Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Update

Had a great weekend! On Saturday, I crossed off one the items on my fall to-do list by going apple picking with my sister-in-law, her husband, and my adorable niece Ava (the hubby was away visiting some college friends). Apple picking was fun! Muddy, but fun. And eating apples right off the tree - divine.

What was odd (for me, at least) was all the families there. OK, this shouldn't be a surprise, because what did I think families with small kids did on the weekends? Head up to Vegas? Go clubbing? But I had this moment of thinking to myself, wow, so this is what you do when you have kids. You take the kids to kid-friendly places. And you have fun too. It's one of those moments when you realize that you are getting older, and that taking your kids and hanging out at the apple orchard sounds like a fantastic weekend. The kind of thoughts that would scare my 21-year-old self, but that my 28-year-old self finds oddly comforting.

On Sunday, we both went to my goddaughter's 5th birthday party (dear God, I AM getting old! Wasn't she an infant, like, yesterday?). Lots of fun, burgers, cake and more fun with toddlers. Madelyn (my goddaughter) is really into Hannah Montana already, and poses like she's a rock star. Gotta love attitude in a 5 year old.

And all of the chores that I swore I would complete this weekend? So didn't happen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Stole this survey from Longbrake Living - enjoy!

Do you snack while you read?
Usually, since I tend to read a lot during breakfast and lunch.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
Grad school forced me to write in all of my book, underlining, circling, writing in the margins. I do NOT like the way the hubby writes in his books - my way is much neater. This has caused spats in the past.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
As a librarian, you'd think that I wouldn't do this, but I do. I dog-ear and leave books open all the time. This also drives the hubby crazy. It's my secret shame.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Both, but let's face it, fiction is more fun.

Hard copy or audiobooks? All hard copies.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I try to come to a good point, but I often fall asleep with a book open, and then I can't remember where I left off.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
I have never done this...maybe when reading Hegel.

What are you currently reading?
"The Omnivore's Dilemma" and (drum-roll please) my husband's second book! Yes, my husband has written not one, but two PUBLISHED books. He's wicked smart.

What is the last book you bought?
Ummm....I can't tell you that, but let's just say that I needed it.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Usually can do multiple books at a time

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
Love to read myself to sleep

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Usually stand-alones

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Hmmm...that's a tough one. Honestly, I could recommend anything that I've read.

How do you organize your books?
Ha!!! You need to read the rest of this blog.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Creating Bookcase Labels

My last post talked about how to organize your book collection; now, in true nerd fashion, I will share with you my crafty, diy shelf labels.

Originally, at our old place, I used my handy label maker to make shelf labels - simply type them up, and stick 'em on. Not pretty, but functional.

This time around, I decided to make something with a little more style. Originally, I wanted to use these labels that I had left over from our wedding...

But there were way too wide to stick on the ends of the shelves. So, I decided to make my own. I first grabbed a similar template online (forgive me if this is design plagiarism), and make a bunch of them in Microsoft Word.

Then, I threw the document through my scrapbooking label maker for some diy stickers.

And painstakingly cut each one out by hand.

And added each one the beginning of each of my sections.

And there you have it! Easy-peasy bookcase shelf labels - for a fraction of the price.

If you do want to spend more money, see this post on Apartment Therapy Chicago.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How To Organize Your Massive Book Collection

The other day, my friend Jenn called me and asked a question only a librarian could answer: how do I organize a book collection? Since my husband and I own a massive amount of books, she came to the right person.
Every time we move, the hardest part is the books. They are heavy, hard to carry, and we have way too many. We don't actually own too many other things, but we can't seem to let go of the book collection. (According to the book "Freakonomics," research has shown that a child's intelligence grows more NOT by being read to - although also very important - but if they grow up around books and around adults who read. By this logic, our future children will be baby geniuses).

Of course, there are many ways that you can organize books, and there's small part of me that wants to give our books a Dewey Decimal system (in which case, my husband will truly think I am insane). But what I recommended to my friend was to follow the simplicity of the "bookstore model" - i.e. divide the books by subjects and then alphabetize by author's last name within each subject.

I work in a small, one-room college library, and this is actually the model we use (organize by subject, and then by Library of Congress call numbers within that subject). It's not perfect, but it allows our students to BROWSE the sections (and hopefully, feel more comfortable in the library).

So, I told my friend that she needs to create a system that allows for her own browsing. The key here is to organize by subjects that make sense to you. Don't make a French cooking section if you have one Julia Child book.

On the other hand, if you have really large subject (like my husband does), then it makes sense to create smaller subjects within that section. For instance, my hubby is studying Political Science. So, we have sections for:
  • Media Studies

  • American Government
  • Middle East Studies
  • International Relations
  • Economics
  • Environmental Policy

As for me, my fiction collection is quite substantial, and I used to divide up novels, poetry, & drama, but after this last move, I combined everything together, but kept a separate section for literary theory and Classics (I was a Latin minor).

Yes, our inner nerd is showing. Haven't you seen the title of this blog?

Does anyone else organize their books in this way? How do you keep track of your collections? Please share!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fall Goals

Thank God it's almost fall! I love fall! Scratch that, I LOVE LOVE LOVE fall. The crispness of cool fall air, leaves crunching beneath your feet, fall colors, Halloween (free candy! an excuse to dress up!), apples and pumpkins, back to school clothes...what is there not to love?

In order to fully enjoy this fall, I've given myself a list of things to-do this fall:

1) Decorate the house with fall colors & decor

2) Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks (this may happen several times...)

3) Go apple picking

4) Pick out pumpkins at a pumpkin patch

5) Carve said pumpkins

6) Eat pumpkin pie!

7) Rack leaves and then jump into the pile

8) Take a walk in a forest preserve once the leaves change colors

9) Throw a football around with my hubby

10) Host a football party

11) Go to a haunted house

12) Go on a hayride

Let's see if I can actually complete all these now!!!

Garage Sale Success!

What's the best thing to do when you move to a new place and find that, despite the hugeness of the new place, that you have a whole lot of stuff that you no longer need? Have a kick-a** garage sale!
The subdivision where we now live hosted a neighborhood garage sale a couple of weeks ago, so we decided to join in the fun. Here's a few helpful tips for hosting your own garage sale:

Step 1: Haul all of the stuff you no longer want to the garage. We put little colored stickers on everything, which took some prep the night before; in the future, I may just do a "$1 table" or "$.50 corner" to save time.

We continued my mom's tradition of having a "free box" of the stuff that you really have no use for, but feel guilty about charging money for, say, half used detergent. Highly popular.

Step 2: Move the larger items towards the end of the garage to *lure* in potential buyers.

Step 3: Convince a couple of extra nice guys to sit in your hot garage and entice the ladies to buy more.

(In this case, Tony and brother-in-law Marty played the role of sexy, sweaty salesmen).

Step 4: Sit back and watch that moola pour in!

Actually, people didn't buy nearly as much stuff as I thought they would, and buyers were definitely looking for rock-bottom deals - as in, I will buy that bookcase that you paid $80 for less than a year ago for $3. I blame the economy.

But in the end, we made quite a bit of cash! Since we joined forces with my boss lady/landlord and Tony's family, we had to keep track of who-sold-what. By the end of the weekend, sister-in-law Sam made $45, boss lady made $75, and we made a whooping $170. And we got rid of a ton of excess clutter. Woo-hoo!

Making money AND decluttering? Be still my heart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Savvy: Green products for smarter living

Last week was my sister-in-law's birthday, and while waiting for the rest of the family to show up and enjoy delicious Chicago deep dish pizza, I stepped into this little shop next door and fell in love. Savvy is a new shop in downtown Naperville that provides "green products for smarter living." Absolutely adorable shop, with really helpful and friendly owners and great products.

It's no secret that I care about the environment, and I'm always looking to 1) buy more enviro-friendly products, and 2) support local shops (as opposed to giant corporate big box stores). Not that I don't shop at Target, like, 5 times a week, but it's nice to find a store that isn't a big box and is really trying to make a difference.

I was most excited to see all-in-one cloth diapers in person. I really want to use (mostly) cloth diapers when we have kids, and I've done some investigating online about them, but it was really nice to see them in person and realize how soft they are, how easy they are to use, and how freakin' adorable.

I had to buy something, so I bought this little recycling truck made of recycled materials (yes, you read that right) for my nephew's birthday.

Savvy has a website, but for those of you who don't live in the Chicago suburbs, I really encourage you to look around and see if you have any local green shops to support. If not, I would also recommend Greenfeet for buying green products online.