Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grandma's Library

I love childrens' books!  I  have been collecting them for years.  
It all started 30 years ago when our daughter was born.  I soon discovered that she would sit contently in my lap and let me read to her when she was a baby.
We started out with simple board books that matched her attention span.  Then we went to short sentences and if they rhymed she liked them even more.   So began my search for good books.
Little did I know that it would become a fun life time hobby!

We did go to the library too but since little children can be hard on anything as fragile as paper, I wanted to start getting some books for her own.    I shopped at thrift stores,  used library sales and spent hours crouched down on driveways at garage sales looking for good books.  

Six years later our oldest son was born and the search continued.  He liked cars, trucks and trains so those were added to our collection.   Nine years after that came our youngest son and I continued the tradition of starting to read to him when he was a baby.   As they grew the books became longer and we would graduate to chapter books.  It became our bed time ritual to have them all tucked in bed and I would read out loud to them.   Even when they became adolescents they liked to be read to.
We have shared many laughs over a book.

When my youngest son out grew some of the books I thought about clearing them out to put in our yearly garage sale.  I did sell lots but there were some that I couldn't part with.   I decided that I would keep our favorites and box them up and save them for them to share with their own children.
I imagined reading it to my grand children and hearing them laugh at the same parts that their Mommy and Daddy liked when they were little.

When I started to have nieces and nephews I would buy them books too. If nothing else I wanted to be remembered as the Aunt who gave them books.  

About 5 years ago we hit a time in our lives when money was very short.  I sadly realized that I might have to stop buying children's books.  It had become such a habit that my cousins would tease me when we went thrift store shopping together and I would head straight for the bookshelves.  They nick named me the crazy book lady.    How could I give up something that I enjoyed so much?

Thinking it over one day I came upon the solution.   I could still buy them if I could sell them and help with our finances.    Oh joy!    A year before this our daughter was married and while she and her husband were visiting I showed them the book case that had all the books I was saving for their children.  My son in law looked at them and smiled and said Grandma's library.   So when I decided to start selling books on Amazon that is the name that popped into my head for my store. 

Grandma's Library was born!  I went on happily looking for books.  The wonderful thing is that since I had been looking for books for so many years, I could easily spot those  that I had never seen before.  These are usually the best ones to sell.  There are hundreds of copies of all the favorite ones like Dr. Seuss and they are not worth much online.   Without realizing it I had gained some knowledge of children's books. 

Two years ago our first grand child was born, a beautiful little girl.   And the tradition continues.  I have bought her lots of books and will continue to do so.  And just this last summer we are now the proud grand parents of the sweetest little boy.   More books coming. 

Grandma's library online has done well. I like thinking that I am helping to spread my love of good books to other little children.  And I love that I now am blessed to do so with my own grandchildren.
My "library" on Amazon   

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stone Soup

When the cold weather hits I haul out my crockpot and start making soup.

No Matter what the recipe is I usually start by adding 2 large onions, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2 large carrots, 3 stalks of celery with the leaves and fresh parsley.     I use a small food processor for the onions, garlic, celery leaves and parsley and when I am done I rinse the bowl of the food processor with a little water to get every last bit of veggie goodness and add it to the pot. It always make me feel very frugal.   

What has saved many an otherwise ho-hum pot of soup is a jar of Better than Bouillon in my fridge.  Just add a heaping tablespoon or two and it tastes better every time.   I have given jars of it as gifts, that's how much I like it.  Somewhere I read about a woman who feels the same way about  Italian Seasoning, she said she puts it in everything and so I crush some in my hands to get the most flavor and add it too.

Next I add some type of protein - meat, barley or beans.  Beans!.  There is this awesome little Mennonite store by my Mom's house that sells all sorts of beans in bags for a very reasonable price.   I like to buy all different colors and then mix them together in tall storage jars ( it looks pretty on the shelf too).
  A friend told me that her kids will eat any soup with Red Lentils in it because they make the soup creamy.  So that is one of the beans I add to my mix.

I like that I can throw this all in the night before and let it cook on low while I sleep. 
In the morning I take a peek and if necessary add some more water and it is ready to eat by lunch.

While I was chopping up the veggies tonight I was thinking about the children's book Stone Soup.   In that story a stranger comes to a town and the people there will not share their food with him.     .  He offers to make them the best tasting soup they ever had and they are eager to try it.  He asks for the biggest pot that they have and fills it with water.  Then he adds an ordinary stone to it.   After the water has heated up he tastes it and says something like you know what this soup needs?   And proceeds to ask for first onions, then carrots and on through a list of ingredients that each of the neighbors, one by one,  runs and eagerly gets to add to the soup.  I love that they are all working together and are not aware of what this stranger is teaching them about sharing.   In the end the soup tastes just right and they are all amazed that a stone could make such good food.      It makes me realize that food is meant to be shared.