Lillian's Library · Reviews

Lillian’s Library: books that go through the seasons

Sometimes when I scour the internet to find books on certain themes for my daughter Lillian, I never quite find what I’m looking for. In fact, I often come across books by chance after all my searching just walking through the library or the store. In case you’re sometimes doing similar investigating, I decided to start a series on books that Lillian is reading lately from her bookshelf at home or from the library. Today I’d like to share three really wonderful books on the seasons.

  1. Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
    Inside OutsideThis delightful picture book starts and ends in winter time, transitioning through the seasons on each page, alternating with scenes indoors and outdoors. There are endless details to point out on each page, from the fun the boy has inside (like hanging up pictures, making sailboats, or reading books under a little teepee), to his outside projects (like building snowmen, planting a garden or making a tree house). My daughter just loves listening to me point out things, and she also likes the little peek-a-boo cuts on each page that give a glimpse into something on the previous and next page.
  2. I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry
    I am a bunny
    In this book, you’ll follow the bunny Nicholas as he tells you his favorite things to do in each season. My favorite thing about this book is the beautiful and detailed illustrations. Though less jam-packed with things to point out than Inside Outside, there is still plenty to talk about while you enjoy the rich illustrations with your child. You can count the butterflies Nicholas tries catching in the spring, see a jumping frog and dewdrops in the summer, spot all the colors in the falling leaves in the autumn, spot Nicholas’ snow tracks leading back to his hollow tree home in the winter and more.
  3. Baby Loves Summer! by Karen Katz
    Baby Loves
    For the last book, I’d actually like to recommend a small series of books by Karen Katz. These four lift-the-flaps books go through the seasons joyfully as you turn each page (and lift each flap) to discover the fun each season has to offer. These books are really great to read during each season because they have so many things you can point out to your child when you go outdoors (butterflies and tulips in the spring, the big yellow sunshine in the summer, yummy apple pie in the fall and a snowman in the winter, etc). Lily and I have a lot of fun reading these books together!I hope you found some books on seasons that you haven’t read before with your child, and would love to hear any favorites your family has (about seasons or in general!). If you have any suggestions for future themes, please leave a comment, too!

    xx Caitlyn

Learning · Life with Baby · Projects

The more the water, the higher the boat (free printable!)

Sometimes you just have a string of days (or heck, weeks!) that just leave you in a funk. Maybe it’s not that things are all that bad…they’re just not great. Maybe you just don’t have energy, or time, or the weather has been crummy. Or things are just leaving you feeling low in general. Recently I had a brief bout of hyperthyroidism that left me feeling fatigued and with achy muscles. I was so tired every day and felt guilty for not being more energetic with my daughter and for not doing enough around the house. Somehow after only a couple of months, the hyperthyroidism resolved itself (yeah, what?), and though I was confused about the whole thing, I decided not to linger too much on the why and just be extra grateful!
printable for blog

I really love this quote from Alan Spence’s The Pure Land. It’s been nearly ten years since I read this romantic adventure based on a true story about the modernization of Japan, but I jotted down this quote when I read it and still really like it today. Enjoy a printable of the quote by clicking here for a PDF or by clicking directly on the image to download, and remember this quote, too: “If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.” -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love

Have a good day, lovelies!

