books

Thursday, May 31, 2012

RevieWednesday: The Dunderheads

Last week, I was so busy with the school library inventory and end of the year paperwork that I did not have a chance to write my children's book review.   Also, I gave myself additional work by wiping down every single library book with a damp baby wipe and drying each book with a paper towel to remove any dirt, fingerprints, crayon pieces, and other markings on the books.  Ya'll should see these books (and the shelves) now...spotless!   The library even smells like baby wipes.  I almost can't wait for school to start back up and have the kids check out these beautiful and clean books!!! :)  The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover," has no validity in our school library, because kids DO judge a book by its cover; therefore, attractive cover art and the cleanliness of the mylar cover/library bound cover make a difference and increase a book's circulation statistics.  So, however crazy it may seem, my countless hours and tireless cleaning was not all for naught.  Lauren @ Warm and Fuzzy documented my craziness (see below).  She thinks I need pills or a drink and at that point, I felt like I needed both! :)

Here I am feverishly and happily cleaning while completing the inventory.
*Note the mounting heap of used baby wipes/paper towels on the cart.

Now that is summertime, I have a bit more free time, so back to regular postings for RevieWednesday!  One of the books that the students LOVED (an understatement) this year was the award-winning book, The Dunderheads, written by Paul Fleischman (an amazing author) and illustrated by David Roberts.  Th writing is very well done with perfect descriptions of each of the many characters.  In addition, the illustrations are very entertaining.  Pay close attention to the amusing details within the vivid illustrations, such as a gargoyle picking its nose. :)

I admit, I heavily promoted the book, as it was one of the Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award selections for 3-5 graders.  It also proved to be a favorite for Louisiana 3-5 graders who voted and selected it as the 2012 award winner!  I could not keep this book on the shelves; therefore, it was one of the books that needed extreme cleaning during inventory! :) Though it may be entertaining for some groups of younger students, the primary audience for The Dunderheads (a 56 page picture book) is 3-5 graders, and even middle school students would enjoy it!

(Candlewick, 2009)

 We can all relate to one or all the students in the The Dunderheads. We have all had a "mean" teacher, but Miss Breakbone takes the cake.  For instance, she rewards herself with gold stars when she makes students cry!  (I enjoy reading this book aloud, because I like to get into character as Miss Breakbone during her crazy, attention-grabbing rants.)  One day, she confiscates a cat statue from Theodore (known as "Junkyard") who was planning to give the cat to his mother as a gift.   Led by "Einstein", the heroic student narrator, the class devises a strategic plan to retrieve the cat from Miss Breakbone's house.  Each student possesses a different, but very intriguing, area of expertise, and each student's expertise comes in handy at different times during the implementation of their plan.  Will they be able to retrieve the cat from the evil Miss Breakbone and return it to its rightful owner?

the terrifying Miss Breakbone!!!


For all the students (or adults) who ever dream of getting revenge or "righting a wrong" against a genuinely mean or unfair teacher, I highly recommend this book.  You will despise Miss Breakbone, root for the underdog, and thoroughly enjoy the writing and illustrations! 









Happy Reading!
The Tiny Librarian

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crazy Partying with Good Looking People

Friday was our school's last day and the end of the year school year...Yeah, except we hosted it at our house, and Sooper JB thinks I am a crazy person, because I ran around the house cleaning feverishly. Doesn't everyone do that when they are having a party???   Probably so, yet because our house is "as sterile as a hospital" as someone claimed, MAYBE I go a little overboard.   Sooper joked with Rachel when she was cutting his hair by saying that I was going to make him "clean the grass" when we got home! That is a little extreme, except, I may have proved him right.  During the party, people were touching the screen door of course when they went inside to use the restroom, and the way the sun was shining on the door, I couldn't help but notice the mounting number of fingerprints from  everyone's "crawfish hands."  I hate to admit this, but I cleaned the screen door, not once, but twice, and of course everyone laughed at my craziness.  I can't help it...I love having people at our house but I love cleanliness more. :)

 Almost everyone from work showed their pretty faces, laughed, ate crawfish, and enjoyed each other's company.   Was the party a success?   The city of New Orleans uses the amount of trash collected to determine the success of Mardi Gras after it is all over. If we use the trash collected as an indicator of the success of our party, then the 11 trash bags outside of our house indicates the party was a HUGE SUCCESS!  I wish I had a picture of all the trash!!!  Thankfully, the garbage was picked up on Memorial Day, which pleasantly surprised us, since it was an eyesore to say the least.    I owe those garbage men some delicious homemade cookies!

Sooper and I finally relaxing at the crawfish boil
Sunday, we celebrated together with a bridal shower for my beautiful friend Safaa. She looked truly gorgeous, and our group of school friends and Safaa's family and friends were able to celebrate together. Because of my OCD (diagnosed by none other than Dr. Sooper JB), I was the guest who felt compelled to pick up all the present wrappings as she opened her gifts, while also organizing/consolidating them. Sometimes, I may have been a little overzealous by trying to throw the paper away as she was opening some gifts. Sorry, Safaa. :) It was a great bridal shower (and a bit of a goodbye party) before she leaves for her wedding in Virginia. Booo...we will miss her. The good news is that Sooper and I will be going to Virginia for his work at the end of June; so Hooray!  It won't be long until I see her again when she returns from her honeymoon relaxed and ready to take on Virginia with me! :) Best wishes Safaa and Hasan...can't wait to see you soon!


Happy Memorial Day! Sooper and I made a delicious fruit tray for my parent's annual Memorial Day party. Sooper and I made a delicious (healthy, of course) fruit tray. We went to Whole Foods and purchased watermelon, melon, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, mango, grapes, bananas, bittersweet chocolate sauce, and caramel creme sauce.  Yes, we were a bit busy this weekend (see above)...and lazy; therefore, we bought some of the fruit precut, which is a great time saver, but equally sweet and juicy as the uncut fruit.  Next, we placed the fruit on a large black tray to make the fresh cut and colorful fruit stand out beautifully.  Then, we heated up the bittersweet chocolate sauce and caramel sauce to make an amazing fruit dip that is not too sweet (the trick is to use the bittersweet chocolate/caramel combination).  Then, you swirl the sauces together for great presentation in a pretty bowl in the center of the tray.  Voila...a quick, delicious, and healthy fruit tray perfect for the summer heat!  Bring it to your next party and the host/hostess will love it!

This party was a lot of fun.  We played pool volleyball...men vs women, which is all fine and good, especially when the men are faced with the significant disadvantage of playing in the deep end of the pool while the women enjoyed the ease of the shallow end, EXCEPT, we still lost the game!!!  How is that possible you ask?  Maybe, because of the adult beverage consumption by some of the women who can't play volleyball proficiently while drinking!  I only had a few bottles of water so I was volleyball competent, but the ball did not make it my way much (strategy on the part of the men I suppose).  We may have underestimated them!  My newly retired dad (the dad isn't new, just his retirement) grilled some tasty meats and treats, most notably, crispy skinned hot dogs at the request of Sooper JB who loves "chili dogs" with my mom's homemade chili.  The only problem with the hot dog request is that I was responsible for picking up my aunt and uncle at the airport (love you guys) since my dad had to "keep his eye on the grill" supposedly!  Good excuse dad! :)  We had a great day with great food, wonderful family and friends, and amazing pool weather!

This evening, Sooper and I began the dreaded packing.  Now, I do not know what it is about me, but I am compelled to bring every single thing I own no matter where I go.  Sooper looked at my shoes in a heaping pile on the floor and asked innocently, "What is that for?"  I had to explain that those are the shoes I am bringing to match each look.  He suggested I bring a few pairs that will go with multiple outfits!!! What?!  Does he not know that is not possible for a girl...especially a girlie girl.  Plus, each morning I wake up and like to have a variety of outfits, shoes, and accessories from which to choose depending on my mood, the weather, my plans, etc.  That may be considered "fashion overboard" but Sooper won't mind.  :)

I can't wait!  We are headed to Cali tomorrow for his work trip/my play trip.  Sorry, Sooper, sometimes you have to "bring home the fish" while I get to enjoy the perks of being a school librarian...summer vacation!  ("Bringing home the fish" is an expression we created one day I was going to work and then picking up fish to cook for dinner from Whole Foods.  Sooper did not have to work that day, so as I left, I said, "See you later.  I will bring home the fish today," instead of bacon as the expression is typically said.  We laughed about it, and now we say it all the time for fun!)  We extended the trip past his working days so we would have some time to enjoy Cali together.  Since Sooper use to do a lot of regular work in Cali, we look forward to seeing some of our amazing friends, eating at our favorite restaurants, and going to our favorite beaches.  I will also be scoping out some great new looks for Trendy Tuesday, but I won't be cooking and developing recipes for Tiny's Tasty Thursday for a few weeks since we will be at a hotel.  I will keep ya'll updated!

Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) is to make time for family and friends even when you are super tired and busy.  You are never too busy for people that matter, and it always means so much to them and makes them and you happy!  I had a crazy busy day yesterday with brunch with my parents, Safaa's bridal shower, dinner, and a high school play of a friend's daughter, but my grandmother really needed help with a puzzle she having difficulty putting together.  Sooper and I love puzzles too, and we enjoy puzzle time with grandmother, except on crazy busy days.  We hated to disappoint her, and we wanted to spend time with her so we went over there after the play at 10pm at night!!!  We enjoyed our time with her talking and laughing, and we also finished the puzzle, so it was a successful evening!   Make time for those you love!


Happy Memorial Day!
The Tiny Librarian

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tiny's Tasty Thursday: Meat in the Middle

For this week's Tiny's Tasty Thursday, I made a delicious berry salad and sausage and veggie dish.  I love making a refreshing mixed green and berry blend salad, especially in the summer heat.  I love salads and eat at least one salad a day so making delicious, unique salads is enjoyable for me!  This main course of the meal, however, sort of happened spur of the moment when we arrived at Whole Foods.  I am usually a list maker, but for this trip, I had only developed a mental list of the staples we needed, especially fruits (watermelon, mango, and berries) and veggies.  Upon arrival, Sooper and I hit the produce section first, and I stood there trying to decide which veggies I would use to make a delicious dinner.  Sooper loves hearty meat-filled meals, so I wanted to make him...and his tummy happy.  This meal is the perfect compromise for Sooper and I because it incorporates both meat and veggies.  Since I had been wanting to try the feta and spinach chicken sausage from Whole Foods for while now, I was determined to plan my meal around this good looking meat.  I had perused a few recipes for sausage dishes and combined a few items while omitting others (STARCHES).   In the produce section, we picked up a red bell pepper and a 1 lb. bag of mini carrots.  We already had an onion and fresh garlic at home.  Then, on to the best part, the meat counter at Whole Foods.  We decided to get two links of the feta and spinach chicken sausage, and at the recommendation of the butcher, we got two links of the cilantro, garlic, and pepper chicken sausage, especially for my hot pepper, who loves SPICE!

