Thursday, March 31, 2011

10 Ways to Celebrate Women...during Women's History Month and Beyond

1. Read books, stories, poems and essays about, by and for women
Here are lovely posts I wrote listing several juicy female reads (one is a total female read, one you'll have to dig through and another of Irish short stories that you'll have to dig through). I'd also like to add a great list that somebody [I can't remember--sorry whoever you are!] else posted of 100 YA fiction books for the feminist reader...I've passed this list on to several of my avid reader students.

2. Have girls who are friends
And, I don't mean friends you date, dating isn't the same as having girl friends. Something can be said for the Sex in the City female relationship. Think about what you can learn from women, how to live, laugh and love. We women could really learn to lean on one another more and cat-fight with one another a little less. Having strong female friendships can help keep you sane in a world that demands your role in society be defined by what you do (SAHM, professional et cetera), not by who you are. Through these relationships we can also learn that being a woman comes in many different shapes and sizes. We can learn to respect those differences in ourselves. I know my gal pals understand that I want to be the best mother, sister, daughter, friend and wife I can be while still be myself (see Point 5).

3. Educate others (in my case, my students)
Over the years I have taught what it means to be a strong female to students by doing a whole unit on women writers and's a sample calendar. It is really easy to bash men in trying to identify the powerful woman you are, part of being a strong female is understanding gender roles and our roles in portraying or disproving them. Men are part of this as well.

4. Connect with other women (make new friends, enjoy functions)
Operation Beautiful
The Lady Blogger Society
Campaign for Real Beauty

What can you do in your community to show that you are a positive role model?

5. Mirror, Mirror on the wall (be true to who you are)
I spent a great deal of my life not being happy in my own skin. While I may not have all the answers now...I definitely know I don't have to, either! Read books that promote independent thought, watch movies that inspire, listen to music that educates as well as entertains. How did I learn to be true to myself? I began by listening to that inner voice that told me that the me I am is the me that I am OK to be...even if others don't like my hair or think I dress a little funky. I love me!

Figure out:

1. How you define yourself?
2. How you stay true to this 'self'?
3. What are your likes, your dislikes, your passions?
4. Those who promote this person in you and emulate their positive traits.

6. Don't let others around you get away with sexist remarks, even if they are spoken unintentionally
So, yesterday in our faculty meeting our principal made a faux pas. One of our counselors got hired at a different school and in the meeting our principal ribbed him calling him a 'tiger-ette'--referring to the fact that he would be a 'Lady' Tiger at his new school. I didn't really think anything of it, until one of my friends asked him if he meant that being a female tiger was, in fact, inferior or derogatory. Another female co-worker told him that a female tiger was actually a tigeress. After the meeting, a new teacher told my friend that she was proud of what my friend said because our principal makes a lot of comments like that and she didn't feel she could do anything as a new teacher.

7. Know your Women's History
My example: I knew about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, but I didn't know that these women had already endured hardships by being some of the first women to protest working conditions and wages for women. I didn't know that these women were subjected to horrible searches at the end of every shift because the factory owners didn't want the women stealing ,of all things, thread and material. And, I didn't know that the reason why the doors were locked was not because of safety, but because of selfishness and greed from the owners. I learned all this by watching a documentary on PBS.

8. Laugh

Lisel Mueller (b. 1924) is a German-born American poet, who won the Pulitzer in 1997.
The Laughter of Women
The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness
It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out
The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again
Prisoners held in underground cells
imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women
It runs across water that divides,
and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other
What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.
Lisel Mueller

9. Donate your time, talents and money
I'm pretty excited about donating my time and talents this summer when I help with Vacation Bible School at the church we've been attending. However, I always try to find ways to give back to those who have given to me. Sometimes it can't be money, but it can always be a portion of the best part of me.

Denim Day
The Purple Dress Project

10. Be a true woman of the Lord
Here are my three favorite Biblical Female Role Models
Ruth She is a strong, independent woman who follows a God she doesn't know and loves a man who is different than her. Ruth also has a lovely best friend Naomi, they stick by one another no matter what.
Esther Courage in the face of many trials, Esther does not deny her heritage and faith, but finds a way to use them to educate and inform others.
Sara The mother of all nations. Left a life of affluence and wealth to live in the desert with her husband following what the Lord asked her to do being a good wife and mother.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge: Day Thirteen

Day Thirteen: A song that is a guilty pleasure        

          I understand what a guilty pleasure song is supposed to be (the song you are supposed to listen to only in the quiet of your car or in your room when no one is home, the song you disguise by renaming it on your iPod)...and, I can tell you I have no guilty pleasures...really! All the songs that I love, I love in the wide-open. When I was 31 I went to a Backstreet Boys concert (I am not ashamed of this fact). Ask anyone I know and they will tell you that I have this sick love of Pop music. It all started with Debbie Gibson, or perhaps earlier with ABBA and Cliff Richard. There's something to be said for a good pop song where by the end you're in a better mood and your spirit has been lifted.
          I have this deep crazy love for New Kids on the Block (You can call yourselves NKOTB, but I know who you are New Kids!). My friend Julie and I are going to the NKOTBSB concert of AWESOMENESS in July. I'm pumped and want to make a poster that says something like "Jordan, I'll be loving U 4 EVA" with a big heart covered in red glitter or maybe "I *heart* Nick".
          I guess my guilty pleasure is anything by any of the boy bands I love, you know Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Boyzone et cetera and the boys who started the pop boy band craze, the boys who are now men who aren't really that much older than me (although I thought they were) my favorite boy band NKOTB. I still have my posters somewhere...maybe I'll put them up, while listening to "You've Got (The Right Stuff)".
         I figure I'll make an excellent mother of a tween girl, but, watch, she'll be one of those girls that's mega cool and digs classic rock.

The 30 Day Song Challenge
Day 01 – Your favorite song
Day 02 -- Your least favorite song
Day 03 -- A song that makes you happy
Day 04 -- A song that makes you sad
Day 06 -- A song that reminds you of someone
Day 06 -- A song that reminds you of somewhere
Day 07 -- A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 08 -- A song that you know all the words to
Day 09 -- A song that you can dance to
Day 10 -- A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 11 -- A song from your favorite band
Day 12 -- A song from a band you hate
Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 15 – A song that describes you
Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate
Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio
Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Day 19 – A song from your favorite album
Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry
Day 21 – A song that you listen to when you’re happy
Day 22 – A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Day 23 – A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 24 – A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh
Day 26 – A song that you can play on an instrument
Day 27 – A song that you wish you could play
Day 28 – A song that makes you feel guilty
Day 29 – A song from your childhood
Day 30 – Your favorite song at this time last year

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

50 Books in a Year: Book #15 The Ice Princess

The Ice Princess
Camilla Läckberg

Nordic Crime Fiction
Free Press, March 2011
Trade Paperback, 416 pages
ISBN-10: 1451621744
ISBN-13: 9781451621747

          I am a big fan of crime fiction, no really, I am. I love the Lincoln Rhyme novels (the most famous being The Bone Collector), Sherlock Holmes (esp. Hounds of the Baskervilles), and all those Agatha Christie novels. There is a Nordic crime fiction craze, however, that seems to be all the rage nowadays that I just can't seem to get the fever for.  I remember reading and watching Smilla's Sense of Snow, but, there are others out there (and, I'm not even talking about that Stieg Larsson person and his books--books that I will eventually read I promise!), one such person is Camilla Lackberg. Although Lackberg has a whole series of books starring a famous over-worked detective, Patrik Hedström, her books have just recently been translated into English. I think the reason I haven't jumped on the Nordic crime wagon, is that, being an avid reader, I can feel that something is being lost in the translation of a book. In a translation awkward turns of phrase seem to get repeated,  sentences seem choppy and, no matter how good the translation, the flow seems stilted.
        I chose to read this book to see if the translation, by famed Larsson translator Steven T. Murray, would be any different.  It wasn't. Not only do I dislike that something that is missing because of the translation, I also dislike duh duh duh scene enders and there are several in this book. Don't get me wrong I enjoy suspense and I do care what the letter said, I do care what's in the waste basket and I do care what's missing from the bedroom, I just want the fact that the writer already knows something that I'm using clues to figure out myself to be a little less apparent in the clues he/she is giving--I don't need commerical breaks. These plot points made me read the book faster than I would have liked because I wanted to see if I was right in my assumptions and they were so blatant that they got in the way of the plot. But, that doesn't mean the story (if you can get past the hard to pronounce names and places) wasn't any good.
        Although this is Patrik Hedström Book #1, the main character is Erica Falck, a woman whose parents just died, whose sister is in an abusive marriage and whose childhood friend has just been horribly murdered left in her bathtub, a thin layer of ice covering her body. She spends most of her time trying to find out more about her friends life, but there are a couple of side stories (such as her sister and her abusive husband) that I found a little distracting from the main plot. I do like how Läckberg incorporates this present mystery with one from 20 years in the past. I also liked that I jumped ahead to read the ending, but had no clue what was going on because she introduces so many characters and plot points from the beginning to the end. While I like that Erica is the protagonist of the book, I don't understand why Lackberg would give her such a lead role in this book and then name the series after Patrick, as if we are following his life and not hers. I can't wait to read the rest of the series (or at least the next one) to see how that plays out. I like the idea of Ericka as a strong female role who has issues, but doesn't let those issues get in the way of the truth she is seeking. I'll be sad if that doesn't carry through to the rest of the series.
        What I like most about this book is that it is set in a real place. The little town of Fjällbacka, where this, and other Läckberg novels, takes place has a population of about 1,000 people, and is most noted for being a town where Ingrid Bergman lived for a time. This story winds all around the town and Stockholm enough that I felt compelled to research the town (the map in the book wasn't really detailed enough) to see points of interest including the famed Bergman square.
         I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced crime drama with a few twist and turns and doesn't mind that something has gotten lost in its translation.

3 1/2 (too many little flaws to make it a 4, although this book is an excellent plane read)

Websites of Interest
Camilla's Top Ten Swedish Crime Novels
On Good Reads
Official Website
Top 100 Crime Novels According to Wikipedia

I received this book for free for review from Free Press Blog Tours.

Monday, March 28, 2011

50 Books in a Year: Book #14 Comfort Me with Apples

          I am a lover of food. I'd call myself a foodie, but since our high school Friday fish lunch makes me almost as happy as a seared Ahi tuna steak, we won't go there. I love food.
         You already know how I feel about cookbooks, but I also love a good food memoir and a good book that uses food to propel the plot. Books that are about food have the best of all books  in one neat little package. They are romantic and sexy, intriguing, emotional, and full of delicious recipes. Over the years I've read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, Like Water for Chocolate, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Chocolat, and Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table.
         I read Tender at the Bone my first year of teaching. The feeling I had then, you know that of a single woman on her first adventure into adulthood was echoed in the adventures of Reichl and reading about her life set my mind at ease because reading about living with such eloquence, passion and drive, even in the dark times led me to have faith in my own little life. It was fun to sit around my apartment (that had been converted from a garage) reading this book, pausing only to buy ingredients to cook up some recipe (and I made several from the book), my favorite being the Deviled Eggs.
         Her second book, Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, came out a couple of years later, but by then my life had taken over me, and I had all but stopped reading for pleasure. I put it on my list of "To Be Read" and moved on.
         I think it's funny how life works and when I started this blog and then started a reading challenge or two *snicker* I thought of this book. Food, after all, is one of the categories of the Non-Fiction reading challenge. This is the final book for my Non-Fiction challenge. I can't believe I finished it so quickly. I'm looking forward to reading more about Reichl, as I have gotten to know her more through her show on PBS and feel that her adventures will only help me with the rest of mine.

Marion's Deviled Eggs
(from Tender at the Bone)
4 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ballpark mustard
Salt and pepper

Shell eggs, cut carefully in half lengthwise, and put yolks into a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork until they are smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. The mixture should be thick and creamy. Fill each egg white half with the with the yolk mixture. Grate a bit of pepper on top. Refrigerate until needed. Makes 8 deviled eggs, or about 6 servings.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Well Oiled Machine of Righteousness

right·eous [rahy-chus]

1. characterized by uprightness or morality: a righteous observance of the law.
2. morally right or justifiable: righteous indignation.
3. acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.
4. Slang . absolutely genuine or wonderful: some righteous playing by a jazz great. –noun
5. the righteous, (used with a plural verb) righteous persons collectively.
          A couple of Sundays ago, Lila Jane and I were still in DC, so we went to church to with my sister and her family. This church is called Church of the Redeemer, and as I said to her when we left, it is a well-oiled machine of righteousness. We went to the 1pm service and so did about 1200 other people (there are 5 services total--2 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday) and we dropped our tiny tots off in the Promiseland Nursery and Preschool. The lady at the desk asked for our names, our tiny tot's name, her age and then printed off stickers, one she gave to me, one she stuck on the back of Lila Jane and we proceeded to find her room (we learned after the service that Lila sang songs, ate a snack and danced to her own little tiny person sermon). We were ushered to seats in the balcony, we were late...but nobody seemed to mind. On both of the stickers was a number and we when got to the big people sermon, my sister told me to watch for the numbers on this red numbered ticker at the side of the pulpit as it indicated that my child needed to be picked up from the nursery for some reason. It was easy to glance at this ticker while following along with the sermon on the big screen and at the pulpit below.
         The sermon was good. I heard the second part of The Pathway to Miracles--Acts 3:1-10 (you can listen to or watch it here or listen/watch other past sermons here), you can even get the notes to fill in as you listen and/or watch. We must ask, believe and then receive miracles in order to have miracles. I like that the Pastor (who has a blog) put an emphasis on the fact that it's OK to ask for miracles and it's even more important that we aren't afraid to receive the miracle...sometimes people don't receive the miracles that God has rightly given to them.
          After the service, while waiting to present my ticket to retrieve the tiny person, several people talked to us, I don't think any of them knew I was new, I don't think any of them knew my sister and her family had been there before. That's when I realized that churches like this allow you to be anonymous...I'm not sure how I feel about that? Unless, of course, I'm feeling like being anonymous...but, then again should I be allowed to do so?
         What type of church feeds you spiritually? How do you get involved in a church that allows you to be anonymous?
         Well, off to get ready for church...Happy Sunday!


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