Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Name of the Game is Domain

I have moved! Thank you so much to you all who have supported me in the first two months of this grand writing adventure. The journey continues, better than ever, here;


Can't wait to see you all there!



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Drown Your Ice Cream!

Ooo, the Bookaneer is shaking things up! From now on I'll be writing not two, but three posts a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Yesterday's road trip to go visit my Grandpa with the crew made for a tiring day, but I regret nothing! We love visiting, and his skill in the kitchen not only make things sweeter, but even inspired today's poem.

Second helpings anyone?

Drown Your Ice Cream!

Grandpa's homemade
Chocolate sauce;
Of every kind
His is the boss.

Such decadence
Of great degrees...
But at Grandma's house
Let's ignore calories!

Like I've mentioned before, I love cooking. My inspiration is all due to the amazing, creative people that I'm lucky enough to call family. 

My Grandpa's recipe is simple yet sublime. Here it is: combine one can of condensed milk, with one big bar of  Cadbury. Mix in a pot until the chocolate is melted. Drown your ice cream with it and enjoy!

Until Tuesday, I wish scrumptious meals, time with dear ones, and ample reading time to you all. Take care.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cooking Up a Storm

Welcome back everybody! Did you have a good long weekend? We sure did!
Romance on the slopes with Mr. Tilney

King Daddy with my big sister Hermione.

Atticus, King Daddy, baby Rudyard, Darrow and Akela.

 Time with family and skiing... those are two of  my most favourite things in the world. This past  weekend I got to do both, in my favourite spot in  the world too: the Canadian Rockies. My entire  family (that's right, all twenty-eight of us!)  gathered in the gorgeous Lake Louise to  celebrate my parents' fortieth wedding  anniversary. We skied, played in the snow,  laughed, read by the fire, and enjoyed tea at the  most wonderful ski lodge we've ever stayed at  (and when you're a family of ski bums, that's  saying something!)

One thing that sweetened all that abundant family fun was the scrumptious food. Too much actually, but who's complaining? All of us were responsible for one meal, and fearful of feeding everyone-especially the ravenous horde of nephews- we all brought more than we could ever eat in a single weekend. Along with ski equipment and luggage, there was quantities of food that we all had to cram into our minivans on the return home. Personally, I regret nothing! It was worth the cramped drive to feast and laugh together at each and every meal.

Me with Mummy Dearest.
Good food is a family tradition. After growing up around the table (our presence at meals was nonnegotiable) with a mother who scorned processed food and a dentist father, for me and my five siblings, promoting healthy eating and cooking was preaching to the choir.

I left home with a deep love of good food; just very little skill in preparing it myself.

In my last post I burbled about my addiction to domestic porn. Cookbooks were what got me going. While I was a single student, it didn't much matter, but once "me" became "we" I quickly saw the need to expand my culinary horizons. After all, there was only so many times I could expect my family to stomach renditions of hamburger soup and oatmeal!

My sister Belle and niece Ginny.

Cookbooks were my of inspiration. I found myself pouring over the pages, excitedly calling out "Look! Butter chicken! I could make that?!" or "Hmmm,  homemade spaghetti sauce sounds amazing". I began with the resolution to try one new recipe a week, starting with one collection of recipes and lots of trepidation. Over the years we've discovered favourites, both simple and complex, that inspire smiles from everyone seated around the table. My skill and confidence has grown almost as much my culinary library.

Good food and family time should not be limited to those special occasions. We need it daily, to feed not just our stomachs, but our hearts. After all, there's nothing after a long day to comfort you and your dear ones like a big helping of homemade yumminess... whatever that may be.

My cook book collection; what a wealth of inspiration is mine!
How about you? What recipes do you love to share with your nearest and dearest? What cookbook could you never do without? If you could learn to cook anything, what would it be?

Coming Monday: the cookbook that I use the most, plus some fun food reads. Until then, I hope your kitchen is a happy place, with plenty of book joy for you and yours. Happy reading to you all!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Domestic Porn

Books:my source of power.
I have a confession to make: I am addicted to how-to books. Those glossy pictures lure me in, keeping my eyes glued to the page. The text tantalizing me with its promise that yes, I too can do the impossible. Curious and thrilled, I linger. My heart is filled with longing, lust for it to be mine...all mine.

