Friday Link Love

These are the only pictures I have left to show you, all taken yesterday via Instagram and my cheapie Android phone.  Little Sis feels better, Mabel is doing fine (and comes home in 6 days!), and we had a little snow yesterday.  Then it warmed up just enough to stop and indeed melt, then the temperature dropped again.  It's 16 degrees this morning, but should be in the 50s later today.  I can't stop sneezing.

So I'm taking a cue from Melissa and other cool bloggers and giving you a little Link Love.  I have some great stuff planned for February, though!  I hope to have it all planned out this weekend.

  • I wonder if our remaining big box store will carry this magazine.  (Last time I looked for Mollie Makes, it wasn't there.  That's okay, I have an electronic subscription now.)
  • Oooo, I want this party, too.  With campfires and blankets and slightly warmer weather...

So this weekend we have cookies to sell, birthday parties to attend, I have to see a play, and I even have rehearsal.  We'll see how much I can accomplish!  But today, I have a playroom to attack!

Really attack.

It's trying to kill me.

If you don't hear from me next week, blame the playroom.

Happy February!  Merry Reading!  Happy Weekend!

My Morning Girl

My littlest is sick.  She stayed home from school yesterday, and she has no school today.  That's a bit hard on the oldest, who would love to stay home with Mom.  

Otherwise, Big Sis is my morning girl.  I made it easy on her this morning:  blueberry muffins and Dennis the Menace.

Her favorite breakfast.

Her favorite TV show.

Yesterday's reading with Daddy.

Chocolate milk.

Last night's reading with Mom.

She's becoming more self-conscious.  She can't stand to watch or hear herself on video.  She was starting to stink-eye me about pictures.  She had to change shirts - I pointed out that the one she had on was looking rather small - and she did not want to be photographed in her comfy old sweatshirt.  Sigh.  She's becoming more like...

Me.  Except that I am not a morning person.

P.S.  Yesterday, Little Sis told me it was nice to be sick, because "I can catch up on my sleep."  I told her, "Yeah, but that's why you're supposed to go to sleep at night, instead of fighting it."  "But I'm nocturnal," she explained, not missing a beat.  "I'm like an owl."  And that's how that one is more like me...

Clementines, Both Edible and Readable

Oh, January.  Brown, sluggish January.  We need some laughs.  Something sweet, something tangy.  We need clementines.  Some to eat...

...and some to read.

I made Nigella Lawson's famous clementine cake.  And it was delicious.  And I know I should just type the recipe out, but if you click here you can find it on the Food Network website, in Nigella's own voice.  Try not to read it without hearing her voice, I dare you.  (You can also find the recipe in its original metric system format at Nigella's website.)

Okay, okay, okay, enough.  Time to be real.  Let me tell you the truth:  I've been sitting on this post for over a week.  There's a reason for that.  My springform pan broke when I tried to loosen the latch to release my cake.  Mr. B had to pull the pan open with his hands, and...

 The cake broke down the middle.  Here I was, writing a blog post in my head and tying it in with the books I planned to start reading with the girls, and my pretty little cake fell apart.

My friends are funny.

Something you should know when you make this cake.  A springform pan in a must!  This is a very sticky cake.  And the parchment paper?  That is a must, too.  And while my glaze tasted good, because my cake was already broken, the bottom of the cake became gooey.  

But remember how I was going to tie this in with a readable Clementine?  Well, this Clementine is a bundle of energy and constantly in trouble. 

Her friend Margaret, she says, looks like a girl in a magazine.  Margaret's mother looks like a mother in a magazine.  Her apartment and bedroom look like pictures in magazines.

Clementine does not look like a picture in a magazine.  Neither does her family.  Or apartment.  Or bedroom.  She comes to realize that's perfect after all.

My cake did not look like a picture in a magazine, either.  (It did taste good, though!)

Perhaps my less-than-perfect cake is a good tie-in for this series of books.

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee.

I discovered this series in a sweet, old-fashioned way.  We had just finished lunch at our favorite indie bookstore a few years ago and decided to look around the children's area.  The girls were tiny then.  Little Sis was only a baby.  There was a cardboard standee on top of one of the shelves.  It was of an adorable curly-haired ragamuffin named Clementine.

One of my favorite names in the world.  Really.

(Or maybe I've seen this movie too many times.)

So I found the book on the shelf and read the first page.
I have had not so good of a week.  Well, Monday was a pretty good day, if you don't count Hamburger Surprise at lunch and Margaret's mother coming to get her.  Or the stuff that happened in the principal's office when I got sent there to explain that Margaret's hair was not my fault and besides she looks okay without it, but I couldn't because Principal Rice was gone, trying to calm down Margaret's mother. Someone should tell you not to answer the phone in the principal's office, if that's a rule.  Okay, fine, Monday was not so good of a day.  - from Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (Hyperion Books for Children, 2006)
I bought the book.  Never mind that my girls were too little to read it yet.  I knew I was going to love it.  I've bought each book in hardcover as they come out, because they make me giggle.  I read the first three to Big Sis when she was four.  She doesn't remember, though.

Back to dull, brown January.  We finally finished On the Banks of Plum Creek.  I'm still reading Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Little Sis, and Big Sis has her Junie B. Jones books, but we needed some laughs together.

The Clementine series is providing the laughs.  If you haven't read the books, but love characters like Ramona Quimby, Judy Moody, or Junie B. Jones, you should enjoy Clementine.

You can read a synopsis of each book on this page, courtesy of Sara Pennypacker's website.  The next book, Clementine and the Spring Trip, comes out this March!

I don't see a career in food blogging in my future.  I think I'll go back to my kiddie-lit/vintage mama bubble now.

And here is one last attempt to make a pretty bloggy picture.
It isn't a pretty bloggy picture.  Okay, fine*.
*Clementine says, "Okay, fine" a lot.

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Happy Birthday, Kansas!

Among the places pictured here:  Wichita (Keeper of the Plains, Wichita Troll, Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Sedgwick County Zoo, street musician sculpture); Independence (Little House on the Prairie Museum); Gypsum (old Gypsum High School); Canton (hot and cold water towers); abandoned farm house (on drive to Gypsum); Coronado Heights; Bonner Springs (Kansas City Renaissance Festival); Topeka (Kansas Silent Film Festival); Peabody (Peabody City Park); a rest area in Montgomery County (historical marker for the Bloody Benders); Lindsborg (grain elevators)

Today is Kansas Day.  The Sunflower State entered the union on January 29, 1861, as a free state.  And yes, I had that date memorized.  You see, Kansas Day was a big deal in my elementary school growing up.  At the main school I attended,Chisholm Trail - as in that Chisholm Trail! - we would have beans and Jiffy corn muffins, and we'd celebrate all things Kansas.  Our state flower?  The sunflower, of course.  Our state tree?  The cottonwood.  Our state bird? The Western meadowlark.  Our state animal?  The American bison (or buffalo, if you insist).  Our state reptile? The ornate box turtle.  Our motto?  "Ad astra per aspera" - "To the stars with difficulty."  Our state song?  "Home On the Range."  We colored pictures of Jayhawks.  (You're a Jayhawker if you're born in Kansas.)  We colored our state flag and learned about famous people from Kansas.

One year, we made paper sunflowers.  It was a much colder winter.

Sometimes Kansas drives me a little crazy.  Many of my friends have left for good, running off to New York or Seattle or Chicago.  Others stay and gripe.  I'm a firm believer in seeing the beauty in what's around you, looking for the good in things.  My roots are here.  Most of my family is here, and the ones who are not are within driving distance.  My own city has an arts scene I am proud of (and AWESOME Lebanese food), and there are some wonderful things to explore in our smaller towns.  (See my Lindsborg posts for proof of that!)  Kansas has Lawrence and the Kansas City area.  There are many other places in my own state I have yet to explore.  You can see so much more on my Sunflower State Pinterest board.

And yes, we get tornadoes.  We get lots of crazy weather.  Yesterday, January 28, it hit the mid-70s!  Today, the temps should start at around 60 F then plummet through the day.  While I won't count on it, there is a slight chance for snow tonight.  What the hey?

Kansas, we may not always get along, but in the famous words of Dorothy Gale,

"There's no place like home."

Taken from Coronado Heights, near Lindsborg, KS

I'll have something kiddie lit-related to share with you tomorrow. Did any of you celebrate special regional "holidays" in school?  

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Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: The Nancy Drew Files (and More)

Remember my post last week about our "haunted clock" and the pictures I posted of the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock?

I read that book when I was ten years old.  I read a few more of the old hardcovers, too.  But my Nancy Drew gateway drug?  Hey, I was an '80s kid.  I was an avid reader of The Nancy Drew Files.

Look at Nancy, a modern '80s teenager.  Look at the romance novel covers, with a hunky guy always posed behind her.  (It was seldom Ned Nickerson, although he is still her boyfriend through most of the series.)  The modernized series made its debut the summer of 1986.  Published by Archway/Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, the series lasted through 1997.

I was addicted to cheap series paperbacks.  I was nine years old and in the fourth grade when this series launched - the same year as The Babysitters Club - and once a month, I begged my dad to take me to the mall to buy my books.  There was a B Dalton downstairs and a Waldenbooks upstairs, and if one didn't have them out yet, we raced to the escalator to try the other.  It sounds expensive, but when I first started reading my series, the prices were $2.50 for a BSC and & $2.75 for a Nancy Drew File.  (I had that memorized, but I just checked my books to confirm it.)

The first thing I would do was read the back of the book.  Ooooo, what's this one about?

Back Cover of Nancy Drew Files, Case 30: Death By Design

Then I opened the front cover.  It was always the same: "From the Nancy Drew Files..."

Nancy Drew Files, Case 30: Death By Design (December 1988)

Nancy Drew Files, Case 15: Trial By Fire (September 1987)

Then I would read the list of books in the front, mentally checking off in my head which mysteries Nancy had solved until now.

The Nancy Drew Files, Case 13: Wings of Fear (July 1987)

When I was in fifth grade, 10 years old, I went as a book for Halloween.  I made myself a sandwich board out of two pieces of poster board and did my best to recreate the front and back covers of the latest Nancy Drew Files installment, Case 17: Stay Tuned for Danger.  If I knew where any pictures might be, I would post one, I assure you.

The books were such trashy fun.  Romance, danger, fashion, thrills...  I read my series until I was 13 and in the eighth grade, then decided I had "outgrown" them.  Series books about teenagers were only fun when I was a preteen.  I think it's because my own high school experience was so far removed from Sweet Valley High...  I stopped reading in 1991, on book 50-something, maybe 60-something.  

You can still find used copies of the books at Amazon, among other places.  You can read more at this Nancy Drew website and here on this series book fan site.  

One More Unrelated Piece of Nostalgia:  
My daughters have discovered Pound Puppies, the newish Hub series, on Netflix.  Of course, I had to find this:

("That's just weird, Mom.")

which led to me showing them this:            
 ("I wish they still made Pound Puppies!")

which somehow led to this:
("Mom!  I saw one of those at Grandma's!  
I saw the last one at Grandma's!")

When Mr. B and the girls went to my grandma's yesterday to check on Mabel the kitten, I asked him to bring me back a handful of my Nancy Drew Files books to blog about.

The girls brought home this:

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Happy Birthday, Lewis Carroll

Wonderland Fifth Birthday
Big Sis at her Alice-themed fifth birthday party.  More pictures here.

Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Saw There, was born on this day 181 years ago.

I thought I'd do a round-up of some of my favorite editions of the books.  (I did one for early Alice films here.)  Alas, I am overwhelmed!  I love these books so much.  But here are a few.

Top Row:  The Annotated Alice, illustrated by John Tenniel, edited by
Martin Gardner.  WW Norton, 1999.  Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with
artwork by Yayoi Kusama.  Penguin, 2012.  The Nursery Alice,, illustrated by John
Tenniel.  Reprinted by MacMillan, 2010.  Middle Row:  Alice's AdventuresUnder Ground, illustrated by Lewis Carroll.    Facsimile edition by Oneworld Classics, 2010.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland &Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics), illustrations by Tenniel.  Sterling, 2010.  Bottom Row:  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia. Harper Design, 2010.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Hardcover Classics), illustrated by Tenniel.  Penguin, 2010.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
Through the Looking Glass (Everyman's Classic).  Random House, 1992.

You can still find used copies illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and Helen Oxenbury, too.

I was limiting myself to editions actually written by Lewis Carroll.  You can hunt down picture book adaptations pretty easily.  I covered a couple of them here and here.

Someday, I will own this book.  Fabulousness.  (And now they have one for Oz!)

For more Alice material than you'll know what to do with, I must recommend Lenny's Alice in Wonderland site.  Here is the site for the Lewis Carroll Society of North America.  And this site attempts to catalog all the Alice illustrations by artists other than John Tenniel.

And of course, I have a crazy Alice Pinterest board, full of way too many pins of AWESOMENESS.  Many lead to awesome links - look at all the wonderful Alice parties!

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