Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning | Epergne

My brother, Dale, likes to pretend he doesn't know any big words.  Whenever he hears a family member use an unfamiliar word, he asks for us to repeat it and tell him what it means. We usually end up looking up the word in the dictionary, and then he uses it in a sentence--usually a silly sentence.

There's a story he tells, about helping our father with the preparations for a backyard party. They were hosing off the lawn furniture.  My dad (an engineer) turned off the spigot at the wall of the house.  Dale was still holding the hose, but not spraying anything.  Dad called out,"Okay, Dale, depress the nozzle and release the residual!"

"I knew what he meant, but I just couldn't resist," Dale recalls. "I called out, 'but Dad! There's water in this hose!'"

Image from page 208 of "New Bedford, Massachusetts:
 its history, industries, institutions, and attractions" (1889)
From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on

No known copyright restrictions.

Yesterday, Dale sent an email to the family about his word of the day: epergne. 

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (see citation below,) it's from the French word for saving: ├ępargne. Epergne refers to "an often ornate tiered centerpiece consisting typically of a frame of wrought metal (as silver or gold) bearing dishes, vases, or candle holders or a combination of these." 

 "Epergne." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

Image from page 37 of "Examples of household taste"
 (1875) From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on
No known copyright restrictions.

I don't know how Dale came across that word. Maybe I'll ask him, next time I see him.  In the meantime, I found some lovely images of epergnes on

Tea sandwiches on an Epergne, from Jan's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

The Silver Epergne on opening night,
from Leeds Museum and Galleries' photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Searching the keyword epergne in SSJCPL's Shiny New catalog yielded no results, but if you are interested in epergnes, I recommend taking a look at these books on tableware.

She's Crafty | Hand-Lettering Ledger

Letters fascinate me. Not only are they the building blocks with which we build words, but I find them in all of their varieties to be utterly beautiful.

Constellation by Ben Didier. Some Rights Reserved.
Calligraphy, Agra. Detail of the Taj Mahal.
Photo taken by Navil Nazeri. Some Rights Reserved.
Gothic San Serif Lower Case - FUTURA!
Photo taken by Kyle Van Horn. Some Rights Reserved.

Ever since I could remember, I've been head-over-heels in love with letter forms. From the feel of writing careful letters--slow, steady, and fitting them together just right--to the digital slickness and fun of fonts.

When I was studying design, letters quickly became my main focus. First course of action for any project was figuring out the text. The look, the mix of fonts, sizes, and fit all had to be right before I even worried about the pictorial elements. Typography, the art of setting letters, also became a favorite area of study.

A good portion of my drawings and doodles include text. A quote, a song, a single word I found interesting would be the seed for a drawing. After an initial writing of letters, I would embellish and fine-tune them like I would any other thing I drew. And when I came across a project in design that needed a font I just couldn't find, I would often jump at the chance to create my own.

A favorite theme that runs through my text-based drawings are either fitting text within a shape or making a shape out of the letters. I created the Put a Bird On It drawing below in the hopes of putting IT on a tote or a t-shirt. Someday.

Put a Bird On It

Interesting handwriting and the skilled use of fonts light up my brain like a Christmas tree, which, coincidentally, is where I found this little gem waiting for me this year.

Hand-Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt

Hand-Lettering Ledger is the artistic typophile's dream come true. Not only does author Mary Kate McDevitt explain the differences between calligraphy, hand lettering, and typography with a simplicity I could never muster, McDevitt also made this book incredibly pretty to oggle with the eyes. McDevitt has a background in graphic design and it shows. She introduces readers to the multiple type styles featured in her book explaining  the basics of form, offering plenty of tips, and showcasing a plethora of witty examples to inspire original creations.

Request a copy of Hand-Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt for checkout through Link+ by clicking on the title.

We have other hand-lettering and calligraphy books if you're interested in exploring the art of handwriting:

Hand lettering : simple & creative styles for cards, scrapbooks & more
The Art & Craft of Hand Lettering 
Calligraphy : A Guide to Hand-Lettering   

Have a happy new year!
Malia & Kaye

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Learning | The Christmas Coat

Christmas trees with presents under them! Such a happy sight!  When I was a young girl, my siblings and I used to spend an awful lot of time in December, inspecting the gifts, trying to discern their secrets.  We could tell which gifts contained clothes; they usually came in the "shirt boxes" the department stores provided for free in those days.  Sometimes we would guess after shaking the gift to see if something rattled inside.  We analyzed the "to" and "from" labels, trying to predict what one specific family member would give to another.

MCCALL HOMEMAKING COVER, XMAS TREE, from George Eastman House's photostream
 on No known copyright  restrictions.
The Great Big Mystery Gift appeared under our tree when I was in third grade. It was too heavy and bulky for us to pick up and shake. It didn't have a label on it. Nobody saw who put it there. There was no gift tag, saying who it was for, or who was giving it.  Attempts at questioning other family members about this gift got us nowhere.  We just had to wait until Christmas Day, but it felt like forever.

On Christmas morning, it was traditional for the two youngest kids (my brother and I) to play Santa's Elves, removing the presents from under the tree, reading the labels, and handing them to their intended recipient to be opened. So Dale and I did our best. All the labeled presents were opened, and The Great Big Mystery Gift was still there. I asked my mother if she knew who it was for. She shook her head,"No." She looked as mystified as I felt!

After a dramatic pause, my father stepped forward, and picked up that giant box. I was sure it was for my mother, because she obviously wasn't in on the secret. She wrapped most of the gifts, after all! 

But he didn't give it to her. He gave it to me. ME!!! Well, that was exciting. But I was even more surprised when I opened it up. There was a brand new, double-breasted, red wool winter coat in there.  

Remember, I was the youngest of six. Most of my clothing was hand-me-downs. I don't think I ever had a brand new coat before in my life--and this was such a beautiful coat.

We all peppered him with questions.  The story emerged: he had seen it in a store, and just decided it was perfect for me.  I don't know how he knew what size to buy, because my mother usually made sure our clothes fit, but he took care of it. 

I still get a tear in my eye when I recall that Christmas. I can remember how proud I felt, when I went back to school after break, wearing my red winter coat on the playground.

Imagine my delight, when I discovered this book in our catalog:

by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve.  

This is the true story of the author's childhood on a Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, in the middle of the twentieth century.  

Since her father is the Episcopal priest on the reservation, she gets her clothing from the donation boxes--which have already been picked over for the best items. I have to say, I can relate to Virginia's wish for a special coat. 

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

She's Crafty | Last Minute Gift

Looking for a last-minute little gift to give to a reader?

I stumbled across the cutest little craft project whilst poking around on thee internet.

Meet, the Corner Bookmark!

This little guy will NomNomNom the corner of your page.
Mark your page with minimalist style!

I will be making a big pile of these to attach to gifts and stuff into stockings. If you have young ones, take a break from the holiday crazy times and help them make a few to give to friends and family, and of course keep one for themselves!

The instructions below tell you how to make a corner bookmark--I hope. I now have a profound and deep respect for all craft book writers. It becomes clear very quickly how hard it is to write instructions. At least, I found it to be pretty tough!

I encourage you to make a template if you plan to make a bunch so you only have to measure and mark off once. Then all you have to do is trace around your template for each new bookmark creation. It's completely optional.

Here's what you need:

  • Sheet of paper, any kind will do.
  • Ruler.
  • Pencil or pen.
  • Glue.
  • Cardstock for template. Again, this is optional.

Here's what you do:

*If you're going to make a template, do this on cardstock first. Otherwise grab the sheet you will be using for your bookmark.

With a ruler, make three two-inch squares in the shape of an "L" in the lower left corner of your sheet of paper.

Make diagonal lines from corner to corner in the upper and right outer squares going in this / direction.

You should have a shape that resembles a fox head!

Cut the fox out along the red lines indicated in the picture below.

*If you made a template first, trace your fox head shape onto the paper you use for your bookmark and cut it out.

Fold along the dotted lines on the paper that will actually become your bookmark and NOT your template.
Glue the top flap down to the flap below it.

"You can never get a cup of tea
large enough or a book long
enough to suit me."
C.S. Lewis

Your basic corner bookmark is essentially done. However, now the fun really begins--time to decorate!

Make monster faces to nom the edge of your pages.
Collage on your corner.
Write down a favorite quote.
Doodle a little or a lot.
Make one specific to the book it will be living in.

You could also use pretty origami or scrapbook paper and let the prints be all the decoration you need.

I hope you enjoyed this craft tutorial of a sorts and let me know if you make one!
Hope your holidays are merry, crafty, and warm!

Malia & Kaye

Monday, December 22, 2014

Just Life| We are in a book!

Mo Willems is one of my favorite children's author. His Piggie and Elephant books are just hilarious. 

You can find these books in your local library in the Easy Readers section, under the author's last name. 

Piggie and Elephant books are perfect for K-2nd graders. 

Last Wednesday, I even read two of these books to my daughter's 4th grade class and they were a hit. Those kids had so much fun listening to me read these silly books to them.

First, I read:" We are in a book" to them. Then I read "A big guy took my ball". I tell you, these kids really liked these two books and I felt so proud.

So, for this Holiday season, Piggie and Elephant books can be the perfect present for any kid.

Happy Holidays!

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Learning | Gutenberg

I just finished an intriguing historical fiction book.  Gutenberg's Apprentice: a Novel is author Alix Christie's first book. I have always been fascinated by medieval illuminated manuscripts, which were traditionally created by hand, by scribes.  I've been equally fascinated by the printing process; if you've ever played with rubber stamps, I'm sure you have noticed how hard it is to make consistent impressions. I've always wondered what processes allow such clarity and uniformity.

Luckily for me, Christie's book explores both worlds. The main character is Peter Schoeffer, a young scribe who has mastered the art of making those illuminated manuscripts. He takes great pride in his work. 

At the beginning of the book, he is suddenly called away from his duties by his stepfather, Johann Fust. Fust is a middle-class trader, who has invested heavily in a secret project of Johann Gutenberg's.  Peter is given to Gutenberg as an apprentice. To say Peter is resistant to the idea is an understatement.  He thinks the early samples of the printed words are very ugly, and feels his very way of life threatened by the possibility of the new technology.

If you look at the photo right below this paragraph, you will see fine examples of the writing and embellishment that can be made with human handiwork. Compare it to the images of the collage further down the page, showing pieces of the Gutenberg Bible. You can see how a scribe like Peter might react strongly to such an oddly regular arrangement of letters on a page.  

Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau, Nativity, Walters Manuscript W.174, fol. 17v, from Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts' photostream on Some rights reserved.

Gutenberg Bible collage: Left, Miami University's Gutenberg leaf (Recto) from the Gutenberg Bible. It contains Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 42:14-43:25. From Miami University Library's photostream on Top Right, Gutenberg Bible - detail from the Old Testament; Bottom Right, detail from the New Testament, The Gutenberg Bible, both digitized by the HUMI Project, Keio University, July 2005; © National Library of Scotland; from National Library of Scotland's photostream on All images in the collage were taken from The Commons area of, with no known copyright restrictions.

There are many ups and downs to the story of the production of the Gutenberg Bible.  Political and economic conditions forced the crew to work secretly for years, experimenting with various materials and techniques before developing a successful, reliable process.  Alix Christie is a printer herself, so she is able to describe the process in detail.  In some respects, this book reminds me of Homer Hickham's biography, Rocket Boys. In fact, if you enjoyed Rocket Boys, I think you will enjoy Gutenberg's Apprentice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

She's Crafty | Book Trees

Looky, looky, our branches have sprouted some very fine book trees for the holidays!

First up, we have a book tree at the Tracy branch made of discarded books. The books are fanned open and cut to make a star topper and the greenery of the tree. Under the tree are colorful presents trimmed with book page ribbons and bows. The ornaments promote reading and the wonders of library cards.

Recycled book page tree with presents!
By Carissa, a staff member at the Tracy branch.

Escalon's tree is festive with garland and colorful books. This is the style of book tree that will pop up when you Google: "library book tree" or do a similar search on Pinterest.

The Escalon branch has a sparkly book tree!
This one was made by Emily.

I helped make a small one at the Chavez branch. It was my very first time helping to make a book tree. My book tree mentor, Nancy, showed me the way and we came up with this little beauty featuring a book page star topper, old reference books, and tinsel garland....

Chavez is festive with a wee, little book tree.

It may be small but it's full of spirit! Apparently a tree in the past at Chavez was mistaken for a game of Jenga and although we didn't have an incident involving a patron being buried by books, we couldn't handle the thought of possibly experiencing an avalanche so we made the tree less accessible this year.

However, next year we're planning on making a tree on wheels with all the books glued down, yay! All we would have to do is roll it out, dust it off, and give it some lights. We won't have to worry about the poor tree being picked on or the tree attacking an unsuspecting patron. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

The Chavez branch once had a 5-foot book tree.
We're working on bringing it back. Stay tuned...

Book trees are pretty easy to set up but can be tricky to get just right. Basically you build it like a brick wall where things are staggered on the layer below. You have to bring it in ever so slightly on each level to make a tree shape. This is what can be the tricky part. A few times I would step back to see a lopsided tree that looked like it was trying to run away. You just gotta check your work periodically from a distance, that's all.

Also, if you want your book tree to stay standing, you have to fill the center with books or other objects on each level. Filling the center can be tricky on the upper levels since the interior can get smaller than a paperback. Our tree started out small so after the first three levels we had to get creative with filling the void. We resorted to using stacks of left-over bookmarks from programs past and other odds-and-ends. Whatever works, right?

Let me know if you have made a book tree, will attempt to make a book tree, have been awed by a ginormous book tree, or have seen any kind of tree that isn't a tree that strikes your fancy.

I once saw a show describing a town tree made out of crab traps and zip-ties!

Also, be sure to visit your local branch to check out all the festive decorations and book displays keeping our book trees company. In fact, plan a holiday tour of all our branches! I just focused on book trees in this post but there is plenty of other fun stuff going on.

Troke's Mitten Tree.
Before I end my post, let me introduce you to our last tree. It's not a book tree but it's a very important tree you can visit at the Margaret Troke branch. This one is topped with a cute little hat and the garland is made of scarves. There's a reason for this. Ever since 2007 the staff at Troke has put up a mitten tree asking for donations of hats, scarves, and gloves that will go to the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. If you want to participate and donate something to help keep someone warm this winter, go to Troke and leave a donation!

Malia & Kaye

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just Life| Just Like a Kid in a Candy Store

For me, working in a library is like being a kid in a candy store.

Every time I process our new books at the Troke Library. I come face to face with delicious pages like these:

So, this week, while processing new books, I came across these brand new cook books that I want to share with you.

The first book that I almost bit into was: Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.

From the second book, Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food , I almost ate the following pages:

Now you have it, books are delicious and cookbooks are the most delicious of all, specially around Christmas time.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learning | Non-Fiction Christmas Books

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  Maybe we are busy, but I hope we're not too busy to read.  I'd like to point out that SSJCPL has a veritable plethora of Christmas books for your reading pleasure. 

Sure, there are picture books for the wee ones, and stories for us bigger kids of all ages, but today I will draw your attention to non-fiction books about Christmas.

Don't forget that we have books that will teach you how to do things, or tell you why things are the way they are. 

  • Need recipes? We have them.  
  • Craft projects? We have them.  
  • Decorating ideas? Party planning? We have them. 
  • Christmas traditions around the world? We have them. 
  • Christmas music? We have it, in the form of sheet music and recorded music.
Santa and the Rockettes, from Alex's photostream on Some rights reserved.

