February 27, 2013

Feel like a kid (part one)

Last night, I returned from a whirlwind research trip to Philadelphia and New York City to study some health and wellness exhibits for children. I am a research panel member for our local children's museum. Myself along with four other members of the research team loaded into a van headed east.

Our team is a diverse group of folks. The museum director is a vibrant lady with unending energy. She runs the museum as if it's an extension of her personal home, with pride and welcoming hospitality. I am the mother of two teenagers and frequently lament that "they never had anything like that when my kids were little", yet I embrace the opportunity to take other children there whenever I can. The museum's exhibit director is a young man, an art major, whose creativity is boundless. Rounding out the group was a dietitian who runs the area health education center and local coordinator for healthcare jobs.

There are several other members on the panel, but we were the five who were available for this research trip. We didn't really know each other other than sitting at a table together during planning meetings so I thought the trip may be a little awkward on a social level. But knowing that our goal was to find something wonderful to work towards for the children of our community, I cast aside my trepidation. We loaded into a mini-van with snacks, pillows, electronics, and a great attitude. About 2 minutes into the trip, I piped up from the back seat and asked if we were there yet. In about another 2 minutes, I whined that the educator kept touching me and wouldn't keep her hands to herself. The ice was broken and we began to feel like a group of big kids.We quickly took a vow of omertà, what was said in the van stayed in the van. That was an appropriate pledge since one person's cell phone ringtone was the theme from The Godfather.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child takes some effort but our research team was up for the challenge. We hit the road for Philadelphia by 5:30 AM and didn't look back. The roads were clear and our mission in place. First stop, The Franklin Institute.

The Franklin Institute
An impressive statue of Ben Franklin greeted us in the lobby as screens with Ben's words of wisdom surrounded us. His poignant observations were the perfect reminder of our mission:
  • Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late
  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
  • An investment in knowledge pays the best interest
Lincoln Tunnel traffic jam NYCWe spent the afternoon climbing around a giant heart, looking at preserved brains, and simulating surfing. We saw the workshop where the exhibit prototypes were created. We asked questions and got answers. Then we got in the car for NYC, made smooth time until we reached the Lincoln Tunnel. It seemed everyone in the tri-state area brought an extra car with them and wanted to get into the city at the same time we did.

We maintained a child-like sense of wonder and took some great skyline pictures as we waited.

Empire State Building

New York City skyline

We arrived in New York City about two hours after we approached the tunnel entrance. Our trip was halfway over. Stay tuned for part two of our adventure tomorrow... 

February 20, 2013

Why I love Facebook

I made a simple lament. I love to cook and love to make interesting food. This week, I had a taste for Pasta Puttensca. It's an anchovy, tomato, and kalamata olive sauce.

So I had this craving, but the local grocers were not cooperative. Four stores, NO anchovy paste. I settled and bought whole anchovies to make my own paste.

I don't want to be graphic. Let me just say there is a reason stores sell anchovy paste. Grinding them in a food processor is gross. Enough said.

Here is why  I love Facebook, a sentiment that required that preface.

My silly and momentary lament turned into a forum about local shopping, alternatives to that, and ultimately a coffee date. I'm meeting a friend I enjoy for coffee next week.

So say what you must. I love that Facebook brings us together. Even if the reason is the stresses one must endure to grind their own anchovies into paste. Ultimately, it's about the art of conversation. And I am so happy to have a date to sit down with my friend. Which never would have happened if I couldn't find anchovy paste.

So bring me a big one with everything, but  hold the anchovies!

February 19, 2013

Third Novel by Taylor Stevens: The Doll review

The Doll by Taylor Stevens
Now Available! June 2013
I first "met" NY Times best selling author Taylor Stevens in an online discussion group several years ago. The way she arranged words resonated with me and as our interactions grew and we learned more about each other, I asked her if she ever considered writing a novel. She told me she actually had and was trying to find a publisher for it.

As our friendship grew, she trusted me to read the draft of her first effort, which became the sensational best selling novel The Informationist, and recently was optioned by film director James Cameron, of Avatar fame.

Taylor and I have continued our friendship and had a few opportunities to also spend time together in person. It's a true honor to witness her success up-close. Admittedly, I like to brag that I was one of the first 10 people in the world to read her first novel.

That I am a fan is an understatement that must preface my review. I will however also say that if there were any reason I didn't think this novel was riveting or interesting, I would not publish a review. I pride myself on integrity as a writer and PR person.

I opened up my Advance Readers Copy (ARC) with anticipation. One of the things that I've grown to like about Taylor's style is that it's a slow build to the fast and frantic action. The story began slowly with very little detail. In a literary sense I unfolded my napkin in my lap and prepared to dig in. I wasn't disappointed.

Taylor has a unique ability to bring the most horrifying slices of humanity to our lap, without sending us from the table. Her story about human trafficking drew us into a world we'd not see or know otherwise. While the tales are fiction, they are so alive, the reader feels authenticity with each phrase. You aren't just reading the story, you are there.

I really enjoyed the depth and emotion she brought to her protagonist, Michael/Vanessa Munroe. We saw a softer side of her heroine. It didn't make Michael less strong, it only made her more human. The alliance forged was surprising. To say more would require a spoiler alert.

If you've been fascinated with Michael Munroe, that won't end with The Doll. In fact, you'll want to know more. Taylor has the ability to draw even the most timid reader into her stories of a rough and ready heroine, who suffers fools lightly and takes names while she kicks them to the curb. It's a vicarious thrill for the reader to walk in the shoes of such a strong star.

Three is either a curse or a charm. I wondered how it would unfold for Taylor's story. What I've learned is that this author has an unlimited imagination and can put her character in any situation and bring it to life.

Congratulations, Taylor.

Three is a charm.

February 18, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful: Behind the Scenes footage

Fresh Daily Bread is proud to be a Disney blogger and we get to share fantastic advance and insider information for all upcoming Disney releases. We are really looking forward to Oz, and couldn't wait to share this interview clip with the costumers and actors in the film. Enjoy! 

Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.


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