Thursday, February 26, 2015

Library Displays 101

One of the new additions I've been meaning to share on Sweet B's this year is focused on my work as a Youth Services Librarian. As I laid out earlier in this post, it's been something I've really wanted to bring to my readers. I get asked, and often, about things I do daily, and I felt maybe I should share more than a look-in to my day every few months. Therefore, my plans are to give a more detailed insight to my programs, displays, bulletins. school-visits, and any other adventures I may be up to. For now, I'd like to bring on these posts once a month and then eventually once a week.

But, of course, I must start from the beginning. (It's my OCD way.) Since that was almost three years ago, I have quite the catching up to do. Yet, before I delve into weekly programs and past Summer Reading plans, I'd like to kick off this series with a glance back at my first few displays at the library.

At my branch location, there is a small glass display case which sits by the front desk, but faces the children's department. Hence, it's the Youth Services (YS) staff's responsibility to make sure it's never bare. My department's assistant manager shares my office, and while she is more focused on the teen area, we share this display case responsibility. Sometimes we rotate. Sometimes we see if the other had plans for the next month or season. We try to change it up every two months, correlating with the weather, season, up-coming program, holiday, community, school assignment, or a popular form of entertainment going on in library world.

This was one of my first Halloween displays. Using our AccuCut Dies, I created the background title, "Lose Your Head In a Good Book." I then filled the case with books whose covers feature headless people, whether half missing, fading, or gone completely. Also, I added a few Halloween decor items, like the Frankenstein treat bag and some pumpkins (also using the AccuCut). Patrons could check out the books and we'd continue to fill in any empty spots daily. This display ran from the end of September through the week of Halloween. Something simple the tweens really enjoyed.

Below is my "Green Spring" display, perfect for, you guessed it, SPRING! Using various shades of green paper and animal AccuCuts, I was able to create my own decor which I taped to the sides of the case. I lined both shelves with different green-colored scrap book paper, and decorated the back by tacking up tissue paper at various angles. I added some colorful Easter eggs and a green pickup truck that had landed on my desk a few weeks ago, yet no child claimed. The final touches were picture books with predominately green covers. VOILA! SPRING. This was on display March through the end of April.

*A side note: at my library, whenever books are displayed in the case, on shelves, etc., I go into our catalog and change the title from "on shelf" to "DISPLAY." That way, in case a patron is looking for that particular book, we're not running around looking through the stacks because it's not on the shelf where it should be. We know where to look.

This last display ran during the month of August and was a back-to-school theme. (The first picture in this post is a side view look at this same display.) During the summer, I had a few puzzle picture books donated to the children's department. They were in great condition, probably brand new. Instead of putting them in the book sale, I decided to run a contest and used the books as the prize. Again, using the alphabet AccuCuts I created the "Back-to-School Jungle" title (since the puzzle book featured animals of the jungle habitat) and some jungle-themed bulletin board boarder to frame it. We have this really neat alligator visor AccuCut, so I cut out two and hung them from the first shelf, and taped a few animal AccuCuts to the shelves. I found a big parrot in the bulletin board jungle bag and taped it to the one side of the case (you can sort of see it in the first photo above). But for the bananas...I got creative. We have the regular visor AccuCut as well, so I just cut out a few pieces using yellow paper and stapled a few together, and there you have it. BANANAS.

For the contest, using Microsoft Publisher, I decorated a box (which I set on top of the display case), and I asked the kids "What is your favorite thing about going back to school?" I provided slips where the children could supply their information and answer. There were about two dozen entries and, of course, the most popular response was "seeing my friends again," along with a few "school clothes shopping," "recess," and one "English class because I like to read." (<--- that would have been my winner right there!) I asked one of the staff members to reach into the box and pull out a winner. That child received the displayed jungle puzzle book along with another surprise truck puzzle book.

There are many more display ideas to come, so stay on the look out.

For bulletin board inspiration, check out that crafty post over here.

