Waiting for Unicorns

I don’t know if y’all have any amazing friends who also happen to be famous but I am happy, honored, privileged and very proud to share with you that I do! My dearest friend Beth’s debut novel came out earlier this year and it’s a gorgeous book with heart and soul and beauty. Just like the author. (She’s amazing!)

I was lucky enough to attend Beth’s book launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. To read Beth’s book is one thing. To hear her speak about it is another. It was magical.

Here she is at the Red Balloon. It was truly a night to remember and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it.

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And here she is signing books…

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I’d like to share my review with you here and I strongly encourage you to get your hands on your very own copy of Waiting for Unicorns. Many local bookstores are carrying this, especially in Minnesota. You can also order online here and here. Here is my review:

Waiting for Unicorns explores the fragile world of twelve-year-old Talia as she navigates through a journey of grief, hope, and grace. Talia has lost her mother to cancer and travels to the arctic with her father who is a whale researcher. She must adapt to an entirely new place, physically and emotionally. With wishes we can relate to and struggles we can sympathize with, Hautala writes with straightforward elegance as she shares Talia’s tale. Hautala delicately weaves the wisdom and words of Talia’s mother into the narrative and delivers clarity to Talia in her mother’s absence. A wise Inuit woman named Sura guides Talia to a place where she can begin to heal and find hope, and find her footing with her father. Hautala’s debut novel is rich with vibrant imagery and tidbits of wisdom that are relevant at any age. Waiting for Unicorns introduces readers to the unicorn of the sea, the narwhal and to Churchill, Manitoba, where they will discover their emotions intertwine with Talia’s and the grace that connects us all.

One of my favorite excerpts (and there are many) was from page 43, “…sometimes you just need something bigger than yourself to feel whole. To keep all the pieces of yourself from falling apart.”

Beth writes while also wrangling a household of four darling children and owning and operating a stellar advertising agency, Red House Media, with her husband Aaron. Mother’s Day seems an appropriate day to pay her tribute. Congratulations to you my sweet friend on your debut novel, and more to follow! You are an inspiration to moms and writers and women everywhere. You can learn more about Beth on her website.

My Kindergarten Heart – Take Two

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So, this happened again today. There will be just two days of The Kindergarten Heart for this mama. The first one was tough and the second even tougher. I almost didn’t make it out of the school before the break down took place. Big tears welled up at the good-bye point with my baby girl. But I had to fight them back with all I had. Because there were people – parents, teachers, and children – everywhere. So, while the gigantic tears welled up, I dared not let them fall. I saved them all for the car ride home.

I don’t write this to make you cry too but I think that every mom who has done the first-day-of-school-ever thing understands. The very first day of kindergarten is so bittersweet. Eva was so excited and did not ask questions or show any doubt. She came down the stairs for breakfast with her grand proclamation, “It’s the first day of school!” Smiles ensued. Excitement was expressed. I made pancakes and poured milk into glasses, all the while feeling a slight out of body experience. Same with the drive in to school. I had the ‘this-can’t-be-happening’ sensation.

Eva is so lucky to have the same kindergarten teacher that Easton had. Therefore, we are all so lucky. We know her. We love her. She set the bar very high for future teachers to instruct my children throughout their education. Ms. B makes the whole transition to school easier. I know Eva is in the very best hands and for that I am so grateful.

I take heart in knowing that I am not alone in this day. I also know that as parents we don’t just have a kindergarten heart, but a first grade, second grade and all the way through school heart. With each passing year, it is amazing to see the changes, the growth, and my own heart adjust. I try to prepare myself months in advance but I’m never quite ready for the big day.

I hope that your first day back was filled with the same wild ride of emotions. Happy tears are the best kind and while sadness is mixed in, knowing that the baby, toddler and pre-school days are officially over for us, I rejoice in the fact that I have healthy, sweet children and I could not ask for any more.

Growth is inevitable and with time {and a few tears} accepted.

May the growth of your children go slowly and may you soak up every inch!

Toad-in-a-Hole

Isn’t it amazing how food can evoke a memory? An emotion? One bite can bring you right back to the place that you first tasted the delectable delight. So, it is for me and the infamous ‘toad-in-a-hole’.   I had my first taste in Australia. The trip of a lifetime with each moment solidly etched in my brain. My dear friend Catherine made them for us one morning at her home in Adelaide.

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We grew up with what we referred to as ‘dunkin’ eggs’. We loved my mom’s basted eggs and loved dunking our toast in the runny yolks even more. At the risk of showing my slightly weird side, I like to eat the surrounding egg white first and then dive into the yolk. When I was little, I would take my fork and push down gently until the yolk squirted out. It was a test in pressure and fun to watch it burst. (Sometimes I still do that!)

I recently introduced my children to the ‘toad-in-a-hole’ and they LOVE it. My daughter asked for ‘toad-in-a-hole’ four nights in a row, for dinner! When asked what her favorite food is…you guessed it!  Toad-in-a-hole.  It is so simple and easy, and healthy too.

 

Here are my very basic steps for Toad-in-a-Hole:

Choose your bread.  You can use any variety you prefer. We have enjoyed with our standard whole wheat but have also delighted in the flavor of sourdough. Generously melt butter in cast iron pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Cut a hole in a slice of your choice of bread with a biscuit cutter or upside down glass.  Lay the bread in the pan.  I put the circle part in the pan too.  Let it toast a bit in the butter and then crack an egg in the hole you created in the slice of bread.  Salt and pepper to your liking.  Give it a good minute or so and then carefully flip so that the other side of the egg has a turn.  You can cook to your liking for the yolk, runny or all the way through or anywhere in between.  I also flip the circle here too so it gets nicely toasted on the other side.  Remove from pan and serve.

Side Note:  I have switched entirely to cast iron but you can use whatever pan you normally use to make eggs.  I swear food TASTES better and I can’t believe I didn’t make the switch sooner.  Old school is the way to go.  ;)

If you are looking for a new take on your egg and haven’t had the pleasure of this simple dish, I invite you to try it.

While names abound, I prefer to call it ‘toad-in-a-hole’ as it was first served to me by my kind and gracious Aussie friend.

Thanks Catherine – for bringing me back Down Under with a simple breakfast dish.  Cheers!