Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Popped!

Today is National Popcorn Day. Yippee! Well, not really. I mean I like popcorn, but I couldn't even find a "Merry Popcorn Day" card anywhere. What kind of a special day has no card for it?

My favorite popcorn is Harry and David Dark Chocolate Moose Munch. Alas, it's also expensive so I rarely buy it.

I decided to celebrate by making my very own Moose Munch. Being as I am out of moose (mooses, meese?) I looked at some caramel corn recipes online. Some required a candy thermometer, which I do have but rarely use because it takes too much time. Some required corn syrup, which I do have but rarely use because it's so sticky.

So being the creative person that I am I took butter and brown sugar, melted them, poured them over some microwave popcorn and put it all in a low oven for about 30 minutes.

Then I melted chocolate chips and stirred that into half of the popcorn mix. Into the fridge to set, a quick stir et voilĂ :

Anna's Mooseless Munch!

OK, it may not be the best Moose Munch in town, but at least the moose is happy.



If you want to learn a little something about the science and history of popcorn check out Tomie de Paola's The Popcorn Book. You'll find out how much popcorn Americans eat each year and what area of the United States loves it most.


And now I am going to settle down with a good book, a dish of Mooseless Munch and my pal, Mr. Moose. Happy Popcorn Day!



Monday, January 30, 2012

Here Be Dragons

January 23 began Chinese New Year 2012, the year of the Dragon.

Do kids like dragons? Of course we do! So in the spirit of Chinese New Year my students made their own dragons.








As my students were happily creating their dragons I heard one little girl sing out, "Now I can totally scare my sister!" What else are dragons for, after all?

And what would any celebration be without books. Fairy tales, legends and fables are universal.


One of my favorites is The Five Chinese Brothers, the story of brothers with special abilities which they use to avert a sentence of death.



Tikki Tikki Tembo is the story of a boy with a long name who falls down a well. The name of this little boy is Tikki tikki tembo no sa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo.




The Story About Ping features a little duck who has an overnight adventure because he does not want to be last to board the boat which is home on the Yangtze River.



So what am I having for lunch today? Chinese noodles, naturally.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Good Letter

When I first got Kindle for PC I proceeded to download a gazillion books. Free books. If it said free I was getting it. By the time I got my Kindle I had amassed quite a number of books.

I never stopped to think that just maybe not all of these books would be good. They were free. What did I care?

Along about the 600 mark I realized I did care. I knew it was time to start weeding and reading. I decided to give each book the twenty-page test. If I wasn't interested within twenty pages I'd toss it.

The first book I tried started out great then bogged down so I skimmed until the end, which I read. I can never resist finding out how a book ends.

The second book was full of punctuation mistakes, and I could only take four pages. Gone. The third book didn't really sound good, so I read a few reviews. I was right. It wasn't for me. Deleted.

Kindle Lighted Cover Fits Kindle Keyboard
Finally I was on the fourth book~a murder mystery. I started reading and by the second page, yes the second page, I was hooked. So hooked that when I went to bed I
couldn't sleep and got up and read some more. That was fun, because I used the light on my new Kindle cover.

I downloaded Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson in December. As I read I was anxious to find out more about the murder of the young woman who wrote the last letter. Specifically, of course, who done it.

This was an interesting book because I quickly came to realize that not much was happening. Yet I was still captivated and enjoyed the pace and style of writing. When I finally reached the end I was satisfied. It was well worth the read. Photography and skiing were major factors in the book, and I love how the cover reflects that.

So after I finished I read some reviews. Several 1-star reviews said so much of the book was dull and mundane and could be skipped. I found it drew out the suspense.

One reviewer even said something about the cover not making any sense. I actually left a comment because that seemed like such a odd statement. How could the snow-covered mountains not make sense when the characters skied, and how could a photographic negative not make sense when the main character used photography in her business and a key piece of evidence was a photograph? People really do see things from different points of view.


Now, on to more weeding!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beauty or the Beast?

Beauty and the Beast. Le Sigh. Poor beast. Lonely, friendless, nearly hopeless. Then one day . . .

Ever since I was a child I have loved the Beast. I wanted to pet him and tell him it was all going to work out. He was in a fairytale so everything was going to be just fine.

There are many versions of this classic story. I am partial to ones with beautiful illustrations, like Jan Brett's lovely book. Or this one by Max Eilenberg.


There are many adult books that take the basic story and retell it in a different way. Recently I read "When Beauty Tamed the Beast" by Eloisa James.


In this retelling the traditional ending is turned on its head and I loved it. I cried, in a good way! It was witty, smart and so romantic.

And for the movie version? Sorry, Disney. Great for the kids but I need something darkly beautiful like Jean Cocteau's magical 1947 film. Lyrical, poignant and brilliant.


Oh, those boots! Maybe it's time to reread Puss in Boots.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Within

Did you ever want to live inside a book? Well, not inside a real book. You'd have to be pretty thin to do that. And flat. Like Flat Stanley. Though he didn't actually live in a book, he did travel in an envelope. I wonder what that would be like?

What I really meant was have you ever wanted to live in a story? When I was young I read Little Women and though I loved the book (except for the one Tragic Incident) that wasn't the story I wanted to lived in. 

The book I wanted to live in was Eight Cousins. Oh, to be Rose and have eight boy cousins and an uncle, who was just about the coolest man around, to spoil me and give me all the attention I could ever want.
 

This is the book that I read as a child. See how happy Rose is in the middle of her cousins? They had so much fun together, and even though I wasn't a real part of their family I got to be for awhile as I read. 

That's always the most exciting thing about reading: I can be whoever and whatever I read without leaving the comfort of my home.

I wonder what other book it might be fun to be in?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm In Love

With this little guy. His name is Boo. Isn't he a doll?

Actually, that's what I thought he was when I got the book from our class book order. Remember Scholastic Books from when you were in school? Well they're still around and they are fabulous!

So I had a free book pick and I saw Boo and, well . . . what would you do? I've been in love with little dogs for a long time. Asta, from the Thin Man movies? (Have I mentioned I love old black and white movies?) And Wishbone and McDuff. I think I see more doggy blogs in my future.

To get back to Boo, when I first picked up the book I thought Boo really was a doll. Could a real-life dog look like a stuffed animal? Well, he is and he does. 

Boo even has his own website where you can learn all about Pomeranians. You'll also find out about Boo's haircut. And if you're not ready for your own real-life Boo you can always get a stuffed Boo


Hmm? This little guy just might need that haircut!



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Picture Me This

I love reading people's blogs, even people I don't know. But if I click on a blog and I don't see pictures I'm unlikely to stay.

When I first got my laptop I went crazy downloading pictures in all different categories. There is so much beauty in the world that I'll never have the opportunity to see first hand. There are so many interesting animals, places, designs, projects~too many for one person to do more than just look at. 

But at least I can look at all the things that I find fascinating, charming, quirky, odd and lovely.

                       Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard

The first time I saw this picture was in a friend's house. It was a reproduction, of course. But I instantly fell in love. Now, although I don't have this hanging on my wall, I can look at it anytime I want on my computer. I can even make it my desktop background. Isn't  it charming?

I also love colors. How's this for something simple becoming art?
                     http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AColouring_pencils.jpg
This is the work of Michael Maggs. I love the imagination he had to take simple, everyday objects like colored pencils and turn them into a work of art. It makes my brain start whirring. What common items could I turn into art?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Batty for Bats

I never really thought much about bats until I started teaching my first graders about them. Yes, I am a teacher. And you know what they say about teachers. We are HOT!*


Of course we all know vampires don't really turn into bats and they certainly don't bite humans. They just live among us like ordinary people, right?

But my students really want to know about vampire bats. And what I have learned is quite interesting. Vampire bats actually just puncture the skin of an animal, usually while they are sleeping, and lick the blood. Often the animal doesn't even notice this and there is no loss of life nor limb.

Bats also do a lot of good for humans. They eat insects and many farmers use them to keep pests away from their crops.

http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/bats/

Stellaluna is an adorable story about a fruit bat that gets separated from her mother and lives with a family of bird. My students and I love Stellaluna and love bats. I hope more people will learn to love and appreciate bats, too. 


*Wouldn't you be if you had to run herd on a classroom full of six and seven year olds? Hot and exhausted!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Love Those Regencies

I love reading. I think I've read something in just about every genre, but my favorite of all is Regency Romance.

Specifically I love the old Signet and Zebra lines. Since they have been discontinued I scour used book stores for my fix. I have two shopping bags full of my treasures and I savor each one.

Yesterday I finished Second Chances by Andrea Pickens. It was a sweet story of a somewhat reclusive and baffled father, a bookish son breaking into adulthood and a vicar's daughter who is hired to tutor the son.

Each of these main characters has to undergo changes in order to get to their HEA. The Hero and Heroine spar throughout the book, while the son grows to maturity. Into this mix is thrown a father/son thievery plot. I enjoyed this book quite a lot and am happy I have another by this author to look forward to.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reading the Classics

I was forever promising myself I would read more of the Classics. It took getting a Kindle and a 16-year-old poster to get me to start fulfilling that promise.

There are many Classics in ebook form so when I began posting with a high school student and found she was reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte I realized this was my chance.

I downloaded a free version of Villette and began. My posting buddy says she likes Villette even more than Jane Eyre. It's been too long for me to remember Jane Eyre well enough to compare, but I will say that Villette is one very beautifully written novel.

The action takes place in France. The writing is exquisite. I've never been one for a lot of description, but Bronte's is some of the best I've ever read. She had me feeling like I was right there with her heroine, Lucy, as she was trying to escape two men on a cold, foggy night. Well done, Charlotte.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In the Beginning

It all started with Amazon. Once I began posting on discussion threads I took on a persona that was not my own (you didn't think I was the real Anna Karenina, did you?)

Leo created me. Where I go from here is up to me. This is my little corner of the world.