16 May

Sea-Monkeys Day?!

So you've been dying to have a day to celebrate your favorite aquatic pets? Guess what. It already exists. For realz. Sea-monkey day is May 16th each year. Let's get it poppin'.

card I made based on real ad

card I made based on real ad

















Harold von Braunhut "invented" sea-monkeys in 1957. Since ant farms had become popular the year before, Harold decided to cash in on a similarly simple and pointless pet. He originally called them "Instant Life", but later changed the named to "Sea-Monkeys" in '62. Good plan. That was a stupid name. The product was marketed heavily in comic books, where foolish children could mail away some quarters for these oh-so-interesting undersea creatures. That's what they were lead to believe by the ridiculous ads specifically telling them so.

an actual ad from '71

an actual ad from '71

So as we all know this is how sea-monkeys are marketed to unsuspecting kids. Frankly I'm not sure how they got away with this. "They can even be trained" and "they love attention" are among the great lines from this ad. My favorite are the "Sea-Diamonds" that you can buy from the website, still being sold by the Transciece Corp. The description states that they will toss them around like beach balls and learn to ride them like surfboards. Of course they throw around quotation marks on pretty much every verb. So now to shatter all of your preconceived notions of these delightful aquatic humanoids with families and castles and surfboards, here is what sea-monkeys really are.


They are an artificial breed of brine shrimp. Put into cryptobiosis. The colony is started by adding the contents of a packet labelled "Water Purifier" to a tank of water. This packet contains salt and some brine shrimp eggs. After 24 hours, this is augmented with the contents of a packet labelled "Instant Life Eggs", containing eggs,yeast, borax, soda, salt, and sometimes a dye. The animals which hatched from the eggs over the previous day seem to appear instantly. Hilarious. But regardless of what they are, kids still enjoy having there own pets that they basically don't have to do anything for. Also we do sell them at our store as well. Cause they're fun and ridiculous. Just like us.

On a final note, some mad scientists (slash just regular scientists) have made some arsenic-based Sea-monkeys. Srs. You can get them on Think Geek. Check them out. It's super funny and real science.




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14 May

Cool Stuff Tuesday! Children’s Books!


So many Children's Books! SO MANY!

It's Children's Book Week!  Here at the store we have several books that were favorites of mine when I was a child and several more that either didn't exist then or that I didn't know about when I was a kid and that I've come to love as an adult.  Let me tell you about them!


Such a cute ducky. I kinda had to cull one or two books about ducks from this post. Apparently I'm into duck books.

First, the classics from my childhood.  I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents as a small child and one of the books I loved for them to read to me was The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack.  First published in 1933, the book chronicles the night and day that Ping, a domesticated duck, spends away from his family and his subsequent return to them.  Between the endearing story and the soft, colorful illustrations, it's no wonder that this eighty year-old story continues to be popular today.


Sleepy peddler is sleepy.

Another early 20th century classic that was a favorite of little me was Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina.  Based on a folktale, Slobodkina's 1938 classic is about a peddler whose wares are stolen by a troop of monkeys while he naps and then returned to him when he throws his own cap on the ground and the monkeys follow suit.  Though the main body of her work is in other media (she was a prolific abstract expressionist, working primarily in oils, but she also produced collages of various materials as well as paintings and sculptures), Caps for Sale is Slobodkina's best known work and continues to delight young readers.


Hope that dog doesn't fall through.

The last of my many favorite childhood books I'll mention is Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.  I have been fascinated by almost all forms of poetry for most of my life and one of the earliest introductions I had to the art form was the work of Silverstein.  His clever rhymes, musical rhythm work, and charming line illustrations have held their value for me and Silverstein, like the others, is still a mainstay of children's literature.

On to the newer books!


He's the world's best panda. Yeah, I said it.

First is Jon J Muth's Zen Shorts.  Muth, who studied stone sculpture and brush painting in Japan, gives three traditional Zen and Taoist stories life in interactions between the characters of three young children and a panda, Stillwater, who is their neighbor.  Muth's watercolor illustrations leave nothing to be desired and the story is an elegant and politic introduction to Zen thinking.


You don't usually think of God as cute, but there you go.

Another new favorite is Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen, by Nancy Wood.  This is a completely charming book which ignores the gravitas of the Creation story and turns it into something little kids will be much more familiar with, a family cooking project.  Timothy B. Ering's illustrations really bring the story to life; his renderings of the creative couple are adorable.  One other thing I can tell you from experience is that reading this book out loud in a Scottish accent takes it from great up to the epic level.  Just something to think about.


Adorablest pea in the world. No joke.

Finally, and perhaps, most adorably, there's Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Little Pea.  This book is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons:  like Little Pea himself, I was a picky eater as a child (still am, actually, but not as badly), I think it's the world's cutest thing, and also because anthropomorphizing cute vegetables is the best thing in the world.  Little Pea is the main character of this story and it's about how he hates to eat candy for dinner every night and all he wants is some spinach for dessert.  It's wonderful.

So there you are.  Six children's books to love and cherish and read to the kids in your life at every opportunity.  Instilling a love of reading and literature is important and grows more so every day.  Though our culture is becoming increasingly paperless (even I have a Nook, though I still prefer real live books), that doesn't mean that it's containing any less words.  This blog is a perfect example, I guess.

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16 Apr

Cool Stuff Tuesday! Books!

In the spirit of National Library Week, here are a couple books reviews to whet your literary appetite.  Enjoy!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

maze runner

In The Maze Runner, a group of boys living in a gigantic stone labyrinth struggles to understand the reason for their imprisonment and search for the maze’s exit, a job that’s made harder by a collective amnesia that causes the boys to distrust each other and an indescribable danger lurking somewhere behind the maze’s walls.  Compulsively readable, Dashner’s series deals much more in mystery than other dystopian novels for young adults, and there’s a creepiness found throughout The Maze Runner that really separates it from the crowd.  For fans of the genre, this is a must-read.

Divergent by Veronica Roth


One of the most popular dystopian series out right now – and for good reason!  Divergent takes place in post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the city’s inhabitants are divided into five factions – based on personal attributes like strength and bravery, intelligence, and selflessness – and discouraged from associating with each other.  This book has an interesting premise and fantastic characters, both of which you’ll learn much more about the further you fall into the story.  While critics seem eager to compare it to The Hunger Games trilogy, Divergent goes far beyond your typical dystopian storyline, exploring that fine line between order and chaos and encouraging its readers to re-examine what it means to be loyal, to be obedient. To be truly afraid.

26 Mar

Cool Stuff Tuesday! Easter Basket Gifts!

You still have a few days to get everything you need to fill those Easter baskets, folks!  Come in this week so we can fill (see what I did there?) all your Easter gift needs!

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5 Mar

Cool Stuff Tuesday!


So many delectable teas. Also a cute, fat teapot.

Tea Forte!

These days coffee seems to get all the attention, but if you're an avid (read: snooty) tea drinker like me, don't worry - we've got your back!  KU stocks a huge variety of teas and tea accessories from great companies like Tea Forte, whose loose leaf tea canisters come in difficult-to-describe, yet oh-so-delicious, flavors like Blueberry Merlot and African Solstice, which are both great choices for spring sipping. If loose leaf isn't your bag then try Tea Forte's silken diffusers - less mess, but just as much flavor. *And* they come in boxed assortments, so they make great gifts as well. My favorite is the Essential Greens collection, which features standards like Japanese Sencha and Jasmine Green, but offers a few unusual flavors too, including Lemon Sorbetti and Green Mango Peach.  Honestly, you can't go wrong with these teas. They're all incredible.

12 Feb

Cool Stuff Tuesday!

Kama Sutra Massage Candles!

They come in four sensuous flavors!  (Island Passion Fruit, Deep Ocean, Mediterranean Almond, and Tropical Plumeria!)  You burn them to create a pool of warm massage oil!  The instructions say, "Extinguish flame and pour warm oil onto the palm of your hand as you take your lover on an unforgettable, romantic journey."  What else can you say?

Try them out!  It's fire and massage!  What could go wrong?


Tongue-in-cheek as this entry may sound, I actually think these look really cool. Hence their inclusion in CST

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6 Feb

A Valentine’s Day Card to Go With Your Gift!

Do not, under any circumstances, arrive at Valentine's Day cardless, friends.  Big mistake.  Fortunately, we have absolutely fantastic Valentine's Day cards here at the store.  Take a look below for some ideas and come on in to see the full selection and find the perfect card!

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22 Jan

Cool Stuff Tuesday!


Lol, "fun in functional." Classic.

Knock Knock -

KU carries a variety of home and office products from the fine folks at Knock Knock that are *perfect* for sassy people like you and me. My all-time favorite is the Personal Library Kit, which includes check-out cards and a date stamp designed expressly to help you get your books back from no-good, rotten book-stealers. Man, if I've had that when I was younger, my brother wouldn't have been able to pull all that "NO, DUDE. THIS IS *MY* BOOK. MINE, I TELL YOU!" crap back then. Sigh. Other great choices are Knock Knock's line of sassy notes, like Fashion Citation, which helps you explain to your friends why they look like complete crap, and Vouchers for Lovers, with coupons that your bubsie-wubsie can cash in for fun and intimate things like a foot massage, cuddle session, or date night!


For all you cats out there with personal libraries. You need the kit. For real, though.