Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Pick your Yard's Critters

What kind of critters do you like to see in your yard? What you plant or allow to grow wild in your yard affects what wildlife visits your yard in the summertime.
(Psst! It's not too late to start planting mature plants - make sure to 'water in' your plants well, and try to plant later in the day after the hottest part of the day is done to give your plants a chance to acclimate overnight.)

Here are some creatures and a few of the plants that attract them:

1. Bees

These pollinators are essential to the process of flowering and producing fruit and vegetables in the summer. To help the bees, here are a few flowers they especially like:

Alyssum or Sweet Alyssum

This plant looks like a carpet and does wonderful in the St. Louis area heat, especially with the clay-dense soil in our area. This looks great potted (especially if you have a balcony or porch area) or contained in a bricked-in area to spread out like a carpet.
How to care for Alyssum plants

Poppies or Oriental Poppies
Poppies are lovely wildflowers to grow. These are perennials, so they will come back if cared for over the summer and late fall when they maintain some foliage (leaves) after their blooming is finished.
How to care for Poppies

2. Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds especially love red and orange shades of flowers, and they like flowers with a tubular or bell shape. They also like plants between 3-12 feet above the ground as a rule of thumb. Here are some plants that will attract these little beauties to your yard or balcony:

Fuchsia Plants (pronounced: few-shuh)
 Pictured: 'Snow burner' color variation; any red and white or hot pink/red colored fuchsias will attract hummingbirds.
Fuchsia plants are shade-loving plants that grow best in hanging pots or slightly elevated pots. They need good drainage in their pots and should not be in direct sunlight in the hottest times of the summer to stay healthy.
How to care for Fuchsia Plants
*Psst! These can be taken indoors over the winter to keep them growing.

 Columbine flowers
These plants are easy to start from seed and attract hummingbirds. They live for only a few years, but re-seed themselves; with proper fertilizing and plant food, these will continue to populate your garden.
How to care for Columbine flowers

Red hot poker plant
These plants are the preferred hue and height that hummingbirds like. These are also known as "Torch Lilies" and require full sun and good drainage around their roots (no standing water for these lovely plants!) Leave adequate space between this plant and others due to its large size.
How to care for Red Hot Pokers

3. Butterflies

These delicate insects are delightful pollinators - they are also essential to growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers each year. The plants listed below are to attract mature butterflies - if you are interested in planting food for butterfly larvae to help the butterfly population, check out this list of butterfly host plants.

Butterfly Bush
This tri-colored butterfly bush is an example of the gorgeous and wild-looking bush named after the creatures that adore it. There are varieties in different colors - some are solid colors while others are mixed. These bushes do well in full sun and well-drained soil. Make sure to plant these 5-10 feet apart- they do indeed get very tall and wide!
How to care for a Butterfly Bush

Allium or Flowering Onion
These amazing flowers look just like the Truffula trees out of Dr. Seuss's book The Lorax. These flowers like sun and do well with fertilizer if the soil quality is lacking.
How to care for Allium flowers

Did this help you think about what to plant in your yard? Show us a picture and tell us about it!

Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017: National Haiku Day

Today is National Haiku day. To celebrate, here are a few literary and library-themed Haiku poems for your enjoyment. Don't forget to stop by the front desk at either library branch and submit a Haiku of your own until April 24th for a chance to win a prize!

Can you guess which works of fiction belong to each Haiku below?

In a world of screens
true knowledge is forbidden.
The books must be burned.
Evil ring of gold
uniting elves and mankind-
the test of friendship.
Blinded by ego,
acting arrogant and cruel
yet falling in love
One child, no husband
Judgment is the color red
Sins will be revealed
Returning from war
stranded with a goddess fair
a Greek hero waits
A nosy houseguest
asks about dead Catherine.
Heathcliff is haunted.
A plain governess
loves the master of the house.
Fear the madwoman.
knowledge at the cost of love.
Meddling scientist...
And one for the library...
Afterlife of trees,
caldera of creation-
a whole universe.

Did you guess all of the Haiku above? Are you stumped? Let us know!
Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Show Hole

There is nothing worse than being stuck in a show hole. You start a new show and fall in love with every minute of every episode. When it is over, there is this feeling of overwhelming despair. The shows listed below are long - running favorites that are currently still airing new episodes.

ER - 15 Seasons

NCIS - 14 Seasons

Grey's Anatomy - 13 Seasons

Bones - 12 Seasons

Criminal Minds - 12 Seasons

Supernatural - 12 Seasons

Modern Family - 8 Seasons

Vampire Diaries - 8 Seasons

Blue Bloods - 7 Seasons

Posted by Selena Rivera, Library Clerk

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February: National Heart Health Month 2017

February may be a month with cold and chilly weather, but it's a hot season for dieting and exercise. Don't mistake flutters and missed heartbeats for love - this month is National Heart Health Month. We've got FREE programs and a list of some FREE exercise apps to help you keep your heart healthy this winter, so check out a few of our suggestions:

At the Library:
Every Saturday @ Blum House
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
No registration needed!

Yoga Time (16+)
Every Monday @ Blum House 
(Starting Monday, February 13)
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
No registration needed!

Family Yoga
Every Thursday @ Collinsville Library's Children's Floor
(Starting February 16)
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
No registration needed!

Free Apps:
*The library is not affiliated with or officially sponsoring any of these free apps. This list exists to share with patrons who are interested in free exercise apps and to promote technology literacy. Some of these apps may have paid extras, but all apps on the list have a free basic app. The Collinsville Library is not responsible for any issues regarding the apps or any other device-related problems.

Some of these apps were pulled from this article: The 39 Best Health and Fitness Apps of 2016

This free app includes a food diary to track calories, a pie chart showing your daily balance of Fats, Carbs, and Proteins, the ability to save "meals" that are regularly eaten, and a comprehensive, editable list of the nutrition content of almost any food in grocery stores.  (Computer link - MyFitnessPal ) You can also track how much water you drink and exercise sessions with this app.
Tip: When adding a food, search the name in the search bar -  example "Hellman Mayonnaise" - you don't have to add in the  nutrition info of Mayonnaise yourself! Search for the correct information that has already been put into the app first.


This free app for iOS and Android devices creates semi-customizable workouts for its users. Pick from types of workouts (strength, cardio, yoga, or stretching) and how much time you have (5 minutes to 1 hour) and the app generates moves to follow for the duration of the workout. The premium subscription offers more personalization, but as a basic app, this is a highly rated app to try if you want to use technology to track workout sessions.

Spotify Running
Spotify has a new feature that allows you to run at your own pace. With the "Running" feature, you can select a genre of music or a time of day for your run (for example, an "evening run," or a seasonal, brisk "spring run") and select "Start Run." Once you start running, this app selects music to match your pace. With the free basic app, it picks the music for you within the genre you choose. To choose which song or artist you specifically want, you'll need to get the paid app subscription.

Tip: It took me a few minutes to find the run feature at first! You can find it by searching 'running' in the search bar or under Browse, which pulls up a list of music genres. Scroll down and select "Running."

And finally, for fans of gaming and/or zombies,

Zombies, Run!
Are you convinced you could outrun Zombies and survive an apocalypse? This app may interest you. This app combines exercise and gaming with interactive missions. Your running missions unlock valuable items for the included game. The coolest feature of this game is that you can control whether or not there are zombie noises based upon your speed in the missions. If that's too scary or distracting, the feature can be turned off.
The basic app includes one season of free running missions and the in-app game. For more seasons of running, check out the in-app paid subscription (or wait until February 17th, when more seasons are scheduled to become unlocked with the free app). 

Tip: This app DOES work on treadmills. (This librarian knows from experience!)
 Other users say it works on bicycles too.

Have any suggestions or recommendations for fitness apps or heart health programs? Let us know!
Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Great Computer Lab Update

If you stop by the Collinsville library branch, you'll notice a few things have changed. As of January 17, 2017, a library card is needed to log in when using a computer in the lab. Guest passes for those who do not have a library card are available at the desk in the lab.

In honor of this tech update, here are a few important technology milestones in history:

February 15, 1946: The existence of ENIAC, the first computer, is revealed to the public.

1966: Xerox releases the Magnafax Telecopier, the first standard fax machine to send faxes over a telephone line. It could send a one page document over a phone line in about 6 minutes.

1973: The first successful call made from a cellular phone occurs, with a Motorola phone.

1975: Calculators, which had only existed for five years, were adapted into the cigarette pack sized models seen today. The price dropped beneath $100 for the first time and the cheapest model finally sold for under $20. This forced many other calculator companies out of business. (Trivia fact: Teachers and professors tried to have the calculators banned, "or else no one will learn how to do math."

1977: Apple releases the Apple II, at which point the sales of personal computers take off (including other companies' personal computers).

May 1978: ARPANET sends the first spam email to 300+ people.
(If you're interested in reading it, check it out here.)

April 1981: The first laptop, the Osborne 1, is released.
1983: Dynix Library automation software is released. (One of the first popular digital book checkout and cataloguing systems

August 6, 1991: The Internet is launched for the public by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

1994: Bluetooth technology was developed, but did not spread much until cell phones were common.

December 3, 1994: The original Playstation (1) was released.

November 15, 2001: The original Xbox was released by Microsoft.

July 2003: The insanely popular flip cellphone, Motorola Razr, was released. (You were cool if you had one in my generation....as fourth graders.)

November 19, 2006: The Wii was released.

June 29, 2007: The first iPhone was released after announced in January by Steve Jobs of Apple.

January 2017: The Collinsville Public Library in Illinois has library card logins added to the desktop computers in the lab.

Let us know if you found this timeline interesting!
Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk

Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year's Vote: 2017

To ring in the new year, we asked our staff to vote on our favorite funny commercials leading up to 2017.  (Note: click the linked name to open the YouTube video for each commercial.)

Here are our nominees:

Nolan Cheese: Mouse
Heinz: Stampede
Snickers: Marilyn
Temptation: Keep them busy
Geico: Raccoons
Superbowl: Invisible Mindy
Allstate: Mayhem Jogger
Doritos: Time Machine
Blockbuster: Click the Mouse
3rd place:
2nd place:


Thanks for your participation, staff! Here's to a good new year, 2017.
Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Interesting Year-long Resolutions and Projects for 2017

One of the enduring traditions of the holiday season is making New Year's Resolutions. To give you some ideas for resolutions or neat projects, we've compiled a list of some interesting examples found online.

Temperature Blankets

First 10 days of a temperature blanket. (Source)

These blankets are an interesting way of remembering the temperature through the year by pairing certain colors of yarn with a number, then crocheting or knitting exactly one row daily using the highest daily temperature's color. There are no other rules, and the colors you choose are up to you.

For reference, here are the colors used for different temperatures by some weather modeling programs.

Here is a link to show you how to create a color chart for your temperature blanket.

Take a photo every day for a year

This challenge is extremely straightforward. Whether it's a picture of yourself, your house, your pet or a daily snapshot of the sky, choose one subject to take a picture of for 365 days. At the end of the year you will be able to look back over the year and see a variety of moods or skies and compare January 2017 to next December 31st.
*If you're into technology, these can potentially make awesome YouTube videos.

Daily Acts of Kindness Challenge

Whether it's something as simple as leaving change in the vending machine or as extreme as purchasing someone's groceries, perhaps attempting daily acts of kindness is a good resolution to try. Here's one link to help if you are not sure where to start:

52 Weeks of Books

Head on over to the Collinsville Public Library if you need a hand with this resolution! The goal of this challenge is to read at least one book per week. Some people choose to read the bestsellers from the year they were born in fiction and nonfiction - which you can find listed here on Wikipedia:

365 Days of Crock Pot, Slow Cooker, and Frozen Meals Cooking

If you're one of more than 60% of American Adults, it's possible that all of the adults in your family have busy work schedules and little time to make meals at the end of the work day - or your time to eat dinner might be 11:30 p.m! If so, perhaps you might try this challenge: cooking dinner using a crock pot or slow cooker (or slow-cook oven recipe) for a whole year - including weekends. (Imagine how much you can get done if only one weekend a month was devoted to preparing meals for many work days if chicken or fresh vegetables are discounted extremely well on one visit?) There are several methods for this if you are interested!

First, for those who do not have a crock pot suitable for their needs, freezing meals and setting an oven timer works well if you cannot adjust the heat in the recipe and keep the food cooking long enough, hot enough, or start it at the right time. Most electric ovens have timer settings to delay your oven from turning on until a certain time (or at the end of a timer). This works especially well with thick frozen foods as they will keep just fine for a few hours in the oven before it heats up, and it works well with your favorite recipes that only take an hour or two to cook.

Secondly, there are slow cookers. These are: pots that sit on a heating element - but have no heating elements on the sides. (They're actually a little different from crock pots.) The heat in slow cookers generally cycles, and only comes from the bottom, so these are slower to heat food and great for soups. (Not all slow cookers are recommended for large cuts of meat, so check the settings before you roast a chicken in one of these devices!)

Finally, there is the beloved crock pot. These are much better at heating large cuts of meat and thick foods than slow cookers tend to be. Check your crock pot before you cook - certain models older than 5 years may have only two or three settings that must be changed manually to lower or increase heat as foods cook. For someone with a 6+ hour work day, consider a programmable crock pot to ensure nothing burns and that the temperatures can change through the day to accommodate trickier recipes.

Here are a few links for "long day dinners" and frozen meals:

52 Weeks for a Cleaner House

Here's a great list of house cleaning tasks broken down into weekly suggestions to tame a wild house in a year. (Bonus: If you get to a week where you've already got that suggestion finished - or if you don't have a chimney to clean or kids living at home - you get a week off!) 
*This is so simple, even a messy college student like myself will be trying it!
**Need cleaning inspiration? Search "Organized Rooms" or "Cleaning Inspiration" on Pinterest.

Learn a Language in a Year

Here's another that you can head to the library to complete. Our library has Pronunciator (listed under our database links, or click HERE) but some other libraries feature Mango languages. Beyond this, you can request resources from audio books to learning texts for many languages and learn your way. (Pssst! There are some great free apps for learning how to write foreign characters, such as Hirigana, on the apple and google app stores. These work great with touch screen devices!)

Let us know if any of these suggestions make it to your New Year's Resolution list!

Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk