Monday, June 10, 2019

book chat - Plant Parenting

Plant Parenting: Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables, and Flowers

Thank you to Timber Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

book chat - Beginner's Guide to Colorwork Knitting

Beginner's Guide to Colorwork Knitting: 16 Projects and Techniques to Learn to Knit with Color

by Ella Austin
Thank you to F+W Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

book chat - Coffeehouse Knits

Coffeehouse Knits by Kerry Bogert, Expected publication: March 31st 2019 by Interweave
Another great knitting book from Interweave! There is a nice selection of patterns here with a little something to suit just about any knitter. Included are designs for sweaters, scarves and shawls, cowls, a hat, mittens and socks. I was initially excited to see the wide range of sweater sizes included, but quickly realized it was only certain sweaters. A couple of the sweater designs go up to a 60/63" bust, though I noticed at least one only sized into the low 40s so if this is a concern, you might want to check this book out from your local library first to be sure the design you're interested in is written for your size or you think it might be up- or down-sized utilizing your own skills and experience. Multiple well-lit photographs are included to show details well, always appreciated. Knitting patterns all seem simple enough to be worked on during know nights without concern of making errors. Interspersed with the designs are stories centered around knitting which is a nice departure from just knitting patterns.
Thank you to F+W Media and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

book chat - The Natural Apothecary

Today, I'm sharing three books by Penny Stanway, Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Nourish.

The Natural Apothecary: Baking Soda 

This is a good resource for those looking for more natural remedies for cleaning and health. I've been cleaning with baking soda and vinegar for years and this book has given me more ideas for using baking soda.

The Natural Apothecary: Lemons

Another good resource for anyone looking for more natural remedies for health, beauty and cleaning. Recipes and instructions for use are included along with advice on buying or growing your own lemons.

The Natural Apothecary: Apple Cider Vinegar

Another good resource for anyone interested in using more natural remedies to get and stay healthy, though many of the health claims are anecdotal or based on small studies. Recipes and instructions for use for healthy, beauty and cleaning are included along with instruction for choosing premade or even making your own apple cider vinegar.
Thank you to Nourish and Netgalley for the opportunity to read these books in exchange for my honest reviews.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

book chat - Rediscovering Travel

Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious


Monday, March 4, 2019

book chat - East Meets Vegan

I love that there are so many great vegan cookbooks to choose from these days. I especially love when one truly stands out from the pack!

East Meets Vegan by Sasha Gill, Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by The Experiment
Oh my. A whole book of Asian recipes that are all vegan? Yes, please! There are recipes from India, Thailand, Singapore & Malaysia, China and Japan, making for a huge variety of foods to tempt the home cook. The accompanying photos are very well done. There are so many recipes here I want to try. I'll definitely be adding a copy of this one to my permanent collection when it's published!
Thank you to The Experiment and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

book chat - Living Decor

Living Decor: Design Tips and Home Projects Featuring Botanicals

Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group - Cool Springs Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

book chat - Living Simply

Living Simply: A Teen Guide to Minimalism

Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

book chat - Seven at Sea

Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat

Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Shadow Mountain
I thoroughly enjoyed traveling along with the Ortons on their family adventure! Erik, Emily and their five children decide to learn to sail and this leads eventually to the purchase of a catamaran they rename Fezywig and a 5,000 mile adventure lasting nearly a year. Not every couple, let alone a family this size, could stand so much closeness; this family not only survives intact but grows through the shared experience and trials and joys along the way. The reader is treated to the whole experience, both the highs and lows. The Ortons travel to some amazing places, but also get stuck waiting on boat repairs and weather and have to rethink their plans and expectations. Through this process, they all learn to slow down and take life as it comes. There is no sugarcoating here. Life on a boat can be dangerous, but without risk, there is no reward. Living the life of a cruiser is not for everyone, but this family inspires with their willingness to break out of the mold and try on a new lifestyle.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

book chat - Watcher in the Woods

Watcher in the Woods (Rockton #4)

