Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

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If you could see all of the activity around me today, you would know that the answer to that question is “yes.”  Of course I would say that as a librarian, but the last few days have brought home to me how much our services are needed.

There is so much information available on the internet that people need someone to sort through information for them.  Librarians find creditable sources and libraries pay to use online databases that the general public cannot afford as individual  subscriptions.  Yesterday I showed a mother the Tumblebooks link on our kids page.  With a computer, children can see the pages of picture books on which the words are highlighted while the computer reads the text aloud.  I also explained the Maker Lab to a very excited patron.These are two of the many resources you can access with your library card.  We offer e-books and audiobooks that can be downloaded to your mp3 player through Overdrive, streaming movies from Hoopla, magazines through Flipster, music downloads through Freegal and a language learning program called Mango.  All of these services can be accessed from home through whatever internet device you own.

We currently have two terrific apps for your mobile device: the ACPL mobile app lets you browse the catalog, check the events calendar, store your library card info and renew books with a touch of your screen; the family app has games, information and much more to offer to parents of young children.  You currently need to have an Apple device to access the family app, but I’m told it will be available for android in the future.

Libraries are gathering points for the community.  Parents attend the same story times each week with their children and make friends with other parents.  Groups use our meeting rooms for quilting, dance, yoga, scrap-booking and, of course, meetings.  ACPL has its own theater and art gallery. There are also live music concerts throughout the year.  This summer ACPL again offers Rock the Plaza concerts outdoors on Saturday evenings.  Oh, by the way, we also have books.

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Is your Christmas crazy?

Everyone is asking me what I want for Christmas this year.  After we decide that what I really want is unobtainable (world peace, an end to poverty, a healthy body . . .) I’m having a hard time giving any real kind of answer to that question.  I have everything I NEED and most of what I want.

Thinking back on gifts that I have really enjoyed throughout my life, they all have something in common; I didn’t know the gift was something I wanted, and the giver had put both time and thought into it. I still have some of those gifts because they are so special to me. The Santa head that my dad carved from a 1-inch dowel rod hangs in a place of honor on my tree each year.  When I was about 4 my grandmother made me a bathrobe and gave me a stuffed animal with a matching robe.  That was awesome.  I still have the shell necklace my best friend made for me in high school.  Another friend sometimes gives me animals through Heifer International. I’m about to redeem a coupon for two hours of cleaning from a special friend.  Her children have made us some neat gifts over the years.

The frenzy of shopping that begins in November used to really stress me out.  I worried about giving the perfect gift to each family member and to friends.  I like to give gifts that are meaningful to the people receiving them.  We always used credit cards to buy  our Christmas purchases and spent several months paying them off only to repeat the cycle the next year.  I’m stopping the frenzy.  I give to a charity of my choice in honor of my family and friends and send them cards to let them know I have done so.  If I am going to see them during the holidays I might give them cookies or something else I have made.  I’m learning (slowly) that presence is more important than presents and that gift giving does not have to involve a lot of money.  If you are interested in simplifying your Christmas preparations, Becoming Minimalist has gathered a list of helpful websites.  I may be too late to stop the madness this year, but it is something to think about for next year.  You may also want to look at simplechristmas.org.  It is a website put together by a church that wanted to do more than just talk about simplifying their celebrations.

My (adult) children will have presents to open, but I still have nothing I need and little that I want.  If you need to give me a present, please give a gift to your favorite charity in my name, or make something for me from materials you already have so that it costs you no more than time.

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Over the years some of the most cherished gifts I’ve received have been handmade by family and friends — a scrapbook from my aunt, an afghan made by my grandma, a quilt rack built by my husband, and a variety of blankets and toys made for my daughter when she was born.  If you’re considering giving handmade gifts this holiday season, we have a variety of books for both adults and kids that can inspire and instruct you in your gift-making.  Here’s a sampling:

For adults:

lastminutegifts Last-Minute Gifts by Taylor Hagerty
practicalprojects Practical Projects from Fine Woods: Making Elegant Gifts from Wood by Kerry Pierce
gourmetgifts Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Dishes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself and wrap with Style by Dinah Corley
simplypapercutting Simply Paper Cutting: Hand-Cut Paper Projects for Home Decor, Stationery, and Gifts by Anna Bondoc
sewgifty Sew Gifty: Fun Accessories, Decor Accents, Baby Gifts, and Other Perfect Presents by Janis Bullis
knitstogive Knits to Give: 30 Knitted Gifts Made with Love by Debbie Bliss
gardnersbookofhandmadegifts A Gardener’s Book of Handmade Gifts: How to Grow and Make Delightful Presents for and from the Garden: 20 Charming Practical Ideas Shown in 120 Stunning, Evocative Photographs by Stephanie Donaldson

