Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Sew Is To Pray

Four Souls 

The sewing machine is out of the box and on the table. Hubby has eyed it nervously, and who could blame him? The foot pedal has yet to be attached, not one yard of fabric is in sight, and when I catch him gazing in its direction I sigh heavily and mumble something about the US Olympic Time Trials, and being transported to Russia with The Brothers Karamazov and my inability to part ways with Alyosha (Helpful Tip: If you plan to read the amazing classic, look for this translation. After several starts and stops, this version sings to me). When that doesn't work I try and distract him with these

But the sewing machine is on the table. I have high hopes for this weekend, and so does Arielle. YouTube has been kind enough to offer me assistance in the way of videos instructing me on how to thread the machine, so we should be sewing away in no time. 

I'm working on a library post for the 4th of July and would love your input. Please email me some of your favorite music, books, cookbooks, movies, etc. and I'll be sure to include them in the mix. 

xoxo Michele

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Take Notes....Everything Is Copy.

Nora's mom was a wise woman. She taught her daughter to recognize daily blunders, irritations, the pain of life's thorny side, and turn personal embarrassments into treasured comedic gifts for all of us. I'm doing my best to impart this desirable discernment to my children. Like for instance, last Sunday we spent a glorious day at Carowinds, and it was my parental duty to ride big scary roller coasters with Arielle. The seats on the Intimidator are ideally made for people with a body size like sweetie Edie, but I'm channeling the adorable Jen Lancaster, are you with me so far? So for what felt like an eternity I vacillated between the ever popular lunging to my death and compressing my solar plexus into a sideways "V". The rest of the day was dialed into feeling both woozy (for those of you that experienced the full effects of morning sickness, you've got the picture) and thankful to be alive. But I kept on riding the roller coasters.

Most of us know her movie hits, When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail, but these four are my cherished Nora Ephron contributions. You can find her entire body of work at your local library. Have a favorite you'd like to share? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Thank you, Nora, for encouraging us to laugh at life's roller coaster moments, and to keep on riding the big ones.

Nora Ephron.  May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012

The Giver

Nicholas will be the first to tell you he has been given much by us; his family, friends, pastors, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and neighbors. But without question, second only to God and family, his biggest giver has consistently been the library. From cradle to the grave, he can library for life.

Do something completely risky today - take your children to the library. Or do what I do: meet with the children's librarian and ask about great reads that compliment your child's interests.

Nick put together a list of "required reading" for school over the summer, and The Giver is on the list for August. Is my rising 6th grader the only one that hasn't read the Harry Potter series yet? 

Live. Learn. Library.

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Listening Library

Our lengthening Carolina days have been saturated in an endless arc of golden honey; warm and sweet and sticky and soothing. {Just kidding on the soothing part - smothering is more like it.} But as the curtain closes on the pale blue and pink sunset, my scorched peeps are craving the raven-haired darkness of a country night. No lamps. No nightlights. What's a reading girl to do? 

The Listening Library. The children and I curl up in bed and push play on the CD player. We fold our eyes; as the ceiling fan softly breezes above, Jim Dale transports us to the country of James Herriot. Dreamy times infinity, sweet readers.

We've been forever fans of All Creatures Great and Small, and I was highly favored to find this book for fifty cents at a library sale, but having Jim Dale read the book to us is a thrilling treat. Yes, the Jim Dale of Harry Potter audio-book fame.

Those that know me well are shocked. Bed? Yes. By ten? Really. Eyes closed? I know! Can you believe it? {Except for last Thursday when I just had to stay up and watch The Avett Brothers on Conan. Those three hundred and twenty seconds were sooo swoony worth it.}

Don't worry. It's just for the summer. I'll be back to the I Like The Nightlife Baby this Fall.

Maybe my fingers are crossed behind my back. Have you discovered the eye-soothing, ear-candy of Audio CD's at your local listening library? Which are your favorite?

xoxo Michele

I'm still weak in the knees, Natalie. A thousand thank you's for introducing me to their brilliance.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Singing. Skipping. Sharing.

