Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Love. Hate. Joy. Sorrow. Pleasure. Fear. These are powerful emotions, dangerous even. We all experience emotions--it's how we were made. Some people are simply better at hiding their emotions or ignoring them all together. Then there are those people that cannot ignore their emotions. They feel  love and hate and joy and sorrow one hundred times stronger than everyone else. They cry at silly movies. They breakdown at the heartbreaking ASPCA commercials. And to add to their own emotions, their hearts go out to the people they care for, taking on a double load of love and hate. Wearing your heart on your sleeve can be a wonderful blessing. These are the humanitarian people that build Habitat houses, work with the disabled, volunteer at homeless and animal shelters. They make the world a better place by sacrificing themselves for the betterment of the community. But when those on the receiving end, those that see the heart on the sleeves, do you understand what these people are risking? A Sleeve-heart is like a rose left out uncovered in the frost. Without the proper care, it will eventually freeze. If you slice a dagger across the palm of your hand, the wound is exposed, bleeding, and painful. It will eventually heal, but you will always have a scar to remind you of that dagger. Hearts are just like skin. They will heal, but not in the same way. The scars will slowly begin to collect until the person is no longer who he or she used to be. That's why these hearts have to be protected. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I don't have a choice in the matter-I was born that way. I know my emotions can become overwhelmingly unbearable for those dear to me, and that's something that I have to learn to control. However, the people around people like us must realize the effect that their words and actions have on our exposed hearts. We're easily wounded and not easily healed. I speak from experience in the most literal way...a wound is temporary, but a scar lasts forever.

I typically do not write about myself or my personal beliefs on this blog, but I felt this was a subject I needed to comment on. Many writers can empathize because they too wear their hearts on their sleeves. I am now coming to terms with who I am in this respect and I am proud to wear my heart on my sleeve. I know I have to control myself, but I should not, and everyone else who can relate to this, should not be ashamed of their hearts. They are beautiful, like the rose. So keep the frost away.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Installment 4 of Christmas Around the World: S-Z (minus W, X, & Y)

Sweden: December 13 - St. Lucia's Day is celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Small children use electric candles but from about 12 years old, real candles are used! A popular food eaten at St. Lucia's day are 'Lussekatts', St Lucia's day buns flavoured with saffron and dotted with raisins which are eaten for breakfast. Presents are normally exchanged on Christmas Eve. 
Families sometimes have goats made of straw in the house to guard the Christmas Tree! Straw is used as a decoration in homes, to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger. Presents might be brought by Santa called 'Jultomten' or by gnomes/elves called 'Nissar' or 'Tomte'. They're called Nisse' in Norway. In Swedish Happy/Merry Christmas is 'God Jul'.

Trinidad and Tobago: A special Trinidadian music, Parang, is played. Parang is an upbeat Venezuela-Trinidad hybrid. This is the time that most people buy new electrical appliances and furniture. Trinibagonian Christmas meal include apples and grapes, sorrel, ponche-de-creme (a version of egg nog), ham, turkey, homemade bread, ginger beer, pastelles (a version of tamales) and local wine.

UK: Christmas Trees were first popularized in the UK by German Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Children believe that Father Christmas or Santa Claus leaves presents in stockings or pillow-cases. These are normally hung up by the fire or by the children's beds on Christmas Eve. Children sometimes leave out mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas to eat and drink when he visits them. In Scots Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Blithe Yule'

Venezuela: Some traditional Christmas music in Venezuela is 'Gaita' music. This is a type of folk music played on several instruments including the 'Cuatro' (a guitar with four strings) a 'Tambora' (a Venezuelan drum), the 'Furro' (a type of drum but it has a stick coming up through the middle of the skin of the drum) and the 'Charrasca' (a ribbed tube that you rub a stick up and down). In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, there's a tradition of people rollerskating to the early morning church services from 16th to 24th December. The roads are often closed to traffic by 8.00am to make it safe for people to skate! In Venezuela presents are brought by 'San Nicolás' (St. Nicholas) & 'Niño Jesús' (Baby Jesus).It was also a tradition for people to paint their houses two to four weeks before Christmas, so it was ready to be decorated for Christmas.

Zimbabwe: A lot of people put their stereos out
side the front of the house and play their favourite music very loudly! It is not only Christmas music that is played, but also the latest pop tunes and old African favourites! The special food eaten at Christmas in Zimbabwe is Chicken with rice. Chicken is a very expensive food in Zimbabwe and is a special treat for Christmas. This is often eaten at the Christmas Day parties.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

German Blown Glass Christmas Ornaments.

If you have been following my Christmas Around the World Installments, I have a fun connection to Installment 2. I'd mentioned how handblown glass ornaments are very popular in Germany. I received a present tonight from three lovely little girls, and in my box, I found a GORGEOUS handblown glass ornament. My mother's family is German, and receiving MY first ornament prompted me to do a little research on these unique decorations. 

A History: The handblown glass ornaments were first created 60 miles north of Nuerenberg in the German village named Lauscha. Then, it was a cottage industry craft--the ornaments were blown and finished in a workshop attached to someone's home. All members of the family helped paint and finish them. A normal work day was 15-16 hours, six days a week. Depending on size and complexity, 300-600 balls a week can be produced. In the 1820s, Lauscha came upon economic ruin. Some glass blowers began to refine the craft and make it into Christmas balls, called Kugeln. The first written record of the Christmas tree balls was in 1848. This became Lauscha's economic salvation. 

This is a tradition that my own family follows. Every year, a glass pickle is hidden in the Christmas tree, and the first child to find the pickle receives a special present. As the children get older, the pickles get smaller. 

Installment 3 of Christmas Around the World: L-R (minus K & O)

Latvia: Children sometimes earn their presents by reciting a poem or song. Claims to be the home of the first Christmas tree, first used in 1510. Merry Christmas = Priecigus Ziemassvotkus. The special Latvian Christmas Day meal is cooked brown/grey peas with bacon (pork) sauce, small pies, cabbage & sausage, bacon rolls and gingerbread.

Madagascar: Even though it is warm, Madagascar is still decorated with holly, robins, and snow. Merry Christmas =Mirary Krismasy sambatra sy Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao. Santa Claus is called 'Dadabe Noely'. The meal is normally Chicken or Pork with rice followed by a special cake. Poinsettias also grow as large outdoor shrubs in Madagascar and don't just flower at Christmas! They are also the national emblem of Madagascar.

A Nisse is another name for Elf

a sheaf of wheat is often left out for the birds to eat over Christmas. Also a type of rice porridge is sometimes left for the 'Nisse' who is believed to guard the farm animals. Another tradition in parts of Norway is that families light a candle every night from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day. The tree is given as a present to say 'thank you' for the help that the people of the UK gave to Norway during World War II. The tree stands in Trafalgar Square in the middle of London and often hundreds of people come to watch when the lights are turned on. Happy/Merry Christmas is 'God Jul' or 'Glædelig Jul'. Here's a recipe for Norwegian Hole Cake

Phillipines: Christmas carols start in September. Misa de Gallo are the early masses held the nine days before Christmas. The parol is a bamboo pole with a lighted star lantern on it that represents the start that guided the Wise Men. Noche Buena includes:  lechon (roasted pig), ham, fruit salad, rice cakes (bibingka and puto bumbong are traditional Christmas foods) and other sweets, steamed rice, and many different types of drinks. Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Maligayang Pasko'

Russia: The Russian Orthodox church uses the Julian Calendar, so Christmas falls on January 7th. Advent for them starts November 28th and goes to January 6th--talk about the 40 days of Christmas! Christmas greeting is 'S Rozhdestvom!'. Sauerkraut is main dish in the Christmas Eve meal. It can be served with cranberries, cumin, shredded carrot and onion rings. Babushka means Grand Mother in Russian. It tells the story of an old women who met the Wise men on their way to see Jesus created by an American poet and writer called Edith Matilda Thomas in 1907.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Installment 2 of Christmas Around the World: F - J

