Monday, September 28, 2015

ThinkIn15 with Mr Schu

On Saturday I participated in a ThinkIn at an elementary school about 45 minutes away. Even though it was gorgeous weather on Saturday and I live to be outside when it is so lovely out, I went.  I could have rolled over at 7:30 am and gone right back to sleep as the other peeps at my house did but I didn't. I had a strong conviction to go because Mr. Schu (John Schumacher) was the guest speaker and I love to follow his lovely blog posts and tweets.  He's created quite a community of readers, authors, bloggers, librarians, and teachers.  I gave up my Saturday morning for him and it was well worth it.

He had a plethora of slides about connecting students with books to start the day off and we didn't even get to half of his slides. He says he has OCD when it comes to making slide shows.  That OCD is exactly what makes him entertaining to see in person.  He flits from story to story, sharing funny anecdotes about authors he's met, and his own quirkiness. He has a smell test for all new books. Yes, I said smell test as in "doesn't this book smell a-m-a-z-i-n-g!"

I had many things I wanted to say to him but I'm nervous and weird and can never get the right sentence out at the right time so I nodded my head a lot in the two conversations we had.  One of the things I wanted to say was that I loved Matthew Baker's book, If you find this, which when Mr Schu shared about this book everyone else looked at it like they'd never heard of it and he said he couldn't find a copy of it in the book stores he stopped in on his way through Iowa.  Hmmm.  I loved the book and we need to start a buzz about If you find this. 

His second presentation shared lots of new books with us and he gave away lots of books.  He talked about authors he loves like Kate DiCamillo, Ame Dykeman, and Katherine Applegate and he likes funny books which made me wonder if he likes Emily Gravett books.  Her books are unusual and kids like her sense of humor.

I was the lucky winner of TWO books from Mr. Schu (thank you, thank you!); A passion for elephants; the real life adventure of field scientist Cynthia Moss by Toni Buzzeo and Holly Berry and Ivan; the remarkable true story of the shopping mall gorilla by Katherine Applegate and G. Brian Karas.  I loved The one and only Ivan also by Applegate and many teachers use it for a read aloud so this book will make a great addition to our library.  And did I mention that it's signed by K. Applegate!

I think it is interesting that I got two books with super long titles and both about animals.  I had to sit on my hands for the rest of his giveaways and it was very difficult; he had so many great books to give away.  My friend Nancy was the lucky winner of Brian Selznick's new book The Marvels.

You can find Mr Schu's wonderful blog posts at Watch. Connect. Read. I love reading his posts, his book recommendations make my lists long on Titlewave, and he entertains using Vine and lots of book trailers.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Craft Cocktails for the end of summer

Summer Cocktails 

I've had this checked out from our public library for a few weeks...and have yet to take the necessary time to make any of the recipes. 

I love craft cocktails especially made from garden ingredients; think cucumber or rhubarb. 

I wanted to make quite a few recipes from this book-that would have been a lot of cocktailing through September...I tried to pick a few of my top favorites-there were so many delicious choices though.

Bee Sting

2 ounces Barenjager honey liqueur
Champagne, prosecco, or sparking wine

Pour honey liqueur into a champagne glass or flute. Top with champagne. Serve.

This is an easy one but I love bees and this would be a great celebration cocktail!

There is a delicious recipe for Long Island Iced Tea that I would love to try because it would be far superior to the cocktail I drank in college on crazy nights. I'm interested in the homemade sour mix.

Also she talks about a Dark and Stormy and her recipe includes actual ginger slices with ginger beer-that would take it up a notch so, of course, I'm going to give that a try.

