review: Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit

Growing Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit: A step-by-step guide to kitchen and allotment gardening with 1400 photographs by Richard Bird & Jessica Houdret

This hefty (over 500 pages) guide to growing your own food goes from the history of food gardens all the way through everything a gardener needs to know. It is filled with full-color photos on glossy paper, providing inspiration along with information. Though the design sections are not super lengthy, they provide creative ideas for different ways to set up your gardens, illustrated with photos and hand-drawn diagrams. Directories of vegetables, fruit, and herbs are also provided and include a wide variety of plants (the herb directory especially takes a broad definition of the term and includes a lot more than just the typical kitchen garden herbs).

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Herrick District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 Master’s Year

Quilter's Academy vol.5

Quilter’s Academy vol. 5 – Master’s Year: A Skill-Building Course in Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave & Carrie Hargrave-Jones

This book, the fifth in the series, is intended to offer as inspiration more than instruction (the previous four volumes are more traditional pattern books), and focuses on medallion quilts. A history of medallion quilts is provided and includes some full color photographs of stunning quilts from as early as the 18th century. The authors then give instruction on planning a medallion quilt, making beginner-, intermediate-, and advanced-level medallion quilts, and recreating antique medallion quilts. Finally, there is an extensive section on borders which will be useful to makers of all types of quilts. Plenty of patterns are included throughout for those who wish to create the examples used in the book.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by Michael VanderBrug

This book strives to be a start-to-finish guide to growing veggies in the Midwest (defined pretty broadly here as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin). It has basic gardening instruction, planning information, a schedule of what to do January-December, a list of recommended plants, and tables of conversions, hardiness zones, and planting schedules. Printed on matte paper and with line drawing illustrations, this book has a homespun feel that will appeal to many gardeners.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Quilting from Every Angle

Quilting from Every Angle

Quilting from Every Angle: 16 Geometric Designs by Nancy Purvis

Geometry is a part of quilting (whether one recognizes it as such or not) and Purvis takes inspiration from the building blocks of squares, rectangles, and triangles. She looks for these shapes all around her in everyday life and then translates those images into quilts (in a non-literal way) and here provides some instruction to the reader on how to do the same. Some aged and slightly broken pavers can inform the design of a quilt block, as can a photograph of a landscape, for example. Some introductory quilting techniques are included. Purvis started writing about quilts on her blog and throughout the book encourages readers to engage others using social media, such as sharing their creations using hashtags. Each pattern includes all the information needed to make it with diagrams for piecing and assembly. I just wish she’d included photos of her inspiration for each one – it would have been really neat to see the inspiration side by side with the resulting quilt.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the St. Charles District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Gardening with Less Water

Gardening with Less Water

Gardening with Less Water: Low-tech, low-cost techniques * use up to 90% less water in your garden by David A. Bainbridge

We do not live in an area of the country that is frequently in a drought (YET), but I still try to use less water whenever possible. Especially with opportunist capitalist fatcats Nestle trying to take even more of our water (and sell it for a profit, naturally) here in mid-Michigan, it seems prudent to look for ways to reduce our water needs. It also makes sense from a lazy person’s perspective – the fewer times I need to haul the hose and sprinkler around the yard, the better. Ideally I’d like to only need to water when I’ve just transplanted or seeded, so everything can be self-sufficient the rest of the time. This book provides techniques and tips for minimizing water use by making sure that the plants get the water they need just as it is needed and with little to no loss due to evaporation or runoff. The super-efficient irrigation techniques detailed here include buried clay pots, porous capsules, deep pipes, wicks, porous house, buried clay pipe, and tree shelters. There are also a number of other techniques and actions described, as well as instructions for developing your own water-wise plan.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the West Bloomfield Township Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: On the Go Bags

On the Go Bags

On the Go Bags: 15 handmade purses, totes & organizers – unique projects to sew from today’s modern designers by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay

This book contains instructions for making a variety of types of handbags by sewing and related construction techniques. Most include dimensions for cutting fabric and use minimal computer-generated diagrams to illustrate the how-to of constructing the item. Pattern pieces for a few items are included in a perforated section at the back. While these instructions are fairly detailed, I have been spoiled by the excellent bag patterns created by Erin of Dog Under My Desk, and these just do not measure up. I prefer Erin’s actual photographs to the diagrams here, and her patterns never skim over the little details that make a handmade bag look perfect. The instructions here are fine, just not the level I’m accustomed to.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

Sources-
www.sewingmachine.today

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review: The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching: Creative stitch techniques and inspiring projects by Joanne Sharpe

This book covers a range of stitching techniques including machine and hand sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Sharpe’s goal is to enable the maker to create unique art using the artist’s preferred choice and combination of methods. The pieces shown also use fabric painting, dye, art markers, and more. Some basic information about using these tools and techniques is provided, along with inspiration pieces created by the author. The bulk of the book consists of projects that showcase one or more techniques and include utilitarian items like bags and pillows as well as pieces created purely to be art. Fans of mixed media collage will find lots of inspiration and useful information here.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Paradise and Plenty

Paradise and Plenty

Paradise and Plenty: A Rothschild Family Garden by Mary Keen

This garden is part of the Rothschild family estate at Waddesdon in England, and this book focuses on various aspects that make this garden special. Historical information about and photos of the family are included, but most of the book is dedicated to the gardens at present. Details are provided about the various sections of the garden and to the plants in each of those sections. Soil preparation, staking, and other techniques are also outlined and everything is accompanied by large detailed photos (most in color but some in greyscale where it’s useful). Several gatefold double-page spread photos are included to provide wider views of some garden spaces. This book is unusual in that it provides both practical step-by-step instructions for techniques like propagation as well as large, beautiful photographs at home in a coffee table book. Appendixes provide complete lists of the plants featured here.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Grosse Pointe Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

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review: Cultivating Chaos

Cultivating Chaos

Cultivating Chaos: How to enrich landscapes with self-seeding plants by Jonas Reif and Christian Kress

As ever, I’m always looking for low-maintenance plants for the garden. Self-seeders definitely fit the bill and there are a ton of great options detailed here. The authors’ philosophy is to integrate planning and maintenance into one process, which sounds to me like an ideal way to do things. In addition to great information, this book also offers large color photographs of self-seeded gardens and plants (photos by Jurgen Becker) which offer inspiration for various types and styles of planting. The authors feature several specific environments which contain self-seeding plantings in a natural setting with photos and info of both the larger environments and individual plants. Specific techniques such as soil preparation and adjustment are outlined, maintenance for specific plants is recommended, and individual plant profiles are listed.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Ann Arbor District Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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review: Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms: Crafting with intention, making things that matter, and connecting to family & tradition by Jennifer Casa

This book embraces the idea of family heirlooms being special keepsakes that are, more often than not, handmade by someone in the family. One doesn’t often think of creating new heirlooms, but this book challenges the reader to do just that – instead of simply making a gift for a family member, make something that will be loved by that person and handed down over the years. These projects are made using a variety of techniques including knitting, crochet, sewing, and more. They range from traditional baby items like booties and caps to more unique objects like a knitted airplane toy. Some are more utilitarian, like a knitting needle roll and a monogrammed bulletin board.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

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