All Hallow’s Read Book Swap

Last year, I heard about Neil Gaiman’s idea to give the people in your life scary books for Halloween. He calls it All Hallow’s Read and hopes it will catch on and become tradition. Here’s a video of Neil Gaiman explaining his idea:

Bloggers like Nymeth and Larissa love the idea and, this year, Nymeth even organised an All Hallow’s Read book blogger swap to celebrate.

My books (and some candy!) arrived this week, yay! [I want to add a photo but it won’t upload, I’ll try again later]

Thank you Iris for the fabulous reading material (and for the candy!). I started The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins this morning and am surprised to say that I love it. I say I am surprised because I don’t read many classics – though I admit that there is so much love for Wilkie Collins in the book blogosphere that I was tempted to try reading him at some undefined point in the future. I am so happy that you chose this particular author for me, as I would have been missing out.

The other book  I received is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I have not read it yet and am really looking forward to it. But I chose to read The Moonstone first because I just finished Tolkien’s The Hobbit last night and back-to-back fantasy is difficult for me for some reason. My brain can’t cope.

Again – thanks so much Iris! And a big thank you to Nymeth for the idea and initiative. And of course to Neil Gaiman himself too. 🙂

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A Pinteresting Challenge… Wrap-Up Post

Trish has been running these Pinterest challenges for a while now and I love them. I participated in the first one, though I never really blogged about it, life happened and I couldn’t. I skipped the August one because we were on vacation. But October, beautiful Fall, seemed perfect for cooking and for crafting and even for organizing.

I had 265 pins on Pinterest when I signed up and was hoping to do 4-7 of them. When I looked this morning I had 300 pins – if I keep pinning at this rate I will certainly never ever have the chance to make/do all these lovely things! Argh!

We were encouraged to link up to our projects as we did them, here, but I only managed to blog about one of mine. Make sure you visit that link though, so many great things to re-pin! 🙂

So, how did I do?

  • No-Butter Cookies from Stephanie Cooks – I blogged about these yummy cookies here and my pin is here.
  • Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and Shallots – the recipe is here on My Recipes and my pin is here. They were sooooo good! Even the people who claimed not to like brussels sprouts at all gobbled these up and asked for the recipe. Score!
  • Thai Curry and Coconut Butternut Squash Soup from The Eclectic Cook – my pin is here. I made several changes – used frozen butternut squash, lime juice instead of kaffir leaves, added noodles – but it was delicious and a lovely idea for a warming lunch or dinner.
  • Thai Red Curry Sauce from Food.com – I had thai red curry paste leftover from experimeting with Thai food! This was fabulous, real depth of flavour, I will definitely make it again. My pin is here.
  • The Daily Docket – an amazing organisational tool, this print out was created by Tsh of SimpleMom.net, a website that I have become addicted to in my quest to lead a calmer, more organised life. I’m not organised enough to remember to print one of these out every single day, I use one for a few days at a time, but it really does help me feel focused. I will definitely blog about this at some point, it deserves its own post.  My pin is here.
  • Asian Ginger Dressing from Allrecipes.com – I now almost always have this in the fridge and use it on steamed or boiled vegetables, as well as on salads. It is so good that it makes me want to eat loads of veggies. I actually happily snacked on raw vegatables and salad tossed in (loads of) this dressing in front of the TV one night. Soooo good! My pin is here.

That’s 6 pins, I made it! 🙂 Most are recipes, but there is the one organisational tool that I’m glad I tried too.

Great challenge, Trish, I hope you host more of these in the future. Maybe in December so that we are more encouraged to do fun holiday crafts? Is that too soon?

My little boy in October

Inspired by Trish, I decided to start doing monthly posts about my little boy. I hope that it will force me to sit down and take stock once in a while, so that I don’t forget some of the lovely things about him at this age. And some of the funny things. 🙂

So. Shane is almost 3 years old. Here are some random things about him this month.

He’s started to understand about birthdays, that you get a party and presents and wants to know when his will be. He’s been so incredibly good at going to other kids’ parties and about giving them their presents. Not a single tantrum around that. I had to explain to him that first we’ll have some other birthdays and then Mommy’s birthday and Grandma’s birthday and Christmas and THEN it will be his turn. Who does he want to invite? Everybody.

He jokes around constantly, he has Joe’s sense of humor. He likes to trick us with little things and pretend he is someone or something else, like a piggy. He’s amusing us with his first plays on words (like ‘hello, mumu’ instead of ‘hello, mommy’) which he finds hilarious. So do we.

His favorite thing in the world is Mommy’s iPad. “What do you want to do today, Shane?,” we’ll ask, and he’ll answer “Nice things.” “What kinds of nice things?” “Mommy’s iPad!”.

He’s started using pronouns but can’t quite get the hang of which words go with which pronouns. He says ‘I is a big man!’

He loves letters – one of his favorite activities is trying to write words like his name or Mommy. He’s pretty good at it too and can already sign his own name on birthday cards!

He also loves numbers and counts everything. He doesn’t quite get that some numbers are bigger than others so negotiations are funny, like at dinnertime: “Eat 5 more spoonfuls, Shane.” “No, maybe 15.” “OK, eat 15 more spoonfuls then.” 🙂

We live very close to a forest and he loves running around there. Though he does get tired quickly and then likes to sit in the stroller and eat crackers. I always have to have crackers in my bag.

He is so much fun! 🙂

Weekend Cooking: Letting kids get involved in the kitchen

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post

One of my favorite thing to do with my son, who will be three in January, is baking. He loves the mixing, he loves the adding ingredients and he loves putting batter in the muffin tin. And of course he loves how the oven transforms what we make – “it’s like soup, Mommy”, he said today – into muffins or cake or cookies. It’s magic!

Shane loves helping, not only with baking. He helps unload the dishwasher, he helps to wash vegetables, he gets his juice out of the fridge, get a cup and pours. He also loves to help around the house – with putting laundry on, with hanging laundry up, with sweeping and vacuuming. The only thing he doesn’t like to do that much is putting his toys away 🙂 – but he’s getting there.

We put him in the Montessori system when he was 18 months old because he was bored in the regular daycare and his energy was becoming a problem. His new school channeled all that extra energy into constructive activities. They teach not only the skills involved in taking care of one’s space but also nurture the the self-confidence that comes from being a needed member of a community, even a small one like a family. He knows that he is important and that he can contribute and that gives a fantastic start in life, as far as I’m concerned.

They do such fabulous things in his school – they make a part of their lunch, they clean up after themselves and they bake bread every day. Baking bread is the most coveted activity, as the child whose turn it is gets to take some home too!

When he turns three he’ll get regular chores to do so that he has that sense of responsibility that many people miss. We can take care of our home together and that’s really great. It’s so much easier to just send him off to watch television, but I think that there are enough benefits of involving him in everyday life to make it worth it.

This weekend, we made Banana and Chocolate muffins – another Nigella Lawson recipe, from her book “Kitchen”, one of my favorites. You can find the recipe here. They are ridiculously easy and make the house smell amazing! I just read the comments and people added cinnamon to theirs, that sounds incredible, I am so doing that next time!

Here’s Shane mixing:

And here he is refusing to give me a nice smile:

And here are the lovely muffins:

Yummy!

Weekend Cooking: Nigella-love

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post

Nigella Lawson is my favorite foodie inspiration. I own almost all of her books by now and am loving watching her latest series, Nigellissima, the book of which will be coming out for Christmas I guess. Or is it out already? I should check.

Anyway, why has she won me over, especially when there are so many foodies on tv nowadays? Because she’s real. She likes to indulge in nice food, she likes to drink wine,  yet she also understands the need for simple, healthy cooking and – above all – she’s like so many of us and wants to get her food cooked fast. No slaving over a hot stove all day.

Whatever my foodie need, I turn to Nigella first.

I wanted something healthy for breakfast, so I looked into Nigella Express and found these healthy bars. They were super-easy to make, they used all the strange varieties of seeds and dried fruit in my cupboard and they turned out nicely chewy. And they’re healthy. They will be my breakfast all week and I know that they’ll keep me going until lunchtime.

I wanted a quick midweek supper that even my two-and-a-half-year-old would eat and made her chicken fajitas – easy, tasty and a hit in all kinds of combinations.

I wanted something easy yet indulgent and saw Nigella tweet about her Nutella Cheesecake. I made it one Sunday when Alex and her boyfriend were coming over for brunch. Oh. My. Gods. Sooo good. The recipe is here and it is from her new Nigellissima book. So worth making. There was only one problem and it concerned the leftover nutella and my lack of self-control.

And – the fact that her books are fun to read and look at, with lovely photos and layout, is a huge plus for the book lover in me.

Do you know her books? Do you like her as much as I do? I hope so! 🙂

Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge: Book Blogger Bingo

This challenge is now closed! My very scientific method (see photo below) produced the following result:

 

The winner of a 15 euro Book Depository certificate is… Jennifer from The Relentless Reader! Congratulations! I’ll contact you tomorrow about claiming your prize. 🙂

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Hi read-a-thoners! I’m Joanna and I am thrilled to be hosting this mini-challenge for you. I hope that this Book Blogger Bingo will rest your eyes a bit and that it will help you meet some amazing new bloggers!

The point of the game is to find a blogger for each of the five letters that spell B-I-N-G-O. The categories are listed with the letters below. All blogger names used as answers need to be read-a-thon participants. A list of participants is here. You can also use #readathon to locate participants on Twitter.

It’s Hour 6 now. This mini-challenge lasts for 3 hours and a randomly chosen winner will be announced here at the start of Hour 9. To participate, leave me a comment with your blogger list, one for each letter that spells BINGO, so 5 blogger names in total. Please make sure to leave a link to their blogs, as well as your name and a link to your own blog (if you have one).

The prize will be a 15 euro gift certificate from The Book Depository.

Good luck and have fun!

B – A blogger you’ve never come across before

I  – A blogger whose  blog name has the word ‘book’ in it

N – A blogger who lives in Europe

G – A male blogger

O – A blogger whose read-a-thon pile has more than 5 books

Ch-ch-changes!

I was very bored with the look of my blog so I decided to make some changes. I finally found a template that I feel is unique and interesting and pretty. And I got the upgrade so that I can change colors and fonts. What do you think?