Home, garden & DIY in Winter – featuring gardening for kids & DIY furniture

This month’s recent pick features home DIY and gardening projects, including some ideas for keeping the little ones busy in the winter! Also in this month’s picks — check out houses with energy saving designs.

Syndetics book coverHandmade personalized photo gifts: over 75 creative DIY gifts and keepsakes to make from your photographs
“Photographs always evoke strong emotions with those special moments caught on camera–this book shows you over 75 fabulous ways to display your photographs on virtually any surface! Using the very latest trends, techniques and materials this books shows you how photos can be added to practically any surface to create unique gifts. Project ideas include: canvas prints, bottles, plates, mugs and jars, jewellery, cushions, blankets, toys and puzzles. Step-by-step photographs will both teach and inspire you to create amazing results–so give your creativity free rein and fill your life with your special moments.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreative shrub garden: eye-catching combinations for year-round interest
“The Creative Shrub Garden celebrates a plant that is too often taken for granted and gives gardeners the confidence to use shrubs in the design-forward treatment they deserve. This book shows you how to make the most of the many benefits of shrubs–including their hardiness, year-long beauty, size, and low-maintenance nature–by making them the main element in a garden design. McIndoe teaches you the basics first, with tips on choosing shrubs based on a garden’s size, determining soil and climate needs, and pruning and maintenance. He then offers hundreds of shrub combinations that work with 15 main garden styles, including coastal, cottage, Mediterranean, tropical, urban, and more.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDIY furniture 2 : a step-by-step guide / Christopher Stuart.
“Featuring 30 new designs by leading designer-makers from around the world, DIY Furniture 2 builds on the international success of the previous title, showing you step-by-step how to make unique designer furniture.Including both conceptual objects and modern designs, the book showcases innovative processes using readily available materials commonly found at the local hardware store. Each project features diagrams with short, easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the piece.The projects range from novice to experienced, allowing the reader to start where they are comfortable and work towards more difficult projects as they gain knowledge, familiarity with tools, and confidence.The designs in this book will have you thinking about common materials in a whole new way!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProjectKid / Amanda Kingloff ; photographs by Alexandra Grablewski.
“Perfect for crafty parents who are eager to get their kids excited about DIY. Have you ever think a body-wash bottle would make a perfect rocket ship? Author Kingloff uses everyday objects in an unexpected, ingenious way. And these are projects for things kids want to make–and keep–from a juice-box owl to a pirate ship to a curio cabinet for displaying all of their treasures, plus games, jewellery, and more. Also included in the book are basic crafting lessons (such as pom-pom making and weaving) to help children of all ages build a DIY arsenal, a handy guide to must-have tools and materials, and a source directory.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaming wildflowers : bringing the beauty and splendor of nature’s blooms into your own backyard / Miriam Goldberger.
“Easily cultivate wildflowers in your own garden…and have a year-after-year supply of gorgeous flowers at your fingertips. Wildflower farmer and floral designer Miriam Goldberger is here to show you how.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe nesting place : it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful / Myquillyn Smith.
“Myquillyn believes that there is beauty in imperfection, in the lived-in and loved-on and used-just-about-up. Imperfections put people at ease and free us to take risks and create the home-and the life-we’ve always wanted. Myquillyn’s warm and insightful words are paired with her own gorgeous four-color photos and creative, easy ideas for arranging, decorating, and building a home that welcomes everyone. Readers will learn how to create their own style-without breaking the bank or stressing over comparisons.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardening lab for kids : 52 fun experiments to learn, grow, harvest, make, play, and enjoy your garden / Renata Fossen Brown.
“A refreshing source of ideas to help your children learn to grow their own patch of earth. This fun and creative book features 52 plant-related activities set into weekly lessons, beginning with learning to read maps to find your heat zone, moving through seeds, soil, composting, and then creating garden art and appreciating your natural surroundings. Author Renata Fossen Brown guides your family through fun opportunities learning about botany, ecology, the seasons, food, patience, insects, eating, and cooking. The labs can be used as singular projects or to build up to a year of hands-on outdoor experiences. So, slip on your muddy clothes, and get out and grow.” (Abridged from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverWarm house, cool house : inspirational designs for low-energy housing / Nick Hollo ; foreword by Jamie Durie.
“To aid in the minimization of environmental impact, this book offers valuable advice on how to help keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter with little or no reliance upon appliances. Illustrated with more than 100 inspiring contemporary examples of low-energy housing design, this fully updated edition contains practical and clever suggestions to make any home–in any climatic zone–an environmentally sustainable, comfortable, and attractive place to live year-round, while keeping electricity, gas, and water bills comfortably low.” (Syndetics summary)

Cosy crafts and home DIY projects for Winter – new home & garden books

This month’s books of seasonal desserts, cosy quilts, beautiful flower arrangements, and fresh veges will surely warm up your winter!

Syndetics book coverWintersweet : seasonal desserts to warm the home / Tammy Donroe Inman.
“Who says the winter months have to be bleak and barren? Author Tammy Donroe sees this season as an opportunity to stay inside, fire up the oven, and produce decadent desserts from the bounty of wholesome winter ingredients. ‘Wintersweet’ encourages readers to make use of fresh, local ingredients for warming seasonal desserts.The fresh and rustic recipes in ‘Wintersweet’ push the envelope of traditional winter desserts like pumpkin or apple pies with such delicacies as Pear Cranberry Clafouti, Spicy Prune Cake with Penuche Frosting, Tangelo Sorbet, and Goat Cheese Cake with Dried Cherry Compote. ‘Wintersweet’ is the perfect dessert companion to make the year’s coldest season a bit more festive.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandmade gatherings : recipes & crafts for seasonal celebrations and potluck parties / Ashley English ; photographs by Jen Altman.
“Frosty winter fetes, lush springtime soirees, sultry summer get-togethers, and crisp autumn affairs–it’s all here. Handmade Gatherings offers: 16 seasonal party ideas ; 52 recipes ; 32 crafts and activities. From the decor, to the entertainment, on down to the recipes themselves, “Handmade Gatherings” presents inspired suggestions for thoughtful, flavorful, festive communal dining. Food, decor, crafts, and more are part of each event, all collectively assembled and executed.” (Abridged from Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverHere comes winter: quilted projects to warm your home
“Inspired by the frosty winters of Saskatchewan, Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks are back with more of the whimsical designs that have enchanted quilters around the world. Make your home cozy all winter with decorative projects ranging in size and shape from pillows and banners to wall hangings, table runners, and lap quilts.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe plant recipe book : 100 living arrangements for any home in any season / Baylor Chapman ; photographs by Paige Green.
“Whether your botanic tastes run to formal with straight lines or wispy and loose with a woodland feel, there is something that will appeal to you in this groundbreaking collection. A helpful ingredient chart will enable the novice to understand better the patterns behind the designs featured and allow for the development of individual designs.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverDrink your own garden : a homebrew guide using your garden ingredients / Judith Glover.
“Drink Your Own Garden has recipes for berry and bush wines, flower wines, fruit and vegetable wines, grain and herb wines, leaf and sap wines, meads and beers, as well as non-alcoholic fruit juices, cordials and teas. This guide provides a detailed recipe and method for each drink, plus a list of potential problems and remedies, with guidelines for each step of the process, including equipment and ingredients and a seasonal guide to what to harvest when. Make the most of the plentiful ingredients in your garden and enjoy a glass of refreshing home brew.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverFor the love of veg : get the best out of your seasonal fruit and vegetables / Bryn Williams with Kay Plunkett-Hogge ; photography by Andy Sewell.
“From savoury to sweet, and from the vegetable patch to the orchard, Bryn shows us how to make the most of fruit and vegetables. Using in-season produce is cost-efficient and healthy – but with Bryn, it is delicious, too. Celebrate the celeriac with Celeriac and Crispy Duck Egg Salad or Celeriac and Apple Soup; reinvent the courgette with Marinated Courgette, Pine Nuts and Parmesan, and Courgette Flower and Halibut. There are sweet vegetable options, too, such as Pea Bavarois or Sweetcorn Panna Cotta. Explore the herb garden, with Basil Sorbet, Bay Leaf Ice Cream and Lavender Vinaigrette. And experiment with fruit with Spiced Poached Pear and Venison, Lemon and Polenta Cake, and Baked Plum and Honey Ice Cream.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverOne woman farm : my life shared with sheep, pigs, chickens, goats and a fine fiddle / Jenna Woginrich ; illustrations by Emma Dibben.
“Jenna Woginrich’s inspiring journey from city cubicle to rural homestead has captivated readers of her blog and previous books. Now, in One-Woman Farm, Woginrich shares the joys, sorrows, trials, epiphanies, and blessings she discovers during a year spent farming on her own land, finding deep fulfillment in the practical tasks and timeless rituals of the agricultural life.” (Library catalogue)

Enjoy your garden all year round: Home, Garden and DIY June

This month’s blog features tips on enhancing outdoor space, growing flowers all year round, and entertaining the children outdoors.

Syndetics book coverThe cut flower patch : grow your own cut flowers all year round / by Louise Curley.
“Louise Curley looks at what makes a great cut flower, ideal conditions and soil and the tools you’ll need. There is advice on what to grow – from favourite hardy annuals, half hardies and biennials to spring and summer bulbs to adding foliage and fillers to balance arrangements – and advice on how and when to sow, how to support your plants and tips on weeding, deadheading, pests and feeding.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe nourished kitchen : farm-to-table recipes for the traditional foods lifestyle : featuring bone broths, fermented vegetables, grass-fed meats, wholesome fats, raw dairy, and kombuchas / Jennifer McGruther.
“Following the precepts of dentist-nutritionist Weston Price, McGruther has developed a system for healthy eating based on lots of vegetables and grains as cooked and preserved on early twentieth-century American farms. What differentiates McGruther’s approach from other regimens is her unabashed advocacy of animal fats. She is especially fond of cooking foods in lard, noting its fat-content profile’s similarity to that of olive oil. When sweetness is an object, McGruther suggests replacing refined sugar with honey, molasses, sorghum, or maple syrup. Bread recipes specify ancient grains such as einkorn, and leavening comes from sourdough. She favors making one’s own butter when possible, and she recommends drinking that by-product of churning: buttermilk. Her meat dishes will satisfy carnivores, whether with a rich rabbit pie studded with bacon and chanterelles or with a rare-roasted elk steak. McGruther advocates sustainable agriculture, and she enthusiastically preserves summer’s bounty through fermentation for pickles, sauerkraut, and relishes.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverPlantiful : start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow, and overwinter / Kristin Green.
“Green (interpretive horticulturist, Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum) wants readers to overcome anxiety about fast-spreading plants so they can creatively take advantage of them to save time and money. She encourages the opportunistic use of 50 self-sowers, 50 spreaders, and 50 tender plants that can extend the season or successfully winter over, but she wisely tempers her enthusiasm for such plants with appropriate cautions about invasive species and implores people to engage with their plants and gardens conscientiously. While she recommends self-sowers, Green empowers the gardener to “edit” them as necessary to create more pleasing combinations. Further, she teaches seed saving and propagation methods so gardeners can feel in control. Beginners will benefit from tips such as creating a photo directory of seedlings for future reference. Green is also a skilled photographer: her book is more beautifully illustrated than Sue Fisher’s Fast Plants (although Fisher’s includes specific notes on controlling growth for recommended plants). Verdict? Gardeners who enjoy a bargain will want Green’s book to begin cashing in on nature’s generosity.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book cover101 things for kids to do outside / Dawn Isaac ; photography by Will Heap.
“Because it’s about time you stopped staring at that screen and had a go at racing snails, playing human croquet, brewing potions, planting wigwams, setting traps, weaving nests, autographing pumpkins, hunting bears, making twig stars, building snow lanterns (and 91 more totally brilliant ideas that just won’t fit on the back cover.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverKitchen stitches : sewing projects to spice up your home / compiled by Karen M. Burns.
“Brighten your kitchen and dining area with delightful projects from a host of talented designers. For sewists of all skill levels, this value-packed volume offers an extraordinary variety of styles, including quilted, appliquéd, and embroidered designs. Create everything from aprons to table runners, towel sets, casserole covers, place mats and more.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHandmade for the garden : 75 ingenious ways to enhance your outdoor space with DIY tools, pots, supports, embellishments & more / Susan Guagliumi ; photographs by John Gruen ; photostyling by Raina Kattelson ; illustrations by Sun Young Park.
“Guagliumi, author of many books on knitting (Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters), takes a trip to the garden with this lovely book. Chapters are arranged to follow the gardening year. Early season projects involve making newspaper cups for seedlings, seed tapes, coverings, and planting tools. Some sections are weak-the one on painting and altering terra cotta pots is a little less adventurous, and the part about making concrete containers and building plant supports lacks needed detail-while other sections shine (the areas devoted to making sieves, garden baskets, and gift seed packages are quite well done). Step-by-step illustrations are only sporadically provided, though instructions are well written. A better choice for readers learning to make concrete containers is Sherri Warner Hunter’s Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden: Making Pots, Planters, Birdbaths, Sculptures & More; those seeking information on plant supports and related structures would be best served by Trellises, Planters & Raised Beds: 50 Easy, Unique, and Useful Projects You Can Make with Common Tools and Materials. Verdict? Despite some flaws, this pretty, fresh work would round out any garden project collection. Recommended.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe urban house : townhouses, apartments, lofts, and other spaces for city living / Ron Broadhurst ; foreword by Richard Meier.
An authoritative volume on the most innovative new residential design in cities around the globe. This carefully curated book presents twenty-five new and recent spaces for city living. Author Ron Broadhurst has selected projects that represent a set of ideas that can be described as belonging particularly to our time and which will shape how we think of living in the city in the future. Where the great experimenters of the last century were stripping away ornamentation and creating free-flowing spaces for the first time, today’s innovators are pioneering research in the potential of new materials for both formal invention and environmental sustainability and creating bold and sophisticated essays in the adaptive reuse of spaces originally designed for other purposes. With the newest work from such design luminaries as Andrée Putman, Annabelle Selldorf, and Richard Meier, as well as emergent talents like Barbara Bestor and Messana O’Rorke, The Urban House is a uniquely coherent volume on the best in new residential design.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverForest feast : simple vegetarian recipes from my cabin in the woods / Erin Gleeson.
“Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog. Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Among the delightful recipes are eggplant tacos with brie and cilantro, rosemary shortbread, and blackberry negroni. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA woman’s shed : spaces for women to create, write, make, grow, think, and escape / Gill Heriz ; with photography by Nicolette Hallett.
“Every woman deserves a shed of her own, somewhere to retreat to for some quiet time, to create or grow, to write or paint, or just to contemplate the view. Gill Heriz has interviewed over 80 different women, and Nicolette Hallett has photographed their sheds inside and out, to collect together this unique insight into why women have sheds, and what they do in them. Virginia Woolf once argued that, for women, writing fiction required a room of one’s own. These women have taken that premise a step further – to the end of the garden – to find their own very personal space.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCompost : how to make and use organic compost to transform your garden / Clare Foster.
“Composting is one of the most fundamental aspects of gardening. Clare Foster shows you how easy and natural it is to feed your soil with your household and garden rubbish.” (Library catalogue)

Home, Garden & DIY Blog May

This month’s blog features expert tips for growing vegetables and saving money on groceries, creative ideas for home decoration, sewing, and kids parties. Also check out the vibrant paintings of the kiwi lifestyle by New Zealand artist Graham Young.

Syndetics book coverCrops in pots / Rachelle Strauss ; foreword by Pippa Greenwood.
“Like the idea of growing your own fruit, veg and herbs but don’t have the room or energy? “Crops in Pots” is a user-friendly guide to getting a taste of self-sufficiency, growing wherever you can grab the space – whether it be your patio, balcony or window sill. Apart from the many joys of growing your own food, the benefits of container gardening are manifold: accessibility, portability, soil choice, easier pest and disease control…Find out how to get started and choose your pots, how to grow and harvest – including the most appropriate crops for small spaces, how to deal with problems and lots of great tips on how to be successful on a shoestring.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHome / Beci Orpin.
“A unique craft book that is guaranteed to brighten your home and your life. HOME, the latest book by design guru Beci Orpin, is filled with inspirational ideas and unique craft projects specially designed for your home. Separated into three spatial areas-living space, working space, and sleeping space-HOME will inspire you to create original, fresh, and unique crafts for all the important spaces in your house. Each chapter is filled with full-color photographs and quirky illustrations by Beci, as well as excellent tips and ideas for beautifying your home. At the end of each section is a collection of projects created especially for this book, each with a varying level of difficulty but always ensuring there is something for everyone. Have a go at sewing your own bold-colored cushions or a geometric-pattern duvet cover. Grow and design your own succulent garden or learn the skills to repurpose an old chair. Be inspired to design your own wall art or perfect your workspace with carefully designed, space-saving techniques that are both beautiful and functional. Suitable for both established and aspiring crafters, HOME will inspire you to make and create objects and artwork that will enhance your living space and make you fall in love with your home all over again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLazy days : painting the Kiwi lifestyle / Graham Young.
“The vibrant paintings in this gorgeous book capture that bright sparkling quality of our New Zealand light. Graham Young portrays elements of the Kiwi lifestyle against a backdrop of familiar landscape – the corner dairy, old baches on the coast, boatsheds, villas and country barns. There is always evidence of people in these paintings, which are presented in the form of a journey through everyday culture – there is nothing highbrow about the art shown here. Graham is fascinated by signposts of the past, the architectural heritage of our towns and disused agricultural machinery hidden in long grass on older farms. He comments about his paintings, which are grouped loosely together to reflect place and scene: beach and coast, town and country. Visitors and New Zealanders alike will enjoy this evocative collection depicting the laid-back Kiwi lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStylish kids’ parties : recipes & decorations for 12 festive occasions / Kelly Rohlfs Lyden.
“Your favorite party hostess, Kelly Lyden, makes it a snap to plan, design and execute festive kids’ parties that wow adults and thrill little ones! Filled with 12 creative and colorful party ideas, Stylish Kids’ Parties shows you how to confidently tackle party preparation by using color palettes and themes that carry through–from invitations and decorations to party favors and treats. Complete with DIY tips, recipes, projects, themed activities and templates, you’ll love these party ideas for boys and girls, first birthday celebrations, baby showers and holiday gatherings.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book cover150 best kitchen ideas / [editor and texts Montse Borras, Aitana Lleonart].
“New ideas on how to design, build, and decorate a kitchen are always of essential value to architects, designers, and homeowners. This new addition to a successful series offers an extensive collection of both modern and traditional kitchen designs from all over the world, plans devised by distinguished international architects and designers who have worked to achieve practical, innovative, and stunning solutions adapted to the specific needs and particular tastes of their clients. An exciting compilation, “150 Best Kitchen Ideas” expresses the diversity of current trends in kitchen design focusing on decor–materials, lighting, colors, and windows–and specifics such as tables, wall units, flooring, appliances, and countertops. It is an inspirational source of ideas for those active in the field of design or interested in updating the focal point of their homes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCharles Dowding’s veg journal : expert no-dig advice, month by month / Charles Dowding.
“The book uses the seasonal checklists, advice and hard-won experience of the UK’s best-known no-dig gardener to plan a year’s veg growing. The information is taken from the author’s successful Charles Dowding Vegetable Course and arranged in a useful monthly journal so that no activity is overlooked and readers can follow his mantra of ‘little and often’. In this book Charles Dowding proves the efficacy of no-dig gardening, and using step by steps guidance with photos shows how to plan a veg garden, construct a raised bed, sow seed indoors and outdoors in spring, grow on young crops, protect his plants from the weather and pests through the season until he celebrates the joy of harvesting.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book cover40 projects for building your backyard homestead : a hands-on, step-by-step sustainable-living guide / David Toht.
“Provides details on how to build more than 40 projects–sheds, feeders, fences, and other structures–to enhance readers’ sustainable living.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBudget bytes : over 100 easy, delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half / Beth Moncel.
“Moncel launched her blog, Budget Bytes (budgetbytes.com), after economic recession forced her to adopt a strict food budget. The recipes in her new cookbook, some adapted from the blog, are written for novices who value variety as much as saving money. Many cost less than a dollar per serving, and while they rely heavily on inexpensive staples, they incorporate flavorful seasonings and garnishes. Moncel includes freezer and pantry stocking tips, sample menus, and an index of vegetarian and vegan recipes. Verdict? Though great for budget-conscious young adults, Moncel’s debut is less useful than her website, as several great features (e.g., cost breakdowns, cooking times) have been lost in translation.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverSewing with letters : using your favourite words & fonts / Nicola Tedman & Sarah Skeate.
“Words and letters have never been more popular used as decoration around the home everyday objects are blossoming with everything from single characters in a bold san-serif to words and phrases in elegant calligraphic faces.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDreaming small : intimate interiors / Douglas Woods ; photography by Melba Levick.
“The masterpieces of small-house living featured here will serve as inspiration to those who struggle with the challenges presented by contemporary life in petite-size homes. “Dreaming Small” is a celebration of jewel-box homes, each marked by a sense of style that marries eclecticism, practicality, beauty, and livability. From quintessential bungalows and classic casas to Tudor fantasies, these delightful abodes are models of rich diversity and inspired living. In brilliant new photography, the book explores the possibilities that exist in these mostly unpublished gems by legendary architects Irving Gill, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and Paul R. Williams, among others. The houses, each under two thousand square feet, are examples of what is possible in the small house and offer the reader a colorful palette of ideas from which to artfully transform spaces into comfortable, contemporary living.
Some homes featured here are period-perfect time capsules, harkening back to the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, while others embrace the new and are entirely of today. All are a testament to how a well-designed house can wonderfully serve the needs of the twenty-first century. In an age where many are downsizing, this book will be welcomed. While showcasing a mix of homes, it emphasizes light, bright, and inspiring interiors that are beyond distinct architectural styles. The trend of reviving old houses will continue to grow steadily, and this book will be inspirational for those looking to do it right.” (Syndetic summary)

