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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

Solar S’mores & Pedal Power

Before I got a drivers license, I spent my summers cruising around town on a bike.  It was a gray 10-speed splattered with pink and turquoise paint and I thought it was the coolest.  I loved to speed down the hill next to my house, feet off the pedals, until the day I wiped out on a patch of cinders.  The cinders were dropped by snowplows during winter storms and the street cleaner never seemed able to sweep them all away.  After that, I always kept my feet on the pedals and looked for cinders.  I pedaled to the town pool, the local library, and my friends’ houses.  My friends and I built bonfires in their fields, crafted massive s’mores and ate logs of cookie dough, and stayed up until the stars began to fade.  We’d wake up in dew-covered tents with the smoky scent of campfire still clinging to our hair.

When I moved to Pittsburgh s’mores and bike rides became a thing of the past, as I was nervous about riding on the city’s busy, pockmarked streets and starting a campfire seemed like an easy way to burn down the entire neighborhood.

While I’ve become comfortable riding my bike in the city, thanks to tips from friends and Bike Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh Bike Map, there still aren’t many s’mores in my life.

Bike Pittsburgh’s Bike Map

That will change this Saturday (8/17) at 3pm during Outside the Lines: STEM + Art.  Abby will teach us how to make solar ovens which we’ll use to make s’mores!  No campfire or BBQ needed, just the power of the sun!  Let Abby know if you’re planning to join her for this awesome experiment.

solar oven

Solar Oven!

Ride your bike to the Library this week (we have bike racks in front and in the parking garage!) and make solar s’mores with us!

Here are some of my favorite bike-themed books and movies and, of course, a book about s’mores!



Sew What? – Sweater/T-shirt Hats @ CLP Brookline

So in case you haven’t noticed (?!), it’s been pretty freaking cold outside lately – like for the past three or four months – and what better way to create a little friction than with creativity!  Solve all your shivering winter woes with a new sweater hat this Tuesday, February 26th at CLP Brookline’s Teen Lounge!

Hats Galore!

Come make something new and awesome out of something old and blah!  Everything you’ll need (sweaters, material, pins, etc.) to get your DIY on will be provided – and I heard a rumor that Brookline’s sewing machine comes equipped with a Game Boy!  That’s right, a GAME BOY sewing machine!  Keeping it vintage and classy – how awesome is that???


AND!  If you happen to be allergic to late 80s 8-bit entertainment, or think you might end up sewing your hands together, don’t fret!  You can try your unstitched hand at Xbox and Kaijudo, or sharpen your Magic the Gathering skills for the Brookline Teen Gaming Advisory Council’s upcoming Magic the Gathering tournament showdown!

All this madness blasts off at 3:30 PM this Tuesday and runs until 5:00 PM at CLP Brookline!

do it! Do It! DO IT! :


Jon : Carrick

Black Friday, Every Friday

I dig.  I’m usually off on Fridays, so I dig then.  Heaps of discarded rubble and junk are, to me, familiar friends.  Other diggers are the ENEMY.  I’m talking about the battlefield that is thrift store excavation, where the competition is usually high and supply of any particular item is drastically limited and exceptionally unique.  Trust me, I’ve seen things get primal in ‘House Wares’ – we diggers are not to be denied our precious.

Luckily (and luck is the crucial element in the realm of second-hand shopping), the Pittsburgh area is blessed with a wealth of bargain-based institutions:  Goodwill(s), Red/White/Blue(s), Salvation Armies, and various independent establishments – all of which keep me well-stocked with trinkets high up on the random/bizarre spectrum and, I guess more importantly, keep me clothed.

Some favorite finds:

surgical clamp

First edition of ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’ by Thomas De Quincey. Published in 1822. It’s a little beat-up, but the spine is intact.

iron vampire fangs

original Rubik’s Cube + box

pensive gargoyle

Black glass. The gold label reads: Glass from the Franklin Glass Factory where Lighthouse Single Parent Townhouses now stand.

So if you’ve never dug (?!) or you think you might get SARS or something (you won’t), you should definitely try unearthing some buried treasure to marvel at or to redesign into something else – I give my stamp of recommendation for a little thrift store hopping.  Come be my new enemy!



Jon : Carrick

D-I-Y Now!

According to Wikipedia, “Do it yourself (DIY) is building, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals. . .  In recent years, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets.”  I love DIY.  I love making my own ice cream, modifying clothing to fit, even helping friends install hot water heaters (which might be less of a DIY project and more of a professional project).

I love learning new things, then showing off the cools things I’ve made with what I’ve learned.  I am also frugal (cheap), so doing certain things myself means that I save money and control the end product.  Doing DIY projects is a good cold weather activity for the times of the year you want to be inside.

I’ve learned, though, that DIY doesn’t mean do it yourself by figuring out how to do it from a blank slate without any help.  My most successful DIY projects have come from step-by-step illustrated guides or videos.  One source that I recommend is the “DIY & Crafts” section of Pinterest.  I also highly recommend using books as resource guides.  Check out some of these titles on how to make your own very cool things.


Go Back to School in Style

I went to the store yesterday, and where there had been a display of lawn chairs and coolers for summer there were now stacks of notebooks, book bags, pens and pencils for the beginning of school.  Whether you’re ready or not the lazy days of summer are coming to an end.

There is a bright side though, the new school year is a fresh start and a chance to make an entrance.  Why not take the opportunity to update your look?  No money saved from your summer job you say?  No problem…

There are tons of ways to transform your current clothes or thrift store finds into a new look that requires a minimum of skill and money.  Seriously.

Breath new life into any light colored t shirt, dress or skirt with this cool idea…Watermarking

How about an old dark-colored shirt or maybe some played out jeans?  Try decorating them with a bleach pen.  Get this look for 3 bucks!

Accessories are a simple, quick and cheap way to bring a little excitement into your wardrobe.  There is no shortage of tutorials on the internet…here are just a few.

We are only scratching the surface of all the cool and cheap ways to strut your stuff.  If you’re looking for more inspiration check out a few of the tons of books on fashion and setting your own style at the library.

Use the last fleeting days of summer to get creative!


Altered Books!

So I told you about the Homewood Branch’s Altered Book Workshop. Now you get to see the works in progress! Want to join in? Come July 23rd at 2:00!


DIY SPA @ CLP-Brookline

Wednesday, July 9; 4:00 PM @ CLP-Brookline

It’s like being a mad scientist for beauty instead of chaos. We’ll be making bath salts and body glitter from ordinary ingredients you can find around the house instead of making a monster from body parts you can find around the cemetery. Beauty: it’s alive!

Grade 6-12

Registration is required

Arielle, CLP-Brookline



Ever hear of altered art? Well, it’s time you did!

CLP – Homewood. Wednesday. July 2nd. 2:00.

Ripping. Painting. Cutting. Folding. Gluing.

Deconstruct old donated books and make them your own!

Check out this gallery for ideas.


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