Tuesday, December 18, 2018

1483: What I'm Hoping to Read This Winter


838 + 645  =  1483





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.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Jólabókaflóð: A Holiday Tradition



My own personal Jólabókaflóð

Iceland has an amazing holiday tradition that I plan to celebrate one year. It's called Jólabókaflóð, pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot. At the start of the holiday season in Iceland a Bokatidindi, a catalog of every new book published in Iceland, is mailed to every home in the country. On Christmas Eve, everyone in Iceland exchanges books and then reads them.

Doesn't this sound fun?

I've my own personal Jólabókaflóð. It's all the fiction picture books and board books I've received as a Cybils judge. I will be donating these to our school district's Book Bus after the finalists are announced on January 1st.


WHAT I'M READING



I'm reading two big, wonderful books. I will be reading these into the new year.



What are you reading today?



What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Camera Sits There, Looking at Me


Why, you may be asking, am I posting a photo of a camera?

Why, instead, am I not using said camera and posting said pictures from said camera?

Simple answer. I don't know how to use it.

I've proved that. Twice. 

My sister oh-so-kindly loaned me this lovely gem to carry along on our Big Trip to Europe last spring. She gave me a short tutorial. I lugged this heavy thing everywhere, and tried taking pictures. 

Everything came out blurry.

I didn't say anything. I thought I just didn't know what I was doing. 

Finally, everything came to a head. I was in a dark old church in Florence, trying to take a photo of a candle. Blurry. Blurry. Blurry. My sister noticed I was having trouble and asked me what was wrong. I confessed that my pictures were blurry. She gave me a couple of suggestions, but it didn't correct the problem. Then she took the camera and tried to take pictures. Blurry. Blurry. Blurry.

Something's broken, she said. 

I felt terrible. Not only had all my pictures from my Big Trip to Europe come out blurry, but I'd also broken my sister's second-best camera.

When we got home, my sister took the camera to her son-in-law, a professional photographer. 

Red-faced-moment. It turns out the camera wasn't broken at all. A tiny switch had been flipped. My sister's son-in-law flipped the switch back, and everything was right with the world.

My sister has oh-so-kindly loaned me her camera again.

Now I'm too scared to touch it.

Are there picture-taking classes online? I need help!





For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo 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 West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Best Read-Aloud Christmas Stories for Children



I retired in May, and I loved being a school librarian. There are lots of things I miss.

One of the things I miss most about being a school librarian is this time of the year when I shared my favorite Christmas stories with children. I'm a researcher by nature, and I carefully polled people and researched books other librarians and teachers loved to read aloud to children. Then I found out for myself what works best: I read aloud stories. 

I won't be singing Christmas songs, or dressing up for Polar Express Day, or sharing my favorite Christmas read-alouds with children this year, but I can share some of my favorite read-aloud stories with you.


FUNNY STORIES ABOUT SANTA AND REINDEER AND CHRISTMAS TREES AND OTHER CHRISTMAS-Y THINGS

Mrs. Claus Takes A Vacation Santa's Book of Names Santa Claus the World's Num... I See Santa Everywhere How Santa Really Works Olive, the Other Reindeer Santa Calls Santa's Crash-Bang Christmas Brave Santa Auntie Claus Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation
Auntie Claus
Santa's Crash-Bang Christmas
How Santa Really Works
I See Santa Everywhere
Santa's Book of Names
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree



STORIES WITH BELOVED BOOK CHARACTERS

Just about every beloved children's book character has his or her own Christmas book. Clifford. Arthur. Froggy. Fancy Nancy. Bear. Minerva Louise. They all have their own books. Take a look.


Clifford's Christmas Bear Stays Up for Christmas Merry Christmas, Big Hungry... A Christmas for Bear Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous ... Santa Bruce Snowmen at Christmas Minerva Louise on Christmas... Froggy's Best Christmas by Jonathan London Arthur's Christmas (Arthur ...
Clifford's Christmas
Bear Stays Up
Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear
A Christmas for Bear
The Peterkins' Christmas
Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve


NEW VERSIONS OF OLD STORIES

The Teachers' Night Before ... Texas Night Before Christmas The Twelve Days of Christma... Cajun Night Before Christmas 

The Teachers' Night Before Christmas
A Pirate's Night Before Christmas
The Soldiers' Night Before Christmas
Texas Night Before Christmas
A Cajun Night Before Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs
Pete the Cat's Twelve Groovy Days of Christmas
Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas



CHRISTMAS MUST-READS 

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Chri... Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree Yoon and the Christmas Mitten The Polar ExpressThe Little Match GirlThe Steadfast Tin Soldier A Child's Christmas in Wales A Christmas Memory The Night Before Christmas How the Grinch Stole Christ...

The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll
Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree
Yoon and the Christmas Mitten
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
The Polar Express
The Little Match Girl
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
A Christmas Carol
A Child's Christmas in Wales
A Christmas Memory
The Night Before Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas



What have I forgotten?

I've created a Best Read-Aloud Christmas Stories for Children list at Goodreads. I'd love to have you add your favorites to the list and vote.









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.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

How Can I Be So Crazy-Busy? I'm Retired!

If your vision of retirement is Lazy Days Sitting Around Reading, I urge you to reconsider turning in your paperwork. My dad warned me, but I didn't believe him. "You'll be busier than you ever were working," he cautioned. "And, worst of all, there are no vacation days."

He is right. November was a blur of NaNoWriMo, Nonfiction November, our Master Naturalist project, and Cybils. What did I accomplish?


NaNoWriMo
I am still amazed. I've done NaNoWriMo every year for the past eleven years and I've never written diddy-squat. This year, I made my goal of 50,000 words before mid-month. 

How did this happen? I retired, of course, and that enabled me to write more. I have to thank Saundra at Wildly Imperfect. I joined her group in January. Her group encourages people to write (or do some other practice) each day and post about it. I quickly got into the habit of writing a little each day. I also must thank Joy at Joy's Book Blog. She created a lovely guidebook to help people complete projects, and she formed a group that provided much support for NaNoWriMo. Thank you, Joy!

Nonfiction November


I went wild with Nonfiction November this year. I looked over my nonfiction reading for the year. I paired nature-themed nonfiction with fiction. I shared my list of the best books for writers about writing. I shared my thoughts on nonfiction-that-reads-like-fiction. I compiled a huge list of nonfiction I want to read that I found on other blogs. I wish I could do Nonfiction November every month.

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November: New to My TBR



The Cybils



For the past eleven years, I've spent every October, November, and December reading huge amounts of children's books. I always try to read every nominated book, but this year I decided to really push things and set a goal of trying to review all the books I enjoyed. 

This year, I read 300 books out of 308 nominated (so far...I still hope to read them all.) I wrote reviews of 190 books. That certainly didn't hurt my yearly totals; I have read more than 400 books this year at Goodreads.

Now my panel of judges is hard at work trying to whittle the list down to seven books each for fiction picture books and board books.


My December Plans

What are my book-ish plans for the end of the year?
          * Finish all the Cybils---8 to go!
          * Cybils Short Lists
          * My Best-of-2018 List
          * Finish up a couple more books this year
          * Take a serious bite out of Anna Karenina
         



Was your November as crazy as mine?
Did you do NaNoWriMo or Nonfiction November?
What are you working on this month? 




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've
wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound
 journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens
at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their
own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly,
mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!
This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read”
book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at The Book Date.





Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Baking Frenzy


I blame it on The Great British Baking Show. It's your fault, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

You may know that I tend to become...uh-hem...obsessed about certain things. 

What am I obsessed with now? Baking.

I don't watch tv. I stopped watching tv casually in 2003. It's the best thing I ever did. It frees up huge amounts of time that I can spend doing things I love, like reading and writing and drawing. And, now, baking.

Instead of randomly turning on the set and flipping through channels, I periodically ask for suggestions for good tv, set the DVR, and watch a sample show. 

One of those suggestions was The Great British Baking Show. I watched one show and fell in love. I've watched all of Season 1 (American, as shown on our PBS), and I've just started Season 2. 


I've borrowed one of Mary Berry's cookbooks from the library and I've bought Paul Hollywood's book and a book from the show to keep.

And I'm baking. And baking. And baking.

Here's some of what I've been baking lately.


We have picked up thousands of pecans this year, so I just had to try the Maximum Pecan Pie I read about in the Houston Chronicle just before Thanksgiving. Even the crust has pecans in it.

I also made a Tart Lemon Pie from the New York Times at Thanksgiving. The crust came out a little wonky; I couldn't find any beans to allow me to successfully blind bake the crust. I won't do that again. In any case, it tasted better than it looked.



I used Mary Berry's Quick Puff Pastry dough to make up some savory pastries with ham (leftover from Thanksgiving) and cheese fillings, post-Thanksgiving.




Today I whipped up some tiny quiches and small empanadas for my niece's baby shower. I've made quiches and empanadas since I was a young married person. It's so tricky for me to work with these buttery doughs in our Texas heat.


 

I've always been obsessed with biscuits and rolls and bread. My mom made amazing dinner rolls and my Grandma Ashley made fabulous biscuits. I loved this recipe for flaky biscuits that I discovered at the beginning of this year. And I will always be indebted to Emma Cazabonne of Words and Peace, who I met in person at BookExpo in Chicago, for the bread recipe she gave me.


Are you a baker? 
What kinds of baking do you like best?
What are baking cookbooks you like?




For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo 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 West Metro Mommy Reads.

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.