Saturday, February 9, 2013

Teens Only | What Are You Reading?

Hello gentle readers!

As you know, there has been much sickness in these parts of late, and your teen blogger is no exception.

So apologies for the intermittent posts. I promise to get back into the Saturday posts next week.

In the meantime, please tell me what you're reading! I desperately need your book recommendations. 

Just post a title you think I should read in the Comments section below.

I will read and respond!

Until next Saturday, happy reading!

Books On Film | Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is coming and there will be two movies released based on books.

The first, is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. It's the story of a young woman with a mysterious, painful past who moves into a new town. It stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. 

Nicholas Sparks is the king of tragic romance. He's written 18 books since 1995, most of which have been adapted into films. The most popular adaptation is the one based off of his first novel The Notebook, which starred Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. However, there are lots more so if you like your romance with a little heartache then check out Nicolas Sparks' books.

Here's a test for you Nicholas Sparks lovers! 
Which one of these books IS NOT a Nicholas Sparks title? [answer below]
  • The Choice
  • The Lucky One
  • The Last Song
  • The First Kiss
  • Dear John
  • At First Sight
  • True Believer
  • The Guardian
  • The Rescue

The second adaptation coming out on Valentine's Day was mentioned in post of 2013 Adaptations. Beautiful Creatures, the first book of a series, is a teen paranormal novel. In it a girl who can cast magic must decide on her 16th birthday if it she will use it for good or evil. Her life is additionally complicated when she meets a boy who is more connected than she realizes to her strange life.

The movie stars Emmy Rossum, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, and Emma Thompson.

Watch the movie trailers below:

   Safe Haven

   Beautiful Creatures   

Quiz Answer: The First Kiss.

Cover Sources: LibraryThing
Video Sources: Youtube

Friday, February 8, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | The Crepe Murderer

52 Skills in 52 Weeks...It's starting to get really hard, and I have only done 5 challenges!  I am also starting to question my sanity when I originally thought this blog was a good idea for a full time working mother of two young kids, but I'm not a quitter, so I'll keep on trucking.  I recognize that not every challenge is going to be fun, or exciting, or even necessarily successful.  I fear this week was one of those challenges.  However, I promised to share my journey, even the boring parts, so here I go...

I'm not sure why I thought that pruning was going to be a good challenge.  Perhaps I was doing a little multitasking of "stuff I already need to do" and this blog.  We moved into our house about 4 years ago and truthfully, we really don't know what we are doing when it comes to landscaping.  We have the "plant it, leave it, hope it lives, and hope it looks good" technique.  When we moved in, we inherited three beautiful crepe myrtles along our back fence.  Of course, with our nonexistent minimal landscaping expertise, we really had no idea what to do with them.  Do we prune them all the way back?  Do we leave them?  Again, no clue.  So, imagine our relief when one winter day we drove through a parking lot with a bunch of crepe myrtles, all trimmed harshly back to the stubs.  Yes!  That is what you do with them!  I was filled with joy and relief that I would not need to do any research in order to get these pruned (okay I might be exaggerating, I didn't think it was that big a deal).

The Challenge
Research and properly prune a mature crepe myrtle.

The Process
I started my challenge by checking out several landscaping books about pruning.  As I started my research, I realized none of these books suggested anywhere that cutting your crepe myrtle back harshly was the correct way to prune one.  " No", I said to myself, "there must be an exception.  Why would that gardener and so many other landscapers prune their trees so far back if it wasn't right?" I checked the Sunset Gardening Book, the Pruner's Bible.  No one thought this was the right way to do it.  So, I consulted with our online database, featuring magazine articles and scholarly journals.  Surely, I would find someone who said that cutting my trees back was good.  No, not at all.  In fact, not only did they discourage this practice, several gardening experts called gardeners who practice this type of pruning, "crepe MURDERERS!"  Woah!!!! Hold the phone!  Between the Pruning Bible and the crepe murdering, aren't we taking our gardening a little too seriously?  Just saying...
Wrong way...I think

Weird damaged branch from over pruning.
Apparently, the correct way to prune a crepe myrtle is NOT to cut your tree back all the way to the stem.  It can permanently damage the bark, make it susceptible to disease, and create ugly little nubs all over the trunk where the tree has been previously trimmed too far back.  The correct way to prune a crepe myrtle is carefully.  Break off the weak and leggy shoots, make sure branches are not rubbing against each other, and remove branches that grow up through the middle of your plant.  It is a delicate process, not a harsh one.  I did this with one of my crepe myrtles.  It was actually a little relaxing---although, honestly, not as fun as hacking away all the branches.
Correctly pruned tree...maybe?

The Result 
This was one challenge where, unfortunately, the results will not be visible right away.  As of now, I have a crepe myrtle in my yard with no branches, one correctly pruned tree with branches that have room to grow, and another tree that hasn't been pruned at all.  I think I am just going to leave them and see what happens!  Am I a pruning expert?  Well, obviously no.  I think that it is something that takes a little more than a week to master.  I'm still not totally sure I pruned my tree correctly.

Okay readers...I really need some more challenge ideas!  If you don't want to be subjected to boring posts about "Crepe Murdering", comment with some ideas.  I promise, if it is something I can attempt, I will put it on the list!

Here are a few I was, couponing, juicing, tiling, candlemaking, cheesemaking, car detail, painting, menu planning.  I would love some more suggestions!

Food, Food, Food | I guess we will all have the flu in 2013

This has been a bad few weeks in libraryland.  We are all seeming to get some sort of flu!  I paid my dues, twice.  The best part was the weight loss.  The worst part was everything else.

From a food aspect I finally used the grill for the first time in months.  Tonight I am going to roast six peppers on it so that I can use them to make sandwiches.  Roasted red peppers might be my favorite thing in the world after my dogs and George Clooney.

What do you put on the grill that I might want to try?  I love fruit on the grill and have a special pan for that, but I am open to suggestions!  If you suggest something I will try it, maybe, and report back!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Wanderlust Library| Sickness Abound

I apologize in advance for the lack of post today. I've been ill and have not had the mental strength to push out a good post. 

On the heels of that admission, make sure and get a flu shot! My illness would have been way worse had I not been inoculated. Take care of yourselves, readers. It's a germy world out there. Don't get caught unprepared!

Hand Sanitizer is out there!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | Baby Food Chef

The "ugly carrot"! He helped me out with the challenge.
My poor kids!
Here I am at work, eating pizza and hamburgers at lunch, running off to get cookies and cupcakes on my breaks, but when I get's healthy food time. Someday, I know they are going to figure out this little secret of mine, but right now (and forever, actually) I want my kids to eat healthy. It's my job to give them a healthy start.

That starts right at the beginning.

So, I decided to start making homemade baby food. Now, don't get me wrong, there is no judgement passed here. I know all parents make the best decisions for their particular family situations. This is just a decision I made for my family, but it doesn't mean it's the only way to go. There are many reasons I chose to make my own baby food, but I will list a few...
  • I can see how the food was processed, or not.  There are no strangers or random machines mushing up my kid's food.  Plus, many of the baby food used to package commercial baby food still contains BPA.
  • I can use organic or home grown veggies and fruits.  Even though recent research (which you can find for free on ssjcpl's online databases) suggests that organic food might not be any more nutritious than regular, there really hasn't been much research on the long term effects of pesticides and hormones on young children.
  • The more the food is processed, the more nutrients escape.  Also, by making my own food, I can control the way it is cooked.  For example, steaming removes less vitamins and nutrients than boiling or microwaving.
  •  Organic baby food is available for purchase at the supermarket and online.  It is also healthy and minimally processed, but it is expensive!  And that, my friends, is probably one of the biggest reasons I decided to make my own baby food.  It is so much cheaper!  And healthy to boot!
The Challenge
Master the skill of making and storing homemade baby food.  For this illustration, I will use fresh carrots and I will be making food for a beginning eater (approximately 6 months).  I will make a large batch of food to save time (I am a working mom, after all.  I don't have time to do this every night!).

The Process
As I said in the introduction, steaming is generally the healthiest way to cook veggies.  According to my book, the steam allows more of the nutrients to remain in the vegetable.  To steam veggies, use a steamer in a pot, with very little water in the bottom.  Put the veggies into the steamer, boil the water, and remove the veggies once they are very soft.  Easy peasy!

The veggies can be mashed up several ways.  You could use a manual potato masher, a fork, an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor.  The type of tool used depends on how mushed up you want the food, what type of food it is, and the age and skill of your child.   You may want to make the food thicker for a baby that has been eating awhile, thinner and more watery for a baby just started on solids.

These specific carrots are meant for a child just beginning to eat solids, so I want them pretty smooth and thin.  After debating for awhile about whether to use a Magic Bullet or a Food Processor, I chose the latter. It worked quite well. To thin out baby food, just add liquid such as mommy milk, formula, or water. To thicken, add baby cereal, potatoes, or bananas.

After blending or mashing, the baby food should be given to the baby, and any excess can be stored.  If it is a small batch, put it in the fridge for a few days.  If it needs to be stored longer, put it in the freezer right away.  It can be stored frozen for about a month.  Food that has already been defrosted after cooking should never be refrozen.  Also, according to the book I checked out, do not store the food in the same container you used to feed baby, because the spoon dipped in deposits bacteria.

There are lots of ways to store baby food.  You can place drops of food on wax paper and freeze or store in glass or plastic freezer-safe containers.  I chose to freeze the baby food in ice cube trays, then, once frozen pop them out and stick them in a bag.  For me, it takes up less room.  However, I often break the ice cube trays when trying to remove the food. 

The Result
Success!  My baby food is safely stored in my freezer and my baby loves her healthy, colorful, tasty carrots!  I spent $4 on two bags of organic baby carrots and created 24 cubes, and it took me less than an hour.

How about you, readers (if you are still there)?  Have any of you ever tried to make baby food?  I would love some tips!

Also, if you have any fun challenge ideas, please post!     

P.S. This week is a double challenge...stay tuned for my next one.

Book Bucket List | People Who Eat Darkness

 I've been sick lately like everyone else.  And when I'm sick, I watch a lot of formulaic documentaries about true Crime. So as that's been my thing the last week, I got really excited about the book People Who Eat Darkness: the true story of a young woman who vanished from the streets of Tokyo and the evil that swallowed her up by Richard Parry.

The story is about the strange circumstances of the disappearance and murder of Lucie Blackman, a British citizen working as a host at a club in Tokyo.  The book is a biography about her murderer almost as much as it is about the victim, so it gives more about the killer's motivation and ....problems than in similar books that only focus on the victim.

I am not normally a fan of true crime books (That obsession belongs to my mother-in-law), but when I read this book, I found it really interesting.  So if you're looking for an interesting book about a really rather crazy true story, add this to your bucket list!

Learning | Until Next Week

Sorry, dear readers.  There are some nasty bugs going around, and one of them found me. The Learning blog will return next week.  

Have a good week, and remember to wash your hands!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

4 Kids | I'm All Ears

Greetings kids! 

As promised, I've been reading, reading, reading. (And I hope you have too!)

Getting knocked down by that awful flu allowed me plenty of time to read in bed. 

I want to share one book with you that I've not mentioned before: R. J. Palacio's Wonder. I can't remember reading a book that left me so moved and so encouraged by the kindness of others. This is a book I can 100% recommend to all of you young readers. I think you'll be changed as a result of reading it.

Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a 5th grader born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a regular school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. One of the coolest things about this book is that it begins with Auggie's point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. It is the combination of all these perspectives that let the reader really understand the characters' struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

I really like that the author has called this book "a meditation on kindness.” What a great -- and accurate -- description! And when you read it, you'll no doubt take time to reflect on how loyal of a friend you really are. 

We've got lots of copies of this book at SSJCPL branch libraries. Stop by and pick one up; if one isn't on the shelf at your branch library, request a copy! I promise you won't be disappointed.

And so dear readers, now a request from me to you: What are you reading? Please, please, please (did I mention, please?) recommend your favorite book to me. I promise I'll read it, and write about it here. Just type in a title in the Comment section below.

Until next week, happy reading!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Professor O | Anime Goodness

Greetings, fellow readers, one and all!

The Professor is no dummy, as a certified genius, he knows better and takes full  advantage of all the different media that is available through the SSJCPL. From books, to dvds, to manga and comics,  Professor O enjoys it all! Today, I want to share one of the of the fantastic anime titles that awaits an adveturer who bravely searches the hallowed shelves of the SSJCPL.

Any anime fan worth their chops knows Studio Ghibli is the home to some of the best family friendly films around. Classic anime stories that can be enjoyed by kids, young people, right on up to the most diehard fan of action films. Any anime fan would also recognize the name of Hayao Miyasaki as the master artist, director, idol of the genre. 

Princess Mononoke (1997) is considered to be one of Miyasaki's masterpieces. There is a princess (not your usual passive Disney princess either) who is fighting the evil of unchecked human progress, which willy nilly destroys the forests and the habitat. These are times of Gods that roam the earth in the shape of exotic and fantastic animals, and a time of industrial and human gains (and ecological destruction). Our princess is no push over, for she is a strong female protagonist fighting against greedy and powerful forces threatening to annihilate nature's existence.

One of the biggest mainstream blockbusters for Studio Ghibli, this film entered the consciousness of American viewers and opened the door for anime to be accepted on a much larger scale. Young and old viewers hold this story close and it is considered a classic of the genre. Professor O recommends it!

Princess Mononoke

Life & Style | Confessions Of A Semi-Bad Working Mom

As a working mom, I qualify as a circus juggler. I assure you. 

How else can I manage to take care of a household and my kid in addition to working full-time.

I am so envious of housewives, I confess. I want to switch places with them, but I can't really afford it. 

Working women can't have it all in my opinion. Let's face it, we are humans not robots.

I work 40h/week which means that I am away from my family 40h/week.

Since I feel guilty about not spending quality time with my daughter, I spoil her rotten then I wonder why she misbehaves sometimes.

Most nights, by the time I get home around 6:30 pm, I am already running low on fuel.

There are nights that I just want to dive in to my bed and just sleep. But I can't. I have to check homework, feed my kid, give her a bath, get her lunch box ready, get her school uniform ready, and then read to her.

I confess that there are some nights that I am so exhausted that I ask my kid to read to herself. 

Some nights, I am so sleepy after we read to each other that I don't have any energy left in me to open one of my own books. 

I also feel really guilty of not cooking enough homemade meals for my family during the week.  

There are also days that I just want to be left alone for just a few hours. On those days, I just want to be dropped in the middle of a deserted island and be left alone with a good book and a slice of chocolate cake.

Am I asking too much?

For me working and keeping a house in order and taking care of my kid and being a wife is a constant uphill battle.

But, I also have to confess to something.

I am blessed to have a great husband, great parents and a wonderful mother-in-law who help me out with everything and anything. 

But with all their help and support, being a working mother feels like training for the Iron Man triathlon every day of the week.

So, to all the single women out there, gear up for the challenge!

I've got to read one of these books one of these days: 

Just let me lie down : necessary terms for the half-insane working mom

Home-alone America : the hidden toll of day care, behavioral drugs, and other parent substitutes

Chicken soup for the working woman's soul

I don't know how she does it : the life of Kate Reddy working mother
Time off for good behavior : how hard working women can take a break and change their lives

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha