Friday, October 31, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Happy Halloween!

Today's drink is a toast to the ubiquitous October pumpkin, whether carved or painted or unadorned. This drink is a keeper that will keep you warmed up through Thanksgiving. This little sip of decadence is basically pumpkin pie in glass. A mouth shot of ReddiWip (while no one is looking) would finish this off nicely, albeit uncouthly.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

1 shot Rain organic vodka
1 ounce pumpkin butter (Get the real deal at the farmer's market if you can.)
1/2 shot part triple sec
1/2 shot simple syrup
A pinch each of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger (Or a pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice that's already mixed for you would do nicely.)
Garnish with grated nutmeg (Oh, if you have not tried fresh nutmeg, you have not lived. A nutmeg grater is a wonderful stocking stuffer.)

You know the deal, Regular Readers. Fill a sterling silver or stainless steel cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted. You'll know it's done when your fingers feel like Flick's tongue in A Christmas Story. Strain into martini glass and garnish with that freshly grated nutmeg. Toss in a whole cinnamon stick for kicks if you like. The scent alone is heaven. If Demeter made a fragrance that smelled like this cocktail I'd bathe in it.

Happy Haunting!
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barefoot Books: Reading With Your Kids Has Never Been More Delightful

I love books. I devour them. There are not enough hours in the day for me to get through my book list. Nothing makes me prouder than to see Bird take such interest in reading and really putting his heart into learning the beauty and magic of how letters form words and words form sentences that glide us into wonderful escapes, adventures, and daydreams. I can tell that he is already learning an appreciation for words. He might be the only kindergartener who excitedly remarks when he comes upon a homonym. He is now learning about palindromes too and is so tickled that a word can be spelled the same forward and backward. Through his eyes I recall feeling that same sense of wonder when I was five. I do hope his math skills don't suffer as mine did.

Bird now reads to Deal time to time. Let me be clear; reading involves sounding out words and sounds and making up the story as he goes along. Deal loves nothing more than sitting with his side pressed into his brother's hips as close as he can physically get as he listens to a story. From afar they look like Siamese twins. That Deal must have been a furry cuddly lap dog in another life. Through Bird's lessons Deal is also learning his letters and developing a curiosity for words and books. As you can imagine, this makes me beam.

I was thrilled when the kind folks at Barefoot Books gave me the opportunity to review a couple books. Barefoot Books is an independent book publisher that was started 15 years ago by two working moms with seven children between them. The many books in their collection focus on celebrating diversity, appreciating myriad cultural traditions, nurturing a sense of curiosity, and fostering a global perspective. The company is still a grassroots organization and lives by its mission and values cemented in the early days of its inception.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to read something with no corresponding licensed character merchandise, computer generated animation, formulaic plot, or television counterpart.

I read My Granny Went to Market and Shopping With Dad. Both books had lovely, colorful illustrations that were vibrant, engaging, and works of art.

My Granny Went to Market was the hands down favorite of my little bunch. The illustrations are charming enough to warrant a frame and some picture hooks. If I had another copy of the book I would tear out the pages and do just that. The story is a counting story but not one of those stupid ones about ducks swimming away or putting eggs back into a nest. The premise is about a grandmother who travels the world collecting various goodies from faraway lands. It all starts with a magical flying carpet found in Istanbul (which as we know from They Might Be Giants, was once Constantinople). Nesting dolls from Russia. Paper lanterns from China. Kites from Tokyo. Drums from Kenya. It is a delightful little book that is a great introduction to global understanding for small children. It's a pretty good reminder for us grownups too.

Shopping With Dad has fun illustrations (gee, I am a sucker for illustrations) and perfectly captures the chaos of grocery shopping with a toddler in tow, especially when the grocery list calls for things like Octopus Underpants, Extra-Clean Germs, and Strong Anti-Grump Pills! Deal even referred to this story when we were at Harris Teeter this afternoon. He assured me he would not sneeze (You'll get it once you read the book.).

What I love about both books is how the authors inject a global perspective without being preachy or obvious. It is simply a snapshot of the world that I was raised in; people of many cultures living, playing, working together. The town I live in does not share the same diverse culture I enjoyed as a child so these books are a wonderful tool to give my kids a broader perspective of the world. The pictures in these books are not merely black and white; the characters represents cultures, not colors. Such is Barefoots Books' distinction.

Bird attends an International Studies school so he eats up learning about other cultures and loves gazing at the globe to see where our various family members live. Barefoot Books will be a perfect accompaniment to the curriculum he follows at school. We are going to put up a map in the play room so we can mark the cities we have visited. And if we can't make it to the many corners of the planet, we will bring those corners to our little corner.

I am adding A Calendar of Festivals, The Barefoot Book of Blessings, The Faerie's Gift, The Story of Divaali, and The Tear Thief to the boys' Christmas lists. I think we're all going to enjoy the ride.

And as a way to deal with this sour economy, you can get 30% off through November 3 if you click here www.ReadingBarefootBooks.com !
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Visits Raleigh to Barack the Early Vote

One of many long lines. Throngs of hopeful, patient souls waiting to see the next President of the United States of America, live in Memorex. The Melting Pot personified here today. Wow am I glad I did not drag Bird and Deal to this. Five and three year-olds are not known for their ability to stand in a line for long periods of time unless a Star Wars simulator ride or Toy Story 3D shoot 'em up game is at the end.

Me and my Twitter friend @catnc. See Mac Daddy, I am not talking to imaginary friends on Twitter. @catnc is real. This is not a Bartles & James cardboard cut out. We had just come from coffee with Edie Falco, whose vacation home is in the teeny tiny speck of a town @catnc grew up in. They totally bonded.

Barack is totally pointing to me here.

Here Barack is saying something really smart about how we will be worse off four years from now if John McCain is president. I have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of it.

Another emphatic point here. The man rocks. He simply rocks. Damn if he isn't presidential.

Farewell, Raleigh. Please vote early! Polls are open through Saturday, November 1. You can even register and vote on the same day if you vote early. In North Carolina you cannot register to vote on Election Day, November 4!

See you on November 5, Raleigh. Next time, it's Mr. President.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Red States

This little knee slapper landed in my inbox, and I just had to share. Bear in mind that I live in a red state and was raised in a red state. Both of which are battlegrounds this year (NC and VA). The author of this piece is unknown according to About.com. It's tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek funny with a good dose of snark baked in. With the snark comes a drizzle of truth.

Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California , Hawaii , Oregon , Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85% of America 's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama . We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico

Peace out,
Blue States
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