For kids:

101greatgiftsfromkids 101 Great Gifts from Kids: Fabulous Gifts Every Child Can Make by Stephanie R. Mueller
giftstomakeforyourfavoritegrownup Gifts to Make for Your favorite Grownup by Kathy Ross
giftskidscanmake Gifts Kids Can Make by Sheila McGraw

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Grace under fire

Georgetown branch has a long-standing program (almost 10 years strong!): Family Fun Night.  Every Monday night from 7 to 8, we have a variety of activities and crafts for families with kids of all ages.  Each week is a different thing to try — sometimes it’s board games, sometimes we make mustaches or do face painting.  And while we have several regulars who hang with us weekly, we see lots of different faces.  Last week, we did Q-tip painting and had a blast!


This week, we had planned a theme of Paint a Mini Pumpkin.  I was planning to buy an armload of the tiny pumpkins — the ones you can hold in your palm.  I didn’t want them to rot before we had a chance to use them, so I waited to purchase them.  But when I went to purchase them, they were out.  I drove to a few different stores but there were none to be found.

Planning is hard

Last week we had a total of nine people, and a normal crowd for Family Fun Night is 30 people (kids and adults).  So I figured if I bought the 10 remaining pie pumpkins at the store and 10 more gourds that we would have enough for each kid to paint one item.  I got the paints and brushes ready.  And kids started to show up.  And more kids.  And more kids.  And more!  Our lobby was full of kids waiting to paint pumpkins.  I did not have nearly enough to go around.

My co-workers are awesome

My co-workers rallied with me.  Jon dashed off to the store to buy more gourds.  We brought out paper and foam pumpkins and scissors.  We squeezed out paint for the waiting tables, handed out brushes, and encouraged kids to get down and get creative.  Each child’s name was written on a slip of paper and we had a drawing for the pumpkins and gourds we did have available.  Some generous kids who did win a pumpkin opted out and let another child have a chance at getting one.  Jon drove to four stores before he found a place that had gourds for sale and got them back before the end of the program.

Our patrons are awesome

I was obviously not prepared for the crowd that we had.  But not a single person complained.  Parents encouraged their kids to have fun painting paper plates and cutting out paper pumpkins.  Grown-ups helped us pass out supplies and gather up the raffle slips.  There was creativity and community spirit and helpfulness and laughing and understanding and so much fun.  I am so thankful for the generosity of our families and their ability to be flexible and work with what we had available.  The kids in the room tonight learned that sometimes you just have to make the most of what you have.  And I learned that the Georgetown Branch Library — its patrons and workers — ROCKS.

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Get crafty … Pinterest not required

Pinterest is all the current rage online.  Pinterest users can “pin” pictures from websites onto their online “boards.”  Clicking on the picture will take you back to the website the picture was taken from and, much like Facebook, the pictures can be seen by the user’s Followers.  Some of the most popular types of “pins” include food and recipes, quotes, and arts and crafts.  I freely admit to being a Pinterest user, but in the year or so that I’ve been using Pinterest I’ve found that it has its limitations.  Personally, I have found Pinterest to be unreliable when it comes to finding tutorials for crafting and much prefer getting my craft instructions from books.

My preference for books over Pinterest is due to the inconsistent quality of crafts found on Pinterest.  Most Pinterest crafts come from personal blogs.  While some of these may contain high quality, easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, this is often not the case. Professionally published craft books, on the other hand, feature high quality design, professional photographs and illustrations, and carefully edited step-by-step instructions.  They also include patterns, if necessary.  For example, I recently made a doll for a friend’s daughter using the book Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love.  The book included all necessary pattern templates, detailed, step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and photographs of the finished doll.  it also included a “Stitch Glossary” explaining, with illustrations, all of the different stitches used during the project.  The instructions were clear, complete, and concise, and I was thrilled with the final project.

At ACPL we have a wide variety of craft books available to get your creative juices flowing.  Our books cover all skill levels and all types of crafts:  from fiber crafts such as quilting, knitting, sewing, crocheting, and embroidery, to toy making, paper crafts, jewelery making, flower arranging and wood carving.  We even have books focused on seasonal crafts and upcycled projects.  If you enjoy crafting with others, bring your current project and join us at our Craft Cafe, the second Thursday of each month, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the Downtown Library.

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