Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Review: Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen is an insightful look into the influences on our children today, where these influences come from, and how to cultivate the imagination of children today, rather than destroy it.

The public school system(and much of modern education in general) comes under fire as Esolen examines how and what we are teaching our children. His rather dry humor shines through as he analyzes and explains each of his points. He references many pieces of literature and events in history that I want to revisit after reading about them in this book. Probably half of them, I had never heard of and want to learn more about.

I was not able to complete the book (only made it 2/3 through and had to return it to the library, where I had it out on interlibrary loan).  It is a fairly deep, fascinating, eye-opening read that I hope to one day revisit and finish, perhaps sometime when the kids are gone camping with my sis-in-law or our next road trip. It does take some time and lots of focus to make it through, but I found Esolen's humor and perspective to be both enlightening and entertaining.

Just a thought--I think this book would be an excellent choice for a book club to read together and discuss one chapter for each session.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

Heaven is For Real is the story of a 4 year old boy who had what has been called a near-death experience and how he shared his experience with those around him. The book is written by the father of the boy, Todd Burpo, who is also a Wesleyan preacher.

I just finished this book yesterday and promptly loaned it to someone else to read. It is a can't-put-down book that can be finished in a matter of a few hours and mulled over for much longer than that. Scripture is footnoted throughout the book so you can see for yourself the correlations between the Bible and what Colton experienced.

I found the book to be quite close to what Scripture describes heaven to be like, though I know there is much we in our human finiteness cannot fully comprehend. As the mother of a miscarried child, and having lost my grandmother just over 6 months ago, it gave me renewed hope and a longing for what and who(and Who) is waiting for me after this life on earth.

The book gave me plenty to think about and opened my eyes a bit more to the world around me and the ministries Jesus has me in. We really should come to Jesus as little children...and cherish those children we have in our lives...and not dismiss them because "we know better".  Sometimes they are wiser than we and have more faith than we do. There is much we can learn from them.

This is a book that I want to purchase for myself (this one was borrowed on interlibrary loan) so that I can loan it out to others and they can in turn pass it on to someone else. Definitely a must-read. :)

UPDATE: Here is an interview that FOX News did: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4600541/new-book-claims-heaven-is-for-real

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Heart Pizza

This girl on a tight budget and for all intents and purposes "snowed in" has gone the frugal way to celebrate Valentine's Day: Heart-shaped Pizzas.

I used my favorite quick pizza dough recipe(because who has time to let it rise for an hour?) and classic kid-friendly toppings.

Pizza Dough
4-5 cups of flour(today I used 3 cups King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat and 2 cups King Arthur Organic All-purpose)
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (I used Redmond Real Salt)
4 1/2 tsp yeast (mine is bulk saf-instant)
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup warm milk
3 TB olive oil

Mix dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Add liquid ingredients all at once. Allow to knead 2-3 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Roll/pat out, top with favorite toppings, and bake at 550*(yes, 550*) for 7-10 minutes.


For the kids I used regular ol' tomatoey pizza sauce, mozzarella, Hormel Turkey Pepperoni, canned mushrooms and halved black olives.
For mine, I used pesto from Aldi instead of the pizza sauce, mozzarella, Hormel Turkey Pepperoni, canned mushrooms and halved black olives. And a few turns of Spice Islands Garlic & Herb Bread Dipping Spices.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Girl after my own Heart

My daughter watched, perplexed, as I sliced up a red pepper that I splurged on at the grocery today. It was just so....red, and I felt I needed more red in my diet today. :)

She finally spoke up, inquiring "Where did you get THAT thing, when there's snow on the ground outside?".

My first thought: She's a girl after my own heart. She knows food doesn't grow here this time of year--and that it grows on plants!

My next thought: The poor thing is so deprived not to have a regular diet of peppers in the middle of winter! (Not!)

My afterthought: Busted. I went against my "buy only from the US" with this pepper: it's from Mexico.

But I will enjoy this extravagance anyway. We had a good little talk afterwards about where they grow these things when we can't and how they get here to our grocery stores so we can buy them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: FOOD RULES An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

It probably comes as no surprise that I am a fan of Michael Pollan's books and his ideas about food: Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much. The book FOOD RULES An Eater's Manual elaborates on this idea.

Though I did fairly well during the holidays at avoiding pure junk, I figured I could definitely use a reminder of what I really want my focus to be on. So, I picked up FOOD RULES at the library.

This book is an excellent quick and easy read. If you had a dedicated hour/hour and half to read, you could probably make it through this book in that time. Or, you can do like me and take it in little snippets of time here and there, because it is written in small parts that are easy to stop at and not completely lose one's train of thought. Whichever way you approach it, if you care about what you eat, you will be pondering what you've read for days. :)

The book not only tells the reader what NOT to eat ("edible foodlike substances"), it also steers the reader to what we SHOULD be putting on our plates and why.

All in all, it had just what I was looking for.

Some of my favorite rules I want to apply this year:

#4 Avoid food products that contain high fructose corn syrup (not necessarily because it's GMO or has a good chance of containing mercury, or even because it's sugar, but because if a product has this ingredient, it's pretty much a guarantee that it's highly processed....and not good for you.)
#13 Eat only food that will eventually rot
#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
#20 It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
#21 It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language (ie. Big Mac, Pringles, Cheetos, etc)
#25 Eat your colors (and we're not talking added colors here)
#27 Eat animals that have themselves eaten well (as in, eaten what they were created to eat: not GMO grains/soy)
#30 Eat well-grown food from healthy soil
#31 Eat wild foods when you can
#32 Don't overlook the oily little fishes (anyone have good mackerel/sardine/anchovy recipies?)
#33 Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi
#38 Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone-ground
#42 Regard non-traditional foods with skepticism (ie. soy milk, soy "vegetable" oils, soy in processed foods, etc, not to mention GMO's)
#44 Pay more, eat less.
#46 Stop eating before you're full. "To say 'I'm hungry' in French you say 'J'ai faim'--"I have hunger'--and when you are finished, you do not say that you are full, but 'Je n'ai plus faim'--'I have no more hunger.' That is a completely different way of thinking about satiety."
It's the same in German.
#56 Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods.
#60 Treat treats as treats.
#62 Plant a vegetable garden if you have the space, a window box if you don't.
#63 Cook

Whew! Hope I can do it! :)