Domestic porn, that's what it is. Be it cookbooks, decorating magazines, or crafting guides. Fortunately, unlike the other sort, this kind of pornography doesn't poison your mind. True, it has been known to befuddle my senses, blasting any pretense I have at practicality to bits. I stash yarn like a squirrel hordes nuts (hiding just how much yarn I have from my long-suffering husband), and there's that one time I set my arm hairs on fire. Mostly though, my love of domestic porn books has led me down some healthy and happy paths. My life, and my family's, is richer for it.
Mr. Tilney: striking fear in students' hearts with his knit toque.

Every now and then Mr. Tilney- silly, darling man- says "You know you don't have to make everything, right?" To which I  respond "Well yes. But why buy something when you can make it yourself?"

Why indeed? For the first four years of our marriage we were in university. By the time we were done school we had two little babies (Jared and Seth). One of the only things we had in abundance was our student loans, and a first-year teacher's salary barely covered our needs, let alone the wants.
I got the inspiration for this cake here, but a book gave me the recipe.

Learning how to make and do things began as my quest to not only stretch out our scanty dollars, but to bring us a feeling of luxury. Books held my hand as I learned how. First, it was cooking. Hard to feel deprived when you're eating homemade bread fresh from the oven. Not only are there some gorgeous cookbooks out there, but they taught me how to make food delicious food too. That was the nudge that sent me tumbling down the rabbit hole. One thing has led to another, and it's so wonderfully fun down here why on Earth would I ever want to climb out?

Books are the key. I wanted something cute and fabulous for my new baby without breaking the bank? I knit him pirate booties. Ever tried homemade grape jelly? It's amazing. We grow the most scrumptious potatoes, and we all know the delights of sunflowers. Homemade toys have something special about them that a store-bought one can never duplicate. Hand knit socks are the ultimate bliss for your feet, and the occasional piece of clothing made just for you is a treasure.

Oh lalylala, your crochet patterns are the best!
Not that I make everything, but I like to do what I can carve out the time for. There's a thrill that comes with trying something new, of making and doing something for yourself. It's one of  the healthiest highs that  I know.

Want to try something yourself? Always longed to do this or that? It is possible. Books are your road map of how to get there.

What do you want to try? Tell me in the comments below, and I'll find you a good title to get you started!

Until next time, happy exploring the wide and wonderful world of books everybody!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Move Over Prince Charming!

When we're old and grey, I want Mr. Tilney and I to love each other this much!
True love is
Saying sorry, or forgiving
when mistakes are made.
It's cooking those awesome
Waffles- just because.
Making me laugh
through labour contractions,
Or getting up with the kids
So I can sleep in.
It's being the dad our
Kids love and need,
And eating my latest
Culinary disaster.
Love is reading my
Favourite book together,
Or mowing the lawn
Because you know I hate it.

Might not sell books,
But true love is slaying
All those daily dragons
And making one
"Happily ever after" real.

My love of romance notwithstanding, I've always hated Valentine's Day. Romance should be more than a status game of cards, roses, or chocolates. Naturally, I still appreciate such gestures. What fool wouldn't? But know what really makes my heart pitter-pat? Someone who finds me beautiful at nine months pregnant. When Mr. Tilney surprises me with pizza so we don't mess up the kitchen after a crazy day. Uninterrupted reading time... you get the idea.

So many books love stories grate on my nerves because they fail to capture that. There's far too many renditions of yet another heroine caught in a love triangle. Also, the valiant hero who simply waits patiently until she finally comes to her senses tests both my patience and credulity.  So, to shake things up, here's some original gems. Some gutsy heroines and heroes who perfect the art of everyday romance. Pure romantic reading bliss.

"Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen

I adore all of Miss Austen's books, but this is my favourite! Navigating polite society, Katherine Norland gets far more adventure when she goes to Bath... just not the sort that her Gothic novels would suggest. The perils and pitfalls of dating have never been so delightful.

"The Blue Castle" by L.M. Montgomery

After a lifetime doing just as she's told, and living out dreams in her imaginary"blue castle", Valancy learns that she's dying. Finally doing and saying exactly as she pleases is a shock to both her bossy mother and snobby clan, but no one is more shocked than Valancy herself when she falls in love. With the town reprobate no less. Normally this would be a steamy bit of brain candy, but in Montgomery's skilled hands, it is a beautiful story sure to melt your heart.

In fiction, or real life, true love is really about the little things. Let's celebrate that. Enjoy both; with whoever is in your life and makes your heart glad.

Happy reading to you all!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

How to Raise a Reader

Seth, Jared, and Jack back when only one of them could actually read.
How Seth showed love to baby Bruce.

