Thursday, September 22, 2016

Going for a Sea Bath gets 4 Stars {picture book} {concept] {math}

Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin is a sea animals picture book with a great father-daughter family relationship and a math concept, counting, thrown in there.  4/5 stars for my book review.  Teachers could use this book for a writing prompt as well as a great "word choice" lesson.  marine life, sea animals, word choice, adjectives, teachers, librarians, lessons, fun, bathtime, counting, math. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

If you love marine life, math concept books, and picture books with a good father-daughter relationship then this book may be a good fit for you.  

Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin is a sea animal bath time book with a counting concept theme.  The family relationship portrayed is fun and good as well.  The illustrations are superb; I love the entire look, colors, style, etc.   

Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin is a sea animals picture book with a great father-daughter family relationship and a math concept, counting, thrown in there.  4/5 stars for my book review.  Teachers could use this book for a writing prompt as well as a great "word choice" lesson.  marine life, sea animals, word choice, adjectives, teachers, librarians, lessons, fun, bathtime, counting, math. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I give this fun picture book 4 out of 5 Stars in my book review.   As stated above, the illustrations and story idea is cute.  I love the math counting, and I love that the math counting terms were bold.  I feel the variety of adjectives for great (such as terrific, magnificent, marvelous, etc.) is superb, and would make this book perfect for a 6 writing traits Word Choice lesson.  This book could also be used for a writing prompt or writing Ideas lesson.   

Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin is a sea animals picture book with a great father-daughter family relationship and a math concept, counting, thrown in there.  4/5 stars for my book review.  Teachers could use this book for a writing prompt as well as a great "word choice" lesson.  marine life, sea animals, word choice, adjectives, teachers, librarians, lessons, fun, bathtime, counting, math. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

There were only a couple things in Going for a Sea Bath that made it lose a star.  I felt the layout was a little random when it came to the bold words.  I loved that the math counting concepts were bold; however, I was not a fan of the other random words and sentences that were bold.  I also felt the writing was just okay.  This book had potential to be really great if it was edited a bit more.  I think a little more editing the story would've felt tighter and mroe powerful.   

Going for a Sea Bath by Andree Poulin is a sea animals picture book with a great father-daughter family relationship and a math concept, counting, thrown in there.  4/5 stars for my book review.  Teachers could use this book for a writing prompt as well as a great "word choice" lesson.  marine life, sea animals, word choice, adjectives, teachers, librarians, lessons, fun, bathtime, counting, math. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

All in all, I felt this kidlit picture book is fun and cute.  I think preschoolers through 1st grade, 2nd grade tops, would enjoy this read and enjoy it as a read aloud.  This book is definitely worth a check-out, and if you love sea animals it may be worth a purchase.  

Amazon had the following book review from School Library Journal

"Leanne does not have the standard tub toys. She bathes with real turtles, eels, clown fish, and sea horses. Her dad delivers them to her footed bathtub after she complains about her boring bath-time. Each time he runs to the beach behind their house, he returns with a successive number of animals. The tub becomes too full when 10 octopuses are dropped in, so the dad and the daughter have a sea bath outside in the ocean. The humor in this story is reminiscent of Robert Munsch's writing. It's over-the-top but heartfelt, and the bright cartoon art is a hoot. Seeing all of the creatures of different sizes, textures, and colors in the tub is anything but boring. VERDICT A fun addition for those looking for new bathtime or numbers books."


Happy Marine Life, Bath time, Counting, and Fun picture book reading!


I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On gets 2.5 Stars {picture book} {concept} {poetry}

Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters.  This books has some really great math poems teachers would love to use or put on  their classroom walls (homeschool or traditional school).  2.5 out of 5 stars for this math poetry book.  There's a handful of really good poems and then quite a few just okay poems.  picture book, rhyming, funny, poetry, Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

To start off, I am a math nerd.  I actually love math, and am one of the few elementary school teachers (and definitely librarians) that think math is fun.  I own a couple great math books, and used them in various lessons when I was an classroom teacher. The Greedy Triangle was one of my favorite books for teaching the names of shapes; it's perfect for 4th and 5th grade.

I also love some fun and entertaining poetry.  I know many kids, including reluctant readers, that can devour a Shel Silverstein book.  Poetry is powerful.  

Combining poetry with my love of a fun picture book and math has the potential for a lot of awesomeness.  

Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters, Lori Sherritt-Fleming, and Peggy Collins is a math concept poetry book with cute colorful pictures and some great poems like the one below.      

Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters.  This books has some really great math poems teachers would love to use or put on  their classroom walls (homeschool or traditional school).  2.5 out of 5 stars for this math poetry book.  There's a handful of really good poems and then quite a few just okay poems.  picture book, rhyming, funny, poetry, Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I give Hungry Math 2.5 out of 5 stars in my book review.  I love that this book is bringing math and literacy together.  I love the colorful and fun pictures..  I think there are a few poems that are really great, and teachers in the upper elementary grades could really use them.  All of the great poems are at the front of the book, but the second half of the book doesn't have the best poems.

As far as layout is concerned, the pictures are really great.  However, some of the longer poems are spread out among 4 pages or 2 page spreads.  I think the poem would be better for readers and more powerful if they were on one page spread (2 connected pages).  It's easy to lose speed and the rhythm of the poem when turning the page.  

Overall, there are some great poems, but I don't think it's enough to purchase one for my classroom library.  However, I think it would be a great book for an elementary school library to own and allow teachers to reference.  

Amazon has the following book description

"Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming team up again for another poetry collection for young readers with the emphasis on math concepts including measuring time, patterns, counting, symmetry, numbers, shapes, estimating and more! 

He was hungry for math, always ready to munch.
Math for his breakfast, math for his lunch.
He'd pig out on pie charts and bar graphs galore,
binge on skip-counting, and still ask for more.
Shapes — he discovered — were less filling fare.
He'd taste test a rhombus, sparing room for a square.
He'd devour the dollars atop his dessert,
then slurp on the coins he'd slopped on his shirt.
At night, in the dark, he'd gnaw on base ten,
toss back some clocks, and crunch numbers again." 


Be honest, do you love or hate math?


Happy Poetry and Math reading and Happy Using Literature to Teach Math!




I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and reviews are my own. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cauliflower Rice- Baked {Healthy} {Gluten Free}

Healthy Cauliflower Rice Baked and so easy to make.  This diet friendly substitute for rice is easy to make and perfect to use in salads, under chili, or however you desire.  Recipe on the blog gluten free, easy to make, quick to make Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

After a week of birthday treats and fun, I should probably up the healthier food intake and lessen the sugar intake.  I'm making a batch of this Oven-Baked Cauliflower Rice.  It's a great way to sneak in some vegetables, lessen the carbs, and enjoy some delicious, easy to make cauliflower rice.  This baked menthod is now my favorite way to make cauliflower rice. 

I still like to saute cauliflower rice using this method, but baking it is just a bit easier and therefore ideal when you are busy like the majority of us. Plus, this rices tastes delicious and is seasoned just perfectly.  However, you can easily season it to fit the dish (using the same spices) you are making.  

In the recipe I'm going to include a way to make your cauliflower rice using a blender.  Some people use a food processor, and others use a shredder.  I've done all the methods and the blender is easy, but there is a method that is even easier, as impossible as that seems, and that is buying pre-shredded cauliflower.  I used to get already shredded "Cauliflower Rice" from Trader Joes, but I just found some at Costco, and that made me super happy b/c I'm at Costco constantly for spinach for my Green Smoothies.  

Though, one quick word of warning about Costco Cauliflower Rice.  Do not follow the steam directions on the package.  The rice will taste way better if you bake or saute it using my recipes.  


Baked Cauliflower Rice
Recipe: Alohamora
Active Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 30 minutes
Servings: About 4 cups

Ingredients
Cauliflower florets- either buy a 2 lb bag, 1-2 heads, or pre-shredded cauliflower rice
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash salt/pepper
Other seasonings as desired, it's incredibly versatile

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. 
  2. If you bought pre-shredded cauliflower rice you can skip to step 4.  Wash your cauliflower florets (if you bought a head just cut into florets using a large knife), and place half of the florets in your blender.  I use a Blendtec. Cover the cauliflower florets with water and pulse it 4-5 times.  
  3. Pour the blender contents into a fine mesh strainer, strain the water, and pour the rice into a large bowl.  Complete the other half of florets in the same manner. 
  4. With the cauliflower rice in a large bowl, add the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and seasonings.  You can keep it simple with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper, or you can add some of the same flavors/spices from the dish you are using the rice with.  Stir to mix and combine everything. 
  5. Pour the rice into to the prepared pan, flatten and even it all out.  Bake the cauliflower rice at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes until the rice is slightly brown, yet still soft. 
  6. Enjoy your rice with salads, under chicken, mixed with chili, or however you choose. 
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Happy Healthy Oven-Baked Cauliflower Rice eating!




