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Teaching in Snyder Co., PA

I just came across an interesting post on Aleksandr Voinov’s blog. It seems that some people don’t approve of the use of pseudonyms when it comes to writers. I imagine that the same people call themselves “hotbabe” or “Kevinsmom” on their home cooking forum, but that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, Aleksandr links to an infuriating article in a sort of online newspaper about an English teacher who writes “racy romance” in her spare time under a pseudonym and is now being harassed for it. The affair takes place in Snyder County. Not that you would have ever heard of that place before, it is somewhere in Pennsylvania. I must apologize beforehand to all inhabitants of Snyder County who still have a brain left, I am not talking about you. I am talking about the others. And there seem to be quite a few of them.

The ones who must have received their own children by immaculate conception. The ones who don’t tell their kids about the birds and the bees. The ones who most likely teach their children about creationism. The self-righteous hypocrites who are better than everybody else when it comes to judging other people.

Why a parent would be concerned about the content of any book that a teacher published privately and which has nothing whatsoever to do with their teaching is a mystery. Why a teacher should be told that she has to decide between teaching and writing is a mystery. Why a teacher “shouldn’t be doing that.” is a mystery. A former student said “She is a good teacher but I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes." I tell you what was going on behind the scenes. Ms. Buranich was probably sitting at her computer writing those evil novels while drinking a cup of camomile tea. It is hardly unlikely that she was engaging in a sex orgy at the same time, taking drugs and getting drunk. And even if she had been, it wouldn’t be your bloody business.

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Comparing covers: The garden of Eden

There are quite a few different covers out for “The garden of Eden” by Ernest Hemingway.

garden_of_eden_covereden1 eden2

eden3 eden5 eden6

eden7

My two favourite ones are the first two. The third one is ok, I suppose, no. four I am not sure about. What exactly is this supposed to be? The first German one, hm, the girl is not at all what I picture her to be like. The second German one is absurd. Is this supposed to be David? Ridiculous! The beach is ok, not saying much about the story and definitely makes it look more idyllic than it is. The book contains other love stories as well, but The garden of Eden is the cover story.

Which one do you like best, especially if you know the story?

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The UK & EU summer hop

On Leeswammes’ Blog I read about the UK & EU summer hop today.  It is going to be a blog hop with giveaways, just this time the European bloggers are the only ones who benefit from the giveaways part (of course, everybody else will still discover a number of interesting blogs if they hop along). The hop will take place in the first week of August and last for 7 days. All genres allowed.

 

There is a dedicated blog exclusively for the hop where you will find all the info you need. Go to UK & EU summer hop to find out more!

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Android wallpaper "Spring”

android_logo

I felt like something spring on my phone, so I used a few elements and a paper by Nina from simply me to make this very simple wallpaper for Android. The size is 640 x 480px , to download, please go to the file at mobile9.

Additional credits: Foliage brush by Jason Gaylor, designfruit.

 ailuah_spring

To give you an idea, you can see what the wallpaper might look like in real life, depending on your phone model and homescreen.…

ailuah_spring_preview

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In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

 

  • “Hotel” by Arthur Hailey

 

all in German…

  • “The Forest House” by Marion Zimmer Bradley for the “One, Two, Theme Challenge”
  • “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff
  • “The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street” by Helene Hanff
  • The others on the picture are all children’s books, but one of them is for me, :). “Die Stadt” is originally called “A city across time” and shows the development of a city from the Stone Age into the future. I never can resist this kind of book.

library-loot

 

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

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Weekend cooking: Cream cheese frosting recipes anyone?

Cupcakes have only recently come into fashion over here. No, not even into fashion, it’s more like that they have come to our attention. Most people are happy with a muffin, any add-ons and luxury ingredients would be considered almost extravagant.

Cupcakes

However, the other day I found a baking mix for cupcakes and decided to give those little treats a try.  They turned out quite well and were quite delicious, even though they were fairly plain.

cupcakes

The frosting was especially nice and I would like to recreate it myself (it was made with some powder mix from the package and cream cheese and a very small amount of butter). I had a look around for a recipe for cream cheese frosting and there was an insane amount of them. So I thought I’d ask you whether you have a favourite recipe for cream cheese frosting that you could point me to. Is there a secret ingredient that makes it especially good?

Hot cross buns

Cupcakes made and eaten, this weekend I am trying to make hot cross buns, a sweet fruity bun traditionally eaten on Easter. Not that we are religious in the least, quite the opposite in fact, but who doesn’t like a sweet bun with raisins? I looked around for a recipe and found one by Nigella Lawson whose recipes I trust 100%. Just look at the look of the buns on the wikipedia site and Nigella’s! Which ones would you rather eat?

Happy Easter!

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Book beginnings on Friday

Like I said before already, today is Earth Day and it is appropriate to take “The Lorax ” as today’s

book. To read a bit more about “The Lorax” please go to my previous post titled “The Lorax Project”.

The book is, of course, written in the typical manner of Dr. Seuss. Here we go:

 

At the far end of town

where the Grickle-grass grows

and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows

and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…

is the Street of the Lifted Lorax.

  

I am getting a feeling that the end is near already…

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The Lorax Project

The Lorax cover Today is Earth Day. You can’t start early enough to introduce children to the protection of the environment and teach them how important it is. What better kids’ book than The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is there to do just that? If you don’t know the Lorax, go and read it!

It is the story of the Once-ler who comes to an area and cuts down all the trees in order to produce Thneeds out of them in his factory. The Lorax frequently comes and warns him about the consequences of his ruthless exploitation – to no avail. In the end the environment is destroyed, the trees gone, the animals have left and the once paradise like surroundings are grey and uninhabitable. But there is a tiny hope…

When I read the book to our 7 year old he asked me who would ever want to destroy nature in order to make some money. Little does he know…

On Seussville there even are Lorax Project files available. You can download discussion ideas for school classes, a tool kit for a class project and various activity sheets.

Happy reading and happy Earth Day!

  

 

Bonnie’s review of The Lorax at Banned Books 

The Spirited Review of The Lorax 

Review of The Lorax at about.com 

 

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Thursday wordle

Do you know wordle? It has been around for ages and I have used wordles sometimes for scrapbooking already. So I decided to create a Thursday wordle just for fun and because they are so pretty. The wordle reflects the text on any given page, with words that appear more often in a bigger size than words that are used only rarely. You can also enter a text yourself, so if you need a wordle, for a birthday card or any other specific occasion or person, you can use exactly the words your wordle should contain. Fun, eh? Now, with all those wordles, my mind is spinning!

wordle20110421

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Mandarin Orange by TC Blue

Blurb: Riley has never been the kind of straight guy who sneers at gay men. Hell, most of his best friends are gay, and it only matters when Riley wants to drink a plain old beer at the froufy bars they drag him to. He can look and appreciate, but dudes just don’t do it for him. Or so he thinks, right up until the new downstairs tenant arrives almost literally on Riley’s doorstep.
The raging storm and motorcycle crash with which Kelly makes his entrance pale in comparison with the battle inside Kelly himself once he gets to know Riley. Riley is damnably hot, nice, and exactly Kelly’s type, except for one little thing — according to all the evidence, Riley’s straight.
Is love truly blind, or does it just wear blinders? Riley and Kelly need to figure it out before the labels and categories drive them irrevocably apart.

My thoughts: 

If you come to my blog more often you will already know that I really like TC Blue. I haven’t read a lot of “gay for you” stories before this one (the ones I have read were not as obvious), so I wasn’t really sure whether this certain spin is for me or not. Well, it turned out it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the plot is a good one, the characters are especially nice and likeable and if you like gay for you, then this will definitely be a good read.

To me the constant pointing out that Riley is straight (either done by himself or by Kelly) was just too blatant. I was grateful that at least Riley wasn’t one of those characters who keep denying their attraction. Still, why couldn’t they just settle on bi or whatever and get it over with? So, I think I will stay clear of obvious gay for you in the future.

There were a few more things that I didn’t like but they are completely down to my personal preferences, so they might not bother you in the least.

I don’t like pets as a “character” that turns up continuously to, for example, help others to become friends etc. Even though I am aware that dogs might actually be doing that in real life, I just don’t want to read about pets. They bore me to death. So Kelly’s monster of a dog really didn’t help me to appreciate the story.

Second, Riley’s cussing. I don’t mind cussing, I don’t mind four letter words and vulgar speech is fine with me. Riley, however, takes the usage of “fuck” and “fucking” to a whole new level. You would think the latter is an adjective you can and should attribute to everything and anything. This was just too much. Admittedly, after a while you simple overlook this due to overexposure, still it is annoying. Or at least it was to me.

If you like gay for you, love pets and don’t mind the overly frequent usage of the word “fuck” then you will like this quite a bit.

Title Mandarin Orange
Author TC Blue
Publisher Torquere Books
ISBN 978-1-61040-191-3
Buy link Buy Mandarin Orange
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Needlework Tuesday: Stole progress

I can’t really say I have made much progress with my “Farmer’s Garden” stole. But by now at least one can see the gradient in the yarn, so I thought I’d show you a few pictures of that. I can’t wait to see what the finished piece will look like. It’ll be some time, though. I am slow, slow, slow.

It goes from this…

wrap1

to this…

wrap2

to this…(so far)

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Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts and have a look at what the other needle workers are up to.

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The new Preternatura Book Club

Suzanne Johnson from Preternatura is starting a new online Book Club for paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I am not sure I can always read what is being suggested as I seem to hardly get done what I am planning to read each month without adding anymore books. However, out of the first six books to choose from I have read two and two more I have on my shelf, so I might be lucky and give it a go.

The first book is being voted on right now. Are you interested? Then have a look at Preternatura and join the club!

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Weekend cooking: Carol’s Beef enchiladas, veggie style

In one of the latest weekend cooking posts Carol posted a recipe for beef enchiladas. They looked so delicious and sounded so nice that today I decided to prepare them, just a little different – vegetarian style.

Enchiladas filled with nothing but enchilada sauce and a bit of cheese would be a bit boring and not very filling, so I used small flakes of soy (I am not sure that this is what they would be called in English, in German = Sojaschnetzel) to replace the minced meat. They are first soaked in vegetable broth and then fried in a pan, just like the meat and are a great substitute. Other than that I followed the recipe and it turned out wonderfully.

We were enthusiastic about those enchiladas; I will definitely add Carol’s recipe to our family’s favourites.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Merging blogs

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I decided that I am going to merge my two blogs into one. I don’t have the time to maintain my second blog as well as I should so it will probably be the best thing to make one out of two.

I will have to change a few things (name, categories, tags etc.) and might be busy for a day or two.

Be prepared for some new additional topics, such as crafts, digital scrapbooking in some way or other and whatever else goes through my mind!

Merge image by Lexinatrix on flickr.com

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Bag inserts resurrected

A number of years ago those black purses were the rage among digital scrapbookers, unfortunately I cannot for the life of me remember the name of those purses. Anyway, at the front and back they have that clear plastic cover where you can insert photos etc. and then close the plastic with two buttons.

I haven’t used mine in ages and only recently discovered it again in a big wicker basket. So I thought it might be nice to resurrect it again and create some inserts for it with various color schemes and themes for different occasions.

I finished a couple this week:

The first one is this spring themed one

spring_bag_insert

Credits: Fonts: Papers and elements: Jen Wilson (Linen Closet), stitching: Syrin, stain: DaniB, Shishoni Brush, Andalus. Quote by Margaret Atwood.

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The inventor’s companion by Ariel Tachna

InventorsCompanion Blurb:

Gabriel Blackstone’s world is divided quite clearly into castes: everyone knows their place and abides by it. As an inventor in the merchant caste, his life is predictable in its routine until the night his best friends and assistants, Caleb and Andrew, purchase the time—and body—of a companion for his birthday. As an activist in the Caste Equality movement, everything Gabriel believes in tells him to refuse the gift, but then he meets Lucio. The beautiful and alluring companion is far more than the vapid courtesan he’d expected, and he can’t get the man out of his mind.

After that night, Gabriel tells himself to forget about Lucio, but a chance meeting at a ball makes it clear neither of them is willing to ignore the compelling chemistry between them. It will take all their combined trust and cunning, plus the help of a wily aristocrat and a plucky political activist, to overcome the challenges of infidelity, abuse, and social stigma that lay along their road; however, Gabriel knows it will all be worth it if at the end of the day he can call Lucio his own.

My thoughts: 

I have heard about this story for the first time while it was still in the planning stage when Ariel mentioned it on the occasion of the start of my Steampunk challenge. That was in October and I was very surprised to see that the story already got published a few weeks ago. Needless to say I was more than curious.

The story goes medias in res. Gabriel is ready to go out and meet the companion his friends bought him for the night.  The attraction was immediate and it all went from there.

I liked the characters, the Steampunk elements and the world order Ariel created. The caste system that didn’t leave much room for personal development further than your predefined destiny was quite interesting and I was wondering all the way through the story whether Gabriel and his fellow activists would succeed in their mission to abolish it.

This brings me to a few points that I didn’t quite understand or found hard to believe.

  • The activists want to bring the system down with the help of a politician who they hoped would win the election and a seat in parliament. Of course every movement needs to start small and one candidate for parliament certainly is better than nothing. However, they kept talking about him winning the election and gaining a seat would be abolishing the system in the foreseeable future. How can one MP make that difference that quickly?
  • The immediate attraction between Gabriel and Lucio. OK, at first Lucio was interested in Gabriel simply because he treated him differently than any other customer he had ever known. Understandable. Gabriel found Lucio beautiful, sexy and what not. They meet again and again, but somehow I never quite understood what other factors caused their fascination and love of each other. I can’t recall one conversation where they talk about anything but the circumstances of Lucio’s life or Gabriel’s inventions. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, I just didn’t get why.
  • Gabriel was way too possessive, jealous and generally unreasonable when it came to Lucio. He knew he was a companion from the start but every time Lucio had to go back to his work place it was the same procedure again. Gabriel didn’t want to let him go. Gabriel couldn’t bear thinking about Lucio with another man. Why ever not? He was told clearly and several times that those encounters are meaningless, superficial, physical and that Lucio gets nothing out of them. Still Gabriel acted as if Lucio was unfaithful to him.
  • Lucio, after being tortured by his client, has to go back to his work place to take on new clients because he didn’t have any gold left to pay for his upkeep. Why didn’t he? He gave all his savings to Gabriel to later be able to buy his contract, so he could have gone to Gabriel and ask for some. Gabriel should have given it to him gladly in order to make it possible to recover completely without having to pleasure other people. Especially since Gabriel was so averse to that thought anyway.
  • Now, my biggest issue. The handlers and their treatment of their most valuable assets. I have no idea who actually owns the pleasure palace, who owns the companions and who makes the big bucks. But if I was a pimp and had a few boys or girls who are top notch companions I would make sure that no client abused them in any way. Lucio made money big time and what do the handlers do? Sell his time to Lady Merydith even though they know that she will torture him to the extent that they will have to black out the following week in his schedule. Does that make any sense? And when he comes back beaten to pulp they just let him deal with it on his own, as if his speedy recovery (of health and good looks) wasn’t important to them. Eventually, when the first client afterwards rejects him, they send him straight to the breeding barn, i.e. his career has ended. Wouldn’t common business sense dictate that they a. do everything they can to prevent abuse from happening and b. if it happens hold the perpetrator responsible and make sure Lucio gets the best treatment so he can work again as soon as possible?
  • The fact they even took Cressida out of the circulation in order to breed with her and Lucio was even more astonishing. Unless they know more about genetic engineering than I am aware of, who ensures that a child of those two will be equally successful as a companion as its parents? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get more money out of Cressida’s clients instead of throwing her away like that?
  • I think it would have been better if I had known a bit more of the organization of the world the characters were living in. That way I would have also understood how it was possible that Gabriel after being arrested at a political rally could have been imprisoned for a month without being prosecuted and sentenced, simply because the guardians, whom I considered to be policemen, said so. There seems to be a parliament, a police force, so where are the judges?

In spite of all those points I enjoyed reading “The Inventor’s Companion” quite a bit. I think if a few more explanations and background information had been given it would have been easier to understand some situations and reactions of people. As it was it left me a little bit dissatisfied. 

 

Title The inventor’s companion
Author Ariel Tachna
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 978-1-61581-823-5
Buy link Buy The Inventor’s companion

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Weekend cooking: Cookie of the Day

I suppose I can be forgiven that I only recently discovered Martha Stewart’s website. Over here she is not at all known, so even though I have heard about her I was never particularly interested.oatmeal_crisps Since I sort of stumbled across her site I am a huge fan. I subscribed to various newsletters, including the “cookie of the day” one.

There have been some great recipes coming into my mailbox, one that I immediately tried out are the Oatmeal Crisps. They are so easy to make, take only about 30 minutes from start to finish and are so good. Don’t they look delicious stacked like that?

Mine below don’t look quite so yummy, but were very nice nevertheless.

 oatmeal_crisps3 oatmeal_crisps2

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Book beginnings on Friday

 

garden_of_eden_cover

I started reading “The Garden of Eden” by Ernest Hemingway this week. What a difference to Thomas Mann in writing style!

This is the first sentence:

They were living at le Grau du Roi then and the hotel was on a canal that ran from the walled city of Aigues Mortes straight down to the sea.

Doesn’t this set a nice scene already? I want to go there myself now.

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Thursday 13: Facts about chocolate

Today I am continuing my indulgence T13 with facts about chocolate. Cocoa Trees

  1. There are three major types of cacao: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario.
  2. Cocoa beans were already used by the Mayans in the 7th century. They made a religious tonic drink they called “Xocoatl”.
  3. In the 13th century cacao beans were a unit of currency in central America.
  4. There even were counterfeit beans carved out of clay.
  5. In 1819 the first chocolate bar in history was created by Francois Louis Cailler in Switzerland.
  6. The countries with the biggest cacao production is Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia.Cocoa Pod
  7. After roasting the cacao beans and removing their outer shell they are ground and heated up. By heating up the cacao fat (cacao butter) melts and turns the cacao into a cacao liquor.
  8. Unsweetened chocolate only contains 0-2% sugars, whereas semi-sweet one contains between 45-65%.
  9. However, even unsweetened chocolate has a lot of calories due to the large amount of fat  in it.
  10. Chocolate increases the level of serotonine in the brain, so it might be helpful against depression and stress. Dried Cocoa Beans
  11. The main types of chocolate are: White chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate.
  12. When baking do not use chocolate chips to replace other types of chocolate. They contain less cacao butter and therefore won’t melt well.
  13. Chocolate absorbs other odors, so keep it in a dark, cool, dry place away from strong-smelling items. 

 

And now a little helpful tip to feel good about yourself in all sorts of ways:

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.

To see what other Thursday 13ers write about today, visit Thursday 13.

All images by Nestlé on flickr.

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Needlework Tuesday: Book covers

My wrap still hasn’t made much progress. So today I am showing you another one of my beginners’ sewing projects. As book lover I thought it might be a nice idea to have a look around for tutorials how to create a book cover – and found there are a LOT of them on the net.

Some of my book blog readers might be really surprised about me looking for book covers given the way I treat my books, but there you have it!

I decided to try out a tutorial for book covers by Mamas Kram, as it was in German and looked easy enough – even to me. In my usual fashion I messed it up somewhat and made the inside pockets to narrow, but it still works ok.

buchhuelle1 buchhuelle2

It worked so well that I created a cover for my e-reader from the same fabric. And to think I spent quite a bit of money on an e-reader cover on Etsy some time ago! Won’t happen again.

e-reader

As far as creativity goes my week was unproductive otherwise. I had to go to the hospital three times within the last 8 days with the boys for one reason or other ( it always happens in the evenings or at night, doesn’t it), so my time to do anything else has been more than scarce.

Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts. She has posted her progress on various projects and shows us the additional prizes for her fun Sushi sock contest.

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My reading list for April

readinglist

In March I read

I know, not much at all, but considering The Magic Mountain is over 1.000 pages and not THAT entertaining, I might get away with it.

Let’s move on to April. On my list are:

  • The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
  • a few books for review from Dreamspinner Press and Torquere Books
  • Then I need to get a move on my One, Two, Theme challenge. So, I think I will go for another book from that list. Not sure which one will catch my eye yet.
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In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

 

  • “The Garden of Eden” by Ernest Hemingway, my second book by Hemingway
  • “The art of travel” by Alain de Botton (in German), another one by one of my favourite new writers
  • “Changeless” by Gail Carriger, finally I can continue the Parasol Protectorate series

 

  • “The Inventor’s Companion” by Ariel Tachna, already almost done with this one
  • “Undercover sins” by Hayley B. James
  • “Mandarin Orange” by TC Blue

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.