There are also some inspirational Christmas books.  I just checked out one of our newest books, Charles Edward Hall's Santa Claus is for Real: a True Christmas Fable About the Magic of Believing. This man learned the true meaning of Christmas, by playing Santa Claus in New York's Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular for nearly three decades.  When he started, he was more like Scrooge than Santa Claus. I can't wait to read about it.

Do you have a favorite Christmas book? Leave a comment below, and tell us about it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

She's Crafty | Crafty Resources

When you think of resources that might be available at your local library for crafting the first thought is obviously going to be about books. Library...books...they kind of go hand-in-hand. But did you know your local SSJCPL branch has more than books to help you in your crafty quests? Yuuup, we got the stuff...

In this post I'm going to introduce you, dear reader, to two resources you can access at your branch or on our website easy peasy.

The first resource is a database.
digital information collected and organized in one place from a variety or sources.
Easily searchable, retrievable, printable and sharable, databases are a very handy tool to have.

With our databases you can:
  • Find repair information for your vehicle through the Auto Repair Reference Center
  • Find your next read by browsing NoveList
  • Perform searches of articles and pictures especially for children in Kids Search

Of course, I'm especially excited to talk about one database in particular, the Hobbies and Craft Reference Center! You read that right, crafters, we have an entire database bursting with all sorts of crafty information! Annnd you can access it 24 hours a day 7 days a week from home or during any hour your local branch is open on one of our public-use computers.

Yeeeah baby!
How does a database help you craft? Say you heard a friend talk about a papercutting craft called scherenschnitte and you wanted to learn more about this German art of cutting paper. This reminds you that you just recently read a blog about a library database that might have information about what you're looking for. You hop on your computer or head to your local branch and hop on one of theirs and... -> Research -> Databases -> Fun!
  1. Go to
  2. Mouse over to Research.
  3. In the menu that pops up, click on Databases. This will bring you to the Database Category page.
  4. In this example, to reach the Hobbies and Craft Reference Center, you would click on the Do It Yourself category.
  5. You would then click on the blue and underlined title for the database you want to play with.
Once inside the database you have a few options to find information.
  • performing a Search
  • browse by Category
  • browse by Popular Sources
  • clicking on the Featured Video
  • or pressing the Get Started! button in the Crafts Spotlight area.
To continue our example, let's perform a search for "scherenschnitte".

At the very top of the search results is a promising entry, "Simplified Scherenschnitte". The search result entry tells me that it comes from a periodical, who wrote the article, which magazine it came from, and the date. It will also list thumbnails of pictures featured in the article. At the bottom of the entry it will have all the related files associated to this specific article; be it PDF, HTML, video, and animation. Click on the one you want and it will open your article or media in the browser for immediate consumption.

Once you open the article you have the option to simply read the article, print the article, email the article to yourself or a friend, find out how to cite the article in various formats (helpful if you were writing a research paper on German papercutting), get the permalink for blogging or share the article through your favorite social media sites.

Let's just say, you have options galore.

The next resource I want to highlight are magazines. 

Fun, floppy bundles of paper with photographs and/or illustrations.
Also known as: periodical, journal, glossy, zine...

I did a quick search of all of our periodical titles and was blown away that at this moment the library has about 860 different titles! Even though this number includes all languages, all ages, archived titles, and reference items, it's still an awesome number to behold.

Magazines are great for inspiration pick-me-ups. When I'm dealing with the crafting ho-hums and I can't think of anything to make, or I want to make something but I'm having major craft block--flipping through an issue or two usually gives me all sorts of ideas to play with.

And the tips! You will not believe all the awesome tips you can find in craft magazines. I'm thinking of starting a special magazine tip notebook that I can refer to any time I want. 

Get Inspired!
One of my favorite craft magazines is Paper Crafts. This magazine features paper crafted items submitted by designers. The designs are collected into sections and articles based on a theme or to showcase a craft technique, trend, or layout. This magazine in particular is up-to-date and innovative when it comes to trends in design, color palettes, new craft techniques, and what can be done with new products and tools. I never lay an issue of Paper Crafts down without at least a few ideas rattling around in my head.

Well, I hope this post was helpful and enlightening! If I can encourage at least one person to visit the Hobbies and Craft Reference Center or check out a magazine then I say my mission is a success.

Until next time--stay warm, stay informed, and keep it crafty!

Malia & Kaye

Ms. Suzy Reads | Storytime, Storytime, Storytime

Hello, reading friends. Lately I've been reminded again and again and again of the importance of early literacy. One of my main goals for our weekly storytimes is to instill a love of books and reading in our very young children, so that when they are developmentally ready to read, they will already have the desire to read. 

So storytime is pretty darn important, in my humble opinion. And today I thought I'd share some of my very favorite storytime books. Check them out at a library near you!

Jan Thomas' Is Everyone Ready for Fun? is laugh out loud funny, except for chicken, who is not all that pleased with the happenings on his couch! This is one of my favorites because you can get children moving with the cows!

This next one has been around a while, but it's still one of my go-to favorites: Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion. It's the story of Harry, a white dog with black spots, who goes on quite an adventure in the city...all because he doesn't want to take a bath. Many children may recognize themselves in Harry in terms of bath avoidance! I love this story and I love the illustrations. A great one to share with children young and not so young.

I seem to be particularly fond of books that inspire movement and activity. And this next one does just that: We're Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Splish splosh through a river, stumble trip through a forest, and more! This is a lovely book to read aloud the first time, then act out all the movements the second time. This will also inspire a trip outside, so weather permitting, this might be even better as an outdoor read aloud!

Some of my favorite storytime books to share with young children! You really can't go wrong when reading with young children. Just make sure you read the book alone first so you can plan out voices and inflections. And read books that YOU enjoy yourself. 

Reading aloud = one of the greatest gifts we can give our young children.

And one more thing, find a library storytime near you on SSJCPL's Calendar of Events! Please join us!!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Just Life| Let It Snow

When I was a kid, almost every winter in Tehran, they would close schools for a couple of days due to heavy snow. 

I loved those snowy days.

It was great to skip school and to spend the day playing in the snow with the neighborhood kids.

But with snow, came the dreaded job of shoveling the snow. 

We have flat roofs in Tehran and in winter, you have to shovel that snow from the roof before it collapses on top of you.

Our rooftop looked like this huge rectangular cake covered with whipped cream frosting.

Then, we would slice and shovel this winter cake one row at a time until it was all eaten up by our hungry shovels.

Since my dad was a teacher, on those snowy days, me, my dad, and my brother would go to the roof to clear the snow.

My poor mom couldn't share our fun. She was in the Air Force and she had to show up to work even when they were dropping bombs from the sky. (Literally)


The snow on the roof didn't have any place to go but on top of our flower beds in our front yard.

At the end of the day, we had this huge heap of snow on top of our flower beds that lingered sometimes all the way into Spring.

Here in Stockton, we never experience the beauty of winter first hand.

So, this winter, I wish upon the stars for some heavy snow, so our kids can skip school and stay home and play in the snow until their noses look like Rudolph.

Until then,

Let's just keep on reading.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning | Reading Comfortably

If you read as much as I do, you have probably found yourself reading in a lot of different places, from noisy airports to coffee shops to different rooms in your own home.  I tend to keep a book near the bed, in my car and one in my den, just in case I have the time and inclination to read.

I also carry two e-readers in my purse. Why two? Because I have different content loaded on both of them, and I like to keep my options open.  E-readers offer a lightweight, compact means of carrying around a big stack of books.  

"A PECULIAR READING CHAIR. illustration explains itself. The seat may be stuffed and upholstered to suit, and the desk can be made to rest at any desired inclination." Image from page 493 of "American engineer and railroad journal" (1893) From Internet Archive Book Images' photostream on No known copyright restrictions.

I laughed when I discovered this picture of a "peculiar reading chair" on  It reminds me of reading (usually on a Kindle or a Nook) while I get my 30 minutes of daily exercise on my stationary bike. Well, it's supposed to be daily.

Hmm, I see that picture says the desk part of that chair is adjustable to any inclination. I wonder if my stationary bike could be modified to do that.

That chair looks comfortable enough, for a classroom situation.  But I think if I had one of those in my house, I would probably be gravitating toward cozier reading places, on the sofa, recliner, or bed.

Where do you read? Comment below, and let us know.

For those of you with e-readers, please remember that SSJCPL is always getting more downloadable e-books and e-audiobooks for your reading pleasure.  We even let customers check out Nooks that are pre-loaded with reading content.  Find out more about all of these electronic reading options by clicking on this link.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

She's Crafty | Wreaths

For a few years I worked for a Christmas light company as a wreath decorator. From October to the end of November, I fluffed artificial greenery, troubleshooted lighting issues, attached jingles, jangles, ornaments and other sparkly bits, and made more bows than a single person should ever make in their entire lifetime. I even shocked myself for the love of decorating wreaths. Literally shocked myself, like, with electricity.

60" wreath decorated on the job.

Also, I think my love for wreaths might slightly shock my loved ones. Here's the evolution of my passion for wreaths:

The second year I worked for the light company I decided to take advantage of my intermediate decorating skills and bought my own pre-lit 30" wreath.  I followed that purchase up with a pile of frosty, silvery, and bird related decorations. After I found what my mom considered way too much stuff, I found more and even got some mini mirror balls to squeeze in between the boughs.

Each year after that, I've bought a few things to stick into my wreath and mix up the items I already have or I go wild with a new theme. Now I have a fleet of wreaths that I roll out for the holidays and they do different things. One wreath I made into a Countdown to Christmas decoration. One year I decorated a wreath with our greeting cards. Annnd one year I made ten little undecorated wreaths to hang in a large window.

My first wreath to hang at home.

Now, every time my mother and I go craft shopping during the winter months she politely reminds me, "You know you have plenty of wreath stuff to play with already, right?" I ignore her concerns and usually buy a cart full of glittery picks in a new color scheme and take a few days to agonize over the final designs.

Wreaths fascinate me and maybe they fascinate you too? If that is an emphatic YES! then check these books out from your local branch, my fellow wreath enthusiasts:
You can even make some easy origami wreaths if you feel so inclined by visiting these links:

Origami Wreath Tutorial on Domesticali's Typepad.
The Teaching and Learning post on the Mary & Patch blogspot shows you how to make a unique and beautiful origami wreath. Comes with a video tutorial!
Happy Crafting!
Malia and Kaye

Monday, December 1, 2014

Just Life| Delicious Christmas Present

Christmas is the time of the year that I go broke trying to buy presents for everyone.

But, Christmas presents don't have to be pricey, they just have to come from the heart. 


I remember one year, I bought some baskets from The Dollar Tree and filled them with persimmons and lemons from our backyard and gave them to our neighbors. They really liked it and it wasn't costly either.

This year, I am planning to bake a big batch of orange Madeleines for my friends and co-workers. That is the only thing that I can bake with my eyes closed. 

These little French cakes taste really good.

A couple of years ago, I bought these Madeleine baking pans and this simple recipe came with it. So, I am going to share it with you. 

Madeleine anyone?

Orange Madeleine recipe {taken from the Chicago Metallic pan cover}:

  • 2/3 Cup flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon orange extract  
  • 1/2 Teaspoon shredded orange peel
  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter your pans.  
  • Sift together the flour and the baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs, orange extract and orange peel for 5 minutes. 
  • Gradually add powdered sugar to this mix until it becomes thick.
  • Gently fold in the flour mixture.
  • Add the melted butter to this mix.
  • Spoon the mixture in the Madeleine molds filling 3/4 of the mold.
  • Bake for 8 minutes until the edges are a bit golden brown.

 You can check out these library books for to give you inspiration:

Christmas gifts from the kitchen 

The Christmas cookie book 

The Beekman 1802 heirloom dessert cookbook

Paris sweets : great desserts from the city's best pastry shops 

The pie and pastry bible

Dessert university

Happy Baking!

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha