Sunday, July 31, 2011

On Friday, a tourist called CCPL the "local Cheers bar." I love it.

Tomorrow will be my one year anniversary with the Cumberland County Public Library.

So, in essence, tomorrow I celebrate...

- one year serving in the most fulfilling job I've ever had.
- one year of waking up without a single "I can't go to work today" thought. Sure, there have been (and will continue to be) days when I would have rather lounged around the house, but there honestly has never been a morning I've dreaded my job.
- one year of the most laughter I've ever had in a work setting.
- one year of interesting introductions and moments of reacquaintance.
- one year of continual how some people apparently don't see the numbers on the DVDs:)
- one year of the occasional biting of the tongue, but more so than not, of intriguing conversation.
- one year of fiction author tutorials; I've got it now, Terry...Beverly Lewis = bonnets and wagons!
- one year of Fancy Nancy parties, homemade recorders, and Tucker-assisted Story Hours.
- one year of sarcasm-laden, but always in good-fun, Talk Around Towns, newspaper articles, and Facebook updates.
- one year of gingerbread houses, dessert bake-offs, and Minit Mart fountain drinks (Barbara and Cathy - half ice, half drink and usually a 22 oz; Terry - Diet Coke, 32 oz.; Vickie - Mt. Dew and usually a 20 oz. bottle; Janet and Shirley - they're crazy, they usually drink water).
- one year of speakers and book fairs and orchestras.
- one year with the best co-workers I can imagine and the most interestingly diverse patrons any small town has ever produced.
- one year in a position my Dad was proud to see me in and one in which my Mom supports with her attendance, cooking skills, and charming personality at each event, activity, and program.
- one year of being inspired.

Some of my favorite moments...

Last Thursday, we were fortunate to have Kentucky native/author/NPR commentator, Georgia Green Stamper, join us for an evening of discussion, essay excerpts, and absolutely delicious food. She was delightful - approachable, entertaining, and well-prepared - and her most recent publication, You Can Go Anywhere From the Crossroads of the World, is now available in our library. Here are some of my favorite opening lines from this essay collection:

"This is the way Daddy always told the story so I guess it happened that way. If it didn't it could have, and after seventy-five years of countless re-tellings, it is now the truth."

"I was born into a sprawling, indigenous to Kentucky, two-pronged clan, and each side of the family believes in reunions. We believe in the Constitution of the United States, too, but we would probably find something good to say about an anarchist if he were faithful at showing up at our annual potluck."

"There is a Hell, he assured me, in case I had any doubt. He had been there and back on a train. Then, like the author of a Fromm's Tour Guidebook, he proceeded to describe the place to me, so that I would know what to expect should I, too, ever travel there. I was about twelve and hadn't had time, I figured, to do much that would put me on the road to damnation."

"By the time I entered first grade, I knew all there was to know about make believe, and understood that fairy tales were not true. That was the same year, however, that I met Buck, our little school's custodian, and I was never afterward quite so sure of the line between truth and fiction."

"I haven't read the best-selling book about the five people you meet in Heaven. I haven't read it because I don't like the title. To be honest, I'm expecting at least half the Kentuckians who ever lived to come out to meet me at the Pearly Gates."

"I guess I'm tacky as all get out, and maybe shallow to boot, but I just love the trappings of the Christmas season."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Leigh Ann Morgan, The Original Bossypants

It didn’t matter if we were “cooking” with what could have only been a pretend Easy Bake Oven (Mom would never buy us one. Or a three-wheeler. I don’t get it.), setting up - and subsequently playing - “school” with random, lightweight pieces of furniture that we had hoarded from other rooms of the house and collected in the middle of the living room floor, dressing up like the esteemed members of Poison, or ordering healthy snacks from McDonalds...Leigh Ann had the best spatula; Leigh Ann’s desk could’ve passed for an actual teacher’s; Leigh Ann was Brett Michaels when she wanted, Slash when she so chose; Leigh Ann was the silent, yet inevitably well-fed child who somehow coerced her sister, two years her junior, to tell the man or woman behind the cash register - an employee who was probably super happy that a child who couldn’t pronounce her “r”s and “l”s was ordering anyway - that the older of the two wanted a plain cheeseburger.

And I took it. And it makes me laugh now. And I probably wouldn’t change a thing.
What you don't see is the aluminum foil ball and plastic fork Leigh Ann gave me to play with. But look how happy I was!

Five beauty tips found in Tina Fey’s, Bossypants:
1) "The right undergarments are an essential part of your silhouette: My mother knew the importance of getting the right fit for a bra, so she took me to JCPenney and tried one on over my clothes. She tried a bra on me over my clothes in the middle of JCPenney.

2) A woman’s hair is her crowning glory: Beauty experts in the 1970s declared the shag the ‘most universally flattering haircut.’ The short layers in the front framed the face while irregular longer pieces in the back elongated the neck. I think this picture proves them right. Always on the cutting edge of beauty, I believe this haircut was executed by folding my face in half and cutting out a heart.

3) What to do if you don’t have constant access to a hairstylist: I first found a system that worked for me in the mid-eighties. Once or twice a week I would set my alarm for six a.m. so I could get up and plug in the Hot Stix. Hot Stix were heated rubber sticks, and you would twist your hair around them and roll it up. After about fifteen minutes, you took all the sticks out, and your hair was curled up in tight rings (with dry raggedy ends). I would study the curls in the mirror, impressed with both the appliance and my newfound ability to use it.

