Author: Ellen (page 1 of 3)

When the House is a Character

More than just a backdrop, sometimes houses in fiction take on lives of their own. Here is a list of some of my favorite picks in which the house is a character in the story.

The Dutch House, Ann Patchett
The Dutch House is to be the feather in Cyril Conroy’s cap-the final expression of his wealth and standing. Instead it becomes the talisman of a broken childhood for his children.

The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allen Poe
In this deeply layered short story, the House of Usher is slowly disintegrating, as are its inhabitants.

The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Can a house’s curse destroy a family? In the beginning of the this early Gothic novel, it appears to be that way. But the entrance of a new character may yet change the family’s fate.

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
Manderley is full of reminders of Rebecca. Can the new Mrs. Winters ever be free of her memory?

The Shining, Stephen King
Jack’s new job at the Overlook Hotel seems too good to be true. Time to write, connect with his family, and get paid while doing it–except when things start to go wrong. One of Stephen King’s best novels!

The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
It is 1950 and Buckshaw Estate is crumbling, England is recovering from the War, and her sister’s are awful; but that is all fine with the precocious 11 year old chemist Flavia DeLuce. The man she discovers a man dying in the cucumber patch, may not be though.

The Turner House, Angela Flournoy
The Turner House has raised 13 children, welcomed home grandchildren, survived the loss of the family patriarch, and withstood the ravages of Detroit. Can the Turner children bring themselves to finally say goodbye?

The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
When they arrive at the grand summer house where she is to spend her summer vacation, our narrator is full of hope. But as the summer continues and the walls of her room begin to close in, the situation changes.

Did I miss your favorite? Email us at or comment on social media to let us know!

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Wednesday 101–Second Hand Online

Has quarantine made you realize the need to redecorate? Maybe you’ve cleaned out your closet and have a stack of old clothes to sell? Did you start a garden and need additional plants? Whether you are buying or selling there are a number of options for shopping second hand online!

Started way back in 1995 in San Francisco, Craigslist is the classic forum for online sales. It features everything from apartment listings, to personal ads, to sale items and savvy users still swear by it! You’ll need to arrange pick-ups, but many sellers and buyers are using Paypal and Venmo for contactless transactions. Personally, I love it for plants.

If you have a Facebook account, you have access to the Marketplace. Find clothing, kids items, and housewares. Marketplace also remembers your location and prior searches so the more you visit the more it will cater to you interests. And contactless pick-up is common here too!

LetGo is another local pick-up sales site. They recently took over OfferUp and are looking to create a more user-friendly and intuitive online selling experience. Their app is a great addition to the local sales options.

If you love estate sales and auctions, Everything But the House (EBTH) might be for you! Careful, shipping can get pricey, but the low auction prices may make it worth it. You can also usually pick-up for free at the auction site.

ThredUp is a great choice for second hand clothes shoppers. This online consignment store allows you to limit by brand, size, and color and will remember your preferences to help you shop. Items are shipped to your home. Or you can order a Clean Out Kit and ThredUp will help you sell that closet full of clothes that no longer spark joy.

Looking for more clothes? Try Poshmark. Answer some questions about your favorite brands and sizes and get a curated collection of items you might like. If you chose to sell, you’ll need to set-up the listings yourself, but Poshmark’s app makes it easy to do with just a smart phone.

If you have discerning taste and a love of fine home goods, Chairish is your site. Lovingly curated, it is the online equivalent of a high-end antique shop. So although you may not find any hidden treasures, you also won’t have to scroll through pages of Poangs. If you have design classics to sell, this is also a great place to get a fair price.

Looking for outdoor gear? REI offers used clothes, equipment, and more! The company buys items from REI Co-op members and resells them to help keep them in use and out of landfills.

All the sites listed above have COVID-19 policies and procedures in place to help assure your safety.

Got a favorite site for buying or selling second-hand? Share it with us at or tell us in the comments on social media!

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Wednesday 101-Houseplants

Growing up in the late 70s everyone had that neighbor who had a window full of houseplants and macrame. Ours also wore wooden clogs and ate whole grain bread. It turns out she was onto something. Houseplants (and clogs and whole grain) are back in big way and have become a staple of fashionable homes all over social media. And why not! Houseplants help clean the air, increase contentedness, and give you someone to talk to over these long months in quarantine. Whether your thumb is black or green here are some tips to get you growing!

Hilton Carter has become legendary on social media for his plant packed home. In his new series, The Plant Doctor, he talks about caring for specific types of plants, as well as giving tips on general plant care.

CleverBloom is not only pretty, but also packed with care tips, tricks, and fun projects for plant parents.

Old school in style, Houseplant 411 is one of the best sites for identification and care tips.

For a more science-based and thorough approach to plant care, check out House Plant Journal. His YouTube Channel is also amazing and this video on bright, indirect, light is a great explanation of this vague instruction on almost every houseplant label.

Got mystery plants? Use the Leafsnap app to help you identify them!

If you have furry friends at home who are plant munchers, be sure to check the ASPCA list of Poisonous Plants.

Did we miss your favorite resource? What’s your favorite houseplant? Tell us on social media or email us

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We all know the importance of reading to our children before bed to encourage strong reading skills, but how can we help them with their math skills?

Why not try a math story? Tumblemath features eBooks that explore elementary math concepts from counting, to fractions, to time and temperature. Its a great way to reinforce what they are learning in school in a new and different way!

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Wednesday 101–Cooking

Suddenly everyone is cooking at home and dried beans are finally having their moment. Here is a completely bias list of my favorite resources to help you learn the basics and expand your repertoire of dishes.

If you visit no other resource on this list, then check out Jamie Oliver’s YouTube site of cooking videos. He cooks with kids, other chefs, and has continued the series in quarantine in his home kitchen.

Bon Appetit Basically offers no nonsense recipes and articles that teach you how to cook. It also will make you look younger with its fresh simple aesthetic.

The Kitchn can feel overwhelming featuring everything from reviews, to chatty articles, to skills articles. But look past the provocative headlines and you’ll find a trove of articles about food and cooking that curate the breadth of what is available online. The Absolute Essentials videos are great takes on basic skills.

I’ve tried A LOT of recipes and Deb Perelman’s always work. Visit Smitten Kitchen and pick one to try.

If you are looking to shed the Quarantine 15, Skinny Taste is a great resource for lightened recipes that are still satisfying.

Samrin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is one of my favorite cookbooks. It changes the way you think about food and cooking. Her Netflix series of the same name is just as inspiring.

Are you even in COVID-19 quarantine if you don’t have a sourdough starter? If you haven’t started one, there is still time! Check out King Arthur Flour for one of the best tutorials on the Internet (the time lapse videos!!). Also check their recipe archive for reliable recipes for all manner of baked goods.

Did we miss your favorite? Email us at!

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CANCELLED–North Region Battle of the Books

Due to COIV-19, we will be cancelling this years’s North Region Battle of the Books. We hope you enjoyed this year’s picks and we look forward to seeing in 2021! Visit Battle of the North to learn more about refunds.

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Post-Gazette Archives

Google News has digital archives of 1,000’s of old community newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

With issues dating from 1916 through 2007, this is a fun collection to browse or search. A quick search for “Bayne Library” found this little tidbit from July 26, 1944!

Searching can be overwhelming. Here are couple tips:

  • Use quotes to search for exact phrases like names. For example: “Andrew Bayne”
  • Use OR to search for two things at once like maiden names. For example, “Mary Williams” OR “Mary McMasters”
  • You can limit to a range of dates with the date bar. This may be an easier way to search for a specific article or obituary if you have an approximate date.
  • Be patient. The search can be tricky and may return lots of false leads!
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Genre Spotlight–Historical Fiction

Popular with book clubs, historical fiction takes readers into the past. Often featuring famous figures, the genre requires authors not only have plenty of imagination, but also a solid grasp of facts. Here are some of the most popular authors in the genre.

Marie Benedict looks at history from the perspective of the women behind the great men. In Carnegie’s Maid the reader is taken into the world of the famous steel baron through the eyes of an imagined maid. The Other Einstein provides the perspective of Mileva Maric, Einstein’s brilliant wife.

Melanie Benjamin looks at the lives of famous women and how historical events shaped them. The Mistress of the Ritz explores the woman who hosted the Nazis at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, while working for the French Resistance. The Swans of Fifth Avenue introduces readers to Truman Capote’s squad of wealthy female friends.

Fiona Davis‘ books use an iconic address to explore the lives of women. In The Address the Dakota Building takes center stage for two women separated by a century. In The Masterpiece, Grand Central Terminal is the backdrop.

Ken Follett‘s books are a commitment, but they reward the patient reader richly. The Kingsbridge Series follows a medieval town over the course of the Middle Ages.

Philippa Gregory takes readers inside the court of Henry the VII with her acclaimed Plantagenet and Tudor Novels. The Other Boleyn Girl is a great introduction to the series.

Lisa See is the perfect choice for reader’s interested in Asian history. Snowflower and the Secret Fan takes readers into nineteenth century China and introduces them to the secluded lives of women. The all-Asian Revues of the 30s and 40s are the subject of China Dolls.

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Wednesday 101–Computer Skills

Computer Skills

Whether you can barely use the Internet or you are a programmer, there are free online tutorials to help you. Here are some of our favorites to get you started. Check our Online Learning Pinterest board for more! part of the Goodwill Community Foundation, starts with the basics. Offering online videos explaining everything from reading to basic math and personal finance to email, this is a great starting point for people new to computers or those looking to grow basic skills.

Grow With Google offers online video tutorials for using the Google Suite of products. Gmail, Google Drive, Sheets, etc. The Applied Digital Skills Tutorials teaches users the nuts and bolts of these apps while students perform practical tasks like sending and receiving email, building a resume, and making a budget. Tutorials are available for both adult and middle/high school learners.

Got the basics mastered, Grow With Google also offers G Suite certification lessons, as well basic coding and machine learning.

You will need a google account (they are free!) to begin.

Microsoft offers free online training on their products as well. The Office 365 Training Center utilizes short videos to teach users the basics of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more. The Cheat Sheets are definitely worth a look even for advanced users!

Geared to IT professionals, or those looking to become one, Microsoft also offers online training for their Azure, Microsoft 365, and Power Platform products. Classes are free but certification testing is paid.

Formerly known as Lynda, LinkedIn Learning offers training on everything from the basic to the advanced and includes everything from productivity skills, computer lingo, and software tips. LinkedIn Learning is free for the first month and you will need a LinkedIn account to sign in.

SkillShare is an online learning platform that offers free classes for two months. Featuring member submitted videos, topics range from the creative to analytical. Skillshare also offers a number of always free classes including lessons on a variety of social media platforms, productivity apps, and other computer applications. The site can be tricky to navigate, so be sure to try the search if you are looking for something specific.

If you are looking for something specific and you are patient and willing to sort a lot of results you can’t go wrong with a basic YouTube search. Once you find a creator you like you can subscribe to their channel and see more by them to broaden your skills.

Got a resource to recommend, email us baynelibrary @!

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Need Help?

We’ve updated our resource list to help you in this stressful time.

Your Health

The Center for Disease Control has put together a Self Checker to help assess your symptoms and provide strategies for how to deal with them. Both UPMC and the Allegheny Health Network are offering video visits and most insurance providers have waived copays for COVID-19 related costs.

If you lost your health insurance or are struggling to cover your premiums, the Marketplace has options to keep you covered.

PACE is now offering early prescription refills to its program participants. Many pharmacies are also offering at home delivery of prescriptions.


If you lost your job or have been furloughed, be sure to file for unemployment.

If you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or work in the gig economy you are also eligible for Unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

PA Unemployment now offers a Live Chat feature if you have questions about benefits or need assistance filing your claim.

Food Assistance

The Bellevue Farmer’s Market is offering meal delivery to residents within a 3-mile radius from the center of Bellevue. Dates and times vary, so check their Facebook to learn more.

Allegheny County has put together a regularly updated Free Food Distribution Site map.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Apply to the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Other Financial Assistance

The Federal CARES Act has put strict limits on who can be evicted at this time. Learn more.

Federal Student Loans have automatically been placed in Forebearance until 9/30/20.

The United Way’s 211 line is an amazing resource at any time. All calls are confidential and offer professionally trained representatives who can help you access social services in your area.


Staying connected in quarantine increasingly means being online. If you do not have Internet at home, you may qualify for free or discounted service through Internet Essentials.

Job Hunting

If you file for unemployment, you’ll need to set up an account with PA Career Link, however they have waived the application requirement at this time.

If you are still looking, the easiest way to find local jobs is to type “Jobs near me” into a Google search. If your location services are on, this will scour the web for job listings in your area.

If you are in a low risk group, many of the essential services are hiring. Check your local grocery store, pharmacy, dollar stores, and big box store. Think Giant Eagle, CVS, Dollar General, and Target. If you have an automobile, delivery services like UberEats and InstaCart are always looking. And of course, Amazon!

Stay Informed

The Bellevue Borough Police Department is using the CrimeWatch site to inform residents of the latest closures, mandates, and news. Be sure to subscribe to get alerts in your inbox.

Governor Wolf’s web site is informative and regularly updated with statewide plans for responding to COVID-19.

Got a resource you think we missed? Let us know at baynelibrary @

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