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Mad Science at Riverdale Library for March Break

March 7, 2014 | Claire | Comments (0)


Riverdale Library still has some space left for the March Break Mad Science Workshops!  Mad Mixtures is for children from 3 to 5, and Space Technology is for children from 6 to 12. 


What happens when we mix things together? Everyone will be awed as we kick off our fun, chemistry-based workshop with an erupting volcano and exploding colours. As Junior Chemists, children will combine common household ingredients to create cool reactions. They will investigate density and colour mixing before making Mad Science Crazy Dough to take home.


Help laser light through a maze, use principles of radar technology to find hidden mountains, and launch a satellite into orbit. Take home a Stereo Viewer to explore planet surfaces in 3D!. Take Home: Superball comet.  

Thursday March 13, 10 am (Mad Mixtures) and 11 am (Space Technology).  Please pre-register at 416-393-7720 or in person at Riverdale Library.

Riverdale Library is located at 370 Broadview Avenue, on the corner of Broadview and Gerrard.


Want to Organize Your Home? Come to the Library!

October 11, 2013 | Claire | Comments (1)

I think my home could easily be in the running for the most disorganized houses in Toronto.  We're a family of four who fill a small house to the max.  We have lots of interests, we have lots of stuff to support those interests, and we lose everything we own at some point or another (we usually find it again, just not when we're looking for it).  When you look at our bookshelves, instead of seeing something like this:

Or even like this:


 You're more likely to see something like this (only bigger.  Much, much bigger.):


I could go on and on and on (our front entrance with the wall hooks collapsing with the weight of all the coats and backpacks piled on, for example, or the dining table perpetually covered in papers and overflow cds) but I think you get the idea.  Some of our stuff doesn't even have a designated place to go--so you can imagine how easy cleaning up is (not!).  I've decided to put a stop to this chaotic way of living.  And I've turned to library books for advice and inspiration.

 Martha Stewart was a pioneer in the art of home organization.  Her book, Good Things for Organizing, came out in 2001 and hasn't really dated that much;  it could serve as a template for many more recent books.  However, as my mother pointed out to me, it's easy to organize your sheets when you have all that cupboard space to do it in. Martha's book, I think, is an early example of something that has recently been termed org porn (don't google it),  that is, an impossible, titillating fantasy of what your house could look like, if only you had lots more space, a million bucks to spend on supplies and a very fancy labelling machine.



Other good examples of "org porn" I've been sampling are Better Homes and Gardens Organize Your Home:  Clutter Cures for Every Room:

And Real Simple:  The Organized Home:


I drink this stuff up.  Both of these books are filled with gorgeous inspirational shots of homes which are not just organized, but styled.   Wicker baskets are lined with lovely fabric before they are elegantly labelled and filled with their designated objects.  Everything is colour co-ordinated.  And nothing is crammed into tight spaces--it all has room to breathe. Here's the kind of thing I'm talking about:


It's all lovely, but it's a big leap from where I am to where this (fictitious) homeowner's at.  I've started my journey towards organization in a more practical way--I bought sturdy see-through acrylic stackable boxes for my pantry (I made three trips to the store), new skinny no-slip velvet hangers for my daughter's clothing-stuffed closet (this created a significant amount of new closet space),  and clear plastic bins of various sizes to control stuff like under-the-sink cleaning supplies and all the sneakers and slippers kicking around in our front hall.  Here are some ideas that have stuck with me as I make my way through more organizing books, magazines and websites:

  • you can't organize clutter (get ready to let go of what you no longer use)
  • designate a basket in your home for library books to be returned (brilliant!)
  • do it in chunks--organize one thing at a time
  • use pinterest to keep track of your organizing ideas
  • no matter what anyone says, organizing a complicated thing like a family home is not easy. Give yourself a lot of time, and get your family on board if you can.

Here are some of the other sources I have looked at (or are on my to-be-read pile):

        Shelf   Clutter2      Clutter3


Clutter5    Clutter8    Clutter6

Clutter4   Clutter7   Storage


What are your favourite books/websites/sources for home organization ideas?  Have any good tips to share? 



