Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of Year Reading

Hmmmm, I have 1 more day to get in my end of year reading. Here is what I am reading for the New Year weekend.
  • Party Vegan, Fabulous, Fun Food For Every Occasion by Robin Robertson
  • Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes
  • The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, 125th Anniversary
  • Jamie's America, Easy Twists on Great American Classics and More by Jamie Oliver
  • Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII by Linda Porter
  • Storyteller: The Authorized Biography or Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock
  • A Journey into Matisse's South of France by Laura McPhee
Ok realistically I will skim a few of these books, page flip through 1 or 2 and maybe tuck into 1. My reading goals for 2011 are:
  1. Read more cookbooks (my well documented love of cookbooks is no surprise to regular readers)
  2. Buy an e-reader and download beloved favorites and travel books
  3. Read more classics and not because Oprah's latest book selections are A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.
Enjoy some good books in 2011 readers!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday 5 List #10

So this is my final Monday 5 list of 2010. Thought it would be appropriate to list my favorites of the year. Enjoy and Happy New Year readers!

1.The "Bed Intruder Song". Funniest thing I watched all year. Every time I hear it I can't get, "Hide your kids, hide your wife" outta my head.

2. Travel. Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, France, Virgin Islands. Whether it was a weekend getaway or weeks of travel, wandering new and old but beloved locals were some of my favorite moments of the year.

3. The kindness of others. This was a difficult year for me personally. As my marriage was ending I turned to family and friends. Whether it was a neighbor who held my hand as I was preparing to move out of my marital home, a friend who made me dinner when I was too upset to eat or my Mom who flew in to Chicago to offer me moral support, I simply don't know how I would have coped without them. It's true you find out who your friends are in a time of crisis. Not only did my friends and family support me, they demonstrated classy and commendable compassion and support to my ex. There is a lesson there for certain family members of my ex.

4. Library patrons. I work in a small public library where I interact with patrons on a daily basis. I've witnessed compassion, laughter, love and sacrifice again and again within the library. One day it was the elderly couple who walked to the reference desk hand in hand, asked questions for the other and turned around and walked out of the library hand in hand. They never stopped touching each other. It brought tears to my eyes. Or the couple who brought their father to the library and asked for help with getting him on a plane or train to visit family for the holidays, no matter what the cost. And always my computer class patrons, the ones who attend each class every month and always remember to ask me about my son, my travels and my life. Sometimes they bring chocolate, oranges, little gifts of thanks. Touching and special each and every one of them.

5. Internet. The Internet allowed me to Skype with my darling niece 2000 miles away, call my son from Paris to say goodnight and reconnect with long lost friends. The "Internet connection" allows for connections that are truly a blessing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Would You Tell Yourself?

I've seen Michael J. Fox and other cast members of the Back to the Future movies on countless morning shows recently. Something about the 25th anniversary of the original film. Got me to thinking, where would I go if Doc pulled up in the DeLorean and said, "Where we're going, we don't need roads." Would I go to the future...or if I went back to the future, what would I tell my current self?

5 years from now, heck even 1 year from now if I could tell my December 23rd, 2010 self something I would tell me, "You made the right decision". I guess its that time where you catch up to your future that is the hardest.

So readers...if you could tell yourself something that you've learned 5 or 10 years in the future, what would it be?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do You Have A "Velveteen Rabbit"

A favorite book of mine and millions of readers is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. This touching tale of a stuffed bunny who becomes real through the love of the boy who owns him is timeless and moving.

One of the reasons I love this book so much is because I remember being a little girl and hoping that when I turned off the lights at night or left my room in the morning my toys would came alive. Decades before the movie Toy Story imagined what happens when a human leaves their toys alone, The Velveteen Rabbit captured imaginations with "What if my toys were real?"

I reread The Velveteen Rabbit recently and was reminded of how important a cherished toy is to a child. Through happiness, sorrow and illness there are some comforts that are irreplaceable, for many children it's a stuffed animal. I have a worn and well loved stuffed animal that is my only childhood toy to survive through the dozens of moves I've done since college. My little stuffed dog is about 30 years old, is missing an eye, has had his ears sewn on again and again and is so soft and scraggly only I could love him like I do. A decade ago he was used as a prop in a play because just looking at him you can tell there are years of stories behind him.

I'm 40 years old now and that silly little stuffed dog has stayed by my side in my bedside nightstand through all the years I was married. He is once again out of the drawer and sleeping in my bed, usually under my real dog's head. 30 years later, I am still comforted by a toy. Maybe my stuffed dog is my reminder of innocence. Maybe it's the significance of its history in my life. Maybe it's just because he's soft. Regardless that little dog will be with me until the end of my days. Funny....but I don't think it's much of a coincidence that when I finally adopted a real dog (my beagle Eloise) she has the same saggy body and floppy ears of my cherished toy.

So this Christmas as you buy a special toy for a child in your life why not a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit or a soft stuffed animal. They will understand one day the magic of the story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday 5 List #9

Since Christmas is a few days away I thought I would share my favorite Christmas memories.

  1. Brunch. Christmas morning brunch is a big thing in my family. From age 8-18 I spent every Christmas at our vacation home in Florida. Christmas morning would consist of hanging out with family who were in to visit, eating lots of quiche made by my Mom, gorging on Jolly Biscuit Roll made by my Grandma and walks to the beach. Sometimes we even went to "The Pink Castle" to watch the sunset. Perfect.
  2. My Kid's first Christmas-1993. He was 6 months old. He slept a lot. There is nothing like snuggling with an infant on Christmas morning. Warm, peaceful, happy and surrounded by family.
  3. New Orleans. Christmas 1996. A boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel on Bourbon Street. We spent an evening singing Christmas carols in Jackson Square under the lights from The Saint Louis Cathedral while holding candles that dripped onto paper sleeves to catch the wax. We drank a lot and celebrated with friends. The next day we drove to Florida and stayed at a hotel on the beach, Christmas Eve in a hot tub. Good times.
  4. Christmas 2002. With my family in Florida. My 90 year old Grandfather's last Christmas. Precious, precious memories.
  5. Feast of the 7 Fishes. I first enjoyed this celebration with my 1st husband who's family was Sicilian. Massive amounts of seafood on Christmas Eve=my idea of heaven. Since my wonderful Uncle Vinny (an Italian from Brooklyn NY) married my Aunt Kim a few years ago we have enjoyed this tradition with my family. Uncle Vinny makes unbelievably delicious crab and lobster every Christmas Eve. I look forward to overeating seafood this Friday at my Mom's home in Florida, Uncle Vinny has his work cut out for him trying to feed my 6'6 son and hopefully recreating my soon to be ex-husband's famous garlic shrimp recipe.
Wherever you are, whatever you do this Christmas and Holiday season, be well readers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Must Have Book for the Harry Potter Fan

I don't know if I can begin to explain the wonder this marvelous book is. Harry Potter Film Wizardry is a combination photo album, scrapbook and memory book of everything Harry Potter film related. The book is fantastically jammed full of extras including:

Harry's acceptance letter to Hogwart's (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

A sticker book from Libatius Borage's Advanced Potion Making class

Pop up candy boxes from Honeyduke's candy shop (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

A program from the 422nd Quidditch World Cup (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

A Yule Ball program (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

An Educational Decree Proclamation (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

The Marauder's Map (various films)

A Product Catalog from the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes shop

A Ministry of Magic Identity Card (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Fans will love the film photographs, behind the scenes stories and chapters on everything from casting the actors to costumes to set construction. Did you like Fleur Delacour's wedding dress in the latest film, there is a page on the wedding costumes. Interested in how they made Harry Potter breathe under water in the 4th film? Want to learn more about the Weasley's flying car, the whomping willow, Hogwart's resident Ghosts or props from the films. It's all in the book.

If you are a Harry Potter reader or buying a gift for a Potter fan, this is a must have.

UPDATE: Amazon is currently out of stock but you might find a copy at your local book store.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's in a Name?

Do you read historical romance novels? Or perhaps read the book reviews before buying for your library?

Ever wonder if there is some secret manual for romance writers that lists bodice-ripping ready names? I've been a historical romance reader for over 20 years and it's pretty hard to find a book that has characters with new names. Here are a few varieties (not taken directly from any particular author or novel just a mix of those I've read before).

The recycled-in-various-order names:

Logan Hunter, Duke of...(fill in the blank)
Hunter Logan, Earl of ...(fill in the blank)
Rafe Rafferty, Viscount
Rafferty Rafe, Esquire
Sterling Blackwell, Gentleman
Black Sterling, Baron
Ryder Chase, Duke of...(fill in the blank)
Chase Ryder, Lord of... (fill in the blank)

And the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me names:

Lorian Black, 2nd son of the Black Earl of Knightsbridge
Reid Exeter, known as Knighthawk to his friends
Thorn Windsor, long lost Duke of Wales
Slade McHugh, Baron of Exeter and twin brother to ladies man Cruz McHugh
Anderson Ashbury, known as Ash to his soldier buddies

Oh and don't get me started on the heroine's names. Most are attached to beautiful, long haired spirited young women either from large, loving and wealthy aristocratic families or they are long lost relatives of aristocratic families or they've been tossed out of the manor home by their evil relatives and are working as servants, ladies companions or a governess until they fall in love with the master of the house.


I love me a good historical romance. But for once I'd love a romance about Jane and John.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flash Back Friday #45

RIP Ron Santo. Chicagoans will miss your unwavering dedication to the Cubs, the players and fans. Listening to your hilarious commentary on The Pat and Ron Show was a highlight of every baseball season. You will be missed. One day will be their year.