Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reference Call Today

Shannon: "Reference desk, may I help you"
Caller: "Hello Ma'am, I am one of Santa's little helpers and I need to write a letter to a 7 year old girl in Chicago, can you please tell me how you spell Claus?
Shannon: "As in Santa Claus sir?"
Caller: "Yes, is it C-L-A-U-S-E?"
Shannon: "No sir, it is C-L-A-U-S"
Caller: "Oh..well thank you I'm glad I called"
Shannon: "It was my pleasure"
Caller: Laughing..."As you can imagine we are pretty busy this time of year"
Shannon: "I'm sure you are, good luck"
Caller: "Thank you and Merry Christmas"
Shannon: "Merry Christmas to you and your boss, goodbye"
Caller: "Goodbye"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Antiquarian Dreams

So if you don't know what an Antiquarian is, here is the definition from Wikipedia: An antiquarian or antiquary is one concerned with antiquities or things of the past. Also, and most often in modern usage, an antiquarian is a person who deals with or collects rare and ancient "antiquarian books".
When I started my masters program in 2002, I was enrolled in a double major program, a MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science) from Dominican University and a Masters in Public History from Loyola University. I decided the life of a publishing professor or museum curator was not for me and decided to focus soley on my MLIS. Of all my classes including those in law school, the ones I enjoyed the most combined my love of history and books.
I have been studying the rare book collection at the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the past 2 months while enrolled in a History of the Printed Book class and have discovered the allure of antiquarians. The first book I was assigned to was published in Venice in 1548 and tracking down the history of the author, publisher and historical significance of the text was just great fun.
My home book collection is varied and includes many of my favorite books from childhood, dozens of my son's favorites, a vast collection of travel books, history books, decorating books and biographies. A few of my books are truly in bad repair, mainly my small collection of fairy tales that have been read over and over. After learning about truly rare and old books in class, I decided to start my own rare book collection with an emphasis on fairy and folk tales. The first 2 books I acquired at auctions are:
The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley, 1850

and The Legends of the Rhine by F.J Kiefer, 1869

I look forward to building a valuable collection of rare books over the years and hopefully sometime in my life acquiring a first edition copy of Pride and Prejudice. However the last time I looked, a first edition copy was up for auction for just over $151,000.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

So today is the biggest shopping day of the year. Unless a store is offering brand new laptops for $49.99, I won't set foot in a mall.
I absolutely LOVE to shop, but am a devoted bargain hunter and prefer to invest in quality before quantity. My husband thinks it's hysterical that I wear a $19.99 winter wool coat from Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line at Steve and Barry's and carry a $900 Luis Vuitton purse I bought in Italy. I just prefer to invest my money in things I really want. My winter coat may go out of style in a couple of years and can be easily replaced but my Louis Vuitton will last forever.
I am a huge advocate of online shopping and for the 2nd year in a row have completed all of my holiday shopping online and before December.
I teach an online shopping class at my library every month and instruct my attendees to shop online for a multitude of reasons. #1 reason is convenience, #2 is savings and #3 is there are no nasty overworked and underpaid retail sales people.
The basics to online shopping I teach in my class are:
1. Know what you are looking for. It's just like grocery shopping, don't go into the store hungry or you will impulse buy.
2. Find an online retailer with a good return policy or that has click and mortar locations. A click and mortar store is a retailer with online shopping and a physical store, such as Walmart, Crate n Barrel, Target etc. Amazon is NOT a click and mortar retailer.
3. Comparison shop. If you are looking for a better price online, use a search engine to locate multiple online retailers and find the one with the best price, best return policy, the most merchandise in stock and the lowest shipping charge.
4. When you are entering personal information or completing a financial transaction online, you need 2 things. In the address bar, a secure site will begin with https:, make sure there is an S in the address line, remember S for "Secure". Also, a gold lock should be in the lower right corner of the webpage, this icon also means the site is secure. If you don't have https or the lock, don't enter in any personal or financial information.
5. Find out if the shipping charges are a set fee based on total cost of online purchases such as $50-$100=$5 shipping charge etc. You do not want to be charged for items that need to be shipped in multiple packages or by weight.
A few of my favorite websites for online shopping are: (absolutely fantastic shipping charges, right now ALL shipping is FREE. I do at least 50% of my holiday shopping at this site) (a great all around site with good shipping charges)
When it comes to shopping for myself if I can't find the clothes and accessories I want on sale, I am not looking hard enough.
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My prejudice for Pride & Prejudice

Most people who know me have figured out that I am an anglophile (Webster's Definition: a person who greatly admires or favors England and things English). If you have glimpsed my Goodreads account my list of English themed literature is growing daily. One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen and her 1813 book Pride and Prejudice is the 1 book I would need with me if stuck on a deserted island. The book has been adapted to the screen numerous times, in 1940 with Laurence Olivier as Fitzwilliam Darcy and Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet, the uncomparable 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth as Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and recently with Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy and Keira Knightly as Elizabeth. I have seen each adaption numerous times and depending on my mood, switch between the BBC version and the 2005 big screen adaption almost monthly. The BBC version is a masterpiece and was recently released on DVD for the 10 Anniversary Special Edition complete with extra features. When orginially shown in 6 episodes in 1995, England basically shut down on the Sundays it was shown on BBC. The recent big screen adaption with Keira Knightly garnered her an Oscar nomination and while the story is greatly compressed to fit a screen time of 2 hours, the romance is there. Keira is faithful to the character of Elizabeth and Matthew makes a softer more romantic Darcy, but it is the soundtrack, the filming locations and the coziness the director creates with the Bennet family that makes this film work.
In addition to the film adaptions, authors have based new works on the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, some with good results.
Check these books out if you want a modern retelling of one of the greatest love stories ever written.
Pride, Prejudice and Jasmine Field by Melissa Nathan

Austenland by Shannon Hale

and perhaps most famous:
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Friday, November 16, 2007

Buy Buckley

The Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert is in Chicago this weekend and I will be attending the Sunday night show at the Metro. Various musicians will be performing Jeff's music and all net proceeds from the concert will benefit The Old Town School of Folk Music Scholarships, which provides financial support for musicians of all ages to attend classes. If you are not familiar with Jeff's music, check out his website at
Jeff was a singer/songwriter who died in 1997 after accidentally drowning in the Mississippi River in Memphis. He was the son of the famous singer Tim Buckley who also died tragically young. Jeff's 1994 album Grace is in my top 5 list of favorite cds and well worth a buy. The beautiful song Hallelujah which has been sung by dozens of artists before including Bob Dylan, Bono, Sheryl Crow and kd lang, is included on the Grace album. Jeff's version of this haunting song has been used on tv shows such as the West Wing and The O.C. If you listen closely to the cd version of the song, you can hear him right before he sings, just breathing.
To watch a clip of Jeff singing Hallelujah, click on the media player below.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is it about your hometown?

So I am living as an adult in my hometown. I was born at the local hospital and raised in the Scarsdale neighborhood of Arlington Heights. After years in Ohio for college and then in the suburbs of Chicago as well as in the City, I chose to raise my son where I grew up.
Over drinks with a friend last night who shares the wanderlust I do for travel, I shared my recent travel stories as well as my sadness that my most recent international trip put me off of traveling for awhile. All I really wanted to do was go home and nest. I think it was my general distaste for Italy but I also think there is something about your hometown that literally draws you home.
Growing up, my family and I lived in Arlington Heights, but my parents also had homes in Colorado and Florida where we spent every holiday and 3 months each summer. My "hometown" of Gulfport Florida is a sleepy bay town on the Gulf of Mexico and every few months I wake up with the desire to go "home" to Florida. As soon as I can smell the saltwater in the air, it feels familiar.

So I did some research on books about this topic, and found some good ones.
Hometown Tales:Recollections of Kindness, Peace and Joy by Philip Gulley

and American Profile Hometown Cookbook: A Celebration of America's Table by Candace Floyd

I am already getting restless for another trip, so it's off to Las Vegas in 2 weeks. Now I have to finish my Vegas travel books.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My thing with Harry Potter

Friends and family know that I am addicted to Harry Potter. When the first movie was released in the fall of 2001, my son was the perfect age to experience all things Harry Potter and as a parent I enjoyed every aspect of the books, the movies, the marketing, just everything really. For every book and movie release in the last 6 years we have hosted a party attended by friends and family. I have enjoyed dressing up as characters, decorating the house, making games and book inspired food and really just immersing myself in the fantasy.
The 5th movie and final Potter book were released within weeks of each other this summer, and sadly our book release events came to an end. However, I still have 2 more movies to plan parties around and expect these to be the best and biggest of them all. (My teenage son is very good at allowing his silly mom to step away from reality)
Some of my favorite sites to browse when I need to get away from reality are: and
It was while browsing on one of the sites that I found some delightful articles about one of my favorite characters and the actress who plays her, Luna Lovegood
and the young actress who plays her Evanna Lynch, here is a site dedicated to her
Her story is a young girls wildest dream come true. Evanna at age 14 was cast as Luna in early 2006 after attending an open audition in London where she beat out 15,000 girls for the role. The best part of her rags-to-riches story is that she is a serious Harry Potter fan with no acting experience who just knew that she was the "real" Luna Lovegood. So she had her Dad take her to London from the tiny rural Irish village where she lived and audition and just like that she had the role. And for anyone who has read the books and seen the 5th film, she is absolutely perfect.
What I like about this actress and her character is that she embodies the best thing about the Harry Potter franchise. An innocent child with faith that what you need are friends and determination that the fantasy can become a reality.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Food food glorious food

