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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Give Rose Petals New Life

Some people are truly gifted in that they are able to find ways to creatively reuse things that would otherwise end up in the garbage. These are the type of people who can make art out of things like old bottle caps. Unfortunately, I am not one of these people. One of our Meebo patrons either already is or aspires to be one, though, as he or she has asked for directions on how to make a sachet using rose petals. I initially had no idea what a sachet is, but after learning that it is basically a small, scented cloth bag (often filled with potpourri), I was ready to find an answer for our Meebo patron.

How to Make a Sachet Using Rose Petals

Making the potpourri:

1. Dry the roses. You have a few options for how you want to accomplish this. You can hang them, allow them to air dry, or microwave them. Flowers are apparently microwavable; there’s something I never expected.

2. Once your petals are dry, place them in a large, non-metal bowl. At this point, you can also cut up any other dried flowers or leaves you like and add them to the mixture as desired.

3. Next, add about 20 drops of essential oil of your choice and stir the mixture. For those of you who are like me and didn’t know what essential oil was, it’s a concentrated, fragrant oil that is extracted from a plant.  Essential oils have been extracted from over 3,000 plants and are often used to create scents in many products, including perfumes, cosmetics, and soaps.

4. The next step is to put the materials into a jar and cover it. You can do this with a jar lid, but if you’d prefer, you can place the jar in a paper bag and fold the top down. Once it’s covered, let it sit for 10 days.

Making the sachet:

This part can get a little confusing, especially without picture to guide you, so click here if you want to see what your bag is supposed to look like at each of the following steps.

1. To make the bag portion of your sachet, you’ll need a lace or linen handkerchief or any other similar delicate fabric of this type.

2. Cut the material into a rectangle. The rectangle should be slightly larger than the size you want to finished rose sachet to be.

3. Place the rectangle piece on a hard surface to get ready to glue. If you prefer, you can also sew instead of using glue.

4. Take a hot glue gun and fold the top edge of the rectangle over ¼ of an inch. Glue or sew the edge. This will keep the material from unraveling.

5. Turn the rectangle over so the rough edge of the top is showing. Fold it in half, from left to right (or right to left). Begin gluing or sewing the long, open side and the bottom. Leave the top side (where you made the initial, small fold) open.

6. Turn the bag right side out. Fill it with the potpourri mix almost to the top. Leave ½ inch empty at the top so that you can close the sachet.

7. Finish it off by tying a ribbon around the top. You can repeat these steps until all the potpourri has been used.

I hope this helps you out with your creative endeavors, Meebo Patron. If you need more help finding more ideas for rose crafts, let us know!

Credo Reference Databases
"How to Make a Rose Sachet from Dried Roses,"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When is Easter?

Yes, I know it’s a little late for this question, as the holiday was just this past Sunday, but inquiring minds want to know, and it’s my job to find out. We know that Easter is always on a Sunday in the spring, but how do we know which Sunday that will be? We could always answer that by taking a quick glance at the calendar, but why is it that one year, Easter is on a Sunday in March and the next, it is on a Sunday at the tail end of April?

The date of Easter may appear to be random, but it’s actually determined by the lunar calendar. Easter is celebrated the Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or following the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). If that full moon happens to fall on a Sunday, Easter is held the next Sunday. This is the way we’ve determined the date of Easter since 325 A.D., when the First Council of Nicea met. The council was a meeting of Christian bishops who convened in present-day Turkey to resolve disagreements within the religion. One of the results of the bishops’ efforts?  The standard formula for calculating the date of Easter, which is the one we still use today.

Source: Credo Reference

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Plight of the Platypodes

I jokingly e-mailed this GIF to some of my friends and mentioned that I would like to receive a platypus for my birthday. (My birthday isn't for three months. I like to start throwing gift ideas out early.)

Funny Pictures - Platypus on the Prowl Gif

One of my friends, the big goof, wanted to know if it were actually possible to own a platypus. Well, I didn't know, but I do now!
Platypus are wild animals with specialised living requirements. It is illegal for members of the public to keep them in captivity. A platypus which has been accidently captured along a stream or found wandering in an unusual place should never be taken home and treated as a pet, even for a brief time. The animal will not survive the experience.
Only a small number of Australian zoos and universities hold permits to maintain platypus in captivity for legitimate display or research purposes. Current Australian government policy does not allow this species to be taken overseas for any reason.
My dream is dashed. Not only wouldn't they survive in captivity (I'm not sure how well they would adapt to my cats, either,) but they also have some disturbing habits.  Did you know:
  • Every male platypus has a venemous spur on each of his back ankles. This venom is extremely painful to humans and also causes inflammation and swelling (Oxford Reference).
  • The female does not have teats. Instead of suckling, the young lap up milk secreted by skin on the mother's stomach (Oxford Reference).
One more (slightly less) disturbing habit? No one can agree upon a correct plural form of platypus. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary lists four choices: platypuses, platypi, platypusses, and my favorite, platypodes. I don't think I could handle such an "indecisive" mammal. I suppose I'll stick with cats and dogs.

Tom R. Grant "Platypus" The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Ed. David W. Macdonald. Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Mississippi Library Commission. 13 April 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mango? Orange? It's Both!

Looking back at my posts over the last month or so, I’ve realized that they’ve all been about food. This hasn’t been intentional, trust me, and I hope you don’t mind. My last few posts have actually been responses to questions from Meebo questions, and it seems like everyone wants to know more about fruit! Monday evening, a Meebo patron left a question for us that follows this very trend. Our Meebo patron wants to know more about a fruit that tastes like an orange and mango and is grown in Florida.

After searching high and low, I’ve discovered that a fruit called a mango orange actually does exist, though it appears to be extremely rare. I couldn’t find much information about them beyond descriptions of what they look and taste like. According to the Deer Creek Heights Ranch, an organic citrus farm in Terra Bella, CA, this variety of orange originates from North Africa, near the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s the description of the orange as it appears on the Deer Creek Heights Ranch website:

“The Mango orange is a sub-acid orange that allows those that cannot otherwise eat citrus fruit to do so. It is still high in Vitamin C and has a very delicate and sweet flavor that will remind you of mangos, hence the name that we have given it. It has a soft pink ring around the outside of the flesh that makes it very appealing to the eye. It is sometimes used as a garnish in some upscale restaurants.”

Like I said earlier, it’s a rare fruit. Deer Creek Heights claims to be one of the only commercial growers of it. If you find the idea of a mango orange intriguing, and you feel like you just have to try one, you have a few options. If you live in or near a city with a Whole Foods grocery store, you could try your luck there. I came across a blogger who bought some mango oranges there and even snapped a photo of them once she got them home:


The blogger, a literary mom named Beth, says that they taste fine but don’t have much of a mango taste.

You could also order them directly from Deer Creek Heights Ranch via its website. They don’t list a price on their website, but From the Farm, an online farmer’s market, sells them also and currently lists a selling price of $32.95 per 9-pound box, so there’s another option right there.

So, if you want to try something new and you ever get the opportunity to try a mango orange, why not go for it? It could turn out to be a new favorite food for you. And if you’ve already tried one, let us know what you think about them!


Monday, April 11, 2011


This post, written by Tracy, originally appeared 8/21/2008.

Elisabeth has been working on a reference request this week dealing with the history of the railroad in Como, Mississippi, which is in Panola County. She was hot on the trail until she came to a little volume called History of Panola County: Compiled from Reminiscences of Oldest Citizens, which, um, she refused to read because “it smells like an armpit.” Having detected no armpittian aroma, I looked at it on her behalf. While there were no references to the railroad (which, btw, came to Como in 1857), there were many funny stories told by those oldest citizens. I thought this one was pretty good:
In 1845, Mitch Woolard, a boy of about 15, whose father lived at Hernando, had the contract to ride the mail from the town of Hernando, to Panola, passing through our settlement, and directly in front of the school house. One day in passing, the mail-rider called out ‘School-Butter,’ a term of contempt which in those days was considered an insult, not only to every pupil in the school, but to the teacher as well. The mail was carried between these points only twice a week, as this was before we had a post office in our settlement, and by the time the mail-rider came again, the boys made a plan to show their resentment of this insult, and they came to me to get me to make a signal when I saw the mail-rider coming so that I might let them know.

I hung a piece of sheet-iron and told them when I saw them coming I would strike on it with my hammer and they could then carry out their plan of action. The teacher had given his permission for them to have some fun and show that they were prepared to defend their school, but he made them promise that they would not hurt the boy, nor be too rough with him. When I saw the mail-rider approaching along the public road, I gave a stroke with my hammer on the sheet-iron and the next moment the school boys, big and little, came swarming out and started down the road to meet him. He saw them coming in time to realize what it meant, and putting spurs to his horse, tried in vain to escape. Almost before he knew it they had surrounded him and pulled him from his horse and I guess he must have thought his time had come. Beyond pulling him around pretty roughly, however, and making him promise not to repeat the offence, they did not do him any harm, although I suppose he was pretty badly frightened and very angry.
According to Slang and Its Analogues (reprinted 1970, originally 1890-1904), “school-butter” means “a flogging.” The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue defines it as “a cobbing, a whipping,” and the OED describes it as “a teasing call to school children.”

Look, don’t mess with the ruffians of Panola County. Let the story of the school-buttering of poor old Mitch Woolard (whose father equipped him with a pistol for future journeys), be a lesson to you!

Cromie, Robert. 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. Digest Books, 1971.
Farmer, J.S. and W.E. Henley. Slang and Its Analogues. Arno Press, 1970.
History of Panola County: Compiled from Reminiscences of Oldest Citizens. Southern Reporter, Sardis, MS. 1908-1909.
OED Online.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ima Ripley Fann.

Last week, I was doing a little weeding (aren't we ALWAYS doing a little weeding around here?) and came across a couple of Ripley's Believe It or Not books. They were worse for wear -- some of the pages crumbled in my hand -- and had been in the collection for over 60 years. While it was time to say goodbye, this doesn't mean I didn't peruse them at length!

I've always liked Ripley's Believe It or Not, at least in part because I find the title so funny. "Believe it or not, we don't care." And growing up, I always lobbied for my dad to take my brother and me to the Ripley museum. Not only could you look at grody things like shrunken heads and chickens in jars (ok, I made that up), but next door was a wax museum! Who cares about Six Flags when you can see a wax figure of Marie Antoinette? Not this librarian-in-training, that's for sure.

As I admired the various illustrations in one of the Ripley's volumes I was considering discarding, I came this young lady with the most unfortunate name:

Sure, I thought. Ima June Bugg is a real person and all. Whatever you say, Ripley! And then I decided to investigate.

Lo and behold, Ima June Bugg is real! I found her marriage license on!

I then stifled the urge to fact check all the other items in the books. And despite their obvious worth, their sad state of disrepair made them prime candidates for the weeding truck. Farethewell, Ima June Bugg! We hardly knew ye.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Am the Pivot of Civilization!

I was working on a reference question this morning and had occasion to look at old copies of Mississippi Library News. I was struck by how similar the topics were. We talk about how libraries have changed so much, but 70 years ago, libraries in Mississippi were concerned with the same thing: providing excellent service, reaching special populations, and receiving state aid.

In “The Public Library and State Aid” from the January, 1940 Library News, the author writes:

If the public library is a vital part of the educational system, then it is certainly to the state’s welfare to see that public funds are made available either through the adjustment of funds already available or by increased funds. Every state activity if it is to develop to its greatest capacity must have available adequate library resources....Students, business men, club women, children, mature people seeking the education they missed in youth, and people of any age seeking amusement and recreation need the public library. The public library ranks with the school in importance to the community. The entire picture may be summarized in these words: I am the pivot of civilization—I am the Public Library.

Besides the dated “business men” and “club women,” this paragraph could’ve been written today. The sentiment certainly translates.
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