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.



Program Possibilities: Pumpkinpalooza!

Hi, my name is Alyssa and I LOVE pumpkin.

Yes, I’m one of those people who revel in this time of year and all of the pumpkin flavored things that saturate the market (granted, some of them are gross).  I start hording canned pumpkin in late July and have a good stash going by the time Starbucks rolls out their PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte for you newbs).  It doesn’t get added to everything I cook…but many of my plastic containers start to take on an orange hue this time of year.

My love of pumpkin has even stretched into library program with our yearly Pumpkinpalooza programs.  I do one for the Tweens (9-12 year olds) and one as a Super Saturday program for kids ages 5-11.  Pumpkinpalooza has occurred every October for the past three years.  I usually have the Tween program early in the month and the Saturday program closer to Halloween (twice the Pumpkin Fluff leftovers for staff!).

What do we do at Pumpkinpalooza?  We craft and we snack.  The crafts are always pumpkin themed and the snacks contain pumpkin.  Simple as that.

What don’t we do at Pumpkinpalooza?  Craft with real pumpkins.  The first year I planned the program, I thought it would be fun to paint little pumpkins.

And then I saw what tiny pumpkins cost in my area.

Oriental Trading pumpkin-themed craft kits FTW!  Maybe we’ll try to work with real pumpkins in the future, but for now the craft kits are much more cost effective.  Plus, I’ve been able to use the leftovers in between the Tween program and the kids program the following year.  Not so easy to do with a real pumpkin.  Here’s what we made this year:


For snacking, I make White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate and Pumpkin Fluff dip.  This year, I tried something different with the Tweens and we made Pumpkin Juice from this recipe.  It was a hit and I may be using it more in the future.

One Liner Book Review: Summer Edition

Even with the insanity that was SRP 2015, I managed to read a few things this summer.  Here are some of the highlights:

The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter, #1)

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury


The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Great historical read.  I didn’t realize quite everything that led up to the fall of the Romanovs.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal

Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (author) and Adrian Alphonsa (artist)

This…just…wow.  I need the rest of these, please.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillebrand

One of the books EVERYONE should read.  Inspiring.

Note: I read the edition of Unbroken that is geared toward Young Adults.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Meh.  Don’t really get all of the hype behind this book.

Greenglass House

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous mystery for middle grades.  I really want to read this with my tween book club.


Muckers by Sandra Neil Wallace

I really enjoyed this, considering sports books are not my thing.  Inspired by a true story.

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1)

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Another great series by Charlaine Harris with quirky characters.  Good stuff!

Program Possibilities: Duct Tape Pouch

I love Pinterest.  Some of my favorite program ideas and activities have come from this glorious website.  This week, I promised my tweens a duct tape craft  (Fun Fact: both “duct tape” and “duck tape” are correct.  I like duct tape).  I wanted simple.  I wanted fun. I wanted different.  And Pinterest delivered.

Behold, the Duct Tape Pouch!


The instructions for this beauty came from the blog While They Snooze and they were fabulous!  Sometimes crafting instructions are left to be desired but I have to commend the blogger for her clear instructions and awesome pictures on how to make this simple pencil pouch.

The other nice thing about this pouch is this:



It’s fabric lined!  Most duct tape crafts require you to create fabric out of duct tape, which can be expensive and a huge pain in the neck.  This is much simpler and another way to use up some of our craft materials.

The tweens enjoyed this craft.  They got very creative in their choice of duct tape and fabric combinations.  They also made different types of closures for their pouches.

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!

Bring on the Books: Sidekicked

Sidekicked Cover

What if you had a secret identity?

What if you had extraordinary powers?

What if you still had homework?

Those are some of the questions facing Drew in John David Anderson’s novel Sidekicked. Drew, aka The Sensationalist, is part of a top-secret sidekick training program called HERO. Teen sidekicks are paired up with Supers (aka superheroes) to learn the ropes and hone their skills in hopes they will one day become heroes themselves (or at least super awesome sidekicks). And lucky Drew has the greatest hero of all as his mentor- The Titan.

Or at least The Titan used to be great. Now he spends most of his time hanging off a barstool.

Drew and the rest of his sidekick friends run into huge problems when Supervillians return to their hometown of Justicia- and the Supers are tied up elsewhere.

Can Drew and his friends save the day?  Will the Supers come to their rescue?  Will Drew have time to study for tomorrow’s math test?  The answers to these questions and more can be found in Sidekicked by John David Anderson.

I loved this book and immediately suggested it to a coworker for her grandson.  It was full of action and fun.   Drew’s sarcastic views on middle school (and life) really spoke to me and my twisted little soul.  I also liked how the themes of good and evil are explored in this and the companion book, Minion.  The difference between good and evil isn’t always black and white, and both books do a fabulous job of bringing this to life.

Not to mention this book is perfect for Summer Reading 2015!  We’ll definitely be using it in our tween book club.