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Pinterest! It’s all the rage lately, and we’re happy to finally be joining in the fun!

If you haven’t already  stumbled into the Pinterest craze, let me fill you in: Pinterest is basically an online set of your own, personalized and organized bulletin boards. Think of it this way: do you tend to clip pictures and articles out of magazines, or recipes, or newspaper articles then save them to be lost forever in a drawer? Pinterest is a way to organize these things for yourself and to browse what others are clipping, or pinning.

The vast array of ideas people are finding are evident everywhere! Just this week someone asked me about some garlic monkey bread I brought to a potluck dinner. When asked where I found the recipe, I responded simply, “Pinterest.”

Now your favorite library (that’s us!) is on Pinterest, too! Find us at We’ve got pin boards for movies, music, and books we love, as well as boards for money saving, John Green stuff, tech tips & tricks… the list goes on, and just keeps growing! We invite you to follow us and enjoy our pins, and we’ll follow you back so we can enjoy your favorite things, too 🙂

Check out a few of our pinteresting Pinterest boards…

A Game of Thrones

What’s a fan of George R.R. Martin to do? Season Two of HBO’s acclaimed miniseries A Game of Thrones has just finished up and only God knows when Book Six (tentatively titled The Winds of Winter) in A Song of Ice and Fire saga will be published. May I suggest that fans of George R.R. Martin’s medieval fantasy try out A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook newly available at the library.

The cookbook is the product of the immense Internet fandom inspired by Martin’s works. Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer’s curiosity led the duo to a start a blog documenting their attempts at cooking up some of the dishes mentioned in the stories. They still maintain that blog –  – which includes additonal recipes and commentary not featured in the book.

But what if you haven’t read the Fire and Ice books or seen the miniseries? The Library has those too! There is little I can add to the lauds already heaped on Martin and his Locus Award winning series. It’s a riveting story well told. And don’t let the “fantasy” label scare you away. There are some fantasy elements to be sure –  dragons, a bit of magic, etc. But these stories are primarily focused on complex characters who struggle with competing loyalties, ambitions for power, greed, lust, and honor. Martin’s eye for detail brings to life everything from the byzantine machinations of the Seven Kingdoms politics to the sumptuous heraldry and feasting of the noble families. A Song of Ice and Fire is a highly entertaining, suspenseful series. 

Whether you’re looking to cook up some Honey-Spiced Locusts to poison a queen, recreate King Joffrey’s 77 course wedding feast, or simply whip up a delicious meal to enjoy while you re-watch A Game of Thrones, A Feast of Ice and Fire will delight fans and risk-taking cooks alike.


Eat Your Veggies!

People that follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I am a hardcore vegetable advocate. I don’t eat a 100% vegetarian diet, but I would rather eat roasted Brussels sprouts any day than a hamburger. Here are some of my favorite vegetarian/vegan cookbooks that you can check out if you want to include more delicious veggies in your diet…and you do…trust me!

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: *THE* end-all-be-all vegan sourcebook for simple, everyday foods. Veganomicon has been cited as one of the best vegan cookbooks by Goodreads readers, and I agree. There are many simple recipes in here that don’t require crazy ingredients. If you want to round out your cookbook shelf, this book would be my top recommendation.

The PDQ Vegetarian Cookbook by Donna Klein: Want to run to the pantry and whip up a great veggie meal? With PDQ, you can definitely do it! Klein makes it easy to make simple meals with ingredients that are already in your kitchen. The format is easy to follow, and the food is really good.

How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman: This book is HUGE but full of anything vegetarian that you could ever dream of. The chapters are very in-depth with many variations-on-a-theme type recipes. I learned how to make roasted Brussels sprouts from Mr. Bittman…he is one of my heroes!

Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Most vegetarians or veggie enthusiasts are leaner than our Standard American Dieter counterparts. Moskowitz helps everyone out by compiling some skinny vegan dishes for us in one of her latest cookbooks. Along with Moskowitz’s humor, the book is a fun read and the recipes are delish.

The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without by Molly Katzen: This lovely book, illustrated by Katzen, is a delightful book to read. Her recipes are simple, and the vegetables’ characteristics aren’t lost in any of the dishes. If you have read any of the Moosewood cookbooks, and were put off by difficult recipes, this is much more pared down.

Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny: One of my new favorites! Matheny has two adorable kids and showcases family-friendly vegan meals in this fun cookbook. Try the roasted rosemary-lemon chickpeas…you will not be sorry, but you may eat the whole batch. (Not that I did that or anything…)

Simple Food for the Good Life by Helen Nearing: Next to Thoreau, Scott and Helen Nearing were “extreme” examples for the back-to-the-land movement. If you dislike cooking, and want super easy “recipes” to fill your belly, this is a quirky book for you. Try “horse chow” for breakfast: toss together oats and whatever else you have, then eat! Nearing also includes quotations from early cookbooks, complete with medieval spelling, to show how far we’ve come in the culinary world.

Check out some of these books, and eat your vegetables!


Living a Frugal, Simple Life

Even before I became a mom of two adorable boys, I have always been interested in home economics and frugality. Making dinner on a budget, running a household, fixing things, saving money are all subjects I can read all day about (but sadly, don’t get to).

I don’t feel like being frugal is a punishment, or something that should make one upset. I think being frugal is a way to live so one has more choices in life. For example, if you run up your credit card on widgets, and have to work overtime for a year for your widgets, you are a slave to your widgets. If you don’t buy all those widgets, perhaps you can take a staycation and buy one widget with cash. What the heck is a widget anyway?

Regardless of the size of your household and income, you can streamline your life by making the choice to do so. Here are some books about simplifying and being thrifty that have been the most helpful to me:

The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dayczyn. Dayczyn’s dream was to own a huge farmhouse in the country, have a brood of children (6!), and take care of business on her husband’s Navy income. She started a newsletter because she figured that other folks would have the same dream of having a good life on a shoestring budget, and the newsletter exploded into a phenomenon that she never imagined. The newsletters have now been compiled into one handy book, which is honestly my favorite book ever. The last issues were written in the late 90’s, so some of the information is out of date (Is it worth it to get the Internet, for example) but there are many tips applicable to today. And the general idea is still valid: if you want to live a happy life on less money, it’s definitely doable. You just have to keep the goal in mind and align your actions to reach it.

Miserly Moms and Frugal Families by Jonni McCoy. These books are “less extreme” than The Tightwad Gazette. McCoy basically states in the first few pages that she isn’t interested in making crafts out of dryer lint or reusing Ziploc bags, but she is willing to make less expensive choices to fit her budget. Personally, I don’t mind the “extreme-ness” of The Tightwad Gazette, but for people who want to ease into a more frugal lifestyle, these books may be a good choice for you.

America’s Cheapest Family series by Steve and Annette Economides. These books are relatively new and are very helpful for people who are just starting out on their frugal journey. The Economedes are a huge family, and employ many different methods to keep their costs down, such as grocery shopping once a month, and planning inexpensive fun for their family.

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne. For the do-it-yourselfer in you, Making It is a modern guide to self-reliance. From making your own bath scrub, to keeping backyard chickens, there is a wide range of information packed in this volume. This book isn’t as much about frugality, but it will save you money, give you peace of mind, and make you feel accomplished all at the same time.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Simple Living by Georgene Muller Lockwood. I’ll go ahead and clarify, “simple living” does not always mean “frugal living,” however this book is a gem as well on this subject. What really matters to you? Do you want to have gourmet meals every day for the rest of your life? Do you want to travel extensively? Do you want to have a beautiful garden? This how-to is a great springboard to figure out what you really want and how to get there. It has multiple tips on how to save money in different areas, while using resources and time on what you really want and want to be doing.

The New Good Life by John Robbins. Robbins was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain, until he left it all behind when he realized the correlation of dairy products and illness in his family. In this book, Robbins tells all about his loss of life savings due to the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, and how he rebounded from it. More memoir than how-to, but there is a good story here, and Robbins does have a clear vision of what the “New Good Life” should be.

Personally, at times I am still working on my spendthrift ways. Some days I go to the grocery store and really just want to buy all junk food, which is neither frugal, nor healthy! However, I have learned that if you spend a bit of time learning about yourself, and how you relate to your home, family, and money, that you can achieve your most important goal of creating the life you imagine.


Michelle is a Cookbook Junkie!

