Crazy about Books

October 23, 2014

CKT Favorite Books

I’m a crazy book lady. Not so much for me (still trying to find the time), but for my kids–well at least one of my kids. When Nora was born, I read an insane amount of books to her.  We could not have enough books in the house to read. It was our top activity. Full disclosure…my mom is a children’s literacy specialist, so I guess it runs in the family.

HOWEVER…George came along and we would read, but when he started to move, and make decisions (?), he would always push the book shut. What?! This is supposed to be a magical moment, little man. I tried moving the book around or holding it far away, but somehow he managed to close it on up. And in his mind, why would you read books when you can eat them?

I soon realized that book-reading was not our thing, or at least at this stage. So his bedtime routine is pretty short–on a good night, I do a little singing.  I assume he will grow out of this??

Here is our favorite book list, for those of you who are looking for a little literary inspiration (you know, if your kids are into that sort of thing).

Tips from my mom–the expert:

Don’t skip the big words

Well-written picture books are highly recommended even when kids start reading on their own, the vocabulary is unmatched and the pictures help them develop memory skills

Rhyming books help children develop phonemic awareness–a critical skill for emergent readers

Don’t just read short board books to babies…they are absorbing more than you think

Engage your child in conversation about the story and pictures


Goodnight Moon–the world’s best bedtime story

Each Peach Pear Plum–the first book I learned to read (I mean memorize)

Guess How Much I love You–to the moon and back…naturally

Dr. Seuss’s ABC–great vocabulary and alliteration

Eloise–a girl who lives at the Plaza in NYC…how could you resist

Corduroy–everyone needs a home

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you See?–repetition, repetition

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb–I find myself singing this one to the kids in the car

Blueberries for Sal–don’t get lost on blueberry hill

Make Way for Ducklings–little ducks + boston = adorable

The Napping House–I wish this was my house

New Favorites

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes–one of life’s greatest lessons summed up

Little Pea–turns out peas like spinach for dessert

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom–catchy

The Day the Crayons Quit–just wait till you get to the page with the naked crayon

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale–relatable parenting

Diary of a Worm–macaroni necklaces for worms look a little different

Seven Hungry Babiesit’s daddy’s turn to fly

Elephant & Piggie series–if you could hear my voices for these two

E-Mergency!–what happens without the letter “e”

Charlie the Ranch Dog–I love a lazy dog

The Museum–we like art, so we like this book (also check out Ish, and Sky Color)

All the World–one of the most poignant children’s poems

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site–this one makes me sleepy too

Press Here–the best interactive book (also check out, Mix it Up)

Bridget’s Beret–what’s artists block?

Bed Hogs–I love pigs

Poke-A-Dot Old McDonald’s Farm–baby crack (I like pushing the buttons too)

and to file under WTF?

Good Dog, Carl –have you seen this one? a dog left to take care of a baby for the day…involving a push down the laundry shoot, swimming in the fish aquarium, and hair drying (my apologies if this is one of your favorites)


October 20, 2014


I was thinking it would be fun to post my planned family meals for the week on here. I can’t promise it will happen every week; but I do think it’ll be a good way to connect and share dinner ideas (I would love to hear yours!). Here’s this week’s plan:


baked eggplant casserole


white bean chicken chili


homemade pizza & salad


steak & avocado salad



CKT is on Instagram!

October 8, 2014

CKT on Instagram

After posting for my mom and a few friends on Instagram for the past couple of years, I decided to make my account public! You’ll find pics of mostly family and food–like you couldn’t have guessed. Check us out, spread the word!  @carolinepshields (click here)

^^That time when they held hands in the car on the way to the grocery store.^^

What happened to playpens?

October 1, 2014

CKT: What happened to playpens?

I was having a funny conversation with my parents the other day about raising kids. We were talking about how my friend’s grandma had two sets of twins 14 months apart. Can you imagine? Hearing that makes me immediately feel like a real weenie when I sometimes struggle with two (ok, a lot of the time). And then there are Brian’s parents who both come from families of nine. NINE! I would like a snapshot into that life (but just a snapshot). And these women were not running out to Starbucks on a bad day, or taking their kids to Chipotle when they didn’t feel like cooking.

My parents responded with…”playpens, they had playpens for goodness sake!”

I thought about setting up a playpen (a.k.a. pack n’ play) for George when he started to crawl and pull himself up on the furniture.  That point when I realized I could no longer make dinner on my own, not sanely at least. And then I considered one of those play yards. But then after mentioning this to a few friends who retorted to something along the lines of… “you are not…” I thought “Yes! Have  you seen our house at dinner?!”

In the end, I never set up the pack n’ play or purchased a yard, but still contain him at times (with chair blockades).  And I’m all about some crib-time if he’s awake while I shower.

While I can only offer anecdotal notes on this situation, THIS ARTICLE has some real meat. What’s your take?

p.s. that’s my brother Charlie in the playpen.

Favorite Clips!

September 8, 2014

I love a good movie, especially the ones I watched as a kid/college student/new mom over and over and over again. I thought it would be fun to show some clips this week in case you needed a good laugh, or maybe just wanted to waste a little time on the internet today.

I would love to know, what are some of your favorite movie/tv scenes?

Crazy Stupid Love – “Ok, cuz, I know I seemed confident at the bar, but that was mostly just because I was cold and wet and trying to be dramatic.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – “How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?”

The Breakup – “I’ve got to talk to Brooke about something…it’s called the baseline.”

When Harry met Sally – “And I’m gonna be 40.”

The Cosby Show – Bill – so deadpan and Rudy…just killing it.

Ghostbusters – “Back off man, I’m a scientist.”

Father of the Bride – “Well..what is that, is that dollars, twelve-hundred-dollars?!”

It’s Complicated – “Hey, there’s your…”

My Scary Mom Voice

August 27, 2014


This post is on the evolution of parenting and how one day you hear something you thought you’d never hear.

A child is born! They are an adorable little peanut. Yes, they cry, but they are so cute and cuddly. Ok, they occasionally drive you bonkers when they don’t sleep, but for the most part it’s all good (with the exception of mom-hormones). You have thoughts that this sweet child–your baby–will be perfect for life. Like forever, and ever.


Life moves on, and your little one–now a toddler– has figured out how to push your buttons with tantrums, not listening, and overall defiance. You keep it pretty positive but still resort to cliches like, “this mess isn’t going to clean itself,” “you are not in charge, I’m in charge” or “fine, bye, I’m leaving the park without you,” in hopes that you are getting through to them–in some way.


But one day comes, the day when all the buttons have been pushed, the encouraging words have been used up, and all that left is your scary mom voice* (it just speckles itself right into the day–like that). And nothing, I mean nothing, prepares you for this moment. I used mine the other day and scared myself. It’s weird when you do something so parent-y. As they say, sh*t got real. So, yeah, this parenting thing is tough work. Can I get an amen?!


p.s. but…how cute are they??

*term picked up from @teammandy!

a day in the life! (with marta)

August 19, 2014

CKT Snack for  Mouse

I am starting a new series called “a day in the life.” I want to give a snapshot of other people’s routines, interests, and take on life. My hope is that you’ll be inspired. I am starting the series with my friend Marta. She lives in Houston with her husband, Sam, and two kids, Felix (4) and Lily (1). She loves good food, yoga, and is an avid traveler!

What’s “normal” day?

A typical day at chateau Buist goes a little something like this: Lily and I wake up around 7:30 while Felix usually wakes around 8 (lazy). We all have breakfast together then do our responsibilities. I clean up after breakfast and empty the dishwasher while Felix puts his dish in the dishwasher, makes his bed, gets dressed and puts his pjs away. Lily usually just runs around wondering why we’re not playing. We are the kind of family that needs to go on at least one outing a day otherwise we are grumps. If we aren’t at a swim lesson, gymnastics, Music Together class, or working on a homeschooling activity then you can usually find us at a splash park, playground, or in our pool working on our cannonballs (Houston living is tough work).

Sam bikes home around 5. While I make dinner he plays with the kiddos then we all sit down for dinner together around 5:45. What takes about 40 minutes to make takes about 2 minutes to eat and not by choice, right? I miss those leisure dinners B.C. (before children). Then it’s a mad dash to clean up, bathe, and read books before the kids go down at 7 and 8pm, respectively. Sam and I will watch a show or two or take care of some secretarial work before we crash ourselves around 10pm. But sometimes we fall asleep while we are snuggling the kids to sleep and it feels so good.


Last good read?

I just finished the novel Burial Rights by Hannah Kent–absolutely loved it.

Listening to?

We are really into having dance parties at our house. And currently the new Ed Sheeran and Jason Mraz albums are on rotation.


Words to live by?

As mothers, we have a very powerful super power. It’s called intuition. Trust it.

Favorite summer activity?

Swimming in our pool in hot humid Houston

 A recipe to share?

My son, Felix, calls this ‘snack for a mouse’ because we take a bunch of small bowls and dishes and fill them with things that we think a mouse might enjoy ie nuts, seeds, berries, veggies, and goat cheese and crackers. I love doing this for lunch because a) it’s so easy and takes minutes to prepare b) we all eat with our eyes first and when things look cute and orderly we tend to be more inclined to eat it and c) you can honestly put anything in the dishes. Some ideas are carrots, pepper slices, grape tomatoes, sardines, goat/sheeps/cows cheese, rice crackers, pretzels, hummus, kale chips, bean chips, raspberries, blueberries,dried cherries, raisins, fig bars, pistachios, and almonds.

We try to get as colorful as we can and we try to represent a few different types of food.

Thanks Marta! Snack for a mouse is a BIG hit over here. xoxo

Roasted Garlic Guacamole

August 8, 2014

CKT Roasted Garlic Guacamole

Today is the last day of #CKTdrinkweek. And as it goes, I’m not even posting a drink. I know it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted a food recipe, but I thought it was time. All these drinks and nothing to eat? Come on, we need at least one snack.

While guacamole is an easy one and something you surely know how to make. I think you’ll like this take on it…it’s all about the roasted garlic and man does it make a difference.

Enjoy the guac with any and all of the drinks featured on #CKTdrinkweek–like tonight.

CKT Roasted Garlic Guacamole

4 ripe avocados

5 cloves roasted garlic – minced (TO MAKE GARLIC: place head of garlic (cut off pointy top, brush with olive oil and season with salt) in an 350 degree oven for 50 mins; remove garlic from skin)

1 1/2 TBS red onion – minced

3 TBS cilantro – chopped

3 limes – juiced

5 – 10 splashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce

s & p

Place prepared avocado in a bowl, mash until desired consistency. Add in other ingredients and stir. It is important to use kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, season and taste until it is just right. Place in airtight container and refridgerate until ready to serve. **Can be made up to 5 hours in advance.

Foghorn Cocktail

August 7, 2014

CKT Fog Horn

Today is Day 4 of #CKTdrinkweek and we are keeping with the cocktails. Brian has been a big fan of ginger beer these days.  When we were up in Michigan he was playing around with some new    cocktail ideas. He landed on the Fog Horn–have you had this? It’s very close to a Moscow Mule, but uses gin over vodka.

It was new to us and so refreshing with intense lime and ginger notes, yet clean and easy to drink. Enjoy this one on the porch with a good friend or spouse–hopefully (for your married folks) they are the same.

CKT Foghorn

Fill a glass with ice, 2oz gin

squeeze half a lime in–stir

fill glass half full with crushed ice

fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer – we like Gosling’s

Cherry Lime Cocktail

August 6, 2014

CKT Cherry Lime Cocktail Today marks Day 3 of #CKTdrinkweek and I’m making cocktails. My brother, Charlie, is the resident bartender of the family–he called me last week with a recipe that I knew was a keeper.  But as it goes, his girlfriend, Krystal, created this one!

It’s a vodka-limeade with a splash of cherry. It was inspired by our trip to Michigan (cherry country) and is perfect to make before summer’s end–by the Labor Day bonfire perhaps?

CKT Cherry Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka (I like Tito’s)

3 fresh cherries — pitted and minced


limeade (I like Trader Joe’s)

lime wedge

Fill a glass with the vodka and cherries–stir (let the color come out). Then fill the glass half full with crushed ice. Finally add the limeade until your cup is full and garnish with some fresh squeezed lime. (This would also be a great cocktail sans the vodka!)