Thursday, November 27, 2014

R.I.P P.D James

P.D James has died at the age of  94

According to P.D. James' publisher, Faber & Faber, the acclaimed British mystery writer has died. She passed away in her home in Oxford, England, on Thursday, November 27.

Phyllis Dorothy James White was the author of 20 books, most of which have been turned into film or television productions. She rose to fame for her series of detective novels featuring the investigator/poet Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard. The first of the Dalgliesh novels, Cover Your Face, was published in 1962.

Her acclaimed 1992 dystopian novel Children of Men was made into a feature film by Alfonso CuarĂ³n, starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen.

James worked in government service in the U.K., including the National Health Service and the Home Office, from the 1940s until her retirement in 1979.

For another article on PD James please click on the following link from the Star.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Black Friday is coming...

Black Friday: I always thought it was an American Tradition.  But in recent years in Canada we are seeing more and more advertising revolve around this strange day.

What is Black Friday? It is not a holiday, it is the day after the American Thanksgiving. How did it begin and what does it have to do with shopping?

So I decided to check out what is Black Friday and what does it mean.


Here are a few theories that I have found on the Internet.

Theory #1

Black Friday may have started in the 19th Century due to the popularity of store-sponsored Thanksgiving parades.  Santa Claus was at the end of the parade which was a symbol that the holiday shopping season had officially started.  So everyone would start their holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving. This information is from the Mentalfloss website

Theory #2

Back in the day, there was an unwritten rule that the Christmas holiday season did not start until after thanksgiving. Therefore no stores would advertise holiday sales until the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The accounting term "In the Black" is used by retailers. The official start of the Christmas Season saw hugh profits so they went from out of the red and into the black. Hence the term: Black Friday.

Here is some interesting information about the American Thanksgiving from the Mental Floss site. by Haley Sweetland Edwards contributed to this story, portions of which originally appeared in 2009.

How did the date for Thanksgiving in states be the last Thursday in November?

" In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn't begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would be in dire straits.
 Instead of celebrating the holiday on its traditional day—November 30th that year—Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday in November to be the new Thanksgiving, instantly tacking an extra week onto the shopping season. Unfortunately, this did not work out  Roosevelt didn't make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its "real" date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as "Franksgiving." State governments didn't know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. In short, it was a bit of a mess.
By 1941, Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November regardless of how it affected the shopping day that would become known as Black Friday."

Theory #3

Black Friday is the day of great sales that bring out  a darker side to the human condition. Many people have been hurt or even killed during Black Friday Sales.  Here is a list of some of the reports as per the Mental Floss website. The article A Brief History of Black Friday by Haley Sweetland Edwards contributed to this story, portions of which originally appeared in 2009.

In 2008, when 34-year-old seasonal employee Jdimytai Damour died from asphyxiation after 2,000 shoppers knocked him own and stampeded over his back after the doors opened at 5 a.m. at the Wal-Mart on Long Island, New York.

In 2010, nine people in a California shopping mall were injured, including an elderly woman who had to be taken to the hospital, after a rugby-style scrum erupted when gift certificates were dropped from the ceiling.

If you are interested in finding out more about the morbid and very sad aspects of Black Friday check out this website.

Theory # 4

According to researchers, the name "Black Friday" dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday is in between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that's played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday. Needless to say there are many traffic jams, riots etc. The police called it "Black Friday" to describe their sentiments of the day.

Black Friday in Canada began in the late 2000s according the CBC website  . This was mainly in response to curb cross boarder shopping.  Now Black Friday has grown so much in popularity that it will soon be Black Friday Week. The fine line between Canadian and American shopping trends are now blurred especially since most of the big box stores in Canada are American.  I am just stating the obvious.

 So if you don't feel like going out shopping on Black Friday curl up with a good book about a shopping and  find out how people's lives are intertwined around the inevitable shop.

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Sweet-Shop Owner by Graham Swift       

The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber   

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan 

So if you don't have a chance to go shopping on Black Friday. There is always Cyber Monday! 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's that time of year.. Getting ready for the Cookie Exchange!

What is a cookie exchange you may ask? It's a party! Yep, an excuse to get together with friends and family and what better way than to celebrate the almighty cookie.  There is a catch to a cookie exchange. The cookies must be baked from scratch. No cheating by heading out to the local bakery.

So what better way to find that perfect cookie recipe by coming to the library and browsing our cookbook section for that perfect cookie.

How does a cookie exchange work? Here are a few simple steps.

1. Create your guest list. Choose a group of 10-20 friends & family. Lots of people will mean lots of cookies to sample and take home for the holidays.

2. Choose a  Date for the Party.  Make sure you get your invites out a month a head of time. Everyone's calendars fill up quickly over the holidays. Some people find it easier to party on a non-weekend day. Decide what works best for you and your guests.   


3. Create the Invitations. Let everyone  know how many cookies they need to make. Each guest will need to bring one (1) dozen cookies to eat at the cookie exchange  and another one (1) dozen cookies for each person attending to take home. For example, if eight (8) people will be attending, each person will need to bring 9 dozen cookies from the same recipe.

4. How to avoid everyone baking the same cookie. On the invitation ask your guests to RSVP and tell you about the cookies they will bring. Make sure each guest brings copies of their recipe to pass around. Since many people have food allergies, it's important they know the ingredients in the cookies at your party.

5. Remind guests to bring a large container. How else are you going to bring home all those fabulous cookies. Being the host, I recommend to have extra containers etc. because there is always someone who forgets their container on the kitchen table.


6. Cookies to be exchanged should be well wrapped. They should be placed either on plastic plates with plastic wrap or in disposable containers that are airtight. This prevents the special cargo from becoming stale. They need to last during the Christmas season.


7. Don't forget this is a party. At the cookie exchange party serve milk with those cookies or hot chocolate, coffee, heck even wine. Have a great time and don't stress. It's the holidays.


It is easy to say, no stress when it comes to cookie exchanges, but, I have heard of people being traumatized by them.  Like, oh no I have been invited and now I have to show off my non existent baking skills. How can I compete with Sally, she is a professional baker. Can I fudged it and buy some cookies that look homemade? Then the downward cycle continues. The hunt for the perfect recipe. The trial and error of baking the perfect cookie. You become consumed by the cookie; it takes on a life all  of its own.  By the time the party has arrived you have seen so many cookies... you want to eat them all. Well because they are cookies and who cares if your cookies  aren't perfect anyway; Sally is the professional baker. They make up for your own tasty creations. You tried and that is all that counts. Now you have a lovey assortment of cookies to share with everyone. Happy Baking.


If you are looking for some inspiration try some of theses books.



Christmas cookies  edited by Jennifer Dorland Darling

Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies by Dede Wilson     

FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas: 50 recipes for You and Your Kids by Deanna F. Cook     

Christmas Cookies!: A Holiday Cookbook by Susan Devins                               

                                     Do you like cozy mysteries?

How about reading one of these suggestions, while you are waiting for your cookies to bake.

You can even try one of the recipes that are featured in the books.

The Christmas Cookie Killer: A Fresh- Baked Mystery  by Livia J. Washburn

Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Happy baking everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not Safe in your Home? Books that make you go huh?

Is someone hiding in your house?

I have never really thought about someone hiding in my house before this topic came up in one of my listserves. So I decided to Google articles on the topic.

There have been cases like the one in 2008 where a homeless women was reported to have lived in a man's closet for one year.  The owner noticed that food was going missing and installed cameras.  The camera images of what he thought was a burglar were transferred to his cell phone. Once police arrived they found that the doors, windows etc. were locked. Upon further investigation, they found a 58 year old women curled up on the top shelf of the man's bedroom closet. She had been living in his house undetected for 1 year. Oh my goodness. That is so creepy. Just the thought that someone who you don't know is watching you while you sleep.

To read more of this story click on the following link.

Here is another story reported by Fox News of a Man who spent the Christmas season in a family's attic.  Here is the bizarre story from the website.

A family did not realize they had an unexpected Christmas guest until a man who had been in their attic for days emerged wearing their clothes, police said.
Stanley Carter surrendered Friday after police took a dog to search the home in Plains Township, a suburb of Wilkes-Barre about 100 miles north of Philadelphia. He was charged with several counts of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal trespass.
"When he came down from the attic, he was wearing my daughter's pants and my sweat shirt and sneakers," homeowner Stacy Ferrance said. "From what I gather, he was helping himself to my home, eating my food and stealing my clothes."
Police said the 21-year-old Carter had been staying with his friends, who are Ferrance's neighbors in a duplex. But when they told him to leave, he apparently accessed the shared attic through a trap door in a bedroom ceiling.
The friends said Carter went missing on Dec. 19 and they filed a missing person report a few days before Christmas.
Ferrance said she had heard noises but thought they were caused by her three children. She notified police on Christmas Day when cash, a laptop computer and an iPod disappeared, then called police again the next day when she found footprints in her bedroom closet, where the attic trap door is located.
Carter kept a list of everything he took, said Plains Township police Officer Michael Smith.
"When we were going through the inventory of what he did take, we found a note labeled 'Stanley's Christmas List' of all the items he had removed from the residence and donated to himself," Smith said.
Carter was in jail Sunday at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 5. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

There was also case about a 14 year old boy who ran away from home to live in a Texas Wal-Mart. He was successful for several days. His  hunger was satisfied by eating stolen food. He even created makeshift forts to sleep in and hide from the employees. To find out more about this story check out this following link.

This all leads me to the question... Are there any books out there with this theme? According to my listsever... there are... Hummm...  Do I really want to read them?  Will they give me the chills?

Let's see and find out.

Here are some of the books at the Lincoln Public Library with the theme Not Safe in your Home!


Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay