Monday, July 28, 2014

Pumpkin Time!

It's a rare thing that I accept a picture book for review, but when the pitch for Pumpkin Time, by Erzsi De├ík, landed in my inbox, I immediately snatched it up. You see, my son, Greyson, is obsessed with pumpkins. We read Halloween books all year long because...pumpkins. We have an active garden that's actively guessed it...pumpkins. See some visual evidence of his pumpkin love down below. 

One night after his bath, when we were beginning to wind down, I came out of my bedroom with this book behind my back and surprised him. 

To say he squeaked with joy is an understatement. That first time reading, he actually made me read it to him twice, and it's been our bedtime book for WEEKS now. But I'm sure you'd like to know what it's about...

Evy is the main character, and she has a garden! While all sorts of wacky, wild things are happening on the farm (cows in hats, pigs dancing 'round the maypole, sheep picnicking on the neighbor's lawn), she is single-mindedly nurturing her garden, as we build up to the penultimate pumpkin event: a giant pumpkin pie she can share with her farm friends on Thanksgiving. 

Pumpkin Time! is seriously adorable, full of beautiful illustrations by Doug Cushman, and it was a perfectly wonderful book for my son's age (four). It even has some pumpkin recipes and fun facts in the back of the book, so if you have a child who likes to cook, like mine, or loves to garden, also like mine, that's another great feature. 

If you'd like to win a copy of Pumpkin Time!, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway down below! I'll announce the winner on Monday, August 4 and contact the winner via email. 

Pub. Date: June 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Format: Paperback ARC
ISBN: 9781402295263
Source: Received from the publisher in consideration of a review. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Personally: Amazing What a Haircut Can Do!

I mentioned I got may hair cut a couple of months ago. I went from long (for me) wedding locks to short, sassy pixie cut and occasional faux hawk. I've done this kind of massive hair chopping before...twice...but this time it made a bigger difference in my daily attitude than ever before.

Ya see, I had fallen into a funk. A funk of epic proportions. Ok, so that might be overstating it a bit, but I was definitely in a funk. And what's worse...I didn't realize I was in one until I wasn't anymore!

Once my hair came off, I didn't cringe at myself in the mirror anymore. I started playing with makeup and nail polish and clothes for the first time in a while. I'll go into it more in a separate post, but since losing 50ish pounds over the last couple of years, I've experienced a major disconnect between what I see in the mirror and the size I actually am. With a renewed sense of confidence, I started shopping to refresh my worn out, too big wardrobe. AND I started digging down in my closet for all those items of clothing I'd outgrown for so long.

Since I got my hair cut, I feel so much better about myself all the way around. I am doing more things outside the house rather than hiding and not feeling social. I'm grabbing lunch with friends and co-workers, spending time by the pool and not feeling bad about myself while I do it.

Above: Long hair (straightened during a wedding trial run) and short hair (feeling sassy!). 

At the heart of things, the length of my hair makes no difference. What does matter is that I feel upbeat, energized and a little more like "me" than I have in a while. It's easy to get lost in things like work and chores around the house and giving my all to my family. It's nice to refocus on myself a bit, and I'm letting this new confidence spread out into my writing ventures. I'm just going for it...whatever "it" happens to be.

So thank you to those of you who have noticed (and endured) an uptick in the amount of selfies on my Instagram, the "nail of the day" and "outfit of the day" posts. While I will never love books any less, I've been wallowing in this feel-good-about-me phase, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Have you done anything lately that makes you feel like a new you? If you haven't done it lately, what have you tried in years past that had a similar effect? 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Chicken Curry with SQUASH!

I mentioned in last Saturday's "Weekend Cooking" post that I've made it my summer mission to use up all of the zucchini and yellow crookneck squash coming out of our garden. And in walked The Pioneer Woman! Ok, she didn't walk in, but I do follow her in my feed reader, and I immediately pinned her recipe for Coconut Curry Shrimp which you'll see down below and modified it to fit my sneakiest of intentions. 

All hail the Pioneer Woman whose photo I'm using without permission. Don't sue me!
I love curry, and while my husband has never done Indian food, he does love a good Thai coconut soup, and the flavors in this curry dish are very similar. In my ongoing effort to use up our squash AND to sneak more veggies in on the men in my life, I took this as a prime opportunity. 

Chicken Coconut Super-Veggie Curry
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed and cooked through
  • 1 huge yellow squash, cubed or diced
  • 1 huge zucchini, cubed or diced
  • 10 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved (remove skins if you don't like 'em)
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • 1 squirt of hot sesame oil (or red pepper flake! or Sriracha!) 
  • 1 handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups of basmati rice cooked according to package directions
Start by cooking your chicken through with a bit of olive oil. I did this ahead of time, but you can do it as the first step in the process. Throw your diced and chopped veggies into the pot with your chicken to cook down a bit and get tender. I used a pot because this makes enough to feed an army. Deep sides are a good thing. Add all of the ingredients except the tomatoes and cilantro to the pot and let it simmer until your house smells stupidly good--about 10-15 minutes. Reserve the tomatoes and cilantro until the last 5 minutes if you don't want them to disintegrate.

Serve over basmati rice. We didn't eat anything with this dish since all of the veggies were built in, and it was a quick, week-night meal. However, a spinach salad would've been super awesome. 

This was slap yo' mama good. My husband and my son both loved the big flavor, and my son doesn't like anything but hot dogs and pizza. There were plenty of leftovers and we annihilated them the very next day.


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