review: A well-crafted home

a well-crafted home

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.

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

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Review: The Keto Reset Diet

The Keto Reset Diet

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!

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

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review: The Garden in Every Sense and Season

The Garden in Every Sense and Season

The Garden in Every Sense and Season by Tovah Martin, photographs by Kindra Clineff

Gardeners looking for inspiration in the form of color photos will not be disappointed here. Martin focuses on each of the five senses as she moves through the four seasons, picking out favorite plants and parts of the garden (including earth and creatures) for each combination. She tells this story from her own first-person perspective with a cordial, friendly tone, which really draws you through and makes you want to find out what she’ll focus on next. She even finds things to appreciated during an East Coast winter!

full disclosure: reviewed from a NetGalley digital copy

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review: Knitting Ephemera

Knitting Ephemera

Knitting Ephemera: a compendium of articles, useful and otherwise, for the edification and amusement of the handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski

Knitters will likely recognize Sulcoski’s name from her many books and articles, hand-dyed yarns, and speaking and teaching engagements. This is one of those cute little books that makes a great gift and can be enjoyed by dipping in here and there to read one or more of the short entries. These entries are provided in no stated order and include a biography of the patron saint of knitting (oops! there isn’t one, but a few possibilities are detailed), knitting-related world records, a list of knitting acronyms, definitions of yarn color effects terms, facts about knitwear through the ages, and many more. This would be a lovely book for a coffee table, waiting room, or other spot where someone is likely to pick it up for a few minutes and enjoy the facts they happen upon.

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

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review: Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts

Wise Craft Quilts: A guide to turning beloved fabrics into meaningful patchwork by Blair Stocker

So many people I know have quilts like this – created from shirts and other items that have special meaning. I have not seen many books focused specifically on these, though, so this is nice to see. Stocker offers 21 designs using a variety of types of material, including baby clothes, a wedding dress, table linens, and even bike race numbers (used to create a picnic blanket). Surprisingly, a t-shirt quilt is not among the projects here, but there are tons of instructions for creating those online. Many of these projects could be adapted to use whatever material you want to use – it wouldn’t have to be reuse of something existing, or could be a combination of reuse and purchased fabrics. There are a lot of options here, as well as inspiration for repurposing existing materials.

full disclosure: I borrowed this from my local public library, the Chippewa River District Library 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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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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