Monday, March 31, 2008

Canadian Bookstores

Matt and I visited three great Toronto bookstores on our trip. I have pictures to upload, but my laptop is, well, on my lap, and I don't feel like getting up. They should be up later tonight or tomorrow.

The first store was a children's book store called The Flying Dragon Bookshop. It was in this super cute neighborhood where the residents really utilize their old fashioned downtown street filled with independently owned shops. We had lunch on the street. The store was buzzing the whole time we were there, so Matt and I didn't have tons of time to talk with its owners and workers (although I did manage to get in some Degrassi questions. One of the employees said she wasn't into the show, but she was with her friend, an obsessive fan, when they saw three Degrassi actors at a mall [three in one place?! Can you imagine?]). They were so kind and friendly and served us strawberries, cookies, and very tasty tea. I purchased a stack of Canadian YA books for my school library, which we mailed home after we left so we didn't have to carry them. It was a super pleasant place, and I hope we can go back someday.

The next store was another independent children's store called Mabel's Fables. It was two stories, bright and lovely. We talked with one of the owners a little about conferences that come through Toronto, but how I had yet to go to a conference there. Sure we be another nice excuse for me to end up back in the T.O. Matt and I both used the store's adorable bathroom.

The final store was a chain store, similar to Borders or Barnes and Noble, called Indigo. They were very nice there and had ten copies of Get Well Soon to sign! It was a quick visit, and I chatted with the children's manager while I signed. I mainly talked about the difference between the American Harry Potters vs. the Canadian (same as the British) versions. Did you know the British ones don't have drawings throughout the book? And then there's a weird "adult version," that just has dark covers. Wacky!

All in all, a wonderful, book-loving experience.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Canadian Chow

Matt is fascinated by the fact that there isn't really "Canadian Food" (or none that we found in Toronto, anyway). We saw one restaurant called Philthy McNasty's that claims to be a Canadian sports bar, but seeing as we are frightened by American sports bars, this didn't seem like an option. The one piece of Canadian food that we can never seem to get our hands on is the illusive Maple Drumstick. We discovered this novelty the last time we visited, but only managed to find advertisements and not the actual product. This time I made it my goal to find one, and we did, but it was at a weird store in the middle of the afternoon when I wasn't prepared to eat it. We figured we'd go to this little convenience store that we went to the day before, because surely they would have a Maple! Alas, they did not, and everything else nearby was closed. I guess we'll have to wait to sample the Maple NEXT time we go. That will be our motivation for going back.

We chose a place called Pumpernickel's for lunch our first day, mostly because it was close, cheap, and because the name is funny. It was fine. For dinner we went back to a Thai restaurant that is close to our hotel and we went to during our last visit called Golden Thai. The atmosphere and some of the food is good, although we have had a few bland dishes. We both agreed we'd go back. My curry dish was quite tasty.

On the second day we had lunch at a French patisserie near one of the bookstores we visited, out of the downtown area. It was fancy and tasty, but I don't recall the name. For dinner we tried a place called Fressen, which I had circled in our guidebook during our last visit but we didn't try until this one. It was a pretentious, hipster, vegan restaurant that had seriously blah food. The funniest part of the dinner was the lame hostess who asked if we had a reservation (it was a Friday night before 6:00- did we really need a reservation?). When we said no, she looked down at us and pointed us to a table close to the door. I watched her the rest of the evening (since I was so close to the door) turn down couple after couple with moronic delight. As for the food, it really was blah. I would not recommend the place, unless you prefer snotty atmosphere to joy and tasty food. I know there are people out there who do. And that's the Toronto food rundown.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Interview with Me on Kaleb Nation's Blog!

Oy! I was so on Spring Break that i forgot to mention Kaleb Nation's interview with me on his fantastico webpage! Be sure to learn all about his amazing pet pig (not in my interview, but as you explore his page)!!! Thanks, Kaleb! I'll be sure to keep my blog readers posted about your upcoming book release.

I still haven't started playing my Potter game... too much to catch up on! I've got a game of Scrabulous waiting, too. Focus, Julie, focus!

Car Adendum

Don't ask why I felt the need to post about this ASAP, but I found this article on Yahoo! about the coolest cars in movie history, and I had to let everyone know that a good number of these cars are on display sickeningly close to my town at the Volo Auto Museum. Definitely worth a visit if you're into that kind of thing.

Back from the T.O.

Matt and I just got home from our visit to Toronto. It was a fun-filled two days, with several decent meals, lots of walking, and some Canadian bookstores. I had all sorts of blog posts planned, which I will eventually get to, but since I'm home and I still have one and a half days left of my Spring Break, I'm sorry, but I have to do a little Potter gaming. You know how it is. For now, I will leave you with this tantalizing list of things I intend to blog about if I ever can become disciplined enough to do so:
-Food we ate in Canada
-Bookstores we visited
-Midwest airlines
-Canadian television
-Degrassi Street Part 2

I hope that keeps you on the edge of your seats until next time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Buff is Back

It's about time SMG (that 's Sarah Michelle Gellar in my universe) went to a Buffy event. What's her deal? The event of which I speak is the PaleyFest, which apparently is something big that happens every year in Los Angeles that I have never heard of. The Paley Center for the Arts held a panel with most of the original cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and my buddy, Joss Whedon (see pic below for how tight we are). Matt and I have been scouring the internet for footage of the panel. We've found quite a bit, the saddest being a red carpet interview with Nicholas Brendan (Xander), who seemed kind of drunk. I'm hoping he was just nervous. If anyone is interested, I can find you the clip. The big news is that these Paley Centers (there's also one in NYC) supposedly have the entire event on video, and if you go there you can watch it in their library. Well, we just happen to be going to NYC for my big Ken Book Award ceremony (I'm still waiting for an official announcement to share with y'all), and with the tiny amount of time we have, I think we may have to try and check this video out. I'll keep you posted.

(Yes, the picture is sideways. I didn't feel like fixing it.)

In the what was I thinking news, I sent Mike Lobel, aka Jay from Degrassi: The Next Generation, a message through MySpace about my upcoming visit to Toronto (did I tell you I'm going there for a couple of days at the end of the week? Just to hang out and soak in the Canadian goodness. And you know I'm going back to Degrassi Street). I told him about my historical love for Degrassi and asked him for advice on the visit. Plus if he could give us a tour of the set. Couldn't hurt to ask, right? We'll see if he writes me back. Or puts a restraining order on me.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Snow and Potter Update

Just checked the news-- my town got the most snow in Illinois today-- 10.5 inches!

In other news, Harry Potter has been proven addictive. So it's not my fault.

Second Day of Spring My Butt

Matt and I went to the accountant today to do our taxes, today being the first day of my Spring Break. Yesterday was beautiful and sunny and 40 degrees. Perfect for the first day of spring. Today, not so much. Our drive to the accountant was snowy, but nothing us Midwesterners can't handle. We drove about a half hour South, and I think that's what tricked us. We went out to lunch, and right at the end we could tell the snow was falling harder. Our drive back North was thick with snow, skidded stops, crazy people trying to turn, and, eventually, we managed to safely pull into our driveway. HOWEVER, our car did not make it into the garage because there was so much snow on the driveway that we got completely stuck. We then spent the next twenty minutes shoveling, salting, moving the car backward and forward, until, yay, the car is now safely in the garage. It was rather hilarious, in my opinion, although Matt did not agree. He's outside now finishing the driveway, which has somewhere between six and eight inches of snow. The picture below captures the worst shoveler's moment: when the plow rumbles by and pushes massive amounts of heavy, chunky snow onto the end of our driveway. Luckily that hadn't happened before we got home, otherwise we would never have made it into the driveway at all. This year has been so snowy, it seems like such a joke that this is happening after we finally got rid of all but a tiny fragment of the snow. Tobin seems to be enjoying it, though, as you can see in this picture of him sitting in his "chair" and watching the flakes out the window. At least I didn't have to drive to work!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring Feva

Man, have I got Spring Fever. All I want to do is be silly and play Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on PS2 (given to me by my student, James, the same student who I am now devising an intricate system so that we may figure out our Hogwarts' houses). I am also planning my two whole days that I have in Toronto next week during vacation. It was somewhat of a last minute idea to go to Toronto, one of my fave cities on Earth. And you can bet that I will return to my home away from home, Degrassi Street. Matt and I are going to visit a couple of Canadian bookstores, since I have noticed that the Canadians have been quite receptive to Get Well Soon. Should be cool. Other than that, we already saw the majority of museums that we wanted to see last time we were there, so I think this time is going to be exploring and shopping and soaking in the Canadian goodness. Maybe trying to stalk a few members of the Degrassi cast (although I don't know how).

