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Friday, 20 July 2012 13:52

Pin Your Perfect Summer

What are the ingredients for a truly unforgettable summer? A few weeks ago we asked this question to our Pinterest followers for the chance to win a $500 Indigo gift card. The results were an overwhelming number of pin boards featuring beach-reads, BBQ recipes, summer-inspired décor products, DIY projects, serene cottage scenes and more! Our Product Developer, Patrick Ramsey, perused through the entries and narrowed it down to one board belonging to Sabrina Voci from Ontario! We thought it would be fun to get to know her a little better, find out what’s on her summer reading list and (most importantly) find out what she’s going to do with that $500 gift card!
Indigo: Can you describe the feelings you were hoping to evoke with your Pinterest board and the inspiration behind it?
Sabrina: I was hoping to capture the joy and excitement of all the things about summer we look forward to all year long: sunshine, spending time by the lake or ocean, travel, time with family and friends outdoors, and enjoying nature. I wanted to be sure to capture all the smaller things about summer we might overlook or take for granted—even if you don’t have fancy travel plans or a cottage to escape to, there are so many simple things to enjoy like sitting on an outdoor patio, taking a quick road trip on a long weekend, or having a picnic in the park.
Your Pinterest board is packed with fun imagery and products, which pin is your favourite and why?
I love them all, but if I have to choose one it would be the lounge chair by the ocean. It reminds me of a cruise I took a couple of years ago in the summer. One of my favourite memories from that trip was just lying on a lounge chair and reading a book, with the sounds of the ocean and the sun shining, it was incredibly relaxing!
As the winner of our $500 gift card, what’s on your shopping list?
A Kobo has been on my wish list for a long time, so I will definitely buy the Kobo Touch with a Kobo cover and several eBooks. I’m also going to buy a Native Union Retro POP Handset for my iPhone. I love all of Indigo’s lifestyle and home products, so there is no shortage of things I would love to buy, my challenge is not to spend the $500 all at once!
What is your favourite summer book?
I don’t have one favourite summer book, but the one book I am looking forward to reading this summer the most is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, it will be the first eBook I buy for my new Kobo.
Where is the best place to read on a warm, sunny day?
I think the best place to read on a sunny day is outside! If it’s really warm, I’d prefer to read in the shade, otherwise I’d prefer to get some sunshine—either in the park or some other green space, at a coffee shop patio with an iced coffee or tea, or on my own patio.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three books would hope to have with you?
If I were to have any hope of surviving I’d probably need a book like the SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John Wiseman. Besides some sort of survival guide, I’d probably choose a very long novel or book of short stories to help pass the time, and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe seems very appropriate!
You can check out Sabrina’s summer-inspired Pinterest board here, as well as runners up, Jessica Yu from Alberta and Rebekah Cuff from Ontario!

What are the ingredients for a truly unforgettable summer? A few weeks ago we posed this question to our Pinterest followers, challenging them to create pinboards representing their answers for the chance to win a $500 Indigo gift card. The results were an overwhelming number of boards featuring beach reads, BBQ recipes, summer-inspired décor products, DIY projects, serene cottage scenes and more! Indigo's Product Developer Patrick Ramsey reviewed the entries and chose a winner: Sabrina Voci from Ontario! We thought it would be fun to get to know her a little better, find out what’s on her summer reading list and (most importantly) find out what she’s going to do with that $500 gift card!

Indigo: Can you describe the feelings you were hoping to evoke with your Pinterest board and the inspiration behind it? 
Sabrina: I was hoping to capture the joy and excitement of all the things about summer we look forward to all year long: sunshine, spending time by the lake or ocean, travel, time with family and friends outdoors, and enjoying nature. I wanted to be sure to capture all the smaller things about summer we might overlook or take for granted—even if you don’t have fancy travel plans or a cottage to escape to, there are so many simple things to enjoy like sitting on an outdoor patio, taking a quick road trip on a long weekend, or having a picnic in the park. 

Your Pinterest board is packed with fun imagery and products. Which pin is your favourite and why? 
I love them all, but if I have to choose one it would be the lounge chair by the ocean. It reminds me of a cruise I took a couple of years ago in the summer. One of my favourite memories from that trip was just lying on a lounge chair and reading a book, with the sounds of the ocean and the sun shining, it was incredibly relaxing!   

