Friday, December 2, 2011

Sourdough Any One?

I grew up on sourdough.  My dad had a crock of sourdough starter in our home my whole childhood and he still has it today and I am 53 years old!  Usually on Saturday's, he would make breakfast and it always involved sourdough in some way.

A few years ago on my first trip to England with my husband and parents, we accidentally found a Roman Villa that was being excavated.  It is the Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswold's.  When we visited it, they had a demonstration of how the Romans used sourdough in their cooking.  Well, my dad was in heaven, and really chatted up the young lady that was in charge of that demo and exhibit.  It was pretty funny to watch him get so excited about sourdough and comparing notes and recipes. 
Chedworth Roman Villa

Well, I am ready to take the plunge and start my own sourdough starter.  My dad said it is best to get a cup of someone else's starter and build from that, but I don't know anyone that has some except him, so I am starting from scratch. 
Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup water
1 T yeast
Soften yeast in water then add:
1 cup flour. 
Mix well, cover and place in a warm spot for 2-3 days.  It should be bubbly (is that even a word?).  Then every other day, add another cup of flour and another 1/2 c water and mix it in until you have the quantity you desire. 
One important things to remember, NEVER use anything that is metal when mixing or storing your starter.  I don't know why.  Dad didn't say why, he just said don't!  He did threaten me never to let my starter die.  OOOOO  I am so scared!
Well, I will begin this experiment/adventure next week since I am leaving to go out of town in a couple of days, but I just wanted you all to be prepared and get ready to enjoy the ride! 
I plan on documenting this with pictures!   

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Perfect Journal Suggestion-easy and fun!

I love catalogs!  Well, not every catalog but there are a few that I love to get and look through.  I am basically a sucker when there is ANYTHING dealing with Shakespeare, Jane Austen, books, gardening supplies and grandkids stuff. 

One of my favorite catalogs is Bas Bleu (pronounced: bä blu͂ ).  I recently found something in there last catalog that I found very intriguing.  It is a 5 year journal.  Now you may ask, what is so different about this?  The difference is that this one has a different question on each day and all you have to do is answer the question.  In answering that question, you are able to record little snippets of your life that when finished with the 5 years, you will have recorded quite a bit of information about your life! 

Some of the questions are:  “When did you last hold a baby”, “describe the room you are in right now”, “where do you go for good ideas”, and “how could today have been better”.  Some of the questions are quite thought provoking that I have found it hard to fit the answers in the allotted room of the page. 

I have tried several types of methods of journaling before but without long-term success because I feel it is important for various reasons.  The first reason is that it is good for me to be able to look aback and remember things that happened to me in my life that may not have been “momentous”, but worth remembering, that I would have otherwise forgotten.  Another reason is that someday, some of my posterity may be interested in what I was like or did during my life.  Not that I have done anything wonderful, but I have loved ready stories left by my ancestors and wished there were more.  Just reading about their everyday life is interesting because it was so different from how I live. 
Click here to go to their web site if you think this is a product you may be interested in.

Let me know if you have found an easy way to journal that works for you also.  So far I have been doing this for 2 weeks and that is the longest I have kept a journal regularly since I started trying to keep a journal 36 years ago!  Happy journaling! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hunger Games-May the odds be ever in your favor!

Three of my daughters (well, technically one is a daughter in-law but she is a daughter to me), had been after me for at least 2 years to read the book The Hunger Games. After hearing the premise of the story, I was surprised that they would think I would enjoy it. The thought of reading a book where, in a future world, in the country of Panem (formally the USA) and food is scarce, 12 districts (kind of like Provinces) were forced to enter 2 or their children between the ages of 12-18 years old in a competition the “Capitol” called the hunger games each year. In this competition the 24 kids would kill each other in a “themed” arena, in order to win the coveted price of extra food for their district for the next year and a few other perks and prizes. These hunger games had been going on for the past 73 years.
Now for someone who loves a happy ending and will READ the ending before starting a book to make sure it is happy, I just couldn’t see how it would be possible to have a happy ending in this book! I found out I was TOTALLY WRONG!!!!!

I have never read a more exciting book, but I will warn you, make sure you start it when you have a lot of free time because once you finish the first one you will HAVE to read the 2 sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I am glad I finally read them after all three books were out because I couldn’t have waited 1 ½ -2 years in between the books. They are insanely exciting!

To the book- As mentioned above, the 12 districts were ruled over with an iron fist by the “Capitol” with their peacekeepers. Each district specializes in producing something the Capitol needs to survive. For example, District 3 produce general electronics, Four-fishing, Seven-Lumber, Eleven-Agriculture, and Twelve-mining, just to name a few.

There had been 13 Districts at one time but District 13 rebelled and started a Civil war and after the Capitol beat them, they were destroyed and the Capitol initiated the hunger games as a reminder to all the other Districts that they, the Capitol, are in control.

That is all background information that you find out in the first 2-3 chapters while we are also introduced to Katniss Everdeen from District 12 on the day of the reaping, which is the name of the occasion when each year the districts pick out the next 2 kids that will play in the hunger games. This year will be the 74th hunger games. Katniss has snuck out of the electric fenced in district to go to the woods to hunt, (which is forbidden), to try to calm her thoughts before the reaping begins that afternoon. Once the District inhabitants are assembled in the square for the drawing, the action of the story never lets up until the last sentence of the book.

Please read these books! They are very well written and have a lot of great lessons in them for kids! I wish I could go into more of the story but I don’t want to ruin any of the excitement for you. There are many great characters, like, Gale Hawthorne, who is Katniss’ best friend and hunting partner, Peeta Mellark, Effie Trinket, Hamish Abernathy, and many, many more. The author even is able to fit in a sweet little romance if you can imagine that in this book! Read it before the movie comes out next spring. I can hardly wait for it! Luckily, I can re-read the books to tide me over until is does. Enjoy the 74th hunger games and “May the odds be ever in your favor!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Can We Create a New Non-Offending Hand Gesture?!?!

Has this ever happened to you…you are driving along and someone does something that is stupid, dangerous or just rude to you?  What can you do to let them know when the usual hand signal is also offensive to you and you would NEVER consider using it?  What can a person do when they are extremely frustrated by the driving skills or behavior of another person and they want to let them know by making some sort of hand gesture, HOWEVER, the usual hand gesture that is used by the more crude and uneducated of our society is also the wrong thing to do? 

I think we need to come up with a new proper hand gesture or signal that will let idiots know that we all know they are idiots BUT is a cultured and proper way.  I have thought long and hard about this.  Some have been shown to me occasionally when I have been…let’s say, less than attentive when driving and they get the message across without being crude and offensive.  So I have been trying to decide what the best “polite” hand gesture should be and start teaching the world some new manners beginning with this. 

One option would be, elbows bent, both hands out to your sides, shoulders shrugged and a look of “what in the world do you think you are doing” type of expression on your face.  This however could be dangerous if you are driving since it is a 2 handed gesture.  This could work if you have a passenger that is the designated “signer” that would interpret what you are saying and then sign it to the perpetrator of the offense. 

Another option is to try to communicate to them as to what they should have done in order to help them in the future when faced with the same situation.  However, this may take longer than is necessary and if it is a person of a certain gender, they don’t take direction from ladies very well. 

The next one I thought of was trying to find out from someone who knows American Sign Language how to sign, “Where are your brains”?  Maybe this can be done with one hand, but usually, sign language is so beautiful when it is being done correctly that the person may think you are saying something nice, unless you are making a very angry face while signing.  Here again though, it may take too much effort when you are trying to still drive correctly and responsibly while trying to improve conditions in the world around you. 

The last idea I had which seems the most direct and efficient would be to do the old, twirling of the finger up by your temple, thus let them know you think they are crazy and shouldn’t be driving.  This would be effective if it wasn’t used so much already to signify stupidity is almost every other area of life.  No, we need something just for idiot drivers and I am still at a loss as to how best to let them know what I think of them.  Until I can come up with something, I will continue to yell at them in my car where they will never hear a thing I say, and maybe that is safer for all involved. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Documentries Can Be Fun Also!

I don’t seek out documentaries to watch but occasionally there is one that catches my eye, either by the content, review or word of mouth.  “Exporting Raymond” was one I saw a trailer of on after seeing that it was playing at a local theater. 

I have always loved the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond” and seeing the behind the scenes business of shows and movies are one of my favorite things so being able to see the process of a TV show being created in a different country was VERY intriguing.  My husband was a harder sell until I got him to watch the trailer and he was willing to give it a try. 
Phil Rosenthal was the creator of the TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond” (ELR).  After the show wrapped up production for US television, he was contacted by the Sony company about the possibility of re-creating the show in Russia.  He was surprised at some of the American shows that had been successfully remade in other countries.  He agreed to proceed with this opportunity and headed for Russia, after bidding goodbye to his colorful family, many who were inspirations for the story lines in ELR.   Immediately in Russia, it is not the contrast of cultures that is what makes this documentary so enjoyable to watch but it is Rosenthal’s reaction to all that happens around him that is so funny.  He is hilarious, not just his comments but his face registers every feeling he is experiencing without having to say a word many times.  (see the trailer at the link below):

The show is eventually made but that doesn’t ruin seeing the process that goes into it finally coming to fruition.  If you don’t think you would like to watch a documentary, try this one.  It is just fun!  Even if you have never even seen an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don't be shocked...I am back after a 5 month spell of laziness with a movie review of "Seducing Dr. Lewis"

One of my favorite things to do in my free time or for entertainment is watch a good movie.  I don’t care if I have seen a movie many times; I will watch it again and enjoy it as much as the first time.  I recently got a movie on net flix entitled “Seducing Dr. Lewis”.  It is a foreign movie, (if you call Quebec, Canada foreign), and it is in French, which is such a beautiful language to listen to. 

The movie is set in a quaint little fishing village in Quebec that is experiencing the effects of the bad economy and many of the 100+ citizens are out of work, or barely getting by.  A company has agreed to build a factory in the area IF the village leaders can get a full time doctor to live and practice there.  The former mayor of the village, who has had to accept a job in the nearest big city, promises his friends before he leaves that he will try to help them find a doctor and get him to come.  Meanwhile, the village leaders send out many requests to try to entice one to come but none have even thought twice about considering it.  Then one night, while the former mayor is on duty as a policeman, he pulls over a man who has some marijuana in his car.  As he is going through the arrest process he comes to find out that the driver is also a doctor.  They make a deal that he (the former mayor, now policeman) will not process this arrest warrant IF the doctor will agree to visit this village and treat the people for 2 weeks.  The doctor of course accepts this proposal rather than loose his license. 

Now the village prepares for him to come.  They learn all they can about him, his likes, dislikes, hobbies, sports, favorite food etc.  They also fix up the town to make it as picturesque as possible in preparation of his coming. 

They leave nothing to chance in order to keep this doctor in the village and that is where the comedy begins.  Several things happened to the plan by chance and with luck, but the journey to the end of the story is a fun ride. 

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this fun and different comedy.  If you still aren’t convinced that you would like a foreign film due to the sub-titles, this is a fun one to try to see with.  Check it out and let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Now Know Who John Galt Is!!!

First, let me say, Atlas Shrugged  by Ayn Rand, was not a book that I would have read on my own accord.  I was stressed out enough in the sixth installment of the Harry Potter books, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Professor Umbridge took over the school and kept adding new policies and directives. 
So, a book about the Government usurping power from the people of America was just too frightening and in my opinion too relevant in today’s world.   
However, the book was recommended to me by my friend Kim, as a gift idea for my husband, who is impossible to buy gifts for, but he is a news junkie. 
Kim, on our trip in Belgium
He is one of these people that if he wants something, he buys it(if we have the money), and so there is never a “wish list” for me when it comes to birthdays, and Christmas.  It is very frustrating but…that is a topic for another blog. 

Anyway, Bruce, my husband, commutes between 80-90 miles a day to work so he listens to many podcasts while in the car.  So a book on CD was really a perfect gift idea.  It would take weeks to listen to all 50 CD’s!  Well, he still hasn’t listened to it; another gift bites the dust… (again, rants for that other blog post). 
To justify the money spent on yet another ignored gift (can you tell I am bitter?), I adopted the cd’s and began listening to it.  I was immediately hooked into the story of Dagny Taggart, the strong but still feminine businesswoman, and the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad Company. 

The characters were very 3 dimensional for me also. Actually, the one character that was the LEAST 3 dimensional was John Galt.   Maybe it was because he was in the shadows for most of the book so he wasn’t as developed as the other characters were, like, the ingenious Hank Reardon, pathetic Jim Taggart, devoted Eddie Willers, and the nauseating Wesley Mouch, and the others that we interacted with regularly.  But despite that, it was the characters that got me emotionally involved in their lives.  
Again, I wonder if this is because of the political climate of today and you could put real faces to the fictional names in the story, but it made the story very engrossing and I looked for opportunities to get in my car just so I could listen to it.  Luckily it was before the awful jump in the gas prices. 
I marveled at how, no matter what the government threw at businesses to take more power and initiative away from them, Dagny was able to find a way to work around it.  I also found it ironic that it was a woman who didn’t give up when all the businessmen did. 
Ayn Rand
I wonder if Ayn Rand felt she was being a bit sexist in making Dagny the last holdout in fighting against the government, or maybe just giving women more of the power she felt they deserved in the ‘50s when this was published. 
SPOILER ALERT!!!  I did have to borrow the book from Kim so I could read the ending a few times to reassure myself that the “people” would prevail over the government because I got very discouraged at times by all the power that the government was able to usurp from the businesses and the individuals that created and ran them. 
There were a couple of points in the book that seemed a bit implausible to me, the first was the "refractor waves".  I am not a scientist so I don’t know if “refractor waves” really do what the book says they do, but either way, it was still very entertaining.  The other point was who Dagny ended up “being with” in the end.  I won’t name names but she had much more passion for the first two men in her life, than the one she decided to stay with at the conclusion, but at least it was a happy ending. 
I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE, no matter what side of the political fence you are on.  I don’t know if it would change anyone’s mind in what policies they think are right or wrong but, it did really made me think about the world we live in today and what could possibly happen in the future if we stay on the same path we are on now. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yes, Russian's Can Be Funny!

