Monday, January 31, 2011

What Really Happened to Humpty?

[from the files of a hard-boiled detective]
by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom
Illustrated by Stephen Axelsen

Kids will love the humor in this book.  It begins:  "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  Humpty Dumpty was pushed." At least I think so.  Who am I? I'm Joe Dumpty, Humpty's younger brother. 

Joe, the P.I., goes on to explain his case as to why he thinks his brother was pushed off the wall and step-by-step the mystery of Humpty is solved. The book is a cross between a regular picture book and a comic book, using a whole slew of fairy tale characters to retell the story.  Groovy  Girl loved identifying her favorite fairy tale characters in a different light.  Low carb diets, power walks, binoculars and cell phones give this tale a modern, fresh snap.

 By the way...the culprits... Little Miss Muffet and the Big Bad Wolf -the wolf says "I'm bad. It's my middle name."  That pretty much says it all.  I can't wait to use this book when we talk about fairy tales.  This would be a perfect look at how to fracture the story and make it into something new.  We checked this out from the public library.

Jeanie Franz Ranson's website.
The Reading Tub review

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dear Janice....Thank you!

I am blesssed in many ways but one thing that sets me apart is my friend, Janice, who comes almost every day to my school library and helps me in the library. She volunteers at our school because her granddaughter is a student.  Long ago all school libraries had an aide, someone who came in to check-out, reshelve, and do extra things around the library.  We live in an age where school districts don't have the money to have library aides anymore.  I'm so glad to have Janice working with me almost everyday. So many of the massive creative projects I take on wouldn't be completed without her help.  She cut out all the snowmen shapes so first grade students could make larger-than-life snowpeople. 

 She makes my library dreams a reality!


  Last week I mentioned I it would be cool to change our holiday evergreen tree, decorated with snowflakes, into a Valentine tree.  Within a few short hours, after reshelving all the books, she transformed that mini-tree into a treat that looks sweet.  She will never let me take her photo so instead I share her creation.  She made all the decorations using a book...of course!  The Valentine Express by the amazing Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.  Check it out!

Thank You Janice for all you do!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rocky Road Brownies

I did make the brownies.  They are delicious.  I groaned three times while eating my one little square.  I forget all the time to photograph my cooking but this time I snapped two pictures as we were dishing them up.  Here for your viewing delight...
They are yummy dense squares of chocolate delight.  I will make them again. My kids ate them even though they had pecans on them.  My daughter and I shared a second one quietly in the kitchen.  It's been a good day and now I'm going to bed, to read.  See last post for recipe. 

Weekend Cooking mixed with Weekend Update

1.  Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and her post and review of The Crabby Cook Cookbook is very funny.  I often get busted by not reading the whole recipe through and this is how mistakes are made.  Click to her post to see the Lemon Drop Recipe she made for herself.   Yum and makes me think of summer.

2. I woke up this morning and am still not out of bed.  You might think I'm sick but nope just tired, really tired.  I've not slept perfectly all week.  I wake up at like 3:45 a.m. and struggle to get back to sleep.  I'm not awake enough to read but not asleep enough to dive back into dreamland.  I don't know how to solve this crazy sleep pattern or what is causing it.

3. We had  friends over last night and I made  Garbanzo Noodle Soup and a lovely salad.  We ended the night with a rousing game of Guesstures. Have you played this game?  It is hysterical and perfect for people of all ages to play. Think charades in that you act out the four cards while your cards rest  in this mechanical timer, which drops the cards down if you don't grab them quick enough.   It is well worth the $24.00 if your family loves games like ours does.  We laughed a lot and I got some great video of several key moments! 

4.  Yesterday I went for it and changed from blogspot to .com, something I messed with before and vowed to finish before January was over.  It seems to have worked out fine blogrolls are gone, toast, NOT THERE...I must have missed that statement in the fine print-just like not reading the recipe all the way through.  I don't know whether to wait and see if they will "magically show up" or start adding them back in.  Not what I had planned for my day but it is something I can do from bed so not so bad.  I can see snow from all three windows of my bedroom so that is not pulling me up and out.  Any ideas, blog world???   I am now

5.  I do have a lovely dinner planned of Scottish Salmon and a pound of Cod to cook up.  I have some organic baked potatoes to make and green beans, snapped and ready to go.  I will get up to make these bars later today.  Other than that what makes this post worthy of Weekend Cooking you ask??  This dessert.  My kids will love me.

Rocky Road Brownies
(Eating Well, Feb. 2011)

1 cup less 1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 1/2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder, natural
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
8 regular-size marshmallows
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Line bottom of 8-in pan with parchment paper or foil coated with cooking spray.  Leave an overhang.

2. Thoroughly wisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

3. Melt butter in med. saucepan until sizzling.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa, then sugar.  (will look like dark brown sugar) Add egg, egg whites, and vanilla.  Stir briskly until smooth and glossy.  Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Then stir briskly for another 50 strokes.  [really??]  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  the batter will be very shallow in the pan.  If you have time, cover the pan and refrigerate for a few hours or up to 12 hours.  [(This hydrates the cocoa powder and flour and brings all the flavors sharply into focus)  Remove from the refrigerater about 30 minutes before baking; preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Quarter marshmellows with an oiled knife [I have some mini-marshmallows to use instead] Distribute the pieces over the batter, pressing them in. Distribute the nuts [i'm using pecans] and chocolate around the marshmallows.

5. Bake brownies unti the marshmellows are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. You can use the toothpick method; toothpick will come out still a bit moist.  Brownies in a metal pan will bake faster than those in a glass pan.  [I did not know this until just now]; if you are unsure, bake a few extra minutes.  Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack for about 2 hours. Lift the ends of the pan liner and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 16 brownies.

I did not know they had to cool for 2 blasted hours...I need to get up out of bed and start making these now so they will be ready for dessert.  Typing out the recipe does insure that I have to actually read the whole thing and now I have a purpose to get up out of bed.  Heave Ho...

Click here...Rocky Road Brownies...if you want the pure unadulterated version, without my crazy comments.


Friday, January 28, 2011

the Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

Jan Brett is excedingly talented both as a writer and an illustrator.  Many illustrators have their own hook but she goes beyond that with her side panel foreshadowing illustrations.  A few monthes ago I did a small Jan Brett unit with first grade students.  We read a bunch of her books and explored the freebies on her fabulous website and then we moved on and read other stuff.  Forever those students will know a Jan Brett illustration when the see it as they showed me this past week when we read The Three Snow Bears, Brett's retelling of Goldilocks and the 3 bears, set in the Artic. We were reading it because we've been reading books about snow, snowmen(people) and this amazing book fit with that and it was a great mini-quiz.

Students could tell within several pages that it reminded them of another story they knew...Goldilocks but as many said, she has different colored hair!  Well, yes, in this one she is Inuit with dark hair and a huge snowsuit on it.  Many loved the dogsled, huskies and igloos...that was new to them.  When I explained to them what an igloo was, one student exclaimed "Oh, yeah-I live in one of those!"  They love to assimilate, don't they.  I haven't used any of Brett's materials with this book before but I notice she has a whole Arctic mural you could use with a class.  By the way students passed their author recognition "quiz" as I heard many comments like "Oh, look I can see what's coming next" as they see in the end panel picture.  That and they loved staring long and hard at the detailed  illustrations. 

Find Jan Brett's website-here.

Have you read this one or others of Brett's?  Which are your favorites?

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Student-led Book Clubs

I read a lovely post over at The Brain Lair, discussing book clubs she's tried in the past, what she is working on now as well as ideas for the future. She's a middle school librarian with great ideas.  I wish she lived and worked in my district so we could partner up our students. At least I would know my book club students could graduate to her book clubs, which would keep them reading through those tough middle years. 

I've hosted library book clubs for the last four years and started one my last year in Arkansas for a total of five years book clubbing with kids.  It's not an easy task but one that can be exceptionally rewarding.  For me, it's all about lifting students up to a higher level of reading.  Everything about school becomes easier once you've mastered good reading.

I offer up that enjoying good literature brings you long-term happiness as a person.  Really...[don't we all agree out here in the book blogging world]...I envision the kids that participate will go on to middle and high school book clubs, library trips, college degrees coupled with a long term love of literature for almost every book club student.  Not to say all the other students will be unhappy, miserable adults but  I'm just saying, book clubs help. Okay, maybe it's a lofty goal but I aim high.
 I have two groups of fifth grade students, one group [5 girls] are reading   The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.  I love this book because it isn't the Disney idea of princess. Students have preconcieved notions just from the title but they quickly learn there is so much more to this academy.   It is a rough and tumble existence with miner's daughter's and  my student's can relate to and enjoy this aspect. 

The second group [7 boys and girls] are reading Peter and the Starcatcher's by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  This is a great prequel to J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan.  We are watching  small portions of Peter Pan while we eat just to catch some students up [many of them hadn't seen anything other than the cartoon.]

Students are required to come to each meeting with their book and their required chapters read.  Each week we have a new discussion leader, who tries hard to come with open-ended questions-it's a struggle but they get better at it.  They learn to work together, give each other the opportunity to talk and are empathetic to each other's opinions.  Do you have student book clubs at your school?  What has been successful for you?

If you've read The Princess Academy, try the quiz from Hale's website: beginners and advanced.
Shannon Hale's amazing website
Peter and the Starcatcher's website
Ridley Pearson's website.
Dave Barry's website
I found these discussion questions for Peter.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

I like this cover even though this is not the version I read. 
Why two such different covers?
I worship at the feet of Ms. Kingsolver's immense writing skills.  I've been a fan since I happened upon The Bean Trees way back in college.  Her books have an earthiness to them and thus highly appealing to me.  I've read and enjoyed  most everything she's written.  The Lacuna scared me at first because of its size...507 pages and also I'd heard many negative reports from friends both in person and in the blogging world.  Many readers looked forward to The Lacuna's publication date, reserved new copies at the library or ordered them and then abandoned the book half way through.  I was crushed but knew eventually I would pick it up myself.  Luckily a dear friend from my Good Spirits Book Club finished it, praised it and handed it to me to read.  While I can understand why some gave up...I loved it and was once again impressed with Kingsolver's amazing talent.

GoodReads Synopsis:

     In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

     Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
     Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.
     With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.

My thoughts:

I was amazed by the amount of research it must have taken for Kingsolver to create this truly multi-layered work.  Harrison Shepherd drew me into his story, told mostly through journal entries and letters.  His mother, both despicable and human, raises Harrison without any sense of home, always striving for a new and better boyfriend/husband/meal ticket/companion.  She never finds fullfillment in her own life but somehow through her twisted, topsy-turvy life Harrison is satisfied with the simple side of his life.

He  finds solace in writing, keeping a journal of sorts, and allowing life to lead him to work.   I so enjoyed meeting Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky within the first half of  Harrison's Mexico story.  I had an inkling of Trotsky's relationship to Kahlo and Rivera but this book made me want to know more.  I want to go back and watch the 2002 movie, Frida starring Salma Hayek and I'm interested in  Trotsky's ideas. I wonder if there is other historical fiction that includes Leon Trotsky's early life in Russia.

The second half of the book takes place in Asheville where Violet Brown picks up Harrison's thread as she works as his Girl Friday.  Her character brings a new form of friendship to Harrison's life as she takes care of him like a mother or a sister would, appreciating all of Harrison's quirkiness.    I loved the depth of this book and enjoyed discussing varying elements with my husband.  If you haven't given this book a try please has,  for me, put Kingsolver's work on another literary level. 

Check out Barbara Kingsolver's website
Find it at an IndieBound bookstore near you...The Lacuna

Other bits about The Lacuna:

The Blue Bookcase
Molly's Cafe Books
and Amy at Totally Uninspired

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekend Cooking and lemon love

My mother has given me a subscription to Eating Well for the last two years.  I like it but it is much more meat oriented than I need.  I do enjoy the get healthy articles and the pictures are lovely but Vegetarian Times still rules at my house. 

When Eating Well arrived yesterday I did my normal quick perusal and found a beautiful article about lemons; it made me dreamy for warmer weather in a state other than my own.  Lemons bring forth thoughts of California, Arizona; two places I've been lucky enough to pick lemons fresh from the tree, that pungent, beautiful smell as you snap it from the tiny limb.
Melissa Pasanen has obviously  had a similar experience as she shares in her article "When Life Gives You Lemons" (Feb. 2011/p. 52). 

She writes; " I know what to do with bushels of zucchini and a cellar full of turnips, but when life gave me loads of lemons I was almost overcome by the riches."  I know what to do with overflowing baskets of tomatoes and zucchini  but when I buy one lemon from the grocery store it is a treasure-imagine if I had a tree out back-there would be fresh lemonade everday.  Melissa goes on to explain how a temporary move to New Zealand brings her to an abandoned lemon tree down the road.  She now has access to free lemons any time she wants and she comes home with a new appreciation for the yellow orb.

I share today the one recipe I may make today from the article:

Lemon-Cranberry Muffins
Makes: 1 dozen
Active Time: 25 mins./Total: 1 hour

1/2 cup plus 2 T. sugar divided
3/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal, med. or fine stone-ground
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed), coarsely chopped(food processor)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, yogurt, lemon, oil, egg, 2 tsp lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla in a medium bowl.
3. Whish flour, cornmeal, b. powder, b. soda,  and salt in a large bowl.  Add the yogurt mixture and fold until almost blended.  Gently fold in cranberries.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  Combine the remaining 2 T. sugar and 1 remaining tsp. lemon zest in a small bowl.  Sprinkle evenly over the tops of the muffins.
4. Bake muffins until golden brown and they spring back lightly to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 5 more minutes before serving.

(187 calories per muffin, 7 grams of fat)

Can't you just taste the burst of cranberries with the zesty lemon flavor!

Eating Well website
The article link is here:  When Life Gives You Lemons
This post is part of Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme...anybody can play along with your own food-related post.

Friday, January 21, 2011

We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes

121 pages

     This is the cutest little book told from a gopher snake's point-of-view.  I never would have picked it up myself (big dislike for snakes) but Patrick Jennings is coming to town and I thought Groovy Girl and I should read a few of his titles.  He obviously has a thing for animals as many of his other books are animal-related, like Guinea Dog.  
     We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes begins:
I had shed a skin the day of my capture.  As always, the sloughing left me famished, so I curled up under a shady patch of creosote and eagerly awaited the first rodent to cross my path.  Gopher was at the top of my list, though I was so hungry that I'd gladly have settled for even a nasty, gristly shrew. 
A rodent did not cross my path first that morning, however.  A lower life form did: a human. (1)
     And so it goes that the human, Gunnar, captures the gopher snake, taking him out of his natural environment and thrusting him in a cage, right next to other prisoners/animals; a tarantula, a desert tortoise, and an alligator lizard.  Gunnar is a despicable boy, who loves his video games more than the animals he captures.  Oh sure, for awhile he dotes on Crusher, the name he bestows on his new pet snake, but he is not a loving caretaker.  He reminded me of the mean boy, Sid, in Toy Story-remember him!  Gunnar is more dim-witted but he is not the character we are meant to love.  I really wanted the mom to tell him "NO more animals" but she never does.  Only for the point of funny fiction I let it go!
    This book does such a marvelous job of thinking like a snake, in complex detail and Groovy Girl and I  enjoyed how Crusher deciphers the human world.  The other fantastic detail of this story is the communication that occurs between  Gunnar's "zoo"- thoughts are transferred to each other so what Crusher thinks is transmitted to the others in cages near him...other animals that he might eat if he weren't trapped in the glass box.  It's funny to hear the animals sarcastically "teach" Crusher how it's gonna be in captivity and hear how Crusher tries to work his relationship with Gunnar.   Relationships form between the animals, you could call it friendship, even with a mouse dropped into Crusher's cage meant for dinner.  The thrill of eating a mouse in captivity doesn't seem fair and the mouse and Crusher share the cage much to the great disappointment of Gunnar. 
     I plan to book talk this with my 3rd-5th grade students-my guess is it will be a hit with boys first.  It's a quick read-we finished within a week, reading a few of the 13 chapters a night. I think this would make a perfect read-aloud to show students what "voice" is; to put themselves in to another being would be a great writing assignment.   I'm anxious to now meet the author who writes such quirky stories for kids-he must be funny.  His website is funny.  He must be funny.

Patrick Jennings website
Kidsreads talks about it.
Click on the title and find it at an Indie store near you-We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ninth War (excellent middle grade read)

217 pages

     Hurrican Katrina swept through the city of New Orleans almost 6 years ago.  Wow.  I remember watching it unfold on the news every day and wishing I had the means to get there and help-do anything.  Even though I watched it I can't imagine what it would be like to be there-this book gave me the feeling of being there.  If I had been there I would have wanted to be with Lanesha.


Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in tight-knit community in New Orleans's Ninth Ward.  She doesn't have a fancy house, like her uptown family, or lots of friends, like the other kids on her street.  But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future.  So when Mama Ya-Ya's visions show a powerful hurricane-Katrina-fast approaching, it's up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.

My thoughts:

     This is the powerful story of Lanesha, raised by Mama Ya-Ya, able to see ghosts, especially her dead mother.  Her mother died in childbirth and Mama Ya-Ya, the mid-wife, raised Lanesha as her own, loving her and filling her with knowledge of signs and the world around her.  The relationship between Lanesha and Mama Ya-Ya is strong and both of them have special talents that set them apart from their neighbors.  Even though Lanesha has had trouble fitting in she is now in a new middle school and she's met a new friend as well as a teacher who sees talent in her.  She is busy dealing with her day-to-day life when Mama Ya-Ya senses the storm's arrival.  Lanesha shines as she takes the predictions seriously enough to get her and Mama Ya-Ya to the upstairs bathtub where they live through the hurricane.  Lanesha's strength shows through as she gets them to higher ground and takes the neighbor boy with them to the attic.  The scene in the attic is amazing as Lanesha figures out what she must do and is able to leave behind everything that is familiar to her.
       Ninth Ward made Katrina come alive for me as a reader.  I could feel the water rise and Lanesha's panic as well as her ability to see what they had to do to stay alive.  She figures it out step-by-step like a math problem; something to be solved and move on to the next step. Students will love reading about  Lanesha's struggles with friendship even as she conquers the rising flood waters.  I'm so glad to have read this story-I feel richer knowing more about how this time in New Orleans unfolded so quickly.

Perfect Quote:
"Do you know why your momma is still here?" (Mama Ya-Ya)
I swallow.
"She wasn't sure you were going to be all right.  The world can be a hard place sometimes, Lanesha.  You have to have heart.  You have to be strong.  Not just any strong, mind you, but loving strong.  Your testing should've come much, much later. But when it came, you shined with love and strength."
"You're my strength," I say, confused my Mama Ya-Ya's words. I'm not sure what I'm feeling.  It's not pure happiness, but something sour.  Bittersweet. (144-145)
Other thoughts:
Stacy at Welcome to my Tweendom.
Tanya at books4yourkids.
the Kid's Book Club has Lanesha's recipes.
Jewel Parker Rhodes website

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. "
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. "
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

"[I]t is necessary to understand that Black Power is a cry of disappointment. The Black Power slogan did not spring full grown from the head of some philosophical Zeus. It was born from the wounds of despair and disappointment. It is a cry of daily hurt and persistent pain."
"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true."

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Divine Intervention and Weekend Cooking

        Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads-click and read her wonderful post on Ina Garten's Vegetable Tian

     Yesterday was a crazy  Saturday for this family.  I was up at 6:00 to get Teenage Boy to school by 6:30 so he could get on the bus for a jazz competition.  I had to follow the bus because I am "never" given the paper with the details of these events.  When asked, Teenage Boy said, "oh, yah it's in my locker."  A few days before he told us the event was in Union (a town 1 1/2 hours away) but because God gave me some sense I changed my original plan, which was to drive to Union using GPS and meet the bus when it arrived into town, then follow it to the school.  I changed that plan just two blocks away when I flipped a u-turn and drove back to his school and calmly waited for the bus to leave.  Divine Intervention as the event was only 20 minutes away at Union H.S., in a different small town-the complete opposite direction of where I would have been had I not turned around. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone but it would be so nice to get the facts, man!

     After the event when I spirited him away from the competition I took him to IHop(not exactly the haven for local, organic or healthy food but it was for the Boy)  for breakfast and some quiet time together.   I knew our next event; a  big funeral at our church, was going to be diffiuclt for the boy as the funeral was for a 96-year-old man; a  mentor to Teenage Boy so  I listened to my German grandmother whispering to me  "Feed Him." Yes, grandmother I'm still listening.   While he and I were at jazz and breakfast, my husband had Groovy Girl at skating and by 10:20 we all met up for the funeral.   To make the day even more thrilling my mom was in town so we could celebrate her birthday.  Mom and I spent the late afternoon at a sweet Italian place having drinks and calamari.  It was delicious, fun and we had a great waiter.

     But the real food I want to share is what I made the night before (Friday) for the funeral luncheon. Mom, husband and I were watching Winter's Bone (four stars) when at 10 p.m.  I infamously said, "oh, I need to make bars" quickly followed by "and I have no eggs."  My egg supplier (another teacher) is having chicken troubles but have no fear I googled bar recipes w/out eggs and viola-this recipe popped up. Love it when the internet actually gives me what I want.
     I made the bars in 15 minutes (during the last part of the  movie) and had tons of compliments at church.  Seriously, that never happens to me-my family can laughingly tell you because usually my stuff is labeled the "healthy" or "meat-free" stuff-making it much less worthy in their church lady eyes so a compliment was HUGE!!  I had three ladies ask me for the recipe and they were joking with me about how they didn't want to put my bars out on the table so they could just eat them in the kitchen...big score for me.  I'll be humble though and just graciously share it here with you.  Cookie Madness, the blog that produced these wonderful egg-free bars is now under my peaceful food blog roll, which grows everyday.  ______________________________________________________________________________________________

     Brown Sugar & Honey Pecan Bars

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (light)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up


1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 scant teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (light)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups coarsely chopped, lightly toasted pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch metal pan with non-stick foil or line with regular foil and spray with baking spray.  (I doubled the recipe and used a 9 x 13-inch pan) Covering it with tinfoil made it so easy to lift bars out and easy clean up)

Prepare crust. Combine flour, brown sugar and salt in food processor and pulse 3 times to mix. Add butter and process until mixture is crumbly – it will be really dry. Pour over bottom of pan and press tightly. Bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare the filling. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter. When the butter is completely melted, stir in salt, brown sugar and honey. Simmer mixture for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cream, vanilla and pecans.

Pour the pecan mixture over crust and spread evenly. Bake on center rack for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for at least an hour. To quick-cool, let them cool down as much as possible then shove them in the refrigerator.

Lift foil from pan and carefully cut into bars. I like to trim off the edges, cut the bars into 8 rectangles, then cut each rectangle into a square. It’s easy to do this if you have a big cutting board and a Chef’s knife.

Makes 16 squares (or 32 bars, if doubled)

They were perfect chewy bars and great for adult events.  My kids are not nut lovers unless it is ground up and called peanut butter.

This post is dedicated to Harold L. Brock-we thank you for your life lessons,  your inspiration and for finding the light inside Teenage Boy.  We know it will be alright, thanks to you.   Peace.

****Honesty Disclaimer:  Family....I am well aware that we actually fit more in our day than just these listed events but if I tell my one reader about the mid-year graduation, TB's two soccer games and the bluegrass music event Daddy played for after the funeral-it will just seem like we are crazy!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Martin's BIG Words by Doreen Rappaport

   Oh, how we still need the optimistic and hopeful words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Obvious still today when you read the papers and listen to true current events. While we've achieved some of Dr. King's goals of peace and equality, we haven't made it to the mountain top. People are still killed because of what they believe, hate runs through many and equality has not shown up on everyone's doorstep. Today has its own hot button issues. No longer are we protesting segregation based on skin color but we do protest the hatred that is still oh, so prevalent.  I love Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier's book, Martin's Big Words. I read it today to all of my classes and we had great discussion about it.  With two classes we were able to compare the Civil Rights struggle to more current events.  The tragedy in Tuscon came quickly to mind.

In his own words: 

"Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

"Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together."

"Love is the key to the problems of the world."

See how each of them is such a universal truth.  Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where, even if you didn't love what someone else was talking about, that you just let it go.  Where you might just say "I just don't feel that way."   And if you are filled with hatred about someone you can't go to a gun show and buy a weapon and wake up one day and decide today is the day. 

The Civil Rights struggle of today is to give same-sex couples the right to be married, to share benefits, rights guaranteed in the constitution.  I understand the fear in this issue but just like seperate is not equal, equal is not equal until all adult Americans can marry and love who they choose.  Who will stand up for their civil rights?

I know I am a dreamer and am fully aware that hate and evil will always be with us-I just wish we could get to a higher level of dealing with hatred but after watching a Dr. King video on You Tube with students I noticed below how truly reprehensible the comments were...and they were only made yesterday, not 25 years ago.

One child at a time is what my mind tells me...
I read the book and talked about how I wanted them to wake up on Saturday, Jan. 15 and celebrate Dr. King's birthday and to do the same on Monday-I really tried hard to get them to understand that it was not just a free day off.  Kids are receptive and took my message and maybe, just maybe they will spread that love homeward. 

Rappaport's book is a triple award-winner and beyond!!

For more information:

The King Center
Doreen Rappaport's website.
Bryan Collier's website.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peaceful Piggy Meditation

by Kerry Lee MacLean

     This is just the kind of  book I love to find and share at Peaceful Reader; one that focuses on how to make our world calm.  This book is simple with out being preachy or over-the-top.  It begins like this:
"Sometimes the world can be such a busy, noisy place.  Sometimes it feels like you always have to hurry, hurry, hurry..." 
We feel like that at our house many days and from blog hopping around so do many other families.  This book gives you clear reasons why we all could use a little daily meditation and how to fit it in with ease. 
"Peaceful piggies know when to take a break, find a spot and just breathe, breathe, breathe." 
 This is a great book to help at home and at school, as kids can do this at their desk, during testing, anytime they need to find that power within.  We do live in a stressful world-one with many worries for children-and having an activity they can count on to bring them back to a peaceful feeling has gotta be a fantastic teaching tool.

P.S. Kerry Lee does her own illustrations, which are charmingly cute, making her extraordinarily talented!
Browsing around her website I discovered three other titles:  Moody Cow Meditates, The Family Meditation Book and Peaceful Piggy Yoga-all available for purchase at her website. 

For more information:

Find it here at an IndieBound book store-Peaceful Piggy Meditation.
and while browsing I found this site, Luck Duck Children's Books, with an awesome list of alternative titles for kids-many of the books I love like The Peace Book by Todd Parr are on this list.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yoga Community

     The yoga studio where I have participated in several events and taken classes had their one-year anniversary tonight and I was asked to be there as a yoga student and as a blogger-and it was so much fun.  I took my little Groovy Girl (as she is a little yogi) and we set up my laptop, a few yoga books and my cards.  We drank tea and visited with lots of current, former, and future yoga students.  I ran into a ton of people I hadn't seen in ages and met some new and interesting people.  I also met another local fellow blogger-Mariah, who writes about food at Green Swamp Soup.  We had a great time chatting about mutual interests in local foods, co-ops, and our meat-eating sons.  Groovy Girl and I were able to participate in an hour long yoga class, stretching and sharing a mat together as the studio was filled to the brim with happy do-ers.  It took me back to when she was just a wee thing, watching me do yoga at home and would climb on to my mat with me and bend in tandem.  Oh, my they grow so fast!

     I feel refreshed, renewed and ready to start yoga classes again next week.  I have a New Year's resolution to go for ten weeks.  I have another NY's resolution, which was to get to sleep closer to the 10:00 pm hour so I can wake up early, stretch and be prepared for my day.  Hmmm.  Here it is, 11:10-oops!    
 **** Another confesion...that is not me doing that amazing yoga pose above.  I know, you're shocked.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Night Fairy

117 pages
This elementary fantasy is a wonderful easy read for everyone who loves fairies, like we do at our house.  My 8-year-old Groovy Girl makes fairy water every other day (or so it seems) with markers, lots of water, and tiny jars.  The result is sparkly, multi-colored water (think pinks, oranges, sea green) by putting a small (picture the mess in my upstairs bathroom sink) amount of water into the teeny, tiny jars (mini marmalade jars), then sticking a marker tip into the water, and watch the color flow into the water.  Magically,  the marker is not permanetely damaged through this creative process.  She sets these jars on her windowsill, for fairy purposes.  I haven't figured out why or what fairies do with this just is what it is.

The Night Fairy is an adventure starring Flory, a young night fairy who at three monthes old has her brand-new, beautiful wings snapped off by a blundering bat, swooping through the  night.  She's left in a sweet, gray-haired human's backyard and has to learn how to survive without flying.  Luckily, this  human loves animals and is constantly putting treats out for the birds.  Flory befriends a squirrel, Skuggle, who is always hungry and the two learn to help each other. 
Flory was no longer alone.  She felt that she had made a friend, though she wasn't quite sure what friendship was.  Skuggle was not the best of friends, because he would have eaten her if he could; also, he  never talked anything but food.  flory wasn't the best of friends, either.  She knew that if she had been able to fly, she wouldn't have bothered with Skuggle.  She was using him.  All the same, after she struck her bargain with Skuggle, she was less lonely. (32)
She finds other animals along the way; both friends and foes, even helping a hummingbird escape a spider. She uses her mind and her limited use of magic to defend herself and find out more about the world around her.  This imaginative little book is filled with great adventures that many fairy-loving young humans will love.  The end of the story paves the way for, hopefully, more escapades with Flory.  Flory would probably love to live in my daughter's room with all the fairy water there for her.

Laura Amy Schlitz won the 2008 John Newbery award for her book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies!

The Night Fairy website.
Planet Esme's review.
Green Bean Teen Queen predicts it as a Newberry Dark Horse winner.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Weekend Cooking-A casserole of sorts

I don't have a recipe for a casserole-I've never made a casserole after having far too many of them growing up but too me a casserole is an odd mixture of things together and that is what I have for today's Weekend Cooking post.

Thursday night was my stepdaughter's last night home with us as she wanted to get back to Chicago to see friends.  For a special dinner I made Pad Thai.  It was the best we've made in awhile so I have that recipe to share.  Plus my brother called this morning asking me what to do with the leftover ham bone he had (frozen) from his Christmas dinner.  We talked it over and decided making soup would be the best option for him and his 6-year-old son, except he didn't think split pea soup would work.  In my Soup, A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka I found a chicken soup recipe that adds ham-which is perfect for my meat-loving brother!  Two meats in one soup-Hot Dog!  I have that recipe to share right here-Chicken Soup with Chinese Flavors.  I can't wait to hear his success story with this recipe. 

Then my Vegetarian Times magazine arrived last night with a beautiful photo of lasagna on the front cover!  I'm a sucker for lasagna recipes so I will be trying this recipe for Kale lasagna this week.  I've shared two of my favorite lasagna recipes; Eggplant Lasagna and the newer, Spinach and Feta Lasagna. so if you are looking for something delicious to cook this weekend, any of these lasagna recipes will make you happy!  The interesting thing about the Kale recipe is it is made in an 8-inch baking pan so it will be smaller-not as many leftovers, which sometimes can be a good thing but might be just perfect to feed my family with a side salad or some fruit and bread-don't ever forget the bread here.

Okay, here is the star of the week, Vegetarian Pad Thai:

1 pound Asian Rice Noodles
1/4 cup soy/ Tamari sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
3 T. peanut butter
2 T. hot sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 block tofu
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Sesame oil
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
4 scallions, sliced

1.  Cook noodles according to package directions. 
2. Whisk together soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, sugar, and hot sauce.
3. In large wok, sautee tofu, onions and garlic in sesame oil.
4. Add cooked noodles, peanut butter sauce to wok, stir well.
5. Top with sprouts, chopped peanuts and scallions.  Serve hot.
6. I added fresh chopped basil at the table.

It was delicious and we had enough for lunch leftovers the next day.
Served with fresh bread and a spinach salad.

What's in your "casserole" for the weekend??

Happy Cooking and reading!
Check out other Weekend Cooking posts at Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowmen, Snowwomen=Snowpeople

(photo courtesy of Snowman Pics)
This first week back at school is always tough-teachers and students are tired.  In the Midwest its been cold and will be cold, cold, cold through March.  It is a long season for kids to tolerate.  To bring a little fun into the first week back and share their holiday break stories, we've been talking snowmen and reading books featuring the funny snow creations.  Here's my list of books I'm using with students through January, hopefully giving kids a light-hearted look at winter.

Read this week:

It's Winter (2002) by Linda Glaser-great alliteration which keeps even the youngest students awake with the fun sounds.  Even though this is fiction it has interesting facts and just as the reluctant listener might be giving up their head snaps back at the mention of bats and bees hibernating!

All You Need for a Snowman (2002) by Alice Schertle-I've fallen in love with this book and don't know why I haven't used it for a read-aloud before.  Poetic passages and whimsical illustration keep liitle ones(and me) mesmerized.  "Three hand-packed, triple-stacked balls of snow.  Hat on top, where a hat should go-that's all you need for a snowman.  Except for..." and the next page gives you another item to add to the big, billowy snowman

To Read:

Snowballs (1999)by Lois Ehlert-This one has always been my go-to book for winter.  This year a teacher borrowed it before I had a chance to which  may be a good thing as it led me to search anew.

A Snowman named Just Bob (1999)and its mate A Snowgirl named Just Sue (2005)by Mark Kimball Moulton- good, paired set to read together.  A bit over the top in cheesy though and long.

Oh! (1999)by Kevin Henkes-in simple form shows the pure joy of winter snow.

Tracks in the Snow (2003)by Wong Herbert Yee-good, mini-mystery showing us a lovely outdoor winter world.

Snowmen at Night(2002) by Caralyn and Mark Buehner-with a little imagination a young boy thinks of fun things snowmen must go off and do while everyone else is sleeping.  Classic fun and probably what we will read next week.

Stranger in the Woods; A photographic fantasy(2000) by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick-Love this story, the kids love the "mystery" and the photos are beautiful!

There was an old Lady who swallowed some Snow! (2003)by Lucille Colandro and Jared Lee-rhyming, rollicking fun and kids cannot resist getting involved in this readaloud.

A Really Good Snowman (2005) by Daniel J. Mahoney-I discovered this charming tale last year and enjoyed reading it aloud because it has such a sweet message about helping smaller siblings out.  Cute animal characters compete in a snowman competition. Perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade.

What am I  missing?  What snowman and winter books are your favorites? 
Share your ideas in a comment so I can expand my collection.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Reading from my shelves project

    Last year I took on 50 books and did not finish the list so this year I've kept some of the unfinished and added a few. I've picked 24 specifically so I can read two each month,which seems like an easy way to stay on track. Thanks to Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea for rehosting this helpful challenge.
  1. Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
  2. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  3. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  4. The Snipesville Chronicles; Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing
  5. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
  6. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
  7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  8. We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
  9. Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang
  10. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  11. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  12. The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie
  13. The Reluctant Tuscan; How I Discovered my Inner Italian by Phil Doran
  14. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
  15. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  16. The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
  17. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
  18. Inheritance by Natalie Danford
  19. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing; Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson
  20. Every Sunday by Peter Pezzelli
  21. I don't want to be crazy by Samantha Schutz
  22. Lamb by Christopher Moore
  23. Austenland by Shannon Hale
  24. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
This year I will succeed at this challenge, This year I will succeed at this challenge, This year I will suceed at this challenge, This year I will, I will, I will....
***To join this challenge click here to sign up:  Reading From My Shelves Project/2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My Library Guinea Pigs and their fan club, the "GP crew"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dark Places

345 pages

From the back cover:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas."  She survived-and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer.  Twenty-five years later, when the Kill Club, a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes, locates Libby and pumps her for details-proof its members hope may free Ben-she hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history.  For a fee, she'll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club.  As Libby's search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started-on the run from a killer.

Gripping!  Genererally this is not my type of book but my husband picked it out from Barnes and Noble(he's into the three for the price of two member deal) and I'm sure this heading on the back helped [Named one of the best Books of 2009 by The New Yorker]-my husband loves The New Yorker.  He begged me to read it so we could talk about it-he liked it that much.  I read it in 2 1/2 days because it is a thrilling, alternating chapters book to read.  You get to know all these different angles and I couldn't put it down. And even though the murders were gruesome to read about I didn't get scared, really-just emphathetic to the characters involved. 

Random quote:
I steal underpants, rings, CD's, books, shoes, iPods, watches. I'll go to a party at someone's house-I don't have friends, but I have people who invite me places-and I'll leave wearing a few shirts under my sweater, with a couple of nice lipsticks in my pocket, and whatever cash is floating inside a purse or two.  Sometimes I even take the purse, if the crowd is drunk enough. (52)

My husband has become a fan of Paperback Book Swap as well and he quickly located a copy of Sharp Objects, Flynn's first book so we have that on our to-read pile now.  His pile is not as big as mine by any means but just the fact that he now has a pile is a fantastic coup for me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Along for the Ride

383 pages

     I've now read all of Sarah Dessen's books and as soon as I was feeling good about this, my friend Tina gave me the news-Dessen has a new one coming out in the Spring.  Bring it on, Ms. Dessen-I'm ready for it.
     This is the story of Auden and her dysfunctional family.  Both parents are college professors,  accomplished writers but short on emotions.  She has one older brother, Hollis who seems to have used up all their parental energy leaving  none for Auden.  This is the story of her summer; the big one set between high school graduation and her freshman year at a prestigious university.  Her parents are divorced and she chooses to spend it with her father, his new wife and their baby.  Luckily they live in a house on the beach and there is an extra room for Auden. 
     It is a perfect time for some reflection as Auden prepares to make the leap to college student, away from her mother. She is a complex character, silently suffering from her parent's divorce. She doesn't have a set of girlfriends to hang with and she seems to just be waiting for college and the comfort books and studying bring to her.  She's is a night-owl, a loner and smart beyond her years.  Her stepmother, at first glance, is flighty, girlish and struggling with her new role of mother and wife.  Her dad is a self-centered poop who shuts himself off from those at home, those closest to him, making the same mistakes he made during his first go-round as a parent. 
    Auden spends her time running interference between her dad and her stepmother, Heidi, and trying to comfort the colic-y Thisbe-who knew this would be just like her own parent's marriage.   To get away she spends time on the boardwalk.  During one of these late night wanderings she meets Eli, a night time loner as well.   I enjoyed the casual relationship between Eli and Auden, which develops more as they understand each other better.  Eli has layers; he is worth getting to know which makes it difficult on both of them as neither is interested in spilling their sad secrets. 
     I loved the surprises many of these characters hold in store for the reader, making it easy to understand how not to judge a book solely by its cover or a person by their first impression.  Speaking of book covers; the cover art on this one is cute, adorable-love the pink polka-dot dress BUT...who is that boy on the cover...that is not Eli, who is described "a tall guy with longish dark hair pulled back at his neck, wearing a worn blue hoodie and jeans."(41) Bike-riding guys tend to be leaner, less muscle-y in their arms and Eli is usually wearing a dark hoodie.  Maybe it's just that Eli appeared to me in a different way and the guy on the cover seems more Jake than Eli. That's about the only thing I disliked about this book. What I liked:  the shop girls at Clementine's, the quest to fulfill Auden's lack of normal childhood experiences and Heidi's transformation back to independent can-do woman.  If you haven't read any Sarah Dessen books yet you are missing out on an author who really sees things from a teenager's angle.

Random Quote:
"In truth, I hadn't expected my mom to care whether I was around for the summer or not.  And maybe she wouldn't have, if I'd been going anywhere else.  Factor my dad into the equation, though, and things changed.  They always did." (19)
Click Sarah Dessen for her author website.
Another point of view review:

Missie at The Unread Reader.
and Samantha reviews it at Someone like Samantha.
Find it at an IndieBound book store near you...Along for the Ride

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day - Black-Eyed Peas

     How many of you eat black-eyed peas, a symbol of prosperity, for the new year?  It is a family tradition for us.  Each year I've tried a new recipe and it isn't always easy to find one that is meat-free.  This one I found in a recent parade magazine in an article about Katie Lee from The Early Show.  It was easy to make and tasted great. 

Hoppin' John

serves: 6

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
Cooked rice
Shredded white cheddar
Hot sauce (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. 
2. Stir in black-eyed peas, broth, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat to low; cook 10 minutes.  Stir in green onions and parsley.
3. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with cheese and hot sauce.

   My Tweaks:  I soaked a bag of black-eyed peas from the bag instead of using cans.  Like lentils, they are easy to soak and cook.  I did not add green onions and I used parsley instead of cilantro (flat leaf  parsley)  only because I had parsley from another recipe.  I didn't add parsley to the recipe but put it on the table as a "condiment" so my kids could add it if they chose.  Same with the cheese as Groovy Girl is not a cheese lover.  I used brown rice and my husband and I added hot sauce to our bowls, which added just the perfect amount of spice. 

Cheers to prosperity in 2011.

Teenage Boy said "why do we keep eating black-eyed peas for dinner?-it hasn't worked yet."  This led to an interesting discussion of how many different ways prosperity appears in our lives if not in cash form! 
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and I'm late in posting because I took a three hour nap after church.  It felt great and must be my way of shoving my head into the sand as my holiday break comes to a close.  Tomorrow it's off to work we go! 
This is what comes up when you google the peas...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Challenge Up-Date and 2011 Challenges-Yes, Let's do it again...

In 2010 I participate in three challenges and finished...drum roll please-none of them.  I could be morose about this or hide it under the proberbial rug but it was my first time participating and I just didn't accomplish it.  I do have a busy life, two busy children and a husband in overdrive 90% of the time.  Like I tell my children: "oh well, these things happen." The thing is I am more than willing to try again.  I plan to finish my 2010 challenges while working on the new ones...full circle.  I signed up for this last year at J. Kaye's blog which is now Home Girl's book blog.  My stats are here-2010 Reads.  I read 86 books-some fantastic and I'm happy about all of them.  The key is I want, really want to get to 100+ and I'll keep trying until I do.  I'm awed by people like Janssen (200 books) and Tina (250+)

This year I'll be logging here with my reading numbers and reviews. 

Find the details here at My Overstuffed Bookshelf

I did this one last year hosted by Diane and also failed miserably but I want to keep going to finish the stack not read and I've added some new titles.  What this challenge did for me was to curb my desire to buy books.  I sought other sources-like I'm now a full-fledged member of Paperback Book Swap.  I never have an excess of money so I've always been slow to purchase brand-new hardcovers but found it incredibly easy to buy paperbacks or second-hand-I've slowed this down cuz my stacks were too tall.  So I've gotta keep going with this challenge, making up for unfinished reads. Here are my stats(19 out of 50, so sad, can only go up from here) for this challenge-Reading from my own shelves list.   See my new list tomorrow. 
Home Girl's Book Blog, formerly J. Kaye's blog hosted this last year and again I made not a great showing. I'm going to finish the titles on this list but am not signing up for it again. Here are my stats (33/50)-Support your local library challenge.

How did your challenges go this year?  Let me know with a comment.  Happy Reading!