Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Volunteering at the Library!

Earlier this year, our campus had hardcore budget cuts.

Which meant the library had major budget cuts, too.

Some things changed. The entire department on the other side of mine was outsourced to save money. (It was weird, because it was kind of like how in The Office that one guy was fired, but nobody really knew what he did or that he was in the show. Same idea. We all heard that they were losing their jobs and we were like... "uh...what do they do?" "I'm not really sure..." We didn't even know who they were, except that there was one lady who had a little rubber statue-toy-thing of a monk on a cellphone that always made us smile when we would walk past.)

Also, our schedules changed. Instead of firing people, we took reduced schedules for a month or so, until another guy got a job that actually had something to do with his major.

And another thing was, before, when there were books that were falling apart or torn, or having big problems, we would always send them to Preservations. After budget cuts, I would tell my like, supervisor (kind of?) about books with problems and she would say "hmmmm. I don't really know that Preservations will be able to do anything about it now..." "Well, before I would have taken it to Preservations, but after the budget cuts, he may just leave it..."

I felt bad for the poor, broken books.

I thought of my grandma, and my mom, and how they've taken torn hymnals home from church and fixed their bindings and brought them back. The church sells a hymnal repair kit, even.

I pictured a dark room in the library with a desk that had tall stacks of books on both sides, waiting to have their bindings fixed. Maybe before budget cuts someone else had worked there too, but after budget cuts, there just were not enough work hours to fix all of the books that needed help.

I thought about it a bunch and decided that I would be willing to volunteer so that more could be done. I could just spend a few hours on, like, Friday afternoons and tape up the bindings. Or, you know, whatever. It would be nice to know how to do that, anyway.

I always thought it would be nice to be able to take a bookbinding class, but those classes are always like 4 hours long and never fit into my schedule of classes that I actually need. Too bad.

So I told my boss I was interested in doing that. And she went off and talked to the guy who is in charge of the Preservations stuff, and told me I would not be binding books right away--he would train me just like a new part-time person. She said she would show me after I was done working.

So after work she took me over to Preservations and the guy in charge gave me a tour. It wasn't a dark room with a desk and stacks of books---it looks like a laboratory or art room! He showed me the different things that they do, and told me I would be doing fancy, exciting sewing on books because they just do standard, practical stuff. He said sometimes people come and want to volunteer and they have delusions of grandeur because they think they'll come right in and start doing fancy stuff. But you start with things like dust jackets.

And, well, I don't know anything about fancy sewing on bindings, so that didn't bother me at all. He asked if I was still interested, and I said that I was, and I told him I would come in for an hour every morning. He said he wouldn't be able to teach me much in an hour. So I agreed to come in for 2 hours. He starts work at 8:30, and I start work at 10:30, so now every morning I volunteer at Preservations from 8:30 to 10:30 am.

So far I have learned how to put plastic dust cover jacket things on, and I've done a bunch of those, and then I have also learned to sew pamphlets into protective cover things. (See my second photo-- doesn't it look like book acupuncture??) Today I learned how to remove stickers/tape from books with a heat tool and fancy eraser.

Also, today I was added to the who's-here white board (my name is on a magnet!) and I got a name plate thing at my work area. I share a workspace with a guy who [allegedly] volunteers on Thursday afternoons.

Anyway, that's all I have to say about that for now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July Utah Co-op

I know it seems like I just blogged about this because I was so slow about posting for June, but this Saturday was another co-op Saturday.

This month I got another Standard Share.

Standard Share ($23)

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 lbs. split chicken breast
3 lb beef back ribs
4 zucchini (from East Farms)
2 green onions (from East Farms)
5 pears
1 cauliflower
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 bag potatoes (5 lbs)
1 bag of cherries (2 lbs, locally grown from Tagge's Fruit)
8 apricots (Tagge's Fruit)
Stone Ground's Artisan Wheat Loaf
16 oz. rice (white or brown, depending on the whims of the fates)

Plus I added a Stone Ground's Artisan Sourdough Loaf for a few more dollars.

The bundles of green onions were HUGE, and really, what would I do with that many green onions anyway, so I traded one bundle of green onions for a small potted cilantro plant. Which was perfect for me because my herb garden is thriving EXCEPT for my cilantro, which died after Paley knocked it from the window.
(The picture is of the stuff. Notice how full the box of cherry tomatoes is! Notice that we're having RIBS sometime soon. And notice J bought me flowers again, which you can only see the bottom of, and which were not included with the co-op order.)

Every month I am just so amazed by what a deal it is! This month, for extra fun, I saw someone I knew for the first time. Turns out, this awesome girl that I work with orders with the co-op too! She was surprised to see me there, but we see each other outside of work pretty regularly, at Trolley Square and places.
In case you're curious, the things for the other shares were:
Harvest Share (= without the meat)
6 zucchini (from East Farms*)
3 green onions (from East Farms)
1 package of carrots (from East Farms)
6 pears
1 head of cauliflower
1 bag potatoes (5 lbs)
1 bag of cherries (2 lbs, locally grown from Tagge's Fruit)
1 package of cherry tomatoes
18 (yes, 18) apricots from Tagge's Fruit
Stone Ground's Artisan Wheat Loaf
16 oz. rice (white or brown)
Half Share
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean pork cubes
3 zucchini (from East Farms)
1 green onions (from East Farms)
5 pears
1 head of cauliflower
1 bag of cherries (2 lbs, locally grown from Tagge's Fruit)
1 package of cherry tomatoes
8 apricots from Tagge's Fruit
Stone Ground's Artisan Wheat Loaf16 oz. rice (white or brown)
I think those shares are $12-$14ish each.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Utah Co-op Saturday!

At the end of June I had another Co-op Saturday (they're always the last Saturday of the month). I blogged about it a few days afterward but couldn't upload my pictures, so I'm finally just now added the pictures and finished the post.
I decided to take pictures of the process so that you know how awesome it was. Except, we kind of slept in, and we may have gotten there during the last 10 minutes.
My Standard Share was the last one left, so they collected it for me (so that they made sure I got everything I was supposed to) and put it in a box with my name on it. And called to remind me to pick it up, in case I had forgotten. Nice.
Everyone was delighted to pose for pictures when I asked them, but the pictures don't really show much food, because almost everyone had already picked up their food. Oops.

Standard Share $23

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 lbs. chicken thighs
  • 4 6oz. boneless center cut pork chops
  • 1 lb top sirloin fajita strips

  • 6 peaches
  • 7 plums
  • 6 oranges
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 bag carrots (2 lbs.)

  • Stone Ground's Artisan Wheat Loaf
  • 16 oz. red beans

So here's how it works on pick up day:

1. You walk in and go to the first table. This lady asks your name and looks to see what you ordered. She gives you a colored piece of paper that corresponds with your share (Standard, Half, or Harvest), which lists the items that you get. If you ordered any of the extras (I ordered a like, 2lb thing of honey for June, and a Nutty Guys Sampler Pack for May, and for August I'm getting a loaf of sourdough bread), she gives it to you.

2. Then you go to the line of tables that matches the color of your paper. Everything is in order. Your little paper tells you how many of each thing to take, but there are also signs in front of each thing. You add all of the stuff to your bags. (Which you already brought. When they call, they tell you to bring bags. If you really wanted to, you can include reusable bags as part of your order. They sell them. But theirs are spendy.)

3. The table behind me is for exchanging stuff. If you don't want something included, you can trade it for something else! Since I was like, last the only thing left is a bag of beans. Usually there is a whole lot of stuff to choose from. Also on this table, you write down your volunteer hours. You can bank them if you do more than 2 hours.

4. Then you check out. You tell the lady your name, she looks it up and repeats the things that you should have gotten. ("Standard share and honey?" "Yep!" "Okay, initial here.") Then you initial to say that you got your stuff.

5. You take your stuff and go home. You make tasty meals.

(There is an eggplant on top of my food! One lady there was getting the Harvest Share, which has extra vegetables, and it included 2 eggplants. She didn't know what to do with them so I made some suggestions as we were grabbing our stuff, and she offered me one. Nice!)

So, anyway, it's too late to order for July, but I thought it was still worth posting so that you can see what it's like to go pick up food from the co-op. It's seriously still my favorite thing. I'll blog about it again in a week when I get my food for July.

Soap's ready!

Well, I guess it probably seems like the only thing I ever blog about is our chickens. They're my favorite. I actually do still have hobbies other than chickens, though.

J is allergic to something in some brands of commercial soap, so he either has to buy the $6/homemade-style bar soap from Whole Foods or we get to MAKE soap. Guess which choice I picked.

This weekend the soap is finally ready! It's pretty exciting. We made it a month ago. J told me to pick a recipe and we would get the stuff. So I did.

We made the soap here, because it's called easy homemade soap, and having never made soap before I wanted to make a kind that was simple. For the scent, I chose lavender, because that's pretty much my favorite. I also like oatmeal vanilla soaps, and J said mint ones are nice as
well. This recipe called for olive oil (which he had, but we needed to get the cheap kind so we got more at Walmart), grapeseed oil (Amazon!), coconut oil (J already had this), and lye (which J also had).

We got some soap tools from DI-- an immersion blender ($3!), a glass bowl to mix the lye in (which ended up being wayyyy too small), a thermometer for comparing temperatures of oils (although, we were never really sure if it actually worked right or not. We did eventually get the lye and water mixture to match the mixed oils temperature).

We were both a little concerned that it was going to be a way harder project than it ended up being. I think we expected the lye and water to crackle and have terrible fumes. J stirred it out on the back porch with a wooden skewer and I think it did burn the wood, but that was really it.
And then all of the recipes warn us to DEFINITELY, FOR SURE, CERTAINLY wear safety goggles, or you would most likely go blind because it would splash into your eyes and lye is used to clean drains, not eyes. Buuut we didn't have safety goggles so we improvised by having J wear my sunglasses while he slowly combined the stuff, and I backed far away so that it wouldn't splash into my eyes...yeah. Totally nothing happened.

We used the immersion blender to mix the oils and lye to "trace", which is a special time where it's the right consistency and could harden at any moment, but that was uneventful also.

We poured the soap into our mould (a plastic box), put the lid on, and left it in a cooler for a day (because the site said to wrap it in blankets but J didn't want to accidentally ruin any of his blankets). The cooler worked out. It kept the mixture warm longer, so that the reaction could occur. The next day we used dental floss to cut it into bars, just like cinnamon rolls (but less tasty). I wrapped them in paper because they were supposed to sit somewhere cool, on brown paper, separated nicely. And then we piled them back into the plastic box and put them in a cool closet for two weeks. At two weeks we flipped all of the bars. And now that it's been a month, we can start using them. For fun, for fun!