landscaping-with-fruitThe next time you’re thinking about adding a tree or bush to your landscape, consider one that bears fruit. Most are just as beautiful as “ornamental” trees and they have the added bonus of rewarding you with fresh, delicious fruit!

Lee Reich, well known in gardening circles for his excellent The Pruning Book, now brings us Landscaping with Fruit.  He’s gone through all the varieties and types of fruiting plants available and compiled a list of the best – best for beauty, ease of maintenance and tasty fruit. Only plants that meet all three requirements are included. Among others you’ll find sweet cherry, raspberries, grapes and apples as well as exotic tropicals that can be grown in pots. You’ll find that alpine strawberries make excellent edging plants and blueberries make beautiful shrubs year round.

In addition to information on plant varieties, Reich has an excellent section on growing and maintaining, and lots of ideas on how to incorporate these plants in your yard (so it doesn’t look like you’ve plopped an orchard down in your front yard) What about an alle of pear trees along your front walk? Or a hedge of strawberries, Nanking cherry and red current? Or try surrounding a patio with huckleberry, blueberry and Juneberries. The possibilities are endless – and delicious!

then-we-came-to-the-end1Seems like there is a novel for every situation. We can take some comfort from the fact that people have gone through layoffs and recession before.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris is the devastating tale of an ad agency, where, one by one, workers carry their box of belongings out of their office during the dot-com bust of the late ’90’s. Ferris captures exactly the love/hate relationship we have with our cubicles and our co-workers. He depicts how painful it is to lose the community, the gossip , the petty resentments, and the infantile behavior that make up our work lives.

Described  as “The Office meets Kafka,” (Nick Hornby) the characters are written with compassion and depth by Ferris,  a University of Iowa graduate.

What better time than St. Patrick’s Day than to honor the Irish?  Just so you have something green to read,  we’ve put together a display of some popular Irish authors at the Fairmount Branch.

When Frank McCourt came on the scene with Angela’s Ashes, it seemed everyone was speaking with an Gaelic lilt.    If you’ve already read that, then try his Tis or Teacher Man.

If you’d like a fun little romp, try The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell.  I blogged about it last year, so I won’t repeat myself.

Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, and for good reason.  If you’re thinking about traveling, this beautifully green country has got to be on your list.  Check out our travel section and then reserve your chance to kiss the blarney stone.

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magazinesHave you wondered where your favorite titles are going? So far this year, Cottage Living, Men’s Vogue, Smartphone, Home, and Cooking for Two, and Country Home are just some of the magazines that have or will soon stop publishing.  Others are available only on the news stand (you can’t subscribe), like Country Weekly and Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, and some, like PC Magazine, are going online only.

Seeing them disappear is like losing old friends. What is more pleasurable than sinking into a new world, with each new issue, whether it’s gadgets, gardening, home decor, jewelry, or weight lifting? The advantage that print magazines have  over newspapers or their online counterparts is  that people devote more time to them and view them as entertainment – even the ads – which is good for the bottom line.

For the time-pressed, magazine articles can supply streamlined summaries of big issues, (often in a more readable style than bloated books).

Let’s hope that magazine guru Samir Husni is right and that new magazines will continue to be launched – so as  to replace those that have died. He says  those that are “service oriented – whether it’s about health, home or cooking” will be most viable.

It takes an optimistic and courageous soul to  keep swinging in the volatile game of magazine publishing.

emmas-tableIn Emma’s Table by Philip Galanes, Emma Sutton – famous interior design and lifestyle guru – attends the prestigious FitzCoopers auction determined to purchase a unique antique table, no matter who stands in her way. Fresh from a stint in Federal Prison and feeling battered by the accompanying public scrutiny, Emma doesn’t realize she’s going to come away with much more than a table.

Still enjoying great success professionally, Emma’s personal life needs some work – her ex-husband has returned to try to work things out, her adult daughter is aimless and angry and Emma  goes through personal assistants at an alarming rate. Despite the public image of perfection, she has no idea where or how to make the needed changes.

Emma’s weekend-personal assistant Benjamin (one of the few that has hung on), struggles with his own issues – a social worker during the week, he is puzzled by the case of Grace, a troubled, overweight little girl and her mother, as well as demands from his girlfriend. And then there’s the Japanese diplomat whom Emma outmaneuvered for the table. Emma searches for a way to make things right, heal all the insults and wounds she’s inflicted and therefore somehow save herself.

These disparete characters slowly come together in a story that is both lighthearted and thoughtful, about second (and even third) chances, redemption and starting again. Because everyone deserves a second chance.

pizza-grill-it-bake-it-love-itWho doesn’t love pizza? An Italian staple that has been embraced by America and made our own, we consume, on average, more than 46 slices of pizza a year. From deep-dish to exotic toppings, loaded with meat or vegetables only, the pizza can be adapted to any taste, any whim and still be delicious. Now Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough take it up another notch in Pizza : Grill It, Bake It, Love It when they show you just how easy – and scrumptious – homemade pizza can be.

The authors first cover the basics – including in-depth descriptions of different cheeses, recipes for eight crusts and three basic sauces – and then launch into ideas for putting together your masterpiece. Pizzas range from the classic Pepperoni to international Tandoori Chicken to modern Prosciutto and Arugula as well as ten variations of Deep Dish pizza. Weinstein and Scarbrough also provide inspiration for “appetizer” pizzas (including Artichoke, Olive and Feta) and “salad” pizzas (such as Chicken Ceasar Salad)

Our own Frugal Librarian will soon be posting his own tips for making this dinnertime favorite that is both economical and fun – watch this space!

dog-trainingYet another way libraries can transform your life! What if you need to introduce a couple new dogs to a cat household? It’s critical to have some control over the dogs’ behavior (forget about controlling the cat).

Many will tell you, “Just throw them all together and it’ll work out.” Maybe, but probably not without a lot of needless stress.

The following books will fundamentally change the way you think about training; it’s amazing to witness the transformation in your pets and yourself:

Dog-Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden explains in clear language the philosophy of the Reward-Good-Behavior/Ignore-Bad-Behavior method of training.

Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training by Sarah Hodgson then shows you how to do it with well-chosen photographs and concise instructions.

Another wonderful service your library provides is interlibrary loan. Dvds in the PetsIncredible series are great reinforcement to the techniques you’ve read about.  Just ask at the Reference staff for more information.

daylight-savingIt’s almost that time of year again – you’re about to lose an hour of your life! OK, not really – it’s just time to return to Daylight Saving. Sunday at 2am the clocks will leap forward an hour. And while for a few weeks it’ll be dark again when you get up in the morning, it’ll also stay lighter later when you get home at night. Which means spring and warmer temperatures can’t be far away!

This is also a great time to check the batteries in your smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and flashlights so that you and your family will be prepared in case of an emergency. And you might want to make sure to take a nap Sunday afternoon – studies have shown that there is a spike in heart attacks the first week after Daylight Saving begins; many doctors believe this is due to the disruption of sleep patterns.

March is National Craft Month, so if you’ve ever felt the urge to be creative, now’s a great time to try something new. No matter whether you’d like to try a paper craft, such as origami, or you’re more interested in making jewelry (with beads or clay) or you’re just looking for a fun activity to keep your kids occupied, we’ve got something for you at the Davenport Public Library. Check out some of these titles:

Rosie O’Donnell’s Crafty U

Ceramic Bead Jewelry: 30 Fired & Inspired Projects by Jennifer Heynen

The Papercraft Weekend Workbook by Fiona Jones

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snark1David Denby is a man on a moral, ethical mission in Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits. In it, he seeks to quell “the bad kind of invective — low, teasing, snide, condescending, knowing” he refers to as snark.

This extended essay of a little over 100 pages has a definite academic lean. In it, he defines and traces forms of this disdainful rhetoric over the centuries. Included is a section on the purported origin of the word in Lewis Carroll’s Hunting the Snark, as well as its roots among macho posturing poets and warriors over the ages.

The more poignant examples are culled from the combatants in the last presidential campaign.  A shocking revelation, I know.