Saturday, July 13, 2013

Teens Only | Random Thoughts

Good afternoon!

As you may remember, I wrote about volunteer opportunities -- namely the Book Buddies program -- a while back. Well, well, well. I never, ever -- in my wildest dreams -- expected the turnout I received.

Our Book Buddies program (at the Cesar Chavez Central Library) is a summer reading help project for children entering the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. We've got about 50 kids coming to the library every Monday, Wednesday and Friday getting help with their reading. From the smiles on their faces and their excitement each time they sign in, I think this program is a huge success. They're enjoying reading! Hello!! 

This program would never have gotten off the ground without the dedication -- and I should say Dedication with a capital "D" -- of our teen volunteers. They arrive 30-45 minutes early each session and pull materials (books, activities, etc.) to share with their young person or small group of young persons. They read. They encourage. They build confidence. Oh my goodness: they are creating readers!!! Am I slightly over the moon about this? You bet!

I tell the volunteers all the time how much I appreciate them. I hope they hear me. I really do. I hope they know -- if not now, then someday -- what an incredible impact they are making on the lives of young people.

If they need a little help realizing their wonderfulness, here's a thought. And a thought for all of you.

Have you heard of the website Let me explain. It's a website where you can write a letter to your future self. Pretty cool, right? You can set the date for the letter to be emailed to you. Set it for a month. Set it for a year. Set it for 10 years. It's up to you. Of course, you'll have to keep the same email address, but that's not a huge thing. 

I'm going to write a letter right now to my future self. I'm going to write about the community spirit I have observed in my teen volunteers this summer. I don't know when I'll have the letter emailed back to me. But if it happens to arrive on a day when I'm in a blue mood, I know I'll be uplifted to remember this awesome group of teens and how they gave of themselves to help others. That will turn around any blue mood...most definitely.

So what are you waiting for? Write a letter to your future self. Have fun.

P.S. If you're wondering about volunteer opportunities at the library, stay tuned. There will be lots more wonderful chances to share your time come September.

In the meantime, be well.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

4 Kids | Meet Fred

I have a pet lizard. His name is Fred. He's very cute. He can do push-ups. At least I think that's what he's doing. He's very quiet. 

Well, to be honest, he's not really a pet. He's just a lizard that visits me on my deck every day or so. 

I try to talk to him. He just stares at me and does his push-ups. 

I've tried to take a picture of him. He's pretty camera shy. He always skitters away whenever I reach for my phone to snap a pic. Maybe he's a famous lizard from a movie or something and doesn't like his picture taken. I don't know.

I think I need to do some research on lizards and figure out what I can feed Fred. And also what I can do to make my deck his home.

Good thing I work at a library and there are lots and lots of books on lizards.

Here's a good one I'm going to check out: Lizards by Nic Bishop. Not only does this book have great pictures, but it also provides basic information and fun, quirky facts about the appearance, habits, and life cycle of these amazing reptiles. By the way, the cover photo looks nothing like Fred. Fred's only 6 inches long and he doesn't have those horns on his head. But I know he's a lizard. 

I just googled lizard pictures and found one that looks just like Fred. Maybe it's his cousin. And check this out: doesn't the lizard in this picture look like he's doing push-ups? See? I wasn't kidding!

I might not know a lot about Fred, but I do know he's a reptile.

Oh! Speaking of reptiles.....

Today, the Cesar Chavez Central Library is hosting a special program for Summer Reading: The Shedskin Reptile Show. The program starts at 4 pm and everyone is invited. I'm sure I'm going to learn lots and lots about Fred, though I do have to say the title of the program -- shedskin -- has me a bit concerned.

So if you're in the area, stop by the Chavez Library today and learn all about reptiles.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Just Life | Persian Food #1 Green Beans and Rice

I love rice! I love the delicious aroma that engulfs my house whenever I cook rice. In my household, we eat a lot of rice. I am far from being an expert in Persian cooking, but I can still cook some basic Persian foods for my finicky family. Since I am a working mom, I usually opt for easy recipes. 

One of these recipes is green beans and rice. It is easy to make and it is pretty tasty.

Let me share this recipe with you and see what you think.

Here are what you need to feed a family of four:
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 large white onion 
  • 1 can of cooked French style green beans (14.4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric   
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Cooking oil or butter
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron (optional)
In a bowl, wash the rice and soak it in salt water for at least 15 minutes. Set it aside.

Add the dried saffron in a small cup, add 1/3 of cup of hot water in the cup. Set it aside.( Optional)

Chop the onion into small pieces. Saute the onion in oil until it is golden brown. Set it aside.

Cook the ground beef in some oil and then add the cooked onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric and cinnamon to the mixture. Add green beans and tomato paste to this mix. Let it cook for a couple of more minutes and then set aside

In a big pot, boil the water, add the rice, and let it cook until the individual rice is a bit soft not crunchy (about 3 minutes...don't let the rice get too mushy). 

Drain the rice. Pour one table spoon of oil and 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of pot. Add one layer of rice to the bottom of the pot and cover it with a layer of the meat & green beans mixture and repeat these two steps. 

Make a tiny mountain out of your rice mixture and poke a few hole in the rice.

Add a few chunks of butter and 1/2 cup of water all over the top of the rice.

Pour the saffron water on top.

Cover the lid with a kitchen towel and place it on top of pot and let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. 

When you splash a few drops of water to the side of the pot, if it sizzles, it is ready to eat.

Here is a book with some Persian recipes:

Food of life

"I love my mom's rice and you should try it because it will blow you away".  Arianna age 8

 Signing off until next Monday- Panteha