I'm convinced the blood racing through John's body does not beat. It sings Sweet Home Alabama. His feet no comprendo the term walk. They skip. He prefers watching veggies rather than eating them. And whatever gifts he has been given, he views them as something worth sharing

The library makes it easy for me to share meaningful, personal gifts every week with my children.  What collection will you share with your children? Spend less. Share more. Library.

xoxo Michele

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Afternoon

Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language.

Walking home from the swimming hole on a summer afternoon is topped only by finishing one book and starting another while the children were playing Marco Polo and Movie Titles. Have you enrolled your children in the summer reading program yet? (there's a fabulous program for us adults, too). A beautiful library birdie told me you get $5.00 worth of fine forgiveness when signing up, along with some great prizes. 

Fine forgiveness - now those are two of the most beautiful words in any language. Am I right, Amy?

Have a warm and wonder-filled summer weekend, sweet friends and readers.

xoxo Michele 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Are You A Patriot Or A Vampire?

The Twilight Saga series never appealed to me (neither did the movies - but I am totally Team Snow), so Carl was pleasantly but positively floored when I boldly announced my desire to attend the premiere of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I haven't read the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, but the movie trailer hooked, lined and lured me right in with their patriot vs vampire proposition. Plus I've got a presidential-sized swooning crush on Lincoln (this author and this author bring him to life). Double plus: this post was a perfect excuse to create another library poster.

 Has a movie's premise emotionally captivated you lately?

xoxo Michele

Just for the record, I'm a patriot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If Paletas Are Wrong I Don't Want To Be Right

Summer arrived this week in the form of a beaming nine year old daughter. Arielle knows I'm secretly freaking out about the Six Days (which is now four days) and rarely leaves my side. She challenges me daily to be my very best without knowing it, especially in the kitchen. We have been disappointed in the frozen treats available at the stores, so we found a book at the library with recipes that are simple, sweet and sublimely satisfying. Paletas (authentic Mexican Ice Pops) by Fany Gerson has shined upon our kitchen and ushered in a glorious summer of mother and daughter bonding.  

Using fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, honey, and a little bit of a real sugar we have stocked the freezer with heavenly goodness. And chocolate for Carl. Oh, and Tequila for me.

The recipes call for ingredients I have in my home, but I've never considered combining them in this flavorsome fashion. Tequila, sour cream and fresh cherries? This chick from Emmett, Idaho (home of the Cherry Festival) says yes and amen.  

Photos from the book Paletas by Fany Gerson

Arielle's favorite (and seemingly my hubby's - considering he ate three last night) is the Greek yogurt ice pops with fresh berries. My favorite was making memories with my daughter. Singing along to Tay-Tay and Lyle and Eddie and dancing with Dave while transforming the kitchen into a delicious mess of love beside Arielle makes me happy.  

Loving, learning - it is all part of what I call library living. Have you found a treasure at the library that inspired you to share new experiences with your children? I'd love to hear from you. 

xoxo Michele

Monday, June 18, 2012

This Is A True Story, But Some Of The Facts Have Been Changed.

Carl picked our Father's Day movie, and boy was I excited when I read the title (not really). But I swoon when a movie surprises me; plucks me off the couch and glides our family through a marvelous adventure. And influences us to check out material like this from the local library (especially the book that inspired the movie):

                                            Birds In Fall  (heard this is a must read)

Another bonus: the movie inspired us to check out birds in our backyard. When I say "us" I really mean me. I'm the only nuthatch outside at 5:30 am looking for cardinals and bluejays....everyone else up at this hour is jogging quietly. Oh, and what about Rocket, you kindly inquire? His superspecial birding skill (incessant barking) make us the hugely popular tweet-seekers of the neighborhood. Which means making and sharing more of these frozen treats that I promise will be my next post.

