Saturday, April 27, 2013

Teens Only | Eat Up

Did you know? The principal asparagus production area in California is the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta area. Let's hear it for the great stuff growing in our own backyard! In fact, California produces more than 70% of the nation's fresh market asparagus. And this weekend marks the annual festival in honor of this tasty crop: The Stockton Asparagus Festival. If you've never gone, you have to give it a try. You'll find me in line for the deep-fried asparagus. I know I should perhaps try something a little healthier, but that is one tasty dish! And I hear this year there will be aspara-berry shortcake. I'll definitely give that a try.

My Dad worked in the agriculture industry, so not only did I grow up really appreciating the many wonderful fruits and vegetables grown in our area, but I also had quick access to a beautiful variety of yummy edibles growing in my Dad's garden in our backyard. Thanks, Dad.

So if you've been in a grocery store in the past weeks and cruised through the produce section, you've seen bunches of asparagus. What is asparagus, you ask?

I checked Asparagus Facts online to learn a little more:
  1. Once a field of asparagus is harvested, it will continue to produce for 15-20 years.
  2. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period.
  3. Asparagus has no fat, contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium.
And for some gardening and cooking tips, check out Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook. Healthy and inexpensive additions to every meal. You gotta love it!
Celebrate the bounty of  San Joaquin County! If you get to the Asparagus Festival, have a great time.
And as always, happy reading!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Bucket List | The Great Harry Potter Reread

Anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, knows that I am a huge Harry Potter fan.  When the books were being released, my friends and I would dress up as HP characters and get to Barnes and Noble around 7 pm for the midnight releases. (I was always Ginny.)  Online, I saw that some bloggers were trying to get a bunch of people to do a reread of the series this summer.  I have to admit I've reread a few of the books... a lot.  Especially Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince, those two I can pick up and start anywhere.  I was thinking this summer of spacing out the series over a few months and reading them in order.  

So today, I am going to feature two of the Harry Potter series.  One of them is my favorite, and the other is my friend John's favorite.  I've asked him to write a little on why he likes Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the most, and I will tell you why I like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favorite.

From the desk of John:
"First, I loved all the H.P. books, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Goblet of Fire. The book stands out for me for a few reasons. First, in this book we really see the growth and development of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They are no longer children, but teenagers beginning to explore the world around them. We see this with the Weasleys inviting Harry and Hermione to the Quidditch World Cup. We also see the group begin to be exposed to new groups of wizards their own age. I loved the interactions that came as a result of the introductions of two other schools of wizardry: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Remember towards the beginning of the book when Ron idolized Victor Krum at the Quidditch World Cup? Funny how that changed. Which leads me to another development that I enjoyed, and kinda caught me off guard. In this book we see the three exploring their feelings outside of the group. Harry finds affection for Cho, not Hermione, Hermione finds herself taken by Victor Krum and not Harry, and Ron is infatuated by Fleur Delacour. It was funny watching Harry work up the nerve to eventually ask Cho to the Yule Ball, only to be shot down, because he asked too late! Probably the only time you will ever see Harry shot down! Two much good stuff to squeeze into one measly paragraph, that the blogger limited me to. She clearly is biased" 

My retort:
 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favorite HP book.   I love this book because it is the year when Harry, Ron, Hermione, and even Draco outgrow Hogwarts.  Their relationships are developing and emotions are becoming more complex.  Hermione's jealousy over Lavender, Ron's jealousy over Cormac McLaggen, and Harry's infatuation with Ginny are developments that happen in this book which start to effect the way the characters see and treat each other.  It is also has what I consider to be the darkest hour in the whole series, the aftermath of the Death Eater's attack and MASSIVE SPOILER!  (If you haven't read this I really don't want to ruin it for you.)  The book also gives a lot of information about Professor Snape, one of my favorite characters.  The end really leaves the reader shocked and leaves the wizarding world in a very dark place and it forces the characters to grow up in ways they never expected.

So once we hit June 1, (Which is also, might I add, the beginning of the summer reading program.) I will start to reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Hopefully I could use it to check off a box for my summer reading card!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4 Kids | Stand Up! Be a Leader!

This has seriously happened to me more times than I can count. I tell people I'm a librarian, and their response is something like: "I just don't like to read."

How do we learn about history and about what's going on in the world? How do we learn about new things? Let's ask President Abraham Lincoln.

"A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others." -- Abraham Lincoln

And by the way, pick up Lane Smith's Abe Lincoln's Dream to enjoy a quick and beautiful story of a little girl's conversation with the ghost of our 16th president.

How can we expect to make it in the world without being able to read? Let's ask the famous cartoonist and creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening.

"I can't believe it! Reading and writing actually paid off!" -- Matt Groening

How do we spend our free time? Do we spend hours in front of the TV instead of doing something that expands our mind and opens us up to new worlds? For a little on this, let's ask one of the most famous comedians of the modern era, Groucho Marx.

"I find television very educating. Everytime somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." -- Groucho Marx

There are no guarantees in life, but I really, truly believe a successful life is more achievable when one is a reader. Do you want to be a leader or a follower? Do you want to make an impact on the world, or sit back and let the world happen to you? For some insight on this, let's ask our country's 33rd president, Harry S. Truman.

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." -- Harry S. Truman
For a little reading inspiration, join us at the Cesar Chavez Central Library for a special Families Reading Together program on Monday, April 29th at 6:30 pm. It's for children of all ages, and parents must come with their kids! And to get even more excited, here's some great news: Each child that comes to the program gets a free book! No kidding!!
One last thing: there is still time to enter the Children's Book Week Writing Contest. Contest information can be found here.
Be a reader. You won't be disappointed.
Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Just Life | Cities of Angels

I was about 39,000 feet above the ground, in an airplane with my 7-month-old daughter. I had been in that airplane for more than 10 hours and before that, I was stuck in London's Heathrow Airport and before that I was flying from Tehran to London. I was exhausted, my baby was exhausted/cranky, and she was crying.

Then it happened. I saw my angel. A kind hearted passenger came to my rescue.

She just took my daughter from my arms and cradle her like a mother and starting talking to me like an old friend.  At that moment, she was my angel.

(You weren't expecting me to tell you that I saw a winged angel. Did you?) 


The world would be a sad and lonely place if we didn't have angels like her among us. 
Now let me toot my own horn a bit and tell you about the time I saved a kid's life.

We were at a children's pool party. We were all hovering around the pool and having fun. Years ago, I lost my cousin to drowning so that day, I was watching my kid like a hawk. I was also having a conversation with one of the party guests. All of a sudden, I saw her daughter's head under the water and she wasn't coming up for air. So I casually asked the woman " Does your daughter know how to swim?" and her only response was: " Oh, my God."

So I just jumped in and dragged the kid out of the pool.

Voila!  Just call me angel Panteha :)
Let me tell you another brief story about my grandfather. My grandfather was a great human being and did his best to help everyone and anyone. So here is a story about my grandpa meeting his guardian angel:

When my dad was a kid, my grandfather owned a lumber factory. One year, the business was really slow and after paying his employees, there was no money left. That worried his family but he kept telling his family not to worry. Not long after, they were all eating dinner and the door bell rang. Here came in a man with a handkerchief full of money asking my grandfather to build him wooden boxes for his fruit business. That night, my grandpa met his guardian angel and was able to provide for his family.

There are angels among us and we are all angels to one another when we choose to take care of one another.

I believe in karma and for better or worse, we are all in it together.

The book of angels

Hot chocolate for the mystical soul

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha