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DECEMBER 29, 2008
One Man's Trash!
They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure. So, it is that you find me recently at the town landfill, vacillating whether or not to take this Santa home. He had just been unloaded from the man's truck, all boxed up, an old Christmas decoration, no longer with a home. The man explained he was cleaning out his parents' place...I never asked, but wondered if he meant his parents had moved to smaller dwellings or had passed away. I just knew that this 4 ft. jolly ol' elf brought a smile to my face and needed to come home with me. Still, I hesitated. Why?
Anyone that knows me and my husband, know we are junk pickers. There are nicer words for what we do but in the end that's what it is. Actually, we have always called it scrounging and over the years we have done our fair share of this. Early in our marriage, when we lived in New Britain, we had some of the best times, riding in Paul's truck all night long, gathering other people's discards left out for heavy collection. We'd spend hours going up and down the city streets curbside picking. We found such wonderful things. Some we used, some we sold and other items just got stashed away. Anyone and everyone we knew would come to our “store: when looking for something. We were bound to have it and loved to share our treasures. But as we get older we find it's time to let the stuff go and so have been making an effort to rid our home of unused items. Still, old habits die hard and we still find ourselves looking at all the glorious things left on the swap table at the dump. So I put Santa in the truck and then thought better of it and said “No, take him out. Let someone else have him.” Paul looked at me and knew I truly wanted him, and pointed out we could always just use him this season and bring him back next year. A deal! but one I don't intend to keep. I've enjoyed having this Santa decoration adorn my porch this year. He is bright and cheery and has made good company for the snowman I also have residing there. It would be a shame to split this new friendship.
Ok, now to link my prattle to books.
There are many books available to give you ideas on how to use found treasures in your daily life and decorating scheme. Here are a few suggestions from our collection and some you can find through Interlibrary Loan or in neighboring libraries.
That might be useful : exploring America's secondhand culture / Leslie Naton 306.34 LESLIE
Junk beautiful : room by room makeovers with junkmarket style / Sue Whitney 747 Whitmey PBK
Simply green giving : create beautiful gift wrapping, tags, and handmade treasures from everyday materials / Danny Seo 745.5 SEO
Protecting your collectible treasures : secrets of a collecting diva / Judith Katz-Schwartz. 745.10288 KATZ-SCHWARTZ PBK
The dumpster diver / Janet S. Wong ; illustrated by David Roberts. ; E WONG
How to make a fortune with other people's junk : an insider's secrets to finding and reselling hidden treasures at garage sales, auctions, estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, antique shows, and ebay/ G.G. Carbone.
Flea market makeovers for the outdoors : projects & ideas using flea market finds & recycled bargain buys / BJ Berti.
Dime store decorating : using flea market finds with style / Jill Williams Grover. Junk style / Melanie Molesworth ; photography by Tom Leighton.
A few weeks ago I posted a blog about books to give as gifts for all different readers. Now that Christmas has passed, I thought it would be fun to share what books I actually saw given and received as gifts among my family and friends. Here's a short list of some of the titles that I can remember!
The Gate House, Nelson DeMille's follow up to The Gold Coast.
Giada's New Italian Favorites - YUMMY!
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards
The ONION 's Our Dumb World; Atlas of the Planet Earth, a must have for Onion fans!
Peace: The Words and Inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi
Bob Dylan's Little Black Songbook
The Bulldog, by Diane Morgan
The Two of Us...and Friends (a cookbook), by by Jessie Carry Saunders
These are just a few of the books I saw given over the past couple of days. All in all books seemed to be a popular item this year - and I know lots of people who will be snuggling up to do some reading over New Years! So I want to know- did you end up giving or getting any great new books over the holiday season?? Post a comment and tell me about them!
I usually post on Friday, but with doing inventory this week I am a little late : ( . Although, I did have an idea rolling around in my head about that I wanted to write about – friendship. Inspired by Carol's recent post on books with the theme of female friendships I got to thinking, out of all the characters in all the books that I've read, who would I like to be friends with?
Actually, no one popped to mind right away, and I realized that many times the characters that make a good story are damaged, flawed, and sometimes even evil. But, after some thinking I came up with a short list of characters that are sweet, charming, funny, or just so special that I would love to have a real life friendship with them.
I would have to list the Big Friendly Giant, from the BFG, by Roald Dahl. I love the way he talks, I love that he catches dreams for a living, and in the end he is the hero. Plus, just imagine the perks that might accompany having a giant as a friend!
I know I mention this book ALL the time, but I could not write about characters that I'd love to be friends with without including nine year old Oskar Schell from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I love him because of his inventions, because of what he wears, because of his heavy boots, and because he's so hilarious and so sad. I also love Mr. Black and Oskar's Grandma. Basically, if you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for?
I also can't leave out Randle Patrick McMurphy, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, even though he's “crazy,” I think I'd like that friendship in small doses.
Lastly, I know I wouldn't want to be friends with Ignatius Reilly, from A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, but I do think I would get hours of entertainment out of being pen pals with him, just like Myrna Minkoff seems to get in the book.
Click below to see NPR's list of the top 100 fictional characters since 1900. Not quite the same thing as characters you'd like to be friends with, but still pretty interesting!
My oldest daughter Jill has taken the reins as the official cookie maker in our family. It's possible she learned to bake on the strings of my apron, but her expertise has far surpassed mine in adulthood. For several years she has made our Christmas cookies while I assist. My assistance comes mostly in the form of footing the bill for the ingredients, washing the numerous bowls and cookie sheets and sampling the end product for quality control.
Through the years she has made the traditional holiday cookies like spritz, snowballs, and cut-out Santa sugar cookies, but our family truly enjoys plain ol' regular everyday fare. Each of us has our favorite cookie. Her partner, Dave, likes White Chocolate Macadamia, her son, Justin, Thumb Prints (red jelly please), sister, Stacy, opts for Peanut Butter Kiss, her dad, Chocolate Chip (not too many chips), and as for me, I love Cranberry Oatmeal. She accommodates all our wishes and still usually manages to try something new each year. One year it was big, soft ginger, another, iced pumpkin and once, rum raisin, which has since become a favorite.
This year, because she's going to school, we decided to reduce the quantity and variety of cookies made and mom (me) was enlisted once again to lend a helping hand. So this past Saturday, while my husband plowed the 10” of snow from our driveway, we fired up the oven and baked several batches of cookies for our Christmas celebration. We measured, we mixed, we greased the cookie sheets, we rolled, we dropped, we timed and burned a few fingers along the way. Most of all though, we laughed, we talked and shared a pleasant day together, mother and daughter. We made less cookies than most years but still there's plenty, probably enough for me to freeze a few for later eating. Although we were running out of steam by mid-afternoon, I still convinced her to try a new recipe, this one for Brownie Mix Biscotti. Easy, delicious, it could be a keeper.
Brownie Alpine Biscotti
1 package fudge brownie mix (13 inch x 9 inch size) ¾ cup ground almonds ½ cup all-purpose flour ¾ tsp. baking powder 1 egg plus 3 egg whites 1 tsp. almond extract ¼ cup sliced almonds (optional) 3 squares (1 oz. Each) white baking chocolate, optional
In a large bowl, combine dry brownie mix, ground almonds, flour and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk egg, egg whites and extract. Add to brownie mixture; stir until combined
Divide dough into thirds. On a greased baking sheet and using greased hands, shape each portion into a 7 in. x 3 ½ in. rectangle. Bake at 350º for 24 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into ¾ in. slices. Place cut side down on greased baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes longer or until firm.
Cool on wire racks, If desired, sprinkle with sliced almonds and drizzle with chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is completely set. Store in a Ziploc® Container. Yield 2 ½ dozen
Taste of Home Holiday Recipe Card Collection – December 2008
Our library has lots of great cooking books, many just for cookies. Here's a few to get you started. Take out a couple and whip up a batch. There's nothing like a warm cookie, straight from the oven, to bring a smile to your face.
How can one possibly not like something that opens such? Of course, Mr. Dickens’ probably knew this. And while the famous line is the last, this first line is most intriguing.
According to History.com, it was today in 1843 that Charles Dickens’ classic story “A Christmas Carol” was published. Other sources suggest it was December 19. However, all agree it was this week in 1843.
The popularity of this tale also seems almost universal. It has been suggested that the story sold over six thousand copies the first week of its release. Whether this is true or not, in the 165 years since its first appearance, the story has been retold and alluded to, by almost everyone from the Jetson’s to Beavis and Butt-head, Mickey Mouse to the Muppets and even a version with Barbie. A 15 minute silent film version was released in 1910, in 1970 a musical film version was released, Scrooge, starting Albert Finney and Alec Guinness, and almost every one knows Scrooged, the 1988 remake staring Bill Murray.
It has been said that "A Christmas Carol" rekindled the true spirit of Christmas that had been waning in the 1840’s. Dickens' describes the holidays as "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys". This was what Dickens described for the rest of his life as the "Carol Philosophy".
I think it would be nice if the Carol Philosophy grew more universal.
Stop by the Library to pick up "A Christmas Carol" to read or listen to this season, including the story performed by Jonathan Winters!
When I was a little girl my mom always sang to me. One of my favorite songs was Friendship.
If you're ever in a jam, here I am. If you're ever in a mess, S.O.S. If you're so happy, you land in jail. I'm your bail. It's friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship. When other friendships are soon forgot, ours will still be hot. Da da da da da da dig dig dig. If you're ever down a well, ring my bell. If you're ever up a tree, just phone to me. If you ever loose your teeth when you're out to dine, borrow mine. It's friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship. ...Cole Porter
I couldn't get this tune out of my head after our last book discussion, Beaches, by Iris Rainier Dart. Beaches is the story of the unlikely friendship between two very different girls, one brash and loud, the other quiet and ultra-conservative. From the first time they meet under the boardwalk of Atlantic City, their story is a testament to friendship and strong bonds women form. In the early years of the relationship, they mostly communicate as penpals through the mail as kids often did in the 80's. As adults they do get together in several short reunions and as in many lasting friendships, there are ebbs and flows, ups and downs, laughter, tears, hurts, misunderstandings and always, love. I loved the story when I first read it in the 80's and the re-reading was a pleasure. The story makes me happy and what could be better at this time of year.
I asked our book group (all women) to name a few other books about friendship that they liked. I've listed a few.
You're not supposed to, but come on, we all do it. I have picked up many books JUST because I like the cover, and avoided books that have had glowing reviews just because I don't like the cover. You can't deny it, covers play a huge role in getting you to pick up a book, and in who the book will appeal to.
Here are some of my favorite book jacket designs, art that has inspired me to pick up a book when I otherwise might not have...
Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
Looking at these all bunched together I guess I am attracted to book covers that have fairly simple designs and use bright colors. Oddly enough I guess I like upside-down animals too...
Chuck Palahniuk (top middle) seems to always put out books with covers that I love, or at least that intrigue me, although I haven't always loved his writing. And Bob Shea (New Socks on bottom right) has become one of my new favorites for children's picture books. I just love his bright, funky, pop-art like drawings.
Here are some that I haven't read yet, but want to...partly based on the covers.
Three different authors, but the first two have a really similar look that really make me want to read them.
Here's a few examples of how book covers can make a difference:
Same book, but I like the first cover (the one on the left) MUCH better. It's a great book too, one that I was initially attracted to by the jacket art.
Again, same book, different cover. Its a new Junior Fiction book that has gotten wonderful reviews, but the first cover (on the left) is really unappealing to me - I think it looks old. The paperback version just came out (the one on the right) and I think it looks MUCH better. I am curious if the book will get checked out more with this redesigned cover.
So, what do you think? Do you have favorite book covers? Have you picked up something just because of the cover art? Is there a book cover out there that you hate? Do you think I should stop judging a book by it's cover? Have I used the word cover enough in this paragraph? Let me know!
Do you remember being five or so and calling ‘do overs’? I think of ‘do overs’ at this time of year when the television starts promoting It’s A Wonderful Life. I know it is not exactly a do over movie, in the strictest sense, but still…
At any rate, I will confess here, that I hate that movie.
I’m not really sure why I hate the movie. I like the cast. I’ve read it got terrible reviews when it came out, and that alone usually makes me like something for its underdog qualities, but there is just something about THAT particular film I just can’t warm up to.
There are however, other 'do over' movies I find charming in their own ways. So, as the days grow colder, and you’d like to curl up under a blanket with a good movie, here are some other ‘do over’ movies I would highly recommend.
50 First Dates
What would you do if the girl you were in love with couldn't remember you?
The Lake House
Since I'm confessing things, it's true, anything that stars Keanu and I'm there... but this love story out of time, is very touching.
One of my good friends, Diane, has introduced me to many fine singers over the years. I cannot thank her enough for encouraging me to listen to a little known singer, Eva Cassidy. I bought the cd, Songbird, and was blown away by the very first track, Fields of Gold. This one has been covered by many fine artists but Eva's is one of my favorites. She first heard it done by Sting and something about it captured her heart. Mine too, as every time I hear it, it lifts me, even with its' melancholy tone. It's a beautiful piece and one that she recorded at Blues Alley in January of 1996. Six months later, Eva Cassidy died of melanoma skin cancer at the young age of 33. Her music could have been lost forever but friends and other admirers were determined that her voice would not be forgotten. Many fans who listen to her music want to know more about her and there are many good resources on the web that will give you background about her music. The official Eva Cassidy website is http://www.evacassidy.org/eva/eva.shtml
Eva by Heart Live at Blue's Alley Time after time No boundries Method Actor Imagine American Tune Somewhere
Browsing at a flea market this past summer, I stumbled on Imagine at the incredible price of $2.00. It made my day. I got to talking with the vendor and another woman, both who had never heard of Eva. We located a copy of Songbird in his stock. I already owned this so the woman decided she'd give it a try. I'll bet there's another Eva Cassidy fan out there now!
Fields of Gold begins...You'll remember me Eva Cassidy, we will...
OK people, December is here. It's the month of winter holidays, and hopefully the time of year to get a break, spend some time with friends and family, and celebrate whichever holiday you observe.
But for many of us its also a time of shopping, traffic, long lines, and probably some extra stress trying to get ready for the holidays AND trying to buy gifts for everyone on your list.
Here's a hint: give books!
Books are wonderful gifts for the readers in your life, I know I'm always excited to get one! Over the past few years I know I've given a few cookbooks, a few art books, and of course some of my favorite novels. So here are my suggestions for the 2008 holiday season:
Any Todd Parr book! Great messages, silly colorful pictures!
One of my new favorites, very creative!
Any Piggie and Elephant easy readers, a hilarious must have for Mo Willems fans!
Another very cute new book.
Middle Readers (for ages 8-12):
Diary of a Wimpy Kid or any sequels...
Fablehaven or any sequels....
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Teen Readers (12 ):
Persepolis- a graphic novel.
John Green's newest, Paper Towns, or any of his others.
Of course you can't go wrong with the Twilight series...
Adult: (Just in my humble opinion, you can't go wrong with any of the following...)
Subscriptions to Magazines are always a good gift – my favorites are Rolling Stone and Newsweek. Preview a wide selection of magazines by stopping by the library!
Any favorite books you like to give as gifts?? Tell us!
You can have the turkey and all the trimmings that make up the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. Give me the bones and let me make soup!
As I prepare for the big Thanksgiving feast, I cut extra vegetables in anticipation of soup preparation. This saves times and makes one mess. Right after we finish eating and before you can say thanks, I remove most of the meat from the carcass, throw the bones in a large pot filled with water to simmer and have a great stock in no time. Then all I have to do is pick the remaining meat off the bones, add the veggies, barley, rice or noodles, whatever I feel like at the time, and by dinner time I've got a large pot of luscious, delicious, hot soup! Add a slice of homemade bread and I'm in heaven.
When I was growing up my mom always made soup; turkey, split pea, ham and bean, chicken, leftover refrigerator surprise. I'm sorry to say I never appreciated her efforts and the pure bliss and comfort of a good bowl of home made soup until I became an adult. Soup is easy to make, a great budget stretcher, and a healthy meal. You can be real creative or keep it simple, using a recipe or not and almost anything goes.
If you need some inspiration try these books from our collection:
Soup ~ William Sonoma 641.813 WORTHINGTON
Splendid Soups ~ James Peterson 641.813 PETERSON
Tom Valente's Soups, Stews and One Pot Meals 641.8 Valente
Celebration of Soup ~ Robert Ackart 641.8 ACKART
or check-out our wonderful collection of cookbooks for countless other recipes!
The votes are in and you have spoken. Though no one movie received more than one vote, the results show that Eddie Murphy is your favorite funny guy. Shrek, The Nutty Professor, Trading Places and Coming to America all received your thumbs up.
In regards to the best comedy of The National Film Registry selections, Tootsie was the clear winner receiving 55% of the total votes.
As promised, these dvd's will soon be added to our growing collection.
We enjoyed the survey and hope to do another in the future. Thanks to all who participated.