How to Fall Asleep

sleepingWho wouldn’t like a better night’s sleep? In today’s over-connected, 24/7 society, we could all use a little more shut-eye. The Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends.
  • Stay active — regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep.
  • Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid or limit naps.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sex or sleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.

If you’d like more in-depth suggestions, try these titles.

jacket-aspxThe sleep revolution : transforming your life, one night at a time / Arianna Huffington (Book)
Scientific recommendations and expert tips on how we can all achieve better and more restorative sleep, and learn how to make the power of sleep work for us.

 

Good night : the sleep doctor’s 4-week program to better sleep and better health / Michael Breus (Book)
Learn how to identify your sleep issues and what you can do about it.

Sleep smarter : 21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better body, better health, and bigger success / Shawn Stevenson (Book & eBook)
A 14-day plan with tips and tricks like the exact time of day to exercise for better sleep quality, what to wear to avoid waking up at night, and ways to fall asleep faster.

Sorting White Trash

indexIt was a hard call, but I’d say White Trash by Nancy Isenberg was my Number 2 Must Read of 2016 (after Chasing the Scream), but oh, have I put off writing about it because it played so much into last year’s politics it seemed as if it were written for it – but it couldn’t, because it was written before last year’s one-of-a-kind election year.

“White Trash” is a term that began just before the Civil War and became entrenched afterward, a term for the poorest white people who were absolutely uneducated, dirty, poorer than slaves – and had no desire to change their ways. They considered themselves perfectly fine and above anyone else. Rich people were to be sneered at, since they considered themselves better. Educated people were sneered at, because they considered themselves better. Yet as a class they were so despised for their lack of morals and work ethic, even slaves considered themselves above Poor White Trash.

Isenberg feels the concept goes back further than that. Who did England send over to1400306193764-cached America to pad out their colonies? Who would not be missed from the overcrowded prisons and cities? Not the landed gentry, but those persons who for whatever reason did not fit into society and were unsuccessful at supporting themselves. The Virginia Colony had to go so far as to set a death sentence for people who did not work and did not attend church on Sundays. Starvation was so bad that people resorted to cannibalism. The people sent over refused to work, preferring to run off to unsettled land (which was “owned” by others) and fend for themselves. Getting people to do the hard labor of setting up a colony was quite difficult.

Further, Isenberg says that as the country expanded, the first to move west were… the folk who refused to work for others, could not function in a society, and would rather starve than work. Each time, the ones who pushed west first were the dregs, seeking escape from prisons, debt collectors, tax men, and others who “infringed” upon them. The wild west was wild because the people who colonized it couldn’t get along with anyone.

“White Trash” has many names, depending on geography – Crackers, Okies, Rednecks, Hillbillies, Trailer Trash, Mud Eaters – all people who shun government, distrust education, live in abject poverty, and have a very flexible moral code. I don’t mean “flexible” as a pejorative but as a term to describe a juxtaposition of ideals: your baby out of wedlock is a sin, but it’s okay for me. Never take charity, but taking free stuff from this agency over here isn’t charity, it’s just free stuff. They have quite the knack for making things acceptable for them but a sin for anyone else.

Isenberg digs into both politics and popularism, citing Andrew Jack110932-004-3f4811e2son (the first person running for President who lost despite getting the most popular votes the first time he ran) as an uneducated, crass boor who appealed to the lowest masses and yet was elected President, and how he loved to flaunt that boorishness, to the distress of the American Gentry. She cites the 1970’s as a time when White Trash became hip – from Smokey and the Bandit, to the Dukes of Hazzard, to Tammy Faye Bakker and the  whole Televangelist craze. Today’s exploitainment shows like Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, and 16 and Pregnant continue to flaunt poverty, lawlessness, and lack of education as something chic and desirable.

Of course race and politics play into it. Much of the divide still stems from the Civil War, with Southern States blaming Northern States for the outcomes, and the Northern States holding the South in utter contempt. Isenberg shows how that all translates into votes, and political forums, and how those in turn affect our elections – including the recent one.

indexIsenberg is not alone in her observations. Numerous authors have also written similar observations, making her research more plausible. One is Deer Hunting With Jesus, by Joe Bageant, in which he talks about going home to rural Virginia, and why such places are becoming  a permanent underclass.  Lee Smith touches on a little of it in her dreamy autobiography Dimestore, about growing up in rural Appalachia.  Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance does a fantastic job presenting the issues from the first-hand experience of growing up in 1980’s Kentucky.

