Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

London Food

I was excited to read The London Cookbook for two reasons:

1)  It prepared me for our Thanksgiving week trip to London, and all the top restaurants I should have on my radar, and;

2)  I could cook all the delicious foods when I got back!

This is a heavy, thick book full of wonderful looking recipes and beautiful photos (plus some fun line drawings).

London's food has really developed some diversity and high standards, and (even with not going to many of the high end places), I would say we ate better in London than we actually did in Paris.

Back to the book, though. It's well developed, with chapters on light fare, soups, pastas, vegetarian, seafood, fowl, and meat. TWO chapters on desserts (chilled and regular), and cocktails — I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time at the back of the book...

This book is written with a great deal of love and affection for London, and that's exactly what I'm in the mood for right now. It's a beautiful tribute to a much-loved city.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Colors of Bowie

2016 has been a hard year, a year that's knocked us down in so many different ways, starting with the death of David Bowie. So when I knew I might need a little therapeutic coloring, I picked up the "David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book."

It's a little different than other adult coloring books I have worked on. Its small, square shape fits easily into a bag. The pictures are less about detailed pattern arrangement, and more about a specific look or costume. Each page has a facing page of big bubble lettering with a fact about Bowie or incident in his life. Though the costumes are effectively done, the illustrator has a hard time with his face — Bowie ends up looking more like a character in Jem and the Holograms than Ziggy Stardust — but to be fair, his very uniqueness makes him pretty hard to represent.

(as usual, book provided free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fun Run

Ok, I love arts and culture, but sometimes I am slow to come to an appreciation of other events. Case in point — I hated the Apex Fun Run when Beatrix's school started doing it. I didn't see the point, I didn't like the kids getting all worked up to get prizes, I worry about high overhead for fundraising activities, I was not crazy about school fundraisers in general — I only saw the "run," and not the fun.

I was categorically wrong.

Over the past 3 years, I have really come to see the value and come to appreciate Apex as an organization. Each year, they provide a leadership curriculum where they spend just a few minutes in the classroom each day with the leadership goals. They kids love it and respond to "Jazzy Jeff" and the other staff that come to their classrooms. The organization puts all this together with minimal parent involvement (well, except in the case of my awesome friend Peg who has been chairing the event and really knocking herself out on it) and a focus on the kids getting the most possible from the event. Yes, we could do something with lower overhead, but it would take a LOT more volunteer commitment, and I am not convinced we have the capacity. In our case, Beatrix likes asking for pledges but does not get too obsessed about the big prizes. There is a lot of community built.

And to be quite blunt about finances, Randolph Heights had over $100,000 cut from it's budget this year. The PTA budget is about $80,000 this year, allowing for small classroom grants to teachers, health and safety supplies, field trips for all grades, new books for the library and classroom materials, and to make up for the music programming that was cut. We need events like the Fun Run, much as I might wish we did not.

Today was the run itself, and it was a blast. The weather was beautiful, and there were two courses (one for each grade) set up at nearby Edgcumbe Rec, where the kids ran 36+ laps for about half an hour. It was great physical exercise, it was community building, it was a source of pride, and it was really fun for each kid. I saw kids trip and have their friends help each other up. I saw girls run holding hands. I saw my friend's son, new to the school, super-excited because he had raised enough pledges to put a pie in the face of "Jazzy Jeff." I saw one boy who ran 74 laps — double the 36 they were shooting for. I saw excitement and joy and fun.

So yes, I may have started off cynically. But now I can't support this enough. So I guess I have gained some leadership skills too.