Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jo's Boys

Today I finished the last of the Little Women series, "Jo's Boys."  It is amazing to me how you can read a book again for probably about the 4th or 5th time and still get so much out of it.  This beautiful story takes place about 10 years after Little Men.  It won't make any sense unless you read Little Men first.  Jo's old Plumfield school has blossomed into a small college which all three living March sisters take an active hand in.  The story continues for almost all the boys in Little Men as well as Jo, Meg, and Amy's children.  There are some really beautiful passages that just warm my heart every time I read them.  There were some lessons in the story that I really needed this time around.  One thing I love about Louisa May Alcott and particularly this book is the way she writes her women characters and there is one particular chapter where the women of the college get together for a sewing group and the advice that is given to these girls means so much more to me now that I have several teenage girls that I am helping along in life.  I would have to say again that Jo and Dan's story is again my favorite.  Dan is the orphan that Jo adopted in her heart and has tried for years to help.  If you can make it through a certain talk that Jo and Dan have towards the end of the book without crying, more power to you.  Again, it has taught me so much about being a future parent and a leader of young women.  I can highly recommend this last book in the March family saga.  Even today when I closed it I was wishing that she would have written more March family books.  My mind was racing through all three books about other stories that might be told by a Louisa May Alcott enthusiast.  Consequently...writing one of them also happens to be on my 101 things in 1001 days list.  :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#66 Go to the Gourmandise Bakery in Salt Lake City

This may come as a surprise to most of you, but I love bakeries.  Again, shocker...I feel very at home in them.  I love the smells, the atmosphere, the treats, and the entire magical experience.  Today we went down to Bountiful to celebrate my nephews' birthdays and had the chance to slip over to the Gourmandise bakery.  I've heard about this bakery for years and despite getting to the Salt Lake area quite a few times I year, I've never been.  It was definitely a delightful experience.  It is a pretty cafe type bakery, with white lights all along the awning.  There is a place to eat outside but it was sprinkling so no one was out there, just a family of sparrows who had stopped by for an afternoon treat of crumbs.  The inside was bustling, there was a hostess sitting people for lunch (it looked like a pretty good lunch menu) and there were also people just at the counter picking out baked goods from the display case.  Their cakes looked immaculate.  The breads were humongous.  There were rainbow colored fruit pastries and a variety of French delights, including macaroons and palmier.  I decided on a palmier, which is a large twisty crunchy pastry made out of puff pastry dough.  To me the inside tasted like a croissant while the outside tasted like the pie crust edge on a pie.  It was delightful! I enjoyed the entire experience and will have to make stopping at Gourmandise bakery a Salt Lake necessity!

Monday, October 12, 2015

#74-Make Homemade Citrus Cleaner

I LOVE the smell of oranges.  I love the smell orange peel.  As a kid, when I would peel my oranges I would twist the pieces of peel around my finger and bend them in half drawing out the oils and then I would just smell the heavenly scent that it left behind on my hands.  When I saw this idea for a homemade citrus cleaner I knew that was something I needed to try.  It is very simple.  Basically, peel an orange, place all the peels in a large mason jar.  Fill the jar with vinegar (either regular or cleaning) put somewhere a little cooler and wait.   The longer that you wait the better.  I waited about 3 1/2 weeks.  After the smell is orange instead of vinegar, take out all the peels.  When I do it again, I will probably make more than one jar because to wait over three weeks for a half a jar of cleaner was a bit of a let down but the cleaner itself is wonderful and has no harsh chemicals!  I added about 15 drops of orange essential oil.   The smell might be a bit over-powering but is delightfully citrusy.  I would say that it would probably be fine to dilute it a bit with distilled water.  All in all this was a very fun experiment!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Little Men

Little Men takes place pretty soon after Little Women and is the story of Jo and Fritz’s adventures running their school for boys at Plumfield.  Some fun new characters are introduced in the boys who are at the school.  Some of them are orphans, some are not but they all call Jo and Fritz “Mother” and “Father” Bhaer.  It is a wonderful book and just like all of Louisa May Alcott’s books, it does me a lot of good to read it.  Jo is at the center of it and is still as “Jo” as ever.  She is the center of all of these young boy’s worlds.  It is fun to get to know Fritz better through this book and their two young sons Rob and Teddy are adorable.  Meg’s twins Demi and Daisy are out at Plumfield and are both featured heavily in the book.  Laurie is probably the other “Little Women” character who is featured the most, along with his little fairy princess of a daughter Bess.  This book can at times get a little more boring than Little Women, and is at times a little too preachy but is filled with some wonderful moments.  In particular the story of Dan and the mother/son relationship that develops between him and Jo is one of the most beautiful stories of redemption and the power of love I’ve ever read.  It is one of my favorite relationships throughout the entire “Little Women” series.  There are some wonderfully funny moments too, like Jo’s play of Cinderella she gets together for Thanksgiving or Tommy Bang’s antics.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Little Women!