Cinnamon Catastrophe

Every year, our Friends of the Library group hosts a Festival of Trees in our library.  Basically, community groups decorate a 4 ft tall tree and they’re on display in the library.  Our teens have decorated a tree before but this year, I decided our tweens should join in the fun.

This year’s theme (because there’s always a theme!) is Christmas Traditions.  Every year, the tweens decorate mini-gingerbread houses (read: eat lots of frosting), so I thought we should do a gingerbread themed tree.

On Wednesday, I sat out some cardstock gingerbread house forms and let the tweens begin decorating.  While they were working on those, I began making ornaments out of cinnamon and applesauce.

Have you ever seen cinnamon applesauce ornaments before?  They smell FABULOUS, look kinda like gingerbread, and would be a perfect addition to the tree.  Plus, they’re no-bake and only take two ingredients, 3lbs of applesauce and 16oz of cinnamon.  Easy-peasy, right?

Oh, I should know better.

The mixing went ok.  I started with a spoon, and then used my hands.  Soon, it was time to roll out the door.  I didn’t have much cinnamon left to dust the table and rolling pin with but all seemed well.  Cut out the first batch of shapes, and went to roll the dough out again.

It started to stick.

We were out of cinnamon so I used pumpkin pie spice.  Cut out a few more shapes out of the sticky dough and tried to roll out the dough again.

More sticky.

In a pinch, I tossed in some hot cocoa mix (it was all we had, OKAY!?!?).

Couldn’t roll it out.  Stuck to rolling pin.

After a few minutes of adding more cocoa mix, attempting roll out dough, and my hands becoming a huge ball of cinnamon stickiness, I tossed the dough in the garbage (with my tweens laughing at my expense, as they do).

I rinsed the dough off of my hands, made a huge mess in the bathroom, cleaned up the rolling pin, and went home.

Where I made a Cinnamon Roll Cake for The Tiny Human’s feast at daycare.



Librarian Skills: Summer Reading Preparations, Part 1

It’s that time of year, folks.

Summer Reading is about to consume my every waking moment.

Well, not quite yet.  The panic doesn’t officially begin until May 1st when I claim no responsibility for anything I say or do until after Summer Reading.  THEN it’s time to panic.

Planning for SRP is a year round event.  Even when it’s no where near Summer, you’re still thinking about SRP.  You may come across a Pinterest craft in October that will be perfect for SRP.  A book that comes in in March will be just what you need for an SRP Storytime.  A parent will ask you in January when SRP starts.

And for some of us lucky few, we get to plan a program for multiple branches (six to be exact).  Six times the prizes, six times the paperwork, six times the programming, and six times the headache fun!

Here’s how my planning breaks down (our program runs from June 1st to August 1st, and we use the Collaborative Summer Library Program, for reference):


-CSLP disc and catalog is shipped to us from the State Library.

-We (the adult librarian, teen librarian, and I) go ahead and place an order for prize/staff t-shirts, prizes, and posters immediately.  As it gets closer to Summer, they do run out of some of the materials, so we like to make sure we get what we want.  We have the numbers from past Summers for reference in terms of how much to order.

-Begin looking through files on the disc to get ideas.  I will print out certain portions of the manual because it’s easier for me to look through it.  I flag any programming ideas that appeal to me


-Begin looking for a kick-off event.  We host a big kick-off event for the whole family at each of our six branches for SRP.  I typically start getting fliers/advertisements from different vendors in January.  I just like to get this done and out of the way ASAP.

-Look for an intern.  My library is fortunate to be a hop, skip, and a jump from a university with a Department of Library and Information Sciences.  Without someone to help out during the Summer, there is NO WAY we could have programming at our branches- end of story.  Interns gain real-world programming experience by doing these programs for me.  Fun fact: I started my library career at the library I’m working at as the Summer Reading Intern.

-New books.  Publishers are very in tune to what we’re doing for Summer Reading.  About this time of year, there are (conveniently) a TON of new books that will be perfect for this year’s theme, whatever it may be.  Time to stock up!

This finishes up the preliminary Summer Reading plans.  March is when things really go into high gear…..






Stay for the Food: White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

LibraryLyssa: Come for the library talk, stay for the food.

We’ve had some library talk, let’s have some food!

I like to cook and LOVE to eat.  I’m not a terrible cook , but I won’t be getting a Food Network show anytime soon ( a girl can dream, right?).  I rarely create my own recipes (BAD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN I GO ROGUE IN THE KITCHEN) but love to tweak recipes I find in cookbooks and online.

At the library, we rarely have food at programs.  There are exceptions and our annual Pumpkinpalooza is a great example.  I’m one of those people who LOVES all things pumpkin and for the past few years, I’ve shared that love through our Pumpkinpalooza program.  The program consists of pumpkin themed crafts and some pumpkin flavored snacks.

I found this recipe last year for Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate and immediately pinned it on Pinterest.  It sounded amazing AND it was done in a slow cooker.  I was in love.  A little tweaking of the recipe and it was ready for programming.  The kids loved it!

And staff doesn’t mind the leftovers either….


White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate


-8 cups whole milk (1 1/2 gallon)

-2 cups white chocolate chips

-1 15oz can pumpkin puree

-2 tsp vanilla extract

-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and turn on low.  Stir the mixture every 15-2o minutes, making sure you scrape up the chocolate from the bottom of the slow cooker.  Hot chocolate will be ready in approximately an hour and a half!  Turn slow cooker to warm to keep beverage warm while serving.  Serves 8-10.



Book Clubs for Kids

At last month’s CYPD conference, I gave a presentation called “You Can Find Me in the Club, The Book Club!” (cue the 50 Cent music).  I talked about the two book clubs our library has for kids, how they work, and what we do during meetings.  Since I’ve been working away at various book club related tasks today, I thought I’d share some book club info with you.

What are your book clubs?

My library hosts two book clubs for kids.  One for kids ages 5-8 called “The Page Turners” and one for our tweens ages 8-12 called “inbeTWEEN the Lines.”

What do the book clubs do?

We meet once a month to discuss a book and do different activities related to that book.  The kids get a free copy of the book (while supplies last) to keep.

Why do you have book clubs for kids?

Why not?!  Book clubs give kids the chance to talk about books.  It can help them define what they like to read (or what they don’t like to read).   It also encourages them to read outside their comfort zone in terms of reading ability and their normal reading tastes.

The book clubs have also given me the opportunity to get the know the kids one on one.  Because book clubs do have a fairly big discussion element, we get to talk about more than just the books.

How do you select the books?

I DO WHAT I WANT!!!  Actually, I try to think about what the kids would like to read and what books might bring more kids to the book clubs.  We mostly read fiction (picture books for the younger group) but I do try to include some non-fiction and graphic novels.  There is also something classic-y every year (i.e. Where the Wild Things Are, Pippi Longstocking, etc.).  In the summer, I try to tie the selections into our Summer Reading Program theme.  In 2013, we read all award winning books in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal.

Where do you get the books?

I have purchased the books through the Scholastic Literacy Partnership and Book Depot.  Both have been fabulous in terms of selection, price, and how quickly the books are delivered.

What have you read?  

The Page Turners (5-8 year olds)

  • Silverlicious
  • The Snowy Day
  • Make Way For Ducklings
  • Bad Kitty
  • The Sandwich Swap
  • Junie B. Jones and the Yucky, Blucky Fruitcake

inbeTWEEN the Lines (9-12 year olds)

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Savvy
  • The Adventures of Captain Underpants
  • Hatchet
  • The City of Ember
  • Dewey the Library Cat

My library doesn’t have a very big programming budget.  How can we start a kids book club?

In Indiana, there are Book Club kits available through the Indiana State Library.   The kits contain 15 copies of each title and check out to your library for 3 months.  If you’re outside Indiana, check with your state library to see if they have a similar program.  I also think this would be an excellent grant opportunity.  Reach out to your Friends of the Library group to see if they could help fund this project.

Have any more questions about kids book clubs?  Ask away!