Friday, October 18, 2013

Miss Moneypennypincher | The Cost of Garage Sales and Legos

I have collected a lot of garbage treasures over the years.  The worst part, is that even when I try and get rid of it, I think, "I could make money off some of this!  I need to have a garage sale and sell it!"  Then it goes in the garage, in a box, where I forget about it, until the next time I clean out my house and find more junk treasures that I collected.  I am sure this stuff could be useful to someone, but the thought of the time and planning that goes into a garage sale is overwhelming to me.  And really, is it always worth it?  
I love sitting in front of my house selling boxes and tires! So fun!
Let's say I have a two-day garage sale,  I make $500 in profit.  I spent the day before planning and pricing all my items, and putting up signs or promoting, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  I also paid my kid $50 to help me.  I open my garage sale at 8 a.m. (ignoring all the crazy garage sale fanatics who showed up at 6 a.m. and knocked on my door) and close at 2 p.m.  So, how much did I really make?  $25 an hour (18 hours of work).  That's pretty good, but I also have to factor in with the cost all the fun things I could have been doing - going to the park, spending quality time with my husband and family, reading a great book, learning a new skill, or just recharging for the busy week ahead.  Those are all important things too!  
I'm not saying garage sales aren't great.  I'm not saying you shouldn't have one. What I am saying, is that sometimes, it's worth it to just donate the items to charity. If you itemize your taxes, you might get quite a bit of that money back - and you hardly had to do anything!  Lots of places could use your stuff.  Teachers need good books, and crayons, and paper.  The Homeless Shelter is always looking for a range of things to use in the shelter or sell in the thrift store.  
And the library is looking for Legos.  WHAT?  Legos?  I mean books right? Well, yes we still need books, but we also really need Legos!  .
If you happen to have a box of Legos in your garage, and you planned on selling them, consider donating them to the library for the Ripon Branch's Lego Club (you don't have to come to Ripon to drop them off, we can send them from your favorite branch).  Why a Lego Club you might ask? This club - for tots through teens - is a great way to encourage fine motor skills, inspire the next great engineer or architect, promote books AND learn through the power of play!  So come on in, and donate your clutter Legos!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | The Ferry Building - My forever friend

The Ferry Building is lively at lunchtime! 
Golden Gate Park. 
The beach. 
Cable Cars.

Everyone has a different relationship with San Francisco. My relationship started with food. My parents had friends in the City and they made delicious Indonesian food. While tagging along with her mom in the City, this young Bloggess enjoyed Japanese sponge cakes, Chinese almond cookies, Pad Thai, and distinctly Asian smells while shopping for groceries on Clement Street (luckily, not all in the same trip!).

The ceiling is stunning in the
Ferry Building
As I got older, I discovered scrumptious cakes at Schuberts, artful (and tasty) Dim Sum in Chinatown, Golden Boy Pizza in North Beach and new flavors of ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe. But in all of my City expeditions, nothing says ambiance and food like the Ferry Building.

Built in 1898, the Ferry Building was a place where people coming to and from the East Bay would enter or exit their ferries. Today, there are still ferries that come in and out throughout the day from places like Sausalito, Alameda, Oakland, Vallejo, and South San Francisco. The schedules are available here.

Not only is the building visually stunning from the outside, the inside is something special to behold. On the Ferry Building website, the historical pictures of the inside of the building aren't much different than how it looks today. The architects used the bones of the building to construct something modern and unique while maintaining the grandeur of the original structure. 

Today, when people come off the ferry, they are greeted by shops and stalls full of wonderful things. When I visit, I always get something special from these three stalls (click on the stall name for more information):

  • The Cowgirl Creamery: Cheese upon cheese upon cheese from everywhere you can imagine. Cheesemongers will help you find your favorite! (I love the Mt. Tam)
  • Blue Bottle Coffee: One of the best in the City! Roasted locally, this coffee is bold, smooth and heartwarming. It's like a hug. A hot cup of coffee on a foggy San Francisco day is fantastic!
  • Acme Bread Company: The smell alone lures me in like a trap. It's heavenly. The bread is fresh and the taste is divine.
The bookstore looks out onto the
Ferry Building indoor sitting area

Tucked away behind Peet's Coffee shop, there lives a lovely little bookstore called Book Passage. The store is not very big but the charm lies in the high shelves with the ladders leading up to the ceiling. It's not a "sit down and watch people "bookstore, but a "comfortable browsing nook". They have a fun, eclectic mix of books and it's always fun to find a treat there! 

What would a gorgeous waterfront marketplace be without a view? Depending on the time of year that you visit, your view could be the Bay fog rolling in, ships lolling in the water, or the lights of the Bay Bridge twinkling to your right. Life isn't too shabby sitting with a cup of coffee by the water! 

My lunchtime view
When you feel you'd like to stretch your legs around and take a walk, go West down the wharf and enjoy the sights!  On my walk I found a number of lovely, quiet sitting spots and BYOC (bring your own chess/checker) tables. There are always a lot of joggers and tourists, but I've never felt overwhelmed by people. It's a casual kind of busy that I enjoy being a part of. 

There is never a bad time to visit. The City has a personality and shine all its own. If you want to take transit, just stop at the Embarcadero BART station and look towards the water. The Ferry Building's clock tower will show you the way.

A small piece of advice: take your time and enjoy your experience. 
Have a relaxing and delicious adventure!  

One of my favorite stalls

Mountains of cheese dominate my dreams.

Blue Bottle coffee calls to me
Miette makes my heart happy with
perfectly tasty sweets! 

This classic trolley car
looks like so much fun to ride! 
This is a chocolate factory.
It smells amazing AND gives free tours! 

The bread is called a Pain Epi. You can break the segments
off to enjoy rolls of goodness. I also bought my favorite
Gruyere cheese! 

The waterfront without the Ferry Tower would be like a birthday cake without a candle.
from Ferry Building website

Book Bucket List | Doctor Sleep

Since it's almost Halloween, I've been keeping an eye out for creepy books.  We recently got a shipment of new books that had a few copies of something that a lot of our patrons had been waiting for for a long time. Stephen King's newest novel, Doctor Sleep was released this September and is a sequel to his famous work The Shining.

In 2009, King mentioned to his fans that he was considering writing a sequel to The Shining, and later left it up to them if they wanted him to write it.  In December 2009, King launched a poll on his website to determine what he would write next, The Shining's sequel or the next book in the Dark Tower series.  In a very close race, The Shining sequel won with 5,861votes to the Dark Tower's 5,812 votes.  (I bet the Dark Tower fans weren't so pleased.)  King released some information about the book, like reading the prologue and some excerpts, but the majority of the plot points remained hidden.

The story follows the character of Dan Torrance, who was the child in the first book.  Now in his forties, he is working at a nursing home and helps people with the use of his psychic powers.  However, a mysterious group begins to threaten those with "the shining" and Dan has to face them head on.

So Happy October!  If you're a Stephen King fan, or just wanting to try something new, put yourself on the hold list for this chilling new book!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Learning | Pretending: Zombies in the Library

It was the middle of the summer. The librarian was walking through the children's section of the Troke Branch. She noticed a very young lady with wet paper towels plastered to her arm. Thinking the child had an injury, she asked if she was alright.  The girl looked puzzled at the question, as if to say, why wouldn't I be alright? She said she was fine.

The librarian went away, to help another customer.  When she returned, the paper-towel girl was walking stiffly, wearing only one shoe, following another little girl.  Then she stopped and told her companion,"Okay, you be the zombie now." 

The librarian was shaking her head when she told this to me.  "When I was that age, I played house with my friends." Neither one of us could recall playing  zombies as children. But I think pretend play changes with the times.  I grew up in the Beaver Cleaver and Brady Bunch era. I remember it was frustrating playing house with friends, because nobody wanted to be the daddy. The girl playing daddy had boring lines like,"Hi, honey, I'm home!" or "Where's my newspaper?" Considering how popular zombies are in current pop culture, it's not surprising that these girls were choosing to be undead with instead of Stepford Wives. Come to think of it, I usually enjoyed playing cowboys or cops and robbers with my big brothers, better than playing house.

There's an article on about the importance of pretend play.  It explains how pretending allows children to build learning skills--for instance, using wet paper towels to represent zombie bandages is an example of using an object as a symbol: the paper towels stand for something else, and both kids playing treated it as though it was the real thing. Guess what? Using symbols is a step toward understanding that the letters of the alphabet stand for the sounds that make up the words we say--thus, pretend play prepares a child for reading! 

Jan Thomas' picture book, Can You Make a Scary Face? is designed to engage the reader in pretend play.  For example, at one point, the reader is encouraged to do the chicken dance to get a bug out of his shirt. As with Thomas' Dust Bunny books, silliness abounds. 

This time of year, people of all ages are preoccupied with pretending; I see people checking out books and magazines that tell them how to make costumes, or how to decorate a house to look scary.  

Reading a book is one of my favorite methods of pretending. I love losing myself in a different place and time. Too often, I don't want to put a good book down and come back to the real world around me.

When I was preparing to write this blog post, my search for books about zombies led me to a fun discovery. There's a children's graphic novel series by Erik Craddock, called Stone Rabbit.  Book number 6 in the series is called Night of the Living Dust Bunnies. The main character has neglected his household chores for months. People are dressed up in scary costumes to go trick-or-treating...but some of those monsters are living dust bunnies!  I would recommend this as a entertaining read for grades 4-8.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

She's Crafty | He's Crafty

We're all crafty!

So, funny story:

At work one day I was straightening the NEW book shelf when I came across, Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff by Scott Bedford. I thought, "Duct tape on the spine, it's gotta be cool. Annnd, it'll make a nice blog!" But I left it for another time. Later that very day my mother excitedly presented me with Made by Dad and said, "We gotta blog about this one!"

It was meant to be.

We know plenty of crafty dudes and I'm sure some of you out there know a few too. They're everywhere!

Check out, Men Who Knit. A website devoted to promoting and supporting men who knit. And Mark Montano's Make Your Mark! videos on YouTube are my absolute favorites to watch. We also carry some of his books at our library. He has one of the most fun and fertile imaginations out there.

Of course I know a few male crafters personally too. My dad taught me everything I know and love about knots, which has helped me in many crafting areas. Dad also taught me the craft of splicing wires and got me hooked on the art of collage.

When I first spied Made by Dad I thought of a friend of mine. Dustin's one of the craftiest people I know. He's a blacksmith, does some great embroidery and he sews out of necessity and fun - in fact he's the one who taught me how to turn a pair of normal pants into bell bottoms! And he loves to get crafty with his daughters. He is definitely the perfect target audience for this book.

But so am I. And anyone else who loves to build fun, sometimes gross, but always kooky stuff.

Like this...pair?...of Rock, Paper, Scissors dice I made to quickly end disputes of where to eat out or who gets the last cookie. Users just choose a color and the dice do all the work.

Scissors cut paper. That cookie is MINE!

The projects in the book are leveled from Easy to Tricky. Zen Napkins is probably the easiest. Create simple circles and lines around coffee-shop treat crumbs much like a Zen garden and you're done.

Kaye is getting fancy with her garden in the background.

The Tricky projects are definitely harder but between the detailed blueprints with awesome illustrations and the step-by-step instructions even the Tricky projects seem extremely do-able.

With your brain box and these blueprints, nothing
will stand in your way.

Overall, I love this book. It is crammed full of practical jokes, games, and handmade gifts. I found the instructions easy to follow and the blueprints to be the most helpful guides in a crafting book I've ever come across. So, Dads (or uncles, grandpas, cousins, big brothers, mothers, aunts...), grab your rulers and glue and your nearest kid (or fly solo) and get crafting.

Before I go, I wanted to mention that we will be taking a little trip to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire later this month. On October 20th, Park Day School in Oakland will be hosting a celebration of creativity and learning with hands-on and hand-made fun. I'm sure it will be a blast and can't wait to share our first Mini Maker adventure with you.

Until then, stay crafty!

4 Kids | Creepy Reading

It's October, and you know what that means: time for some creepy reading. Get into the Halloween spirit and read some scary books...if you dare!
Every October I like to check out tons of books. Ok, well maybe 25, since that's the limit at the library....seriously! Can you believe it? You can check out 25 books for free with a library card!!! Wow!
Anyway. Back to the creepy books. Here's what I'm reading now. Join me...if you're brave enough.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Yes, I blogged about this book a while ago when I checked it out. I started it, and got just a tad bit freaked out (truth be told). But darn it's good. And I'm going to find the strength and bravery to finish it. Don't judge me for being scared. C'mon. Bod (short for Nobody) is being raised in a graveyard by ghosts! So you're thinking: get out of the graveyard! Right? Wrong! If Bod leaves the protection of the graveyard, he will most likely come under attack by Jack, the man who killed his entire family. Ok. I'm going to finish this one -- during the day, with lots of lights on. Join me, will you?
So if you're in the mood for a creepy read, here are a couple of oldies but goodies.
Skellig by David Almond. So Michael is pretty excited about moving into a new house. But then things change. His baby sister gets sick, and his parents are always away tending to her. So he ventures into the garage where he finds something -- a man? a beast? who knows? Michael's life quickly changes. This is a mystery, and it quite scared me. But it's also the story of friendship. I highly recommend it.
Now for the very brave among you, gentle readers, might I suggest a collection of scary stories: Favorite Scary Stories of American Children. While the Library has lots of scary story collections, this one is my absolute favorite because it has my absolute favorite scary story: "The Red Velvet Ribbon." Yikes. It scares me just to think about it.

So there you have it. Some creepy reading just in time for Halloween.

Read if you dare....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Just Life| True Ghost Stories

The other day, I asked my co-workers if they have ever seen a ghost, thinking that they would email me back telling me to get my head examined.

But to my surprise, they emailed me with their true ghost stories.

After reading their true ghost stories, I was totally freaked out.

So, ghosts apparently do exist.

The next night, I was driving home from Sacramento after midnight and during that entire drive, I was imagining that there was a ghost in my passenger seat.

So, without further ado, here are my co-workers' real ghost stories.

Kathy's ghost story:

It was after midnight. I was 6 years old. I was asleep. I heard a noise outside my bedroom window. The curtains in my room were old and tattered. I looked out the window to see where the noise was coming from. OUT POPPED A GHOST. I froze. It said "Hi" with a slight smile. I thought I was looking at Casper the friendly ghost. I said hi and went back to sleep. The next day my mother replaced my curtains with a sheet.

Marnie's ghost story:

I went to The American International School of Zurich in an old nunnery in Kilchberg, Switzerland. The school was rumored to have a ghost, but I was skeptical until the day I saw him.

I was a senior. We were just coming back from an annual three day skiing trip way up in the Alps. I piled out of the bus first and in through the giant old wooden front door of the vestibule.

There in front of me was a kindly old man, nicely dressed in a suit, and looking utterly shocked at the site of me. The only problem was that he had a semi-opaque quality about him. I just stood there ten feet away and studied him in an equally shocked stupor.

He started for the doorway to the Director's Office. I curiously followed. Just as he rounded the corner toward the office, he seemed to have gone through a door, but there stood only a wall after he vanished.

Maybe I was deliriously tired. Maybe not. But, I too, saw the ghost of the AISZ nunnery.

Fatima's ghost story:

My brother's ex mother-in-law, whenever she visited them, she didn't want to leave her bedroom in the morning. But she was the type of person, who liked to wake up early and make breakfast for everyone. But at my brother's house, she would wait until others were awake and out of their rooms before leaving hers.

We asked her one day, why she changed her schedule at my brother's house?

She said that in the early morning, whenever she came out of her room and entered the living room, the lazy-boy recliner would be rocking, and then would turn towards her.

My grandma's favorite grandchild was my brother. When she was alive, she used to visit my brother's house and sit and rock in that recliner.

Fatima's 2nd ghost story:
I was walking home from the 3rd grade one day. I remember it was hot, and it was a 3 block walk. By the time I entered the house, I had a horrible headache.

My older brother was watching TV, my mom had company, and they were in the kitchen, so I walked to my bedroom and lay down on the bed. I left my door open and my brother was sitting on the couch and he could see the hallway and my bedroom door. My head was hurting so bad, I started to cry.  

After a few minutes, I saw a shadow in the doorway. The shadow was completely black, and started walking toward me. I realized that the shape of the shadow was of my uncle who passed away 5 years ago. He still walked with a limp.

But I couldn't see him, only the shape of him and he was all black. I stopped crying. I watched the shadow come close to the bed, bend over, the arm and hand reached toward me and touched my head. And then it disappeared. I blinked. My headache was gone.

I ran outside to the living room and yelled at my brother... "Why didn't you come to me? Didn't you see someone come into my room?"

He said, "I thought Dad was with you?"

This really happened to me. I was 7 years old

Beverly's ghost story:

The B&M Building on Channel street in Stockton it is said to be haunted. People working or visiting the building have reported seeing a woman in the building from time to time. They called her Lydia.

Kathleen's ghost story:

My brother and his wife were in an older cemetery in the East when they drove past by some oddly dressed people near one of the grave sites. They seemed to have on clothing from another era, like civil war times.

He noted that there were no other people nor any other cars nearby and wondered how they had gotten there.

He drove on and then still being curious about them, he came back around and drove past the same spot a couple of minutes later. 

No one was anywhere to be seen. It made his skin crawl and he wonders about them to this day.  

Were they ghosts?  You be the judge.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha