Friday, May 28, 2010

Flash Back Friday #37

Because my beloved Aunt Kim is turning 60 today, this Flash Back Friday is for her. She had the party to end all parties for her birthday last weekend, her guests had to dress in the costume of a person who was famous in the decade of their birth. My aunt went as Marilyn Monroe and looked amazing. My Mom went as Rosie the Riveter and my Dad as Albert Einstein! They looked just like them!

Here is a clip on fashion from the 50's. I love how so many of these styles could be worn today. Timeless, just like my Aunt.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hometown Boy Lee DeWyze Wins American Idol

My former paint store clerk just won American Idol. Weird.

I live just down the road from the store where Lee worked, Mt. Prospect Paint, and have regularly seen Lee there over the years. MP Paint is a small store where the staff sells paint, window blinds, shades and drapes and knows you by name. I've shopped there for over a decade and remember Lee as a friendly kid with a lop-sided smile who would chat you up while he mixed your paint. We usually talked tattoos as Lee has a few nice ones on his arms and he noticed a couple of mine.

Lee's hometown of Mt. Prospect is a small community in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I am a graduate of the local high school and moved back to the community after years of living in Chicago in order to enroll my son in the excellent local school system. (Prospect High School, my alma mater and where my son and Lee went to high school is also the school where the creator of Glee went and is one of the high schools the show is based on). Lee is known and remembered by many here in town. He's friends with my nephews, a friend of my kid on Facebook and regularly mentioned in conversation by almost everyone you talk too who's met him along the way. That's the way the suburbs of Chicago works and it makes the world seem just a bit more friendly.

The northwest suburbs of Chicago is a tight knit community and the support residents have for Lee DeWyze has been something to see. The paint store was the epicenter of it all, selling Lee t-shirts and bracelets and proudly displaying signs and banners for their employee. As you drive through the streets of the village people are displaying signs, banners, balloons, pictures, flags, you name it, they've made it with the slogan WE BELEEVE or VOTE FOR LEE. Last night during the live final episode, the village of Mt. Prospect held a huge blockparty across the street from their Library in the center of town and thousands of local people showed up to watch Lee win. If you were watching American Idol you might have seen it broadcast on the show. I was there for awhile to watch the excitement and to be a part of something that has brought so many people together.

Lee's story has really captured the hearts and imagination of millions. A rather lost young man, working paycheck to paycheck, singing karaoke at a local bar and dreaming of something bigger. He took a chance and has now won the biggest musical competition in the world. Everyone here in his hometown couldn't be prouder.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book for Animal Lovers

I'm reading an interesting book right now, Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa, M.D. Oscar is a cat who lives at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Rhode Island where David Dosa is a doctor at the facility. Oscar is a special cat in that he knows when a patient is dying and sits vigil on their bed during their final hours. Ordinarily Oscar is a rather solitary feline, spending his days and nights under chairs or curled up in corners. Until Oscar senses that a patient is dying, then he jumps onto their beds, snuggles up next to them and commences purring. Oscar's gentle knowledge allows caregivers the time to make the patient as comfortable as possible and allows family members a precious window of time to say goodbye. Extraordinary.

I've read about instinctive animals before. Dogs that can sense seizures or cancer. Cats that comfort sick children. Dolphins that rescue drowning swimmers. Horses that work with autistic children. The examples are endless and there are dozens of books and articles on the subject. As a former cat owner I know their quirky personalities are a blessing and a curse. I've owned cats that were so friendly as to make you crazy, the obsessive kneading of your stomach or the "cat hat" while you are sleeping. And I've owned a cat that was so feral he was only happy away from humans. I'm a dog person these days and sharing my home for the last 8 years is a temperamental, spoiled, bossy, talking beagle named Eloise (yes she is named after the Eloise at the Plaza books by Kay Thompson and of course I have a pet named after a literary character,I'm a librarian!) My Eloise is a wonderful companion who seems to know when I want to be alone (although she barks like a child for attention) and when I need a warm furry presence at my side.

Almost all pet lovers have had a "once in a lifetime" animal so special that you never forget them. For so many residents, their families, the doctors, nurses and staff at the nursing home Oscar is that special animal and I hope he continues to comfort them all for years to come. His story and theirs is worth a read. For more information on Oscar visit the web-page for Steere House, his home.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flash Back Friday #36

Because Mike Myers as Dieter, a West German television personality with his TV talk show Sprockets is still one of my favorite skits from Saturday Night Light. SNL was a not to be missed show in college (along with 90210, Melrose Place and the 1st season of The Real World). The "Sprocket" costume of black leotard and wire rimmed glasses was also a popular Halloween costume from 1989-1992.

"Now is the time on Sprockets vhen ve dance!"

Have a great weekend readers!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fun book by Project Runway's Nina Garcia

First a little tangent on my TV watching and how that relates to this book review.

I can count on 1 hand how many TV shows I watch on a regular basis.
1. Tori and Dean: this train wreck reality show is addicting and mindless, love it!
2. Grey's Anatomy: after years away I returned this season to a guilty pleasure (it's all about McSteamy).
3. True Blood: completely obsessed with this series and cannot wait for season three to start in June.
4. House Hunters International: real estate and travel, perfection!
5. Project Runway: catty, funny and fascinating.

In order to get my fashion fix after this season of Project Runway ended I picked up judge Nina Garcia's book, The One Hundred: A Guide to The Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own. The book is illustrated with whimsical and beautifully drawn artwork that only adds to the fun of the text. Organized alphabetically Nina's suggestions of the 100 pieces every woman should own begins with A-Line Dress and ends with Zippered Hoodie. She gives suggestions on brands to invest in and alternatives to pricey classics.

Of Nina's suggested 100 items, I own all but the following pieces:

4. Aviators (I'm not into the Top Gun look)
8. Bikini (no, no, no)
15. Caftan (only Mrs. Roper and the girls of Sex and the City can pull this look off)
27. Diamond Studs (a WANT of mine for a long time)
33. Frye Harness Boots (why, I'm not a biker nor am I a model in NY City)
46. Leather Pants (are you kidding me? I do have black suede rocker pants, does that count?)
56. Missoni Knit (pricey)
69. Pucci (someday soon)
92. Vans (not since high school)
95. Wayfarers (I'm not into the Risky Business look)

Of the pieces Nina suggested that I do already own, here are my favorites:

5. Ballet Flat (BEST shoes to travel with)
9. Blackberry (my latest addiction)
11. Blazer (I own at least 6)
12. Boyfriend Cardigan (the perfect item in my closet)
21. Cocktail Ring ( I have many, always the quality jewelry I purchase for myself)
40. Investment Bag (my weakness is for Louis Vuitton and Chanel, they will last forever and never go out of style)
50. L.L Bean Tote (I have at least 3)
67. Plain white tee (I have about a dozen and wear them with everything from jeans to fancy skirts)
71. Quality Champagne (always in my wine fridge)
86. Trench (my Burberry was a splurge during my last trip to London but a classic)
91. Valid Passport (of course)
93. Vintage (always)
96. Wellington Boot (my Hunters from England are incredibly comfortable and make me feel like the Queen walking the fields of Balmoral)

If you are a fan of fashion or maybe just Project Runway, this is a fun book to pick up and would make a great gift for any woman interested in classic clothes and accessories.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Mini-VAY-KAY in Chicago

So I took a few days off and enjoyed time with my parents who were in from Florida for a visit. One of the things I love best about living so close to a major City is how easy it is to take a vacation in your own town. Spending a weekend in Chicago? Here is my abbreviated list of the Don't-Miss.

Places to Eat & Drink

Looking for a cozy wine war? The Tasting Room on Randolph is a treasure. Fantastic wine selection, cozy environment, great service, free street parking and breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. The perfect place to begin or end your evening.

Food. Chicago. It's like a religion.
The Gage. The curry mussels would be my choice for last meal on earth. Ya, they are that good.
Maza. Fantastic food from the Middle East. Relaxing and intimate atmosphere.
Smith & Wollensky. Located on the River in downtown Chicago. The only place I like to enjoy a wicked martini on a summer night before a concert at Millennium Park.
Phoebe's Cupcakes. Ever had a salted caramel cupcake? Try one, they are amazing.
Gene and Jude's. You need a car to get to this hot dog stand that has been around for over 50 years. The menu is less than 5 items, hot dogs, fries, tamales and pop. That's it. They hand cut and fry your french fries while you wait, and then stuff them in the hot dog bun with the dog. No chairs, no tables, no eat sitting on the hood of your car in the parking lot or you take them to go.

Things to do:
The Cubs. I'm a Northsider, it's a birthright to love the underdog. Forever

The Chicago Lakefront. The City's finest feature. From biking to boating, from farmers markets to the zoo, from museums to marinas. It's a must see.

Theater. Chicago is a theater town. Sure Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Company are all good bets, but it's Chicago Improv and local companies that make this City special. Check out Theatre in Chicago or the Reader for show information.

Chicago Museums. Some of the best in the world. The Art Institute, The Field Museum of Natural History, Nature Museum, Chicago History Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry. It's not a visit to Chicago without visiting at least 1.

I could ramble on indefinitely about this City and I haven't even scratched the surface. Need suggestions on where to stay or where to shop? Drop me an email.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flash Back Friday #35

It's a Michelle Pfeiffer Friday. Because these are classic 80's movies. Because it's motorcycle season. Because I'll admit Grease 2 was one of my favorite movies when I was a teenager. Because I love Michelle Pfeiffer's all black outfit.

And because this scene from Tequila Sunrise has some of the best chemistry between actors I've seen in film. When Jo Ann (Pfeiffer) realizes what Mac (Mel Gibson) is telling her...and the way he looks at her. Sigh...

Have a great weekend readers!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remembering 25

Recently my beautiful niece Jennifer celebrated her 25th birthday. I've known Jennifer since she was a teenager when I married her uncle and I've enjoyed watching her grow into the accomplished and lovely woman she is. For her birthday we celebrated with a family dinner and Jennifer shared news of her job promotion and life as a single gal in the City. As I took pictures of Jennifer blowing out the candles on her cake I couldn't help remembering my 25th birthday which felt like it was yesterday.

There are only a handful of birthdays that I can remember vividly. 25 is one of them. There is a particular song that reminds me of my 25th birthday and every time I hear it, I am transported back to that day. I heard the song this morning on the radio and instantly I was 25 again. The song is Blind Melon's No Rain and it reminds me of my birthday for an unusual reason.

I was in New Orleans to celebrate my 25th birthday. My boyfriend at the time had surprised me with a last minute trip to one of our favorite cities where we would spend a few days listening to music, wandering the cemeteries making grave rubbings and taking haunted walking tours. Shortly before midnight on the evening of my birthday we were wandering through the French Quarter and approached St. Louis Cathedral were there were a few young men sitting outside the gates playing guitar. They told us they were in town to see Blind Melon who were to play a show that night at a nearby venue. The concert had been cancelled because a few hours earlier before the band took the stage the lead singer Shannon Hoon was found dead of a drug overdose, he was 28. At the time, Blind Melon was a popular band and their famous "Bee Girl" music video for No Rain was all over MTV. Shannon Hoon's death would be big news once the word got out.

So we sat there on the steps of the St. Louis Cathedral with these sad boys who played their guitar and mourned a lost musician. My boyfriend was a musician and he played their guitar for awhile and we talked...wondering how for some, life can end so young. And then at midnight, they sang me Happy Birthday.

15 years later I can still remember that night like it was 15 minutes ago. And I always think of New Orleans and being young when I hear the song No Rain. If you haven't seen the video, it's worth a watch, it's charming. No Rain by Blind Melon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Collection Development

It's lightly raining in Chicago. Skies are gray, trees are still, everything is quiet but the rain. Inside and outside it's going to be a quiet day.

At the library I need to work on collection development. I order the large print, science fiction and fantasy and reference materials for my library. I spend hours reading reviews for books with titles like: A Taint in the Blood, Krymsin Nocturnes and The Darkling Fields of Arvon. It's part of the job and I do enjoy filling the shelves with books that someone, somewhere will take home, curl up with in front of the fire or in bed and happily devour. It makes me happy.

I do wish that collection development was easier. Maybe it would be if I read the genre that I order, but I don't read science fiction or fantasy and while I do occasionally pick up a reference book (see my post on my favorite reference book), most titles are not really leisurely reading.

Sometimes I get asked by new librarians, "Where do you find reviews for the books you order?" or "How do you narrow down the titles that you order for your library?". Well it's been a trial by fire really. The first thing I did when I got collection development responsibilities for the sci fi and fantasy collection was to familiarize myself with the collection by weeding it. I got reports from circulation on the titles that had NOT circulated in the past 3 years and I discarded them. Well I discarded most of them. I kept titles that were part of a series or classics (Tolkien etc). I then began to piece together incomplete series and buying works from popular authors that we didn't already have. As a series reader myself (albeit romance), there is nothing worse than wanting to read a book in a series but your library only carries book 3 of 6 but not 1,2,4,5 or 6. Frustrating!

I also turn to reviews. I read publications like Library Journal and Booklist and although I might get sick of reading hundreds of reviews it helps narrow down the titles I commit to adding to the collection. There are also multiple e-newsletters that I subscribe too. These e-newsletters from libraries around the country tell me what other libraries are adding to their collections. A subscribe to a number of e-newsletters from the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District which you can read here.

Whether you are buying for a library or supplementing your home reading collection, the resources are out there. If you have any collection development tips, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Great Travel Books-Back Roads by DK Eyewitness Travel

As I plan my next international trip, a 10 day European vacation with my girlfriends, I am researching both well traveled and off the beaten path destinations. I'm currently reading each of the titles below for inspiration:

Back Roads France: 24 Leisurely Drives

Back Roads Great Britain: 24 Leisurely Drives

Back Roads Italy: 24 Leisurely Drives

Back Roads Spain: 24 Leisurely Drives

Published by Dorling Kindersley (DK), these popular titles from the Eyewitness Travel series are one of my top choices for travel books. Full of beautiful color photographs, maps and travel tips, the books are lightweight, softcover and durable enough to toss in any travel bag. Each of the 4 titles above comes with a pull out laminated sheet map which is the perfect alternative to taking the entire book with you if you are packing light.

The Back Roads books takes the tourist off the more well traveled routes and into smaller villages, intimate hotels and quiet countrysides of popular destinations. If you're not interested in spending a week in the large busy cities of Madrid, London, Milan or Paris but instead in sleepy villages and coastal towns, then browse through one of the Back Roads titles. Not planning on doing any driving yourself? No problem, these books are loaded with information on hotels, cuisine and attractions at locations often accessible through tours or by bus or boat. Are you an armchair traveler like I often am between trips? Then you will LOVE DK Eyewitness Travel books for the gorgeous photographs. Happy Traveling!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Winner of Lively Librarian's 3rd Contest is...

Stevethree! Congratulations! Please email me at livelylibrarian at to claim your Amazon gift card. The winner was chosen by random using

Love your favorite book to film adaption, it's the same as mine! Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Thank you to everyone who shared their favorites. I'll post another contest soon! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Summer Essentials-2010 version

Summer is within reach here in Chicago. Kids are playing baseball and soccer on Saturday mornings in the parks, pools are being cleaned and filled and dandelions are already changing from the yellow flower to a white ball full of wishes.

I spent yesterday getting my backyard deck ready for the summer season of barbecues, cocktail nights and dinner parties. On my large deck: new patio furniture, new citronella candles and hanging baskets full of ferns and herbs. My backyard is a beautiful oasis and I spend almost every minute of the summer gardening in my vegetable beds or lounging on my deck.

For this year here is my list of summer essentials:

A Good Book for Lounging in the Hammock. I am reading Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman by Chloe Schama. The true story of Theresa Longworth who married and then fought her aristocratic husband to acknowledge their marriage after he left her for another woman. This sassy Victorian woman became a world traveler and writer in an era when women weren't known for their independence or their brains.

Moisturizer with Sunscreen. Obviously a summer must. I use Aveeno Positively Ageless Moisturizer with 30 SPF. I love this product which absorbs quickly, is non greasy and has the loveliest smell.

Chilling Tunes. My music of the summer is Jamie Cullum and Amos Lee. Cool jazz mixed up with some pop and soul and you have the perfect chilling music. I love the music of Jamie Cullum so much I'm flying to Denver in July to see his concert at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Ya, he is THAT good. Now make a tour stop in Chicago please Jamie.

Farmers Markets and CSA's. Support local farmers and enjoy foods good for you and the environment. Looking for a market near you or interested in buying into a Community Supported Agriculture program, visit Local Harvest.

Ravinia For those of you in or near Chicago, Ravinia Festival the outdoor music park is a tradition as soon as the cicadas start buzzing. After years of lackluster musical acts, they finally booked a season worth getting excited about. I scored tickets to Sting and Sheryl Crow for under $30 each. Sure the parking is a nightmare, picnicking on the lawn might not be for everyone (so get pavilion seats) but most of the time it's worth the hassle to listen to great music on a warm starry Chicago night.

Reisenthal Bags. The perfect bags for the beach, hauling fresh produce home from the farmers market or carting books from the library to the house. I have the city shopper and it is my favorite summer bag.

Birkenstocks. Ya not just for tree huggers anymore. Absolutely the most comfortable shoes I own. Mine saved my feet last year with all the walking I did in Oxford. Worth every penny. Check out the collection here.

Hand Lotion. My hands look a little weathered by the end of the summer after months of gardening. The BEST hand lotion on the market in my opinion is Baume Du Jardinier Gardner's Hand Healer. I go through this stuff by the tube full. Love it.

Blackberry. I finally joined the crackberry cult. Disconnecting from my Blackberry for the summer...let's be honest, it's not gonna happen. On the boat, in my garden, I will be connected. Totally connected...everywhere. How did I ever live without?

What are YOUR summer essentials?