Indoor Sprouting

I’m no gardener. Sure, I have flowers all over my yard, I grow enough vegetables to bother canning, but I consider that a miracle of nature, not anything I do. I throw some plants in the ground, and if they’re lucky I remember to water them in the heat of summer. If they’re REALLY lucky, I may actually fertilize them. The only thing I try hard to remember to keep fertilized is my tulips, because my soil is two steps shy of toxic, and tulips like sunlight and fertilizer, and my tulips are spectacular (my soil is so bad that the only reason my flowers look good is because in our second year, we scraped away all the soil and replaced it with 5 cubic yards of new soil. Move away from the new soil, and the plants don’t do well).

But hope, like the seasons, springs eternal, and every year I start out hoping my gardens will outdo themselves (Not likely. I planted 150 croci, and 8 survived). I pour over the catalogs and dream of a yard landscaped out of a high-end advertisement, wanting to buy 50 of those beautiful flowering plants, only to sigh when the ad says they cost $30. A plant.

If you don’t want to sink huge coin into plants that, like my azaleas and pink dogwood (who else manages to kill a pink dogwood?), are likely to croak before the end of the season, there is always the elusive task of growing your own from seed.

Yeah, right.

That always works for other people, who, when the weather warms, bring out trays and trays of robust seedlings ready for transplant, when, despite the best potting soil and grow lights and care, I have spindly little fragile things in half my pots, wishing they could die and end their misery. I repeat, the beauty of my gardens is a mystery.

I prefer to purchase my seedlings from local nurseries – they have a much better shot at living – but I dutifully fill a tray or two of seeds with the kids in late winter, hoping to inspire a love of nature, and maybe a greener thumb. It doesn’t take much – a $2 packet of carrot seeds, a glass container, and you can watch roots grow as well as green leaves. Sadly, planting seeds and watching them grow doesn’t always inspire kids to eat that vegetable. Plants can be started in egg cartons, yogurt cups, red Solo cups, even eggshells – seeds, as you can tell from the cracks of pavement, aren’t fussy on where they sprout, though you may have to move them to a bigger cup if you’re using eggshells. If nothing else, it gives the kids something to do on a dreary day.

But seeds take time, and kids aren’t patient, so what are the easiest seeds to grow? The cheapskate in me says plant seeds for the most expensive plants you want to grow, but that doesn’t mean the seeds will take. I’ve planted enough catnip seeds for a jungle, and just five plants finally grew – outside, not in a pot. I could mention morning glories, but morning glories are a lifetime commitment; they can be invasive, and even if you plant them only once, you might be yanking up sprouts for the next 10 years. These are some of the best seeds to grow with kids, and some books to help you once they’re past their leafy infancy. Give it a try!

Marigold
Zinnia
Peas
Bush beans
Tomatoes
Peppers
Watermelon
Cat grass
Nasturtiums
Sunflowers
Corn (or better yet, try your own popcorn.
Even if the ears are 2″ long, it’s fun!)

Want to learn more about starting a garden? Check out the 635 section of non-fiction books in both the Adult and Children’s sections at the library:

Nitty Gritty Gardening Book

New Gardener’s Handbook

Sowing Beauty

Backyard Herb Garden

 

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening

Super Simple Kitchen Gardens

Starting and Saving Seeds

Seed Sowing and Saving

 

Epic Tomatoes

Starter Vegetable Gardens


The New Seed Starter’s Handbook

Plant Parenting

Library Resources You Might Not Know About: Part 2

We recently highlighted some services & resources offered by Cheshire Library that may have been new to you. From a book-matching service to streaming video and online courses, the library has an abundance of free resources. Today we’ll highlight a few more you may not be aware of, that you don’t even need to have a library card to use.

Cheshire Library is constantly reviewing and adjusting our online services to bring  patrons what they need. The library is still here for you, even though how you use it these days might look a little different.

A Page Full of Freebies

When the shutdown happened in March 2020, our intrepid librarians started assembling a list of useful free resources that people could access from home. This expanded from Local (links to the CT Covid Response Page, 211 Directory, Cheshire School Meal Distribution)  and  National  (links to the CDC, NIH, WHO) Health Information to other resources that might help take the sting out of being isolated. Sites to access free online activities like virtual museum tours, webcams of animals and nature, interactive learning, and even armchair travel!

Community Service in a Virtual World

Many high school student are required to complete a set number of community service hours as part of their curriculum, but COVID-19 has made it difficult to volunteer in-person. We’ve designed a program (info on our Teen Page and monthly Event Calendars) where teens can earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video,  or other content for us to add to CPL’s social media pages. Ideas for submissions include book reviews, artwork, poetry, short stories, personal essays, photos or video of food you’ve cooked or baked, or any other creative idea you have for content. (Not all submissions will be used on our social media, and submissions including photos of people are not allowed.) Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours.

Get WOWed by Our Newest Books and Dvds

If you’re not able to get into the library as often to check out what’s new, we’ve got a resource you’re going to love. We’ve teamed up with Wowbrary to deliver a list of the latest additions to our catalog straight to your inbox. The New Item Newsletter lets you know everything that’s new, digital items as well as physical items. In fact, you’ll learn about the physical books and dvds the minute we order them, before they even hit the shelf, and can place holds on them right away (you will need a library card for this part)!

No Printer? No Problem!

Many people have used our public printers in the past to print up important documents. Now you can do so without ever stepping foot inside the building. Our Mobile Printing Portal (accessed through the “Visit” tab on our website) allows you to send print jobs to us right from your computer or mobile device. We’ll let you know when your printouts are ready, and you can pick them up at the Grab ‘n Go station by the parking lot entrance.

Something Fun for Our Youngest Patrons

Our Baby Bop music & movement classes for infants 0-12 months and their caregivers has been on hiatus during the pandemic, but we’ve created a dozen free printable guides (find them on our Kids Page) of fun lap-sit songs, rhymes, and activities of music and movement to help develop motor and language skills. But mostly it’s just plain fun – playing is learning! We will add new guides periodically, so check back often!

Entertainment and Information in the Video Age

Finally, we encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ve really stepped up our video content creation during this pandemic, and the results are on YouTube. From DIY tutorials, to lit tips,  to silly skits, to full length programs, we’ve got something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. You can even sit in on a Library Board meeting, if that’s your jam! Subscribe to be notified when we post something new.

Taxes!

As if Covid hadn’t made  things complicated enough, now we’ve come to Tax Time! Lots of people are likely to be filing online this year, but some of us still need to put pencil to paper. Libraries have traditionally been places you can get tax forms and instruction booklets, but this year … not so much. Actually, the amount of CT State forms and booklets libraries receive started dwindling even before Covid times, but this year there will be no hard copies of CT State Tax materials at the library, and a very limited amount of Federal Income Tax printed materials.

But fear not! Everything you need is out there in the Cloud, ready for you to download and print. For CT State Tax forms and instructions, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DRS/DRS-Forms/Current-Year-Forms/Individual-Income-Tax-Forms. Federal Income Tax forms and instructions can be found at https://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions.

No printer? No problem. You can make an appointment to come in and use one of our computers to print up your documents (.10/page for black and white copies). Adult public computer use appointments for specified time slots may be reserved by phone (203-272-2245), up to one day in advance, and patrons may book one session per day.

You can also use our Mobile Print Portal to send print jobs from home to the library’s printer. More information on mobile printing can be found on our Printing & Technology page. You can arrange to pick up your printed pages through our Grab ‘n Go contactless pickup service.

The CT Department of Revenue Services also offers a number of ways to help you file your state taxes. Upon request, patrons are welcome to contact DRS at the following phone numbers below Mon-Fri from 8:30-4:30 to request tax forms, booklets, and instructions that DRS maintains in-house, and can mail directly to the patron’s home address.

  • 860-297-5962 (from anywhere)
  • 800-382-9463 (Connecticut calls outside the Greater Hartford calling area only)
  • 860-297-4911(TTY, TDD, and Text Telephone users only)

The DRS website has the answer to many state tax questions,including a Frequently Asked Questions page. Taxpayers are also encouraged to call or email DRS with questions specific to their situation. DRS now also offers remote assistance, where taxpayers can schedule an appointment and receive real-time DRS tax assistance from the comfort of their own homes, from a trained DRS professional during normal business hours, via the online Microsoft Teams platform. DRS tax examiners are available to schedule appointments with patrons and library staff (to insure technology for the patron is available), at a time that is mutually convenient.

 

 

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in February

February is Love Your Library month! We’ve got lots of online programs to love in February, sign up for as many as you like!

February Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. February’s challenges include:

  • Art: Make art with heart- design a Valentine’s Day card for someone, or create a masterpiece made out of hearts.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about something you love. It could be a person, a book or movie, or food- fact or fiction.
  • Food: February is Great American Pie Month, so bake your favorite pie and share that flaky goodness with someone special.
  • Reading: Re-read a book you fell in love with as a kid.
  • More Reading: For Black History Month, read a Coretta Scott King Award-winning book. (Named for Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, this award is given to the most distinguished children’s and teen’s books about the African American experience. You can find a list of all the winners since 1970 here.)
  • Even More Reading: Close your eyes and run your hands along a book shelf (either yours, or in the library). Choose any book at random and read it!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages!

Tips and Tricks for Remote Learners from a Homeschool Veteran

Monday, February 1, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Schooling at home and homeschooling are different, but there’s also a lot of overlap.  Get some tips and tricks for remote learning from 20 year homeschool veteran, Linda Hincks. We’ll talk about how to relieve stress for kids and adults alike and revive energy for learning.  Bring your questions and concerns. Please forward your questions to aallen@cheshirelibrary.org ahead of time so Linda can include the answers in her presentation. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program

What Can We Learn From the Census?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Carol Ansel, Director at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, will discuss the history of the United States Census, how the questions changed to reflect what was happening in the nation at that time, and how you can use it to learn about your ancestors. There are stories hidden in all those facts and figures–you just have to know how to find them! Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Musical Journey with Liz McNicholl

Saturday, February 6, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

We can’t celebrate Take Your Child to the Library Day in person, however we can still have fun together, virtually! Join Liz McNicholl from Musical Folk for a wonderful, interactive virtual music making program with your little one! Grab some items from around the house to use as instruments (shakers, scarves etc.). Best for children ages 2-5, however everyone is welcome to attend. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Food Explorers

Join a Registered Dietitian from Food Explorers to make Chocolate Cheesecake Egg Rolls and Loaded Veggie Tot Nachos! Ingredients are listed on our Event Calender. For kids ages 6-12. Please register for these virtual events and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Take + Read: Blind Date with a Book

Pick up February 8-13, 2021

Blind Date with a Book is a “mystery” book, wrapped in brown paper, tagged with clues, and is yours to keep! This can be a fun way to discover something new or read outside your comfort zone. Registration is required to reserve and pick up a kit, and kits are limited to one kit per teen per week. register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open during the week of February 8, or arrange for contactless pickup. For grades 6-12.

Virtual Paint Time (Adult Take & Make )

  • Pick up kit Tuesday, February 5, 2021, from 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Painting Program Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 2:45 – 4:45pm

Learn how to paint a real work of art at home! Follow instructor Pamela Halligan of Pam’s Picassos online as she walks you through the steps of creating your own masterpiece and you will create a beautiful completed painting.  You must be registered for the program in order to pick up a paint kit, which will be available for pickup on February 5, 10-4. There are limited spots for this program. Please make sure you can attend (and pick up kit) BEFORE you register.

Adult Cooking Program – Chocolate!

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 3:30 – 4:30pm

Join Food Explorers to learn how to make two chocolate recipes with a Registered Dietitian! Perfect for Valentine’s Day, we’ll be making Chocolate Bark and Chocolate Avocado Truffles, and while we’re cooking you’ll have the chance to ask any food or nutrition related questions you may have. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop for Beginners

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon characters, draw facial expressions and animals! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Pajama Storytime

Monday, February 15, 2021, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and tune in for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2-5. Registration is required for this virtual event. You will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Homeschooling: What’s Next?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

You’ve decided to homeschool. What’s next? Join Linda Hincks of Wren Homeschool Consulting to find out not only what to do, but how! Please forward your questions to aallen@cheshirelibrary.org ahead of time so Linda can include the answers in the her presentation. Please register for this virtual event, and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program.

Looking for Owls

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Through field experiences and knowledge about the life histories of owls, we will embark on a continuing expedition in search of owls and in the process reveal strategies for finding owls in your backyard, your local patch, and beyond. Please register for this virtual event, and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program.

Minecraft Hour of Code: Voyage Aquatic

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Join us for this free, one-hour virtual workshop to take part in the global Hour of Code movement. Using the power of code, students will explore aquatic worlds and uncover hidden treasure with the 2018 Minecraft Voyage Aquatic tutorial. For children and teens ages 8-16. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a Teams Meeting Link 1 hour prior to the program start.

Genealogy Research Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, February 24, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Carol Ansel, Director at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, will share a number of hints to make your online genealogy searching easier and more effective. Please register for this virtual event, and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program.

Teen Take & Make: Book Hedgehogs

Wednesday, February 24, 202, 6:00 – 6:45pm

Learn how to fold discarded books into adorable hedgehogs and personalize them with a variety of craft supplies. Pick up a Take + Make kit with supplies for the craft any time the library is open during the week of February 15, 2021. (Arrangements can also be made for contactless pickup.) Registration required to reserve supplies to be picked up and to attend this virtual program.

 

Facing War: CT in WWI

Thursday, February 25, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

What was life like on the homefront during WW1? Learn about this dramatic time during which CT confronted women’s demand for the vote, a deadly flu epidemic and the mass immigration- all while sending thousands of men and women to the front. Please register for this virtual event, and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program.

Macramé  Earrings & Necklace (Adult Take & Make )

  • Pick up kit Tuesday, February 23, 2021, from 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Macrame Workshop Saturday, February 27, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join macramé artist Linda and learn to make macramé earrings & necklace using basic knots. We will make a set of jewelry using 2 mm cotton or jute cord, and working on a small scale, so average manual skills in tying knots are needed. You must be registered for the program in order to pick up a supply kit, which will be available for pickup on February 23, 10-4. There are limited spots for this program. Please make sure you can attend (and pick up kit) BEFORE you register.

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in January

Happy New Year! Back when we started doing virtual programming in April, we thought it might be for a couple of months. Now here we are starting our tenth month of virtual programs, with no in-person programs on the immediate horizon. We like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at them, though, and have found that some kinds of programs actually work better in a virtual setting. We’ll keep working to bring you entertaining and informative program online – we’ve got a ton of them coming in January, here’s a look:

January Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. January’s challenges include:

  • Art: Make a fancy snowflake (cutting from paper), or draw a picture of an Abominable Snowman.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about someone who inspires you.
  • Food: January is National Soup Month, so make some soup and warm your family up with piping hot bowls of comfort!
  • Reading: Read a book about Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18th).
  • More Reading: Celebrate A.A. Milne’s birthday (also January 18th) by reading (re-reading?) a Winnie-the-Pooh story.
  • Even More Reading: Build a pillow fort and read a book inside it!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages!

Take + Make: Paracord Bracelet

Pick up January 4 – 9, 2021

Make something at your own pace with Take + Make kits! We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 4, 2021. For grades 6-12, one kit per person, please.

Support Through Meditation – Weekly Zoom Event

Tuesdays,  January 5-26, 2:00 – 3:00pm

This introductory meditation class is geared towards helping you through these anxious and challenging times. You will learn various meditation techniques that you will practice in session and guidance to perform meditation on your own. Presenter Tia Mandrozos will explain the purpose of meditation and interact with the participants to provide the help needed and to address specific concerns. Please register via the Event Calendar for each session you wish to attend.

White Memorial Through the Seasons – White Memorial Conservation Center

Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Brother and sister Alain and May White left their fingerprints all over Litchfield County, beginning with our 4,000 acre sanctuary. Sit back and enjoy breathtaking images from a variety of contributors depicting the extraordinary people, places, and things that make up this living masterpiece! Advance registration is required to join this program.

Murder of the High Wizard – Virtual Murder Mystery

Thursday, January 7, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00pm

The College of Wizards investigates a shocking murder! Join us in playing the roles of wizards and faculty for this virtual magic-themed murder mystery game. For teens in grades 6-12. Please register in advance to receive your character sheet before the program.

Adult Take & Make Workshop: Macramé Coaster

  • Pick up materials: Tuesday, January 5, 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Zoom workshop: Saturday, January 9, 3:00 – 4:30pm

A macramé coaster is a great project for beginner to intermediate level crafters. We will use cotton rope and basically we will repeat one type of knot several times in a circle to create this useful and cool looking object. Join our Macramé artist Linda to make this fun project. Supplies are limited, registration is required to pick up your supplies on January 5th and attend the virtual workshop on January 9th.

Foundation Gardens and Native Plants: A Winter View

Monday, January 11, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Presenter Kathy Connolly will discuss how to use winter’s lean lines to assess a foundation area, imagine new design, and build your plant list during the dark months. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Homeschooling 101

Monday, January 11, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

So you’re thinking about homeschooling? Join Linda Hincks, East Hampton homeschool mom and owner of Wren Homeschool Consulting, to learn the basics of homeschooling and the laws in Connecticut. Please forward your questions to aallen@cheshirelibrary.org ahead of time so Linda can include the answers in the Zoom presentation. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Baby Steps

Join us in an exploration of shared activities for babies ages 0-12 months and their caregivers that provide the opportunity to strengthen your connection with your child and enrich your baby’s cognitive development through joyful movement and social experiences. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Preschool Storytime

Wednesdays, January 13 – February 10, 10:00 – 10:30pm

A virtual storytime for preschoolers (and their grown-ups!) to learn through talking, singing, reading, writing,and playing! Best for children ages 3-5. Younger and older siblings are welcome.  This program meets five times: January 13, 20, and 27 & February 3 and 10. Registration required, register once to attend all five sessions.

Getting Started in Genealogy

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Carol Ansel, Director at the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, will present the ABC’s of beginning genealogy, with an emphasis on the 8 (or so) basic types of genealogical records—where you can find them and how best to use them. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Sing Your Story

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Sing Your Story is an education music experience where kids become songwriters! Creator, Michele Urban, is an Early Childhood Music specialist, songwriter and vocal performer. Check out the song we wrote this summer here! Best for children in grades K-6. Please register for this virtual program to receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Cooking Program: Ditch the Diet

Thursday, January 14, 2021, 3:30 – 4:30pm

Join Food Explorers to learn how to start the New Year off in a healthy way with a Registered Dietitian! No more calorie counting or juice cleanses, you’ll learn how to determine if a diet is fad or fact. You’ll also have the chance to cook along and make a delicious lunch-prep recipe: Sweet Potato Fajita Bowls with Guacamole (ingredients in the calendar description). Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Teen Take + Taste Challenge: Kit Kats!

January 19 – 23, 2021

Try some new tastes in the New Year- discover the wild and wacky flavors of Kit Kat candy bars and try to guess the flavors without peeking… do you think you can guess the flavors by just their taste? We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 18, 2021. For grades 6-12. Registration is required to reserve and pick up a kit, and kits are limited to one kit per person per week.

Connecticut & the Pandemic of 1918

Thursday, January 21, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

What was it like to live through the Influenza Pandemic of 1918? In this program, we’ll look at archival images, letters, and newspapers to explore this topic, including sources left by Connecticans who experienced the flu first-hand. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Take + Make: Snowflake STEAM

January 25 – 30, 2021

Make something at your own pace with Take + Make kits! We have a limited number of materials so please register to pick up your kit in the Children’s Room any time the library is open (hours listed here) during the week of January 25, 2021. For grades K-6, one kit per child, please.

Cut the Cord

Monday, January 25, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us for an entertaining presentation meant to help cable-TV customers break the expensive and often frustrating cable service cycle. The presentation will cover  details of streaming equipment (some of which you may already own) and how to explore the ever-expanding list of channels and services streaming—as well as the “forgotten” free resource of broadcast TV—can bring to your living room. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Books Over Coffee: The Searcher

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is The Searcher by Tana French. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.

Feeling Alone-a Because of Corona

Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Hands-on Workshop with On-hand ingredients – with Velya and Ehris Urban. We’ll learn how to make DIY Ginger Ale and Vanilla/Almond Extracts. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link via email on the day of the program.