I am a cookbook junkie. I probably read cookbooks more than I actually cook. Not sure what that says about me, but I digress. I do love cooking though, and it makes me sad that some people don’t like to do something as simple as feeding themselves healthy eats that don’t come out of a box. Here is a list of a few cookbooks that make it super simple to make yourself a great meal that doesn’t consist of ramen or powdered cheese! By the way, this is not by any means an all-inclusive list. Many of these books are available here at the library, but some are not. But never fear! You can still place these titles on hold using your library card number. Other libraries in the consortium that have them can ship them here for you to pick up!
  1. How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food by Mark Bittman. Start here. Don’t know how to boil water? Bittman will give you directions, and even a picture. Not. Even. Joking. This book is a clearly written, easy guide to many everyday foods.
  1. Anyone Can Cook! and Anyone Can Bake! By Better Homes and Gardens. These books are similar to your Grandmother’s BHG red and white checkerboard cookbook only in title. The Anyone! books concisely guide one through the recipe, and even have an Ask Mom list on the bottom of each page for reference.
  1. Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook by Sandra Lee. Ms. Lee is one of the “celebrity chefs” who actually teaches people how to cook the way people are, well, actually going to cook. She uses 80% prepared ingredients, and 20% fresh ingredients, so if the phrase chop an onion makes you hyperventilate, Sandra won’t judge, and will allow you to buy pre-chopped veggies.
  1. The PDQ Vegetarian Cookbook: 240 Healthy and Easy No-Prep Recipes for Busy Cooks,  and Supermarket Vegan, both by Donna Klein. I have listed these both for those lazy veggie people out there (myself included). These are the best veg cookbooks I have read. Klein uses readily available ingredients to whip up some delicious meals…no extra trip to Trader Joe’s needed…even though we all know we’ll go anyway for the Two Buck Chuck.
  1. Everyday Food: Fresh, Fast, Flavorful and Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living. Don’t mistake these with Martha’s other cookbooks unless you’re feeling saucy and want to make a four-course Thanksgiving dinner (no-thank-you). These books are compilations of recipes in the Everyday Food magazine (which is great as well). Recipes are simple; the hardest part will be gathering the ingredients. If you aren’t a cook, you may not have paprika just hanging out in the spice cabinet. Well, you probably don’t even have a spice cabinet…but anyway….onward!
  1. Fix it and Forget It series by Phyllis Pellman Good. If you don’t cook, slow cookers will be your best friend. This series of books reads like a church cookbook: the recipes are from ladies (and a few gentlemen) around the nation, and are all compiled for your crockpot pleasure in these books. Most of the recipes consist of 1) Get the ingredients together, and 2) Turn the slow cooker on and wait. Almost as easy as takeout.
Happy cooking! You can do it! When your meal turns out well, let me know. (If you make cookies, feel free to, you know, share!)


Tales of a Library-aholic

Michelle Peltier

Hello all. I’m Michelle, and I’m a Library-aholic. 

I have loved coming to the library since I was young. I remember walking into the old children’s room and seeing Paula Gilmour’s smiling face at the desk. I remember the yellow and orange paint. I remember picking out Mary Poppins to watch with my grandma. The library was always a fun place when I was little.

Fast forward to 2007…I just moved back to Plainfield after an out-of-state move. I was a new mom, new wife, and moving home after being away for six years was a little scary. I began stopping by the library as often as I could because it felt familiar, even though the building, staff, and I had changed. I took comfort in knowing that I could learn something new every time I checked out a book: from trying to figure out how to raise a kid, to learning about how to deal with financial stress, to figuring out how to cook dinner without making something from a box every night.

I have been jealous of my friend Laura Brack, the PPL Tech Goddess, because of her library gig she started over 10 years ago. In October 2010, Laura informed me of a 12 hour per week job opening in Youth Services, so I jumped at the chance to interview even though I was already working 40 to 50 hours per week. I scored the position, started in November 2010, and continued to work my full time job and part time at the library until the day before I gave birth to my youngest son. After I came back to work from maternity leave, I left my full time job and took the Librarian’s Assistant position in area T. I now work primarily with the YA fiction collection.

Even though I work at the library, I still bring my kids in on my days off. I feel like it’s important to instill a respect and admiration for libraries, learning, and play. I love reading to my oldest son at bedtime, and I hope to add my youngest to our book club when he’s old enough to not chew on the books when he sees them.

And even though I’m busy with two kids under the age of four, a husband, a dog, a job, a garden, I could go on…I still make myself read every day. I think if one stops reading, one stops learning, and that’s important enough to me to keep on.