France: Use Nativity cribs to decorate the house with clay figures. Merry Christmas = Joyeux Noel. Yule logs made out of Cherry Wood are burned in their homes. Santa Claus is called Pere Noel (Father Christmas). The main Christmas meal is called Reveillon: roast turkey with chestnuts or roast goose, oysters, foie gras, lobster, venison and cheeses. For dessert, a chocolate sponge cake log called a bûche de Noël is normally eaten.

Germany: Advent is very important to the German Christmas. Christmas trees have been used here since the Middle Ages. They are traditionally brought in on Christmas Eve and surrounded by songs of O Tannenbaum, Ihr Kinderlein Kommet, and Silent Night. Merry Christmas = Frohe Weihnachten. The most famous decoration is the hand blown glass ornament. Children’s letters to the “Christkind’ are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope, which are left on their windowsills at the beginning of Advent. On the eve of December 6th, Saint Nick stops in and leaves little treats in the children’s shoes. Stollen is a popular fruited yeast bread that is served at Christmas.  Here is a recipe for Stollen

Hungary: Christmas Eve is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. The evening is spent with family decorating the tree. The main meal consists of fish and cabbage and a special poppy bread/cake called ‘Beigli.’ Midnight Mass Service is very popular. They also recognize St. Nicholas day on December 6th. Santa is known as “Mikulas.” 

Wren Boys Procession
Ireland: Christmas lasts from Christmas Eve to Epiphany on January 6th. Santa is known as San Nioclas. Merry Christmas = Nollaig Shona Dhuit. The Wren Boys Procession takes place on St. Stephen’s Day--people dress up and go around to neighbor houses singing rhymes about a wren bird. “The wren, the wren, the king of all birds, on St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze.” On the Feast of the Epiphany, women have the day off and men do the house work and cooking. 

Jamaica: Lots of people paint their houses and hang new curtains and decorations. The meal for Christmas day is prepared on Christmas Eve: fresh fruits, sorrel and rum punch and meat. The Christmas Day breakfast includes ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, freshly squeezed fruit juice and tea. Dinner is usually served in the late afternoon and this may include chicken, curry goat, stewed oxtail, rice and peas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Installment 1 of Christmas Around the World: A-E

Australia: Celebrated during the Australian summer. Australians decorate with Christmas trees and lights, but a unique decoration is the Christmas Bush, a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream colored flowers that turn red by the week of Christmas. State capitols and local towns hold Carols by Candlelight services with famous and/or small town bands. Australians also recognize Boxing Day where they visit friends and have Barbeques on the beach. Christmas dinners usually include seafood and “traditional english” food. 

Brazil: Santa’s name is Papai Noel. Many customs are similar to US and UK. A traditional Christmas meal includes: chicken, turkey, ham, rice, salad, pork, and fresh and dried fruits. The Celebrations start on Christmas even with fireworks and a barbeque (churrasco). Children sometimes leave their socks on windows, hoping that if Papai Noel finds it, he will exchange it for a present. 

Czech Republic: They celebrate Saint Nicholas day, where children are expected to recite a poem or song and in exchange receive a small, stocking sized present from St. Nick. Merry Christmas = Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce. 

Seeing a Golden Pig before dinner is seen as a good luck sign. Christmas dinner takes place on Christmas eve and consists of fish soup and fried carp with potato salad. Jezisek or “Little Jesus” leaves presents during Christmas dinner and rings a bell before he leaves. 

Denmark: Christmas Eve: Church service, dinner, dancing around the Christmas tree, then opening presents. Ris a la mande is rice pudding that chops up almonds except for  one, which is kept whole. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present. 
Julemanden “Christmas man” travels with a sleigh & reindeer, lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding, and is helped by Nisser (like elves). 
Merry Christmas = Glaedelig Jul.

Ethiopia: This country is still on the Julian Calendar, so they celebrate Christmas on January 7th. They fast the night before and dress in white for the Ganna service early the next morning. Traditional Christmas foods in Ethiopia include wat which is a thick and spicy stew that contains meat, vegetables and sometimes eggs (sounds yummy!). Wat is eaten on a 'plate of injera' - a flat bread. Pieces of the injera are used as an edible spoon to scoop up the wat.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Take Care of Your Computer

So a few months back, I was working on my book, and all of a sudden, my screen flashed white. I took it to my dad when the screen didn't come back on after a few minutes, and he regretted to tell me that my hard drive was "dead as a doornail." At the time, I was under a lot of stress. A fundraiser I was organizing was happening the next day; I had an exam coming up; and my cousins were in town. My mind did not process how much I lost. For those of you that are as dependent on your laptop as I am, I am giving you fair warning before this happens to you and you lose everything, BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE! Get an external drive; store your work on all these new online storage devices. Do whatever you have to do to save the life you share with your computer.
Let me just give you an idea of what I lost:
ALL 2,000 songs in my music library
My first book, my second book, and the beginning of my third book
All of my short stories
All the pictures that I had before Facebook and that were not shared on my parents' computer
All of my personal work and online quotes that I had found
All of my usernames and passwords.
When I eventually slowed my mind down enough to realize what I had lost, I was blown away and horrified all at the same time. I had just spent an entire fall break making great strides in editing my book. All gone. That was the knife to the gut. I had edited at the minimum-five chapters, and now I had to go back to chapter two. But it wasn't that easy. When Apple recovered my computer and put in a new hard drive, I had to update my software, and the pages that I downloaded was not compatible with plain old word. So after I would go to my "editor elf," and she would send the new copy to me, I couldn't open it on my computer to work on it until I would see her again. My computer crashed October 18. I did not find a compatible pages software until today, December 21--that's over two months not being able to work on my book on my own time. I feel like I have had a dragon-sized weight lifted off my shoulders. So...moral of the horror story...ALWAYS back up your computer. Don't be like me--don't learn the hard way. The hard was is no fun. (But to be fair, the hard drive was six years old...if that says anything of how strong Macs are...)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Taking a weekend

Life is hard. School is a lot of work. And there is never enough time. For some reason at this point in my senior year, I am absolutely drained of energy. I feel like even when I get a good night's sleep, it's just not good enough. I've had a few people point out to me that sometimes, you just have to take a weekend. Say no to anything your friends are doing. Tell your parents your checking out for the weekend. No matter what, spend the weekend taking care of yourself. Do whatever it is that you do to recuperate and rejuvenate. I sadly have not gotten a whole weekend yet, just bits of a couple. But I must say, I do feel a bit better and a bit more prepared to face the vicious holiday season.

Here's a few simple steps to some much needed R&R.

1. SLEEP IN! Go to bed early and wake up naturally. There is no better feeling than your eyes opening simply because they are ready to. Not because the alarm goes off or the dogs are barking.
2. Read in bed. Don't get up just yet. Bundle under the covers and grab your current read (I'm working on The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler) to burrow in for an hour or so.
3. Make yourself a cup of hot tea with a bit of honey. Honey has relaxing properties and tea just makes you feel like your living in an English Shire.
4. Paint your nails. I know it sounds silly, but it's fun to sit, watch a movie, and paint your nails a fun color!
5. Make yourself a spa day. Use store bought or home remedy treatments to make your skin glow and your hair shine! Apply a face mask, scrub your rough hands and feet, take a scented bubble bath with candles.
6. Take a walk. Not a work-out walk, just a nice leisurely walk down the street, admiring the leaves (or lack thereof) and the sounds of nature. It might sound cheesy, but it helps.
7. Choose a line-up of movies to watch. I always make mine themed like...Southern (Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias, & The Help), Greek (My Big Fat Greek Wedding & My Life in Ruins), Teen Masterminds (Catch Me If You Can & Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Or a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan Double Features (You've Got Mail & Sleepless in Seattle).
8. Jump into your pajamas early, or better yet, stay in them all day.
9. You choose your dinner, most likely comfort food: pizza, mac & cheese, Chinese-whatever makes your tummy happy!
10. Jump into bed with your book and read until your eyes start to fall like curtains. That's when you know it's time to go to bed!

So remember, you deserve a weekend. And these steps can help you achieve the much needed and deserved R&R.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Story of The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
I love books. No one can doubt that. I want to write, and I read at every spare moment, even if it is just that. Of all the books I have read, only a few come close to the magic and magnitude of The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern, in a burst of pure genius, has created the most magical story of the decade. The complex web of deception intermixed with the condemning pull of love is cause for an inevitable horrible ending...or is it? Starting in the past and jumping to the future, Morgenstern works her way up to making two different time eras meet together in a fantastic reunion. The pages flew past my eyes as I devoured the book in three days. I cannot give this book enough praise, but if you don't believe me, find out for yourself. 
Facts about the circus:
  • The circus is over 2000 years old.
  • It is harder to get into the Ringling Brother's Clown School than Harvard Law School.
  • Some performers keep a hair from an elephant tail in their pocket for good luck.
  • Whistling backstage is considered bad luck.
  • The circus began using trained animals in 1829
  • When the Ringling Bros. bought the Barnum & Bailey's "The Greatest Show on Earth," the combined and made "The Big Show." Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Commercial

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy All Hallow's Eve, everyone! Are you excited for the tricks and treats? I've always loved Halloween, and no not for the candy. I just like the mystery and magic behind it. Okay, the candy is a pretty great bonus, but there are so many other great things now that you can do that still allow to dress up and have fun. Like host a Halloween party with awesome snacks and spooky games. Or if you're in the community service mood, like I will be tonight, participate in Trick or Cans.

Here are some fun foods and crafts to put you in the trick-or-treating spirit!

Shrunken Apple Heads:
Prepare a bowl of water and lemon juice.
Pull out as many apples as you would like to carve.
Core the apple, but leave the top and stem.
Carve funny, scary, or sad faces into your apples.
Bake at 225 for 3 hours.

For more fun, put them in apple cider to make shrunken head apple cider.

Bloody Footprint Walkway:

Buy a roll of white decorating paper (like you would use to decorate doors) and roll it down the walkway to your door. You might need to tape it.

Paint the bottom of your feet red and walk up the paper to the door.

For extra blood, splatter it a little.

Monster Mason Jars:

Mason jars, different colored gauze, watered down glue, googly eyes, sharpie

Wrap the mason jar with the gauze (color depending on what type of monster you want to create)
Paint on the watered down glue
Wait to dry then glue on googly eyes.
For mouths and noses, take your sharpie and draw some gnarly features.
Fill it with a candle or flowers, depending on how you are planning to use it.

Fun Halloween Facts:
1. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween
2. If you put your clothing on inside out and walk backward, you might see a witch at midnight.
3. Spiders seen on Halloween are supposedly dead loved ones checking in on you. So be careful who you step on.
4. Dressing up as monsters originated with the celtic people where they would dress up as ghouls to disguise themselves from the real ghouls.
5. Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926

Spooky wishes on this Halloween night!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guest Post

This semester, I have been interning with a local indie-publishing house, Audrey Press, known for The Fox Diaries and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Audrey Press also runs in conjunction with the blog, which reads and reviews Kidlit and then finds fun activities and crafts to bring the story to life. I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for the book of my choosing, and in a way, I think I knew what book I wanted to do even before Mrs. Budayr asked me. I've always been a big fan of Holes by Louis Sachar, and I saw this book had plenty of activities that were just waiting to be explored. Well, now my Holes post is well and alive on, so check it out and let me know what you think.

Holes on Jump Into a Book

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Little About Sarah Dessen

            I might be the only teenage girl in several countries that has not read a Sarah Dessen book. I know; I’m awful. But don’t worry—I’m working on reading her newest book, The Moon and More, now, and I should come out with a review here in a couple of weeks.
            Anyway, I was lucky enough to attend a Q&A that included herself, Lauren Morrill, and Jennifer E. Smith. (Their posts are yet to come). She was very interesting to listen to and very much inspiring for a young writer such as myself. One of the great aspects of these Q&A’s with authors is that they can become very personal and share a lot about their background.
Lauren Morrill, Jennifer E. Smith, Sarah Dessen
            When Mrs. Dessen was in high school, she fell in with the wrong crowd. She wasn’t great at school or anything else for that matter, and as she says, books are really the only thing that got her through high school. She was blessed to live in a town that flourished with published authors that encouraged her to follow her writing dream. When she went off to college, she wrote a couple of unsuccessful books while working at a Mexican restaurant, which she continued to work at through the publishing of her first book. Now, she’s just published her eleventh book, ironically writing about the one time in her life that she would rather forget.
            I got to ask her a few questions myself, and here are her answers:
1. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of you?
            That I know what I’m doing. People think now that I’ve written eleven books, that I must know everything there is to know, but that’s not true. Every book is a new experience.
2. Do you have an inspiration food?
            I keep two pieces of chocolate on my writing desk every day.
3. What are you passionate about besides writing?
            Good Morning, America, which I was blessed to be on—a dream come true, and my family.

Fun Facts about Sarah Dessen:
Ø    For those of you that are regular Dessen readers, you might have noticed that several of her characters have a strong aversion to mayonnaise. This stems from her work at the Mexican restaurant. Every morning she would have to prepare dressing for the restaurant—that’s a lot of dressing. And what does dressing have a lot of? Mayonnaise.
Ø    She’s a control freak about everything except her writing.
Ø    She is a creature of habit, who always has to write in the afternoons.
Ø    She always wanted an exotic name like Veronica…Sarah just wasn’t enough.

Tips for writers:
  • Figure out what works for you and stick with it.
  • Don’t think too much about your second book—it’s not as natural.
  • Trust your editor.
  • Your opinion of your work is the most important.
  • Pick your snits, as my dad always said.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Herman Parish at Amelia Bedelia’s 50th Anniversary

          We all know and love that wacky, literal housemaid known as Amelia Bedelia. This year, she is celebrating her 50th anniversary, or birthday, and I had the opportunity to listen to her nephew talk today. As you may know, Peggy Parish passed away in 1988 (coincidentally Amelia’s 25th anniversary) at the age of 61, and her nephew has continued his aunt's legacy.
Her grandparent's home
                                                                                              We all wonder where brilliant children’s authors such as she come up with these beautiful characters that captivate the world. I now know. It seems that much of Ms. Parish’s inspiration came from her own life. Every Sunday, her entire family would take a short drive down to her grandparent’s, the Rogers, house for dinner. There in their big, beautiful home, they had a young maid who was hopeless in household matters. When told to dust around the room, she dusted the edges of the room and not in the middle. Ms. Parish herself was her very literal person. When asked what his favorite memory of his aunt is, Mr. Parish responded, “One day we drove past a sign in her hometown—‘Manning, South Carolina. Matchless for Beauty and Hospitality.’ She then said to me, ‘I’ve always thought that sign was funny. People in Manning have plenty of matches.’ That’s when I knew that I’d known Amelia Bedelia all along.” Do we all remember Amelia’s black purse that she carried at the most random of times? Well, that was actually Ms. Parish’s purse, and true to the reputation, she never put it down.
            For five years after his aunt died, Herman did not write, yet he continued to get thousands of letters from children asking what was going to happen to Amelia Bedelia next. Ms. Parish must have known that her character was going to live long after her.
            His first Amelia Bedelia book without his aunt was Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia. The inspiration for this book came from a road trip with his wife. When they came to a stop sign with only a left or right turn, he asked his wife, “Left?” and she said, “Right.” So instead of turning left, he turned right. When he got yelled at for going right when she said right, she had to scold him, for she meant right, as in correct, not right the direction. Read Good Driving, and you might just find a similar instance happening to Amelia in a fork in the road.
            In my belief, you’re never too old for a good children’s book, especially the crazy, literal world of Amelia Bedelia. So delve back into the world of drawing drapes, undusting, dressing chickens, and delicious lemon-meringue pie, and remember the laugh-out-loud fun that you had as a child.

