Saturday, November 23, 2013

Books On Film | How To Train Your Dragon{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVERHow to Train Your Dragon is the first of a series of books that take place in a fictional Viking land where dragons are real. A boy named Hiccup is sent out to capture and train a dragon as a right of passage. He captures a dragon, Toothless, and proceeds to try to train him with his own methods after the one-page guide on training dragons proves useless.{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVERThe book was adapted into a 3-D animation film in 2010 and the sequel is expected out next year. The film was very heartfelt and enjoyable. However, there are some major changes from the book so this might be a 'watch the movie before reading the books' book/film combo.

Covers courtesy of LibraryThing

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Thanksgiving WHOAs

Is it November already? Wasn't it summertime only a breath ago? I guess in California, you know it's getting to be autumn when the high dips down below 75 degrees. 

As many of you are planning a meal with friends and family, so is this Bloggess. Right now, my mother and I are planning our Thanksgiving meal for our family. This will be the 4th time that my mom and I will sit and come up with a strategic plan for dinner.

I do, though, would like to share why this is only the 4th time and not the 34th time that we're having Thanksgiving dinner. 

Once upon a time, the mother of the Bloggess got married. She decided that, as a married woman, she wanted to make Thanksgiving special and cook a turkey for her husband. She found the recipe for all of the sides she wanted to make and made all of the preparations for a fantastic feast. 

On Thanksgiving eve, she thawed out the turkey. On Thanksgiving morning, she prepared the turkey as per the recipe and was excited to pop the turkey in the oven. Things went well for a little bit. Until....


The sound sent her running to the kitchen where she saw smoke pouring out the sides of the oven. She turned the stove off and opened the oven door to find her beautiful turkey still fairly raw... with a gaping hole. The issue? She sewed up the bird too tight and none of the built up steam had anywhere to go. From then on, my mother decided that she would just....sidestep the issue of making a turkey. We had other Thanksgiving delights: meatloaf, pizza, steak, fried rice. 

Thanksgiving wasn't a big deal until I was a little older and wanted to start some traditions of my own. My mother had to come clean with her story. I took it upon myself to cook the first turkey our household had seen in years. Needless to say, it went well. A year later, my brother decided he wanted to make the centerpiece bird. 

It ended up looking like this: 
Inedible, fried turkey

Burnt to the very core

As a family, we decided that turkey just wasn't for us. Our family has a new Thanksgiving food tradition: prime rib. It's a delicious change to the turkey. To be honest, if I was my mother, I'd be gun shy about seeing a turkey go in the oven. 

Over the years, I've collected recipes from various books and websites. I hope you find your delicious mains and sides for this upcoming holiday season from some of my favorite places! 

Pioneer Woman: before she was a Food Network star, she had this great (WITH PICTURES) website for her recipes! 

Bon Appetit magazine: delicious food with simple ingredients. You'll be surprised at the simplicity of the dishes! 

Food Network: I love to see the different ways dishes are made. Check out the varieties of Macaroni & Cheese!

You're Doing it All Wrong: Who knew?!?!?!? I learned to make deviled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches the right way from watching these videos! 

Share your food successes and failures here! We've all had them and we all learn from them. Enjoy the time and food with your loved ones!  Cooking adventures are out there! 

Book Bucket List | The Goldfinch

Whenever the New York Times puts out a book review, you can be pretty sure that it's reliable enough to tell whether the book is a bomb or good (enough).  But when Stephen King writes a review for the New York Times, you can be sure to trust it.  Recently, King wrote a review about Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch that said,
"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."
So, after seeing that review, I was really excited when The Goldfinch came in.  Within the first few pages, we find out that Theo Decker's mother is dead.  I'm not spoiling anything to tell you this, so don't worry.  After Theo's mother died, he was left in the possession of the painting, The Goldfinch.  Theo's entire life revolves around this painting and his dumb luck of having it fall into his possession.  Tartt is known for her character development, and we get to see the evolution of Theo from a delinquent teenager to a functioning adult.

I haven't finished this book yet, it is quite long, but I'm loving it so far.  If you're on the lookout for some awesome fiction, I'd checkout this book. (Literally)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Learning | Nonplussed

My friend, Holly, posted on her Facebook status recently, asking her friends to list their least favorite words, and why. Apparently, she had read an article on a similar topic recently, and somebody said they couldn't stand to hear the word "moist."  

Mocha Caramel Pound Cake.
Photo courtesy of onlinepastrychef's photostream on
Some rights reserved.
Holly and I both think that's funny; we like the word moist. For many of us, it conjures up the thought of delicious, moist cake--because there was a certain brand of cake mix that claimed cakes turned out moister, if one used their mix.

It's easier for me to think of words I like, than those I don't, but I did think of one: nonplussed. I don't encounter it too often, but when I do, it's when I'm reading a book. I never hear people say it.  

Truthfully, one reason I dislike the word is because I have had trouble remembering what it's supposed to mean. The word nonplussed  seems to be used to describe a person's reaction to something they don't like. I had some vague idea it might be related to being angry or confused.

I looked it up on the Oxford Dictionary Online, before I posted the word in a comment under Holly's status.  Here's what the ODO says about it:
  • 1(of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react:he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea
  • 2North American informal (of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.

Well! No wonder I was confused. Those two meanings seem to oppose each other.  I must be reading it in different contexts, so that it means different things. 

The other reason I dislike the word is because it doesn't sound like what it means. The morpheme "plus" made me think of arithmetic--which, come to think of it, was not my favorite subject in school.  I read about the etymology of nonplus; it comes from Latin, meaning "no more." That actually  makes sense, if we consider it as meaning no more can or should be said, it especially sounds like the first meaning listed in the ODO. 

I suppose you might say that the ODO helped me to overcome my dislike of nonplussed. After reading so much about the term, I think I will not be nonplussed when I come across the word in a book.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

She's Crafty | Knit Your Bit!

I've had an idea floating around in my head for a while, now. And, as usually is the case, Malia brought home a book from one of the libraries about that very topic (I could swear that kid is psychic! But, she says she just knows me really well.:) Anyway, it's called Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story, by Deborah Hopkinson. The story is a bit of historically accurate fiction chronicling the 3-day "Knitting Bee" held in New York's Central Park in July of 1918. The sponsor of the event, the Navy League Comforts Committee, raised $4,000 and collected 50 sweaters, 48 mufflers, and 224 pairs of socks over the 3 days of the Bee.

According to the historical facts in the back of the book, the American Red Cross had determined that there wouldn't be enough warm clothing for U.S. soldiers fighting in Europe to make it through the winter months of 1917-1918. By the time the Central Park event was held, people all over the country had been forming knitting clubs and holding knitting bees. Men, women, boys and girls were knitting; the young and old were knitting. People were knitting in classrooms, on the subway, in firehouses and governor's residences. President Woodrow Wilson even kept sheep on the White House lawn for their wool during World War I.

Knitting one's bit is something that has continued to the present. Now, people knit for all kinds of causes. They continue to knit warm winter woolens for soldiers, warm blankets for kids needing warmth all over the world, tiny hats for preemies born in hospitals near and far, and bigger hats for chemo patients getting treatment at these same hospitals. They knit warm slippers, scarves and hats for seafarers of various sorts, and for homeless shelters all over the country.

A quick search for "knitting for charity" on Google turned up a long list of websites, just some of which are these:, a website devoted to many different causes. They also have free knitting patterns appropriate for charity knitting and a newsletter called Knitting Nuggets if you are interested in information about knitting and/or charity knitting., a website devoted to a single important cause: keeping AIDS orphaned children warm in South Africa.This cause will tug at your heartstrings for sure--it brought tears to my eyes to see what these children are up against. But, we can help by knitting or crocheting 8" X 8" squares and sending them in to the Knit-a-Square (KAS) folks, who will sew them into blankets. You can also find free patterns for making squares and other items on this website., is another website devoted to many causes, including special projects, such as the ones for the Ronald McDonald Houses, if you are so inclined. If you check out this site, you can even download lesson plans you can use to teach yourself or others how to knit.

I also went to, one of my favorite all around yarn-crafting websites to see what they have for those who'd like to knit their bit. This search for charity knitting gave me 509 patterns, 421 of which are free. And, not to leave out our crocheting friends, a search for this kind of charity patterns resulted in 157 patterns, 148 of which are available for free. Many, many charities and programs are represented among these patterns offered through Ravelry--go over and have a look, it's free to join!

Finally, I tried the American Red Cross official website, but found it was easier to access their knitting patterns through Ravelry. Just type "American Red Cross" into Ravelry's pattern search bar and several basic patterns, all free, will come up. Some of these patterns are the same ones used during World War I. Just imagine!

Oh, right. The rudimentary idea that started me going on this blog adventure? To knit my bit, of course. But, more than that, I'd like to encourage everyone to knit or crochet their bits as well. I'm still thinking about that, how we might get more people involved. I know, for instance, there are knitting groups at some of our own library branches, and I'm looking into starting one here at my branch too (with my supervisor's blessing, of course.) What if our knitting groups got interested in knitting or crocheting for charity?  What if we ALL could knit or crochet our bits? Bit by bit, we could keep the whole world warm...

As always, leave us a comment and let us know what you think, and stay crafty!

Kaye and Malia

4 Kids | November 22, 1963

About two years ago, my friend Amy and I traveled to Maryland to visit our good buddy, Lloyd. Many of you might remember Lloyd who was my puppet partner extraordinaire. He was the voice of Fizzer the Dog, Tacky the Penguin's dear but dimwitted friend. Oh those were fun times.
So Amy and I boarded a plane and headed east. We had a great visit. Spent a day in Williamsburg and another in Washington, D.C. So much to see! I absolutely loved our time in the Smithsonian Institution.
But what I really, really wanted to do was visit Arlington National Cemetery. We went there on our last day. It had snowed the night before, so the cemetery was covered in a beautiful blanket of pure white snow. It was breathtaking.
I have waited years (and years) to visit the grave of President John F. Kennedy and see the eternal flame. Finally, the day had arrived.
We made our way toward the hill that leads up to the gravesite. We were so close. But then an Arlington staff person informed us that the gravesite was closed because the walkway was iced over.
What? Really? To say I was disappointed is like the most major understatement ever.
I just stood there in disbelief.
No one else was around but me and my buddy Lloyd.
We stood there for several minutes.
Then that Arlington staff person walked behind me and said, "We're going to open up the walkway. You can go up."
And I did. All by myself. All I can say is that those moments standing there in front of the eternal flame, paying my respects, were more incredible than words can describe. Even as I sit here remembering those moments, my heart quickens. In truth, it was a life-changing moment.
This week we are remembering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Just about every person over the age of 55 can probably tell you exactly where he/she was the moment the news broke of the assassination. I'll be honest....I was alive when it happened, but just barely. I was in a crib and was way too young to know what was happening.
And just as everyone over 55 remembers that fateful day, every person has a different reaction.
As I look back, President Kennedy represented a new hope for our country. Who knows what else he might have accomplished? So young. So tragic.
I'm sorry that this blog is a bit depressing. But November 22, 1963 was a very depressing day.
You'll find a whole bunch of biographies on President Kennedy in a library near you.
If you want to gain a better understanding of the assassination, check out Bill O'Reilly's Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation. It's a gripping account of the most notorious crime of the 20th century. It's history. It's important.
Until next week, be well.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just Life| What Are You Thankful For?

On a white board at work, a co-worker wrote this question:

"For what are you thankful?"

That made me pause and reflect.

I am thankful for many many things in my life. Life has been good to me.

So friends, 

Here is my short answer to this philosophical question:
  • I am thankful to have an awesome family who is always there for me no matter what
  • I am thankful to have a small but mighty circle of friends
  • I am thankful to be healthy
  • I am thankful to have a job that I love
  • I am thankful to have a roof over my head
  • I am thankful to have a pantry full of food
  • I am thankful to live in such a wonderful country
And finally,

I am thankful that someone else besides me is cooking the turkey this year.

If you were wondering what my co-workers wrote on that white board, here is a tiny peek:
  • Everything
  • My health
  • Books
  • You You You 
So, as one of my co-workers puts it, don't forget that someone or many people are thankful to have you in their lives.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving : how to cook it well  

Kitchen revelry : a year of festive menus from my home to yours 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha