books

A Year of Picnics


 

The Essential Book of Homesteading


 

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: November 2015

What I’m Reading

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I have always been a reader. Long, long, LONG before I was a writer, I was a voracious reader of books. Though that waned a bit in my early mothering years (still reading, one could argue, only reading books about parenting, and nursing, and baby board books), it’s been back in full force for a good year now. Aside from my monthly book club (“The Feel Good Book Club”-was there ever a greater name for a literary organization?!), I’m an avid fan of periodicals, a reader of non-fiction (my bedside table is laden with titles ranging from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic,” to Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly,” to Janine Benyus’s “Biomimcry” to many, many more), and a devourer of pretty much anything with words on it.

As an avid reader, and now a regular writer, I feel I have a fuller, more rounded appreciation for books than ever. From spark of initial idea on down the line to printing, I’ve become acquainted first hand with the nuts and bolts of the world of book publishing. It’s no small feat to produce a book, not for the author, nor for the editor, nor for the art/publicity/sales/printing departments. It truly takes a team.

Which is why when Sasquatch Books approached me recently about receiving copies of some of their new titles, they found a profoundly ready and willing participant. Sasquatch, based in Seattle, WA, consistently produces titles that are engaging, informative, mindful, clever, and beautiful. The perfect combo of desired traits in my book-loving checklist. The stack shown on top are the titles they sent, and it’s my pleasure to introduce them to you today:

Social Animals: A Berkley Bestiary , by Ryan and Lucy Berkley.
Written and illustrated by a husband and wife team, this book is a whimsical, visual delight. Born out of prints created by Ryan and sold on Etsy, the book brings Lucy onboard to pen descriptions for a collective of well-dressed animals. Divided into chapters entitled “Social Butterflies,” Worker Bees,” Odd Ducks,” Top Dogs,” Black Sheep,” and “Lone Wolf,” the Berkley’s characters are as gregariously outfitted as they are eccentrically described. Take, if you will, the “The Quirky Quail”: As a champion of California bird causes, this quail travels the Golden State hosting luncheons and community fundraisers. When he wants to accentuate a point, he quickly bobs his head and his well-coiffed plume provides a visual exclamation point. Marketing analysis shows that the more bounce in the plume, the more donors open their wallets. Record donations poured in after an unprecedented fifty-seven bobs in a two-minute rally speech. See what I mean?

The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration, by Moorea Seal.
As a regular writer of lists (who doesn’t love a good list?!), this book speaks to my soul. These are the lists that I nearly never write, but feel deeply satisfied when I do. While writing lists on things to do for book projects, things to do around the house, things to do in advance of a gathering, etc. is great for keeping life organized and sane, it doesn’t fill the proverbial “well” like the lists in Moorea Seal’s book do. Divided by the four seasons, The 52 Lists Project is a journal for chronicling what inspires you. With prompts like “List The Words That Warm Your Spirit” (Fall), “List The Soundtrack Of Your Life Right Now” (Winter), “List The People You Most Want To Be Like” (Spring), and “List The Ways You Get Energized” (Summer), the book offers a list for each week of the calendar year. It’s also peppered throughout with lovely illustrations by Julia Manchik and photos by Julia and Yuriy Manchik. As the promotional literature for the book reads (and with which I fully agree): “With perfectly timed listing prompts that meet you where you are throughout the seasons, this journal will empower you to celebrate, enjoy, and take ownership of your own life, making each week of the year more thoughtful and vibrant.” Preach!!!!

The Rise and Fall of Oscar the Magician, by Matthew Porter.
When the title for “Magician of the Year” is at stake, all kinds of monkey business ensues. Oscar the magician and Milton the Magnificent are monkeys on a mission. Filled with vibrant, watercolor-like illustrations, this adorable book gained the mama and Huxley stamp of approval!

Theo Chocolate: Recipes & Sweet Secrets, by Debra Music and Joe Whinney.
My youngest sister is named Theo, so I’ve been a fan of Theo Chocolate (and gifting it to her!) ever since first hearing about the Seattle-based chocolatier. Co-founders Debra Music and Joe Whinney formed the company in 2004, motivated by a desire to show the full spectrum of what is meant by organic, fair-trade chocolate. From the farmers, to the manufacturers, to the consumers, Theo Chocolate is all about crafting an ethical, conscientious, sustainable culture around chocolate. In their book, they relay their origin story, discuss the process of making bean-to-bar chocolate, share wisdom on chocolate fundamentals, and then offer a bevy of recipes for whatever tickles your chocolate fancy. From chocolate to breakfast, to chocolate for dinner, with drinks, sweets, and savory offerings attended to as well, this book speaks to the chocolate enthusiast in everyone.

The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping, by Erica Strauss.
I don’t know Erica Strauss personally. Before receiving a copy of this book, I had, truth be told, never even heard of her. But, oh, this book, I swear. The Hands-On Home was truly written just for me.  Presenting a fresh take on modern homemaking (I love that phrase, by the way-“homemaking”), Erica’s book pretty much encapsulates all of my loves in one robust 400-page tome. Divided by the seasons, with further sub-divisions of “Cooking”, “Preserving,” “Home Care,” and “Personal Care” within each season, The Hands-On Home is full of approachable, non-toxic, natural, affordable ways to care for all realms involved in caring for a home and its inhabitants. There are year round go-to’s, as well, from homemade mayonnaise and chicken broth in “Cooking”, to yogurt and red wine vinegar in “Preserving,” and from all-purpose cleaner and scrubbing powder in “Home Care,” to tooth powder and creamy bar deodorant in “Personal Care.” Her tone is affable and conversational, and goofy at times (which this goof herself truly appreciates), the photographs by Charity Burggraaf are beautiful, and the photo and book styling are on point and timeless, all at once. Like I said, this book is a keeper.

B Is For Bear: A Natural Alphabet, by Hannah Viano.
I do very much appreciate the patience and talent of papercut artists. All of that deliberate, detailed attention, rendering elegant, beautiful images reminds me to pace myself a bit more, to move a bit slower, to breathe a bit deeper. B Is For Bear covers the alphabet, via flora, fauna, the elements, and geology. From “Aa is for Acorn,” to Ww is for Wave,” with ‘Ee is for Egret” and “Yy is for Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker” along the way, Hannah’s book sprinkles each letter with educational tidbits beside striking images (“Ff is for Fawn- Fawn is the name given to young deer, spotted here in her father’s shadow”). When she visited us back in April, Tara gifted Huxley with a copy of Hannah’s first book, “S Is For Salmon.” While that book had a Pacific Northwest focus on its content, her new book addresses creatures spread far and wide. A perfect book for any household with young readers, or anyone that loves beautiful, artful books.

Bigfoot Does Not Like Birthday Parties, by Eric Ode & Jaime Temairik.
In the town of Mossy Pockets, birthdays are a big deal. When the time comes for celebrating its resident blue-furred Bigfoot, the preparations are precise, the guests many. But the guest of honor can’t be found. Why? Because he doesn’t like birthday parties, that’s why. What a conundrum. Will he get to enjoy his special day or grump and pout about it, until the sun has set? An internal rhyme structure gives the book a wonderful rhythm, set at a pace that Huxley loved when I read it aloud. Silly, with bright, bold illustrations that appeal to children and adults alike, this book is one to treasure.

 

Thank you, Sasquatch Books, not just for gifting me with these wonderful books, but for putting them out into the world in the first place. Perfect for gifting, to others or to oneself, do consider adding these titles to your lives, readers. I promise you’re in for a treat!