First Amelia Bedelia Sketch
Fun Facts:
Peggy's memorial in Manning
  • Peggy’s real name is Margaret. She liked the alliteration of Peggy Parish better.
  • After she retired, she acquired eleven cats in two years. That is why Amelia Bedelia’s statue in Manning, South Carolina has a cat paired with it.
  • When Herman Parish asked a school if they knew what Amelia’s famous pie was, a boy raised his hand and said, “I know. She made lemon…orangutan pie!” 

Southern Festival of Books Day 1

Line up for today:
Herman Parish (nephew of Peggy Parish) discussing Amelia Bedelia's 50th anniversary
Jennifer Smith, Sarah Dessen, and Lauren Morrill (from my hometown) discussing YA romance lit
Kathryn Lasky and Hannah Barnaby discussing Kidlit
Aprilynne Pike, Teal Haviland, and Sonia Gensler discussing YA supernatural Novels.
Even the birds came out for the festival!
Nashville Public Library

Features and more pictures to come!

For those of you who are already planning your trip for the 26th Annual Southern Festival of Books, I have scouted a couple yummy restaurants to fill your stomaches with delicious treats!

Puckett's: amazing, good ole down-home barbeque. Not only is it a delicious restaurant, but it is also a grocery and a music venue for aspirings singers. Come enjoy delicious meals and a thorough southern experience at the intersection of 5th and Church St.

Tazza: this restaurant has an assortment of food choices, but they are most famous for their italian dishes. While the food was delicious, I think I enjoyed the atmosphere the most. Our waiter made us feel like we were important to him. Plus, they have killer desserts!

Friday, October 11, 2013

We're Going on an Adventure!

This last weekend of my fall break, I'm headed to Nashville for the 25th Annual Southern Festival of Books. This marvelous event hosts hundreds of fiction and nonfiction authors that we all know and love! Some simply hold book-signings while others give talks about writing and about their books. I am focusing my attention on YA and children's authors: Rick Riordan, Sarah Dessen, Aprilynne Pike, Kathryn Lasky, Lauren Morrill, Herman Parish (Peggy Parish's nephew), among others.

For one thing, I just want to meet Rick Riordan. He's amazing. But I do have a purpose, do not mistake me. This semester I have been participating in an internship with Press. When I told my boss who all was going to be at this festival, she was excited for me to go and encouraged me to try to talk to as many of them as I can.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jump into a Book, this is an extremely successful blog that not only promotes the books of Audrey Press but also works in conjuction with several authors and indie publishers to promote beautiful children's literature. They constantly jump into a book, which means they read the book and find activities to bring the book to life. I asked my boss if they had ever done a book jump on one of the Kathryn Lasky's books, and she said no. This is the perfect opportunity for me. I love Lasky's Guardians of Ga'hoole series, and I think every child should have the opportunity to read them. If I can get a small interview with her, maybe the guardians will be next on Jump into a Book's list.

However, there will be a feature on each of the author's listed as I go through my weekend, so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

National Coffee Day

I'm making a confession: I love coffee. I'm making another confession: I like chocolate coffee. If that makes me a wimp, I am sorry. But every week, I look forward to the one day that I get to go with my friends to bible study at our local coffee house. I know it's not wonderful to become addicted to coffee, but let's face it. Would a mother rather her teenage daughter be addicted to Cafe mochas or Monsters and other energy drinks that contain alcohol?
Midterms are coming up...tomorrow. This weekend, I spent my days curled up in a booth in the coffee shop, sipping my mocha as I poured over European history and oceanography. No matter how long the hours were and how complicated the material became, I took a sip of my coffee, and the day just felt better.
The perks to a coffee house:
1. People watching (interesting characters always come into the shop, and one might overhear some very curious topics on occasion)
2. The smell of coffee (it's everywhere! And by the time you leave, the delicious scent is stuck to your clothes)
3. The music (I don't know why, but whatever station they have the radio on is always great. But if you get tired of their music, you can always pop in some earbuds and jam to your own tunes).
4. The art (When you get completely frustrated with your study material, take a break, look up, and admire the wonderful art. I had the treat of watching them strip the walls and replace them with new paintings that had a central theme: coffee :D)
5. No judging (At the coffee house, everyone is allowed to be who they want. There are weirdos, teachers, hipsters, preps, professionals, musicians, the like.)
6. The snacks (Brownies, cookies, cakes, and muffins galore. Pick from the wide variety of options and settle in for the afternoon).
7. THE COFFEE (If you are lucky enough to have a genuine coffee shop, not a starbucks or Java Joes, take advantage of it. I guarantee that the coffee will taste ten times better!)

So today, on this day of celebrating coffee, show your coffee houses how much you appreciate them by marching on those creaky wooden floors and purchasing a cup of steaming coffee and a nice cookie to complement it.

You already know my favorite coffee. What's yours?

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Survive the ACT

I consider myself a champion of the ACT…not because I have the perfect score, but merely based on the amount of times I’ve taken this dreaded test of intelligence. I just completed my fourth and final test, and now I look back on it…I would say fondly, but then I would be lying. Let’s face it; the ACT is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be easy. If you’re one of those people who can just walk into the test completely unprepared and walk out with a thirty-five by just plugging and chugging, I applaud and envy you. For those of us who over think everything and like to take the time to analyze and understand our reading or really work through the math problem, this test is our worst enemy. So here are a few helpful hints to help get you through the test that I’ve picked up from my two prep classes.

1. ALWAYS bring a watch, and not a digital watch. Ask your grandparents for a watch if you’re that updated.
2. Answer ten, mark ten. Write the answers in the book then go back in fill them in.
3. For English, unless it has a big box for the last question, don’t read the entire passage. It’s not a comprehensive test.
4. For math, don’t over think the question. Look at it calmly, and if it can’t be plugged in, work it in.
5. In reading, read the questions before skimming the passage. You’re timed, remember?
6. In science: five question sections refer to pictures; six question sections refer to pictures and passages/knowledge; seven question sections refer to passages.
7. Make sure you have plenty of pencils.
8. Studies show that chocolate and mint are the most stimulating for the brain, so pop a York Peppermint Patty before each test to get your brain cells going.
9. Don’t just not study. Trust me, it doesn’t work.
Yes, this is my painting. I'm sticking to my day job
10. BREATHE. In the end, it’s just a test. It’s not the end of the world.

So now that you’ve managed to survive and you have three weeks to wait before you get the results, why don’t you take this opportunity to relax and commend yourself for having the courage to take the monster test. Make yourself some bubbly. Pop in your favorite movie and veg out. Paint even if you’re an awful artist. Bake…for someone or for yourself. You deserve a little treat. Go on a refreshing walk with the dog, or cat, or whatever other critter you m
ight have lounging around the house.
Believe me, once you get through this test, this is all your going to want to do. Why not just indulge yourself?