forget me notI love picture books. I love to read them, share them with children, talk about them, and get lost in wonder at the ability of authors and illustrators to perfectly meld text and illustration. I especially treasure when I find books that capture the emotional truth of difficult subjects.

Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan is an Alzheimer’s story. Julia loves her grandmother and is afraid and worried when grandmother becomes forgetful, starts wandering, and finally becomes unable to care for herself. Van Laan deftly guides the reader through the stages of Alzheimers, always through the child’s perspective. When it becomes clear to Julia and her family that grandmother can no longer safely live alone they make together the decision to move her from her home to “a place that will give her the special care she needs.” Muted color washes of blue, green, and yellow contribute to the gentle, delicately perceptive tone of this book.

I lost my mother to dementia a year ago, I wish this book had been around then.

the very tiny babyThe Very Tiny Baby by Sylvie Kantorovitz is a rock star at addressing the serious issues surrounding a premature baby from a sibling’s point of view. Luckily, Jacob has his teddy bear to pour out all of his mixed-up feelings. Sibling rivalry, fear for his mommy, and resentment at the lack of attention are all poured into the understanding ears of Bear. The hand-lettered text and scrapbook style drawings engage the young reader and provide a safe outlet for children in Jacob’s situation.

A keen sense of a child’s perspective makes this a useful book to have in your Tender Topics arsenal.

my fathers arms are a boatMy Father’s Arms Are a Boat by Erik Lunde. This beautiful, quiet, sad book is respectful of the grief of both father and son. Unable to sleep, the boy seeks comfort in his father’s arms. Bundled up, the boy and his father go out into the cold, starry Norwegian night. The boy asks his father “Is Mommy asleep?… She’ll never wake up again?” The father’s soft refrain to his son, “Everything will be alright” as he calms his fears and answers his questions, resonates the truth of the present sadness and the hope for the future. The paper collage and ink illustrations monochromatic tones convey the sorrow, while the flashes of red (like the warmth of the fire) allow the reader, like the young boy, to find comfort in the love of those still with us. The final spread of this Norwegian import is lovely and life affirming.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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jess bookEver since I started using Pinterest regularly, Facebook has kind of lost its shine for me. There are so many neat things about the former that the latter just cannot offer. Though over ten million people use Pinterest these days, there’s always still a chance you may be new to it.

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that lets users to create and keep track of theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Obviously, Pinterest isn’t going to dramatically change your life. What it can do, though, is help it inspire it, whether it’s with your diet, the make-up you want to use, or ways to keep your mood going strong and stress-free.

It’s easy to sign up for a Pinterest account, but if you don’t want to or simply feel you can’t be bothered with an account, you can use the search box on Pinterest to find what you want. Bypassing account login (which normally is how you first are able to use the “search” box) you can use Pinterest by doing a Pinterest search through Google. Once you’re in that way, you can search Pinterest as long as your heart desires.

“[Pinterest] is fascinating,” said Brendan Gallagher of Digitas Health. “It’s social commerce cleverly disguised as an aspirational visual scrapbook.” Aspirational sounds about right. There are so many great things to be discovered on this often surprisingly productive social networking site.

jess pcLet’s say you’re interested in dental health and want to motivate yourself or your family to get better at brushing. You can go here: Good Food Vs. Bad Food (for your teeth) | How to Improve Dental Health | Dental Health Info Graphics

If you’re determined to eat better than you do, check out great superfoods ideas and other healthy lifestyle tips here: Better Health Info Graphics | Antioxidants

If you love coffee, but wonder whether it’s doing you more harm than good, Pinterest has something for that, too: Medical Benefits of Being Addicted to Coffee

Are you a woman worried about heart disease? Are you a man who’s fallen behind on pertinent health news? What’s up with migraines? By the way, when was your last physical exam?

Okay. I got excited there! I think it’s clear that you can search for healthy inspiration or explore your other curiosities, like proper dining etiquette, job interviewing skills, removing permanent marker stains from anything, or creating easy outfit access in the morning (especially if you have children who always seem to be rushing around right before the school bus arrives). However, a note of caution: while Pinterest is for everyone, what’s pinned isn’t always trustworthy intel. Just like anything else you might find online, be sure to consult medical professionals before trying any kind of diet or exercise plan.

So, if you want to become a Pinterest person, here are some good rules to follow to make it more worthwhile. Happy (and healthy) pinning!

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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How strong is the biological element in gender? Is it psychologically possible, in infancy, to engineer one’s sexuality? At what point in utero are we wired to be male or female?

In 1966 rural Winnipeg, none of these facts mattered to a teenaged couple whose baby boy had recently suffered a botched circumcision and now faced a life they could not imagine. They would journey all the way to Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit under the auspices of psychologist, John Money. Their son, they were promised, would be successfully reassigned as a girl. What Janet and Ron Reimer may not have been told was that “sexual reassignment had never been done on a normal child with normal genitals and nervous system.”

Journalist John Colapinto delivers a precise and compelling examination of a world-famous case that proved “pre-birth factors set limits on how far culture, learning, and environment can direct gender identity in humans” in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.

Only more compelling is getting to know David Reimer himself. A girl from the age of two until eighteen, his battle with depression and self-loathing is heartbreaking—shocking at times—but you will come away believing he is one of the bravest people you have ever met.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.


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driveChoosing to embark on a journey of self-improvement is the best gift you can give yourself. One of the many ways you can do this is by starting a new hobby or craft. Depending on who you are, you might want to create something or maybe you want to learn a new skill. Regardless, you will experience quite the array of emotions throughout the process… but that’s half the fun; isn’t it?

As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, I tend to get inspired. I find myself looking at the fall foliage and wanting to create something. I’ll breathe in the chilly air and suddenly need to sit down and pick up my out-of-tune guitar. However, staying motivated can be tough in between life chores and scheduled meals. I feel that the excuse, “I’m too busy” is used quite a bit in our hectic world. I know that I am definitely guilty of this.

When making a change in your life, you have to be mentally prepared. When it comes to adding in a new hobby, learning to manage your time and set realistic goals become vital pieces of the motivation puzzle. Letting something you love be the first thing dropped when time is an issue, will only hurt you in the long run. It is important to do things that bring you happiness and joy. Developing time-management skills is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I experienced a crash course on the topic while taking a particular college class. My professor gave us enough work for a lifetime and expected nothing but the best. I was forced to figure out how to complete all of his work to the best of my ability while still passing my other classes. The skills I gained (though at an accelerated speed) have stuck with me and are put into action on a regular basis. Making a desired skill or hobby a part of your schedule is very fulfilling.

beadsSetting realistic goals will save you from a lot of stress. If you want to learn how to make jewelry, don’t try to make an entire set in one week. Instead, try to learn a certain technique and keep building on that foundation in the following weeks. If you want to write a book, don’t try to write a chapter a day, just be sure to write something (one sentence counts). The last thing you want is for your new found interest to become a chore or stressful task. You will feel a great sense of joy upon meeting these goals instead of being disappointed that you won’t have enough pieces for the jewelry show next weekend.

Everyone deserves a fun and rewarding way to relax. Start baking, go buy a saxophone, or take up glass-blowing. Whatever your “I’d love to know how to…” or “I wish I could make…” dream is, turn it into reality. Learn how to best manage your time and set goals that are realistic and achievable. The combination of the two will help you to stay motivated as you witness your progress and gained knowledge over time. Change color with the leaves and add a new dimension to your life.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch (while her home branch, in Savage, is being renovated). She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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baked goods

Stone House Cakery & Cafe

Because everyone loves dessert!

My husband, Dean, and I have a long line of bakers on both sides of the family, so starting Stone House Cakery & Café was a natural. We actually started the bakery in 2009, out of necessity, after he had an accident and I lost my job. I had to find something to do to keep my sanity.

Everyone seems to be health conscious these days, but sometimes they still want to treat themselves to a delicious dessert. When they do, they want it made with the best and most natural ingredients. That’s what we try to offer at Stone House Cakery & Café with our cakes, pies, sweet breads, cupcakes, jams, jellies, rolls, bars, donuts and brownies. We use unbleached flour with no processing chemicals and pure vanilla in our baked goods. We bake everything fresh every day. If you have a special party, birthday or wedding, we can also make and decorate the cake.

Our business has grown, and we now participate in four farmers markets each week and operate a store-front bakery in Taneytown. We’ve recently hired several employees – one to help with baking, one to make sandwiches and one to decorate cakes for weddings and parties. The sandwiches are something new and we make them out of our own bread and with high quality meat.

I love unusual old recipes and some of ours date back to the 1800s. Our ‘creeping crust’ cobbler came from Dean’s great-grandmother. We changed the name because people didn’t seem to like it, but it came from the way the cobbler is made with the batter on the bottom and fruit on top and the crust creeping up over the sides. Dean’s mom used a family recipe for real minced pie, which isn’t at all like the stuff you buy in a jar. Hers was made from real meat, suet, spices, fruit and lots of liquor. Most people use bourbon but she liked to use port wine. I also have my mom’s recipes for peanut butter fudge and pound cake that came from her great-grandmother. When Dean’s mom passed, she left two huge boxes of recipes that I’m still trying to go through. Sometimes customers tell us about an old family favorite recipe and we’ll try to recreate it.

I hope our business is about more than just selling a product. We feel a commitment to our community and try to support other sustainable farmers, buying our fruit, milk, buttermilk and cream (from grass-fed cows using no hormones) and cage-free eggs from local farms. And we supported the Carroll County Economic Development mentoring program this summer, bringing in three students who wanted to learn about baking. We want to keep the tradition going into the future.

If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, stop by to see Lois at the HCGH Farmers Market on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m.

Lois Trout is co-owner of the Stone House Cakery & Café.

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Picture by Nils Thingvall (Turbidity) www.turbidwater.comThe Farmers’ Market Chef wants to be “well” and “wise” at the Farmers’ Market—and after I bring my fresh produce home! Luckily, the Glenwood Branch just had a visit from Karen Basinger, an educator with University of Maryland Extension. She taught a class on home food preservation to a group of about 14.

This is a great time of year to buy and enjoy fresh local vegetables and fruits. With good, safe food preservation practices it is possible to enjoy your produce long into the winter months. Karen was here to teach us the why and the how of canning, freezing, and drying. She explained how microorganisms that cause illness—like listeriosis and botulism—can grow if food is stored improperly. And the quality of your food will be compromised if you don’t destroy the enzymes that cause spoilage.

It’s important to use the appropriate preserving method. Low acid foods like green beans and corn require the high temperatures of a pressure canner while high acid foods like pickles can be processed in a boiling water bath. It is important to have the right equipment and to be sure it is in good working condition. At Karen’s office in Ellicott City she can test your pressure canner to assure you it is safe to use.

Maybe you don’t want to heat up your kitchen with the canning process. Freezing veggies and fruits usually requires only a quick dip in boiling water to destroy enzymes and the food is ready to chill and freeze. Be sure to use bags, boxes or wrap that is designed to keep the air out of your frozen food. You don’t want to be disappointed in January!

Drying may be the oldest method of food preservation. With a dehydrator (or your oven if you don’t mind wasting a lot of heat) you can make bright colored, chewy fruit leathers, meat jerky, dried tomatoes, and many other space-saving treats.

This is only an overview—a teaser to make you curious. To learn more, attend some of the University of Maryland Extension “Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It” workshops. The food preservation workshops are offered through the summer—if you miss this year’s watch for announcements about next year’s workshops. You can contact Karen Basinger at or call 410-313-1908.

Karen also had a list of “Farmers’ Market Dos and Don’ts” – some of my favorites are:

  • Do bring a cooler with ice to help keep your produce fresh while you run your other errands

  • Do keep control of your kids and pets

  • Do go early in the day

  • Do get to know your vendors

  • Don’t sample anything that isn’t labeled as a sample

  • Don’t pinch, squeeze, drop, or peel anything you aren’t going to buy

  • Don’t buy more than you can use, and

  • Don’t forget you can always come back next week!

See you at the Farmers’ Markets!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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