The Best Christmas Book Ever

In the crush of holiday wish lists, gadgets, toys and media hype, it’s easy to overlook the four things experts tell us that children really want for Christmas. 

Modern family of four reading Christmas stories

  1. Relaxed time with family 
  2. Realistic expectations about gifts
  3. An evenly paced holiday season
  4. Reliable family traditions

Today I have a recommendation for you—a way that you and your family can accomplish all four things, even at this late date.  Read more

Nine of the Best Money Books for Kids and Teens

If I had a dollar for every person who has ever asked, “Why didn’t anyone ever teach me how to manage money when I was a kid?!,” I’d be a wealthy woman. If you have kids in your life age 3 and up to young adult, consider these excellent books to get those conversations started—discussions that will begin to open the doors to financial literacy.

Grandma reading to grandkids

Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts. This book features a young boy, a pair of shoes and learning the difference between needs and wants. All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has—warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend—are worth more than the things he wants. Ages 5 to 8. About $7.

Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique, by Jane O’Connor. Fancy Nancy, a girl who enjoys turning even the most ordinary events into fabulous occasions, figures out how to earn money first then spend. Ages 4 to 7. About $12.

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams. After the protagonist’s family loses its home in a fire, the family members decide to save coins to buy a new chair for their home. The mother is a waitress and tries to save all of the money she can to help out the family. The mother and daughter take all of the money they save it in a jar. When the jar is full they go out and buy a beautiful chair for the family to enjoy.A story of love and devotion. Ages 5 to 8. About $7. Read more

Great Cookbooks for Kitchen Newbies

 

Dear Mary: My young grandson is getting married soon, and neither he nor his fiance can cook. Could you please recommend a good all-purpose cookbook AND a microwave cookbook for newlyweds who will have a very tight and limited budget? I’m thinking this would be a useful and practical wedding gift. Thank you for your time in answering my question. It is appreciated. Connie R. 

Some rights reserved by Mel B.

Some rights reserved by Mel B.

Dear Connie: Oh, this is so much fun for me because I feel like I have a captive audience in your kiddos, and a willing giver in you. I love, Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen Cookbook: 100 + Great Recipes with Foolproof Instructions, by Nancy Mills and her son Kevin Mills. It’s written in college-student speak, so your kids should find it reader-friendly and not at all intimidating. And it hits on the basics like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, French Toast, Baked Salmon with Garlic, Al Dente Asparagus, just to name a few. And the book teaches cooking “How Tos,” like how to peel garlic, how to get the whole meal on the table at once, what to do with leftovers, and on it goes. This book is a gem. It was first published in 1996, but has been updated and revised since. My original tattered copy is a testament to how I have used it myself, and learned a great deal. Perhaps my favorite chapter of all, “Food to Keep on Hand So You Won’t Starve.”  Read more