Your Library Staff at Home – Making & Crafting

Last week, I interrupted our regularly scheduling blogging with a post about Book Harbor, RRPL’s personalized book recommendation service. Today, I am resuming my deep dive into making & crafting, with a little book recommendation thrown in – it’s a combo offering!

Spring has sprung and I am busy making my garden sing! I have a shady backyard and a sunny front – and I usually alternate years – one year I work a lot on the front – the next, the back. Well, this year it’s been a backyard effort – a shady, woodland type garden filled with a mix of native plants and non-native shade lovers. Last week, I took a trip to Wilmot, Ohio to the Wilderness Center, where I picked up some native plants that I had ordered in advance. I had never heard of the Wilderness Center, until an internet search brought up their plant sale. It’s a lovely area, surrounded by farms and rolling hills. I will definitely make a trip back there to visit their Interpretive Center and trails when things open up again. I bought Pennsylvania Sedge and Black Cohosh for the back garden and milkweed, liatris and rattlesnake master (such a great name) for the front. I’ve lived in my house for almost 25 years and my garden is, and will always be, a work in progress, but I love it.

Of course, there are many books that I’ve consulted about shade gardening because that’s what I do – I’ve got to read everything I can get my hands on before taking action (it’s a fault, I know). Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden by Jenny Rose Carey is a really good place to start. Then there’s The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change by Ken Druse, who’s considered an expert on natural gardening, and Designing and Planting a Woodland Garden: Plants and Combinations that Thrive in the Shade by Keith Wiley which packs inspiration into every page.

I’ve also been making food – constantly it seems. I’m a member of Fresh Fork Market and we received chicken backs this week to make stock; so I threw them in a pot with some onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme (that I recently planted) and it’s simmering away right now, filling the house with an aroma that’s driving the dog a little crazy – delicious. I like to have to figure out how to cook whatever ends up in my weekly share – to cook seasonally and with whatever you have on hand instead of running to the store. I’ve also been dipping into cookbook/memoirs that I love to revisit. Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums is a memoir of her time after the magazine Gourmet folded, complete with seasonal recipes. Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, is filled with reflection and humor. And of course, check out If I Can Cook/You Know God Can: African American Food Memories, Meditations, and Recipes by playwright Ntozake Shange, who weaves together historical/sociological knowledge with personal experience of people, places and food.

Ok – onto Book Harbor! Please send us your requests at

8-year-old Abigail’s favorite books are Harry Potter, the Who Was Series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Shannon, one of our talented Adult Reference Librarians, responded:

My first recommendation would be Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, which is the first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. It features magic, humor, and strong female characters. A princess decides that she doesn’t want to marry any of the princes who ask for her hand, so she goes to live with the dragons. I loved this series as a kid (and still do!) She could also try Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. It’s a lot like Harry Potter, but with a lot more snark. Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius who kidnaps a fairy for ransom so that he can restore his family’s fortune. Third, she could try The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi,  which is the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. In this one, two children go to stay with their great aunt in the countryside and discover a world of fantastical creatures.

Stay safe and stay home!


Your Library Staff at Home – Making & Crafting

Here we are again- another week in the quarantine books – another week of making & crafting. Hope you all are well.

I’ve started another knitting project – a cowl made with some beautiful Madeline Tosh yarn – the color is amazing – sort of a gray-green-blue, with a little sparkle – it’s going to be lovely and soft. I haven’t been as productive as I’ve wanted with my knitting projects – and I’m trying to learn that that’s o.k. We can only do what we can do – so slow and steady has become my mantra.


Knitting, for me, has always been intertwined with memories; I’ve been knitting since I was a young girl. My mother taught her daughters to knit and she also had us learn embroidery and sewing – and I’m so glad she did. One of the books we had at the house was Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears, a classic of knitting literature – and a door into creativity. Zimmermann was a German immigrant to the U.S. and I’d say, the ‘mother’ of the resurgence of American knitting in many ways. Her other books: The Knitter’s Almanac, Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around, and The Opinionated Knitter are guides to knitting, yes, but they are also filled with stories of Elizabeth’s life and the kind of books you turn to to re-inspire yourself – perfect for reflection.

I’ve also been excited to go into my yard and see what surprises are coming up! Last year, I bought a few native plants from the Cleveland Metroparks sale, and am thrilled that some have survived! My ostrich fern is slowly unfurling and my Pennsylvania Sedge is looking lovely. I also planted something at the base of my black pussywillow, but I can’t remember the name (if anyone knows, please comment below – it’s the one on the right). Making a garden is so satisfying in the springtime when the first buds appear!

Creativebug, Week 5, recommends a figure drawing class, an applique with Natalie Chanin (she has a number of incredible books, too), and an easy macrame project. There are projects to do with your children too – involve them – it’s a great way to make memories that will stay with them forever!

I’d love to hear what you’re making, so comment below. Stay safe and stay home!

~ Dori