Monday, August 31, 2015

Just Life| Making Your Child Smarter

I was taking my kid to school the other day and on the radio, there was an announcement by the First 5 San Joaquin. 

I think it went something like this: 

Talk, read, and sing to your children to make them smarter.

It is simple isn't it? 

Talk to your child. If you are folding the laundry, fold the laundry in front of your child and talk to her about it. Tell her the name of the items you are folding, tell her the colors of the items you are folding. By just talking to her about your laundry, you are teaching her new vocabularies and you are making her smarter.

One of our little readers at the Troke Library

Don't place your child in front of the television, while you are cooking in the kitchen.

The American Pediatric Society recommends no television for kids younger than two.

So if you are making a salad, put your child in front of you and tell them how you are making the salad. While you are at it, let her touch the tomato and the lettuce and the cucumber that you are going to use in the salad. 

Then sing to your child. She wouldn't mind if you don't have a singing voice. Sing to her to make her smarter and give her a better chance of succeeding in life.

Of course, read to your child as often as possible. Read the same book over and over for her. Then after a while, she would be able to decode the words on the pages you are reading.

Please Talk, Read, and Sing to your child and visit the First 5 of San Joaquin to learn more about the early literacy by clicking on the link below:

First 5 San Joaquin

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Monday, August 24, 2015

Just Life| Remodeling Fiasco

A few weeks ago, we were going to change the flooring in our house. The job was supposed to be done in three short days.

The crew started in the man cave upstairs, and all the sudden it started raining in the kitchen downstairs. Holy #$*@.

We had to find a plumber on a Sunday. The first plumber told us that he would get there in an hour, two hours later, he was still at the Mall with his family. We told him not to bother. The second plumber arrived hours later. He charged us $860 to fix the pipe, but he was a nice guy.

The plumber fixed the pipe and in the process created a huge hole in the second floor closet and another big hole in the kitchen ceiling. 

Later on, the plumber told us that one of the baseboard nails was lodged in a water pipe, when the crew pulled the baseboard, it caused flooding downstairs.

Then a contractor was called to fix the hole in the man cave.

Then the fancy wood floor that we ordered and waited weeks to arrive ended up being defective and 1/3 through installing the wood floor, the crew had to yank it off the floor and return it to the store. We had to order new ones.

At this point, my calm and collected husband had turn in to a grumpy old man. Who can blame him?

Our living room was a total disaster for two long weeks since we had to put all the furniture etc. from the other rooms in there. You couldn't find a place to sit.

We are in our third week of "home improvement" and there is still a big hole in the kitchen ceiling that needs to be fixed.

The moral of the story is that, if you are planning any home improvement projects, get ready for unexpected problems, out of the blue added costs, and possible weeks of a messy house.

If you are up for a home improvement challenge, the library has tons of home improvement books and DVDs for you to check out free of charge.

Here are a couple of books on this topic from your local library:

For me, I am done with remodeling for right now.  If I had money, I would be heading to Maui for some needed relaxation.

Signing off until next Monday- A very tired Panteha

Monday, August 17, 2015

Just Life| Food for the soul

The other day, my mom made us this wonderful dish. All I had to do was pick it up from her house after work. It was so thoughtful of her to do that for us. Even if you can afford restaurant quality food every night, homemade food is something else.

Speaking of cooking, a few months ago, I was reading this article written by a woman whose husband had become disabled out of the blue. That disability caused the family financial hardship and isolation. She was telling everyone that if you have such a person in your inner circle, one of the best ways to help them out is to share some of your homemade food with them.

Dinner at my aunt's house

My mom did the same thing for one of our friends and it was totally appreciated. So I followed her example and did the same thing for a friend recently and it felt good.

Me and my mom posing for the camera

Since we are talking about food, I just want to mention that your local library has thousands of cookbooks for you to check out free of charge.

Here are a few of these books at your finger tips:

Happy Monday everyone.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Friday, August 14, 2015

Award-Winning Reads | To Kill a Mockingbird

Hello there readers!

I'll be honest. It's been some time since I posted a blog here on Award-Winning Reads. It's been so long that I almost forgot how to log into Blogger! But I hope you all will stick around with me as I now post twice a month about beloved award-winning books.

This week I'm sharing one of my all-time favorite modern American classics: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This literary gem won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded by Columbia University for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the U.S. The similarly-titled 1962 film based on the book is also a critically-acclaimed prize-winner, having earned three Academy Awards.
Pulitzer Prize. Claiming fair use, this photo is being used for informational purposes only, to illustrate what the award looks like.
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. 
To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, or bildungsroman, told from the viewpoint of young Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout. Scout is a headstrong, curious girl who witnesses the fictional Alabama community's uproar as her father, Atticus Finch, legally defends an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. Scout's experiences move her to question the deeply-held racial prejudices of her neighbors.

I remember being required to read the book and watch the movie in Mr. Thompson's eighth-grade class at Hamilton Middle School. As a young girl, I appreciated that Scout was a strong female character. She wasn't afraid to voice her thoughts and opinions while she was yet still trying to understand the scope of what was going on around her.

