Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Book Review...Well Sort Of

M y initial idea for this post was to write an in-depth review of This Book is Overdue : How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. Some people have commented that they had high hopes for this book, I have to admit that I wasn't one of them. All I really wanted from this work was a simple layman's look at librarians and how their jobs are important. Ultimately I thought this would just be a nice skimming of the surface of hugely complex issues, with a nod of the head towards the librarians of the world. Never once did I think This Book is Overdue would be a detailed report on the field of librarianship.

So, I started reading hoping for merely a pleasant read that explained some issues that librarians must face. I kept notes as I went, but the further I got the less and less I wanted to pick up the book to continue reading. I felt myself dreading having to read the next self centered chapter. When Marilyn Johnson plugged her own last written book I nearly gave up completely. It wasn't until I finished the sixth chapter, entitled How to Save the World, though that I realized that this book (wherever it was leading) was a complete waste of my time.

Though there are many issues that led me to this final conclusion, I don't feel that is it fair to voice them all without having read the final result. With that in mind I will simply leave you with the thought that resounded throughout my short experience with this book...Stop telling me what you did to research the book and give me the book!

 *cap supplied by Jessica Hische at DailyDropCap    

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way: How an Ironing Board Stole my Heart

 Never in my life had I been excited about an ironing board, never that is until we moved into our latest apartment. On touring the space I was excited by the pre-war details that it offered, one of which was a pull out ironing board in the kitchen! How very "retro"!

The tenants before us had wreaked havoc on the apartment though, and even though the cleaning crews did a pretty great job of getting the place fixed up before we moved in, they left the ironing board untouched. This little gem was in pretty bad shape. The fabric it had been covered in was disgusting and the foam was basically disintegrating all over the cabinet it was stored in. It was nothing a little elbow grease couldn't fix...but it was something I put off fixing from a lack of wanting to apply that elbow grease.

The Before Picture:

The Before Picture (the seedy underbelly):

I finally got to the job though, and I tell you what, I am thrilled with the results!

My beau and I are trying to give our kitchen a retro modern look, something that is both practical and fun to be in (for us and any possible guests). We don't have a ton of counter space though, so I had been pondering a way to make more room for a bar area when we do have company and it hit me like a ton of bricks...the IRONING BOARD! I could spruce up that old ironing board with a fun and funky fabric that would make it functional as an ironing board and awesome as a bar. Once this thought occurred to me I set about trying to find the perfect fabric.

I wanted a fabric that had a pattern on it that wouldn't show too much browning from the ironing, but would also offer us a focal point for the room when it is out. The pattern had to be something super duper awesome, the type of awesome that can only be taken in small measures...not covering an entire room.Therefore I headed on over to the cyberspace store of Fabric Worm and scrolled through their many offerings until I found the ONE. This fabric was absolutely perfect! It had the retro feel I wanted and the BLAMO! personality I craved. I bought it almost immediately and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

While waiting for my beautiful new fabric I tried to figure out what the best material to pad the ironing board with would be. I did a little research and stumbled upon a manufacturers' page where they indicated that felt allowed for a more even ironing experience, whereas foam allowed for better support. I decided to go with the felt for a few reasons:
1. It is cheaper
2. It is easy to replace when it gets dirty
3. It doesn't disintegrate like foam
4. Being that it is a sort of fabric it is easier to wield and stick down

The Felt Ready for Action:

Close Up of Rockets in Action:

With my felt in hand and my fabric now sitting on the kitchen table the last order of pre-planning business was to decide how I wanted to secure the fabric and felt down. The previous tenants at our apartment had used a staple gun and nails and it was obvious how poorly that had worked out, both for the wood of the ironing board and the fabric clinging to the rusted staples. I didn't want to use anything that would make it difficult to take the fabric off the board to clean, but I also needed something that would secure both the felt and fabric down tight. I finally landed on Scotch Mounting Tape. I had used this tape to secure my bulletin boards and therefore knew it was reliable. Using the double sided tape would guarantee that the fabric would stay put, while still allowing for easy enough removal when the time came to either replace the felt, clean the fabric, or move out.

With all the details worked out my guy and I went about cleaning the ironing board area. He pulled out the majority of the staples and then I set about picking up all the tattered pieces of cloth and crumbling foam. After this step I went ahead and scrubbed the ironing board and cabinet down, probably about four times, and then swept up the remaining particles. I dried up the wood with a fan and then went about placing the felt and fabric on the freshly cleaned board.

All I really needed to do for the felt was to fold it over so that it was thick enough (I got a pretty large piece) and then place the tape strategically around the bottom of the ironing board and press the felt over it. Once that was done I just went about taping down the fabric. As I have mentioned before, on this blog, I am horrible at measurements and am just as equally bad (if not worse) at cutting fabric evenly. One day I plan on getting a nice cutting grid and a rotary cutter to help fix this problem, but as for now I am satisfied to just make sure the fabric fits around what it needs to (even if the fabric on the bottom is a little jagged). Therefore I didn't pre-cut the fabric, rather I set about eyeballing the cutting of the fabric as I went.

Laying the Fabric Down:

 End done and Moving Forward:

Once all that was done, and the fabric was secure I was left with a new and improved, amazingly beautiful ironing board / bar!!

My Beau Showing Off the End Product (so soft, yet flat):

Ironing Board Mode:

 The More Jazzy Bar Mode:

A Little Close Up of Bar Mode:

 *cap supplied by Jessica Hische at DailyDropCap      

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Uh-Oh, I Feel Passionate about Something: A Rant and a bit of a Rave on Libraries (heavy concentration to be given to Chicago Public)

 Upon first entering the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago I knew I was in love. This was a deep and forever type of love. It was not merely the services they offered, the rows and rows of book stacks, the rare book room that had Vonnegut books on exhibit, the amazing size, nor the tables full of computers - no the thing that really made my heart skip a beat was the beauty of the architecture, the beauty of being in such an awe inspiring place. I mean this library is gorgeous, I could go on forever about each little detail, but the reason this architecture made me so annoyingly emotional was because of the respect for libraries it conveyed. This city had spent the time and the money to create a library that stood for something - a library that showed respect for its citizens by offering them not just a stack of books and some free internet access, but rather a space for them to gather information that could be processed into knowledge and wisdom. To see a library like this, built in  the supposed "Information age," was something that truly overjoyed me. I mean sure, I had heard of a few of these wonders popping up every now and again, but the truth of the matter was I had never been in one and the possibility of them continuing to be built seems to get less and less each year. So I left this library feeling excited, thrilled, and depressed...I mean the fact that this was my first experience in such a grand library and I was already 22 made me realize even more how much I longed to wander such halls daily.

The Exterior of The Harold Washington Library Center:

One of my Favorite Exterior Details:

The Winter Garden:

On our next visit to Chicago we made a point to visit the Cultural Center. I had heard that the architecture was gorgeous and so we set off, on our last day in the city, to give our eyes a treat. I will admit that I had done little research into the building and so when we got there I was excited to learn that half of it used to be the library for Chicago. I made a mad dash for that part of the building and was soon standing under (what I was told was) the largest Tiffany dome. Around me was marble of the highest quality and quotes all about the importance of the book. In the beginning I was like a kid in a candy store. I took picture after picture and stood, just trying to soak up all the beauty that surrounded me. I couldn't get over how amazing this building was. A volunteer started listing off all the wonderful materials that had been used to create this utopia, and I listened as best as I could while still darting my eyes from one detail to the next.

The Exterior of the Old Library:

The Stairway:





By the time we left though I was almost in tears. I was in the middle of a class on Special Collections and Rare Book Librarianship and was less than thrilled with some of the discussions that had ensued, mainly the ones regarding how much funding kept getting cut from libraries and how little places there were left for specialist librarians. This old library was just another stab to the heart, how many more libraries like this could we expect? How long could we expect these old libraries (or any libraries for that matter)  to be revered? I got a little boost from remembering my first visit to the city and the amazing Library Center I had seen then, but I have to be honest and say that my outlook was still not all rainbows and sunshine.

Lately libraries have been even more in the public eye with so many proposed budget cuts that would see the dwindling budgets of libraries threatened even more. Being in the library/librarian profession most of the people I know are completely against these cuts, but based on the lack of response that I had seen in the public I wasn't too hopeful that enough people cared (or cared enough to fight about it).

The last couple of days have given me a little more strength though. First I was sent an article which, while a little romanticized at times (pot calling the kettle black perhaps), has such a positive message as to why libraries are needed that I couldn't help but feel a little more chipper. Perhaps we stood a chance. Then there was a report on Fox news that, while I can't agree with so many that it was completely horrid, did have some harsh things to say about libraries. The report struck even more of a chord with me though because it focused in on the Chicago Public Library System...my shining beacon of hope!

What happened after this though was so exciting to me, I mean after all it did inspire this entire, completely long-winded blog post. Not only were many people, general public people -  patrons, leaving comment after comment on how awful it would be to cut the budget of the libraries, but also there came a response from the Chicago Public Library Commissioner that was so insightful and intelligent as to why libraries are necessary to the public. So, while it might be a long battle ahead (and an uphill one at that) I have to say that it is responses like this one that make me feel like I have that fight in me. I just hope that others have that fight in them too!

*cap supplied by Jessica Hische at DailyDropCap    

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What you want in a Heat Wave - YARN!

 T ravel followed by a heat wave has led me to put down my crafting ways and instead pick up a book and sit in front of the air conditioning like a lump. I plan to be back in action soon, but to amuse everyone in the New York area in the meantime, I thought I would let everyone know that two money savers are currently happening at Lion Brand Studio.

The first deal that everyone, currently being tortured by this heat, needs to know is that the Studio is having a Studio Heat Wave Savings -  here is the post from Raverly:

As the temperature rises, so do the savings! From June 1st to August 31st, if the predicted high* temperature that day is:
over 90 degrees, you get 10% off all yarn purchases that day;
over 95 degrees, you get 15% off all yarn purchases that day;
over 100 degrees, you get 20% off all yarn purchases that day.
BUT to get these special savings you have to ask the secret question: “What’s my Studio Heat Wave discount?” at the time of purchase. So come in, ask, and start saving!
Predicted high temperature on Weather.com for the zip code 10011 at the time of the Studio’s opening. Not valid on online orders placed at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. Cannot be applied to previous purchases. Cannot be combined with any other offers or coupons.

The next awesome happening is a Window Trivia Contest. The idea of possibly winning some cash is fun, but all I really care about is that free tote!

So, as unappealing as a bunch of yarn might sound in this heat, I would recommend heading on over to the air conditioned studio and passing some of your free time, perhaps you could look for some patterns or work on a project - but most important, be sure to take advantage of the summer savings!

*cap supplied by Jessica Hische at DailyDropCap