xx Caitlyn

Bookspiration

Bookspiration: Mottainai Grandma

Recently we’ve been making stops at a local bookstore to find books to read to Lily that might be harder to find back home. We’ve been excited to find some books written with both English and Japanese on each page. While we don’t really plan on teaching Lillian Japanese since we’re moving back to the states, there are some phrases that have become part of our vocabulary, so it’s neat to have books available that incorporate some of those phrases. We also enjoy being able to introduce Japanese culture to her, as well as good stories!  Saturday we purchased a book called Mottainai Grandma. It was written by a woman who was trying to explain the Japanese word mottainai to her son. Mottainai basically means, “What a waste,” or “Don’t waste,” but it also comes with a reminder to have gratitude for what we’re given. Furthermore, as this NPR review points out, mottainai is an old Buddhist word that ties in with the Shinto idea that objects have souls. Japanese believe we are part of nature, and that we should have a very harmonious relationship with it. I think mottainai is a great phrase for Lillian to know!  In the book, mottainai grandma teaches her grandson all kinds of ways to avoid being wasteful. One of my favorite examples is when the grandson has leftover rice in his bowl and his grandma not only eats every remaining grain of rice, but goes so far as to lick the rice sticking to her grandson’s face as well!
img_5077I also like when mottainai grandma tells her grandson that instead of throwing out his mandarin orange peels, he should dry them in the sun and put them in his bath water. Although we love taking baths and have even traveled Japan with bath salts, it somehow never occurred to me to use mandarin orange peels in the bath! And we tear through mandarin oranges when they’re in season! I’m inspired to use the peels in the future during bath time, but it might also be fun to use them to make mandarin infused vodka, to make a pretty smelling body scrub, or to make candied mandarin orange peels!
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 Mottainai Grandma is a super cute book with a great reminder for children and adults alike. It serves as fun inspiration for thinking about ways we can reuse things rather than throw them away, and makes you think twice about letting things go to waste. What is one of your favorite uses for something many people normally throw out?

xx Caitlyn

PS If you’re into up-cycling items that others might toss aside, you might enjoy checking out these thrift store challenges (a feature I’m hoping to resume on Little Snail once we’re back in the states!)

Uncategorized

Bookspiration: Summer Reading

So I know I told you I was starting to read Keys to Good Cooking, but I got a little…distracted. In the meantime, I’ve managed to finish three other books since The Miniaturist, a book which I briefly reviewed back in my Summer Bucket List Post here. I thought it might be fun to tell you what I’ve been reading, and about the little inspirations I’ve gotten from each book!

1. Harriet the Spy
The first book I read after The Miniaturist was Harriet the Spy. Ever since watching the movie years ago, I wanted to read the book and disappear into the excitement of Harriet’s spy world. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was one that does not take place in the book: the wind chime garden scene. The scene always made me want to make pretty wind chimes to add a bit of whimsy and magic to a future garden. I imagine the movie scene was made to replace a less magical, rather solemn scene from the book where Harriet is taken to meet her nanny’s mother.harrietAlthough the book didn’t inspire much whimsy for me, it did have some good observations from Harriet, like these:

“I’M GLAD I’M NOT PERFECT. I’D BE BORED TO DEATH.”

“PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR WORK LOVE LIFE.”

“THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO LIVE AS THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE EARTH AND I SHOULDN’T GO ROUND WITH BLINDERS BUT SHOULD SEE EVERY WAY I CAN. THEN I’LL KNOW WHAT WAY I WANT TO LIVE AND NOT JUST LIVE LIKE MY FAMILY.”

The book also introduced me to a beverage I’d never heard of: Egg Creams! Harriet loves getting Egg Creams at the soda fountain, so I looked up the beverage and found this article (and image) on seriouseats.

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The beverage is basically chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, but apparently it takes a lot to get it right. I’ve looked at a few recipes like this one, but I’m wondering if it might be better to just go try one in Brooklyn someday 🙂

2. The Secret Garden
The next book I chose was The Secret Garden. This reading choice was also inspired by a movie version I saw bits of when I was young, and though I don’t remember much about the movie, I do know I’ve always thought there was something very appealing about the idea of a secret garden. To be honest, the book didn’t blow me away, but it did inspire me to look up a few types of pretty flowers, like snowdrops (below), which are actually quite sought after. I also stumbled upon a gardening website that summarizes the book with added floral pictures throughout a blog post.

https://i1.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02138/snowdrop_2138469b.jpg
A nice quote from the character Colin in the book: “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world…but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

3. The Lotus Eaters
The most recent book I finished is called The Lotus Eaters. Briefly stated, the novel is about three characters whose lives are changed during the Vietnam War. To be honest, this premise wouldn’t normally appeal to me, but somehow I kept seeing the title pop up over and over again, and I’m glad I chose to finally go ahead and read it. After getting only a short way through the book, I realized my knowledge about the war was extremely limited, and so I brushed up a bit on my history (one of the ways I did this was by watching Crash Course US History #37 and #38, short videos that were quite helpful for a brief understanding). This book was a good read for me for several reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, it inspired me to learn more about important history. Second, although the setting is drastically different from anything I’ve ever experienced, I could still relate to the characters:

“This is what happened when one left one’s home–pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind.”

