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The MCPL Blog: Articles by Hannah Detlaff

The Fine Art of Envelope Decorating

decorated envelope

June 4, 2022

I previously wrote about the advantages of handwriting letters and as a follow up, I wanted to talk about decorating letters and envelopes. It’s easy to do, can be a lot of fun and makes the final product a little more unique. You can start off simple, soaking the paper in coffee, tea or food coloring to ‘age’ the paper and to add a light scent. Making your own envelope is fairly easy as well, which you can do using patterned or colored paper. 1. Start with a square piece of paper. I found it helpful to fold it corner to corner so I could see where the center was. 2. Take one corner and fold it to the center, fold the opposite corner so they meet in the middle. 3. Fold the...

Adults Arts and Crafts Children Teens Tweens Writing

The Great Debate: Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Sparkly, glowing book

February 17, 2022

It is known that reading in general has a positive impact on vocabulary size, spelling and mental agility, but is nonfiction more valuable than fiction? Reading fiction has been shown to increase empathy and moral reasoning in people, as well as greatly improve their social cognition. Some believe reading fiction is a waste of time; that instead of reading about a fictional character's adventures, you should go experience them yourself. In my opinoin, learning new skills and information is important and I think nonfiction has value, though not more than fiction. They both have importance, and research agrees. Research shows that reading nonfiction may negatively predict empathic abilities...

Adults Books

Famous Last Words

Candle burning

January 19, 2022

It’s interesting how regardless of how innocuous a person’s dying words may seem, the context of the situation adds weight and meaning to them. The circumstances have an effect on the words' meaning whether the death was unexpected, or if the words were said with the knowledge that they may be the person's last. Last words make us wonder - are we getting a glimpse into something more than life, who a person truly is? Or are the words random and meaningless, a direct result of illness or fear? Some find humor in their last moments, while others are reflective and heartfelt. Regardless, they are interesting to read and I’ve always been fascinated with the emotional impact of words. Here are some of the...

Adults Writing

The Many Benefits of a Handwritten Letter

woman writing a letter

January 10, 2022

It’s rare these days to receive a personal letter in the mail. Generally, most of us just receive junk mail and credit card offers. Receiving a personal letter or card in the mail can make someone's day or improve their mood, and taking the time to sit and handwrite a letter to someone you care about is beneficial for both the writer and the recipient. It makes us feel good to know that someone is thinking about us, and devoting time and attention to us. Taking a moment to slow down and really focus on writing to someone else is a good practice and good for mental health. Letter writing also helps you practice more formal language, spelling and grammar, and if you’re a creative writer, it can...

Adults Writing

Animated Movies Aren’t Just for Kids

Coraline doll by tree

December 2, 2021

I recently rewatched many animated films and shows that I had seen as a kid. Seeing them as an adult gives me a new perspective and reinforces my belief that animated shows and movies contain lessons and themes that a person of any age can learn from. Some examples of my favorites are listed below. 

Adults Movies

Moral Ambiguity in Literature and Film

Maleficent

November 24, 2021

Moral Ambiguity: a lack of certainty about whether something is right or wrongImmoral: not conforming to accepted standards of morality. Knowing the difference between right and wrong, and doing ‘wrong’ anyway.                       In general, I find a morally ambiguous villain compelling, and far more interesting than an immoral one.            In recent years, there has been an increase in morally ambiguous characters in literature and film. Some believe this will cause a blurring of morals in younger generations while others believe it provides a more realistic view of...

Adults Books

DIY @ Home Craft: Bottle Planter

example of a plastic bottle planter

March 19, 2021

Get some things planted indoors by making this quick and easy decorative bottle planter! Please note that this craft is designed for adults, as plastic bottles can have very sharp edges after you cut them.  To get started, you'll first need to gather a few common supplies: Supplies needed: Plastic bottle (preferably 2-liter - the larger, the easier to work with) Marker Scissors Acrylic paint and brushes Sand paper Sealant Cotton string (optional) Decorative supplies (optional)   Steps: 1. Wash and dry your bottle, then lightly sand the surface to prep it for paint (paint will flake off if not prepped). 2. Using a marker, trace your desired bottle design...

Adults Learning

Compelling Quotes That Stick With You

journal, iPhone and laptop

February 15, 2021

Have you ever passed up a book because the cover or synopsis seemed superficial or unrelatable? Or have you decided against reading a book because the genre isn’t your favorite? Sometimes bits and pieces of the story can compel you to read the entire book, which is great, because you can find bits of wisdom inside stories you wouldn’t expect. Below are some of my favorite compelling quotes that I've gleaned from books over the years that have left a lasting impression. Do you have any that you write down and keep in a journal? If so, tell us some of your favorites.  “Each person seems to have separate memories that make them think they have continuous separate selves. But what if...

Adults Authors Books

New Year, New You

New Year, New You message

January 5, 2021

While books are (obviously) entertaining, there’s a lot we can learn from reading them. Witnessing a character’s journey, and seeing how they evolve, is called “character development.” Through the things they may face in the story, a character’s outlook, personality, priorities, or motivations may change by the end of the book (and they may learn a lesson or moral along the way, too). Through character development, the reader can also grow as a person. You may be inspired to turn over a new leaf yourself, or look at a situation in your own life from a different perspective. Below are three examples of books where I found clarity or inspiration through the character development within. A Song of Ice...

Adults Books Reading Recommendations

Why Everyone Should Read 'The Lord of the Rings' at Least Once

Lord of the Rings ring

November 20, 2020

In my opinion, everyone should read The Lord of the Rings at least once in their life. Or, at the very least, watch the extended edition of the movies. Why, you ask? It’ll make you feel a lot of things (AKA, it’ll make you cry) Many of the parts not included in the movies are the funnest parts In the age of easily digestible books (and shorter attention spans), modern readers have a harder time putting in the time that a trilogy requires. The way Tolkien writes is rich and dense, and every detail seems important Personal relationships are very important in the books There are 5 million different types of fear in the books, with just as many reactions to that fear or ways of handling it. It’s...

Adults Books Movies Reading Recommendations Teens Tweens

Books vs. Movies: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

Hobbit dwelling

July 10, 2020

Book-to-movie adaptations have long been a sore spot and an area of contention for diehard bookworms. Some expect the movie or TV show to be exactly like the written source material, without straying at all, while others expect some changes to be made during the leap from page to screen. The idea that nothing can or should change is something I personally disagree with, because that expectation sets you up to be disappointed. There are things you can accomplish and convey in books that you cannot mimic in film, and vice versa. And let’s face it – if there was a movie adaptation made that quoted and followed the book it’s based on line-for-line, it would be hours long, probably feature scenes that would be...

Adults Books Movies

Get out of your comfort zone with "uncomfortable" books!

hands holding an open book

June 11, 2020

I believe that if you read for personal growth and broaden your perspectives you should also be opened to challenging yourself in terms of what you read. I often read as a form of escapism, and sometimes that escape is someplace borderline unsettling and difficult, but it’s fascinating to experience something so foreign. Much like reading a book where the protagonist is the ‘villain’ or someone unsavory, it allows you to see the world through their perspective and you learn a little about why they are the way they are. Banned books are also often good examples because being controversial, they challenge a person's personal opinions but often are impactful. I recently started reading My Dark...

Adults Books Reading Recommendations

Revisit "The Office" with these reads!

a collage of books related to the TV show The Office

June 8, 2020

It's the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Let's pull back the curtain and take a behind-the-scenes look at one of the best shows (objectively, definitely)...The Office! In the new book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, author Andy Greene chronicles how The Office got off the ground and shares tales from the show, as told by the creators, writers and actors who worked on the program. Many of the actors from the series also wrote and/or directed episodes of the show including but not limited to, Steve Carell, Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and B.J. Novak. A few of the actors have also written clever and comedic books, which I think are worth reading,...

Adults Books Reading Recommendations

DIY @ Home Craft: Collage for Beginners!

example of a collage project

May 20, 2020

You want to collage - but where to start? Collage can be a great artistic medium to experiment with because it can be anything you want it to be! Collage affords you the ability to be messy, be creative, have fun and not have to focus too much on how “nice” your project looks. The very nature of collage also allows you to more easily cover up any parts of your project that you are unhappy with. There are a few different ways to approach your collage projects, which I'll briefly cover below. Intuitive With intuitive collage, you pull pieces that you’re drawn to, gather them all, and determine if there’s a pattern or a way to bring them all together. To do this, flip through magazines and cu out things...

Adults Arts and Crafts

DIY @ Home Craft: Egg Carton Animals

egg carton bunny and chick

May 13, 2020

A fun craft to do while at home with the family, these egg carton animals are an adorable and a cute way to use empty cardboard egg cartons. Since the craft requires a lot of cutting, it is best for older kids, teens and adults, or smaller children wtih adult supervision and assistance.  We'll show you how to make both a rabbit and a chick, though with a little imagination and ingenuity, you can improvise and make a variety of different animals. For this craft, you'll need...  Supplies: •  1 cardboard egg carton •  Scissors •  Acrylic paints and paintbrushes •  Glue •  1 white Pom Pom •  Other decorations or details you want to add...

Arts and Crafts

Cope with trauma and mental health through creative nonfiction

adult journaling

April 17, 2020

Writing can be a cathartic, therapeutic way to process negative emotions of grief or trauma, or to cope with mental health. Our Rothschild Branch had organized an event on this very topic that was originally going to be held last night, but that event has since been rescheduled for October 15.  For those who planned on attending the event today, we wanted to explore the idea of using writing to process negative or traumatic events, and offer some tips and tools that will help get you started and feeling inspired. Before you get started writing, you'll want to think about your intent. What is the intent of your writing? Will be just for you, or do you plan to share it publicly? Either way, the...

Community Writing