Stylish and Delicious – Home, Garden & DIY Blog April

Syndetics book coverAn invitation to the garden: seasonal entertaining outdoors
“In this indispensable entertaining guide, Michael Devine, a well-known tastemaker, shows how the garden can be a perfect and easily transformable setting to stage enchanted events in every season. Michael Devine shares the joys of outdoor dining in his exquisite garden, presenting several get-togethers throughout the year-from breakfast and lunch to cocktails and dinner. Included are easy-to-prepare recipes as well as lots of ideas for creating festive tablescapes and decor that befit each occasion, from an iridescent butterfly-themed summer luncheon to a Christmas Eve feast in his cozy candlelit garden folly. Each garden event is chic and infused with whimsical effects. This small backyard garden has clipped bushes, trellised climbing roses, potted containers, and raised sprightly vegetable and herb beds, which serve as the source for many of the fresh ingredients for his mouthwatering menus. An array of sensuous blooms for the table is ready for the picking. A charming bagatelle with a thatched roof and a gravel terrace enveloped by the lush garden function as intimate seating areas for his chic parties. This book provides expert guidance and inspiration for readers looking to create their own stylish outdoor parties with ease, whether they are city dwellers with a small plot of land or the owners of country property.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPhillippa’s home baking / Phillippa Grogan & Richard Cornish ; photography by Mark Chew.
“Phillippa Grogan is the face and name behind Phillippa’s, a well-respected bakery known for its delicious range of traditional baked goods, such as fruit muffins, slices, chocolate cakes and the lightest sponges, as well as pizzas, savoury tarts and traditionally made breads. In this inspiring and generous book, written with Richard Cornish, Phillippa shares more than 140 baking recipes from Australia, New Zealand and beyond, gathered from family, friends and her travels. Backed by expert knowledge of quality ingredients, basic techniques and the chemistry of cooking, Phillippa’s reassuring advice will assist you at every step, whether you are baking for lunchboxes, tea parties or a feasting table.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverCreative ideas to organize your home
“Here is a wonderful collection of 50 step-by-step projects which will help you to bring a sense of order to your home. AuthorLinda Peterson shows you how to upcycle old baking tins into a three-tiered storage rack and metal trays into memo boards, repurpose a garden rake into a jewelry stand and create drawer tidies from baby food jars. Create special storage containers for all your crafting supplies, and handy binders for household papers, magazine racks, and shoe storage. Whenever you need small-scale storage solutons–from the kitchen to the bathroom, bedroom to the study–you will find a stylish crafty solution in this book.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverKitchen garden experts:twenty celebrated chefs and their head gardeners
“This book features the chefs and gardeners at the UK’s most exciting restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes focusing on the ways they produce the very best fruit and vegetables to appear on that day’s menu. It reveals their beautiful kitchen gardens, inspiring and delicious recipes, and their tried-and-tested gardening techniques. Now you can explore the kitchens and gardens of famous chefs and restaurants from Terence Conran and Raymond Blanc to River Cottage and Petersham. Gain extraordinary access to the kitchen gardens and personal recipe books of more than 20 head chefs. With this book any gardener can follow the precise steps that top chefs take to create great-tasting dishes. From choosing, growing, harvesting and cooking, find out how to make the tastiest dishes using more than 30 crops and recipes. The chefs reveal the details that contribute to perfection, how they collaborate with their head gardeners to determine soil preparation, the timing of sowing, careful harvesting and refined storage, right down to how they prepare the crops for cooking. For existing gardeners, it will offer inspiration when it comes to choosing what to grow from the perspective of what’s good to eat. Arranged by region, this book will enable armchair and real exploration of restaurants, kitchens and gardens, from fruits to vegetables to herbs and from plot to kitchen. You can book a table at all the places featured, or enjoy recreating the ingredients and the meals yourselves.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSeaside tinkered treasures : 35 simple projects to bring the seashore home / Elyse Major ; foreword by Selina Lake.
“Elyse Major has created a second charming collection of the easy-to-make projects that she calls “tinkered treasures”. Using items from the seashore, vacation essentials, and things you will already have in your home, she has recreated the feeling of summer in these beautiful souvenirs of days spent by the ocean. Mermaids made from laundry pins, shell-topped jars, a beach cottage built from lolly sticks, or a windchime constructed from sticks and shells, are just some of the unique ideas to help you keep your happy summer memories alive throughout the year. Many of the projects use recycled materials, and “tinkering” requires no specialist tools, equipment or techniques–anyone can do it! As well as the 35 projects, there are “Fancy This” alternatives for many items, substituting different materials or changing the colors for a different look.” (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPetit collage: 25 easy craft and décor projects for a playful home
“From the beloved design brand for nurseries, playrooms, and every space in between, Petit Collage shows you how to make 25 of their bestselling paper and wooden accessories for your home. Customize toy chests, create cheerful name plaques, build bunny clocks, and more, with artist and owner Lorena Siminovich. Breaking down each project with simple, illustrated step-by-step instructions, Siminovich presents easy tips on how to personalize the Petit Collage signature style with your child’s favorite colors and patterns. All you need are rubber stamps, paper, scissors, and the provided project templates to create a contemporary space filled with bright and distinctive décor.
Whether you’re looking for unique paper toys or vibrant namesake prints, Petit Collage’s whimsical craft projects will inspire your children to put their little touch and big imagination into your family home.” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverDesign bloggers at home:fresh interiors inspiration from leading on-line trend setters
“A digital revolution is underway. A global network of creative, interior design bloggers has emerged, publishing fresh and inspiring content online every day. With diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, these individuals bloggers combine to create a thriving online community of trend-setters and style gurus. The digital world brings with it design democracy; with the freedom to publish whatever they want, whenever they want and unhampered by the restrictions of larger corporate websites, these design bloggers offer a beguiling alternative to traditional media and have become an important source of inspiration and information for the homes enthusiast. In her first book, leading interiors journalist and stylist Ellie Tennant meets the characters and creative forces behind leading design blogs, exploring their online realms, their beautiful homes and their clever styling ideas. Fifteen in-depth case studies cover a panorama of cutting edge bloggers’ spaces- from a pared-back monochrome cabin in Scandinavia to a maximalist, color-filled apartment in California–while the final chapter offers advice on setting up your own design blog. The result is a coffee table tome to treasure–a visual feast of inspiring yet achievable interiors–with plenty of ideas to steal for your own home.” (Libray Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPlace in the sun: green living and the solar home
“Green living meets good design in this luxuriously illustrated volume. These environmentally responsible, perfectly designed solar-powered houses will inspire readers to see their homes as places that can blend sustainability and beauty. The book vividly demonstrates that living green does not have to mean sacrificing comfort and living with less. In truth, it is living with so much more-peace of mind, better health, and the elegance of sustainable design that maximizes natural lighting, natural ventilation, and natural textures and materials and puts an emphasis on craftsmanship.
Incisive text offers profiles of the featured houses through interviews with the homeowners and includes practical information in sidebars covering green decorating and earth-friendly remodeling as well as healthy home tips and shopping resources. Readers are shown steps they can take and places to obtain the materials needed. Indeed, this book is a handy green product buyer’s guide to help navigate scores of green home essentials from furnishings to household cleaners. The reader benefits from practical advice derived from the experience of homeowners, builders, and architects, who have achieved the dream of creating not only a solar home but a home that is green inside and out.” (Library Catalogue)

Home, Garden and DIY March: Stylish Living and Property Investment

Gorgeous hand-made bouquet, with a hint of caffeine-influenced design, and beautifully preserved vegetables will bring your home a fresh new look. Also have a look at the property investment books.

Syndetics book coverDecorate with flowers: creative ideas for flowers and containers around the home
“This unique collaboration between international bestselling interiors author and stylist Holly Becker of the award-winning design blog, decor, and Leslie Shewring, product designer, photographer and stylist, offers advice on selecting, combining and arranging flowers to best complement your decor. Decorate with Flowers contains a host of exciting ideas separated into eight gorgeous styles, showing flowers in relaxed, casual homes alongside those with some serious panache. You’ll find a host of creative ideas for entertaining at home, from tea parties to cocktails with friends.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverBuilt for caffeine / by Ben Crawford.
“In the land of the long black and flat white, it’s no surprise that some of New Zealand’s most innovative and original design is found in our cafes. In Built for Caffeine, Ben Crawford explores the beautiful, inventive and sometimes quirky interior design from 20 favourite cafes nationwide… Contains interviews with the owners, architects and designers of each cafe, retelling their inspiring stories before translating their fit-out features into design ideas and tips that you can use in your own home.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverRowan Bishop with relish : fine chutneys, pickles & more / photographs by Carolyn Robertson.
“Preserving fresh seasonal produce as well as adding interest and flavour to meals with chutneys, pickles, relishes and sauces are age-old, timeless practices. In this, her fifth book, Rowan Bishop indulges her passion for these wonderfully versatile condiments. Not content to stick with the traditional, Rowan has developed over 50 recipes designed to reduce sugar content and let the natural qualities of ingredients shine. She has then enhanced and intensified flavours with spices and herbs from different cuisines and also extended the preserves repertoire beyond the familiar, to include sambals, salsas, pastes, tapenades, a liqueur and even a ‘champagne’. Ideal for the home gardener as well as easy on the budget, these are recipes to savour and relish.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe manual of seed saving : harvesting, storing, and sowing techniques for vegetables, herbs, and fruits / Andrea Heistinger ; in association with Arche Noah, Pro Specie Rara ; translated by Ian Miller.
“Heistinger, an Austrian agronomist, in association with Austrian (Arche Noah) and Swiss (Pro Specia Rara) conservation foundations, presents agronomist Miller’s translation of her award-winning Austrian publication, a comprehensive guide to correctly harvesting, storing, and planting seeds from more than 100 vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The author aims to enable gardeners and farmers to create their own heirloom seeds rather than depending on commercial varieties to grow plants that will thrive under local conditions, to maintain existing plant varieties that may be otherwise lost, to diversify crops, and simply to enjoy good-tasting homegrown foods. The tested techniques offered here in consultation with global experts are easy to follow in both photographs and text. Arranged alphabetically by common plant name, from amaranth to “tomato and relatives,” each plant is described in terms of botanical and propagation characteristics. Also included for each entry are overviews of the plant family, “What You’ll Need” to harvest the plant’s seed, pollination notes, and extensive information on growing the plant for its seeds, harvesting it, selection criteria of which to be aware, and cultivation history. VERDICT With increasing numbers of edible plant varieties disappearing from seed catalogs and gardens, this work enables its audience to engage in a worthy pursuit. It will be very useful for hobbyist and professional growers. A green thumb up.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverTruth lies & real estate : a property seller’s essential guide / Nigel Mayson & Wendy Mayson.
“The authors, who have extensive experience in both property and marketing in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, offer a practical guide for all property owners to confidently and successfully negotiate their way through the agent/agency appointment, property marketing, and selling processes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvest & prosper with property : how Kiwis can profit from property investment / David Whitburn.
“A bang-up-to-date book on property investment in New Zealand, with lots of practical advice from a rising star in this market. This book has been written as an authoritative text on New Zealand property investment. Its goal is to inform investors and inspire and teach would-be investors about how investing in property the right way can make for an improved life. There have been numerous changes to legislation recently, requiring the vast majority of New Zealand property investors and would-be investors to consider changing their investment strategy in response. The global financial crisis and systemic changes to the finance industry also require changes from investors. The book includes many of the author’s own experiences. It is clear and readable in its technical aspects. Chapters include: Why should I invest in property? What do I need to know to get started? Should I buy commercial or residential property? What investment strategy is best for me? How can I really check out a property? How do I structure my property ownership? How can I save money on my mortgage? What do I need to know about accounting and taxation? How do I get and keep good tenants? How can I minimise risks… and much more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand guide on how to subdivide a 1/4 acre property : my experience of residential subdivision in New Zealand / by Toa Greening.
“This book is the complete guide on ¼ acre residential property subdivisions in New Zealand. A 90 page compilation of budgeting calculations, estimations, graphs, site diagrams, pictures and case studies are used throughout to illustrate the various aspects of property development and subdivision. “The aim is to share my experiences of subdividing a quarter acre section so that you too can realise the potential of property subdivision. I will show you how the initial deposit of $30,000 turned into $400,000 in less than five years through property subdivision. More importantly I will teach you how to successfully subdivide property yourself.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHomes people can afford : how to improve housing in New Zealand / edited by Sarah Bierre, Philippa Howden-Chapman & Lisa Early.
“This book investigates New Zealand’s shortage of affordable and social housing. Contributors from a variety of disciplines and policy perspectives argue that when affordable and social housing is under-provided by the market, more active policies and investment are required from central and local government. They offer viable and exciting options which, in combination, could house New Zealanders in homes they can afford. The book explores new models of urban living that encourage a sense of community and a good quality of life, and shows that intelligent housing policy can help make communities healthier, happier, more stable and more resilient to climate change. In Aotearoa New Zealand we need once more to see quality, healthy, safe housing, whether it is rented in the public or private sector, or owner-occupied, as a human right.” (Publisher’s information)

Refresh your home and garden this summer: Recent Picks For February

This year’s new books features great innovative ideas for decorating and refreshing the home and garden. Have a browse.

Syndetics book coverBathroom ideas you can use : secrets & solutions for freshening up the hardest-working room in your house / Chris Peterson.
“A design and inspiration book that is packed full with gorgeous photos of beautiful bathrooms and highly desired bathroom fixtures. It contains useful information and intelligent discussion, and features hundreds of beautiful photos of rooms, materials and fixtures. All of the most common fixtures include: multi-head shower stalls, tubs and spas, vanities, lavatory sinks, toilets and bidets, vent fans and even saunas and infrared steam baths. Accessories can transform a plain bath into a luxury salon, including: towel warmers, anti-fog mirrors, cabinetry and cabinet organizers, paper holders and towel rods, shower doors, and home electronics. Whatever your plans may be, from a simple refreshing to a complete makeover, your next bathroom remodeling project starts here.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreative vegetable gardening
“British garden writer Larkcom suggests ways to enliven vegetable gardens by adding flowers, arches, arbors or free-standing decorative items. Beginning with a brief overview of the potager, the centuries-old concept of vegetable gardening in France, she moves from vast elegantly designed gardens to the practical, with photos of British gardens she knows. Elements of design and siting are explained and beautifully illustrated in sufficient detail for even novice gardeners who want to embellish their vegetable patches with colorful unexpected elements. Taking on all details, from myriad variations on fencing, edging and garden paths to the multiple color and texture diversity of various lettuces, spinaches and other greens, Larkcom also offers a comprehensive alphabetical directory of vegetables (including little-known varieties).” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGardens are for living: design inspiration for outdoor spaces
“Here, Kameon shares insights for making dynamic outdoor spaces that are both beautiful and usable. Inspired by the midcentury-modern ethos that introduced the idea of everyday outdoor living, she shares strategies for making complete environments-what to look for when choosing the paths, walls, and plants but also the lighting, furniture, and accessories. The goal is to create a linked series of warm settings for different purposes to suit different occasions-whether it is a patio for cocktails around the fire pit, a large table for dinner parties, or a cozy hangout nook for curling up with a book. She also shows how to use elements like mats, pillows, lanterns, and benches to carve out individual retreats. It is an inspiring lifestyle with deep roots in California, but one that can be created anywhere.” (Abridged from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverHomes from home : inventive small spaces, from chic shacks to cabins and caravans / Vinny Lee.
“Lee (Recycled Spaces) opens with a reminder that “there is something special about a small, intimate living space, a place where you can let your imagination roam and where responsibilities are few and far between.” The simplicity of these homes may only be skin deep-to convert an old grain store into a residence, the builders used the same tinfoil insulation used in space shuttle construction. The book explores “huts” made from metal, stone, and clay and highlights the appeal of wood structures, including treehouses with long winding staircase up into the branches. Some of the spaces are pure fantasy-a Swiss mountain chalet built by local craftsmen pegging the wood beams rather than nailing, or a South African rondavel with a thatch roof that needs regular patching and replacement. Others seem achievable by anyone: a pop-up trailer “drawn, cut, pasted and sewn by hand.” The author promotes a philosophy of enjoying the natural surroundings: use rainwater to wash hair, harvest herbs to make fresh teas, and decorate with old and recycled furniture and accessories.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverConverted houses : New Zealand architecture recycled / photography, Daniel Allen ; text, Lucinda Diack.
“Converted Houses showcases clever examples of New Zealand’s early architecture being recycled for modern day living. Industrial and farming buildings, halls, chapels, community landmarks and even a cool store are among the clever conversions featured within this inspiring collection of innovative homes.” (Publisher’s information)

Syndetics book cover“Style your modern vintage home : a guide to buying, restoring and styling from the 1920s to the 1990s / Kate Beavis ; foreword by Paloma Faith.
Style Your Modern Vintage Home is an inspirational book for all vintage enthusiasts. It covers a decade from the 1920s to the 1990s, and provides practical tip for buying, styling and restoring your vintage homewares home. Vintage enthusiasts can restore or integrate the living room, bedroom, kitchen, study, hall and even the garden.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverFarrow & Ball : decorating with colour / Ros Byam Shaw ; photography by Jan Baldwin.
“Farrow & Ball is an iconic British brand and a great British success story. Its paints and wallpapers are used to decorate stylish homes all over the world. Following on from the best-selling Farrow and Ball Living with Colour, this book features a fabulous range of homes, all of which have been specially photographed for the book.” (Syndetics summary)

December Gardening Picks

Amongst this month’s new garden book picks In the Garden was a standout. This beautifully illustrated book cleverly introduces some of our iconic native flora and fauna in a very accessible way.  In the practical gardening tips department  there is advice on how to rejig and refresh existing plant arrangements rather than starting from scratch which is also appealing.

Syndetics book coverIn the garden : explore & discover the New Zealand backyard / Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler.
In the Garden introduces young children to common creatures they can find in a New Zealand garden.  The book describes their relationship with other living things, and includes many interesting and intriguing facts. This book encourages children aged 4-8 to explore their gardens and discover the plants and animals that live there, with sections on bees, wasps and flies; butterflies and moths; snails and spiders; lizards, mammals and birds. Aimed at children from pre-schoolers and up, the book will also appeal to anyone who is curious about the wild side of New Zealand gardens.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRefresh your garden design with color, texture & form / Rebecca Sweet.
“This book is packed with advice on how to wake up boring garden beds, ways to make a cramped garden feel bigger and also ideas on how to  bring a sense of intimacy to an expansive area. If you are needing ideas on how to downplay eyesores, or need to create a certain mood this you will find suggestions on which plants to keep and which to pull, and also how to  thoughtfully integrate hardscaping, structures and accessories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeatrix Potter’s gardening life : the plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales / Marta McDowell.
“There aren’t many books more beloved than The Tale of Peter Rabbit and even fewer authors as iconic as Beatrix Potter.  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life is the first book to explore the origins of Beatrix Potter’s love of gardening and plants and show how this passion came to be reflected in her work. The book begins with a gardener’s biography, highlighting the key moments and places throughout her life that helped define her, including her home Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District.  Richly illustrated and filled with quotations from her books, letters, and journals, it is essential reading for all who know and cherish Beatrix Potter’s classic tales.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy can’t my garden look like that? : proven, easy ways to make a beautiful garden of your own / John Shortland.
“John Shortland demonstrates just how easy it is to make adjustments to what is already there to make your garden stunning, whatever its size. Whether it’s an issue with design, plant selection or pruning – or even lack of time – simple solutions are described in clear language that will appeal both to the complete novice and those with more experience.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustralian coastal gardens / Myles Baldwin, photography by Sue Stubbs.
“The coastal gardens of Australia are as varied as the geography of this vast continent itself. Join Myles Baldwin as he travels around the country, from the gentle landscape of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and the sheer cliffs of Sydney’s Dover Heights to an old copper mining town in South Australia and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe essential Audrey Eagle : botanical art of New Zealand.
“Presents more than 150 paintings of our most loved native plants, from every major genus. The beautiful full-colour plates are accompanied by detailed notes, and a fresh introduction tells the story of Audrey Eagle and sets her place in the history of botanical illustration of New Zealand’s unique native flora” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe biodynamic orchard book / Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Michael Maltas.
” This book brings together the best advice for cultivating fruit trees, berries and shrubs using biodynamic methods, with the aim of harvesting healthy fruit free of pesticides.This is an invaluable book with practical advice on all aspects of planning and maintaining a healthy orchard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrow your own plants / [Alan Titchmarsh].
“By using a variety of simple propagation techniques you can learn how to grow your own plants for free. Alan Titchmarsh shows how to sow seed, take leaf and root cuttings, divide shrubs, and how to promote growth in your young plants. He covers all the essentials and provides inspirational ideas for filling your garden with flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables, all grown from scratch.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBackyard foraging : 65 familiar plants you didn’t know you could eat / Ellen Zachos.
“You don’t need to trek into the forest to forage edible plants. Ideal for first-time foragers, this book features 70 edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods. You’ll be amazed by how many of the plants you see each day are actually nutritious edibles. Full-color photographs make identification easy, and tips on where certain plants are likely to be found, how to avoid pollution and pesticides, and how to recognize the plants you should NEVER harvest make foraging as safe and simple as stepping into your own backyard.” (Syndetics summary)

Got the Green at My Home

Sustainable living and permaculture gardening may sound a bit like an abstract concept to you – how about an energy saving home, zero-cost furniture, fruitful gardens and delicious salads and meats? Green living starts here!