Lastly, the book made me want to learn more about Vietnamese culture and food. When looking up traditional Vietnamese crafts, I came across carved wooden cookie molds, like this “Lotus in the Lake” mold, so I started researching them and how they’re made and used. You can find some baking molds sort of like this in Japan, too, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled!

As for Vietnamese food, recently Chad and I tried an amazing dish called bún thịt nướng, which is Vietnamese grilled pork and rice noodles. It was so light yet flavorful, and has become a frequent craving for me! I found this recipe I might have to try making sometime, but in the meantime I think we’ll have to keep frequenting a nearby Vietnamese restaurant!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the inspiration I got from my recent reading, and look forward to sharing more with you after I finish my next book. Hopefully whatever I chose next will get me crafting or cooking something delightful!

What have you been reading lately?
xxCaitlyn

Reviews

Book Review!

Guest author: Ariel Knapp

While Chad and Caitlyn are making their way to Japan (safe travels you two!) I thought it would be a good time for a book review.

IMG_2844The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester
This book took forever for me to get through and I am very glad I’m done. I read The Professor and the Madman by Winchester years ago and enjoyed it. I thought the subject was interesting and well written and that made me want to read other books by Winchester. Unfortunately, the subject matter of The Men Who United the States has never appealed to me so it was difficult to get through. If you like American history and want to read about Lewis and Clark, canal building, transcontinental railroads, and the invention of electricity then I think this would be a good book for you. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Before this book the only Murakami book I read was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running a nonfiction book about his experience with running. I enjoyed that book and when Caitlyn told me she and a friend were reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki… for their book club I though I’d read it too. Murakami goes into great detail about character personality and appearance as well as scene description, which I appreciated because I think it added a lot to the story.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
This book was made into a movie. I watched the movie first because I had no idea it was a book. While the book was a light read and I liked it, I thought the movie captured the comedy of the story a lot better. The book is a bout Jane who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. She takes a trip to Austenland, a themed destination vacation where people experience Jane Austen’s world complete with period costumes and activities. If you have to make a choice between watching the movie and reading the book, I think this is one of those rare occasions when the movie is better.

Have you read any good books lately? What do you do when you start a book and don’t like it? Do you finish the book anyway or do stop reading and move on to the next book?

Uncategorized

How I Spend My Me-Time (Tag, You’re IT!)

Me TimeToday I read a blog post–about a blog post–about me-time. Both posts invite readers to play along with a me-time questionnaire, so I’ve decided to give it a go myself!

What do you watch or read during me-time?
I tend to read a lot of articles online. I mean, a LOT. I also really enjoying reading blogs, crafty books and magazines, cookbooks and cooking magazines, and of course, BOOKS! As I mentioned before, right now I’m reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage.

What do you wear during me-time?
I could probably live in leggings. Or shorts over leggings. In the wintertime, fleece leggings.
IMG_1560Otherwise I love wearing running shorts and tank tops, hoodies, etc., and I’ve almost always got my red snuggie on when I’m lounging around the house. Oh yes! And I am rarely without slippers!
What are your me-time beauty products?
I actually don’t tend to go wild with beauty products during me-time. Once in a while I will use a face mask, like Garnier’s Skin Care Renew, or paint my toenails. I used to love the face masks in Japan–you could find tons of really inexpensive ones that worked really well and were really fun. I’ll keep you posted on some of my favorites when we get settled in next month!
Current favorite nail polish?
Unfortunately I’m not allowed to wear fingernail polish at work, but I loved this Sally Hansen Hot Tamale color in the summer, and I like this snowflake-like Blue Marks the Spot in the winter for my toesies.
What do you eat/drink during me-time?
It’s hard to really nail down a specific food for my me-time, but one of my favorite pastimes is exploring the worlds of chocolates, pastries and sweet breads.
If you know me at all, you must be able to guess that my beverage consumption tends to be almost on a daily routine: coffee in the morning, water throughout the day, and beer and/or tea at night. Favorite coffee at the moment? Probably Starbucks Christmas Blend. My favorite, favorite (favorite!) beer is Ranger from New Belgium Brewing Company. And my favorite tea? Tazo Refresh Mint or Henry & Sons Sencha.

Usually any moment I get to drink or eat anything counts as me-time, because eating and drinking are two of my favorite things.

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This is my favorite tea cup

Current favorite candle?
I love Bath & Body Works “Party Dress” scent (currently unavailable through their site, but you can find it on amazon!). Not only does it smell really nice, but it reminds me of when one of my best friends visited me from Japan last year (I bought it when we were shopping together!).
Do you ever have outdoor me-time?
Definitely! In the summer I love riding bike around town–especially to the library, little shops and the beach. I also enjoy running and going for walks in the summer. In the winter I go for a lot of walks (I have to, as a matter of fact, because my car was totaled about a month and a half ago. Luckily I live close to work!). I really enjoy listening to podcasts when I’m running or walking. My favorites are Dinner Party Download and Radiolab.
Would you ever go see a movie alone?
I’ve considered it, but if I were to see a movie by myself I think I’d rather just watch it at home (with my kitty cats and my snuggie).
Favorite online shop?
I don’t really do too much online shopping, but if I do I suppose it’s from amazon, and I usually order books.
What else do you do during me-time?
I do a lot of baking, cooking, writing and crafting (drawing, wood burning, painting, art journaling etc.) during my me-time.
IMG_1568I made these easy Mexican Wedding cookies yesterday and they were dangerously addicting!
I almost always am listening to music, too. I really like classical guitar music for me-time, especially when the weather is rainy. I also enjoy yoga when I’m not distracted by the million other things I want to do (I like Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown). Oh yeah, and going to cafes and bookstores. And art stores. Annnnnnnnd, I think I have way too many hobbies!
Okay, TAG! It’s your turn to tell me about your me-time 🙂
xxCaitlyn
Bookspiration

Book Round-up

Guest Author: Ariel Knapp

Caitlyn and I are big readers. Throughout the years we’ve started and stopped book clubs together and with other people (she’s got one with her friend Amanda right now that I might join). We’d read the book and then make something (usually food related) that was connected to the book. It was always a lot of fun. And now, I follow a few bloggers who share the books they’ve been reading on their blogs. I thought that was really cool and wanted to do the same. Here’s a small round-up of what I’ve been reading:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I really liked this book. Amy’s got a great writing voice and while there wasn’t anything really profound about this book I came away from it wanting her to be my new best friend. She’s not afraid of life and seems to be open to everything, which you get from the title of her book.

Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub
This was an interesting book if for no other reason than to realize how prevalent sugar has become in our diets. Eve has a blog where she chronicled her family’s struggle with a truly sugar free diet that she wrote into this book. I try to limit sugar in my diet most of the time so it was cool to read about the extremes this family went through to avoid sugar.

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I’m glad I read this book. I didn’t like it but I’m glad I read it. It was easy to read, almost too easy. If you weren’t paying attention you could miss some important passages. With all the things going on in politics about women’s health issues I think it’s a good idea to read this book. I was surprised how relevant I found this book considering it was written 29 years ago.

So, there’s a few books I’ve read lately. I hope you liked this little round-up. Sorry there’s no pictures of the book covers, but I thought of this post after I had returned all the books to the library. I’ll leave you with a picture of the books I’m currently reading/will read.

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What have you been reading lately? Let me know if you like this post and would like to see more in the future.