Finally, we also found some quinoa pasta to make a healthy version of macaroni and cheese as a side for the spicy sausage veggie dish.  Though Sooper doesn't like quinoa in its purest form, he agreed to give the quinoa pasta a chance. Yeah for Tiny!  While we were cooking, we realized we would not need a side, given the heartiness of the dish, so we decided to save it for another meal.  Sooper, don't you try to get out of eating quinoa pasta! :)

Now, on to the meaty main course!  I consider this to be a "quick" meal or at least my definition of quick meaning minimal prep work with the oven doing most of the work!  However, it does take a little over an hour.  The combination of the sausages was incredible.  We actually ended up liking the cilantro, garlic, and pepper chicken sausage even more then the feta, spinach chicken sausage, but them were both yummy, especially the interesting combination of flavors!

Sausage and Veggie Dish (Serves 4)

Ingredients
1 red bell pepper (sliced)
1 1b. bag of mini carrots
1 large onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
4 links of sausage (your choice...mix and match any two for unique flavor combinations)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 - 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper (my fav...more potent than regular black pepper)
4-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Aluminum foil

Directions
First, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Chop the onion and garlic.  Slice the red bell pepper into strips.  Place the onions, garlic, and carrots in a large roasting or baking dish.  Combine the oil, Italian seasoning, and chicken broth and pour over the veggie blend in the dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.  While the veggies are baking, lightly brown the sausage in a frying pan.  Set them aside after they brown and cut each link into four pieces.  After 40 minutes, check the veggies to see if they are tender.  If so, add the sausage and the balsamic vinegar.  Bake for 15 minutes uncovered.  Turn sausages and mix the juices and veggies.  Bake for 10-15 more minutes uncovered.  Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes...then, Enjoy!

Meat in the Middle Meal: Sausage and Veggie Dish

Berry Salad (Serves 2)

Ingredients
Salad ingredients...notice our LSU cutting board! :)
Geaux Tigers!
50/50 (spring mix and baby spinach) mixed greens
sliced almonds
blueberries
strawberries
feta cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tsp honey (from the Burg's northshore farm, preferably) :)


Directions
Put the greens in a bowl.  Slice strawberries.  Put a handful each of strawberries, blueberries, and sliced almonds on top of the greens.  Add the feta cheese to taste.  Blend the vinegar, oil, and honey, and pour the dressing over the salad.  Mix well. 


Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW)...If there is an item/ingredient you really want to try, build a recipe around the item.  That way, you can make the desired item your main ingredient and add other ingredients (veggies, seafood, meat, seasoning) to enhance the flavor.  The sausage was perfect as the main ingredient in this dish, because the other flavors did not overpower the sausage taste I wanted.  Adding veggies to your dish will help you "get your healthy on" and get your daily serving of veggies.  Veggies and seasoning provide great additions to any meat or seafood dish.  Don't be afraid to try something new and make something you will really enjoy eating! 

Happy Tiny's Tasty Thursday!
The Tiny Librarian

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tiny's Trendy Tuesday: Abeille NOLA

During my visit to Abeille NOLA (my new fav) on Oak Street in New Orleans, I had a great experience and bought two great colorful tops and two fun summer dresses (coming soon!).  I also ordered a pretty monogrammed necklace with a pop of color that I can’t wait to feature on Tiny’s Trendy Tuesday (Meg, I am waiting very impatiently!) The owner, Meg O'Reilly, and the manager, Jen, have impeccable fashion sense and help you create unique fashion looks that suit your body type and fashion preferences.  However, they may also suggest some selections outside your everyday style that may surprise you, which is refreshing!  It is always nice to dress, think, and act outside your box sometimes! :)  Thanks Meg and Jen.  You both made the shopping experience even more enjoyable.  Abeille NOLA carries unique and local designers, and their very reasonable prices, one of a kind selections, friendly staff, and New Orleans flair make it the perfect place to shop and find something you will not only wear but LOVE!  

For the summer, I love white skinny jeans with bold colored tops for a pop of color (POC).  Skinny jeans are a versatile choice for a variety of tops and shoe choices (wedges and sandals), and I especially love white skinnies for the summer!  Because I am short (5'3"), I often lean toward wedges, but I have some great sandals that I love wearing with my skinnies.  White skinny jeans are especially fun, because they are like a blank canvas ready for a pop of color, which makes them fun to accessorize!  There is so much diversity possible with white skinnies…embrace your creativity and wear them with great fun tops, shoes, and accessories!

Now, on to the best part, the TOPS!  These bold tops are perfect for summer, because the fabric for both tops feels very light, while providing that pop of color that is quintessentially!  The first top is the Jack by BB Dakota Regina linen top in teal ($42, on sale for $30).  This top looked great with three different long necklaces, I already had in my jewelry collection.  The triple strand beaded vintage necklace was thrifted.  The wooden beaded necklace was from Express (old).  The gold ring necklace was from the Limited (old).  You can find similar long beaded necklaces anywhere right now. Abeille NOLA has some great jewelry. I paired the outfit with some cute gold wedges from Bandolino (Amazon).    I wore this top with the triple strand beaded vintage necklace to the SMA benefit at Rock n’ Bowl on Sunday and I received a bunch of complements on it!

Jack by BB Dakota linen top (Abeille NOLA)
Bandolino gold wedges (Amazon)












Wooden necklace (Express - old)
Triple Stranded (Thrifted)
Gold Rings Necklace (Limited - old)


The second top I truly adore because of the colors and the unique style, especially the back.  The top is a striped short sleeve tee from The WISH Collection ($56).  It is more of a traditional tee length in the front while the length of the middle piece in the back is longer.  It is very different, but super fun!  I can’t wait to wear it next week in Cali.  The striped pink and grey look great with white skinny jeans, tan wedges, and gold accessories.  The very unique top called for minimal gold accessories in my opinion (see below).    I love the combination of pink, white, and gold! 

WISH Collection striped tee (Abeille NOLA)
Gianni Bini tan/papaya wedges (Dillard's) - my favorite wedges
Back of Tee


Side View

Gold necklace wrapped as a bracelet (Banana Republic - old)
Coral dotted gold earrings (gift of Christine W., best friend & fashionista)

Side note: Sooper JB refers to it as my shirt with a tail or cape, but his style and mine are a little different sometimes (especially with current styles). :) His style is the more relaxed and casual look, with funny and interesting t-shirts and plaid shorts (See handsome Sooper in his “Destroy the Moon” Science shirt, see below).  

"Destroy the Moon" t-shirt
Science! - www.wearscience.com

For the tops featured in this blog, similar tops, or any great clothing, shoes, and accessories, visit Abeille NOLA and ask for Meg or Jen.  They will help make your shopping trip a collaborative experience to help you create the perfect look and also help you find great versatile pieces to add to your current wardrobe.  Plus, Shoeffle just opened inside Abeille NOLA so now you have so many great shoe styles to complete your outfit!  Visit the shop on Facebook, Abeille NOLA, or Twitter (@abeillenola).

My friend Rhonda (RG) brought up an interesting question last night when we were discussing what to wear with a great statement necklace given to her by one of her students.   What comes first, the outfit or the accessory?  What if the accessory comes first?  It is the chicken and the egg question of fashion, which is quite interesting food for thought!  In my opinion, if the accessory comes first, then it is a great excuse to add some new apparel to your wardrobe! :)

Stay tuned for the beautiful dresses as well as as the on order monogrammed necklace (so excited!) from Abeille NOLA featured in a future post for Tiny’s Trendy Tuesday.  Also coming soon to a Tiny’s Trendy Tuesday blog post near you, “Fifty Shades of Purple,” just as intriguing as the book but a little less risque.  :)










pleated poppy














I am linking up with Sarah @ Simply Sarah for her Pink Link-up Challenge!  Check out her site and her great style...Love pink, live gold! :) Plus, she loves H & M as much as me!

Fashionably yours,
The Tiny Librarian

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fashion Sneak Peek: Abeille NOLA

So, today I had the opportunity to shop at Abeille NOLA (my new fav) on Oak Street in New Orleans.  Please check out Abeille NOLA's facebook page and Twitter account (@abeillenola) for images of new arrivals and styled outfits.  The owner, Meg O'Reilly, greets you when you arrive and is ready and willing to help you immediately.  These type of boutiques are sometimes far and few between, but I am glad to have found a place where the owner and staff represent the perfect combination of fashion sense and friendliness.  In addition, they also carry my favorite designers, including Charlie Jade,  Jack by BB Dakota, local designers Jolie & Elizabeth, and Wish, as well as, lesser know designers, which help you find unique, one of a kind styles.  I also ordered a great monogrammed necklace that I will feature when it arrives in a few weeks with my new pretty dresses...I look forward to many future visits!  Now, onto the best part, the beautiful clothes!!!  I will provide a few sneak peeks of one of the great summer tops I feature for Tiny's Trendy Tuesday this week from Abeille NOLA.  Be patient...complete looks will be available on Tuesday's post. :)  Below is the Jack by BB Dakota Regina Linen Tank in teal, which looks great with statement necklaces and shorts or skinny jeans.  Enjoy!




Tank and bandeau (Abeille NOLA)
triple stranded beaded necklace (thrifted)





Tank
doubled stranded wooden bead necklace (Express)
aviator sunglasses (Michael Kors)

Check back Tuesday for the complete summer looks featuring the tops from Abeille NOLA.  Couldn't have done it without you Meg.  Thanks for your impeccable fashion sense. 

My sweet husband, Sooper JB, is a wonderful and patient photographer who gives great direction and knows the perfect lighting for each look! Confidential to Sooper...Thanks honey! I love you bunches for putting up with my crazy requests! :) I know you doesn't always understand or appreciate my personal fashion sense, but you are always supportive of my ideas and endeavors!

Fashionably yours,
The Tiny Librarian

Friday, May 18, 2012

Benefiting SMA

Why do difficult things happen to good people?  The resilience and determination of people who are faced with challenging circumstances truly inspires me.  I hope their story (and an adorable little boy that will make you smile) will compel you to help them find a cure for an incurable genetic disease.  A grandchild of a family friend, Denise Cotogno, featured on WDSU Channel 6 news was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA is a terminal genetic disease that affects a person's ability to perform normal functions (standing, eating, breathing, etc).  At only 19 months old, he and his wonderful and determined family are learning to adapt to everyday life with this degenerative disease.  Please view the article and video for Trevor Rickerson and watch him in action.  His spirit and playfulness are amazing to see and will inspire to join the family's effort to stop the progression of this disease and find a cure for this it.  Trevor's family has set up a foundation in his name, Trevor's Cure Dat Foundation, where you can learn more about the disease, read the family's story, view the blog, and make a donation to help meet Trevor's medical needs, support SMA research, and FIND A CURE. 

An SMA Fundraiser will be held this Sunday, May 20th at Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans from 1:00-4:00 pm.  For additional information about the fundraiser for SMA and Jackson Audibert, who also suffers, view the flyerThe Wiseguys Band (my dad's the trumpet player, incidentally) will be entertaining the crowd, and there will be silent auction...and of course BOWLING!  Please come out and support this wonderful cause to help find a cure for this disease that is affecting Trevor, Jackson, and many other children.  As the leading genetic killer in children under 2, we must unite in the effort to fund medical research and find a cure for this disease.  I look forward to seeing you to support these amazing children and their families!  You can purchase tickets and make donations at the Families of SMA site.

The Rickerson Family


View the WDSU Channel 6 article and video by visiting Trevor Rickerson.
Learn more by visiting Trevor's Cure Dat Foundation.

Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) is to be grateful for the things in your life by making a difference in the lives of others in need.  Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) said it better than I could.  "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."  So, do something for someone who could never repay you with anything...but maybe a smile. :)

Thoughts and prayers for children with SMA,
The Tiny Librarian

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spicy With a Chance of Meatballs

For Tiny's Tasty Thursday this week, I decided to highlight one of the recipes I have been dying to cook since I first saw it in Cooking Light in the October 2011 issue.  It is called Tortilla Meatball Soup.  Now, if you know me, you know that I HATE hamburgers and most ground meat meals, especially meatloaf, but I love Mexican food, especially tacos, so I thought I would give this little recipe a try.  I have always envied those of you hamburger lovers and want to like them; however, I cannot get past the texture or hard pockets within the ground meat sometimes.  Who knows why really...I just don't like them.  BUT, I have recently learned to love meatballs and lasagna, especially when made with love by mom, so this seemed like the perfect combination of Mexican, meatballs, and spice for my hot pepper Sooper JB.  Now, I need to warn you in advance, this is not one of those "30 minute meals" you  read about in magazines, cookbooks, or online.  Besides, I am NEVER able to cook something in the suggested amount of time for the recipe, and it is NOT because I am a procrastinator and I play around/laugh with Sooper, my sous chef and master chopper/can opener/reacher of all things higher than me (most things), the whole time (though that probably contributes to my lengthy cooking process). :)  It is mostly because I am meticulous and want all ingredients to be recently purchased (like a day or less) and freshly chopped, and I make impromptu healthy changes to the recipe while cooking.  I know, I am crazy, but that is why I like living in the city so I can go to the store 2 minutes away from my house 2 times a day if necessary.  Well, sorry for all that rambling, but I just wanted to provide you with the background to my cooking process.

The recipe for Tortilla Meatball Soup, created by Julianna Grimes, can be accessed via October 2011 issue of Cooking Light.  But, of course, I made some healthy adjustments (Shh...Don't tell Sooper)!  For the ingredients, I used 3 ears of corn on the cob and 2 cups of sliced carrots to add more substance since I eliminated the red potatoes to reduce the heavy starch content.  I also added four cups of chicken broth instead of three because I thought it could use more liquid.  To increase the spice in the soup for Sooper, I used 2 chipotle chiles from the canned chipotles in adobe sauce.  Plus, I added all the adobe sauce from the can to make it extra spicy (eliminate this step if you don't want it extra spicy, but it does taste Sooper delicious with the addition of the sauce added at the same time as the chicken broth and water). The BIGGEST CHANGE was to bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, instead of frying of the meatballs in oil. Makes it even healthier! Hopefully you have an awesome kitchen asset like Sooper to freshly chop all the veggies and seasoning ingredients.  :)

Something crazy (kind of funny, looking back on it now) happened while Sooper and I were broiling the corn tortilla strips.  The tortilla strips are sprayed lightly with oil so they can easily catch on fire, which they did!  A substantial oven fire ensued, but Sooper was there to pull the baking sheet out of the oven, put it in the sink, and pour water on the strips and sheet.  It worked brilliantly and prevented us from having to resort to the important steps for fire safety: Stop, Drop, and Roll, which Justin thinks is just if someone is on fire (or the other alternative, preventing the house from burning down using a fire extinguisher).  :) So, I mentioned this little occurrence to suggest that if you have a gas oven, you should not put the baking sheet with the tortilla strips sprayed with oil at the top rack near the flame!  Put the baking sheet one or two notches below the top. 

Pot of soup (the little black specks are broiled corn kernels)
The Ingredients I used...See the Tortilla Meatball Soup recipe for original ingredients and directions.
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 ears of corn of the cob
  • 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips 
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, minced
  • Adobe sauce from the canned chipotle chiles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  •          
The directions I used. 

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cut jalapeños and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange corn on baking sheet with peppers. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until blackened, turning corn once. Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel. Mince jalapeños, and coarsely chop bell pepper. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Set aside.
3. Place tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 2 minutes. Set aside.
4. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, panko, and the next 3 ingredients (through chipotle chiles) in a large bowl, and gently mix until just combined. With moist hands, shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each).
5. Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are lightly browned. 
6. Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, potatoes, and carrot to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peppers, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Return meatballs to pan. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn; return to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done. Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 4 teaspoons Monterey Jack cheese, 2 teaspoons cheddar cheese, and 4 teaspoons cilantro. Top evenly with tortilla strips.
7. Have Sooper set the table.  Enjoy spicy soup with a salad.  We made a great strawberry/berry honey salad and parmesan crusted catfish filets (recipes coming soon!)


Tortilla Meatball Soup...YUM!


Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom for Tasty Thursday is to find great recipes and make them your own.  Remember if you can read, you can cook.  Recipes are meant to be guides not strict rules.  Have fun with them and add or remove ingredients, freshly chop veggies and seasoning (if possible), have a heavy hand with the spice, and use recipes that suit your lifestyle and family.  (If you decide to make a recipe healthier, you don't have to even mention it.  (What your picky eaters don't know, won't hurt them) :) Share your kitchen tips and ideas!  I would love to read them!

Happy Tasty Thursday,
The Tiny Librarian

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RevieWednesday

As an elementary school librarian, I love children's books, especially high quality picture books!  Mo Willems is one of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators (or as he simply states on his book covers, "words and pictures by Mo Willems").  I love his books, and my all-time favorite is Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  His books are perfect for my PK and K students, as well as the upper elementary school students (3-5) who love to listen to his books read aloud and laugh at them (but will never admit it). Plus, reading aloud is one of my favorite librarian jobs (Can you really call it that?) as a school librarian so I read to them every chance I get! :)

The two Mo Willems books I recently purchased at the Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse Sale (the sale has great deals for schools and libraries) are Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator and The Duckling Gets a Cookie.  The simple text and illustrators make it great for a story time read aloud for all elementary school children (PK-5).  Plus, I enjoy using voices for the characters, especially the beloved, hilarious pigeon.  Read more about both books and purchase them at Mo Willem's blog.

My children's book review for RevieWednesday is Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator (2011, Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers).



Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator is 6 1/2 stories (yes, 6 1/2!) that follow a girl and her friend, a very opinionated stuffed alligator.  Amanda loves books and is reading different books throughout these stories, which is a great subtle message about the joys of reading.  Amanda and the alligator surprise one another with different funny things throughout the story and even how an unloved alligator from the store became her best friend (sweet and loving friendship).  The alligator, however, does not love one of the surprises she brings home, a stuffed panda from the zoo.  Eventually, alligator makes a surprise discovery about the panda and friendship, and his realization that friends can come in all shapes and sizes!  It is a great book with a subtle message of the importance of love and friendship that elementary school children will enjoy!  I particularly love giving a very sarcastic voice to the alligator to suit his opinionated personality.  I definitely give a Hooray for Mo Willems' book, Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) for Wednesday.  Remember, though some books may seem simple and too "babyish" for upper elementary school students (Grades 3-5), they still love listening to you read aloud all types of books, especially the funny, unexpected books that may be for readers at lower levels.  They are still children and often enjoy the same books (even though they don't want to admit it).  My upper elementary students appear to be in a story listening trance sometimes when I read picture books to them. 

Happy Reading!
The Tiny Librarian



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tiny's Trendy Tuesday

Tiny's Trendy Tuesday is here.  I wore a great dress (the Royal Dress) by Pearl Southern Couture from Hemline boutique with silver Michael Kors wedges for Mother's Day brunch.  I have been waiting to wear it since I purchased it, and Mother's Day.  You have to check out their very unique, classic, and beautiful southern styles.  Check out the website for Pearl Southern Couture.  I love the entire 2012 Spring Collection.  Their collections are the perfect southern belle couture styles! :)  The weather in New Orleans is perfect for dresses and wedges (my Spring/Summer obsession).


The Royal Dress...on me!
Tiny's OYSTER PEARL OF WISDOM (OPW) is to enjoy wearing wedges with all types of spring/summer outfits.  Wedges go well with skinny jeans, dresses, skirts, and even shorts.  I love dressing up a pair of white shorts with a brightly colored (pop of color) tunic, and some canvas wedges.  Wedges are super cute and are much more comfortable than regular heels!  Explore different types of wedge heights or materials (canvas, metallic, leather), and see which ones you like the best and pair them with outfits of all kinds!  My favorite wedges...and all my shoes are from designers/brands Gianni Bini, Anne Klein, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Bandolino, Ralph Lauren, Nine West, and Cole Haan.  I could go on and on... :)  Please share your favorite outfits to pair with wedges as well as your favorite wedges and shoe brands/designers!

Happy Tiny's Trendy Tuesday!
The Tiny Librarian

I am linking up with the Pleated Poppy in What I Wore Wednesday (WIWW).
pleated poppy

Monday, May 14, 2012

My mom is dabomb.com!

Happy Monday blog world! The humor in the title of this post is privy to the Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC) watchers and the phrase comes from the funny, yet uncomfortable words of Brooks (Vicki's boyfriend)! :) So, for my post Mother's Day post, I wanted to celebrate my mom and all her beauty, charm, wisdom.  None of Oyster Pearls of Wisdom (OPWs) would exist without the knowledge she bestowed on me through the years, even if I wasn't so receptive during my teenage years!  Sorry, mom!  Hope I have made up for it treating you well since then.

Yesterday, at the request of mom, we went to brunch at the Crystal Ballroom at the Le Pavillon in New Orleans.  It was definitely a great way to spend Mother's Day, and we truly enjoyed ourselves, even if it was laughing at (or with) my picky-eating brother, David.  He is always trying to convince us he likes certain fancy fare or different foods; however, he is a meat, well done that is, and potatoes kind of guy.  He got some prime rib or roast or some type of red meat that looked, as Sooper JB put it, "like it came straight off the cow."  But David would rather eat the whole thing than admit he doesn't like MOOOing meat.  Same goes for anytime he eats food outside of his traditional food bubble.  Once, he even tried to convince us that he liked the taste of the jambalaya in Disneyland!  What native New Orleanian likes jambalaya from Disneyland in California?!  I enjoyed the brunch; however, as with all buffet like events, there are always items you like and dislike.  But the breakfast foods were particularly delicious.  The best part or later, the downfall, was the mimosas.  The waiter continued to fill my glass when I wasn't aware of it, which made me feel quite hungover later while Sooper and I were biking, but it was well worth it.  Very enjoyable, mom!


my marvelous mom


Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day with their mothers!  I look forward to celebrating with my MIL in the next few weeks with a lovely dinner in New Orleans, hopefully, at one of Sooper and I's favorite New Orleans restaurants, Domenica.  She is the best...she listens to Sooper and I's crazy stories, teases me about my blond moments, AND feeds me very well at her house too...plus knows what I like!

My Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) is to always listen to your mother.  You may not always take her advice, but it will definitely help you make your decisions and form your opinions.  I might have learned and started taking this OPW seriously and gradually as I become an adult, but it has served me well.  I am still hoping to learn so much more in the present and future.  Yes mom, I do listen to you. :)


Confidential to my brother, David...Congrats on 5/7.  I am so proud of you and all your hard work! :)

Much love to mothers and others,
The Tiny Librarian







Friday, May 11, 2012

Fitness Friday

Sorry so late friends, but Happy Friday (my fav day of the week)! My parents are my fitness inspirations and got me interested in and excited about staying healthy and maintaining a good fitness regimen so my blog would not be complete without fitness information and ideas!

Today is all about maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness activities.  One of my new fitness obsessions is Tabata Training, a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout.   More or less, it is a spiced up cardio workout.  Each Tabata Training session is only 4 minutes.  You do 20 seconds of a certain exercise followed by a 10 second rest.  You do this for 4 minutes, and after the 4 minutes, you begin another exercise.  Typically, you do about 8 sessions, which is less than a 40 minute workout, and you get much better results than any other cardio exercise.  If you add Tabata Training to your fitness regimen just once a week, you will see and FEEL the results.  Start with exercises you feel most comfortable with such as mountain climbers, burpees, even jumping jacks or squat jumps.  You can even start with less sessions (like 4-5).  I have found that shaking up your routine with HIIT workorts like Tabata Training are awesome, though you WILL (not might) feel sore in areas you didn't know existed the next day!

The great thing about Tabata Training is that you can do it on YOUR OWN anywhere!  All you need is a stop watch or timer to help you complete each timed session.  I have done my own Tabata Training at my house using my stopwatch.  Remember you do each exercise for 4 minutes (20 seconds of high intensity with 10 seconds of rest). 


Tiny's Tabata Training Home Session

1. knee lifts
2. jumping jacks
3. burpees
4. ab exercise on a medium sized ball
5. walking lunges
6. squat jumps
7. arm exercise with light weights
8. jumping rope

Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) for Fitness Friday is to "Walk It Out." :) It may sound cliche or like a rap song title (which it is), but one change makes a difference.  Instead of coming home from work, changing into your "home fit" (more on that later), and sitting idly watching TV, just put on a pair of tennis shoes and walk for 20-30 minutes.  It is one small change, that my mom taught me of course, to keep you active, even if you do not have time for the gym or a long workout.  It will increase your endorphins, give up energy, and help you stay healthy!  So, keep my OPW in mind and "Walk It Out!"  If you need more details or motivation, let me know!

The Tiny Librarian

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

First, happy birthday to my sweet blogger friend Lauren, my inspiration!  I love you!

Also, my sweet husband has created a new domain for my blog.  You can now reach The Tiny Librarian @ http://www.thetinylibrarian.com/ now!  Yeah...it is a real official fancy pants website. :)

This is my first recipe blog post... and I plan on providing healthy recipes on Thursday!  I am really excited about the first week of Tiny's Tasty Thursdays. I will need a button for this event, Lauren. :)  I am usually the head chef (plan the meals, combine them successfully, most of the time) in our household and Sooper JB is my wonderful sous chef and griller.  His job may be even more important since he does all the chopping for each course, handles most of the sides (starches and veggies), and opens the cans/jars. :)  My favorite thing he contributes to the kitchen is the clearing of the table and loading of the dishwasher, which I hate.  We make a good kitchen pair for sure. 

This week, I will feature a delicious salad and whole  chicken main course that I made for Sooper JB and I.  Sooper loves spicy food, so I always have a heavy hand in the kitchen with the cayenne pepper, paprika, Tony Chachere's seasoning, etc.

I find and read a variety of chicken recipes and blend them together.  FIRST, I REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SALT!  I  sometimes change white flour to wheat flour, remove heavy starches, add veggies etc.  Being a native New Orleanian, I always add interesting and unique seasonings.  This dinner is easy and delicious...husband approved.  The chicken is so tender that it falls of the the bone after hours in the crock pot.  One thing you must know in advance about this dish is that it is best to place the chicken and the spices together in a large plastic Ziploc bag overnight to meld the flavors.  Trust me...it really makes a difference!  Just make the spice combination, clean the chicken, and place it all in a large plastic Ziploc bag the night before you plan to make the dinner.
 
Let's just call this dish...Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Ingredients:
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (heaping tsp, if you live with a hot pepper like Sooper JB)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 whole onion, rough chopped
3 cloves of fresh garlic, rough chopped
1/2 bag of baby carrots
1 3-5 pound whole chicken (giblets removed)
1 can of low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:
Combine all the spices together.  Remove the giblets and cut off a good amount of the chicken skin.  Clean the chicken thoroughly and put the chicken and spice combination in a large plastic Ziploc bag.  Refrigerate the bag of the chicken spice mixture OVERNIGHT.  Place chopped onions and garlic at the bottom of the crock pot.  Add the spice covered chicken and pour the chicken broth around the chicken.  Cook on low for about 6-7 hours.  I usually add the carrots 2-3 hours before the chicken will be ready instead of adding at the beginning (I would rather not have pureed or super soft carrots), but they can be added at any point and still taste delicious.  After the chicken is cooked (use a meat thermometer if needed), it is ready to eat.  I like to put the crock pot on warm at this point and remove the chicken carcass and small bones and let the chicken marinate in the juices while you cook the sides (salad, quinoa, etc). 

