somewhat bookish.

Life List #32. Make homemade ice cream. July 24, 2014

Filed under: Life List — cransell @ 12:58 pm

I have long desired an ice cream maker. I started saving ice cream recipes to a Pinterest board over a year ago for the day when I could make all those yummy treats myself. Then, at the beginning of the month I just decided: THE TIME HAD COME. I tweeted:



My thought was that I would add it to my Wish List, and maybe someone would get it for me for my birthday. BUT THEN, my fairy godmother (aka my friend Marcella) replied and offered me her ice cream maker, which was just taking up room in her closet. AMAZING.

Last week, I made my first batch of homemade ice cream. I picked peach, because our CSA had yummy ones just begging to be used.

Here’s how it went:

Chop up peaches, mix with sugar, let sit for 2 hours, so they get nice and juicy:


Always do what Ben & Jerry tell you:


Mix, mix, mix:


Transfer to freezer container and freeze solid:


Consume (bonus point for cute ice cream model):


It’s super tasty! It was super fun! And now we have tons of peach ice cream in our freezer, because I am actually counting calories at the moment. Wah. Wah. STILL! Two thumbs up for homemade ice cream. Just got the Jeni’s Ice Cream book out of the library and can’t wait to make more!


TWO AND A HALF July 21, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:03 pm


Holy crap! We have a two and a half year old. (Remember how important those half years were when you were a kid? “I’m not 6, I’m 6 AND A HALF.” Yeah, I feel like that now!) Here’s all the latest on Frances at two and a half.


Vital Statistics: At your 30 month check up last week, you weighed 23 pounds and were 34 inches long. You are not gaining weight as quickly as your pediatrician would like, so we’re back to “figure out how to get as many calories in this kid as possible” mode. You are not a picky eater, but you don’t eat a ton of anything, so we need to make sure everything you eat packs a good caloric punch. For now that means lots of full fat dairy, peanut butter, and “Dr. Corder milk” (aka, Pediasure) every night after dinner. Luckily you really like the Pediasure.

we've entered the skinned knees phase of childhood

What’s New: You are such a KID now a days. Just what I envision when I think of a kid – running around, active, engaged, (mostly) happy, into everything with messy clothes and skinned knees. Just in the past month you seem to have passed one of those invisible age lines that always catch us parents by surprise. One day we just wake up and you are older.


Toddler Skills: You have your colors DOWN. This really helps when you tells us: “I want that” while pointing vaguely in the direction of half a room’s worth of stuff. Now at least we can narrow what you want down by color.

serious about exercising

Moments to Remember:

You are very in to exercising these days (this is clearly an activity at daycare) and you like to show us your muscles (holding your arm up in the standard flex pose).

You are very helpful these days. Chores that you are good at: putting your clothes in the hamper, throwing things away in the trash, mixing/stirring food items, cleaning up your toys (sometimes), rinsing dishes, shelling black-eyed peas.

You have this nonsense phrase that you like to say a lot: “challa palla” (someone tell me if something like this means something in Spanish!) You often answer challa palla to questions (What song should we sing? What book should we read, etc.?) The other day you and your Mommy had a whole long nonsense conversation starting with challa palla and it was hilarious.


Likes: Spray parks! After two years of being terrified of them, you now find the SO, SO fun. We go several times a week. You like being outside in general: playing in the front yard, going for a walk, visiting the playground – all are good fun. Also, thankfully for us, despite your big kid transformation, you still like to snuggle.


Dislikes: Being two and a half? Tantrums have definitely gotten more frequent in the past month and they are now often of the total and complete meltdown variety. It’s gotten harder to prevent them (you used to be much easier to distract), and I can’t always tell WHY they are happening. I think being this age must be hard sometimes. Also, your two year molars are still coming in, so that may be making you a little more on edge than usual.


Adventures: We went to Grandma and Pop Pop’s farm for the 4th of July. You saw chickens, goats, dogs, baby calves at the dairy, and one very fun small town 4th of July parade. Oh, and the big highlight – Grandma and Pop Pop of course.



Toddler Reads: Potty Training June 25, 2014

Filed under: Kids Books — cransell @ 12:13 pm
Tags: ,

Let me tell you: there are A LOT of really mediocre books about using the potty out there in the world. Here are a few that I didn’t HATE.


Diapers are Not Forever. Written by Elizabeth Verdick. Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen. (2008).
PREACH, Ms Verdick. Diapers ARE NOT forever. Cute and simple board book about growing up and learning to use the potty.

Everyone Poops. Written and Illustrated by Taro Gomi. (1977).
The classic, and rightfully so to my mind. Takes poop from the realm of YUCK to totally normal. Plus you get to say poop a lot, which always amusing to toddlers.

Go Girl, Go Potty! Written and Illustrated by Emily Bolam. (2006).
Potty training with flaps. (Flap books make everything more amusing!) A silly look at who uses the potty (Spoiler alert: giraffes do not, little girls do). There is also a boy version, if that is more appropriate in your house.


Oh no! Gotta go, Number 2! Written by Susan Middleton Elya. Illustrated by Lynne Avril. (2007).
This probably has the most “plot” of any of the potty training books. A little girl goes on a picnic with her parents. She pees before she leaves home and doesn’t drink anything while out, but soon remembers that “there’s more than one reason to sit on the pot.” Emergencia! Written in English, with scattered Spanish vocabulary. There is also an earlier book with the same girl about needing to pee, but I think this is the stronger of the two.

Potty. Written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli. (2010).
Patricelli has written dozen of board books about popular toddler topics. Yummy Yucky is a favorite of ours, and Potty features the same mostly bald, gender ambiguous baby. Let’s call the kid Pat. Baby contemplates peeing in the diaper, but choose to go on the potty instead. GOOD CHOICE, baby!

Time to Pee! Written and illustrated by Mo Willems.
Willems, author of Knuffle Bunny and the popular Elephant and Piggie books puts his great talents toward the topic of potty time. Specifically what to do when you get that “funny feeling” that lets you know you need to pee. If you buy the book, you get a potty chart and stickers, but we just got it out of the library, and that suited us fine.


Totally Two: June June 24, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:19 pm


What’s New: We went on vacation at the end of May and you slept in a Big Girl Bed! You are still in the crib at home, but you did really well.


Toddler Skills: POTTY! Oh, my gosh are you amazing at the potty. We did an intensive three day, don’t leave the house potting training weekend at the beginning of the month, and you have done so well. You are 95% accident free, you tell us when you need to go potty, you mostly wake up dry. Your mommies are crazy proud.


Moments to Remember:

Pulling up at our house after driving home from vacation: “Frances, look! Where are we?” Sobbing Frances: “I want my vacation house.” Don’t we all, kid. Don’t we all.

While driving you to daycare one day, from the backseat I hear you talking to your Minnie Mouse doll: “Oh, Minnie, you fall down? It’s okay, your mommy here.”

At baseball on Sunday: “Look at me. I’m tired.” It’s hard to miss a nap these days.

There is this rhyming book about cars (Cars Galore) that we checked out of the library recently and that gets read a lot at bedtime. You LOVE the last line: “Someday YOU’LL drive.” You love to pretend to drive in the front seat of our car.


Likes: Frozen peas (I think this is a teething thing). Dresses, oh my word, dresses. Naps (after so long on the dislikes list, I am really savoring this one. I think potty training really takes it out of you). Bubbles. Your sand and water table and using it to get as dirty as humanly possible. Hugs and snuggles. Treats. Delaying bedtime. Butter.

Baseball love. #365photoproject #day283

Dislikes: Things that are too loud. Not getting treats on demand.


Adventures: The big adventure of the past month plus was, of course, our family vacation in Virginia Beach (where this Mama grew up). Grandma and Pop Pop, Uncle Jonathan and Auntie ‘Stina also stayed at “your vacation house” with us. Auntie Laurie (who still lives in Virginia Beach) visited most days. Great Grandma Jane even came down one day to hang out with you. It was all SO MUCH FUN.


You have also been to baseball FOUR times and celebrated your good bud Katherine’s 3rd birthday. Good times.


What I Read: May June 16, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 9:34 am

I read 3 books in May – 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction, all in print.

The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. The sequel to Sorcery & Cecelia. In this book, Cecelia and her cousin Kate go on a Grand Tour of Europe, with their new husbands, and run into a magical plot to control all of Europe. Not quite as good as the first, to me, but still great fun.

The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality edited by Avital Norman Nathman. A great collection of essays about motherhood from a wonderfully diverse group of contributors. I won a free copy of this book in a Facebook contest.

Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay by LLyn De Danaan. I don’t think I’ve ever read a history book by an anthropologist before, and I have to say that I liked it. De Danaan has definitely meticulously researched her subject matter, but she also takes some well-reasoned leaps of faith as she describes the life of Katie Gale, an Indian Woman, who married a European-American settler, on Oyster Bay, not too far from Olympia in the late 1800s. As an East Coast gal, I’m not as familiar with the history of the Pacific Northwest, so this was an interesting, leisurely read for me. I got a free copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.


Totally Two: May May 16, 2014

Filed under: Motherhood — cransell @ 12:55 pm


What’s New: You can put your shoes on by yourself now! Just the Mary Jane style ones so far, but sneakers are not far behind, I imagine. You are getting so big and so independent.

