Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poetry in Motion


Send #1 son off to state XC meet;
He wouldn't eat breakfast.
Took 8-yr-old to skating lesson,
watch her twirl.

Head to Target, Hobby Lobby,
and Staples to
find things I need for school; 
Sticker shock at the inflated prices
at Staples.
A project board (it's cardboard, really!)was three times as
much as the very similar one at Hobby Lobby-both big box chains!?
Why, I say!? 
Does noone at Staples go comparison shopping??
Step Down off the I'm-not-crazy soap box.

Drive home, make pb, honey 
with a smidge of nutella
Road trip across the state to XC Meet.
a perfect mystery that had me on the edge of
my less-than-comfortable car seat.
Love husband who always drives.

Watch 7 varsity boys from small school take State!!
Woo!  Woo! Woo! (jumping up and down).
A perfect day to be wearing black and orange.
Drive back home, read more of Buying Time.

Make massive bowl of  popcorn for dinner.

Watch this week: Tuesday I review Buying Time and Pamela Samuels Young has a guest post here!  Right here at Peaceful Reader.  I am in the process of switching from a to just a .com but I'm having a few technical difficulties so I hope you can always find me.  Pamela Samuels Young's website.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Howling for Halloween

Reading Halloween books this week to a few classes makes me want to share some Halloween book love.

Halloween books give me special credence to use all sorts of fun/scary voices for read-alouds! Students are thrilled as I stomp around our reading circle.

1. The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet: I love pie and this book makes a great read-aloud about a dead man's love for pie. This book has a marvelously fun refrain about pumpkin pie with delightful illustrations.

2. That Terrible Halloween Night by James Stevenson: Louie and Mary Ann think they have Grandpa tricked when he doesn't know that October 31st is Halloween but it's really Grandpa tricking them. Kids love the speech bubbles in the illustrations and the ending had everyone thinking!!

3. The Three Bears' Halloween by Kathy Duvall: Mama, Papa and Baby Bear dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat around the forest. When they find a house door open they venture in...A funny take on Goldilocks, kids love it when they figure out the story is the reverse of the original.

4. Where's My Mummy by Carolyn Crimi: Little Baby Mummy wants to play one more round of Hide and Shriek and runs away from Big Mama Mummy. When she doesn't come looking for him, he has to search for her in some unusual places. John Manders illustrations show us a perfectly creepy graveyard with a wildly un-frightning but fun cast of characters. This also has some easy repitition for young ones to repeat with you.

5. Boris and Bella also by Carolyn Crimi: A romantic tale of a friendship that forms between Bella Lagrossi and Boris Kleanitoff-one messy and one tidy vampire, both wishing to host a Halloween Bash. Everyone heads to Harry Beastie's party instead as he's neither messy nor too clean. Cris Grimly illustrates this one for Crimi and they are perfectly spooky! Crimi is the only author on this list to have their own website...such a shame!! I think it should be a requirement for publishing houses to get a website up and running for an author with a few books under their belt, at least! [soap box moment]  I discovered this interesting interview with Crimi at Make It Better, a North Shore publication.

What Halloween books have you spooked?

I'll be back this weekend with a photo celebration of our own holiday fun including an up-date on all my pumpkin seed roasting trials. My groovy girl is Ladybug Girl and again I shout from the mountain top how hap, hap, happy I am that she chose a book character herself!! Go Young Happy Reader Girl!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Sorceress

by Michael Scott
488 pgs.

     My son and I picked up The Alchemyst; The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel (2007) from a book store-he was in middle school at the time and still enjoyed reading the same thing as me-  we devoured it pretty quickly.  Eventually we also read The Magician and then The Sorceress.  My son finished it oh, like a year ago and it has been resting peacefully on my tbr bookshelf just waiting for me.  It was a great book to kick off October as it would be so much fun to be Perenelle Flamel for Halloween. 

Nicholas and Perenelle have been married for centuries, which reminds me always of one of my favorite reads, Jitterbug Perfume, which also features a couple who beat the whole aging trick.  I need to reread Jitterbug for another challenge and I think it will fit perfectly on the heels of this one.  I thought when I was reading this one that it was the end of the series-fantasy books often come as a trilogy but as I researched Michael Scott for another post I discovered he has another one out with perhaps two more in the works.  Wow! 


     Nicholas Flamel's heart almost broke as he watched his beloved Paris crumble before him. The city was destroyed by Dee and Machiavelli, but Flamel played his own role in the destruction. Sophie and Josh Newman show every sign of being the twins of prophecy, and Flamel had to protect them and the pages from the Dark Elders.

     But Nicholas grows weaker with each passing day. Perenelle is still trapped in Alcatraz, and now that Scatty has gone missing, the group is without protection. Except for Clarent-the twin sword to Excalibur. But Clarent's power is unthinkable, its evil making it nearly impossible to use without its darkness seeping into the soul of whoever wields it.
     If he hopes to defeat Dee, Nicholas must find an Elder who can teach Josh and Sophie the third elemental magic-Water Magic. The problem? The only one who can do that is Gilgamesh, and he is quite, quite insane.

Here is a snyopsis of The Alchemyst to catch you up:

     The Alchemyst is a contemporary fantasy which opens in modern day San Francisco when brother and sister, Josh and Sophie discover that the owner of the bookstore where Josh works is the immortal French alchemist, Nicholas Flamel. Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, are the guardians of the Book of Abraham which they have protected for centuries. This is a collection of the most powerful spells in the world. When Dr John Dee discovers the Flamels' whereabouts, he attacks and snatches the book. Josh and Sophie intervene to help Flamel, but now they too are being hunted by Dee and creatures that predate humanity.

                         All of the main characters in The Alchemyst series are based on figures from history or mythology.

     It is the last sentence that makes this series come alive for me.  Discovering and researching the real characters mixed into the fantasy tale make it very intriguing.  The Sorceress especially brought to life some characters (name-dropping...Shakespeare, for example) which add to the overall excitement.  If I found myself between the pages of this book I would love to meet Shakespeare-maybe not many of the other characters, but Shakespeare, yes!  It would be a blast to be Sophie or Josh and discover all these amazing new talents although they do come with a very heavy price.  This book like Harry Potter and Charlie Bone will make kids wish for a magic wand that really works-in this series Josh gets to use a famous ancient sword that he commands. This is a very well-written series and I hope to read The Necromancer in a more timely fashion!! Oh, the fun of living in a fantasy world!  Michael Scott is somewhat of an expert on Celtic folklore and I would love to read more of his large body of work.  Counts for Reading from my own Shelves Challenge hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  I plan on placing this book gently back on my son's bookshelf-which are fairly empty compared to mine. 

(4/5 peaceful stars) 

Purchase it hereShop Indie Bookstores

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do You Roast?

     I'm not talking about temperatures or coffee but pumpkin seeds.  We had a huge Fall festival yesterday at our church and many came to carve pumpkins and stayed for the chili cook-off. During the pumpkin carving  I put out a large bowl to collect seeds and nobody wanted to take any seeds home!  My mom always roasted our seeds and we loved to crunch our way throught them.  The bowl was pretty big so  now I have many, many seeds to roast so I thought it would be a good time to do some experimenting.  I found this site, Pumpkin Patches and More, which gives several different recipes.  I will sort through a few more sites tonight.  Do you roast your pumpkin seeds?  What's your recipe?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cucumbers to Pickles

We made pickles for the first time ever as a family and it was a fantastic learning experience for everyone.  I dream up lots of plans but don't always follow through so when I announced part way through the summer that I was interested in making bread and butter pickles they males in my house did small eye rolls and gently nodded their heads.  My daughter, of course, was gung-ho from the beginning.  I googled bread and butter pickles and found this man, Drew Kime's wonderful website/blog and just followed his easy steps.  We bought baskets of smaller cucumbers and mixed them with regular sized cukes from our farmer's market, rinsed them and my son took charge of slicing.

From above cucumbers to these delicious pickles.  We will have pickles all winter long plus I've given a few jars away.  They are just the right amount of spicy to sweet.  My husband and I just sat down and ate lunch together: two pieces of soft bread, stone ground mustard, thinly sliced radishes, salad greens (two scores from this morning's market), sharp cheddar, and a jar of homemade pickles to dig into=YUM sandwich!

This post is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads. She's got something appropriately timed about witches and wine with a giveaway included.   
Other news:  I'm very close to finishing linger by maggie stiefvater.  I wish I was in Mpls this weekend for the Kid Lit conference as she is the headliner and I would love to hear her speak and maybe have an opportunity to shake her hand.  I have this weird excitement about shaking hands with certain peeps.  I can feel the eye rolls and fond smirks even as I type this!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Saturday night: Brandi Carlisle

I love honest soul-singing and she had it!  Imagine the concert hall in the video, full and a huge symphony playing behind her.  Good music can carry you through hard times and through the week-this concert is helping me get through many days.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Update

     What a glorious day we had yesterday!  The weather was beautiful.  My daughter decided to rake in order to have a pile of leaves to jump into, over and over again.  My dad used to rake up piles for me to jump into so I got up out of our hammock, where I had been reading Slaughterhouse 5-my book club book for tonight, and helped her rake.  Feel the joy...

Then she had to change clothes to match the leaves...

When the sun started to disappear we headed inside and we made Shrimp Pad Thai from her Around the World Cookbook.  It was yummy and everyone loved having it for dinner!

Oh, and here she is on Saturday after we put together her "Ladybug Girl" Halloween costume!

Reading-wise I'm almost finished with Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.  I can't wait to get back to Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.  I need to post about The Sorceress by Michael Scott. 
I'm almost finished with the hat I'm knitting for my husband-I just learned how to knit with circular needles and I love it!  Oh, and we went to a fantastic concert on Saturday (just by chance when friends called and offered us free tixs) featuring Pieta  Brown (daughter of Greg Brown) and
Brandi Carlisle-it was part of our local symphony's pop night!  It was pretty rockin'!
I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend as well! 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Around the World Cookbook

by Abigail Johnson Dodge
DK Publishing

     My daughter brought this great wire-bound book home from her school library.  She even renewed it last week but we still haven't had a chance to make anything from it.  We have had several important house guests though and they have all perused this cookbook.  My mother-in-law and my mother both think it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for their various granchildren.  My mother-in-law wants to have a copy of it for herself to use when grandchildren are there. 
     My friend V copied down a brussell sprout recipe from it and generally liked the cookbook but was taken aback how Africa (the Continent) is lumped together with The Middle East and the Mediterranean.  We could understand this mixture if just North Africa's cuisine was part of this group but the entire African continent is too diverse to add entirely to one group.  Oh, and Africa only has one recipe including in this entire section and it is one brought by the Dutch Settlers-as if the African people never made anything themselves before, during or after the Dutch invaded.  Note to publisher: Give Africa a little more space next time because as V said "It's like people of color (from Africa) don't really cook or matter!"  It is always a startling experience to view a piece of art from another's eyes.  Other than this faux pas we like the cookbook.
     Inside the book there are pages of kitchen rules, ingredients lists, kitchen tools and vocabulary.  Each section begins with a photo and information about the country, Asia starts the book off and has it's own large section with such delicious recipes miso soup, bok choy stir-fry and Vietnamese lettuce rolls.  I was impressed with how many meatless selections there were throughout the book. Besides the already mentioned countries, others included are India, Indonesia and Australia and Rusia and Northern Europe, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean and U.S. and Canada.  There are also sections on finger food, cheeses and flatbreads from around the world.  I have to say there are several recipes in each section that I want to try.
Overall a solid A rating.
     Today as we drive across part of Iowa to a regional Cross Country meet she plans to pick several recipes that she and I can make tomorrow.  I have my heart set on a few, like the Canadian Butter Tarts with maple butter!  Oh, Canada! 
Click for Abby Dodge's website.  This post is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  Happy Cooking!!

Shop Indie Bookstores

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Franklin vs. Hulk Hogan

     Today I had one of those fantastic moments when the planets align perfectly and rays of sunlight filter right into a child's brain! This epiphany occured during a second grade class checkout time and I had oodles of students pawing through the "wrastling" biographies.  Several students really wanted to check them out but I  went through the five finger rule and they discovered they really could not read these biographies. 

     One of the young students then went to the paperback area and came back with a Superhero comic book.  He went to check it out and my amazing volunteer asked him about being able to read this comic.  He said something to her and she brought him to me out in the stacks so he could repeat what he had said.  This is what he said:  "Well, I can't really read because nobody's ever taught me.  I wanna read but I just can't! [in a almost 'near-tears' voice]  We both smiled at him and I said "Well then you have come to the right place!" and promptly showed him the easy reader section of our library.  It took about two tries before I found one that he liked but when we did he read the first page so proudly!  He was so happily excited to see they were books with chapters and he could read the whole page.  He left with his class, smiling, and hugging his book.

     Now I know there are two schools of thought on this and many are scratching their heads going, but why do they have to be able to read a book to check it out?  By second grade they should be able to practice their reading skills, we think.   I know it can be wonderful to just have a book to look through but that doesn't work through the week and it doesn't give them a true feeling of success that comes from actually reading the book-even if it is a Franklin book instead of a Hulk Hogan biography.  The proof is in the smile.  What do you think? 
      I'm glad Franklin took Hulk Hogan down and for me, the bigger question is Why do I have to even have "wrastling" books in the library?  And that is a whole nother post because when I first came to this school they were a mainstay of every check out but not so much anymore-except suddenly for this one class! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When You Reach Me

