Thursday, February 16, 2012

Winter Reading

We finally have snow! This has been a very unusual winter here in the mountains of California, but winter has finally arrived albeit a bit late. I'm hoping that doesn't mean it will overstay it's welcome! For now, it gives me a grand excuse to catch up on some reading that I've been wanting to dive into! There's never enough time to read all that I want to absorb, and unfortunately, I'm a terribly slow reader. I need a week of snow days to get through my stack!

My daughter gave me the two beekeeping books for Valentine's Day along with a lovely breakfast she prepared for the entire family. What a sweetie!! She knows what I like! I started Bill Turnbull's book Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper last night and caught myself laughing out loud. Oh, my! He's too funny. I'm sure Horn's book Bees in America won't be nearly as light hearted, but fascinating, I'm sure.

Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom is such a beautiful book! And I love the idea of incorporating my chickens in my garden landscape without doing too much damage. I've thought about this before, but to have the wisdom of an experienced chicken keeper and landscape designer is way more than I had hoped. I'm not very far into it, but thumbing through the pages looks promising. I promise a review when I'm done. (Don't forget the give-away at Timber Press ends this Friday, so be sure to get in the drawing by clicking the link on the book title!)

Chaya of Pantry Paratus highly recommended Gaia's Garden for ideas on home permaculture gardening, but with the warning that there's some evolution stuff woven in. The goal of the book is to help readers create a backyard ecosystem that is self sustaining. I checked this one out of the library and I doubt I'll finish before it's due, but hopefully I can recheck it out if it's not being requested elsewhere.

I'm loving the Plan To Eat site that is helping me organize my menu planning and shopping, but I felt like we needed some fresh new meals that were not extremely involved. So after visiting a bookstore, I ordered about three that caught my eye from our local library. This way I can really look through them at my leisure and decide if they're really worth purchasing or if I can just copy down a recipe or two.

Since we don't have TV service, I have not seen the Food Network show Five Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson, but when I found the book based on her show, I loved what I saw! Easy recipes with only 5 ingredients or less (not counting salt, pepper, and water); meals that looked like real food just like we eat. Cooking Light had a couple of similar books that seemed to fit the bill, but not all their recipes are 5 ingredients or less. Five Ingredient Fix just looked simple and beautiful. What can I say? I'm a visual learner and the spread of pictures sold me.

Before I move on past the cookbooks, I must mention Linda Watson's book Wildly Affordable Organic. The premise of the book is to prepare mostly organic, healthy meals for under $5 a day per person. When I went in the bookstore, I was looking for cookbooks, not a cooking budget book, but then again, I didn't know one like this existed. I bought it on the spot. I figure the $17 I put down on it will pay for itself over time. I've read about 5-6 chapters and her ideas are excellent. Only problem... I'm already doing 95% of them at some level. Still, all that information has been an excellent reminder and has challenged me to make sure I'm practicing them all (because I really do need to bring down my food budget expenditures). Next I should get to her menu planning section. Perhaps I'll learn a bit more there. (This would make an excellent wedding gift along with another kitchen gift; any new bride would certainly appreciate knowing how to prepare meals on $5 a day per person!)

Finally, I'm reading Stormie Omartian's book The Prayer That Changes Everything, which is a book about the hidden power of praising God in prayer. Let's just say, I could grow in this area and I'm always encouraged when I read one of Stormie's books. I'm also reading Matthew Henry's commentary on Matthew. Love how that man writes!

So, after this wonderful skillet breakfast (recipe to follow another day), homeschool, and some chores...

I'm going to curl up by this...

and listen to my favorite station right now on Pandora, Ashokan Farewell...

and read, and read, and read until...

Dance Hall Girl needs to be milked again (my new life) and the kids remind me it's time for dinner!

Can you believe the library just emailed me another book I requested is in? Joel Salatin's Folks, This Ain't Normal! Oh, I need a month of snow!!

What are you reading this winter?


  1. I like, I love it all!

    Happy reading Amy and enjoy your wonderful Jotul stove (just my fav model!!).

    And that salted cake (I think....) looks so yummy!


  2. Give us a book review after each one! lol

  3. Love your photos ! A lovely woodstove ! WOW ! looks like your going to have good reading there ! Our snow is melting now but rain today ! Its this chilly damp weather I cant handle makes me ache so I will put our woodstove on to keep the dampness out of the house ! Have a wonderful day !

  4. Just got my notice from the library that Joe Salatin's book is on hold for me. Trip the library on Saturday is now added to the TTD list!

  5. Those books look wonderful. I may have to find "Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper." That sounds right up my alley.

  6. Amy, I don't know how you do it. You wear so many hats and get so much done in a day. You are a true roll model to live by. Somewhere in there you need to add a rest time for you!

  7. You will love "Folks This Ain't Normal". It was my favorite read of 2011. I'm reading "Free Range Chicken Gardens right now too. Your book list looks wonderful. I'm looking forward to hearing your favorites.

