August 24th, 2015

School Lunch Woes

I’m excited for my daughter to go back to school. I love shopping for school supplies and finding just the right backpack for storing those supplies. What I do not love, though, is filling her lunchbag. My daughter’s school only offers a meal one day out of the week—thank goodness for pizza Wednesdays—so I will have to come up with something to feed her on the other four days. It needs to be portable, ready-to-eat, and appealing. As I’m not a fan of her own preferred menu, which I’m pretty sure would involve an exclusive diet of potato chips and Rice Krispie treats, it also needs to be healthy. That’s a tall order! Fortunately, the library has some resources to help me not just with school lunch but also with those weeknight meals, which we need to squeeze in between school, homework, and sports.

cool-lunchesCool Lunches to Make and Take: Easy Recipes for Kids to Cook by Lisa Wagner


If you want to involve your child in making his or her lunch, this book is a great choice with some simple recipes that even the youngest kid can make-—with help from a parent.



vegan-lunchVegan Lunch Box: 150 Amazing Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love by Jennifer McCann


Organized so you can pick quick lunches when you are short on time or more involved lunches when you do, this book might be helpful for schools with dietary restrictions.




superheroThe Official DC Super Hero Cookbook by Matthew Mead


Inspired by kids’ favorite super heroes, this book has ideas that might motivate a picky eater to gobble down a meal. Parents and children can work together to make meals; this book has ideas for regular meals, lunchboxes, and even parties.



everything-kidsThe Everything Cooking for Kids Cookbook by Ronni Litz Julien


When this book says everything, it means everything! There are ideas for toddlers, hearty before-school breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks, energy-supplying fuel for sports practices, and no-fuss dinners.



We don’t just have books that can help, though. Using Zinio, you can download digital magazines right from home on a variety of subjects, including cooking!


food-networkThis month’s issue of Food Network Magazine includes an article on “fun baking”. You could whip up a batch of lemon bars to go in a lunchbox, or as a fun after-school treat.






family-circleCheck out Family Circle’s brain-boosting snacks, which might give kids a boost before homework time. This issue also includes 108 dinner ideas, perfect for when you’re feeling uninspired.







good-housekeepingGood Housekeeping provides ideas for healthy and delicious dinners in 20 minutes or less, to give you a better chance of avoiding the drive-through on those busy nights.







rachael-rayDinner just got easy—Rachael Ray has veggie packed quick meals, slow-cooker slam dunks, and ideas to cook an entire dinner on a sheet pan.






What are you planning to cook this school year?

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July 27th, 2015

A Reluctant e-Reader

Breakfast with a tabletI love technology. If there’s a gadget, I want it. Despite that, it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of reading a book on a device. I was too attached to the idea of feeling the rustle of pages under my fingers, of flipping to the end to see what happens, of smelling that old book smell.

A few different things motivated me to make the switch. The first was George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. The most recent book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, is 1,152 pages long, and it is no exaggeration to say that I had to be careful how I read that book, lest the sheer weight of it hurt my hands. At that point, I thought, reading on a tablet might just help my health! Also, reading on a device allows me to use the Fictionary, which is an e-book dictionary that keeps track of fictional characters and places. When I just can’t remember who that minor character is, I can tap the name, and the Fictionary will remind me. The Fictionary is not available for all books, but there are several options available for fantasy, science fiction, young adult, and classic novels.

One of my favorite things about reading on my tablet is its ability to customize. Want to read white text on a black screen, as I often do at night? Fine! Need a bigger font or more space between the lines? Easy! The app for OverDrive, which the library uses to provide eBooks and e-audiobooks, even includes the OpenDyslexic font, which is designed to make reading easier for people who have dyslexia. (To learn more about the OpenDyslexic font, and to see how to change your font in OverDrive, check out their blog post.)

Have you ever finished your book and realized that you can’t get another because the library is closed? With digital devices, the library is never closed. You can find a book on OverDrive or OneClickDigital and be reading again in seconds. You can also download a magazine from Zinio or an audiobook from Hoopla—no lines, no fines. I’ve found that audiobooks are not just for my commute. I listen to them while I’m weeding my garden, while I’m doing dishes, or while I’m putting away laundry. My audiobooks make mindless tasks a little less boring.

At this time of year, digital devices are perfect for vacations. I used to need a separate bag for all the books I wanted to bring for a trip. When I went on vacation with my family last month, I took a few minutes before we left to download some books onto my tablet, and then I was ready to go. I’d also downloaded a movie or two from Hoopla, in case my daughter got bored during the drive.

Don’t worry—I haven’t gone completely to the Dark Side. I still love my paper books, especially for cooking and crafts. Now that I’ve started using reading, listening, and watching on my tablet, though, I have to admit that I wish I had started all this just a little sooner. Check out what you can put on your device on our devices and downloads page, or ask at your favorite branch.


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