I am struggling to finish an interview with the great Kaleb Nation. The first question he asked me was to describe myself in ten words or less. I have answered all of his other questions (I actually finished weeks ago), but I just can't get this one! I've thought of many answers, including my favorite: "Kind of obsessed with Ron Weasley. Love my husband, too." But I don't feel quite right about that... What would you put if someone asked YOU that question? [You're not going to answer me, are you? Because the question's too hard, right?]

Monday, March 17, 2008


I am now in a gambling ring. Or something like that. They are having a bracket thingy for basketball at work (all money goes to charity, so it's not really gambling), and I decided to take part this year. The thing is, I am guessing at every single team. It's like how I bet on horses- I like the names. It's not like I know anything about sports (even though I'm pretty athletic. I was once on a tennis team and soccer team, so I'm not that pathetic. I just don't follow professional sports. But not in an intellectual, obnoxious way. I just have other things I like to do. Like talk about Harry Potter). In basketball's case, I chose teams based on a) the state, b) the team's name or c)I have some sort of connection to the school. For example, Matt went to Winthrop, so I chose that a bunch of times. I really chose all S.C. schools because of Matt. And I chose Wisconsin because I went there. Texas because I think we might visit this summer. Drake because (and this is hilarious) the guy who plays Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation (Aubrey Graham) just happens to be a Canadian rap star who goes by the name of Drake. So that's why I chose Drake. Even funnier is that I chose the school Xavier for two reasons: the first is, of course, Xavier Roberts created Cabbage Patch Kids (go Stephanie Nancy!), and the second is that I looked up the team's name, and I SWEAR it said "Musketeens!" I thought that was insanely funny. Until I realized it said "Musketeers." Ah well. I'll keep you posted on how well (not) I do in the bracket. We are doing an alternate bracket for the students in the library with favorite candies. It took us hours to come up with 64 candies. Not as easy as it sounds. I'll also keep you posted on the winner of that spirited competition. Such is the week before Spring Break.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today we celebrated my mom's 60th birthday. We threw the party at my house, which is very unusual. We have lived in the house almost four years and this is only the second party we've had (we threw a Rosh Hashanah shindig the first year. I made vegetarian paella. It was quite ambitious). For the party, we ordered food from a local Italian bakery, and it could not have been better. The house looked great, the food was sooooo good, and everyone had a nice time. Because we never have guests, we also don't have enough furniture for feeding guests, so my aunt was kind enough to bring over two tables and eight chairs. We set up a small table in the kitchen to put the food on (my aunt had dropped the table off earlier in the week, so she wasn't at my house at the time of this next story), and right as Matt, me, and my sister were setting up the plates with sandwiches and chips (fancy sandwiches and chips, not Subway-esque crap) the table legs fell out and all of the food fell! It was pretty hilarious, as well as frightening, but we saved everything except the table cloth and a pile of chips. Nice save, Amy (my sis)! Now we have seven hundred left-over sandwiches and salads, but that's OK. This is a shortened week of work, and this way we don't have to go to the grocery store. Until the sandwiches get soggy, that is. And then it's Spring Break! Woo hoo!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kid Pee

I love living in the cold. I love that it gets so cold and snowy every single year, yet every single year we make such a big deal about it. And I love when, in the middle of March, it can be 51 degrees outside, and it feels so warm that people drive with their convertible tops down. I love how in the fall it can turn 51 degrees, and everyone will pull out their new sweaters and coats.

