Thursday, February 28, 2013

Variations on a Theme: Travel

I started to read Bella Tuscany this week. Now I want to go to Italy... and eat food. The first few chapters of this book made me miss travel so much that I've decided to dedicate this month's Variations on a Theme to travel memoirs and the like.

Oh the places you'll go...

Under the Tuscan Sun
Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.

A Year in Provence
Peter Mayle

Here is the month-by-month account of the charms and frustrations that Peter Mayle and his wife — and their two large dogs — experience their first year in the remote country of the Luberon restoring a two-centuries-old stone farmhouse that they bought on sight. From coping in January with the first mistral, which comes howling down from the Rhone Valley and wreaks havoc with the pipes, to dealing as the months go by with the disarming promises and procrastination of the local masons and plumbers, Peter Mayle delights us with his strategies for survival. He relishes the growing camaraderie with his country neighbors — despite the rich, soupy, often impenetrable patois that threatens to separate them. He makes friends with boar hunters and truffle hunters, a man who eats foxes, and another who bites dentists; he discovers the secrets of handicapping racing goats and of disarming vipers. And he comes to dread the onslaught of tourists who disrupt his tranquility.

The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca
Tahir Shah

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader. With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it.

J. Maarten Troost

After two grueling years on the island of Tarawa, battling feral dogs, machete-wielding neighbors, and a lack of beer on a daily basis, Maarten Troost was in no hurry to return to the South Pacific. But as time went on, he realized he felt remarkably out of place among the trappings of twenty-first-century America. When he found himself holding down a job—one that might possibly lead to a career—he knew it was time for him and his wife, Sylvia, to repack their bags and set off for parts unknown. Getting Stoned with Savages tells the hilarious story of Troost’s time on Vanuatu—a rugged cluster of islands where the natives gorge themselves on kava and are still known to “eat the man.” Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles against typhoons, earthquakes, and giant centipedes and soon finds himself swept up in the laid-back, clothing-optional lifestyle of the islanders. When Sylvia gets pregnant, they decamp for slightly-more-civilized Fiji, a fallen paradise where the local chiefs can be found watching rugby in the house next door. And as they contend with new parenthood in a country rife with prostitutes and government coups, their son begins to take quite naturally to island living—in complete contrast to his dad.

Colin Thubron

To travel the Silk Road, the greatest land route on earth, is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart, and camel, Colin Thubron covered some seven thousand miles in eight months—out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey—and explored an ancient world in modern ferment.

Ann Vanderhoof

Who hasn’t fantasized about chucking the job, saying goodbye to the rat race, and escaping to some exotic destination in search of sun, sand, and a different way of life? Canadians Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve did just that. In the mid 1990s, they were driven, forty-something professionals who were desperate for a break from their deadline-dominated, career-defined lives. So they quit their jobs, rented out their house, moved onto a 42-foot sailboat called Receta (“recipe,” in Spanish), and set sail for the Caribbean on a two-year voyage of culinary and cultural discovery. In lavish detail that will have you packing your swimsuit and dashing for the airport, Vanderhoof describes the sun-drenched landscapes, enchanting characters and mouthwatering tastes that season their new lifestyle. Come along for the ride and be seduced by Caribbean rhythms as she and Steve sip rum with their island neighbors, hike lush rain forests, pull their supper out of the sea, and adapt to life on “island time.”

Other Travel Books
In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson
In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin
House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco - Suzanne Clarke
On Mexican Time - Tony Cohan
Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China - Peter Hessler
The Magic of Provence: Pleasures of Southern France - Yvone Lenard
On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town - Susan Herrmann Loomis
Facing The Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness - Jeffrey Tayler
The Great Railway Bazaar - Paul Theroux
Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation - J. Maarten Troost

Links and Stuff: February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book 4: Creating Your Library Brand

TITLE: Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons
AUTHOR: Elisabeth Doucett
STARTED: February 6, 2013
FINISHED:February 21, 2013
PAGES: 124
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Preface] I became a full-fledged librarian three years ago when I graduated from Simmons College with a masters in library science.

SUMMARY: [From]  The buzz in marketing right now is branding, but many libraries are put off from starting branding projects because they do not know how, consider it too large a project, or do not have extra funds. This book will help. Doucett's approach to branding takes each step as a single project, making it accessible and achievable. She defines marketing and branding and then offers practical advice on the different aspects, from creating a logo to using templates, working with outside help, and creating and evaluating the branding plan. She emphasizes including staff, patrons, and board members in the process and offers helpful examples with which one can follow up online. Doucett even provides a practical list of pitfalls in which she sees libraries get bogged down. By breaking the chapters into individual steps for branding, Doucett makes this book a helpful guide for the beginner as well as the seasoned marketer. Each chapter stands on its own, so one can read or review whichever sections are needed. Doucett sprinkles her text with tips and FAQ boxes, plus exercises at the end of each section to provide a starting point for the project. Possibly even more helpful is the glossary of terms that marketers use regularly but with which beginners may not be familiar. This type of guide can serve as a useful ready reference, but be forewarned-marking helpful pages will require a book full of tabs.

THOUGHTS: I've read a lot of library marketing books and this is one of the better ones. Doucett focuses on the library brand (or image). This brief work instructs the reader on how to determine the library's brand, build it from the ground up, and maintain it successfully. It's a straight forward read with great examples.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What I Read This Week: February 24, 2013

I miss the sun. I don't think DC has had a truly sunny days in weeks. Boo to gray clouds all day! If it's going to be cloudy it might as well snow. In fact, it should snow enough to give me the day off. So that I can snuggle in bed. And read. All day. Yeah, I want that. And a cup of cocoa.

Anywho, my reading this week was pretty darn productive.

  • As I mentioned last week, I finished my reading backlog. I also said that the mailman would rob me of my victory by dropping off a new issue of something. I was right. On Monday, I had the March 2013 issue of Cooking Light waiting for me. At least it was a fantastic issue. It was all about pasta. I pulled almost every pasta issue from this recipe. There was also a fantastic article about a home cook who decide to make really hard meals. It was a great read.
  • For work, I flipped through the March/April 2013 digital supplement of American Libraries. It was a rather womp womp issue.
  • In book reading, I was a star this week:
    • I finished my professional reading book (Creating Your Library Brand) and started another (Strategic Planning for Social Media in Libraries).
    • I'm [thisclose] to finishing Young, House, Love. Once I'm done, I'm going to flip back through and tagged some projects I want to try. I should probably start contemplating what I want to read next...

Friday, February 22, 2013

BOOLEAN - Friday Fashion Find: Pages and Pages

Etsy... you have the biggest collection of tights. I love it!

I typed "Book tights" into the search bar and found these. I'm not a fan of the overall outfit the model is wearing, but I think the leggings are awesome.

From afar...

You can find a pair of these page-ish leggings here. In case you love the look, this Etsy seller also sells a blouse, crop top, and mini-dress in the same print.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I Love... Amusing Librarians

Librarians are often stereotyped as stodgy and mean (or overly sexy). In reality, we're people. Normal, job-working, errand-running, coffee-drinking, life-living people. The stereotype of shusher has pervaded society, but most of us are just your typical neighbor.

That said, I love it with librarians decide to show their quirky of their personality while on the job. Case in point...

We librarians are just your average office worker; we like to have fun on the job too.

Image from Tastefully Offensive.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What I Read This Week: February 17, 2013

I think I did it. I think I actually conquered my magazine pile. Unless the mailman dumps on issue on me tomorrow, I am totally caught up with my magazines. Huzzah!
  • Real Simple, March 2013 - This was an excellent issue. They were great articles on beauty tools and how to make a room feel like its "yours." I also need to mention the pasta recipes. I maybe saved all of them.
  • Martha Stewart Living, March 2013 - Well, there were some interesting ideas in this issue (a magnet board, keepsake boxes, and flower arranging) but this issue was a bit garden heavy for me. I think I'll give this subscription one more issue, but I'll probably cancel it.
  • Food Network, March 2013 - Cheese! No, seriously, CHEESE! I absolutely ADORED everything about this issue. There were stories about what weird stuff works in fondue, grilled cheese sandwich ideas, new takes on macaroni and cheese, and lots of ideas for cheese boards. Really, can I just eat the whole issue?
  • In non-magazine news....
    • I read a bunch of articles for work. None really stand out, but there was a lot of stuff on withdrawing library material and library management.
    • I managed to read a bit of my book (Young, House, Love) but The Boyfriend and I have been watching Parks and Rec most nights. It's a good show.

Friday, February 15, 2013

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - To The Stars!

For Valentine's Day, I named a star for The Boyfriend and I. I'd like to claim credit for the awesome gift but, really, it was just luck. There was a Groupon deal and the order just happened to come through on Valentine's Day. Meh. At least it's still awesome.

In honor of that gift, I tracked down a fun pair of space exploration tights.

If I was Ms. Frizzle, I would so wear these. (You can find them on Etsy.)

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Links and Stuff: February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book 3: Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan

TITLE: Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive
AUTHOR: Patricia H. Fisher and Marseille M. Pride
STARTED: January 25, 2013
FINISHED: February 5, 2013
PAGES: 135
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: Marketing is about bringing them in and bringing them back.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble]  Drawing on the authors' many decades of experience in marketing and as librarians and trustees, Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan offers a step-by-step program to get any library up to speed with minimal angst." Reproducible forms and worksheets, quick-start tips, strategies and models from other libraries, and resources for more information enhance this one-stop handbook. Librarians and directors in public, academic, and special libraries, marketing specialists, and students and instructors in library programs can learn to tailor marketing plans, prioritize services, and address community needs using this library-focused, hands-on guide.

THOUGHTS: I took a marketing class as a part of my Library Science degree studies. We used a different book as our main text, but this one would have worked as well. It offers a good representation of how to develop a marketing plan and why, but I found it a wee bit disorganized and incomplete at times. Over all, this is a pretty decent crash course for anyone who needs one.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

YouTube Tuesday: Oh yeah!

The Boyfriend and I just started watching Parks and Recreation last week. I've been told I'd love the show and, so far, I do. I'm intrigued because I hear all these things about them hating on The Library, but we've yet to his those scenes. Consider today's post a teaser (for you and me). I can't wait to see what goes down.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book 2: Sense and Sensibility (Re-Read)

TITLE: Sense and Sensibility
AUTHOR: Jane Austen
STARTED: January 7, 2013
FINISHED: January 31, 2013
PAGES: 315
GENRE: Literature

FIRST SENTENCE: The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex.

SUMMARY: [From Barnes and Noble] Two sisters of opposing temperaments but who share the pangs of tragic love provide the subjects for Sense and Sensibility. Elinor, practical and conventional, is the epitome of sense; Marianne, emotional and sentimental, the embodiment of sensibility. To each comes the sorrow of unhappy love: Elinor desires a man who is promised to another while Marianne loses her heart to a scoundrel who jilts her. Their mutual suffering brings a closer understanding between the two sisters — and true love finally triumphs when sense gives way to sensibility and sensibility gives way to sense.

THOUGHTS: At the risk of pre-empting discussion at our Jane Austen book club, I've decided to go ahead a review my re-read of Sense and Sensibility. In my original review, I thought the book was good, not great, and hoped to find the time to read it again and pay more attention to things.Well, it'd been over seven years and I devoted as much attention to this book as a could. My review didn't change much. This Austen, to me, is still good but not great. But, what did change, was my reason for that review.

Austen has a way of writing characters that makes them both totally familiar and addicting to hear about (including our "villains"). During my first read I never immersed myself into the text or the characters. This time I did and, I gotta say, some of them are downright annoying - but in a way that reminds you about that one friend you know and love but also sometimes hate. More than once I wanted to picked up Marianne and tell her to chill the eff out. Life goes on, lady. Let's go get some drinks and dance the night away! Also, Colonel Brandon - it may be a sign of my era - but man up already! Finally, I found Elinor to be almost too mopey and stoic. I get that these main characters needed to play off each other and the plot, but man did I want to smack them around at times.

I don't know what it says about me that I found some of the secondary characters to be the most interesting. Namely, John Dashwood and his wife, Fanny. There was something about those characters that I found to be highly amusing. Their selfishness and how it plays out was hilarious to me (particularly the discussion of the money in the opening scenes). I didn't like their characters (cause, really, who can) but I enjoyed their scenes. The same thing with Sir John Middleton. He was a hoot to me, but I can see why he would be a trying character to be around all the time.

In the end, I think Sense and Sensibility offers a good representation of its era in history. Women had only marriage to achieve and money was everything. I can't blame half of the characters (ahemWilloughbyahem) for acting the way they do, because that is was that era called for. He's an ass yes, but I get why he's all jerkish.

So, still a good book because it represents the era (and was amusing) but not great because I got annoyed at the leads a bit too often for my taste.

RATING: Re-Read 6/10 [Original Rating was 7/10]

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What I Read This Week: February 10, 2013

I didn't realize just how much I had read this week until I started to compile the list. As of right now, I only have one magazine left in my backlog. Say what! I am proud of myself for that.

On to the reading!
  • Magazine-wise, I was a reading bad-ass.
    • Martha Stewart Living, January 2013 - Martha Stewart decided to discontinue Everyday Food. Sad face. Instead, the contents of that small magazine were rolled over into Living. As a subscriber, my subscription was automatically changed. This was the first issue of Living I read and it was blah to me... but I did see some potential in the contents.
    • Martha Stewart Living, February 2013 - Luckily, my backlog of magazines meant I had a second issue waiting for me. I thought this was a better issue. I pulled pages for a decorating idea and a recipe. Hopefully this magazine will get better the more I read it.
    • The Atlantic, January/Februrary 2013 - This double issue didn't let me down. I love the short article on Downton Abbey (I heart that show) and online dating. While the cover article about the banking industry was good, it was still do lingo heavy for my taste - I didn't always understand what the author was saying. My favorite article in the issue was about being awake/aware while in surgery. It was quite thought-provoking.
    • Food Network, January/February 2013 - As part of a Christmas gift from my mom, I received a year-long subscription to Food Network magazine. If this issue is any indication of all the magazine as a whole, I may have to become a permanent subscriber. I pulled lots of recipes... and the article about cakes. OMG! The cakes! Gimme!
  • Book-wise, I was also a reading bad-ass.
    • I started (finally!) reading the book Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love. It's by the authors of one of my favorite home decor blogs. Once I got past the overly sappy/sugary/rah-rah-home-design-is-awesome introductory pages I started to love it.... but that introduction almost had me gagging. I am almost halfway through the book and already have several projects I want to try one day.
    • I also started a new professional reading book, Creating Your Library Brand. I'm only a few pages in, but it's okay so far.

