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Castilleja’s Pumpkin Family

Castilleja’s Pumpkin Family

Laurie P., mother of Mabelle P. ’20 and Eveliena P. ’22, was kind enough to write us an article about the pumpkins you may have noticed in the admin building and the library, and the process of growing and competing with pumpkins!

It is hard to miss the bright orange pumpkin greeting visitors at the Castilleja Library. Weighing approximately 75 pounds, this pumpkin has the Castilleja Five C’s permanently etched in its skin. Eleven-year-old Violet, the younger sister of  Eveliena ’22 and Mabelle ’20, grew this pumpkin from seeds she saved from her pumpkin she named “Vivacious” and grew two years ago.




It is the third year thatimage1 (2) the sisters together scarred the Castilleja 5 Cs on their pumpkins to bring to Castilleja. The pumpkins are scarred in early July, and the scar will harden and grow with the pumpkin until it is ready to be picked.




image2Pumpkin growing is an important tradition for our family. This October marks the 6th year that the sisters have competed in the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Weigh Off. Together their three entries (“Hamilton”, “Peach,” and “Ghost”) this season weighed over 350 pounds. The family record currently stands at 288 pounds for a single pumpkin. While that is significantly smaller than this year’s 1,900 pound winning pumpkin, we feel like champions just being able to compete each year.

image1 (1)There is nothing like watching the growers from all along the coast bringing in their pumpkins in flat beds and pickup trucks in the early misty morning hours to be weighed the day of the Weigh Off. Most of the giant pumpkins are still being fed with large pails of water or some secret formula right up until they are lifted on the scale.



The Half Moon Bay Weigh-Off was extra special  this year as a woman won the contest for the first time in 19 years. The champion, third grader teacher Cindy Tobeck from Washington State, traveled with her pumpkin by pickup to compete in the Half Moon Bay Weigh Off. It was her dream to win this competition. An interview of the Pasmooij sisters as well as Cindy Tobeck by ABC7 News can be found by clicking here.

We will begin preparing for next year’s Weigh Off almost immediately after Halloween by planting a cover crop of mustard. The mustard plants cut and tilled into the soil will help prevent disease for their future pumpkins. In April the sisters will select seeds and plant them in pots. Their seedlings will grow indoors for a couple of weeks and then will be transferred to the soil in May.

By late June pumpkins will be growing on the vines. Much effort and time will be spent trying to protect the flowers, vines and pumpkins from squirrels. In August or September, the pumpkins will have completed most of their growing. The sisters will be off to the Half Moon Bay hopefully again by next early October with three beauties and have additional pumpkins for Castilleja. Mabelle and Eveliena are happy to share seeds with anyone who wants to try growing!

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New in the Library: The Believer!

New in the Library: The Believer!

Last year your librarians spent some time choosing new magazines and periodicals for your perusal. We’ve got some excellent ones now, like Lapham’s Quarterly and Creative Nonfiction, and another one I enjoy is The Believer. How can you not enjoy a magazine that explains its contents as “journalism and essays that are frequently very long, book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and interviews that are intimate, frank, and also very long”?

The Believer 201508features regular columns by Nick Hornby, and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), articles on subjects such as post-Mao fashion in China, HIV prevention in Tijuana, and having afternoon tea with the high priest of the Church of Satan. Among my favorite regular features is the column A Series of Essential Advice, which most recently featured “How to Field Dress a Deer” and “How to Send Things to Germany.”201511

So if you are in the mood for some fascinating in-depth interviews or book reviews, or simply have a package that needs to go to Germany, come check out The Believer!

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American History with the U.S. Census

American History with the U.S. Census

History lovers ahoy! Back in 2014 the U.S. Census website started doing something awesome. Each month on their homepage they take a significant event or person and do a fascinating write-up about it using Census data.

Topics they’ve covered include:

Barnum and Bailey Circus poster from the Library of Congress

Gone with the Wind and the early American film industry

The Galveston Hurricane, still the deadliest natural disaster to strike the United States

P.T. Barnum and the Barnum & Bailey Circus

For September, they have a write up on President McKinley, who is often overshadowed by his successor Theodore Roosevelt. The article featured on the home page changes every month though, so be sure to check back in October and see what’s new!

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Summertime, and e-reading is easy!

Summertime, and e-reading is easy!

Worried that you’ll miss the Casti Library this summer? You don’t need to be! Our collection of more than 1700 ebooks is open 24/7. You can log in whenever you like. Click here to visit our digital library!

