Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pastor Daddy Story Hour

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting the authors and illustrators of the book Pastor Daddy for story hour at the bookstore. Lindsey Blair, Bobby Gilles and Tessa Janes were delightful to meet, just the sort of folks I knew I'd be friends with. You can read a good interview and more insight to their ministry and collaboration on the book here.

We had a great crowd come out for story hour, which was great! Here are some of the kids listening to Lindsey and Tessa read. I think it's hilarious how the little boy in the front is more interested in the gummy bears the girl next to him is eating. She clasped them to her chest and shook her head every time she wasn't eating one because of his steadfast gaze.

Here I am in my maroon-ness with Tessa (the illustrator) and her
husband, who was the original model for the dad in Pastor Daddy. What great people! I love this little book! Let me know if you are interested in getting a copy, because I'd love to help you out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reading Roundabouts

I am still working on my who all will be involved in our Reading Roundabouts, but I have finally settled on the book lists for them. First, for the Ladies' Roundabout with some women at church we will be reading a nice variety:

1. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
2. Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup
3. If by Amy Carmichael
4. He Gave Us a Valley by Helen Roseveare
5. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
6. Marriage to a Difficult Man the Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth Dodds

These are all books either I have or am able to get from my bookstore. I have a 33% off coupon for LifeWay right now!

Caitlin, Chrissy, Grace and I are having our own little Roundabout. Since there are fewer of us, and the girls are such voracious readers, we will be exchanging books every 2 weeks! I've started us with 6 books, which should take us to the end of the school semester. Here's what we are reading:

1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
2. Lies Young Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
3. Mimosa by Amy Carmichael
4. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
5. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
6. Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom

This weekend I'm going to work on making bookmarks and little notebook journals to pass around with the books to keep everyone on schedule and to give us a way to communicate about the books. I'd also like to put together little Reading Roundabout parties, so I need to look at a calendar and try to schedule those.

Thanks again to MummyMac for the outstanding suggestion. Many good cups of tea to you all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading a Play

While finishing off Hamlet, and preparing to read Faust, I've come to realize that I've never really been taught how to read a play. Shakespeare is enjoyable regardless how you read it because so much of the phrasing and characters are familiar and his play with the English language is a treat for the eye and ear. But now I'm looking at Goethe and I'm a little tentative. How should I tackle this work?

The only tactic I know to employ is to imagine the play taking place before me. Sometimes I even read aloud so I can hear lines I'd otherwise struggle to follow. This works well with most plays that I have seen before, or whose story lines with which I'm at least somewhat familiar. I am only slightly familiar with Faust, and the fact that it's been translated into English makes me think it's possible some things might be lost in translation. In German Faust is probably an incredible treat, but Clifton Fadimore (Lifetime Reading Plan) assures me that it is worth the effort in English as well.

Surely there are those of you who have loads of experience reading plays, and you might have some helpful tips. Please, anything!

In other news, I'm putting together 2 reading roundabouts for some friends at church. One is for the junior high girls in the youth group and the other is for some girlfriends at my church who are not in school. I'll say more later, but let me encourage you to consider doing a roundabout this fall. Why not start now, during this time that everything is transitioning?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Roasted Tomatoes and Ikea stuff

Last week the Courier-Journal (our newspaper in Louisville) had a whole big article on garden tomatoes, along with lots of photos and recipes( including the tomato tart). The article made me want to attack and eat the newspaper itself! The writer waxed eloquent, describing the flavor and color of summer's gems. I have since attempted to eat tomatoes at every meal since they are in their peak, and it's really almost like eating another food compared to the pinkish bland things that come around in the winter. I haven't been entirely successful, not because I am sick of tomatoes, but because they are fragile guys and they only last so many days from when I buy them at the farmer's market! I never run out of ways to eat tomatoes -- here's one of my favorites (okay, so we've veered off the book path, but it's tomato season right now, so please come along!).

Roasted Tomatoes
Cut small to medium tomatoes in half. Lay them open side up in a baking pan (I use a bread pan). Drizzle with EVOO, add salt and pepper. Roast them in a lowish temperature oven (300 or so) for 40 minutes or so. You may stop them sooner if the smell makes you stand in front of the stove salivating! I add pine nuts and a touch more EVOO for the last 10 minutes.

Holy cow! These things are amazing. I usually eat them with a hunk of bread to dip in the juices, but since I was out, I ate them with some steamed ravioli. It was amazing! I drank every drop of juice from the bottom of my bowl.

I also wanted to show you where my dear husband put up my recent Ikea purchases. I love that place. When we were there, my sister Anna said she wished she had a little house like me so that she would need some of their storage things. Ha ha! You crack me up, Anna! I was glad to find a fe
w things that would help us get a bit more organized that also didn't break the bank.

Here are some hooks and things to keep stuff handy I need at the stove. These cute green mugs were only 58 cents! And I love the hanging basket that keeps the seasonings I use most over the stove.

Back to books next time, I promise.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Lifetime Reading Plan

I've found a little gem in this book by Clifton Fadiman. Most of you who have been reading in this world even just a little bit longer than I have are probably already familiar with The Plan, but in case you're not, I'll introduce it to you.

Fadiman was a personality in the 40's and 50's in print and on television and radio, mainly for his opinions about books and reading. He wrote book reviews for The New Yorker, chose books for the "Book of the Month" club, and hosted a show called "Information, please!" He was asked to write a little plan for the average American, choosing the best books from 100 of the best authors, which was published as this little book, The Lifetime Reading Plan.

I was immediately struck by Fadiman's gentle wit and pleasant style of writing when I read the introduction -- it was like sitting in on a very fine lecture on the pleasure of reading good books. He humbly admits that any very well read person could make up such a plan, and that many other authors might be suggested or added to his list, and he would not argue about that -- if there are others you like, please, read them!

Fadiman gives short bios of each of the 100 authors, followed by a bit of a plot line and concrete reasons why the modern American should gain by it's reading. "Why should you read Dante?" he asks in the introduction "Jane Austen? Lucretius? Voltaire? Because they are great? That is no answer. Their greatness is what we feel after we have read them, often years after. I have tried to give a more concrete, less lofty answer to a natural and proper question."

He gives this tip on how to tackle difficult books: "If you try a book, say Hobbe's Leviathan and find it too difficult, put it aside for a year or so. Then take it up again. You will find that the other books you have read in the meantime will somehow have made Hobbes a little easier. That is one of the miracles of this kind of reading: each original communication helps us to extract a bit more from all the others."

Fadiman also lectures on our approach to reading: "Reading is not a passive experience, except when you're reading trash or the news. It should be and is, one of the most vigorous modes of living. A good book, like a healthy exercise, can give you that pleasant sense of fatigue that comes of having stretched your mental muscles."

The plan is not meant to be a checklist which earns you a bachelor's degree when you have completed it. Fadiman is clear about his intention "I would like you to feel The Lifetime Reading Plan as an exciting adventure of the mind, as well as a discipline. If I have communicated to you any of my own enthusiasm, you are ready to sit down for a lifetime of conversation with some of the liveliest talkers our civilization has produced." If these books are not enjoyed, then reading them is vanity.

I have always liked to hear reading spoken of as a conversation between the reader and writer. Choosing a book is often choosing a new friend -- not just in the characters, but behind them their author. Fadiman nods to that concept in the book's dedication: "For Mortimer J. Adler who first taught me, and has never ceased teaching me, how to listen to the Great Conversation."

If you're wondering, How to Read a Book by Adler is #99 in The Plan.

Friday, August 08, 2008

My friend Christen

I got a package in the mail yesterday from my dear friend Christen, who works in Brazil as a missionary. It was for my birthday, and I can't imagine a sweeter gift than this.

She sent me this jewelry that I'm styling here in this picture, which is made from coconut shells. I just love it!

The rest of the package was filled with an assortment of different tea bags from Brazil, all labeled by Christen so I would know what flavors they were. For instance, "Cha Verde com sabor de Pessego" says in Christen's girly handwriting that looks somehow the way she talks: "Fav! Green Tea w/Peach". MMMMmmmmmm . . . I'm sipping some of the tea you sent me right now!

Chris, your card brought me to tears, thinking of God's Providence in our lives that crossed our paths 2 1/2 years ago. That first night I sat and talked with you, drinking tea in my kitchen, I KNEW God was bringing me a true friend. I thought of praying together on Monday afternoons drinking green tea with pomegranate in the Barnabas house kitchen. There is no time or space that separates the love of the Father from His children, and likewise, His children from one another. We are bound together in Christ! I feel myself standing shoulder to shoulder with you, working joyfully to serve our Savior, no matter how far apart the map says we are.

Fellow readers, would you pray for my friend Christen today -- consider her as you drink a cup of tea this morning. She is just beginning her second year serving in Brazil, learning the language, and salivating with her husband to begin making plans where they will go serve and work when this phase is through. May the Lord use you to bring glory to Himself wherever you are serving, Chris! I pray that He will make you happy in Himself.

Thank you so much for the birthday presents!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tomato Tart and Book Sale at the Jewish Family Center

My friend Annie scans the internet all week for any promising weekend plans (she's the one who found out about the Jane Austen festival), and this week she found a used book sale at the Jewish school here in Louisville. Of course, the sale was on Sunday, so we had to wait to check it out until the afternoon.

For a quick lunch, I had fixed everything last night, including a tomato, onion and zucchini tart that I'd seen a recipe for in the newspaper this week. I'm on a tomato spree, endeavoring to eat them in all 3 meals each day. I'd say the tart turned out well, though I think I'll add even more tomatoes next time.

***EDIT: See end of post for Tomato Tart recipe.

I found a nice handful of books at the sale (the Judica and language books were rather picked over, according to the Hebrew scholars in our group). I was excited to find a good little variety of stuff I'm not already familiar with, like Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Lattimore in 1931 or Daybreak at Sampey Place by Frances Fitzpatrick Wright published in 1954. I'm eager to peruse, and I anticipate being unable to put down The Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman (books about books are just amazing!). This little collection of reviews of the greatest books of all time is dedicated to Mortimer J. Adler, author of How to Read a Book.

Finally, I do like to grab books purely for their aesthetic quality. For instance,
when I saw the spine of this particular copy of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, I knew at once that it would be perfect on this shelf with these other books. It coordinates with the wallpaper! Similarly, I envisioned the illustrations of Will You Take Me to Town on Strawberry Day being matted and framed in a little girl's room, for their red and pink hues in every picture (we'll see if I ever get around to it. It's a cute book nevertheless).

Tomato and Onion Tart (please forgive -- I give out recipes the way I remember them)

  • Saute 1 1/2 sliced onions in a little butter and pinch of sugar until they start to carmelize (medium heat). Set aside and let them cool.
  • Prepare a pie crust, roll it out and bake it in a tart or pie pan (I WISH I had a tart pan) for about 8 minutes so the bottom can toast a bit.
  • Layer the tart with: Carmelized onions first, 1 medium sliced zucchini, and 3 whole sliced tomatoes. I added garlic salt, basil and oregano in between layers as well. Top with your favorite cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. You may cover the crust with foil and bake longer if you want to make sure the veggies are nice and done.