First Book of the Year 2017 with Sheila @bookjourney

My New Year’s resolution is to fit book blogging  back into my life this year. I have missed it! (Thank you to Carrie of Care’s Books and Pie for insisting that six months isn’t too long of a hiatus!)

My first book of the year is Swing Time by Zadie Smith. It was a surprise gift that I received for Christmas. I bought her last book, NW, for myself, and still haven’t read it, so that’s on the list for 2017, too.

But first, her newest one, Swing Time!

me reading Swing Time in front of Christmas treeNext up in 2017 will be Crosstalk by Connie Willis, which I have been wanting to read since it came out a few months ago.For Sheila’s giant “First Book of the Year 2017” photo collage, and to see what everyone else is reading, visit Book Journey!

Let’s be optimistic for 2017…Happy New Year!







Punching Up Packed Lunches #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

The upside of being unemployed–lunch at home with my work-from-home husband.

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

After several months of being unemployed, I have recently gone back to working in a library, and so have started bringing packed lunches again. I am lucky to have a husband who often packs lunch for me, complete with unexpected little treats!

The lunches my husband packs for me to eat at work are a balm to my soul.

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

But I do try to pack my own lunch at least a couple of times a week, so I checked out this article right away when it came into my email inbox from Refinery29:

11 Things People Who Pack Their Lunches Always Do

The ideas in the slide show reflect different approaches and eating/cooking styles; depending on your level of willingness to plan ahead, spend money, etc., only some may seem worth a try to you. Some of them I occasionally do already, such as  immediately portioning out and putting away a lunch-sized serving for the next day of whatever we’re having for dinner. Tip #9 from Senior Health Editor Amelia Harnish was my favorite, “Pack a fun snack”:

The secret to bringing your own lunch every day for real is making a lunch you actually like eating — something that’s healthy and makes you feel full and satisfied and happy —but it also has to be easy to make. I usually go with a salad with plenty of protein and a “surprise” ingredient, which is mandatory.

Sometimes I top my salad with sweet potato fries; sometimes it’s the chicken I didn’t finish at dinner the night before. Sometimes I add salsa and also pack chips, or it’s even weirder, like a scoop of leftover Indian food. I also build in other treats: cheese sticks, chips, Oreos, whatever you want. Lunch dessert is important. — Amelia Harnish, Senior Health Editor

I’ve been on a salad kick for the last couple of months, and have already been making plain garden salads more interesting with toppings like rice salad, hard-boiled eggs, assorted cheeses, seasoned/dressed canned beans, capers, toasted sunflower seeds, and slivers of sundried tomatoes. Also adding torn leaves of basil, parsley, and/or mint to the mixed greens, and always remembering to pack a little bottle of homemade salad dressing!


But after reading Tip #9, I tried putting leftover Chinese food on salad greens for lunch, and it was pretty good!

Lunchtime! Just starting Tuesday Nights in 1980, but have heard good things about it!

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

The other day I finally thought of returning the favor and made a salad for my husband’s lunch (He works from home.) when I made my own in the morning!


Some of our best recent salad efforts:

Don’t forget fruit salads!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.


Massachusetts Center for the Book Funding in Jeopardy @MassBook

Please Write to Your Reps

If you live in Massachusetts (the Bay State!) and are a fan of libraries, literacy, the literary life – or all three –  it is urgent to alert your state representative and senator that funding for the Massachusetts Center for the Book has been eliminated from the state Senate’s FY17 budget and you need them to support the reinstatement of Line 7000-9508 with the Budget Conference Committee.

Representatives can only throw in their support for a small number of causes during Conference Committee time, so it is important that we library advocates make our voices heard early and often!

Sample Email to State Legislators

This is the basic email that I sent to my state legislators on Friday. Feel free to take and use anything from it (except the personal anecdote, of course, as that might seem odd!) in writing your own quick email or making your own easy phone call of support:


I know you are a strong supporter of library legislation. I’m writing now to ask you to support line item 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book during the upcoming budget conference negotiations. After 7000-9508 was zeroed out in the House’s FY17 budget proposal, it was put back in by amendment and passed. After it was zeroed out in the Senate budget, there was very little time to advocate for the amendment to put it back into the budget and the amendment failed. A very similar thing happened with the FY16 budget.

7000-9508 For the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc., chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; provided, that the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc. shall continue its work as a public-private partnership ……..$200,000

The Massachusetts Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The Center administers the largest state book awards program in the country. (The announcement of this year’s Massachusetts Book Award finalists is on hold at the moment, due to the need for an all-out advocacy effort related to the FY17 budget.)

The mission of the Massachusetts Center for the Book is to develop, support, and promote cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. The Center represents Massachusetts at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. every year, and has just rolled out the only online statewide calendar of cultural and literary events happening in libraries in every region of Massachusetts. Check out the calendar and find out more about the Mass Center for the Book at

The Center also administers one of the largest Letters About Literature awards programs in the country every year, engaging students, grades 4 through 12, in writing letters to authors about a book that was meaningful to them. My first contact with the Center for the Book was when my daughter Molly won an honorable mention for her submission to the Letters About Literature writing contest through the Brockton Public Library and she was invited to the State House for the annual awards presentation with her family, where she also received a citation from Rep. Christine Canavan. The Letters About Literature annual writing contest is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate centers for the book, state libraries and other organizations.

If the Center has to cease planning and collaborations for three months of every year while its staff and board of directors fight for basic funding, its mission is compromised. Your support for 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book will help persuade the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees that this line item must no longer be skipped over or zeroed out when they create their budget proposals.

Thank you!

How to Contact Your Legislators

Put your zip code in on the State House Web site to find your legislators contact info here.

What is the Massachusetts Center for the Book?

The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting, and promoting cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. (Mission statement taken from the Center’s Web site)

Where Does MassBook Get Its Funding?

The Center (affectionately known as “MassBook” is supported in large part by an appropriation from the General Court of Massachusetts, through budget line 7000-9508, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  MassBook also receives grants from the following institutions and organizations:

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program
Massachusetts Cultural Council
Simmons College School of Library and Information Science

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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