While Mr. Tilney is often the man behind the camera (we seriously need more pictures of him), I am the woman behind the books. Despite my efforts to read aloud to our children from the moment they came home from the hospital, we have only one real picture of me doing so. One?! I was shocked. Then I looked again, and that's when I saw it. What really matters. Happily, while I am mostly absent, we do have oodles of evidence of something else: my kids love books. 
Baby Jack "reading" a favourite.

Jared will buy the newest books in a series with his own money because he simply cannot wait to read them. Seth spent so many hours as a baby staring at books that he taught himself to read. Jack will read his favourites to his little brother. Bruce likes to copy out the words in stories he loves. While educators lament that more and more kids, especially boys, are reading less mine are passionate bookworms. 

How did this happen? All because we read, and read together.

We are not the exception. Anyone, including you can do it. Want your kids to read more? The benefits, I might add, aren't exclusively for kids! There's no magical solution, but it is easy. Here's what I've learned through years of trial and error.

How to Raise a Reader

1. Read Yourself
I never realized how often I called Jared "lovey" as a toddler until his little buddy started calling him that too. Kids imitate what they see, so if you make time to read they will too. It's not enough for us parents and educators to rail at kids to read more. They need to see us do it. While Bruce has the bad habit of playing with my cell, he did  capture this moment (right) that says it all. That's me, just rolled out of bed, with Jared.

2. Go to the Library
Your local library is a treasure trove of gems just waiting to be read. It's an all you can read buffet! Plus, the price of a library card is amazing. Unlimited access for a few bucks? Score! Sometimes it's free. Go to the library regularly- once a week is our ideal-and bring your kids.

3. Storytime 
 Okay, okay, I've been talking a lot about this lately; be it why we do storytime at all, or the knitty-gritty found here and here. It bears repeating though because storytime is crucial for raising a reader. An added benefit is calming everyone down- whether it's bedtime or not- but hey! No matter what your motivation, it's a sure win.

4. Regularity
Build books into to the daily fabric of your life and into the lives of your children. My friend Charlotte takes a book with her everywhere she goes. Trillian reads to her kids during snacktime. We have individual storytime before bed. There's lots of ways to do it, but consistency is what matters here.

5. Keep it Fun
Books range from the inspired to the insipid. Life is too busy to waste time reading the humdrum. When it comes to reading aloud, I choose something that holds up to repetition: in one sitting. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable. If a book doesn't make you anxious for more of it, why bother? I think this author's performance (his book is a huge hit at our house) perfectly captures what reading is meant to be,.

Just remember: raising a reader is not a product, it's a process, and an ongoing one at that. Whether you're one, or one hundred, reading should be a grand adventure!

Until Monday, keep the reading fun alive for you and yours.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Cream or Sugar?

Cream or Sugar?

I hope I'm never too old
To enjoy a tea party:
Gathering with friends
(Real or  imaginary)
To visit and laugh
Over the beautiful staccato
Of delicate china.

For really, tea tastes better
When sipped from something
Both dainty and pretty,
And carving out time 
With dear friends
Is far sweeter 

Than any maccaron.

Despite my childhood love of throwing a tea party (usually with my doll and stuffies), it took me a bit longer to actually enjoy the beverage. Back then I prescribed to my Dad's opinion. Tea was "glorified dishwater" which my Mum inflicted on me whenever I was sick. Then I discovered loose tea, and I've been a fan of this hot herbal brew ever since. It's a soothing elixir. My creative fuel! Also, it's a fabulous thing to share with friends. After rereading far too many books I was inspired. After all, why should kids and fictional characters have all the fun?  It took just one tea party to discover something important: they're even more fun as an adult. Tea parties are now something my friends and I do- as often as our busy lives will allow.

They're terrific fun. Why not try one yourself? You can find something fabulous to drink here. Their Sunburst Raspberry is amazing (and also, currently on sale!).

Now for some fabulous books to read, whether you're sipping tea or not.

Today's Treasures

1. "The Number One Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith
The first in a series as warm and delightful as the bush tea Precious Ramotswe drinks while solving one mystery after another. This book makes me want to travel to Africa (especially Botswana), and open a detective agency of my own.

2. "A Bargain for Frances" by Russell Hoban
Frances is having Thelma over for a tea party, so why does her mother urge caution? When left holding the short end of a stick over a tea set fiasco, Frances will have to beat her friend at her own game. The results are delicious. This book is the reason why, to this day, I adore dishes of "the  china kind with pictures all in blue" sort.

Well, until Thursday everybody, I wish you joy. May you never have a shortage of tea, nor lack of good books to read!