Herbs, Opera, and Malcolm Gladwell

I’ve been reading a strange mix of books recently. Here are several ones I’ve enjoyed:

homegrown herbs  Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung. All about growing, harvesting, and using herbs. I’m diving into the world of herbs and loving it; my uses for herbs have expanded beyond the occasional culinary use.  This library book has been a great reference.





medicinal herbsRosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. Such a non-threatening introduction to medicinal herbs. Rosemary (did she change her name to make it an herb???) organizes the book well and uses easy-to-follow language. I’m already making my list of herbs to plant next year.




bel cantoBel Canto by Ann Patchett. This novel is responsible for my strange journey into the world of opera. After picking up my books from the library Josiah asked, “What’s up with opera?” I really don’t know. Sometimes new interests pop up in unexpected places. I will add that Bel Canto, though gripping, does contain some elements that some readers may not feel comfortable with (sexuality and a little violence). I did find it to be a fascinating story of the power of music in a hostage situation, making me dream of alternative ways to peace and cooperation.



tippingpointThe Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.  I’m gradually working my way through all of Gladwell’s books; I love his research and story-telling.







February Reads

February has been full: farm work, home renovations, parenting. . . but I have gotten some reading in.  I thought I’d share three of my favorites from the month.

eating on the wild side Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson. Robinson examines the nutritional profiles of different fruits and vegetables; she explains how the breeding of fruits and vegetables over the years has caused them to be less nutrient-dense. Basically, we’ve ended up with more starch and less vitamins. She includes helpful charts of the most nutritious varieties of fruits and vegetables (who knew that red lettuce is generally better than green!) and some fun recipes. My only regret is that I ordered my garden seeds before I read this book.


power of habit The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I had to read this one quickly because it was a library copy (and somehow I had too many library books all at the same time!)  The sections on organizational/business habits were particularly interesting to me. Little habits contribute towards big results. Duhigg uses a lot of stories and case studies to illustrate his points, making this a quick, but thought-provoking read.



all the light we cannot see All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Doerr tells two parallel stories that take place during the German occupancy of France in WWII. I’ve never read a book with a blind heroine, so I found the one story particularly riveting. I’d highly recommend this book. (If I’m going to take the time to blog about a book, it is safe to assume that I’d recommend it.)

How to Grow Fresh Air

howtogrowfreshair  Yesterday was a great mail day- I received How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office by Dr. B.C. Wolverton.

I’ve been thinking a lot about indoor air quality recently, probably because it’s too cold to open our windows AND we put new carpet in our upstairs.

This book is an incredible resource. I read it at the library a while ago, and decided that instead of trying to take copious notes, I should find a used copy. So I did.

Wolverton includes helpful charts such as ones that show how well a plant removes chemical vapors, and how easy a plant can be maintained. Boston ferns  remove the most vapors, but I was excited that some flowering plants, such as Gerbera daisy and florist’s mum, rate pretty high as  well.

Fortunately David enjoys watering plants, so maybe I will be able to keep some new ones alive.

This Bookworm’s Christmas Acquisitions

Christmas isn’t just about the gifts, but I thought I’d share some of my gifts that I’m excited to dig into.

givethemgrace Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson. This has been on my to-read list for awhile – it’s officially now on my 2014 Books To Read List.



DehydratorBible_800 The Dehydrator Bible by Jennifer Mackenzie, Jay Nutt, & Don Mercer. We love using our dehydrator, but I thought I could use more ideas of things to do with it. The thing I love about this book is that has a variety of recipes, including things to give as gifts, and just-add-water mixes that would be perfect for camping or backpacking.




babyknits  Baby Knits Made Easy by DK. Yes, I’m learning how to knit. I think I should have another hobby besides reading, right? I’m excited to try some of these projects. Technically, most of the things can be made larger so they’d fit David as well. I love how the patterns are cute, but not super elaborate.  There’s a variety of patterns, too, from stuffed toys to blankets to clothing.



quilling  Thrilling Quilling by Elizabeth Moad. Ever since I borrowed a quilling book from the library, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at it. But, I told myself I’d put a book and the supplies on my Christmas wishlist and see what happened. Well, I’m all set to go now once David takes a nap and I have my other work done!




I’ve never included magazines on this blog before, but I received a subscription to Mother Earth News, and I’m excited to read it.  And sometimes as a stay-at-home-Mom, getting the mail is the highlight of my day. Josiah and I are into gardening, cooking, and “homesteading” type things, so it’s a good fit for both of us.


New to Perennial Gardening?

Time for Some Color
Hindrik S / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

I am beyond ready for spring. Last weekend I started getting my flower beds ready, and soon I want to buy some pansies and perhaps some perennials. I hope that this year David won’t pick all my flowers off.

Here’s a book I’ve found helpful: The-Perennial-Care-Manual-A-Plant-By-Plant-Guide- The Perennial Care Manual – A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do & When to Do It by Nancy J. Ondra

I love how the book is organized – there is a plant reference section that contains tips for each season. For example, there is an iris section that explains what to do in the spring, summer, and fall/winter – just for irises. She includes information for 125 perennials, plus other information such as pest control and propagation. I love perennials and I seem to collect them from many people, but I don’t always know what to do with them. (And the photos are helpful for when I get a plant from someone and they don’t know the name of it!)

Happy Spring!

Book Review: The Cook’s Herb Garden

cook'sherbgarden copy

Photo credit: suzettesuzette / Foter.com / CC BY

My in-laws gave me The Cook’s Herb Garden for my birthday. (Thanks guys!)  I’ve enjoyed skimming through it. I’m excited for warmer weather and the chance to work in my herb bed.

Organization and Features

The book contains four main sections: choose, grow, harvest & store, and cook. The choose section features an herb catalog with photos and information. For each herb, the authors include information for growing, harvesting, and cooking. If you are new to gardening, the grow section will help you get started without feeling overwhelmed. The harvesting and cooking sections were of course my favorites. I want to try rosemary oil and oregano butter.  At the back of the book, the authors included some charts of foods and what herbs you can partner with the foods. For example, pair figs with cilantro or lavender, or grapes with cilantro or lemon.

Something I learned

Jonathunder / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

I learned something new. You can freeze garlic by separating into cloves, shaping in a roll and covering in plastic wrap. You don’t need to include water or oil. I will have to try that. I am very lazy when it comes to garlic.  I frequently use garlic powder so I don’t have to deal with peeling and mincing.

Something I would change

  • Add a list of recommended resources for learning more about herbs – herbs as medicine, more recipes, etc.
  • More recipes – especially recipes that kids would be into (or at least willing to try)

Things I love

  • Awesome photos
  • Organization
  •  Great size, and just the right amount of detail

Do you enjoy growing or using herbs? Any resources that you would recommend?