Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Balm

Published: 2013 by Disney Enterprises, Inc. (originally published by George M. Hill Company on May 17,1900)

Pages: 285

Genre: fairy tale

Obtained: from a pile of unwanted books

Summary: Dorothy gets caught up in a cyclone in Kansas and ends up in the land of Oz.  She journeys to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to help her get home.  The Wizard agrees to help her if she kills the Wicked Witch of the West.  During her adventure, she encounters all types of creatures and beings and makes some new friends along the way.

Thoughts:  This book is an old fashioned fairy tale for children.  I started to read this to my eight year old son.  After the second chapter, he did not want to continue.  He thought the story was "boring" and wanted to read "The Quest for the Diamond Sword"  (a Minecraft story) instead.  I wanted to keep going, and did.
     After the first two chapters, I was drawn into this book because it was so very different from the 1939 movie.  I wanted to find out how the story was originally written since I have seen the movie so many times, but have never read the book.  In the book, the only characters from Kansas are Dorothy, Toto, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry.  They live in a one room house.  This is just the beginning.  If you have seen the movie, you know how very different this is and how it changes the story.  Also, the book has more creatures, beings, magical objects, and characters than the movie.  It also describes more of the land and gives the back stories of the main characters.  There is much more to Dorothy's adventure.  This is all I will write about the differences because I don't want to include any spoilers.
     The themes of the story are good for children.  There's no place like home.  You may already have what you're looking for.  Good is stronger than evil.  Don't take things for granted.  Things are not always as they appear.
     This was a creative, magical fantasy.  It was a quick, enjoyable read.  The writing was clear and simple.  There were some disturbing parts to the story.  An example is how the Tin Man was created.  This may bother some children, but I think most would be okay with it because of the way it was written.  I am glad I finally read this classic.  It was an entertaining book for all ages.


Tea: Welcome                                   

Company: Art of Tea

Obtained: gift

     According to their website, "Art of Tea is a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles, California".  It is a "leading purveyor of organic and specialty teas".  Art of Tea uses fair trade practices.
     "Welcome" tea is an herbal blend.  It is caffeine free.  It is packaged in a foil-lined resealable bag.  The packaging is plain, but protects the tea from light and heat and keeps it dry.  It is also air tight.  The package states this tea "brews a refreshing floral cup with both sweet and spicy characters".
     The tea has a light scent of chamomile and flowers.  It is made up of chamomile flowers, red and pink flower petals of all sizes, and pink peppercorns.  It is a colorful, attractive combination.
     I put one tablespoon of tea into my teapot and added eight ounces of water as recommended.  I let the tea brew for five minutes.  The package suggested brewing for five to seven minutes.
     The liquid was a light yellow color.  The scent was of chamomile with a hint of floral and peppercorn.  The tea tasted strongly of chamomile with a hint of floral and then the peppercorn flavor.  The aftertaste was smooth and pleasant.
     This is probably the best chamomile blend I've ever tried.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Published: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007

Pages: 370

Genre: nonfiction

Obtained Through: gift

Summary:  This book is really two books in one.  On one hand it is the story of how the author and her family lived almost exclusively on food grown and raised locally for one year.  Much of the food they grew and raised themselves.  On the other hand, it is a book packed with examples and information on why and how everyone should do what they can to buy local.  It also discusses the history of food and the American food culture.

Thoughts:  This book is jam packed with food and farming information pertaining to history, present issues, and thoughts about the future.  It also looks at the food culture of Americans and how it developed, and discusses the scary point that many Americans don't know where their food comes from or what is in their food.  Along with the author giving her opinion on these topics, there are sidebars throughout the book written by her husband.
     My favorite part of the book was the personal story about a year being a "locavore".  The book would have been dry and hard to get through without this aspect.  The author describes such things as how she and her family grew fruits and vegetables, raised chickens and turkeys, made cheese and daily bread from scratch, canned and froze food, and developed in-season recipes and meals.  I live on a small farm and could relate to many of these experiences.  I learned about some things that I haven't tried, but may in the future.  The two things that I did not find realistic were how the kids just went along with this huge lifestyle change, participating fully, without putting up a fight and how the amount of work to accomplish being a "locavore" was minimized.  I don't know how the author and her family had time to do all this work along with jobs, school, and everyday chores.
     Some of the information is repeated many times, which made parts of the book monotonous and frustrating.   Yes, I understand that a lot of money and fuel is put into food production and delivery and that this and many industrial farming practices are not good for the environment.  This point does not have to be repeated over and over.  The author's daughter wrote essays from her perspective about the same thing the author was writing about.  I can see how some might think that this was too much repetition as well, but I felt it was interesting to hear another family member's opinion.  I also liked the in-season recipes and meal plans at the end of some of the chapters.  I will be trying some of these recipes.  With all these different aspects to the book, the author was able to weave everything together in a very organized way.  Also, her writing style is straightforward and easy to follow.
     This book was thought provoking, informative, and entertaining.  It would be a great book to discuss in a book club.

Tea: Vanilla Pear Tea                         

Company: Tea Forte

Obtained: gift

     According to their website, "Tea Forte is the global luxury tea Brand identified around the world as the ultimate tea experience.  Known for the variety and unparalleled quality of handcrafted teas, design-driven accessories, exquisite packaging and opulent approach, Tea Forte re-imagines and re-defines the contemporary tea experience by delivering a delighting and luxuriant encounter."
     I received my tea in a gift box called "Lotus", which is described on the box as "a collection of relaxing teas for mind, body, and spirit".  There are five different teas in "single steep" packages.  This loose tea is premeasured to steep twelve ounces. 
     The box describes this tea as "rare white tea with the evocative essence of vanilla orchard infused with the taste of fresh baked pear for a cup blended to relax and sooth".
     The package of vanilla pear tea was easy to open.  The scent was a fruity one with ginger in the background.  The majority of the leaves were dark brown, from small to tiny in size, with some long medium sized lavender colored leaves mixed in.  There were also some light brown leaves that looked like small pieces of tree bark and some dried fruit.  The mix made for a pretty looking tea.
     I put the leaves in a teapot and poured twelve ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  The suggested steeping time on the box was 2-3 minutes.  I let the tea brew for 2 minutes.
     The liquid was amber with a scent that included both sweet fruit and floral with hints of ginger and vanilla.  This was a strong tasting tea.  It was very sweet with fruit and a hint of vanilla, but it also had a strong floral taste with a hint of ginger.  The after taste was the same, but I could just make out pear and apple flavors.
     This tea was too sweet and strong for me.  It also had too much going on with the taste.  I like teas that are simple.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Classics Club Book List

     I am joining the Classic's Club.  My goal is to read the following 50 classics by February 15, 2021.

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
Watership Down, Richard Adams
Lady Susan, Jane Austin
The Watsons, Jane Austin
Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baulm
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi
The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper
Echoes from the Macabre, Daphne DuMaurier
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montogomery
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Heidi, Johanna Spyri
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Frankenstein, Mary Shelly
Jamaica Inn, Daphne DuMaurier
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Tess of D'urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Cohan Doyle
The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury
Don Quixote, Cervantes
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,Jules Verne
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
The Children of the New Forest, Frederick Marryat
The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Rudolf Wyss
Brighton Rock, Graham Greene
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
Davis Copperfield, Charles Dickens