Shamrocks in the Fairy Garden, Green Books in the Library

St. Patrick’s Day brings out my inner child. We loved wearing green to school when we were kids and apparently I’ve never outgrown the tradition. Green is my favorite color, so finding the right thing to wear is easy-breezy.

I’m also having fun making Leprechaun mischief in the fairy garden. It’s hard to resist.

Fairy garden house under a net

Those mischievous Leprechauns have tossed a net over the fairy house

fairy garden pot of gold

A pot of gold. Is there a rainbow nearby?

fairy garden fairies on St. Patrick's day

Charming fairies enjoy the shade. They were a gift from my friend Kristi.

fairy garden st. patrick's day

Succulents tend to like dry conditions, but they sure look green after the rain.

Since joining a Facebook group for Little Free Library stewards, I’ve found myself reinvigorated. Stewards in the group have wonderful ideas, among them setting up themes for their library.

I stocked the library with red-colored books for Valentine’s Day, and offered pink and red bookmarks and stickers.

valentine's day litttle free library collage

Last week we celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday, which was a huge hit. When I returned from our weekend away, all but one book found its way into a pair of small hands. One of my neighbors stopped by to tell me that his granddaughter was jumping up and down with excitement over one of the Seuss books. That made my day.

LFL Dr. Seuss

Celebrating Dr. Seuss, born March 2nd

If you don’t know about the Little Free Library movement you can read about it on their site. We opened our LFL two years ago. It continues to receive a warm welcome from the community

This week, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and approaching s*p*r*i*n*g, all the books are green, or green themed. books about gardening, fairy gardening, herb gardening…you get the picture. Once again, stickers and green bookmarks to entice small ones to the library. It’s such good fun.

Little Free Library st. Patrick's day

Little Free Library decked out in green

I’ve been a reader my whole life. As girls we loved our trips to the local library. I came home with the maximum books allowed, devoured all of them, then headed back for more. Having a library card felt special. When my boys came along, reading was a big part of our day. Having this LFL at the curb is a great way to build community around reading and a source of daily joy.

What do you know?

The Little Free Library mission is to:

promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

The original goal: To build 2,510 Little Free Libraries—as many as Andrew Carnegie—and keep going.

As of January 2016, there are over 36,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world.

Little Free Library: Take a Book, Return a Book

Meeting Serendipitously

Serendipity!  It’s everywhere.

A few weeks back, while sitting on our deck, a woman called to me from the curb . She was looking at our Little Free Library and wanted to ask a few questions. As it turns out, she wants to build one of her own.

We chatted for a while and discovered all sorts of things in common: our love of books was an obvious one, but she also likes making cards and she enjoys miniatures. It was fun sharing my fairy garden.  She’s also a gardener, and the conversation turned to a lovely book called Epitaph for a Peach.

Honestly, we could have chatted all day.

A week or so later I came home to find her lovely note, a handmade card and a copy of the book, graciously on loan from her own library. My heart swelled.

handmade card

Handmade by Jaci

Epitaph for a Peach is

A lyrical, sensuous and thoroughly engrossing memoir of one critical year in the life of an organic peach farmer, Epitaph for a Peach is “a delightful narrative . . . with poetic flair and a sense of humor” (Library Journal).

When Jaci reads this she won’t mind that I shared the first line of her gracious note:

I very much enjoyed our serendipitous meeting recently…

because of course she doesn’t know that serendipity is my word of the year.  I’m still smiling.

Little Free Library

Though the novelty of the library subsided a few months back, I’m still delighted when people stop by. Books continue to flow in and out.

Two recent additions include Beverley Canon’s A Tale of Two Tails and a copy of Robert Munsch’ The Paper Bag Princess.

A Tale of Two Tails is a gift from the founder of Friends 4 Pets. Beverley takes in unwanted cats and shelters them till she can find them a good home. My sister Sharon fostered a few cats for her as well.

A Tale of Two Tails

A Tale of Two Tails

Munsch’s children’s book is the tale of a  princess with a feminist ending.  How could I resist?  It flew home with me from Victoria, making it extra special. Spoiler alert: the last line of the book is “They didn’t get married after all.”

The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess

The Long View

Thanks for commenting and voting in yesterdays’ poll on photos with the long view. If you missed the post and you’re interested, please let your voice be heard.

Little Free Bookmarks

If you do all your reading on a Kindle, please carry on. If you’re like me though and still enjoy the feel and smell of an actual book in your hands, you’ll appreciate the need for bookmarks.

I know some people ‘dog ear’ the page of a book, but we grew up reading books from the library and book mobile. Dog-earing a book was akin to graffiti. It just wasn’t done.

Now that we have a Little Free Library (LFL) at the curb, I’ve found a built-in excuse to make bookmarks. I made several out of postcards for our LFL dedication and they were a hit. There are only three left.

Postcard bookmarks

Postcard bookmarks

Using leftover scraps from card-making and other paper crafts I made another handful of bookmarks. I added stickers I had on hand, punched the curvy top with my tag-maker and voila, instant bookmarks.

paper scrap bookmarks

Bookmarks made from leftover paper scraps

If your busy and yearning for a quick crafting project, give it a try. You can create a small, functional craft in a short amount of time using minimal tools.  I’ve made bookmarks from the old pages of a wall calendar, glossy fashion magazines, postcards and paper scraps. I made one earlier this year using a seed packet.  Let your imagination be your guide.

realtor's calendar bookmark

Bookmark and an envelope made from a realtor’s calendar

calendar bookmark

Paper piecing calendar bookmark

What to do with your surplus:

  • Tuck extras in your favorite places to read. I keep several in my nightstand drawer
  • Use them for stocking stuffers at Christmas
  • Set them out as place-markers at a dinner party. Add your guests initial with stickers or fancy lettering
  • Give them to your child’s teacher as a small thank you gift
  • Drop them off at a LFL in your community
book and bookmarks

Bookmarks and a recent book donation to the LFL

Fairy Garden Additions: A Little *Little* Free Library

Mary Elizabeth planted the seed. In her sincerest voice she asked “when will you be building a Little Free Library for your fairy garden?”


I picked up the fairy-dusted gauntlet and came up with this:
miniature little free library

The shell for the library illustrates a classic case of the box being more interesting than the contents. Setting aside three tiny jars of purple glitter, I got to work on the structure. I finished it in no time.  Fairy structures are like that. If you’ve been putting off building one, today’s the day. Working in miniature is rewarding and relaxing. If you use items on hand, it’s also affordable if not free.

miniature library

Miniature Library Materials

Old matchboxes infused with special memories served as the basis for the larger books. Toothpicks covered with vintage stickers made slender chapter books. Miniature titles are at the ready for diminutive passersby.

The roof signage came from the bottom of one of the LFL brochures. It’s the perfect size.  Serendipity.

mini little free library

The mini LFL sits at the curb of the fairy garden

Like its bigger cousin, this L(L)FL sits near the curb. It was my son’s idea to support it with a clothes pin. Garden builders under 18 often have the best ideas.

My fairy gardening style is ever-evolving. Check out my Page, above, Fairy Garden Frivolity for a look back.

The Little Free Library movement encourages ‘reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries around the world.’ Little Free

Little Free Libraries in the News

It was exciting to wake up to a lovely article in the San Jose Mercury News: My Town  featuring our Little Free Library (LFL). My friend, Stacey Ross contacted the paper when she first heard about our LFL.  Thank you for all your support, Stacey.

alys and mouse and LFL

Article by Leeta-Rose Ballester, Photo by Jacqueline Ramseyer

Leeta-Rose Ballester stopped by our dedication ceremony and interviewed several guests. Leeta’s article Taking a Read opens with:

Like blowing on a dandelion to make a wish, sending its seeds windborne, local residents are spreading their love of reading throughout their neighborhoods via boxes full of books that are springing up on random street corners.

Isn’t that the best?

Thanks to Jacqueline Ramseyer of Bay Area News Group for the lovely photos.  It was fun seeing our feline friend prominently featured. He’s such a cheerful part of our community.

While delighted with the support of our community, my friend Susan shared this distressing post.  Spencer Collins,a 9-year-old Leawood, Kansas boy received a citation from his city, requiring him to remove his Little Free Library or pay a fine.  Here’s more of the story:

When [Spencer Collins]  tried to share his love for books, it started a surprisingly frustrating adventure.

“When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by [June] 19th or we would receive a citation,” said Spencer’s mother, Sarah Collins.

Leawood said the little house is an accessory structure. The city bans buildings that aren’t attached to someone’s home.

The family moved the little library to the garage, but Spencer Collins said he plans to take the issue up with City Hall.

Leawood said it has received two complaints about Spencer Collins’ library.

You can watch the news report here.

Spencer started a Facebook page yesterday. I’m following his page in solidarity and will be closely watching the outcome. Here’s the link to his page if you’re interested.

Meanwhile, if you live in the area and you haven’t already stopped by please do so. Summer is a great time to escape into a good read.The book selection changes frequently. There is always something for children and adults.

Books from Down Under

Anne Lawson is a talented botanical artist and blogger living in Australia.  She says she is:

fascinated by natural objects like seed pods, shells and leaves. But most especially feathers. I pick them up, admire them, draw them. I have a cupboard full of feathers that are my inspiration. (Lucky that they are as light as a ………!)

Lucky for me, Anne is also a lover of books with a generous heart. Anne mailed two beautifully illustrated children’s classics with the inscription “All the way from Australia” for our Little Free Library.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Possum Magic by Mem Fox happens to be one of my favorites. Ironically, we once owned an autographed copy when we met the author at a children’s bookstore. We gave our copy to a friend when my boys outgrew it. I’m delighted to add a new copy to the library.

I’m not familiar with the second book, To the Top End: Our Trip to Australia.The illustrations are fabulous, so I’m excited to dive in. I’ll enjoy reading it a few times before it makes its way to the curb. Children’s literature holds a special place in my heart.

To the Top End: Our Trip Across AustraliaDSC_0016

To the Top End: Our Trip Across Australia

Anne also sent several of her hand drawn and painted book marks. Aren’t they fun?

Anne Lawson bookmarks

Anne Lawson Design bookmarks

Thank you Anne, for your lovely gifts.

If you’re not already following along, you can read her blog and see her botanical art at Anne Lawson. Check our her Etsy shop too at Anne4bags.

little free library geo map

Little Free Library books from around the world

Succulents ♥ Heat

While I’m not a fan of the heat, the succulents sure are. Amazingly, I’m only watering them about every ten days. They look refreshed, don’t they?

Senecio Vitalis

Senecio Vitalis

Panda Plant ‘Kalanchoe tomentosa’ from Madagascar

Panda Plant ‘Kalanchoe tomentosa’ from Madagascar

assorted succulents

Echeveria agavoides *  Echeveria peacockii * Rainbow Elephant Bush Portulacaria afra ‘Variegata’

A certain feline enjoys rubbing his fluffy white cheeks along the edge of the pot. He’s probably about to whisper “how do you manage to look so good in this heat?”

mouse smells succulents

Remember to stop and smell the flowers

Felis catus

Felis catus

Thankfully,the high today is only 88 °F (31 °C ). It’s cooler still on Saturday which is such a relief. Our Little Free Library dedication is tomorrow at 3:00 so if you are in the area, please join us.

Little Free Library

Little Free Library surrounded by roses and sweet peas

Have a terrific weekend.

Little Free Library: Books and Maps

Exciting news this week.

First up, the Little Free Library has a new addition thanks to the lovely Julia at Defeat Despair.  She belongs to Paper Back Swap, a site for exchanging books. She ordered a copy of the beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web and asked them to ship it here instead.

Charlotte's Web

Book Dedication

The book arrived over the weekend with a flood of memories.  My grade school teacher read it aloud to us after lunch each day, along with the other E.B. White classic, Stuart Little. Julia says:

I am excited about some family having access to this wonderful tale through your library. What a fun way to spread the joy of reading!

Thank you, Julia!

We’re on the Map

Our Little Free Library is on the official map.  It’s now searchable directly from the LFL site.  Here is a screen shot, complete with coordinates. What would the great explorers of the world think of that?

little free library screen capture

We’re on the map

I can’t tell you how happy I am when I see people stop and browse the library.  I surreptitiously watched twin girls pick out a book this weekend.  Monday I saw a pair of pre-teen girls drop off a few books. What joy.

In case you are new to this blog, or to the Little Free Library movement, you can catch up at the links below.

Old Calendar, New Life

Last year Susan Golden of the Sereno Group, sent us a beautiful calendar depicting local places of interest. Instead of photographs, the locations are watercolors by artist Lou Ann Styles.  Susan sold us our home almost 18 years ago and we haven’t moved since.

artist LouAnn Styles

Artful pages by Artist Lou Ann Styles

I like to re-purpose my wall calendars each year into something useful. They’re always beautiful works of art on lovely paper. It seems a shame to toss them into a recycling bin.
This year I turned my calendar pages into bookmarks for the Little Free Library. The natural settings and lovely detail worked well, even when cut into pieces and folded in half.

calendar book marks

From calendar page to book marks


Bookmarks using the center of the page

book marks

Bookmarks using the two edges of the page

I saved one of the pages to make an envelope. I used the back cover of the calendar with Susan’s picture to make her a special bookmark. I hope she likes it.

It’s fun thinking of ways to use an old calendar.  I’ve made them into envelopes, bookmarks, gift tags, gift card holders and postcards.  Last year I recovered a small box using several pages.  It sits on my desk on holds note cards and scratch paper.

Do you hang on to old calendars because they are too pretty to throw out?

Bookmark and envelope

Bookmark and envelope


Front side of Susan’s bookmark

Little Free Library: Books for Everyone

Little Free Library

The base of the library is ready for plants

The Little Free Library is a hit.  The outpouring of support makes my heart sing.  I received a number of emails from neighbors and friends promising books and offering support.  Several of my friends shared my blog post on Facebook.  I’m planning a dedication ceremony as well so stay tuned for details.

I received the following email from a dear friend:

I just adore you new free book library and wanted to add four of my favorite mystery authors. I have these paperback books coming straight to you from Amazon. Please add in honor of our friendship and my aunt Vicki who as you know was a reading specialist. Believe it or not, it was 5 years ago in December we lost her. I miss her as much today as then but she is always in my heart/thoughts and she would be so proud of her great-nephew. Jackson won the school award for reading the most books last year. Kristi

Wow!  In addition to being a great friend, Kristi got me hooked on two fun authors, Sue Grafton (great mysteries) and Janet Evanovich (the laugh out loud adventures of a bounty hunter in New Jersey).

New this week:

One for the Money

A is For Alibi

No Nest for the Wicket

Keepsake Crimes

Once the library was official, I found myself scrutinizing everyone who walked by.  Would they stop?  Would they look? Would they take a book?  It didn’t take long for a few of the children’s books to move.  One afternoon a woman pulled into my driveway  (picture me trying hard not to stare) and her son got out and collected a book.  Mortified, my teenage son begged me not to stare or worse, take a picture.  Who me????  Of course I would never take a photo of someone without permission, but it was exciting to watch it unfold (the book borrowing,  not my son’s angst).  I remember my teenage years.  So many things embarrassed me so I make an extra effort to stay aware of his emotional discomfort.

Ways to get involved

One of the questions last week was: Is there an effort to see these in some of the poorer areas?

Yes!  There are a number of initiatives in the works to spread the love of reading worldwide, especially in low-income and impoverished areas. Here are a few:

Africa: Send a beautifully designed Little Free Library and more than $1,000 worth of books to Africa! Your contribution supports construction, decoration, registration, signage and enough books to help an entire village in need.

Small Towns: A small town or neighborhood near you may not have a public library of its own. One Little Free Library can bring the joy of reading to children, older adults or a whole community. Your donation will help build, deliver, install and stock one or more Little Libraries with quality books.

India: Our nonprofit partner in India is already at work using beautiful books and Little Free Libraries to inspire poor kids to stay in school and learn to earn a living. Children who thought it wasn’t even possible to dream of attending school will have the chance to learn language, geography, science, math, health and business skills. Each $500 sponsors a Library and hundreds of books that can last for at least three years. For both donors and receivers, this program can transform lives.

Minneapolis Public Schools: As many as 100 Little Free Libraries will be installed by and for neighborhood kids in a new program created with Minneapolis Public Schools. More than 20 have already been committed. The goal is to interest children who have not yet learned the pleasure and value of books. Thousands of books have been offered by Coffee House Press, Reach a Child and others. Each Library starts with more than $500 of books.

You can read details about the above initiatives and more at Little Free Library.Org

back of the library

Back of the library, reclaimed fencing