Saturday, October 26, 2013

Books On Film | Dracula

Bram Stoker didn't invent the vampire, but I think it's safe to say that he redefined it for future generations with the introduction of Dracula in 1897.

The book is written as a series of diary entries, logs, and letters written by the protagonists of the novel. The first being, Johnathan Harker, an English lawyer who travels to Transylvania to help Count Dracula with a real estate endeavor only to end up in a horrifying situation...prisoner to a vampire!

The character of Dracula has been borrowed for many vampire movies, but Bram Stoker's tale hasn't had as many adaptation as you would expect. Of those adaptations, Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation, Dracula (1992), is considered to be one of the best. If you want to see a film version of the original Dracula tale then check it out!

Covers courtesy of LibraryThing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Road Tripping

I love to drive. There's nothing sweeter than the freedom to take my car and go wherever I please. In fact, as you read this, my car is taking a well deserved rest after taking me and my friends to Southern California. 

My car at its peak of cleanliness! 

Driving short distances (under 2-3 hours) is a snap. Driving longer distances either alone or with others, requires a little more finesse and planning. When planning for your road trip, consider these ideas: 

Get your car in shape! If you need to get an oil change because it's time, do it. If you need to replace that timing belt, do it. At the very least, top off your fluids at your local oil change place. There is nothing worse than the car breaking down when you're on your big adventure. 

The tunes are the thing: I love music. If you love music, make sure you have some tunes to carry you along on your journey! Make CD mixes or just have the proper cords to hook up your phone or music player to your car stereo. 

Get that reading in! The library has audiobooks to listen to when you don't want to listen to music. There is a great selection both on CDs and through our OverDrive e-audiobook system. 

Where are you going? I purchased a GPS for myself over 3 years ago thinking "as long as I have a map, I won't need this!". Boy, was I wrong! It's a handy co-pilot to have it when I'm in a new city or traveling to a new destination around a city I'm in. Always have addresses at the ready just in case you need to figure out where you're going and need to ask someone. 

Nibbles and eats: It's a proven fact that you'll get hungry on the road. I love to subscribe to the "camping snacks" option for road eating. Simply said, make or bring snacks that you could bring camping and not worry about. I love trail mix-ish type snacks, granola bars and water. It'll help to keep your energy level up and your mind alert while driving! 
Coffee is welcome in my car ANYtime! 

I'm not going to lie... I love coffee while I'm on the road.

Give yourself some time: Give yourself a cushioned span of time to travel so you don't rush and hurry. It causes stress and you won't enjoy your travel time as much. If online map says it'll take 5 hours, just tell yourself it'll really take 6 hours.  

Most of all... have a good time! Make sure you're well rested and prepared to travel. It really does come down to preparation to make your trip a smooth one! 

Find inspiration on the road this fall and check out one of these books: 

Back Roads California

National Geographic guide to scenic highways and byways

California's best trips : 35 amazing road trips

Automobile adventures are out there!

Book Bucket List | NOS4A2

Scary stories are one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I can't stand to sit through any horror movies though, and when I've tried I end up covering my face so I can't see it anyway. But scary books?  I love them and can't get enough, especially around this time of year.

Recently, I learned that one of the kings of creepy chillers, Stephen King, has a son that also writes frightful books.  Joe Hill, born Joseph Hillstrom King, also has a successful writing career.  Joe is pretty active on his website and updates his readers frequently on his works in progress.  He has written four novels with his latest being the very creepy NOS4A2.

NOS4A2 is about the child abductor Charles Manx who drives around in his 1938 Rolls Royce and steals children.  Not only is he a child abductor, which is creepy enough, but he then turns those kids into demons.  Victoria McQueen, who has some supernatural powers of her own, barely comes away from a brush with Manx unscathed.  Many years later, Vic comes across Manx again,and this time, her son is involved.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Learning | Matthew Shardlake Mysteries

Historical mysteries are so much fun. The history nerd in me loves learning details of life in days of yore, or comparing what I already know about a certain time period with the author's portrayal. The best authors of historical fiction (whether they write in the mystery genre or not) write with a certain authoritative quality that only comes from extensive research and study of a subject.

For example, take a look at the author of the Matthew Shardlake series. C. J. Sansom not only earned both a B. A. and a PhD in history--he became a solicitor after all of that. His sleuth, Matthew Shardlake, is a solicitor in Tudor England. Sansom's realistic depiction of daily life--and legal conflicts--during the reign of Henry VIII make these mysteries hard to put down.  

The following is the first paragraph from the third book in the Shardlake series, Sovereign:

"It was dark under the trees, only a little moonlight penetrating the half-bare branches. The ground was thick with fallen leaves; the horses' hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road. A wretched track, Barak had called it earlier, grumbling yet again about the wildness of the barbarian land I had brought him to. I had not replied for I was bone-tired, my poor back sore and my legs in their heavy riding boots as stiff as boards. I was worried, too, for the strange mission that now lay close ahead was weighing on my mind. I lifted a hand from the reins and felt in my coat pocket for the Archbishop's seal, fingering it like a talisman and remembering Cranmer's promise: 'This will be safe enough,there will be no danger.'" 

Shardlake has a hunchback, or crooked spine, which causes him physical pain, but also engenders ill will from people who believe that deformity is a sign of evil.  He is an intelligent,  erudite, perceptive gentleman.  It's interesting to watch his character change as the series progresses; he is much more naive and idealistic in the first book, Dissolution. He becomes increasingly wary of others' motives as he grows older.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

She's Crafty | Decisions, Decisions

It's that time of year again, when I try to make up my mind about what to make my near and dear for Christmas. Shall I knit? Crochet? Sew? What colors should I use? Should it be something useful? Should I make something that would be good for both male and female, younger and older? Or, should I choose something unique for each individual? Oh, decisions, decisions! 

The longer I take to make up my mind, the narrower my choices become. I'll need time to get done with everything before the big day, for instance, no IOU's allowed! This year I've waited so long (I know, it's not even Halloween yet! But, when you make things, you need lots of time), it will have to be something small (small things are usually quick to make), always useful (why else would I be making it?), good for anyone--younger, older, male, or female (this is the quicker route too!), but still personalized for each and every one (of course!) Oh, and I can't forget the most important criterion--it has to be something they will all enjoy...or, at least consent to wear...if it turns out to be something to wear, that is. Maybe I should wait a little longer (that is, run out of time) and just make everyone some cookies. Good cookies, like peanut butter kisses, peppermint twist candy canes, pecan pie tassies...Cookies are good, right? But, it will be just my luck that they will want both cookies and something to wear!

You know, if I could find the perfect thing to make for everyone, wouldn't the stores already be full of them? Uggg, the stores probably are full of them, whatever they are. So impersonal. Ah! But not when we make them. When you give someone something you've made, you give them much more than what can be bought at the store. You give them a part of yourself. Someone said this to me last year upon receiving something I had made: "Is there love in the stitches?" I said, "Of course! That's why I made it for you." I meant it, too. Those who will make something for you care for you in one way or another.

Scarves by Kaye for Malia, Frank and Senta
Last year, I started earlier, around the first of September. I was able to make some broader choices. I chose to knit: A seaman's scarf for my husband Frank, who's retired from the Navy; a little poncho for 3-year-old Layla, daughter of close family friends Lois and Andrew. Lois got my first attempt at making knitted lace, in a scarf. Andrew got felted slippers, and so did Senta, my older daughter. Malia, Senta, and a few friends got infinity scarves, knitted in what I hoped would be colors they liked. Even then, I didn't have enough time to make something for everyone I would have knitted for.

Senta's felted wool slippers

I know it sounds as if I'll never find that perfect item to make for everyone, but maybe I will. There are some great places to look. Some of my favorites are online and one of these is To my knowledge, there is no other place quite like it. It is a knitting & crocheting community. There may be thousands of people logged on at any particular time, from all over the world. Signing up is free and you can customize your searches for patterns--thousands of them--in many different ways. You can look for specific kinds of things to make, specify whether you want to knit or crochet, look for specific sizes, and prices--many patterns are free. You can even save your favorite finds and purchases in your own Ravelry library online.

Another great place to look for free patterns is an online knitting magazine called Knitty, which publishes several times a year and keeps archives of past issues with patterns, articles, and reviews of products designed for knitting and other fibercrafts. There are fewer patterns here, but they are well worth looking through because they tend to be unique, sometimes funky and fun, sometimes beautiful, and always well written. Patterns from Knitty are also  rated by the ease with which they can be made, which is a good way to avoid frustrating yourself with patterns beyond your current level of expertise.

One of the best places to look for free knitting patterns is the library. Our library has many books with patterns appropriate for gift-giving, and you can search for them online or at your local branch. You can look for knitting patterns for various items such as scarves and socks. Or, you can just try knitting patterns and look through all of them. Always try expanding your search to Link+ too, for lots more books to chose from.

So, what will I make those near and dear to me this year? Have I found that perfect thing? Well, I was reading somewhere recently, I can't remember where, that putting soft and fuzzy materials on one's feet could help a person feel less stressed (it was something about nerve endings and oxytocin.) Like hand knit slippers, perhaps? Good for everyone, younger and older, male and female, and easily personalized with favorite colors...

Nola's slippers pattern, right. Image courtesy of

Oh, hey! What about adapting the free pattern Nola's Slippers I found on Ravelry? I could sport-stripe them on a gray background in Hogwarts House colors: Red for Gryffindor, blue for Ravenclaw, Gold for Hufflepuff, and Green for Slytherin. It might just be something Molly Weasley would make (she's my hero--fierce protector of her brood!) It's perfect! Now, if I could just learn that spell Molly used to set her needles to knitting on their own...Because there will never be enough time to knit for everyone I would knit for.

Until we meet again, stay crafty--Kaye

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just Life | Persian Food #3 Barley Soup ( Soup e Joe)

It is officially Fall. Cold weather is the best excuse to make a pot of soup. 

Don't you agree?

Barley soup is the only soup that I can make with my eyes closed. I usually make this soup on Sundays and it will last us for a few days.

Here is my soup recipe:

1 cup of pearl barley

2 pieces of chicken thighs with skin

1 cup of chopped white onion

1 cup of chopped celery

1/2 cup of chopped carrot

3 cloves of chopped garlic

1 chicken bouillon

1 beef bouillon

2 cup of heavy cream or milk



Turmeric (optional) 

Wash and soak a cup of pearl barley and set it aside to soak for 20 minutes. 

First, we should make some fresh chicken broth. So to a big pot, add 15 cups of water, chicken thighs, chopped onion, chopped garlic, chicken bouillon, beef bouillon and some salt and pepper and turmeric. Let it cook until the chicken is fully cooked.

Remove the cooked chicken from the pot, set aside to cool down.

Drain the barley and add it to your pot of chicken broth and let it cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. 

Add the chopped celery and carrot to it. Let is cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat.  

Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the chicken it in to small pieces and add it to the soup

Check the water content of the soup and add more water if needed. 

Reduce heat and let it cook for another 30 minutes on low heat. 

Add 2 cups of heavy cream or milk to the soup. Your soup is ready in 5 minutes. 

This soup goes very well with a side of focaccia bread.  

Bon appetit!

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha