Mastering Pasta a Delicious Endeavor

A few years ago when I was teaching full-time and completing my masters degree I would find myself incredibly stressed with my day and need a way to unwind.  I found that making pasta was a cathartic experience for me.  There was something about putting together the most simple ingredients to make incredibly delicious meals.  It became a sort of running joke at our house when my husband would come home and see the pasta maker out and flour in my hair, he would know it had been an incredibly stressful day; but more importantly that a delicious meal was in his near future.  When I saw that Marc Vetri has put together this book, I was thrilled.  For years I’ve been wanting to get back to those days of crafting pasta by hand.  Vetri’s book is just the inspiration that I’ve been looking for.

Mastering Pasta

Recently, I have had a chance to study and enjoy Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by Marc Vetri with David Joachim.

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

-Federico Fellini

There are so many things about this cookbook that I love, first off, it is real and honest, Marc Vetri wanted to write his first cookbook about pasta, however, instead he took his time and researched pasta for over a decade (of course he wrote two other amazing cookbooks Il Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey in 2008 and  Rustic Italian Food in 2011).  This book is the perfect primer for anyone who wants to learn how to make authentic pasta, gnocchi and risotto.  With that said, even the seasoned pasta maker will enjoy the new takes on traditional recipes.

You can tell just by reading the first 5 pages of this book that Marc loves pasta but not just pasta, but what it represents: spending time with family, enjoying traditions, the company you’re with and not compromising quality for convenience.

Another stunning part of this book is that Marc Vetri shares stories of his travels, as well as the history of some of these traditional meals.  He shares the inspiration behind the 100 recipes, I love this aspect of cookbooks.  I love the back story that makes it seems personal, as if it were a recipe card you are getting from a relative who tells you about when they made it and special notations that they made have in the margins.

You feel like you’re having a conversation when you read this book, Vetri talks about how stocks and sauces are the cornerstones of cooking, how cooking these meals is such that you layer these flavors and how cooking with ingredients that are farmed close to your home is the best.  After reading Mastering Pasta, I feel as though I have had a detailed cooking class with Marc Vetri where he has shared with me all that he has to know about pasta.  This is a book that you will pull off your shelves for tried and true recipes, to find something new and inspiring for something to serve for special occasions.

This is the one and only book you will need to make delicious pasta at home for your family.


Blogger note: I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review, but the thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.



Vincent van Gogh for Petites


Today is Vincent van Gogh’s birthday.  I have loved his amazing artwork for just about as long as I can remember.  I think Starry Night was the very first poster I hung in my college dorm.  The more I learn about van Gogh the more I deeply respect him and the struggles he must have endured in his 37 years of life.  To learn more check out this link to TED-Ed .   I wanted to celebrate this incredibly talented artist by sharing some of his words and some books that you can share with your petites.

“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly colored than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

There are some really amazing books out there to help showcase the amazing talents and work of Vincent van Gogh.  Here are just a few that showcase who van Gogh was as well as show some of his most popular pieces.  These books are the perfect introduction to one of the most famous Dutch Post-Impressionist painters.

van Gogh and the Sunflower

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers (Anholt’s Artists Books For Children) this book is lovely and all about Van Gogh and his inspiration and interactions that lead to some of his most famous pieces.

In the garden with van gogh

In the Garden with Van Gogh, this board book is perfect for the smallest of art lovers.

DK Van Gogh

Van Gogh: Explore Vincent van Gogh’s Life and Art, and the Influences That Shaped His Work (DK Eyewitness Books) ideal for older petites, packed full of information about van Gogh.

Vincent's Colors

Vincent’s Colors you can’t go wrong with this stunning book, filled with van Gogh’s art as well as his own words and quotes.

Van Gogh

Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities (For Kids series) this is a great book that covers many of the Impressionists and some fun activities that go along with them.

Coloring…it’s not just for petites

Last October, Huffington Post published an article about how coloring can be used as a relaxation technique.  Since then the books that they showcased have sold millions of copies.  Carl Jung used coloring to help patients in the early 20th century using mandalas, this is not some new marketing thing, coloring is tried a true.

Sometimes being a mom or a dad, or just an adult is incredibly stressful, and often times we don’t make enough time for ourselves, or even pay attention when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  The reason why these books are so incredibly popular, is not, in my opinion because coloring is all of a sudden something people like to do, it is because as a society we are under quite a bit of stress on any given day.  Coloring is a stress reliever, so why not embrace it?  For about $12 you can have hours of stress relief?  So now that we’ve all admitted we’ve got some stress in our lives, let’s just go ahead and set some time aside for something cathartic, something that will relieve some of that tension.

