Wrap It Up!

Newspaper never looked so good.

Newspaper never looked so good.

We are mere days away from Christmas.
Are your gifts wrapped?

Hopefully, you’ve got every gift covered at this point so you can sit back and relax your way into the holiday.  However, for the chronically late or the hopelessly perfect, the clock is ticking and those gifts aren’t going to wrap themselves.

Never fear!  The library has a lot of great gift wrapping resources on our new Wrap It Up! list to make your gifts shine in any setting.

First, you will need a gift.  It doesn’t need to be fancy/expensive/rare. It just needs to be thoughtful. I have had great success crafting various items for friends and family over the years.  In fact, this lovely kusadama ball was a smash hit for me several years ago.  But, if you are out of time and aren’t feeling too creative, here is a wonderful list of gift ideas for bibliophiles.



Next, you will need to get those gifts ready to present.  And you don’t necessarily need to have fancy paper.  In fact, you might just need a pretty scarf or some newspaper.  These books, in particular, can help you figure out what you will need and how to use it like the wrapping ninja you are about to become:

The Art of Gift Wrapping by Wanda Wen
Furoshiki: The Art of Wrapping With Fabric by Kumiko Nakayama-Geraerts
Ruby Star Wrapping:Creating Packaging to Reuse, Regive, and Relove by Melody Miller
Wrapagami by Jennifer Playford


Does that package need a bow?  A tag?  I thought so!  The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts by Elaine Schmidt is a wonderful book that can show you how to make all sorts of lovely bows for your loved ones’ gifts.

Simple, fast, and easy.

Simple, fast, and easy.

Finally, I realize that some people prefer giving (and receiving!) cards on the holidays. Thankfully, the Bellingham Public Library has many, many (MANY) great books on making handmade cards. 130 New Iris Folded Cards to Make by Maruscha Gaasenbeek is my favorite on the Wrap It Up! list. However, Ultimate Cardmaking by Sarah Beaman, is also popular with the crafty crowd.

Now, fingers crossed, you should have an amazing gift that is awesomely wrapped. Boom!  The holidays have been won.  Go get yourself some celebratory cider and relax – you’ve earned it.


– Deborah and Katie


Good in the Sack: Creative Lunches for All Ages

If you’re like me, by the time November rolls around you’re starting to run out of fresh ideas for your kids’ lunch sacks, as well as your own. But don’t fret! Lunch is about to become everyone’s favorite meal of the day, because the library is here to help take your lunch-packing skills to a whole new level. There are options here for everyone! And even a book of patterns for crafting a fancy handmade lunch sack to carry your new tasty lunches in.

First of all, it’s a good idea to invest in some re-usable lunchware. Taking a cue from traditional Japanese bento boxes, there are some great stackable containers with partitions for those folks in your house who don’t like their food items rubbing up against each other. There are many affordable options, including glass containers with rubber lids as well as metal containers, if you are seeking to avoid plastic.

Secondly, don’t be boxed in by your old ideas of what a lunch box should contain! You are in control of your daily food adventures, so why suffer repetition and boredom?

Thirdly, get your hands on one or more of these titles, stock your pantry accordingly, and get ready to get creative. Also, don’t forget muffin, wrap and salad cookbooks, as well as cookbooks featuring recipes for picnickers and backpackers. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you for the variety!

  1. Lunch Bags! Handmade Sacks and Wraps to Sew Today by Design Collective (2010)
  2. Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch (2013)
  3. Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford (2013)
  4. The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go by Makiko Itoh (2010)
  5. 501 Bento Box Lunches by Mari Baker (2009)
  6. Vegan Lunch Box Around the World by Jennifer McCann (2009)
  7. Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box by Catherine McCord (2013)
  8. And for any finicky young eaters in your house, I recommend Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban (1964). Though it’s not a cookbook, the lunches that Frances’ friend Albert brings to school have stayed fresh in my mind since I first read it over 30 years ago!

– Jenni

A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

A Fine RomanceThe Hook
What? A love affair with nature and in a country where gardens rule. Exactly what I like!

Tell Me More
I love art and journaling.  Susan Branch has an exceptional talent with watercolors and expresses everyday things into a joyful cacophony of delight. This book is a day-by-day account of the author’s trip through England aboard the Queen Mary 2.  It is luxuriously written and each chapter covers the must-see places that are close to Susan’s heart: the cottage where Beatrix Potter lived her final years, the Sissinghurst gardens, Jane Austen’s home, and so many other historical gardens thorough-out the English country side.


A Fine Romance !

Inspiration: Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.

Recommended For
Those who would love to travel, love gardens, and, of course, the artist in us all.

Final Say
I have purchased this book due to the details of the walking paths in the Cotswold and other little places along the way. It is a virtual journey one can live and relive without ever getting tired of visiting.

Grab A Fine Romance today!

— Keyla

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 7

Summer Reading may be over, but we still have several weeks worth of great reviews to share with you!  Here are some of our favorites from Week 7:

DIY Bride Crafty Countdown by Khris CochranDIY Bride Crafty Countdown

40 projects with various skill levels, some well worth the time, others a bit insane. The cost breakdown is helpful in evaluating if DIY actually makes sense.


Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison ArngrimConfessions of a Prairie Bitch

Despite having never seen “Little House on the Prairie,” this memoir from the actress that played Nellie Olsen is an entertaining reflection of her Hollywood childhood. Hilarious and heartfelt, this dishy book is perfect summer reading.


Fledgling by Octavia ButlerFledgling

The BEST vampire book ever! Forget sparkles and pining, this story of survival set it the Pacific Northwest challenges your assumptions about vampires, race and love while also being epic fun. From genious Octavia Butler RIP.


Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog by Delia EphronSister, Mother, Husband, Dog

Mostly Delia Ephron’s memoir of essays is shadowed by the passing of her sister Nora. These are insights and observations but musings more that the profound but such is the way of grief.


Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! by Kathy Sheldon

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!The Hook
Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! Make Stylish Shrink Plastic Jewelry by Kathy Sheldon caught my attention because I’m always on the lookout for cheap and easy craft projects to do in my down time. It’s even better when I find a project that hooks my kids and gets us all crafting together, and results in beautiful items we can wear ourselves or give as gifts. I’ve enjoyed making fun stuff with Shrinky Dinks since I was a kid myself, but now that I can purchase blank sheets of the shrink plastic (in clear and solid colors) and draw and color my own designs, it’s opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities.

P.S. If you don’t know what Shrinky Dinks are, check ’em out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrinky_Dinks

Tell Me More
A colorful and fun crafter’s how-to book that combines drawing, coloring, and jewelry-making, Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! is filled with great ideas! It contains 35 projects and the templates you’ll need to make them happen. Think shrink plastic is a low-brow medium? You won’t after you check this book out and see the beautiful things you can easily make with it!



Recommended For
I recommend this book for folks who love to make stuff, but don’t have a lot of time, money, or expertise. Shrink film is fun and easy to work with and this book contains projects with appeal for all ages. It also offers a wide range of styles – from cute and clever to simply beautiful.

Final Say
I own many interesting and unusual pieces of jewelry, and often receive comments and compliments from strangers about a piece I’m wearing, but on the days when I’m wearing something I’ve created from Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!, I receive far more.  People love the look of this jewelry! It’s unusual and the shrink film retains color extremely well, so the pieces I’ve made are bright and eye-catching. Aside from the fabulous projects it features, it’s also inspired me to come up with many new and fresh ways to use shrink plastic creatively.

You can pick up a copy of Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Jenni


Summer Reading Reviews, Week 6

So many good reviews from Summer Reading for Adults this week.  Check them out:

Sugar Cube by Kir JensenSugar Cube
Five Stars
Portland is well known for its world of food carts and Sugar Cube is no exception to the list of carts I want to relish. Great and unusual recipes with easy to follow instructions! My favorites: page 56, “Rosemary’s Baby” sugar cookies, and page 95, Pots de Creme.


Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon KrakauerUnder the Banner of Heaven
Four Stars
Solid history of the Church of Latter Day Saints and its violent past. Fascinating and insightful.



A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie LittlefieldA Bad Day for Pretty
Four Stars
Excellent mystery featuring the adventures of Stella Hardesty, DV survivor and force to be reckoned with. This sequel to Bad Day for Sorry is full of recognizable characters and middles aged heroine who you’ll want to see more of.

Report From the Interior by Paul Auster

Book CoverThe Hook
A skillfully written memoir can be as moving as any novel, but it can be hard to break away from the humdrum verse-chorus-verse of writing a coming-of-age trajectory. Not to be discouraged, Auster published Winter Journal in 2012, an account of his 63 years of existence explored through the prism of physical being – a record of scrapes, residences, romantic encounters and familial losses, challenging the literary status quo through his use of non-linear narrative and themes contemplating his descent into old age.

Report From the Interior is his companion piece to Winter Journal, and examines the ideas most formative in his intellect and work – another unconventional offering to the world of autobiography. This time the meditations focus on childhood heroes, academic grapplings, political turmoil, and his own foray into literature.

