July 4th

In Kansas, the 4th is almost over, although my neighborhood is still ringing with the sound of fireworks.  All of the pictures you see in the collage above are from years past.  Our 4th was spent sleeping in, worrying about my car (it died when we got home last night), and watching The Karate Kid, parts one and two. Well, the girls didn't watch, but Mr. B and I did!

Big Sis and I had a wonderful time at the Sarah McLachlan concert in Kansas City.  The Starlight Theater is a gorgeous venue, and we had perfect weather to boot.

I'll have a proper reading roundup next week, and I promise to cover some books.  I thought I'd leave you with some good ol' American entertainment for the end of our U.S. Independence Day.

Until next week...

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!

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Cookies and Chai With Sarah McLachlan

Big Sis and I are heading to Kansas City!  We're seeing Sarah McLachlan tonight.  It's my early birthday present, but Mr. B just can't take off work, so I'm taking my 8 1/2-year-old to her first grown-up concert.

You have no idea how fitting this actually is.

Back in the nineties, I was a die-hard Sarah McLachlan fan.  I was a Murmurs fan club member.  I collected obscure CDs and singles and VHS tapes and DVDs.  It started with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, then continued with Surfacing and seven Lilith Fair concerts.  I never got a chance to see Sarah on her own back then, but I attended Lilith Fair in Kansas City and Atlanta all three years, including two Atlanta shows in 1999.  The KC shows I saw with different combinations of college friends.

I saw all the Atlanta Liliths, plus two Sarah concerts during the Afterglow tour, plus the 2010 Lilith revival stop in KC with my mother, who I introduced to Sarah's music back during the Fumbling years. Big Sis and I are carrying on a mother-daughter tradition.

I miss the nineties.  Have I expressed this before?  I was born in the late seventies, raised in the eighties, but I loved my high school and especially college years most.

So, a couple weeks ago, as Big Sis and I talked about the concert, I pulled out a relic of those college years.

Plenty: A Collection of Sarah McLachlan's Favourite Recipes  with Chef Jaime Laurita.
Photography by Kharen Hill, illustrated and annotated by Sarah McLachlan.
Madrigal Press Ltd., 1999.

Why yes, I have the Sarah McLachlan cookbook.  

{Big Sis thought I was kidding.}

Plenty: A Collection of Sarah McLachlan's Favourite Recipes isn't made up of old family recipes, with perhaps a few exceptions.  No, as Sarah explains in the book, being on the road had led to some lousy eating habits, so she hired a chef, Jaime Laurita, to cook for her on tour.  This book mostly consists of her favorite recipes by Laurita, with photos and quotes and anecdotes thrown in.

There are a lot of vegetarian recipes, which my hippie-dippy veggie self always appreciated, along with many seafood recipes I'll never use.  Most of the recipes have an Asian or Mediterranean flare.  After I dug out the book, the girls went through it and begged to try the split pea soup with mint and caramelized shallots.  Everyone in the family liked it.  Well, they didn't like the mint.  Er, I liked the mint, but no one else did.

Last night, we made Sarah's "Writer's Block Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies" and "Ash and Sarah's Chai Tea."  I did tweak the cookies.  We didn't have any raisins, and the girls don't care for them anyway, so we used chocolate chips instead.  As for the chai, yummmmm.  I used to make this recipe years ago, and I forgot how tasty it is.  Sarah and Ash may not be married anymore, but they made great music, lovely daughters, and yummy chai together.

I was going to type both recipes out for you and everything, but I got lazy...

No, don't worry!  I'm not going to make you try to read the recipes in the pictures!  For the "Writer's Block Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies," I will direct you to the Land O Lakes butter website, where there is an official entry for Sarah's recipe.  {Trust me, these are very buttery cookies, so a butter brand website is a fitting place to find it.}  Then hop over to Oprah.com - yes, really - and there you can find the recipe for "Ash and Sarah's Chai Tea."

I've been getting Big Sis caught up on the music, so she's ready for the concert tonight.  She loves "Ordinary Miracle" because it's from Charlotte's Web, and "Angel," thanks to you-know-what.  I've told her she'll definitely hear one of those tonight.

And I'm getting used to the new album, Shine On, because I know she will perform a lot of songs from it, and I will admit, I haven't listened to it much yet.

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Summer Reading Program

It's hard to believe, but summer is nearly halfway over.  CRAZY.  The girls signed up for the summer reading program at the library the day after school ended.  Our plan was to meet their goals by July 1, the first day prizes can be redeemed.  They're excited to pick out their free books, and I don't want to keep track of their reading when it's time to leave town for vacation.  We were only a day off.  Big Sis finished her last book this afternoon, so I took them to the library today.  They each chose a free book off the cart.  Big Sis was super-excited to find Louis Sachar's Wayside School is Falling Down.  She has read my sister's childhood copy of Sideways Stories from Wayside School not once, but twice!  Little Sis was harder to please.  She refused to look at any of the paperback picture books, insisting she needed a chapter book.  My dilemma is that she isn't ready to read most chapter books on her own.  I can't convince her to pick up Frog & Toad or Amelia Bedelia. She wants Junie B. Jones or something like that.  There were two Junie B.s on the cart, but they were ones we already have.  I tried to convince her to grab a Calvin & Hobbes treasury, thinking she and her daddy would have a blast with that, but no.  She finally found a Goosebumps Horrorland book, and that is what she wanted.  Sigh.  Who knows when this thing will actually get read...  I refuse to read a scary story before bedtime, and she isn't ready to read it on her own.

In addition to their books, the girls scored sacks of freebies:  coupons for free mini golf games, free baseball and hockey games, kids' meals from various restaurants, free book from the library's used book store, etc. etc.

Are your kids participating in any reading programs this summer?  I know there are bookstores and other businesses that reward kids for reading, besides libraries.  Growing up, my babysitter only signed us kids up once or twice, but I loved it and always remembered it.  I was such a bookworm, I didn't really care about the prizes.  I just wanted to read more books than all the other kids.  Competitive much?  Yep.

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We Had A Fairy Party

We had our Belated Fairy Day Party!  

I made cupcakes, or fairy cakes, as the Brits call them.

We made sure there was a fairy door in the tree, inside the fairy playhouse...

We made some nature looms and hung them in the house as decor.

At the party, there was wand-making...

And bubble-blowing.

 And we gave all the little fairy children vials of pixie dust.

But let's be honest here:  Our fairy party, held on the muggiest, soupiest of hot evenings, quickly became more of a merfolk party.

 We're talking crazy, wet, muddy fairy free-for-all.

No dainty delicate fairies here!

When everyone left, we hung the wings up to dry...

And Mr. B and I sat out back and watched dozens of fireflies, possibly attracted by the fairy lights on the patio and fairy house, dancing around the yard.  

I'm not exactly skilled at photographing fireflies.

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