Culture Days @ The Library for Crafty Kids and Adults

September 20, 2013 | Claire | Comments (0)

 Toronto Public Library is hosting a number of free events and workshops for Culture Days, and many of them are family-friendly.  Here's a sampling of fun and inspiring events that are particularly suitable for the artists in your family, whether they be children or adults.

Queen-Saulter Library is hosting a sculpting workshop with Jumping Clay.  Jumping Clay is non-toxic, air-drying modelling clay that's easy for young children to use. Queen-Saulter is particularly recommending this creative workshop for children ages 5-7.  There are two sessions on Friday September 27th, one from 9:45 AM  to 10:30 AM, and one from 10:30 AM-11:15 AM. 



Also on Friday September 27th, Nina Shaw is visiting Barbara Frum Branch to teach Glassy Enchantment, an introduction to painting on glass.  This all-ages program invites you to create and take home a piece of art that is colourful and translucent.  This program takes place from 2-4 PM. Nina Shaw will also be teaching glass painting at Albion Branch on Saturday September 28 from 10 AM-12 PM. 


Glass painting is popular all over the world. Here is an example from India.

Here is a 19th century portrait from China painted on glass.

Origami is an ancient craft which requires precision and dexterity and can be developed to a very high artistic level. If you and your kids are into the challenge of this form of paper art, check out the Infinite Dimensions program at Mount Dennis branch.  Origami and paper artist Isabel Mazzotta is leading an all-afternoon drop-in craft program from 1-5 PM on Saturday September 28th.  Also on Saturday, John Jay Guppy is leading an origami workshop from 2-4 PM at McGregor Park for ages seven and up. Mr. Guppy is an experienced origami instructor and member of the Toronto Origami Society and the British Origami Society.


Beginner Origami Projects

Examples of work by Origami master artists.

Examples of work by Origami master artists.

Ever wanted to try your hand at Turkish kilim weaving?  Kilims are flat-woven (no pile) rugs that use distinctive traditional patterns. Today the fabric is popular for making pillows and upholstering furniture as well as the traditional rug.  The Turkish Society of Canada will be at the Maria A. Shchuka Branch on Saturday September 28 from 1-3 PM to teach a workshop on kilim weaving.  All materials will be supplied and participants will get a loom to take home with them.  This program is recommended for teens and adults and participants must register in advance at 416-394-1000.


A beautiful kilim rug.



A footstool upholstered with kilim fabric.


Culture Days @ The Library is also hosting family-friendly drama, storytelling, and music programs, so check out our website and plan your weekend at the library!


GO! Building with Lego and other fun stuff

August 15, 2013 | Niki | Comments (0)

029Riverdale Branch has so many creative kids!  On Thursday August 6, the kids of Riverdale met the challenge!  They built things that go and places they want to go.  They built ghostly haunted vehicles and large flower bedecked caravans, as well as castles, houses, cars, towers,  helicopters and little islands. 
We would especially like to thank all the kids:   Aiden, Coleton, Natalie, Cohen, Jade, William, Callum, Shane, Ella, Cathia, Heze, Jah'kai, Ephraim, Charlotte, Maggie, all the kids from SEAS and everyone else who build a masterpiece.  Just click on the pictures below to see full size pictures of their work.


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Origami for Children at Riverdale Branch

July 25, 2013 | Claire | Comments (0)

OrigamiJohn Jay Guppie of the Origami Society of Toronto presents new models in non-traditional origami.  Easy to make, all paper provided.  For children 7 and up.  Please register at 416-393-7720 or in person at Riverdale Branch.

Friday, July 26, 1:30-3:00 pm.  Riverdale Branch is at 370 Broadview Avenue, at the corner of Gerrard and Broadview. 


Glam Hands, a Nail Art Program for Teens at Riverdale Branch

July 23, 2013 | Claire | Comments (0)

Holographic-rainbow-nail-polish-giveawayTeens, tweens and others are invited to explore the glam and glitzy art of the manicure!  Have fun, get inspired and introduced to techniques and creative ideas for fingernail art.  All materials provided.  Please register in advance at 416-393-7720 or in person at Riverdale Library.

Program takes place Saturday, July 27, from 2:00-3:00. Riverdale Branch is located at 370 Broadview Avenue, at the corner of Broadview and Gerrard.


