Money Saver Summer: DIY Home Repair

Summer is here in full force, both in heat, and ferocious thunderstorms. With it comes a variety of activities and vacation opportunities. If you’re a relatively new homeowner like me you might be stuck doing home repairs rather than lounging on one of our great beaches. Did you know that home maintenance can cost close to 4% of your home’s value per year?! One great way to save on those costs is to skip on calling the repairman and give DIY repair a shot. Before you charge head long into fixing that leaky faucet or that creaky storm door check out some of these great titles and arm yourself with knowledge before you swing that hammer!

DIYDIY Quick Fix: Over 100 Helpful Tips and Techniques for Repairing and Improving Your Home
Providing quick-fix techniques for tackling the most common DIY home improvement problems-from freeing stuck windows to repairing burst pipes-this handy book features step-by-step sequences, combining close-up annotated images and clear instructions that are easy to follow while completing the tasks at hand.

DIY2Complete Book of DIY, Decoration and Home Improvement: Ideas and Techniques for Decorating your Home
Includes a great section on decoration as well as home improvement tips! Your house will be working and looking great!


Handyman100 things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems, and Improve Your Home
This book gives you the knowledge you need to be a better homeowner. You’ll make informed decisions, avoid frustrations and save thousands over the life of your home.


How-toThe Book of Home How-To: The Complete Photo
Guide to Home Repair & Improvement.
Clear, step-by-step instructions with full-color photography show how to accomplish the most common home repair, maintenance and improvement tasks. A complete homeowners manual for jobs that cover every part of the home, including electrical, plumbing, flooring, walls, windows and doors, kitchens, bathrooms, cabinetry, garages, basements, and exteriors.


RepairWhole House Repair Guide
The Family Handyman’s Whole House Repair Guide gives readers the know-how and confidence to tackle repair jobs, save money and avoid the hassles of service calls. We cover all of the most common repairs from floors to ceilings, from paint to plumbing. Indoors or out, large or small, this is the guide you need to do the job right.

Now you’re ready to tackle all those odd jobs that have been plaguing your house since February!



Documents to Change Hearts & Minds: Reading the Findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

On June 2 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC/Commission) held its final public gathering to release its findings after 6 years travelling the country to collect stories and testimony related to Indian Residential Schools (IRS).  The work of the Commission had been mandated as part of the Indian and Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (Settlement Agreement).

The full text of the Commission’s final report will be available at a later date but the four documents it has released are an extraordinary read:  an Executive Summary; a Principles document; a document with first-hand accounts called Survivors Speak; and Calls to Action containing the 94 recommendations of the Commission.

All four documents are written in a style accessible to many readers.  These are not “academic” documents and they are definitely not filled with legalese.  I have read all four and as I sat down to write this I knew what my suggestion would be as to which one people should read first.  In the spirit of “change hearts, then minds,” I encourage you to read first – and share widely – Survivors Speak.  To me, this is the heart-changing document of the TRC.

Most people in Canada were not in attendance when IRS survivors and others spoke to the Commission (in the end, some 7,000 witnesses gave testimony). This document provides a representative glimpse into what was shared over the past 6 years.  It is filled with long-form quotations from survivors about their experiences.  The document begins with a section where survivors shared what their life was like before they were taken from their communities. Then, among a wide range of experiences covered, there are sections about the days and moments children were taken, sections about specific forms of abuse, sections about daily routines and food, and sections where some survivors share positive moments they remember.

The document reads very quickly because of the immediacy of the survivors’ voices but, as expected, it is a very difficult document to read.  In all seriousness, I recommend people plan to read it in a time and place that will give them space afterwards to take in what they have just learned.

The Executive Summary is a very useful document particularly for people who were not familiar with the TRC and who have not yet learned about the history and legacy of residential schools. If after reading both of these documents people have the question: “How do we move forward?” the Principles document gives the TRC’s proposed answer in ten short and powerful ideas.

The Commission made 94 recommendations which it named its Calls to Action. The recommendations are very engaging and do a lot to teach about the wide-reaching legacy of the schools.  There are recommendations for the public and post-secondary education systems, others for the child welfare system and even ones about public broadcasting and a suggested change to the country’s citizenship oath – to mention just a few.

Most adults living in Canada today received little or no information about residential schools as part of their schooling.  This is one reason why Chair of the TRC, Justice Murray Sinclair, has placed such an emphasis on education being necessary for reconciliation.  In providing the country with clear and powerful documents the TRC has made a significant contribution towards mending that education gap.  We have been given the materials and the stories – it is now up to the Canadian public to engage with what has been shared.


Winnipeg Public Library ordered multiple copies of the TRC’s documents as soon as the findings were released.  They will be made available when we receive them.  We encourage people to make use of the many resources found on the TRC website.  For example, here is a map and list of residential schools from across the country identified in the Settlement Agreement. There were fourteen in Manitoba, including one in Winnipeg.  The Commission’s website also contains the biographies of all three Commissioners: the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild.

To continue your learning about this topic here is a list of titles about residential schools, for adults, teens and children, available in our collection.

Monique W.

Cook By the Book: Super Salads

“My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”         (Shakespeare – Cleopatra, in Antony & Cleopatra)

This quote would probably be more appropriate for our first cookbook club meeting, back in 2013. We’ve had twenty-two meetings and we’ve reviewed a lot of cookbooks since then, covering everything from soups to salads. At our last meeting we were talking about how much we have grown from that initial meeting. We don’t want gimmicky cookbooks or pretty cookbooks with bad recipes. Don’t get me wrong, we still like pictures in our cookbooks, but we now realize pictures definitely don’t make the cookbook. We’re not afraid to change a recipe to suit our needs and quite often we think we know better than the cookbook author what a recipe needs to make it better. All of this comes with experience and practice. So, even though the cookbook club is taking a break for the summer, we’ll be busy trying out new recipes from all those cookbooks available at the library! Here’s a sample of some of the salad recipes we tried out in June:

Shelley peachShelley QuinoaThe Prosciutto Peach and Sweet Lettuce Salad, from Cooking Light’s Big Book of Salads, was Shelley’s favourite,  she will definitely add it to her cooking repertoire. The other recipes she tried were really good, but anti-climatic after trying this recipe. The flavours in the Quinoa Salad with artichokes and parsley were much better on the second night.

Nadene1The Potato Salad from For the Love of Salad  had a very nice flavour, but wouldn’t pair well with anything too strong-tasting.  It wouldn’t be able to hold it’s own.  Overall, Nadene loved the cookbook and would consider buying it.

The Thai Beef Salad from Edible Garden Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy Cooking From the Garden was really good and makes a very generous portion.

Craig grilled lambNew Flavors for Salads: [Classic Recipes Redefined] covers all the classic salads, with new twists. Craig learned an important lesson while making the Grilled Lamb and Pineapple Salad  – always read the entire recipe first! You have to make the sauce first, which is on a different page. There are also how to instructions for cutting the pineapple and preparing the grill on separate pages.

Elaine 1Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for all Seasons contains easy to make recipes with wonderful quotes throughout the book. It’s a great book to browse through and Elaine didn’t want to return it. The Royal Fruit Salad was very yummy, with lots of fresh fruit and orange mint.

Lynda celeryLynda tried several recipes from Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season, none of which were memorable. The tone of the author is a little too “hoity-toity.” Lynda preferred her own recipes for Caesar and Greek salads, but she did enjoy the Celery, Green Olive and Anchovy Salad, since it was something different.

Ed- SpinachThe Joy of Cooking’s All about Salads and Dressings has all the classic salads, as well as every dressing you could possibly think of and a lot of great “how to” information. Ed made the Spinach salad with loads of bacon and eggs.

Jackie warm cabbageJackielentilSalad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads that Make a Meal  has good instructions and suggestions, such as mashing your garlic and putting it in vinegar to let the flavours bind before making your dressing. The Warm Cabbage Salad and the Lentil Salad were both delicious.

Carole - Vietnamese saladThe Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Shrimp, from Salad Makes the Meal : 150 Simple and Inspired Salad Recipes Everyone Will Love was ok, after a few adjustments – rice noodles instead of angel hair pasta, green onion instead of white onion, and the addition of chiles and mint. It made a huge bowl  and was sort of like eating a giant salad roll without the wrapper.

The Cookbook clubs will start again in the fall, including a new club at Millennium Library, so be sure to check out the September/October issue of At the Library for information about registration.


Who is lynda?

Who is Lynda? Lynda Susan Weinman and her husband are the founders of lynda.


What is lynda? lynda (always lowercase) is a popular web site with high-quality video courses on a number of subjects including:

(note that all the links above will require you to sign in with your library card and PIN. If you’d like, you can test drive lynda without needing to login)


Many of these subject areas are information technology based, but not all. You can learn to take better pictures, how to design a logo, or how to find a job. There’s courses that are right for you, whether you are terrified of touching a computer or are already highly skilled in your field.


You might be able to tell, but I love lynda. You might be wondering, though, why I seem so determined to get you to use it. No, I don’t own stock in the company. For some time, the Winnipeg Public Library has been looking for a learning portal for its customers. Then during our Inspiring Ideas campaign, you told us how much you would like ways to improve your skills for interest and career advancement. Well, last month the Winnipeg Public Library made lynda available for all Winnipeg Public Library cardholders!

One of the things I love about lynda is I can watch the courses anywhere. I watch them on the bus to and from work on my phone. I cast them to the TV while I’m rocking our baby to sleep (I think she likes them too). I can watch a small segment of a course at my workstation when I need to quickly learn how to fix a problem I’ve having with a program or web page.

So check it out, there’s probably something there for you!


Top 10 fantasy & science fiction

Earlier this year, to mark Valentine’s Day, I posted a list of the most popular romance reads at Winnipeg Public Library. This month, I thought it might be interesting to discover what local readers of speculative fiction – i.e. fantasy and science fiction in all their many genres – are checking out from the Library.

Like romance, science fiction & fantasy authors tend to write sequels and series. Several of the books below are part of complicated, multi-volume series, so you may not want to jump in at those titles; where that’s the case, I’ve also linked to the first book in the series.

On the other hand, science fiction & fantasy lends itself equally well to the short story format, so this list also features some collections of short fiction – the perfect tasting menu to help you decide whether you want a big feast of “spec fic.”

1. Trigger Warning
If you know speculative fiction, you probably know Neil Gaiman. He’s written in every style & format, from quest fantasy to graphic novels to horror to books for children – and has won awards in every one of those categories too. If you don’t know him, this sampler of some of his recent short fiction is a good place to start. (Already read this? Try Kelly Link’s collection Get in Trouble, which is every bit as mind-bendingly weird, dark, and beautiful as Gaiman’s work.)

2. Forsaken
Kelley Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” series of books about the hidden societies of werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings are hugely popular. This story features the child of one of her most popular characters, so if you’re not already up to speed on this series, start with Bitten – the adventures of Elena, lone werewolf in Toronto.


3. Dead Heat
Patricia Briggs writes two urban fantasy series; this one has been praised as the “perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal.” If that sounds up your alley, start with Cry Wolf. If you’ve already read all of Anna & Charles’ stories, Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older might satisfy your need for more supernatural adventure.


4. Empire
“Earth has been conquered and occupied… The Resistance still fights the invaders, but they are nothing more than an annoyance to the Illyri, an alien race of superior technology and military strength.” This second novel in a series (after Conquest) follows two young rebels who are captured, conscripted, and sent to fight offworld at the edges of the growing Illyri Empire.


5. The Long Mars
This intriguing collaboration between Sir Terry Pratchett (best known for his humourous Discworld fantasy series) and Stephen Baxter (best known for “hard” science fiction) started with The Long Earth, in which humanity discovers a way to access a potentially infinite series of parallel Earths. If you enjoyed this series, you might like Robert Charles Wilson‘s tales of alternate worlds too.


6. Ready Player One
This standalone book is “part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera” set in a universe where most of humanity escapes their grim surroundings by spending every waking hour jacked into a sprawling virtual utopia.



7. Severed Souls
Another installment in the adventures of Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell (which began in Wizard’s First Rule) as they must defend themselves and their followers from a series of terrifying threats, despite a magical sickness that depletes their strength and which, if not cured, will take their lives… sooner rather than later.


8. Madness In Solidar
In Book 9 of the Imager Portfolio, Alastar finds himself in the middle of a power struggle after taking the helm of the declining Solidar’s Collegium of Imagers.

If long, complex fantasy series like those written by Goodkind and Modesitt are your choice, Kate Elliott’s Crossroads series is another excellent example.


9. Shifting Shadows
A collection of short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, Patricia Briggs’ other urban fantasy heroine, and her friends.

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews focuses on a similar tight-knit group of characters brought together by shared danger.


10. Golden Son
Pierce Brown’s fast-paced first novel Red Rising  quickly became a best-selling sensation. In Golden Son he continues the saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, who has infiltrated the privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within…
Book 3 (Morning Star) is set to come out in January 2016, and I know readers from 15 to 55 who are eagerly waiting for it.

Did this list whet your appetite for more? Check out the Library’s collection of Hugo Award or Prix Aurora winners too!


Having more by having less

It simply isn’t a simple task to define voluntary simplicity. Like every lifestyle choice, it is highly individual and a work in progress. As I sat down and thought about it, voluntary simplicity boiled down to two things: awareness and balance. Awareness of who we are and what surrounds us. Awareness that everything is connected, so that every action has a consequence. Awareness of what is given to us and how we use it. Awareness that there has to be balance for everything in life to ensure universal wellness. There needs to be balance between our inner and outer life. There needs to be balance in what we take and what we give, between what we build and what we inadvertently destroy. Without balance and awareness we are in for a rough ride, and we are taking many with us on that bumpy journey whether they want to come along or not.

Many years ago, when I first was introduced to voluntary simplicity, I read Janet Luhr’s The Simple Living Guide. It was a good start. Luhr exchanged her career as a lawyer for a simpler and more satisfying life, and The Simple Living Guide is the product of her experience and desire to share with others the principles and joys of living mindfully and sustainably. The common misconception is that simple living is about deprivation, being frugal, living on a tight budget, a minimalist aesthetic and denial of all pleasure. Living with less sounds like… well, less. And there is less. Less debt. Less stress. Less responsibilities. Less impact on the environment. But there is also so much more: more joy, more freedom, more of the things that really matter. Living simply is about being fully aware of the choices we make and the life we live. It is about knowing ourselves and living with and acting on this knowledge. Page by page, I was drawn into the process of simplifying and how it leads to a richer life. Each chapter of this book addresses a different facet of daily life. And it is written in such a warm and personal manner that it feels more like having a conversation with the author than reading a text.

burchAn excellent complement to Janet Luhr’s book is Stepping Lightly by Manitoban author Mark Burch. He begins by raising the question of how people can best lead a life  in harmony with themselves, other people and the Earth. To answer this question he explores the history of the simple living philosophy and how the concept is evolving beyond personal enrichment into a powerful tool for making a better world shared by all. He shows that a personal commitment to voluntary simplicity can form the basis for  liberating time, money, and creative energy to allow for both individual activism and collectively addressing the challenges humanity and the  planet  are facing now and in the future.  This book offers excellent guidance to start the thought process for those who have decided that they want to make a commitment to mindful sufficiency.

Mark Burch’s latest book, The Hidden Door, builds on the foundation laid in Stepping Lightly. He gives a short refresher of the simple living philosophy and then expands on his previous analysis of the connection between mindful sufficiency, communication, education, economy, technology, and human rights. Without being disrespectful, this book is a damning indictment of our consumer culture with its shameless promotion of excess, waste and a shallow life ushering in our extinction. But it also invites the reader to open the hidden door of fashioning a way of living well in harmonious community while having the smallest environmental footprint possible, and thus it promises hope. This is not a self-help book that offers a set of prefabricated stepping stones to a better life, but a book that encourages introspection and the process of building an individual life as a member of the global community. The Hidden Door is not a fast read, as it requires thoughtful engagement, but it is a book to be returned to often if you want to reap the benefits.

lessA good number of authors have been writing on the  topic of simplicity for decades. For those who want to learn more but don’t know where to start, Less is More is a collection of different authors covering a myriad of topics under the headings “Simplicity Defined”, “Solutions” and “Policies”. Featured are Jim Merkel, Bill McKibben, Duane Elgin, Juliet Schor, Ernest Callenbach, John de Graaf and many more. Books by all of these authors are available at the Winnipeg Public Library. All you have to do is pick the author who intrigues you the most and search the library catalogue to find and enjoy more of his or her writings.

Duane Elgin’s Voluntary Simplicity is considered the “Bible” of the Simple Living Movement. First published in 1981 and revised in 1993, it has by no means lost its relevance. Like many others, Elgin invites the reader to join the trend toward downshifting, to adjust  thoughts, habits, and goals and embrace the key elements of simplicity: frugal consumption, ecological awareness and personal growth.

radicalJim Merkel quit his job as a military engineer following the Exxon Valdez disaster and has since worked to develop tools for personal and societal sustainability. His book Radical Simplicity presents a lot of numbers and statistics for those who have a mathematical mind. If philosophy is too “vague” and you need a solid basis of science and refined tools for measuring your ecological footprint and how much nature is needed to supply all you consume, as well as what it takes to absorb all your waste, this is definitely the book for you. However, it is by no means dry reading. It combines narrative, compassionate advocacy, and science to convey a practical, personal answer to twenty-first century challenges that will appeal as much to activists seeking to change our culture  as to spiritual seekers, policy makers, and sustainability professionals. Radical Simplicity builds on steps from Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, in which the reader is guided to design their own personal economics to save money, get free of debt, and align their work with their values.

John Robbins is the author of the million-copy bestseller Diet for a New America, which even became a PBS series. In his book The New Good Life he passionately talks about finding meaning and happiness through redefining success based on values and life experiences, looking to the future confidently by planning for and protecting yourself from economic downturns as we have seen in recent times, improving your health by eating a better diet as well as going easier on the environment by making better transportation and housing choices.

waldenAnd in the end, no thoughts on simple living are complete without Henry David Thoreau’s classic Walden.

With that I leave you to making your own choices, in literature as well as in your daily life. May it be blessed with happiness and peace.


Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

“If you can’t change the world with chocolate chip cookies, how can you change the world?” –  Pat Murphy

tiptree1The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is presented annually to a work of fiction that “expands or explores our understanding of gender.” It may be the only literary award partially funded by bake sales, or to include chocolate as part of the prize! Past winners and nominees have been collected in several volumes of The James Tiptree Award Anthologytiptree3

The award is named for science fiction author James Tiptree, Jr., a pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon. Sheldon began publishing short stories under the Tiptree name in the late 1960s. Corresponding with fans and other authors only in writing, she gave ‘Tiptree’s’ biography true details from her own life, changing only her name and gender. For almost a decade, ‘James Tiptree’ was widely believed to be a man.

alicesheldonIn James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon, Julie Phillips explores her fascinating life. As a child Alice accompanied her parents on their travels to Africa. She was an artist, but joined the army during World War II to work in photo-intelligence. After the war she was invited to join the CIA, but eventually left to get her PhD in experimental psychology.    hersmoke

When she began writing science fiction, Sheldon chose to use a male pseudonym both to separate her fiction from her academic career, and because she felt that using a man’s name gave her the freedom to produce the sort of stories she wanted to write. Many of Tiptree’s best work is collected in the anthology Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

Though the Tiptree award is typically given to only one work, so much great writing was published last year that the judges decided on a tie!

girlintheroadThe first winner is Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. Set in the near future, it follows two women on parallel journeys. As the story progresses, their lives become linked in interesting ways.  A young woman in India is attacked and flees her pursuers. She sets off to cross the Trail, a bridge stretching across the Arabian Sea used to harvest hydro power. In Africa, an orphan girl joins a trade caravan traveling to Ethiopia, where she hopes to start a new life. Byrne’s vivid characters and her descriptions of Africa and India kept me hooked until the very end!

The second recipient was My Real Children by Jo Walton.realchildren An elderly woman has trouble remembering the details of her present. Her past is another problem – she remembers different versions of her own life. Her childhood and life during the war are clear enough, but afterwards her life splits in two paths. She is confused about whether or not she was married, how many children she had, and what she did for her career. In each of these alternate pasts, her own history and the history of the world are changed by the choices she makes.

Along with the winners, several other fantastic works were nominated for the award.

memorywaterMemory of Water by Finnish author Emmi Itäranta takes place in a totalitarian future where water is a scarce resource. A seventeen-year-old girl and her father are ‘tea masters’, with special knowledge of local water sources. When her father dies, this girl must decide which secrets are worth keeping.

Jacqueline Koyanagi’s space opera Ascension is a fast paced adventure with a few twists. ascension A mechanic stows away on a spaceship that came looking for her sister. But this is not your typical ship, and the crew has some quirks, to say the least! While continuing to search for her sister, they may just end up saving the galaxy along the way.

elysiumIn Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett, a computer program tells a love story as it occurred during an alien invasion. But the program has been damaged, and the narrative is fragmented. As we piece together events, a complex story of love and identity emerges.


lagoonNnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon is another story of alien contact.  Three strangers witness a meteor strike on a beach in Lagos, Nigeria. Together they encounter a woman who is not what she appears. By helping her, they may find a way to save not only themselves, but also the rest of humanity.


If you’re looking for something a little different in your science fiction this summer, give one of these titles a try!