What I’ve Been Reading

I decided in December 2019 that I was going to take on the Modern Mrs. Darcy (MMD) 2020 Reading Challenge as a way to add some structure to my reading life. I also promised my kids that I would read the entire Harry Potter series this year so I found a way to weave that into the challenge. I read the first book around the time that it was released, but never read any of the others. My boys have both read the entire series and all 3 kids have watched the movies many times, so it’s time for mom to catch up!

Here’s what my MMD 2020 Reading Challenge list looks like so far (I filled in the books I’ve already read):

A book published in the decade you were bornThe Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
A debut novelEverything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
A book recommended by a source you trust:
A book by a local authorMrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner (from Philadelphia)
A book outside your (genre) comfort zone11/22/63, Steven King
A book in translationThe Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A book nominated for an award in 2020:
A re-readActs of Faith, Erich Segal
A classic you didn’t read in school:
Three books by the same authorHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

I was nervous about taking on a Steven King book – I’m not a fan of horror movies and this is the longest book I’ve ever read BY FAR. But this story is gripping! I did not love Everything I Never Told You. In hindsight I’m thankful I read it in one day because the story is difficult and depressing. I’ve read a lot of Erich Segal’s novels – he’s also the author that wrote the 1970’s movie Love Story – I find his stories and characters engaging. The Doctors is another favorite of his and I may have to reread that one also.

The one category that I’m stuck on is “a classic that you didn’t read in school.” I requested Jane Eyre from the library this spring and was only a few pages in when I gave up on it. I think I need something that’s more of a modern classic with text that isn’t so difficult to understand (a lighter read for these trying times). What suggestions do you have for me? Drop them in the comments below.

Other books I’ve read this year outside of the 2020 MMD challenge –
The Year of No Nonsense: How to Get Over Yourself and On with Your Own Life – Meredith Atwood
Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance – Susan Lacke
Untamed – Glennon Doyle

Modern Mrs. Darcy also just released her Summer Reading Guide today! It’s broken down into several categories and my plan is to start by reading one book from each category and then go around again. You can get the guide here! I already have Big Summer on order and requested a few other ebooks from the library.

Weekly Menu Plan – May 11, 2020

Weekly Menu Plan – May 11, 2020

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Mine was the best I’ve had in a long time. My husband worked really hard with the kids to make it special this year. They greeted me with a finisher’s chute and snack table at the end of my run, got me sushi from my favorite place, and made me a delicious steak dinner.

Ok, on to this week’s menu:

Monday – Greek chicken
Tuesday – Beef tacos
Wednesday – Lasagne
Thursday – Waffles & bacon
Friday – Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
Saturday – Take out

I’ve been making my own taco seasoning for years. This recipe makes enough to last a few months, so I just keep it in a container in my spice cabinet. I’ve had this recipe for so long I can’t even credit the source since I don’t remember where it came from.

1/4 cup chili powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

To use: Substitute 2 rounded tablespoons for 1 packet of taco seasoning.

Another project for this week is making a sourdough starter. While we all love sourdough bread, I’ve been avoiding this one because I’ve seen others have marginal success with it on social media. But my SIL (who is an amazing baker) suggested that I try the King Arthur Flour recipe and method, so I’ll give it a go!

Weekly Menu Plan – May 3, 2020

First, how is it May already?

It was time for us to menu plan again at the end of last week because I made one of my every-two-weeks trips to Costco on Friday. I cannot tell you how much I love shopping at Costco these days – they truly have and have had the best social distancing and safety practices from the start. I not only shop for groceries while I’m there but also say thank you to every single employee that I see.

I ended up not making a couple of things from last week’s menu – the shrimp & broccoli and beef with broccoli – and I don’t really have a good reason why. On Wednesday I was just not feeling like cooking so Abe took over, but his comfort level is at grilling steaks and roasting broccoli in the oven. It was delicious and I was so thankful for the break that night. Also important to note was that the garlic butter chicken I made was a HUGE hit (it was a new recipe for us), so that will definitely make it back on our menu.

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Sunday – pork tenderloin & pierogies
Monday – spaghetti & meatballs
Tuesday – chicken tacos (with all the fixings and margaritas – happy Cinco de Mayo!)
Wednesday – meatball sandwiches (I’ll make double the meatballs on Monday and just reheat for tonight)
Thursday – homemade chicken nuggets (the kids call them ‘mommy nuggets’) and mac & cheese (from a box – regular for the kids & Abe, vegan/no dairy for me)
Friday – pancakes & sausage
Saturday – make your own pizza (with homemade dough)

The other thing that was requested for this week was quiche for breakfast. When the kids were little I called it Eggie Pie to make it sound more interesting and that’s still what we call it. I use a recipe that a friend gave me years ago and it’s so easy.

Premade pie shell, uncooked
4 eggs
1 small container Greek plain yogurt
Cheddar and Parmesan cheese ( I used a small sprinkling for flavor)
Salt and pepper

• Line pie plate with pie shell.
• Beat eggs in a bowl, add yogurt and whip with a whisk until it’s light yellow.
• Add cheese and salt and pepper (you can also add chopped veggies, bacon, sausage, ham, etc).
• Pour into pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until set.

Weekly Storytime!

Every family has their favorite story books – ones that our kids are riveted by, that they’re drawn to either the story or the pictures (or both), the ones that we’re asked to read over and over and over. My family is no exception. My husband and I are raising 3 kids who all have very different interests, have gravitated to different books over the years, and I’m excited to start sharing them with you! A new storytime video will be available on the Gingersnaps Bows YouTube channel each Thursday. I’m excited to help all of you get through these challenging times by giving you a few minutes of someone else reading to your kids. So grab your coffee (or a glass of wine, no judgements from me!), start the video and snuggle with your littles as I share my family’s favorite stories.

Videos already posted:
Charlotte the Scientist is Squished by Camille Andros
Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie & Allison Oppenheim

Weekly Menu Plan – April 27, 2020

One thing that has come out of this quarantine that has been really good for my family is that we’re all eating dinner together and I’m forced to meal plan. I’ve been so on and off with menu planning in the past. I’d plan out a months worth of meals, but then a surprise evening activity would come up and I wouldn’t have time to make what I planned, or I would miss an ingredient at the grocery store, or… you know how it goes.

At this point I’m going to Costco and Wegmans once every two weeks for our big stock up, and then once or twice in the middle Abe will hit up a store for milk (we buy 2 gallons at a time). This rhythm really works for us and I’m hoping to continue it once the world is open again.

I’ve been relying on lot of family favorites for meals, using some of my favorite cookbooks (I’ll highlight them as they come up), and we’re going through the stacks of recipes I’ve pulled out of magazines through the years. I received this meal planner for Christmas. I really like using it because there are two pages between each week which is a great place for me to make my grocery list or do a quick inventory of what’s in our freezer or pantry. I also post our menu on the whiteboard in the kitchen to help dodge the incessant question, “What’s for dinner?”

This is what we’re having to eat this week. I usually only plan out our main dishes, because I always have sides like rice, pasta, potatoes and frozen & fresh veggies on hand. I prepare whatever makes sense to go with the meal. I’ve linked the recipes that I’m using that are available online.

Sunday – homemade pasta with sauce & meatballs
Monday – waffles & sausage
Tuesday – Carnitas (Taco Tuesday!)
Wednesday – Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Shrimp & Broccoli
Thursday – Beef & Broccoli
Friday – Sausage & Pasta
Saturday – Garlic Chicken

Something new for you…

So it’s been…. weird lately, right? Being asked to stay home 24/7 is nothing that anyone we know has ever experienced. Even going out to the grocery store is totally strange. When I go to Costco or Wegmans I feel so awkward – trying to get through my list as fast as possible, avoiding eye contact, and trying to navigate the store while staying 6 feet from others is odd. Having our lives come to a screeching halt and switching from the kids going to school to them learning at home overnight brings out all the emotions. One day I’m great, feeling like super mom. Laundry is getting done, kitchen gets cleaned up between meals, everyone is on time for their zooms and can log on to apps, and cooking dinner is fun. But then there are the days where I don’t even want to get out of bed. Doing things seems pointless, kids are fussing about doing work, dishes pile up and the house ends up looking like there was a 3-day frat party. So where does this leave us? Right where we started. Staying home to protect others and hoping for our new normal that will come someday.

I’ve had similar struggles with my business. I was still cranking out new products at the beginning of March when the stay at home order started. Around March 15 I pulled out my sewing machine and started making masks for friends and loved ones who worked in healthcare. Then I connected with others from my church who were donating in bulk to local healthcare agencies. All in all, I made over 200 masks in the last month. The time I’ve spent making masks in the last week or so has declined significantly (although I’m still making them for those who need them), and I’m feeling a little lost. All of my spring craft shows have been cancelled, I’m still offering my product online but promoting it feels a little off. So what now?

I’d like to serve the Gingersnaps Bows community in a wider way, and that’s where this blog comes in. Every Thursday I’m going to post a favorite story of my family’s for your children to enjoy. Every Sunday/Monday I’ll post our menu plan for the week. And in between I’ll share tidbits about our life, what products I’m loving a relying on, books that I’m reading, and glimmers of hope and light that we all need. And as always, I’m here to provide you quality handmade hair accessories for your child to make the every day more special.