Bookmarks: A brief history and exploration of styles

Contrary to a growing belief, bookmarks are not for quitters; bookmarks are for the note takers, artists, writers, logophiles and readers alike.

Bookmarks history dates back to the early days of bookmaking where highly skilled monks were called away to prayers and needed a way to quickly mark their spot in their incunabula or manuscripts. If the page was wet then they would have used a blank page or blotting sheet, for fine illumination pages they would use vellum, but if the page was mostly script and it was dry, a simple ribbon suffice.

The oldest bookmark that has been found is from 1584 when the Queen’s Printer, Christopher Barker, presented Queen Elizabeth I with a fringed silk bookmark.  The second oldest existing bookmark is currently in The Royal Museum of Brunei, it is an ivory bookmark which was made in India. It  has been embellished with a geometrical pattern made by piercing holes into the ivory, this bookmark is  dating from the 16th century.

Of course with the rise of literacy came the rise of the use of bookmarks. In the early 18th century book publishers often included a narrow silk ribbon, sewn or glued into the spine to act as a page marker, this is still seen in some modern books.

In the 1850’s the detachable bookmarks began were popularized. There is a reference to these loose bookmarks in in Mary Russell Mitford’s Recollections of a Literary Life (1852) but they are not called ‘bookmarks’ but were then known as “a marker”.

In the 1860’s woven bookmarks began to be manufactured. Thomas Steven bookmarks were la mode de jour, so much so that his marks became known as Stevenmarks. During this era of call cards, postcards, and the rise of other highly decorative ephemera, it is not hard to imagine why these became popular gifts, with high society members having their’s made of silk or adding text to the woven markers.

By the middle of the Victorian era the markers were seen in newspapers and magazines as cut-out advertisements. Some were decorative while others overtly featured items such as soaps, canned goods, or corsets. It was also during the Victorian era that so-called ‘woman’s magazines’ began to publish patterns for embroidered bookmarks.  During the Edwardian era celluloid bookmarks were cheap alternatives to ivory and much like paper could include advertisements. Most celluloid bookmarks were die-cut, using a technique called chromolithography,  much like the paper bookmarks.

Now bookmarks come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Lovers of bookmarks collect them. Currently the largest known collection belongs to Frank Divendal from the Netherlands, he collection includes over 103,009 different bookmarks from all over the world, which he has been collecting since 1982.

Here are some examples of popular bookmark types available at bookshops and online:

This metal monogram works like a giant paperclip. It is chic and else spotted but it retains heat on warm days, it can be bent or dinged, and worst of all it can leave permanent marks on pages.

These magnetic bookmarks have a front and back so you know exactly which page (not just between page 122 and 123) you left off on, but they too have their downside. They tend to be heavy and fall off, while doing so they can rip pages. They can hold multiple pages too, but be careful because the stronger the magnet the more likely it is to leave marks. On paperback books heavier magnets can damage and tear covers!

Who doesn’t love sticky notes!?! This one is great, because you can write on it. If you prefer this method look for high quality brands to ensure a good stick without leaving a residue. Of course you know when selling, loaning, or returning a book to a library you should remove bookmarks but this is even more important with sticky notes as some places will not accept the book and some libraries will fine you for returning it thusly.

I’m obsessed with using these markers in textbooks, classics, and nonfiction. A quality brand of page pointers will grip the pages like magnets or clips but will not leave marks, rips, or fall out. Bonus, these can mark words and the exact line you left off at!

Magnifying bookmarks are magnificent! Oh, so punny it hurts! Seriously, they typically have rulers so you can mark lines or notations (please limit this or use pencil unless you plan to keep your book forever!) but most importantly, they let you magnify tiny fonts/prints. These bookmarks are just the thing for long reads, mass market paperbacks, and those with weak eye sight.

If you love multi-tools then the book light clip is perfect for you! It’s a bookmark and a light all in one. I always keep one with me when I travel.

This simple beaded ribbon is what’s known in the biz as a book thong. Silly, I know, but highly effective like it’s woven silk ancestors this ‘thong’ marks the spot without marking up the book. The beads help prevent slippage.

The modern classic, a plastic, paper or cardboard bookmark with a cute saying or design, typically with a ribbon. These great all the time look out for bulky ribbons or thick bookmarks, as they may leave marks.  This is also a great style to make for yourself, you can find endless prinatbles, colorsheets, and more on pinterest. Here is a board I created full of diy bookmark ideas, directions, and even some free printables!

But let’s be honest, this is graphic is probably true for most of use avid readers:

Love bookmarks and want to know more, like how different collectors categorize their collections or better yet how to start your own amazing collection, check out these cool groups and books:

https://www.biblio.com/collecting-bookmarkers-by-coysh-a-w/work/382900

https://www.abaa.org/member-articles/bookmarks

https://www.ifobookmarks.org/links.html

https://www.collectorsweekly.com/books/bookmarks

https://www.facebook.com/bookmarkcollector/

Check back soon for more bookstore insights and as always, keep reading!

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Bookish Events

Bibliophiles, aka book lovers, can be such introverts but it is important to get out of our comfort zones and go socialize, and what better way to socialize than at bookish events!  I’ve planned, hosted, and been to many a book theme event and now I’m ready to give you the ins-and-out and the who, what, when, where, why and how to create and find the perfect book events for you.

Who has bookish events?

When thinking about cool events related to books we think of book shops, libraries, schools but also remember book lover parties bookish aka book themed events are where the fun is at! Just because stores and libraries are where most books are at doesn’t mean you cannot have a themed party or salon at home.

What sort of bookish event can I have or attend?

There are so many types of book events. Some of my favorites events are book signing, lecture/talks/Q&As, story hour, dressing up as favorite characters/favorite authors, or building a theme around your favorite book or author like like ones that have multiple books like Shakespeare, Dickens, or J.K. Rowling.

when to find or schedule an event?

When seasonal holidays arrive (christmas, easter, halloween) it is great to have events featuring books and activities themed around it. Spring itself can be an event, a national holiday, or just an weather themed event can be fun. For example, is it raining, then perhaps it is a great day to have A Cloud With A Chance of Meatballs event. Of course there are the classic bookish events like authors birthdays, publishing anniversaries, hot new releases (Harry Potter nights!), death/recent passing, book tours, local writers nights… so many fun events! I’m excited to attend these just writing about them!!!

Where can you find out about them?

Unless you or a friend is having a party or salon it can be quite difficult to find out about book events. When you are at your favorite book shop or library sometimes they’ll have print outs or flyers up. If you cannot find signs in person, the internet is my go to spot. For example when planning my last trip to NYC I search on my favorite book shop’s website and found their events calendar. I was able to reserve a seat and call ahead for a book to be held. When I was in high school I really loved Deb Caletti books so I found her author site and checked out her book tour schedule, and low and behold… she was coming to my local book shop! When I was very little my mom volunteered to run the library story hour so she also had the inside scoop on cool book events. My biggest tip here is to use your resources call around to shops, check author sites, utilize social media, add your name to mailing lists, be active at your local library and let your friends and family know you want to attend these sorts of events so they can keep an eye out and send information your way.

why Have or Attend a Bookish EVENT?

Number one reason, FUN! If you love books then book activities and talking about books is a joy. As a book seller I do like the sales and store exposure, plus we can bring in new customers, but if the events are not quality then it can waste employees’ time and hurt sales.

When the event kits the book shop receives from publishers are utter rubbish we try our best to supplement with craft supplies we keep on hand and things like great posters and parachutes employees like myself loan the store for the afternoon, plus costumes always add to events…which of course is one of my favorite reasons to have a bookish event. I love to dress up! Costumes and fun activities based on something you enjoy can bring you out of your shell, some readers like to keep to themselves and hate to socialize and a book event is the perfect opportunity for that.

how to get event supplies?

At book shops publishers, writers, and sometimes corporate offices send book kits for events. These typically include a reproducible set of activity sheets, instructions, stickers (or temporary tattoos), a poster, and a large (often abridged) store or demonstration copy of the book they want promoted.  I like to supplement with games, crafts, and activity sheets I find on pinterest. I try to find things that are free or cheap, using supplies the shop or I already have, and select ones that take the least amount of time to prepare.

Aim to spend 30 minutes to 2 hours maximum preparing and setting up. One time it took four because the shop needed to restock on craft supplies and many local stores were sold out,  and sometimes the event space is very heavily shopped so setting up the table and supplies can take longer, but generally I stick to that time-frame because quality not quantity is best. Additionally I need to aim to have multiple ages 0-100 happy with the events so my events are story and craft heavy.

If you’re planning for adults only you can have a favorite author’s favorite drinks bar or famous authors smoking lounge or literary themed teas and coffee. Basically, food and the general public don’t mix  because of germs and allergies and cleanup so smaller events have so many more options in that avenue.  Be creative with this, carve a watermelon and sculpt a cheese ball. Remember you want people to socialize and have fun!

I want to have just as much fun as my event attendees so I always plan activities I know I will enjoy, and I hope you do the same.

Feel free to check out my pinterest and instagram for some ideas to get you started.

Check back soon for more bookstore insights and as always, keep reading!

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Avoiding Book Injuries

Nasty paper cuts, falling books, or worse falling bookshelves!?! These are just a few of the common injuries of readers, librarians, and booksellers. Book injuries can be badges of honor, but they can also be easily avoided. Below are common book related injuries and how to avoid/prevent them.

1. Falling shelves

I first learned about falling shelves as a babysitter. No babies died on my watch, but in my American Red Cross training course I learned how to make sure shelves are anchored. Of course I also learned how to prevent children from climbing on shelves, if only I could use these techniques for customers at the bookshop!

When shelves are first installed the bases can be screwed directly into floors depending on the sort of setup you have. Bookcases that are against walls can be attached to walls with brackets or screwed directly to the back of the shelf into the wall.

Floating shelves or individual shelves that are not in bookcases can be anchored into all with extra heavy duty mollies or attached with braces and support chains.

Finally, bookcases that are free standing on the floor like you’re walking through a library, should both be bolted to the floor and to each other with an overreaching bracket between the two shelves to anchor the top.

It’s very important to make sure this is done properly because customers at bookshops will step on the first set of shelves rather than looking for a proper stool. I understand because at home I frequently want to reach for books quickly when I can’t find a stool and don’t want to ask for help so I take dangerous actions reaching for them, but seriously folks safety first!

2. Falling books

Ugh! I hate this!!! I recently was up on a step stool shelving SAT prep books and the bottom of the spine hit me on the bridge of my nose.