As the winner of our $500 gift card, what’s on your shopping list? 
A Kobo eReader has been on my wish list for a long time, so I will definitely buy the Kobo Touch with a Kobo cover and several eBooks. I’m also going to buy a Native Union Retro POP Handset for my iPhone. I love all of Indigo’s lifestyle and home products, so there is no shortage of things I would love to buy. My challenge is not to spend the $500 all at once!  

Do you have a favourite summer book?  
I don’t have one favourite summer book, but the one book I am looking forward to reading this summer the most is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty; it will be the first eBook I buy for my new Kobo.  

Where is the best place to read on a warm, sunny day? 
I think the best place to read on a sunny day is outside! If it’s really warm, I’d prefer to read in the shade, otherwise I’d prefer to get some sunshine—either in the park or some other green space, at a coffee shop patio with an iced coffee or tea, or on my own patio.  

If you were stuck on a desert island, what three books would hope to have with you? 
If I were to have any hope of surviving I’d probably need a book like the SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John Wiseman. Besides some sort of survival guide, I’d probably choose a very long novel or book of short stories to help pass the time, and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe seems very appropriate!

You can check out Sabrina’s summer-inspired Pinterest board below, as well asthose from runners-up Jessica Yu from Alberta and Rebekah Cuff from Ontario!

Sabrina-Pinterest-Winner

 

Jessica-Pinterest-Winner


Pinterest_Winner_Rebecca

 

 

Published in Lifestyle
Thursday, 05 July 2012 14:25

Two Burger Recipes from Rachael Ray

Who doesn't love a tasty burger in the summer? It's one of the quintessential tastes of summer. But do we really need an entire book devoted to burgers? Let me declare emphatically: yabba dabba yowza yes. But what about steaks, chops, ribs, corn, chicken or sausages, you might ask. All tasty and all welcome at my table. However, burgers are the secret weapon of summer and fall meals. We're not just talking about a sad, brown pity patty between two pieces of bread. I'm talking about an under-rated all-star entree. People, prepare to be blown away:

Burger > Meatloaf > Meatball 

Do you see the possibilities here? Not yet? No, I'm not suggesting you recycle or, uh, re-gift your burgers the next evening as deconstructed meatloaf to unsuspecting guests. That's not so all-star. Burgers are a versatile and creative jack-of-all-trades. Impromptu summer get together? Check. Kid approved? Check. Vegetarian guests? Check. Paleo/Primal/Atkins/Wheat Belly/Weight Watchers friendly? Check. So when a copy of Rachael Ray's Book of Burger first crossed my desk, I paused for a moment and then had a lightbulb moment.  

Rachael Ray + Burgers = GENIUS

Who better than the queen of the 30-minute meal to give us the Cadillac tour of the burger? I tested both of the recipes that her publisher was kind enough to share with us and they were super tasty. Everyday ingredients, easy directions, big bold flavour. I even shared an Indian Spiced meatball with a friend (Yes, I modified the original recipe to make meatballs instead. Lunch portions, people.) After a bite, her reaction was swift, "Mmmmn! I want this recipe!"

I'm happy to share both recipes, courtesy Atria Books and Simon and Schuster Canada.

 

indianspicedIndian-Spiced Patties with Yogurt Sauce

1 ¼ pounds ground chicken or lamb
2 tablespoons mild or hot curry paste or seasoning blend
A pinch of ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, grated or pasted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A small handful of cilantro, finely chopped
A small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
4 leaves Bibb or Boston lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 brioche rolls or grilled naan breads

Serves 4

In a large bowl, combine the chicken or lamb with the curry paste (or seasoning blend) and cinnamon; season with salt and mix thoroughly. Score the mixture into 4 equal portions and form them into patties slightly thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook).

Heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers, flipping once, 10 minutes for medium lamb burgers (adjust the cooking time for rarer or more well-done burgers) and 10 to 12 minutes, or until the juices run clear, for chicken burgers.

While the burgers are cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and mint. Season the lettuce and tomatoes with a little salt.

Place the burgers on the roll bottoms or on one side of a naan and top with yogurt sauce, lettuce, and tomato. Set the roll tops in place or fold the naans over the burgers.