If you have been following my posts, you know I have to have happy endings.  That is why I stay away from Russian novels, and movies.  I have never seen or heard of one that is happy!  Until now. 
You don’t have to love classical music or have an interest in it, to enjoy a new Russian movie out now called, The Concert.  Now, I will shock you by saying that it is a comedy and it has a very happy ending, and yes, it is Russian. 
The plot is about the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, played by Alexei Guskov, who was unfairly fired during a performance, 30 years previously, and now works as a janitor in the Bolshoi Theater. 
Alexei Guskov
One day, as he is working, Andrei intercepts and a fax from Paris, asking the Bolshoi Orchestra to perform in Paris in two weeks, due to a sudden cancellation of an American Orchestra. 
Andrei decides immediately that instead of turning over the invitation to the current conductor of the Bolshoi, he would round up his orchestra from 30 years ago and go and do the performance in France, thus hoping to have a comeback in the classical music world. 
Melanie Laurent
I don’t want to give away why he was fired because that is part of his main reason that he HAS to play in Paris, with a very particular violin soloist named Anne-Marie Jacquet (played by Melanie Laurent), that lives in Paris.  The comedy starts as he begins to locate his old orchestra members and sees what they are doing in their lives today. 

The details are in chaos but they pull it off due to some very ingenious conning on the part of their “manager”, who is still a closet communist. 

The back story of the movie is very touching as to why Andrei was fired and the consequences to some of the Orchestra members’ lives.  It all culminates at the amazing performance in Paris by the orchestra and the violin soloist, when you get all the questions answered. 

You will want to give them a standing ovation at the end because it is so great!  Search out this movie and if it doesn’t make it to your area, make a note and rent it when you can.  It is one you should not miss!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Me...Obsessive-Compulsive? Not Anymore, I've been Cured!!!!

I always considered myself a very adaptable person, however, recently I had to make a change in my life that I found very difficult to do. Let me explain.

Growing up, my Mother was very good at giving me and my sibling’s responsibilities. We had jobs to do at regular times and days, but our big cleaning day was always Friday’s. It was always so nice to get all the cleaning done and then on Saturdays we would not have jobs, or we did extra jobs as needed.

I carried this schedule with me when I got married and we started having our own family. Mind you, I don’t enjoy cleaning like some people do, but I love a clean home, so I crank up the Bollywood tunes and dance my way through it, keeping my mind on the prize. Over the years, my kids wore me down as to how much, and how well they did their “jobs” but we always stuck with the “Friday was our big cleaning day” schedule.

Recently, I have taken on more “things” in my life, namely starting an in-home business, which I love and am happy to do, but all these extra things seemed to constantly prevent me from having the time to get my entire home cleaned by Friday afternoon. For several months, I was discouraged by not getting it done all at the same time, and it seemed like I was always cleaning instead of ever getting it done!  I finally accepted the fact  that I would never have a clean house all at once!

Then I had an epiphany!!!

I realized that since I am at home all day on Monday’s, without any set commitments, that maybe I should start to do my cleaning on Mondays! I resisted this thought for several weeks because, well, it just wasn’t “me”!

Getting more frustrated I looked at my schedule one day and realized that just for one time only, I would clean on Monday. The house is usually a bit messy on Monday’s because we have the kids and grand kids over for Sunday dinner each week, so I was “cleaning” anyway, but this time I did the thorough cleaning that I normally did on Fridays. The result was magical!!! Not only did I have time to get it done, but it was so nice to START the week with a clean house instead of END the week with a clean house.

So I learned from this experience that I need to be more adaptable when it comes to routine things in my life. I have always had a schedule with a daily list of things to tick off, but now I know I can move things around and still get to tick chores and errands off a list so that I feel I have accomplished something that day.

In other words I have “loosened up” without having to compromise things that are important to me. This was a BIG step for me!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Gnomeo and Juliet"...Shakespeare for Kids!!

Now I am not one of those purists that need to have her Austen or Shakespeare exactly as they were written. I think the more variations there are, the more of them there will be. Well, for the first time that I can think of, a variation has been done for children and I think that is amazing!!!

Gnomeo and Juliet is a version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that will please not only children and adults but it will especially please those of us who hate the ending of the “real” play. I was wondering how they would handle it in a kids movie and it was perfect!!!

First I must say that I am a sucker for ANYTHING James McAvoy is in.

Not that I have seen everything he has done but he is a very talented actor! But when along with him you have Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith and Michael Caine, and then the music of Elton John and you just can’t go wrong with this movie.

There are multiple “Shakespeare” references which only a real Shakespeare buff would catch but you don’t have to have ever even heard of the Bard to enjoy this movie. This is how Shakespeare should be introduced to children. In fact, he should NEVER be introduced to beginners by reading his plays. That is a sure fire way to turn them off. His plays should be seen! But don’t get me started on this! That is for my next blog!

Anyway, back to the movie. You have the red yard, or the Capulet home, and the blue yard which is the Montague home. Juliet, lives in the red yard and Gnomeo in the blue and the gnomes in these 2 yards have been feuding for so long, no one even remembers why.

One day, the two star crossed lovers meet accidently in an abandoned yard, both trying to get the same flower and it is love at first site.

There are many fun characters that are also introduced that move the story entertainingly along. The best I think is the statue of W. Shakespeare in the park that Gnomeo is explaining the problem of his love story to, and the statue tells him how his love story is going to end, but Gnomeo refuses to let it end how the play does.

I won’t tell anymore but this very fun movie is great for all ages and since we all had to READ (again, don’t get me started on how stupid it is to do this to students), Romeo and Juliet, you will recognize most of the lines and puns from the play that are used in this movie. The musical score is an A++++ bonus as Elton John is at his best with old favorites and a couple of new songs for the soundtrack. I will defiantly get it on iTunes!

Don’t wait for the DVD to go see this in the theaters. It is worth it. We didn’t see it in 3D and it was great. If you did see it in 3D, let me know if it was worth the extra $$$$. I don’t think we missed out on anything. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For The Electronic Geek in Your Life...

It is impossible to get a gift for some people.  Like my Husband, other than work, he has only one interest and that is electronics and I know nothing about that!  Well, I found a book that is perfect for this type of person. 

"It's A Book" is a very short but VERY humorous look at how eletronic geeks deal with the concept of something that can't blog, tweet, instant message, scroll, re-charge, or anything that has to do with a cord or wi-fi. 

It only takes about 1 minute to read but you will be laughing by the third page and continue to laugh the end.  The author, Lane Smith, REALLY got to the funny side of this topic instantly with the witty conversation between this jackass and the monkey. 

A friend of mine who is a teacher, after reading it said, EVERY teacher should have this book just to have a good laugh now and then. 

Check it out.  It is in the "Humor" section of the bookstore where I found it, after looking for it in the children's section for a while.  Enjoy it and let me know what you think of it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"What is that you read, my Lord? Words, words, word. (Hamlet a2s2)

A word can hold so many pictures for the imagination.

I love reading books that use words so well that I can see a picture in my mind just from the descriptive words I read. A few months ago I signed up with the web-site,, to get a new “word a day” sent to me by email. I love learning new words, especially if they are interesting. I have started saving some of my favorite words, hopefully, for someday when I write a book and I can use them. Here are a few of the words that I have really liked:

Acedia: laziness or indifference in religious matters

Nitid: bright, lustrous

Kenspeckle: easily seen or recognized

And there are many more. However, one of my favorite words that I have learned is “evanescence” and it means; a gradual disappearance, or the state of becoming imperceptible. Isn’t that a beautiful word?

I can see using it in some type of fairy story, or a mystery maybe.

Another of my favorite words comes from one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

In Henry V, act 4 scene 4, the King is praying the night before the battle of Agincourt with the French. In this prayer, he says this:

…But, like a lackey, from the rise to set

Sweats in the eye of Phoebus and all night

Sleeps in Elysium;…

It is the word “Elysium”. I wondered what it meant to “sleep in Elysium”. It sounds wonderful. Just from the context of the word, it sounds like a deep, peaceful, and restful sleep. So I looked it up and it means: A place or condition of ideal happiness. Now, knowing the definition, it makes being able to “sleep in Elysium” sound even more wonderful.

Even now, I find myself, after a rare night of solid sleep without my crazy dreams that I have regularly, waking up to the thought of this night I slept in Elysium. Doesn’t that sound so much more beautiful than to say you had a good night’s sleep?

So my challenge to all of you is to start using more frabjous words to describe our lives!