Category Archives: Non-Fiction

A Well-Crafted Home: Inspiration and 60 Projects for Personalizing Your Space by Janet Crowther

A beautiful, practical book for both aspiring makers and seasoned crafters. Here are 60 projects for high-quality furniture, textiles, and accessories to enjoy all through the house–plus all the techniques you need for dyeing or sewing fabric, cutting leather, antiquing mirrors, working with wood, and much more.

A Well-Crafted Home
 includes simple, creative details that will tailor a space to your taste. More than just -DIY- crafts, these carefully designed projects call for good materials–like linen, leather, and wood–so the finished product will last you a lifetime. Ranging from beginner to more advanced, each item elevates a room in a way you’d never expect: a large-scale painting with an effortless -dot- design looks like a modern piece of art, flax linen bedding sewn with a few easy seams is gorgeous way to set off the bed (and is more affordable than you would think), and a copper pipe rack for hanging clothes is so pretty, you’ll want to keep it on display.
There’s something for every room in this book:

The Entryway: 
Dowel Wall Hooks, Reclaimed Wood Bench, Woven Leather Basket, Soft Planter Cover, Block-Print Pillow, Looped-Tassel Wall Hanging

The Living Room: Dyed Fabric Ottoman, Tassel Wall Banner, Bleach-Dot Lumbar Pillow, Flange-Edge Throw Pillow, Tied Shibori Throw Pillow, Gemstone Box, Air-Dry Clay Bowl, Rolling Trunk Storage, Glass-Cover Pendant Lamp

The Kitchen: Wooden Herb Planter, Rustic Footed Cutting Board, Quilted Cushions, Leather-Loop Tea Towels, Ombre Ceramic Vase

The Dining Room: 
Heirloom Linen Tablecloth, Indigo-Stripe Napkins, Leather Napkin Rings, Clay Candlesticks, Boro Stitched Trivet, Beaded Light Fixture,

The Bedroom: 
Framed Cane Headboard; Linen Bedding with Duvet, Shams, and Pillowcases; Simple Stitch Throw Pillow; Sewn Leather Pillow; Trimmed Waffle-Weave Blanket; Modern Latch-Hook Stool; Dyed Fabric Art in Round Mat; Natural Jute Rug; Painted Ceramic Tray; Acrylic Side Table; Refurbished Table Lamp; Boro Stitched Memory Quilt

The Closet: Copper Garment Rack, Leaning Floor Mirror, Wall Shoe Display, Thread-Wrapped Pendant Light, Liberty Print Hamper, Antiqued Mirror Table

The Bathroom: 
Natural Wood Stump, Oak Tub Tray, Knotted Rope Ladder, Terry-cloth Towels, Leather Wastebasket

The Outdoor Oasis: Simple Sewn Hammock, Painted Wood Stump, Restored-Frame Tray, Ice-Dyed Blanket, Colorwash Sheepskin

With beautiful photographs of rooms styled with all of the projects, A Well-Crafted Home proves that even the smallest touch of handmade can make a house a home.  – Goodreads

I. Love. This. Book.

I was so incredibly excited when I saw this as an option for a review on Blogging For Books (I received a copy in exchange for an honest review). I recently bought a new house and am having a fun time updating rooms and decorating — pretty much everything in this book is my “style”.

The instructions are easy to follow, the photos are gorgeous, and the projects are completely doable for someone who isn’t the handiest or craftiest person on the planet. Each project has the skill level labeled, from beginner to advanced.

If you enjoy DIY projects or things that resemble what is sold at Anthropologie, pick this book up — you won’t regret it. I’m looking forward to working on some projects for my new home.

 

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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”  Read the rest of the summary on Goodreads.

Ready for one of those embarrassing, obsessive reviews? Good, because that’s how this one is going to be.

Let me start by explaining how I got my mitts on this book. I had some extra Audible credits and needed to paint my kitchen, so I downloaded this simply because I thought it was Aziz Ansari’s autobiography and I love Aziz, so I figured his narration would be awesome.

Much to my surprise, it was not an autobiography, but a well-researched book on modern dating. I spent eight hours painting my kitchen and didn’t even realize it because I was so sucked into this damn audiobook…even though Aziz kept telling me how damn lazy I was for LISTENING to the book instead of READING it. I was painting, okay?!

The findings and research in the book is lightened up with Aziz’s comedic relief. What I’m trying to say is….it’s hilarious. I enjoyed the humorous touch.

The book goes into texting, online dating, and how different cultures date in modern society. The book also looks at the history of dating (IE, back in the day, most people would meet someone in their ‘hood and get married to escape their parents).

