This and That

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It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for a NEW This and ThatToday, we are sharing what’s new on the blog, some fun finds, and what we’ve been up to! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or you just want to say hi, we love hearing from you. Have a great day!


  • We hiked up Mount Baldy at Alta and the boys did great. It was a steep hike and they carried their own skis all of the way. The reward was skiing down.
  • Happy Leap Year. I like having an extra day.
  • We go to the library almost every week, walk the aisles, and pick books randomly. Do you have any book recommendations for boys, ages 9 and 12? It would be helpful to have a list before we go.


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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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This and That

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  1. The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan is a wonderful series for boys 9-12. Another series he wrote is the Brotherband Series. I love both of these series and recommend them to everyone I can and I’m 75! You ought to check it out at your library with due haste!

    1. They have read a few I Survived books and loved Percy Jackson. We watched the show with them too!

  2. Hi!! I love the library! Our local librarians do a great job of creating book bundles based on my son’s interest..sports, nature, etc. You might want to stop at the desk. Have fun.

  3. Great photo of the mountain. Is that one of the boys? Always look forward to Josh’s photos. Have fun in LA Maria. Planning on making your turtle cookies this weekend.

    1. Not in this photo, but I have some other photos of them hiking up. They did a great job. Thank you! Enjoy the cookies.

  4. hey y’all- great list! Yummy food. Those linen pants look pretty cool! and I love the snow scene! Have fun in LA Maria!

  5. My 10 year old granddaughter and 12 year old grandson really enjoyed six book series “The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” by Michael Scott.

  6. For a great place to eat in LA, go to Pizzana’s. They have GREAT pizza!

    Daniele Uditi is the chef and Candace Nelson and Chris O’Donnell are the co-owners along with Daniele. You won’t be disappointed. Hands down some of the best food!!!

  7. One of my absolute favorite restaurants in LA is Osteria La Buca, on Melrose. They bake their own rosemary bread, and their Cacio e Pepe is better than I’ve had in Rome (bold statement, I know 🙂

    Bottega Louie in West Hollywood is a fun place to sit outside and people watch, plus their deserts are stunningly beautiful and delicious!

    Hope this helps!

  8. Books for your boys. James Ponti has two series that are fun. City Kids and Twisted. Amulet for graphic novels. Rangers Apprentice by Flanagan.

  9. I am 50 years old, eat out 2-3 times a week, and have eaten around the world and U.S.
    L.A. has some of the best food anywhere. We just returned 2 months ago. Did *a lot* of research and are big foodies. Best L.A. restaurants we’ve tried:
    Saffy’s – Middle Eastern and, strong statement, but maybe the best food I have ever eaten anywhere. Owner also owns Bestia (Italian) and Bavel (also Middle Eastern), which are also highly recommended. Food blogger What’s Gabby Cooking says Bestia is on everyone’s L.A. list, but you can’t go wrong with any of this owner’s restaurants.
    Republique – very delicious full menu, as well as unique sweet and/or savory(!) pastries. French influence.
    Osteria Mozza – owned by the famous Nancy Silverton. Serves amazing steaks, pasta, and salad/ veggies.
    Sonoratown – casual and an inexpensive relief! Tacos made with Sonora, Mexican flour the chef-owner’s mother drives up each week, interesting meats, homemade salsas (the salsa verde was amazing and tasted like nothing I had ever had before), aqua frescas.

    Plan restaurants by neighborhoods where you’ll be. L.A. is very spread out and drive time can be long between neighborhoods. Be careful with parking. Restaurants will most likely be busy but worth it. Make reservations if can. Republique’s line moves quickly (no reservations).

    Have fun in L.A., Maria!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! All of these places sound amazing. I will be in downtown LA.

  10. A few weeks ago when my boys (now 32 and 30) were here for a visit, they reminisced about series they read and loved as kids. Here’s some I remember. They are both still big readers.

    Redwall series by Brian Jacques
    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan
    Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
    Harry Potter
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings

    BTW, just finished baking your brown butter butterscotch oatmeal cookies for my dad. Delicious. He will love them! Come to think of it, I also made your hummus today as well! It’s become a staple in our home. Lol.

    Your new Cookie cookbook is my favorite coffee table book. I just LOVE it!

  11. Books for readers: My son and I are loving Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles trilogy. I know everyone loves Percy, but these are about Ancient Egypt and underrated and we love them. Also, we love The Vanderbeekers books (except the last, which we skipped as it seemed bad.) Artemis Fowl Series, Trapped in a Video game series, The Enchanted Files books, especially “Diary of a Mad Brownie.” Depending on your kids, The Sharks Incorporated Series, and all of Carl Hiaasen’s younger books: “Hoot,” “Flush,” “Scat,” “Squirm,” “Chomp,” “Squirm,” and “Wrecker.” They are about middle school kids and animals but with maybe more older themes. A bit of danger and adventure but all ends well. I highly recommend listening to “Chomp” as James Van der Beek reads it and Ed Asner reads “Scat” – excellent listens. And if they like mysteries, “The Swifts” was spectacular. The Wingfeather’s Saga series, “Zayd Salem Chasing the Dream” three book series about basketball, “Firefly Summer,” the Penderwicks are always great, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library books, all of Henry Huggins, “The Hobbit,” the Ra the Mighty series, “Fortunately, the Milk,” The Terrible Two series, The Box Car kids and “The Turtle of Oman” was a wonderful story about a boy and his Grandpa. We learn at home so we read a lot. The Brave Writer has a lovely list of books even if you don’t use the program. I could go on by I will stop being an insufferable Hermione!

  12. I recently purchased that toiletry bag from Amazon…it’s the best! Better than any other bag I’ve tried! Fits so much but still closes nicely!

    PS I made the Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip cookies earlier this week…they are fantastic! I love the maple flavor and the crunch of the toasted pecans!!!

  13. If near Universal Studios in LA, Joe’s falafel is so good. Quick service, not fancy. Falafel and other vegetarian Mediterranean specials.

  14. Love that you go to the library every week. As a former school librarian, I know it’s gets harder and harder to keep children interested in reading once they get to middle school. Here are some great authors that my students (and my own children) enjoyed reading – Christopher Paul Curtis, Gary Paulson, Andrew Clements, Louis Sachar, and Sharon Creech. Not knowing their interests – I would also suggest Brian Selznick – THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET and WONDER by R.J. Palacio, both published a while ago but great books. There are a lot of good biographies out there as well as graphic novels. Keep them reading!

  15. For books for boys- Eragon, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, go old school with Hardy boys. Get a world Atlas from a good source, National Geographic, etc.

  16. My 9year old twins have recommended “The Last Firehawk” series to all their friends. They also like “The Investigators” series for a quick and fun graphic novel read. For your 12 year old, “The Beyonders” is a well liked series as well. We ski at Alta every Sunday, so maybe we will see you there!

  17. I would love a list of books for boys in this age group! If you compile one from all of the suggestions, please pass it on. Thank you!

  18. My 9 year old reads anything and everything so we’ve had to really search to find good books appropriate for his age! All of these are good suggestions. I’ll also mention an author we recently discovered is Laura Martin and she is great! We’ve read Glitch and The Ark Plan (Edge of Extinction #1) together so far and loved them!

  19. My boys are now 34 and 36, so they were the same ages as the actors when the first Harry Potter movie premiered in 2001 and we had to make a schedule for sharing the later books as they were published! I used the library’s cassette tapes to introduce that series and also The Hobbit to them bc the first Lord of the Rings premiered the month after, wonderful hearing those books read by British voices. I read the first Redwall book aloud to them when they were 3rd and 5th graders, and they tore through all those as fast as I could find them. I know they read Artemis Fowle later also, but Redwall and The Hobbit/LoTR were favorites.