Friday, June 30, 2017

The Friday Find: Hold My Beer

Summer is for reading outside. Summer is also for cold beer. If you like to combine this two, this customizable beer coozy is a great option.

You can find this in the QuotableLife Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Handwriting

Ever since I started using a bullet journal last year, I've wanted to make changes to my handwriting. I've always been a fan of pen and paper, but writing every day has shown me how inconsistent my own handwriting has become. While legible, it's a mix of print and cursive and I want to make some tweaks to my style. This current obsession has led me to a trove of books on handwriting and hand-lettering. I decided that I need to share my finds in this month's Variations on a Theme.

Spencerian Handwriting: The Complete Collection of Theory and Practical Workbooks for Perfect Cursive and Hand Lettering
Platts Roger Spence

Easy to understand yet challenging to perfect, the Spencerian system was the standard for all personal and business correspondence in the 1800s. While modern students are barely taught cursive, for more than a century schoolchildren were dutifully drilled in intricate penmanship using this original primer.

Now you can follow the step-by-step instructions and practice on the included workbook pages to learn:
• The seven Spencerian principles
• Proper pen positioning
• Finger and arm movement
• Heights and widths of letters
• Spacing between letters and words
• Optional shading effects

With Spencerian Handwriting, you can add a personal touch to all your handwritten letters and notes reminiscent of simpler, more elegant times.

Gabri Joy Kirkendann et al.

Creative Lettering and Beyond combines the artistic talents and inspirational tips and tutorials of several professional hand letterers and calligraphers for a dynamic and interactive learning experience. After a brief introduction to the various tools and materials, artists and lettering enthusiasts will learn how to master the art of hand lettering and typography through engaging, easy-to-follow step-by-step projects, prompts, and exercises. From the basic shape and form of letters, to cursive script, spacing, and alignment, artists will discover how to transform simple words, phrases, and quotes into beautiful works of hand-lettered art. The interactive format and step-by-step process offers inspirational instruction for a wide variety of fun projects and gift ideas, including hand-rendered phrases on paper and digitally enhanced notecards. Artists will also discover how to apply lettering to linen, coffee mugs, calendars, and more. Numerous practice pages and interactive prompts throughout the book invite readers to put their newfound lettering skills to use, as well as work out their artistic ideas. Covering a variety of styles and types of lettered art, including calligraphy, illustration, chalk lettering, and more, artists will find a plethora of exercises and tips to help them develop their own unique lettering style. With comprehensive instructions and fun, inspirational exercises and projects, Creative Lettering and Beyond is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to learn this beautiful and stylish art form.

Chalkfulloflove and Paige Tate Select

If you follow Chalkfulloflove (also known as Sarah!) on social media, you and thousands of others already know how adorable her hand-lettered creations are. With Hand Lettering 101, Sarah brings her fabulous Hand Lettering 101 workshop right to you with this beginner workbook! In this book, you will go over the basics on how to learn Sarah's fun style of faux calligraphy. This book will guide you through each letter of the lower case alphabet, go over her technique behind connecting letters, give tips on how to mix and match your fonts, and finally lead you to make six finished projects! This is an introduction, so no experience is needed! Since practice is key, this gold spiral bound workbook lays flat and provides tons of opportunities for practice! Chalkfulloflove was created to encourage, inspire and make you giggle, so just pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in to start your own unique, adorable lettering creations!

Anne Trubek

In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures--far from John Hancock’s elegant model--have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication. Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek uncovers the long and significant impact handwriting has had on culture and humanity--from the first recorded handwriting on the clay tablets of the Sumerians some four thousand years ago and the invention of the alphabet as we know it, to the rising value of handwritten manuscripts today. Each innovation over the millennia has threatened existing standards and entrenched interests: Indeed, in ancient Athens, Socrates and his followers decried the very use of handwriting, claiming memory would be destroyed; while Gutenberg’s printing press ultimately overturned the livelihood of the monks who created books in the pre-printing era. And yet new methods of writing and communication have always appeared. Establishing a novel link between our deep past and emerging future, Anne Trubek offers a colorful lens through which to view our shared social experience.

Margaret Shepherd

When you receive the daily mail do you jump to open the handwritten envelopes first because you can’t wait to see who has written and why? Or do you hold those letters aside to savor and enjoy after you are done sorting your bills and tossing the junk mail? Whatever your approach, you no doubt recognize the importance of the note that comes in a unique envelope with distinct handwriting and possibly a decoration or two. Indeed, in an age when even birthday greetings are sent by e-mail, the personal letter is appreciated more than ever before. For those who enjoy writing notes, or those who value doing so but find themselves intimidated by the task, acclaimed calligrapher Margaret Shepherd has created both an epistolary tribute and rescue manual. Just as you cherish receiving personal mail, you can take pleasure in crafting correspondence. Love, gratitude, condolences, congratulations–for every emotion and occasion, a snippet of heartfelt prose is included, sure to loosen the most stymied letter writer. Not only providing inspiration for the content of the missives, The Art of the Handwritten Note gives thorough instruction in the specific details that give so many men and women the jitters when it comes to correspondence that can’t (or shouldn’t) be produced on a keyboard. From overcoming illegible penmanship to mastering the challenge of keeping straight margins, avoiding smeared ink, and choosing stationery that is appropriate but suits your style, this is a powerful little guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring–and noteworthy–way.

The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide: A Complete Step-by-Step Creative Workbook to Jump Start Modern Calligraphy Skills
Peggy Dean

The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide has something for everyone - from beginners that have never used a brush pen, to seasoned letterers looking for new stylistic, expressive options and ideas. Each lesson builds on itself, unlocking endless opportunities inside the playful art of brush lettering.This book covers it all, from the ever-so-important basics, through a journey of faux calligraphy, a comprehensive brush pen guide along with how they're used, pages of different alphabet styles, unique flourishes and ligatures, to creative step-by-step DIY projects. Dive in and discover your unique style.

More Handwriting Titles
The Art of the Personal Letter - Margaret Shepherd and Sharon Hogan
Hand Lettering for Everyone - Cristina Vanko
Hand Lettering Ledger - Mary Kate McDevitt
Handwriting in America - Tamara Plakins Thornton
Improve Your Handwriting - Rosemary Sassoon and Gunnlaugur S.E. Briem
Modern Calligraphy - Molly Suber Thorpe
Pen to Paper - Mary Savig
Simply Calligraphy - Judy Detrick
The Universal Penman - George Bickham

Links and Stuff: June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book 12: Today Will Be Different

TITLE: Today Will Be Different
AUTHOR: Maria Semple
STARTED: May 28, 2017
FINISHED: June 11, 2017
PAGES: 272
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Today will be different.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

THOUGHTS: I've held off on reviewing this book because I was still trying to decide if I actually liked it or not. Two weeks later and the best conclusion I can come to is that I like the book but I loathe the main character. The story is well written and paced, but I just could not take to the main character. Even when you're supposed to sympathize with Eleanor, I just wanted to yell at her. To me, she's self-centered, dense, and grating. If I met Eleanor in real life, she would be that person I avoid like the plague. My dislike of her overwhelms the rest of the book. The story is fine and I enjoy how the authored structured it as flashbacks set in one day of recall, but again with the character. She just drove me batty.


RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 25, 2017

The movers we hired to help us relocate one of our branch library collections into the main library started this week. This is the last branch library closure I will have to manage. (Huzzah!) This has been the most complicated relocation and I am so happy it looks like we will finish on time. My project management skills may have grown through all of these relocations, but I am SO SO happy that my department gets to focus on other things now.

In happier news, Lady B and I treated ourselves to facials on Tuesday. It was a wonderful mid-week treat but I always have a hard time not petting my own face afterwards.

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, May 2017 - This week, I took some time to clear off all of the professional reading that has accumulated on my desk. I thought I was going to breeze through this issue, but I thought the story on engaging students with whiteboards was very relevant. We have whiteboards throughout our library, so I liked the new ideas of how we might use them.
    • College and Research Libraries News, June 2017 - This issue opened with a story about how libraries can support refugees and asylum piece. It's an important and, unfortunately, necessary piece for today. In happier news, I'm jealous of the Penn State library's 3D printing program... mainly because there was a photo of a printed t-rex skull in the article. It looked so cool!
    • American Libraries, May 2017 - The Trends story in this issue was all about inclusion. I am so glad that libraries still scream from the mountaintop "All are welcome here!" There was also a great article about adding libraries to public housing developments. I love that kind of outreach. The bulk of this issue was devoted to the annual systems report and tech trends. I love seeing all the new things that come out each year and how libraries choose to take advantage of innovation. Finally, AL did something (new to me) in this issue - they highlighted notable dissertations from library science students. That was really cool!
    • American Libraries, June 2017 - This issue was focused mainly on the ALA annual conference. (One of these days I will get to attend!) My favorite article in this issue highlighted the brave souls who desegregated the libraries in the American South. I also liked the piece of mindful librarianship.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, May 2017 - This issue exemplified why I decided to subscribe to this magazine. It has fantastic local human interest stories (when flooding hit the Greenbrier resort area), it gave me ideas of things to do (Virginia wineries), and I learned a bit of DC area history that was new to me (the baseball misfits). Now I just have to read one more of these issues before I am fully caught up on my backlog. Woot!
    • National Geographic, July 2017 - I was lucky enough to read the majority of this issue in one setting. That was great because I was able to see how climate change was affecting the antarctic and then see all the beautiful pictures of what
      wildlife and ecosystems we could lose. Then, I got to read a great story about a man who risks his life to harvest psychotropic honey. That's not your average beekeeping job. Finally, there was a great story about hummingbirds which included some stunning photography.
  • Books
    • I'm nearly done reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a good book but this story on top of my work stress has given me very odd dreams.
  • Other

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Friday Find: Mobile

I need this Harry Potter mobile for reasons.

I can hang it over my desk.

You can find this at the LesPetitsshop on Etsy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why I Love... Bookish Puns

This past month at work has been rough. We are relocating our Music branch library into the main library collection. It's a lot of physical, mental, and strategic planning work and I've been the project manager on this (and all our other) library relocations.

My brain is about ready for a vacation but it can't take one just yet. Instead, I amuse myself after long days with a few wonderful bookish puns.

Puns are great because they're stupidly funny and enjoyable. They are ideal antedotes for long days when my mind needs a bit of break as well as a challenge of something different. Bookish puns are extra awesome because they speak to my literary side and help me feel smart because I am in on the joke.

Word play that is both humorous and informative is the best kind of wit.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 18, 2017

On Monday, the girls and I saw Wonder Woman. IT WAS AMAZING! I was quite scared that the film would not live up to the hype but it did! It did so much! Lady K and I are already talking about seeing it again. I will likely own it and watch it lots.

In reading news, I am [thisclose] to catching up on my magazine backlog.

  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, June 2017 - A cover story about why we lie... while this administration is in office... oh boy! This was a great look at the science and psychology of lying. It also says that none of us tells the truth. Not surprising. Aside from that, this issue had three other great articles: how climate change is impacting the Galapagos, the perils of being an albino in Africa, and the uncovering of an excellent dinosaur fossil.
    • Cooking Light, July 2017 - It's not fair that I don't have a grill. This whole issue was chick full of grilling recipes and they all looked amazing. At least I can partake of the picnic recipes. (Mental note - schedule next picnic) The best part of this issue was the article on non-meat proteins. The Husband and I try to eat vegetarian at least once a week. That's easy. What's not easy is getting us to try tofu. I think some of these recipes might be worth a shot.
    • HGTV, July/August 2017 - This issue was even more catalog like than usual. It was pages and pages of things that you could buy. That said, I did like the article about adding curb appeal. I also liked the fun DIY reupholstery pictures. Before and afters like that are always great.
    • Washingtonian, April 2017 - The main theme of this issue was buying a place in DC. Since The Husband and I are in the market, I ate up all the tips... just not the ads... can't afford those sky-high prices. In non-home news, there was a great guide to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. One of these days we'll spend a long weekend out there. 
  • Books
    • I finished off Today Will Be Different on Sunday night. I've had a week to mull it over and I still don't know if I like the main character or not.
    • I started reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This book has been on my mental TBR for ages. The mood to read it suddenly struck so I grabbed a copy from the public library. I find it odd that it's shelved in the kids section.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friday Find: Notebooks

I have a "thing" for all things stationary. I love walking in to a store that sells pens, papers, cards, and all manner of journal type things. It's a little piece of paradise for me.

If I went in to a store that sold these adorable literary notebooks, it would be really hard for me to not buy one or two.

You can purchase these from Manuscript.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 11, 2017

I did not get much reading done this week. The first reason for that is work was cuh-razy and I came home le tired. The second reason is, last Friday, I decided to start rewatching The West Wing. I might not have completed much in the reading department but binge watching my favorite TV show has been so good for my mental health... particularly this week. #ThisTown #Comey

  • Books
    • I put a HUGE dent in Today Will Be Different. If I don't finish it tonight, I would be surprised.
  • Other
    • All things Comey hearing related. I am a DC girl after all. 
In other news, I made a new cookie recipe this week - Bourbon Chocolate Chip. I used a small cookie scoop which resulted in bite-sized pieces of awesome. You have got to try them.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Book 11: Dear Data

TITLE: Dear Data: A Friendship in 52 Weeks of Postcards
AUTHOR: Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec
STARTED: May 10, 2017
FINISHED: May 28, 2017
PAGES: 291
GENRE: Non-fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Foreward] "My experience is what I agree to attend to," William James wrote at the dawn of modern psycholog.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Equal parts mail art, data visualization, and affectionate correspondence, Dear Data celebrates "the infinitesimal, incomplete, imperfect, yet exquisitely human details of life," in the words of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), who introduces this charming and graphically powerful book. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via mail weekly—small portraits as full of emotion as they are data, both mundane and magical. Dear Data reproduces in pinpoint detail the full year's set of cards, front and back, providing a remarkable portrait of two artists connected by their attention to the details of their lives—including complaints, distractions, phone addictions, physical contact, and desires. These details illuminate the lives of two remarkable young women and also inspire us to map our own lives, including specific suggestions on what data to draw and how. A captivating and unique book for designers, artists, correspondents, friends, and lovers everywhere.

THOUGHTS: The authors of this book were on NPR some time ago and I really liked the idea of this project. I added the book to my TBR list and I just now got around to reading it. What I thought would be a quick, two-hour read turned into a much deeper and far more interesting book. Sure this work is mainly pictures, but if you take the time to read and try to analyze the data it becomes a much better book. You could just flip through the postcards, but it's far more interesting to the explanations the author gives for how the authors are illustrating their data collections. I also loved that each page included some additional insights the authors discovered about themselves.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

The Friday Find: Spectacles

There are a lot of stereotypes about librarians, but one of them is that we all wear glasses. Thick rimmed and cat-eye glasses seem to be the most preferred presentation of the stereotype. If you want to give in to the myth, might I suggest adding this lovely dress to your wardrobe.

Hat Tip to Lady B for finding this dress from Boden.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Links and Stuff: June 8, 2017

From Indexed

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Book 10: The Truth About Alice

TITLE: The Truth About Alice
AUTHOR: Jennifer Mathieu
STARTED: May 3, 2017
FINISHED: May 9, 2017
PAGES: 201
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: I, Elaine O'Dea, am going to tell you two definite, absolute, indisputable truths.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody. Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

THOUGHTS: I thought this book would make me cranky. Whenever it comes to reading about slut-shaming, I get angry and righteous. This book did make me cranky but only a little. Throughout the books, I mainly felt compassion and empathy for the characters and the events in their lives. I have to give kudos to Mathieu for right such a well-done book about a touchy subject.

Each chapter in this book takes a different characters' point-of-view. Throughout the story, their thoughts and opinions about various events unfold and overlap. This structure works well to show how our experiences are not always the same as others. It also helps to show how personal bias colors our views and actions. It terms of teaching teenagers to think twice before they act or spread a rumor, I have to give Mathieu an A+.

The only thing that kept me from loving this book is that it leans too heavily on stereotypes. The jock is popular, the nerd is ignored, etc. While I get that this is often the way of things, this book was too nuanced for such writing.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Why I Love... A Sudden Reading Mood

I am a total mood reader. I pick what book I'm reading based on what I am in the mood for at that very moment. When I have no specific genre craving, it makes it hard to get in to a book. That's why I love it when a mood suddenly strikes.

