Author Archive for Beth Fisher



A new quilt book: No Scrap Left Behind

by Beth Fisher on February 26th, 2017
A new quilt book:  No Scrap Left Behind Cover Image

One of the things I like best about working at ICPL is how easy it is to walk through the new book sections. This week I found a book that I’ve added to my list to buy.

Written by quilt blogger Amanda Jean Nyberg  No Scrap Left Behind – 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes made me almost giddy when I saw it.  I love quilts made up of many different fabrics – either true scraps left over from other projects, or quarter yards of fabrics purchase just because I love the fabric.

Every quilt project produces fabric scraps, but not everyone saves scraps.  Those of us who do each have our own definition of what a scrap is. For me a scrap is anything bigger than 2 square inches.  Smaller than than that hits the recycle bag.  (You did know you can recycle/compost cotton fabrics, right?)

scrapsNo Scrap Left Behind starts with a bit about Jean Nyberg herself and her quilting, then she talks about how she organizes and stores her own scraps. She leads you through thinking about a scrap project – from deciding what fabric colors you want to use to how to decide when an individual fabric does or does not work with your project. She explains color values and how context can make or break a fabric (some fabrics just do not go together.)

crazy-mom-quiltThere are all sorts of ways to sew with scraps, and Jean Nyberg has helped simplify scrap quilting by designing projects that focus on one basic shape: squares, strips, triangles or snippets.

A fun read with wonderful photographs No Scrap Left Behind is definitely something to check out if you like colorful scrap quilts.  Nyberg is also the coauthor with Cheryl Arkison of Sunday Morning Quilts (2012) and her blog “Crazy Mom Quilts” is even more fun than her books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Display: Relationships

by Beth Fisher on February 8th, 2017
Book Display: Relationships Cover Image

 

With Valentines Day right around the corner, many people’s thoughts are turning to romance and relationships.  There many different types of relationships, and ICPL has all sorts of books on them too.

Romantic relationships come in all shapes and styles, just like couples do.  Young or old, straight, gay, or lesbian, there’s someone out there for everyone.  (Click on the cover for more information)

5-love-languagesgeeks-guide-to-datingask-a-queer-chickoutlaw-marriages

 

 

 

 

There are also people who are between relationships, recovering from the end of one, or who are doing just fine on their own and are happy in their singleness. We have books for that too:

30-day-love-detoxloves-me-notthis-is-why-youre-signlegoing-solo

 

 

 

 

And there are people who research relationships by analyzing their own or by conducting sociological research studies in an attempt to figure out this thing called love.

modern-romance-ansari40-days-of-datingwe-should-hang-out

 

 

 

 

Check out the display on the Library’s 2nd floor for these and lots of other books on relationships.

Cooking with Cast-Iron

by Beth Fisher on January 11th, 2017
Cooking with Cast-Iron Cover Image

Cooking with cast-iron cookware is something you either love or you hate.  Those who love it make it look so easy – their pans are a lovely shiny black and nothing ever sticks or burns. Then there are people like me – who have tried over and over to cook with cast-iron with less-than stellar results.  I’m determined to learn how to use my cast-iron the right way, and a new book in  ICPL’s cookbook collection may be where I start.

People all around the world have been cooking on iron or cast-iron for centuries. What makes Charlotte Bruckman’s new Stir, Sizzle, Bake – Recipes for your cast-iron skillet so different is that she has included recipes from cultures all around the world. This isn’t your basic fried chicken and biscuits cookbook.

Stir, Sizzle, Bake is laid out with the easiest recipes at the beginning so that, if you choose to, you can work your way through the book learning as you go. It’s focused mainly on forms of baking, and is divide into four main sections: No-Bake Baking; On-The-Rise Baking; Make-The-Most-Of Baking; and Condiments.  The books biggest oddity (and the only thing I disliked about it) is that each section has its own table of contents for the 16 or so recipes in that section, rather than one normal table of contents at the front. However there is a complete index in the back.

Due to the international flavor of the book there are often one or more ingredients in each recipe that may be a stretch for a lot of people.  How many of us have masarepa (precooked corn flour especial for arepas), green pea flour, pumpkin seeds, nigella seeds, or duck fat on hand?  (or even know what nigella seeds are?)

If you’re like me, and you read cookbooks for fun, you’ll enjoy this book. Each recipes begins with a long paragraph or two about the recipe and either its history or why it was included in the book.  Recipes are never created out of thin air.  They are based on something – a recipe borrowed or stolen and then changed into something new. In Bruckman’s own words “What elevates each act of stealing to something noncriminal and original are the seemingly small but significant adjustments every person makes along they way.”

Most of these recipes are beyond the contents of my pantry, but I am going to try a few and see how they turn out.  Wish me luck.