Posted this on my instagram stories the night it happened, feel free to follow me https://www.instagram.com/jillianpikora/

Clearly librarians and booksellers need hard hats. Until we make a run for the construction industry we’ll have to come up with safer measures like not overstuffing the top shelf with heavy books.

In addition to adjusting how we fill shelves, proper supports for shelves can prevent things from falling on us.

Some libraries have safety bars to prevent books from fall or you can have glass doors. Remember this may make shelving books more difficult but there is the added bonus: little kids won’t pull all the books off the shelves.

This can be recreated at home in  children’s room with bungee cords or nylon rope. In a grown-up space or historical libraries rare books are often stored behind wooden or metal bars or even glass doors. You can find industrial strength supplies for this by searching online for ‘earthquake proof shelving’.

3. Slipping off ladders

We all imagine we are Belle in Beauty and the Beast when we hop on a library ladder.

Unfortunately, we often do this dangerously.

Yeah, no. Books are not ladders. Bookshelves are not steps or ladders. And most importantly, we should not be performing musical numbers on library ladders, sorry Belle!

When on a step stool like at Barnes and Nobles, Books-A-Million, and the like you can balance your self on the first step before climbing higher. You can hold onto the frame of the shelf for balance, but do this like a ballerina at the barre not Jungle Grip G.I. Joe because if the shelf is not secure you may be back at common injury number one: falling shelves.

If you are lucky enough to use a sliding ladder first make sure it is properly pulled away from the wall and in the climbing position. Then grip the ladder with both hands and carefully climb in the center of each rung.  As cute as library fashion on pinterest and instagram are, please only climb in flat shoes that are firmly attached to your feet so you can avoid losing your balance.

4. When books attack

Harry Potter’s Monster Book of Monsters is the best example I can think of that explains how I feel when books come at me. I know that sounds dramatic but a veteran of the book selling world recently had a book tumble out of a box and skin the length of his forearm. That’s not the worst book attack I’ve heard of; a manager has had a book fall on their face and cause their nose to gush blood while customers continue to ask for help (btw customers please don’t do that to us, if you see blood just walk away or ask is if we need help).  Books are evil. Ok, no, reading books helps fight evil, all avid readers know this, but books can beat us up if we are not careful.

Paper cuts are par for the course and so are broken nails when are we shelving or looking up information quickly to help as many patrons as possible. Poorly stacked books often attack so shelving well is important. This means books are spined vertically (spines facing outward) or laying on their backs. Coverings facing out (aka face outs) are not ideal for paper backs, loose bindings, or antiques. Older books can have loose bits, debris, and dirt. Take more time to spine them properly. If they are rare antiques, wear gloves to prevent the dirt from getting on you and the oils from your skin from get on the book.

Poorly made paper backs and baby board books can have glue wads. Avoid cuts by using a nail file to knock off or sand down the excess glue. When you are in a hurry the hard glue can cut you or worse a baby eating a delicious book can get a cut on their tongue. Ouch!

5. Injuries related to carts, book tables, or steps

When the library steps with builtin shelves are not balanced they are no longer steps, they will just tip over.

Spin a lazy susan book table too fast and it can land on your feet.

Unload half a side of a wheeling library cart and it can rain books down on your back. This happened to me when shelving fairy tales and storybook collections. Those heavy, hard covered books left more than one bruise.

When it comes to book safe it is about balancing books, yourself, and slowing down to each to experience. These tips will help you avoid paper cuts and other injuries.

As readers we have a positive relationship with books. We read, research, shelf, and spend time among books because we love them. Be kind  to books and stay safe to avoid this relationship with books becoming one of love and hate.

Happy reading!

Check back next week for more bookstore insights.

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All About ARCs

Whether you’re a causal reader or an constant one, getting an advanced copy of a book makes you feel special. And it should make you feel special, because receiving an ARC means you were one of the few people deemed influential enough to receive one.

Ok, that’s kind of an exaggeration, but they are awesome so let’s find out why.

Firstly, what exactly is an ARC?

ARC means advance review copy. Sometimes they are referred to as advanced reader copies.

Who has access to these special, early versions of books?

TV personalities, journalist, booksellers, attendees at book expos, reporters at traditional radio and newspapers are all sent ARCs. Additionally, nouveau reviewers and fan readers that post reviews on platforms such as blogs, YouTube, instagram, weheartit, GoodReads, twitter, facebook, and similar internet based social platforms receive ARCs. Also the friends, family, coworkers, and advisers of the writer sometimes receive ARCs. Finally, booksellers and bookstores may receive ARCs to aid in their book knowledge and to help promote the books.

How can you get a copy of an ARC?

Agents, writers, and publishers may contact you directly if you blog about a subject the book they are publishing is about like fashion, toys, food, religion, or just about books in general (book bloggers, booktubers, litwitters, bookstagrammers, etc). If you contact a writer (please don’t do this if you don’t know them unless you are an influential blogger/youtuber) sometimes they will happily mail a copy directly to you or send you an ebook or a galley/netgalley copy (I’ll go over galleys in a future post). If you’re a book seller, you get them off the truck at the store, in the mail from corporate, or directly from publishers. Booksellers can ask management to borrow or keep ARCs that interest them.

When do ARCs become available?

The advanced copy printing dates depend on the popularity and timeliness of the subject and/or author. If it is nonfiction or fiction relating to current events, sometimes they skip the multiple edits, reader copies, and galleys and the ARCs will be released ASAP. An example of this is Sean Spicer’s book The Briefing. He is rumored to have charged people to get copies of his ARCs and offered so-called free tickets to book tour events in exchange. Then there was Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury which was so highly anticipated and controversial people lined up for the ARCs. After journalists received it, they published and read-aloud the most salacious excerpts on prime-time tv news shows. Both books were published less than three months after their ARCs were released. Spicer’s book was a failure and did not sell well upon publication. Wolff’s book was Publisher Weekly’s 5th best selling title of 2018. Both ARC and marketing cases were extremely unusually but show how important and influential a well edited (even if not a final edit), quality ARC and marketing campaign can be.

That brings us to: why bother to release ARCs?

ARCs can give publishers and editors huge insights into how a book may be received by the general public. These ARCs clearly can help drive or kill sales depending on the early reviews. Plus, the marketing can be readjusted to help improve the projected sales or the printer can be called to reduce the printing order.

Over the past 5 years social media book posts have increased so much so that those reviewers are starting to take priority over typical networks. Marketing campaigns surrounding ARCs and book publishing in general, are changing. Getting an ARC photo onto Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf or Reese Whiterspoon’s Hello Sunshine social media can drastically influence the sales margins of a book. Therefore, digital based reviewers are often sent ARCs first but this also means more ARCs are being printed and sent out than before.

The high volume of ARCs being printed can hurt a book, like Spicer’s The Briefing, or it can take a genre novel like The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory from sitting on a bookstore’s romance shelf for years to flying off shelves. But, this means collecting ARCs may be a thing of the past. There was a time Ian McEwan ARC was more valuable than a signed first edition. Notes and highlighting from a famous reviewer only increased the value. Sales of these rare copies once ranged from $5-150 per copy. Now that more are made, the 1980’s collecting boom may start to decline.

ARCs are made to be read and enjoyed but not to be sold, despite the collecting market that is out there. When people finish reading them, sometimes ARCs are raffled off or given away for free. Other’s collect them because they are rare but if you go to a signing be mindful that most writers will not sign ARCs. Sometimes people will craft with them, carving and paper folding the pages. What you choose to do with them is up to you, but if you are caught selling them you will probably not receive them again because it hurts relationships with publishers.

Check back next week for more bookstore insights.

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5th of November Binge Watching

As a child I was obsessed with England…and France…and Egypt, the travel bug bit me hard when I was young.  Thankfully, Matthew Thornton Elementary School was great at teaching me all about history and culture. My obsession got a bit weird when my advance learners group had our “Eminent People Day” presentations; I glued on facial hair and went as William Shakespeare. But hey, who doesn’t like to get into character and play the role of an eight-year-old’s lifetime? My teachers honed my interest and taught our class the meaning behind childhood songs like “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” and of course this English verse:

  Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Although this gem wasn’t written down until nearly 200 years after the event, no one has forgotten the terrorist Guy Fawkes. Nowadays, at least in America, we remember it because of good quality entertainment by way of cinema not verse (sorry Shakespeare).

V for Vendetta (2005)

My creative writing teacher introduced me to V for Vendetta. It was life changing.  It is based on a Graphic Novel, which is now a personal favorite. Question everything and trust no one are huge take-a-ways from both. That sounds ominous but it is not as bleak as it sounds there are great fight scene, a love story/exploration of the human condition, and political corruption. Plus, it will make you love capes and masks more than Phantom of the Opera!

Gunpowder Treason & Plot (2004)

This plot is a more about Mary Queen of Scots but it is very well done. Clémence Poésy is as gorgeous as ever with her sidepiece the Mcsteamy-McDreamy Kevin McKidd. Honestly do you really need to know more…royals, love, battling for rule of two thrones…come on,  right there it is a must see.

 Gunpowder Plot (2017)

Guys, Kit Harrington is the main character! Seriously, aside from managing Game of Thrones withdrawal (I binged the whole series over the last few months), the entire cast does an excellent job with bonus points for being very historically accurate. Be aware that this has nudity and graphic depictions of the venomous anti-Catholic torture and anti-Protestant murdering, but that is true to historically records.

It’s never too late to join me in the viewing party so grab some of my favorite popcorn and put on one of these boss masks and start bingeing.

Boss Guy Fawkes Masks

Instructions: click to enlarge, save image, print, cut-out (eyes too, duh), punch holes, add string, look fly

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Mawlid Al Nabawi and the Sugar Doll

PROPHET MUHAMMAD PBUH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IN EGYPT

muhammad-and-i-with-mawlid-doll

Saturday December 10th was the start of the celebration of the last Prophet’s birthday. It is celebrated with sweets, time with family, prayer, reading Qu’ran, and sharing of songs (nasheeds), poems and stories about the nativity and life of Muhammad (PBUH, Peace Be Upon Him).  As you can tell it is more about honoring his life and memory than a party or gift giving (unlike Eid).

