Famous Baby


Every once in a while, I’m offered a newly published book to review–often I turn this opportunity down because I’m terrible about getting around to it, but this book was impossible to resist. Famous Baby is a novel by Karen Rizzo. It’s a funny mother-daughter-grandmother story about the first famous mommy blogger and her 18-year-old daughter, who hated having every moment of her childhood shared with the world, and who “kidnaps” her ailing grandmother to save her from the same fate.

While I’m not a mommy blogger, and Glory Bee might have more to complain about than my children, it still hits close to home as I do at times write about my kids. They were all in elementary school by the time I started keeping a blog, so there were no naked baby butt pictures or potty training stories, and while I mostly write about old-fashioned cooking and crafts and cute farm animals, they were old enough to know what it meant if the camera was out. I’ve always tried to hold a line on my children’s personal lives and honor their feelings. If they’ve ever told me there was something they wish I hadn’t posted, I’ve taken it down. There’s a fuzzy part of the line where our children’s stories are also our stories, and that’s where I let my kids lead in voicing their own line, and as they’ve gotten older, their lives are more and more their lives and less mine. But, that said, there have been parts of their lives that have been more public than the average child, and they get recognized in public on occasion. And so it was with some trepidation that I read this book and then also offered it to Morgan to read and review.

The book is a fictional account, of course, and as such, a little over the top–at least to me–in terms of the mother-blogger’s behavior. To me, the way she wrote about her child was exploitative, but, of course, that provides a more black and white picture for the author to use to examine what is truly a new aspect of society today, which is the blog and its effect on a family. It was difficult for me to separate myself from comparing myself to the mother in the book, but that aside, it’s a funny read. But what would Morgan think?

Morgan has appeared on my website more than my sons, partly because she’s younger and has been around more, but also because she’s an outgoing little thing and has liked the stage since she was three and performed in her first dance recital. She has always been an active participant in my blog, and a willing model, and she’s pretty funny.
Morgan: “Am I a goat? What am I?”

As often happens, this was a photo Morgan asked me to take to post–she’d been over at the studio stealing an armful of candy I keep around for workshop attendees along with a box of animal crackers that are meant for the goats. Sometimes she has me rolling on the floor laughing.

Here is her take on the book:

Review by Morgan McMinn:

Famous Baby by Karen Rizzo is a book that really hits the spot. I almost didn’t want to read it because I am a Famous Baby in a way and knew that topics would come up that would hit too close to the heart. That’s the beauty of the book though, that it hits you. You identify with Abbie because our mothers have all done something to unintentionally hurt us and you spend years in secret resentment not knowing how to deal with it. Ruth is a personal reflection on ourselves because we, as singular human beings, don’t think about how our actions affect someone else. When she is forced to face what she has done to Abbie, we are forced to face what we have done to people we love. And then there’s Esther, Abbie’s grandmother and Ruth’s mother. As children, we idolize and almost worship our grandparents. Famous Baby shows us the lives of our grandparents that we never knew, a different way to look at them. And you realize, that they’re humans too.

Through three generations Karen Rizzo shows us how one affects the other, how different we seem from our mothers and grandmothers is only an illusion brought on by a lack of communication and understanding of a past we weren’t a part of.

Famous Baby is a beautiful reflection and is a recommended read for all daughters out there.

Whew. She wasn’t hard on me at all, was she?

Here’s the video book trailer:

You can find out more about the book at the publisher’s website here.

I’m also giving away one copy of the book on my blog. If you’re interested, let me know by leaving a comment (here on the blog)–tell me what you think about the way I write about my kids, or in general about the mommy blogging phenomenon, or even just how you think Glory Bee feels about it all! This giveaway is open until noon EST on Sunday, July 20, 2014, and I will update this book with the winner’s name. Winner will be chosen by random comment number via random.org. Good luck!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. The winner, drawn by random comment number, is #30, wormlady. Please email me at CITRcontact@yahoo.com with your full name and address!

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Five Days on the Farm


We’re just coming down from five workshop days on the farm here. It was a blast. Fun, exhausting, busy, fantastic! The attendees always make these workshops what they are, and this was a wonderful group. Laura, my co-teacher, and I had such a good time with them.

We started out with two days of cheesemaking. Every day starts with milking the cow, of course! We made as many cheeses and other concoctions that we could fit in to two days. Mozzarella, sour cream, cream cheese, ricotta, cheddar, romano, and a few more. The homemade butter was a special hit. I wished I’d had my camera when one attendee licked the butter spoon right after we finished making it. (There is NOTHING like fresh butter! I could have licked the spoon myself!) See below–an attendee did grab a photo of the butter spoon lickin’.

On the baking day, we made biscuits, pies, and various breads including a session grinding grains led by Laura.

I mean, Maia.
Yeah, Maia is a great teacher! Or something! She is very interested in grinding grains, as you can see.

On the soap/herbs days, we started out with a morning nature walk to collect wild edibles (some of which ended up in salads later) and herbs. We made bar soap, and lotion and sugar scrubs along with various herbal medicinals and salves.

During it all, I also served three meals a day. I love to cook for attendees at retreats. I fed them fresh farm eggs and biscuits and French toast with raisin bread. Fried bologna sandwiches, grilled fresh mozzarella, and ham/potato soup with spinach and artichoke. Pizza with fresh mozzarella, chili, and beer-braised brats on the grill. Carrot cake drizzled in maple syrup, apple dumplings, chocolate mousse. All with homemade “Glory Bee brand” ice cream. They went away plumb full, let me tell ya. They also went away with lots of take-home goodies they’d made themselves during the workshops.

Some attendees came for all five days. Some for four, some three, some two. Some came from as close as Charleston, others from hundreds of miles and states away. Every day, they were a fun, chatty, laughing bunch who were a joy to teach. I am terrible about taking photos during workshops because I’m busy during workshops, but this group was a picture-takin’ bunch and I asked them if I could use their photos so you could get a glimpse into a retreat at Sassafras Farm.

These photos are from Debi Ellis.
Some photos from Beth Frampton. (You’ll see a tent in the first photo here–one of our attendees camped all week.)
A few pics from Laurette Guay.
And some milking pics from Cynthia Bledsoe. I demonstrated machine milking, and all attendees who wanted to got a chance to hand milk. The “infamous” butter spoon lickin’ picture is here, too!

Laura and I will be repeating this five-day series of workshops starting August 28. I also have two two-day “Primitives & Pioneers” (arts and crafts with old-time pioneer-style canning and cooking activities and recipes) workshops coming up in September and October with co-teacher Kelly Walker.

See my Retreats and Workshops page for all the information. We’d love to see you on the farm!

And thank you, thank you, thank you to all the attendees here this past week. You were fabulous!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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