Report From the Interior is presented in four chapters in the second person. The prose is disjointed – memories can be triggered by a teacup or movie poster, world events or secret alphabets – all information is fair game in the molding of a young mind, and it’s fascinating to see the touchstones of memory fragment and intersect. Auster begins with a vast intake of influences and memories, and like a train gathering speed, feeds on more substantial kinds of fuel as we progress through the pages. This book is a bit like opening your junk drawer, you could find anything from silver dollars to an endless supply of rubber bands and ketchup packets – but it’s damn riveting stuff. He spends 40 pages recounting the “cinematic earthquake” of “I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang”, and shifts to receiving a package from his former wife, writer Lydia Davis – a photocopy of every letter he had written her during their time together. The final chapter is a photo album in which the author presents a gallery of those who have made an impression upon him – and not a single image of himself.

A Snapshot
“Your circumstances at the time were as follows: Midcentury America; mother and father; tricycles, bicycles, and wagons; radios and black-and-white televisions; standard-shift cars; two small apartments and a house in the suburbs; fragile health early on, then normal boyhood strength; public school; a family from the striving middle class; a town of fifteen thousand populated by Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, all white except for a smattering of black people, but no Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims; a little sister and eight first cousins; comic books; Rootie Kazootie and Pinky Lee; “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”; Campbell’s Soup, Wonder bread, and canned peas; souped-up cars (hot rods) and cigarettes for twenty-three cents a pack; a little world inside the big world, which was the entire world for you back then, since the big world was not yet visible.”

Recommended For
Those open to exploring alternative forms of storytelling and memoir.

Final Say
This book will either leave you feeling challenged and inspired, or stuck at a family gathering where Great Uncle Paul has broken out the slide projector to relive his salad days at Columbia again. Take a chance, and let Auster’s interior worlds reflect your own.

You can grab Report From the Interior at the library today!

— Nicky

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 4

Here are some more reviews from our Summer Reading for Adults participants. Enjoy!

After I’m Gone by Laura LippmanAfter I'm Gone
4 Stars

This is a great mystery that kept me guessing until the end. The detective character was great and I’d love to see him in more books.



How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane by Johanna SteinHow Not to Calm a Child on a Plan
4 Stars

Laugh out loud and read out loud funny. These hilarious autobiographical essays chronical parental misadventures from a not so hallmark card perspective. A quick, quirky and effervescent summer read.


Rustic Wedding Chic by Morgann HillRustic Wedding Chic
1 Star

These crafts scream “I have lots of time but very little crafting talent.” Projects that might be cute for kids but seem elementary for adults, most cross the line from quaint to tacky.



Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon MullSecrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
4 Stars

Yes, this is a book for middle schoolers but I love this series! There was a wonderful twist in this book; it caught me completely by surprise! The main characters are growing and learning, they’re great kids!

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 3

Here are some more great reviews from our Summer Reading for Adults program:

Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea HandlerBook Cover
2 Stars
I chose this book due to the front cover with Chelsea dressed in a high-end, floor length gown and an elephant alongside her. The book is a long, tongue-in-cheek dictionary of Chelsea’s safari adventures; it turns out she and five friends were the safari, the animals were a ploy in this tedious tale. Chelsea Handler says whatever she wants and will go that extra mile to raise a few eyebrows. Not as funny as I first thought. Bordering on clumsy and offensive.

Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie HuangFresh Off the Boat
4 Stars
This lively memoir explores identity, race and hip-hop from the perspective of a Taiwanese American chef. Laugh out loud funny, this brash book talks about aspiration and assimilation in a no holds barred style with insight and verve.


Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinBook Cover
4 Stars
I loved-hated this book, would read and get mad, put it down, then couldn’t resist picking it up again. The characters are amazing and I am easily caught up in this world.


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
5 Stars
Not my usual cup of tea bookwise, but I devoured this book in an afternoon. Do read it.



Would you like to see your review here?  Review a book, using this form, and turn it in at any Bellingham Public Library location for a chance to get your review featured on Read More! and to earn a prize.

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 1

Here are three awesome reviews that we received from Summer Reading for Adults participants during the first week of the program.

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora PierceBook Cover
Rating: 4 Stars
Superb YA novel that fives voice to the adolescent struggle to find engaging purpose set in a fantasy world with importat stakes that comment on conditions in our society. GREAT read!



Northwest Foraging by Doug BenolielBook Cover
Rating: 5 Stars
The beauty of this book is that the chapters are written in categories: easy to identify, good-tasting and highly nutritious, of special interest to hiker/camper, of special interest to the city dweller, and seasonal plants. All poisonous plants are clumped together making it easy to identify any plant before you pick something you may regret touching. I was happy to see so many different types of uses for each plant. I have learned all about what types of berries are available in the wild that are easy to gather.


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverBook Cover
Rating: 3 Stars
Kingsolver is at her best when she writes nonfiction. Her depth of research shows.



Would you like to see your review here?  Review a book, using this form, and turn it in at any Bellingham Public Library location for a chance to get your review featured on Read More! and to earn a prize.