Now that you're nearly finished digesting your luscious Thanksgiving meal, it's time to start thinking about the next round of holidays that are juat around the corner. (Though I'm sure some of you have been thinking about such things, willingly or otherwise, since at least Halloween.) Whether you're shopping your way through your family's holiday gift lists or lining up the menu for your perfect holiday meal, MCPL can help. Visit our Consumer LibGuide for reviews, tips to save money, and more. Use your library card to connect to our MasterFILE Premier database which contains (among other things), full text articles fro mseveral years worth of Consumer Reports. Of course, if you're still somewhat technologically challenged, you can still read the print version of CR at many of our branches. This LibGuide also contains links to an array of online consumer reviews from both professional reviewers, like Good Housekeeping, and the general public (like Amazon and Epinions). You can also check out Enoch Pratt Free Library's recession busting tips.
For those with holiday baking and cooking on their minds, MCPL has plenty to offer you as well. If you're looking for something different with perhaps a more international flair, check out the wide range of recipes in the the Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. This is just one of many resources contained in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Of course, you can visit our our online periodical databases, MasterFILE Premier and General OneFile to search our extensive collections of online magazines and newspapers to find the perfect recipes for your holiday meal. Of course, don't forget to stop in and browse through the 641s for recipes for everything from apple pie to zucchini bread. Yum!
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably noticed that we seem to have lost a season somewhere between fall and spring. And now it appears that we’re headed straight for summer, albeit about three months too soon. No matter what season we started on yesterday’s Vernal Equinox, your local MCPL branch can help you enjoy it or spend it productively.
On the productive side, spring is everyone’s favorite time to spruce up house and home. Check out the 648.5s for a selection of helpful reads on cleaning and organization. (Clutterbugs should check out the 648.8s.) For the digitally inclined, check out an electronic copy of titles such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning. EBSCOHost Masterfile is the place to look for Consumer Reports ratings of vacuums, cleaning products, and other related items. For those who would prefer to have others do their (ahem) dirty work for them, the Washington Consumers’ Checkbook online (in-branch use only) offers customer ratings for everything from air duct and carpet cleaners to power wash and housekeeping services. (And while the cleaning crew is at your house, why not take your car for a spin to one the area’s best car washes, according to the WCC.)
Once you’ve maxed out on productivity, take some time to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Check out a local park or hiker/biker trail. (Rock Creek Park, Brookside Gardens, and the Capital Crescent Trail are some of my faves.) Root on your favorite local softball or baseball teams or go pro and take in a game at Nationals Park in D. C. (could this finally be the winning season Nats’ fans have been waiting for?) or Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore (now celebrating its 20th season), both within 40-45 minutes of Montgomery County. Of course, the crown jewel of this season in our area is without a doubt the famous cherry blossoms, gifted by Japan exactly 100 years ago. It appears this week may be the best one to catch them (just as the expanded 5-week Festival kicks off). Did you know that some of those prized trees reside right here in our county? You could also take a page from Mary Poppins(not literally, please!) and go fly a kite at the Blossom Kite Festival on the National Mall.
At long last, I will soon be a homeowner! I have had house envy for years as all my friends were buying houses but I had to keep renting apartments. It’s been an exciting whirlwind these last couple of months, looking at properties online (my favorite site for searching was Redfin for how easy it was to use and for the amount of detail you could see about each property) and talking with my future husband about the kind of home we want to create for ourselves. I will admit up front that we were lucky to have the process go very quickly and very smoothly—we decided to start looking in mid-May, made an offer at the end of our first day of touring with a realtor and will settle on our new house before July! This is a first home for both of us and we thought it would take us several months to find something “just right.” Thanks to the research I did before we started, we knew what to expect during the entire process and understood some of the pitfalls and problems we could face.
Now the fun begins! We considered buying a “fixer-upper” but most of the ones we looked at needed more fixing and upping than we wanted to handle. (Remember the movie The Money Pit? I had visions of that happening to us.) Our new house is in great shape, but we plan on some minor repairs and updates and using my green thumb to cultivate a small garden and adding colorful flowers around the house to really make it ours. The library, of course, has loads of resources to help us plan and undertake all these projects.
What we can’t do ourselves will require help from a professional. We’ll definitely be checking the ratings in Washington Consumer’s Checkbook as we get to know local services and contractors. We’ll also be consulting the ratings in Consumer Reports when the time comes to replace any major appliances or purchasing new electronics. (All library branches subscribe to the print versions of Washington Consumer’s Checkbook and Consumer Reports. In addition, you can find other consumer information online through our consumer information resource page).