  8. Hi Amy, Love your stack of books... Like you we have had snow late in the season as well... but today its' supposed to be warmer. Hubs and I just sited the pottager/cut flower garden and hoop house... We always have big plans this time of year! We'll plug away and see what we get done!
    Have fun reading... I've been reading Sarah Ravens books on cut flower growing and arranging along with Organic Cut Flowers, Growing for market... Both are wonderful!!!
    Have a great week and come by for Farmgirl Friday sometime! We'd love to have you!

  9. You know I love a good stack of books. Thanks for the recommmendations! Your wood stove is really pretty...I don't think I've ever seen one in white...I love it. I'm envious of your snow days to sit and read...enjoy!

  10. Just finished Salatin's "Normal" - it's fabulous, as usual. Received his "Illegal" (not available at the library) for Valentine's Day (we're very romantic around here) and can't wait to dive into that too. Happy reading and cozying!

  11. I read Salatin's "Normal" book also. It is fabulous, funny and very informative! Did you know the original Ford Model T could be run by alcohol or gasoline? It was a matter of flipping a switch on the dash board and on the engine. Henry Ford wanted to create a product that was community sustainable. Prohibition caused the company to stop putting in the switch.

  12. I'm sure you'll enjoy Joel Salatin's book! He lives here in our area, and we've bought meat from him. I'm THRILLED to see him and his ideas getting a much wider audience...there is much to be learned from the wisdom God has given him!! :)

  13. They all look great! I'll love to see what you think in case I should add a few of these to my list. Mine's annual, though, because 'winter' is a little tentative around here! :)

  14. I love those cookbooks that actually show the cook in action in their own kitchen and not just pictures of the food itself as that inspires me to cook or get out into the garden. So I am loving my new Annabel Langbein cookbook. 'Free Range in the City'. Have you heard of her? She's a New Zealander and a household name there. Homesteaders will love her style and her show 'The Free Range Cook' which was filmed at her property in the South Island. Think stunning scenery, amazing kitchen garden on the edge of the lake, meeting local producers such as cheesemakers, beekeepers etc and visiting farmers markets and cooking with their and her own produce. And no flashy commercial kitchen for the show - just a rustic country kitchen and an outdoor woodstove. The recipes are fantastic too and I basically cook mainly her recipes these days. Check out her website and if you can get a hold of her books or DVD you will not be disappointed. I reviewed her first Free Range book at my blog and she read the review and linked to it from her facebook page! She is a lovely and encouraging person.
    The other book I just finished is 'The Grace Effect' by Larry Taunton (I highly recommend!) and I've just started 'Nothing To Envy Real Lives In North Korea' by Barbara Demick. Both books are sobering reminders of just how blessed we are to live in free countries.

  15. Looks like some great reading! I love Stormie, very encouraging reads. I started Salatin's "Normal" and just couldn't stay focused. It's one of those that you agree with, would love to be able to do those things put aren't practical right now. So I tabled it to move on to my very large stack...Looks like a very enjoyable afternoon!

  16. Just have to say that I ordered the Back To Eden DVD for my husband as a birthday present. Firstly with the exchange rate it worked out a bit cheaper (bonus) Secondly it arrived very quickly (the day before his birthday)

    Our whole family has now watched this DVD which just makes one want to jump up and start gardening! To think we would never have know about it had you not done a posting. Many thanks for sharing.

  17. I just finished reading Mr. Salatin's book! There is a lot to think about and it has reinforced the direction I am moving not only our food and meals but also our other life choices.

  18. Thought I should tell you about the food network. Online site I think, the cooks and recipes are all on there. I belong and it has helped me too, since I can keep recipes online. Nice and safe. I too like a woodstove and used to rock and do books and things while rocking near it. Keep up the good work and thank you for supporting the library.

  19. I'd love a day of reading! I just told one of the librarians that I need to stop checking out books from the library so I can read the ones I own!

    That breakfast looks scrumptious! After posting that recipe, will you be sharing reviews of more of the books? :-)

  20. I absolutely LOVE Stormie Omartian books. Every morning I pray from her wife book, her parent book, and her woman book.

    The prayer that changes everything is great. I love her Power of a praying life as well. She's excellent.

    I wish I prayed as naturally as she does!!

  21. I am currently reading Joel Salatin's new book. You will not be disappointed. I so wish I lived close enough to go visit his farm. Very down to earth but inspiring man.

  22. Can't wait to look for some of these books. I'm ready for some new ones. What I really need to know is where your white wood stove came from? Is it inserted in your fireplace chimney? I searched on your site but didn't find a specific post on it. Maybe I'm just missing it. Thanks a bunch and happy reading!

    1. Tanya,
      We've had this wood stove about 9 years. It's a Jotul and I believe the model is an Oslo.
      It's not a fireplace with an insert because some friends helped us build this house and we just made it to look like a fireplace that had a retro fit.

  23. It's spring here. Our first frost date has passed, I have lettuce coming up in the garden, and I need to prepare the ground for tomato plants to go in (I usually would have put them in already). I've been planting seeds and transplanting seedlings each day.


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