Frances can put her Mary Jane style shoes on all by herself now. Cue parental wonder, amazement, and the tiniest bit of "my baby is growing up" sadness #365photoproject #day246

Toddler Skills: You’ve been using sentences for a while, but I feel like it’s really picked up in the past month. You say pretty complex things now. It’s amazing.


Moments to Remember:

The other day you pretended to take a picture of yourself on an old cell phone and said “I cheese me.” Your Mommy and I totally cracked up. We think selfies should be called “I cheese mes” from now on.

On Mother’s Day, we all dressed up and went out to dinner. After we came home, the three of us were playing with the soccer ball in the front yard. You would stop playing and walk to me at say: “I like your dress” from time to time. I would say: “Thank you. I like your dress.” Then you would walk up to Mommy and say: “I like your shirt.” And Mommy would say: “Thank you. I like your dress.” It was so sweet and simple and lovely.

A few weekends ago, you and I were driving to the Giant to do our grocery shopping and we passed Meridian Pint. You looked out the window and said: “I want breakfast here. Me.” They sadly weren’t open yet, because proper visual recognition of our go-to brunch place probably would have gotten you some yummy breakfast otherwise!

You were watching Mary Poppins (of course) sometime in the last month, and the scene where Mr. Banks takes Jane and Michael to the bank. When the elderly bank chairman appeared on the screen, you pointed and him and said “Giant.” As he is not a particularly tall fellow, your Mommy and I were confused at first, but then Mr. Banks said: “That’s the chairman of the bank, the elder Mr Dawes. A giant in the world of finance.” Man, you do not miss a THING!

Last week, we arrived at daycare at the same time as one of your friends, walking in together, you guys spontaneously clasped hands and then my heart totally melted into a puddle.


Likes: Flowers. Putting on your shoes by yourself. Saying “Not your turn.” The Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market (they have toys). Baseball. Playgrounds (you have an eagle eye for them and will often shout “Playground” if we drive past one). Fruit of all varieties. Playing outside in the yard – baseball, soccer, “cooking” at the gas meter, blowing bubbles, coloring with sidewalk chalk. It’s all fun.

Dislikes: When your mommies sing along to music in the car (because you want to. See “Not your turn.” Not getting what you want. This is the cause of really all meltdowns – and boy can you really do a two-year-old tantrum like a pro.


It was grandparent-palooza this month. Grandma and Pop Pop came to visit in mid-April and you had a great time hanging out with them and showing off your playground skills. Then at the beginning of May, your Grammie came down and hung out with you while your mommies has a little overnight “trip” for their anniversary. You guys had a wonderful time together!


Also, baseball, the zoo, a trip to Port Discovery in Baltimore, and many playdates. Yay, friends!



What I Read: April May 6, 2014

Filed under: Random Reading — cransell @ 9:33 am

I read 6 books in April, 3 fiction and 3 non-fiction. All but one were in print.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown. The pirate tale you never knew you wanted – kickass female pirate captain with a social justice mission and a penchant for fine food kidnaps a chef. Great fun.

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. I have Thoughts about this book. It was good. It was sort of a contemplation on home cooking. Tamar Adler has cooked at various restaurants (including Chez Panisse), but this book is really focused on making food at home with a goal making home cooking seem doable – not with any tricks, just by saying, food doesn’t have be complicated, here is how you make basic things. Here is what to do if things go wrong. But not in a textbook sort of way, in a “meditations on cooking” sort of way. There is even a whole chapter about what she does when she doesn’t feel like cooking. I liked this book a lot (although I’m not sure it would be at all helpful if you don’t cook at all and are looking for a place to start). It seem perfectly focused for me – the home cook who follows a lot of recipes, but could use some help figuring out how to cook efficiently, not waste food and who needs things to be not too time consuming. I could see myself reading this again (which I very rarely say), when I need a little reinvigoration of my relationship with cooking. If you’ve read this, I would love to know what you think of it!

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. A fun little YA epistolary novel which combines Regency England and wizardry. A good escapist read.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Originally published in 1932, this is one of those “classics” which I’d never actually read. I was really missing out – Cold Comfort Farm is wonderful – smart and funny. It’s a parody of the brutal, dark novels from the previous decades that focused on rural families and their “natural” violent, incestuous state. Well worth reading.

The Kids Will Be Fine: Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Women by Daisy Waugh. I got this as an Early Reviewer book from LibraryThing and I expected to love it, but I just didn’t. I’m down the basic tenents: guilt-free motherhood, the basic okayness of kids these days, throw in a snarky Brit and I thought it would be a home run. But honestly? I found Waugh to be just as judgmental as the women she’s criticizing, and not especially funny about it. Meh.

Find Momo: A Photography Book by Andrew Knapp. A lovely, fun book of beautiful photographs, in which you can Find Momo (think Where’s Waldo, but with a cute border collie instead). I don’t keep many of the Early Reviewer books I receive, but I’m hanging on to this one.



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