Posted by Trixie on 04.04.13

Today, at the age of 70, Roger Ebert passed away after a long battle with cancer. Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years. Not only revered and respected in his hometown of Chicago, he was the first critic to win a Pulitzer Prize and be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He even received a special achievement "Person of the Year" Webby Award in 2010 . Many know him from his and Gene Siskel's show At the Movies. Ebert wrote 17 books in total - not just collections of reviews, but also, a novel and a cookbook! He even wrote a few screenplays.
His keen eye, knowledge and wit will certainly be missed by moviegoers. Honor this Illinois native, influential film critic by checking out one of the books he wrote.
Ebert reflects on his life and career in this memoir.
A collection of Ebert's reviews originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times for the past 30 months.
A chronicle of Scorsese's feature films, this book collects eleven interviews of an acclaimed director by a prominent film critic.
For more information about Roger Ebert, check out his website.

Posted by Trixie on 03.28.13

If you're anything like me, you can't get enough of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Instead of dyeing hard boiled eggs for Easter, try making this easy recipe (via chicagoist) for yummy, homemade peanut butter eggs. Everyone will love a delectable, handmade treat in their Easter basket!
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tbs 2% milk
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
First, combine the powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter using an electric mixer. Next, slowly add the milk until it becomes a formable dough. Now, you're ready to form the eggs (or any shape - consider using cookie cutters if you want different shapes).
Place the formed dough on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer to harden for about a half hour.
Once you are ready to dip your dough in chocolate, melt the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave, warming and stirring in 30 second increments. 
Next, coat each egg with chocolate and place back on the wax lined-baking sheet. Let the eggs set in the freezer or fridge and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.
Finally, enjoy the fruits of your labor! 

Posted by Trixie on 03.21.13

In the late 70s, NASA launched two Voyager probes to explore the outer planets in our solar system.  The spacecraft have been traveling on different paths and at different speeds for over 35 years. The Voyagers have explored the outer giant planets in our solar system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. They have also examined 49 moons, and the systems of rings and magnetic fields the aforementioned planets possess. Both spacecraft continue to send information relating to their surroundings through NASA's Deep Space Network. They both also contain recorded messages on a gold phonographic record that contain images and sounds of Earth - complete with a diagram to show aliens how to play the record. Nearly 11 billion miles away from the sun, Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made thing from Earth. Scientists are speculating that Voyager 1 left our solar system yesterday. The probes will continue exploring interstellar space carrying our message to any extraterrestrials that might cross their paths!
Here's a NASA infographic that provides a timeline and describes how the Voyagers work. Want to learn more about the Voyager probes? Check out the NASA website or this article.

Posted by Trixie on 03.15.13

In 1987, the month of March was officially designated Women's History Month by Congress. This provides a nation-wide opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate women's contributions. Not that we shouldn't reflect and celebrate the important women in our lives outside of the month of March! Here are a few resources that highlight contributions to society made by women.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favorite authors. She is known mostly for her novels, but she has also made contributions as a poet, literary critic, essayist, environmental activist, and feminist. I'm a big fan of most of her novels, but The Year of the Flood is one of my favorites.
As a teen, I remember reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I loved her use of flashbacks in the narrative and related to Esther's struggles. This book led me to Plath's poetry and other work. This biography in verse tells the story of poet Sylvia Plath from the perspective of others.
This film tells the story of Temple Grandin, an amazing woman that has made an impact in the areas of animal welfare and autism advocacy. She overcame autism to become a bestselling author and scholar.
Karen O is the frontwoman for the New York rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love her vocal stylings as well as her interesting fashion choices. I can't get enough of this soundtrack! Karen O composed nearly all of the songs.
Want to learn more about Women's History Month? The Library of Congress in collaboration with National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has created a great website that includes images of relevant exhibits and collections as well as audio and video clips.

Posted by Trixie on 03.07.13

I love a great story. I'm usually drawn to fiction titles - for me, the more fantastical, the better. I rarely read nonfiction other than when I'm trying to learn how to do something: knit, sew, solder, develop and design webpages. That's not to say there aren't great stories in nonfiction books. There's something special about someone telling their own story. The impact of a personal experience can be more convincing than a list of facts; the trials and tribulations of Harriet Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself portray the evils of slavery more effectively than an encyclopedia article. In fact, if you haven't read this memoir, I strongly suggest you check it out. Here are a handful of other great nonfiction reads that I recommend.
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
This book tells the story of an aspiring author confronting the struggles of growing up. The narrative follows Gantos through his final year of high school, his creative plan to get money for college, and the adventures that followed.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Krakauer tells the story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, a 22-year-old adventure seeker looking to change his life. McCandless' decomposed body was found in the Alaskan wilderness by a moose hunter.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
In black & white illustration, Satrapi recounts her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The memoir juxtaposes Satrapi's unique home life with the trials of public life during a time of war.
Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
A coming-of-age story, Small tells his story of a fourteen-year-old boy that wakes from a supposedly minor surgery to find himself a virtual mute. Small graphically depicts the struggles of himself and his parents as well as his ability to overcome.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Singer-songwriter Smith shares the adventures experienced in New York city during the late sixties and seventies. It follows her and Robert Mapplethorpe's journey to fame as artists.

Posted by Trixie on 03.01.13

Looking for the perfect bookmark to hold your place in a library loaner? Well, look no further! You can make your own with glue (the school or white variety), the indented top of a pencil case or anything else you can use as a mold, and whatever you'd like to decorate your bookmark with. I'd probably go with something small like glitter or confetti so that your bookmark sits between the pages of your book. Colored pencils or crayon shavings would probably work well too. You can even use markers or watercolors to color or produce a pattern on your bookmark.
Follow these steps or watch the tutorial to make your own unique bookmark!
  1. Gather all the supplies needed: pencil case/mold, glue, markers, glitter or whatever you'd like to use to decorate your bookmark.
  2. Draw a pattern or color in the indentation on the pencil case or mold. Keep in mind that anything not colored in will be clear.
  3. Fill in the indentation with a thick layer of glue. Make sure not to use too much glue; it shouldn't spill over the edge of the mold.
  4. Add glitter, confetti, or anything else you want to decorate your bookmark with.
  5. Practice patience. Let the glue dry for 1-2 days depending on the thickness. It should look clear, not white, when it is ready.
  6. Carefully peel off your bookmark. You can trim the edges with scissors if you want.
  7. Dive into a good book without worrying about losing your place!

Posted by Trixie on 02.22.13

Can't get enough of The Oscars? Here are some current and past nominees that you might be interested in checking out.
Winner of Best Art Direction and Costume Design. Nominated for Best Visual Effects
Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.
Inception (2012)
Winner of Best Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. Nominated for Best Film, Director and Screenplay.
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Film Editing.
Winner of Best Original Screenplay. Nominated for Best Director, Picture and Actor.
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2004, original release: 2003)
Winner of Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song, Visual Effects, Art Direction, Costume Design, Make-up, Sound Mixing and Film Editing.
Nominated for Best Visual Effects.
Winner of Best Picture, Director, Actress in a Leading Role and Actor in a Supporting Role. Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Winner of Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
The Social Network (2011, original release: 2010)
Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, and Film Editing. Nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Cinematography, Director, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound, and Adapted Screenplay.