Sunday Bulletin – December 21

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When it comes to Christmas music I prefer a mixture of vintage classics and unique contemporary artists. This year when I finally got into the Christmas music mood I organized my CDs (yes I still listen to CDs!) and found these four on the top of my favorites. Doris Day is just the best. I love the mid-century arrangements of her songs, with the swoony strings and breathy vocals. Instant nostalgia. David Archuleta has such a pure, clean, beautiful voice and this CD, a collaboration with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, always makes me cry. You can feel the passion in his singing and it is very heartwarming. Mindy Gledhill is one of my favorite indie artists and her interpretation of holiday standards is just as quirky and loveable as her regular music. Christmas would not be Christmas without Bing Crosby, would it? His version of ‘White Christmas’ will never be surpassed and I adore listening to this CD early in the mornings on my way to work. It makes me happy all day.

You can see some of my other favorites here.

What are you listening to this year?

Books finished this week:

West of the Moon by Margi Preus – I read this great middle-grade book for the reading challenge at work. It is a fairy-tale influenced story of a girl named Astri who only wants to join her father in America. He’s left her behind in Norway until he can earn money to pay for her passage. Things don’t quite go according to plan – she has an evil aunt who sells her to a crass old man as his goat girl. When she decides to escape the adventure begins and it is riveting. I never thought I’d stay up late to read a juvenile fiction novel, but this one is very good and intelligent. The writing is thoughtful and the author doesn’t talk down to her intended audience. I’d recommend this for kids 10 years old and up.

Parallel Lives by Phyllis Rose – I absolutely loved Rose’s The Shelf, a great book about reading and libraries. This is a very different book. Parallel Lives chronicles the marriage woes of five Victorian couples: Effie Grey and John Ruskin, Thomas and Jane Carlyle, John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, George Eliot and George Henry Lewes and Charles and Catherine Dickens. The preface to the book is brilliant and set the stage for a fantastic book. However, I didn’t much like the rest of the narrative. I think it is more to do with my own feelings than any flaw in the book – I felt like I was reading a load of gossip about a very private and intimate subject and it made me squeamish after a while. I struggled to finish, especially after reading about the Dickens marriage (what a jerk!), and I just didn’t enjoy observing these couples and their troubles. It does make me grateful, though, that I wasn’t born in the Victorian era.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Fall Reading Challenge

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This week at work a bunch of us are scrambling to finish our Fall Reading Challenge. I’ve issued this challenge to all staff at my library for the past few years but this is the first time that people have really taken it seriously. The challenge started back in September and the last day to finish is Saturday. My goal in creating the challenge was to get staff reading more broadly across our collection – for the children’s librarians to read some adult titles and for adult librarians to read juvenile titles. My motto is ‘In order to market the collection you have to know the collection’. Here are the requirements:

Read 3 picture books

Read 2 early readers

Read 1 children’s non-fiction book

Read 1 juvenile fiction book

Read 1 juvenile graphic novel

Read 1 juvenile non-fiction book

Read 1 young adult book

Read 1 young adult graphic novel

Read 1 adult fiction book

Read 1 adult non-fiction book

Read 1 eBook of your choice

Submit a review to the library blog

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I am almost finished myself. I have to finish my adult non-fiction and my eBook and read the early readers and children’s non-fiction – and then I will join the two co-workers who’ve already finished. I’ve pledged to give all finishers a small prize next week. It’s been a lot of fun listening to everyone discuss their progress and share opinions and feedback on the books we’ve read. I’ve also had a couple of staff thank me for issuing the challenge and for motivating them to read outside of their comfort zone. I think it has been a great experience all around and I hope to do it again in the spring.

 

Sunday Bulletin – December 14

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I’m a bit late with this week’s bulletin as I’ve had a busy weekend and haven’t had much time to sit down at the computer. Yesterday I went in to work for a few hours to run our knit and crochet group then I went shopping and out to dinner with a friend. Today I spent at my parents’ house as we celebrated a couple of December birthdays. I now have a niece and a nephew who are 18 (cousins) – how in the world did that happen?

I haven’t been much in the Christmas spirit so far this year. I’m not taking my usual enjoyment from listening to holiday music, I haven’t decorated (except for a wreath on my front door) and I haven’t yet watched any of my favorite Christmas films. I’m not sure why this year is feeling so different to me, but I’m just not that excited about the holiday. Attempting to remedy this malaise I drove through a ritzy neighborhood on the way back from my parents’ house tonight to look at the extravagant Christmas lights shining from every house. It did make me feel a tinge of that old magic so maybe it is just all about keeping up with traditions. How do you get in the Christmas spirit and have you ever felt like a Scrooge?

Books finished this week:

We Were Liars by E Lockhart – I would say that this book was the most talked about, popular and most frequently checked out YA book of 2014. I meant to read it back when it came out , but wasn’t really in the mood to read YA much this year. This week I needed something quick and attention grabbing so I placed a hold on it and was delighted when it came in sooner than I expected. As the book begins we learn about a group of cousins and one friend who call themselves the ‘Liars’. Every year they meet on Beechwood, a private island where the extended Sinclair family spend every summer. During their fifteenth year on the island something happens that destroys their friendship forever. Told from the viewpoint of Cadence, one of the cousins, we are left in suspense as Cadence tries to piece together the details of that fateful summer from a memory that is damaged by a head injury. I figured out what had happened pretty early on in the novel so for me the enjoyment was observing how the author structured the book to prolong the suspense and mystery. I wasn’t as enamored of the outcome as some have been, but I thought it was a decent YA novel and I can definitely see why it was so talked about.

Have a fantastic week!

Weekend Cooking: Broccoli Cheese Mini Pies

broccoli piesI’ve never done a Weekend Cooking post before, but when I put the above photo on Instagram a few days ago (I’m kinda, sorta back to social media) JoAnn suggested that I make a post out of it and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I love sharing good, easy recipes with others who may be looking for the same kind of no-fuss cooking that I am.

My library had a potluck this week and the theme was PIE. I didn’t want to bring a dessert pie as we usually have an abundance of sweets and not enough savory dishes. After searching online for a while I decided to make these really easy mini pies that you cook in a muffin tin. No, they are not gourmet and not fancy. But they are scrumptious! It’s a Betty Crocker recipe and I made a couple of adaptations – no chicken as my boss is a vegetarian and I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen.

When I put them out on the table on Wednesday morning they gleaned lots of interest and were gone within an hour. A successful and, I think, repeatable dish which is wonderful as we have tons of potlucks at work and I now have another dish to add to my rotating repertoire.

 

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, 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.