Monday, September 12, 2016

Smoky Bacon Cream Sauce with Butternut Squash Ravioli {30 Minute Meal}

Smoky Bacon Cream Sauce- homemade using healthy Tumeric aka anti-inflammatory- served over Butternut Squash Ravioli.  Easy quick weeknight meal. Use premade ravioli scratch, easy, convenient, Fall food, yummy, delicious, Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

It's my birthday week, so I figured it was only fitting that I share something butternut squash related.  I absolutely LOVE all things butternut squash related.  

Here are a few of my favorite butternut squash recipes in case you have an obsession with this wonderful winter squash as well. 



To make this dish busy weeknight friendly, allowing you to get it on the table in 30 minutes, I used premade frozen butternut squash ravioli. I like this brand,Rising Moon, b/c it is delicious and I often get a Buy One Get One sale at Sprouts.

However, the deliciousness with this dish comes from the amazing homemade cream sauce.  I add bacon, but it is amazing without the bacon if you want to keep it vegetarian.  There is a little turmeric, which compliments the butternut squash so well, and it has some ani-inflamatory benefits which I need.  

All in all, this cream sauce is AMAZING, it's easy to make, you feel like a Boss making it from scratch, and the dinner is ready in no time.

Smoky Bacon Cream Sauce w/ Butternut Squash Ravioli
Recipe: Alohamora
Active Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Time: 0 
Servings: 4-6 people

Ingredients: 
2 (8oz) pkg frozen butternut squash ravioli 
1/4 c. butter, unsalted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp basil, dried, or fresh
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c. bacon bits (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Boil a pot of water and prepare the ravioli according to the directions on the package. 
  2. While the water and ravioli is going begin your sauce.  In a large saucepan melt the butter and garlic together.  
  3. Add the flour when the butter is melted and stir to combine it.  
  4. Quickly add the spices, or slide pan from the heat and add the salt, pepper, ground mustard, turmeric, and basil to the pan and stir until just combined and flavorful. 
  5. Add the milk to the pan and stir constantly until the sauce is thickened. 
  6. When thickened turn off the heat and add the mozzarella.  Stir the cheese until it is melted. 
  7. Finally, add the bacon bits to the sauce if you desire. 
  8. Serve the sauce hot over the cooked ravioli. 
  9. Enjoy! 
  10. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 


Happy Amazing Smoky Homemade Cream Sauce with Butternut Squash Ravioli eating


Friday, September 9, 2016

The King and the Sea gets 2 Stars {Picture Book}

The King and the Sea by Jeinz Janisch is full of 21 very short stories about a King. In my book review this book gets 2 out of 5 stars.  Picture book Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The King and the Sea by Heinz Janisch is full of 21 very short stories about a king who comes across various animals, insects, nature, or inanimate objects.  He tries to to assert his power over all of the various items, and the stories end up sounding more philosophical than funny kid literature.  

I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.  I think the simple pictures, and the short text compliment each other as shown below.  I do like the idea of short stories about one character, but I don't think it was done quite right.  I think the text and the stories were trying to be funny, but they weren't obviously funny and the connections were difficult to make.  The book was kind of boring, and though it is trying to be a book for children it is not written at an elementary school level. 

I know in School Library Journal's book review they stated The King and the Sea is best for Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that it would be a solid choice for a school library.  However, I think otherwise. 

The King and the Sea by Jeinz Janisch is full of 21 very short stories about a King. In my book review this book gets 2 out of 5 stars.  Picture book Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Goodreads has the following book description

"“Buzz off,” said the king, shooing the bee from his flower.
“Don’t you know I’m the king?”
“And I’m the queen,” said the bee, stinging the king’s nose.
These stunningly illustrated, ultra-short stories are seemingly simple but ultimately profound tales.

In each story, the king has an encounter which he tries to rule over. But of course the rain doesn’t stop just because a king orders it, and tired eyelids can be much stronger than a king’s will. The king sees that his power has limits; the world is diverse and much of it operates under its own rules."

Happy Extremely Short Story Philosophical Picture Book Reading! However, if I were going to read a collection of short stories I would read Aesop's Fables or Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. 

I received this book from Myrick Marketing for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dumplin' gets 3.5 Stars {YA} {Realistic/Contemporary Fiction}

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is the first in a contemporary realistic fiction series about a fat/overweight girl finding herself and  what it means to be a friend with a touch of romance.  If you like Rainbow Rowell give this one a read.  YA Lit, young adult literature, teen read, high school, 9th 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.  Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is a a YA/Young Adult/Teen read about an overweight girl that breaks stereotypes.  It's a fun contemporary fiction about Willowdean, a 16 year old, learning more about herself, what she is capable of, true friendship, and a little of what love and romance is. 

I give Dumplin' 3.5 out of 5 Stars in my book review. This fun quick read is good, but it wasn't great.  I liked that it was about breaking stereotypes. I liked that it is a book about a fat girl (she calls herself that, not me) and the struggles she has with loving and accepting herself.  I liked that this book, a first in a soon to be series, was a light, quick read.  

However, I didn't like that this book had so much potential and just left me with a "Meh" feeling.  I didn't like that Willowdean really didn't have a positive body image or herself when a book about breaking stereotypes and a fat girl really should have.

Overall, I liked Dumplin', but it wasn't amazing.  However, teenage girls in 9th grade and up would enjoy this read, and they probably wouldn't over analyze it like I do.  As far as content is concerned this book has language, underage drinking, and sex is talked about.  It's not squeaky clean, but it wasn't offensive. 

Amazon had the following book description: 

"For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel with the most fearless heroine—self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson—from Julie Murphy, the acclaimed author of Side Effects May Vary. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.  
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all."


To be honest, I would put this book more in line with Rainbow Rowell; I think John Green's writing has more depth, but Dumplin' is still a fun read.  

Hare you read this book?  Are you going to read it? Go check it out! 


Happy Fun Light Contemporary Fiction Reading


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pink Strawberry Cupcakes

Pink Strawberry Cupcakes and/or Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes with ice cream filling.  Easy to make cupcakes for birthday, baby shower, girls night, fun party, etc.  Cupcakes, homemade, scratch, easy, celebrate. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I'm kind of on a cupcake kick right now.  It's my birthday month, and I am under the assumption that it is totally acceptable to make loads of cupcakes the entire month.  We'll see if my short attention span can really pull off cupcakes all month long, but for now I'm having fun and it all tastes delicious. 

Since I have a husband and daughter who don't love chocolate, I figured cute Pink Strawberry Cupcakes were necessary to keep everyone happy after my decadent chocolate ice cream filled cupcakes yesterday.

These cupcakes, are not only cute, but they can easily be transformed into Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes by filling the cupcakes with vanilla ice cream.  Fill them using the same technique as these cupcakes.  Ice cream in the cupcakes really takes them to another level, and your guests will pretty much think you are amazing.  

Pink Strawberry Cupcakes

Recipe: Alohamora and adapted from Joy of Baking
Active Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes + cooling time.
Servings: 12-15 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 strawberry baking flavor powder
1/2 c. milk
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring

Frosting:
1/2 c. butter, softened
3 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp strawberry baking flavor powder
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring
1 1/2 -3 Tbsp milk

Toppings: (optional)
Sprinkles, strawberries, candy, graham cracker crumbs, etc.

Directions: 


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners.  
  2. In a medium to large bowl or a stand mixer beat the butter on low until smooth. 
  3. Add the sugar to the bowl and mix until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix after each addition.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and strawberry flavoring to the bowl and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to to be sure the batter is mixed well. 
  6. Add the milk in a slow stream with the mixer on.  Mix until just combined; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the food coloring and mix until coloring is mixed through. 
  7. Use a large cookie scoop, ice cream scoop, or pour the batter into the muffin cups.  Do not fill the muffin cups more than 3/4 full.
  8. Bake the cupcakes at 325 for 18-22 minutes until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them. 
  9. I usually make the frosting while the cupcakes are cooling.  In a stand mixer beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. 
  10. Add the powdered sugar, strawberry baking flavor powder, and vanilla to the mixer and beat until just combined.
  11. Add the food coloring, and with the mixer on low stream the milk into the frosting.  Start with 1 1/2 tablespoons and add more milk only until you've reached your desired consistency.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and whip for 1-2 minutes until the frosting is light, fluffy, and smooth. 
  12. When cupcakes are completely cool you can frost the cupcakes.  I really love using this Dessert Decorator b/c it makes icing so simple.  However, a piping bag isn't difficult either.  If you are filling your cupcakes with ice cream, obviously fill them before icing; use this technique to fill them.  I personally love to do half the batch filled with ice cream, and the other half without filling.
  13. Add any sprinkles, strawberries, candy, graham cracker crumbs, or toppings that you desire.    
  14. Serve and enjoy! 
  15. Store leftovers on the counter, or in the refrigerator.  If you decide to fill the cupcakes with ice cream then obviously store leftovers in the freezer. 

Happy Pink Strawberry Cupcake eating and/or Strawberries and Cream Cupcake eating!