book reviews, general information and events

summer things + a wee book review.

summer things.

This is not where we’re staying, by the way: I’m pretty sure some totally unsavory things go on at these beach shacks, but I’ve always liked the look of them. It’s random post time, people; a virtual postcard, if you will, to show you some of the things we’ve been doing.

summer things.

summer things.

summer things.

We’ve done some exuberant running along the beach…

summer things.

some leisurely bike-riding, emphasis on “leisurely”…

summer things.

a little pool-swinging (that’s me right there; people always look so short in the water!)…

summer things.

summer things.

…and some recreational bird-watching.

Yeah. If you said “yikes!” you’ve just scratched the surface of what comes out of my mouth down here. Thank heavens for enclosed pools, just saying. It’s very “prehistoric chic” around here as far as the birds go.

summer things.

It doesn’t always do this in the backyard, friends. This was a day the vacation was really showing off. Don’t try so hard, Vacation; everyone knows you’re cool.

summer things.

To summarize: we have worn ourselves out.

Because of this, our vacations always include a lot of generalized hanging out. Since I’d like to preserve the Wee One’s skin as much as I can, some of that lounging happens inside. During the hot times of the day, we play in the dollhouse, make the stuffed animals tea, make puzzles, and read books. One book seems to have really struck a chord with the tiniest member of us, probably because it’s about food. A few months ago, a local children’s author contacted me and was kind enough to ask if I would mind reading her book and writing a review. Now, you all know how much I love to spontaneously review books on this space, but to have someone put their book before me and actually ask me to review it? Crazy. Crazy fun, that is. So I said okay. Brace yourselves.

end of the rainbow fruit salad.

The book? End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak and Marianne Welsh, illustrated by Kristin Gau. It’s part of the Kitchen Club Kids book series, which focuses on getting kids familiar with the ingredients that go into some of their favorite dishes. It’s pretty adorable, because at the end of each book is a recipe using the food they saw while reading. And you know how kids books are; they really try to sneak in the learning, and this one is no exception. Kids not only get to learn a little bit about each fruit that goes into the fruit salad, but they practice their counting and color-identifying skills along the way. There’s even a wee pickle with a face that pops up on each page for you to find, like a vegetable version of Where’s Waldo.

I loved this book: it’s colorful, there’s many different kinds of fruit in there, ranging from common (bananas) to schmancy (papayas!), so kids can feel confident with what they know, but maybe learn some new things along the way. It’s catchy and flows very nicely from page to page. You know who loves it even more than I do? That’s right; The Wee. She adores it. It’s become a most-requested book in this house, to the point where we’ve both memorized pages of it. We handle that differently: I find them popping into my brain, and usually keep them there, while the Wee One happily singsongs passages of it while running from room to room. The page on kiwifruit prompted me to buy kiwis, which I haven’t done in years, having forgotten how much I enjoyed them. The Wee One had never seen a real live kiwi, so this was equally thrilling for her.

fruit salad bowl

There’s three books so far in the series: The End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad is available now, and both Garden Safari Vegetable Soup and Feed Your Senses Homemade Bread are coming soon. If you’ve got little wee ones running around, or if you know someone who does, these would make a fantastic addition to your library. Honestly, I may need to use the one about bread for reference in my own library; I wouldn’t mind the mysteries of bread explained to me at a preschool level. The Kitchen Club Kids series is available through Bread & Butter publishing; head on over to their website to find out more about their little Wee One-approved reading selections.

The Wee One says hello, by the way, and would like to tell you that she doesn’t want to start preschool, and also that she was at the beach last night but just did walking and did not dig in the sand or make castles. I’m fairly certain she’s forgotten that we don’t live here, so she’s in for a surprise next week when we return home. I have not done one single, tangible thing in terms of her birthday party (just thoughts; so many thoughts, and also brainstorming) so it should be interesting to see what I can pull together in three weeks’ time. I’ll probably need your help, if you don’t mind, so have your Facebooks at the ready so I can inundate you with questions, show you how it’s going, and ask your opinion on food and decorations. You all are so great at that.

We’ve made some pretty good food things down here, I must say: I’ll be sharing some of that with you very soon. We make things and I either forget to write things down or it’s done at a time when photos are impossible. I’ve discovered two things I’m a little in love with: the “Florida” avocado and the honey mango.

summer things.

The Florida avocado is dubbed “The Slimcado” because it contains 35% fewer calories and 50% less fat than your average avocado (Chubbycado?). It’s also twice the size, so I suppose if you eat a full-size Slimcado versus a full-size Chubbycado, you’d actually be eating


More calories and more fat. By something percent, but more calories, I think, than fat. Whatever.

As for the honey mango, I’m fairly certain that honey mangos are what all mangos aspire to. They are beyond perfection as far as mangos go; soft, and supple, and sweet as they can be. Delectable, really. I could eat them all the time, but sadly, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them back home. Locals, help me out; have you ever seen a honey mango anywhere? Do tell, because I am running to wherever they are located.

Aaaanyway, I could talk to you all forever, but I won’t keep you. More actual recipes on the way soon enough.

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  • Reply Peggy Tschetter July 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    That really could be a picture of you! I remember when you were that “short”, swimming in your grandma’s pool, and your little one looks just like you!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

      i agree, aunt peggy, it COULD be a photo of me. there are certain photos I take of her where i know she looks exactly like me. it’s freaky. 🙂 What’s even freakier is she acts like me, with a little of Ashley thrown in for good measure; she’s way more of a ham than i ever was.

  • Reply Emma July 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Hey there lil shawty. How do you look so good in your too-cute ribbon-tied swimsuit? Oh yeah, you told us – leisurely bike rides and Slimcadoes.

    I love those fruit stands in Florida that are just brimming with gorgeous gorgeous produce. Florida avocadoes, and mangoes, and everything else under that hot relentless sun. I also love when they ask if you want your mango de-seeded for you:)

    Just looked up your beach. Now I really want to hop on a night train, sooooo bad. Makes me long for Boca Grande…. which I hope to make it back to someday:) Ah, life is beautiful!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

      heeeyyyyyyyy, girl. 🙂 it’s all about the slimcadoes and cycling. and some pretty intense floor puzzles.

      those are so incredible, right? Floridians doesn’t realize how good they have it. They’re missing some of the more Midwestern things we take for granted up here (which makes me remember to appreciate my OWN produce), but Florida has quite a lot to choose from in terms of produce.

      i feel cheated now: no one asked me about de-seeding my mango. 😉 although in this day and age, that could TOTALLY be taken the wrong way.

      that’s one of our beaches: i’ll say that’s our childhood beach, because we always went there growing up (when we swam in the ocean without getting the heebie-geebies). I like to go there at night, because they have really nice sunsets. It’s more of a wildlife preserve now: they get lots of sea turtles coming up to lay eggs, so they have night watchmen whose job it is to sit in the vegetation – all night – to make sure no one messes with the turtles or their eggs. it’s a more natural beach in the way that they don’t spray or do any raking there? so it’s nice, but there are some downsides, like roped-off sea turtle nests, bugs, and seaweed. For a more “fluffy” beach, we head to Venice Beach, which they do keep very clean and nice; not nearly as many bugs, which is the best feature. It’s where lots of the beachfront property is, they have a cute little midcentury concession pavillion, little bands come and play at night…really fun.

      Boca Grande! fancy! That’s where the big houses are. Pretty up there, and not terribly far from where we are, either.

  • Reply Abbe@This is How I Cook July 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Shannon, just enjoy! Looks like a great kids book and I love kids books. I m so ready to have someone to read them, too! But that is still awhile away. Have fun and personally, I think you should shut that computer. It is to easy to get caught up in them!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:56 am

      thanks! it’s a really cute book, and i really am looking forward to seeing the others in the series. this one was a big hit with the Wee One, which is the most important thing, and i like that she keeps going back to it; we have so many books here that when she finds favorites, i make note. 🙂
      i wish i could completely shut the computer: i promise, i’m using it way less, and in the past 4-5 days since i wrote the “hiatus” post, i’m feeling like, really reenergized. it’s too easy to get caught in the constant checking of things and the constant “one more thing” when you’re online, so i’m really trying to turn it on, do what i need to, and shut it back down.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats July 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm


    you do look awfully short in that swimming pool, what a crazy phenomenon! i love how completely wrecked she looks in her last picture, like she’s ready to fall over at any moment.

    i’ve heard of these “skinny-cados” but have yet to actually see one in the wild. and i’ve never even HEARD OF a “honey mango”… i thought it was just some weird thing people in florida were doing where they were pouring honey onto mangoes and then eating them (i guess, in retrospect, it doesn’t sound THAT weird… but still)

    i can’t wait to see what you come up with for the wee ones birthday, bc i KNOW IT WILL BE AMAZING!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 10:00 am

      i know, right? it’s just a trick of the water, but SO weird. 🙂 she WAS wrecked in that last picture; like we call that “awake napping,” because she’ll go through phases where she is completely offended by your mention of a nap, but will spend about an hour in Zone Mode. I think she was having so much fun that day she had no idea if she was awake or not.

      evidently (thanks to some facebook and comment responders) they are also called the Champagne mango? i had no idea…like how sunchokes were also jerusalem artichokes. but they are ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD. like puts other mangos to shame. i actually don’t understand why anyone who had a choice would go regular when they could have a Honey/Champs mango.

      i’m trying REALLY hard this year for a good party. And i WILL BE POSTING IT hopefully to Apt Therapy, if they’ll have me. along with the others i have yet to post. 🙂 In my notes for the year, i have the word “focus more on parties.” so look out.

  • Reply Monica July 19, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Looks like a lovely summer so far! I can’t stop drooling over that mango. It looks an awful lot like champagne (or “Ataulfo”, I think), which are my favorite. And the books sound very cute! Have a great weekend!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 10:02 am

      evidently it IS a champagne/ataulfo mango! thanks to you, and a few others, i did a little research and that’s indeed what it is – i guess some parts of the country call them different things. i had no idea, but now i’m going to look for them under all the names so i don’t miss out if they pop up at my local stores!.

  • Reply Ashley July 19, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    thank you, thank you for soaking up some vacation for me! and for sending a blog-postcard. I needed it in the worst way…

    as for birthday party inspiration, i love so many things from here ( seriously, too cute. plus i love the cocktail recipes from their “drinks” section.

    and i kinda want that book. and the fruit salad. dang.

  • Reply movita beaucoup July 20, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Best postcard EVER.

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

      if i marketed Wee One postcards, i think i’d probably make a fortune. Maybe someday.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog July 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    It looks like you had an amazing time. I love the last photo of the wee-one. Mmm, fruit salad!

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

      we did have quite the fun time, for sure. i’m already looking forward to next year, when she’s fully swim-independent and a little bit faster on those legs when we go walking. 😉

  • Reply Elizabeth @ Eating Local in the Lou July 22, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Your blog posts always make me smile, especially this one! I too have this End of the Rainbow book and just think it is the cutest book and so fun to read to the little sweeties that I work with.

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

      aw, thanks Elizabeth! isn’t that the cutest book? the Wee One took to it like a moth to a flame when we got it, which doesn’t happen with every book, believe me. I’m excited to see the others in the series!

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats July 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Man, are you trying to make us even MORE jealous of your already amazing-sounding vacation? It worked. It looks like you guys are having just so much fun 🙂 I only wish that on my next vacation I can run half as happily as the Wee One. Enjoy these last days before you return home, Shannon! So excited to see what you dream up for the Wee One’s bday. And those books sound totally adorable 🙂

    • Reply shannon July 26, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Amy, we had TONS of fun. For the first time since the Wee has been born, it seemed like a really relaxing vacation. not that it wasn’t for the past few years, but Year One was her juuuuust starting to walk (terrifying, lots of falls, lots of tile flooring and pool decks to crash into), Year Two was lots of “i have to be with mommy/all the time mommy/mommy where are you/where’s my mommy I WILL CRY NOW” (terrifying, because not only did she not understand the concept of swimming yet, but also we all had to be around her all the time, which meant lots of time staring at the pool from the house), but Year Three has been like vacationing with a little girl versus a baby. She can swim (!), she doesn’t mind me being away from her, and she likes a steady rotation of people hanging out with her, which means we all get some pool time and some wee one time.
      now that i am home, it’s steady party-planning mode. it’s ON. 🙂

  • Reply Willow (Will Cook For Friends) August 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Okay, I don’t even have a child and I want that book. I mean, really want. Come to think of it, I own several children’s books (which I have bought in my adult life, for myself), so maybe I just have a thing for them, haha!
    As for your vacation, it looks like just an awesome time (besides the pre-historic sized birds, maybe). I’ve never heard of honey mangos (though, I have found that depending on where you are, as in, what store you’re in, different places will call the same mango by many different names), but I have been lucky enough to find some super-sweet ones just recently. I put them into a sorbet, and I swear I barely needed to add any sugar — so good!

    • Reply shannon August 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      hey: no judgement! i love childrens’ books; some of them are super creative, and with some gorgeous illustrations. i highly recommend this one: at the conference this weekend, i talked to several of the bloggers who had reviewed this book with me, and it was unanimous. all their kids LOVED it.

      i could have done without the prehistoric birds, yes. and the honey mangos seem to be called champagne mangos in most places? it sounds like maybe that’s the more common name (way to go florida; confuse everyone!) 🙂 i’m sort of happy summer is wrapping up, but i’m really going to miss the summer fruit.

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