Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Pork Purchase 2020

 Here's the update for this year's pig!

Pork Shoulder Picnic Roast 4, 15 pound

Pork Steak 2, 8 pounds

Pork Chops 12, 27 pounds

Hock 4, 10 pounds

Jowl 2, 4 pounds

Ham 4, 31 pounds

Ham Slices 6, 12.5 pounds

Neck bones 4, 4 pounds

Loin Roast 2, 8 pounds

 Butt Roast 5, 15 pounds

Country Ribs 2, 4 pounds

Side Pork 2, 21 pounds

Ground Pork 14 pounds

Liver 3, 4 pounds

Fat 16 pounds

I came up with 193 pounds, but the sheet says we had 199 pounds dressed.  Sorgs included the bladder for the kids again too.  Not sure why we didn't get spare ribs...most weights very similar to last year.

Costs to Sorgs: $75 butcher, $.65/lb cut, wrap and freeze, $10 hide disposal (new), $20 trucking for a total of $234.35.  Butcher was $55 last year and no hide fee, trucking went $5 too.  Two years ago butcher fee was $40, so major change in 2 years in  labor costs, the cut, wrap, freeze charge was the same last year, but that year was a big increase from 2018.

Costs to Ibelings: $150 

Total spent: $384.35

Total weight: 199 pounds        

So $1.93/pound for everything.

Removing fat and liver:  $2.14/pound


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Meat Chickens 2020

Well, it is an odd year, but what isn't odd is that we need some meat in our freezer.  Our meat chickens from the fall are just about gone and there are meat disruptions in the world, so we decided to do a spring batch and a fall batch this year.

The spring batch breaks down as follows:

30 birds ordered, 31 delivered, 29 made it to butcher day.  The other two died at about 3 weeks when there was a cold snap and they were smothered.

We started just before 7 and were done by 9.  I got it all fussed over, cleaned up and done-done well before noon.  It was so smooth and FAST this year.  Levi, Garrett and Evan did the hatcheting, Dad did the plucking, Marcee, me, Anna, and Kelby did the eviscerating.  Auggie Walsh came and learned and did a little gutting too.

Roasting birds: 161 pounds
Offal: 3 lbs, 4 oz gizzards, 3 lbs, 9 oz livers, 1 lb, 4 oz hearts
Total weight: 169 pounds

Chicks:$53.50  (approximately)
Feed: 3 bags of Farm &Fleet meat producer, 5 bags organic DeLongs  $180 (approximately)
Total costs:$233.50

Breakdown:  $1.45/pound (meat only), $1.38/pound (includes offal)

Next up:  50 birds coming at the end of July!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Food Preservation 2019 (or the year that wasn't)

So, this was quite a down year for preserving food in our home!  I started feeling bad in late Feb and by May I was a mess and practically immobile.  I was diagnosed with RA in June and it took until Aug to see a rheumatologist.  Basically, this year was about getting sick and being sick and working to get better.  With my hands out of commission I had much less ability to can.  With going on the AIP I had much less that I could eat of what I typically can.  With the wet spring, late planting, wet fall, hard harvest there was just much less I could have grown or canned or frozen and I think God was just letting me rest and not feel bad about it!

So here is a very much shortened list:

Strawberries 6 jars sliced, 1 gallon sliced, 1 gallon whole
Mulberries 1 gallon
Blueberries 1 gallon, 5 quarts
Kale 2 bags
Green Beans 5 bags
Zucchini Butter  4 containers
Zucchini 5 bags shredded
Garlic Scapes 3 containers of paste
Chimchurri  2 1/2 pints
Pesto 12 containers
Pasta Sauce 10 containers, 1 large container

Tomatoes 10 quarts diced, 12 pints sauce, 3 pints crushed

We bought a whole hog from Ibelings, 1/2 steer from Wundrows, raised our meat chickens, and got honey from Staubers.  No maple syrup tapping, ate from what we did plant and stocked up at the farmer's market and Clinton produce stands.  Hoping that I'll be back at it more so in 2020 as I feel better and hopefully a better growing year as well.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What I Read 2020

1. The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake   This book is not the one I would have chosen to start my year with if I'd known more about it.  It was a top 20 book of 2019 on a list, but it turns out that while this YA book had lots of beautiful writing it would not be one I'd pick for a top list and I would not encourage my kids to read.  Supposedly a retelling of 12th Night, involves a long ago ship wreck, a girl named Violet with her uncle in Maine, her suicidal brother in treatment, parents in NYC, an aquarium, and the new friends she makes.  It also involves drug use, promiscuity, fluid sexuality, lying to parents and under age drinking....and beautiful language. I hope Julia Drake uses her talent for better stories because I'd read her writing, but really disliked her storyline.

*2. Lois Lenski's Christmas Stories by Lois Lenski   This is a collection of poems and Christmas stories from some of her regional books.  There is even a little 'modern day' play about the shepards and wisemen.  Very cute, lots of illustrations, glad to own it!

*3. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande  This was on a recommended list and I loved his book Being Mortal so I though it would be good.  It was!   This was an earlier book of his, but now I want to read all the ones he's written.  He is well researched, scientific, but totally relatable.  Checklists turn out to be a literally saving grace, but other than aviation people don't like adding them to their lives.  This book particularly focused on medicine and how much better surgical rates are with 3 very short, less than 2 minutes total checklists.  He also touches on the finance world and holds up aviation and many stories from it as the example to follow..

*4. The Day the World Came to Town  9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede   Such an interesting read about the best in humanity!  Gander had an airport with big runways and is Newfoundland is the first land most planes come to after crossing the Atlantic.  Because of American airspace being closed on 9/11 twenty eight planes with almost 7,000 crew and passengers landed there in a very short span and stayed for about 5 days.  This small town responded in the most heroic way by throwing open their homes, their buildings, and their lives.  They made people feel welcome, gave the sheets off their beds, stores gave their merchandise away and just made the best of a hard situation.  Hearing the stories was inspiring and heartwarming, to say the least.

*5.The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal  This was a really good read in some ways and in others I would get a bit lost and felt like I'd be more into it if I was a hipster who knew the ins and outs of craft brewing and such.  The story revolves around two sisters, Edith and Helen.  They grow up on a dairy farm, but Helen heads off to college, eventually convinces her dad to give her the farm,which she sells and uses to finance starting a brewery.  Edith gets married, has two children, works like crazy for a very meager existence, especially after her husband dies and her son and daughter in law die leaving her and her teen age grand daughter to try and make it.  Eventually that grand daughter also becomes a brewer and you can see that the paths will merge at some point.  Overall a good read.

**6. The River by Peter Heller  Wowza this book!  It was one of those read faster and faster because you just wanted to know what will happen next kind of books.  Two college friends on a canoe trip, roughing it, really up in the wilderness.  They suddenly realize there is a huge fire coming and know that they'll need to make time to get ahead of it enough.  That next day in an odd fog they hear fighting and figure it isn't their business, but after the man shows up at their next camp alone they decide to go back and find the woman.  They do find her, but realize something is really wrong and the job then becomes to not get killed by him, keep her alive and not starve all while trying to avoid being burned alive.  A pair of drunks get involved and there is serious tragedy as well.  Gripping is an understatement.

*7. The Tale of Gockel, Hinkel, & Gackeliah by Clemens Brentano  I read this for the translated book month of RA.  It was written in German and is a fairy tale or fable about a family with names that translate into rooster, hen and egg.  There is actually a second family with similar names and, as you might guess, a rooster, a hen and their 30 chicks also factor into the story. Lots of it is in verse and overall it is a neat story. I've wanted to read it and am glad to read one off my shelves!

*8. Better by Atul Gawande  I'm working on reading all of his books as they are interesting and very readable too.  This one focused on how things in medicine get better and it isn't always how you'd think.  Often it is just doing what you already know better vs. trying to innovate and/or do experimental science to push the envelope.  He talks about vaccines, c-sections, cystic fibrous and more.  It is so interesting to hear him talk about malpractice and how getting better means admitting there are issues that need to be fixed and mistakes that get made.

*9. The Editor by Steven Rowley   This book was fairly riveting, even though there were times when it was a little too --something--for me.  I think the main character, James gets too crazed and introspective during parts of the book.  The premise is that he has written a novel and Jackie Kennedy Onnasis is the editor who decides to work with him.  It is fascinating seeing her in this way, even if this is fiction. There is a family drama (the book is a fictionalized account of his family), he learns his father wasn't really his father, we learn about why the father who raised him is out of the picture, but actually isn't and we see way too much gay guy stuff.  I did really enjoy it and kept wanting to push through it faster, which isn't always the case.

*10. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane   Another good one.  Kate and Peter grow up next door and it is pretty obvious they are meant to be in each other's lives forever.  But Peter has some issues at home...a dad who is a cop, but drinks too much and a mother who has  mental issues of some sort.  Things come to a head when Peter's dad comes home, his mom grabs the gun, he runs next door and Kate's dad (also a cop) heads over to help.  Anne shoots Francis and their lives all change.  We follow Peter and his Dad moving in with his uncle, his dad leaving town, his mom in a mental hospital, her rejecting him, and Peter eventually going to college, reconnecting with Kate, their marriage, his becoming a cop and eventually his drinking and losing his job and then starting to recover.  We see the damage that keeps on, but we also see reconnection (even with Anne) and a whole lot of love and healing too.

*11. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall  This was a slow moving book that I read pretty quickly, but it still felt like I read it slowly.  Two couples from when they first meet until the passing of one of them over 50 years later.  We see James who comes from a poor, alcoholic background.  He wants to change the world right. now. and will push through anything to make it happen.  He becomes a pastor because it is what feels right even as he pushes and questions, it also impresses his in-laws.  He marries Nan who is a minister's daughter and has a strong faith, a consistent one, who loves everyone and wants to be a wife, a mother and a minister's wife.  She struggles terribly through miscarriages, but does eventually get everything her heart desires.  Lily is strong, tough, an orphan and doesn't feel like she is connected to anyone, she also doesn't believe in God, but still marries a minister.  Charles is solid, loving, an intellectual who fell into his faith quite accidentally.  They all minister together (well, not really Lily) but the weaving in and out of their lives, children, ministry is just fascinating.  Their faiths ebb and flow and grow and shrink and yet they are all together in it, like it or not.  Enjoyed this a lot.

*12. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris  Another fast, but touching read and this one based on a true story!  Lale goes to Auschwitz in an attempt to keep his family safe.  While there he becomes the man who tattoos numbers on all incoming prisoners.  He falls in love with Gita and is determined that they will survive and have a life together. Against all odds they do, raising a son who writes a note at the end of the book.  We see him collect jewels from the ladies who go through all the coats and use those to buy sausage, chocolate and even medicine from two day workers.  There is terrible heartbreak when all the gypsys living with him are taken to the crematorium and there are moments of relief when he and Gita spend time together.  There was a movie written before the book, so now I'll have to see it too!

*13. 1492 Genevieve Foster  This is such a great little book.  I love her writing style as is, but this is a very quick read focusing on Columbus and events around his life, but specifically his voyage to the new world.  She also touches on some African kings, other explorers, the Incas and Aztecs, as well as China and Japan.

*14. The Spring of Butterflies by He Ligi  This is a collection of fables and short stories that was collected from peoples who aren't Chinese, but live in that area and were written in Chinese.  They were then translated to English and he collected them in one place.  So they have been through multiple translations and the author purposely left some of the interesting syntax in.  It was a pretty quick read and the stories were very much the typical fable type.  Worth reading, done for the RA mini challenge.

*15. Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr  This is the author of All the Light We Cannot See, which is a great book too.  This one is about his move to Italy to work at the American Academy (which basically sounds like a chance for artists and writers to live in Italy, do a little work, but mostly just live in Rome!)  He moves with his 6 month old twins and his wife and the narrative follows the four seasons of living in Rome. He is there when Pope John Paul II dies and Benedict is elected.  We see his boys grow up, see him struggle with language, with the richness of history, with exhaustion, an illness for his wife and just life.  It was a good travel, life type memoir.

*16. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  I knew nothing about him going in, but he is a well known comedian who is South African and was raised by his black mother, but knew his white father as well.  By being born he was proving that his parents had broken the law as there could be no relations between whites and blacks under apartheid.  His mother was a force to be sure and we learn of his crazy antics, many illegal activities, most seemingly harmless, and about his abusive step father as well.  His life story is pretty amazing and much of his success is due to his ability to fit in everywhere and speak so many languages, even as he feels like he fits no where.

*17.Complications by Atul Gawande  I think I've now read all his books!  This was the first and you can see the genesis of some of his future books in the stories and writing.  This one focuses on the uncertainties of the medical field, but has a lot less of the studies and specifics that some of his future writing has.  It is very much the stories of uncertainty, the unexplained, the guesses and then the follow up as to what happened in many cases.  His early days as a doctor and writer, very enjoyable.

*18. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein  Probably should be two stars.  This books was just confusing enough for just long enough that the power of the story sneaks up on you.  Julie and Maddie are girls (one English and one Scottish) during WWII.  Maddie is a pilot who works her way up to ferrying planes, then secret ops people and finally takes one over to France.  Julie becomes a secret op and is the one taken to France.  The story is told by Julie first (but writing it as a confession of sorts when captured by the Nazis and doing so with Maddie as the main character) and later by Maddie while hidden by and then working for the resistance in France.  The end of Julie's life is just heart breaking as it is Maddie who kills her to save her being taken for experimentation by the Nazis.  Gritty, lovely and heartbreaking are all apt descriptions of this book.

*19. Sold by Patricia McCormick  This is a YA book, but wow, such a heavy topic.    Lakshmi is a 13 year old girl living with her mother, baby brother and alcoholic, gambling addicted step father in Nepal.  When there is nothing left to sell and the monsoon washes away their rice field and then their home her step-father sells her.  She has offered to work in the city as a maid and that is where she and her mother think she is going, but instead she gets sold as a sex slave in India. The book reads really fast even as the entire thing is just hard to read.  The characters are so real, the naivete is so heart wrenching and the situation feels so helpless. But there is hope at the end as she finally gets brave enough to leave with a group of Americans who are helping girls escape, even though she's been told they will make her life worse.  Worth reading for teens and adults.

*20. The Lovely War by Julie Berry   A WWI book that has an interesting premise.  The gods have come down to argue a court case of sorts because Aphrodite has been caught with Ares, who is the brother of her husband.  In the end we find out she has set this all up to make her husband see that he needs to allow himself to really fall in love with her. Why are war and love drawn together?  Will love be the ultimate victor?  Yes, of course yes! The story centers on two couples--piano playing Hazel and her beau, sharp shooter James.  They met at a dance right before he ships out, but their love grows through a quick visit in Paris, strengthens even after his mental collapse and her near death experience and significant scaring following a train bombing.  Collete, who lost her love and entire family when the German's destroyed her Belgium home town. Aubrey is a black jazz playing American.  They fall in love over music and through the racism and war they come back to each other again.  Hazel and Collete meet via their work for the YMCA and thus the four find themselves all wrapped together by the end.  Good stuff.

*21. He Wouldn't Be King The Story of Simon Bolivar by Nina Brown Baker  I took forever to read this as my history biography, but it was my first Baker book and about someone so important to history that I knew almost nothing about.  Very readable, very thorough and  quite a man!  The George Washington/Abraham Lincoln of South America is really too little for all Bolivar did to free so many people from Spanish rule.  It is amazing all he packed into a life that ended too early at age 47.

*22. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (graphic novel, full original dialogue) Feb challenge for RA and this is a graphic novel I can put up with.  I think I'd still rather just read the play, as the panels can be distracting, but I appreciate this one for having been done to the full writing and not dumbed down.

 *23. The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali  This had rave reviews, but took me a bit to really get into...once I did it was a great read.  It starts with us in the present where Roya is married to Walter, living in America and Bahman is in an assisted living home there too, which is a total shock.  We quickly move to the past and slowly wind our way to learn their whole story.  Roya and Bahman fall in love at the Stationary Shop right as Iran is undergoing political upheaval in the 1950s.  His mentally unstable mother (not surprising as she had aborted her baby by the stationary store owner, then lost 4 other babies before Bahman was born) drives them apart right before their wedding.  Roya moves to America with her sister, getting college degrees and finding husbands here.  Bahman marries the girl his mother picked out, but eventually comes to America as well. Their love never died and the conclusion is a sweet way of getting closure for them.

**24. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb   This book was highly recommended and it really was great.  Gottlieb is a therapist and this book is about her patients, her life and the therapist she sees after a sudden dumping by Boyfriend.  Wendell and her work with him is very interesting, but the stories of her patients and the history of therapy, theories of it, and how it impacts the therapist and the person in therapy are all central to the story.  Over 400 pages, but reads so quickly and is so interesting that it flew by.

*25. The Girls of the Atomic City by Denise Kiernan   I was so interested to read this because I've visited there when selling books and then we did as a family as well.  The book did drag at times, but it covered a lot more of the decision process, backgrounds and daily lives of many women who worked at Oak Ridge.  The book follows many of them from their homes through the entire Oak Ridge time during the war and does wrap up what happened after as well.  Lots of details mixed in about the work being done, some about the politics of the time and the fall out (literally) after the bomb was dropped.  A good read, but like others I felt like it could have been a bit tighter.

*26. The Cats of Roxville Station by Jean Craighead George  What a different little book by her!  This focuses on Rachet who joins a colony of feral cats.  The cats all have names and are fed by a lady while watched over by a young foster boy.  We learn a ton about the life of the cats, about barn owls, and see life and death and connection between this cat and the boy who becomes her human.

27. Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman  An interesting cook book, unfussy, lots of lemon juice, olive oil and fatty dips.  I think only 1 or two recipes would work with AIP though so it isn't really great for me right now.

*28. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler  This is a toss up for me between one and two stars.  Such an interesting book and although I found it on a book list of 2019 it was actually published in the 1970s.  Dana is married to Kevin, she is black, he is white and they are writers who have just bought a house and are settling in when their lives turned upside down.  She is 'called back' by Rufus a white, slave owning ancestor of hers.  Each time throughout his life as he is in mortal danger starting when he is drowning as a young child she is taken back in time to save him.  She arrives as she is with whatever she is wearing and stays there until she finds herself in mortal danger and goes back to her own time.  Although she was sometimes there as long as 8 months, or in Kevin's case 5 years the modern time has only moved by a few hours at most.  As she moves in and out of the life of the plantation and the people there over the years she is always having to balance staying alive and navigating all the different relationships with her own will and place in the world.  Such an interesting read and a strong historical fiction to see what the world of the south was like.

**29. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow   This started out slow for me, but as I kept reading I fell into the world (worlds?) of January.  She's been raised by a rich gentleman while her father travels the world collecting things for Mr. Locke.  As she enters her teens she is more and more stifled, but Jane comes to stay, sent from her father.  Her Ten Thousand book journal starts to relay the real story of her life and the doors between worlds and it all takes a very intense turn as she has to start running for her life.  A mental institution, the boy she realizes she loves, Jane and her faithful companion, Bad are all a part of her survival and growing into the traveler her mother knew she'd be.  The doors between worlds, the creepy Mr. Locke and The Society, the strength of her word writing and abilities to open doors, the love story of her parents and the connection of their family through the years and the worlds is not to be missed.

*29. The Little Giant Stephen A. Douglas by Jeannette Covert Nolan  The Messner biography of Douglas written in overall glowing terms about him.  I really enjoyed it for the most part, but didn't fall in love like I did with GW Carver.  Lots of the connection between him and Lincoln and even transcripts of their debates in  the back.  I never knew much about him, but he obviously made a big impact on our country in the time leading up to the Civil War.

*30. Come as You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski    A book about women's sexuality and the science behind it.  Mostly focused on the fact that we are normal, our bodies are normal,  we need to turn the turn offs off and the turn ons on, focus on the context and not get caught up in the 'shoulds.'  Interesting, although it isn't written from a Christian or monogamous perspective it was worth reading.

*31. Cook Once Eat All Week by Cassy Joy Garcia   A GF cookbook that has a nice premise, but isn't as useful for us as I'd hoped.  Helpful for those who don't really cook and need someone to hold their hand through easy meal prep each week.  Would be great for those first trying to make more homemade dinners that aren't terribly fussy.  I did find Loaded Cauliflower casserole, Italian Beef Rolls (in cabbage leaves!) and Carribbean Plantain Bowls that I hope to try. 

*32. Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie  The first time I've read a book by Ms. Christie and it was a good read.  A murder mystery with an interesting, odd character at the center.  He invites a 4 people he believes murdered people in their past and 4 people who solve mysteries (PI, author, Scotland Yard, police) to dinner where he gets murdered while bridge is being played.  The four team up to find the murderer and in the process figure out who they have each murdered in the past and how they did it.  In the end it seems solved and then it flips one last time.  Quicker and easier to read than I expected but an interesting change of pace.

*33. Soldier Doctor by Clara Ingram Judson This is the story of William Gorgas.  He was determined to be in the army and was denied admission to West Point.  He eventually got around that by becoming a doctor and entering that way.  He is one of the doctors that discovered that mosquitoes are responsible for yellow fever and figured out how to stop the hatching of them.  He was also involved in keeping people safe during the building of the Panama Canal.  It is a good elementary, maybe MS biography with a rosy glow to it.

*34. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell  This story focuses primarily on Daniel, who finds love with Claudette and lives in Ireland with her, her son from an earlier relationship and their two children.  We also learn his back story including his first wife and two children who he is kept from seeing and the woman he was with in college who ended up dying of an eating disorder after an abortion of his baby. We learn about Claudette and her rise to fame as a movie star, her planned disappearance and hiding in Ireland where Daniel stumbles upon her and her son while picking up the ashes of his Grandfather.  We move forward and see his step-son's daughter, his divorce from his wife and a possible reconciliation at the end.  There is a constant moving in time and between characters which was really challenging for me quite a while, but in the end I was invested and was cheering for Daniel to pull himself together and for them to reconnect.

*35. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye  This was a reread, but it must have been the list that got lost as I didn't see it on any of my lists.  Highly influenced by Jane Eyre and written in the style of an older novel.  It is odd to call it delightful, but it rather is, even as the body count piles up.  Jane lives with her depressed mother on the estate she is told is hers to inherit someday.  The aunt and cousin treat them terribly and Jane kills her cousin (later we find out her half brother) after her mother dies and he assaults her.  She is sent to a school where she ends up killing the headmaster to save a friend.  Life continues on in this fashion until she returns to the estate as a governess, loves the little girl and her guardian, more bodies pile up, mysteries are solved and in the end love is found with the person who did inherit the estate.

*36. Holy Holidays The Catholic Origins of Celebrations by Greg Tobin A simple, through the year look at both faith based and secular holidays.  Some background on how they came to be and explanations of many terms and feasts that are part of our Catholic faith.  Good overview of the liturgical calendar as well.  Overall fairly simple, some biblical quotes and quotes from other authors.  I wish there had been more depth and a few things I'm not sure he really hit on correctly (description of confirmation, etc).  However, this would be a great intro to those not familiar with Catholicism.

**37. The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer   This one gets two stars because it made me cry :)  Alice is mom to an autistic child and a very gifted one, married and works hard to hold her family in a tightly choreographed dance that keeps Eddie okay.  When her Babcia has a stroke she is asked (via technology since she can no longer speak) to travel to Poland and bring her peace.  Her mom and husband aren't in favor, but in 2 days she is on a plane.  This is all interspersed with chapters of Alina and her life in Poland as it is occupied by the Nazis.  We meet Tomsz, her fiance and her family as they work a tiny farm and try to survive.  Tomasz comes back from university and is working with the resistence, hiding in the forest on the hill.  His little sister is now being raised by Alina's older sister and husband as their father was killed in the square as an example by the Nazis.  So much heart break, so much loss, so many loose ends that all need to be solved.  It wasn't hard to see how it would come together, but it was well done with lots of heart.  A few funny mistakes (written by an Australian) since Americans don't have tins of soup and at times the marriage challenges seemed over simplified, but somehow still real.  Enjoyed it a lot.

*38. Gerrit and the Organ by Hilda van Stockum   A sweet, younger book by van Stockum!  Gerrit is being raised by his toy fixing Dutch grandfather when he decides to become friends with the grumpy organ grinder, even if he never knows it.  When the organ grinder is missing he seeks him out at home, discovers him sick, finds him help and then Gerrit takes his organ to earn money for him.  The sweet caper of Gerrit and his friends, their meeting the queen, the happy ending for the organ grinder and more make it a great little book for good readers.

*39. I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka &Martin Ganda  This was a touching book and a pretty quick read.  Caitlin is a typical upper middle class, spoiled 7th grader who writes to a pen pal in Zimbabwe.  Martin is the top kid in his school so he gets her letter and a back and forth is born for years.  Eventually Caitlin comes to appreciate how very different Martin's life is (she sends pictures and asks for them having no idea that his family has none and it costs a lot to get them.)  As they go through HS her family starts supporting his family, paying school fees and eventually helps him come to America for college, finding him a full ride scholarship.  He has done his part by staying #1 in his class, getting a scholarship to the best HS in Zimbabwe and being very persistent in  his efforts to find a way when none seems apparent.  A touching story of the power of friendship and kindness and a wake up call about what real poverty is around the world.

*40. Born in the Year of Courage by Emily Crofford  A really good historical fiction book about Manjiro, a boy who was lost at sea off of Japan.  He and his friends are rescued, taken to HI and then to New England as he becomes a very capable whaler and heads out on further voyages.  He eventually earns enough on ships and in gold in CA to go back to Japan.  He is at risk of being killed as Japan was closed and killed anyone who left and came back or just tried to enter at all.  He doesn't get killed and eventually helps to translate for Commodore Perry, which opens Japan to outside trading.  Very good, later elem/MS reading level.

*41. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid  This was an interesting read...I wanted to read it fast so I could know what was going to happen, but I also struggled with some of the dialogue.  There was a lot of slang between the girlfriends and sometimes I didn't know if it was fun and playful or less friendly.  Emira is a babysitter for Alix and Peter and completely loves Briar, age 3, her main charge.  She meets Kelly during a crazy incident at a grocery store at midnight when she is taking care of Briar while her parents deal with the police and their egged house, which happened because Peter made an offhanded, but not cool comment on air at his TV job.   Kelly and Emira start dating, Alix wants to have Emira be a best friend/daughter type relationship and it gets weirder from there.  Kelly and (then) Alex dated in HS, things went WAY wrong when people showed up at Alex's house to party and she called the cops.  Kelly obviously has some type of fetish for blacks, only dates black women, sided with the kid who lost his scholarship while running from those cops and is just really wanting Emira not to work for Alex.  Alex has some issues of her own including loss of her identity as a New Yorker, small business owner, and wanting to envelop Emira.  When Emira and Kelly come to Thanksgiving the connection is found out and it is all crazy!

*42. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow  The story of Farrow's 2017 reporting for NBC on the Harvey Weinstien sexual abuse scandals.  This is what also led to the expose of Matt Lauer as well as many other top execs at NBC.  His story never ran there, he was railroaded and told to stand ddown as it got closer to having it wrapped up and ready to air.  Eventually it came out in print at The New York Times and then went global with NBC still trying to act like they didn't kill the story, that Ronan didn't have a story or sources, which was all false.  The book was long and sometimes the huge volume of names was overwhelming to keep track of, but overall it was a read that made me feel very sick about the incredible power of certain people and the abuse they get away with because of it.

*43. Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini   Such a good book about WWII.  Historical fiction, but very much rooted in the history, less in the fiction.  Strong Wisconsin connection (author lives in Madison) because Mildred Fish Harnack is from Wisconsin and meets her German husband when he is at Madison studying.  They marry, he moves back, she works to save money and eventually joins him in Germany.  We see their lives and the lives of other intellectual women and men as they intersect.  The timeline goes from just as Hitler is becoming known until the discovery of their resistance network and the execution of all, save one of the network.  The viewpoint changes every chapter, but the time keeps moving forward.  It works, isn't as choppy as I feared, but I did struggle to remember which person was which at times.  Sara, the Jewish woman, Greta, Martha, their husbands and others...  Really good read that shows the slow creep and the terrible consequences of the Nazis.

*44. We Were There with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea by Robert N. Webb  I really enjoy these little historical fiction stories.  This one focuses on Pam and Tommy and their family.  Their father is off to fight in the war and Tommy runs away to go after him.  Pam and Mother are home where they meet Florence Nightingale.  Nurses are considered low class and Mother isn't wanting to even have her to tea, but eventually comes to love her.  The ladies (and 40 other nuns/nurses) all head to the war zone to find the men and nurse the sick.  We see how bad of a situation it was, but Ms. Nightingale whips everything into shape, is well loved by all the soldiers (even if the doctors didn't want the nurses at first) and in the end the family is all reunited.

**45. Hitty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field  A delightful Newberry book from many years ago.  Hitty is a doll carved out of strong mountain ash and this book follows her adventures from her first owner through her first hundred + years until she is in an antique shop currently.  It is written from her perspective as she is writing down her memories.  She has had quite a life of adventure, traveling the world and seeing many cultures, many owners and many changes of clothes.

*46. Bluegrass Champion by Dorothy Lyons One of the Famous Horse Stories books.  Follows two sisters as they work to bring their farm after the loss of their parents.  A saddlebred story about a pinto that causes a big sensation, not really in a good way for a while.  Some romance as the older girl is engaged to a young vet, but won't marry him until the farm is distinguished in its own right.  Build up, drama and a fairy tale ending :)

**47. Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones    This is a sweet story of Twig and her adventures!  We meet her neighbors on all four floors, we see her yard and the majority of the story focuses on her adventures with Elf in the little tin can house.  She sits on eggs in Mrs. Sparrow's nest, meets the Fairy Queen and more.  The lesson she learns about imagination being the magic that makes a story and that every story has a beginning and an end, which is often the beginning of another story make for a deeper level than some children may grasp.  Very sweet, silly and perfect for kids with great imaginations or those who might need a bit of a spark.

**48. The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher  A good story about a Wyoming ranch boy who goes to Europe with his mom and still in the army dad just after WWII.  He is sent to spend time with his uncle while his parents are working and stumbles into a plot involving his mother's family home, a German spy, buried treasure and danger that has been lurking since his time in Paris with his parents.  The plane his uncle is building and the huge amount of French that you learn while reading make for a great book for middle schoolers and above.  

**49. The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden   Totally not what I expected, but such a good book!  Harlan's life is unbelievable...he becomes a drugged out jazz musician who plays with Satchmo and heads to Europe to play (and this is skipping over all his growing up and connecting with a Jewish man who is living as a black man and playing jazz too.)   He and his buddy head overseas, not knowing he has fathered twins (and probably more kids with his wild ways.)  They are living the life and about to come back from Paris when the Nazis invade and he ends up in a concentration camp where he eventually watches his friend be murdered by the wife of the director.  He does survive, comes home a broken man, ends up in prison for the drugs he was selling in the hospital he was working in and finally gets released.  When he and his parents are driving home they are in a terrible crash and both his parents die.  He moves in with his mom's best friend (former blues singing start) and after a decade she connects him to a man who helps him find a job as a super in an apartment building where he eventually, accidentally finds out that a 'man' there is actually the woman from the concentration camp.  The book ends with him killing her, confessing and the police detective letting him out the back door with cash because his wife is a survivor too.   Lots of real people in the book and it seems that is based on some real people from the author's life too.  A great read.

*50. Beyond the Birds and the Bees by Greg and Lisa Popcak  A good resource for raising sexually whole and Holy kids (their tag line.)  I liked that it was from a Catholic point of view and there was a lot of great parenting info that goes beyond just how to teach kids about their sexuality, chastity, what the church believes, etc.   Worth reading, should read more of these as we are going to be in the thick of puberty before we know it and that isn't the time to just begin the conversations :)

*51. Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos  A very sweet read about Clare and Cornelia.  Cornelia manages a coffee shop and is obsessed with old movies.  She meets Martin, he looks like Cary Grant and they hit it off, but it never turns to love for her.  However, when she meets his 11 year old daughter she falls hard and fast for the girl, who has a mother that has just disappeared after dropping her at the side of the road.  The mom has always been wonderful, but has spiraled with mental problems and Martin doesn't know how to really be a father and connect.  He ends up dying on a road trip, Teo (Cornelia's childhood friend who is married to her sister) is like a surrogate father and eventually love becomes central to all three of them.  Mom comes back, the fairy tale is complete, etc, etc.  It is a good read, lots of interesting, witty dialogue and references and emotions galore as well.

*52.The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman  This was a quick read, very modern in feel and some good emotional tugs.  Lilian is a young widow who lost her husband in a traffic accident in front of her house after an argument with him.  She lost her mind for a while, but is making her way with her two daughters, her sister, her rather harsh mom and her work as an illustrator.  She loses her job, but find some great freelance work and takes a gardening class to help her work.  The teacher is wonderful and brings her back to the world of dating, the class connects, people fall in love, all kinds of great things happen.  There was a fair amount of swearing and lots of current references, so this will not stand the test of time, but it was a good escape for this crazy time.

*53. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith  This was almost a 2 star book by the same author as 101 Dalmatians.  Young Cassandra and her sister, brother, father, step-mother and another young man all live in crazy poverty in a castle.  The story is told through her writings in three different journals over the course of about 6 months.  We see her father who had a huge selling book, but hasn't worked since; her sister who hates their poverty and determines that she will fall in love with the new heirs of their property and does get one to propose before she falls in love with the other and runs away to America; Cassandra who is beloved by Stephen, but falls for the heir her sister is engaged to, and more.  There is a lot of emotional action, a lot of a young girl learning the world and a lot of charm, although there are a few plot changes that happen so quickly I almost missed them...rather like the emotions of a young girl falling love for the first time ;)

*54. Ten ways to destroy the imagination of your child by Anthony Esolen   Mr. Esolen likes to write a bit sarcastically, as easily seen by the title of the book :)  He lays out many ways our educational system and culture in general are ruining our children's imaginations, thought processes, and ability to form ideas.  Chapters like "Keep your Children Indoors as Much as Possible or They used to call it Air" and "Level Distinctions between Man and Woman or Spray and Geld" make it pretty clear that he is advocating for getting kids outside, for the appreciation of gender differences, hero tales, allowing kids to develop skills, having kids grapple with big ideas, and great books and thinking.  Overall I really liked this book.  I found I needed to be fairly sharp to appreciate it.  When tired it was hard to focus, since the satire and/or snarkiness was too much for my brain.  But I think reading it again when life isn't quite so overwhelming (still COVID, and now race riots) might be a good idea.

**55. Atomic Habits by James Clear   A great book about we start good ones, how we end bad ones and how we deal with them in general.  Create a good habit: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and make it satisfying.  To break a bad one Make it invisible, make it unattractive, make it difficult and make it unsatisfying.  How 1% improvement can change your life, why we get bored, even when we are doing well, how to hang habits on things that are already habits and more.  Worth the read!

*56. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson  A sweet love story about a widow (Major Pettigrew) and widower (Mrs. Ali) that is complicated by the people in their lives.  His son is a bit of a knob, super ambitious, but also clueless about being human.  Her Pakistani family wants her to give up her shop to her nephew and come back to the family home where she will take care of children and work.  The golf club seems basically racist and bizarre and the local manor Lord wants to sell off the land for high end homes for other gentry to come live in after they've lost their manors.  So much great British stuff in here, so many messy relationships (his brother's widow the matching guns,  the illegitimate child of the nephew, the stabbing of the mother of the child by the old auntie...lots of crazies) but the love of these two sweet people is wonderful to see.  And the unselfish friendship that Grace extends to both of them is the unsung hero of the whole story!

*57. Spy for the Confederacy Rose O'Neal Greenhow by  Jeannette Covert Nolan  Another Messner biography, so well written, easy to read and very engaging.  So interesting to learn about a woman who was such a staunch lover of the south, but spent many years living in Washington.  She used her social power to develop a network of people who were loyal to the south.  Her information was used to help the south in many of their early battle wins during the Civil War.  She was put under house arrest and eventually sent back to Richmond.  There she was asked to go to Europe and build support for the Confederacy.  While on her way back she was caught in a storm and drowned, at least partially because of the gold for the Confederacy sewn into her clothes.  Interesting note is that her son in laws were officers in the Union army.

*58. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett   Danny and Maeve are the kids who grew up in the huge, fantastic house known as The Dutch House.  The house that their father bought as a surprise for their mother, the house that their mother couldn't be comfortable in, so she left for India to work with the poor.  The house they were kicked out of when their step mother, who married their father for the house, was widowed 5 years into the marriage.  The house they'd sit in front of and watch for decades afterwards.  We see them grow up, Maeve taking her math smarts and helping grow a frozen vegetable company, Danny going to medical school to use up the education trust and then giving it up to do real estate, like his father.  We see his wife and kids and eventually we see their mother come back.  It was a good book, but I didn't find it to be as crazy fantastic as reviews would have led me to believe.

*59.The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate   A Juvenile book about Bob, the dog, Ivan, the gorilla, and Ruby, the baby elephant, as well as Bob's humans.   A super fast read, looks much longer than it is.  A sweet read for the most part, about Bob's unwillingness to forgive and his tough exterior, soft interior personality.  There are a couple of obvious issue pushing sentences, including one about two male penguins raising a chick and families being all different types and genders, and a drop in about climate change causing hurricanes.  Now I need to read The One and Only Ivan, which came first.

**60.  Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden  I never realized she had more doll stories beyond The Story of Holly and Ivy, but this is one of them and it is delightful!   Nona moves in with her aunt, uncle and cousins in England, while her father stays in India.  So much sadness at missing India, so not fitting in with her cousins and school.  When these two Japanese dolls arrive it gives Nona a chance to connect with people in the neighborhood, classmates and two of her cousins as they work to build a Japanese doll house.  Unfortunately, Belinda, the other cousin has some major jealousy as the house nears completion, but in the end there is wonder and joy for everyone!

*61. Pippa Passes by Rumer Godden A shorter novel that focuses on Pippa, a corps member of a ballet company that is headed for Venice and beyond on tour. She is talented and in a few short days moves up to a soloist, thanks to the intervention of the director of the ballet corps.  Turns out that woman has bigger sights set on Pippa and moves her into her lodging and tries to seduce/rape her.  Pippa also falls in with a Gondolier who introduces her to the local gentry and through some interesting events she ends up living with them during her stay, singing in his band, losing her virginity, and being exposed to the Catholic faith.  Quite a run for a couple of days in Venice.   Not super believable, but somehow still good.

62. Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden  This book made me feel like I missed something and I just needed a little more back story.  A group of nuns head to a place where monks previously were, but only stayed a short while.  The General has given them the palace he used to keep his wives in, up on a hill, always full of wind.  They start a school, a lace making shop, a clinic and more.  There is  the man who helps them, but causes lots of stirrings in many of the nuns, the General who is absent, but paying for everything, the young General who is so eager for instruction, the little minx who they take in against their better judgement and in the end it all kind of falls apart.

*63. The Wolfing by Sterling North This is such a good story of a boy, his wolf pup, his family, community and just general nature study, but especially of our area in Rock County.   We see him start to grow into a young man and a relationship very innocently begin with his girl, we see him work for his education, but also for his time to be free and to explore and we see his connection with Wolf.  A great coming of age book for tweens/young teens!

**64.Homebody by Johanna Gaines  A really good book for looking at your style and how to incorporate it into every room and working area of your home.  I love that she wants homes to work for the families who live there and encourages changing spaces as a family's needs change.  She makes beautiful design spaces, but wants them to center around family and life, not to be design for design's sake.

65. Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman   Thought this might be like Homebody, but it is a young blogger and her 'life tips' which include how to do your hair for different season, makeup, a few things about your closet and pieces to buy, and a cupcake &  two cake recipes.   Mostly the wardrobe part is about how she takes all her way too short dresses and tries to tell you that some are business, some are casual and how super versatile they are for all situations.   Felt very shallow and totally not my jam.

*66. The Viking in the Wheat Field by Susan Dworkin   This is an interesting look at seed saving, plant genetics, the seed programs holding wild and cultivated genetics all over the world and more, all through the lens of the career of Bent Skovmand.  He was a major force in traveling the world to collect seeds and advise countries.  He was so focused on solving world hunger and that really drove him during his entire career.  A more interesting read than you would think about a very interesting scientist.

*67.As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner   I wanted to give this one two stars, but the ending felt flat, which is odd, because I was in tears half way through the book.  This book was published a year oar more ago, but deals with the 1918 Spanish flu, which feels close to home as we are still dealing with COVID and feel pretty confident that things will lock down again this winter, even as more and more mandates are passed here in July.   Three girls and their parents leave her family's tobacco/cigar business to mentor under his uncle and eventually inherit the mortuary business.  Father ends up going to train for WWI, one daughter gets the flu and recovers, but Momma and Uncle both die on the same night.  This is after one daughter and Momma brought home a baby found in an apartment with his dead mother and (seemingly) about to die, sister.  There is a time jump and we see the girls as they are mostly grown, marriage, love, sneaking out to sing during prohibition, and careers are a big part of the second half, along with a fated encounter that finds out that the little boy's sister is still alive.  Really fast read and overall enjoyed it.

*68. The River by Rumer Godden   I really enjoyed this one, more than some of her others.  A family in India with Harriet as the main character.  She is the second daughter and her older sister is being courted by an injured soldier, her younger brother died in the book and the youngest sister is pretty spoiled.  There is a baby coming and Nan, a servant features strongly as well.   It is, at the heart, a story of a young girl growing up.  We see her body start to change, but more important we see the relationships change, her writing voice develop, and her emotional growth throughout the book.  The brother's death is shocking, but just adds to the changes and growth of all the characters throughout the book.

*69. The Round Barn by Jacqueline Dougan Jackson   Such a fun find in our Clinton Library!   This barn was only a few miles from our house, but we haven't found it yet, which makes us worry that it was destroyed. It was such a neat treat to hear all the roads in Beloit, talk of Clinton and just know this is the history of our area.  The couple who built the barn were inducted into the Ag Hall of Fame for Wisconsin (the first couple to be brought in together) and their photos hang at UW Madison.  A great little book.

*70.  The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria Walker   A sci-fi story of two children, Sebastian and Melisssa, and how they work together across time and space to help free Melissa.  Talking tea pots, a cat who swallowed an enchanted silver fish, a meeting of the seasons, an emerald, haunted forests and a re meeting in his time are all part of the charm.

*71. David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd   This was the first book Purple House Press every published (or republished, as it were.)  David and his family move to a new town and there he climbs a mountain and befriends a phoenix.  He gets to meet other mythological creatures and go on adventures with this very talkative bird.  Together they work to defeat the scientist who is hunting Phoenix and they celebrate his 500th birthday where his instinct causes him to build his pyre.  David is distraught, but gets to see the new phoenix rise and sends him away to avoid being shot by the scientist.

*72. A Candle for St. Jude by Rumer Godden Another ballet based book.  This one finds old Madame and her tiny ballet theater/school.  Caroline is her shining star, along with Lion.  They are both dancing beyond the school, but still come back for works there.  Hilda is the next rising star, who is destined to go far, far beyond, but Madame has a strong reaction, almost hatred or jealousy to Hilda.  Hilda's ballet is to be done as part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Madame becoming a ballerina, but the day before Madame freaks out and cancels it. Lots of drama, but in the end there is much redemption and growth on the part of all the characters.  And it is all attributed to Isle (Madame's right hand woman) who is strong in faith and lit her candle to St. Jude to save it all.

*73.The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin  For the size it was crazy how fast I buzzed through this.  Newer lit is way faster than older, that is for sure!   Cecily is a Wisconsin girl living in NYC who has just broken up with her rich boyfriend because he wasn't ready to get married.  She meets the amazing Grant at a bar when he stops her from calling her ex (Matthew.)   Grant seems perfect, but has a sad family story, including a twin brother dying of ALS.  So much stereotypical writing (gay best friend, sassy female co-worker, turns out Grant is married, which she learns from a flyer during the days after 9/11, she reunites with Matthew, gets engaged, finds out she is pregnant, finds out Grant is alive and hiding, so much angst, but yet, a readable story that is great for a quick escape type book.   Lots of details dropped in about WI and NYC, a happy, but not fairy tale ending. 

*74.  The Round Barn Volume 2 by Jacquelinne Dougan Jackson    The continuing story of the family farm and the round barn from up on Colley Road.   Some of it repeated, which was disapopinting, but overall it was great to hear more.  This volume is huge (almost 500 pages) so there was no need for the repeats!  My favorite new story was learning that the Catalpa tree forest that is over near Cranston and I-90 was planted because of a farmer buying an entire wagon load of seedlings from an injured WWI veteran.  He had his son in law plant them and they are/were in rows!   The trees made good fence posts, which is why the veteran was selling them.  The farmer bought them because he felt very guilty.  During the Civil War he paid to have another man fight in his place and that man was killed.   He never felt right about that and eventually that led to the Catalpa forest.

**75. Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister  This is the first of the Mistmantle Chronicles and now that I've read it I can definitely keep recommending it to everyone :)   Urchin is a white squirrel who ends up on Mistmantle.  He becomes a page to Crispin on the day he is banished by Husk for having murdered the prince (turns out it is Husk who did it.)  He then becomes page to the otter, Padra and together, with others, they help defeat Husk, bring Cripsin back and return Mistmantle to its former safe place (no culling, no work parties, etc.)  Lots of adventure, epic battle at the end, heros, villans, honor, glory, loyalty...big themes, easy read, good characters.

*76. Urchin and the Heartstone by M.I. McAllister  The second Mistmantle Chronicle book.  Crispin is about to be coronated, but a ship arrives from Whitewing Island and there is a coup attempt, led by the king of Whitewing and his marshal who is from the first book.  Urchin is kidnapped and taken to the island because they think he can deliver them.  The king thinks he'll find him more silver (which he is obsessed with) and Smokewreath, the evil sorcerer, thinks he can do evil magic with Urchin's dead body.  In the end they are able to overcome and return to Mistmantle.  We see some new characters that will definitely be in the next books.  The book ends with Crispin meeting a new squirrel who seems to be balm for his heart and Mistmantle being in a good place.  

**77.  Adventuring Together by Greta Eskridge A really fast read, but one that made me tear up a few times as it was something my heart needed at his time.  We've had a rough time as we've redone the boys room and just lots of stress around getting things done, school planned, preserving, etc.   I've been on steroids and not handling it well.  Greta talks about her choice to be very intentional in her parenting and using other local moms and the adventuring club they had started.   She uses hiking, camping, classes, and adventuring through books to get them out of their comfort zone to build relationships and just keep communication open.   Lots of good pointers about learning grace in uncomfortable situations, being willing to carry their pack for a few minutes to let them know she will always be there for them in life, and just overall good parenting through adventuring advice.  Makes me think we should be even more dedicated to the once a week adventure!  Definitely a reread book.

**78. The Heir of Mistmantle by M.I. McAllister   The third Mistmantle book.  I really like this one!   And it was so fitting to read during COVID as part of it dealt with fouldrought, a disease that caused hysteria, separation of families, and rumors to fly like crazy on Mistmantle.   King Crispin has married Queen Cedar and their baby Catkins is taken by an insane squirrel, Linty, who lost her baby in the cullings.   Animals start to question the queen, whether Husk is back and more.  Juniper finds out that his father was Husk, Urchin and Needle are admitted to the circle, Juniper is closer to becoming a priest, Fir is becoming quite elderly, Fingal is growing up and is key in rescuing Catkin, as is Sepia who went out to rescue her from the boat that she was being taken out beyond the mists in.   Lots of action, lots of faith, lots of connection to our current times.

79. Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo   A nice cookbook and tons of info on the paleo lifestyle, reducing stress, managing blood sugar, etc.  However, not AIP specific so many recipes rely on eggs and feature nightshades.   The orange beef and the ideas of grating apple into the sage/apple sausage patties or putting 1/2 pound of chicken liver into 3 pounds (pork/beef split) for a bacon topped meat loaf are good and something I should try!   There is an avacado/coconut milk/banana/cocoa/pinch of salt/pinch of cinnamon-with maple syrup if needed- mouse that sounds interesting as well.  

**80. Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen   What a sweet book!  So much sorrow, but also love and light and magic.  Harry loses his wife, Beth, in a freak construction accident when he goes to buy a losing lottery ticket.  After a year of burying himself in work and being pushed into a lawsuit by his crazy, overbearing brother, Wolf, he wins a 7 million lawsuit and gets $4 of that.  Wolf wants it, but Harry freaks out and takes off for the woods, where he meets Amanda and her daughter Oriana, who are also reeling from the loss of Dean, the larger than life husband/father who died in the woods a year ago.  Some of it gets a little too 'beat you over the head' with the archetypes, but overall a sweet book that gives a satisfying ending.

*81. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer   This book is hard to rate for me.  The topic is fascinating, but the writing was not nearly as engaging as I expected it to be. The gist is that there is a man, along with a group of others who spent years collecting manuscripts that families had kept hidden or buried in sand or just in back rooms. They are beautifully illuminated, cover many science, math and a myriad of topics, and date from the 1400s forward.   He bought them, and brought them back to Timbuktu, which was a center of learning and discourse for centuries.  They were put into libraries and preservation work was begun (moneys from all over the world being used.)  Then Al Qaeda moves in and the librarians used bribe money, trunks, taxis, river boats and more to move them to safety.  The smuggling works and only a small handful are burned, the rest are all saved.   No idea what has happened since then, but it is pretty wild to think of this all happening!

*82. Rules by Cynthia Lord  A good little middle grade novel about a girl and her autistic brother, the boy she meets in the lobby of her brother's therapy (who is in a wheelchair and can't speak, but uses a communication book), the dynamics of their family, the mean boy in the neighborhood, and the new girl who moves in next door.  Lots of tween angst about wanting a friend who is cool, wanting to just be normal for a while, wishing her family was different, embarrassment in front someone she wants to impress and more.  The ending is abrupt, but it is a good little read.

**83.The Brave  Learner by Julie Bogart  This is definitely a read again book.  Not as beloved as Teaching From Rest, but so many good points.  She talks about the seasons of homeschooling--Classical in the fall, unit studies in winter and unschooling in spring--as in known how your flow works and don't fight it, work with it.  Her sections on using your emotional bank to fight about chores or a perfect house are basically going to kill the connection in your home and the emotional stores you need for tougher lessons was definitely something I need to keep in my mind.  She really pushed me to relax on some things, focus on connection, collaboration and working together, as opposed to dictating chores and lesson to them.  Worth reading, worth reading again.

*84. Reading Magic by Mem Fox  A good read about the value of reading aloud.  Not my favorite of this genre, by far, but super fast read that keeps it simple and focuses on parents joyfully playing with reading aloud for young kids and how that impacts their ability to read.

 *85.The Healing Kitchen by Alaena Haber and Sarah Ballantyne   I didn't read through all the science in this book, but the parts I did were good review about AIP and eating good, nutritious food to help you body heal and perform as it should.   Printed off a bunch of recipes to try that were different or sounded good.  Here's hoping to find a few more fun ones!

 *86. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery   I haven't read all the Anne books, but this one caught my eye and I am really enjoying it. We watch Jane (or Victoria Jane) grow up while getting to know her father during summers at Lantern Hill.  Her school years in the city on Gay Street have led to a pretty dreary existence with a mother who is constantly heading to society events to please a very overbearing and controlling grandmother.  Two years in you can see that Jane has learned who she is and is no longer cowed by her grandmother and that she will eventually help her parents reconnect, inspite of a meddling aunt on her father's side and disapporving grandmother on her mother's side.  

*87. Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope  A very old book that I was gifted a reprint of, and a pretty great story about a man who is a bit of a do nothing type, but goes to see the coronation of a king, who is related to.  However, his realtion is due to a dalliance and therefore he isn't announcing his arrival.  When he gets near he finds the king is prisoner and he gets tasked with being coronated to hold the spot until they can free the king.  There is love, treachery (Black Michael, the brother of the king), fighting and more.  A good read.

**88. Urchin and the Raven War by M.I. McAllister  This is the 4th of the Mistmantle Chronicles and my favorite so far, I think.  The swans come to Mistmantle to ask for help fighting the ravens who are attacking their island and killing them all.  The ravens are defeated there, but enough escape (including the Taloness and the Silver Prince) to rally all the ravens on all the islands and they attack Mistmantle. Urchin is almost killed, so many hurt and lots and lots of adventure.  Brother Fir dies of old age at the end of this one, a new Adventurer is revealed and Apple falls in love!  A good one!

 *89. Focus by    How we should be teaching kids, especially in schools.  Lots of this lines up with CM's thoughts....but that isn't a surprise :)   Lots of reading, writing, discussion, engagement with texts and less of the multiple choice tests and standards.  It goes through each subject and is very repetitive, but that is kind of the point.  They all can be taught the same way and should be for real learning.  One thing that surprised me was that in science less experiments and more reading/writing is important.  Experiments should be very connected to the subject and only every so often.

*90. How to Be a Family by Dan Kois   Subtitled The year I dragged my kids around the world to find a new way to be together, which basically describes the whole book.  They left NYC when their kids were growing and moved to an upper middle class suburb of DC.  There they struggle with the privileged their kids have and their disconnect as they run the rat race, so they checkout for a year and spend 3 months each in New Zealand, Denmark, Costa Rica and Kansas.   Very interesting to see the different parenting styles, very frustrating to put with his running liberal commentary about Trump and Kansas, even as it comes up that the 'non diverse' classes in their kids school have more diversity than the ones in the DC suburb.  Interesting, just definitely done without the liberalness screaming through all the time.

*91. The Pharaohs of Ancident Egypt by Elizabeth Payne (Landmark book)  A great run down of the Pharaohs, their lives, what was known and what we still don't know about them.  I loved end, as they ran down a brief time line of what happened since the Pharaohs, Alexander the Great, that Rome came next--when Cleopatra was alive, the Arabs next took over, then the Turks, then Napoleon.  I love the Landmark series! 

*92. The Art of Tasha Tudor by Harry Davis  A very interesting look into the art of Tausha Tudor, and also her life as an illustrator (she never considered herself an artist, like her mother was.)  Harry was a man who studied her art his whole life and eventually met her, helping manage the business side of her work.  His stories about her, including her burning up lots of amazing paintings, were pretty interesting, as was learning more about her childhood.

 *93. The Tausha Tudor Cookbook by Tasha Tudor  Such a pretty cookbook, love the illustrations!  I can't eat most of the things in it, but lots of old time type home cooking.  I do think I'll try the coffee jelly (like jello) and the citrus ones as well.

*94. A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell   Virginia Hall is a woman who basically helped write the book on how to develop resistance rings and how to help ensure security by keeping them separate and keeping her identity different for each of them.  Here story of perseverance in becoming a espionage expert in France before America got involved in WWII.  She had a fake leg and at one point walks over a mountain range to escape with her life.  Her drive, her determination, her incredible work all make for quite a story, especially as a girl who was raised to marry well and be a lady who lunches/society maven!   The book did drag for me, as the detail were very thorough and sometimes bogged down the narrative.  Overall though, it was totally worth reading and I'm glad that this early pioneer of the CIA has gotten some of the recognition she deserved, even though it was so belated....granted, she didn't really want it when she was alive, but she sure deserved it!

*95. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty   Well reading this after the last one definitely shows me the difference between a meaty book and a twaddly one!   Flew through this and it was like eating  candy...can't stop, but not very fulfilling.  Triplets and their flighty, one driven, one cool.  Little interjections of strangers perceptions of them at different points in their lives happen throughout the book.  The flighty one has a dead fiance and many boyfriends who are dropped unexpectedly ever since. We learn of the abuse as the story goes on, and she ends up pregnant from the guy she really liked, but dumped because his sister slept with her cool sister's husband.  That sister had the hip relationship and was trying for a baby.  Turns out her husband was cheating, but stopped because she got pregnant, then she lost the baby and he left her for the other girl.  The driven one has a great husband, a little girl and panic attacks.  No one is perfect, they are crazy with each other, but also fiercely loving.  Totally a beachy type, just fly though it read.

96. Sky Ranch by Bobbi Phelps   I would never have guessed this was a new book, it read like one from a while back and not a super well written/edited one at that.  Bobbie was a flight attendant who starts a fly fishing calendar/high end gift company, moves to a small town in Idaho, marries a farmer, has a child, learns her East Coast country club childhood did not prepare her for life in the wide open spaces of Idaho and eventually moves off the farm with her family and they sell it, starting a totally different life.  The epilogue shows us that she and her husband divorced, their son is grown, she's remarried and lives in TN now.  I was bothered throughout that the way her husband was referred to made it seem like he was pretty uncaring about her and her feelings, so it wasn't too shocking to find out they weren't married anymore, although there was no reference to them being divorced in the entire book. The general sense of cohesion and story telling could have been so much better.

*97. Calico Bush by Rachel Field.  Same author as Hitty, which I also enjoyed.   Set in 1742, while 13 year old Maggie (Marguerite) is staying with the Sargent family as their bound girl.  She had come from France with her uncle (who died on the boat) and her Grandmother (who died shortly after), she is living in a time when the French are not highly thought of in the colonies.  The family moves to the shore of Maine and the book follows their first year as they try to settle in. We meet the very few neighbors, learn of all the challenges with the Native tribes (the PC police would hate their portrayal, but the actual interactions are peaceful, although terrifying for her.)  We see tragedy, injury, struggle for survival, as well as her growth, budding romance for another couple and just how incredibly challenging this time period was.   Really enjoyed this book and see why it was so highly regarded for so long.

**98.Urchin and the Rage Tide by M.I. McAllister   The last of the Mistmantle Chronicles!   SUCH a good book, such a great ending to a wonderful series.  Mistmantle is facing a rage tide (sounds like a sunami wave) and it happens not only one time, but a second wave comes as well.  There is mentally unstable, charismatic squirrel names Mossberry who is convincing animals to follow him and leave the island.  In rescuing him and his followers, Sepia is washed to sea.   The new Voyager, Corr heads out to try to find her, involving the Swans again.  There is major saddness, including King Crispin sacrificing his life to bring Sepia back, there is joy, watching Sepia return and recover, her impending nuptuals with Urchin, Catkin being installed as Queen. I was teary eyes so many times during this book.  Really love this series!


Saturday, September 28, 2019

2019 Chicken Totals

We just spent form 8:30-12:30 getting 29 chickens in the freezer.  We did a laying hen as well and there was one meat bird that got harvested early.  These are 8 weeks, 3 days old so slightly younger than last year, but overall they were just smaller for some reason.  We ordered all males, but had at least 4 females in the group and they were small.  Two adults, a 16 year old hatchet man, a 14 year old, 11 year old and 7 year old who all assisted him, and 9 and 10 year old girls who helped with legs, oil glands and even did a bunch of eviscerating!  Everything totally done in about 5 hours, including all clean up and lunch :)

Total meat for all 30 birds was 158 pounds exactly.  The early harvest was only 2 lbs, 1 oz, so brings average down, but overall we averaged just over 5 pounds each.  We also harvested all the feet, 3 lb, 5 oz of liver, 1 lb, 3 oz of hearts and 3 lb, 8 oz of gizzards for a total of 8 pounds of offal. 

Total feed costs (1 bag starter, 3 of grower, 4 of finisher plus most of a bag left from last year): $226.15
Total chick costs $54.00

Total expense: $280.15
Total meat: 158 pounds

$/pound: $1.77
$/pound (including offal):$1.68  

(does not include feet)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Pork Break Down 2019

We, once again, got a whole pig from Ibelings, which was processed at Sorgs.  Here is the breakdown of costs, including a bit of cost increase in processing.

Costs $150 to Ibelings for the hog and $192.20 to Sorgs.  $15 trucking free, $55 butcher fee (up from $40 last year) and $.65 cute and wrap (up from $.50 last year.)  Total cost is $342.20  We had nothing smoked, didn't ask for the fat and just got it as ground pork, not sausage.  No extra charges, although we did get the bladder for a rousing game of Little House.

Side Pork: 18 pounds, 2 oz, 2 packs
Hams: 35 pounds, 4 packs
Neck Bones:  4 pounds, 1 pack
Jowls: 3 pounds, 10 oz, 2 packs
Pork Steak: 6 pounds, 9 oz, 2 packs
Spare Ribs: 5 pounds, 7 oz, 2 packs
Country Ribs: 3 pounds, 1 oz, 2 packs
Hocks: 7 pounds, 12 oz, 2 packs
Ground Pork: 14 pounds
Butt Roast: 8 pounds, 8 oz, 3 packs
Loin Roast: 7 pounds, 2 packs
Another Roast we couldn't read: 7 pounds, 3 oz, 1 pack
Shoulder Roast: 7 pounds, 4 oz, 2 packs
Liver 3 pounds, 3 packs
Ham Steaks: 11 pounds, 6 packs
Pork Chops: 24 pounds, 12 oz,  14 packs

We did the same cuts as last year, so refer to that for cutting instructions.  Roasts to 3 pounds I do remember.

Total meat: 166.25 pounds, which means $2.06/pound.  Last year our total was around $1.50/pound, so pretty big increase overall, but we'll eat it up in no time I'm sure.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Half beef purchase 2019

It has been forever since we bought part of steer, but this fall we had the chance to buy a grass fed one from Wundrows.  This is a Brown Swiss Steer who has basically grass fed his whole life.  Processing was done at Lake Geneva Country Meats at $.82/pound, which included the kill fee and wrap fee.  We didn't get anything extra like tenderizing or patties done to the meat, which would have been an upcharge.

Hamburger: 66 pounds, in 1 pound packs
Liver:  4 pounds, 6 packs
Oxtails: 3 pounds, 1 pack
Heart: 3 pounds, 1 pack
Beef Suet:

Brisket: 4 pounds, 2 packs
Short ribs: 13 pounds, 5 oz, 6 packs
Stew meat:  8 pounds, 5 oz, 6 packs
Soup bones: 20 pounds, 9 packs
Knuckle bones: 3 pounds, 1 pack

Round Roast: 6 pounds, 6 oz, 2 packs
Chuck Roast: 27 pounds, 7oz, 8 packs
Rump Roast 6 pounds, 7 oz, 2 packs
Arm Roast: 7 pounds, 2 oz, 2 packs
Sirloin Tip Roast: 6 pounds, 9 oz, 2 packs
Sirloin Steak: 16 pounds, 11 oz, 11 packs
T-bone Steak: 9 pounds, 8 oz, 7 packs
Flank Steak: 1 pound, 2 oz, 1 pack
Skirt Steak: 1 pound, 14 oz, 2 packs
Porterhouse Steak: 3 pounds, 8 oz, 2 packs
Rib Steak: 10 pounds, 12 oz, 7 packs
Round Steak: 12 pounds, 11 oz, 8 packs

I did get some suet, but I somehow didn't weigh it, so it isn't in the total.

Total meat listed above is 231.5 pounds.  The $.82/pound must be on hanging weight, not on processed weight as the charge would have been less if it was on the processed weight.  The charge to Wundrows was based on live weight and was $1.30/pound I believe.  We paid them a total of $781.00 and we paid Lake Geneva a total of $247.63.  This brings our total cost to $1028.63.

We ended up paying a total of $4.44/pound for everything we got, including the bones.  Basically the same price, or a bit cheaper than what we paid 6 years ago, so we can't complain at all!