Did You Know? (Cashew Edition)

That cashews grow on the bottom of a cashew apple, and are related to poison ivy?

Cashew nuts are actually the seeds of the ‘cashew apple’ – a Brazilian evergreen tree with bright orange fruit. I found this on page 405 of 1900 Ingredients by Christine Ingram. Cashews are never sold in the shell because they have to undergo extensive heating to remove them from their shells.

Wikipedia tells us that “the seed (drupe) is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy.”

Fancy Nancy: Poison Ivy Expert by Jane O’Connor is a darling story about poor Nancy getting into poison ivy while picking flowers. Nancy’s neighbor gives her a cream made from jewelweed to help soothe her itch. Jewelweed has long been used for this as a natural cure.

The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants by Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins has a chapter about identifying poison oak, ivy and sumac along with pictures so you DON’T end up eating or touching them! It also tells us that mangoes and pistachios are related to cashews.

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins is a fun tale told to a man in the park (eating a peanut butter sandwich: chunky peanut butter, by the way) by a very old squirrel that can speak! He tells the stories of squirrels travelling on the buzz paths, and having great adventures. He states that ‘nuts to you’ is a classic squirrel greeting, meaning all manner of things, but mostly good luck.

As vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, cooking with cashews and other nuts is getting more and more popular. VBQ the Ultimate Vegan Barbecue by Nadine Horn and Jorg Mayer has recipes using cashews for a pesto, sour cream and an aioli spread. This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt has lots of cashew cheese choices. So, go nuts with these recipes, and “nuts to you!”

Under the Sea

While it is great that the library can now provide curbside service, not being able to actually visit the library, while only temporary, is definitely disappointing. At the main library, this longing to get back in the building is expressed by one of the frequent questions we get from folks: How are the fish doing?

First and foremost, let it be known that the fish and their habitat, located at the entrance of the children’s room, are being well cared for. Don’t take our word for it though, take the Fish Tank Tour with Scuba Scott and learn all about their care and maintenance:

While the fish definitely miss their live audience, you can enjoy them virtually by viewing these Fish Tank Friday updates of their antics, complete with musical accompaniment.

If you want to dive in a little deeper (ha ha) and learn more, why not place a few items about aquarium fishes and their care on hold and pick them up at the library?

While seeing the fish in person is the ideal situation for everyone involved, enjoy a few videos and check out a few books to ease the temporary separation anxiety. And don’t forget to check the library Facebook page frequently for Fish Tank Friday updates.

Mars 2020

It seems that Mars is the preferred destination this month. The UAE launched the Hope probe to Mars on July 19th and China launched the Tianwen-1, both a probe and a lander, on July 23th. Not to be outdone, NASA launched the Perseverance Rover (with a rover the size of a SUV and a super cool helicopter) this morning on its seven month journey to the red planet.   

While I have to admit that my favorite planet, sorry dwarf planet is Pluto, the space nerd in me could not resist taking a deep dive into all things Martian. Luckily we have plenty of books here at the library about Mars and its exploration as well as the tantalizing possibility of human habitation there. Read on to satisfy your curiosity (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The Perseverance rover will hardly be the first vehicle to visit Mars. There is a long and triumphant history of rovers on Mars, overcoming the odds and furthering our knowledge of the planet. We have several books and DVDs about the rovers, especially Curiosity, their findings and the scientists and engineers who made the missions possible.  

Mars is also a key player in the search for life beyond our planet. While, sadly, earlier ideas of little green men or a deadly invasion force have not panned out, there is still keen scientific interest in possibly finding life at a much more basic level on the red planet. An excellent recent book that sums up this quest, both the scientific and fantastical aspects, is The Sirens of Mars by Sarah Stewart Johnson. The author expertly conveys our fascination with Mars and our deep seeded need to seek out new life and find out if we have company in the universe.  

Finally, one of the more tantalizing ideas concerning Mars is whether human habitation is possible there at all. Beyond the realm of fiction, there are a surprising number of books that explore the possibility via science and technology. Some of the tantalizing titles here at the library include How We’ll Live on MarsMars: Our Future on the Red Planet, and The Case for Mars: the Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must.  

So why not take Perseverance’s seven month journey time to read up on Mars and all its possibilities? The library has got you covered.

Introducing Books for You

The Everett Public Library is happy to be launching a new service during Phase 2 of the ongoing pandemic. For the past month we have been offering curbside service in which we bring to your vehicle the materials you have requested once they are ready for pick-up.

Now, with our Books for You project we’ll surprise you with 3-5 books that are similar to popular authors or titles you may have liked or that are focused on a variety of popular genres and subjects of interest.

Do you like true crime, or alternate histories, or mysteries featuring amateur sleuths?  We’ve got you covered. Maybe you loved Delia Owens’ bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing – we’ll bring you 3-5 similar books that you might also enjoy. Or say you’re waiting to read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist or Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility – we’ll bring you some titles that also address racial equity and systemic racism in America.

Take a look through the Books for You categories below and give us a call at 425-257-8000 so we can surprise you with some handpicked read-alikes.

Books for You categories

While you wait for:
How to Be an Antiracist or White Fragility

If you liked:
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Handmaid’s Tale
Little Fires Everywhere
Where the Crawdads Sing

If you like:
Clive Cussler
David Baldacci

If you’re interested in:
Alternate Histories
Amateur Sleuths
Best Sellers from Around the World
The Black American Experience in Fiction
Books set in the Pacific Northwest
Culinary Mysteries
Debut Fiction
Diverse Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Everett History 101
Heartwarming Reads
Inspirational Fiction
The Latinx Experience
Pandemic Apocalypse Fiction
Science Books for Curious Minds
Short (but not so sweet) Stories
Small Press Fiction Sampler
True Crime
What They Didn’t Teach in History Class

Simply give us a call at 425-257-8000 or reach us at Ask a Librarian regarding the Books for You category you are interested in and we’ll contact you when they are ready for curbside pick-up.

Visit epls.org/bfy to see the current list of Books for You categories.

Of course, you’re not limited to the categories above – we’re here to help you discover good reading, whatever your areas of interest, so give us a call.

And for kids materials, click here to browse reading suggestions or to have our Youth Services librarians gather some Personal Picks for you.

We look forward to surprising you with some great reads!

Summer Sewing

Get out that machine and give sewing a try (again) this summer.

It seems like lots of people have taken an interest in making things by hand these days, whether it be bread or soap or clothing. Some of the library staff have been busy baking sourdough, making masks, remodeling, tidying, and gardening during the time the library was closed, and for some of us the creative frenzy continues even now that we are back in the library.

If you have a sewing machine collecting dust and never really learned how to use it, check out this beginner level class on how to make a tote bag from Creativebug, one of the library’s most recent additions to our online resources.

To see the whole video, follow this link: Market Tote Bag.
You will need to login with your library card number and PIN.

Everyone can use another shopping bag, right? Well, maybe if it’s a cute, lined, one-of-a-kind version! In this session, instructor Cal Patch makes sure to explain the project in terms that any beginner will understand. There’s even a section on how to thread the needle. The good thing about Creativebug classes is that they are broken up into segments; if you don’t need to watch a section just skip ahead.

I tried out this project and found it to be easy to follow, but there are a few places where you can go wrong. I had to take mine apart twice! (It is pictured at the bottom of this article):

1. Make sure to pay special attention to what she does with attaching the straps. The straps must be placed on the outside of your bag cover before you put together the lining and outer cover.

2. Copy exactly what she’s doing when she’s putting the two layers together. The outer piece, whether liner or cover, needs to be wrong side out, and the inner piece needs to be right side out. On my final try I just did what she did and it worked.

The bag and strap dimensions are left up to the maker. I cut my bag pieces to 17″x17″ for a 16″ square bag. You could make yours smaller, larger, or rectangular. Even if you aren’t a beginner, you may be inspired by this project to start sewing again


In addition to lots of Creativebug sewing classes, the library has many books on sewing. Here are a few 2020 titles for you to check out!

Sew Step by Step: How to Use Your Sewing Machine to Make, Mend, and Customize by Alison Smith, would be a great choice for anyone wanting to learn in depth how to sew. With chapters on fabrics, stitches, hems, patterns, pleats, and more, you can’t go wrong with this handy and complete guide.

Maybe your life is focused right now on your kids, or maybe you miss your grandkids and would like to send them a surprise. Animal Friends to Sew: Simple Handmade Decor, Toys, and Gifts for Kids by Sanae Ishida contains lots of simple projects to choose from.

House of Pinheiro’s Work to Weekend Wardrobe: Sew Your Own Capsule Collection by Rachel Pinheiro while not for beginners, has designs for wardrobe staples that you can mix and match to get you through the work week and into the weekend, and there are even accessories. Many of the garments would be suitable for summertime.

If hand sewing is more your speed, Joyful Mending by Noriko Misumi shows techniques for artful mending and reusing of clothing and other worn items that we still enjoy, instead of throwing them away. These attractive repairs will make your clothing more original and you will likely treasure the pieces even more.

Joyful Mending: Visible Repairs for the Perfectly Imperfect Things We Love! (Paperback)

Quilt: Modern Curves and Bold Stripes by Heather Black and Daisy Aschehoug contains 15 different projects for all skill levels. Quilting can be fun to get into because you can make a beautiful quilt entirely with simple straight lines, but the modern designs in this book are heavy into circles, a favorite motif of mine.


Sewing can be peaceful and meditative, and/or challenging and frustrating, but it’s almost always rewarding in the end. Get out that machine and those fabrics you’ve had for years and give sewing another try.

Birding from Home

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Photo by JoAnna Thomas of me and my camera, seeking Lazuli Buntings near Snohomish one spring.

A few years ago I became one of those (some may say) weird people who are fascinated with birds. You know, the kind that you see pulled over on a country road gawking at something in a field, or in a big group of blandly dressed folks all wearing binoculars, or stopped in the middle of a trail pointing a camera with a giant lens up at the trees.

When COVID took over our lives it was necessary to stay home, and stay healthy, but it’s been a good time to keep birding, too. It seems we had an amazing spring in terms of ‘good’ birds in our fairly urban area close to downtown Everett, from what I could see and what others reported as well. I spent a lot of time taking photos and recording birdsongs in my own backyard, and in the parks close to home.

I also listened to a really interesting and accessible book about birds by author Jennifer Ackerman, who has been writing about science and nature for 30 years. The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think is available as an e-audiobook which is read by the author, and it is thoroughly enjoyable.

The book contains lots of new scientific discoveries about how smart birds actually are; now it’s known that their tiny brains, previously assumed to be mostly operating on instinct, are capable of astonishing feats. How birds use intelligence and ingenuity in their daily activities is explored in separate chapters in the areas listed in the subtitle.

The section about bird songs and calls was really mind blowing. Birds can and do understand ‘foreign languages’ – they quickly learn to decipher an incredible amount of detailed information in other species vocalizations. Other chapters feature raptors who spread fire to increase their hunting success, hummingbirds who know how long a flower takes to replenish nectar, cooperative nesters who aren’t even related, and crows and parrots who solve puzzles, sometimes as a team. Ackerman says this is really a thrilling time in bird science. I agree!

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New Holland Honeyeater, an Australian bird that conveys super-detailed information about predators in its calls. Photo from Wikipedia.

If you haven’t heard of Ackerman, you’ve probably heard of David Sibley. For any fellow birders out there, check out this video that features the two of them in a virtual program on World Migratory Bird Day.


The library has a hundreds of books about birds for adults and youth. Below are a few recent additions to the collection to check out.

John Marzluff, probably best know for his work with crows at the University of Washington, as well as his talks at EPL, has published a new book, In Search of Meadowlarks. This book looks at sustainable food production methods that are compatible with bird and wildlife conservation. Meadowlarks live in most areas of the country, yet their numbers, like many birds, are in decline. Marzluff examines the reasons and ends with a chapter on what we can do to help.

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Hopefully you have been lucky enough to see a Meadowlark, and to hear its beautiful song.

What It’s Like to be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley, who’s famous for his illustrated bird guides which are favorites of many birders, is a bit of a departure for the author. Like The Bird Way mentioned above, Sibley takes a look at questions such as: “Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” and “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” He says that he first planned this book many years ago as a children’s book. With two starred reviews, it sounds like it was worth the years of effort.

If birds themselves aren’t interesting enough, check out the bird related The Falcon Thief by Joshua Hammer. This is the story of Jeffrey Lendrum, who for two decades had a lucrative business of stealing, smuggling, and selling endangered falcon’s eggs to wealthy clients who were involved in falcon racing. Part true-crime narrative, part epic adventure, this book is hard to put down.

If gardening comes first for you, but you’d like to learn more about birds, try out Attracting Birds and Butterflies by Barbara Ellis. Planting for wildlife will certainly increase your chances of seeing some of our amazing local birds in your yard, acreage, or balcony. Even if you have little experience or time, you can make some changes that will help birds and butterflies survive.

Pacific Flyway by Audrey Benedict is a gorgeous photographic collection of images of the Pacific Flyway, the 10,000 mile stretch from the Arctic to southern South America, which is traveled by many bird species on their seasonal migrations. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California coasts are crucial to support these birds on their journeys.

Close to Birds: an Intimate Look at Our Feathered Friends by Roine Magnusson is another photographic examination of the wonder of birds which features close up, super detailed photos of birds, all the work of the author.

So take a look at these great bird books, look around your yard and neighborhood, and discover the joys of birding, if you haven’t already. It is simultaneously challenging, relaxing, exciting, healthy, and just plain therapeutic!


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Chestnut-backed Chickadee in my backyard with a grub for its babies. It was a great joy to watch the progress of the family without leaving my yard.

Dynamic Fluids

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always found books about scientific ideas oddly comforting. In times of stress, books in the sciences, with their often specific and single-minded focus, allow me to take a step back and ignore the chaos all around. If only for a little while. 

Since I’m not of a naturally scientific bent myself (the curse of being a humanities major, alas) I need my science explained to me in layman’s terms. In addition, I especially like books that focus on quirky and often overlooked ideas. You can imagine my anticipation and delight when I came across Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik. I was not disappointed. Read on to find out why. 

The author smartly realizes that many may not initially find the liquid state fascinating. To help convince the skeptical, he grounds his discussion in a common experience (well what used to be common): a transatlantic flight from London to San Francisco. While most of us might be making sure our phone is in airplane mode or perusing the inflight magazine, Miodownik has one thing on his mind: kerosene, the primary ingredient in aviation fuel. 

Kerosene is a transparent, colorless fluid that, confusingly, looks exactly like water. So where is all that hidden energy stored, all that secret power? Why doesn’t the storage of all that raw energy inside the liquid make it appear, well, more syrupy and dangerous? And why is it not mentioned in the preflight safety briefing? 

Thus begins an immensely entertaining, quirky, uproarious, and, yes, informative deep dive into the mysterious world of liquids.  

As we continue on our flight, we are introduced to liquids that are not only explosive (kerosene) but also intoxicating (alcohol), sticky (glue), refreshing (tea or coffee), cooling (freon), visceral (saliva), and cleansing (liquid soap) to name just a few. The author’s style is the furthest thing from a lecture you could think of and you will find yourself learning a lot without even realizing it.  

He accomplishes this by lots of self deprecating humor and a keen sense of human foibles. You will come to sympathize with his fictional, but long suffering, airplane seatmate who must put up with his awkward attempts at dialogue and odd unsolicited observations. 

So why not distract yourself for an hour or two with some keen insight about an often encountered, but rarely discussed, state of matter? You will be entertained, informed and gain a new appreciation of the liquids in your life. Well, most of them anyway. 

O Canada

Yes, it is Canada Day! A perfect time to learn more about our neighbors to the north and their many great accomplishments.

A good place to start in your Canadian appreciation journey is by learning a little bit about their history. We have lots of books on the history of the nation, individual provinces and territories, first nations, and the many peoples that make up Canada today.

On the cultural front, Canada is no bit player. From artists, to authors, to the many productions of ‘Hollywood north,’ Canadian contributions are many and varied. And, of course, don’t forget the hockey and, yes, cuisine.

While, understandably but sadly, the border between the US and Canada is closed for travelers at this time, that just gives you more time to research your next trip. We have many travel books on all regions of Canada for you to explore.

For many of us in Washington, Canada means beautiful British Columbia. Appropriately, Everett Public Library has many books on that great province.

So, take a little time today to celebrate Canada and get to know our fellow North Americans a little better.

The Question isn’t What’s in Your Closet but Why?

Earlier this year I decided to clear out the guestroom closet that had become a free for all. I pulled everything out and was dismayed by the 4 years accumulation of stuff that I found and did my best to sort and shift.

Recently, I also attempted to organize years’ worth of loose photos. A few weeks into this heroic endeavor, multiple stacks, and several wastebasket loads of photos…. I gave up. Organizing closets and photos, or any area out of order, can loom large, making us feel defeated before we even begin.

Luckily I came across a new approach and way to view my stuff in Gretchen Rubin’s new book Outer Order Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.

The concepts of decluttering and organizing are hugely popular and there are a ton of books on the subject. In addition to Rubin’s book I found Martha Stewart’s latest Martha Stewart’s Organizing, Kyle Chayka’s The Longing for Less, and several books by Japanese sensation Marie Kondo, best known for coining the phrase ‘Does it Spark Joy?’

What is different in Rubin’s book is the ‘how’ of adopting change to fit lifestyle as opposed to a methodology. It reads like a guidebook balancing practicality with real life.

Here are a couple of her thoughts to consider: “there is not a best way to create a better life” and “for some people what looks like disorder works just fine.’” Isn’t that freeing! I took copious notes but a lot of it is common sense for example: “If you don’t own it you don’t have to organize it.” The book is broken up into 5 short chapters.

Here’s a snippet from the introduction:

  • Outer order saves time, money, space, energy, and patience
  • Outer order creates a feeling of sanctuary
  • Outer order reduces guilt and
  • Outer order creates a sense of possibility

Making choices: Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it? These questions are not an end in themselves. Rubin unpacks a mini psychology lesson, not a one size fits all approach.

The author explains “Outer order isn’t a matter of having less or having more; it’s a matter of wanting what we have.” This can serve as a launching point, making space to step back and assess what you have and lead to the process of deciding: do I need it, use it, or want it.

In addition to examining our stuff, Rubin’s approach tells us to ask ourselves what the purpose of doing a task is. If you set out without a clear purpose for cleaning your garage, you may get distracted and not finish. But if your purpose is to clean the garage so you have a place to park your car in the winter, chances are you’ll succeed.

Doing the simplest of task such as making your bed each morning, can set the tone for the day. Rubin admits some will disagree and take delight in not making their beds “Everyone’s happiness looks different.”

Tips: Don’t stockpile unless you plan on using it. Beware of fake work — spending a lot of time on a project. Perfecting something can become time consuming with little results. Beware of the Endowment Effect — freebies, giveaways, collecting for collecting sake.

The author sites an observation by David Ekerdt, a professor of sociology and gerontology: After age fifty chances that a person will divest himself or herself of possessions diminishes with each decade.

Gretchen says our identity plays into our reasoning, keeping too much stuff can keep us stuck. If you have a box full of mementos, sort through them and save a few to display. I encourage everyone wanting to make a fresh start to dive into this book for a deeper explanation and exploration of how to create order and find the happiness of inner harmony.

So often in life, I’ll be learning something new in one area only to find lessons reasserting themselves elsewhere. That place happened to be in Anne Tyler’s latest book The Redhead by the Side of the Road about a quirky, doggedly determined, yet endearing character named Micah. Micah is a neat freak but it’s not working out too well for him. For Anne Tyler Fans this is CLASSIC Tyler style.

My boxes of photos have not gone anywhere, while the closet is growing stuff inside it again. But I’m energized knowing I can start small and keep consistent: one day at a time.

Better Living Through Stitching Together

World Wide Knit in Public Day is Saturday, June 13, 2020. This largest knitter-run event in the world started in 2005 and is now celebrated in at least 57 countries. Volunteers all over the world host events to bring knitters together to socialize, learn new skills, and share the joy of knit and crochet with the general public.

Our library celebration couldn’t take place this year, so I thought it would be fun to look back at past events.

Yarn bombing is a type of knit and crochet graffiti or street art and we’ve had some exceptional examples at the library.

All ages are welcome to participate in the activities. There is a lot of talking and laughter while working on a current project for all to see.

Knitting competitions can be fierce with trophies for the winners!

Library staff enjoy knitting displays for the Children’s Department and Circulation Office.

I’m looking forward to World Wide Knit in Public Day 2021 when we can all get together again. In the meantime, check out these ebooks and magazines on OverDrive/Libby for inspiration and to improve your skills.

Hope to see you next year!