Category Archives: life

Paris in July – Learn the language resources

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https://i0.wp.com/www.toptenreviews.com/i/rev/site/cms/category_headers/400-h_main.pngThis summer, I hope you have signed up to participate in the Paris in July celebration hosted by Book Bath and Thyme for Tea. This is a month to celebrate anything and everything French; French food, French movies, French books and, for today, the French language.

There are a number of ways to study and treasure the French language. If you are like me, and unable to actually take proper French courses at a community college or University, do not fear. There are a number of free online language learning websites in addition to audio-cds and kits.

These are a few of my favorites (I have worked on all of these sites, and they have been very beneficial, although I don’t recommend using them all at the same time!)

Live Mocha –

This is like a free version of Rosetta Stone. With a combination of photos and words, you can learn the very basics of the language. Each lesson has a listening, speaking, writing, and matching segment for 20 slides. You learn the same 20 words with each of the different methods listed above. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to recognize that word based on how its written, pronunciation, and have an image association. If you have a special computer, you can record yourself speaking and other students will evaluate your pronunciation. The same goes for the writing portion, where others will evaluate your grammar and sentence structure.

Mango –

This is a database that is offered for free through most library services. Check with your local library to see if they have subscribed to this service. If they haven’t, go in and demand for it!

Mango is a way to learn a language on your own time at your own pace. There are a number of lessons provided with visually appealing graphics and slides. There is a narrator at all times to walk you through different conversations, vocabulary and pronunciation.

BBC – Steps language programs

The BBC is not only a valuable news resource, it also has an area devoted solely to the education of European languages. Through their Steps program, you will be walked through a 12-week course of the language of your choice. If you don’t want to sign-up for the weekly schedule, you can access all the worksheets and lesson plans for free online. The site provides videos of different events and conversations, as well as a print transcript of all conversations. If you sign-up for the 12 week program, you will get a nifty completion certificate from the BBC.

Also don’t forget to check out the Pimsleur and Berlitz audio-cds that you can listen on your iPod or in your car. These along, with various workbooks, you can find at your local library.

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Portland’s Street Librarian

Only Portland.

Laura Moulton recently received a RACC grant which will fund a project to bring books to the homeless on the streets of Portland, called Street Books. This mobile library is not your typical bookmobile. It is a bike powered cart with about 40 books. She uses a card catalog to keep track of the books and has no expectations of when the books will be due. Only 6 of the 25 currently lent out have been returned. This is awesome in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m really excited that this project has been started, especially for a segment of community that doesn’t always get the help and resources necessary.

To support the project, there’s a PayPal account accessible through the Street Books website, where you can sponsor individual books that’ve been requested.

Read the full article here.

Noteworthy Links #20

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Noteworthy Links

My list has an Australian slant, and leans toward:

  • equity of access to information and library resources
  • the impact on libraries of shared data on the internet
  • how library users find research information
  • format changes – the rise of online video, ebooks, transliteracy and DRM
  • how librarians and libraries are preparing for the future
  • Talk about recycling. A former jail has been renovated and is now a public library. (via Morgan County Citizen)
  • Use Salem Press for all your librarian blogging needs and wants! Salem Press maintains one of the best blog directories for librarian blogs on a variety of topics; general, academic, public, school library, quirky, local library and commercial library blogs. They recently awarded one blog from each category with the coveted Salem Press 2011 Blog Award. Check out the winners and make sure to devote at least an hour to exploring all the blogs listed on the website. (via Salem Press)
General Library Blog:  Librarian in Black
Public Library Blog: Swiss Army Librarian
Academic Library Blog: Information Tyrannosaur
School Library Blog:  The Unquiet Librarian
Local Library Blog:  Cecil County Public Library
Quirky Library Blog: A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette
Newcomer Library Blog:  Hack Library School
Commercial Library Blog:  Neverending Search

Paris in July

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In addition to the Agatha Christie Summer Celebration that I want to take part in, I am also signed up for the 2nd Annual Paris in July, hosted by Thyme for Tea and Book Bath.

Paris in July 2010Given my penchant for reading books set in France or Paris, this should be a piece of cake, or rather a piece of eclair, a roll of croissant, etc.

I spent 6 days of my honeymoon in Paris this April. I spent a grand total of 9 days in France when you include the weekend stay in Arles in Provance. I am desperate to get back, and Paris in July is a wonderful way for me to relive my days in Europe.

I even have plans to attend the 24th Annual French Festival in Santa Barbara this year. Paris in July is a month long blog-love for all things French and Parisian. It will run from July 1st to July 31st this year and the rules are fairly simple:

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of Paris in July – just blog about anything French and you can join in. Some ideas for the month might include:
– Reading a French book – fiction or non-fiction
– Watching a French movie
– Listening to French music
– Cooking French food
– Experiencing French art, architecture or travel (lucky Tamara!)
– Or anything else French inspired you can think of…

I hope you will sign up with me for this fun event!!

Weekend Cooking 5/28/2011 – Substituting Ingredients

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Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: For more information, see the welcome post. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Substituting ingredients : the A to Z kitchen reference

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite and most frequently used book on my cookbook bookshelf. Although by no means comprehensive, this A to Z guide does offer appropriate substitutions for the most basic and frequently used food items in recipes.

This is a $10 resource that I bought at Borders when they were going out of business at the mall. I always beeline straight for the cookbooks when bookstore go out of business because those are some of the most expensive, reusable books in the industry. This inexpensive find is definitely a great resource. I can’t tell you how often I have to leave food on the hot stove to look up substitutions on the Internet. Usually in that time, something either burns, or overcooks. This way, if I stumble upon an ingredient and come short, or am missing altogether, I can quickly assemble a respectable substitute without much haste. This is also a great way to use up the less frequently used items in my pantry.

Here are a few examples of the substitutions listed in this book.

Cloves, Ground
= allspice
= nutmeg
= mace
 
Oats, in baking 1 cup
= 3/4 cup white flour
 
Sour Cream
= 1 tbsp white vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes before using)
= 1 tbsp lemon juice plus enough evaporated milk to make 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes before using)
= 1 cup plain yogurt, especially in dips  and cold soups
= 7/8 cup cottage cheese blended to break up curds, mixed with yogurt if desired, and 2 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice, blend well. 
= 6 oz cream cheese plus 3 tbsp milk
= 1/3 cup melted butter, plus 3/4 cup sour milk, for baking
 

This book is also reviewed as part of the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.
 
 
 
Book 1
 
*** 
 
Substituting Ingredients: The A to Z Kitchen Reference
Becky Sue Epstein
Sourcebooks, 2010
ISBN 9781402239243
191 pages

****************************************************

Find this book at your local library

Weekend Cooking 5/21/2011

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Weekend Cooking 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, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

This is my first Weekend Cooking post, a fantastic meme run by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. 
 

For today’s post, I want to cover breadmaking. I am a novice to baking breads, although I excel at zucchini breads. Anything that involves using yeast, kneading and other methods is usually hit or miss for me.

My first attempt at bread making, I followed the New York Times No Knead Bread Recipe that I had read about in Cathy Erway’s Book: The Art of Eating In.

This is the result of that recipe:

It was delicious, light and fluffy and above all, it was well made bread.

So, being on a bread kick, I attempted to make more bread. Well, the next three batches ended up as bricks because the yeast wouldn’t rise. I have up on the No Knead Bread Recipe and found this wonderful book that has really been beneficial to my breadmaking experiments.

The bread book : the definitive guide to making bread by hand or machine

The Bread Book by Sara Lewis,  is an easy guide for breadmaking. It covers everything from loaves to bagels to non-yeast breads. What I really appreciate about this book is that each recipe is written for baking bread by hand, and for baking bread via a bread machine. I do not have a bread machine, but if I ever get one, I am already set.

The instructions are easy to follow, and the first section of the book covers has photographic instructions of how-to certain instructions; such as kneading the bread, folding it, and the different types of flour used in the book. Most recipes take about 4-5 hours (that involves all the hours that the bread has to sit on a shelf and rise). I’d say total prep time is usually about 30 minutes (mixing the ingredients, kneading the bread) the rest of the time is letting the bread rise, then putting it into the oven for another 30 minutes. Most of the recipes involve multiple ingredients that may be difficult to find at normal grocery stores, and by this I mean all the various types of flours and powders used.

From this book, I have made: A Quick White Loaf, Feta and Spinach Twists (big hit!) and plain baguettes.

Do any of faithful yet silent readers bake? What are some of your favorite bread making recipes, or books?

Now a Mrs.

April has been a really whirlwind month for me. I got married, I went on my honeymoon (2 weeks in Europe!) and now I’m back home trying to figure out what to do with all the newly acquired free time I have not planning a major life-changing event.

The wedding itself was beautiful, amazing and just flew by in a blink of an eye. I wish I could press a pause button on life and capture every moment of it. I hardly had time to even look at all the lovely centerpieces my friend/florist had created (although thankfully she posted photos of them online, check out her fantastic work here if you are curious).

Vendors in the Bay Area that made my day as perfect as possible:

1. James Everett Mueller Photography. We used James for our engagement photo session and the wedding day. He did an amazing job and we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about him from all of our guests.

2. Wedgewood Wedding Banquet. This was the wedding venue for both the ceremony and reception. The staff was incredibly attentive. friendly and hard working. All of our needs were met, and they went above and beyond all that I had imagined.

The honeymoon itself was a great trip, although now I need a vacation from my vacation. We flew into Barcelona, just in time for their Festival of St. Jordi (St. George, the patron saint of Barcelna/Catalunya). This was an incredible event to see. Spread across the entire city (not just downtown, but virtually every street, every corner in every neighborhood), there were a plethora of booths and tables of people selling books, roses, rose crafts, St. Jordi crafts, and book related trinkets.

From Barcelna, we took the train up to Provance in France. We stayed in Arles, a lovely and quiet region that can boast of having one of the better preserved Roman Colisieum and Roman Theater when France was known as Gaul under the rule o f the Roman Empire. Naturally we explored both sites, as well as trying as much of the Rose wine that Provance is noted for.

From Arles, we went to Paris, spending 6 glorious, relaxing and exciting days. Naturally one of our first stops was the famed Shakespeare and Co bookstore in the Latin Quarter, home to Hemingway, Fitzgerald among others. We went to Versailles where I spent a considerable amount of time exploring the Petite Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s little getaway from the castle. I think I took about 100 pictures just of this area. Its incredible to see in person a place that I’ve read about in countless books on the beheaded monarch.

We climbed up the Eiffel Tower, and up the Arch de Triomph. We walked down the Champs-Elysse, had a bread-cheese-wine and grape picnic from the local shops, ate dinner at 10p (because its not fashionable to eat any earlier). Saw a lot of people wear the MC Hammer/gypsy pants, high top sneakers, and a few mullets. The junk food in Europe is so experimental and awesome. They are mostly in the variety of flavored chips (which makes me sad that Lays doesn’t have the fan base for all these flavors in the US): Rotisserie Chicken, Cheeseburger Chips, Pickle Chips, Paprika Chips, Ham & Cheese chips, Ham Chips, etc. You get the idea.

From Paris we went to Brugge, and I think this was possibly one of my most favorite parts of the trip. We biked along the canal for a few hours (a very scenic city. Every street corner is a photo-opportunity). We tried the Belgian beer, the waffles, the fries (all 100% meet up to their hype by the way). The city itself is incredibly well preserved and well aged. We climbed up a clock tower that dates back to the 1300s, and believe me, you can feel the age in the wooden stairs climbing up the last bit to the top.

From Brugge we spent a day in Amsterdam. We got quite lost in the city, went to the Heinekein Experience and tried more beers and food. Our last meal was at a fantastic Indonesian Restaurant.

I also managed to fit in a considerable amount of reading on the train and plane rides across Europe. I finished 4 books in total: The Elegance of a Hedgehog, The Most Beautiful Walk, The Maltese Falcon, & The Garden of Invention. I even got my husband (gah, he’s my husband now!) to read Water for Elephants and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Hopefully I’ll remember to return to this post to upload some pictures from the trip, but then that might just make me sad I’m not there anymore. =p

Noteworthy Links #13

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  • Fans of Harper Lee and legal fiction can now rejoice! The American Bar Association and the University of Alabama announced plans to honor the 50th anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird with the creation of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The deadline for entries (full length books written in 2010) is Friday April 8th, 2011.

  • If you like food and if you like books, then make sure to book a trip to Seattle for the Edible Book Festival this weekend at only $10 per person. Admission is free if you bring a book.

Supermoon

Sounds like a title for an unwritten book 5 of the Twilight series, no?

California is currently experiencing some bad storms and a supermoon which had been predicted to bring out the next big earthquake since the 1906 disaster that nearly destroyed San Francisco. Needless to say, there was no giant earthquake, there were no ruptured pipelines, or explotions or anything else dramatic. Just a lot of heavy winds and strong rain that bring about a lot of worries with Californians. (I bet East Coast readers are totally rolling their eyes at this).  Its not my fault we get more sunny days than rainy days (only if you forget about Daly City and San Francisco of course).

In the wake of the Japan tsunami and earthquake, along with the gloom and doom predictions of the earthquake that is long overdue for the Bay Area, I decided that it was about time my fiance and I put together an emergency kit for ourselves. It turns out, we weren’t the only ones feeling this way.

Our trip to Target was definitely something short of normal. For one, there were maybe 50 people in the store total. Almost all the gallons of water were purchased and there were no pre-made first aid kits to be found. The pharmacist said that they had run out because of “the situation.” 

I had printed out a little checklist to take to Target with us, so pretty much made-up our own first aid kit, and emergency pack. Finding a checklist that was easy to print, covered all the basic needs, and wasn’t too overwhelming was something of a challenge to put together. Our needs are pretty simple. We’re both young with no kids and no pets.

Although, putting together the emergency kit for food and safety, the nerd in me couldn’t help thinking of what books I would pack in the emergency kit. I threw in a NY Times Crossword puzzle book. Its trying to decide which novels or non-fiction books to pack that seem to cause trouble. I don’t have comfort books. I don’t often reread books, even by favorite authors. Most of my favorite authors write such gloomy books anyway (Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger). I don’t think those would really be considered comfort reads during the aftermath of a major disaster. If anything, I would probably want my knitting needles and yarn more than a book.

What would you pack? A book? A craft?

Emergency Kit checklists

1. Life organizers – Emergency kit

This kit was one of the best that I found online. It includes the 12 categories that should be included in the emergency pack, along with the more vital elements for each category.

2. American Red Cross

3. Wired – Smarter Emergency Kit

Yarn Diet 2011

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I found out about the Yarn Diet via Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. She and Tami from Tami’s Amis are hosting the 2011 Yarn Diet for knitters and crafters. The diet goes from January 2011 to June 2011.

The Rules

Without further ad0, the rules and exceptions of our yarn diet:

Length of time: January 1st-June 1st or until over half of your stash is gone. Obviously it’s pretty hard to use every single little piece of yarn in each skein/ball/cake/hank, so if it’s down to the point you can find much to do with it, then that is considered finished.

What may be purchased in that time: During the yarn diet, the participant is allowed to buy yarn 5 times. At each purchase, you may spend or buy however much you want. This includes LYS, box stores and even online shopping (basically any yarn purchases). You may also still buy as part of a swap and/or gift. Also, if you short less than half the skeins to finish a project (let’s say you’re making a scarf and you run short of yarn by 1 skein) you are able to purchase JUST that ONE item and it won’t count against you.

Punishment: For each time you go past the 5 given times you may purchase yarn during January 1-June 1, you will have another month added to the yarn diet, which will not include another chance to buy yarn for that month.

To participate: Just comment on this post (or the one I will be doing at the beginning of the year) to let us know you’re joining us. Then, take pictures of all of your yarn and count how many skeins you have. I know some people have way too much to count it all, so if that’s the case, keep track of how many bags/bins etc you have it in and gauge that way. Then, sometime in the first week of January, post on your blog all the pictures. That way, we can document the stash as time goes on. I will have a Mr Linky attached to my yarn diet posts where you can post new links to new pictures as the months go on.

My Stash

The Stats:

# of complete skeins     ___ 80

# of incomplete skeins ___ 15

Total amount of usable yarn ____95 skeins.


Without further ad0, the rules and exceptions of our yarn diet: 

Length of time: January 1st-June 1st or until over half of your stash is gone. Obviously it’s pretty hard to use every single little piece of yarn in each skein/ball/cake/hank, so if it’s down to the point you can find much to do with it, then that is considered finished.

What may be purchased in that time: During the yarn diet, the participant is allowed to buy yarn 5 times. At each purchase, you may spend or buy however much you want. This includes LYS, box stores and even online shopping (basically any yarn purchases). You may also still buy as part of a swap and/or gift. Also, if you short less than half the skeins to finish a project (let’s say you’re making a scarf and you run short of yarn by 1 skein) you are able to purchase JUST that ONE item and it won’t count against you.

Punishment: For each time you go past the 5 given times you may purchase yarn during January 1-June 1, you will have another month added to the yarn diet, which will not include another chance to buy yarn for that month.

To participate: Just comment on this post (or the one I will be doing at the beginning of the year) to let us know you’re joining us. Then, take pictures of all of your yarn and count how many skeins you have. I know some people have way too much to count it all, so if that’s the case, keep track of how many bags/bins etc you have it in and gauge that way. Then, sometime in the first week of January, post on your blog all the pictures. That way, we can document the stash as time goes on. I will have a Mr Linky attached to my yarn diet posts where you can post new links to new pictures as the months go on.

Feel free to use the button (thanks to Alea for making this for us!) at the top of this post for your Yarn Diet posts and/or the one in the sidebar (a smaller version).

This is supposed to be fun, so don’t get stressed over it. It will be a breath of fresh air using yarn that has been sitting waiting to be used for months or maybe even years. I know I can’t wait to get rid of some of it, and even find unique projects to make. Just think how refreshing it will be come June 1st when you can replace the yarn you used with even more yarn!

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comments section! I’ll be happy to answer them.

I look forward to posting my first official yarn diet post in the first week of January, but before then, I’m heading to a LYS!