These events send me bolting to my bookcase, bookstore, or a library to grab a book that fulfills my sudden craving. It makes me happy and gives me a ton of reading energy. When I find that perfect book for my sudden reading mood, I've been known to plow through it in record time... usually because I neglect sleep.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Book 9: The Woman in Cabin 10

TITLE: The Woman in Cabin 10
AUTHOR: Ruth Ware
STARTED: April 29, 2017
FINISHED: May 3, 2017
PAGES: 341
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: In my dream, the girl was drifting, far, far below the crashing waves and the cries of the gulls in the cold, sunless depths of the North Sea.


THOUGHTS: I haven't read a thriller in years. Many many years. I tossed this book on to my TBR list after reading a review that piqued my interest. I am so glad I did that because this was a fun book to read. I started it at the end of readathon and stayed up past my usual stop time because I was that absorbed in to the story.

I can't review this book, plot-wise without giving stuff away. (I'm not good at being spoiler free.) But I can tell you that the characters are well-written and I love how everyone in the story interacts. Some of the motivation was a touch hard to believe but not enough for me to be taken out of the story. For some reason, this book reminded me of a stage-play in terms of how everything works together.

In terms of writing, Ware manages to give just enough detail to set the scene and create tension without overdoing it. There was not a lot of excess material to the text and I don't remember a single, unnecessary paragraph of infodumping. The story flows nicely with enough tension and slacktime to be well-paced.

While this is far from high-literature or the best book I've read, it's definitely a great summer or beach read.

RATING:7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, June 04, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 4, 2017

One of the aspects of librarianship that I think many people overlook is how physical the job can be. We are relocating our music library branch into our main library. While I'm done heaving books and boxes about, I've moved onto the planning stage which, somehow, involves lots of squats. Lots and lots of squats. That's what I get for measuring shelves and writing down call numbers.

At least it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream.
  • Magazines
    • Real Simple, May 2017 - The cover was all about makeovers... but there was only one makeover in this issue. Hmm. Anyway. I enjoyed the useful information in the articles on delegating and medical tests, but my favorite piece in this issue was the story about how a woman remembers her father through dance. It brought a few tears to my eyes. I also saved a couple of tasty looking recipes from the food section. 
    • Real Simple, June 2017 - These issue had two major articles that I found useful. The first was on how to finally stop procrastinating and finish things that have been on your to do list for awhile. While the article lack broad tips, I did like that it gave specific examples of how to complete tasks. The second article was about how to be more mindful and healthy with your "me" time. As someone who loves to veg with a
      snack and bad TV, this piece was talking to me.
    • The Atlantic, June 2017 - This issue is well worth the time it takes to read it cover to cover. All of the feature articles and most of the small stories are just fantastic. The cover story called "My Families Slave" was eye-opening and had me in tears by the end. The story on children who are born as psychopaths was a whole new take on brain and behavioral science for me. The feature story on Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader, just made me want to punch things... but in a very understandable way. Finally, the piece on Akan Eustace and his jump for the edge of space was a great adventure story.
    • Washingtonian, March 2017 - I am so far behind in my
      backlogs of this magazine that I was ecstatic I managed to finish one issue this week. The cover story on great places to work in DC was fine, but I did like the prep piece on workplace trends. I also enjoyed the article on how to become a great D.C. United fan. The most surprising story in this issue was about Bobby Charles Thompson, a man who conned thousands for a fake charity while working under a stolen identity while claiming to be under deep cover for the CIA. Phew! Was that a mouthful to get out.
  • Books
    • I started reading Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. I can't remember why this book ended up on my TBR list, but so far I'm glad it did. I'm not entirely in love with the main character, but I don't think I'm supposed to be. The story is good despite my misgivings.
  • Other

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Friday Find: Tumbler

Books and beverages go hand in hand. Sometimes, I even pair my library trips with a stop at a coffee shop. If you love home brew best, this is a fantastic travel tumbler in which to carry it.
You can find this in the AThingCreated Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 01, 2017