"How is a story like a bird? It keeps us aloft. It flies."   ~ Brad Kessler

xoxo Michele 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Days

Saturday night, Nick curled up next to me on the bed and said, "You won't be reading to me for a week." Six days, I corrected him. His first sleep-away camp, and the first time I haven't read to him (almost) nightly.  

So we started a new series that our astounding children's librarian, Bev, recommended. I read the first chapter and upon completion asked my standard question when beginning a new author or series. "Go, or no?"

"Mom," Nick answered solemnly, "You'd better pack the entire series."

Six days. Dearest Beverly, what can you recommend for a heartsick mama that will take me out of reality until this Saturday? Actually, Arielle and I may have found the answer in our kitchen (with the help of the library, of course). Here's a sneak peak:

Six days. If all I gain is six pounds we'll call it a successful week. Help, sweet friends and readers. How did you survive your child's first sleep-away camp?

xoxo Michele 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Father's Day Finds From The Library

Give this smoochie daddy an Italian five course meal followed by a two hour nap and his Father's Day is perfection. But I love to add beauty from the library throughout the week as a way to say we appreciate his interests, value his personality, and enjoy sharing his humor. Especially his humor. 

Here are our 5 Father's Day Finds From The Library:

Audio Books. Carl spends hours in the car daily. He loved Friedman's audio book and is now listening to this. And we enjoyed this as a family in the car (we had to skip a few chapters deemed inappropriate for children - but Bryson's account of Milton Milton's father was hysterical to the point of almost missing an exit). 

Book Series. Carl is not a book reader, but I'm a hopeless dreamer, so I bring them home from the library and strategically place them throughout the house. Our best date nights were because of this HBO series. Audio books are also available.

Music. One of Carl's top ten songs ever is on this CD. I knew that and surprised him by playing it on our road trip over the weekend. It made his day and I racked up a bunch of forgiveness points to offset my disastrous meal planning deficits. 

Comics. Carl is reading this in the photo at the top of the post. The boys were next. I may have even caught Rocket turning a few pages while he thought we were sleeping. 

Movies. This timeless classic is available for sharing at your local library. The audio book is swoonie times infinity. 

What borrowed beauty would you bring home for your favorite fathers? 

We are off on exciting adventures this weekend, but I'll be back next week with more borrowed beauty from the library to enjoy over the summer.

Happy Father's Day Weekend.

xoxo Michele


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Sisters

I spent most of my childhood begging my mom for a sister. Okay, not really. But I did ask on occasion, especially after returning home from a sleepover at a friend's that had a sister or two. What I really wanted was an older, wiser, had already made all the mistakes so I could learn from her sister. The sharing of clothes and make-up, celebrated successes and scandalous secrets; the world of sisters seemed like magically imperfect perfection. 

I might have felt completely out of the sisterverse if not for the library. Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, Dodie Smith and Edith Nesbit, Laura Ingalls Wilder and even C.S. Lewis welcomed me into the sisterhood.

Which authors gave you sisters? Who were your favorite fictional sisters, then and now?

xoxo Michele 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Top Ten Summer Reads, June 2012 Edition

As our children sustain their marathon growth, my prayer this summer is a slowing and savoring of time. I've chosen reads guaranteed to spark conversations, build family values and create memories worth cherishing. I crave an opportunity to return to a childlike state of mind, where every hour feels like an eternity and each day is a shiny, treasured gift of Providence.

As always, our adventure begins at the library. 

Due to my OCB, I require numerous categories or my brain feels lopsided and uneven. Like that time I cut my own hair. Anyhoo, below is the type of to-do list which appears nightly on my ceiling as I lay in bed waiting for sleep (if this makes no sense to you, read this heelarious book).

Summer Olympics. Only 49 days away, sweet friends! The photobook is inspiration times inifinity. Arielle asked me to mention this must-have book, too. Pair with English bands like Duran Duran, Coldplay - and don't forget the Beatles (Paul McCartney is performing during the closing ceremony).   

