Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Little Free Libraries: Fayetteville, Population 262, Has Three Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library #1 in Fayetteville, Texas

Lights around pole for nighttime perusers

Shelves allow for many books, without wasted space

Little Free Library #2 in Fayetteville, Texas

This library has openings on each

...and here.

Inside the library was a little notebook, where givers and takers could leave little comments.

There were also little stickers to keep.

Little Free Library #3 in Fayetteville, Texas

A bus theme

Lots of room for books

The reason there are so many Little Free Libraries in Fayetteville, Texas? I was told that the town has no public library. A bond issue to build a public library was turned down by the voters (though, according to this source) a bond issue for a sports park was passed. To help make up for a lack of a public library, several community members jumped on the Little Free Library bandwagon.

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by A Web of Stories. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at A Web of Stories.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

My birthday in November and Christmas in December filled my bookshelves:

Why You Should Read Children's Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell

"Katherine Rundell - Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children - explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world."

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer edited by Robert Swartwood

"The stories in this collection run the gamut from playful to tragic, conservative to experimental, but they all have one thing in common: they are no more than 25 words long. Robert Swartwood was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's possibly apocryphal six-word story―"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn"―to foster the writing of these incredibly short-short stories. He termed them "hint fiction" because the few chosen words suggest a larger, more complex chain of events. Spare and evocative, these stories prove that a brilliantly honed narrative can be as startling and powerful as a story of traditional length. The 125 gemlike stories in this collection come from such best-selling and award-winning authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Ha Jin, Peter Straub, and James Frey, as well as emerging writers."

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

"The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Alternatingly wistful and wry, ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to shape a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments."

Booked: A Traveler's Guide to Literary Locations Around the World by Richard Kreitner

"A must-have for every fan of literature, Booked inspires readers to follow in their favorite characters footsteps by visiting the real-life locations portrayed in beloved novels including the Monroeville, Alabama courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird, Chatsworth House, the inspiration for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice, and the Kyoto Bridge from Memoirs of a Geisha. The full-color photographs throughout reveal the settings readers have imagined again and again in their favorite books.

Organized by regions all around the world, author Richard Kreitner explains the importance of each literary landmark including the connection to the author and novel, cultural significance, historical information, and little-known facts about the location. He also includes travel advice like addresses and must-see spots."

The Pie Book: Over 400 Classic Recipes by Louis P. De Gouy

"From simple cherry pies to hearty mince meats, luscious custards, and elegant chiffons, master chef Louis P. De Gouy presents more than 400 tasty pie recipes. De Gouy, a founder of Gourmet magazine, is an expert at concise instruction. In addition to his carefully chosen recipes, he offers advice on flour selection, fruit preparation, and baking procedures, including the secrets to turning out a flaky, golden-brown crust every time."

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 2 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

"Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight RisesInceptionLooper500 Days of Summer) made a big splash with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories—so now he’s back with volume 2! One of the most ingenious and successful projects to come out of Gordon-Levitt's online creative coalition hitRECord—an international collaboration of artists and writers—The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2 offers more quirky, delightfully small, ingeniously illustrated haiku-like tales, proving once more that the universe isn’t made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. The best things do come in small packages."

Notes from a Public Typewriter edited by Michael Gustafson

"When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever.

Every day, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents' knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses ... and lists too.

In Notes from a Public Typewriter, Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire."

(Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living by Mark Greenside

"Despite the two decades that have passed since Greenside’s snap decision to buy a house in Brittany and begin a bi-continental life, the quirks of French living still manage to confound him. Continuing the journey begun in his 2009 memoir about beginning life in France, (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living details Greenside’s daily adventures in his adopted French home, where the simplest tasks are never straightforward but always end in a great story. Through some hits and lots of misses, he learns the rules of engagement, how he gets what he needs—which is not necessarily what he thinks he wants—and how to be grateful and thankful when (especially when) he fails, which is more often than he can believe."

300 Arguments by Sarah Manguso

"Thank heaven I don’t have my friends’ problems. But sometimes I notice an expression on one of their faces that I recognize as secret gratitude.

I read sad stories to inoculate myself against grief. I watch action movies to identify with the quick-witted heroes. Both the same fantasy: I’ll escape the worst of it.
―from 300 Arguments
A “Proustian minimalist on the order of Lydia Davis” (Kirkus Reviews), Sarah Manguso is one of the finest literary artists at work today. To read her work is to witness acrobatic acts of compression in the service of extraordinary psychological and spiritual insight.
300 Arguments, a foray into the frontier of contemporary nonfiction writing, is at first glance a group of unrelated aphorisms. But, as in the work of David Markson, the pieces reveal themselves as a masterful arrangement that steadily gathers power. Manguso’s arguments about desire, ambition, relationships, and failure are pithy, unsentimental, and defiant, and they add up to an unexpected and renegade wisdom literature."

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori

"In Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human life, from the romantic to the regrettable. From the trees of Britain, to India's sacred banyan tree, they offer us sanctuary and inspiration – not to mention the raw materials for everything from aspirin to maple syrup.

Stops on the trip include the lime trees of Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard, which intoxicate amorous Germans and hungry bees alike, the swankiest streets in nineteenth–century London, which were paved with Australian eucalyptus wood, and the redwood forests of California, where the secret to the trees' soaring heights can be found in the properties of the tiniest drops of water.

Each of these strange and true tales – populated by self–mummifying monks, tree–climbing goats and ever–so–slightly radioactive nuts – is illustrated by Lucille Clerc, taking the reader on a journey that is as informative as it is beautiful. The book combines history, science and a wealth of quirky detail – there should be surprises for everyone."

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up: The Truth Is, the Front Page of the Paper, and Pastry for Beginners

It was a gray, overcast week. The temperatures were in the low 70's all week. I'm not ready for winter to be over. Please send some cool days. A little sunshine would be nice, too.

All that gray, wet weather led to me finishing up ten books this week. 

I read and reviewed one cookbook, Pastry for Beginners. I finished a book of poetry, Penguin's Poems for Life, which I thought was good, but not great. I wrapped up Bob Goff's new book of daily inspiration, Live in Grace, Walk in Love, which is filled with wonderful reminders of living a life of love.

And I read three books which I heartily recommend: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the true story of nine young men, of impoverished backgrounds, who through hard work and determination, overcome numerous obstacles to get to the Berlin Olympics; Around the World in 80 Trees, a beautifully illustrated look at eighty fascinating trees around the world; and the very quirky and fresh fiction book, A Tale for the Time Being.

I'm almost finished with The Truth is, a book I will be featuring on Multicultural Children's Book Day at the end of January. Whew. I'm not finished, but, after reading about the much-bullied teen in A Tale for the Time Being, and now reading about the much-bullied teen in The Truth is, I'm quite worried about how teens are treating each other in our schools. 

War and Peace, too....

The new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature was announced last week. It's one of my favorite authors, Jason Reynolds. I did a whole post on Jason Reynolds when I met him at BookExpo in New York. I took the photo (above) when I saw him at BookExpo holding a fan's baby.  He's the author of the marvelous Ghost and the fabulous Long Way Down. Wouldn't the world be a different place if we let our National Ambassador for Young People's Literature handle all our political dealing with other lands? Congratulations, Jason Reynolds!

My husband and I presented our first program for the Texas Master Naturalists, Mineral and Gem Hunting in the USA, this week. There was a nice turnout for the program. We unexpectedly found ourselves on the front page of the county newspaper the next day in an article called "Taken for Granite." 

I tried making puff pastry for the first time last week. I read and reviewed the cookbook Pastry for Beginners. I'm pretty happy with the Strawberry and Cream Danish. Next I hope to try choux pastry....

I'd love to hear about your week.

I'm very happy you found your way to the Sunday Salon. There are no real requirements to linking up at Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is simply a place for us to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. Sunday Salon is a great way to visit other blogs and join in the conversations going on there. 

Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:

  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?

Other places where you may like to link up over the weekend are below. Click on the picture to visit the site.

My linkup for Sunday Salon is below.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cookbook: Pastry for Beginners

I feel confident baking many things. Cookies are something I've baked all my life. My Grandma Ashley's biscuit recipe is brilliant. Quick breads are a snap. I've made a million yeast rolls. I've loved making delicious homemade pie crust. I've even dared to make empanadas and clafoutis and kolaches.

I boldly call myself a baker.

Pastry? Do I make pastry? Well, yes, pies and little tarts. I've made cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls.

What about puff pastry? Choux pastry?

Here I deflate. No. I haven't ever tried making puff pastry or choux pastry. They looked a bit, well, daunting.

Then Pastry for Beginners arrived. I read over the recipe for puff pastry.

I think I can.

Puff Pastry Master Recipe

(Note: The recipe says that prep time is 45 minutes, with another 1 hour and 30 minutes for chilling time. Maybe I will eventually get the time down to that, but I worked on my dough for more than four hours.)

I begin by slicing a stick of butter lengthwise into thirds. 

I lay the strips of butter on a piece of parchment paper about the length of a baking sheet, making a 4-by-5 rectangle. I gently press the butter together. The butter goes into the freezer to chill while I prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, I whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt. I make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. I use my hands to slowly fold the flour into the center. Then I add 1/2 cup ice-cold water and continue to mix and knead until a smooth dough forms.

I dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour, and place the dough ball on the floured counter, working it back and forth from the center, rolling it into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle. I then place the butter layer on top of the dough rectangle so that the corners of the butter point to the edges of the dough. 

I fold the corners of the dough over the butter like an envelope. Then I cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

When I bring the dough out of the refrigerator, it is time to laminate the dough. I dust it and the clean surface with a little bit of flour. I roll out the dough, to create a 12-by-15-inch rectangle. It is, of course, difficult to roll the chilled dough. I lift one short end of the dough and fold it to the center of the rectangle. Then I fold the other short end over the first to create a letter fold. I turn the dough 90 degrees, the first turn. I roll the dough out again into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle and fold it into a letter again. I cover it and freeze it for 20 minutes. On and on I go. I remove the dough and place it on the surface so that the long edge is parallel to the counter. I roll it out again to a 12-by-15-inch rectangle. I fold it again and rotate it 90 degrees. Again I roll it out into the rectangle and complete one more fold. I place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Finally, I complete two more turns, fold it, and then chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Now the dough is ready to be used.

I'm going to use it to make Strawberries and Cream Danish.

I start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. I line the baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick spray.

To make the filling, I blend cream cheese and sugar in a bowl. Then I add one large egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. I mix these together, careful not to whip the mixture.

I take the dough out of the refrigerator and unfold the sheet. I cut it into a 10-by-10-inch square. I cut the sheet evenly into 9 squares and place the squares on the baking sheet. I cut an inner square on the inside of each square by lightly pressing a knife about 1/2 inch from the edge.

I place 1 heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each square.

I put half of a strawberry in the center of the cream cheese mixture, cut-side down. I place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes.

I make an egg wash by whisking 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon of water. I remove the Danish from the refrigerator. I brush the edges of each pastry with the egg wash.

I bake the pastries for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. The pastries cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

I'm pretty happy with the Strawberries and Cream Danish. I am very happy with the layers.

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by A Web of Stories. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at A Web of Stories.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.