Ebooks are readable on many different devices and apps. Learn more on our FAQ or stop by the library to talk to one of your librarians before you head out on summer vacation. We can also show you how to download audiobooks from your public library.

So what’s in the digital library? Something for everyone, we hope! From childhood classics to YA to adult; from science fiction to historical fantasy to contemporary realism; from popular bestsellers to spectacular under-the-radar releases; the collection has a lot to choose from. If you need a book recommendation, click on the purple square to your right and look at our recommended reading booklet, Pinterest account, NoveList Plus, and recommended other sources for finding great books. Happy reading!

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Looking for reading recommendations? Try our Pinterest page!

Looking for reading recommendations? Try our Pinterest page!

We know that you’re going to want to stock up on books before winter break, but if you’re looking for some recommendations, the Castilleja Pinterest page is waiting for you!Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.53.06 PM

Our Pinterest has over a thousand books pinned from our collection, each with a short description of the plot, and divided onto boards by genre.

Can’t get enough graphic novels? There’s a whole Pinterest board for them! Love dystopian thrillers? We’ve got a board for those too! Interested in trying something a little bit steampunk? We just launched our steampunk collection last month! From historical fiction to humor to poetry, we are positive you can find something that will appeal to you. So next time you’re in a reading slump, check out our Pinterest page here!

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Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

"Minute to Midnight" by Gunter on

“Minute to Midnight” by Gunter on

Last week members of the Casti community gathered to brainstorm strategies for having a rich life as a pleasure reader. Here are the ideas shared by students and adults in our community. We would love to hear your strategies for finding time to read in the comments below!

Finding time to read:

In addition to the recent post, Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading, community members suggested:

  1. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library)
  2. Sit on the heating vent–very cozy!
  3. I schedule time on my calendar.
  4. I have a Goodreads account, so I can look for books that I want to read and mark books I have already read.
  5. I use Novelist (through the library databases page) to find new books, and the library Pinterest page, too.
  6. I am attempting to read 50 books in 2015–setting goals helps.
  7. Do the library reading challenges.

How to stop reading when the time is right:

    1. Don’t plan to stop at the end of the chapter. It will be a cliffhanger. Instead, plan to stop mid-chapter.
    2. Set a timer to ring when you need to stop. Leave it across the room, so you need to get up and turn it off. Put the book down when you get up to turn it off.
    3. If you are the kind of person who reads random pages in a book before you even start, read the end of the book when you know you are going to need to stop in the middle. That breaks you of the “need to know” and will allow you to enjoy the rest of the book at a reasonable pace.
    4. Read different types of books at different times-ones that are interesting but can be read in small chunks during the week/school weeks, a whole pile that I cannot put down for weekends/vacations.
    5. If you are eReading, use an app like Time Out to grey your screen and make you stop.
    6. Play some non-booky music. (Maybe set a device to start playing it when your reading time is up?)
    7. I always read over breakfast — it’s a short time span, with a hard stop, as I must get up and come to Casti! I’ve ceased worrying about making it to the end of a chapter, who cares.
    8. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library).
    9. Read in a public space like The Circle or a community area in your home like the living room or kitchen-where distractions will come up and you’ll be reminded to look up and smile at someone getting a snack, say hi to a family member, or admire the beautiful blue sky.
    10. When you want to stop reading, take a break to do a mindfulness activity (such as a short meditation, apps like Stop, Breathe, & Think can help; Headspace is another) to get yourself out of the book, calm your mind, and ready yourself to shift gears.

Sometimes, if I really need to read for relaxation, I:

  • Re-read books I have read before;
  • Read something that I want to read, but know will not hold my attention for long; or
  • Read humorous essays that are just a few pages long, short stories, poems.
  1. Opening the shades and get lots of light in the room.
  2. Set page limits.
  3. Put an action item on your bookmark–get up and get a snack, do ten jumping jacks; you can list all the things you want to get done.
  4. Put a timer on your reading lamp.
  5. Choose books with dense action–even when you read a bit, you feel like something happened!
  6. Read when I have time to sit down and do it!
  7. Read realistic fiction–there is no action, so no suspense!
  8. Come to the library, and leave the book there when you leave–what you read in the library, stays in the library.
  9. Read with a buddy, parent, sibling – you can discuss the book, and you won’t want to get ahead of the other person.
  10. Read aloud (as a family) over dinner.
  11. Stop reading when you feel tired.
  12. Read a mixture of different genres–poems, short stories, essays, and magazines (that you can now check out from the library) are all things that are short.
  13. Take the train to school! That gives you time to read in both directions!


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