A Classic Novel. I'm biting the bullet and reading this with a dear friend, right Carla? Otherwise I don't know if I'd make it out alive. Will we be wearing fur coats and drinking vodka at the end? Possibly. Don't judge.

Craft Project. This was a tough decision because of the endless choices at the library. Idealistic goal: smoochie new pillowcases for the entire family. Realistic goal: learning how to operate the sewing machine. Carl tells me not to get ahead of myself, since the said sewing machine has been in its box for the last two years. Does anyone know how to thread the needle? Hello? Anyone? Oh well, pair it with Kelly Clarkson and some lemonade and you have yourself a party. 

Historical Fiction. Synopsis from England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

A friend down the street is reading the second of this series and swears it is fantastic. I can't wait to get started. Love series reading? This one is amazing, too.

Photography.  I've been repeatedly borrowing Bryan Peterson's photography books from the library. Either I'm having a camera crush or my memory is as useful at containing information as swiss cheese.

Running Away to Home

Biography. "In thinking about her suburban life, epitomized by refereeing two arguing kids in a Target shopping cart whilst balancing a Starbucks, Wilson thinks, 'if this is the American dream it kinda sucks.' To refocus her family and connect with ancestors, she uproots her Iowa household and relocates to the mountainous, two-road village of Mrkopalj, Croatia..." 

After reading this quote I knew I'd want to read this aloud with my children. Looking forward to running away with this family, if only in my mind. 

Coffee Table Books. I love having new art books in the house, and this cover was summer perfection. Thank you, sweet library.

Devotional. "The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them." 

I'm going to enjoy this read, and add him and her and her.

Fiction. Synopsis from In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged. 

Our book club pick for July. Hope it lives up to the hype.

Decor/Design.  There's only one thing I do worse than cooking, and it would be decorating. Well, that and organizing important papers like birth certificates and the insurance card for the car. Oh, and maybe time management. I'm finally figuring out that my lack of home design might have something to do with my lack of planning ahead. Details will always be at the top of my fave list (it inspired this), but Joy of Decorating is capturing my newly southern heart. Much more to follow.

Cookbook.  Much to my husband's disappointment, I actually read cookbooks rather than cook from them. In my defense, many of them call for ingredients I've never heard of - or they are too pricey for me to scrape off my children's plates into the disposal. When I do find a cookbook recipe that I love, I stick to it fanatically. Example: I tried to pass this off as dinner last week with a side salad {with resounding applause and seconds from the children}. But The Summer House Cookbook has food I'm growing here at home and at our local farmer's market. The kitchen and I are finding more common ground thanks to two invaluable resources: my children and the library.

Okay, so that was my top ten, well... eleven, for June. I can't help myself.

A huge thank you for all the readers that have emailed me asking what I'm personally reading this summer. I'll be out of town for a few days, but please come back and visit late next week for more summer collections for the kids.

What is on your nightstand for June?

xoxo Michele

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mad For Madagascar

Not too long ago our family of five couldn't afford to go to the movies. We would tell the kids it was infinitely more enjoyable to have air-popped popcorn and watch movies snuggled on the couch in our pj's, or attend a free outdoor movie on the town green. Truthfully, I missed going to theater, terribly. Me, me, me wanted the savory scent of buttery popcorn and movie trailers and the squishy sound my shoes would make upon entering and exiting the darkened cinema. 

But in the absence of extra finances I learned how to library, and what a priceless gift it has been for our family. We could borrow movies, music, books, be inspired to make craft and art projects, try new recipes and more. Our children are excited about the new Madagascar movie coming out this weekend, and we may take them to see Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria when they arrive at this reasonably priced and smoochie balconied theater. But in the meantime, I put together the following collection online and love how the library brings the real Madagascar to life for our family.

In Search Of Lemurs (exceptional book)
The Aye-Aye And I (I heart this author, he also wrote this)

These collections are endless - you can put them together for any subject or interest. I missed going to the movies, but I can't imagine not having the library. Lucky for all of us, this beauty only requires a library card. Where will you take your family today?

xoxo Michele