All I Want for the Holidays is…

Faces have been stuffed, candles lit, carols sung, and all other manner of holiday traditions, whatever your winter holiday of choice, have been perpetrated. It is now time to take stock and think of those things you actually wanted for the holidays.

Here are the big ticket items on my wishlist for this year:

First and foremost (drum roll please):

The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices
by Sara
Engra & Katie Luber, with Kimberly Toge
Andrews McMeel Publishing (Simon & Schuster),
9780740779725, $29.99

New Year’s Resolution: Learn how to cook more varied foods with more varied spices. I’m not bad with most of the Italian-persuasion spices (basil, oregano, etc.) but I’m not at all aware of when turmeric and coriander and cinnamon (oh my!) can be used. Despite my love of Indian food, and years of international family cooking, I’m still a novice spice user. Luckily, I received loads of lovely spices from my mother, and I live in an area where fresh, organic spices abound. This book is perfect to help me on my way to spice-using heaven. Sorry, in advance, to my housemates, as I test my recipes out on you!

Here is a link to p
urchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to McMeel’s website review.
Here is an in-depth review of the book on a cooking blog.
Here is a link to a great spice company on my way to work, for all of you who live in the area.

That’s for my tummy, now for my creative side:

French General: Home Sewn: 30 Projects for Every Room in the House
by Kaari Meng, photographs by Jon Zabala
Chronicle Books,
9780811864039, $24.95

What’s wonderful about this book – in addition to the stunning photographs of vintage French fabrics – is that almost all the projects are things you might actually need or use. There’s no rule that because something has a utilitarian function, it can’t also be beautifully designed. I’m not a fabric collector – not enough time, space, or money – but I certainly enjoy a good-lookin’ fabric when I see one. The next time I do, I’ll grab a swatch and sew myself one of these projects.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Chronicle’s website review.
Here is a wonderful review of this book on a great sewing blog.
Here is a link to Kaari Meng’s French General store’s website.

One Yard Wonders
by Rebecca Yaker & Patricia Hoskins, photographs by John Gruen & Raina Kattelson

Storey Publishing (Workman), 9781603424493, $20.95

I know, here I said I don’t collect fabric, and yet I have two books about sewing projects. I couldn’t pass them up! Plus, if I do find fabric somewhere it’s usually only about a yard anyway because it’s from a salvage bin, vintage store, garage sale, my Babci and/or mum’s attic, etc., so this book is really perfect for my needs. With 101 projects in here, patterns, instructions, and bright photographs detailing everything, it’s the perfect thing to keep me busy over the summer when I’ll finally have a moment after grad school’s over.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Storey’s website review.
Here is a great review on a blog I’m going to have to check out again.
Sadly, Valley Fabrics in Northampton closed, so the nearest local fabric store is Calico Fabrics on Main Street in Florence or Glorious Fabrics, also in Florence.

For artistic inspiration:

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life
by Todd Oldham, illustrated by Charley Harper
Ammo Book
s (IPS), 9781934429372, $49.95

This book fuels my obsession with Charley Harper to the point that it reaches almost a fever-pitch of adoration. His illustrations are so clean yet delicately detailed. The animals, bugs, and backdrops simultaneously pay homage to geometric considerations while producing child-friendly images. His attention to overall design is
masterful, and this book shows you how and why.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Ammo’s website review.
Here are one, two, three links to different websites with lots of Charley Harper information, as well as prints for sale.
Here is a link to an earlier post where I mention other Charley Harper books.

Last but not least, I can’t help but look ahead to the summer when I will be able to make use of my gorgeous backyard! I love my new apartment; the backyard is only one of its many perks. I couldn’t help but pick up this last book as I dream of scavenging through yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for backyard decor.

Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition
by Sue Whitney, with Kimberly Melamed, photographs by Douglas E. Smith
Taunton Press (IPS),
9781600850578, $21.95

Not only are the photographs a great inspiration for how I can use all my freecycle and other “junk”, but there are even DIY projects with step-by-step descriptions, if anyone wants to get particularly crafty.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is Taunton’s website review.
Here is the JunkMarket Style website.

Luckily for me, one of my Christmakah (yes, I said it, multi-faith family here) requests was a gift card to my own store, so a big Thank You to Uncle Paul for making my wish come true! Now, after spending weeks shopping for everyone else, I can settle down and enjoy a couple of books just for me. I highly recommend all of you do the same. Happy New Year!

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