Monday, December 3, 2012

CPD Thing 5: Reflective Practice

Reflective practice ( reflecting on the previous 4 Things, and really of all the things I have gotten to do through my blog, techie stuff, and library do-dads), has allowed me to...
  • Realize how I can make better use of my time online without getting too bogged down
  • See more online -- more fun things especially! Google Reader has become my dearest friend
  • Appreciate my blog more, and that it's not a waste of time
  • Realize that Twitter isn't all dull dribble, but actually can be nice
  • Realize that there are some things I should try, but that I still don't need to stretch too thin
  • Remind myself that there is always more to learn and more to do -- get sponging!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

CPD Thing 4: Twitter, RSS, and Storify

Thing 4 in the 23 Things for Professional Development is about current awareness and staying up to date in library trends and other things that you like by using various technologies to make it a little easier. The three technologies this Thing has us looking at is Twitter, RSS Feeds, and Storify.


I really haven't gotten into using Twitter. I already had a Twitter account at , but I for some reason got it in my head that I should use it to promote my own blog rather than using it to keep up with what's going on in the library world in general. Like the 23 Things blog said, I mainly thought of it as celebrities tweeting about what they ate for lunch, and on occasion, I've used it to see how ridiculous (and completely uninteresting) people can be which they feel they need to publicize. In fact, when I'm feeling down, I like to search for #YOLO because it always makes me laugh out loud. Seriously though, give that a shot...

Meanwhile, I also decided that I should only follow as many people as were following me, and therefore, I follow a puny amount of accounts, and I've been missing out on a lot of great chances to keep up with bigger fish. So the first thing I did was to look up VLA (Virginia Library Assn) and follow them. Then, I proceeded to look at who they follow, and went from there. I've now doubled the number of accounts that I follow, but they will hopefully be useful to me. Also, if you're looking for a job in libraries, there are a lot of organizations you can follow that post job information, which I've found to be helpful in the job search.

One of my favorite things to follow is EarlyWord, which abounds in awesome information about new books and movies that can help me get a leg up on what's coming up next. Having already been checking into the website off and on, I'm now following the Twitter account and have added it to my Google Reader-- see below.

RSS Feeds

I knew that this was an important tool, but somehow thought it to be more complicated than it really was (this is hilarious to me, since RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication"), and was embarrassed that I didn't already know how to use it. However, I didn't actually realize that I had already started to use RSS feeds -- I "subscribed" to various blogs but only checked them through Blogger, rather than using Google Reader to just quickly browse the various new posts on blogs in this easy-to-use format. Not really sure why, but now that I've got the hang of it, it's awesome, and get this -- really simple. Especially because before now I wasn't quite sure how to follow blogs outside of the Google-sphere. Now I can follow everything, all in one spot, and quickly see what new posts might be worth checking out! Lovely. 


For me, Storify is just a step too far, and I'm not sure that I need to make different "stories" out of all the other social media content that exists out on the web. I like sharing different blogs and things, but I would rather just share it on my blog, where I can also weigh in on what I'm sharing a little more. So I'm skipping this one. Just because it is there doesn't mean it's right for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spongy Changes

A lot has changed in my little world these past few weeks -- I am now working as a Children's Specialist at the Gordon Avenue Library to indulge my love of children's literature, reading stories aloud, and to try my hand at some programming.  I do preschool and drop-in storytimes, afterschool programs every other week for elementary-school aged kids, and children's programming. So. There's a lot to think about there.  On top of that, I am also the Young Adult person here, which is really exciting. I'll be planning programs, but also trying to build up the teen programs here at Gordon Ave. and hope to come up with some really exciting ways to engage them in the library.

Having started fully in September, I have gotten a feel for what I'm doing a little better now after two months into it, and I am ready to start sharing.  Hoorah!

In addition, if it's escaped previous attentions, I'm putting my recipes and adventures in food into the tab marked "In the Kitchen", a slightly different blog with my food stuffs on it-- especially useful for searching for my own recipes when I want to find one quickly, use the iPad as my recipe book, or share one with friends. Have at it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Children's Author Highlight: Steve Jenkins

For all those parents of children who have a million and one questions about animals, Steve Jenkins is the guy for you. He co-authors many of his books with his wife, Robin Page, and he does the illustrations.
Image from
One of the questions children will always ask is, "What do animals eat?" 

Anytime a desperate parent is looking for something that will be both informative, and still be interesting to their 3-year-old son or daughter (who let's face it, might have an attention span the size of a Jack Russell), I refer them to a Steve Jenkins book. He writes interesting and colorful picture books, with just the right amount of words written in understandable language, and he satisfies both parents and children alike.  

The illustrations from the book are paper collages that he carefully arranges over his sketches. The paper is layered on top of each other. He does a marvelous job of choosing papers that compliment the textures of his subjects. Not only are they eye-popping, but they are so much fun to look at!  To see how he writes his books, check out the page on his website about how he makes books.