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

book chat - The Lost Man

The Lost Man


Monday, February 18, 2019

book chat - Mini Meadows

Mini Meadows by Mike Lizotte, Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Storey Publishing, LLC
Beautiful photos and great information that even a beginner gardener can follow to create their own mini meadow. I've been looking for a way to make my own small property lower maintenance and I think this is the perfect solution. I've wanted a more natural landscape since my area is very hot and dry in the summers; keeping grass alive is a battle. I actually made a half-hearted attempt last year with wildflower seed, but now I see I went about it all wrong. I can't wait to turn my "hellstrip" and the hilly portion of my yard into lovely patches of wildflowers!
Thank you to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book! All comments are my own, unbiased opinion. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

book chat - Block Print Magic

Block Print Magic: The Essential Guide to Designing, Carving, and Taking Your Artwork Further with Relief Printing

Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group – Rockport Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

film chat - I'm Fine, Thanks

Something a little different today. Not a book, but a documentary film.

I'm Fine, Thanks
A feature-length documentary about a crew of filmmakers who criss-crossed the country talking to every day people about how they fell into lives of complacency (and most importantly, what they did to change their lives and create their own paths to happiness). (2012)
I actually watched this one back when it was first released in 2012 (or soon after anyway), but watched it again over the weekend. While this isn't my favorite documentary focused on people simplifying their lives, it is definitely worth a watch. Books and documentaries of this type always make me take a step back and look at my own life, questioning if I'm making the choices necessary to live the life I truly want... or am I just slogging through, doing what I'm supposed to do? One of my best decisions in the past several years was quitting a crap job with a horrible boss that all but outright demanded ridiculous overtime, opting for a company that never asks for overtime. While those overtime paychecks were nice, I didn't really have time to do much more than just use the money to pay down my mortgage. Paying off my home faster was a very good thing, but working 60-80 hours a week don't leave much time for anything else. I'm much happier working fewer hours and having less responsibility (and stress). I regularly dream of ditching the house and hitting the road on my own terms and I enjoy watching/reading about others questioning their current lifestyle and making changes (if necessary) to live a life more in line with their values. Live your own life, not one society has told you is the way to live.
The film can be found in multiple places, including available for purchase at the link above. I watched on Kanopy, accessed through my local library system. =)

Monday, February 11, 2019

book chat - Whimsical Cross-Stitch

Whimsical Cross-stitch by Cari Buziak, Expected publication: February 13th 2019 by Dover Publications
A super cute collection of cross-stitch designs! Designs are grouped in the following categories: animals (real and fantasy), dashing designs, home and hearth, nature in bloom and special occasions. As expected in this type of book, the basics of cross-stitch are covered before getting into the designs and many designs would be easily stitchable by a newbie, but there are also designs that would present more challenge. Charts are clearly done. I found quite a few designs I'd love to stitch for myself and for gifts.
Thank you to Dover Publications and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

book chat - The Happy Traveler

The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations


Thursday, February 7, 2019

book chat - Plus+

PLUS+: Style Inspiration for Everyone

by Published February 5th 2019 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
I love seeing people of all sizes being confident in who they are. I was happy to see a wide variety of people represented in these pages and have quite a few additions to my social media feeds. Along with photos, the reader is treated to a bit from each participant about their personal style. I found this book well put together and a joy to peruse.
Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this inspiring book in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

book chat - Pruning Simplified

Pruning Simplified: A Step-by-Step Guide to 50 Popular Trees and Shrubs

by Published February 5th 2019 by Timber Press
While this book doesn't cover every plant or tree in my yard, I did learn what I've been doing wrong with a few of them! This book covers 50 common plants and trees and includes information on formative pruning, routine pruning and remedial pruning for each. There is also a useful table listing when to prune various species, plants requiring little or no pruning and hedging plants. This will be a very handy reference.
Thank you to the author Steven Bradley, Timber Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. All comments are my own, unbiased opinion. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

book chat - Simply Hot Pots

Simply Hot Pots: A Complete Course in Japanese Nabemono and Other Asian One-Pot Meals by Published February 5th 2019 by Race Point Publishing

I'm a huge fan of Asian foods and was excited to see this book coming out. I was especially excited to see a section in the book of vegetable hot pot recipes since I choose not to consume animal products. 