**If this is of interest to you, or you work in a library, or you see something you like that may fit your library, classroom, party....feel free to borrow and use. It's why I love this profession. Why re-invent the wheel?! We're a friendly community with ideas to share galore. Feel free to adapt and/or share what you did or worked for you, and if you see something you really like. I welcome feedback.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, February 23, 2015

What I'm Reading

Over the last two months, it's been a little devotional heavy over here. And for a few reasons.

One of my Christmas gifts from Mama was Beth Moore's Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer. It's a 70-day devotional which Mama bought for herself, me, and a couple of other women in our family. I had hoped we all could read it together and talk about it as we went along. However, we're all reading it at our own pace and on our own time (it's hard with busy schedules), but I jumped right in after the new year. I'm currently on day 45, and I actually wake up each morning excited to dive into my daily devotional. I am really, really enjoying this one. I like this so much I plan to devout an entire blog post to this devotional when I finish. But, anyhoo, my point. My point is this devotional had me checking my to-read list for other devotionals, and I found quite a few. While on Good Reads I found a reading challenge committed to your favorite genre. For this, I selected Christian non-fiction. I figured this would help me keep up with my devotionals and knock out a good chunk of my to-read shelf. However, it seems I just keep stumbling upon great titles to add.

Counter-productive, I guess. Oh well. I am definitely book-addicted not disappointed. Below are a few titles found on my nightstand that I really, really enjoyed --- AND recommend!

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper is the first devotional I want to mention. This book is all about our less-than-lovely moments, about how even through the mess God still sees a beautiful daughter. Harper invites readers to examine certain Psalms by breaking them down to figure out what is being stated. How the authors cry out to God, repent, grow angry, and praise him all in one breath. We may not be perfect, but God will forgive us our shortcomings when we repent. I felt it was more about understanding we all have flaws and make mistakes. You know, those times when our patience runs thin and we trip over our pride. Because Harper includes topical questions and psalm insights with each chapter, this would be a good women's Bible study group book. I like how she relates the Psalms to every-day things, in turn making it easy for readers to relate to as well.

Of course, I picked up another Lysa TerKeurst's  devotional. This one, Living Life on Purpose: Discovering God's Best for Your Life, is a "Bible study that helps women design a life plan based on seven main principles of the Proverbs 31 woman." It's always great to take time to examine your life's purpose and your walk with God. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I would have read it as part of a group, where we could dissect the principles a little more and hear what other women have as goals and struggles. Albeit, this is a decent devotional for new Christians.

Nancy Sleeth's novel was a surprise find on a friend's TBR list. Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life was quite the hidden gem. This was an excellent read about slowing life down and truly living the way the Lord intended. Oh, this world would be so much kinder, more beautiful, and full of love if we did! This book was reminiscent of another title I really enjoyed, Mudhouse Sabbath. There are quite a few things from the almost Amish life I'm willing to incorporate into my own life and household. After high school graduation, I was too exctied to move away from my small hometown. Where everybody knows everybody and their grandparents and all other relatives. Where the words on the sides of the school buses change from "Village" to "Town" with every consensus. I miss that town...errr village...wait, town. No, I think it's village again. 

I miss the community of knowing your neighbors, your grocer, your banker, your mailperson. While Mr. B and I are definitely not in the city or town, per se (we have a nice acre in the somewhat country), I still don't know my community. Maybe it's because neither one of us are from this area or we don't have kids yet. However, this book reminded me the joys of a small community, and opened my eyes to what I could be doing to reach out to others. Truth be told, some of the things I do now can be found in this book. I never thought it was the "Amish way." It's just the way I was brought a family originally from the South. In a small town. Where we had tractor day at school, and most of us talked about 4-H winnings from that year's county fair. And a life centered around faith, what could possibly be better?

Faith is not something that happens once a week in the church pew; it is the totality of how [the Amish] choose to live. --- Nancy Sleeth (Almost Amish)

A faith-based life. It is a simpler and slower way to live. A way of being I need to get back to in all areas of my daily activities.

Yes, maybe the Amish are on to something.

However, I have managed to fit in a few other titles, one being a current Morris award finalist. (FYI...the William C. Morris award honors a debut young adult book published by a first-time author.)  Leslye Walton's magical realism novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, was beautifully haunting. Full of pain and passion, this book had me at the prologue. I LOVED and was captivated by everything... from the unusual, yet perfectly fitting character names to the stories that broke off like feathers but still were vital parts of the whole story, to the way it was beautifully written. In short, this book, set mostly in a 1950s Washington State, is about a girl born with wings and an almost mute twin brother. The story chronicles her grandmother's and her own mother's history in order to figure out why she was born so differently. Absolutely stunning, dark, and quite magical, but it worked. An instant YA favorite. And the ending!!!!! So heartening, breathtaking, and beautiful but, oh so perfect. Flawless. This debut novel is definitely the kind of read that will touch your soul and stay with you forever. Walton is a true literary craftsman... err woman. She MUST write more.

Ahh, and you MUST read this.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, February 21, 2015


1. I'm a little too excited that I have only ONE program this week and it's not until SATURDAY. After almost a program-a-day for the last two weeks, I am ready to just sit at my computer and order books! Or to sit and stare at the shelves I should be weeding. Or to run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out what I'm doing for next week's programming. Or to peruse through the three stacks of new books currently sitting on my desk in hopes of actually seeing my desk again. Or.... Well, you know. Just another day at the library. :)

2. And speaking of the library.... I get quite the enjoyment out of peeking at what the staff is reading. Every day we lay our books on the break room table, and I love noting our different tastes or finding a new title to my ever growing to-read list. The I Work at a Public Library book has been passing through all of our hands. Currently, it's my turn. FYI, as my co-worker mentioned while reading it, "It's kind of boring. We could easily top these escapades." No truer words were spoken. We see and hear some crazy stuff. PEOPLE are crazy. I suggested we start taking notes on our "incidents" to re-enact later for YouTube videos.

3. Lately, I can't get enough smoothies. And even though the high these days is slightly above zero, I still want my hands on a cold, creamy smoothie. I've been drinking ones with fresh o.j., strawberries, and others with almond butter and banana, and even one with coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder. Very satisfying in the A.M. let me tell you.

4. THE OSCARS ARE ON SUNDAY!!!!!! You know I get all too hyped-up for this award show. I think this is the first year in awhile that I haven't watched most of the movies and really have no predictions. I just can't wait to watch!!! And, you know, hope to see my favorites.

7. And The DAYTONA 500. Also on tomorrow. How'd a girl get so lucky?! Come on, Jr. Repeat???

6. Oh, and I'm over the cold. I am a lover of snow and winter. Honestly, I truly am. Last Saturday when I looked out the window and it was a complete white-out, I was super-excited. Like a little kid. However, I'm over having to pull on seven layers just to take Mr. Darcy outside to do his business.

And I must do this because, like his mama, Mr. Darcy loves snow. Every single time he spends the first 10 minutes just face-planting in it and eating as many snow ice cubes as his little mouth can hold before I catch him. Yes, I am looking forward to 30-degree weather. Which is possible tomorrow. Along with 3-8" of snow. We pick our battles, people.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three-Vegetable Gnocchi in Olive Oil with Pesto Gouda Cheese





Yes, that's right. This is my FOURTH gnocchi post.

I.Cannot.Help.It. It's my absolute FAVORITE pasta dish. It's definitely a winter comfort food for me.

Plus, it's super, super fast and easy and full of delicious carb-loaded pasta pillows and so, so, so, darn tasty!

Sorry. I had a moment there.

I also had a moment a month ago while at Trader Joe's with my best friend when I came across this beauty. Gnocchi was the first thing that came to mind. How GOOD would this be on my gnocchi?!?!

Of course, as soon as I arrived home I made this immediately with whatever vegetables I had at arm's length. While eating it for dinner, I was thinking about how much I was going to enjoy this meal as my next two lunches for work. And then Mr. B came into the kitchen. "Where's my dinner?" Through a mouthful of pesto-Gouda-covered pillow-y pasta I informed him his dinner was currently a pizza heating in the oven. (<--- also a Trader Joe's purchase)


And then he ate the rest of my gnocchi while he waited for his pizza.

"Ummm....babe, you don't like gnocchi," I said trying to hide my disappointment as I watched my work lunches disappear.

"I know. But this is good."

Three-Vegetable Gnocchi in Olive Oil with Pesto Gouda Cheese

*Serves 2-4

1 (16-oz) pkg gnocchi
1/2 - 1 c low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1 c corn
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzle
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c freshly grated pesto Gouda cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package directions, but slightly under cook. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the sliced zucchini, followed by the vegetable broth and saute 5-8 minutes. (Start with 1/2 c of broth and add more if pan becomes too dry.) Add in corn and chopped tomatoes, saute another 3-5 minutes; turn off heat. Once cooked, drain pasta and add to pan with vegetables. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil, just enough to coat pasta and vegetables. (The pan should be somewhat dry; you don't need pools of oil in the pan.) Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. While still hot, grate pesto Gouda cheese over top.

Eat the entire pan before anybody else knows you made it.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Photo an Hour

7 AM

8 AM

9 AM

10 AM

11 AM

12 PM

1 PM

2 PM

3 PM

4 PM

5 PM

6 PM

7 PM

8 PM

9 PM

10 PM

11 PM

Family dinner night turned into Happy 60th Birthday (!) to my step father-in-law. It  was also a hunker-down-inside-because-it's-only-a-high-of-5-degrees kind of Sunday. Church was cancelled, but thankfully our pastor made an online version available (oh, the joys of technology), Mr. Darcy acted like the big freeze was no big deal, and at least the sunshine was out. Chilly days like these mean catching up on household chores with a high dose of relaxation. I pray your Sunday was just as blessed.

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, February 9, 2015

Strawberry-PB2 Protein Smoothie

My Pink Valentine's Day Smoothie.

It wasn't intentional. I just happened to stumble upon a market sale of decently priced and perfectly ripe strawberries. And they actually tasted like strawberries! Here in Ohio, in February, that is quite a find.

Then I went home and put them in my morning shake. The bright pink color screamed Valentine's Day in a mug!

It was gorgeous and tasted just as heavenly. Annnnd it's a decently healthy choice to jump-start your mornings. Annnd I had one last week.

But now I'm out of strawberries. Yes, I'm all too aware I probably won't find that strawberry bargain again until strawberry season actually hits. Frozen strawberries will work, too, in this satisfying pink shake. YUM-O.

It's the perfect pink beverage to kick off that pink holiday coming up....

Strawberry-PB2 Butter Protein Smoothie
*adapted from my Berry Elvis Protein Smoothie

Serves 1 or 2 (if you feel like sharing)

1 6-oz container blueberry coconut milk yogurt
about 1 cup water or 1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 - 1 scoop soy vanilla protein powder
1 - 1 1/2 T PB2
1 T chia seeds
5-6 fresh large strawberries (or frozen!)
Pinch of xanthan gum (optional ---> used to thicken smoothie) 
3-5 ice cubes, depending on the texture you like

2-3 T of  dark chocolate berry granola (I found this one at Aldi...this is completely optional and I added it in on my last day of the smoothie. It's a nice way to make this breakfast smoothie a little more decadent on Valentine's Day.)

*if using frozen strawberries, I wouldn't add the ice.

Toss all of the ingredients in a blender (add the ice last!) and mix until desired consistency is reached. Enjoy! Or split it with your love for a Valentine's Day treat...if he's into smoothies. Mr. B is not. I may be a little too excited I don't have to share.

And a shout out to my's her birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday, Mama! xoxo

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lately, I'm Obsessed

1. I.cannot.stop.drinking.LaCroix. My current favorite is the Peach Pear. I mean you should see the recycling bin at work....

2. My last few Sunday mornings have been spent poring over my latest cookbook purchases. How Sweet Eats and Dashing Dish (plus the Dashing Dish Devotional), these girls did amazing jobs with their books. Which, of course, comes as no surprise. Have you checked out their blogs?! I've been following these chicas for years and am super excited for them.

3. So, Mr. Darcy has his own Instagram account. You can follow him here @thedarcychronicles.

This is completely ridiculous, I know. You can blame Mr. B. It was his idea. He was jealous of all the other corgis out there with accounts, and I mean a plethora of corgis with accounts. Where do people find the time to manage it??! When I walk through the door, Mr B is all "Have you posted a photo today? Have you seen his number of followers? You need to post for them! They want to know what he's doing." Hello? I don't even know what I'm doing. He is getting crazy.

4. Reading all of the new Youth Media Award WINNERS. They were announced this past Monday. I must get on this. Drop everything and put these suckers on hold. So said every present (and past, ahem,) Youth Services Librarian.

5. Ummm, did I mention I'm going to see GARTH BROOKS tonight??!!!!! GAHHHHHHHH! I can't sit down. I can't focus. I may just put on some music and feed the preschoolers sugar for story time today.  We all need to get excited! I think his "People Loving People" would be appropriate.... I'm sure it's best I'm only working half a day. I'm sure it's best for all. GAHHHHHHHH!

And if this happened?

I.Would.Have.Died. Right.There.Y'all.

AFTER the song, of course.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Beautiful Month

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

 Sunday morning indulging: homemade sausage gravy and biscuits

The weather was bad so church had us all stay home and did a live Wednesday night broadcast.


Making our own hand soap with Doterra oils.

We stocked up for the huge snowstorm that was SUPPOSED to hit.

This is as close as they get. The fire brings them together.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, February 1, 2015

{Super} Sunday Sweets


How many of you are gathering with friends and family to watch the game today????

My family always gets together for the big game, and this year is no exception...even though a few tears were shed when Dallas (daddy's team) and Green Bay (my aunt's and grandma's team) were eliminated. We're still all in. It's tradition over here. Big TV. Packed room. And more food than you can imagine. It's fabulous.

It's football.

It's Sunday.

It's sweet.

Except for this....

This beautiful snow globe of white is why Mr. B and I are staying home today. My family is almost two hours away, and I love 'em and I'll miss watching the game with 'em, but I'd prefer to NOT end up in a ditch, ya know?

(However, I did drive a few miles down our street to pick up a family bucket from KFC. Definitely recommend staying off the roads if you're currently getting this crazy blizzard.)

Soooo....the snowstorm hits and plans change. Now, there's a possibility the in-laws may be over to watch the game tonight (they're only five minutes away) and food plans consist of a brownie sundae bar with all the fixin's, including three types of granola, vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt, and whipped cream. Of course, there are plenty of fruit toppings to choose from, which also doubles as a choose-your-own-fruit-salad bar for those who may not want to indulge in a brownie sundae. I'm not sure who those people are and, truth be told, they probably aren't invited anyway.

I even cut out the brownies in cute football helmet shapes to coordinate with the days' festivities. I made football helmet krispie treats as well. These are the healthier option. Instead of rice krispies and butter, I used 6 cups puffed rice, 4 cups mini marshmallows, and 3 tablespoons coconut oil. DELICIOUS. And Mr. B never even knew the difference.

But, just in case you are in need of throwing together a quick appetizer or are of the I-don't-know-what-to-bring-to-a-Super-Bowl-party lot, here are a few delicious recipes worthy of gracing your game-day table.

Nachos (Two Ways)
Cold Vegetable Pizza (a popular reader item here on Sweet B's)
Ham & Cheese Crescents
Apple Coleslaw
Zesty Broccoli Dip
Potato Skins (definitely a must!)
Multiple Crescent Rolls recipes...quick, simple, and delicious.
Baked Egg Rolls and Snack Plates

Also bar-themes are excellent choices when one must feed a hungry crowd. Some of my favorites are baked potato bar, chili bar, nachos/taco bar, popcorn bar, or something I stumbled across the other day: a mac and cheese bar. What?! And don't forget DESSERT! Krispy treats are always a hit. (Ice cream bars/sundaes are perfection, obviously.)

Who y'all rooting for today?

I'm thinking we're anti-Seattle over here. Go AFC!

With Love and God Bless,