If you are like many of my American Muslim friends you might not have heard of this celebration but most Sunni (depending on your country of origin), Sufi, and Shia Muslims  honor Muhammad. The celebration is thought to date back more than 500 years but art of the birth is dated older so many historians think it was celebrated in more rural areas prior to the popular events in Iran, Asia, and Egypt. Here in Egypt, and much of the the world, we celebrate from sunset of the 11th day of the Islamic month Raabi Al Awaal (which is determined by the lunar calendar) through the 12th. In Iran and neighboring regions it is traditionally celebrated on the 17th- 18th day of Raabi Al Awaal. Due to the date confusion and the love, we as Muslim’s feel for Muhammad PBUH, the celebration can turn into a seasonal event much like that of Christmas.

rashidaddinbirthofprophetmohammed-720x340

People collect stories, songs, and poems and sing to share in Sufi circles or with family. This is done during the month leading up to the event through the few days following.  Additionally buying sweets starts early in the month and the leftovers are shared well after the event. The most popular sweet in my current home country is that of the Arouset El-Moulid, which means sugar Bride or Doll for the prophet’s birthday.

THE SUGAR DOLL TALE

Many traditions in Egypt have a convoluted past and the sugar doll is no exception. It is part of the country’s intangible heritage that struggles to survive as plastic dolls from China replace the sugar ones, sugar shortages prevent people from affording the sweets, and conservative Muslims pushing to do away with the holiday all together.  It’s becomes more important than ever to learn about this tradition and try to preserve it.

mouliddoll

An version of the folklore is that soldiers returning from war were promised marriages to beautiful women as a reward from there bravery and the candy dolls made each year honor the soldiers and this concept. If you like this story then believe it, but there is no historical evidence to support it.

The main origin story that is believed  is that the Shia Sultan of the Fatimid Era of Egypt, El Hakim Ba’amr Ellah started having birthday parades and gatherings among his family, friends, and elites in the region. The ruler was a bit of an eccentric who had a history of outlawing silly things, throwing lavish parties, and being paranoid. When he arrived at the head of the parade in what is now known as Islamic or Old Cairo the streets were packed and people were excited to see the strange man. They weren’t disappointed. He was a shorter man dressed up as a solider astride a horse. He was quite pompous and didn’t disappoint but he was out shined by one of his wives.

She came walking along his side with piles of makeup far more than a modest women would wear on a holy day. She also was in her traditional (what we think of Persian style) gown but in loud colors that clashed with each other. On her head as a crown of diamonds. She was so overly made up it was the talk of Cairo, many say that this is when the candy makers decided to crave molds to make dolls to sell the following year…here’s another version:

The crazy ruling class were either oblivious or liked the attention since it enhance their status some versions of the folklore say that the following year she did it again but this time with large fans on her dress sticking up like a peacock and a crown head, jasmine, and layers of thick braids. It is said that the second years is what inspired locals to mark the occasion with the candy dolls.

Confectioners took  the joke (or memorial of the occasion depending on your view of the folklore) to the next level by making dolls of the Sultan and his wife in various sizes. They would paint on faces and add colors but the wrapper on the wife was one of elaborate paper folds, colors, and shiny materials.

Over the last 700 years the legend has changed or grown but that is the general story. Additionally there is the folklore about the molds. The wooden for the candy making are similar to European molds for cookies, speculaas, and ginger bread.

In fact, molds for this nature have been used for millennia in Egypt; it is even thought that the molds that were originally used were left over from an ivory and/or idol mold because wooden molds in Egypt were frequently used for those purposes. Historians and frankly I  do not think this is possible since most of the mold discovered were in upper Egypt centuries after the sugar doll originated in Cairo, but the idea of using an old candy mold and simply reshaping it is a possibility.

The shape of a man on a horse and an overdress women are very common. Not only are these typical European sweet shapes or the era and beyond, but they hearken back to the Pharaonic and Coptic Egyptian idols, toys, and sculptures.

ancientegyptiancopticfigurines

AT THE CANDY SHOP

The dolls and sultans on horses are simply a sugar candy similar to Maple Leaf candies but on a larger scale. These candy creations are made rather than fill the mold the roll the sugary solution around the mold to coat it in a 5 cm thick layer with roughly solid arms and a head (or solid horse head and tail if you purchased a Sultan).

Men still laugh at over made up girls by calling them Arouset El-Moulid. The candies are still made this way. The Candy shops still prepare for Moulid season like chocolatiers prepare Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in the USA. Yes, in Egypt, making the sugar dolls is a candy making season. The shops make sweets and the sultan on the horse too, but the wrappers or clothing  of the days is a laborious task. One doll can take a whole day to make clothing for and dress (as I found out, see below) and each shop makes hundreds.

moulid-painting

That’s right by 1920 all the candy shops in Egypt made hundreds of these dolls each year. There was an fairytale movie in 1955 about the “Mawlid Bride” starring Tahia Carioca.

She works in her family’s candy factory where the dolls come to life at night. This added to the folklore of the dolls.

They were cheap and affordable so they become something everyone wanted for the holiday. Even the poorest of Egyptians recall eating broken or leftover sugar dolls during and after the celebration. By the mid-1990s many candy shops closed and they’re were 5 major shops in Cairo left producing them. School children performing the سكر قراقيش dance was a common sight on tv specials in Egypt.

Since the 2011 revolution the number of shops that make the dolls in Cairo has dwindled to three, with one only makes a small amount the week prior to the celebration. With the sugar shortages, price hikes, and import taxes candy makers struggle to find what they need to make the dolls.

ADMIRATION FOR THE ART

Local folklore and love for the celebration pepper the internet as artists post there new arouset al moulid inspired creations.

Here’s a sweet poem about the dolls by blogger Hussam Elsherif

Sugar Dreams

Come on, come all it’s Moulid Night

Prayers, swings, and festive light

Here’s a doll an there’s a knight

Sugar crunch and sweet delight

are children dreams of this night

There are crochetted, quilled, and beautiful drawn versions all over the internet fondly recalling these dolls. This one is by ‘Hind of Alexandria’ .

hind-of-alexandria-crochet

MAKING A DOLL

I was so thrilled when my Muhammad, my husband, found a store selling them by a bus stop in Sayyidah Zaynab. Due to the cost of the candy the decorations were poorly done with starburst and peanut candy wrappers, and layers of cellophane and newspaper sewn together to make a skirt.

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These dressings are held on with wires, staples, tape, pins, glue, and are often sewn together.

My Muhammad suggested I use my crafting skills to remake her with beautiful clothing from colored papers and various craft supplies we have on hand. The next day I took the challenge. I did not realize how complex this task would be just undressing her carefully took an hour!

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When I remade it I wanted to not glue or tape anything to the doll because I have decided to try to preserve her as long as possible (maybe with a special glue?).

Once she was naked (oh-la-laa). I laid her down on a towel and redrew her face since the original was not lined up well with the indents from the mold and they were faint.

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Then I used bright yellow potato sack netting to be a crinoline. Next I glued A4 medium weight paper in to stripes the short way, and folded them and tied them on with a string. I decided to add green under layer in the center and reuse the shiny side of the candy wrappers to decorate the skirts.

I ended up trimming the skirt and used the remaining piece in a criss-cross fashion to make a bodice. After this I took onion and garlic bag netting to make a shawl that I woven through her arms and tied around her back. As you can see below,  I also made a crown from the wrappers.

I took a break for lunch at this point and decided to tackle the fans next. Originally my doll came with five ugly starburst wrapper flowers. I had a heavier (not quite card-stock) weight paper in bright colors I glued into stripes and accordion folded to make into small fans. which I decorate with candy wrappers. After each one was glued I refolded it and tied it in elastics to help set the glue. Then I sewed them into dimensional fans by using a heavy duty needle (I used an upholstery needle). I went about 5cm up from the center on to each fold. When I finished I used a paper weight to hold the fan in place as I tied it off.

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I hated the exposed wires to support the fans so I recovered the main wire, the wooden stick it attaches to and the small wires that attach the stick to the doll. This required patients, tape, and nearly two hours of twisting gold foil and opaque cellophane. I began to hate the project at this point, but with the love of the tradition I persevered.

I used more of the thin paper and made giant fans using the same gluing and folding technique as I did with the small fans. I decorated them with glitter glue, loose glitter, foil, and scraps of cellophane.

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I used the remaining foil and candy wrappers to make flowers for the center of her fans. I used the threaded the string from the little fan through the center of the big fan. Finally I took both sets of string from the fans to tie them to the wire which I had twisted onto the gold foil cover wooden pole. I used the smaller pieces of wire to attach the doll to the poll. I covered those wired with a an additional layer of cellophane to act as a necklace and a belt.

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She was huge and heavy so I began to worry she would fall over and break so I filled up her hollow insides with the old skirt from the shop and put her on a plate to give her a sturdy base.

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It was 9pm. I spent 12 hours redecorating a doll. It was fun but way too time consuming. I have a novel to finish! If I was going to be distracted crafting for a Egyptian tradition relating to the celebration of Mawlid seems like a good reason!

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We took this picture on our way out to get some Mawlid sweets…look who’s on the box!

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A Non-Spoiler Review of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Friday Netflix premiered Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I laughed, cried, was surprised, shocked, and tickled by the numerous forms of wish fulfillment.

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls since 6th grade, but it’s only since my recent career shift to writing that I have truly felt a kinship with the characters. This reboot didn’t fail to enhance the warm and fuzzies I have for the Lorelais, I mean Gilmore Girls. Early this morning between Thursday’s Parade, Christmas Classics and Hallmark Holiday Movie Marathons (not so different from Lorelai’s Lifetime Movie obsession) I squeezed in around 7 hours for my Girls. 

When the story begins in Winter 2015 without the Carol King theme song, which does not play until the end off the final episode. Fall). Rory is still struggling with poor relationship chooses and where she wants her career to go. Lorelai is managing the Dragonfly Inn, living with Luke (who is still managing the dinner). The biggest character change is for Emily Gilmore. She is struggling to find her place in the world without her husband of 50 years Richard. It is that plot point that has me pondering what show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino would have written if Ed Herrmann hadn’t died in real life.

The entire Emily story line is based on the passing of her husband. The Lorelai-Emily dynamic revolves around this tragic event. Rory finds herself pondering her grandfather’s opinions on her life choices. Luke is even having his life affected by the passing in ways many audience members might find surprising. With all those factors, it is clear we’d be watching an entirely different show if Herrmann was still here. May he rest in peace.

Don’t worry it is not all doom and gloom followed by Eat, Pray,  Love style self rediscovery. The cameos of best friends and boyfriends past actually move the plot along and several characters are central to the women’s lives. This is most prominently seen in Rory’s story line. Her high school friends and her boyfriends from her 15, 17, and 20 year old self. In term of her friends, Lane is unfortunately a very small part, but there is a healthy dose of Paris and her lovers. Unfortunately, Tristan is played by a stand-in because Chad Michael Murray had scheduling conflicts, but otherwise the Paris thread is woven in delightfully well. In terms of boyfriends, Logan gets the most screen time, followed by Jess but both are bitter sweet due to continuing to fail at having a relationship with Rory. There is a cute bit with Dean towards the end but otherwise he is not in the show.

Lorelai’s friends and former boyfriends also make cameos but they have very little screen time, except Michel who is still rocking at life at the Dragonfly Inn. Sookie is played by Melissa McCarthy, one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, so one scene is all we get. It is a wonderful scene and they do build up to it from the opening of Winter (episode one). In terms of Lorelai’s boyfriends, Max Medina is 100% missing in action. There are scenes they could have inserted him into at Clinton and elsewhere in the show but he is sadly left out. We do get a bit of Christopher but it is again one short scene. His second daughter, Rory’s half sister is merely mentioned although there was real potential for a plot line there.

Luke’s daughter April is also mentioned, but only twice and has one short scene. She was a great part of the end of the original series she is barely a footnote in this reboot. She is not mentioned, invited, or shown in the big ending in Fall. Again this was a plot development that would have been enjoyable to watch unfold and she should have been in many since with Jess in the final episode. It actually felt awkward to not have her there.

Spring and Summer are full of awkwardness due to edits and directory choices. These choices forced segues and made for often nonexistent transitions with up to 7 second black screens.

Many other viewers thought that the Parenthood and Bunheads cast cameos were awkward and unnecessary. I loved it. The show is about life going full circle and is full of audience and story line wish fulfillment. Why shouldn’t it give Lauren Graham  (Lorelai) and the show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino some wish fulfillment and life coming full circle for themselves?

To me the writing issues lay in three aspects. One body shaming scene in Summer. An ongoing vaguely racist bit by Emily. An upper crust CT women being vaguely racist is true to live and her character. I simply dislike it because they don’t full develop that story line and it leaves off with a mini-mystery. Finally I disliked an Across the Universe style dream-esque scene between Logan and Rory. The transitions in edits and directing are so bad that is hard to follow and lacks flow.

I rolled with laughed at the now infamous framed tale of a local musical. This is a non-spoiler review so I won’t go into details. The complaints are that the cast are not locals and the bit goes on too long. Somehow I felt like it was just right. It let my non-fan friends and family jump into my binge and instantly understand the show’s sense humor. It also reminded me of past seasons’s local shows and Edgar Allan Poe Night, which were absolutely classic episodes.

The fairs and locals of Stars Hollow are the heart and soul of the show. Most reviews for this show were written by men and people in big cities, but the majority of viewers during Gilmore Girls hay-day were in small towns, suburbs, and rural America.I grew up in a place like that. I knew my neighbors, had a favorite diner and inn, loved the fairs and our version of the town gazebo, and I was on first name basis with the mayor and editor of the local paper. The charm is not just in the characters but it the fact that it feels like home, our home. Many viewers live in Stars Hollows at least in our nostalgic-filled, idealized, and rose-colored glasses version of our towns and our lives.

As a New England girl, it is this charm that reminds me of Little Women. Jo March has a similar career path, full of struggles like Rory. She also faces economy and class issues. The writing Rory does in this reboot and that Jo March did mimics the journey of their creators in a heartfelt way any writer can relate too. Both women move to New York in their twentys and long to travel. Rory does get to travel to Europe in the original series and does quite a bit of traveling in A Year in The Life but like Jo March, family keeps bringing her back home to New England. Both main characters are complex and sweet stories that I longed to go on enjoying. Thankfully there were numerous books on the life of Jo March but it is unclear it Gilmore Girls will continue.

Ratings are not in yet. Even if the viewership is high the show ended in the foreseeable way Amy Sherman-Palladino planned. The story has come full circle and has a bittersweet ending that is perfect, but you will be left wanting more.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is a must see for fans and non-fans alike.

For more from Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino,  keep an eye out for the premiere of  their new show on Amazon. The pilot description for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,  says that this is about the adventures of a housewife who becomes a stand-up comic.

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The Truth About Millennial Voters

I’m an 18 to35 year old adult that is registered to vote. I’m part of that key voting bloc that Pew Research center has aptly titled the Millennial voters having come of age in the New Millennium.

With only two days left until the election many of us aren’t sure how things stand.  Since the major party candidates announced in 2015 so much has changed, and so have we.

Our views about democracy in America and what we envision about the future of our nation are different now. For some this might mean a call to join the Clinton campaign to elect the first female president or to support Trump for a myriad of sometimes bizarre if not any racist reasons, and others are reevaluating the two party system as a whole and struggling to see where their voice fits in.

But what do we really think, what do the statistics say, and how can we make our voice matter on that fateful day in November and beyond?

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When the campaigns started the major parties didn’t know what to do to market to younger voters. Because since 2012 they’d all been told that we are an incoherent voting bloc with no cohesive political views, at least that’s what Vox told the world. The parties just knew they wanted us to vote for their candidates. Young voter turnout in presidential elections has historically been around fifty percent or lower according to a Pew Research Center Social Trends Report from 2014:

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The millennial generation started voting in 2004 and that’s when youth voter turn-out rose four percent in one cycle, peaking in 2008 with a 16% increase. Those numbers are a big deal, especially when electing the next leader of the free world is on the line. Unfortunately in the marketing haze and candidate kerfuffle of this cycle’s interminably long campaigns  there has been limited public data released on our political persuasions. No wonder why no one is sure how to cater their PR to gain our votes. At least in May 2016 the Pew Research Center published the most recent findings about us and guess what? Nearly seventy percent of us are registered and eligible to vote.

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Even greater news is that we are actually turning up to vote, but not in the numbers like we did in 2012 and not for Clinton or Trump. In fact, a report by CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, found that we voted in the overwhelmingly for Senator Sanders.  By which, I mean we ‘felt the Bern’ in greater numbers than Trump or Clinton voters combined. That is amazing, but our candidate has lost and many of us now feel lost.

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What the heck do we do? We’re registered and supposedly have voting power but the candidate the majority of us supported won’t be on the ballot. Since we’re as unsure as you probably are, we decided to ask our friends via social media.  We asked about how they felt about the campaigns, the candidates, what do they think about third party candidates, if they attended any political events so far and if those affected their view, and of course will they vote and if so for whom. All 20 were disappointed with the 2016 campaigns and election results thus far.

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Beyond being disappointed, their views on democracy changed greatly since 2012 and even 2015. They all voiced concerns about the “imperialistic capitalist two-party system” calling it “rigid and rigged against the masses to benefit the few” and these are the more timid responds. Ouch, poor DNC and GOP, we have unfriended and blocked you.

The respondents that tended to fall into the group calling for socialism, complete reform, or gutting the entire system had similar voting plan. They are going to vote for: ‘Jill Stein’, ‘not voting’, or ‘Trump’ adding things like “let’s burn this whole system down and start over. If anyone can bankrupt the US political system, Trump can.” That is a bit dark yet we feel you, though we don’t quite see how voting for someone that wants to ban our immigrant and Muslim friends is helping things.

The remaining respondents plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. Californians, Georgians, New Yorkers alike are saying, “I’d be thrilled to have a woman become president, I think it’s about time we did.” to the less enthused, “I would vote for Clinton, only to supersede Trump, who is the greater of two evils.” to the super- excited “Hillary Clinton has the experience and intelligence to help move our county forward.”

Several people surveyed have volunteered on her campaigns or have been active Democratic Party members, but two who have such backgrounds are now planning to vote for Jill Stein and one is not planning to vote at all.

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We’re officially still a confused voting bloc and now a little bit depressed. We may have to take a online quiz to decide. The unaffiliated, anonymous user site Isidewith told us about tons of great candidates and their views. It had us take the obnoxiously long quiz to help us decide which was the right one for us. Even if this might cause a proverbial split-ticket at least we have a clearer view of whom to vote for and why.

If Millennials are agreed upon anything as a unit, it is that we want to be involved in politics and desire candidates worthy of our votes. All of the respondents have gone to a political rally, house party, or a ‘meet-the-candidate’ event. The vast majority of them have volunteered on one or more political campaigns at federal, state, and local levels. Several people who were surveyed have joined ‘Our Revolution’. Bernie Sander’s NGO to motivate people to stay politically involved and even run for office. The NGO officially launched August 24th continues to reach its audience online.

Online– that has been the key to the limited but game changing success of Bernie Sanders and hopefully the key to continuing to keep us involved in US politics.  We’re ready to harness our political power and look forward to great congressional, state, and local candidates championing our views of democracy. The Hill is still calling us unicorns to be caught. And we’re totally into civic engagement and pro-unicorn (duh). But mass-media trying to catch us, and convince us to vote for a certain candidate in the ‘rigid two-party system’? A system that 20 smart Millennials just told us “doesn’t sit well” with them? We’ll have to pass. We’re engaged with media 24/7 online and in real life. We know when we’re being played by the PR gods and goddesses, and we’re ready to make our own informed decisions for the rest of this endless political cycle and the ones to follow

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Political changes don’t happen overnight, but we know that if we raise our voices, vote, volunteer, and run for office we can chip away at the monolith that is our government and chisel it into one that supports the future we want for ourselves and future generations.

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How to Share the Voting Experience with Kids

Are there future voters in your home? As a former political campaign worker I feel passionate about bringing the thrill of election season to everyone. I’ve even been known to give babies ‘I voted stickers’ when they come out of the booth attached to their mom or dad!

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My first election experience was for Jeanne Shaheen when she first ran and was elected Governor of New Hampshire. Her campaign promise was to bring public kindergarten to the state. Being a recently kindergarten graduate I knew that private school was expensive so I cheered for her at all the local rallies and was thrilled when she won. From that moment on I was bitten with a political bug. I worked on political campaigns a volunteer, intern, staff member, manager, and consultant right through 2014.

Prior to joining the Obama for American 2012 campaign I was an NH campaign manager.  My spark for political campaigns was dwindling. Thankfully another manager in the building reignited my passion. He invited me to meet Ms. Shaheen again! Unfortunately that night I was busy with another event. But it was a thrill to know that a candidate I supported when I was 5 years old was now running for re-election to the US Senate!

Although I currently am not working in politics, I still enjoy sharing my enthusiasm with other. I love it when children want to be politically activity and excited about the process. It might not turn them into a political consultants, staff members, or candidates, but it will help them understand more about how the US government works.

The year after my first candidate, (Jeanne Shaheen) became my Governor, I told my Brownie Troop all about it. I learned that Girl Scouts is not a place for partisan politics (if you are sharing this with your little ones, now is a good moment to explain why these conversations even make some children hot under the collar). Thankfully, everyone was getting as excited for the next election as I was (yippee!) My troop’s leaders helped us find ways to get involved.

We decided to give out Get Out The Vote (GOTV) reminder flyers the local Board of Elections had. We sat at the grocery store to sell our fall products (in the 1990s that was just boring calendars) and also gave the flyers to everyone that passed by. I like to think it helped because the voter turnout in our area was high for a small local race.

You know how I know that?

We went to the polling place and thanked people for voting and helped give out “I voted” stickers, showed people the entrance, and entertained people in line.

It was fun!

I was lucky because my mom let me go in the booth, stand on her toes, and  fill in all the bubbles she pointed too! Then when my dad came to get me, he went inside and let me do it for his ballot too!

Yeah, voting rocks. Now that I’ve lived in many states and outside the US I know that there are many ways and different days to vote. You can vote early, vote in your car, vote by mail, get a free ride to a polling place if you don’t have a vehicle, and even vote late (international absentee ballots can be counted through November 30th this year), oh and you can still go to the booth and vote if your traditional but I know you are cool like me and want to vote by mail, right?

Ok so are you ready?

Attached are all the voting materials so they can get the whole vote by mail/absentee experience or vote in a booth (on in a car if you/they so desire).  Just add your pen and an standard envelope. I’m sorry to say this is my copy so you cannot actually mail it but I want you to have the same feel I had today with I got my envelope ready.

This file includes:

  • a real vote by mail envelope covers (print in Envelope DL to fit a standard size envelope)
  • a real vote by mail envelope seal.
  • voter registrations
  • voter IDs
  • polling official badge
  • polling station signs
  • ‘I voted’ stickers
  • 4 different age levels of classroom curricula
  • 2016 Presidential Election Voting kits for preschool-high school
  • “Election 2016 Guide for Young People” ebook

TO RECEIVE YOUR INSTANT DOWNLOAD LINK SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL BELOW.

I hate it when companies share my data. Your email will not be share with others and will not be spammed. 

Click here to subscribe to my weekly newsletter with updates and blog posts

Once you open the confirmation email to confirm your address follow the link to open your free instant download of Future Voters Kits.

Please review everything and choose the best method for your little one to experience the first thrills of voting.  Please note none of the files attached are my own. These files are official voting materials produced by FVAP and free educational materials (not included in those two links) produced by nonprofits as well as other bloggers, homeschoolers, parents, and educators.

In addition to using the materials available above, parents, teachers, and youth volunteers can have the children make campaign posters, you can make poll stations with adults or older children as officials, have voting booth, ballot box, mailbox, or a US Embassy or Military base voting center to help the children cast their votes like their adult friends and family members.

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If you have decided to attend rallies, volunteer with candidates or parties, or get involved with a non-partisan GOTV campaign with your children I would love to know about it. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below to tell me about your experiences with your children and elections.

For more information or ideas go to:
kidsvotingusa.org
pbskids.org/youchoose
noorkids.com/writethepresident

Happy voting everyone! Have a great election day!!!

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Cold Brewed Turkish Iced Cofee

Mmm, right? Two wonderful things put together.

Cold brewed coffee + Turkish coffee= coffee heaven (angels sing)

I was laying awake after my daily 3am novel writing and thought to myself: “Self, regular ground coffee and fancy presses are too expensive in Egypt. How can I get the yummy Iced Coffee with Cold Brewed Coffee taste without the high cost?”

And I answered myself, “Self, you can use things you have on hand. Do an experiment and tell your blog readers about the results.”

Thankfully this article is not lame (beyond that inner monologue) because it is so yummy even my traditional, “Turkish coffee is the only real coffee,” loving husband really enjoyed this icy treat.

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INGREDIENTS

2 TBSP finely ground coffee (preferably high quality Turkish coffee)

4 cups of water

2 TBSP of dissolved sweetener of your choice (dissolved in hot water then chilled) *adjust this amount according to your desired level of sweetness

Optional milk, cream, non-dairy whatever 🙂

ice cubes (optional)

SUPPLIES

2 jar or large 1.5lb takeout soup container (this is great if you like to freeze the final product)

Strainers, coffee filter, or muslin

Glass or travel cup

Optional elastic

Optional straw

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add a small amount of water into jar
  2. Measure coffee into jar
  3. Fill the jar the rest of the way with water
  4. Seal lid and shake until there is no unmoistened grounds
  5. Place in refrigerator for six to eight hours (the long the grounds soak the stronger the brew)
  6. Add ice to cup (optional)
  7. Shake jar
  8. Criss-cross two strainers so the mesh is in opposite directions or lay the muslin/coffee filter over the jar and hold it in place using the elastic (alternative options for straining pictured below)
  9. Strain coffee into second jar
  10. Add dissolved and chilled sweetener
  11. Seal lid and shake again
  12. Pour coffee into to cup until it is half full
  13. Add a couple splashes of cream, milk, nondairy whatever you like into the cup
  14. Fill the remainder of the cup with coffee
  15. Add a straw, stir and enjoy!

I think the reason people buy cold brewed coffee at stores is not just about convenience but because they think, “these people are so professional they must being doing this perfectly.” But in reality some places don’t understand that iced coffee is not the same as cold brew because cold brew can be served hot. Iced coffee is also not simply pouring coffee over ice, because iced coffee needs to be brewed stronger than regular coffee to compensated for dilution of the brew by the additional water from the melting ice cubes. Nor is all ice coffee made by cold brew.

Ok, did I lose you? That was confusing, just typing it I feel overwhelmed by the wanna-be barista talk. Bottom-line, make this and you will be totally in control of your own coffee experience, plus you won’t have to wait in a line or spend upwards of five US Dollars. Simply keep the jar of strained and sweetened coffee in your refrigerator to enjoy in the morning and throughout the work day (ooh or on a lazy weekend, or at a bunch or…well you get the idea).

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I made this coffee this morning and I’m having it as an evening pick-me-up. I’m so in love with this cold-brewed Turkish coffee I’m literally drinking it as I type with one hand! This is hands-down the best iced coffee or cold brewed coffee or maybe even the best Turkish coffee I have ever enjoyed. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Good Girl Revolt

This past weekend Amazon released a show based on real events that every Millennial should watch. Good Girls Revolt is based on the 2012 nonfiction book of the same name by Lynn Povich. It tells an fictionalized version of the the 1969-70s lives of the women at Newsweek  (News of the Week) leading up to the 1970s ACLU aided EEOC filing.

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This show is like the love child of The Newsroom and Mad Men with a huge dose of lady power. Not just any lady power but that of smart, creative, 20 to 30 somethings. Some of these include Nora Ephraim (portrayed by Grace Grummer) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (portrayed by Joy Bryant). I’m curious to find out what Sen. Norton thinks of it and how close it is to related. Should we all start calling her Eleanor? The character did tell us that she “does not belong to (her) father or (her) husband so just Eleanor is fine…” I’d love to say I’m on first name basis with such an esteemed member of Congress.

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I read this book when it came out but I wanted to understand it in the context of the show. I found this wonderful piece by another Eleanor, Eleanor Clift. Additionally this is a good NPR piece on the show and clips of interviews to further explain the real women’s situation.

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No matter what your political views are, Good Girl Revolt is full of fascinating characters to enjoy and to influence your perspective. With all social and political events going on in the show and in our modern times, you should stop reading this and add Good Girls Revolt to your Amazon queue.

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Pretty in Pink?

There is this bizarre extreme feminist view that girls would tend to go for more typically masculine jobs and educational routes if they weren’t ‘forced’ into playing princesses, fairies, and with everything/anything that is pink. There have been numerous articles about this and campaigns, the most well known being PinkStinks.

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In my feminist view point,  pink products became popular because children like them and begged parents to buy them, thus driving up sales which drove companies to produce more pink products. The central problem is not pink and blue toys but major stores and corporations assigning gender to toys!

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I have always enjoyed Pink, in fact it is my favorite color. I grew-up playing pretend princesses and fairies as well as fireman and construction workers. I was always coming home covered in mud because I had been playing in the melting snow on a pretend amazing adventure.

Back then (the 1990s) my big brother and I shared a vast Lego collection. Overtime we discovered we played differently. I made villages and had the mini figures go on adventures. He would build architecture and robots. I was happy to play with anything I thought would enhance my stories, mixing in other toys like Barbie or Beanie Babies. He would want the best and unique Lego pieces to create mini figure scale towns, make a lamp for his bedroom, and to use Lego Mindstorms for his robots. He did not care if the color was pink, as long as it suited the needs of his latest creation. We played with what was available and what we enjoyed.

When we made our Christmas wish lists he would ask our parents to buy me my own Lego sets so I wouldn’t keep taking his favorite pieces. While I would ask for my size Barbie, the Swan Princess dolls, and the Little Mermaid vhs tape (because I worn out my first copy). I ended up with pink lego, so I could play princess and have adventures. I loved them. That’s not right for every child but it was right for me.

As an adult, I try to use my love of princesses to teach manners. My desire to be a fairy is now used teach about being courageous and strong because flying, hiding from humans is fun no matter what gender you identify as! As a childcare provider, teacher, and Girl Scout volunteer I’ve been able to turn these seemingly childish, girly fairytale and fables into a method of helping children learn and a grow.

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The same pink and items you perceived as ‘girly’ could help tell a story or enhance a child’s creative play regardless of their gender. As my favorite toy campaign says “Let Toys Be Toys!” Tailor your belongings to needs, not how a corporation has advertised.

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Stores may make us think there is a girl aisle and a boy aisle but we don’t have to shop that way. Our money is what makes a difference in the industry.

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The Way to Wealth By Benjamin Franklin 

I love audiobooks. I am a bit of an auditory learner. I find if I combined audio and visual elements I recall details better and faster. For example when I read Tocqueville or Plato I like to have the book in front of me and listen to the audio…ok, I tend to speed-read legal and political text, at least the first time through, but that is a technique I learned in my prelaw club and it requires immense focus. Right now I am writing in my spare time, so I download and listen to audiobooks when I commute, cook, and clean.

Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth is the perfect short ‘read’. I finished this book in one short jot downtown (approximately a thirty minute cab ride).

Franklin’s work here is a pamphlet. It reprises his Poor Richards’ Almanacs sense of humor and characters to disseminate knowledge on earning wealth through hard work and frugality.

I’m also sure you will enjoy the tone of hypocrisy here. Franklin was not known to be very frugal. He enjoyed a hearty meal. He was often recorded to lazy about. And of course there were the mistresses and multiple families that were kept secret from each other. He might have been a brilliant mind, who invented many things, and was a US Founding Father, but his advice needs to be taken lightly.

Published in 1758, The Way to Wealth is a culmination of sorts of his Almanac series’s advice or words of wisdom. It is told as a speech by ‘Father Abraham’ to the men of the community.

The famous advice are these oft quoted words that include but are not limited to:

  • “There are no gains, without pains”
  • “One today is worth two tomorrows”
  • “A fat kitchen, a lean will.”
  • “A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things”
  • “Get what you can, and what you get hold”
  • “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright”
  • “It would be thought a hard Government that should tax its People one-tenth Part of their Time, to be employed in its Service.”
  • “Have you somewhat to do tomorrow, do it today”
  • “The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands”
  • “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

I know these quotes sound super strange out of context, but give it a listen and soon you’ll laugh and enjoy this pamphlet as much as I do!

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Apps for NaNoWriMo

With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starting in a few hours there’s no better time to find the best way for the budding novelist to complete the 50,000 word count challenge. As a writer with novel writing experience (currently in the editing process) I have some insight into what it takes to complete 50,000 words and then some.

I am a big fan of writing on-the-go. Uber, metro, waiting rooms, during lunch breaks; these are novel writing moments. How do I do that? I use apps and back up everything on a mass storage usb.  Without further ado, here are some of the best apps to help you take on NaNoWriMo:

For taking notes on the go:

Evernote

evernote-manscreen800x500still_notebook

This app is ok up front. It has sticky notes, lines, unlined, colors, files, folders, and calendars. It also has a desktop version. But it quickly charges you for most of those features. Ever heard the term starving artist, yeah that’s why apps for a fee aren’t my thing.  I’m not a fan, but you might love it or already have a subscription. If so go further and write.

Jotterpad

tmp_1667-jotterpad_featured1702767911jp-interfeacejotterpad_1

I like the folders and the multiple formats I can save in but it does have fees to save in certain formats. I can upload to Dropbox for free and save to my usb stick.  For a low cost there are resources like a typewriter, Dictionary, Thesaurus, and a Rhyming Dictionary. As I mentioned above free is fee I pay so I stick to the basic version and use it everyday. I wish I could drag and drop the files but I can easily move, copy and/or create subfolders. Not bad for a free note taking app.

Keep

gkeepmore-gkeepgkeep-interface

Google’s version of Evernote but 100% free. The calendar is Google calendar and I believe it’s still separate.  It is also not easy to export notes or to sort into folders. When it first came out I was write takeaway orders and shopping lists on it so I could easily share those with my family. When I moved to Egypt at the beginning of 2015 I didn’t need those feature anymore and I preferred the storage space for pictures. If you already have this app and don’t want to or have space to download JotterPad then use it!

Plan, plot, develop characters, and publish:

Book Writer Lite

book-writer-lite-app-icon

This is great and I used this to plan characters, but it charges to change formats, upload to Dropbox, and to use certain features. I liked that it let me design a book cover, but it does that as part of it’s publishing bookstore. It urges you to publish on their platform constantly! I didn’t want to do that so I saved the .txt files and uninstalled this app, but I truly loved it. If I could pay for it I would absolutely do so, because I recommend this app!

Book writer

bookwriter_win-642x481ftobinfo4ftobinfo3bw

This is very similar to Book Writer Lite with the kick-butt story mapping, but it is slightly better. It is avaible in IOS (here’s a similar android version) It has picture book features, artist paintbrushes, audiobook recorder, and a ebook publishing platform.  I wasn’t looking for those features but if you are, download ASAP!

Track your progress:

WriteoMeter

ic_writeometer_high_reswomwom-screenunnamed

I love this app!!! I use the WriteoMeter app many times a day. I create a project, and set a wordcount goal for the entire project and for daily writing. I can also add writing times to track how long I plan to write and set custom rewards (like check instagram, message a friend, or watch a YouTube video). Whenever I write I set a timer. As soon as my phone vibrates I log my wordcount, times, how my writing went and if I earned my reward. Periodically, I check my stats on a chart to see my average wordcount, peak writing times, and how many rewards I’ve earned. When you have a large word count like NaNoWritMo’s 50k this is PERFECT!

Plan it all out:

My life organized

mylifeorganized-pro-apk-by-www-jkmodz-net_search-as-typemylife-ssh001

I plan my work right in the JotterPad app and sort it all out in folders and subfolders. I also copy all of my notes to a handy mass storage USB so I can always double check them on the go.  You can do that or you can have a separate app to help you. This is the single best app out there for android to plan and organize thoughts as well as schedule writing into your life. I may download this app for my managing other aspects of my life!

To help with actors in your stories:

CharacterStory

unnamed-1

This is basically a digital character development worksheet. It’s great for the planet and newer writers. It’s not great because you cannot export this information at all, like ever! I need to be able to export and save copies of all my writing. If you don’t need exports download CharacterStory.

Character Notes 

character-notes

This app is nearly identical to CharacterStory but it has a cleaner layout (great UX) and will store all your characters in a gender based list. I think in an LBGTQISA there are too way genders and sexual orientations to just choose blue or pink to sort my characters by. I again could not export the list when I finished. Needless to say not the best app but if you like this free app with it’s sleek format use it.

Character Generator

Character Generator is very cool. It is like character roulette. click refresh and the character development characters are replaced with a new combination of personal details.  I kind of feel like I’m cheating myself out of the creative process with this one. I downloaded once to play with and found it amazing but more distracting that helpful. If you have a minor character you’re confused about I’d given this one a go.

Writer’s block fighters:

I’ve never had writers block  (knock on wood, inshaAllah, and spit in the wind it never plagues me) if you are cursed by this evil beseecher or you simply would like a prompt (even just as a writing exercise) check out these apps:

Writer’s exercises and prompts

This is straight forward and I love it when I am between assignments and novels. If writing exercising is your jam than you need Writing Exercises and Prompts in your life. In a click of a button you get a random plot. Swipe ‘Writing Exercises” to get corresponding activities to strengthen and stretch your writing talents (what, did I just take that metaphor too far?).  I removed this due to space issues bad I absolutely will re-download this once I remove my current novel from JotterPad.

Writing Prompts

I haven’t used this app but I have perused the website and it rocks and is going on my recommendation list for all creative writers.  It has the coolest prompts! You will not just get a small paragraph of a story outlet but you get a color, pictures, a single word, and so many more options to choose from as prompts! I’m in love with this format. It is available on IOS, Andriod, and desktop. Plus I can put notes right into the prompt and save it offline. I’m not sure if I can export these prompts or notes but even so I still think this is worth a try.

Have a community:

I’m not a community of writers online sort of person because I get paranoid about protecting my ideas. If you like online support check these out:

Prose.

collections-twitter-header

If I was to be a free ebook writer or a fanfic writer this would be my platform. The community has challenges to help you with your writing. Much like social media site you can follow, private message, bookmark, have a feed (your ‘stream’) and even block writers you don’t want to see your stuff.

Wattpad

1380189814-wattpad_642wattpad-com_1free-books-wattpad-ebook-reader

Ok, I fibbed I am in this community, but as a reader not a writer. Novels in public domain, fanfic, novellas, and thousands of free ebooks live here, therefore I come here too. You can post work here and share with friends, but it is all unpaid. It’s like Medium for non

Wrimo companion

wrimo

Of course you can just join WriMo Companion. It lets you track your stats and compare them to the rest of users. I don’t like the comparsion part but I do like that you can friend other writers and cheer them on. Support is always great.

Writing has been around for thousands of writers you absolutely don’t need all or any of these apps. Find the writing method and get writing. NaNoWriMo is not about become an expert or a professional writer, its about challenging yourself to write more and knowing that you can really create a story and complete 50,000 words.

I’ll be here writing no matter what month it is.

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Shows From The Past: Centennial 

I fell into a miniseries and binged watch it last weekend. I stumbled onto a copy of the 1978-79 miniseries Centennial based on the book of the same name by James A. Michener.

If you’re not familiar with Michener work his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific is based on his time in the South Pacific. It is this novel that Rogers and Hamerstein based their hit musical on. Every novel and historical nonfiction he wrote since the 1940s was a success. Additionally, there are several societies dedicated to him as well as a graduate school for creative writing in his honor. As soon as I watched the series introduction where Michener was speaking I recognized his name and went to download the ebook version of Centennial  (which I’m still reading because it is much more layered than the miniseries, and is rather long at over 900 pages).

As the show went on I found this series to be half audiobook and have television miniseries. This is because large portions of the show have little action visually and/or have large portions of narrations. After I adjusted to that, I really began to enjoy the show.

It starts by a brief explanation of the start of the continent, melting of glaciers, and the arrival of man. It quickly takes us to the 1795 and the story of a trapper who wants to trade beaver skins with native tribe along the river Platte.

The story is completely set in that region following the man’s decedents. It takes the viewer through time until the late 1930s. The final episode ends in the year the show was aired  1978.

As a writer and former political worker, this story is greatly appealing ending with a political race and featuring a young female reporter. But the rest of the series is a rich history of the people, animals, and land of Colorado. Although mostly fiction the story is inspired by true events, the type that will make you want to pause and google.

If you aren’t pausing to Google the history, you’ll pause to look up the cast. Every major star from the era is in this, not to mention one of the extras in a battle scene is a teen aged George Clooney!

Here’s the Wikipedia links of the cast. For more about James A. Michener go to Achievement,org 

Starring Michael Ansara
Raymond BurrRichard ChamberlainRobert ConradRichard Crenna

Timothy Dalton

Andy Griffith

Mark Harmon

Gregory Harrison

David Janssen

Alex Karras

Brian Keith

Stephen McHattie,

Lois Nettleton

Adrienne La Russa

Lynn Redgrave

Pernell Roberts

Robert Vaughn

Anthony Zerbe

Stephanie Zimbalist

The Man in The High Castle

This book is 100% better than the Amazon Prime show of the same name. The Man in The High Castle has richly developed characters with layers far deeper than the pretty actors in the show. The historical and literary references alone were enough to keep me Google and downloading more eBooks to read until the rooster down the street was literally up crowing.

If your a person who ever wonders what if… than this book is for you!

This is the story of a wide cast of characters struggling to survive in a post-WWII world where the Nazis have claimed victory.

Mind-blowing concept especially since this novel was published in the 1960s. But it devels deeper in systemic issues prior to the war that linger in American like feminism, racism, and unemployment.

The reader gets a first person very of the story from each main character. We see how a Nazi Officer struggles to get ahead. How a waitress still loves her ex-husband but had to travel to find work. We get to explore the life of a Jewish Man in the Pacific States through the metal artist Frank’s eyes. But we see Asians and Europeans just trying to get by as they see little benefit in the Nazi plans.

Then the story starts to take so many twists and turns you’d be mad if I told you them! All I will say is that you’ll be turning pages as fast as possible to find out what happens next. And when you finish you will want to read more by Philip K. Dick…maybe the stories The Matrix or Total Recall are based on?

You can find the books for Kindle here.

Happy reading!

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Betsey Johnson for Capezio

I am so excited! One of my favorite designers is making dancing clothes for the world renounced dance wear company Capezio. Like most young dancers I grew up wearing Capezio ballet slippers. I stopped taking dance classes at fifteen but they still make my go to practice shoe (a leather split sole with a pink upper) and they have so many lines of greats of dance wear. The latest line is in partnership with fashion design Betsey Johnson. I absolutely love Betsey Johnson.

I studied fashion in a special sewing, fashion and design program in association with North Carolina State University while I was at Athens Drive High School. My final project was on Betsey Johnson. I made clothes inspired by her, wrote an essay and gave a presentation. Instead of a tri-fold presentation board I made a doll sized clothes full of miniatures of her line. This was just as her ready to wear line was coming to TJ Maxx and her jewelry was launching at Macy’s, so very few people in my high school knew about her, but they loved the presentation and the fluffy pink skirts and graphic deconstructed tee shirts I made enough to buy them, earning me a spot to design for a local boutique.  It was awesome, but as Betsey Johnson become more accessible and my love of fashion design gave way to other interests (politics, law, and of course writing).

Since then she’s had makeup, perfume (I wear it everyday), and accessories lines that have taken the ready to wear world by storm. Every major US department store and most TJ Maxx and Marshalls carry her designs. It’s a pink lovers dream. Despite this boom, numerous tributes to her, and her dancing appearance on Dancing with the Stars Betsey Johnson LLC declared bankruptcy in 2012 and has struggle through early 2016 with low first quarter earnings. But you cannot keep a girl down!

Earlier this week Capezio launched her new line of dance clothes with a smashing video featuring Larsen Thompson and featured the designs on their home page. We know Johnson loves to dance, as seen on Dancing with the stars and she end ends show with a cartwheel, so I’m sure this clothes will be functional as well as fashionable…plus with so many patterns and pinkness who could go wrong!

The line is available in Girl Sizes but has many cute accessories (although my favorite is the wrap skirt so hurry up and make this line a success so they make women’s clothes!) Shop the line at Capezio’s website.

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7 Must-See Cinematic Depictions of WWI

It’s ok to admit it, you slept through All Quiet on the Western Front in High School. If we do remember part of it, that was probably all the mud and the rats. Although it is a fact that WWI absolutely had those issues in the trenches, the war was far more complex. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Somme let’s Netflix (hold the chill 😉 ) and try to understand more about what the Great War really meant.  Check these based-on actual events cinematic depictions of WWI to help you relate and connect to the lives of our relatives over 100 years ago.

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Maybe you remember this classic anecdote from history class; on Christmas Eve 1914 all sides of the military stationed at the Western Front halted fighting and declared a 24 hour truce to celebrate Christmas together and collect their dead. Yeah that last part is creep, but this sentiment is awesome and something you will probably never again hear of as modern war fair becomes more about technology. If you enjoy opera and a little bit of a love story this is the movie for you. PS there are tons of subtitles because the movie has 4 languages (French, Gaelic, German, and English)!

Testament of Youth (2014)

This is a major tear-jerker! My goodness, that trailer made me cry just remembering it all over again! I am so glad I watched this at home and not in theaters! The first time I watched it I cleared out two containers of tissues and freaked my husband out when he came home to find me crying and needing a hug. Seriously, this has numerous beautiful love stories and soul-crushing deaths. This is a cinephiles’s dream and every writers’s true desire, as the BFTA nominated film tells a story which centers around the life of the very real young writer, Vera Brittain.

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

WWI Old-school. This movie is a classic. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway and having since being remade, this film stands the test of time. Unlike novel it is not told in first-person and unlike the cinematic remake, it is not tainted by a post-WWII view. It shows the horror of war via a soundstage, but the stories of the struggles of the soldiers and the loved ones back home shine through the cellude and grayscale.

The Red Baron (2008)

I stumbled on to this gem on Egyptian satellite television. It’s a German production but takes the true and tragic tale to new highs. The cinematography of the flight scenes make you feel like you are part of the action and leave you very happy you’re in the comfort of home while watching it. Experience the evolution of the Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen from a spoiled rich boy to celebrated writer to leader of the WWI flying aces. PS if you enjoed The Peanuts Snoopy as a WWI flying ace this movie will show what it was all about and why Snoopy was so inspired.

Anzac Girls (2014)

I was feeling influenced by my new life in Cairo, so I took a leap of faith and got these dvds. This series focuses on the real lives of female nurses from Australia and New Zealand. The young women find themselves in Suez, Alexandria, and Cairo facing the repercussions of bloody battles at sea. All of the 20-something nurses go through coming-of-age scenarios and travel adventures. This WWI miniseries has the perfect balance of romance and adventure, but will make you tear up…it will probably have you Googling ‘Anzac’ and many other geo-specific terms!

Crimson Field (2014)

If you love ‘Call The Midwife’ than you’ll enjoy Crimson Field. The life of British Nurses along the front is not an easy one. Although this series is not focusing on real characters it depicts many of the real-life difficulties the soldiers, doctors, and nurses faced. It also includes many references to long forgotten real-life events and people. It’s a short one season series that is worth the watch.

Admiral (2008)

I love to explore historical events for different perspectives. This is a Russian biopic of Alexander Kolchak  a Vice-Admiral of the Russian Imperial Navy. The movie is told in flash backs with the first taking place during a battle in the Baltic Sea where the German Imperial Navy and the British Royal Navy had previously been having a fearsome battle.  Then we start to see how the Russian Navy reacted and changed the outcome of the battle. This is the perfect movie to end your marathon with because it shadows the lives of the Vice-Admiral. Rather than only focusing on WWI, the story  goes on to depict the Russian Civil War. There’s fighting, lush costumes and sets, and a sexy love-triangle with a married women and a poet. If you like War & Peace, Anna Karenina, and Dr. Zhivago then this movie is for you.

What are you waiting for!?! Go make some of my delicious popcorn and watch history in the best cinematic fashion.

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My Favorite Popcorn Recipes: Sriracha and Nutella

When its 3am and I’m not writing; I just want to cuddle up with hubby and watch a movie. Then we get to talking, next we’re thirsty, which reminds us were hungry and to end this ‘If You Give A Mouse a Cookie’ style vicious cycle, we start scavenging through the kitchen, foraging for just the right snack. I am always wanting naughty foods. I’m usually craving spicy chicken or chocolate, but then he asks if I can just make yummy stove-top popcorn.

That’s how the idea struck and I started making these; Sriracha Flavored Popcorn and Nutella Flavor Popcorn.

pretty popcornIt’s flavored, because sometimes I use hot chili flakes or jalepeno powder instead of sriracha or buy different brands of chocolate nut butter instead of Nutella because the name brand is so popular the Carrefour here in Maadi, Cairo is often sold out. And there was that one time I mixed melt dark chocolate with peanut butter messer but mmmm delicious! Without further adieu:

SRIRACHA FLAVORED POPCORN

sriracha is awesome

INGREDIENTS

1-2 Tbsp of Sriracha (your favorite hot sauce or hot pepper powder)

2 Tbsp of Butter

1/3 a cup of popcorn

Salt to taste

SUPPLIES

Big pot with lid

Big bowl with lid

Wooden spoon

Mesh spoon/ dotted spoon to remove popcorn from pan but avoid unpopped kernels

DIRECTIONS

  1. After preparing ingredients put the pot on medium heat and butter.
  2. Once the butter melts add the popcorn. Carefully using a wooden spoon to ensure are all the kernels are coated with the butter.
  3.  Place the lid on. As the popping starts take the handle and slide the pot back and forth over the heat to  regulate the temperature and move the kernels around.
  4. Let it pop for 3-5 minutes and then monitor it closely. As the popping slows down to approximately 7 seconds between pops and you kitchen smells of delicious popcorn, turn the heat off. Next is an optional step; put on oven mitts and pinch the lid down while holding the handles. This allows you to flip the pot oven and shake it about to let any remaining kernels have  chance to fall to the bottom, potential hitting a warm spot and popping open.
  5. Put the pot on a trivet and have your bowl and mesh spoon ready. As you open the pot use your lid as a shield and stand back because these babies like to pop up and burn you! Use the spoon to quickly transfer the Popcorn to the bowl. If you have kernels left you can try to pop them using the same Method as above or discard the kernels.
  6. Add salt and sriracha the stir or toss. Pro-tip use a bowl with a lid and shake it up to thoroughly coat it.

sriracha popcorn

Mmm, delicious spicy goodness. Just was you’re reaching for a cold glass of water you’re going to think…I wish I had some chocolaty-goodness to balance this out. Well here’s the perfect thing:

NUTELLA FLAVORED POPCORN

nutella faces

INGREDIENTS

1-2 Tbsp of Nutella (your favorite chocolaty nut spread)

2 Tbsp of Butter

1/3 a cup of popcorn

SUPPLIES

Big pot with lid

Big bowl with lid

Wooden spoon

Mesh spoon/ dotted spoon to remove popcorn from pan but avoid unpopped kernels

DIRECTIONS

*Please note this is repeating the same first five steps as above

  1. After preparing ingredients put the pot on medium heat and butter.
  2. Once the butter melts add the popcorn. Carefully using a wooden spoon to ensure are all the kernels are coated with the butter.
  3.  Place the lid on. As the popping starts take the handle and slide the pot back and forth over the heat to  regulate the temperature and move the kernels around.
  4. Let it pop for 3-5 minutes and then monitor it closely. As the popping slows down to approximately 7 seconds between pops and you kitchen smells of delicious popcorn, turn the heat off. Next is an optional step; put on oven mitts and pinch the lid down while holding the handles. This allows you to flip the pot oven and shake it about to let any remaining kernels have  chance to fall to the bottom, potential hitting a warm spot and popping open.
  5. Put the pot on a trivet and have your bowl and mesh spoon ready. As you open the pot use your lid as a shield and stand back because these babies like to pop up and burn you! Use the spoon to quickly transfer the Popcorn to the bowl. If you have kernels left you can try to pop them using the same Method as above or discard the kernels.
  6. Add Nutella of the chocolate  nut butter of your choice. Then stir or toss. Pro-tip use a bowl with a lid and shake it up to thoroughly coat it. If you like messy melt chocolate stop here and go eat. If you like something neater…
  7. Spread the popcorn out on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure the freezer is set on high or the coldest setting.
  8. Once the chocolate firm pour it in a bowl and enjoy!