Until recently, this was Lee's only published novel. However, a month ago, on July 14th, Go Set a Watchman, a follow-up story, was released. It features many of the same characters from its predecessor twenty years later. I'll be listening to the audiobook. Reese Witherspoon is performing it!
Not by coincidence, the title of one of my most cherished cocktails recipe books is a play on words of Lee's first story. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist serves up literary libations such as "The Joy Luck Club Soda" and "Gin Eyre" as well as a few tasty treats like "Alice's Adventures in Wonder Bread" and "Prawn Quixote." It even offers non-alcoholic beverages that are puns of juvenile book titles such as "Pear the Wild Things Are" and "The Blizzard of Oz."

Now that I think about it, I just might celebrate Lee's sophomore novel by making myself a "Tequila Mockingbird" (with more tequila and less hot sauce than the recipe requires), before listening to Reese's sweet southern drawl.

Next time I'll discuss the work of another female author - the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. There's always more Fan Favorite Fiction from Females to love! 

Until then, have a good reading! (And if you need a "Rum of One's Own," to get you started off right, I promise, I won't tell! *wink, wink*)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Just Life| Going Back to School

My daughter's summer vacation officially ended on August was such a short summer. Now, we're back to doing tons of homework and science projects.

I feel like I'm going back to school again and again and there is no end in sight. By the time my daughter graduates from high school, I will be getting my second high school diploma! Anyway...

At the library, we have got plenty of books to help you have a smooth transition into the school year.

Here are few of these useful books in your local library:

Parent's guide to the Common Core. Grade 5.

Extra math practice. Grade 3, math workbook

Extra math practice. Grade 5, math workbook

Also, keep in mind that we have home work help for kids in some of our library branches. Please click on:

Library Events And Programs for more information.

For example, at Margaret Troke Library located at 502 W. Benjamin Holt Drive in Stockton, there would be two free programs to help kids with their math and homework starting on August 25th.

  • Homework helpers (K-5th grade) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 4pm-6pm.

  • Math Smart (6-12 grade) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4pm-6pm.

Welcome back to school everyone and happy learning/reading!

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just Life| French Press Coffee

I just got introduced to the French Press Coffee a few months ago in Long Beach. 

We went to this charming little French eatery called "Creme De la Crepe" for breakfast. I ordered a coffee and they brought a French Press Coffee maker to the table. The server told me to wait a few minutes before pouring the coffee. 

Ooh La La!

Since all good things come to those who wait, I waited impatiently for a few minutes then I poured myself a cup of coffee. That was one of the best coffees that I have ever tasted. It was super strong and delicious.

I loved it so much that I got a French Press Coffee Maker for mother's day and I have been using it ever since. I haven't touched my old fashioned coffee maker in months.

So if you love coffee, I recommend a French Press Coffee maker to you. 

It uses less coffee than the traditional drip coffee maker and it tastes really good.

You never know, you might like it so much that you won't visit your local Starbucks that often.

The French Press Coffee Maker is pretty cheap to buy.

My French Press Coffee Maker

Here are some books about coffee from your local library

The new complete coffee book

Coffee a dark history

Coffee a connoisseur's companion

To all the coffee lovers out there. Cheers.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha


Monday, July 27, 2015

Just Life| Salad Shirazi & More

It has been so hot and muggy lately. As you know, I grew up in Tehran and in Tehran we have many hot summer days. There a few side dishes that make hot summer days a bit more tolerable, Salad Shirazi and Cantaloupe Faloodeh were two of them. 

Salad Shirazi is the traditional salad in Iran. It is a simple salad made of:

Persian cucumbers (You can find it at Trader's Joe or even the Dollar store)

Ripe tomatoes

Onions (I like red onion)

Dry mint leaves (just a little bit)

Fresh lemon juice or lime juice

Red vinegar 

Olive oil

Just chop cucumber, tomato, and onion into small cubes and mix them in a bowl. Add a bit of salt to this mixture and make a simple sauce by mixing some fresh lemon juice with olive oil and red vinegar. In my house, we also add some dry mint to it. It is really a simple and refreshing salad.

Another of my favorite side dishes to beat the summer heat is Cantaloupe Faloodeh

When I was a kid, I used to make it for my family. It was easy to make and it was delicious.

To make it, you need:
  • Ripe Cantaloupe
  • Rose water (a table spoon)
  • Sugar (a couple of tablespoons)
  • Crushed ice

First scoop spoonfuls of cantaloupe into a bowl then add a tablespoon of rose water and a couple tablespoons of sugar to the bowl. Mix well. Then, just leave it in the refrigerator or add some crushed ice to it. It is so refreshing. It is a combination of a fruit juice and fruit pulp with fragrant rose water. It is worth trying.

And since I am talking about Persian cooking, let's not forget the Iranians' favorite smoothie called Shir Moz

You just add milk, bananas, a bit of sugar, and crushed ice into a blender. The result is a mouth watering and simple smoothie.

Did you know that your local library has many cook books? Don't forget to check out some delicious cookbooks on your next trip to the library.

Happy eating and happy cookbook hunting.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha