Monday, August 30, 2010

Wintergirls


“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.


“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.


I have followed Laurie Halse Anderson's livejournal for the past year. I found her website while looking at a list of authors who have blogs and I fell in love with the details of her writing life. Then I saw the development, and eventually, the publication of her book Wintergirls.

I had never read a book by her. I wanted to, but have you seen my to-read list? It's epic to say the least. But more and more I was becoming curious of Anderson and her books. We run a book drive at work, donating children's books to local hospitals for children with terminal illnesses and many of her books are on the shelves being featured for donations. I had enough. I finished reading a book for Banned Books Week and took out Wintergirls.

Despite throwing a birthday party for both of my parents and cooking for six straight hours (taking a thirty minute break because I nearly sliced my finger off with a food processor) and trying to entertain people for an additional 6 hours. Despite working a 10 hour shift. I took the book out on a Friday and I was finished with it by Sunday afternoon.

Wintergirls isn't a cheerful read. It is gritty and real. It reveals the internal mindset of a girl twisted into a depressed anorexic existence. The book travels with Lia as she suffers the loss of her friend and falls deeper into the pit of her eating disorder. The book is poetic in a way. Anderson truly knows how to write and the language she uses is just... beautiful. But with this poetic writing we spin down the rabbit hole along with Lia as she gets more and more dangerously closer to losing control- and her life.

This read can leave you uncomfortable: take that as a word of forewarning. But it is beautiful and deep. The featuring of the anorexic support groups that are on the web (yes, they exist) I appreciated because I find it shocking that these sites exist. But they do and now they are a little more in the mainstream. The crossed out words- Lia's way of trying to continually adjust her way of thought. The repetitive words as her mind slips into the danger zone. 95 lbs is pure fat to Lia. She needs to get to a lower weight- preferably lower then that. The chapter titles represent the weight on a scale and the numerous references to how many calories are in any item of food that is mentioned refers to just how obsessed Lia is with food and weight.

Anorexia is a disease, a depression, a screwing of the mind. Laurie Halse Anderson displays that beautifully in this book. The tumult of thoughts and fears flooding through Lia are transformed into words and placed into your hands. A fast, emotional read, that could have been written in no more of a beautiful way.

Watch the video of Laurie Halse Anderson discussing the book Wintergirls:


Interested in picking up your own copy of Wintergirls? 
Check out:

Want to read Laurie Halse Andersons blog?
Check her out on Livejournal

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cooking and falling leaves.


The lovely people at CSN Stores and I have been chit-chatting back and forth for nearly a year. I love looking at their website and seeing what's available. I daydream about the day I'll live on my own and be able to have a state-of-the-art kitchen filled with color and great smelling food. Check out Le Creuset Cookware for example. It's so bright and charming! The colors could work for any season and seeing that I had to get rid of my cookware from college (sad face) I'm craving new cookware. But first... first I needed to get a food mill.

See, here's the deal: I make a ton of food during the fall and winter. I guess it's that woodsy bear tendency- I feel the need to cook a lot, eat a lot, and hibernate. So I have this stack of magazines I've bought over the course of the past few years which loads of yummy recipes. One of which I have been dying to make for years but I needed a food mill to do.

Well, I got a lovely food mill from CSN Stores and FINALLY was able to give a go at making Apple Butter!

Check out what I made:
It came out lovely! I was so excited because typically, I leave my first try as an experimental measure. It's my first try at something new, that doesn't always mean it will come out perfect. However, this apple butter was great and the food mill was so neat to use. 
You just wait to see all of the other foods I'll be making with the oncoming fall! Already birds are gathering together to migrate- oh to be a bird! Gold finches and blue birds have been coming in droves to my house, singing their sweet songs in the morning and coloring the sky in the afternoon. Within a month the hawks and eagles will be traveling as well- this is when I take my yearly trip the the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary to look out at the beautiful countryside from the mountains peak and see the beautiful foliage with random birds through out.

