Saturday, February 8, 2014

Books On Film | Sounder and The Watsons Go To Birmingham

Today, I will be recommending two Newberry Award winning children's fiction novels that have been adapted into film in honor of Black History Month.{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVERSOUNDER
By Williams H. Armstrong. Published 1969.

Sounder is the story of a boy growing in a poor sharecropping family in the south. When his father is sent to prison and his dog goes missing, the young boy's life is thrown into turmoil.

There are two film versions of Sounder, a feature film from 1972 and a Disney television movie from 2003.^AUTHOR^AUTHORS^Author Processing^author&searchoper2=AND&thesaurus2=AUTHORS&search_entries2=AU&search_type2=AUTHOR&special_proc2=Author Processing&searchdata3=watsons go to birmingham&srchfield3=TI^TITLE^SERIES^Title Processing^title&searchoper3=AND&thesaurus3=SERIES&search_entries3=TI&search_type3=TITLE&special_proc3=Title Processing&library=ALL&match_on=KEYWORD&shadow=NO&sort_by=-PBYR&user_id=WEBSERVERTHE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963
By Christopher Paul Curtis. Published 1995.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham takes place in 1963, during which civil rights and segregation were hotly debated topics. The reader follows an African-American family on their summer visit to Birmingham, Alabama from their home in Flint, Michigan. While visiting their grandmother, the family encounters tragedy in the form of the 16th Steet Baptist Church Bombing which the parents struggle to explain to their young children.

The book was adapted into a film last year. Christopher Paul Curtis is also the author of several other popular historical children's books, including Bud, not Buddy, Elijah of Buxton, and The Mighty Miss Malone

Covers courtesy of LibraryThing.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Bucket List | Knowing your limits...

The Nancy Pearl Action Figure
I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I have, and will, stopped reading books and never finished them.  I hate the feeling when I absolutely HAVE to finish a book and dislike it so much I have to force myself to read it.  Sometimes I feel guilty, because it was a recommendation from a friend or a super popular best seller, but if I have no interest, I can't bring myself to pick it back up.  I feel even worse when it's a book that's been on my bucket list, and it turns out I can't finish.  I don't feel guilty as often any more though, because I was taught a very important lesson.  

This last September when Nancy Pearl kicked off the One Book, One San Joaquin program, she talked a little about how to determine if you should stop reading a book or not. Nancy talked about her "Rule of 50".  If you're 50 years old or younger, if you don't like a book by 50 pages, then it's time to stop.  If you're over 50, subtract your age from 100, and then that's how many pages you should stop after. (Her reasoning is "Why waste precious time?")

So the question is, after all of this, how do you find books that you'll actually like?  A great resource is Nancy Pearl's own books about books, Book Lust, More Book Lust, and Book Crush for younger readers. In each of these titles, Pearl gives her expert advice on what to read for every "mood, moment, and interest."  I've gotten a few good titles from these books, and am pleased to let you know that I've even stopped reading one after 50 pages. (And didn't feel bad!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learning | Mental Floss

I first heard of Mental Floss about ten years ago, through SSJCPL's subscription to Mental Floss magazine. This is a great publication to pick up, read a short while, and put down easily, if interrupted.  It's stuffed with interesting facts, and answers to questions you may never have had an inkling to ask--but wish you had.

Mental Floss also has a wonderful, entertaining website (a banner at the top of the web page features an amazing fact generator! It told me the name of the smallest U.S. president, and included his height and weight.)  This website has other snazzy features, including a Knowledge Feed, which is jam-packed with interesting articles and videos--would you like to see Neil Gaiman read "Green Eggs and Ham?" There are also Big Questions, in which Mental Floss reader's questions are answered; Lists (my favorites are the word lists, like the 11 Obscure Regional Phrases to Describe the Cold;) and Quizzes, asking the reader to choose answers to topics such as Jelly Belly Flavor, or Yankee Candle Scent?

Mental Floss: because sometimes you just need to give the noggin a good cleaning. 

Courtesy of Cayusa's photostream on Some rights reserved.

For a quick overview of history (with a healthy helping of irony and sarcasm,) try the Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits.  This focuses on the topic of world history, in a very condensed form. Readers of the magazine and website will appreciate the side notes, with topics such as "The Quotable Julius Caesar," and "D'Arc Triumphs," and "Name That War!"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

She's Crafty | To WIP or Not to WIP

When life gets busy, it's hard to find time to craft. The holiday craze is now behind us but we still find ourselves busy with birthdays, big changes, work, and life in general. But it's good to keep a project or two going through the chaos and during the calm.

One of my Zentangle inspired pieces.
Some of our crafts can even present a tiny space of time for a clear head filled only with the pattern of creation--ooo, that sounds relaxing--depending on what you're working on. I've found the repetitious pattern-making of contemplative drawing, also known as Zentangle, as very soothing and a recharge to the batteries of my mind. And other times, the project I'm working on feels like I'm conducting a symphony of chaos and I'm in the middle of the noise grinning like a maniac...but, it is what it is.

Grinning and chaos may have happened
In the crafting world we call a project we're working on a WIP, or a Work In Progress. Usually Kaye and I have have a few WIPs going, keeping us sane and occupied. Kaye is working on a knitting project at the moment and she works on it daily. The only specific WIPs I have are a few top-secret research projects I'm testing out for a teen craft program I'm doing during the summer. I thought I had more WIPs to declare but I found my other projects are a different story.

Some of our work is solid and focused. Something that has a date of birth and we hope for it to have a finished date. The work in between is (usually) steady forward progress. However, sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by prep-work and skill building, like me. Surprisingly, I don't have any personal WIPs at the moment. I didn't believe it myself until I tried to pin down exactly what I'm working on. Sure, I just finished a design project, but that's now a FO (Finished Object). I have many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) laying around that I've let gather dust but not a specific WIP that I'm motivated to finish. Intriguing.

Well, wait a minute, I could argue that prep-work and skill building is my ultimate WIP, right? The always and forever WIP never to be finished, only built upon layer by layer. So basically what I'm getting at is, I am my own WIP, right? How very philosophical. This is a craft blog, so that's as far as I'm going to elaborate on that argument.

So, lets get to the meat of the matter. What am I actually working on. What WIPs do I plan on starting? What am I doing to further the WIP that is me?

With the aid of a tutorial I bought a year or so ago, I decided to work on my digital painting skills. I've done two paintings for commissioned design projects but afterward let the technique go to pursue other interests. Now, I'm picking it back up again and hope to get better.

Recently I went through my college art portfolio and hung some of my drawings on the wall as motivation to draw more often. I stare at curves of draped fabric before bed remembering how much fun it was to recreate the light bending and hiding around the sheet of fabric and I find myself wanting to draw a bunch of still lifes. Methinks the trick is working! And since it's been a while since some serious drawing practice, I've checked out a few sketching and drawing books from the library to firm up my skills.

With all this painting and drawing in mind, a few ideas have been percolating and I might have a WIP or two or three to call my own. One, to draw a portrait of an individual I admire by hand and add color with digital paint. Two, to illustrate a few of my favorite quotes. And three, to go through my photos and find one that might translate well into a painting.

And as mornings in my area go back to being somewhat wintery, I'm also in the mood to knit up something warm and cozy. Brrr!

Do you have a WIP at the moment? Maybe you have a UFO or two begging to be turned back into a WIP? Or maybe your WIP is on the brink of becoming a FO? Let us know!

Kaye & Malia

Monday, February 3, 2014

Just Life | Mom, You Are A Great Chef

Moms are the best chefs in the world.

My mom lives thousands of miles away from Stockton but whenever she comes to visit, she makes us the most wonderful Persian foods.

So, tonight while I am at work, along with babysitting my kid, my mom is cooking us this wonderfully aromatic rice dish with green beans and ground beef. I can't wait.

Thanks mom.

And to all the moms out there, thanks for everything you do for all of us.

We are all eternally grateful to you even though we usually forget to say thank you.
So how about a few cook books to kick start this new week: 

From Mama's table to mine

Mad hungry cravings  

Quick and easy vegan comfort food

Old-school comfort food : the way I learned to cook 

Dinner : a love story : it all begins at the family table 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha