Lady In Read Writes

The Famous Five are Fabulous Fun

By February 17, 2018 Books, Memes, Reviews

‘We are the Famous Five, Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and Timmy, the Dog’…thus went the title song of the TV series… (but I read the books first, many times over)

Enid Blyton was, I believe, my first favorite author ever. And my very first Enid Blyton was ‘Rag, Tag, and Bobtail’. I devoured so many books she wrote over the next few years and while some of the copies I owned are now sadly missing, the memories of enjoying it remain fresh in my mind. Regarding her adventure series, it is hard to pick one favorite among those she wrote as I loved many equally – Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, and the Adventure Series. I read other adventure series she wrote too but these three, I loved! So today’s post is going to focus on the Famous Five (while I might have actually loved the Five Find-Outers just a teeny bit more!). Pictured below – books I currently have with me here in the US (others are at my brother’s place in India)

Here are a few fun facts and personal thoughts on this series:

  • The Famous Five is among the most popular series Enid Blyton wrote. My favorite books of this series were ‘Five Go Off in a Caravan‘ and ‘Five Go to Mystery Moor’. George intrigued me and I longed to be a tomboy for a while, though I knew I would not be able to cut my hair short like hers; while Julian managed to inspire and irritate me equally (was not sure if I wanted an older sibling like him, but maybe a cousin would have been fine!). Anne and Dick, and don’t forget Timmy the dog – sometimes I would think Anne was too sweet, enjoyed Dick’s antics, and Timmy – he is always adorable.
  • The first Famous Five book (originally called simply The Fives) was published in 1942 – Five Go to Treasure Island. Enid Blyton had initially planned to write only about nine books for this series, but later ended up with twenty-one full length novels and several short stories (which were compiled into one book) when the first few books became increasingly popular.
  • A private island, secret passages, smugglers, and food! Yes, Kirrin Island was owned by George’s family and the kids were given free rein over that island. In addition, there were always secret passages found that led to invariably somewhere cool, underground streams in some of those secret passages and caves they discovered, smugglers, really interesting people they met along their adventures, beautiful locations, and last, but not the least, mentions of food that made the reader oh, so hungry!
    So of course, I loved reading these books! I wanted my own adventures, and while smugglers were not abound in our area, the river flowing right next to our town afforded tiny islands we could sometimes walk across in really hot, dry weather, and we imagined our very own Kirrin Island. And tunnels – well, we imagined them through tall shrubs and bushes planted close together!!
  • Formulaic Fun: Many readers complained about that her series tended to be formulaic but she wrote a book a week often-times, and while adults might have thought the books were formulaic, that could be the reason why kids loved those books – exciting, adventurous fun from beginning to end – the ones that prompted kids to turn on their torch lights and read under the covers past bedtimes (including me).
  • So-Many-Other-Fun-Things: That concept of running into adventures and solving them before everyone else; being able to setup camp no matter where you were (and they setup the most comfortable sleeping areas in moors, outside old ruins, farms, etc), having ginger beer ready on hand, the ‘be-prepared’ way they were (I learned this from them way before my kids joined scouting!), discovering secret panels and secret passages, and wonderful libraries with secret passages
  • Location: Speculation is rife and often discussed on Enid Blyton boards about what real-life locations Blyton based Kirrin Island on, and some point to areas in Jersey, England, while others point to Dorset as inspiration, Many others say that Corfe Castle was her inspiration for Kirrin Castle (on Kirrin Island).
    • Norman Wright in his book on the Famous Five writes as follows:

The real answer to the Kirrin Island question was, however, finally cleared up by Trevor Bolton in an article for the Enid Blyton Society Journal.

Trevor corresponded with Enid from 1948 until the early 1960s and in his letters he often asked questions about her books and stories. In one letter he asked if Kirrin was based on a real place and in her reply she said: “Yes, Kirrin was based on an actual village, bay and island – but in the Channel Isles, not England.” Enid Blyton visited Jersey during her honeymoon in 1924 and, if not based on Jersey itself, it is likely that Kirrin Island was inspired by one of the many small isles she visited nearby.”

…this is what she(Blyton) did have to say in a letter to a group of children:-
“I am so glad you like my books. I will be sure to write you plenty more. I will see if I can put the “Five” on Kirrin Island again for you. It was an island I once visited several times when I was in Jersey – it lay off the coast & could only be reached either by boat or by a rocky path exposed when the tide was out. It had an old castle there and I longed to put the island & castle into a book. So I did, as you know!”

  • Many friends and family appear in many of the books to help the Five in their adventures –  Jo the gypsy girl (easily my favorite of their friends), Alf the fisherman’s son, and George’s scientist-father among others.
  • Memorabilia: Cards, games, jugsaw puzzles, and more.. While I am not sure how many of the original ones we can find today (you can check those out on the enidblytonsociety website here), I am going to see what new ones are out and add them to my wish list. And a set of Blyton stamps that included one with the Famous Five.
  • Illustrations: So why do I mention this? The original books were illustrated by Eileen Soper and I loved those charming drwaings (still do). Later editions have had many other interpretations, including recent ones by Quentin Blake (and while I love Quentin Blake, I think I prefer the original Eileen Soper ones for this – nostalgia wins).

Check the two covers below and let me know which one you like!

famous five eileen soperfamous five quentin blake

  • More: In addition to the original 21+1 books written by Blyton, there have been various other sequels and continuations of the series over the years. There have also been movies, stage plays, two television series (and I recall enjoying the 1970s version of the same), as well as a Disney cartoon series
  • And there used to be a club as well – The Famous Five Club – according to information in the enidblytonsociety forums, this club used to send out badges to members (and FF Fans could identify each other this way!) – these badges sometimes show up on eBay even today. The club was active in the 1950s. I found a welcome letter from the club available for sale on AbeBooks for the price of ~$80 + shipping from the UK!

So, have you read the books? If yes, who is your favorite character? Which was your favorite book?

This post goes towards  ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter F (my theme for ABC Wednesday’s Round 22, as you might have already guessed, is children’s books – I will pick one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book/series – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely).

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Ten Bookish Gifts Every Book-Lover Will Love (I do!)

By February 15, 2018 Art, Books, Everything Else, Memes, Reviews, Travel, Writing

Bookish Gifts

Over at That Artsy Reader Girl, today’s Top Ten Theme is a love freebie. So, here are ten bookish gifts for the book lovers in your life, or well, buy it for yourself, or hint, hint – show it to the loved ones in your life as potential gift ideas (make it easier for them!)

1. Opening Lines Of Notable novels Canvas Wall Art (Diagramed) – Won’t this look just loverly on the wall?

2. Fred Fingerprint Bookmark – really handy, I have bought this earlier and ended up gifting them along with books. Now I need to buy one for myself to use 🙂

3. Homesick Scented Candle, Books – for when you want that most wonderful smell – of books…

4. Reading Journal, for Book Lovers – I have to get this as I am starting to work on taking notes for books I am reading more often now (well, I have a journal already but one more journal can always be used, especially one that looks like this :))

5. Personal Embosser, ExcelMark – to literally make your mark on your books. For those whose books are borrowed..

6. My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure – this is one I have on my shopping list and gift list and will review it here on my blog soon

7. Demeter Cologne Spray, Paperback – that wonderful scent of books.. with you, everywhere, perfect for a gift

And for the next three, cheating here, as there are many mugs, playing card sets, and games I have bought, gifted, and have on my wishlist, so including a few of them grouped together for #s 8, 9, and 10

8. Coffee Mugs – Literary mugs have been gifted to a few book lovers I know personally (and teachers too) along with some hot chocolate and books a few times and they loved it. (And there are so many more literary mugs that are totally irresistible!). You have the First Lines Literature Coffee Mug with the Greatest Opening Lines Of Literature on it, the Dr. Seuss Oh the Places 18 Oz. Oval Ceramic Mug, or the Banned Book Coffee Mug

If not those, then the I’m a Book Dragon mug from The Coffee Corner  for you, or maybe the universally known Jane Austen with her very own Coffee Mug , and if you are wondering, to pick or not to pick any one of these, then maybe the bard for you instead with the The Bawdy Bard Shakespearean Dirty Quotes Mug – where you can Experience Shakespeare At His Bawdiest