The past week we've had crisp cool nights where the windows have been closed tight and the blankets have been pulled up to chins. The sun has shifted behind the ridge that I live on so in the morning the daylight doesn't come into my room until about 8 AM (during the high point of summer the moment the sun rose, it would reach my bedroom window and not depart until about noon). 

Pretty soon I'll be buying my yearly mums and pumpkins. Once the sugar pumpkins are out I'll be making different autumn meals (pumpkin tart, pumpkin soup). You'll know fall has truly hit my home once the banner to this blog changes. It's coming soon! Look, it's already begun:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Banned Books Week Poster!

Back to School Reads for Your Little One

Whether your child is dreading it or waiting with much anticipation the start of the school year is breathing down on us (from what I understand, some schools have already begun? Hey, my school year always started the second week of September). For many parents they are sending their children along to their first year of school. Kindergarten is a scary and exciting time. Your little one is no longer yours for the day- they're growing up!

The little ones might be really excited about going to school or possibly a little afraid. You all know I think books are the cure for all the worlds woes so what better way to celebrate your child beginning school then providing a book?

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
In this cute tale, suitable for a boy or girl, Natasha Wing follows the exciting process and familiar feelings leading up to the first day of Kindergarten. With the pattern of the familiar holiday story T'was the Night Before Christmas the lyrical melody of the words will capture your child's attention and hound in on all the feelings for that soon to be Kindergarten student. The most true point of the book (or so I've been told) is that the story depicts the parents getting teary eyed over their childs departure, not so much the little kids (who are overwhelmed with excitement).





Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish
Many little girls (and their mothers) know of Amelia Bedelia and how often she takes things literally. The book has been a staple for childrens reading adventures for years and now we can meet Amelia Bedelia as a little kid and experience her first day of school with her! Laugh along with her teacher as Amelia runs around and does the unexpected while seeing everything that is exciting and new at school.






Little Critter: The First Day of School by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter were a mainstay in my household. I think I might even own a copy of this book. I adore Little Critter and always have. In the typical fashion of these books we follow Little Critter step by step as he goes through a specific adventure. This time, it's his first day of school! This doesn't have to necessarily be for a child starting kindergarten but can be enjoyed by a child beginning preschool, first grade, etc. Whatever age the reading level applies to. Every stereotypical experience of the first day of school is listed: wearing a new outfit, waiting for the school bus, telling what you did during summer vacation, it's all there!

These are just the smallest number of back to school books available to give to your child. Go to your local bookstore and check out the displays that or up or ask your friendly book seller if they have any suggestions! Have a happy school year!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Censorship Strikes Again


Ellen Hopkins, the author of the popular YA books Crank, Identical, Tricks, and many others, has been uninvited to the Teen Lit Fest that will be held in Humble, Texas in January 2011. Ellen Hopkins writes in her blog:

Apparently, a middle school librarian saw my name on the roster and decided my presence would somehow negatively affect her students. I’m not sure how that is possible. Maybe she thinks I sweat “edgy and dark.” (Are those things catching?) Anyway, she went to a couple of parents with her concerns. I’m guessing she knew the exact ones who would raise a stink, and they did. They went to the school board, and the superintendent, Guy Sconzo, decided to uninvite me. (He says I was never invited, but I was!) via


This has caused an uproar amongst other YA authors who have all decided to take a stand and are now boycotting the Teen Lit Fest that or they are making public blogs denouncing the act of uninviting an author and essentially censoring her work. Others are choosing to still attend the Teen Lit Fest because it gives them an opportunity to address the issue. Some of the authors active in this occurrence include Matt de la Peña, Melissa de la Cruz, and Pete Hautman.

This is ridiculous, any form of censorship or banning is ridiculous, but I almost find this to be funny because we're only a month away from Banned Book Week where we denounce the idea of censoring published materials.

What is your opinion of all of this? It's a heavy discussion. Do you think it's worth boycotting?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A to Z of Crochet: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to Advanced Crocheter

I love to crochet. In fact, it's a past-time that I just can't get enough of. I've made, thus far, one blanket (my first attempt, it's very lopsided but extremely warm) and many scarves. Now I'm moving on to more fancier things and I'm going to begin selling my work on my etsy shoppe. But here is the problem with me: I learned how to make the most simplest of crochet stitches when I was 20 in my dorms common room with a friend showing me.

I have a photographic memory and I always have. If I see it, I remember it. Reading directions about how to make a crochet stitch? I can't do it. I falter and the resulting product looks like a knot. I'm the same way with knitting (which I am in no way as decent at as I am with crocheting).

That's why I fell in love with this book. It's an instructional manual with so many different stitches that will leave crocheting an easy thing to do. With brightly colored photos showing each step and clearly printed instructions to boot this book is perfect for people like me- who need the pictures- and those who can read instructions and happily follow.

If you're interested in picking up crocheting (there is nothing better then a homemade blanket!) then I would suggest to you to pick this book up as well. After looking through crochet book after crochet book this one really did work for me and I stand by it and would suggest it to anyone.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Italianissimo: Over 600 Great Recipes from Every Region of Italy

I bought this book ages ago and have had it collecting dust for quite some time. See, I used to bake a lot and I was interested in the cookies, pastas, and breads of this book. But then I developed Celiac's Disease and had to be without all of those items I was so familiar with. To be fair, I'm still cautious of such recipes. I don't want to slave over a stove and try to make something, substituting regular flour for gluten free flour, only to discover it tastes horrible.

But recently I began to develop a knack for cooking meals. We have a small garden at my house which mainly consists of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. Well, our tomatoes have gone wild as have the peppers. We have so many that we can't just always be making peppers and onions with tomato sauce- it gets old. I wanted to do more then that and remembered this huge cook book.

For the past two days I've read through it, looking at each drool-worthy photo and reading each recipe. Seeing Eat, Pray, Love and watching all of the delicious plates of Italian food really helped this urge to cook.

See, I'm Sicilian. A quarter Sicilian to be fair- otherwise I'm five other things which blend together and make the Sicilian the most strongly influenced heritage in my life. And the food in our house proves that. I remember being a little kid and visiting my Great Aunt Curly. She was my grandfathers sister and she was always the one making all of the old country food. "Aunt Curly's Curls", "gravy", pies, breads, the list continues. She passed away when I was 16 and the delicious Sicilian foods stopped. I want my heritage to show through, I want people to meet me and eat my food and say, "You can tell she is Sicilian/German/Swedish/etc". I was doing a great job at making Swedish foods prior to my development of Celiac's Disease and then all my cooking expeditions went on hold.

But now I'm comfortable with my eating habits and with cooking once more. After looking over this recipe book I found so many recipes I wanted to try that it would've been easier to just mark the ones I wasn't interested in- it'd save on paper tabs.

Since reading through this book I've made two things:
1) Sliced melon with prosciutto
2) Tomato and Pepper Frittata
While Sliced melon with prosciutto is pretty self explanatory the frittata was a new level of cooking for me. But here is how it came out:

Let's put it this way: It's more then halfway done being eaten- which is a lot considering it was about the size of a large pie. 

I determine if a cookbook is good based on how my food comes out when I follow their recipes- so far, everything I've made from this book has been perfect. If you're interested in a slew of Italian recipes- check this book out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled

Hi, I'm a girl and I have a collection of purses.

And sometimes, I like to talk about my purse, or clothes, or make up, or other girly things. Now is one of those times.

A fellow blogger and friend Amanda posted the familiar meme where you display all that's in your purse. Sometimes you get to know more about a person that way. Anyway, here is mine, just for fun. ;)

My Dooney and Bourke purse. It's the most expensive article of clothing/accessories I have other then jewelry and I got it for $100 cheaper then the original sale price! It was my splurge purse, a gift to myself, back two years ago. I really heart it. Otherwise you'll see me using one of my Vera Bradley bags or some of my hand sewn ones.


1) writing notebook  2) agenda of sorts  3) check book with clickie pencil  4) wallet

Two flashlights... I didn't even know I had two flashlights in there. Usually, I just have one. 
My poor destroyed iPod, I've had it for about 5 years. 
My silver (with a little bird etched into it) mirror.
Ice Breakers mints, altoids mints, and the Minnesota mints actually hold a bunch of pills for headaches or stomach attacks. 
My lovely anti-bacterial gel (because I deal with money)
And a knife. Yeah, I carry a knife. 


Okay! Are we ready for this pile?
Sunglasses, four pens, one Tide-to-Go stick which totally works.
Orajel mouth gel (wisdom teeth and no dental insurance)
Visine for contacts, blister block (which works too!), a hair clip.
Wet Shine lip gloss, and lip gloss (smells like chocolate covered strawberries), and Burt's Bees
My one keychain filled with reward cards from places such as:
Big Lots
Borders
CVS
Giant
Hallmark
Planet Fitness
AAMCO
Wegmans
Rite Aid
Best Buy
and AC Moore
Then there is my epic keys. I have the keys to my house, car, and mailbox. Then I have a bottle opener from Margarittaville (I don't drink beer but I liked that it looked like a flip flop), a Lions keychain in honor of my alma mater, a pooh bear keychain, a lanyard that a friend made me, an APhiO Big Brother keychain, and pepper spray (where I work is in a town that's been featured on 'most dangerous' lists for the US so....)

I also carry my camera a lot, it was in my purse but I couldn't take pictures of my camera.... obviously.


Also, the book I'm reading:

The House of Mango Street

It began just as the snow was disappearing. People were beginning to emerge from their homes, wearing lighter clothing and breathing the air more willingly. Everyone had brighter eyes and seemed more willing to be rebellious and just try something new.

That's when I met a customer, a gruff man who gave off the persona that he would much rather be building something with his hands then ever, never, being caught reading a book. He looked around the store and saw me, his eyes widened and he walked over to speak to me, "I'm looking for a book..."

That's when we went on a hunt that resulted in the man grabbing The House on Mango Street off of the bookshelf. "I don't read much," he began, holding the book in his hand and giving it a slight shake, "But I've been told to read this. That it is really great."

The man walked away, buying the book, then disappeared into the spring-like day. Months have passed and I've kept this man on my mind. Every time I saw the book on the shelf, I thought of him. Every time I decided to buy a book, I considered getting this one. Generally, I don't buy books that I want to read right away. I take my time and see how my opinion of it changes over a spell.

Another day at work, this time it's summer with the slightest hint of fall on the air. My coworker points to the book and says it's wonderful and Sandra Cisneros is a fantastic writer. "Read it, it's really great."

So I was convinced and I bought it and I read it and... I loved it. The House on Mango Street is made up of a series of vignettes with beautiful and flowing language so moving that you're caught up in the windstorm of descriptive scenes and finish the book before you realize it. You meet Esperanza who is more or less based on the author herself and follow her through the twists and turns of each day and up and down alley ways of Mango Street as she describes the people around her, wishes for her future, and notes on the small nuances of life.

Although the longest chapter averages out to two and a half pages it's easy to understand exactly what's going on around Esperanza and the type of life she lives in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. But with the open eyes of Esperanza you see how the women of her neighborhood are trapped or lost. She doesn't want to live like that, she doesn't want that entrapment. With determination she wishes and hopes for a house, a real house, one of her own. But there will always be Mango Street in her life and there will always be Mango Street in me.

Sandra Cisneros brought me back to my own childhood where I was more observant with life. The little things mattered and I was constantly considering and hoping for the future. I was in love with this book and I'm still feeling the attraction. This will definitely be reread again and again. Like the customer and my co-worker said, it's great.