Friday, August 30, 2013

Miss Moneypennypincher | REALLY Cheap TV, Contract Free

I hate cable.  I hate how much they charge.  I hate how arbitrary the prices seem.  It really burns me when you sign up for a promo price and then the promo period ends and the price goes up, but I'm pretty sure the cable company made money either way.  I know I am a cheapskate, but I just really hate cable.  And I really hate cable contracts, because there is nothing worse than being FORCED to pay someone with the threat of a cancellation fee.

So, I cancelled cable.  For a couple days my family was in shock, but here's the thing:  I use the library.  We have free DVDs. My kid can watch all the Thomas the Tank Engine I want her to, and my husband and I can rent Skyfall for our weekend movie, free.  Plus we all read (shocker!!!).  So, we made it awhile with no cable.  Then How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family started up in the fall, and football season began, and I knew I had to figure out how to get TV cheap, without contracts.

This is what I did:
Courtesy of
I kept the internet service in my home. (It was $19.99 per month)

I bought a digital antenna (it was about $36). +
I bought a Roku, a device to stream internet onto my TV.  ($94.99, even cheaper if you have a warehouse membership) +
I signed up for Netflix app on the Roku (no contract) $7.99/month +
I signed up for Hulu app on the Roku (no contract) $9.99/ month +
I got a Playon subscription for $39 per year (it was on sale, no contract required. This is a great way to watch HIMYM, since CBS is not available on Hulu.) = 

If we did this for only a year, calculating the price of the Roku device, and the Playon, we would pay $31.22 per month for TV.  No contracts required.

For any show that we absolutely MUST have (like Mad Men), we can buy them per episode ($1.99) on the Amazon App on the Roku.  We don't have to have a cable contract for the whole year just to watch one show.  Plus when our shows are not on, we can cancel Hulu, cutting an additional $7.99 out of our budget.  We can still catch TV, through the digital antenna.  Netflix is also optional, since the library carries most movies and television shows, either at the library or through Link+.
To put this in perspective, it is predicted that in 2015, the average cable bill will be $123 per month.  Not internet, just TV.  With that price, someone can save approximately $92 per month by streaming TV and using the library for free DVDs.  You can get $1104 back in your pocket every year just by changing the way you watch your TV.

 Knock Knock
---Who's there?
---Will, Who?
Will you take me with you on your family vacation that you got to go on because you just saved $1104???  You will?  YAY!!!!  I can't wait!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian| Bookshelf Voyeur

I'm going to come clean about something.

I'm not particularly proud of this... but I'm going to say it anyway.

I look at other people's bookshelves.

Don't worry readers, I don't look at YOUR bookshelf... just the people I know. I don't judge people on their bookshelves, I just like to see what they read.

A bookshelf says a lot about a person. It shows their interests. It may tells me where they've traveled or want to travel. It says a lot about their influences. It also speaks to their childhood and what stories bring them back to center. It tells me their secrets and dreams. It shows me their past and reveals their future. Bookshelves reveal so many so many things.

I recently found a book called "Unpacking My Library: writers and their books". I requested it from Link + and it is exactly what I wanted it to be! The book shows the bookshelves of different writers and asks them about their selections. It's one of those books that caught my eye because of its size (small) and its title (catchy). 

As part of the One Book, One San Joaquin program, many libraries in the Stockton-San Joaquin system will be hosting programs that will highlight the books being read for the program. One of those programs will let you take a look at the books that influence people around our county. This program, "My Ideal Bookshelf", is a collaboration between local participants of varying ages and professions and local artists. The participants submitted their 10 favorite/influential books and the local artists (also of varying ages) painted their bookshelves. Come check out this great art exhibit on Monday, September 9 in Stockton at the Cesar Chavez Library from 6 p.m-8 p.m.

What do books have to do with travel? 


Books are the ultimate escape. They take you to places you may not ever visit or have always dreamed of visiting. Books can help you to travel backwards and forwards in time. It can expand your limits beyond your town, your state... and even the planet! 

Literary adventure is out there! Visit your local library today! 


The Library Bloggess 

Book Bucket List | Linda Weaver Clarke

Author Linda Weaver Clarke will be visiting a few of our branches this September during One Book, One San Joaquin!  Clarke, who teaches writing workshops around the nation, will be conducting Family Legacy Writing Workshops where you can turn your family history into a stories that you can pass down to generations of your family.  She will help you get started writing and develop your writing skills by discussing plot, structure, characters, and the importance of emotion and conflict.  Join us at one of our writing workshops below!

  • Wednesday, September 18 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. 
          Manteca Branch Library
          320 W. Center Street
          Manteca, CA
  •  Wednesday, September 18 from  4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
          Maya Angelou Branch Library 
          2324 Pock Lane
          Stockton, CA 
  • Friday, September 20 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. 
          Cesar Chavez Library
          605 N. El Dorado Street
          Stockton, CA

Our libraries also have Clarke's series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho which follow the stories of young women living in Paris, Idaho.  These books are known for their historical accuracy and the depth the characters that Clarke brings to life.  Clarke will transport you to the beautiful landscapes of rural Idaho and into the not quite so simple lives of Paris' residents.  So if you want to become familiar with Clarke's work before you meet her at one of the workshops, check out her titles below!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Learning | Weird Writing Tips from Dan Gutman


If you are around books for school age children much, you have probably seen Dan Gutman's popular series, My Weird School. If you have seen them, you have probably laughed at some of the silly titles in the series, like Miss Mary is Scary! or Mr. Granite is From Another Planet!

I am pleased to say that Mr. Gutman has a new nonfiction book out, called My Weird Writing Tips. What can I say about a book whose introduction has the headline, "Don't be a dumbhead?" That's a pretty good tip right there. The characters from the My Weird School series are used to teach writing to kids, in cartoons to show which word to use when. There are even quotes famous people like Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, and P.D. James--all of whom know a thing or two about writing.

I like his discussions of where to get ideas for topics, the importance of taking the time to write something all over again the right way, and to keep studying the best writers. 

The cover of the book is says it's for ages 8 to 12, but I always look at such labels as guidelines.  I think I picked up a tip or two for my own grownup self here. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

4 Kids | Flushing the Toilet

Greetings readers! Strange title for this blog, right? I'll explain.

You see, I'm on a little vacation right now, but wanted to share something I think you can all get excited about.
I spent some time recently on a beautiful beach and was just overwhelmed at how incredible it is to spend time in a purely natural setting. It really takes your breath away. And it got me thinking.
I'm finally starting to believe that we can all do something to help our planet. And since I don't like being told what I can't do, I'm going to start thinking of things I can do that will help the planet. I'm getting some help from a book I picked up: The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. It's in the adult collection, but I'm telling you it really is simple enough that all ages can read and learn from it.
So what am I going to do?
Shorter showers. Oh this won't be easy, but I'm going to do it. I know people who spend 10 to 15 minutes in the shower. No judgment. I haven't timed myself, but I'm sure I'm close to 10 minute showers myself. Not anymore. I've learned that every 2 minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than 10 gallons of water. If we all could save just one gallon of water in our daily shower, it would make a huge impact. Huge, I tell you. So I guess I'll be singing a few less songs during my morning shower. In and out. That's my new motto. I'm trying to do my part.
Another thing I am going to do is stop standing in front of an open refrigerator while I decide what I want to eat. Keeping that refrigerator door open is not a great idea. The refrigerator is the single-biggest energy consuming kitchen appliance. We've all heard how important it is to conserve energy. And if I can help by thinking about what I want before I open the refrigerator...well, it seems like a very simple -- and easy -- thing.
The next thing might take some getting used to. I grew up sharing a bathroom with my 3 siblings, and I'm not sure how we would have been able to implement this. Here's the thing: Try to flush the toilet just one less time per day, and you'll save about 4.5 gallons of water -- as much water as the average person in Africa uses for  whole day of drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Thank you The Green Book for teaching me this.
I'm trying not to think of the things that I've done which are wasteful, and therefore not helping our beautiful planet. I'm going to think positively and make some changes that will ultimately help our planet.
We can -- each and every one of us -- take simple steps that will have a positive effect on our planet. I'm really going to do this. Are you with me?
In the meantime, happy reading!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just Life | Help! My Kid Is Going Back To School

It is the beginning of another school year. My kid is going to third grade.

Experts say that 3rd grade is an important milestone in a child's education, so I am in panic mode. Is my child ready?

I want to know what my kid would be learning in 3rd grade. So I went to California Department of Education to get some answers. In their search box, I typed "third grade curriculum" and I found a gem.

As I browsed through the 3rd grade curriculum, I realized that I didn't know some of the terms and concepts that my kid would be learning this year.

So I guess I am going to back to school. My estimated graduation date would be 2023 unless I flunk a couple of grades which is highly likely. 

Please don't panic like me. You can find free homework help and math tutoring for your kid in the following local libraries.

Chavez Library (605 North El Dorado Street, Stockton)
  • Free Homework help for 1st-6th grade students on Wednesdays 3:30- 5:30(Starting on September 4th, 2013)
Troke Library (502 West Benjamin Holt Drive, Stockton)
  • Free Homework help for K-5th grade students. Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 4:00pm- 6:00pm (Already in progress)
  • Free Math Tutoring for 6th-12grade students on Tuesdays & Wednesdays 4:00-6:00pm. Thursdays 5:00pm-7:00pm.( Already in progress)

Here are some math practice books from your local library:

Extra math practice. K, math workbook  

Extra math practice. Grade 1, math workbook  

Extra math practice. Grade 2, math workbook  

Extra math practice. Grade 3, math workbook 

Extra math practice. Grade 4, math workbook  

Extra math practice. Grade 5, math workbook  

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha