•  Sewing

    I recently decided to take up quilting because I really wanted to make my son’s baby blanket myself.  While I have done some sewing, I never tried quilting since it always looked so intimidating!  It turns out that quilting really isn’t that difficult.  I was able to teach myself patchwork quilting and needle turn appliqué with a few books, online tutorials, and some advice from the wonderful ladies at the Cotton Shop.  My baby blanket turned out so well that I’ve decided to keep going, and I even made my husband a quilt for Christmas!  Here are some helpful books to begin quilting: 

    3.6 Complete Guide to QuiltingCOMPLETE GUIDE TO QUILTING
    By Better Homes and Gardens

    If you already have a project in mind and just need help figuring out how to get it done, this is a great comprehensive resource.  I really like using this book as a reference guide.  It contains easy to follow step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of techniques, making it easier for you to turn your vision into reality. 


    By Alex Anderson

    My favorite thing about this book is that all of the instructional pictures demonstrate the steps for both right-handed and left-handed people.  It even color codes the cutting material so that it’s easy to visually pick out which one is which.  This book is also a comprehensive guide; although it is structured to walk you through each stage of your quilt rather than serve as an index for techniques. 


    By Michael Caputo

    This book is set up a little differently.  It gives all the preparatory information first, and then skips to the end with binding and caring for your projects.  Then it uses twelve workshop projects to teach all of the in-between stuff.  The advantage here is that you’ll end up with lots of practice on small projects instead of practicing on an important quilt you have in mind. 


    By Stash Books

    Aspects that make this book especially helpful are the quilt block tables that explain what size to cut your shapes in order to make different sized blocks, and detailed photographic instructions for different appliqué techniques for both hand and machine sewing.  I especially appreciated that the hand-sewing instructions included pictures for both right and left-handed sewers. 


    By Carlene C. Frable

    Different than all the other books listed, the main focus here is the actual quilting part of the project.  It offers detailed instructions for quilting with straight lines, and quilting free-motion patterns on a regular domestic machine.  Each quilting design also has a benefits and drawbacks box, which will help you decide on a design that will work for your project.

  • Farmers Market

    One of my favorite summer activities is taking a stroll through the Provo Farmers Market with my mom. I can seldom think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning! I love seeing all the locally made products and the local artists, and it’s a great place to get some locally grown produce or honey. There are even food vendors, making it a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch.  One of my favorite finds was a golden raspberry start that I haven’t killed yet, and I should get berries from it this year! From a fun date, to finding good produce for dinner, to selling your wares, the Farmers Market has something to offer for everyone. Check out these farmers market-related books you can find at the library: 

    by Keith Snow

    Harvest Eating is a lifestyle of using in season, locally grown and raised foods. The idea is to be more sustainable in our food choices and use whole, natural ingredients in cooking. This book contains over 200 recipes that are organized by season to help in buying fresh ingredients. 


    by Better Homes and Gardens

    This is a comprehensive food preservation guide. It has instructions for many different food preservations techniques such as canning, drying, fermenting, and pickling. Recipes range from simple to inventive, and will give you all the knowledge you need to preserve your great farmers market finds. 


    7.30 Animal Vegetable MiracleANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE: A YEAR OF FOOD LIFE
    by Barbara Kingsolver

    When Barbara Kingsolver and her family move to a rural area in Appalachia, they decide to spend a year taking on a new challenge. They will live only on food they can produce themselves or buy from so close to home they would know the person who grew it. From prolific zucchini plants to interesting adventures with turkeys, this book is a great look at how one family succeeded at eating locally. 


    by Chris Franchetti Michaels

    Online isn’t the only avenue to selling your crafts! This book teaches crafters not only how to find and use different selling outlets, but also how to manage your business, manage inventory, price your goods, and more. This should be a useful reference for selling your goods at a farmers market. 


    by Keith Stewart

    Have you ever thought about becoming a farmer? This book will help you get started with your own farm! It includes instructions for farm equipment, growing crops, harvesting, and marketing your produce. 


    by Josh Volk

    Want a market farm but don’t have acres and acres of land? This book has 15 plans for farms on 5 acres of land or less! From the urban rooftop to rural locations, tour these profitable small-scale farms full of tips and resources for planning your own small farm.

