than here. So many of those differences made sense to me, and I took lots of notes while I was reading. Of course, not everything included is a home-run, and that’s the beauty of it – take one of the ideas you like and try it with your child. If it is beneficial, stick with it. If not, try something else. There is no one right way to raise a child, and when reading this book I learned that there is some freedom and lee-way there.

Bebe Day by Day by Pamela Druckerman – Druckerman followed up the previous title with this one, which features a lot of the same information in a more bite-size package. She states that she wrote “Day by Day” to create a handy guide without the backstory, something you can hand to the grandparents or the sitter. This book definitely fits the bill there, and if you need a refresher after reading Bringing Up Bebe, this can help.

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson – This book gives you the tools to get on your age 0-12 child’s level to help them deal with life. These techniques, in turn, fill your child’s toolbox so that they learn better coping strategies and can be happier and calmer. Read my review!

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest – Ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices, information, and stuff that goes along with parenting? You’re not alone. This book aims to help you manage all of that, making you more available for your children (and making your children happier). I enjoy the Parent Hacks blog, from the authors, and I expected to like this book more than I did. There is a lot of pretty common-sense information included here, but at the same time, sometimes it’s just nice to have someone tell you something that you already know or are already doing and that it’s ok.

I’m currently reading Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules, by the Supernanny, as most people know her. Jo discusses discipline and how that word does not refer to punishment – instead, it means being consistent with your routine and with consequences for actions. She touches on five aspects: eating, sleeping, social time, early learning, and good behavior, and then goes above and beyond by including a section on tantrums. (Edit: Finished the book and posted my review! The book is simple and straightforward, but I still got a lot out of it.)

On my to-read shelf:

All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior – Recently on the New York Times bestseller list, this book investigates how having children radically changes people. If you feel like you’ve added a child to your family only to lose some undefinable part of yourself, this book might be able to help.

How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah P. Klein – It seems like research from this book has been popping up in a lot of parenting magazines and on websites lately, so I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about. This one promises to tell you how to plant “the seeds of success” for adult life while your little one is still in diapers.

And my post must be very timely if the New Yorker has a humor piece about there being just too darn many things to read about parenting.

Crafty: Crocheted Fabric Basket

I’m totally guilty of walking through a craft store (or, more often, the craft section of Walmart – oh, the deprivation) and grabbing something interesting off the shelf with no current or even near-future project in mind. Then it sits at home, waiting. I don’t want to waste it on the “wrong” project, so it waits some more.

That was the story of an off-brand Jelly Roll of rainbow batik fabrics. Jelly Rolls are sets of coordinating fabrics already cut into strips so you can get right to quilting. I wasn’t a quilter when I bought the fabrics (I’m still not), but they were so darn adorable that I had to have them.

Fast forward about six years or so. After one move, two master’s degrees, and one baby, I still had this stinking roll of fabrics sitting among my yarn, mocking me. I was determined to use it, so I commenced bookmarking strip quilt patterns and never settling on the right one (or, to be honest, the motivation to actually sit down at the sewing machine and sew those strips together). Finally, I spotted crocheted fabric baskets on Pinterest. Finally! A project that I knew I could and would actually complete!

I used two tutorials to get started, and then just went with my own crocheting experience. The Red Thread explains very well how to make baskets with fabric – the examples there are so adorable! Baskets are perfect as a place to throw your keys and change at the end of the day, and depending on the fabric you use, can really fit any decor. My modifications – I did not take the extra steps of rolling the fabric into rag rope, I just scrunched the strips as needed. I wanted to get started! My precut strips were pretty wide though, so I did cut the strips down the middle, leaving them still connected so they formed a skinnier, longer strip.

But I wasn’t using one huge piece of fabric and tearing it into one continuous strip – I had many strips that were not connected. Sugar Bee Crafts to the rescue, with a rag rug tutorial.  Instead of sewing strips together or tying them with bulky knots, it’s simple enough to make a cut on one end of the strip and slip the next strip through. I used a big plastic hook – mine is not actually labeled with a size. It’s a crochet hook that actually has a hook on each end, and it’s not as big as a Q hook – I think I remember looking at hook sizes once and guessing that it’s a size P, but I don’t know for sure.

After just a few hours of work, I had my basket. It takes a little longer than crocheting with yarn, because fabric is stiff and you have to rest your hands and arms sometimes. I also kept getting the size of my basket wrong and had to undo a few times until I got the right circle size for the bottom.



You can see some of the strip ends sticking out – I think it adds character. I went with a rainbow pattern going around. One suggestion if you’re going to make a fabric basket – if you want to maximize the use of your pretty fabric, you could use a different fabric for the bottom of the basket, if no one will be able to see the bottom.

This basket is the perfect home for my bags of tea. Before, they were kept in a cardboard box, and who wants to see that sitting on the kitchen counter? Now they have a much prettier home, and it makes me smile every time I brew a cup.

Loving lately…

Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying online lately:

Demand, a poem by Langston Hughes – “And what is the wind / you touch when you run?” April is coming, and not only does that mean we’re decidedly in the spring season … it is also National Poetry Month! What are your favorite poems?

Best Made Company —  What Good...  Enamel Steel Sign

I love the message on this sign made by Best Made Company and borrowed from Benjamin Franklin. How perfect is this to put by your door so you see it as you go forth into the day?

Organic Lunch Bag  Eat A Salad   Lunch Bag   Fluf


As a vegan, I run into many a person who thinks I just eat salads. In this lunch bag from Fluf, I could stow my lunch with style and a sense of humor.

Magnetic Poetry, French version – I keep flirting with the idea of learning French but haven’t really committed. Maybe playing with these in the kitchen would help?

And both of the following come from Man Made DIY – I couldn’t help but share:

Cereal Tea

Learn how to make cereal tea from Aaron_Geman on Instructables. I love my tea, but I never drank the milk after the cereal was gone. That’s just gross. This Instructable, however, is hilarious.

74 476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza   Planet Money   NPR

NPR has a great article about why you should always buy the bigger pizza. Math and geometry are involved. Did you know that a 12-inch pizza is more than twice the size of an 8-inch pizza?

What are you loving lately?


Sunday Pancakes

One of the traditions at our house is making pancakes on the weekend. Ryan and I have fond memories of getting together on Saturday mornings when we were just dating and making platefuls of pancakes, smothering them in syrup, and endlessly debating whether they were better topped with butter (my view) or peanut butter (Ryan’s).


Now that we’ve got a third functioning human here, we’ve included her in the fun. If she wakes up early, she gets to help stir and maybe even add some sprinkles, if we’re feeling especially special that day. If she sleeps in, we get to see her eyes light up when we go into her bedroom and tell her that pancakes are almost on the table.


We use the recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Joy of Vegan Baking (page 68, by the way) and they turn out pretty perfect every time. We do variations on that theme sometimes – this past weekend I added a few scoops of cocoa powder for some chocolatey goodness. I’ve even embraced the peanut butter (or almond butter!) topping when we don’t have Earth Balance on hand.

This is one of the simplest traditions a family can have, but also, I think, one of the most memorable.

Here are how a few of my favorite bloggers serve up flapjacks:


Review: The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve got a child anywhere from birth through age 12, this book may have some helpful insights into their behavior and how to communicate at their level. It’s a quick read, especially if you have some knowledge of psychology to begin with – much of the theories are things you’ve already heard, in that case. However, the applications to specific instances and conversations with children, and the comic-style section for kiddos themselves at the end of each chapter, are worth a look. The back of the book includes an abbreviated version of the techniques that you can use as a “refrigerator reference”, as well as a table that breaks down how to apply the techniques with children of different ages (since you’re probably reading the book thinking about one age in particular, and then may want to reference it in the future as your child grows). I think parents, as well as grandparents, nannies, childcare providers, and teachers, can all find something beneficial here.

View all my reviews