Kaffe Fassett, a Lifetime of Dreaming in Color

July 9, 2013 | Claire | Comments (1)

 Kaffe"When shops would call me every weird version of 'Kaffe' except how it is really pronounced, she would say 'Look, you have a 'safe asset' with Kaffe Fassett'.  Some people called me Mr. Asset after that.  But the funniest thing was people thinking the new knit designer everyone was talking about was named Gloria Snits."

 For about twelve years, in the 1980s and early 1990s, I was a dedicated knitter.  My first effort was an Icelandic sweater in cream, pink and burgundy;  pretty, but not very adventurous.  I continued making nice but not particularly exciting sweaters until 1985, when Kaffe Fassett published his first book, Glorious Knitting.  It's not an exaggeration to say that Glorious Knitting completely changed the way I approached my craft.  And I wasn't alone!  Kaffe showed us all how to approach colour and design in a way that was fresh, lively,  bohemian, and felt very free and vibrant. Unlike the prescriptive knitting patterns I was used to, Kaffe encouraged his readers to use his patterns as inspiration for their own colour combinations.  It was like the psychadelic 1960s had hit knitting design for a second time, but with a super-charged  level of sophistication. 


Kaffe's first book, which I read over and over again...

Glorious Knitting changed Kaffe's life as well.  He went on to pen more volumes on knitting, and later, on needlepoint, quilting, and mosaic work, all featuring the dramatic colour combining for which he has such an impeccable eye.  He has run a successful design studio for many years, and in between all this busy creativity he has designed fabric, painted wonderful murals, portraits and still lifes, created costumes and backdrops for the ballet and for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and been featured in a blockbuster show at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

It's no surprise to learn that Kaffe's life has been somewhat unconventional. He grew up as part of an artistic and intellectual family who ran a hip restaurant called Nepenthe in Big Sur, California.    He spent two of his high school years at Happy Valley school, which was founded by Krishnamurti and Aldous Huxley and which Kaffe describes as "small, creative, funky and free!".  From there he spent time in New York and later moved to England, which became home base.  In his memoir, Dreaming in Color, he tells (and shows!) us all about the personalities he has met on his artistic path, his transition from making a living as a painter to becoming a passionate craftsperson, and the many cultural influences that have expanded  his vision.  His memoir is conversational and fun, but as always with Kaffe, it's very, very beautiful. 

The Toronto Public Library has a substantial collection of Kaffe Fassett's books.  After reading Dreaming in Color, you'll probably want to check out some of his other inspiring work.  Here's a sampling of what's available:

  Glorious-needlpoint     Glorious-interiors     Kaffe_knits_again     Quilts_en_provence  Welcome-home     Shots-and-stripes     Glorious-patchwork


Castlemoon Theatre Presents The Snail and The Whale at Riverdale Branch

July 9, 2013 | Claire | Comments (0)


A tiny snail and a humpback whale are friends and travelling companions.  When the whale is beached, the small snail comes to his rescue.  Join Castlemoon Theatre at Riverdale public library for this delightful show featuring the wonders of the ocean and the excitement of a journey on a whale's tail.

The Snail and the Whale will be performed on Thursday July 11 at 1:30 pm.  Please pre-register at 416-393-7720, or in person at Riverdale branch.

Riverdale branch is located at 370 Broadview Avenue, at the corner of Gerrard and Broadview. 

Lego Club is back at Riverdale Branch!

January 28, 2013 | Claire | Comments (3)

Great news for fans of lego and other construction toys!  Riverdale branch is once again hosting an after-school drop in Lego Club.  Come play with Lego, Duplo, and other great construction toys!

No registration is necessary.  The club meets Tuesday afternoons from 4-5 pm.  Hope to see you there!



Author Talk at Riverdale: Gordon Pape and Deborah Kerbel on Teaching Your Kids About Money

January 26, 2013 | Claire | Comments (0)

PapeFinancial expert Gordon Pape (father of three)  teams up with his daughter Deborah Kerbel (mother of two)  in a new book that gives parents a step-by-step approach to raising money-savvy kids.  Anyone with children between the ages of 5 and 17 shouldn't miss this talk. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013, from 7-8 pm at Riverdale Branch, 370 Broadview Avenue (corner of Broadview and Gerrard).  No registration required.