Friday, February 08, 2013

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Up and Away

I didn't quite know what to post for today, so I went to Etsy and started to type in "Striped Tights." Well, one of the suggested terms that came up as I typed was "Steampunk." I changed course, typed in "Steampunk Tights" and came across some awesome results.

These hot air balloon leggings were my favorite.

I think I might buy them... If you want to beat my to it, you can find these tights here.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

BOOLEAN: Black and Blue

Last Thursday, Lady B showed the world that you can wear black and blue together. In her words, "Patent black goes with everything."

So chic.

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Links and Stuff: February 7, 2013

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Why I Love... Visiting Random Libraries

I have a thing for libraries.... as you might have noticed. Aside from being the place I go for free books and "stuff," I find the buildings themselves to be particularly charming. I love visiting libraries when I travel. They all have their own aura and feel about them.

Libraries are magical places to me. I become enchanted every time I discover each new nook and cranny. Some have soaring ceilings and intricate artwork. Other libraries are simple and plain. All libraries, however, have a sense of majesty about them; it's as if all the information they contain imbue a feeling of grandeur and imagination. Every library is different, but they all give off the same feeling of possibility.

When The Boyfriend and I visited his family this past Christmas, I made a point to pop into the local library. His hometown has an award winning library. Lucky! So, clearly, I had to stop by this place I had read about in a couple issues of American Libraries. And.... I took some pictures.

Enter the Children's Area!

Best. Reading. Room. Ever!
The children's room was absolutely wonderful. If I was a kid I'd spend hours in there. Heck, if I lived in Brentwood I would spend hours in that room. The rest of the library was styled in a craftsman/alpine lodge style. It was a magnificent building - one I wish I could visit every day. You can take a tour of this absolutely gorgeous library on their webpage.

Yes, my name is Meghan, and I spend my free time visiting other libraries.

Can you blame me? Just look at this website of beautiful libraries.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

YouTube Tuesday: Quiet Chaos

If you watched the Superbowl on Sunday, this ad might have caught your eye. Yes, it does make me grumble about the "shushing" stereotype, but I still laughed.

Monday, February 04, 2013

BOOLEAN: Two-fer

Last week, the temperature soared to the 70s. 70s! I busted out the tights with holes in them.

My camera went all weird here, but you get the idea.

Today, we're back to the space heater and plaid tights.

Make up your mind mother nature!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

What I Read This Week: February 3, 2013

Tonight, I will be hosting our annual Superbowl viewing party. Every year, I make copious amounts (we're talking vats!) of chili and cornbread. I plan on rooting for the Ravens since they're the closest team to home. I hope they win. Between ND losing and the Caps stinking it up on the ice, I need a time I like to win a game.

To keep  you occupied until the game (or the commercials), here is my weekly reading list:
  • I completed a few magazines, but I still have a backlog to get through. I think they breed behind my back.
    • National Geographic, February 2013 - I read this whilst doing a bicycle workout. It was an okay issue, but I did enjoy the article on Libya's ancient history. The article on venom was also pretty fascinating.
    • Real Simple, February 2013 - The cover image led me to believe that this was going to be a massive issue about workouts. False! That was nothing but a 5 page article. This was a throw away issue for me. Yes, there were some good parts, but I didn't pull or flag a single page.
  • Work wise, I went through the ALA Neal-Schuman catalog. I marked so many books that I decided to create a new Pinterest board for professional reading. If you're interested, follow this here link to the page.
  • I finished Sense and Sensibility. It's amazing how a 7 year gap between reads can change how you perceive a novel. I'll be back with my review later.

Friday, February 01, 2013

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Snow Dreams

I really want to be be snowed in. Like, really really really really really want to be snowed in. I want to be snowed in so bad that I am willing to put up with the cold (something that is usually my arch-nemesis). Maybe if I wear these tights and do a snow dance I'll get my wish.

You can find these on Etsy.

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