Book Display: What does it mean to be transgender?

by Beth Fisher on November 14th, 2016
Book Display: What does it mean to be transgender? Cover Image

What does it mean to be transgender?  Transgender people are people whose gender identity – their innate knowledge of who they are –  is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. Transgender people are your classmates, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends. With approximately 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States—and millions more around the world—chances are that you’ve met a transgender person, even if you don’t know it.

Being transgender means different things to different people. Like a lot of other aspects of who people are – like race or religion – there’s no one way to be transgender, and no one way for transgender people to look or feel about themselves. The best way to understand what being transgender is like is to talk with transgender people and listen to their stories.  For more information visit http://www.transequality.org/

The books below, and many more like them, can be found in the display on the first floor near the Help Desk. Read the rest of this entry »

Veterans Day Display – Biographies and Memoirs of Veterans

by Beth Fisher on November 8th, 2016
Veterans Day Display – Biographies and Memoirs of Veterans Cover Image

Today the term Veteran encompasses a wider range of people than it ever has in the past. People of different races, genders and sexual orientation, all of whom have or had one thing in common – the willingness to serve and defend our country as a member of the Armed Forces.

Valor – unsung heroes from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the home front by Mark Lee Greenblatt.   Mark Lee Greenblatt interviewed Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine veterans of America’s most recent wars to gather their incredible stories in their own words.  Many of these soldiers have risked their lives multiple times for their fellow solideris and their country.  Until now, however their stories have largely gone unnoticed by the public.

Ssoldier girlsoldier Girls – the battles of three women at home and at war by Helen Thorpe.   Journalist Helen Thorpe tells the moving story of three women in the Indiana National Guard who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

Get your craft on to support ICPL.

by Beth Fisher on October 11th, 2016
Get your craft on to support ICPL. Cover Image

Attention all crafters!   Donations are now being accepted for the 5th Annual ICPL Friends Foundation fundraising bazaar.  The bazaar is on Saturday, December 3rd, so you still have time to get your craft on to support ICPL.  Donation forms area available online or in the Library.

If you’re looking for ideas to get your crafting juices flowing, on the 2nd floor near the Information Desk we’ve put together a display of a few of the many, many craft books from our collection.  Some of the books on the display include:

Christmas Crafting in No Time by Clare Youngs  Contains 50 fun holiday projects in a variety of different crafts, including paper crafting, sewing, clay modelling, papiermache, printing, candle making.  Each project has easy to follow step by step instructions,  and project rage from quick and simple to time consuming and more advanced.  A guide to embroidery stitches in included at the end of the book.

The Big Book of Holiday Paper Crafts, by the editors of Paper Crafts magazine contains more than 500 ideas for all sorts of holidays.  Focused mainly on cards, here are also ideas bookmarks, gift bags, and holiday ornaments as well. Read the rest of this entry »

The Adult Summer Reading Program is halfway over – but there’s still time to join in the fun!

by Beth Fisher on June 30th, 2016

July 1st is here!  That means we’re halfway through the 2016 Summer Reading Program. But you still have time to play along.

This year, participation is even easier – you can do it online or with a paper game-card available at any public service desk in the Library.   For people 18 and over, all you have to do is complete 5 activities.  You can read 5 books of your choosing, or use one of the suggestions on the came card or from a recommended list on the Summer Reading Program 2016 website

Some of the Reading List topics you’ll find on the SRP website:gooreads choice

  • Adventures on a Bike
  • Books Becoming Movies in 2016
  • Change your life one book at a time
  • Explore Iowa
  • Fiction Set in Iowa
  • Goodreads Choice Awards 2015: Best Fiction
  • If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out Of The Kitchen – Grilling & Barbecue Cookbooks
  • NPR’s Book Concierge Best Biographies & Memoir 2015
  • Wanderlust – True Stories of Exploration and Adventure

NOTE:  Sorry, I can’t make a direct link into the Summer Reading Program website.  You have to log in to see the book list.  (And you want to, you really do!)
Read the rest of this entry »

Hiking, Camping, Fishing and more

by Beth Fisher on May 20th, 2016

With warm weather finally arriving in Iowa, it’s time to start thinking about summer fun.  If you’re looking for places to picnic, hike, camp in tents or campers, to go swimming, fishing, or boating, or for all sorts of other outdoor activities, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is a great source of information.

DNR home

The Iowa DNR web site is a fantastic source of information.

From the Things To Do dropdown menu, you’ll find links to a wide variety of activities – from camping, canoeing to hiking, biking, boating and even Equestrian Camping. (Yes, that really is a thing.)  You’ll find links to the campsite, cabin, and lodge reservation system  as well.  In the Places To Go section, you’ll find information about State Parks, Forests, Preserves, and Wildlife Management Areas, as well as hiking, biking and paddling trails.

DNR guide

If you’re looking specifically for information about Iowa’s state parks the 8 page downloadable Iowa DNR Guide to State Parks  is a great place to start.

The state is broken down into four quadrants and parks in each section are listed by name.   There is also an easy to use grid for each section, listing the parks on one axis and activities on the other, so you can find the perfect location for whatever it is you’re wanting to do.

 

IADNR mapNDR grid

The State of Iowa has a wealth of parks, forests, campgrounds, lakes and rivers to enjoy.  Get back to nature and enjoy your summer with the help of the Iowa DNR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Garlic Mustard

by Beth Fisher on April 25th, 2016

Spring has arrived in Iowa City, and so have the weeds. Which means it’s time to keep an eye out for Garlic Mustard. According to the Iowa DNR “Garlic Mustard is a rapidly spreading, highly invasive non-native plant. It was introduced from Europe in mid-1800s for medicinal and herbal uses and came to the U.S. without predatory beetles or other natural controls. Garlic Mustard threatens to rob Iowa of healthy, diverse native woodlands.”  Unfortunately wildlife do not eat Garlic Mustard. Human intervention is the only way to control it.

Garlic Mustard is a woodland plant that favors shade or dappled shade, but it will also grow in sun given enough moisture.  The Iowa Wildlife Federation suggests that if you’re out hiking in your favorite woods (or hunting for morel mushrooms) take along a big garbage bag and load it up with Garlic Mustard plants before they get a chance to set seed.  Garlic Mustard is not difficult to pull, especially if there has been recent rain. If you wiggle the plant a little then pull at a slight angle, you’ll be less likely to break off the stem leaving the roots to re-sprout.

Garlic Mustard is a biennial – it flowers the second year.  The first year the plants stay short and has rounder toothed leaves.  It is often brighter green than its surroundings.

 

 

During its 2nd year, the plants spread into patches, and the leaves are more triangular/heart shaped. It gets up 12″ tall  or taller.

 

 

 

By late spring, you’ll be more likely to see Garlic Mustard patches in bloom.  Look for  heart shaped or triangular coarsly toothed leaves, with clusters of small 4-petal white flowers at the top of a 12″ to 36″ tall thin stalks.

 

 

The Iowa DNR has a great printable full color  Garlic Mustard brochure that contains color photographs of different ages of the plant, as well as suggested control techniques for small or large patches.  It’s a handy thing to carry with you the first time you look for the plant.

In 2011 the Friends of Hickory Hill Park sponsored a Garlic Mustard Identification program with a naturalist from the Johnson County Conservation Department, and you can watch the video here.

There are also many websites that can help you identify Garlic Mustard. One of the best is the King County, Washington weed identification website.

 

Houseplants make it feel like spring

by Beth Fisher on February 20th, 2016
Houseplants make it feel like spring Cover Image

Winters are long in Iowa.  By the time the middle of February comes around, Mother Nature begins to tease us with bright sunny days.  But look at a calendar and you’ll see that we are still more than a month away from Spring.

If you’re itching to get your hands in the garden there is something you can do now that might make it feel like spring – get a new houseplant!  Tovah Martin’s new book “The Indestructible Houseplant – 200 beautiful plants that everyone can grow is “for all the windowsill-gardener wannabes… For all the folks who hankered for houseplants but didn’t know where to start, and for all the people who picked up the wrong houseplant and thought its hasty demise was their fault, this book is for you.”

The Idestructible Houseplant is both a good reference book and a fun read. (Yes, books can be both.) If you’re looking for a book on houseplants and you want to look up just one plant, hit the index in the back and it will tell you where to turn. Or hit the table of contents for her list of 200 plants and go from there.

But if you’re looking for a fun read, start at the very beginning.  Tovah Martin is an entertaining writer. Her snappy style and entertaining storytelling will get you hooked. She’ll tell you the story of how she got hooked on houseplants, how the idea for this book came to be, what her home is like and how she tested plants to come up with her 200 surviving “indestructibles.”

The 200+ page “Gallery of Indestructibles” lists her choices in alphabetical order.  Each new plant begins with an entertaining page or more describing the plant, a beautiful color photograph, and half-page table listing the plants features: it’s common name(s), Latin name, a rating (easy or easiest), size range, foliage description, other attributes, desired light exposure, water requirements, optimum night time temperature, rate or growth, soil type, fertilizing, issues and ideal companions.

indest1

The last 40 pages take you through what she calls “The Details” –  choosing a plant; general cautions about plant toxicity; light, humidity and temperature considerations; choosing and preparing a container.  The list of sources are mainly in Connecticut, but all have websites.

There is one thing I was surprised by.  The groupings called “Ferns” and “Ivy”  are examples of when the author groups plants into a family.  The information is general rather than specific to any of the individual types found in the index.  Not that the information isn’t good, but it might not be appropriate to ALL the different plants in either family.

This is a great gardening book, and I’m definitely adding it to my wish-list.