This blog details some of my experiences with Library materials. You can also check out my Staff Picks reviews or take a look at the books I've set out on the Staff Picks Shelf at the Library. Some of the items I review on this blog are also pinned on Pinterest. - Sara, Electronic Services Librarian
Mon, Oct 22, 2012
Perhaps this is stretching it, but I am rationalizing a Library connection with this post because, at the beginning of this year, the Teen Librarian Assistant gave me a recipe for homemade chai tea concentrate that she had come across in the paper.
I love chai but almost never go to coffee shops. This recipe is for a concentrate you can keep in your refrigerator for at least a week, warm up, and then mix with either warm milk or hot water. The nice thing about this recipe is the ability to customize it to your personal tastes. The very infrequent times I go to a coffee shop I ask them to do one-less pump with their own chai concentrate because it is inevitably way too sweet. This concentrate can be as spicy and un-sweet as I want, which makes it – though not necessarily good for anyone else – perfect for me!
The pictures are from the very first time I made the concentrate; I did not have enough Agave nectar, so I added maple sugar and boiled cider. I also didn’t have any Earl Grey Tea, so I mixed some black teas together: Crème Brulee, Constant Comment, and English Breakfast Tea. When I finally tasted it with warm milk, I realized that 2 tablespoons of molasses was way too much for me, though it did help give it a nice bite – something I realized when I reduced the molasses too much on my second batch. After four different variations, I have finally come up with a recipe that works best for me.
Another thing I learned that doesn’t show up in the pictures is to line my fine-strainer with 4-ply cheesecloth to ensure it is very well strained and to avoid getting ‘sludge’ in the concentrate. You can see some floaters in my mug in the last photo! (Click on a picture to enlarge it.)
When serving: for best results, shake the concentrate well; heat your proportions of the concentrate and the milk together, slowly, in a pan on your stovetop, stirring frequently. When I am in a hurry, I microwave the concentrate until it's quite hot and then just pour cold milk into it.
Take a look at the recipe attached at the end of this post; it includes the original recipe and my own recipe. I don't like sweet very much at all and prefer spicy, so you may need to add quite a bit of sweetener as you develop it to your own liking. I wish I would have remembered to time the whole process, because people have asked since I first posted this. I would guess 35 minutes, tops, from getting out all the ingredients to adding the final sweetener(s) and serving.
Wed, Oct 17, 2012
For nearly a year in 2011, a coworker and I went through almost all of Ellen Barrett’s workout DVDs, reporting daily on what we thought and, as we used them repeatedly, whether and where our muscles were sore or if difficult moves were becoming easy. Increasingly amusing was discussing whether, in the aftermath, we found it difficult to perform mundane tasks such as walking up stairs or picking up paper that we dropped on the floor. Yes, for nearly a year some of our other coworkers had to endure our conversations in the early morning before work began; they were particularly amused when we demonstrated to one another the Pilates poses that caused shaking limbs or -- more on my friend’s part (ha!) -- coordination difficulties.
Both of us agreed that we loved Ellen Barrett’s workouts. She is very enjoyable – not overly perky or cheesy -- and very likeable. Her workouts are specifically geared toward women and, being Pilates-based, aim to build long, lean muscle, and increased flexibility and core strength. Here are four of my personal favorites from Ellen Barrett. (You can watch preview clips of each video on the Collage Video website. Look for the ‘play clip’ button after clicking on any of the ‘view clip’ links, below.)
Skinny Sculpt – Ignore the goofy side-ponytail on the cover – she doesn’t even wear it in the video, so I have no idea why she went that route for the DVD cover. That ‘80s abomination aside, this is a great arm workout that doesn’t bulk you up and, with repeated use, gives you great definition. (view clip)
Fat Burning Fusion – Good for a slow day where you want to get in a lot of good stretching rather than an intense workout. My co-worker didn’t like it as much because it caused issues with her lower back to resurface. (view clip)
Grace + Gusto – Very good for a day you really, really don’t want to work out. I found it to be, by far, the easiest of all her videos. ‘Grace + Gusto’ does feature more balance work than Barrett’s others. Since there are always days I don’t feel like working out, it was a keeper for me. (view clip)
Sat, Aug 11, 2012
I am at the tail-end of my first week of the two-week vacation I saved up for this year. Today I decided to do some of the 9 workout videos that I checked out on my last day of work before vacation. The first was "Bellydance Fitness for Weight Loss: Cardio Shimmy." A couple years ago I went with my friend Anne to her bellydance class at the YMCA and was astonished at what a good workout it was. This video offered the same. The instruction was given in voice-over (for those who do or don't like that) and the people doing the workout were not at all annoying. I enjoyed it and actually got up my heart rate and a bit of sweat.
Because I still wasn't fatigued, I put in the next DVD from my stack: "Dance and Be Fit: Lower Body Burn" which turned out to be extremely easy. However, this one, even more, might prove difficult to those with no dance background. Oh, and the warmup was TERRIBLE. Having already done 2 DVDs prior to this one, I was ok; but it seemed to be the kind of warmup that would cause pulled muscles or strains if you started cold. I never like warmups that consist of stretching; obviously, the point of a warmup is to warm up the body which you do best moving from light activity to increased levels that only then allows you to safely stretch and proceed to the workout. As I said, the first workout, after the warmup, was extremely easy; I didn't break a sweat and barely, if at all, raised my heartbeat. The second workout was more difficult, but in comparison to the first that isn't saying much. Still, it was enjoyable and I wasn't annoyed with the instructor (though I had been in the warmup). One thing I appreciated was that it went quite fast; though that could be problematic at the start, if I do a video over and over I have found that I really appreciate the fast pace once the routine is familiar.
Finally, since the prior DVD was so easy, I put in one more: "Dance and Be Fit: Brazilian Body" and it was SO fun. Obviously the theme of these DVDs is dance, and I have done a very large amount of dance workout videos in the past. However, I have never done one that included Maculelê, Samba reggae, or Capoeira. These workouts also went quite fast, and would be difficult not only for those with no dance background but also likely so for someone new to working out. I really loved it. I will be interested to see, over the next week as I do it again each day, whether I might get too used to it. I find that it really helps to do a wide variety of workout DVDs to combat boredom with them; getting them from the Library is perfect. Quite a few I have liked so much that I have purchased my own copy, and this final DVD is one that I am seriously considering purchasing -- I'll have to wait and see how I feel about it after doing it more over the next week.
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