Syndetics book coverTeaming with nutrients : the organic gardener’s guide to optimizing plant nutrition / Jeff Lowenfels.
“Colorful illustrations, plentiful and readable diagrams, and a well-executed chapter structure make this an indispensable resource for the serious organic farmer who did not major in organic chemistry. Lowenfels (Teaming with Microbes) has packed as much helpful information into this volume about how plants absorb nutrients as there are nutrients in a single plant cell-that is, lots. The book is weighty on the scientific level, but accessible. Each chapter builds on the previous one and concludes with a summary bullet-point section called “Summing Up.” (Some readers may benefit from reading the summary bullet points first.) Not all of the technical information presented here will be suited to every organic farmer, but every farmer will benefit from some element in the book-if nothing else, from Grandpa Al’s Can’t Fail Recipe for organic fertilizer. For organic farmers who take the book seriously, it will forever change the way they look at the “back forty.”” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverWood pallet projects : cool and easy-to-make projects for the home and garden / Chris Gleason.
“Lumber prices are soaring, and deforestation is a rising concern. Yet millions of pounds of perfectly usable wood are dumped in landfills every year. Wood Pallet Projects shows how anyone can upcycle salvaged pallet wood to create truly one-of-a-kind projects. Maverick craftsman Chris Gleason combines sound woodworking techniques with a hip designer’s sensibility to unleash the limitless possibilities of the common skid. Inside you’ll find 15 of his inspired projects for rescuing and repurposing pallets. Some of his pieces celebrate the rough, edgy character of the material, while others are crafted as fine furniture. He shows how to construct both indoor and outdoor furniture in a variety of styles, along with other useful items such as a birdhouse, a toolbox, and even a ukulele. There’s plenty of nitty gritty here on working with pallets, including where to find them, how to process them into usable lumber, fasteners, sanding, and the best finishes (if any) to use. The author provides important advice on how to make sure that your pallets are safe, and not sprayed with harmful chemicals. A colorful gallery of finished work provides further inspiration for green crafting.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverParadise lot : two plant geeks, one-tenth of an acre and the making of an edible garden oasis in the city / Eric Toensmeier ; with contributions from Jonathan Bates.
“With their shared passion for plants and a commitment to creating as self-sustaining a garden as possible on a minuscule lot in a small New England city cursed with a terrible climate and even worse soil, Toensmeier and Bates set about converting their urban backyard into a permaculture paradise. Informed by his work on a seminal, two-volume encyclopedia devoted to the concept of forest gardening, Toensmeier transformed the infertile and debris-laden property behind the duplex he shared with Bates into a natural ecosystem teeming with edible plants. As the authors’ postage-stamp-size front yard morphed into a lush, tropical showcase that astounded their Massachusetts community, the backyard incorporated all the components necessary to produce fresh fruits and vegetables year-round using cold-hardy, mostly native plants that would ideally require a minimum amount of work for a maximum output. As a memoir of a purposeful life, Toensmeier’s work is engaging, honest, and natural. As a directive to other gardeners eager to establish natural ecosystems in unlikely settings, his work is instructive, illuminating, and inspirational.” (Adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverFundamentals of sustainable dwellings / Avi Friedman.
“Architect Friedman (McGill Univ., Canada) covers the principles of residential green buildings, addressing topics ranging from site location to building materials, heating and cooling systems, water efficiency, green roofs, and waste management. The author writes in a reader-friendly manner in layperson’s terms, includes many photographs and illustrations, and provides the basic principles that most architects and builders should know and hopefully follow. Everyone would live in a much more sustainable world if the fundamentals presented in this book were practiced on a wide scale. Each of the 13 chapters is punctuated with case studies relative to that particular topic. Unfortunately, the majority of the buildings chosen for case studies are box-shaped buildings devoid of much aesthetic value. This reviewer agrees that these buildings are likely more energy efficient, but there is still room for aesthetic design in sustainable construction. Summing Up: Recommended.” (Adapted from CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverThe Chefs Collaborative cookbook : local, sustainable, delicious recipes from America’s great chefs / Chefs Collaborative & Ellen Jackson ; photography by Gentl & Hyers.
“In the first cookbook from the Chefs Collaborative, food and sustainability take center stage. Pairing taste and ingredients with conscientiousness for the environment (in both a global and local sense), this book offers insight into scrumptious cooking with a conscience. Written with the premise that “food grown near to us is… fresher [and] offers… the opportunity to explore and eat from the regional edible plants available to us,” the cookbook focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. Divided into four main sections, every ingredient has its day in the sun. The recipes range from the simple but tasty (such as grilled eggplant with roasted red pepper and black olive salad and buttermilk fried chicken) to more complex dishes, like traditional coq au vin and grilled skin-on striped bass with summer tomatoes and horta. With contributions from multiple well-known and respected chefs, including Peter Hoffman and Jesse Cool, and informative sections on how to make the reader’s food “better for the environment” and “fresh from the freezer,” this book will cause even the seasoned chef look at his or her surroundings in a whole new light and with a new appetite.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverSimply this : printed and dyed handmade projects / Fiona Fagan.
“Simply, this is a craft book that celebrates natural tones, organic textures and found objects. Fiona Fagan shows you how to print your own beautifully patterned fabric using stencils that can easily be found around the home. The book also includes over 30 projects you can then use to create a unique gift or something special for yourself, for any area of your home – the bedroom, the kitchen or the living room. Fiona Fagan also shows you how to recycle – using found or treasured materials to embellish and add to your designs, making each project different. Spend a morning or a weekend and create a new look to your dining room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom. Add a designer touch to your personal objects as well. Linen and cotton are ideal for these projects and with some simple recycle all the projects are not expensive to make. The fabric-dyeing processes are cheap, safe and easy to do in any home kitchen with no messy chemicals or complicated processes. Fiona also shows you how to create that amazing Japanese printing technique – Shibori. The book includes step-by-step photography on all the projects to guide you through each stage of the project with ease.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book cover100 contemporary green buildings = 100 zeitgenössiche grüne bauten = 100 bâtiments verts contemporains / Philip Jodidio. “Eco-friendly building in the world today
The most exciting new buildings in the world are now almost all environmentally aware, sustainable, and conceived to consume far less energy than ever before. That architecture is one of the major sources of greenhouse gases in the world makes this new trend all the more significant. This book brings the best examples of green projects from the Architecture Now! series together with numerous new, never-seen-before projects. Well-known architects like Frank Gehry and Norman Foster are present right alongside young, up-and-coming creators from Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia. This is not a technical book, nor are its contents limited to any predefined category. Being “green” means being aware of the responsibility implied in the construction and use of modern buildings, and there are many ways to express this rising consciousness. Some solutions, the ones generally called “passive,” are as old as the history of architecture, while others are born of cutting-edge technologies. Both approaches and many more are included in this groundbreaking collection of 100 of the world’s most innovative and recent eco-friendly buildings.” (Library catalogue)

Seeds to Sow and Green to Grow – Home, Garden and DIY for the Spring

Syndetics book coverHow to grow microgreens : quick, easy ways to grow & eat nature’s tasty superfoods / Fionna Hill.
“How to Grow Microgreens – the tiny seedlings of herbs and vegetables – are today’s hottest gourmet garnish, offering a multitude of colours, textures and distinct flavours, ranging from mild and subtle to spicy, hot or nutty. Larger than sprouts and smaller than ‘baby’ salad greens, microgreens are fantastic for those with limited garden space, as they are great to grow in containers on a terrace or windowsill. Immediate and practical, most varieties are ready in a week or so, and you can grow them in winter. As a bonus, as well as tasting great, nutritionally microgreens pack a powerful punch; they contain higher levels of active plant compounds than mature plants or seeds.
How to Grow Microgreens provides detailed information – from planting to harvesting – for 25 popular vegetables and herbs, along with recipes and ideas on how to use them. There are also chapters on troubleshooting, the nutritional value of microgreens and how to encourage children to grow and enjoy them.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverGroundbreaking food gardens: 73 plans that will change the way you grow your garden
“Niki Jabbour has collected 73 groundbreaking food garden plans from some of her favourite gardener superstars, including Amy Stewart, Amanda Thomsen, Barbara Pleasant, Jeff Lowenfels, Dave Dewitt, and Jessi Bloom. Each plan is illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the inspiration behind the design, and a plant list so readers can easily grow these themed gardens themselves.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverKeep out! : build your own backyard clubhouse / Lee Mothes.
“Teacher and carpenter Mothes’s first book is filled with nostalgic charm. A gallery of possible clubhouses is introduced, all variations on a simple plan. An introduction to basic hand tools is obviously aimed at youth-the drawn illustrations are just right-with instructions added for adults. The projects are cleanly broken down and quite manageable, with lots of tips for both kids and adults. The last section of the book focuses on outbuildings for adults, but instructions here are abbreviated. Verdict? Any interested kid or adult can build a clubhouse with this book in hand. Fantastic advice and encouragement make each project approachable. For more sophisticated design, adults might be more inspired by Chris Gleason’s The Versatile Shed. A great addition to any building collection-highly recommended.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverTake Chelsea home : practical inspiration from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show / Chris Young ; foreword by Alan Titchmarsh.
“Celebrating 100 years of the Chelsea Flower Show with a beautiful centenary edition, Take Chelsea Home identifies the best in garden design and landscaping. This inspirational sourcebook presents the most attractive, practical, portable and recent designs and illustrates how these ideas might work in any garden. Chris Young, editor of RHS magazine, focuses on the fines details and finishing touches that help to transform our gardens and outdoor spaces.
Chris Young presents the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s key design trends including Contemporary, Classic, Wildlife and the Kitchen Garden. He interviews gold-medal winning designers about their individual garden design style and provides context to their creations. Take Chelsea Home provides both the inspiration and the practical information to create beautifully designed and landscaped gardens at home.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverSmall space organics : creating sustainable, edible gardens / Josh Byrne ; foreword by Peter Cundall.
“This book follows the development of a small urban garden in Fremantle, Western Australia. Illustrated with technical diagrams, sketches and before-and-after photos, Small Space Organics charts a process for creating innovative, sustainable and stylish ways to incorporate organic food production into urban residential landscapes. It includes the latest research and techniques for permaculture, water conservation and propagation, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to create your own urban organic food garden.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverGood companions : the mix & match guide to companion planting / Josie Jeffrey.
“The mix & match guide to companion planting Why sow seeds that arent happy sharing a bed when you can plan a harmonious garden instead? With its ingenious split-page, mix and match system, Good Companions offers an immediate guide to the friends and foes of the gardening world, ensuring you have all the tools you need to grow your most successful crop yet! How does companion planting work? Well, take just one well-known example squash, sweetcorn and beans. Together these three make a happy family: squash will shelter the beans roots, which in their turn will add beneficial nitrogen to the trios soil, while the strong-growing sweetcorn will support the beans as they grow. And there are dozens of other groups that are equally good for one another just flip the pages and match up the easy colour coding to plant up the happiest plot you can imagine.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverGrow harvest cook : 280 recipes from the ground up / Meredith Kirton, Mandy Sinclair ; photographs by Sue Stubbs ; design by Susan Cadzow.
“Whether you have a small urban garden or are looking to establish a substantial kitchen garden for your home, Grow Harvest Cook is your indispensable companion, filled to the brim with all you need to know to grow, harvest and cook your own produce. It comes complete with practical gardening tips, the know how for successful harvesting, and simple, seasonal recipes for putting your home grown produce to delicious use. This gorgeous 400-page book takes the reader through over 80 types of produce – from apples to courgettes – providing simple information about growing conditions and harvesting tips, then moving on to recipes and ideas for using up your produce, including preserving, drying and freezing. Based on the blog of the same name, the authors and photographer of Grow Harvest Cook have reinvented the meaning of homemade and created a work that truly celebrates good, home grown food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerrariums reimagined : mini worlds made in creative containers / Kat Geiger.
“Add style, nature, and a touch of whimsy to your home with one-of-a-kind terrariums. Learn to design mini gardens in glass, stylish showpieces in unique containers, whether you are a novice or an expert.” (Syndetics Summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to grow beautiful roses:a practical guide to growing, caring for and maintaining roses, shown in over 275 glorious photographs
“With its myriad hues, scents and shapes, the rose is the perfect companion to many plants in the garden, and will continue to give pleasure for many years. This book is a comprehensive guide to growing, maintaining and designing with the world¿s most enduring flower. It begins with a fascinating history of the rose, then provides instructions for planting and caring for roses in borders, as climbers, ramblers and standards, as well as how to grow ground-cover, miniature and container roses. A stunning gallery provides a selection of the most popular varieties available. For anyone who loves roses, this book is a treasure trove of information, advice and design ideas.” (Libary catalogue)

Syndetics book coverRx from the garden [electronic resource] : 101 food cures you can easily grow / Kathleen Barnes.
“Your backyard becomes an all-natural pharmacy! Colds. Headaches. Upset stomach, Allergy symptoms. Depression. Circulation problems. his timely book goes beyond using herbs as medicine; it also focuses on beneficial foods for more than 100 common ailments and shows you how to grow them. In that way, RX from the Garden lets you circumvent expensive meds with questionable side effects by explaining what foods to eat to help you feel better. In addition to aligning health problems with natural cures, this valuable resource provides step-by-step instruction on how to easily cultivate the corresponding vegetables and herbs in your lawn, garden, or flowerbed. According to Hippocrates, “Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.” Now you can reap health benefits for your very own backyard bounty.” (Library catalogue)