Hooray for Friday!

A few happy material items I've collected recently, mostly due to birthday gift cards:  a set of used Mary Poppins books in hardcover, Hildafolk by Luke Pearson, the next two Oz books I needed, my favorite Iron & Wine album on vinyl, and a Little Pullip and Little Dal of my very own.  And yes, I am in my mid-30s.  Upper-mid-30s in fact.  

I am so ready for the weekend.  I want to lounge tomorrow in my pajamas, and binge on TV via Netflix.  That would be lovely.  I started watching Once Upon a Time yesterday.  When I am home alone, I seldom turn the TV on, but yesterday, I decided to watch something while I scaled Mt. Laundry.  Why not start a series?  I was in a fairytale-y mood.  When I watch actual live television, I usually stick to comedies or PBS Create.  Let's blame my college obsessions with Ally McBeal and (especially) The X-Files, series I had to give up on after a point.  So far, I'm enjoying Once Upon a Time.  It's escapist fun.  Of course, I'm only a few episodes into the first season.  We'll see.

But enough about the boob tube.  Guess what?  We've been reading again!  I have books to share with you!

We read:  

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Originally published by Reilly & Britton, 1908.Books of Wonder edition published by
HarperCollins, 1990.

Yay, we finished Book 4!  The girls enjoyed this one very much.  Big Sis is especially taken with the Wizard's nine tiny piglets, which you can see on the cover.  This one isn't a favorite of mine, although the illustrations are lovely. (We started The Road To Oz last night, however, and that one is a favorite!  More on it next week!)  Dorothy is traveling through California to meet up with Uncle Henry, when the cart she is in falls through the earth.  It's 1906 - it's the San Francisco earthquake!  She, Eureka her kitten, Zeb the farmboy, and Jim the cab horse fall to a strange land under the earth, where they are soon joined by The Wizard, who falls through in his balloon.  The group encounter many strange beings and lands before finally being saved by Ozma, who summons them to Oz.

I read:

Bed-Knob and Broomstick
by Mary Norton.
(Consists of The Magic Bed-Knob; Or How
to Become a Witch in 10 Easy Lessons,
  JM Dent, 1943.
And Bonfires and Broomsticks, JM Dent,  1945.)
Omnibus originally published by JM Dent in 1957,
illustrated by Erik Blegvad.)
Odyssey Classic edition published by
Harcourt, 1990.

After watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks a few times this summer, I finally decided to give the source material a try.  The book, pictured above, is actually made up of two books.  The first, The Magic Bed-Knob; or How to Become a Witch in 10 Easy Lessons, tells the story of how three children discover that their aunt's next door neighbor, Miss Price, is a witch.  She bribes them not to tell anyone by charming the bedknob in the youngest child's pocket.  It can take them anywhere they want to go, simply by twisting it on the bed and making a wish.  The first time they use it, they go to see their home in London, only to discover their mother is away from the house at the moment.  They are taken into the police station, but are able to break out and take the bed back to their aunt's house in the country.  Miss Price decides to accompany them on their next adventure.  They pick a South Pacific island that is supposedly uninhabited, pack a picnic, and head there for the night.  Unfortunately, the island is inhabited, by cannibals, who take the group prisoner.  (This is very un-PC, folks.)  In Bonfires and Broomsticks, the aunt is dead and the children are to be sent elsewhere for the summer.  They find an advertisement by Miss Price, and convince their mother to stay there instead.  Miss Price has given up witchcraft, but even she cannot resist the pull of the bed.  The children wind up going back in time to the Restoration period, just before the Fire of London, where they meet a man named Emelius Brown, who is supposed to be a necromancer, but doesn't have much luck at magic.  I preferred the second book to the first, and the movie to the books.  I confess, I missed the WWII subplot and the witchier Miss Price from the film.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.
St. Martin's, 2013.

I found both of these books via this list on The Nerdy Book Club.  Several books on the list sounded interesting, but these two intrigued me the most.  I loved them both.  I read Eleanor and Park first, which is about the relationship that develops between two Omaha teens during the 1980s.  Park is half-Korean, good-looking and popular.  Eleanor is the new girl, overweight with crazy red curls, and bizarre clothes.  They wind up being forced to share a seat on the school bus.  They become a couple, first secretly then publicly, although they still keep it a secret from Eleanor's family.  Eleanor, it turns out, has a nightmare home life, and it's the nightmare at home that threatens to drive them apart in the end.  The Duff was my airplane read on vacation.  When we meet Bianca, she is sitting at the bar of a teen club, drinking her Cherry Coke, refusing to join her two best friends on the dance floor.  She is joined by Wesley, the hot "male-slut" (Bianca's words) from school, who informs her that he is trying to make friends with her because she is "The Duff" of her group:  the Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Bianca throws her Coke in his face.  Bianca and Wesley are assigned an English project together, and Bianca starts to physically use Wesley as a distraction from her problems at home.  In the process, she learns that Wesley has his own issues, and while she still claims to hate him, she wants him all the time.  The Duff has an awesome main character in Bianca.  She may not be as thin and pretty as her friends, and Wesley may have knocked her down a few pegs by calling her The Duff (or Duffy), but she's rather self-assured for a teenager, with a pretty clear idea of who she is.  She has wonderful best friends and a great sense of humor.  Both of these books were great reading.  (NOTE:  While reading both books, especially The Duff, I couldn't help but think of the furor a book like Judy Blume's Forever caused back in the day.  Language and adult subject matter is treated so differently in teen books now.  Be warned, anyone who prefers to avoid those things in their reading.  Both of these books are pretty frank.)

Riverhead, 2012.

A grown-up book!  (Yes, I read grown-up books, too.)  I have wanted to read this book since it was published last year, but I just got to it.  I picked up the paperback at my favorite indie bookstore last week.  I loved it.  You may know I have an obsession with old Hollywood and classic film.  Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures is a fiction story about a young girl from Wisconsin, whose father owns a summer playhouse in their converted barn.  She winds up in Hollywood, married to one of her father's actors, and is pregnant with her second child when she meets the studio head's second-in-command.  He gives her the stage name "Laura Lamont," and after her child is born, grooms her for stardom.  Having read many film star bios and Hollywood histories, I can say that Straub really knows her stuff.  The relationships in the book seem very real, and Laura is a very likable, even relatable character.  This was a great end-of-summer read.  

For more on this book, check out this interview with Emma Straub and Laura Moriarty.  Moriarty wrote The Chaperone, another book having to do a bit with Old Hollywood, in the form of silent movie start Louise Brooks.  I love The Chaperone, I love Louise Brooks, I love the research Moriarty put into the book.  I love reading about my hometown, Wichita, and places I knew existed but are long gone.  I went to Moriarty's signing here last summer, and she seems like a very nice person, too.  (I stood in line for the signing next to Clare Vanderpool.  We chatted with Louise's niece, with whom I used to work at another bookstore.  That's my weird little name-droppy moment.  I live in Kansas.  I don't get many of those.)  

I'll have lots more to share with you on the book front next week! 

 I hope you checked out and enjoyed our Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop!  One more thank you to Michelle who organized it.  Be sure and visit Whitney's post at Pen Pals & Picture Books today.  The lunch note ideas she shares are too wonderful.  If you missed anyone's post, look here:   Tues., 8/22:  needles and nest, Wed., 8/21: Julia's Bookbag, Thurs., 8/22:  Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes, Fri., 8/23:  Pen Pals & Picture Books.

Until Monday, Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

Happy Happy Lunch Box: Too Little Time

Welcome to the Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes edition of the Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop!  If you're new to my blog:  Hi, I'm Danzel.  I have two daughters, Big Sis (almost 8) and Little Sis (5 1/2).  They started school last week!  I'm rather book-obsessed, especially when it comes to kids' books.  We read together a LOT.  I love old stuff:  movies, toys, books, STUFF.  Welcome to our world!

Tuesday, we learned how Michelle at needle & nest tailors her lunches for her picky eater.  Yesterday, Melissa at Julia's Bookbag showed us some neat-o bento boxes and accessories.

I like to fix lunches for my kids to take to school.  (It feels weird to write "kids" - Little Sis hasn't even had her first full week of school lunches yet!)  I like to know exactly what they're eating.  I have bad memories of the hot lunches from when I was in grade school, and although our school system recently implemented a new program that gives the kids more choices, we have chosen to continue to bring our own lunches.  What drives me crazy is the amount of time the poor kids are given to eat.  Lunch is pretty early in the day at our school - they're finished by noon - and it only lasts about 15 minutes.  I can scarf down some food in about 15 minutes, but little ones have their own set of issues.  I ate lunch with Big Sis and her first grade class last year.  We shared a sandwich and pasta salad, and I was there to help unwrap things and get her started.  Talking is not allowed, due to the short amount of time.  There were several other kids near us who brought their lunches from home.  Immediately, hands went up, asking for help from the lunch aides.  Kids needed help opening containers and packages.  It took a while for the lunch aides to get to everyone.  I helped several children myself.  At the end of lunch, Big Sis and I had finished our meal, but other kids around us still had large portions leftover, and there were still four more hours of school to go.

I've documented my lunch frustrations and our solution in a previous post.  Big Sis had a nice little lunch box with reusable sandwich and snack containers in kindergarten, but she still wasn't able to finish much of her lunch.  After the problems resumed last year, we invested in a Planet Box lunch system.  (Both of ours are the Rover variety.)  I looked into cute bento boxes and other lunch systems, but I liked the layout of the Planet Box the best.  It's stainless steal, so it keeps food cold and safe.  The two small containers that come with the box are very simple to open.  The lids simply pop on and off.  If you have a picky eater, the separate little compartments keep food from touching.  It rests inside a nice thermal zip-up carrying case.  You can have a waste-free lunch, although I admit, we often have a little waste.

The magnets are such a cute touch!
It slips into the case, I add plasticware and cold packs, then we zip
it up and go!

Big Sis is a happy water drinker, and I have a few little water bottles I could put in her carrying case.  Alas, what I discovered is that they are often hard to open.  If I want to keep her hydrated, it's simpler to throw in a juice box or shelf-stable milk.  She does like her squeezable yogurts, so we use those sometimes, but I learned last week that Little Sis cannot open one by herself.  If I give her yogurt, it must go in one of the stainless containers.  I pack forks and spoons, but one of my favorite things to use are wooden coffee stir sticks as skewers.  They're so inexpensive, and the skewers are not only a fun novelty, but they make eating very simple.

I try to keep sandwiches small.  I love tortilla wraps.  I got some cute bento cutters/stamps, but I also use a dinosaur sandwich cutter or even cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into smaller shapes.  (The girls are picky about crusts.)  I usually cut the sandwiches after I've assembled them, then Mr. B or I snack on the leftovers for breakfast.  (No waste!)  I take notes.  Little Sis doesn't like peanut butter very much.  Big Sis loves it, but it tends to slow her down.  (She has been known to choke on PB&Js if she tries to eat them too fast.)  I put together the ingredients for a yogurt parfait for Little Sis this week, only to find that the granola slowed down her eating too much.  (Too crunchy.)

I try to make lunch the night before.  If I put the whole lunch in the fridge overnight, it stays chilled until lunch time.  I've only been making school lunches this year for a week now, and I've only made 5 for both daughters so far, so I'm still learning.  Things change, and eventually, Mom will start to slack.  But here are some pictures of real lunches the girls have taken to school this year!

(Check out what I did for Big Sis's lunch on April Fool's Day this year.  All that Easter candy, all those wrappers...)

Obviously, there are other lunch solutions.  Some kids (especially older kids) may not have as many problems with opening sandwich containers, using multi-tiered bento boxes, etc.  But we really like our Planet Boxes, and the best part about them is you can't outgrow them.  They will be handy for years to come.

Be sure to visit Whitney over at Pen Pals & Picture Books tomorrow!  And thank you, Michelle, for organizing this whole thing!

Oz and Ends

More Oz goodness for you today!  Well, some Oz goodness and some Oz weirdness.  How's that?

First of all, I received the most marvelous late birthday present last weekend.  A very good friend of mine is most excellent at beadwork, and she made me this spectacular Wizard of Oz-themed bracelet!  All that beadwork?  All by hand.  She is amazing.

She doesn't sell the gorgeous stuff she creates, but she did say in the card that I'm her "test market," so perhaps she is planning to start!

Then yesterday at the grocery store, as we walked past a display of cheap DVDs, the case in my lead photo above caught my eye.  Here is the back:

Oh, goodness.  I've been looking for this.  I had seen it on Amazon, but I was hoping to be able to stream it. It seemed too serendipitous to pass up in the grocery store, though, so it came home with me.

Oh, this is an odd one.  I can't find any clips to show you, but there are tons of episodes of the 1961 series "Tales of the Wizard of Oz" on YouTube.  And it is by Rankin/Bass, best known for all their Christmas specials.

Oh!  But speaking of weird Oz things from the '60s, look what else I discovered on YouTube this week!  Here is the trailer:

It's a kiddie matinee film of the second book!  It's called The Wonderful Land of Oz.  You can buy it on DVD, but at the moment, you can find the whole thing on YouTube.

It's cheap and strange, but it's faithful to the book.  Compare it to the 1985 Disney film Return to Oz:  it had a huge budget, but was just as strange!  (And not so faithful...)

In other Oz-related stuff-around-my-house, we are nearly finished reading Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.  I have a whole new Oz post for you, once we start The Road to Oz, one of my very favorite Baum Oz books.  I received a gift card for my birthday and used it to buy, among other things, the next two Books of Wonder Oz books I needed.  You may remember my Oz Museum posts from last spring.  I have been following Wamego, KS's Oztoberfest on Facebook, and I hope we will be able to go this year!  L. Frank Baum's grandsons Robert and Roger will be there.  Just look at the news page on the website.  Crossing fingers...

Don't forget the Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop!  Today it's Melissa's turn at Julia's Bookbag.  Come back here tomorrow for my turn!

Beach and Boardwalk

I usually spend all summer complaining about summer.  I hate heat.  I hate to sweat.  I am a fall and winter creature.  But this year was different.  Some of it was due to the fact that Little Sis would start kindergarten, and I would suddenly be home alone, trying to figure out my next move.  A lot of it was due to the mildness of the season this year.

Our vacation was our last hurrah of the summer.  I'm glad we got to do some super-summery things, even if the weather never seemed to rise above 80 in southern New Jersey.  The beach and boardwalk in the Wildwoods are incredible.  We also visited beautiful, Victorian Cape May.

Not to mention our lovely outings in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
The whole vacation was planned by and due to my wonderful brother-in-law and his partner.  The girls have amazing uncles.  We're very blessed.

Time to think about fall...

And don't forget the Happy Happy Lunch Box blog hop, going on right now!  (See the schedule here, or head on over to needle and nest now!)

Do you use Facebook?  Like us on Facebook, and you can follow along with my picks for this month's My Little Bookcase Instagram challenge.  Of course, if you use Instagram, you can follow along there, too.

Happy Happy Lunch Box

My girls start their first full week of school this week.  This means, I start my first full week of filling their lunch boxes with yummy stuff that (I hope) they will eat.  I think I have a pretty good system, but I am always happy to check out new ideas in that department!  (Guess what?  There's a Pinboard for that...)

So I was so excited to be asked to join a blog hop all about lunch box lunches!  Thank you to Michelle at needle and nest for organizing the whole thing (and for the cute graphic).  You'll want to check out each of our 4 blogs this week:

  • Tuesday (8/20) - Head over to needle and nest to see what ideas Michelle has in store.
  • Wednesday (8/21) - My pal Melissa grabs the baton over at Julia's Bookbag.
  • Thursday (8/22) - It's my turn!  Come back and see how I try and make lunches that are easy to eat in a very short amount of time.
  • Friday (8/23) - Finally, cross the finish line with Whitney at Pen Pals & Picture Books!
It's a Happy Happy Lunch Box week!  (Only I keep saying "Happy Happy Lunch Lunch" in my head. Blame this staple of my high school years.)  I'm excited to see what everyone else has in store.  Thanks for reading along!

Hey!  This is my 300th post!  Cool.  Just a reminder, you can follow Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes on Facebook.  Really.  I could use a few more Likes.  You can also follow my crazy Pinterest boards.  Do you Instagram?  So do I.  Do you use a blog reader?  I'm partial to Bloglovin.  

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