This would be perfect for a gathering of friends even in late fall:
La Dolce Vita

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into cubes
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 T granulated sugar
2 cups brandy
1 t lemon juice
2 bottles of Asti Spimante, chilled
2 cups fresh tangerine juice, strained and chilled
2 cups dry lemon soda, such as San Pellegrino, chilled
1 cup homemade sour mix
Ice chunks
1 cup red/green grapes, thinly sliced
Fresh thyme and rosemary twigs for garnish

Place apples in a large bowl. Rub lemon zest into sugar until no strands remain and sprinkle onto apples. Add brandy and lemon juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
Stir together wine, tangerine juice, lemon soda, and sour mix in a punch or other serving bowl. Add several large pieces of ice, the apple brandy mixture, and grapes. Stir. Serve drink in ice-filled cups, adding a scoop of fruit to each. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme and/or rosemary and serve immediately.

Salty Lime Soda (I love limes about as much as I love lemons)

6 fresh curry leaves
2 kafir lime leaves, cut into thin ribbons
2 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 ozs white rum
Ice cubes
1/4 cup club soda, chilled

Toast curry leaves in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and dry, shaking pan often, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a shaker.  Add lime leaves, sugar, and salt and muddle.  Add lime juice, rum, and ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with club soda.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to find curry or kafir lime leaves but it will be totally worth it.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

{Jennifer Richard Jacobson}
Ari and Gage experience their mother's death and are taken in by her old friend, Janna, someone they hardly know, and raised in a very different way. It becomes too much for Gage as the older brother to be not trusted and unloved.  His mother's wishes were for the two of them to stay together so when he feels like it is time to leave he takes Ari with him, even though it means lying to Janna.

He does not have an apartment arranged or a job for himself.  He and Ari take turns staying at shelters and friend's apartments.  Hiking their way around the city and trying to get Ari to school everyday is difficult for both of them. Ari lies to her teachers, her classmates, and her best friend about how she is living.  Her teachers watch her slip behind, coming in with her unclean and stinky clothes and hair. She struggles to get homework turned in and her friends make fun of her.  As an educator I wanted to stop her in the hall and ask if all was okay, how can I help?

This well-written realistic fiction shows the difficulty of homeless children. How do you keep your stuff together, how do you take a shower, how do you keep your life from falling all apart and still love and trust the brother who put you into this situation?  This story should help anyone gain more empathy and compassion for students in this situation.

Jennifer Richard Jacobson is an eduator as well and I've heard great things about Small as an Elephant.  I'll have to get that one at the library as well. Thank you, Tina, for the recommendation.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Groovy Girl turned 13 over the weekend. We celebrated in style and had fun on Friday afternoon with a camping-themed sleepover.

We put up our Coleman tent, ordered pizzas, set out pink lemonade, and most importantly cleaned up after the dogs all over the backyard.  Fun stuff.
{Camp site}
Four girls arrived sleeping bags and pillows in hand. Groovy Girl and I had mapped out a tentative schedule and she requested that we basically stay away.  Funny.

So I ordered and retrieved the pizza from our favorite $5 pizza joint down the hill.  I took three pizzas to the backyard for the girls and took one inside for the adults (me and two friends).  And then really they didn't ever need me again.  At one point they used some manly help from dad to set up a projector but beyond that we had our own little happy birthday celebration inside.

After all the birthday parties we've hosted for that girl over the years it is funny to be asked to step aside.  I get it though; she wants to be able to relax with her friends and talk about stuff.  And the stuff they talk about is going to get deeper.  I'm cool with it as long as she continues to talk to me about the big stuff.

They slept all the way through the night in the tent, fairly cuddled together to keep warm.  We had cinnamon rolls and watermelon for breakfast.  As I wandered into the backyard in the morning before they know I was there I overheard them talking about hashtags-what was that hashtag we made up last night?  These are mine: #successfulbirthday #13yearsold and #biglove

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Crazy day

Some days are just blow-your-mind crazy busy. Take today for example:

1. I had a full day of classes, my busiest day with seven classes. 

2. Lunch time was filled with helping 5 3rd grade students with assessments on the computers-they are less experienced with logging in so it took them longer.

3. After lunch had a fellow teacher-librarian come over to fulfill time, to achieve balance within our district. She works at a school with low enrollment.

4. Worked until 5 trying to finish a school project.

5. After school: ate a quick dinner, a leftover veggie burger from yesterday's BBQ with friends. 

6. School board vote: went to city hall and voted for new and positive peeps. 

7. Quick stop at public library: I had to renew a stack of books and had trouble getting it done on line.

8. 6:30 PTA meeting at school where I am part of several committees and we needed to vote in several new officers.

9. 7:00 religious education meeting at church-I was 25 minutes late but glad to be there. My friend Kathleen took over my husband's job and it was a great start for her position. 

10.  Grocery store stop: G.G. Birthday week and we needed COOL cupcake liners. 

11. Home by 8:30 and We made 30 + chocolate cakes for cheer squad and birthday friends on Friday. 

12. 11:00 and I'm still up waiting for last batch to come out of the oven. I'd be feeling pretty good right now (although sleepy) if they were coming out better. I overfilled cups and they are not pretty. Hopefully frosting will help them tomorrow.

And how was your day...?

I did stand at the kitchen counter and eat 1/2 a container of my favorite Ben & Jerry's frozen yogurt raspberry/chocolate chunk. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Groovy Girl and poetry

My daughter has written three amazing poems, maybe more, but 3 that I know of and this one I'm going to share. She doesn’t even realize what amazing talent she has in this area.  All three of my children are great writers and so far one of them wants to write for living. This was written for a class assignment. Enjoy.

Where I'm From...

I am from Tye-dyes
I am from Pesto pasta and skim milk
I am from Warm honey dripping down my throat and coating my lips
I am from French braids and peace rallies
Fighting war and oil pipelines

I am from Little Rock and inner city Chicago
From dirt between my toes and wide tall trees
I am from Creativity and make believe
From Tutus and imagination
I am from Sunday school and hallowed be thy name
My church I know like the back of my hand

I am from Lavender oil and dancing in the rain
From Gooey brownies and strawberry rhubarb pie
I am from Cartwheels and ballet slippers
I am from edamame and basil,
Buttered toast and sweet corn

I am from the kissing hand and our tree named steve
I am from furry dogs and fairy houses
From dinner times and blues clues band aids
I am from laughter and snow angels
I am The baby from 3lb 2oz
I am from sea salt and ocean waves

These memories I keep in my mind locked away only mine
They carry me along my way through my life they will stay.

By: Groovy Girl

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Food-centered life styles

"Come on in and have something to eat"
"We should go get something to eat."
"What do you want to eat?"
"It's a potluck."
"Bring food."

All statements that we hear in our lives daily.  We are a food-centered society with first world problems.  Which restaurant to eat in, what cut of meat to choose from the deli case, which foods do you pick as you walk down the buffet line?

When you are attempting to cut down on the amount of food you eat you begin to notice how every event centers around food.  This weekend we attended two music events and both had food offerings available.  "Go eat..." After church someone serves cookies, bars and now fruit and cheese because last year we choose a healthier initiative.

Food, food, food.  It seems to be necessary at gatherings, get-togethers, and everything we celebrate; birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Reunions.  We are headed to a family reunion this weekend.  I've been working on cutting my calories way back and getting in more activities.  So this weekend I have to get in the car and ride for several hours to go to a gathering where people will have all kinds of unhealthy treats laid out on paint chipped picnic tables.

Even virtual gatherings are often food-related as we scroll food blogs, websites, and pinterest for tasty offerings.

I think it is going to be a new goal of mine to ignore the food at gatherings and just focus on the people.  I might even try and get together with people without food involved.  How would that even look?

We could meet for a walk in the park, or a movie (no popcorn), coffee (no biscotti + I don't drink coffee).  There's got to be a way to make this work.  Anybody else struggle with this notion?

I love food just as much as the next person but it's just not good for us to be constantly focused on food.  Angelle, Verda, and I did discuss this at the great reading retreat.  We didn't solve it there either.  We were eating cheese, crackers, and hummus while we were pondering this life question. We were outside at least enjoying the beautiful nature around us.

I'm going to test it out this weekend as the stuff spread out on that table will not be the healthy fare I normally ingest so it will be easy to walk past potato salad, green bean salad, and