Goodbye warm weather, hello winter. The arrival of lower temperatures and darker, wetter weather has made social distancing outside less possible. As we prepare to hunker down indoors for the winter many of us are wondering how to stay busy and remain safely connected with loved ones. Neill Public Library is here for you.

Our family and friends have used our mutual (OK, fanatical) love of food to stay connected during the pandemic. We email new recipes to each other almost daily, we text photos of dishes we’ve made, and for those of us who are geographically close enough, we bake and take food to each other to express our love. Email, text and socially distanced food delivery are great ways to stay safely connected. Many of the recipes I’ve shared have come from Neill Public Library.

The library has plenty of cookbooks sure to satisfy your taste buds without pinching your wallet and, as a bonus, these recipes are fast enough to make during the work week. Try “Simply Stews: more than 100 savory one-pot meals,” by Susan Wyler. Wyler promises meals which are homey yet elegant; simple yet hearty. Another book to try is “Hungry Girl Simply 6: all natural recipes with 6 ingredients or less,” by Lisa Lillien. This gem features 95 gluten free recipes, 28 sheet pan recipes, 91 vegetarian recipes and 27 recipes to make in 15 minutes or less.

Handiwork and crafting are great ways to stay busy and make special gifts for friends and family. Neill Public Library has more than 270 books to choose from. I love altered art and two of my favorite instructional books are” Art made from books: altered, sculpted, carved, transformed,” by Laura Heyenga; and “The Repurposed Library: 33 craft projects that give old books new life.” Both books feature stunning photographs and straight forward step-by-step instructions for beginning to intermediate artists.

Homemade bath and beauty products make wonderful gifts for folks who need a little extra pampering. Try “Making Soap: 18 luxurious soaps to make and give,” by Kathrin Landmann, or “Pure Soapmaking: how to create nourishing natural skin care soaps,” by Anne-Marie Faiola. Both books feature recipes using natural ingredients that are as kind to our skin as they are to the environment.

If you’re looking for ways to entertain your children with less screen time, we’ve got a solution. Try a themed storytime activity bag for ages 6 and younger or a STEAM activity kit designed for those 7 and older. These hands-on kits spark curiosity through tactile discovery and, perhaps most importantly, can be completed with minimal to no supervision needed. Happy children and a few uninterrupted moments for the parents. Pick up your bags during curbside service while supplies last. We know following pandemic protocols is getting old and we all long for the days of yesteryear.

But let’s just hold the line a little longer, to help each other, and we’ll eventually get there. In the meantime, Neill Public Library is here to help you weather the winter by staying busy and staying safely connected.

Joanna Bailey is the director of Neill Public Library.

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