9. Playing Card Sets – I have been meaning to get a playing card set to use for my Deal Me In challenge, and I found these, so hopefully will start using them for the upcoming weeks (not sure which one I should pick though – any suggestions ??) –
Jane Austen Playing Cards or the Alice In Wonderland Playing Cards

And for #10, games – I love bookish/word-based games and I have quite a few already (including a couple of them below). And some of them have been on my wish list for a while now, so maybe soon..
The Storymatic Classic – 540 Unique Cards – Tell Stories, Play Games, Make Art, and More – Includes Booklet with Prompts, Games, and Activities

Ex Libris – The game of first lines and last words by Oxford Games – this one, I need to figure out who to play with first, and then buy it.. 🙂

Bring Your Own Book – this game sounds so perfect – The product description says ‘Your old favorite book is now your new favorite game! Draw a category card, grab a book, and then quickly skim to satisfy the chosen prompt (and the judge!) with the most entertaining phrase. Can you find “a ridiculous tabloid headline” in that best-selling novel? How about “dating advice” in your well-worn cookbook? Since you can use any book, you can play with any group and find limitless potential on every page! Where will you discover “the title of the next hit party game?” Find out when you Bring Your Own Book!.’


Rory’s Story Cubes – Complete Set – this one has made it on my blog many a time.

Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers – I know I would love this – this is for those who love punny games 🙂

Note: This contains affiliate links

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Exploring Marker Art and Relationships

By February 14, 2018 Art, Books, Reviews

From the skies to the rocks (with marker art), and reunions in between!

For the Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me In 2018, here is my pick for last week (completed this week!).

The Card:  10 of DiamondsWeek6DealMeIn

The Selection: ‘Reunion’ – A short story by John Cheever – I  admit I have not read John Cheever before. And this story reminded me a bit of Saki in some of his short stories. And I will be reading more John Cheever in the future.

My Thoughts: This made me realize how much what is left unsaid can actually be understood, and to marvel at how some writers say so much with such an economy of words. Someday, I hope to be able to wean out the unnecessary and get to saying more with less. And now, to the story itself:

Reunion tells the story of the meeting of a father and son after three years. As I read through, I felt annoyed and sorry at different times, and alternatively smiled and frowned my way to the very last word. The story seems pretty straightforward – Charlie has not met his dad since his parents’ divorce three years ago. He arranges to meet him in the couple of hours he has between trains at New York’s Grand Central. And he is looking forward to meeting his father. But within a couple of restaurants that the father and son duo enter and leave, because of his father’s annoying, rude, maybe-whisky-laden behavior, Charlie starts to realize the futility in trying to mend relationships with his father.  Charlie recognizes also, that his father is possibly his future image, and captures it brilliantly in these words  – ‘but as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom. I knew that when I was grown I would be something like him; I would have to plan my campaigns within his limitations.’

The story, in about 1300 words, manages to convey guilt, sadness, hopelessness, hellos, and goodbyes, and more. And though it sounds grim, there is some humor, some hopefulness, love that shines through. Simply put, brilliant prose.

You can read it here


starry skiesStarry Skies: Learn about the constellations above us
Samantha Chagollan, Nila Aye (Illustrated by)
FRONTLIST | April 3, 2018
Hardcover | 32 pages
Juvenile Nonfiction / Concepts / Size & Shape

Description: Every night, the sky is filled with stars that tell a thousand tales. Brave warriors, regal queens, fierce beasts — they all parade across the starry skies each night. In Starry Skies you’ll discover some of the most famous constellations and learn how to find them in the night sky.

With brilliant illustrations by Nila Aye, you will see the shapes of each constellation, and imagine what they might look like when you look up into the dark sky above. This introduction to astronomy is all you need to start learning about stars, so get ready, star hunters, and look to the skies!

My thoughts: This book is aimed at the preschooler/beginning school age group of 5 to 6 years old. As mentioned in the description, the book uses illustrations depicted brightly against a simple black background, maybe depicting the night sky. I loved that it covers many different constellations and the illustrations clearly show the shape of the constellations while the words accompany the stars as kids around the world look up into the night sky. With the minimal words in the book and the intended audience, it would have had a better effect if there was a rhyming pattern as we read the book. The words somehow seemed disconnected from each other across pages. And a helpful index with more information about the constellations – details on where to look in the sky (depending on where we are located, and when) – as well as some other tit-bits of information would have enhanced the worth of the book greatly.

Rating: C+
Reading Level: 5-6 years
Reread Level: 3/5
Disclaimer: Thank you to Edelweiss for the digital ARC of the book

Creative Marker ArtCreative Marker Art & Beyond
Inspiring tips, techniques, and projects for creating vibrant artwork in marker
by Lee Foster-Wilson
Quarto Publishing Group – Walter Foster
Walter Foster Publishing
Arts & Photography , Crafts & Hobbies

My Thoughts: This book is perfect for the aspiring marker artist of any age. Lee Foster-Wilson starts off with the basics – a how to use the book, materials needed, the color-wheel explained, tips and techniques for drawing and painting with markers (for eg: cross-hatching/shading/layering/negative space use), and more. She then proceeds to give different project ideas with step-by-step instructions and accompanying pictures that show ‘what next’ that the reader can try out with different types of markers. My favorites included ideas for hand-made gift wraps, creating landscapes by layering (loved this technique, and had not realized how versatile markers really are), transforming everyday objects into a work of art in culinary and rock art, and…well, I think I will go ahead and add every idea in the end, so I will stop with the top favorites right here.

And yes, totally loved the whimsical cover and the illustrations that are scattered all around the projects, providing additional inspiration for all!

You can create a gift kit for those aspiring artists you know; and I have a suggested kit (some of the items are ones you will find outside your home, or right in your home) below.

Rating: A (for aspiring artists)
Reading Level: all ages
Reread Level: 4.5/5
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley for the digital ARC of the book

I am linking these books to What are you Reading?
From Picture Books to YA 
at Teach Mentor Texts and to NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Note: This post contains affiliate links

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How To Be Socially Good While You Search

By February 11, 2018 Everything Else, Learning

how to be socially good while you searchEach and every one of us use search engines – everyday, I am sure. So every once in a while, why not help someone out, be socially good,  while we search. You wonder if that is possible? Yes, it very much is, when we use some of the many search engines that partner with more of the popular search engines to return their search results, and partner with one or more charities to help (sometimes, the charity itself has the search engine). These search engines typically work by donating a percentage of earnings per search towards the charity. Here are some of the ones I tend to use every once in a while (mostly end up using one per day for a couple of hours) so over the course of the week, I have done my little share.

  • Ecosia:  My kids pointed this one out to me. They learned it through friends/teachers at school – I am not sure of their source, but the result is – they love using this search engine. As they continue to use it, they can see the tree they are helping to plant continue to grow; and also lets them know how many trees they have helped plant so far.
    Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees with its ad revenue. Get the free browser extension and use Ecosia every time you search.SEARCH ENGINES FOR SOCIAL GOOD
  • Helpuu:  This reroutes the searches to Google and returns those results but by using this search engine, you will be helping contribute to the charities they support, which include, among others, Feed the Children, and the American Red Cross. Their web site mentions the following:
    Helpuu is a website portal that enables everybody to help great charities by simply searching and shopping on the internet. The Helpuu search engine is extremely reliable and efficient through the use of Google’s award-winning search algorithm. Everytime you use Helpuu, proceeds from advertisers, that are raised through the use of the Helpuu website are then donated to various charities and non-profit organizations. We feature various charities and then equally distribute the proceeds to each charity.SEARCH ENGINES FOR SOCIAL GOOD
  • EcoKey is an environmentally-oriented search engine that donates 40% of its revenue to litter removal organizations around the world.
    • Users can search through Google, and also use an option called the ecofilter, which emphasises green search results. For example, a search for “nail polish” will return eco-friendly nail polish. SEARCH ENGINES FOR SOCIAL GOOD
  • Good Search: With this search engine that partners with Yahoo, searching the web raises a penny for your selected cause. You can also shop via this to donate. Search Engines for Social Good
  • EveryClick: This is a UK based search engine that helps donate to charity with every search. According to their About Us page – With Everyclick Search you can raise money for your favourite charity with every web search.Our web search is powered by Yandex. Sign up so you can track your giving, right down to the penny.

So there you have it – a list of search engines to help you achieve a goal of being socially good, a little a day… And I will follow it up with another list similarly cool for you to use next week 🙂

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Of Naturalists in the Making, circa 1899, and Everytime

By February 9, 2018 Books, Reviews

E is for ‘The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” – by Jacqueline Kelly. I have always loved books which had a spunky heroine and this one is no different. The book starts off slow, does not really have a great big plot as such, and ends with an ending where the reader is left thinking – ‘really? what happens to her now?’. In spite of this, and because of these, as well as a few more things I will mention soon, this book endears you to it, and I always consider the end where the reader wonders and wants to know what next as having read a good book.

Calpurnia, or Callie Vee, as everyone calls her, is my kind of girl heroine. I can picture a younger version of myself doing at least some of what Callie does, and wanting to be treated no different than the boys (though I am lucky to have parents who treated me and my brother just the same!)

This story tells of her trying to fit in the 1899 world where girls are expected to learn the ‘Science of Housewifery’ rather than any other sciences. She would rather explore the world around her – the insects, the plants, the birds and animals, well, you get it, right!? and the really hot summer of 1899 meant freedom for her – while everyone else napped, she slipped out to do what she loved most – explore and observe. Her favorite and oldest brother, Harry, starts her off on her journey as a naturalist when he gives her a red leather note book and asks her to use it to record her observations, calling her ‘a regular naturalist in the making‘! I loved that her brother recognized that in her. She then says that now that she had a place to write things down, she began to see things she had never seen before 🙂 Her questions about why some grasshoppers were yellow are left unanswered when she polls her all of her family, except her granddaddy, whom everyone normally avoids. But when she finally turns to her curmudgeonly grandfather, to her delight, she discovers a mentor in him.  He is a war-veteran, a retired businessman, a self-professed naturalist, and a experimental pecan-whiskey brewer. He has corresponded with the likes of Charles Darwin and Alexander Graham Bell! He sees in Callie, a kindred spirit, and takes it upon himself to teach her all she wants to learn about nature and that she cannot learn at school (and she, and I discovered and learned many things as the book progresses – I definitely found out about Isabella Bird, Mary Anning, Sofia Kovalevskaya among other women scientists I had not known of before, discovered more of the natural world, had to check who or what was the esquimax, and so much more).

In addition to enjoying her spunk and her persistence in learning what she loves, her attempts at all that her mother expects her to excel at are what make her Callie Vee. I am glad her mom is not made out to be a villain but merely doing something expected of her for her only daughter (and she takes Lydia Pinkham’s tonics (read ‘alcohol’!) for her frequent headaches). Callie gamely tats, sews, knits socks for her brothers, cooks apple pie tarts, learns deportment, and plays Chopin on the piano (while she would rather play Scott Joplin!). Her relationship with her brothers is totally endearing – I especially loved the depictions of the relationships between her and her oldest brother Harry as well as her youngest brother, J.B. (Oh, that scene, when he hugs her to make her feel better, because he just knows that she is not feeling too good made my eyes shimmer). She has her faults too, for example, how she reacts/acts when her favorite older brother seriously starts pursuing a girl he likes. The questions and observations she records in her notebook are a wonderful inspiration and an inside look into the working of a young naturalist in the making. For example, how can the possum in her wall tell time exactly (he always finishes his nocturnal walks and climbs up the wall at five am everyday) while her younger brother J.B. was still struggling with the concept of time? Or is there a word for snow in the language of the finches? And if there is not, how will they survive it?

This book is, in effect, a tender, inspiring, witty portrayal of many things — of Callie Vee – the only girl child among seven children – a naturalist in the making at a time when ambition or science were not words for girls, and also of her family, her tiny town in the middle of nowhere which celebrates its first telephone, and adds an entry for the temperature in the shade after Callie writes to the paper (because, who in their right minds would be out in the sun in that scorcher of a summer), the fairs, the ribbons to win at the fairs, fireflies, tarts, pecan-whiskey, and so much more of a bygone era. This book is a portrayal of the love within families – in this case, especially that of Callie and her grandfather, and of Callie and her brothers (and yes, of Callie and the rest of her household, and of her best friend Lula!).

And yet, this book is timeless, and waiting to inspire many a girl (and a boy, and adults too) to explore the world around them, to persist, to be curious, to keep learning, and to keep going at it.

I end with some of the many quotable quotes in this absolutely readable book!

Conversations between granddaddy and Callie -“It’s amazing what you can see when you just sit quietly and look.”

Conversations between granddaddy and Callie –“I don’t have that many days left,” he said as we sat together in the library. “Why would I want to spend them on matters of drainage and overdue accounts? I must husband my hours and spend every one of them wisely. I regret that I didn’t come to this realization until I reached fifty years of age. Calpurnia, you would do well to adopt such an attitude at an earlier age. Spend each of your allotted hours with care.”

Conversations between granddaddy and Callie – “I don’t understand the modern educational system at all.”
“Neither do I. We have to learn sewing and knitting and smocking. In Deportment, they make us walk around the room with a book on our heads.”
Granddaddy said, “I find that actually reading the book is a much more effective way of absorbing.”

Conversations between granddaddy and Callie – “I remember it as if it were yesterday. Matter of fact, I remember it better than I remember yesterday. Old age is a terrible thing, Calpurnia.” He looked at me and said, “Don’t let it happen to you.”
“Nosir,” I said. “I won’t.”

What she notices about their family cook Viola – “It was interesting that such a slight frame could contain so large a person.”

Of her grandpa – “We had been so close to missing each other, he and I. He had turned out to be the greatest gift of all.” 

Of being eleven year olds – “Lula,” I said, “do you ever think about getting married?”
I guess I do. Doesn’t everybody?”
You have to let your husband kiss you once you’re married. And you have to kiss him back.”
No,” she said.
Yes.” I nodded, as if I knew everything there was to know about husbands and wives kissing. “That’s what they do together.”
Do you have to?”
Oh, absolutely. It’s the law.”
I never heard of that law,” she said dubiously.
It’s true, it’s Texas law,” I said.” 

This post goes towards ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter E (my theme for ABC Wednesday’s Round 22, as you might have already guessed, is children’s books – I will pick one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely).

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True Friends?

By February 6, 2018 Books

For the Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me In 2018, here is my pick this week.

The Card:  K of Heartsdeal me in

The Selection: ‘The Devoted Friend’ – A short story by Oscar Wilde – I love Oscar Wilde and have read a few of his stories but know that I have many more to read. I ended up picking one I had not read before and as with all of his other stories that I have read, this story was truly moving.

GoodReads Description: “The Devoted Friend” is a short fairy tale written by Oscar Wilde. The tale concerns Big Hugh, the miller, and his best friend Hans. The story is told by a linnet to a water-rat following a conversation about what it means to be a devoted friend.

My Thoughts: This short is a story within a story, where a linnet is trying to show what a devoted friend to the water-rat by narrating the story of Little Hans and the rich miller. The story highlights friendship, and how it can mean different things to different people, and how people value friends and friendship differently. It is a very telling cautionary tale, reminding us to focus on true friendships, and not the ones which end up being one-sided. With the rich Miller taking advantage of Little Hans in the name of true friendship, and not doing a single thing in return for Hans, this also might serve as a reflection of how capitalistic societies function too.

Wilde truly excels in teaching through stories where lessons remain unlearned, good deeds are not rewarded, and stories end with often frustrating ends for the reader (oh, if only!, why this?, but what happened to?). In spite of this, the reader is left enriched with life and its varying emotions portrayed oh-so-beautifully in Wilde’s masterful words tinged with the right amounts of wit and satire.

Lessons you can learn from this: It is OK to say NO; in today’s world where fitting in, being accepted, being liked is what many seek, it is important to ensure that you fit in without a high cost to yourself; that kindness, thoughtfulness, giving to others, and friendships are important, yes, but we need to learn not to con/be conned; that reciprocity makes relationships stronger; that we need to ensure our vanity or our need to be a friend does not blind us to mistakes we make (like in Hans case, giving at high costs to himself; and in the Miller’s case, preaching without practicing).

I read this story here. I also discovered this delightful comic version (a series, actually) that exists and am looking forward to checking it out.

To sum it up, if you have not read Wilde before, do it now! Read anything – his short stories, his plays (love ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’), his novel (‘Picture of Dorian Gray’). Simply brilliant!
If you have read Oscar Wilde, which is your favorite read of his? Let me know..


Over at That Artsy Reader Girl, today’s Top Ten Theme is Books that have been there forever on my TBR. So here is my list:

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Zucchini Paneer Carrot Parathas

By February 6, 2018 Food

A recipe after a long time on my blog; I have to hunt for the photos I took while making these parathas so they will make their way to this post soon. In the meantime, I have the recipe here for you to try out.

Print Recipe
Zucchini Paneer Carrot Paratha
Parathas - this makes me think of my mom's alu (potato) or muli (radish) parathas, among the many varieties she still makes. They are indeed an Indian staple that have endured and are in home and hotel menus all over. The name itself evokes images of deliciousness that makes a tummy happy in so many ways - plain parathas with yoghurt and pickles, achari parathas with raitha, parathas with grated veggies and spices mixed in, and last but not the least, stuffed parathas (stuffed with potato, paneer, etc). Layered, flaky, oozing with ghee, or just as is - parathas satisfy... Parathas are a favorite item in our home, and parathas that have paneer take the cake! Here is one version of the paratha I make at home (and ensure that my DD eats her zucchini). I hope you enjoy the recipe as well. Photos for steps to follow soon.
Cuisine Indian
Cuisine Indian
  1. Grate the paneer, carrot, and zuchini. Squeeze dry (as much as possible) the zucchini and carrot; and you can actually use the squeezed out juice for step 4 below (instead of part of the needed water for the dough). Or you can reduce the amount of water needed if you chose to use them as is.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together - flour, chili powder, coriander powder, carom(ajwain) seeds, salt to taste.
  3. Add 1 tsp oil, mix and then add grated ingredients and mix together
  4. Add water little by little and knead until a soft. slightly sticky dough is ready. (My normal proportion of water to flour: 1/2 to 1; In this case, with the addition of zucchini, you can reduce accordingly)
  5. Coat the prepared dough with 1/2 tsp of oil, cover, and rest it for a few minutes (if plain parathas, rest for about 15 minutes; since this has grated vegetables mixed in, about 5 minutes should do).
  6. Divide the dough into 16 parts, roll into a ball, and keep covered.
  7. For each divided section, roll out into a 5 to 6 " circle (using wheat flour to help in the process as needed).
  8. Cook on a preheated flat pan for 1-1.5 minutes on each side or until golden-brown and add little ghee (optional but tasty!) Serve with raitha or curry of your choice.
Recipe Notes

You can, instead of mixing all ingredients together, add the spices to the grated ingredients and use that mix as a stuffing for the paratha.

You can use crumbled tofu for a vegan alternative, and skip the ghee.

Note: Nutrition facts are for this recipe, as entered into MyFitnessPal in My Recipes list that I maintain there. NutritionFacts

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The Bard and the Future Architect

By February 6, 2018 Books, Memes, Reviews

Today’s post features books across different subjects –  to the world of the Bard and the architect.

Poetry for Kids ShakespearePoetry for Kids: William Shakespeare (Poetry for Kids)
by William Shakespeare, Marguerite Tassi, Merce Lopez (Illustrations) 

Release Date: Apr 3, 2018 (but available for pre-order on Amazon)

GoodReads Description: Love! Betrayal! Ambition! Tragedy! Jealousy! Williams Shakespeare’s universal themes continue to resonate with readers of all ages more than 400 years after his death.

This wonderful, fully illustrated book introduces children to the Bard and 35 of his most famous and accessible verses, sonnets, and speeches. From “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” to “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” and “All the world’s a stage,” the words of the greatest playwright and poet spring to life on the page.

The next generation of readers, poets, and actors will be entranced by these works of Shakespeare. Each poem is illustrated and includes an explanation by an expert and definitions of important words to give kids and parents the fullest explanation of their content and impact.

My Thoughts: This is an introduction to Shakespeare that is, in one word, enchanting (and to add one more word, entrancing). What a wonderful way to introduce kids (and adults too) to the Bard! The book encompasses the playful, the romantic, the serious, and more selections from many of his works including Hamlet, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet, among others. Delightful whimsical illustrations by Merce Lopez accompany each selection, and surprise the reader often with images that are, well, will let you discover for yourself! There are helpful notes to explain the language of the bard (words and phrases) for each of the selected works.

For example, for ‘Over Hill, Over Dale’ from ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’,

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,………..

Some of the notes are: dale – a wide, open valley; thorough – through; pale – fenced-in area.

Starting off with ‘All the World’s a Stage’ and ending with ‘Our Revels Have Now Ended’,  as well as one of my favorites (‘If Music Be the Food of Love’), each of the Bard’s words are brought alive in these pages!

Like in the other wonderful ‘Poetry for Kids’ book I read featuring Emily Dickinson, the additional notes at the end give a brief description of what Shakespeare was thinking of as he wrote each of the selected works. The introduction is a short yet informative biography of the poet. Poems include word definitions when necessary (helpful when reading to younger kids; and some words to better understand as used in the poem) and this really will be useful for readers. The selection of poems, as I mentioned earlier, included emotions ranging from innocence of childhood play to death, and illustrations convey the same (so there are a few skeletons, literally, in the book!).

This book is like a great starter kit to introduce kids (and also to adults) to poetry in general, and to specific poets.  A great book to gift to anyone. Along with the others in the series so far – Emily Dickinson (reviewed here), Robert Frost (one of my favorite poets), Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg (will review these others soon) – this is a great addition to any library.

Rating: A+
Reading Level: Read to younger kids; read with everyone else
Reread Level: 5/5
Disclaimer: Thank you to Edelweiss for the digital ARC of the book

future architect's handbookThe Future Architect’s Handbook 
Barbara Beck

Release Date: Sept 28, 2014

GoodReads Description: For children with a passion for drawing, or dreams of creating buildings, this book explores how architects really work, taking the young reader through the entire process for planning and designing a house. Learn about an architect’s four main drawings: the Site Plan, Floor Plan, Section, and Elevation–including the concept of drawing each plan to scale. Aspiring architects discover design techniques, along with different, exciting architectural styles used today. All of this is brought to life in freehand, pen-and-ink architectural drawings that will inspire children to apply these lessons to their own designs. This book is the perfect introduction to architecture, revealing why buildings look and function as they do. While this creative book is ideal for the middle grades, ages 9-12, even adults will find it inspiring.

My Thoughts: The Hows, Whys, Whats along with the bare bones basics for those young budding architects are all covered in this book. It takes the reader step-by-step at the very basic levels in simple, easy to understand language along with wonderful plans and illustrations to explain what goes on as the architect works on plans for a building, in this case, a house. It also introduces the reader to famous architects and different styles of architecture, and explains briefly why buildings need to be built differently for different conditions (weather/location/etc). This is a definitive handbook for architects – a great gift for one who is already an architect, and also to those future architects, or just about anyone. While my review was written for the NetGalley digital version I received, this is also currently on order for gifting 🙂

Rating: A
Reading Level: Ages 9 – 12 (well, all ages)
Reread Level: 5/5
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley for the digital ARC of the book

I am linking these books to What are you Reading?
From Picture Books to YA 
at Teach Mentor Texts and to NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge

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Setting Moon Though Eclipsed Still Wows

By February 4, 2018 Art, Writing

Lunar Eclipse Setting Moon

For Six Word Saturday  hosted at Travel with Intent and  Saturday Snapshot over at West Mommy Reads


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winter spring

By February 2, 2018 Writing

 winds chill east, outside

sunshine inspired laughter, here

Phil would signal spring.





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