I totally ate nothing but crap all weekend. Ughhh, seriously I didn't make good food decisions.
Yesterday I started the day with chocolate chip cookies then moved on to eggs with toast. Lunch was (gads...) Taco Bell and then more cookies with a cup of tea for dinner. Bad bad bad. I usually do not eat like that.
When I decided to cut meat out of my diet more than a decade ago the first flesh to go was chicken. Not only did the taste make me ill, but my body had been rejecting it for years. After chicken went pork. I still crave bacon and the occasional hot dog (with the works) but haven't missed eating bird. About 10 years ago, I cut out all red meat and in the years since I have rarely been ill and my intestinal health has been great. I do eat fish and eggs and in the last week have cut out milk and other dairy products. I am a cheese addict and am trying alternatives to soft cheese and those made with cow's milk.
So after my binge of crap this weekend, I am thinking of detoxing. I have done so in the past and highly recommend it but am researching a healthier detox regime of juicing. I will blog about my success or failure in the next few weeks.
In my quest to eat organic, I am spending a small fortune at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's trying new products. I like Trader Joe's for their selection of nuts, cheeses and ethnic foods, but absolutely do not buy my produce at their stores (never fresh, always spoils quickly). Other products I avoid from Trader Joe's are the soups (outrageous sodium content) and most of the packaged frozen foods (lots of preservatives and again high sodium). I enjoy browsing through Whole Foods and appreciate the effort that goes into the selection of organic products. Like I have learned at Trader Joe's, you have to read the labels, the food may be certified "organic" but that doesn't mean the food is healthy.
I have a cheat sheet I take with me when shopping for fruits and vegetables that reminds me of which foods should be bought organic due to the pesticides used on produce. I will list them below:

The Dirty Dozen (buy this organic only)
sweet bell peppers

Cleanest 12 (lowest in pesticides)
frozen sweet corn
frozen sweet peas

Another rule I follow, if you can't fit what is on your plate in the palm of your hand, your stomach can't fit it either. Now if I can just remember to follow my own rules on the weekends......

Friday, November 9, 2007

O Beauty

After my Get Going On Organic blog I heard from friends who had awesome suggestions for organic beauty products. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, I will try each one.
Here are additional "o" beauty products I use and love:

Yes To Carrots can you c me eye and face makeup remover
Nature's Gate chamomile replenishing shampoo and conditioner
Tom of Maine natural whole care anticavity and tartar control plus whitening gel fluoride toothpaste spearmint flavour
Burt's Bees aloe and witch hazel hand sanitizer (purse size spray with no alcohol)
Comodynes Oats makeup remover towels
Jason products, satin soap for hands, body wash and aloe vera hand and body lotion. I love this company, check out their website at
(a note on Jason products. This line is sold at Walgreen's and Whole Foods and is expensive. I recently found the products at Marshall's at more than half the cost they are sold for at other stores. I bought the soap, body wash, lotion and a natural sponge for a total of $12.99, a more than $25 savings from what I would have paid at Walgreen's)
Avalon Organics Lavender ultimate moisture cream for renewal and vitality ( This is my FAVORITE face cream. It absorbs quickly, smells wonderful, contains no parabens, no harsh preservatives, no artificial colors, no animal testing, is made of 100% vegetarian ingredients and is pH balanced)

I am now experimenting with hair care products that do not contain the chemicals and fragrance in popular brands as well as alternatives to unhealthy mass produced makeup. I will blog on what I find soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Get going on organic

Friends and colleagues who see me regularly have noticed that I have been slowly switching my diet as well as my home and personal products to healthier organic/green options. Working at the library allows me the huge perk of reading all the new books on organic gardening, cooking, house cleaning, beauty products, etc.
Did you know that over 60% of the products you put on your body are absorbed? During a woman's lifetime, over 30 pounds of ingredients from moisturizers will be absorbed. The body's largest organ is the skin, so if you don't know what is going on your body....don't use it!
Check the ingredient label of your products, what you don't want to find are: aluminum, artifical colors, benzoates, DEA, MEA, formaldehydes, dibutyl phthalate and fragrances (just to name a few).
I have been trying so many new products, I thought I would list some of the ones I recommend. Today's post will be on Burt's Bee's products which can be found at any Walgreen's, Borders or Whole Food's. For more information on their products, packaging and ingredients check out their website at

My favorites:
Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate oil
Lip Shimmer in Fig, (the BEST everyday color, plus great with a liner for the evening)
Citrus and Ginger Root Body Wash
Peppermint Shower Soap
Soothingly Sensitive Aloe & Buttermilk Lotion
Herbal Deodorant (this is a spray not a roll on)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Welcome to my new blog!

Blogging is becoming a popular and regular feature on library homepages and on book websites around the world. This blog will combine my personal and professional love of books as well as serve as my writing outlet.
I will continue to update my first blog which focuses on traveling, but this blog will be for everything else.
Thanks for stopping by and check in regularly.