Published by First Second in 2013, Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel Relish is full of tips, tricks, and little tidbits about food, while still managing to tell an interesting and relatable story about her life.relish

In this memoir of her life growing up surrounded by and enjoying food, Knisley describes seminal memories she attaches to different cuisine. Many of her stories are funny, some are poignant, and some are a little sad – but all of them involve eating, selling, and living alongside food and cooking. Each chapter is followed by a recipe – all of which sound delicious and are broken down enough that even I could cook them. There’s a lot of variety in the included recipes, extending from huevos rancheros to sushi to the best chocolate chip cookies. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Knisley’s bright, colorful, and clear style that’s simply entertaining to look at and read through. It’s fully colored, very bright, and eye catching. The cartoony figures fit in perfectly and the food is only a little simplified and very easy to understand. I wouldn’t expect drawings of food to be as enticing as photos in a fancy cookbook, but Knisley does an excellent job taking advantage of the medium.

In chapter 8, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the cheese”, Knisley explains how her mother worked at the cheese counter of a gourmet food shop in New York City. Knisley eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps, working at the cheese counter of a gourmet store in Chicago after graduating from art school. The chapter closes with “A second-generation cheerful cheesemonger’s Cheese Cheat Sheet”, which veritably explodes with as many cheese facts as can be fit into a two page spread. This page also contains my favorite fact from this book – one that made my lactose intolerant husband very happy – “Aging cheeses breaks down lactose, so most aged cheeses can be eaten by lactose intolerants!” I think he now thanks Lucy Knisley quietly every time he enjoys a delicious slice of extra sharp cheddar.

Relish is all at once a memoir, a graphic novel, and a cookbook, and it does a nice job at all three. Knisley has a very pleasing style of both writing and drawing, making her work very accessible and enjoyable. Plus, her stories are just fun to read and her experiences and feelings are very relatable, even if you didn’t grow up surrounded by gourmet food.

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, for a decade.


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2496308570_c4245a2d4b_zI recently had an experience that tested the popular British mantra: “Keep calm and carry on.” What happened? I was trapped in an elevator.

It’s not the first time, I’m afraid. I have a history with elevators. But it has been several years since I was last involuntarily trapped in an elevator.

Ironically, I was returning home from a relaxing massage appointment when the elevator broke down with me inside. Luckily, the emergency call button worked and help was called right away.

The hardest part was waiting in the capsule, feeling the heat and anxiety build. I’m not usually a claustrophobic person. Quiet doesn’t bother me, nor does solitude. But the fact of being in a space I cannot leave started to make me sweat and itch.

I felt the urge to scream. But no, that wouldn’t help and it wouldn’t make me feel better—just more upset about a situation I couldn’t change.

Breathing helped—not too big or quickly. Slow, regular breaths. Take it easy. Be steady.

I called my husband to let him know what happened. (Thank goodness for cell phones!) It made me feel better that he knew I was safe, just waiting for help.
Then, the emergency responder called back and asked me for my information while we waited. Hearing her voice was soothing—the world was still out there and I would soon return. She saw the fire department responders coming and let me know of their arrival.

They called through the door to ask if I was OK. I could see them and was relieved. The outer door was open in moments, but they struggled with the inner door. Finally it popped open like it was meant, and I could roll out in my wheelchair.

It was good to see the faces of strangers. Funny that it had only been about a half hour, but it felt like longer. They asked if I wanted to see the paramedic, if I was OK. I shook my head—I was fine, just wanted to get back home.

“I’m sprung,” I joked with my husband as I headed home. I felt liberated and that I’d won a small battle by keeping the fear demons at bay.
Sometimes we are challenged unexpectedly and have to summon calm and strength in strange places. I was reminded of the power of staying cool in (literally) a tight spot. This is a lesson I hope not to forget and can be applied more widely in daily life.

From stressful work situations to the annoyances of daily commuting, a little calm and breathing can go a long way to finding a way through the moment.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.


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Patricia Silvia’s story

When I learned I had Stage III colon cancer in July of 2012, my first reaction was that I wanted no further treatment beyond surgery—no radiation and no chemotherapy. I had just gone through several hip surgeries and another one to remove a section of my colon, which resulted in a month-long hospital stay. I had been through it all with a dear friend some years ago and, after all my friend suffered, she didn’t survive her cancer. So I opted to go to my brother’s house to be cared for with the help of visiting nurses to change my dressings and help with physical therapy.

When I was well enough to go home and live on my own, I was ready to accept my fate and my family was ready to accept my choice to not have treatment, but my sister finally convinced me to see my oncologist, Dr. Edward Lee, one more time. I waited until November to make the appointment.

The very first appointment with Dr. Lee was great. He really got it and understood that the choices had to be mine. He offered me an alternative drug that had fewer side effects, and said that if at any time I didn’t like the way it was affecting me, I could stop taking it. A PET scan showed that my cancer had not spread and Dr. Lee had me take eight cycles of the drug and one week off. After seven weeks I had painful, burning feet and Dr. Lee stopped the pills for nine days and then reduced the dose. I finished my eight cycles in April 2013.

All through the whole thing, I had this attitude that whatever is, is, and whatever isn’t, isn’t. That’s my favorite saying, because we really don’t have control over it.

Surviving cancer on my own terms has changed my life and taught me how to cope with change. I am very thankful and now I’m working on changing some eating habits to improve my nutrition, gain some weight and fully get my health back.

I attended the first annual Surviving Survivorship: Living with Cancer conference last fall and was so excited to be there. It was a wonderful adventure and a gift. The speakers were great, the classes were exciting and even the food was excellent. The seminar I enjoyed the most was the one in which I made my first mandala and I have kept it on my desk ever since. (In various spiritual traditions, especially Buddhism, mandalas are circular drawings used to focus attention and as a spiritual guidance tool for creating a sacred space and as an aid to meditation.) I am very much looking forward to the second annual Surviving Survivorship: Living with Cancer seminar on Saturday Oct. 11, 2014.

I learned that I was in remission in May 2013 and I am so happy that I decided to take a chance on being a survivor and that I’m still here to tell my story. My advice to anyone going through something like this is to give it a try. And if the first thing doesn’t work, see if something else will. I believe in miracles and I believe I have received several. I also think that through my blessed visits to the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center, the miracles have kept on coming. I love all of my friends there! A good attitude helps, too, and of course all of the prayers from friends and family and from people I didn’t even know. I am truly blessed!!


Patricia Silvia is a cancer survivor and very happy to be one. She credits Dr. Edward Lee, the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolina Cancer Resource Center, her family and friends, and her belief in miracles for her survival.

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teach your children wellLast month, I discussed some vexing behavior exhibited by parents during children’s sporting events. Among my key points were my belief that competitive environments can be very good for children, that there are some people who need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways, and, mainly, that some adults might need to consider teaching and modeling methods of civil communication/behavior to their children. I also looked at some causes for some parents’ own lack of self-control, namely “ego-involvement.”

I hit on a lot of what I wanted to in that post, but in light of Choose Civility Week, I felt like there might be even more to say on this topic (plus, some of what I discussed I felt bore repeating since soccer season is in full swing). Around the holidays last year, when I was battling (and blogging about) an attack of the “gimme’s” in my house, I mentioned the book Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, Ph.D. I remembered liking the book very much, so I decided to revisit it to see what it said with regard to parents’ “exuberance” toward their kids’ activities.

Levine does not discuss athletics in her book so much, but she does address parents’ over-involvement in their children’s sports, as well as other activities, to illustrate some of her points:

“We must shift our focus from the excesses of hyperparenting, our preoccupation with a narrow and shortsighted vision of success that has debilitated many of our children, and an unhealthy reliance on them to provide status and meaning in our own lives, and return to the essentials of parenting in order for children to grow into their most healthy and genuine selves.”

Levine covers in greater depth the ways parents can model and teach a greater sense of fair play, civility, ethics, and even independence to their children (and avoid the pitfalls of their own ego-involvement). I can’t even begin to go into the detail that she does in her book, but she provides key steps and examples to help during different age ranges. For example, in the chapter focused on 5-11 year-olds, she covers friendship, learning, sense of self, empathy, and play. In the chapter on the middle school years, puberty and health, independence, and peer groups are discussed. And for high school ages, Levin focuses on adult thinking, sexuality, identity, and autonomy.

She devotes the last two chapters of the book to “Teaching Our Kids to Find Solutions” and “Teaching Our kids to Take Action.” And, in the “Taking Action” chapter, one of the key components she discusses is self-control. Levine discusses how many children’s emotional difficulties may have at least some footing in problems with self-regulation. She asserts, “The importance of the internal ability to say no, to control impulsivity, to delay gratification cannot be overestimated as a protective factor in child and adolescent development.” But she also warns that parents can overreact to lack of self-control and “catastrophize the situation” to the point that teaching opportunities are missed.

Levine strongly suggests that some of the best ways to help a child develop better self-control include letting him/her experience and learn to manage moderate amounts of distress and challenges, positively acknowledging your child’s ability to “go against the crowd” and not succumb to peer pressure, and modeling good self-management strategies. Again, if you don’t want your kids to be bad sports, make sure that you are not exhibiting that behavior yourself.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smSaturday, Oct. 4, 1:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Glenwood Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Oct. 6, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Oct. 6, 3:30 p.m. Improving Your Mood Through Meditative Art at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us in the Enchanted Garden as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac.Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 3 to 5 p.m. Depression Screening. In recognition of National Depression Screening Day, Howard County General Hospital offers a free, confidential screening for depression in the hospital’s Wellness Center. Includes lecture, video, self-assessment and individual evaluation.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 7 to 9 p.m. What is Pre-Diabetes? Has your doctor told you that you have pre-diabetes or risk factors for developing diabetes? Howard County General Hospital’s certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay an actual diabetes diagnosis. Held in the hospital’s Wellness Center. Cost is $15.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 9 to 11 a.m. Kids Self Defense for children ages 8 to 12. Learn basic principles of safety awareness and age appropriate techniques. Cost is $27. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2:00 p.m. The Art of Aging: Three Secrets to Making Today the Best Day of Your Life at Miller Branch. L. Andrew Morgan, director of marketing at Vantage House, teaches a three-step process that directs older adults to reconnect, reenergize, and refocus on their priorities during post-retirement years. A Well & Wise event presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

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Are you guilty of skipping breakfast in the morning? Did you know there is science to support the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both those questions. Would you say “no” to getting more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc, and iron? Would you say “no” to having lower blood cholesterol levels, better digestive health, and to helping your body regulate insulin levels? Of course not! Together we need to say “yes” to eating breakfast every day – and if you have kids, your kids will be more likely to eat breakfast if you do. If you need more compelling reasons to eat breakfast, read this.

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make healthy. The next time you are in the grocery store check out the cereal aisle. There are many healthy options. Look for a cereal with more than 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar. Grab a bowl, add some skim milk and fresh fruit, and take just a few minutes to start your day off right.

soup to nutsHoward County Library System has a great collection of cookbooks to help you plan your morning meal. The Mason Jar Soup to Nuts Cookbook by Lonnette Parks is a fun way to get started. In this book you will find recipes for pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola crunch and more. You can make the jar recipes for your family and then make some as gift jars for relatives and friends. The best part is that you can make them ahead of time. I hope this book will inspire you to make your own mason jar creations. You can create your own parfait by layering yogurt, fruit and oats or granola in a mason jar. You can choose any yogurt, but Greek yogurt usually has the most calcium and protein. Oats contain beta-glucan a type of fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Add your favorite fresh or frozen fruit. Bananas have a healthy dose of potassium, an electrolyte that helps lower your blood pressure naturally, and bananas will help keep you feeling full longer. Strawberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and are lower in calories than many other fruits. You can make these colorful parfait jars in advance, so all you have to do in the morning is grab one and a spoon. If you take your jar to work you will have to beware of co-workers who follow you with spoons!

hungry girl 300If you would like something hot for breakfast instead, you can try some of the protein-packed, low-calorie hot breakfast egg mugs recipes in Hungry Girl 300 under 300: Breakfast, lunch & Dinner Dishes under 300 Calories by Lisa Lillien. Some of the recipes to try in this book include the Denver Omellette in a Mug, Eggs Bene-Chick Mug, or the All-American Egg Mug. Most can be ready to eat in ten minutes! These recipes use a liquid egg substitute. Eggs are a healthy source of protein and nutrients like Vitamin D. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with normal cholesterol, limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. You can read more about the AHA dietary guidelines here.

smoothiesYou will also find a chapter (4) on “no-heat-required” morning meals. How about a Double-O- Strawberry Quickie Kiwi Smoothie? You can make this in five minutes with 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 peeled kiwi, ½ cup fat-free strawberry yogurt, and 1 cup crushed ice. Smoothies are easy to make with little mess. They are great for breakfast on-the-go and are only limited by your imagination and what you have in your refrigerator. For more smoothie ideas try Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Nutrient-Dense Recipes by Julie Morris. Finally, you might want to check out Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon for some delicious seasonal recipes.

Are you hungry now? Are you already thinking about what you can have for breakfast tomorrow? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both of those questions. Breakfast will give us the energy and fuel we need to get through the day. We are ready to make the commitment to break for breakfast!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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© Madartists |

© Madartists |

With all the news about infectious diseases, people may get the idea that the flu isn’t all that serious; but we need to remember that it can be a very dangerous—even fatal—illness, especially to the very young, the very old and the immune-compromised. It descends upon our local communities every year, causing a great deal of sickness and sometimes death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.” But even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

How should I prepare for the flu?
As with most illness, prevention is the best defense and the best form of prevention is the annual flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Influenza can be spread even before you have symptoms. Therefore, practicing good flu etiquette is always encouraged:

  • wash your hands often
  • try to stay away from people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick
  • cover your cough with tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Is there any treatment for the flu?
If you get the flu, there are antiviral drugs that can make your symptoms milder and make you feel better sooner. They can also prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. However, sometimes a flu virus has changed in a way that makes antiviral drugs less effective, and the CDC conducts studies to determine which strains are becoming resistant. (Click for more information about antiviral drugs.)

What should I do if I get the flu?
If your illness is mild, stay home and avoid contact with other people. You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. However, if you have symptoms and are in a high-risk group, contact your doctor. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug.

What is the difference between the common cold and the flu?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations. Special tests done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

When should I get the flu vaccine?
The flu season peak activity most commonly hits in the U.S. between December and February, however it can begin as early as October and continue until May. Since it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after vaccination, it is a good idea to get vaccinated soon after the vaccine becomes available, usually in October, to ensure you are protected before the flu season starts.

Where can I get the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are offered at locations throughout the community: doctors’ offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, college health centers, employers and even some schools. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can find a vaccination location by visiting the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

How long does the flu vaccine protect from the flu?
Studies over several years show that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired through natural infection or by vaccination) declines over time. Older people and those with weakened immune systems might not generate the same amount of antibodies after vaccination, so it’s important to get a vaccine every season.

Can the vaccine provide protection even if the vaccine is not a “good” match?
Even if the virus and vaccine are not a “good match,” getting the vaccine can lessen the severity of your illness. Antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses, although sometimes with reduced effectiveness.

Myths about the flu and flu vaccine:

  • You can get the flu from the flu vaccine.
    No, you cannot contract the flu from either the flu shot or the nasal spray, although you might have a mild fever, runny nose or sore arm that lasts only for a day or two.
  • The flu vaccine is more dangerous than the flu.
    No. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Getting vaccinated is a much safer choice than risking illness.
  • Getting vaccinated twice provides more immunity.
    No. Studies have not shown any benefits for adults receiving more than one dose during an influenza season. Except for some children, only one dose is recommended.

Are there special concerns for vaccinating children?
Children between 6 months and 8 years may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. Your child’s health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses. Visit Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine for more information.

Starting with this season, the CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy children 2 through 8 years, because recent studies suggest that nasal spray is more effective than the flu shot for younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, your child should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine. Visit Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in Children 2 through 8 Years Old or the 2014-2015 MMWR Influenza Vaccine Recommendations. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu. See Advice for Caregivers of Young Children for more information.

Emergency Warning Signs
Go to the Emergency Department if a child experiences the following symptoms:

  • Fast or difficult breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not taking fluids
  • Not waking up
  • Fever with rash
  • Symptoms that improve but return with fever and worse cough.

For adults emergency signs include:

  • Difficult breathing and shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Symptoms that lessen but return with fever and worse cough.

The bottom line is the flu vaccine is your best defense. More information about influenza vaccines is available at Preventing Seasonal Flu with Vaccination.

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