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Down East Readers’ Choice Awards 2019 Voting Open

If you know Dave, you know what I mean when I say that he keeps me on the ball. From the newest book releases to the best British TV series, he’s always keeping me up to date. Now, he wants to make sure we all know that the voting is open in the Down East Readers’ Choice Awards.

Once again, you have the chance to help the rest of our state learn how you feel about your wonderful library by voting it Best of Maine. There are two ways to vote: an original ballot (photocopies are not accepted) from the April volume of Down East magazine or you can go online to downeast.com/readers-choice and vote online. You do not need to fill in every blank in order for your ballot to be counted. Voting closes May 3, 2019 so don’t delay. Remember, your favorite library is Topsham Public Library! (There’s no shame in unabashedly seeking your votes, right?)

Topsham Garden Club Celebrates 85 Years

Topsham Garden Club was founded in 1934 and it is still going strong. On the second Wednesday of the month from 12-2:30pm the club meets at Topsham Public Library where members gather to hear guest speakers, socialize, eat, and talk all things green.

The public is always welcome to attend. Bring a brown bag lunch and join members for dessert and coffee after the presentation. All are welcome at the brief Business Meeting following the refreshments and socializing.

Topsham Garden Club has been involved in various town activities throughout the years from planting and maintaining various gardens throughout the community (including a Victory Garden in 1943) to working with schoolchildren in a Junior Nature Club and even hosting an Annual Flower Show.  At the holidays, the club decorated the Whitten Library on Pleasant Street and now provides monthly floral arrangements for the new library facility on Foreside Road.  More recently, activities include prize-winning exhibits at the Topsham Fair and making holiday gifts for the residents of local nursing homes.

The Topsham Garden Club is an active member of the Garden Club Federation of Maine, hosting Medomak District meetings on a rotating basis with other clubs in the region, and sending delegates to the statewide meetings.

This month’s presenter is Kerry Ann Mendez of Perennially Yours and the topic is High Impact, Low Maintenance Perennials, Flowering Shrubs and Annuals. The meeting is tomorrow, March 13 here at Topsham Public Library at noon.

Meet Liz!

You may have noticed a new face at Topsham Public Library. Liz Snowden has been with us for a few months now and works at the circulation desk. Though she has only been with us such a little while, she comes with much experience as she also works at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine.

Liz is a Topsham native, growing up here and graduating from Mt. Ararat High School. After high school, she took her studies across the bridge where she attended Bowdoin College. She graduated with a double major in English and Visual Arts and a concentration in Creative Writing. One of the things that drew her to Bowdoin was the fact that they have a radio station. Her mom was a DJ when she was in college, and because of her fun stories, Liz wanted to do that, too, and she did. Liz hosted The 80s Hour with Liz for WBOR, so next time you participate in Trivia Night at your favorite local hang out, you might want Liz on your team to handle the music trivia questions.

When she is not working, Liz enjoys taking long walks, bookmaking, print making, and baking. She is a cat lover and has four cats herself. One of the pleasant surprises she has experienced since working here is the number of library patrons she sees out and about town. It’s just proof of how important Topsham Public Library is to the community.

Some fun facts about Liz: she’s a night owl, not an early bird, prefers Star Trek over Star Wars, favorite Starburst flavor is lemon, prefers mystery over fantasy, non-fiction over literature, and graphic novels over manga.

If  Liz was not a library aide, she would be a barista at some fun coffee shop making delicious beverages with the right blend of flavors to delight the palate. Interacting with the public is what she relishes and what draws her to positions such as library aide and coffeehouse barista.  If you haven’t met her yet, you will quickly see that her friendliness, knowledge, and willingness to help are wonderful assets that add to the atmosphere here at Topsham Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

CLYNK for Friends of Topsham Public Library

The Friends of Topsham Public Library are so important to us. Through their fundraising efforts, much of the programming that you enjoy at Topsham Public Library is possible. Now, you can support the Friends of Topsham Public Library through CLYNK.

CLYNK is a bottle redemption program that is offered through Hannaford Supermarkets. It’s so easy! First, fill your green CLYNK bag (that you can pick up at the Topsham Public Library circulation desk) with redeemable containers. Tie it tight. (The bag that you pick up at the circulation desk already has a bag tag sticker with the Friends of Topsham Public Library personalized barcode.) Then, bring the bag to your local Hannaford Supermarket and drop it off in the CLYNK drop off location (at the Topsham Hannaford, it’s the shed in Hannaford’s side parking lot, but you can drop it off at any CLYNK location in Maine).

Friends of Topsham Public Library are so thankful for the support you show. Melissa Hoy, Treasurer for Friends of Topsham Public Library, says, “We are off to a great start with CLYNK and it is all because of our community. We collected nearly 1100 containers for a total of $58.85 in the first month.” As with all of the fundraising, this will be used to help bring the incredible programming that we all love to Topsham Public Library. This programming includes the favorite Music in March series, the numerous art shows, and much of the ever popular children’s programming including Big Truck Day, annual fishing rally, and the summer reading programs.

Next time you’re in, pick up a green CLYNK bag, and help us help you!

The Art of Breakfast

Breakfast is big at my house. We love breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Now that my children are older, we forego the turkey dinner and cook a big breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, so that everyone can get where they need to be. At the circulation desk, I noticed The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home by Dana Moos when it was returned, so I grabbed it before it was put on the shelving cart.

The book itself is a beautiful book. The pictures are mouth-watering, but I could have used a few more of them. Moos is a Maine author, and it’s published by Down East Books, so it has a local flavor which is a bonus. The food looks delectable and elegant, but the instructions are simple, and Moos also has some personal tips at the bottom of recipes when they are needed.

I enjoy a good crepe, but I hesitate to make them because they are intimidating to me. Moos includes recipes for both sweet and savory crepes, and that’s where I started. Though not difficult, there are some preparatory steps that will make the process easier such as making ahead the fillings.

The recipe for the two different crepe pastries, sweet and savory, only differs by 1 tablespoon of sugar, so in hindsight, I would not make two different batters, but when making something for the first time, I follow the instructions exactly, so I made two different batters. The recipe says that the batter will make 12 crepes. I actually got 16 or 17 per batch. Even with the extra crepes, there was quite a bit of filling left over, so next time I might cut back the fillings by one-third.

After cooking the first two, I had the knack of swirling the batter in the pan so my crepes ended up thin and even. The crepe pastry was firm, thin, and smooth with good flavor. (For those of you who may not have had a crepe before, the batter relies heavily on eggs, so if you don’t like an eggy flavor, this might not be for you.)

For the savory crepes, I made the Ricotta, Butternut Squash, and Zucchini filling with Sage Brown Butter. (The other savory filling recipe provided is Asparagus, Parmesan, and Ricotta with Fresh Maine Crab and Brown Butter.) Though the filling tastes fine, it was runnier than I expected and this was a problem when it came to filling the crepes. These crepes are pouch shaped, and it was a juggling act trying to keep the filling in. The crepes weren’t bland, but I would have liked a little more flavor, so when I make them again I will add some crumbled breakfast sausage and/or bacon.

 

The sweet crepes require the Basic Cheese Filling recipe, that also makes a lot and it, too, was runnier than I expected, but not as bad as the savory filling. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add a little more sugar. After filling the crepe, they are baked for 30 minutes. These were delicious warm, but just a yummy cold, too. I chose to top my crepes with stewed strawberries, but Moos offers a yummy choice of Pineapple, Cherry, and Pecan Cheese filling, or Blueberry Apricot filling.

If you are looking for a way to liven up your breakfast, you need to give The Art of Breakfast a try.

 

Music in March 2019

It’s a favorite time of year! Free concerts for the community sponsored by Friends of the Topsham Public Library on the first four Saturdays in March at 1pm! Does it get any better? This year’s lineup is as follows:

Miscellania, Bowdoin College’s oldest women’s a cappella group, will start things off on Saturday, March 2. Miscellania formed in 1972 –the year after women were admitted to the college. During this past year, Miscellania won the college champion title from WGBH’s TV show Sing That Thing! and opened for The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. The group continues to explore different musical genres from traditional, jazz, R&B and pop, and perform at campus events and in the New England area.

 

Porch Light, an acoustic duo featuring Matt Loosigian and Topsham Public Library’s own Mariah Sewall, offer daring and delicious vocal harmonies on Americana and folk covers. Porch Light will perform Saturday, March 9.

Five Portland, ME residents make up Bayside Brass. This quintet enjoys performing the more challenging literature written for brass quintets. Bayside Brass will perform Saturday, March 16.

 

 

 

Our final concert on Saturday, March 23 features Pejepscot Station, a high-energy bluegrass band comprised of veteran musicians hailing from the mid-coast Maine area. The band has been performing throughout southern Maine since 2011.Their repertoire is a mix of traditional and contemporary bluegrass, Americana, and some “bluegrassified” favorites thrown in. Tight vocal harmonies and an informal and relaxed stage presence make for an enjoyable and fun show appropriate for all.

Every concert is free and open to all ages. Refreshments will be provided. You don’t want to miss the fun! See you there!

About the AARP Tax Help

It begins in January. The question is asked by young, old, in person and on the phone, “Are you taking appointments for tax help?”

If you are not aware, every year beginning in February, AARP offers free tax help at a variety of places in the area. Topsham Public Library is one of these places. Free tax help at Topsham Public Library is every Thursday morning for those who have an appointment. To get an appointment at Topsham Public Library you can call 725-1727 or visit us.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using this service. First of all, the staff of Topsham Public Library only makes appointments. AARP provides trained volunteers that use our facility, but the staff of Topsham Public Library has nothing to do with the tax preparation. We do not assist people with their taxes. We will print IRS and State tax forms if you need them, though.

Secondly, the AARP tax preparers are volunteers. They are trained, but they are giving up their own time to help you with your taxes. They do the best they can to work efficiently, but sometimes things do get backed up. Be aware that you may have to wait even though you have an appointment.

By the overwhelming response every year, it is obvious this is a much needed service that we are happy to provide. So, make your appointment, bring the needed items, and be on time. The AARP volunteers will be with you as soon as they can. Thankfully, if you find yourself having to wait a little while, we have plenty to keep you entertained: public computers, wi-fi, magazines, newspapers, books, and art hanging in the gallery.

There are other locations in the area that are offering the AARP free tax help and you may contact them to see if they have any appointments available, too:

Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street, Brunswick, ME  (207) 725-5242

Patten Free Library, 33 Summer Street, Bath, ME  (207) 443-5141

People Plus, 35 Union Street, Brunswick, ME  (207) 729-0757

Tax time is not a fun time of the year for anyone, but we will get through it!

I Love a Good Cookbook

One of the pleasant surprises I have experienced since working in a library, is the plethora of cookbooks. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this resource before, but I hadn’t. Another little tidbit I’ll let you in on: the staff at Topsham Public Library talks a lot about food. From good places to eat to “you need to try this recipe!” Not all of us cook, but all of us like to eat and discuss food.

These two things have given me an idea. Once a month, I’m going to choose a cookbook and make something from it. I will tell you, baked goods are a weakness of mine. I will try and mix it up – baked goods, appetizers, meals, and sides, but if I end up heavy on the baked goods, I’m sorry. Well, not really. And let me also say, I’m not a chef, I’ve never gone to cooking school, and in many ways I’m a novice in the kitchen, so, who knows how this is going to turn out.

There are certain things I look for in a cookbook: pictures to go with each recipe, recipes that don’t have too many hard to find ingredients, and clear instructions for various cooking methods and techniques. If it meets these three criteria, I’ll give it a go, and if I find something I like that doesn’t meet the criteria, I’ll still give it a go.

The photo above is of a Boston Cream Pie that I made. I found the recipe in The Perfect Cake published by America’s Test Kitchen in 2018. It was delicious. Initially I borrowed the book from the library, but I did purchase it in the end because it met all my criteria. There are numerous photos – not just of the finished product, but also pictures of methods used in making the variety of cakes. I also made the Lemon Layer Cake (on page 138). It, too, was delicious. The cake itself is a white cake, but in between the layers there is a layer of lemon filling that is divine. The frosting is a type of cooked frosting that reminded me of marshmallow fluff but with a lighter texture. I return to this cookbook time and time again, and my family has been happy with the results.

 

 

 

Topsham Public Library is Good for Your Health. Seriously!

Keith Spiro Photography

Have you made New Year’s resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle? Maybe resolutions to go on a diet, go to the gym more regularly, and/or stop smoking. Well, you can add “visit your local library” as a resolution because it is becoming more apparent that a library in a community is a health benefit for all.

In the January/February 2019 AARP Bulletin the cover story is “99 Ways to Add Healthy Years to Your Life” and number 98 is: Dust off that library card. A study of 3,635 older adults found that book readers had a 23-month survival advantage and 20 percent lower mortality risk compared with nonreaders. Reading was protective regardless of gender, education or health.

Wow! Reading has health benefits! You can read anywhere: on a treadmill, waiting for an appointment, at the airport, on an airplane, on a train, in a car (not while driving), in bed, on a couch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, upstairs, downstairs and, well, you get the idea. And a library card makes that reading more accessible, more enjoyable, and it will expand your world.

Not only are libraries beneficial to the body, but they are a sign of a healthy community as well. On January 11, 2019 The Washington Post published an article: People Are Happier in States That Spend More Money On Public Places Like Parks and Libraries by Christopher Ingraham. Ingraham reports on a study published in the journal Social Science Research. The long and short of the study is that “the happiness boost from public-goods spending [parks, libraries, and nature preserves] is roughly the same across a wide range of demographic variables: race, income, education etc. That suggests public spending on categories accessible to everyone has a similar effect on the well-being of everyone.”

Absolutely, eat healthier and excercise your body, but add “visit Topsham Public Library “to your prescription for a happier you.