  •  houseplants

    I love houseplants!  I usually acquire some new ones during the winter when everything is so dreary and dead outside.  There’s just something refreshing about being surrounded by greenery in the dead of winter.  Since I don’t have very good light from any of my windows, I have found it very helpful to look at books like these to find plants I would be able to accommodate.  It’s also fun to flip through them and daydream about all the beautiful plants I will be able to house one day if I ever get sunny windows! Houseplants:

    4.3 HouseplantsHOUSEPLANTS
    By Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

    When you don’t have any yard space to nurture your green thumb, houseplants are the answer!  This guide teaches you how to take care of your houseplants to ensure they are happy and healthy.  It contains profiles for more than 150 plants to help you choose the plants that will be best for you. 


    4.3 The Indestructible House PlantTHE INDESTRUCTIBLE HOUSEPLANT
    By Tovah Martin

    Anyone can grow healthy houseplants if you pick the right plants!  This book focuses on very tough but beautiful plants that can withstand a fair amount of neglect.  No houseplant is completely maintenance free however, so it still includes instructions for how to care for your (almost) indestructible plant.   


    4.3 The Indoor Plant BibleTHE INDOOR PLANT BIBLE
    By Dorte Nissen

    Each plant gets its own page in this book.   Each profile contains information about the plant and care instructions, complete with icons that make it easy to visually browse for a plant with certain needs.  Each plant is pictured with well-done photographs, rather than illustrations. 


    4.3 The Complete Guide to HouseplantsTHE COMPLETE GUIDE TO HOUSEPLANTS
    By Valerie Bradley

    Have a specific room in mind but don’t know what plant to put in it?  This book has lists for various rooms in your home and lists of plants with certain traits.  There’s also a directory for 250 different plants complete with photographs, a description, care instructions, and propagation instructions for each one. 


    4.3 Terrarium CraftTERRARIUM CRAFT
    By Amy Bryant Aiello

    To go in a slightly different direction from the books listed thus far, terrariums also make great indoor plant decorations.  This book gives instructions for 50 different terrarium designs along different themes such as forest, beach, and desert.  These terrariums are sure to add an interesting display piece to your home. 


    4.3 The New TerrariumTHE NEW TERRARIUM
    By Tovah Martin

    This book doesn’t just give instructions for recreating a specific terrarium design, it also gives the reader a lot of information about terrariums and how they benefit plants.  With sections for different types of containers, set-up, care, and plant species, The New Terrarium will be especially helpful for anyone interested in creating their very own plant terrarium.

  • Libby

    With the library closed and more of us using electronic resources for reading, here’s some tips for limiting searches on Libby. These filters are especially helpful if you are browsing a subject or one of the many lists that Utah’s Online Library has available. The photos are from an Android device, but these options should be the same on an iOS device as well. 

    Today I want to show you three of Libby’s search filter options.  Preferences, Refine, and more.

    Libby Screenshot 1


    Anything changed under Preferences will save and apply to all future searches as well, until changed again.  This is great if you only want Audiobooks, for example.

    Libby Screenshot 2a


    Something to keep in mind with Preferences however is that changes made here will apply to all future searches. So, if you change Availability to Available Now and get reading a series, if any of the books in that series has a waitlist then you won’t find that book in any of your searches until you change Availability back to Everything. I may or may not be speaking with the voice of experience there.

    Filters added under Refine will only apply to the current search. This is great for narrowing down your search results, especially when those results include thousands of books, all without changing what shows in future searches.

    Libby Screenshot 3


    The Search Within Results is an especially great feature because you can do a search within a search! If you have already put a few filters on your search but still not finding what you want, you can add another search term here without losing your previous filters. 

    Above Preferences and Refine, each search will have a list of genres that appear in the search result. It will list a handful, ending with “and more.” Selecting “and more” shows all of the genres that appear in the search results. This is great if you want a book that falls under two or more genres, such as Mystery and Historical Fiction.

    Libby Screenshot 4


    It also tells you how many books fall under both categories, listed from most to least. In this example of looking at Mystery as the main genre, you can see there are 1,458 books that are also tagged Historical Fiction. Further down the list than what is shown here, you’d see Western with 38 books that fall under both Mystery and Western. 

    Browsing Libby is different than browsing a physical collection of books, but by using the above search filters makes browsing for a good read easier and quicker than trying to browse through all of Libby. Play around with it and see what you can find!

  • history forgot

    History is seldom a straightforward affair, and often throws people who have made important contributions to the world to the wayside.  Especially when they don’t fit some predetermined profile of what someone with those contributions should be.  I think this forgotten and then rediscovered aspect adds an additional level of interest to their stories!  So many people think history is boring and dry, or very black and white.  The truth is that history is full of intrigue, mystery, and depth.  These five people are all noteworthy for contributions made, but have been banished to the margins of history all for different reasons. 

    By Theodore G Obenchain

    Before germ theory was understood and accepted, Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis had a brilliant solution to appalling mortality rates of new mothers caused by childbed fever: basic antiseptic measures such as hand washing by those attending births.  His solutions to childbed fever were ahead of his time, and rejected by the medical community for a number of reasons.  



    By Brenda Maddox

    British chemist Rosalind Franklin was crucial to the discovery of the structure of DNA.  In 1962 her colleagues Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize but it was Franklin’s data and photographs, for which they did not give her credit, which led to their award-winning discovery.  



    By Shelley Emling

    The rhyme, “she sells sea shells by the sea shore” was inspired by Mary Anning, who discovered the first dinosaur skeleton at the age of twelve.  Before this discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct.  Her finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.  



    11.30 The Woman Who Would Be KingTHE WOMAN WHO WOULD BE KING
    Bby Kara Cooney

    Hatshepsut was one of the few women in the indigenous dynasties of Ancient Egypt to rise to the position of Pharaoh.  Of those few women, she reigned the longest.  Her reign included one of Egypt’s most productive building periods, but near the end of the reign of her successor someone tried to erase her from the historical record.  Henrietta Lacks – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks



    11.30 The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksTHE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
    By Rebecca Skloot

    The first “immortal” human cells, cells that will grow in culture, were gathered from a woman named Henrietta Lacks.  Her cells have been vital for many medical advances such as the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, gene mapping, and more.  However Henrietta was not ever informed that her cells had been taken and used for research, making way for all sorts of questions on ethics.



  • The Red Queen Crown 

    If you’re a fan of fantasy fiction like I am, chances are you have read the RED QUEEN series by Victoria Aveyard.  Now that you’re done with that, what else is there to read?   

    If you think curling up on the couch with a good, dark fantasy book during a thunderstorm sounds like the best afternoon ever, check these titles out: 

    12.18 Storm SirenSTORM SIREN
    By Mary Weber

    Nym, a seventeen-year-old slave, shouldn’t exist.  She is an Elemental, who are always born male, and always killed at birth.  When a court emissary recognizes her as Elemental, she is purchased and trained to control her abilities so she can be used as a weapon in the long-standing war that her country is losing. 


    12.18 Three Dark CrownsTHREE DARK CROWNS
    By Kendare Blake

    On the island kingdom of Fennbirn, every generation a set of triplet girls are born to the queen, each equal heirs to the throne and each a possessor of magic.  When the sisters turn sixteen, a fight to the death begins and the last heir standing gets the crown. 


    12.18 The Bone WitchTHE BONE WITCH
    By Rin Chupeco

    Tea’s talents for necromancy means she’s a bone witch, something that makes her feared and ostracized by her community.  She leaves home to train with an older bone witch, and puts all of her efforts into becoming an asha, one who can use elemental magic.  When danger draws near she must overcome obstacles and make a powerful choice. 


    12.18 The Young ElitesTHE YOUNG ELITES
    By Marie Lu

    The blood fever killed most of those infected and left survivors with strange markings and stranger powers.  Adelina survived, and her father believes she is an abomination because of it.  Cast out by her family, she joins the Young Elite, a secret society for the survivors with those strange powers. 


    12.18 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest

    Elloren Gardner is the spitting image of her grandmother, the last Black Witch, who defeated the enemy and saved her people during the Realm War.  Now evil is rising again and many think Elloren is her grandmother’s heir however she has no magic.  She is given the opportunity to attend Verpax University to become an apothecary but the university admits all manner of people and proves to be a dangerous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

  • shape shifters

    You know that get-to-know-you question that everyone has been asked: if you could have one superpower, what would it be?  My answer has always been shapeshifting!  I have always been fascinated by the idea.  How amazing would it be to see the world from a birds-eye view on a lazy breeze, or change to something faster and stronger than a human, or to something small so as to sneak around unnoticed? 

    Of course there are more than these, but here are some of my favorite books that feature shapeshifting in some form or another. 

    6.12 HawksongHAWKSONG (Keisha’ra #1)
    By Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

    Probably one of the first shapeshifter books I ever read, Hawksong is about Danica Shardae, whose other form is a hawk, heir of the avian throne.  Her people have been in a war against the neighboring serpiente shifters for so long that no one remembers why they started fighting in the first place.  Weary of fighting and loss, she will do anything to stop the war, even accept enemy leader Zane Cobriana as her pair bond.  All he asks is her trust, but it may be more than she can give.  Each book in this series focuses on a different character, but they all tie together for a fuller story than one character could give alone. 


    6.12 ShapeshifterSHAPESHIFTER
    By Holly Bennett

    Shapeshifter brings together two of my favorite themes, shapeshifting and Celtic legends.  Sive is an immortal woman of the Otherworld who must flee to the mortal lands of Eire in the shape of a deer to escape the dark druid, who wants to control her gift of song.  I especially like how this book stays very close to the Celtic legends the author pulls from, and of course that the plot pivots around Sive’s ability to shift into a deer. 


    6.12 Moon CalledMOON CALLED (Mercy Thompson #1)
    By Patricia Briggs

    This series is hands down my favorite featuring shapeshifters at the moment.  Mercy Thompson is a Native American shapeshifter raised by a pack of werewolves.  She left the pack behind her and now runs a mechanic shop she bought from a gremlin (who still stops in regularly) and services the cars of the local vampire seethe.  But when a half-starved, newly changed werewolf shows up at her shop, Mercy is forced to ask her neighbor, the local pack alpha, for help with the new wolf struggling to control his animal instincts.There are 10 books so far in the series with another one coming out in March 2019, as well as a sister series, Alpha and Omega, which starts with Cry Wolf that focuses on Mercy’s almost brother Charles and his mate Anna. Start with Moon Called, because the Mercy books explain all the magic, but be aware that the chronology of the two series overlaps.  As a side note: the cover art of the books look rather scandalous, but that vibe is not reflected in the content of the books. 


    6.12 The Swan MaidenTHE SWAN MAIDEN
    By Heather Tomlinson

    Doucette’s older sisters are swan maidens, born with a swan-skin that allows them to transform into swans and learn sorcery.  Every summer Doucette watches her sisters leave to spend the months learning magic from their aunt while she is stuck at home learning to become a chastelaine.  When she discovers her mother has been lying to her and finds her own swan-skin, she runs away to learn from her aunt.  All she wants is freedom to choose, but will she be able to live with her choices?  I like this one because it is an easy read with a good lesson to go with it. 


    6.12 Dragons BaitDRAGON’S BAIT
    By Vivian Vande Velde

    Alys is falsely accused of being a witch, just so the neighbor can ‘legitimately’ steal her father’s workshop.  The villagers tie her up out in the middle of nowhere as an offering to the local dragon.  The dragon is uninterested, until she starts throwing rocks at him.  He changes to a human form and listens to her story, then agrees to help her exact revenge on the villagers.  But is revenge worth it?  This is the shortest book on my list and as such lacks a little bit for depth, but it’s great for someone looking for something short that won’t require much thought and I enjoyed it anyway. 

  • Sourdough Bread

    Did you know that authentic sourdough bread can be great for diabetics, those with gluten sensitivities, and makes the nutrients in wheat more available to the body?  When I decided to start baking bread this way, I had no idea it came with a host of health benefits.  The benefit that caught my attention?  Free yeast for life!  One day at work I came across this book, The Art Of Baking With Natural Yeast, and decided to try it.  At first I really struggled getting results that resembled bread more than a brick, but after lots of research and baking I can now make a loaf worth sharing! 

    These four books are the best I have found about baking with an authentic sourdough starter and should contain all the information you need to make delicious bread as well as crackers, pancakes, pizza, muffins, and more!  (Natural yeast, sourdough starter, levain, and wild yeast are basically all terms for the same thing.)

    4.29 The Art of Baking with Natural YeastTHE ART OF BAKING WITH NATURAL YEAST
    By Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson

    This has easy to understand instructions for how to take care of your starter, which is what I like best about it.  It also discusses the health benefits, and has different kinds of recipes for the starter.  I also like that it comes from a home baker perspective, not a professional baker perspective. 


    4.29 Beyond Basics with Natural YeastBEYOND BASICS WITH NATURAL YEAST
    By Melissa Richardson

    This is more of a cookbook than an instruction book, but it has a large variety of recipes including specialty breads, crackers, pasta, waffles, muffins, and more.  It also has more info on caring for a starter. 


    4.29 Flour Water Salt YeastFLOUR WATER SALT YEAST
    By Ken Forkish

    I like this one because it gets really in depth with the bread making process and what effects different variables have at different stages, and discusses convenient baking schedules.  While the book primarily includes breads made with commercial yeast, Part 3 has five chapters about baking with levain.   


    4.29 Tartine BreadTARTINE BREAD
    By Chad Robertson

    Robertson’s book also gives an extensive look at the bread making process and different variables, and is full of instructional photographs.  Unlike Forkish’s book, this one is specifically focused on levain breads and has a broader range of recipes.  


    Some of the tips I’ve learned that have had the biggest impact on my bread are these: folding dough is a thousand times easier than kneading and is more effective for less effort; measure your ingredients by weight, not by volume; whole wheat flour needs more water than white flour, especially if you grind your own; temperature directly impacts how long it takes the dough to rise; if you over-proof your dough on the first rise it is impossible to shape; how much time has passed since you last fed/refreshed your yeast starter has a huge impact on flavor; and it’s okay if it takes a lot of trying to get that perfect loaf!

  • expecting


    My husband tells me that I have a researcher personality because every time I decide to do anything new I always try to find as much information as I can about the topic beforehand.  When my husband and I decided it was time for us to start having children, naturally I read everything I could find on how to make it happen.  Then once we found out I was pregnant, I focused my searches on books about pregnancy.  These are the books I found that have been most helpful so far in my search!

    by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff

    This book has all of the useful information from diet and lifestyle changes to make before you start trying, how the menstrual cycle works and how to pinpoint ovulation, to challenges and how to get help.  What I loved most about this book is how the information is organized.  Every topic has its own section and sub-topics have bolded beginnings, making it very easy to skip irrelevant information without missing anything you want to know.  



    by Jean M. Twenge

    I really related to the title of this book!  Once we decided to start trying I was so impatient for it to happen.  This book is great because it has very detailed information on how the different stages of the menstrual cycle work, different methods for how to pinpoint ovulation, and how to use that information most effectively.  It also has information about diet, miscarriage, when to talk to a doctor, and more.  



    by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff

    What to Expect When You’re Expecting is full of information starting with lifestyle, diet, and dedicated chapters for each month, through  labor, delivery, and postpartum, and includes information about expecting multiples, managing complications, and loss.  This book has been my go-to resource for random symptoms or questions and for an overall look at what to expect each month.  The index is thorough and especially helpful when I’m not sure what month has what I’m looking for.  I have tried looking at other books that do a walk-through of pregnancy, but this one has been most detailed and has the clearest organization method so far.  


    by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff

    It turns out that I really like the What to Expect series!  While What to Expect When You’re Expecting does have a chapter dedicated to eating well with the same diet theory, this book also includes how to eat well for a lot of different situations common to pregnancy like gestational diabetes or heartburn, a chapter about weight gain, and even eating well postpartum.  The best part is it has a full cookbook section at the end that follows their diet advice!  



    by Ananda Lowe

    What I liked most about this book was it didn’t pass judgment or try to scare the reader regarding hospitals or medical pain management.  I don’t want to make fear-based decisions when it comes to birth, and this book provided a lot of useful information about the birth process and different approaches without trying to scare readers in one direction or another.  Even though I have decided not to use a doula, this book was still worth the read.