Newberry Winner

     This lovely tale created by Stead gave me chills-the good kind, like when someone else brushes my hair-certain books give me a soft tickle up my spine as I turn the last page. [dreamy sigh]  I didn't want it to end but yet the end was so GREAT! How could I not want it to end. 
     It's the story of 12-year-old Miranda and her mother, who is preparing to win a spot on "The $20,000 Pyramid" and their quirky 1970's New York neighborhood.  Miranda loves Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and reads it over and over and carries it with her.   Her life is coasting comfortable down one path when things begin to go topsy-turvy and change course.  Her best friend, Sal, gets punched randomly by an older kid on the street and suddenly Sal doesn't want to hang out with her at all.   The laughing guy on the corner keeps getting closer and she begins to get notes tucked in odd places that don't make sense until she starts putting the pieces together.  It's lovely when that aha! moment lights up.
     It's a crazy story; really layered so well and it had to be hard to fit it all together.  At the back of the book, Stead says "I had to be rescued several times while writing this book..." this I can believe but the fact is it comes together brilliantly.  I adored all the characters-loved Miranda and her mother, Richard, the steady and reliable boyfriend, Cal and Annemarie, her friends, Louise, Sal's mom, and especially Marcus, the kid who punches Sal.  Miranda's mom is a particularly well-written 1970's activist mom.  Here's a quote:
While she listened, Belle made me a turkey sandwich and gave me about ten chewable vitamin C's because she thought I sounded a little nasal. When she went to the bathroom, I sneaked a bunch of grapes, which I love but can't ever have, because Mom doesn't like the way the grape pickers are treated in California and she refuses to buy them. (8)
I identified with this mom's attitude and choices and loved her relationship with Louise, the one-floor-down neighbor and fellow single parent of Sal.  I could pick dozens of quotes and gush over each character but really I think you should just go read it, buy it, share it with a you can feel that lovely chill up your spine as the story ends. 
After perusing Stead's website I'm wondering about her first novel, First Light, and whether it is worth reading?
What other books tingled my spine, you ask? 

1. From the Mixed-Up  Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
2. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
4. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I'm sure there were a few more but these are the books that come rapidly to mind.
What about you...what book gives you the slow tickle of happiness??

Buy When You Reach Me here:

Shop Indie Bookstores

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bogged Down, Down...

Image courtesy of (Cross Fire)
     Do you ever get stuck while reading one book?  I'm stuck reading The  Sorceress; The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott.  This is the third in the series and I am enjoying the story-I just haven't had lots of extra time to read so this is what I've been reading since the beginning of October.  My only extra time has been reading in bed but by I've been getting to bed so late I'm falling asleep after only one chapter!  I feel a little bad for this book and it's not even the books fault!  My dreams have been more exciting as I've dreamed about the twins, Perenelle and Nicholas, Williams Shakespeare and the Saracen Knight!  It does make for some crazy dreaming!!

     When I began this book I thought it was the conclusion (no idea why...) and then I heard the other day that the fourth one, The Necromancer, is out and when I checked out Michael Scott's website I see it is actually a series of six!  I've got a ways to go.  In September I did finish two other series; Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.  I can still feel good about that but for  now I'm going to have to read every spare minute now that the play and all my dear out-of-town visitors are gone! 

     In a week and a half I need to have finished Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five for my bookclub.  I need to read three books to finish up my Fahrenheit 451 challenge and read a book to prepare for an author's guest post coming in November!        Can it all be done?  Yes, if I can just get past The Sorceress!  I'm anxious to get to my lunch time to see if Perenelle (The Sorceress) makes it off of Alcatrez Island with Scatty's and Joan of Arc's help!  Finishing this book will give me another tally on my Reading From My Own Shelves Book Challenge!  Another good thing!  Cheer me on as I climb out of the rut...

Shop Indie Bookstores

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Hurry Vegetable Curry

     What a catchy title for a recipe!  My in-laws are in town to see Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I love having them here.  My mother-in-law, Phyllis, is a reader, knitter, master quilter, makes wonderful meals, drinks wine with me and is lovely with my children.  My father-in-law is very, very smart, loves to talk politics, and loves his son, my husband, deeply.  I scored well in this regard. 

     Having them come to town is a good time to try new recipes.  My husband's family spent time in Malaysia and Sierra Leone as part of the Peace Corps.  so they enjoy a wide variety of cuisines and are happy to eat vegetarian.  A few years ago, Phyllis, gave me Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker; 200 recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are by Robin Robertson.  I've made several recipes from this book and they've all been easy and tasty.

This one is my second favorite from this book.  My fav. is a sweet potato chili.

No Hurry Vegetarian Curry

1 T peanut oil
2 large carrots, sliced diagonal
1 med.-size yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp  cayenne pepper
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
8 ozs green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces
1 1/2 cups slow cooked or one 15.5-ozs can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
One 14.5 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the carrots and onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, curry powder, coriander, and cayenne, stirring to coat.

2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a 3 1/2 -to 4-quart slow cooker.  Add the potatoes, green beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, and stock; cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

3. Just before serving, stir in the peas and coconut milk and season with salt.  Taste to adjust the seasonings.

     I used small potatoes from my mother's garden, cut into fourths and I didn't peel them.  I added a second can of chickpeas because we love them.  I served it over Jasmine rice with sprinkles of cilantro on top.  It was yummy-everyone loved it, even the teenage son!

Check it out; the author has a food blog, Vegan Planet.  Right now she is hosting a giveaway of cookbooks!

I hope everyone is having a peaceful is 80 degrees here and I'm going outside to either read or knit!

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads...pop over and see what other delicious food-related posts she has listed. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finally by Wendy Mass (2010)

    I have to get this one back out on the library shelves...students are clamoring for it because many read 11 Birthdays by Mass last year.  I read Finally a few weeks ago and will be happy to share it with students-I think they will like it more than I did.  Hmm, don't get me wrong, I liked it, I just didn't love it. 

Straight from the back cover...
I'm a big wisher.  I'll wish on anything. Shooting stars, stray eyelashes, dandelion tops, coins in fountains.  Birthday candles (my own and other people's). Even when my glasses fog up.  When I was younger, the wishes used to vary.  A pony.  A best friend.  A new bike with streamers on the handles.  A baby brother or sister.  some of these even came true (not the pony).  But over the past year, every wish has been spent wishing I was 12 already, a date I've waited for my whole life and one that is only six weeks away.  Looking back, I wish I  had saved one of those wishes because, if I had, I wouldn't be stuck in this drainpipe right now.  Yes, drainpipe.

    Rory gets herself stuck while on a field trip and an elderly woman rescues her.  This has some of the same mystical, magical charm that 11 Birthdays did as well as intertwining characters.  Amanda and Leo (from 11 Birthdays) attend Rory's school, so we know we are in the same community.  Kids will love meeting up with these characters! 

    Rory has this whole list of things she wants to be able to do once she turns 12, most things her friends can already do.  The first half of the book we get a nice understanding of her family and why she wants all these things to happen.  She feels like she has the strictest parents in the universe...(she wouldn't want to come live at my house).

    On the big day, Rory has a chart ready to share with her parents and her parents are prepared to let this list of demands become reality.  Some of them are normal: she wants to babysit so she takes the beginner's Red Cross course for babysitters (I did this myself back in the day!).  She gets an IM account, a cell phone (which she loses way, way too quickly) and is interested in getting a rabbit and her ears pierced. 

    It's a lot of demands and all of it turns out hilarious.  My favorite part was the ending, which was filled with warm feelings and great resolution but the middle made me a little overwhelmed.  Kids will  love it though-especially the murderous bunny! 

Wendy Mass' website

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Our groovy girl playing dress-up on stage!

     I feel sometimes like I need a sign I can post "gone missing," or "be back soon" like I work in a coffee shop and have just gone around the corner.I feel bad when it has been a whole week since my last post.  My family is filled with drama right now and by that I mean the theatre.  My husband is directing a production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving and he cast our eight-year-old groovy girl as one of Ichabod's young scholars.  Invitational dress was last Thursday, Friday night was Opening Night ( a party with delicious treats followed the show) and we had friends and family come to town for the weekend shows. 

     My friend V traveled from Arkansas to Iowa to see the play and visit with us and it was so fantastic to spend time with her.  Not only did she drive 10 hours to see us but she came with her two children: both young and super cool.  Friends of Japhy's from our brief years living in The Natural State-all three children loved reconnecting, which in kid terms meant lots of playing and laughing and joyful noise!!  Highlights were watching V's little "lump" ice skate for the first time, watching rock and roll boy play carpet ball on Sunday morning, kite-flying on Saturday, even though we were cold and spending time at my favorite coffee shop-which luckily carries lots of vegan goodies.  I was sad to see them leave this morning but the play goes on this weekend and as V reminded me as we said good-bye in my driveway-I have more guests arriving this Thursday for the next set of shows.  Life is never, ever dull around here and I'm glad for life's fullness.  Plus you've got to love friends who are willing to drive two whole days to spend a crazy weekend with you!! 


Am reading The Sorceress by Michael Scott, to finish this series.
Am still reading The Reliable Wife by Goolrick.
Am behind in my challenges
Am  really behind on my posts.

Our friends backstage at the theatre.  Thank you for making our weekend!
Hope your week has been peaceful and filled with good friends!