Granola Goodness

Granola Pic2With all the crazy weather outside (helloooooooooooooooooooooo winter storms with 12+ inches of snow), there’s only one way to stay sane:  COOK.  AND EAT.  AND COOK SOME MORE.  AND THEN EAT A LITTLE MORE.  Why not?  This week’s cabin-fever inspired recipe was granola.  Let me ask you this, friend readers:  why the h-e-double-hockeysticks haven’t I made home-made granola before?!?!  Usually I go to Fairway or Whole Foods and spend at least 11 million dollars on .75lbs of delicious, nut-filled, healthy granola (by the price you’d think it was chunk of precious stones rather than almonds in it).  When you make it at home it’s just as tasty and sees a significantly lower proportion of moolah fly from my wallet into the coffers of “the Man.”  And while sticking it to the Man is definitely one of my main goals in life ~_^, I’m most excited about the tasty, healthy granola that now graces my breakfast table.  Want to partake in the granola goodness?  Try out this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (aka pepita)
  • 1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons raw chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (I prefer grade B or any of the darker grades because it has a stronger maple flavor)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (I like tart Montmorency cherries, but you can use any other dried fruit like raisins, goji berries, blueberries, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, coconut, and cinnamon.  Mix well to distribute the cinnamon.
  3. Add the maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla.  Mix to combine.
  4. Put the granola on a non-stick baking sheet and spread to form a single layer.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and nutty smelling.  The cook time will change a lot depending on the age of your ingredients and your oven.  Be careful not to overcook!
  5. Take the granola out of the oven.  Add the fruit and pecans to the granola on the warm baking tray and mix (if you use raw pecans, you’ll have to add them earlier to make sure they get toasted with the other ingredients).  Let it all cool on the tray and store in an air-tight container.  This recipe makes enough to fill a quart container.

I love to eat this in the morning with plain, full-fat yogurt and some mixed berries.  Bon appetite!

The Internet Library – Source #2 (WordSmyth Language Learner Dictionary)

Hi all and welcome to our second installment of Internet Library!  Today I’m bringing you another fabulous dictionary that’s great for parents, teachers, kids, and ESL students.  I use it regularly in my own class because of the awesome variety of features that are available (more of which are available if you subscribe).

WordSmyth (http://www.wordsmyth.net/)

WS1

Robert Parks wanted to create a dictionary for a general audience that combined words that were important in daily life and those important in academic life while avoiding technical jargon or unusual words that would normally be found in unabridged dictionaries. It’s larger than an abridged dictionary but smaller than an unabridged dictionary.  The dictionary has several features that make it perfect for students. The dictionary is English-English, and sometimes that can be a challenge for students (even if their teachers prefer they avoid their first language). The dictionary allows you to change the level of English used in the definitions from “Beginner’s” to “Intermediate” to “Advanced.”

WS2Beginner definitions are extremely simple and show the most commonly used definition of the word. Intermediate increases the difficulty of the definition itself and present the most common meanings and some of the lesser-known meanings. Advanced is full native English-speaker level and includes all the definitions of the word. No matter what level you view, the definitions include the headword (with notations for syllables and pronunciation), a link to word lists showing the level of word, alternate spellings, a recording of someone reading the word (EXTREMELY useful – while many students are taught how to read phonetic symbols, it’s still really hard to interpret them!), the part of speech, definition, and example sentences. Some even include pictures. Synonyms are listed in the same area as the definition, so if you have a word with multiple meanings are can choose a synonym appropriate to the meaning you choose.WS3Each entry also includes “Word Combinations” and “Word Explorer” sections that show you how this word is combined with others to form phrases or compound words, or words that are related to it categorically. Along with the typical dictionary function, the website itself contains other fun tools for students, including ways to make glossaries, quizzes, and puzzles, as well as 4 different ways to search for words besides the regular search box (like looking for words by prefix or suffix). I love this dictionary for its amazing flexibility, and especially for the pronunciation features.

What Are You Reading? – National Readathon Day #timetoread

NationalReadathonSo, National Readathon Day has finally arrived! What will your brain be feasting upon during that delicious 3 hour chunk of reading time that you’re going to carve out of your busy schedule?  Share what you’re reading in the comments below!  I’m planning on continuing my fascinating journey through Keith Houston’s new book, Shady Characters.

ShadyCharactersCoverHouston has created a fascinating look at the history of punctuation and symbols, including common signs that are still used every day (@ # “” ) and others that are, well, a bit more obscure ( ¶ † ☞ ).  Each symbol has its own chapter, tracing its development through the mists of time and ending with a look at how its used currently.  Each narrative is accompanied by a look into the development of the name of the symbol and little offshoots into the history of the time or famous people who helped the development of the symbol.AmpersandExamplesFor example,have you ever wondered why we, in English, use the abbreviation lb. for the word pound?  It all connects back to the Latin phrase libra pondo, which, according to Houston, “spawned a dynasty of intertwined signs, words, and concepts that are still evident today” (Shady Characters, pg.44) that ends in the common use of the # sign (know to normal people as the “pound sign” and typographers and historians as the “octothorpe”).  Thick with information and studded with interesting facts, this book is like a good fruitcake (filling and easily digestible, unlike my dear Aunt Betsy’s brick of a fruitcake that shows up on my doorstep every 25th of December).  You can also follow Houston’s current projects and discoveries on his Shady Characters Blog.

National Readathon Day (1/24/15)

NationalReadathon“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
― Malcolm X

Hey peeps!  I wanted to share this awesome event with you I just learned about… it’s called National Readathon Day.  Conceived as a way to promote literacy and love of reading, there are a multitude of organizations and websites that will be celebrating (including Goodreads, the National Book Foundation, Mashable, and Penguin Random House).  How can you get involved?  Join readers around the world in a marathon reading session (from noon to 4pm in your own time zone on Saturday, January 24th).  Tweet about what you’re reading with the hashtag #timetoread.  Snuggle up with a book and a blanket at home and share your passion with your family, or head out to a public place for a coffee and a few pages of your newest read with other booklovers.  If you’re a parent, read your munchkin a picture book!  It’s never too early (or too late!) to share your passion for books and learning with others.

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
― Carl Sagan

New Series: The Internet Library – Source #1 (The Merriam-Webster Visual Online Dictionary)

Hey all!  Hope that 2015 is treating you all well so far!  I’m back in action after a bit of a hiatus, and I’m starting off the new year with a series of posts called “Internet Library.”  We all know that the internet is a wellspring of information, but it’s harder to say which sources are legitimate and trustworthy.  Starting today, I’m going to be sharing sites that offer high-quality, vetted information for people out there who need to get good information fast.  This goes way beyond Wikipedia, folks!  Hope it’ll be interesting and informative for all y’all out there.  All the links in the series will be archived in a new page (linked next to “Home” and “About” at the top of the blog) so you can find them all in one place.

The Merriam-Webster Visual Online Dictionary (http://www.visualdictionaryonline.com/)

Merriam-Webster Online Visual DictionaryThe Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online is based on the book by the same name, published by QU International. The Dictionary itself has a long history, starting back in 1982 with the partnership of two French men and a dream to create a visual dictionary. Over the years they have published many visual dictionaries, including The Junior Visual Dictionary, The New Visual Dictionary, My First Visual Dictionary, and of course, their latest and greatest, The Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary. This dictionary is available for free online, and is a great resource for contemporary students who rely on the internet for most of their information needs. The online version is similar to the print version, featuring over 20,000 terms with 6000 color images. It’s even better than the print version because of its advanced search capabilities and pronunciation recordings for each word.  There are many 2 ways to navigate the online dictionary: the first is similar to the print version. The left sidebar of the website shows the 15 themes that the dictionary is divided into, for example “Science,” “Society,” and “Transport and Machinery.” Clicking on the theme leads you to “contents” page, breaking that theme down into smaller and smaller segments, helping you to navigate towards your goal.

MWVD2Clicking on the smaller themes leads you to labeled illustrations. Clicking on the word in the illustration brings you to the word and definition on the bottom of the page. The definition is rather short – it only includes a single spelling and a single definition (there is no other information, like part of speech or alternate spellings or synonyms). However, you can click on a small icon next to each word, and a recording of someone reading the word is played. You can also find your word through a Google Custom Search of the website. The web-version of the dictionary has many special features like vocabulary games, and links to Merriam-Webster software and books.  This dictionary is a great resource for teachers, students, parents, or regular dictionary users!