No matter what your political leanings, White Trash815bv15ciol will open your eyes to why current politics are playing out the way they are and how people are being exploited in the process, why you can’t seem to educate people out of poverty, and how that poverty persists generation after generation – and no, it’s not due to Welfare. How do we change it? How do we shape it? Or should we allow an uneducated underclass to dictate policies it knows nothing about – and chooses not to learn?  There’s no easy answer to be had, but this book is a must read and will open your eyes to a lot of things you never learned in school.

May is National Salad Month

salad

The Association for Dressings & Sauces (ADS) launched National Salad Month in May 1992 in response to a 1991 Gallup Poll that revealed that three out of four people eat a tossed salad at least every other day.

Salad is generally a mixture of cold foods such as vegetables or fruits.  It is usually topped with dressing, nuts, croutons and sometimes meat, fish, pasta, cheese or whole grains are added.  It is often served as an appetizer, sometimes as a meal, and some people serve it after the meal.

Eating a salad is great all year round, but now that the warm weather is here, take a look at what the Cheshire Library has to offer with these selections of salad cookbooks.  It’s a great time to come up with some new ideas for salads!

saladWilliams-Sonoma Salad  – Salads bring out the best in fresh seasonal ingredients, whether they are delicate spring lettuces paired with soft goat cheese or crisp autumn apples tossed with toasted pecans. Williams-Sonoma Collection Salad offers more than 40 easy-to-follow recipes, including both classic favorites and fresh new ideas. In these pages, you’ll find inspiring salads designed to suit occasions throughout the year — from an informal summer picnic to an elegant dinner with friends. This vividly photographed, full-color recipe collection, appealing to both novice and experienced cooks, will become an essential addition to your kitchen bookshelf.

foodFood Made Fast – Salad – A collection of illustrated cookbooks for the busy home cook utilizes a straightforward approach to preparing tasty, healthful, and time-saving dishes for every night of the week, with easy-to-follow recipes and tips on keeping a well-stocked pantry, planning ahead, and using fresh ingredients.

 

mealSalad as a Meal – A collection of recipes for more than one hundred salads that can be served as a main dish, featuring salads for each season as well as recipes for soup sides and breads.

 

 

daySalad of the Day – A year’s worth of salad ideas features seasonally inspired options for every month and includes suggestions for special occasions, providing instructions for such dishes as chickpea salad with mint and spicy crab salad.

 

salad-daysSalad Days – The author of Death by Chocolate and Desserts to Die For brings his creative approach to main-course salads, with such creations as Penne Pasta and Spinach with Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Toasted Walnuts, Curly Endive, and Cracked Black Pepper Vinaigrette.

 

bib-bookCooking Light Big Book of Salads – Showcases salads, from simple side salads to giant, meal-size creations, featuring recipes centered around pasta and grains, poultry and meats, and fish.

 

 

subSubstantial Salads – Salads are often considered an appetizer or a summertime meal. When the weather is too hot, lightly tossed greens with seasonal fruits and veggies are perfect for cooling the body and filling the stomach. But with rich, filling ingredients and heartier flavors, salads can be served as main courses even in spring, autumn, and winter. Substantial Salads offers one hundred healthy and delicious recipes for green salads, whole-grain salads, and dressings.

May is quite the foody month.  Here is a link to a blog post I did in 2014 on National Barbecue Month and National Hamburger Month.

Teach Yourself Technology

technology support help me please!

At Cheshire Public Library’s weekly Drop-In Tech Help, I am often told that people don’t know where to begin with learning technology. They ask me what special resource of knowledge I use and where I went to school and how long it took me to learn all of these tricks and devices. The answer is simple: There is no secret knowledge! I use books and the internet, and you can, too.

If you recently got a new device or you feel overwhelmed by your device’s capabilities, start with a book. The library has a variety of books on popular devices, and we can always get something for you if we fail to carry it. Books are great for starting out with a new computer, smart phone, or tablet. You can look up topics like Setting Up Your Email or page through the whole book at your own pace. Most technology books are visual, and you can go through step-by-step instructions with your device at your side.

If you prefer video instruction, you can try Lynda.com, which is now available for all Cheshire Public Library resident cardholders. Lynda.com is an online learning site that hosts a constantly growing library of over 3,000 courses.

What are you waiting for? Here’s a small sample of the books we have available:

jacket-aspx iPhone: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

Covers all models with iOS 8.1 software, including iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

 

 

jacket-aspx iPad for Seniors by Nancy Muir

Learn about all the incredible things your iPad can do with this friendly guide. Learn to make video calls, navigate with maps, find almost anything with Siri, and more!

 

jacket-aspx Teach Yourself Visually: Android Phones and Tablets by Guy Hart-Davis

Includes customizing your phone or tablet, working with text and voice, making calls and instant messaging, enjoying social networking, working with apps, browsing the web and e-mailing, taking and using photos and videos, using maps, Google Earth, and clock, playing music and videos, troubleshooting your device.

jacket-aspx Kindle Fire HDX for Dummies by Nancy Muir

Also covers the Kindle Fire HD!

 

 

jacket-aspx My Windows 10 by Katherine Murray

An easy, full-color tutorial on the latest operating system from Microsoft.

 

 


Technology Help – Need device advice? Come to Drop-in Tech Help. No appointment necessary. We provide help with smartphones, laptops, tablets, ereaders, email, Facebook, social media, and more! Check out the calendar for our next session.

Tom Colicchio – Chef Extraordinaire, TV Host, and Author

tomTom Colicchio is a well-known American chef.  He co-founded the Gramercy Tavern in New York City and was the executive chef.  He also is the founder of Crafted Hospitality, which includes Craft, Riverpark, Fowler & Wells, Craftbar, Craftsteak, Beachcraft and Heritage Steak restaurants.  He is the recipient of five James Beard Foundation Awards.   I was introduced to him via the Emmy award winning television show on Bravo, Top Chef.  That I would be watching a cooking show is very funny because I don’t, and I can’t, cook.  I can read a recipe, but executing it becomes an inedible, unsightly disaster no matter how hard I try.  You would think I’d get frustrated or bored watching a cooking show, but Mr. Colicchio is the perfect host for this fast-paced competition among a varied collection of American chefs.

Mr. Colicchio has come out with a new cookbook that will appeal to the hearts of sandwich lovers.  It is listed below, along with a few other cookbooks he has had his hand in.  Also listed, a powerful documentary film he produced on hunger in America.

wichwichcraft: craft a sandwich into a meal…and a meal into a sandwich –  Shares the secrets behind the ‘wichcraft restaurant group’s spin on the sandwich, with recipes for their most popular offerings,essays on stocking the sandwich pantry, and an interview with the owners.

 

eatEat Like A Man: the only cookbook a man will ever need – “So long, dude food. Most men who love food have a roasting pan and a decent spice rack, but they’re still looking for that one book that has all the real food they love to eat and wish they could cook. Esquire food editor Ryan D’Agostino is here to change that with his unapologetically male-centric Eat Like a Man–a choice collection of 75 recipes and food writing for men who like to eat, cook, and read about great food. It’s the Esquire man’s repertoire of perfect recipes, essays on how food figures into the moments that define a man’s life, and all the useful kitchen points every man needs to know. Satisfying, sexy, definitive, and doable, these are recipes for slow Sunday mornings with family, end-of-the-week wind-down dinners with a lady, Saturday night show-off entertaining, poker night feeds, and game-day couch camping. Or, for when a man is just hungry”–

smartSmart Chefs Stay Slim: lessons in eating and living from America’s best chefs – Celebrity chefs including Michelle Bernstein, Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, and Giada de Laurentis provide answers to the often-asked question of how they stay so thin and fit when their occupation clearly is based on their love of indulging in food.

 

tecTen: All the foods we love and ten perfect recipes for each – Identifying thirty-two of our favorite foods, from roast chicken and burgers to mashed potatoes and cakes, a innovative cookbook presents ten variations of each food in a collection of more than three hundred recipes, many contributed by such leading chef s as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, and others.

placeA Place At The Table (DVD) – 50 Million Americans—1 in 4 children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. A Place at the Table tells the powerful stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, A Place at the Table shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides—as they have in the past—that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all.