I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites.  Of course, there are tons of coloring books at just about any price point out there, but these are simply stunning.

Secret Garden

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book

Counting Chickens Before They Hatch

For years I’ve been dreaming of the day when we will own a home where I can have a small flock of chickens.  When I say dreaming, I am not joking, I’ve had dreams where upon buying a house, my hubby shows up with a box of chickens just for me.  Although for some having backyard chickens sounds like a messy endeavor, to me, it sounds like something that is going to be rewarding and delicious.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about all the details and specifics that go into getting chickens.  After all, I can’t just show up at the feed store and leave with a box of chicks.  I am a lady with a plan.  In all my excitement for getting my backyard flock, I have been checking out some really fun books about chickens for the petites so that they can get excited about the idea before the little ladies arrive.

P.Zonka Lays an Egg

P. Zonka Lays An Egg by Julie Paschkis is such a bright and cheery book, just looking at the cover brings a smile to my face.  Okay I am a little partial because Julie Paschkis is also a Seattleite and it makes me so proud of all of the creative talent that comes from this lovely place we call home.

P. Zonka is a story about a very thoughtful hen, who enjoys all that her surroundings have to offer.  She is a dreamer an admirer.  The other hens in her flock cannot understand why she doesn’t lay eggs like they do and one day when P. Zonka finally does lay an egg, it is extraordinary.  This book is the embodiment of spring and all that it has to offer.  I also think that this would be a lovely book to read in an art class and follow it with decorating eggs.


Since I am so obsessed with chickens right now I was thrilled to read an interview that Julie did with Mr. Schu at Mr. Schu Reads where she spoke about P. Zonka and how she is a Frisian Bantam – I may just need to add one of these beauties to my list.  I wanted to know about this awesome chicken and how she inspired such a lovely book; luckily I found a post over at Jama’s Alphabet Soup that discusses my new favorite chicken.

Source: Jama's Alphabet Soup.  Click here to read the full post.

Source: Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Click here to read the full post.

This book is so inspiring to me in so many ways.  What I love about it are the gorgeous illustrations, but more so that this book takes the time to notice the beauty in everyday life.  The little things that matter and are important if we just slow down and take notice.  Another reason this book is inspiring is that it show cases these lovely pysanky eggs.   Here is a wonderful activity book, created by Peachtree, that has all sorts of fun things you can do with your little ones.

Event Kit

I think that this book is perfect for just about any time of the year, but especially right about now with Easter just a few days away.  Decorating eggs is something that so many families do, but adding in a new tradition of having an egg decorating party sounds like it would be an incredibly wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends and family.


Here are some of the different designs and colors you can decorate the pysanky eggs and the meanings behind the colors and symbols.  In the activity book above there are lots of activities that you can do with your petites.


I hope you enjoy this book as much as we have.




Fostering the Love of Writing

As a teacher I know that teaching writing can often times be one of the most difficult tasks for teachers.  Today I found a book that I would love to share with students in the early elementary grades (K-2): How to Bake a Book by Ella Burfoot.


This book is about a little girl who sets out to bake herself a book.  She mixes words and rolls in characters and in the end has herself a delicious book.


I could see reading this book before a creative writing unit in class.  It’s funny and a little bit silly.  It also might just be the way to get more hesitant writers thinking about the ingredients that go into making a great story.  Writing a good story can sometimes be difficult for petites, where to start, how to start, but when you break it down into pieces like a recipe it seems a lot less daunting.


I think that this book would be perfect for kindergarteners and first graders, this is such a fun book, with such fabulous vocabulary boosting words.  This book is sure to get a giggle from your petites and I’m sure will inspire some creative writing from your students.

A whole class idea that I have been thinking would be so much fun to engage kids and get them thinking about writing would be able to do a whole class or smaller group activity.  In this activity, each student would have a piece to the story, whether it’s a word, character,  image of setting  and have a large bowl with a spoon and put it all together as a class.  It would be so much fun to work on this as a whole group and see what the kids come up with then share their book with the class and their families.

How would you use How to Bake a Book in your classroom?




Spring Books for Petites


Happy first day of spring!  Hooray it’s finally here.  I’ve chosen some of our favorite books about spring for you to share with your petites.

And Then It's Spring

And Then It’s Spring (Booklist Editor’s Choice. Books for Youth (Awards)) this book is gorgeous.  I love everything about it.  The story is all about how being patient for spring to finally arrive.  They plant seeds and wait and wait till they grow.  Erin E. Stead does such a lovely job with the illustrations.

Planting a Rainbow

Planting a Rainbow – you cannot go wrong with this vibrant classic.  My girls love looking at all of the flowers and even have chosen to plant some of the plants from this book in their garden.  Perfect book for budding gardeners.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms – I just had the chance to read this book and it is so sweet.  I love the illustrations that Tiphanie Beeke has created, they are so lovely.  Fletcher is a lovely little fox who loves everything about spring even the unexpected surprises.

The Little Duck The Little Duck (Pictureback(R)) – this is a book that is a classic, I am sure you might remember having these adorable books when you were a child.

Board Books

Bear Wants MOre

Bear Wants More (The Bear Books) – I am a huge fan of all of the Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman bear books they are wonderfully illustrated and written.

It's Spring

It’s Spring! is such a fun book about a charming little rabbit that is thrilled spring has finally arrived.

Baby Loves Spring

Baby Loves Spring!: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books) my kids love the lift the flap books, especially these cute ones.

It’s all about the Paci

When my oldest was 2 years old we took her to the dentist and to say I got scolded is an understatement.  I was told that pacifiers were the worst and that by allowing my petite to suck on one whenever she wanted I was basically ensuring she would need braces in her future.  What?  But they give them away at the hospital, how could they be so bad?  Well apparently they can cause teeth to shift and well you guessed it, future issues.  So after getting scolded we decided that it was probably time for her to give up her paci.


This was not as easy as I hoped it would be, I wanted to share our struggles and overall triumph with you all just in case there are some of you our there struggling with this same dilemma.  Let me first start by saying, I think that as parents we all do the best that we can especially when it comes to our newborns.  We do what we need to to stay sane, to get babies to sleep or stop crying.  I am in no way judging – just wanting to share how we got our petite to kick her paci habit.

After the scolding from the dentist (who we no longer see by the way) we decided to wean her off of it, we decided to only let her have the paci when she was taking naps or going to bed – not all the time, no exception.  She used a snuggly when she slept before and we heavily reinforced it and made sure we always had it for naps and bedtime making it a more prominent part of our nighttime routine.  A few days later we took away the paci at nighttime.  I would love to tell you it wasn’t a big deal that she didn’t fuss or ask for it or cry.  But let’s be honest, it was sort of a disaster.  Over the next few days she would ask for it at night and we would just say we are all done with the paci and hand her the snuggly.  It worked, she was rather sneaky though and would pull paci’s out of places, she had a secret stash in her carseat and it seemed like every time I would turn around driving she would have one in her mouth.

We also used some really cute board books with her to talk about her paci.

No more pacifier as a piggy

No More Pacifier for Piggy! (Ducky and Piggy) this book was a total lifesaver, piggy and ducky are so cute.  Piggy always has a paci and when Ducky wants to play a new game with him peekaboo it is hard because when he tries to play the paci falls in the dirt.  In the end the friends are able to find a solution to their problem.  Hooray.  My petite loved this book.


Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier: The book that makes children WANT to move on from pacifiers! this is a really cute book about Bea who doesn’t want to give up her paci, her parents convince her to give it to a paci fairy!  How cute is that?  I am in love with this idea.

Good luck to all those who are eradicating pacifiers,


Hip Hop it’s Books about Bunnies

Hip Hop, it’s books all about bunnies.  We used to live in the cutest little yellow house, this house was near a green space and because of this we had the cutest wild bunnies that would play in our yard.  One spring we had a few little babies that would come and just sit for hours – they provided hours of delightful entertainment.  So here is a list of our favorite books about bunnies.

The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit

These updated tales written by the brilliantly talented Emma Thompson are true to Peter Rabbit character but without the stern and somewhat terrifying consequences.

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Little Rabbit

The Little Rabbit

This updated cover may look familiar to you, Judy Dunn and Phoebe Dunn created a whole series of these books that were wildly popular in the 80s.  Popular for a reason these books and photos are great and petites love them.  Also it is always fun to have a little blast from the past.

Board Books:

Pat the Bunny

Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)

This is another classic that has been loved by so many petites all over.  This is a touch and feel book – which is great for little ones.

I love you, Honey Bunny

I Love You, Honey Bunny (Earesistables)

This is another incredibly sweet book with fun little soft ears for petites to play with.

Hop! Hop!

 Hop! Hop! (Leslie Patricelli board books)

Okay so not exactly a bunny, but adorable nonetheless.  All about fun Easter activities, petites will love the bright colors.

I am a buny

I Am a Bunny (A Golden Sturdy Book)

How about this classic bunny book illustrated by Richard Scarry?  My girls love this book, their Papa bought it for them a while ago and it is one of our favorites.

Now, I am sure that there are so many wonderful bunny books that I am missing.  Which ones are your petites favorites?

Ireland: Favorites Edition

In 2011 my family and I went to Ireland for a few weeks, it was one of the most amazing trips we have ever taken.  We literally talk about it all the time and dream about when we will get to go back.  For St. Patrick’s Day this year I wanted to share some of my favorite Irish things.

Favorite Saying


Favorite Hot Drink because of course Jameson is my favorite cold drink.


Barry’s Tea Gold Blend 80 Count 2-pack – delicious tea that is served at tea time all over Ireland.

Favorite Shop


Oasis the cutest clothing shop ever, they are all over Ireland, but lucky for you they ship everywhere, most likely to your door!

Favorite Places


This is where we went, it was an amazing tour of Ireland.  Read all about our favorite places here.

Favorite Children’s Books

Fiona's LuckKing Puck

Fiona’s Luck |  King Puck

Favorite Crafts

 rainbow-chain-craft-for-kidsThis amazing craft that is so much fun from Crafty Morning.

leprechaun-handprint-craft-545x1024Okay so this is just a snippet of my favorite things, here are some of my other posts all about Ireland.

Best Bookshops Ireland

Erin Go Bragh Trip Planning

Erin Go Bragh Trip Planning




The Perfect Egg…Just in Time For Easter

Here at my house we eat a lot of eggs, a few years ago I decided I wanted to get some chickens, because it would much so much cheaper than buying the huge amount of eggs at the big box stores.  Well, my poultry dreams haven’t exactly come true, but they have certainly been reignited.  I had the opportunity to spend some time pouring over the new book The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park who you may know from their foodie blog Spoon Fork Bacon.  Where they share their amazing recipes and gorgeous food photography,  I swear these stunning foodie pictures could make you gain some weight just by looking at them.


Just last week they released their second cookbook, The Perfect Egg.  This book is packed with some incredibly gorgeous photographs, I was in love when I opened the cover and saw the pictures.  After all, my least favorite part about cooking magazines and cookbooks is when the recipes do not have pictures.  I want to see what it should look like.  So I can drool over the potential meals I now have the instructions to make.  I think it is pretty safe to say the more pictures the better, and you my friend are in luck, because Jenny has taken some artful photos.

I love how this book is all about eggs, but eggs morning, noon and night.  Some of my favorite things about this book, Egg 101: Basics – there are 17 pages dedicated to cooking techniques, sauces and condiments, pasta doughs, and breads.

The recipe that literally had me getting giddy and running to the cupboards to see if I had everything on hand – Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.  The girls love these rolls and seriously we always have them on hand, so to be able to make them is amazing.

Another favorite for me is that this book is not what you would expect, yes there are traditional egg recipes, but they have a twist to them.  For example, quiche; there are nine variations to their standard recipe, and not taking up nine pages of the book, but just one!  Same with Fritatta, there are also nine variations you can choose from.

These are unique and delicious, so much so that you should not look at this book if you are hungry, I was incredibly disappointed when I got only 40 pages in and was running to the kitchen to see if I had the ingredients to make Huevos Rancheros because the picture well it’s delicious – to my dismay I did not.

Let’s talk about the snacks/afternoon portion of the book, again you will find classic recipes with more modern variations – eggs salad and deviled eggs (perfect when you consider you will be dying a ton of eggs in just a matter of weeks).  Another aspect to this book that is wonderful is that Teri Lyn and Jenny love to travel and there are recipes inspired by their travels throughout the book.  What I love even more is that this cookbook has a personal feel to it in that Teri Lyn and Jenny write little notes to you at the top of the recipes, much like you would tell a friend before you shared a new recipe with them about where you got it, what you were doing there and why you like it.  Which for me, makes it so much more fun and reminds me of their blog, which I love.

The only person who I suspect would not like this book is someone who doesn’t like eggs, and for you non-egg eater I suggest you try one of these recipes: Blackberry-Stuffed Croissant French Toast, Corn and Green Onion Fritters with a Bacon-Honey Drizzle, Spaetzle with Swedish Meatballs, Vanilla Bean Semifreddo Bars or Peaches ‘N’ Cream Cake.

Trust me when I say you will want to do two things really quickly – get yourself a chicken coop and stock it full of hens and get this book before Easter so you can make the most of the brightly colored deliciously delightful eggs.

Bon Appetit!



Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  However, the thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.