You Are Gifted
Posted November 25, 2008
The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year and kicks off the holiday shopping season. With the current economic climate many more people will be staying out of stores and looking to reduce the cost of holiday spending. If you’re among those looking for money-saving alternatives, you might consider turning to some of your favorite hobbies for gift ideas. Whether you sew, knit or just enjoy creative projects, check out one of the many titles we have to inspire gifts with a personal touch. Your friends and family are sure to ooh and aah over your craftiness.
Handmade Christmas by Martha Stewart
Culled from the best of Martha Stewart Living this slim volume has tons of projects for the holidays. Some of the gift ideas include: little fabric books, candles and keepsake boxes. Martha also covers handmade decorations, gift wrapping, sweet treats and much more.
Simple Gifts to Stitch: 30 Elegant and Easy Projects by Jocelyn Worrall
These projects can be completed in an afternoon and only require fairly basic sewing skills and a sewing machine. Some of the gift ideas include: faux fur scarf, fanned bag, luxurious throw, decorative pillows and gifts for babies.
Stitch ’N Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller
If knitting is more your speed, check out the many patterns from the Stitch ’N Bitch folks. They’ve got hats, scarves, leg warmers, arm warmers, sweaters, bags and so much more.
The Happy Hooker: Stitch ’N Bitch Crochet by Debbie Stoller
Prefer the hook to the needles? Similarly to Stitch ’N Bitch Nation you can find patterns for scarves, hats, sweaters and all manner of cozy attire as well as some fun stuff for the home and some special projects for the gadget geeks on your list like a cute iPod case.
Amigurumi: Super Happy Crochet Cute by Elisabeth A. Doherty
These adorable little Japanese crocheted dolls require very few materials: crochet hook, yarn, stuffing, a couple of notions and a few embellishments. Doherty includes many patterns at various skill levels. Why not make Hep Cat or Benny the Monkey for someone on your gift list?
Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson
Quilting sounds like a time-consuming hobby, but Hoverson presents projects ranging from those that take as little as two hours to complete to those that can take over 12 hours. Depending on how much time you have you can make a quick and simple flannel baby blanket or throw yourself into the more laborious, but very impressive, log cabin quilt.
Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson
Another title from Hoverson includes great projects for knitters divided by the amount of time they take to complete. Some of the patterns included are angora baby booties in the “Less-than-2 Hour Gifts” chapter and a felted yoga bag that falls in the “4-6 Hour Gifts” category. Other projects vary by time and skill level.
Last-Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen
These projects use and reuse fabrics in creative ways and range in amount of time and sewing skills, some actually don’t require any sewing.
Secret Agent Man
Posted November 20, 2008
This past weekend the latest 007 film opened. Quantum of Solace was adapted from a short story by Ian Fleming. It stars Daniel Craig, who made his debut in Casino Royale as the secret agent who prefers his martini “shaken, not stirred.” Craig is the sixth actor to have the distinction of playing the world’s most sophisticated spy on film since the successful series began in 1962 with Sean Connery in Dr. No, and since then over 20 Bond films have been made! However, before James Bond was a star on the screen, he was the daring secret agent of Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories. James Bond’s true debut was in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, and Fleming penned 12 novels and nine short stories featuring Bond. Among Fleming’s countless fans over the years, President John F. Kennedy included From Russia with Love on a list of his favorite books. Following Fleming’s death, several authors continued to use the popular British secret agent as a character, the most recent being Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.
Following is a list of Bond films with links to DVDs (and Bond books of the same title):
Dr. No (Book)
From Russia With Love (Book)
You Only Live Twice (Book)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever (Book)
Live and Let Die
Man With The Golden Gun (Book)
The Spy Who Loved Me (Book)
For Your Eyes Only (Book)
A View To Kill
The Living Daylights
License to Kill
Tomorrow Never Dies
The World Is Not Enough
Die Another Day
Casino Royale (Book)
Posted November 18, 2008
This month we Americans chose our next president, and like many before him he just so happens to be an author, and a bestselling author, at that. As the president-elect prepares for office, now seems an appropriate time to inventory some of the more prominent books by and about him, as there will surely be many, many more to come. Of course, the two bestselling autobiographies are Dreams From My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. A few more books are based directly on his own words and campaign proposals: Barack Obama in His Own Words, Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s Plan to Renew America’s Promise (foreward by Obama) and An American Story: the Speeches of Barack Obama. Here are several more titles, pro and con, that have been published so far:
Hopes and Dreams: the Story of Barack Obama by Steve Dougherty
The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality by Jerome R. Corsi
The Case Against Barack Obama by David Freddoso
Can a Catholic Support Him?: Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama by Douglas W. Kmiec
The American Journey of Barack Obama by the editors of Life
The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield
Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell
A Bound Man: Why We are Excited about Obama, and Why He Can’t Win by Shelby Steele
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics by Paul Louis Street
Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency by Robert Kuttner
Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill (on order)
Preparing the Feast
Posted November 13, 2008
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means that grand American tradition is here: overeating. Whether you’re hosting the whole dinner or just contributing a savory side or a sweet treat, you might find you need a little help to find that perfect recipe. Giving Thanks is packed with history, trivia, recipes and charming photos and illustrations depicting the history of this long-celebrated holiday. The recipes cover many traditional dishes but also include some interesting twists from a variety of cultures such as: a Cuban stuffed turkey, a Portuguese Linguica sausage stuffing, and a Finnish turnip casserole. Another great book for those of you have some vegetarians on your holiday guest list is the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates. The folks from the famed vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York have put together a collection of recipes for every occasion and they’ve included two menus for Thanksgiving, one vegan and one vegetarian. These are just a couple of titles from the many books we have with tips and tricks for everything from cooking the perfect turkey to creating new traditions to share with your loved ones. Check out some of the titles below before you get cooking.
How to Cook a Turkey: and All the Other Trimmings from the editors of Fine Cooking magazine
Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook: All You Need to Cook a Foolproof Dinner
The Thanksgiving Table: Recipes and Ideas to Create Your Own Holiday Tradition by Diane Morgan
Feast: Food That Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson
Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert by Rick Rodgers
Vegan and Vegetarian Cooking
Posted November 11, 2008
Ever been at a loss for what to serve to a vegetarian dinner guest? Or considered following the advice of Skinny Bitch and cutting meat and dairy out of your diet? Or maybe you’ve just wondered what exactly vegans eat? October was Vegetarian Awareness Month and November is Vegan Month, so now is the perfect time to investigate these questions! Flip through a few of our favorite vegan and vegetarian cookbooks to find inspiration for your next meatless dinner. At over 300 pages, Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, is full of creative and robust vegan recipes for the more experienced cook. For those just beginning to cook vegan, Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond offers over 100 easy recipes. If you’re looking for vegan recipes with a more international fare, try Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. For vegetarians, we suggest getting started with New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, a straightforward compendium of meatless dishes many of which offer enticing variations on the original recipe. Looking relatively simple vegetarian cuisine? We suggest One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson. Those with more time and skill should check out Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. Finally, vegetarians and vegans often socialize and cohabitate with meat eaters. For those who face the challenge of feeding friends and family with disparate diets, The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley offers “convertible” recipes to satisfy all without requiring the chef to prepare multiple meals.
Based on the Books
Posted November 6, 2008
With rich stories and colorful characters, books are natural source material for movies. Filmmakers have been bringing literature to life for years, and this season is no exception. Whether you like to read the book and then see the movie or vice versa we’ve got the books these current and upcoming films are based on.
Currently in Theaters:
Appaloosa - Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris team up once again in this western based on Robert B. Parker’s 2005 novel. Harris also co-wrote the screenplay and directs.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist - Michael Cera co-stars in this date movie about two teens’ night out in Manhattan in search of their favorite band’s secret show based on the well-reviewed novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
Body of Lies - This film starring two of the biggest names in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott is based on the novel by David Ignatius which was praised by Publishers Weekly as, “one of the best post 9/11 thrillers yet.”
The Secret Life of Bees - Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson star in the film adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s 2002 debut novel. Set in South Carolina during the 1960s, the story centers on Lily Owens and her caregiver, Rosaleen, after they are forced to flee their town and are taken in by three bee-keeping sisters who may hold the answers to Lily’s questions about her dead mother’s past.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Based on John Boyne’s Holocaust novel about Bruno, a young boy whose family moves from Berlin to the country after his father, a Nazi officer, receives a promotion. From his new home the boy can see a camp where people wear striped pajamas, he secretly befriends one of the boys in the camp and their friendship has unimaginable repercussions.
The Soloist - Based on L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez’ memoir about how he met and befriended Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a classically trained musician who fell on hard times and became homeless due to his struggle with schizophrenia. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez and Jamie Foxx stars as Ayers.
Twilight - The long-awaited adaptation of the first book in Stephanie Meyer’s young adult vampire trilogy hits the big screen. This may be the most anticipated new vampire book-to-movie since Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.
The Reader - This drama set in post-World War II Germany is based on the book by Bernhard Schlink and stars Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. Schlink’s book was also one of Oprah’s book club picks.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - This tale of a man who is born old and grows younger is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
Marley and Me - Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson star in this family movie based on John Grogan’s account of how he and wife adopted a lovable Labrador pup only to find that he was more than they bargained for.
The Spirit - Based on Will Eisner’s classic comic, Frank Miller directs this action flick. Sneak peeks of the trailer reveal that this is very much in the style of Frank Miller’s Sin City. With Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson heading up the cast, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Revolutionary Road - Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are together again as the young suburban couple facing marital difficulties and discontent based on Richard Yates classic novel.
“Dexter” - The darkly comedic and wildly popular show about a serial killer who only kills other serial killers is based on the Dexter Morgan series by Jeff Lindsay:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dexter in the Dark
“True Blood” - The new HBO series from “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball is based on Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Southern vampire series, which began with Dead Until Dark.
“Bones” - The Fox series about a forensic anthropologist who writes novels on the side and helps solve murders is inspired by Kathy Reichs, a real-life forensic anthropologist, and her Temperance Brennan series. Series begins with Deja Dead.
Studs Terkel, 1912-2008
Posted November 4, 2008
Beloved Chicagoan Studs Terkel, author and radio and television personality, died last week at the age of 96. As an author, Terkel (whose nickname derived from the title character in Chicago writer James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy) was probably best known for his oral histories, books that turned to ordinary people for an understanding of the great events and experiences of history. Notable examples include Hard Times and Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (which was also the basis for a musical, the soundtrack of which is available on CD). Terkel’s latest book P.S.: Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening, has just been published.
Terkel also had an acting career that began in theater. He had a small, honorary role in the film Eight Men Out, about the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, as a newspaper reporter. There’s also a documentary (only available on VHS) called Studs Terkel’s Chicago. And speaking of movies, local movie house Facets points out that he often joined them to discuss some of his favorites, including: Body and Soul, The Blue Angel and The Grapes of Wrath.
But what better way to honor Terkel’s life than to read one of his books? Here’s a selection:
Giants of Jazz
Division Street: America
Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times
American Dreams: Lost and Found
The Good War (Pulitzer Prize winner)
The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream
Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession
Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It
My American Century
The Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays With Those Who Make Them
Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith
Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times
And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey
Touch and Go