Many of his books stem from the questions his children ask. Children are the ultimate sponges of knowledge, and with their constant curiosities, you can only imagine that it was easy for their dad to turn each one into a perfectly lovely book. Now, when children ask me pretty much any question about animals, there is a Steve Jenkins book to answer their questions. Here are a few of my favorites:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Puerto Plata, Por Favor: The Sponge goes to the Dominican Republic

Not the DR, but islands sure
do look pretty from the sky.
The Dominican Republic is a beautiful place to go. As soon as I found out that my husband and I couldn't go to visit our friend in Los Angeles, we decided on the next best thing -- an island in the Caribbean. We planned this literally 3 weeks in advance, and it could not have turned out better. Even I, a planner who often gets anxious when I'm rushed for time, can't see how advanced planning would have made this trip better.

Tuesday - Travel

We pulled an all-nighter before we drove 2 1/2 hours to D.C. C and I got home from work around 10ish that night and had a 6 o'clock flight the next morning. I was entirely too nervous/anxious/excited to sleep, so I packed and unpacked, and checked and rechecked my bags until there was nothing to do but leave.  The good news is, our bags (carry-ons only) were perfectly packed. The bad news is, we learned the hard way that all-nighters before a day of travel sucks, and sucks big. Thinking we would sleep on the plane/at the Miami airport was dumb. So dumb.

Rainy first night.
When we finally got to our hotel in Puerto Plata, about and hour and a half later than we were supposed to, it was raining and we flopped into bed until dinner. It was beautiful. Check-in was not a bear like some of the reviews we had read, which had us pleasantly surprised.

Meals were largely uneventful affairs. Food at the buffet wasn't great, but we really didn't eat there that often (breakfast every day, lunch twice, and dinner-- never). We ate at the restaurants most of the time, because we were able to snag reservations to different restaurants each night (tip: go to Guest Services and ask them if there are any leftovers at the start of each day). There are various restaurants at the resort, all pretty good, but they try to be so international that I didn't really feel like we got a feel for Caribbean cuisine, except for when we went to the Dominican restaurant (the only night we got to eat Dominican food for dinner), where I had a pastelon de platanos (described as Dominican lasagna with plantains used in place of noodles). I had a sweet corn pudding for dessert and Chris had some sort of coconut dessert which tasted like the inside of a Mounds Bar. 

Thursday - Lounging

Hello, beaches!
The next day, we were told we had a special welcome package (which we knew was code for "We're going to try to sell you timeshares for an hour," from reading reviews of the resorts and from the advice of a couple we met along the way). We tried to avoid it, but they wait for you outside of the breakfast buffet so that you have no choice. So we were apprehended and taken to the VIP place. Before the guy could give us the tour and launch into his spiel (but AFTER they gave us complimentary butter-you-up chocolates), I asked if we'd have to pay extra. He tried to skirt this question, but I wasn't having it, and neither was Chris, who jumped in saying that he'd lost his job. When he asked us how we could afford our vacation at all, I told them it was a pity trip gifted to us

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Savory Recipe: Rosemary Walnut Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

The roasted veggies above consist of
asparagus, carrots, and sweet potatoes
After making this, it looked so pretty and tasted so good I decided to share it with anyone and everyone (who reads this blog, that is). The original rosemary walnut chicken recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, so it's very healthy, but I've adapted it or added notes about substitutions you can make when you don't want to go out and buy a bunch of stuff you don't already have. I paired it with roasted vegetables -- one of the easiest and most delightful ways to get your veggies in -- which is something my mom has perfected and I've taken into my repertoire.

Rosemary Walnut Oven-Fried Chicken
  • ¼ c. low-fat buttermilk OR ¼ c. milk with 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar(stir thoroughly)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 6-oz. chicken cutlets (or use bone-in chicken, thighs are a good size but other cuts work too)
  • 1/3 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) – substitute saltines if no panko
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts (I ground in coffee grinder) and then leave some larger pieces for good texture
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CPD Things 1, 2, and 3!

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

So, I've clearly already got the blog down, but this is a nice chance to introduce me to some things, and being the Sponge for Knowledge that I am, I like new Things.

Why I am taking part in this course? Well, as I've stated in Back to Basics, I'm in CPD23 because I didn't get to do much with it last year while I was in school, and now I'm getting my professional development on. Although I feel like I do these kinds of things already, it's a little dash of motivation with a sprinkle of reflection on why I'm doing what I'm doing that makes me like it. I'm looking forward to all of it. This really helped me improve my blog last year, and now I'm getting a chance to push it further. Bring it on!

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

It's nice to go around finding new blogs, but the thing I like best about Thing 2 is the commenting. Opening up dialogues between people is the best -- but this is also how I met The Red Headed Traveler during last

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Back to Basics!

Hola friends!

As you know (or may not, if you're new here), I've been working on my Master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. This has taken up quite a bit of time, as you might expect a Master's program to do, leaving me less time for blogging than I'd like. But now, the good news.

I am done! A Master of Information!

What does that mean for this blog?
  • More cookerating 
  • More celebrating
  • More free thinking
  • More Spanish-learning
  • And... more blog writing!
Specifically, I already have a number of blog posts waiting in the wings, a few recipes I have tried and love (walnut-rosemary chicken with roasted veggies... mmm), recipes that I haven't tried but now must (pastelon de platanos, because of this next thing--), and a trip to the Dominican Republic that knocked my socks off (metaphorically, and actually, since once I boarded my plane to that little paradise, socks were strictly forbidden).

Also, I'll be picking back up on the CPD23 Project, which is now repeating itself for its 2012 edition. For those of you just tuning in, I started this project called the 23 Things for Professional Development last year, which directs librarians to emerging technologies, and introduces them to a great load of, well. Things. For professional development.

I like things, so I joined up last year in a flurry of motivation and excitement for having another thing to do. Or, 23 things, rather. However, I jumped the gun, and because I was in school, couldn't devote as much attention to it as I might have liked. Now that I've graduated, however, this is a perfect way to keep a leg up on social media and emerging technologies.

Tune in next time for my mouthwatering Rosemary-Walnut Chicken and Roasted Vegetables!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: 11 Birthdays

A Book Review of:
Image from

11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass


Amanda has not been looking forward to her eleventh birthday ever since she and her best friend Leo (who has the same birthday) stopped talking to each other a year ago at their 10th birthday party. After suffering through it, she wakes up the next morning just to realize that she has to live the day all over again-- school, gymnastics tryouts, and her crummy party!


I started listening to this as an audiobook, which was very well done, but I checked out the book because I wanted to read more. This book is perfectly written -- from Amanda's point of view, Wendy Mass accurately depicts the feelings of Amanda as she experiences her birthday. From embarrassment, disappointment, and anxiety to her humor, excitement, and pride, Amanda's a very well-rounded character who is extremely believable and likable. Although there is the hint of fantasy (the repeating of a day over and over again), it reads like realistic fiction. It's a great story about friendship and generosity as well, and for anyone who has gone through a rough patch in friendship, it also proves to be a good example

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 1)

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After watching True Blood, I wanted to see how the book measured up. Plus, I was in the mood for a book that required a little less thinking. Coming into it from True Blood, I already knew what to expect more or less, and I wasn't let down. It differs from True Blood in terms of characters, but stayed pretty true otherwise. I really liked hearing it on audiobook because the narrator does a good job of characterizing Sookie.

It's good for a light quirky read. It's an easy romance-mystery novel, but she's not your normal amateur detective in that she's not very actively trying to figure out who the murderer is in her hometown, and you get a lot more of overall characterization than you do in Charlaine Harris's Grave Sight series. I'd recommend it if you like quirky paranormal romances with a bit of mystery.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest

Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest (Rowan Hood, #1)Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest by Nancy Springer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book that makes the legendary story of Robin Hood accessible to girls, and lets them experience similar adventures from a girl's point of view. The protagonist is a young girl named Rosemary whose mother is part aelfin, which gave her some magical powers, most especially in the art of healing. Rosemary returns home one day to find her cottage burned down, and herself an orphan. Her mother had always told her that her father was Robin Hood, and so she sets out to find him. She feels alone and tries hard to make it on her own. Along the way to meet her father, she encounters several interesting characters who become her friends. She soon finds that she has inherited unique aspects of her mother and father's characters, and discovers who she is by the end.

This book is a great book for girls to read that will make them feel capable and ready for an adventure. Springer doesn't sugar coat how hard it is living out in the woods for Ro (who disguises herself as a boy named Rowan to protect herself), and she doesn't paint this time period as one that is easy for girls to live in. Nevertheless, Ro is a strong character that girls will find easy to relate to. The author uses some of the language you might expect for the time period, but it doesn't get in the way of reading it.

I would recommend this book to girls who like the Robin Hood tales, who like strong female protagonists, adventure, or books set in the Medieval Period (or stories with knights, kings, princesses, etc).

Nancy Springer is a fun children's author who takes interesting male characters and puts a girl's twist on them. She does this with her Enola Holmes series (Sherlock Holmes's younger sister). If you liked this, try that series as well.

See my post of Springer's book The Case of the Left-handed Lady, part of the Enola Holmes series. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

2011: My Year in Books

So this year, I definitely topped last year's list of things I read. I can give a lot of credit to the classes I took this past semester-- Adult Reading Interests, Youth Lit, and Storytelling. Boy, did I cover a lot of material there.

Here's the list of books I read. Again, I didn't include any picture books here, or books I only scanned through or used for bits and pieces. Sorry cookbooks, but you didn't make the cut!

Stats: 66 books actually read, of that: 12 audio books, 20 juvenile (fiction and non-fiction chapter books), 15 young adult fiction, 7 adult nonfiction, and 8 graphic novels. I've noted audiobooks with a star, and written "Graphic novel" next to the graphic novels.