Then, without fail, at the last second before leaving for school, I would ask myself, ‘Am I supposed to brush it out or leave it?’ Why could I never remember? That feeling of ‘I’m pretty sure this next step is wrong, but I’m just gonna do it anyway’ is part of the same set of instincts that makes me such a great cook. On some level I knew I wasn’t supposed to brush it out, but I couldn’t stop myself. My hand – gripping the brush like it was a hand transplant from a murderer who hated beauty – brushed through the curls, turning them into a giant static-filled mess.

4) When it comes to fashion, find what works for you and stick with it: By nineteen, I had found my look. Oversize t-shirts, bike shorts, and wrestling shoes. To prevent the silhouette from being too baggy, I would cinch it at the waist with my fanny pack. I was pretty sure I would wear this forever. The shirts allowed me to express myself with cool sayings like ‘There’s No Crying in Baseball’ and ‘Universitat Heidelberg,’ the bike shorts showed off my muscular legs, and the fanny pack held all my trolley tokens. I was nailing it on a daily basis.

5) A manicure is a must: Once I moved to New York in 1997, I discovered the joys of the quickie Korean manicure. The city is filled with tiny storefront nail salons where you can get a manicure-pedicure, an underarm wax, and a ten-minute series of punches in the back, all for under a hundred dollars. The first few times you go, it can be intimidating. For starters, you may forget that you yourself speak English. You enter, smile, and nod at the manager. ‘Manicure-pedicure?’ ‘Pick color,’ she chirps back in her Korean accent. You pick out a couple of the three hundred shades of off-white. ‘This for manicure. This feet. Magazine okay?’ Why are you talking like that?"

To all the bossypants out there, I salute you. Notice that, despite being two years older, Leigh Ann is the one who got the booster seat. At least I look incredibly comfortable.

**And, by the way, I enthusiastically recommend this book. I have literally out loud every time I’ve picked it up. For those of you in Cumberland County, it is available at the Library…or, it will be as soon as I return it. ______________________________________________________
A couple of ideas for that excess garden produce...

My version of Pineapple Zucchini Bread
Yield: 2 loaves; or 1 loaf, 12 big muffins

The basic recipe can be found on the Taste of Home website (I also suggest trying the Rhubarb Blueberry Muffins also found on the site). I added in the following ingredients (in no really set amount; just whatever I thought "looked about right" - thinly sliced apples, maple syrup, coconut, homemade yogurt [and cut back on the vegetable oil] and poppy seeds)

3 eggs
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts in one batch, Carri Peterson's granola in another)
1 cup raisins, optional (I don't use)

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, zucchini, oil, pineapple and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients; stir into egg mixture just until moistened. Fold in nuts and raisins if desired.

Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool.
*Word of advice: If you fill your loaf pan too high and batter drips in the stove, clean it before preheating your oven for another baking adventure. I may or may not have started a small fire in my oven yesterday.

Carolyn Turner Lee's, Tomato Pie
Prepare crust:
1- Single roll out pie crust (I just used a frozen crust); Bake crust at 425 for 5 minutes; Take crust from oven and add ½ Cup Mozzarella cheese on bottom

Use any vegetables you like. (I use yellow and zucchini squash, onions, banana peppers, hot banana peppers, & fresh mushrooms) I prefer the squash to be diced(small). You will need about 3 cups of veges total. Sauté in olive oil just a few minutes till tender then lay on paper towels to drain. Place the drained vegetables over cheese in crust.

Mix together: ¾ cup of fresh basil (chopped),1/2 cup real mayo, 2 cloves of garlic –chopped, 1 ¼Cups of Mozzarella cheese, & ½ cup of parmesan cheese. Spread this mixture over top of vegetables in crust.

Tomato Layer:
Use 4 fresh tomatoes cut in wedges (after slicing tomatoes in wedges lay on paper towels to drain). Arrange tomatoes on top of filling. Sprinkle tomato wedges with ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese and black pepper.

Bake @ 375 - 30 minutes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

If You Don't Like the Winnie the Pooh Trailer, You Are Just a Bad Person

Yes, parts of it definitely do not rhyme and the others, well, are stretches. ...

“One World, Many Stories”
For Isabella Kurtys Morgan on her 2nd birthday...with much love, Aunt Liza (LiLi)

I see stories unfold, with a quick turn of a page, nearly every day:
trips to far-away lands, rides on exotic turquoise wings, talks with animals befriended along the way.
I feel silky, vibrantly-hued fabrics and hear musical medleys of robins, kittens, and buzzing bugs,
worlds of imagination seemingly real despite my office chair and coffee mug.

Of all the stories read and of all the stories told, however, I wish yours to be the most...
the most beautiful, the most exciting, the most engaging, the most fun.
I hope you run in fields among bright pink butterflies and swim in oceans with joke-telling seahorses,
live in treetops that nearly touch the moon and eat extravagant meals with more than four courses.

I wish for you a world of possibility, of never-ending stories, a world filled with your very favorite books.
I wish for you days of pretend, days of dress-up, days of hidden reading nooks.
I wish for you built-in shelves where your favorite characters will cozily rest side by side,
I wish for you nights spent reading, tucked in bed by your mom and dad, AKA, your tour guides.

But most of all, I simply wish you a happy 2nd birthday. I love you, you little rascal.

As she was watching the fireworks, Isabella would cover her mouth in excitement and say "what come next??" and then proceed to name the suspected selection; or when there was a break in between fireworks, she would stand in Nonna's lap and say, "C'mon." Pure joy is a really, really beautiful thing. Watching her truly was my favorite part of a wonderful 4th of July weekend.
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