I have spring fever, as do all of my students. Next week is a shortened week because of Good Friday, and then the week after is spring break. Yay! Matt and I were considering going to the new water park hotel that they just built near our house (before all of the pools and slides become too infected with kid pee), but they don’t sell tickets to just the water park. You actually have to stay at the hotel. Is that to keep out the riffraff? Sounds like it’s not working because they already had a snippet in the Police Blotter about a fight at the water park. Love that Police Blotter. So no water park for us. That’s OK. It’s only 51 degrees outside, after all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I don't know why I haven't been blogging as much lately. I guess I've been really busy- planning something for my mom's 60th birthday, meetings at work, working on my second novel revisions (although not as much as I should be), but mostly just trying to relax. I am a pretty high strung person, not exactly type A, but usually my mind is wrapped around a million different things at once. That's a quality I like about myself because I get a lot done, but for a while now it's almost taken over. So now I'm trying some relaxation practices. Matt wants me to try meditation, which he does, but I don't think I'm capable of not doing ANYTHING but sitting and focusing on my breathing. Instead I'm using other practices, such as yoga and breathing and relaxation poses. It's not bad, and Matt is trying to make it easier by setting up my little relaxation nook for when I get home from work. But I feel like a little kid, fighting him on it, because I really just want to sit on the couch when I get home. We actually found a nice compromise- I do the relaxation stuff during American Idol. Now it's only on two nights a week, though (thank god), so I'll have to figure out when to do it on the nights it's not on.

In Harry Potter news (btw- on Facebook I am in this Harry Potter group where they have a never ending Harry Potter trivia game, and I play every night[ so I guess that's also why I'm not blogging]. Each time you get a certain number of questions correct, you reach a new level of awesomeness. I am up to "Exalted Mind") I just finished watching HP and the Order of the Phoenix (I watch the movies while I tread on the mill in the morning). The movie is growing on me. And I am listening to Deathly Hallows in the car. I keep thinking about when I have kids, are there any names I can use from Harry Potter? They're all kind of boring and/or dorky/weird. I suggested Luna to my husband, but he thought that was too kooky. He said the same thing when I suggested Buffy a while back.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daylight Snoozing Time

I don't know if it was the time change or the Limited Edition Edy's Thin Mint ice cream I ate last night, but I just could not sleep. I'm thinking it may have been the ice cream, since I was awake almost ALL NIGHT, and then of course I fell asleep around 3:30, only to be awoken (correct verb tense?) two and a half hours later to the darkness. Sigh. It was getting lighter in the morning, but nooooo, they had to make it lighter at night. What's the point? I'm in bed anyway! I want it to be light when I get out of bed so the day seems hopeful, not light at night so I feel lame for being in my pajamas at 5:30 p.m. (which is how I am now, as the sun shines brightly outside.).

Has anyone been watching the new Degrassi episodes? If you're curious, check out full episodes on They have the best new plotline-- Jay pretending to be engaged to Manny! Two of my favorite characters, faking the love. It's great. Not so great is the always annoying Darcy, who decided to falsely accuse Mr. Archie Simpson (aka Snake) of coming on to her in order to hide her shame from being raped (not by said Snake) still hidden from earlier in the season. Luckily that got sort of cleared up in one episode, although she did tarnish the good name of Simpson (who actually tarnished it himself a while back when he made out with the trashy and terribly unprofessional principal, Ms. Hotsolokus). Um, do any of my blog readers watch the show, or am I just whistling Degrassi?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Be Kind

I saw Be Kind, Rewind (and be sure to check out the cool website) today in the theater. I had seen the preview a while ago and knew I HAD to see it. That's rare for me, since going to the movies often makes me either stressed or annoyed. But the idea of two people remaking movies, and one of them being the super sweet Mos Def, struck me as hilarious. I didn't realize (or remember maybe) that the movie was made by Michel Gondry, the guy who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and, therefore, had a somewhat artsy feel. In fact, I think they bunked the whole advertising campaign and should have had it look much more artsy-ish so that artsier people would see it. Not the twelve year-olds who were in the audience. The movie did not disappoint me at all. It was lovely and strange, had great acting, and had one scene where I was one of those crazy people you hear in theaters laughing really loudly. I was actually crying during the Ghostbusters scene. So freakin' funny!!! When they were filming in the library-- and then it was supposed to be a hotel and they said they were in the children's book section of the hotel-- and then when that old guy was supposed to be Sigourney Weaver-- that's comedy! I can't wait until it comes out on video (DVD), so I can watch that part over and over. I hope, though, that it is as funny as I remember, not disappointing like when I bought the DVD for Hot Fuzz and watched it after I remembered laughing like a loon in the theater, only to realize that it's just not that funny the second time around. Anyway, I highly recommend Be Kind, Rewind, an nontraditional, feel-good flick.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

80s Idol

Watching Idol right now. Some chick is singing a Journey song. Not even close. Steve Perry has one of the greatest voices in rock. Who does she think she is?

We had our Gary Gygax celebration at Dungeons and Dragons Club today. We each said something nice about D&D, like what it brought to our life, and then I had the students give three huzzahs to Gary. I don't know why, but there's something about "huzzah" that I find super funny. Really Renaissance Faire/Drama Clubby/role-playing-ish. Love it. And the kids were so sincere! They shouted it out, and it rang throughout the library. Made me proud.

Sad news about Patrick Swayze. I really like him. Loved him, of course, in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, and he was fantastic in that crappy movie, To Wong Foo. A perfect woman (transvestite woman). I also think he's a better dancer than John Travolta. I don't know why I feel the need to compare the two, but it just seems logical. Travolta lost me a lot when he announced the Scientology thing, but I would think Swayze a better dancer either way. He has such control and grace. I really hope he fights this. Ga-gong!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Well. I guess you guys are into the whole pet peeves thing. Unless I already wrote about that recently (which I kind of swear I did but am too lazy to go back and look), in which case one of your pet peeves is probably when I post about pet peeves.

Today at work we are starting the ISATS testing, which are standardized state tests that last all week. For some reason I get a little anxious, I guess because I have to sit with the kids in quiet rooms for three hours each for four days. Brings me back to my whole panic attack classroom scenario. The good thing about ISATS is it gives me the opportunity to work on my books. Last year at this time I started the first few chapters of my new book during ISATS, and here we are a year later and I just got my manuscript back from my editor. It’s the same book I started last year, and now I’m into the big, mega, life-changing edits. The writing process seems to go like this (this is only my second novel, so perhaps it will be different or surprising): I hand write the first draft, then type it, then revise the typed version. I send it to my editor. Then she goes through it and writes all over it and comes up with a million thoughts and suggestions that can be really small (perhaps a different word here?) or huge (Add more details about their friendship throughout the beginning or else no one will get why they were friends in the first place). The huge ones are harder because they don’t have a specific “place” in which to put the new details, so I have to find a good place (or places) and then write the new parts, hoping they mesh well with the rest of the parts (did that make sense?). This first big edit should take me a while, and I have never had to do one during a school year. I suppose if I really had a hard time, my publisher would just wait until I could finish. But I would love it [btw- title is still not yet determined. Would like to continue fighting for “Roll for Initiative,” but we’ll see] to come out on schedule in Fall of 2009 because Get Well Soon paperback (I hope- not official yet) would come out Spring of 2009 and Get Well Soon audiobook would come out Fall 2008, so it would be like having things out every season! How cool! I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

I would like to mention the passing of Gary Gygax, one of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. D&D has really been such a blessing to me and my students. My job wouldn’t be the same without it. Tomorrow during Dungeons and Dragons Club I have decided the students each get to make a toast to Gary. With juice boxes.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Sometimes my brain is blogless, or when it’s blog-full, I am nowhere near a computer. I was thinking about writing about my mini high school reunion I had on Saturday night with several people I only sort of knew from high school, but I don’t feel like that now. Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but let’s talk about pet peeves. I thought of this because we had a “How well do you know your advisor” contest at work on Friday, and one of the things I had to answer was my pet peeve. My actual, numero uno pet peeve is incompetence, but that was too difficult for my students to remember. So they just used “driving and bad drivers.” My assistant, Katie, and I played a guessing game today where I had to guess her pet peeve, with the clue that it was something that happened to her at Wal-Mart this weekend. I came out with a flood of guesses: the person ahead or behind her not using the divider stick; someone writing a check and not getting out the checkbook and filling it out ahead of time; “This line is closed;” when you get all of your stuff out onto the belt and then the person in front of you does something that makes the cashier turn on his flashing help light, etc. But Katie’s real pet peeve was when they only bag one item per bag and waste bags. I didn’t guess that. Another one of her pet peeves is bobbleheads in the back of cars. Who knew?

So what are your pet peeves?