TIP: Naan is a type of fluffy flat bread typical of India. It is traditionally made by rolling out rounds of yeast dough and sticking them to the inside of a tandoor oven, where they cook at very high heat. Large supermarket chains often carry one or more varieties of naan—so check them out!



sageburgerSage-Scented Burgers with Fontina and Roasted Squash

1/2 small butternut squash or 1 acorn squash, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), for drizzling
A few grates of nutmeg
Kosher salt and pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
12 sage leaves
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1 large clove garlic, grated or pasted
A handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 to 3/4 pound Fontina Val d’Aosta or other Fontina cheese or Taleggio cheese, sliced
Good-quality honey
4 sesame brioche rolls, split and lightly toasted

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Lightly coat the squash slices with EVOO. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and spread the rings out on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and browned at the edges, 18 to 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until it foams. Increase the heat a touch and add the sage leaves. Cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Chop the sage leaves and reserve the browned butter separately.

In a large bowl, combine the veal and beef with the chopped crispy sage, the garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano; season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Score the mixture into 4 equal pieces and form them into patties slightly thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle the patties with EVOO.

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers, flipping once and basting with the reserved sage butter, 10 minutes for medium (adjust the cooking time for rarer or more well done burgers). Top the burgers with Fontina during the last minute or two of cooking, tenting the pan with aluminum foil, if you like, to help melt the cheese.

Drizzle the cooked squash with honey. Place the burgers on the roll bottoms and top with the squash. Set the bun tops in place.

Copyright © 2012 by Rachael Ray and Atria Books. Photos reproduced with permission from Atria Books, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Published in Lifestyle
Goji berry and mint soup
Rejuvenates skin
Makes 4 servings
Goji has become famous through the centuries as a food that protects the body from premature aging. It is now recognized as a “superfood,” being a rich source of antioxidants and a tonic that alleviates anxiety and stress, promotes a lighter, more cheerful mood, improves sleep, and increases energy and strength.
ingredients
31⁄2oz (100g) dried goji berries
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 pint (600ml) vegetable stock
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish
method
1 Wash the berries and soak them in water for a few minutes
to rehydrate them. Heat the oil in a saucepan, sauté the shallots
for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and goji berries. Stir
for few minutes before adding the stock. Stir and simmer for
another 20 minutes.
2 Add the mint leaves and remove from the heat. Pour
the mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until
smooth. Serve garnished with the extra mint leaves.
Note: To peel the tomatoes, cut a cross incision through the skin at the base
of the tomato and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water to cover
and leave to stand for a few minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the water
with a slotted spoon. The skin should now peel away easily.

In anticipation of the tasty and fragrant herbs that will soon be sprouting in our gardens, we’ve dug up a delicious recipe from the book Home Herbal to inspire and excite our fellow green-thumbs. Whether you’re a newbie gardener or a seasoned pro, this A-to-Z directory is packed with useful information and tips for cooking, brewing, blending and cleaning with over 100 key herbs. After you bookmark this delicious recipe, browse our online Garden Shop for grow kits, planters, tools and more!  

Goji-Mint-Spoup
Goji berry and mint soup
Rejuvenates skin

Makes 4 servings

Goji has become famous through the centuries as a food that protects the body from premature aging. It is now recognized as a “superfood,” being a rich source of antioxidants and a tonic that alleviates anxiety and stress, promotes a lighter, more cheerful mood, improves sleep, and increases energy and strength.

Ingredients
31⁄2oz (100g) dried goji berries
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 pint (600ml) vegetable stock
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish

Method
1. Wash the berries and soak them in water for a few minutes to rehydrate them. Heat the oil in a saucepan, sauté the shallots for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and goji berries. Stir for few minutes before adding the stock. Stir and simmer for another 20 minutes.

2. Add the mint leaves and remove from the heat. Pourthe mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Serve garnished with the extra mint leaves.

Note:
To peel the tomatoes, cut a cross incision through the skin at the base of the tomato and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water to cover and leave to stand for a few minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon. The skin should now peel away easily.


Published in Lifestyle
Friday, 09 December 2011 16:03

Swept Off Our Feet by Clockwork Prince

This week saw the release of one of the hottest teen titles this year, Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince. The second in the smoldering Infernal Devices Trilogy, Clockwork Prince continues the story of Tessa Grey, Will Herondale, and James “Jem” Carstairs. We met these three in last year’s phenomenal Clockwork Angel, which took the fun fantasy of The Mortal Instruments and transported it to Victorian London.

We hear a lot of talk in the book selling business about the next Twilight, but if we’re looking for the books that generate passionate debate about Team X versus Team Y… well, obviously the successor to Stephenie Meyer is Cassandra Clare. Team Will or Team Jem? They’re both equally attractive options, and maybe who we choose says more about us than it does about Tessa. Will Herondale is that classic alpha male, arrogant but deeply wounded. We know his bad boy exterior—much like Jace in The Mortal Instruments—is just a front, and it’s that knowing that makes Clockwork Prince so hearbreaking for us to read.

And wonderful Jem, who is the decent and sensitive friendly beta male—much like Simon in The Mortal Instruments—who is there to pick up the pieces. Jem is also sickly and there’s an element of tragedy to any romance with him. Couple all of this with intrigue and a dash of danger, and you get what is essentially an engrossing historical romance.

Think about it… the heroine with the unknown past, the issues of the love interests being of a different class than her, and her heart torn between the good man and the rascal she can’t ignore. (Plus, with The Infernal Devices, there's the added bonus of Magnus Bane.) Have you seen the trailer? It’s a BBC drama begging to be made. And we love it. Unapologetically. Every older reader I talk to about Cassandra Clare books reads them for the fun of it.

So when you start feeling the stress of the season looming, grab the paperback of Clockwork Angel—one of my top ten books of 2011—and Clockwork Prince then take a holiday to a Victorian London that only Cassandra Clare could’ve imagined.

Published in Teen

Ever dream of travelling the world?  This summer, why not travel to far off places from the comfort of your living room with great movies to capture the feel of foreign lands?  Check out the best movies on DVD and the books to help set the mood.  These are by no means the definitive collection of movies set in far off places, but merely a sample exploration of these foreign locales.

FRANCE

France… land of love, music and baguettes.  Whether it’s modern Paris you crave, or the romantic past, let these DVDs and books bring Paris to you.

-          Paris, Je t’aime

18 short films from famous directors make up Paris, Je t’aime. Each vignette is set in a  different Paris arrondissement, or neighbourhood, creating a colourful picture of the City of Lights.

-          An American in Paris

When words alone are not enough to describe the beauty of Paris, resort to song and dance.  This is the Paris of 1950s Hollywood: completely shot on a soundstage in California, the movie manages to capture the idealized city in bold colours.

-          Moulin Rouge!

Can-can dancers, poets, artists, and star-crossed lovers:  this is Paris at the turn of the century.  A wildly imagined city that is full of life, Moulin Rouge is a modern musical full of decadent visuals that evoke the vibrancy of the modern city.

-          Ratatouille

You can’t think of Paris without thinking of mouth-watering delicacies prepared by some of the world’s top chefs.  You normally wouldn’t want a rat in the kitchen preparing you a feast, but you just might make an exception for Remy, the talented maestro of Parisian cookery.

 

Books to help whisk you away:

Le Mariage

Blackberry Wine

Paris to the Moon

JAPAN

Japan is the land where East meets West, tradition meets technology, and where past and future collide in a colourful, busy, and pulsating present.  Whether you imagine a feudal Japan with noble samurai warriors, a pre-WWII Japan of geishas in exotic silks, or a modern day fusion of state-of-the-art electronics and cutting-edge design, your dream Tokyo exists on film.

-          Memoirs of a Geisha

Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel gets painted in vivid silk kimonos and delicate cherry blossoms in the big screen adaptation that will instantly transport viewers into the narrow streets of Kyoto.

-          Lost in Translation

Tokyo is a city where business meets pleasure.  Men in business suits, rowdy karaoke bars, flashing lights, and modern design represent a stereotypical view of the big city.

-          The Grudge

Modern Japan can sometimes be dull with the number of concrete office buildings and criss-crossing power lines hanging above narrow streets.  Beautiful, traditional homes still use tatami mat flooring and sliding paper doors…but hopefully there aren’t any child ghosts hiding in the closet.

 

Complete your journey to Japan with a good book:

Hitching Rides with Buddha

Memoirs of a Geisha

Shogun

 

ITALY

When you think of Italy, what do you see?  The Coliseum of Rome, a Tuscan vineyard, an art gallery filled with the work of Renaissance artists.  From dramatic sea sides, to rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, films set in Italy celebrate the nation’s history and culture.

-          Under the Tuscan Sun

Tuscany is the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.  Under the Tuscan Sun is best enjoyed with a glass of wine and a selection of olives so you can feel like you’re sharing a villa with Diane Lane.

-          Roman Holiday

Touring around Rome on a Vespa has never looked so good.  Gregory Peck shows princess Audrey Hepburn the famous sites the city has to offer- Roman Holiday is the perfect travelogue to  this great Italian city.

-          Angels and Demons

Religion is at the heart of Italy and its star is the Vatican.  Home to precious artefacts,  priceless works of art, and stunning architecture, the Catholic centre of Rome can be admired no matter what your religion.  Angels and Demons blazes a path across Rome and shows it’s stunning art in a new, thrilling light.

-          Casanova

Italians are known for romance, and there is no lover more infamous than Casanova.  Set in 18th century Venice, the film is full of gondolas, elaborate masks and costumes, and the beautiful canals.

 

Experience La Dolce Vita with books set in Italy:

Under the Tuscan Sun

A Season for the Dead

The Shape of Water

AUSTRALIA

There’s more to Australia than just Crocodile Dundee.  The expansive Outback, the bustling Sydney Harbour, and the pristine beaches along the coast are just some of the settings that films set in Australia have to offer.

-          Australia

A list of films about the country can’t exclude this sweeping epic starring Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman.  Cattle drives, land feuds, and the WWII bombing of Darwin are all included in this picturesque film, the second highest-grossing Australian film (behind Crocodile Dundee).

-          The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Australians sure know how to have a good time.  And what better way to explore the Australian landscape than to load into a van with your best girlfriends and drive across the country while wearing elaborate costumes and singing pop music hits?

-          Rabbit-Proof Fence

Based on the harrowing true story of two Aboriginal girls who escaped a settlement camp in Perth to set out on a 2400 km journey on foot back to their community all while being pursued by a tracker. The Australian Outback at its harshest.

 

Explore the Outback from the comforts of home:

In a Sunburned Country

Cloudstreet

The Thorn Birds

Published in Movies
It’s Bastille Day. Today, Parisians are on the Champs-Elysees, celebrating the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.

If you’re not actually celebrating in Paris, cruising the Seine, getting cultured at the Louvre, or checking out the Moulin Rouge, you can always fall back on a book.  That’s one of the best things about them—they take you somewhere else.

I know Cole Porter loved ‘Paris in the Springtime,’ but let these ones take you to France in the summer:

Recent Heather’s Pick The Paris Wife.  Author Paula McClain reveals the mind and life of young Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. You can see what our Chief Booklover thought of it here.

I know, Georges Simenon was born in Belgium, but this incredibly prolific author set many of his works in Paris and France.  His Inspector Maigret novels and his non-series crime novels should not be missed by the Francophile mystery lover:  for Maigret, try The Bar on the Seine.  For a non-Maigret novel (some say his darker work), try Monsieur Monde Vanishes.

Paris Stories, by Mavis Gallant—a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, from NYRB publishing.

Paris Metro Tales, by Helen Constantine.  A collection of short stories that takes readers through Paris by Metro.

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik.  The true story of Gopnik uprooting his family to take the Paris desk assignment for the New Yorker.  An outsider immersing himself in French life provides for very interesting commentary.

Paris to the Past, by Ina Caro.  A work of travel literature that takes the reader on one-day train trips through France's history.

The Greater Journey, by David McCullough.  An exploration of Americans in Paris, from the 1830’s on.  You can read more about it in an earlier blog here.

The Parisians, by Graham Robb.  Episodic histories, from the Revolution to the present.

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke.  The funny and true adventures of an expat Englishman working in Paris.  Very popular—two sequels followed, Merde Actually and Merde Happens.

When the World Spoke French, by Marc Fumaroli.  An exploration of the period in the 18th century when French was the universal language of politics and intellectual life.

Paris, Paris:  Journey into the City of Light by David Downie.  Like Gopnik’s book, a fish-out-of-water story to a certain extent—another tale of an American journalist making the move to Paris.  Highly recommended by lovers of the City of Light.

Markets of Paris by Dixon and Ruthanne Long.  An essential book for your suitcase if you want to check out the Parisian food scene—markets as well as bistros.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, by John Baxter.  A memoir of an author who gave literary walking tours throughout Paris.

A Moveable Feast—it would indeed be a glaring omission not to include Hemingway's memoir of Paris in the ‘20’s (from his point of view, unlike Paula McClain’s work).

Atlas Pocket Classics: France.  Three classics of French travel writing, by RL Stevenson, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edith Wharton.

I Know How To Cook, by Ginette Mathiot.  The bible of French cuisine.

Pastry Paris: In Paris, Everything Looks Like Dessert by Susan Hochbaum.  A guide to finding dessert in Paris, mouth-watering photos included.  Readers interested in the pastry subject could also check out David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris.  

Parisian Chic:  A Style Guide by  Ines De La Fressange.  Probably the best book on integrating that Parisian ‘je ne sais quoi’ into women’s fashion this year.

This is Paris by Sasek.  After a three week Parisian vacation in 1959, illustrator Miroslav Sasek was inspired by the city of light, and embarked on creating a series of children's books.  Only intending to write three (Paris came first, then London and Rome), he ended up doing kids watercolor travelogues of many of the world's great cities.  These classic, vintage works are now back in print—his series gives a nostalgic, illustrated guided tour to landmarks of the world’s great cities (and are updated with new factual information).  Good for kids, and adults may well find more pleasure in them.  

Published in Non-Fiction
Friday, 08 July 2011 15:12

Guest Blogger: Alice Ozma

By Alice Ozma, author of The Reading Promise

Earlier this year, a special memoir was published, one which caught our attention—partially because it is in sync with our company’s values. Indigo’s Love of Reading Foundation highlights the importance of literacy, and aims to keep kids reading through improving the quality of school libraries in order to create lifelong readers.

Alice Ozma’s The Reading Promise is a special work about a father who fostered a love of reading in his own child.  When she was in the fourth grade, her father (a school librarian) started a reading marathon with his daughter:  they would read together for 100 consecutive nights. The thing was, when the 100 nights was up, neither of them wanted to stop, so they didn’t.  Alice’s father read to her every night until she left for college.

A book about fostering the love of reading in your kids, worth checking out for any parent interested in making their children life-long readers. In this blog, Alice shares her story of the genesis of the book, and how her life has changed since.

***************************************************

When my book was published on May 3rd of this year, it was just under a year since my college graduation—354 days to be precise. It's been a wild ride. 

During my last semester of college, I wrote an essay about my father reading to me, every night without missing a night, from fourth grade until my first day of college. I intended to use the essay as part of an application for graduate school, but my Shakespeare professor read it over and saw potential. She contacted the University’s Office of Media & Public Relations, which pitched the story to The New York Times. To my surprise, the Times bit.

From 10 a.m. the day the article was published and for the next few weeks, my phone quite literally did not stop ringing. I had to turn it on silent to sleep, and whenever I woke up, there were voicemails from people from the worlds of television, film, and publishing. As an English major, the offer to write a book intrigued me. I’d always felt like I should write something about my father; why not do it now? I chose my agent and  publisher eight days after the piece ran, and I'm happy to say that I know now I made the right decision. They are both a perfect fit for me. Once all of that was secured, however, I went back to being a normal college student for a few weeks…I had finals coming up.

I wrote for five weeks, edited off and on for a few months, and started making appearances in January.  People were unabashedly shocked by my story. Why had my father and I read for so long? How did we manage to never, ever miss a night, after all those years? Could I possibly have grown into a normal, oxygen-breathing adult after being raised in a hothouse full of love and literature? The answers to the former questions, I tell them, are in my book. The answer to the latter I like to let them make themselves.

My signings generally advertise a “talk, Q&A, and signing,” but really, it’s a discussion. Once we get into questions, one leads to another, I start asking the audience questions, and the next thing I know I’m sitting back in my chair, nodding occasionally but mostly just soaking it in. Deep down, I’m still just a little girl who loves to hear a story. And the people who attend my signings tend to have great ones.

There’s the woman who escaped Nazi Germany as a young girl with the man she’s now been married to for over sixty years. Her dyslexia is bad, and his vision has gone, but they listen to audio books together every night. There’s the gaggle of junior high girls from New Jersey who came up to me, gum popping and beaded braids jangling, to tell me in detail about their favorite classics. There’s the mother and daughter who read my book, my very own book, and came to my signing to tell me about the reading marathon it inspired them to start. They call it The Quest. We called it The Streak. But more and more, I find that it’s all the same. Everywhere, people are reading. And everywhere, they want to tell me about it.

The more I travel, the more I see that being an author isn’t about telling your story: it’s about learning new ones. For someone who was read to every single night without fail, you can’t ask for a better career.

***************************************************

Thanks to our friends at Hachette for facilitating this blog, and to Alice Ozma herself for its composition.

Author photo credit: Ryan Collerd.

Published in Non-Fiction
Thursday, 07 July 2011 20:38

Make Perfect Pops at Home

Perfect - Pops - Charity Ferreira Dreamsicles, Fudgsicles or just plain old grape, as kids we all had our favourites, and as adults those same flavours are still high on our list of summer-time indulgences. Enter Perfect Pops, a vibrant little book that puts a fresh spin on the summer-time staple: Fudgsicles made with bittersweet chocolate and crème frache or a Dreamsicle made with passion fruit juice and a vanilla bean ice cream centre—even your daily Soy Chai Latte is transformed into an icy treat.

Author Charity Ferreira tested each of the fifty recipes in her home kitchen with a steady stream of neighbourhood kids running in and out to sample new pops and request old favourites, “It was so much fun to see four- and five-year-olds enjoying pops made from sweet corn or strawberries and balsamic vinegar, and to hear twelve-year-old boys discussing whether or not they liked the flavour of shiso in the plum pops, or whether the Mexican chocolate pops should have more chile”

Recipes are short and simple, with most containing less than five ingredients, and the colourful photos will make your mouth water. To prove this point we’re sharing Charity’s refreshing Cherry Pops recipe featuring a cute and crafty way to serve them—using cherry tree branches in place of sticks!

Perfect-Pops-Cherry-Pops-Charity-Ferreira

Cherry Pops
Makes 6 – 8 Pops

Ingredients
4 cups cherries (about 1 pounds)
1/3 cup sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions
1. Pit the cherries and place in a large bowl. Toss with the sugar and let sit until the cherries release their juice, about 15 minutes. Purée the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth and then add the lime juice to taste.

2. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.

3. To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Tip: Believe it or not, you don’t need a special gadget to pit cherries. Using a sharp paring knife, cut each cherry in half around the pit and remove the pit. Work over a bowl to catch all the precious juice! How much lime juice you add will depend on how sweet your cherries are, so taste as you go.


Make Cherry Pops & more with our Zoku Quick Pop Maker

Whip up your batch of Cherry Pops in minutes with the help of our Zoku Quick Pop Maker. No electricity needed! This compact device will freeze your popsicles in seven minutes. Simply store the base in the freezer when not in use and you'll be able to make up to nine popsicles before refreezing is needed.

Zoku_-_Maker1

Zoku Accessories Simple tools to make extra-ordinary pops
 
 
Zoku Tools Set: Add some pizazz to your pops with the help of Zoku's Tool Kit, this handy and easy to use set will allow you to take your homemade pops to the next level. Add a flavoured core, fruit slices, or stencilled shapes—the possibilities are endless.

Zoku Quick Pop Maker Tools Set

Zoku Quick Pop Maker Storage Case

Zoku Storage Case: Our Zoku Storage Case is perfect for storing or transporting your icy creations. The airtight container will preserve freshness and hold up to six pops. When serving, remove the lid and place it on your table for a fun dessert display.

For More Refreshing Reads, Try These...

Ice - Pops - Shelly KaldunskiZoku-Quick-Pops-BookPops - Icy Treats for Grown-Ups - Krystina Castella
Published in Lifestyle
Thursday, 16 June 2011 20:10

DIY project from Handmade Weddings

Since we’re in the midst of wedding season, it’s the perfect time to round up a few of our favourite accessories, gifts and books to treat a blushing bride-to-be. Our Bridal Shower Boutique features a pretty collection of cupcake wrappers, Vera Wang Thank You Notes, cupcake stands and more that are just right for an afternoon party. It also includes a chic collection of budget-friendly gifts that increase in value with the addition of a photo or hand-written recipe. We also have a fabulous collection of houseware-themed gifts that are perfect accessories for the newlyweds to entertain with.

You'll also find a gorgeous collection of books packed with an assortment of photos, advice, tips and tricks to help ease a bride’s nerves or be the inspiration behind a few last-minute details in the Bridal Shower Boutique. One book that was recently brought to our attention was the very charming Handmade Weddings, packed with over fifty DIY crafts and projects to personalize the big day and knock the socks off your guests.

Handmade Weddings was created by Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, the masterminds behind design and letterpress studio Hello!Lucky, and Shana Faust, past senior style editor at Martha Stewart Weddings and now freelance stylist based out of New York. Together, their goal was to produce a collection of projects that were inspirational, accessible and timeless—one flip through this book and you’ll find yourself ‘ooh-ing, ah-ing' and thinking to yourself ‘I can definitely do that!’

Inside, projects are rated based on difficulty, category (attire, décor, invitations, etc), when to start and how long it will take you to complete, along with gorgeous full-colour photos, diagrams and simple step-by-step instructions—not to mention an assortment of tips, themes, colour schemes, and more peppered throughout the pages.

Yes, this pretty collection of projects was intended for weddings, but with a few minor adjustments most can be used for anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers and almost any other celebration marked on your calendar. To give you a taste of what you can expect see inside Handmade Weddings, here’s a peek at one of the many fabulous projects:

HandmadeWeddings_-_DIY_-_resized

Test Tube Favours

 Test tubes make elegant, inexpensive vessels for favours such as teas, hard candies, herbs, or flavoured salts. A pretty rubber-stamped fabric tag tells guests what’s inside.


Level:
Easy
Category: Favors and gifts
Time: 6 - 8 hours
When to Start: 1 to 2 weeks before the wedding
Budget: $50 to $75

Materials
Makes 100 favors
  • 1 yard muslin or lightweight canvas
  • One hundred 18-×-150-mm glass rimless test tubes with corks
  • Approximately 4 ounces (50 cups) loose tea, candy, herbs, or flavored salts (we recommend staying away from liquids)
  • Brown ink pad
  • One hundred 3-mm gray eyelets
  • 100-foot length thin yarn or twine

Tools

  • Favor Tag template (available here)
  • Font: Remington Weather
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat
  • 1/8-inch hole punch
  • Eyelet setter (available at craft supply stores)

How to

1. Customize and order your favor tag stamps.
Customize and send the Favor Tag template to a local stamp maker or online vendor to be made into rubber stamps. Or make your own design by using a computer graphics program or drawing it by hand. A rubber stamp can be made with either a hard-copy printout of your artwork or a high-resolution computer graphics file. Remember that the artwork needs to be the mirror image of what you want to stamp, so be sure to tell the stamp maker what direction you want it to face.

2. Trim and stamp your tags.
Using a rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat, cut your fabric into 3/4-inch by 3 1/2-inch strips. Fray the edges on one short side. Blot your rubber stamp onto your ink pad, and stamp your strips with the right-hand side of the stamp text aligning with the fringe side of the tag. Punch a 1/8-inch hole on the left-hand side of each tag, about 1/2 inch from the edge. Insert the eyelet and fasten using your eyelet setter per the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Fill the tubes and affix the tags.
Fill the washed and dried test tubes with your favor material, and insert the corks. For each test tube, cut a 12-inch length of yarn or twine. Wrap it around the tube two to three times, and then thread the ends through the eyelet and tie in a bow.

Variations

  • Happy Graphic: Instead of corks, use brightly colored test tube caps (available in red, yellow, orange, cobalt blue, and green from scientific equipment suppliers). Fill your test tubes with colorful graphic candies, such as Red Hots, lemon drops, or gumballs.
  • Found: In lieu of fabric, print your tags from scraps of patterned paper.
Published in Lifestyle
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 14:20

Kristi Yamaguchi: Dream Big!

Inspired by her own big dreams, Olympic figure skater, Kristi Yamaguchi's picture book Dream Big, Little Pig! is the story of Poppy, who wishes to be a star. With the support of her family and friends, and by believing in herself, Poppy discovers the magic of ice skating.

In our exclusive Q&A with Kristi, the Olympic star talks to us about what it was like writing her first picture book, the importance of literacy and much more:

Indigo Kids Blog: What inspired you to write this picture book? 
Kristi Yamaguchi: Reading to my own children and seeing them discover the love for books inspired me. I also wanted a way to give a positive message to young children.

IKB: Poppy tries a lot of things before discovering her love for skating, is that what it was like for you?
KY: In a way-yes. I tried baton twirling, gymnastiscs, basketball....but ice skating was magical for me too when I first tried it. There was just something very special about it and I loved it and new I wanted to grow up and be a skater right away.

IKB: There's such a positive message in this book, is that what you're hoping kids will take from this: to "dream big?"
KY: Yes, to dream big. But to also have determination and perseverance. Dreams just don't happen, it takes hard work and most of all belief in yourself.

IKB: Will we see more Poppy adventures? 
KY: Yes, we are already working on Poppy's next adventure. Hopefully due out next Spring!

IKB: What were some of the things you learned when writing this book? 
KY: I learned that it is a very involved process. I was very lucky to have a wonderful illustrator in Tim Bowers who seemed to capture very much what I envisioned. Also, how important it is to get books into the hands of young children. Literacy rates are alarming and I'd like to do what I can to get books into the hands of under served children. A portion of the proceeds from this book will go to my Always Dream foundation's early literacy initiative.

Published in Indigo Kids
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