A note to vegetarians and vegans, most of the recipes included here do include pork, chicken/duck, beef and/or seafood, though these are in specified chapters aside from the section with the broths and sauces. I did find a good number of broth and sauce recipes that did not call for animal products, though some recipes in the vegetable hot pot section call for broths that do contain animal products. This is something to watch for. I do think some substitutions could be made in some of these recipes to eliminate the animal products, though it would obviously impact flavors.

In addition to the various hot pot recipes, there are also sections for side dishes and desserts. The photography throughout is done well, making the food enticing. Though this book isn't a perfect fit for me, I'm so glad I got a chance to review it and I do have a few recipes I'll be trying out soon.
Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group – Race Point Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 21, 2019

book chat - Tiny Stitches

Tiny Stitches: Buttons, Badges, Patches, and Pins to Embroider by Irem Yazici, Published November 13th 2018 by Roost Books

What a great collection of embroidery projects! I love the small scale of the projects. These would be perfect for a beginner to try their hand at embroidery without committing to a large project that may never be finished or for someone more advanced just looking for a quick project. There are plenty of cute patterns to choose among - from buttons to patches and badges to small hoop projects. I especially love the cat paw patch, tree hugger badge and desert and forest landscapes. The book includes step by step guidance for each featured pattern and a stitch guide for those not familiar with the various embroidery stitches. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this fun book. All comments are my own, unbiased opinion. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

book chat - Vertical Vegetables

Here's one for those of you planning your garden for Spring!

Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects that Deliver More Yield in Less Space by Amy Andrychowicz, Published October 2018 by Cool Springs Press

As someone with a small yard, I love the idea of using vertical space for expanding my gardening possibilities. The author goes over the basics of vertical gardening, how to choose what to grow and care of the plants and finally, the various ways to grow vertically - from trellises and other structures to train plants upward to creating living walls and hanging gardens to various planters and towers (including instructions for building your own of a variety of styles). There's an option to fit basically any growing space you have available. What I love here is that the various options aren't just practical space-savers, but are visually appealing so they add to the landscape in addition to being functional. Aside from having a small space in which to garden, many of the vertical options will also help in my fight against pests. I'm already planning next year's garden!
Thank you to the author Amy Andrychowicz, Quarto Publishing Group - Cool Springs Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this informative book. All comments are my own, unbiased opinion. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

book chat - How to Be Alive

How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan, Published January 5th 2016 by Dey Street Books (first published August 11th 2015)
I don't often read a book twice, which is why I so rarely buy a book these days other than reference type books such as cookbooks and those on various hobbies, etc. I first borrowed this book from the library nearly three years ago and enjoyed it. I then listened to the audiobook version last summer.

I first became aware of Beavan when I watched the documentary of No Impact Man. A guy in NYC trying to only have a positive impact? What's not to love?! Sure, some of his experiments during that year were extreme and not sustainable over time, but it was entertaining and also educational.

In this book, Beavan addresses a wide variety of world issues and how we can have the impact we want to have and live a life in line with our values. He also discusses focusing on areas (environmental, social, etc) that are most important to us to have the biggest impact and not beating ourselves up for not being able to do everything perfectly all the time. I love his "do what you can" attitude. This would be a perfect fit for anyone wanting to make a more positive impact, especially those who feel overwhelmed by all the problems in the world today. Well worth a read in my opinion. =)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

book chat - The Japanese Larder

The Japanese Larder by Luiz Hara, Published October 16th 2018 by White Lion Publishing
This is a very handy book for anyone interested in Japanese cooking! Each chapter focuses on a type of food - seasonings, dried/fermented foods, rice/noodles/tofu, fruits/vegetables, etc. The photos that accompany the recipes are beautifully shot. Recipe ingredients are listed by weight and volume in most cases - a nice inclusion for better accuracy. While many of the recipes aren't ones I particularly will be trying since I don't consume animal products, I still found quite a number of recipes I will be trying out and hopefully adding to my favorites. Aside from the recipes, this book would make a perfect reference for cooks looking to branch out and use ingredients they may be less familiar with.
Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group - Jacqui Small and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this informative book in exchange for my honest review.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

book chat - Bird Box

You've likely seen this one, well, everywhere at this point. Netflix is pretty good at that. The premise is, something is out there and when people see it, they go crazy and kill themselves.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman, Published May 14th 2014 by HarperAudio (first published March 27th 2014)
When I saw the movie pop up on Netflix and saw it was a book first, I really wanted to read the book first even though I don't usually go for horror-type books. Rarely does the movie live up to the book though and it seemed like there would be enough story to pull me in. Happily, my library had the audiobook to download so I listened while I worked, then watched the movie after.

The audiobook is 9+ hours, the movie only 2, so I wasn't surprised by how much was changed. They can only cram so much in and a lot needed to change to make it work on screen. I love Sandra Bullock but yeah, if you're only going to do one or the other, read the book. That said, after what felt like a rushed first half, the movie did get better, but I still think the book was better.

If you like suspense, this will likely be a good pick.

Monday, January 14, 2019

book chat - The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson, January 15th 2019 by Simon Schuster
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn't expect so much honesty, humor and heart. Yes, this book is about Tommy Tomlinson's weight loss journey, but it's more about his life and what led him to this point with a short accounting of each month's progress, loss or gain. It's refreshing to hear someone taking full responsibility for his own state, rather than blaming his parents, society and/or the the companies making and advertising the unhealthy foods he consumed to get him where he was.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

book chat - Travels in Alaska

Columbia Glacier

Travels in Alaska by John Muir, Published May 1st 2012 by Blackstone Audiobooks
I've always been drawn to Alaska and spent 14 years following high school living there. Muir write beautifully of the landscape and Native Alaskans. My favorite chapter was that of his glacial adventure with Stickeen. Silly dog should have listened and stayed home but boy did he have a story to tell! For anyone who hasn't yet laid eyes on a glacier, put it on your list. While you don't have to go to Alaska to see glaciers, I highly recommend it!
Me (circa 2006) while on a day cruise in Prince William Sound to Columbia Glacier
If you do make it to Valdez, check out the Lu-Lu Belle! They were awesome!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

book chat - Almost Somewhere

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts, Published September 1st 2012 by Bison Books

Awhile back, I tried reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and couldn't make it through it, even the audiobook version. Thankfully, Suzanne Roberts' book about her month-long hike along the John Muir Trail with two of her friends held my attention much better. While not my favorite travel book, I still enjoyed this one. At the time, the women were in their early twenties and struggling with their own, individual issues. Stepping into nature and away from the hustle and bustle of society can be healing (and jarring when you return). Though this adventure took place in the 1990s, I can't imagine it would be much different these days. We could all do with more time in nature.

Friday, January 11, 2019

book chat - 100 Knits

100 Knits: Interweave's Ultimate Pattern Collection by Interweave Editors, Published October 2nd 2018 by Interweave

Another great collection of knitting patterns from Interweave! With 100 designs in a variety of styles, any knitter is sure to find plenty of inspiration for future projects in this large volume. Many of the included designs have been previously published in various Interweave publications (magazines, books) so some will be familiar to fans of Interweave, however, this collection would be a wonderful addition to most knitters' pattern libraries. The items are beautifully photographed, including multiple photos to show details when needed. Lace, colorwork and cabled designs are charted as well as written. My only complaint is that a few project samples were knit in dark yarn, making detail difficult to see at times. Normally, when browsing books of knitting patterns, I may find a few I'd like to knit. In this case, I found a ton of patterns I'd love to make myself in this book.
Thank you to Interweave Editors, F+W Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. All comments are my own, unbiased opinion. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

book chat - Help Me!

Help Me! by Marianne Power, Expected publication: January 15th 2019 by Grove Press
Not usually a fan of nonfiction, but enjoy a good Sophie Kinsella book? This book might be a perfect fit! Marianne Power brings to mind some of Kinsella's characters, though of course in this case, it's all true. Power decides to finally put to use the advice in the self help books she loves, actually acting on the advice and not just thinking about it. Each month focuses on one book and we get to follow along as she puts the advice to use. Some advice "works" for her while other advice is less successful. The author shares her experiences, both good and bad, in an honest and entertaining way. Well worth giving this one a chance!
Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this fun book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

book chat - Roads from the Ashes

Roads from the Ashes by Megan Edwards, Published December 21st 2018 by Imbrifex Books (first published May 1999)
Another great memoir. I truly enjoyed reading about Megan and Mark as they traveled in a souped up RV after losing their home and most of their possessions in a fire. So many these days are ditching (nearly) everything and hitting the road, but it was a different world 20 years ago in the early days of the internet. Fun read, especially for anyone who has ever dreamed of hitting the road full time.
Thank you to Imbrifex Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

book chat - Hero Dogs

Hero Dogs by Wilma Melville, Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
Tragedy can crush a spirit or it can cause great people to become even more so. I'm a sucker for a great animal story and who doesn't love the underdog (literally) story? This book brought to life the true dedication and iron will of WIlma Melville who, after seeing the need for more well-trained search dogs following the Oklahoma City bombing, decided there was a better way to train great dogs, faster, all while saving unwanted dogs from a tragic end. In founding the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF), her initial goal was to train one dog for every life lost in Oklahoma City that day (168). This book shares her story along with the stories of the amazing rescued-turned-rescuer dogs and a bit about some of the handlers as well. Well-written with a lot of heart, Hero Dogs is a great fit for any dog lover!
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

book chat - UnDo It!

Was getting healthier on your to do list for the new year?

UnDo It! by Dean Ornish MD and Anne Ornish, Expected publication: January 8th 2019 by Ballantine Books
I've been familiar with Dr. Ornish and his teaching for years, but not everyone makes the right choices for their health even if they have the information. So what do you do when you've found yourself in the position of dealing with chronic health problems? You can take medications. Then take medications to fight the side effects of those original medications. Or... you can change how you live and improve your health by supporting your body in healing itself. This book discusses how some simple changes can help you turn your health around. Great information and recipes.
Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this informative book in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

book chat - Micro Living

I can't be the only one who has dreamed of ditching all my crap and going tiny, right? When I saw this title pop up, I had to check it out!

Micro Living by Derek "Deek" Diedricksen, Published October 30th 2018 by Storey Publishing, LLC
I'm a sucker for tiny houses! I have lived in a few tiny places myself - a tiny, dry cabin in Alaska, very small apartments and a class C RV - but u will dream of a tiny house on wheels. The structures features here are divided into big tinies (250+ - 400 sq ft), small tinies (150-250 sq ft) and teeny tinies (under 150 sq ft). We get a wide variety of styles and cost ranges as well as a variety of structure types. Some are indeed built onto trailers, but others are on foundations or skids or even on stilts or in trees! While not every structure featured is set up for full time living, most are and in every case, there's plenty for inspiration if nothing else. I enjoyed reading Deek's take in the various builds, what he thinks works well and what doesn't. Those who built the structures also comment on what they would do differently. In addition, there are essays on the challenges of living tiny, minimalism and things to think about before beginning to build. While not every one suits my own style, this is a fun book to read through and dream. Will I ever build my own tiny house? Maybe, maybe not. But considering all the possibilities sure is fun!
Thank you to Netgalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book. All comments are my own, unbiased opinion.