I cook quinoa for a healthy side choice, but Sooper does not appreciate the quinoa nor want to develop an acquired taste for ALL THINGS HEALTHY.  Therefore, we make him regular ol' long grain rice! :) Quinoa is a great alternate to heavy starches and is light, but the texture is very unique.  Give it a try...you may like the way it doesn't weigh you down like traditional starches after you eat.  Let me know what you think of it!  The image shows MY PLATE with quinoa, the chicken, and carrots.  I may be weird, but I like my food separated like so!

Tiny's Tasty Salad (or Gourmet Rabbit Food as Sooper JB calls it) 
This is a salad even the pickiest salad eaters love.  Sooper does not love salads but he does love my salads, because there are delicious distractions in it that hide the taste of the greens and kale. :)  I love salads and try to eat at least one a day...You need your greens.  My mom also taught me the importance of and difference homemade salad dressing makes as compared to store bought, so I always make my own dressing (which helps control the sodium and sugar content).  Thanks for that OYSTER PEARL OF WISDOM mom! 

Ingredients:
Organic Girl Super Greens mix (my new obsession): inc. swiss chard, tat soi, arugula, and spinach
1/2 cup of kale leaves, removed from the stems and leaves washed (optional)
10 baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, diced (save the other 1/2 for the next night, stored in the refrigerator)
Pecan pieces (or walnut pieces) (to taste)
Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese (to taste)
Dressing: All added together to taste
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil):
white or red wine vinegar
1/2-1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp honey (optional: I like to add a little sweetness sometimes)


Directions:
First, sauteed kale in a tsp of EVOO first just to reduce the roughness of the kale.  Heat up the oil for about a minute.  Add the kale and saute for about 1-2 minutes and it will be perfect.  Put the greens, kale, cucumber, mushrooms, pecans, and cheese in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing on top and mix.  You may have extra dressing you can store in the refrigerator. 

Tiny's Oyster Pearl of Wisdom (OPW) of the day:  Even if you aren't a fan of greens, try to incorporate them into your diet each day some kind of way.  It may be a spinach wrap to replace the bread for your sandwich, lettuce on your hamburger, or broccoli and cheese soup for lunch.  Give the salad a try and the more delicious add-ins you put in the salad, the less likely you are to taste the greens.  Plus, all the veggie and nut add-ins in Tiny's salad are good for you! 

Hope you enjoy!  Let me know what you think...can't wait to hear from you.  Happy Tiny's Tasty Thursday!

The Tiny Librarian

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tiny's First Blog

Yeah!  Today is my first blog inspired by no other than my very crafty blogger friend and the epitome of warm and fuzziness Lauren.  Check out her craftiness at Warm & Fuzzy.  Because I am a lover of all things related to health, fitness, fashion, literature and of course FOOD, especially New Orleans cuisine, I have decided to put my thoughts, ideas, and active, happy lifestyle into words!  My husband will probably also appreciate this idea and a new audience for me, since I am always telling him a thousand and one things about my passions and interests throughout the day. :)  So, I am starting this blog to share with ya'll.  Hopefully, you will find my ideas, recipes, and other OYSTER PEARLS OF WISDOM enjoyable and useful.

Well, first (after that rambling), I will tell you a little about me.  I am elementary school librarian in the New Orleans area, and newly married to my sweet husband Justin or as I will refer to him, Sooper JB (his XBOX gamer tag).  My husband is awesome and we really compliment each other well.  I am quite the outgoing, bubbly, overactive person, while he is quiet, patient, super supportive, and very witty.  I am a lucky girl!  I absolutely love being a librarian and working with children to instill a love of literature and learning.  I love anything and everything HEALTHY.  I am definitely a foodie and enjoy cooking all types of things, while also maintaining an active lifestyle, so that I am able to indulge in eating delicious food and desserts...yum!  On a side note, I titled the blog "The Tiny Librarian" because my husband also tells me I am tiny/small (I am 5"3).  That's it about me.  Feel free to post any questions or comments.

As my first post, I am starting off with fashion...calling it "Tiny's Trendy Tuesday."  Tuesdays are a good day for me to "look especially cute" for work, since I wake up early for spinning/morning swim and I wash and blow dry my hair, while watching the Today show, my fav.  The beautiful weather has given me Spring, or more like, Summer Fever.  To celebrate the approach of summer, I wore my white pants (J.Crew) and my salmon colored sweater (Banana Republic) and white sandals (Dillard's).   The pearl-rose pendant is from one of my favorite jewelry designers in New Orleans, Mignon Faget


I plan to also provide tips entitled "OYSTER PEARLS OF WISDOM" which could be about about my f-cubed (fashion, food, fitness). :)  Today's OPW...always pair a bold color with white (see image).  You could pair white skinny jeans with a great jade color top (one of my favorites) or pair a white tank with paisley print shorts.  It really makes the outfit stand out and makes you look polished!  You don't want to have a white out look, unless you are going to one of those type of parties.  That is all for the day...have a great Trendy Tuesday.  Hope to hear from ya'll soon!

The Tiny Librarian