Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #48 and 49

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

What We Missed: #47 The Mystery of the Hot Air Balloon. No info about it, but apparently a hot air balloon lands in their yard. Cool?

#48 The Mystery Bookstore: This one isn’t about a haunted bookstore, the mystery part is that the bookstore was bought by a mystery writer who wants to turn it into a mystery bookstore. The kids are in New Orleans with Grandfather, at an auction where a bookstore is going up for sale. His friend, the mystery writer, lives there and wants to buy the store. There’s a bidding war and she eventually can’t afford it, but Grandfather steps in and purchases the bookstore, leasing it to her until she can pay him back.

Several other people are interested in the store, or maybe just the books in it. Rumor has it that the old owner had some valuable stamps hidden away in one of the books. As the kids help the new owner clean out the store and set up a book sale (as they do), they try to solve the mystery of who keeps breaking into the store and what all these suspicious characters are up to.

Turns out the valuable stamp was (of course) in the book set that Violet was given, and she gave it back to the store owner to sell and get her business off the ground.

Any book that has to do with books is an automatic winner for me, and this was always one of my favorites. It was an interesting plot and the kids act more like kids, with their detective work overseen by the mystery writer, who gives them tips on sleuthing. I also really like the cover of this one with the subtle placement of Boxcar Children books in the background.

#49 The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar: It’s Founder’s Day in Greenfield and the kids are super excited for it. They have the brilliant idea of fixing up the old boxcar they used to live in and ride in it for the parade.

When their boxcar is featured in the paper, it brings a bunch of crazies out of the woodwork. First, a train collector offers to buy it very aggressively. Then, a man wants to purchase it so a senator can use it for her re-election tour. A small girl throws a fit because she wants the boxcar as a playhouse.

When the boxcar goes missing out of their backyard, they have a few suspects. They have a bigger problem though, their dog Watch is missing too! They figure out that he was in the boxcar and whoever stole it shut him inside. Luckily, he finds his way home after a day or so.

The kids question the train collector, who doesn’t seem to know anything about it. They try to track down the senator’s assistant, only to find out he’s been fired and the senator knows nothing about a boxcar.

When they run into the bratty child again, she’s going on about her new playhouse and doesn’t seem to like Watch. The kids put two and two together and find their way to their house. The senator’s assistant stole the boxcar to sell to the girl’s rich father to make some quick money. Everything gets straightened out and the kids get to ride the boxcar in the parade.

Something about this book seemed off, especially in the beginning of the book. It was like they got a new ghostwriter who had only read the first book and had a cheat sheet for all other characters and events. The writing is generally for elementary school, so it’s always simple, but it seemed more simple than usual. Also, their cousin Soo Lee was featured again, and this time she only lives a few minutes away from them, when before she lived in a town outside of Greenfield, or on the outskirts of Greenfield. No one has figured out where their family lives yet, despite the fact that there was a book heavily featuring their house.

You Need to Try This Lasagna

 

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So yesterday I ran a bunch of errands. I had to go to Michael’s for cake supplies (they had everything I needed for once, hallelujah!) then go to Aldi for my weekly stop. I also had to do all the laundry and go to my OBGYN appointment. Good news there, everything looks exactly perfect and normal. Bad news, I have to take a gestational diabetes test next time. Bleh.

We got home from the appointment around 3:45 or so, and I had to think about dinner. Being me, pregnant and exhausted, none of my options really appealed to me, and neither did standing over a hot stove for half an hour or more. Of everything I had planned, pasta sounded the best, and even though it was so hot, popping something in the oven and letting it do all the work sounded even better. So, I made this lasagna!

You guys, I am no lasagna expert. I’ve made a few, and they’re always good, but this is the best lasagna I have ever made. Plus it’s super (mostly) healthy! Another bonus, there’s no pre-cooking involved. My husband, who isn’t the biggest fan of spinach or tofu liked it, and I’m already looking forward to eating leftovers for lunch.

I’ve had this recipe in my recipe app for ages, and there’s no link associated with it, so I have no idea where it came from. If this is your recipe or you know who made it, please let me know so I can give credit.

Yum! Look at all the decadent layers and goodness.

The finished dish.

I followed the recipe I had almost exactly with a couple of tiny changes.

Spinach and Tofu Lasagna


Ingredients

12 lasagna noodles (I used no-boil and added 1 cup of water over the lasagna. If using regular noodles, just cook beforehand)

1 (28 oz) jar pasta sauce 

5 to 6 cups fresh spinach

1 package of extra firm tofu

1 Tbsp each apple cider vinegar & honey

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 to 2 cups of cheese (I used mozzarella)

2 eggs

Italian seasoning 


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles if you’re not using no-boil.
  2. In a bowl, mash tofu with a fork. Add vinegar and honey and mix well. Add two eggs, mix well. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then mix in most of the cheese (save some for the top).
  3. Spread a small amount of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.
  4. In the prepared pan, layer as follows: noodles, sauce, 1/3 tofu/cheese mixture, 2 cups spinach, repeat 2 times. End with a layer of noodles, then spread remaining sauce on top. Top with remaining cheese, then sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning. (If using no-boil noodles, add 1/2 cup of water on top of each middle noodle layer, total of one cup.)
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes, removing foil in the last ten minutes.
  6. Allow to cool slightly before serving.


The Harvest Baker by Ken Haedrich

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This book will be released on June 27, 2017. I received a copy through NetGalley.

The author of this book grew up in a family that loved to bake. His first opportunity to cook as a career came when he got a job as the cook in a group home. The gardener there constantly brought him stuff he had grown, and Ken had to figure out how to cook with it.

Every recipe in this book has a base of some fresh fruit or vegetable. The recipes range from breads to quiches and pizzas to, of course, dessert. There’s something for everyone’s taste in here. In the back, there’s a small section dedicated to sauces and glazes as well to top off the recipes.

This is a great book to try if you want to experiment with the strange and delicious looking things you find in the produce section or your local farmer’s market.

Weekly Meal Plan: June 18 – June 23

Coming up to the end of the month, lots going on. I have an appointment today to check on the baby as well as doing a ton of errands. I have to go to Michael’s and pick up supplies for the cakes I’m making this weekend (hopefully they have everything I need this time) as well as make my weekly Aldi run. Work has thankfully hit a slow point at the moment (but not dried up completely) and hopefully it will still be somewhat slow this weekend.

What we’re eating this week:

Tuscan One Pot (pictured) — I used ground beef instead of sausage, and chickpeas instead of beans because my husband hates beans. I also cooked some quinoa and added it at the end.

Spinach and Tofu Lasagna — No link, sorry. I’ve always put off making this because it seemed difficult but when I reread the recipe, it seemed a lot easier. So we’ll see how this turns out.

Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta — Just a simple pasta dish. I want to practice making sauce with flour and butter.

Chicken with Feta Cheese Sauce — Another sauce with butter and flour as well as evaporated milk. This sounds really good. I’m going to pair it with some mashed potatoes.

Simply Great Pork — My usual chicken dish, only with pork chops this time. It’s great either way. Probably serve this with couscous or rice.

Weekly Pinterest Roundup — June 16

Welcome to my weekly Pinterest roundup, no images belong to me, only their respective owners. Click each picture to go to the link.

Pinterest is a huge help in my day-to-day life, I use stuff from it every single day from recipes to fitness routines to just cool lifestyle ideas. Every week I like to round up a few things that I really liked recently.

Inspirational:

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We’re redoing our master bathroom soon and I really like how this is laid out. Click the picture for a lot more inspiration, this entire house is so beautiful and organized!

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I plan on doing this with our son and any future kids. Reading a huge part of my life and I plan on teaching them to read as early as possible.

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I’d like to build this for my husband for his growing collection of tools.

Food:

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Cajun Shrimp with pasta and cream sauce, this sounds delicious.

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I actually found this recipe while I was doing research for an article I was writing on turmeric. This is Turmeric Falafel and it sounds super easy to make!

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I tried this recipe for microwave cookies. They didn’t turn out too well for me, if someone else tries them, let me know how they went!

Style:

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I love the color yellow but it’s never been a good color on me sadly.

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I would never be able to wear this romper, but it is gorgeous!

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Packing a beach bag for a week. I’d leave out the buttondown, polo and khakis, but I like everything else.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #45 and 46

Hello all! This series has taken a bit of a hiatus, mainly because I just haven’t been in the mood to read for a bit, and for a while my books weren’t all that accessible. We were painting the trim in the office and my bookshelf had to be moved, and a lot of the books had to come off and be stacked on the floor. But now it is painted and everything is back neat and orderly.

You may remember my collection looking like this:img_0804

 

We bought a bookshelf just for all of my childhood books, and they filled it up. Ta da, after shot:

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I won’t be reviewing all of these, but there are a lot of series and older books I used to love that I’d like to get to. Shout out if you recognize anything and want me to review it! The bookshelf to the left holds all of my ‘adult’ books like Outlander, Laurie R. King and Karen Rose, as well as my L. M. Montgomery collection, and I have one more to the left of that one that holds mainly nonfiction books.

Now on to your regularly scheduled post.

We last left off on books #42 and 43, about a missing cat and a stage production.

What We Missed: #44 The Dinosaur Mystery, in which the children work in a natural history museum and someone apparently steals dino bones.

#45 The Mystery of the Stolen Music: A prestigious orchestra is in town, because of course, and you know all kids love classical music. Violet is interested because she plays violin, and Grandfather knows people at the orchestra so he makes introductions. The big attraction besides the music is that they are touring with a piece of original Mozart sheet music. But of course it goes missing.

The kids have their suspects, so they quickly get to the bottom of it after some false leads, and figure out who took the music, the orchestra manager who is upset about being taken for granted. Violet gets to play in the children’s orchestra and impresses the first chair violinist of the big orchestra. Their cousin Soo Lee shows up again with a convenient interest in also playing the violin.

This was never one of my favorites growing up, it was just one of the series that I read on my way through it. I didn’t remember much about it.

#46 The Chocolate Sundae Mystery: The kids’ favorite ice cream parlor has been sold to a new owner, and it’s having problems. The old employees quit, and the new ones seem to be pretty incompetent. The kids chip in immediately and get jobs there, but things start going wrong for real. Entire tubs of ice cream are going missing along with sauces and parfait glasses, the whipped cream goes bad, and someone even smashes the big picture window in front, from the inside.

Everything points to the owner of the new neighborhood ice cream truck being behind it all, but that would be too easy. Who is behind all of the problems and are they trying to sabotage the ice cream parlor? Nope, just one of the new employees feeding his friends who don’t get much to eat. Because in a shop that also sells sandwiches, the kids’ one meal a day should be ice cream sundaes.

I liked this one growing up but I didn’t remember it much at all like who was behind the problems. One thing that bothers me is the missing parfait glasses. The boys being fed confess to dropping them on the sidewalk, but why were they taking them home in the first place? Also, check out those giant servings of ice cream on the cover, a bit much don’t you think? Especially Benny with his banana split all to himself.

Breaking Up with Barrett by Katy Regnery

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I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Emily has known Barrett her entire life, despite their 8 or so year age difference they’ve always been somewhat close. Their only problem, he’s an English, the oldest son of a wealthy family, and she’s ‘the help’, the daughter of the gardener and the housekeeper.

When Barrett, who can’t be bothered to take a relationship seriously enough to find someone, needs a woman on his arm to take to business dinners, he offers Emily a semi-regular gig to pose as his fiancee. Emily needs the money for rent, so she accepts. The job is easy enough, Barrett is nice looking and they’ve always gotten along, but Emily feels uneasy about the job as she’s starting to have feelings for him.

After they share a passionate moment or two, she’s ready to back out: she’s not comfortable accepting money when passionate moments are involved. Barrett is close to closing a deal, so he pleads with her for one more weekend, and she agrees with one condition: keep things professional.

Can Barrett and Emily survive a weekend suppressing their feelings?

I don’t read a lot of traditional romance these days but I really liked this book. It was refreshing in that it was predictable enough to tell exactly how it was going to end, but it didn’t feel like I was reading the same old book again. It was also refreshing in that both parties acted maturely and there was none of the contrived ‘one person sees something that looks bad for the other person and doesn’t give them a chance to explain’ or even ‘they’re trying to deny their feelings so they just fight all the time’ either. It was simple and lovely and well-written.