Tag Archives: family

Friday Fun: The Smartest Card

Time for a shameless plug:

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We just dropped our son off at college this week, and you know what I’m the most envious about?  That he’s going to school in Boston, which gives him access to the Boston Public Library!  He’s our third child in college, and they’re all good readers, but even so I’ve encouraged all of them to visit their town’s public library and apply for a free card. Public library collections are very different from college library collections, since the colleges need to cater to a specific audience – namely the professors and students, focusing their collection on materials that can supplement coursework.  Years ago I worked at a small public library in Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, and one day two young ladies walked in, obviously new students at the school. They looked around the small magazine reading area, taking the entire library in in a few glances. Back then the library (now in it’s own gorgeous building) rented space in a storefront of a strip mall and the staff did their best with the tiny, odd space. We had a magazine reading area, children’s area, public computers and a small staff area in the back of the storefront. Usually we’d get visitors who would look around and then compare it to the big, beautiful library in their home town or places they went on vacation. But these two girls looked around, sighed, and one said to the other, “Oh, yeah. That’s more like home.”  Our tiny library was familiar to them, a haven of normalcy in their big, unfamiliar college territory.

What’s in your wallet?

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A to Z Blogging Challenge, S: SQUEEE! Sedaris!

David-SedarisA few weeks ago, I spent a delightful evening seeing humorist David Sedaris at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. A bonus of the night was that our two older daughters came up from their colleges for the show; tickets had been a Christmas present for the five of us who know his work (our youngest had her own magical night sleeping over at her friend’s house). David entered the stage wearing culottes, and then proceeded to read a story printed in the New Yorker about shopping in Tokyo.  I’ve read his books but wasn’t aware that he was writing for The New Yorker, so now I feel like I have a weekly  treat that I can look forward to between the publication of his books.  SQUEEEE!

Many years ago, a librarian I used to work with recommended that I check out one of his audio books to listen to on my long drive down to Indianapolis for my library classes, and oh my.  I found myself laughing so hard that I had to pull over, stop the CD, and pull it out of the player.  If you’ve listened to Sedaris read his own work, you’ll know he’s that funny.

Seeing a favorite author is such an emotional experience.  We fans love our favorite authors because their writing lifts from the page and speaks to us.  They can articulate things we thing and feel that we aren’t even aware of how to begin to express.  Sedaris read from his work and then raised the house lights and answered Q&As from the audience for two hours.  We waited in the book signing line for another hour, and honestly, I smiled and just basked in the enjoyment of the experience the whole time.  He was every bit as charming and delightful and funny and irreverent as he appears in his work. I held it together until we crossed the threshold on the way out to the vestibule, at which point I turned to my husband, threw my arms around him and sobbed. So many times I’d missed the opportunity to see his show on a book tour when my path didn’t quite align with his – my husband estimated it was about 11 years I’d been waiting – it might have been more , but 11 from the first time I saw that he was on tour. We’d just arrived in Germany, and David was going to be in Munich, but since I hadn’t learned the language or public transportation system, I had no way to travel the few miles to the venue.

That show felt like a culmination of so many good things – family, love, laughter, stories.  So wonderful to have a bit of Christmas in the spring.

During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on writing topics while systematically moving through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers.  Join us!

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Friday Fun: Priorities

jk rowling

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March 18, 2016 · 8:07 am

Saturday Scramble: Flying Update

WP_003194 (1)“Later is a lie that never happens unless you set your mind to clearing out your mind clutter! That is all procrastination really is!”

In January, 2016 I decided to take control of my disorganized home and try FLYing (Finally Loving Yourself). Here’s a thoughtful email update from the FlyLady herself, Marla Cilley, posted on her website that I received this week. As you can see from this photo of my living room (or maybe you can’t), decluttering is process.  Most of the items in the picture that need to be tidied are my daughter’s – and she tends to spread out and play in this room or the kitchen while I’m working at my desk near the window.  A busy, long afternoon yesterday and the day before caused her to drop her karate things and swimming things in exhaustion, and since I got dinner on late, I didn’t ask her to pick up before she went to bed.  I admit that sometimes the decluttering process is mentally overwhelming, but I’m trying to do my 15 minutes a day in my weekly zone around all the other obligations I have in my life.

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Saturday Scramble: FLYing Starts with the Sinks

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On January 6th I finally “shined” my sink.  According to  Flylady, shining your sink is the first baby step in clearing clutter in our homes and learning to FLY (Finally Love Yourself).  True, not everyone struggles with anxiety in cluttered environments, but as I happen to be a clutter stressed person who married a more…clutter relaxed person, I decided to give Flylady a try.   Flylady offers a system for organizing and managing a home that is based on the concept of daily routines and a focus on small, time- and space-limited tasks.  Having a large family and working full time makes keeping on top of cleaning a challenge but Flylady suggests tackling hot spots in 15-minute segments. Our dinner dishes are usually left to the morning but since the plumber was coming the next day to fix a drippy faucet I loaded the dishwasher and took some Comet to it.  And then when I got home from work in the evening, I was shocked to discover that this happened:

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My husband had emptied the cabinet underneath, and scrubbed it down, then reorganized items we wanted at hand and put the excess of cleaners down in the laundry room.

And then this happened:

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That weekend we started a larger project tackling clutter in the kitchen.  We cleared off and removed a small bookcase that had been under the window and a desk that had become a dump pile of our youngest daughter’s toys, art supplies and randomness.  It created more space so everyone could sit comfortably around the dinner table when we’ve got a full house.

There was a lot of clutter in that area, and we kept setting the timer in 15 minute intervals, so we’re still in the middle of this: WP_003117

Sorting her art supplies into bins that can be stored in a cubby in the living room or for longer term storage in the basement…and because she asked that we take a break to take care of this:

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…which became an improptu lesson in Library Collection Management!  The top shelf is her “special collection” (most favored, inscribed books of any genre or format) and the other two are generally grouped by genre.  As with any personal library collection, hers tends to consist of favorites so the discarded or “weeded” pile contained in two shopping bags was modest.

Just 8 days after that first shining sink, my husband spontaneously cleared the bottom of our closet and removed his pile of shoes to a under the bed storage box:

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And finally…coming full circle…. yesterday my oldest daughter texted me this:

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Saturday Scramble: Altered Book Trees

I’ve been dying to try making one of these Altered Book Trees since a colleague made them two years ago to decorate the library and I finally cleared my schedule, gathered my supplies and muddled through some directions I found online.  Most of these were in video form, and sometimes I honestly don’t have the patience to sit through a video and I’d much rather get to the making, so I decided to make my own tutorial here…With simple pictures and written steps so you can get to your making too!  It’s so easy my 8 year old made one for her grandma with very little supervision from me so I could work on my tree, too.

First – Get paperback books that you do not mind ripping apart.*(if you are very offended by this, stop immediately, and skip down to the bottom for my
Note On The Guilt of Tearing Apart a Perfectly Good Book!
)

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Second – Tear off cover.  Discard or save if you’ve got a craft to use it, but I don’t so into the recycle bin it went.

Third – Count out 200 pages and cut these apart from the rest of the book.

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We tried this with 150 pages also but the 200 page tree curled nicely into itself to create a “fuller” tree.  Use a craft knife, pocket knife or do what we did and go with what’s lying around, like a dull knife to a wine bottle opener.

Fourth – Fold pages – do this in 3 steps. It’s just like folding a paper airplane, folks.  The bottom corner can be folded toward the front of the book or toward the back.  Put on a movie and off you go!

Continue folding until all 200 pages are done. The book will naturally curl into a cone.

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Fifth – Affix tree to a pedestal –

I found short candlesticks ($1 each at the Goodwill) were perfect and elevated the entire craft literally and figuratively!  I used epoxy to affix a cardboard circle (hey, there’s a use for the paperback cover!) to the bottom of the tree to stabilize the folds and create a balanced, wide surface to attach the tree to the candlestick.

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Sixth – Decorate! We experimented with ribbons and feathers and glitter…You may need to let go of your control so you can enjoy lots of controlled mess.  It’s amazing what you find you’ve collected in your craft stores when you dig.**

(Glitter: I watered down some basic Elmer’s school glue because that’s what I had on hand, had my daughter apply it with a sponge brush -also retrieved from my craft stash-  and then we stepped out on the back deck and liberally and generously shook glitter on it over the railing into the snow.)

WP_003095WP_003105Finish off with a topper. Another peek at my junk drawer produced an iridescent tie tack that perfectly matched the iridescent glitter I had used; after taking down the tree this year, Viv found this darling wooden snowflake in the needles which I grabbed from the dustpan. Perfect!

WP_003103Now you’ve got a lovely, inexpensive, thoughtful gift for a friend or for yourself! (I made two – one for a friend and one for myself)

 

 

 

 

*A Note On The Guilt of Tearing Apart a Perfectly Good Book: Plain and simple, I don’t feel it.  I chose books that I wouldn’t read, nor would I experience an unholy joy in defacing. It was all detached business.  I looked for a certain size, without page tears, mold or dampness.  After years of working in a library, the book novelty thing wears off – it has to – or you’d never be successful managing a collection.  Weeding happens. Books get damaged. Books go unpurchased and unread. If you don’t believe me, or agree, then that is your choice, but I caution you two things: Beware a future post upscaling a book into a wreath, and two, Next time we have a book sale, I should take pictures of the boxes of unsold books that fill a truck and are hauled off to book heaven, and then your guilt would immediately evaporate.  Repurpose an unwanted book for a new life of beauty and adoration.  Really.  There’s plenty of books that can be upscaled.

**I took my time decorating because I really wanted these trees to be special. I tested several ribbons by pinning a straight pin through the top and paper clipping the bottom of the ribbon in various ways before finally settling on something that clicked.  Then I used superglue because all of my bottles of Aleene’s craft glue had dried out…and I wanted to get to the making!

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Writing Prompt Wednesday: Write A Busy/Grateful List

grateful list

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December 23, 2015 · 7:57 pm