Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!
The Nuni, lucky child that she is, gets read to every night before bed. We started with board books, then moved on to picture books. Right around the time she was three, I decided that if I had to continue reading Fancy Nancy every night, I might actually die of boredom. At around the same time, the Nuni was commuting with me to preschool for over two hours a day, and had grown tired of Broadway musicals. I turned to chapter books – a great love of mine in both childhood and adulthood. We listened to audiobooks in the car, and read a chapter (or half a chapter) at bedtime. Picture books are wonderful, but chapter books are where the love of literature is really born. These are some of our favorite series to listen to and read together. Since the Nuni is a girly girly girl, she likes hearing stories about girls, and all of these feature strong, independent and interesting girls to draw in my fearless daughter. (NOTE: Links are Affiliate links which means I may get about 4 cents from Amazon if you click on them. You know the drill)
As part of my Lenten obligation to give up stuff (I’m going through our house and trying to reduce our load of things in an effort to focus more on what’s important), I’ve been doing a sweep of bookshelves. Books are particularly hard for me to cull — I am a bibliophile and a re-reader. I also grew up with two professors of English, and I want my bookshelves to be the resource for my kids that my parents’ bookshelves were for me. Still, we had plenty of books that will never be re-read (and some that were never read in the first place — ahem, I’m looking at you, college Sociology texts!) and that I have no need to pass on to my kids. So, four banker’s boxes later, out they go. Then I tried to do the same with the Nuni’s bookshelves, and this proved even more difficult. I took the opportunity to adios a few books I considered twaddle to begin with (too many princess books), and ones that neither the Nuni nor I particularly liked (children’s Bible stories are not a fave in our house. My favorite nativity story has the actual text from Luke).
The plus side of this exercise is that I was able to rediscover some of my favorite books from her babyhood, that were read over and over again and beloved by both mother and child. Right now most of our reading together time is spent on chapter books (right now we’re enjoying The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton), and her solo reading time is spent on early readers, like Mo Willems’ excellent Elephant and Piggie Series. So it was fun to revisit these old board books (from the time when chewing was a very real possibility) that I’m looking forward to reading to Roo.
A twist on your classic “animal noises” book, this one never failed to elicit a toddler laugh. All Boynton’s books are silly and delightful, but this one, with its simple words and lilting rhythms, is my favorite.
This is a wonderful “I spy” book containing multiple nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters. Babies will love the rhythms and rhymes (Cinderella on the Stairs I spy the Three Bears!) and toddlers love finding the hidden characters in the detailed illustrations. This was one of my favorites from childhood, and I’ve loved sharing it with my child, too.
There are a million and twelve ABC books out there, but this one is just BEAUTIFUL. The words are simple (A is for apple, B is for Balloon, etc.) but the illustrations, done in Jay’s signature folk art style, are gorgeous and intricate. Each page is its own “I spy” game, with B standing not only for balloon, but also for beehive, butterfly, and ball (and can you see the C cows?) The pictures also tell a charming story, making this a wonderful book for children to look at on their own, as well.
While we’re on the subject of ABCs, I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out Dr. Seuss’s wonderful version. There’s a reason the good doctor is beloved, and this book, full of bouncing rhythms, nonsense words, and a secret lesson in phonics, pretty much sums it up.
I was given this as a gift at my baby shower with the Nuni, and I love the message (mothers give unconditional love) and the execution (EVEN if you’re a green alien who eats bugs instead of peanut butter). My girlie girl found it hilarious, and I’m sure this little boy will be just as tickled.
Every parent of a girl must own this princess tale, in which the princess in question exhibits bravery and a can-do attitude and demands respect in return. Every parent of a little boy should read it too — we could all stand to benefit from the lessons about gratitude and what’s important (hint: it’s not wearing a nice dress).
One of my girlfriends gave this to me before I was even pregnant with the Nuni, and it quickly became a fast favorite. How could I not love this whole series (which includes Yum Yum Dim Sum and Hola, Jalapeno!)? The brightly colored collage pictures are fun, here, and the rhythms are addictive (Miso in my sippy cup, tofu in my bowl. Crab and avocado fill my California roll). What a great way to introduce tiny kids to a variety of foods!
THE classic baby book. But classic for good reason. Nothing beats the soothing rhythms of Good Night Moon for talking a child down to sleep. You’ll read it so many times you’ll have it memorized, which comes in handy when you’re driving and trying to calm an excited child in the car seat behind you. Baby hypnosis of the best kind.
My father did not do many of the things dads do. He did not tinker with tools, or fish, or play golf. He did not manage the household finances, or take me to baseball games, or mow the lawn. My dad did crossword puzzles. He read mystery novels, and most of all, he planned vacations.
My dad was a great traveller, which is a particular accomplishment for someone who had the attachment to comfort that he did. For someone who thought camping was a hotel room without a coffee maker, he managed to cover quite a bit of the world (at least, if you saw the world in the way an Edwardian nobleman around 1906 did, which is to say, outposts of the British empire, Europe, and bits of North Africa.) He sailed the Norwegian fjords, saw the Egyptian pyramids, visited glaciers in both Alaska and Switzerland, sunned on the French Riviera, did his Christmas shopping in New York, and climbed the Acropolis. Despite all these adventures, my dad’s most favorite vacations were the months he spent, nearly every summer, renting an apartment in Paris and pretending he lived there.
Every time he was home, he spent all of his time planning the next vacation, whether it was 1 months away or 11. (Never more than 11, natch). He obsessively researched hotels, planned packing systems, and booked airline tickets (and upgrades) well in advance. My mother kept pretty much every other part of our household spinning, but when it came to vacations, my dad was king
This summer we’re planning a trip, to London and Paris, a trip I’ve dubbed the “Mike Wheeler Memorial Tour.” The trip is happening in part to take a piece of my dad with us — he would want to spend eternity in Paris; that is certain. It’s also happening because my father, true to form, had already bought plane tickets and booked a Parisian flat for him and my mother, and those things aren’t refundable.
(London is on the itinerary because Ken and I met there and fell in love there, so we stop in whenever we can. It’s also less expensive to fly to London and take the Eurostar to Paris, especially since Nuni now travels on the trains but not the planes for free.)
Of course, the minute Ken confirmed his work schedule I started PLANNING. I am, after all, my father’s daughter. I began with the planes and trains, then booked the London hotel (we’re staying in the flat in Paris), and moved on to dinner reservations for London (you can use opentable!) and a rough sketch of things to do in London and Paris (both are cities in which I’ve spent a lot of time, but there are always new things to discover).
Once the things are booked that I can book, then I start in on the books. After all, anticipating a vacation significantly contributes to your enjoyment of said vacation, and I must get in the mood. In addition to guidebooks (my favorites are always the Dorling-Kindersley Eyewitness Guides) I start inhaling, essays, fiction, nonfiction, food books and travel memoirs. By the time I actually leave home, I both feel like I’ve been on vacation for a month already and am stuck reading the Twilight books while I’m actually ON vacation.
That said, if you’re planning a trip to either London or Paris, here are some of my favorite related books:
London Travel Guides) The best guidebook series for practical information plus historical background
The Camomile Lawn
Set partly in a country house, this wonderful novel really captures life in London during WWII.
God Is an Englishman
Not all about London, per se, but embodies the Victorian ethos that you still see traces of all over the city.
Notes from a Small Island
This book is about England as a whole, but Bryson, with his trademark wit, manages to lovingly eviscerate all of English culture. Also worth reading is his biography of Shakespeare.
London: The Biography A literary biography and semi-chronological history that really unpacks London from its earliest days.