The Knot Yours Truly: Inspiration and ideas to personalize your wedding by Carley Roney and the editors of theknot.com
I don’t know if The Knot was a thing when I was planning a wedding – if it was I didn’t pay attention to it – but based on this book, it seems to be a Martha-Stewart-influenced approach for mostly White, mostly straight people. There are a few exceptions to that audience pictured in the book, but not many. The level of planning here is definitely at Martha standards – there are no shortage of things to think about and personalize and everything looks elegant, even when it’s in a rustic setting. Instructions for 20 DIY projects are included, though some are more likely to be applicable to any given wedding (a macrame dog leash feels like a real stretch). The table of contents is useless, though – the three main sections are listed but nothing beyond that, so trying to find something specific using it is a joke.
Live Lagom: Balanced living, the Swedish way by Anna Brones
Does the word hygge ring a bell for you? If so, lagom will sound familiar. While hygge is focused on coziness, lagom is more about balance, living with the ‘just right’ between extremes. It is both a personal thing and a social understanding: it’s good for the individual and for society. This is, to be sure, an oversimplification of a complex concept, but for the purposes of this review, you get the gist. This book hopes to convey the concept of lagom as an alternative to the ‘go big or go home’ attitude that pervades so much of western (especially American) culture. How much better would the world/environment/society/our health be if we weren’t so focused on being the biggest and best? This book lays out the concept and then addresses it in the specific contexts of work, home, health, and the environment in the form of things to think about, DIY projects, recipes, and more.
Fliers: 20 small posters with big thoughts by Nathaniel Russell
When I first saw the cover of this book, I thought, that looks like that one Art Assignment. Well, it turns out that’s for good reason: that Art Assignment was created by the author of this book! These are fliers (or flyers) that were created to be more art than utility. You might find them funny, thought-provoking, mildly disturbing, or a variety of other possible things. Some are distinctly Night Vale-esque (which I particularly appreciate) but there are lots of themes taking off on the themes of actual fliers. The former punk rocker in me also really loves the DIY look of these. I remember cutting and pasting (by hand) band posters and zines and these have that same feel. All pages are thick cardstock and designed to easily pull out so you can post them or frame them or whatever suits you.
Like a lot of folks, I’ve always admired the beauty of watercolor paintings and I feel like it’s a medium that appears to be more simple than it is – it’s not that it’s hard to use, but it’s hard to use well. This book takes you from color theory and other basics through the essential techniques all the way to complex layering. Each of five sections offers half a dozen daily assignments so you can build your skills and, as you add on to your previous knowledge, build a repertoire of techniques that will allow you to do whatever you want with watercolor. Each assignment includes the amount of time required to complete it, most of which are an hour or less.
Color Index XL: More than 1,100 new palettes with CMYK and RGB formulas for designers and artists by Jim Krause
If you’re a designer or work with color in some other way, this book may be a handy tool. It is exactly what the subtitle says: it’s a collection of color palettes you can use to create a professional and pleasing look to the things you make. Each page has four versions of a palette – bright, light, dark, and muted – which include a lovely color image accompanied by the CMYK and RGB codes for each color used. The designs which demonstrate each palette are reminiscent of the tangram puzzles you may have enjoyed as a kid and may also be used as inspiration for creators. I can definitely see myself using this book as a tool while designing quilts and knitting designs. In addition to being useful, this book is also fun to flip through as a sort of art piece, if you’re into this sort of thing.
A well-crafted home: inspiration and 60 projects for personalizing your space by Janet Crowther
This book is part of the current trend of making decor that will appear to be used or vintage. For many of them, you might be able to find materials at an estate sale or flea market, but you could also use new materials from Home Despot or your local hardware store. Each project is designated with a skill level and includes a finished size, so it’s easy to see at a glance if a particular project will work for both your ability and the space you have in mind. This aesthetic of this book, with matte color photos filled with tone-on-tone shades of cream, and its projects will appeal to fans of the decor on Fixer Upper. I feel like a few of these might actually be things that they’ve done on that show! The textiles used in the sample projects make you wish you could put your hands on them – you can almost feel the linen used to make a pillowcase and duvet. The book closes with instructions for a few of the techniques used, including several types of dyeing, a few ways of sewing seams, basic woodworking techniques, leather cutting, and distressing a mirror for an antique look. Like most books of this type, you may end up spending more on materials than you would buying a pre-made shabby chic item at a big box store, but the goal Crowther espouses is to enjoy the process as much as the product.
The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot your metabolism in 21 days and burn fat forever by Mark Sisson with Brad Kearns
This is a diet plan for those who are looking for a way to lose weight and aren’t shy about eating a very specific selection of types of foods. The idea behind this plan might sound familiar – it’s designed around eating high protein and very-low-if-any carbs. You follow this extremely strict plan for three weeks and then gradually ease up on those restrictions. This book includes both general guidelines and detailed meal plans for those 21 days. It also provides charts outlining grams of carbs, fat, and protein and total calories for the ingredients/portions used in the meal plans. All the recipes using those ingredients are also provided, so you can make all the items on the meal plans. I’m not good at restrictive diets myself – I tend to go overboard and then get mad at the world when I’m unsatisfied – and I’m not a medical professional or scientist, but I’ve heard from other folks that it has worked well for them. Your mileage may vary!
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.
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.
Color Squared: Color, Dot, Dash, or Stamp Your Way to Pixel Art by Lee Meredith
Coloring books for grown-ups are super popular these days. This is a take on those, but each image is a grid with a number or letter in each square. You fill those squares in using your tool of choice and, gradually, a pixelated image will appear. Instructions are included for using different ways of filling in the squares, such as drawing circles, lines, or dots. A basic monotone image is included for each coloring page, showing what it would look like if you filled each square fully using greyscale.