ConfectionsFed up with a Hollywood lifestyle of “doing lunch”, massive traffic jams and insincere relationships, Gesine Bullock-Prado abandoned all the things that are supposed to make you happy – money, designer clothes, access to famous stars – and escaped to the Green Mountains of Vermont. There she found peace and happiness by following her true passion – baking.

In 2004 Gesine and her husband Ray opened Gesine Confectionary in Montpelier, Vermont largely on the popularity of her macaroons. Expecting to start small and build by word-of-mouth, they were overwhelmed by the long lines that snaked out the door on opening day – maybe it was the fact that Gesine’s sister, movie star Sandra Bullock, was helping at the register?

Star gazing might have brought people to the shop at first but the sweet, luscious treats bring them back again and again. Pies, sticky buns, croissants, scones and cakes of all description guarantee a slew of return customers. Customers become regulars, who become friends and consultants and the empty existence of their former Hollywood life becomes a distant memory. Not everything is perfect – there are setbacks and frustrations, bad employees and unreasonable demands – but mostly it is a dream come true.

Each chapter of Confections of a Closet Master Baker – written in a wry, straightforward voice – finishes with a delectable recipe. Gesine’s stories of her beloved family and memories of her hated Hollywood job ring clear and true. For anyone who longs to drop out of the rat race and follow their passion – or for anyone that loves to eat – this is a must read!

Here’s an opportunity to give yourself a little pre-Christmas bonus.  November is going to be a huge month for fiction.  The biggest names are going to hit the shelf with what I assume is what they intend to be everyone’s stocking stuffers.

Nothing says you can’t get your hold in right now on DPL’s copy.  Here’s a taste.  Hit the forthcoming fiction page for a full look at what’s to come as things start to chill out outside.

Clive Cussler — The Wrecker
John Grisham — Ford County
James Patterson — I, Alex Cross
Sue Grafton — U is for Undertow
Robert Jordan — Gathering Storm
Sandra Brown — Rainwater
Stephen King — Under the Dome
Dean Koontz — Breathless

Making Artisan GelatoGelato. If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know how special it is. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about eating it at least once a day during her stay in Italy in Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a bit exotic and deliciously decadent but now, thanks to Making Artisan Gelato by Torrance Kopfer, you can make it at home as easily as ice cream. If you’re concerned about details, gelato is similar to ice cream, but contains less butterfat and has more air whipped into it. The important thing to know is that it’s sweet and incredibly delicious.

The first half of this beautifully photographed book covers all the basics – history, how to choose the best ingredients, equipment (gelato can be made in your ice cream maker), techniques and ideas for combining flavors. Then comes the fun part – recipes! They range from easy (raspberry, pistachio, French vanilla) to moderate (macadamia nut, dark chocolate-orange, espresso) to challenging (caramel, peanut butter cup, chocolate-cinnamon) There are familiar flavors – cookies and creme – and there are more exotic flavors – blueberry lavender. There are also recipes for sorbets and granitas and several decadent toppings and toppings. Through it all Kopfer guides you with a steady hand and friendly voice. Go ahead and treat yourself!

Ready set weldEmbroidery too delicate and precious for you? Uninterested in the gentle art of scrapbooking or quilting? Stamp collecting a bit too tame? Then have we got the craft book for you!

Ready, Set, Weld! by Kimberli Matin is an excellent introduction to the craft and art of welding for fun and creativity. These are beginner friendly projects filled with practical and whimsical objects for your home and garden. There are artistic frames, garden stakes, small tables, candle holders, decorative screens, funky chairs and benches. The designs are a combination of Modern Art and Industrial with clean, simple lines.

Matin uses a combination of found objects (there is a section on searching scrapyards) and premade parts such as those manufactured for railings and gates. Half the fun is looking at an ordinary object and seeing it’s potential for something else, a skill the Matin encourages. She also clearly explains the basics – the tools you’ll need, safety guidelines, basic techniques. Throughout she is friendly and practical and above all, can-do. You’ll be inspired to follow her example and pick-up a welding gun. And after all, what’s cooler than practicing a craft that has you using a MIG welding gun, an angle grinder and shielded helmet? Awesome.

5 love languagesThis book by Gary Chapman was recommended to me by my niece, who found it a helpful reference for her young family.  It’s a quick read, plus Chapman has multiple versions out on the same topic.  Similar to Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul series, he has editions especially designed for men, singles, teens, children, etc. — you get the picture.   The one I actually read was God Speaks Your Love Language.

The premise is simple enough.  According to Chapman, who has more than 30 years of counseling experience, “each person has a primary love language.”   We tend to be drawn to people who speak our primary language because we feel they are meeting our basic need to be loved.  Conversely, if a person does not speak our primary language, we may question whether they really do love us or not.

The five love languages are:

1) Words of Affirmation.  Most people love to hear the words, “Good job!” Some individuals, however, crave that affirmation and are also easily hurt by critical comments.

2) Quality Time.  This is about spending time one-on-one, giving undivided attention.

3) Gifts.  These tend to be tangible expressions, such as birthday presents or even money.

4) Acts of Service.  The list is endless– mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, cooking a meal.

5) Physical Touch.  Hugging , high fives and back rubs would all fit here.

Okay, so now that you know the basics — What’s your primary love language?

dplThanks to requests from patrons, our Technology Wizards here at DPL have added a neat little feature to our homepage. They’ve put an easy-to-find link to “My Account” and “Renew Books” right on front page! (It’s always been available, but not on the homepage) Look for it at the top of the left hand column of links. Click here to check on how many books you have checked out, when they’re due and what you’ve got on hold. You can also renew any books that are coming up on their three-week checkout (unless, of course, someone else is waiting for it) Manage your account, all from the comfort of your computer!

Here’s another great time saver that you might not be aware of – all of the books, videos and CDs that we highlight here on the blog are linked directly to the computer catalog. Simply click on the title (or the picture of the book cover) and viola! you’re at the catalog, looking at the entry for that title. You can immediately see if the book is available or, if it’s checked out, place your hold right there. Simple! We’re happy to enable your reading/watching/listening habit!

whiskeyThe publisher’s description of 99 Drams of Whiskey: the Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink as “part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book” is accurate but lacking. This book is fun! It is a great idea for a vacation, to visit whiskey distilleries. Ms. Hopkins kept her book an easy read by balancing the density of history with whiskey tasting notes and anecdotes from her visits to renowned distilleries. I thought I knew about the different whiskeys until I read this book. I need to further my education. Check out her blog where she reviews beer, foods, and all other things.

Labor DayJust a reminder that the Davenport Public Library will be closed today, September 7 in observance of the Labor Day holiday. Both builings will be open their regular hours tomorrow – Main will be open 9:30am-5:30pm and the Fairmount Branch will be open 12-8:00pm. Created to honor the working man (and woman), Labor Day is often considered the traditional end of the summer season (although we’ve barely had any real summer weather here this year!) Today is the perfect chance to spend time with the family and enjoy one more lazy weekend before our energy turns to fall and the change in seasons.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

ListeningFeeling overwhelmed by the constant pressure of the noise and chaos of modern life? Bombarded by the growing intrusions of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and instant messaging? Step away from the cacaphony and try a day of silence. Anne LeClaire started setting two days a month aside for silence and it changed her life. She describes her experiences in Listening Below the Noise: a Meditation on the Practice of Silence.

With lyrical writing, LeClaire invites us along her journey of self-discovery, from the first difficult days when the practice felt awkward, to expanding her experience by connecting with the natural world, LeClaire offers a sensible and simple way to calm in a world of stress. Her husband and friends don’t always understand her need for silence, yet LeClaire believes it has brought her greater mental sharpness, more creativity and better health (her blood pressure lowered without drugs or diet change) She also argues that is has helped her to become a more compassionate and thoughtful person – to think before speaking, to take time to consider another point of view. The journey isn’t always smooth – she has doubts and setbacks – but she believes that stepping away from the chaos – even if only for a day – is the best thing you can do for yourself and others.

Beatles LondonIf you’re lucky enough to be going to London sometime and you’re a Beatles fan, be sure and pick up The Beatles’ London: A Guide to 467 Beatles Sites in and Around London. Here you’ll find a detailed and meticulous listing of every significant (and some not-so-significant) site associated with the Fab Four. Heavily illustrated and carefully mapped (including listing nearby Tube stations), you’ll soon be able to immerse yourself in Beatlemania. The book is divided geographically so that you can make the most of your time, and includes a special “Fast Fab Excursion”, an outlined walking tour that encompasses the most essential Beatle sites (allow about five hours), and a section on the filming of “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Help” and “Magical Mystery Tour”. While a lot has changed about London since the Beatles were in town, it won’t be hard to find yourself following in the footsteps of Paul, John, Ringo and George. And even if your travel plans don’t include London, any Beatles fan will be in trivia heaven with this book.