Screenshot_2016-07-18-10-03-06

I recommend eating the spicy sriracha  popcorn first and let the Nutella popcorn be the dessert of this movie snack feast, but do what you want. My husband likes whichever is done first and one time he even mixed them together!

nutracha
Maybe it’s not as gross as I think. I do love mole and spicy aztec chocolate, it’s probably not much different? I’ll give it a try, maybe the next time I make them 😉

He’s starting House of Cards, so I guess it’s time to go!  Let me know what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to share!

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Top 10 Tweets of The First-Ever UN Secretary General Debates

On Tuesday (until earlier Morning Wednesday) The UN Secretary General Debate was on Facebook live. It was peppered with issues about UN Peacekeepers, Syria, Refugees, and the misuse of funds within the UN. The shining stars of the night were the ladies, with six of the twelve UNSG Candidates. Based on tweets and AJ Interactive site (Al Jazeera English hosted the event) Helen Carter (whom works at UNDP and is from New Zealand), Christina Figueres (whom works as the UN Climate Change Chief and is from Costa Rica), and Vuk Jeremic (whom is a former UN General Assembly President and is from Serbia); are the most popular candidates to the general public, but unfortunately we don’t get to vote. Following Straw polls and discusses, The Security Council will decide on the next Secretary General and the General Assembly will ratify their decision.The first straw poll of the GA will be on July 21st. Despite having no say in the matter we’re all still social creatures sharing our views online, so here are some of the best tweets of the night:

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Action2015: Our Better World

Curious about the trending twitter and instagram topic “#action2015.” Here is the who, what, when, where, why, and how of Action2015.

Who?

You! Well really everyone, especially youth. because by the goals’ timeline are completed in 2030 the 15 year olds of today will be 30 year olds leading our world.

What is it?

A call to action. The voices of 1/1000 people in the world participated in the MyWorld2015 survey (your’s truly included) that is over 7 million voices being heard. Continuing to engage people improves the work of the UN, it’s partners, and insures no individual or country is left behind. Action2015 uses our contributions to help set new goals for the UN and the world, then we can help them met those goals an we and those around us benefit.

When?

Now, today, January 15, 2015, is the official launch of #Action2015. From today until 2030 there will be numerous was to engage and support Action2015.

Where?

You can get involved

1. Online: share info., your opinions, volunteer, attend a rally, attend a Google Hangout, participate in surveys, watch videos, read stories, and share your story

2. In-person: your country’s rally, at a UNA chapter meeting/event, volunteer

Organizations & Governments

3. Attending summits, engaging with citizen, passing laws to meet the new goals, and providing the opportunities for change in your region.

Why?

Prior to these summits, making the voices of everyday people, like you and me be heard by our representatives is essential to making sure our needs are meet.

After attending the UNA-USA call explaining the agenda of Action 2015. Robert Skinner told the listeners, the main purpose of involving everyday citizens helps not only continue to improve the achievements of the 17 MDG but continues to add to the potential Sustainable Development Goals. This is 3 fold:

1. Create a minimum standard of living for all humanity. The areas it may look to improve could include: healthcare, hunger, poverty, electricity, roads, transportation, education, internet access; doing all this while considering the environment.

2. Reconsider how we build society; infrastructures, city building, updating rural areas. This might include building roads, building clinics and schools, setting-up public toilets, making water clean and accessible, setting-up/improving electricity and internet access. Again, all of this needs to be done while considering Climate Action and the environments of each region.

3. Change how we hold groups accountable. The UN, governments, businesses, and public/private sector organizations all need to be held accountable to get the work done, protect the environment safely, and be held responsible when things go awry.

Learn more about the why of Action 2015 on their website: http://www.action2015.org/why-we-are-doing-this/

How?

Here’s some tips Action2015.org suggests that we can do to get involved:

“Here are three things you can do to help spread the word about action/2015 and the year 2015!

  1. Host a digital activity on January 15 on a social channel. It can be a Google+ Hangout, Facebook Question and Answer segment, and more. Help us spread the world about how to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Visit the action/2015 website and share our social media content!
  2. Join the conversation Use the hashtag #action2015.
  3. Holding an event in your community? Send us your digital assets, photos and more. Spread the word about what your community is doing to make a difference!”

These are 4 of the awesome Google + Hangouts I attended today, that you can watch, re-watch, like, comment, and share anytime:

If you enjoyed this or other pieces on this site, consider funding my work by contributing 25 cents through Sparesense, a safe and simple way to make microdonations.

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Change the Face of Your Nation

I recently forged new opinion of much of the continent of Africa. When most non-Africans think of Africa, we think of ebola, hunger, FGM, children soldiers, tribal culture, and maybe ankara frabic and unique jewerly. What we should think is educated, motivated, entrepreneurial people.

Here are some amazing Africans I met at the Social Good Summit:

Mercy

Mercy Chepkoech Sigey

Youth Inventor Global Minimum

“Mercy is a freshman at Strathmore University. She is passionate about wildlife and enjoys working with electronics. In high school, she started making a motion sensor along with two other classmates as they saw the need to fight against poaching in Kenya. Her team’s current prototype consists of a PIR module and an Arduino microcontroller which senses movement with a range of nine meters and sends the information to a computer through a cable. Learn more about Mercy and other youth inventors at http://www.gmin.org/.”Masshable SGS Bio

Olanike Olugboji Nigeria

World Pulse LIVE

“She has witnessed the environmental exploitation of her beloved homeland and mobilizes grassroots women to take charge as they have been most impacted. She believes that the only way to ensure the environmental security of Nigeria is to make sure that women have equal voice in these decisions.”  Mashable SGS Bio

Gerald Kobobo Afadani, Cameroon

Public Management, Howard University

“Gerald has over five years of experience working with presiding magistrates and liaising with litigants and counsels in the administration of justice at the Court of First Instance Tikoas. He is a Member Delegate to the Joint Court Registry Administrative Board and Permanent Disciplinary Council where he participates in the career evaluation and management of over 2,000 colleagues. He also serves as the Chief of the Trade and Personal Property Rights Register where he is responsible for the study, verification, and registration of companies. Gerald holds a master’s degree in Business Law, and a law degree in English Private Law, both from the University of Yaoundé II in Soa. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship program, he plans to extend the use of electronic templates in the incorporation of businesses to the Courts of First Instance. He also plans to advocate for and pilot the use of an integrated court management and business incorporation model.” Young African Leaders Bio

These amazing people not only inspire us, but help change the way outsiders view Africa. You can make people view your country differently too, where ever you live!

What can you do to change the face of your nation?

  1. Raise your voice! Use media (traditional and social) to share what you think. This can be about current events, the environment, techology, anything you want to voice your opinion on
  2. Be visible, volunteering in your community & attending local and national events, so people see you and the wonderful thing you are doing!
  3. Educate yourself not only attend school, but read, watch lectures, and listen to the wisdom of those around you
  4. Share your knowledge with in your community and media to tell the world
  5. Repeat these actions, because learning and sharing are not stagnate just like life is not; we are always changing and the world continues turning. Be apart of the present, honor the past, and plan for the future to make your goals a reality, because we want #2030NOW

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Digital Empowerment

 

I had the wonderful privilege to attend the Social Good Summit in NYC 9/21-22. Yes, I met celebrities, entrepreneurs, and executives, but that is not what moved me. It was the story of Jampa that inspired me and made me tear up.

Jampa Latso grew-up in Tsha Ra, Tibet. In this snowy mountain village, she was raised knowing her entire community wished she had been born male. Her mother told her  “The birth of a child is a miracle and its worth cannot be equated anything else.” As Jampa stated at the Summit,  this helped her find the strength to  “navigate through the maze of the educational paradigm”.

Upon graduating High School she saved up and bought time at her local internet cafe to study. This past spring she graduated from Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Asian Studies as her Major and Development Studies as her Minor. She was the first people in the history of Tsha Ra to ever attend a university.

Now she is able to “reflect my life as well as people in my community; I embrace multicultural values while strengthening my own identity, as a Tibetan girl.”

Jampa is currently a contributor to World Pulse.  She also has created and implemented small-scale development projects “Solar Panel Project (30 solar panels to 30 households); a Flash Lighter Project which benefited 54 families; a Second-hand Clothes Project which benefited 160 people and a Book Project that benefited 342 students and 18 teachers…The purpose of these projects is to have parents send more girls to school because they could see girls also can do so much.”  You can learn more about her here.

Her story should not be unique. Children should feel empowered and be engaged to learn. I may sound overly optimistic but with the Millennium Development Goals, the many projects I learned about at the Social Good Summit, and the amazing work I see people like Jampa doing each day I know that technology can help bridge educational gaps.

How can we bridge the educational gaps?

  1. Take back the computer labs, public libraries, and internet cafes. These computer centers usually have affordable internet access and sometimes have web-cameras, microphones, headphones, fax machines, printers, scanners/copiers, and much more depending on the location. Unfortunately, in recent years this facilities are over run with gamers, social media fans, video chatting, and erotic film aficionados. We should not feel timid to buy 2 hours of time to study, take online classes, watch a lecture, or read an ebook! Petition your local computer center for a study only time. If that is unsuccessful don’t be disheartened, continue signing-up to for time to use the computers to educate yourself.
  2. Donate to  organizations the give students computers, cellphones, scholarships, and free or near-free classes. Take a look at the Social Good Summit’s Agenda to find organizations.
  3. Volunteer to tutor or teach students worldwide. One such organization was discussed at the summit: Skype Classroom

Please comment to share your ideas and plans to digitally empower the world to provide educational opportunities.

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