review: the life-changing manga of tidying up

the life-changing manga of tidying up

the life-changing manga of tidying up: a magical story by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto

Are you a fan of the life-changing magic of tidying up? Or maybe you are looking for a different way into the Marie Kondo way of life? This book is a story-fied version of the original concept: it has a main character, Chiaki Suzuki, who is a young woman living in a cluttered Tokyo apartment. Her neighbor who likes to keep things tidy and Marie Kondo (AKA KonMari) herself also feature in the narrative. The story takes Chiaki from living a social life that mirrors her messy home to streamlining her wardrobe and letting go of the tangible reminders of past relationships. The concept that physical possessions weigh you down and hold you in the past will be familiar to KonMari devotees, as is the idea of using objects and clothing to spark joy and live a more fulfilling life.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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mini, petite

Mini Skirt for Petite Blythe

It’s not that easy to find clothes for Petite Blythe, and I’m always looking for separates that I can switch up, so I made this cute little wrap skirt pattern. It’s super easy and knits up in just a few minutes – make one in every color!

This pattern can be downloaded on Ravelry, Etsy, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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review: All New Square Foot Gardening

All New Square Foot Gardening

All New Square Foot Gardening: The revolutionary way to grow more in less space by Mel Bartholomew

Growing more edibles in a smaller space – who doesn’t want to know more about that? The SFG system, updated in 2013, aims to allow gardeners to make the most of the cultivated area and get more produce for their hopefully reduced efforts. All the designs here fit into a 4×4′ square, so you have a growing bed where you can still reach everything but never have to walk on the soil. The 4×4′ square is then divided up into 16 squares using a grid overlaying the soil. There are instructions here for the whole process: building garden boxes, planning what to plant and how much you’ll be able to harvest, creating an ideal planting mix (soil), seed starting, growing, and harvesting. The lengthy appendix also has a handy chart of types of plants and their basic stats (height, spacing, weeks from seed to harvest, and more), planting schedules for continuous harvesting, and plant profiles. My raised bed has gone from mostly full sun to now being partly shaded by a maple that is expanding in that direction, so I’m going to need to move it next year. I think instead of just moving the 8×8′ bed I have now, I’ll use this method to create a couple of 4×4′ beds instead.

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

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review: Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series: Next steps in inspired design – gallery of 200+ art quilts by Elizabeth Barton

Many artists work in series and art quilters are no exception. Barton offers examples of the things that can tie a series of art quilts together, using some of her own quilts as well as those by other well-known quilt artists. These examples are meant to provide inspiration and the accompanying information a guide to developing one’s own style. Barton also shares some of her own creative process, such as taking a photograph, making it into a tracing, and then piecing a quilt based on that outline (just one of many possibilities explored here). General artistic techniques and information are also provided, such as positive and negative space, color theory, value, and creating the illusion of depth. This book is a good choice for those wishing to learn as well as those just looking for inspiration.

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

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review: The Front Yard Forager

Front Yard Forager

The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, collecting, and cooking the 30 most common urban weeds by Melany Vorass Herrera

Foraging sounds neat, doesn’t it? Like, we all want to be self-sufficient and as an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise) seems just around the corner, it would pay to be able to find food anywhere. This book provides some history on how the western world has defined weeds, the ways in which urban and suburban landscaping has changed over time (the rise of the lawn, among other things), and things to keep in mind (personal safety while foraging, environmental pollution, and local regulations, etc.). Plants are grouped by where they’re likely to be found (lawns, vacant lots, and so forth). Each edible weed is described and a few recipes featuring that plant are provided. Most of the illustrations are monotone, which is a shame as they’d be much more useful if they were in color. There is a color insert, but I wish it were color throughout. The final chapter outlines poisonous weeds that are common to urban areas. I’ve eaten a few of the plants included here, like purslane, and they were fine, but on the whole I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m adventurous enough to try things as I’m pulling them out of the garden.

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Library

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review: More Modern Top-Down Knitting

More Modern Top-Down Knitting

More Modern Top-Down Knitting: 24 garments based on Barbara G. Walker’s 12 top-down templates by Kristina McGowan

Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top is one of the classics. Many knitters may not even realize how many patterns they use have been influenced by Walker’s work, but her legacy is far-reaching. Many of the patterns I’ve designed myself were influenced by her work without me even being aware of it, as I developed my skills knitting from top-down patterns that could not have existed without Walker. This book celebrates that legacy and offers 24 patterns, two for each of Walker’s templates. Most are sweaters and two are hats. All of the patterns are written and include a schematic with measurements, and charts are included where needed for intarsia or detail sections. A few special techniques are outlined but for the most part, you’ll want to know how to knit before you start one of these projects.

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

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sweet Clover

Clover Sweater for Middie Blythe

I really need more clothes for my Middie Blythe, and I keep seeing other folks say the same thing. I designed this sweater while putting together a Blythe Swap that was Middie-specific and I’ve also made it for my own collection. It’s a simple cardigan with a little placket detail and ribbing at the hem and cuffs.

Get the clover sweater on Ravelry, Etsy, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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review: The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and foolproof recipes for your electric pressure cooker by Coco Morante

Instant Pots are all the rage these days! We don’t have one (yet) but since K does virtually all the cooking in our household, it’s up to him to want one enough to actually get one. So I haven’t actually tried these recipes myself, but they look pretty good. The recipes cover a wide variety of things: breakfast dishes, bean and grain-based recipes, soups, meat-specific meals (poultry, pork, and beef), veggies and side dishes, and desserts. It also includes basic info on operating this piece of equipment, troubleshooting for common problems, a list for stocking your pantry for cooking with it, and how the pressure system works. There’s also a chapter on converting other recipes to work with an Instant Pot. The book is divided into chapters by type of dish and is indexed for easy reference.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: The Edible Front Yard

Edible Front Yard

The Edible Front Yard: The mow-less, grow-more plan for a beautiful, bountiful garden by Ivette Soler

I’ve been interested in and working on reducing lawns for years. When we lived downstate, I mulched our entire front yard and made it a native plants garden (RIP, awesome garden, which we had to have sod laid over when we sold the house). Now we’ve replaced some areas of the yard with clover and are working to get rid of the rest of the lawn eventually. We live on a double lot and there is a LOT of lawn to cover, so it’s going to take a while. This book provides plant profiles of ornamental edibles and some plants we don’t usually think of as edible but which can be (sunflowers, lavender). It also contains design guidance for creating curb appeal, a handful of sample designs you could use or adapt, and information about clearing your current lawn and maintaining your new non-lawn garden. The focus here is on creating gardens rather than replacing grass with groundcovers that don’t need mowing.

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local Chippewa River District Library

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