Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones - The Dreamy "Jon Snow"
My husband loves TV. 

I love books. 

But we have found an HBO series (based on this book series - I loved it) that has us meeting nightly on the couch almost breathless with anticipation of the next episode. Breathless I tell you. If you have HBO, you can watch the first season right now. The second season will be out in April of 2012.

If you've read the books by the brilliant George R.R. Martin, you'll have a deeper understanding of the characters and the source behind the magic of what smoochie David Benioff has created for the TV screen.

It has sparked delightful, connecting conversations between me and Carl because he wants to know more about the background of the characters that can't be shared in the show due to time constraints - but it's all in my head and my heart from the books.

 My hero, "Arya Stark".

Read the book series, available at your local library.

Then watch the HBO series with your hubby.

We have been enjoying the best date evenings - ever - right in our own home. 

(This series is not for children - adults only. There is graphic fighting and the other stuff I won't mention because my mom is reading this and I don't want to embarrass her. Love you, mom.) 

xoxo Michele

Little Women, Big Library

I'm joining Jennie at Got My Reservations for The Louisa Challenge in 2012 and these two reads have excited me more about this upcoming bloggy book club adventure than I thought would be possible. 

Did you know that she was related to John and Sam Adams? I'm pretty much a John Adams freak, thanks be to this author. Your library can supply the materials, but you bring this beauty to life.

Will you join us?

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best Friends Forever

Arielle received her guinea pigs just before Christmas. She researched pets here. After careful consideration, she named them Betty and Veronica. I love how the library and reading can influence our lives, including the names of pets. 

What has the library influenced in your home?

xoxo Michele 

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Big Splurge

Every year I splurge and buy one book at Christmas. It is a book that I had read earlier in the year couldn't forget. This year it was Ahab's Wife.

I found a first edition hardback on for $19. I discovered this great read from Natalie - and although I was at first taken aback by the size and weight of the book, I was hooked by the cover and then the alluring prose. It makes me wonder how many other amazing books patiently wait for me at the library to discover their stunning magic.

My daughter made me a bookmark from our favorite wrapping paper that I just couldn't live without (thanks, Beth) and now I have it close to me every day. 

You can find the eazy-peazy directions for the bookmark here.

What did you splurge on this Christmas?

xoxo Michele

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Our heart is the manger. 

This revelation at church today prepared me for tomorrow like never before. The messy place where all of our hopes and dreams and fears reside - where there is no room to hide - where the real us is found. He joyfully meets us there in the manger of our heart. 

Merry Christmas.

xoxo Michele

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inspired To Redeem

There are so many ways to re-purpose, reuse, recycle - reduce our spending during the holidays while enjoying the traditions of decorating and sharing in the magic of the season with our family. 

Carl found a beautiful branch in our backyard. After spraying it with a little silver spray-paint and adding Nick's school snowflakes, popcorn that Arielle  strung and a few origami birds, we have a homemade Jesus Tree. We write down our wishes, hopes and fears and hang them on the tree, and Christmas morning, poof: they vanish.

Have you priced the Lego base platforms lately? Not only are they too small to build a city, they cost more than a real home if you're talking square footage. My hubby used some plywood and casters with inexpensive moulding for trim and voila! - Lego platforms that slide underneath the bed when not in use. If you have a son like my John-John, it will double as a tricked out bodyboard.

We are blessed with an awesome Restore nearby, and when I found these cool tablecloths and some white cafe curtain lace I just had to hook them up. They are dating exclusively now but no wedding date set just yet. I'll keep you posted. Just call me the Patti Stanger of Material Matchmaking.

And these smoochie lamps from Restore with World Market shades - I'm dreaming of Michael Buble (thank you for the heads up, Lily - I saw him last night. Again. Swoon.) sitting at the piano crooning me a love song. 

But my favorite way to save and share during the holidays - every day really - is right here. They bring goodwill to men, women and children by encouraging us to spend less and share more. You can borrow a collection like the one below, wrap it and put it under the tree for your children with a note reminding them of the gift of sharing and how blessed we are to have a public library.  

The Lion King DVD, Musical CD, Book

My children adore gifts from the library - I'd even say that they treat the materials from the library better than they care for things they own. I hope you are inspired to share their beauty with your family now and throughout the New Year.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Thank you for sharing the love of the library with me over the past six months and I'm looking forward to a lot more borrowed beauty in the year ahead.

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reindeer {And Family Dinner} Games

The weather outside might be frightfully spring-like here in North Carolina, but our kitchen has been transformed into Santa's bakery. We followed the Rudolph Noses recipe over at my friend Sheila's amazing blog, Eat2Gather, and have been handing out these sweet treats to teachers, friends and neighbors - even our local librarians. 

The green-nosed reindeer above was created by the precious 3-year-old that I watch during the week. You've heard of Rudolph, but are you familiar with Dudolph, Rudy's rockstar brother? Well now you're in the know.  

And when we aren't creating new reindeer, we are playing games and reading books from the library while enjoying meals prepared from this cookbook:

Written by Laurie David (Larry David's ex-wife), it is so much more than a cookbook. On page 166 you'll be greeted by my favorite chapter - Read Around The Table. The library has made this gaming gala possible for our family.

How has the library helped you creatively connect with your children around the table?

xoxo Michele

Monday, December 19, 2011

No Barriers With Books

“Ninety percent of who you are is invisible." 
                                   ~ The Mysterious Edge of The Heroic World

Connecting with my children throughout the day happens in various ways, but my favorite is reading aloud. It marries the invisible us, the real us, and creates a beautiful bond free from the limits of flesh, form and even finances. 

Over this winter break from school, amid the baking and crafting and singing and shopping, I hope you will be inspired to sit and read with your children. You'll be giving them - the invisible, ninety percent of them - one of the greatest gifts available in this life. 

Your local library is a great place to start because it encourages us to spend less and share more. For more inspiration, click here.

xoxo Michele

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Miracles, Movies and The Library

Only recently did I find out that the library carries not only one of my favorite Christmas movie classics, it carries the book by Valentine Davies that inspired the movie. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Eight days til Christmas - just enough time to read it with the kids.

The library has featured some additional books that are current and upcoming movies:

Books into Movies 
This month, we're highlighting movies that were based on a book. Check out the original story at your library!
by Michael Morpurgo  
Joey the horse recalls his experiences growing up on an English farm, his struggle for survival as a cavalry horse during World War I, and his reunion with his beloved master. An excellent choice for young fans of historical fiction, appropriate for older elementary and teen readers.
In theaters December 25, 2011.

A descendant of royalty and one of the largest landowners in Hawaii, Matthew King struggles to deal with his out-of-control daughters--ten-year-old Scottie and seventeen-year-old Alex--as well as his comatose wife, whom they are about to remove from lifesupport.
In theaters January 12, 2012.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmesby Arthur Conan Doyle
Brush up on your Sherlock mysteries before the movie-sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" comes to theaters December 16, 2011. Note: this movie isn't based on any particular story by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Also available in eBook, eAudiobook & audiobook CD.
by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon TattooForty years after the disappearance of Harriet Vanger from the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family, her octogenarian uncle hires journalist Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, an unconventional young hacker, to investigate.
Also available in large print and audiobook CD.
In theaters December 21, 2011.

Coming soon...
These books are also being turned into films (in development for 2012). If you haven't yet read these titles, check them out now before they're "rediscovered" by filmgoers.
AdmissionBack RoadsAbraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterOdd Thomas  

Find more in the category "Reel Reads: Books Into Movies" on the Library's Reader's Club site.

Which one will you pick up at your library today? Has anyone read Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter?

xoxo Michele

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mauricio Zamora
July 23, 1969 - November 24, 2011

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zamora family.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Faves From The Library

After the kids have gone to bed, I love to snuggle on the couch with my hubby and a glass of wine and feast on this movie. And after hubby has fallen asleep, I savor it again. It's my newish classic favorite. 

Swoonie times infinity, that is what they are.

My daughter and I are looking forward to a week of baking and cooking starting this Saturday. New holiday memories for me and Arielle begin in the pages of this book.  

I swooped this off the library shelf purely for the cover, but was hooked on page one. Short, surprising, and satisfyingly unsentimental. 

What favorite holiday beauty have you brought home recently from the library?

xoxo Michele

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Bound

When this precious boy gets a high fever, like he did this weekend, I'm book bound. We snuggle up on my bed. He sleeps. I read. Beverly, one of our local librarians recommended this great read last week and I'm spellbound by every page. Almost makes me wish he would run a fever for just a few more days so I could finish it. Almost.

What has your librarian recommended for you lately that you loved?

xoxo Michele

Friday, December 9, 2011

Every Teenager Is A Library

Have you encouraged a teenager to share their talents lately? Have you reminded them what a gift they are to the world? My sweet bloggy friend Amy has invited me to hang out over on her blog today and talk about how teens are like the library. I've even included 

Sometimes we forget what an invaluable resource teenagers are of ideas, inspiration and information, not to mention their enviable energy. Like the library, they are a collection of beauty this world is in 
need of borrowing.

Thank you, Amy, for highlighting and encouraging the importance of teenagers in service. Your focus and passion on serving - at any age - is exhilarating.

Photography Sources: Photographs of the gorgeous teenage girls were taken by the brilliant photographer, Megan Britt. You can find more of her inspiring, artistic portraits at The rockstar library volunteer is courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

This post would not be possible without the inspiration of Beth and her amazing insight into teenagers: she is my hero in real life, every day.

xoxo Michele

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Cheer {Appetizers} Linky Party

I had to join Edie's fabulous linky party because:

A) Edie is just the sweetest.
B) I'm actually cooking from the library cookbooks!

This cookbook from our local library, Plenty, is a veggie-lovers dream come true. The "Very Full Tart" I'm featuring here was gone in less than 20 minutes and was a delight to make. Tarts are appetizers, right? Anything meat-free is considered an appetizer to my Italian hubby. My version is missing cherry tomatoes because I have an 11 year old son that thinks they're candy, but it was still beyond divine. 

To Make a Very Full Tart:

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant cut into 2" dice
salt and black pepper
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" dice
1 small zucchini, cut into 1" dice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
11 oz pie crust
8 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1/3 cup ricotta
4 1/4 oz feta
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 medium eggs
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven 450. Cut stem and remove seeds from peppers. Place into a small ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil and put on top shelf in oven for around 36 minutes.

Mix eggplant in bowl with 4 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread in a large baking pan and place in oven on shelf beneath peppers for 12 minutes. Stir gently and then roast for another 12 minutes. Then add zucchini to the pan, stir and roast for another 12 minutes. Remove peppers and eggplant/zucchini mixture from oven. Cover peppers with foil and cool, then peel and tear into strips. Reduce oven temp to 325.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan on medium heat. Saute onions with the bay leaves and some salt for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they turn brown, soft and sweet. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves and set aside.

Lightly grease 9-inch tart pan (I don't have a tart pan, so I used my heart tart dish). Carefully line pan with dough, pressing it into corners and leaving excess hanging over the top edge. Bake for 30 minutes with pie weights or dried beans (don't ask - I skipped this part and just poked it with a fork if it rose). Remove weights and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Then remove from oven and let cool.

Scatter onions over bottom of crust, top with roasted veggies evenly. Scatter half the thyme leaves over. Next, dot the veggies with small chunks of both cheeses and then with the tomato halves, cut-side up.

Whisk eggs and cream in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Carefully pour into tart; top layer of tomatoes and cheese should remain exposed. Scatter the remaining thyme over the top. Place in oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden. 

Allow tart to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tart pan and serving.

Warning: if you bring this dish to a party, prepare to  have an invisible mistletoe dangling above your head. Tell everyone you know about this cookbook.

I originally paired this cookbook with music shown here, but tonight I listened to the soundtrack The Help from the library and was transported to the arms of southern angels in the kitchen. 

Me? Cooking? And loving every moment? It's a miracle. The library motivates us share the delicious joy of Christmas ~ and I'm the living proof.

Thanks, Edie!

xoxo Michele

Sunday, December 4, 2011

{Gratuitous} Girls On The Run

Arielle ran her first 5K on Saturday, and to say I'm proud of her is a colossal understatement. 

I've never ran anywhere, including that same afternoon when I thought the house was burning down. I may or may not have put a roast in the oven on broil and then drove my hubby and boys down to meet their scout troop for the parade and then couldn't get back home due to all the roads being closed for said parade. (Don't worry - the house and the roast survived).

Girls On The Run isn't really about running. It's about girls supporting and sharing with one another healthy life choices for their body, mind and spirit. The coaches provide a safe place for my daughter to discuss issues like body image, peer pressure and community outreach

The library isn't really about reading. It's about we the people supporting and sharing ideas from antiquity to present. The librarians provide a safe place for all citizens to gain access to knowledge regardless of age, income or social status. It's a place to nurture ideas, empower creativity and connect with your community. To say I'm proud of the library is also a colossal understatement. I'm profoundly grateful.  

xoxo Michele

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Walking The Dog

What is cuter than a puppy under the Christmas Tree, am I right? Whether you are looking for a breeder or planning to adopt, the library has you covered. Here are a few faves:

I especially love the The Art Of Raising A Puppy because they feature a rare interview with one of my favorite authors

Is your child begging you for a pet? Have them research their pet choices.

Have a great weekend.

xoxo Michele

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making The Most Of The Nutcracker Ballet

Tis the season for this classic ballet, and when you bring home the book and the music from the library, your children will enjoy the live performance even more. Not to mention how delightful it is listening to them humming Tchaikovsky as they brush their teeth, do their homework and wash the dishes. Or was that me?

xoxo Michele