Pageviews last month

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

    Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss presents this in-depth report on the growth of the American processed food industry in conjunction with the increase of obesity and chronic diseases in the American public. Because of the qualities of convenience and savings in time, our society has increased its reliance on processed and fast foods. And, in line with growing their industry, the conglomerate companies lure their customers by increasing the amounts of sugar, fat and salt that they add to their products. This causes the consumer to reach a “bliss point” and to crave an increased amount of the food or drink. Moss compares this to a virtual addiction.

    Basing his information on company documents and interviews with former executives, Moss shows us how the industry is between a rock and a hard place: decrease the amounts of sugar, fat and salt to benefit the American public’s health, while exposing processed food’s off-tastes that will reduce sales. And, this is the dilemma that our nation finds itself in: continue on the path to ill health or change. Some of the answers might be to increase government food regulations, become more educated consumers, and go back to the basics in food preparation, however inconvenient that might be.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crafty Ideas

    Fill some of your quiet time with crafts; you can make some holiday or birthday gifts for yourself or others. Find your inspiration with these books.

    Crochet Cool: Fun Designs for Kids Ages 1 to 6, written by Tanya Bernard, is a collection of twenty designs for young children’s crocheted clothing and accessories. Patterns range from easy to intermediate to advanced; complete instructions for each pattern are accompanied by several color photos.

    101 Fabulous Small Quilts, published by the Patchwork Place of Martingale Press, features an assortment of small quilts ranging in size from one that is 14” by 17” to a 48” square. There are pieced quilts, appliqu├ęd ones and a combination of the two; they range from easy-to-make to challenging. A multitude of color photos and drawings assist with the sewing and assembling of the quilts.

    Craft Happy: Scrapbooking Your Memories, published by Harper Design, presents thirty scrapbooking projects that will help the crafter enhance their photographs and souvenirs. The book begins with the basic techniques, continuing on to projects highlighting travels and commemorative celebrations. Color photos abound, and sample motifs to copy are provided

    Tie-Dye: Dye it, Wear it, Share it, written by Shabd Simon-Alexander, introduces the reader to the tie-dye craft; describing techniques, color mixing and materials. Then it’s on to the over twenty tie-dye projects that include all types of clothing and household items.

    The Ultimate Handbook for Paper Crafters, edited by Jennifer Schoerer, shows the reader how to create greeting cards with a personal touch. Each of the more than 300 examples is accompanied by a color photo, list of supplies needed and instructions.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Thread of Grace: a Novel

    A historical novel written by Mary Doria Russell, set in Italy between the years of 1943 and 1945, when Jews were struggling to escape the reach of Nazi Germany by traveling over the Alps into Italy. Italian citizens, intimidated by the occupying Nazi army, act kindly towards the Jews and attempt to hide them from the Nazis. This resulted in more than 43,000 Jews being saved. However, many others still were captured and killed.

    Into this setting, the author focuses on several characters, presenting their experiences: Jewish refugees, Italian freedom fighters, priests, rabbis, Nazi officers, and others. We see the hardships of war, the joys of simple everyday life, the horrors endured by prisoners and soldiers. Survival or death is dependent on the luck of the draw.

    Well-drawn characters, descriptive language and in-depth research of the culture and history make this an enjoyable albeit poignant book to read.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

     Third novel in the Millennium Trilogy written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson; this book continues the story of Lisbeth Salander, genius computer hacker and sexual and psychological abuse victim in her struggle against the government agencies who have conspired against her since childhood. Lisbeth is supported in her fight by Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and editor of a left-wing political journal who fearlessly works against government corruption and for victims’ rights. Together they investigate a special “section” within Sapo, the Swedish secret service.

     How have they become involved in this mission? In the second book of the series, the reader discovers that Lisbeth is the daughter of former Soviet agent Alexander Zalachenko, who defected to Sweden during the 1970s. Zalachenko is a prize for the Swedish secret service and all sorts of rules are bent to preserve his cooperation, including sweeping his abuse of Lisbeth’s mother under the rug. And Lisbeth also has a German half-brother through Zalachenko, named Niedermann, a murderous strongman. In her quest to bring them to justice, Lisbeth is shot in the head and buried alive; she manages to escape and wound her father. Blomkvist comes to her rescue and Lisbeth, near death, is brought to the hospital to have a bullet removed from her brain.

    Lisbeth’s survival and her efforts to uncover information through computer hacking, Blomkvist’s efforts and those of a whole cast of characters from the police, Sapo, Lisbeth’s friends, and more are detailed in more than 600 pages of nail-biting plot; a worthy ride to justice. And more than that, the reader is able to see Lisbeth’s personality relax and grow into an individual who begins to trust others.