I've enjoyed several books lately, spending birthday and Christmas gift cards online, borrowing from people, going to the library. When I sit down to nurse the baby, settle into bed at night, ride (not drive!) in the van, I enjoy learning and (hopefully) expanding my mind. In keeping with my multi-tasking lifestyle, I also read a couple (few?) books concurrently, though I never did so in my former life. :) Here's a sampling of my recent/current/upcoming reads:
In the Kitchen:
Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk, Enjoy by the Serving. Love this. It's geared towards warehouse-shopping (Costco or Sam's), with recipes that use an entire 6-lb tray of ground beef, or chicken breasts, thighs, etc. There are also handy bulk side-dishes (potato recipes that use 10 lbs of russets - great way to make those organic ones last now that they're going to be sprouting and not on the market), breakfast ideas (granola), desserts, as well as the main dishes. I requested it from the library and they finally got a copy and let me borrow it. Which saved me some money, because I was able to type up the 23 can't-live-without recipes. It's higher-than-average on my Weird Nutrition Scale, and that is nice. Of course, I don't buy much meat at the warehouse store, and I'm unlikely to pluck a dozen chickens just to get fresh breast meat, but I think I can work around this.
Once-A-Month-Cooking: Family Favorites. I haven't had this one long, but I do like the idea. It's one of those super-organized plans that give you the month (or 2-weeks) of meals, and walk you through everything from the shopping, the dicing, cooking, freezing, etc. Because it's so regimented, it's a little harder to adjust for preferences, though there are quite a variety of meals presented. There are 2 month menus, 2 2-week menus, and additional summer and gourmet 2-week menus, though the recipes can stand alone.
Family Feasts for $75 a Week. Seeing a trend here? This one is written by Mary of Owlhaven, and it's well done. The thrust is towards frugal meals instead of make-ahead or bulk cooking, but it's not just beans and rice. The first part is full of her frugal tips and tricks, including a survey to assess your own habits and find where you can make the biggest difference in your grocery budget. I feel fairly experienced on pinching pennies, but there were still more ideas than I expected. I especially love the "pantry" section, where she offers ways to 'make your own' staples, like taco or spaghetti seasoning, teriyaki sauce, ranch or onion soup mix. I love the healthier "cream of soup" methods.
Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. This one is a cross between Family Feasts and Fix, Freeze, Feast. It's not a set-out menu, but each recipe can be made individually, or they have done the math for 3X, 6X, or more recipes to do at once. I made their freezer pizza-dough, and some EXCELLENT caramel cinnamon rolls, though of course there are many main-dish recipes. This one is a little heavier on the 'already made' ingredients - ready made pie crust, cans or jars of stuff - than I prefer, but I have several recipes tagged to try.
In the Sewing Room:
Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using Any Pattern. This is another library request. But I'm afraid I might have to buy it, if I can ever have time to sew again (maybe if I quit reading cookbooks?). It walks you through every element of doing your own body map and tissue-fitting and altering for your own body. One shoulder slopes more? Have a flat backside, or a swayback? Bigger or smaller in the bust? Waist a little higher or lower than normal? Hips even or not? I have no doubt that following their step-by-step instructions will lead to the best-fit clothes I've ever had.
A is for Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs. One I longed for from the library for so long. Loved it enough to buy it, though it's more for fun than enlightenment.
Charlotte Mason Education, A How-To Manual. A brief but clear look at the day-to-day implementation of different Charlotte Mason philosophies. I have yet to read the original Charlotte Mason books, though they're available for free in pdf (I believe) from Barnes & Noble.
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning. A much bigger book about Charlotte Mason Education and ways it played out in the author's family. Many ideas and encouragement are presented here. I borrowed it from a friend, got it from the library, and then found my own used copy reasonably priced on Amazon.
Handbook of Nature Study. Wow. This is somewhat dated (1911, I think, or 1939), but much of science is relatively timeless. Recommended in the CM Companion, above, I'm so glad I invested the $17 or so for it. It's nearly 900 pages of natural science. This paperback is like 3 inches thick! Animals, birds, plants, bugs, weather, astronomy... I believe it's also available for free in e-book format, but for looking up something for the kids (without a computer), it can't be beat for that price.
Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls. A BIG poetry anthology for children. Includes so many classics!
How to Stop the Pain. I'm about half through this, and have latched on to several good tidbits. While I don't live in a place of "abiding torment" over anything in particular (I think, anyways...), it is still relevant. Those frequent hurts we experience from others don't have to hurt!
Beautiful Girlhood. This could also file under Homeschool, I think, as it's mostly intended for girls/young women. I've read the first chapter, and skimmed other parts. It's old-school, but lovely, and I'd certainly take the old-school over the new-school any day. :) Addresses many growing-up issues like modesty and industry and honor.
Don't Make Me Count to Three. I haven't actually read this, but the reviews at Amazon were interesting to say the least. It's recommended (by some) as a good companion for Shepherding a Child's Heart, which I love. Other reviews say it's more like a tortue/abuse manual and shows nothing from the heart of God. I'll let you know what I think.
Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free. I've heard and read good things about this, and found it for a great used price on Amazon. The table of contents tells me it will be good for me.
Weekend Makeover: Go From Messy to Magnificent in 48 Hours. Well, it's been more than 48 hours, and I haven't quite read through it yet. I know this is an odd thing to have in the "spiritual" department, but I think it fits for me. Keeping the house maintained is a constant effort for most people, but I think for me it's as much in my head/heart as it is in my doings.
The Clutter Cure. Ditto for the above. I REALLY like this one. I've checked it out from the library twice now. It deals with the emotional side of why we get (or hold on to) stuff, and gives some good advice on dealing with the guilt (or fear or whatever) and taking back control of our environment.
Going Rogue: An American Life. This is Sarah Palin's recent book. I really enjoyed it, though of course it's her own account (and one would expect it to come across well). Her life seems so very normal and reasonable, and her ideas seem to be the same. I loved that she included her salvation testimony in her life's story, and I hope the Palin Family's future is good. I was amazed and incredulous at "the machine" that was the VP campaign in 2008. From my perspective it was enjoyable to see a normal, reasonable person not totally embrace the nonsense that is American politics today.
What have you been reading lately? Do you read half-a-library at one time?