One interesting concept covered in the book had to do with online dating and how it opens up our options. “The world is available to us, but that may be the problem,” said Ansari. Meaning, we have a difficult time settling with one individual because we KNOW how easy it is to shop for the next one or to see what is available at our fingertips.

Another concept addressed in the book is expectations we place on our significant others, which is different now than it was back in the day. We expect our SOs to be our soulmate, our confidant, our best friend, our travel buddy, our therapist, our sexual partner…basically everything. We expect them to give us happiness and give us joy. We rely wholeheartedly on our SO to provide these functions that, in the past, an SO wasn’t expected to provide. Personally, I think this is fascinating — how can you possibly expect one person to provide all of these services? Is it really up to another human to make you happy? I don’t think so. I think we place a lot of expectations on our relationships, which leads to unmet expectations, which often leads to failure. I believe an SO is someone who should complement your life, encourage you to be better and be your teammate. However, I don’t think an SO is your “other half”…I’d prefer to have another “whole” person to spend my life with — with our own respective hobbies, etc. — than a half.

If you’re expecting a humorous book detailing Aziz Ansari/Tom Haverford’s dating escapades, this book is not for you. This book is a sociological study of the evolution of dating…which, by the way, I rate a 5/5 and will be rereading soon.

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.  – Goodreads

Get ready for a bunch of “self-help” book reviews, people. I’m doing house projects and these type of books are the easiest to listen on audiotape to while doing other activities — I have a tendency to get distracted if I’m listening to fiction.

I’m adding a read more link due to the excessive use of the F-word in the following review. Read more at your discretion.  Continue reading

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Everything You Need You Have by Gerad Kite

29807307Gerad Kite was a therapist for years before realizing all the talk and analysis weren’t making a lasting difference in the lives of his patients. So he quit his practice and looked for a new way to help people feel better. What he discovered is a different approach to finding a secret, peaceful, and permanent place inside yourself that you can access at all times, a path to getting out of your head, to surrender to what is. You’ll see that you already have what you need to be happy and well.
Kite draws on the principles of ancient Chinese philosophy and his extensive experience helping people from all walks of life as a relaxation and acupuncture expert. His ten steps will show you how to tune in to your natural rhythms, view your emotions from a different perspective, and finally experience a state of bliss that you can return to again and again.
The secret to feeling at home in yourself isn’t therapy, meditation, silencing your phone, throwing out your possessions or traveling the world. The answer is already inside you. – Goodreads

It was an interesting read, but I wasn’t completely in love with this read. It was…average at best.

If it’s your first time reading a book on meditation and enlightenment, then it’s a great choice. If you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s nothing new. I do think that Kite does a great job at taking complex ideas of Taoism and ancient Chinese concepts and breaks them down into everyday language, but it was a mess of ideas at times, too.

I do like the overall idea of looking inward for fulfillment and validation — so often we look externally for those feelings and are usually let down.

Overall, it was a quick little read, but it just didn’t resonate with me. I rated it a 3/5. I was given a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Meals for the Whole family by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

16240550A whole foods cookbook and guide to raising healthy children including over 300 nourishing gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free recipes. – Goodreads

This one is tough. On one hand, it’s definitely chock-full of allergy-friendly recipes; the recipes I tried were delicious, easy to make, and the ingredients were easy to find (IE, no special trips to any specialty stores). It’s organized well and there are plenty of recipes to choose from.

However, the book is simply overwhelming. I have no doubt that there are more than 300 recipes; I haven’t counted, but the sheer size of the book is intense and took me several times to go through and bookmark.

The other downside is the lack of photography; I like to be able to see what I’m going to be making, and the sparse few pages of photos in this volume do not do it justice.

I rated it a 3/5; the recipes are great and there are plenty to choose from, but the overwhelming amount of recipes and lack of photos lost it two points.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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The Comprehensive INFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe

32319547Despite their agreeable demeanor, INFPs represent one of the most passionate and complex personality types within the Myers-Briggs Inventory. Employing a wholly unique stack of cognitive functions, this type sees the world around them not just as it is but also as it could be—making them a deeply imaginative and highly idealistic personality.

In this detailed, type-based survival guide, seasoned MBTI author Heidi Priebe explains the strengths and struggles INFPs face as they navigate the world around them as one of the most creative and emotionally intense personality types. – Goodreads

I know, I know. Another MBTI book, Lauren, really? Weren’t you an ENFP? Literally, didn’t you just read Priebe’s ENFP book?

Okay, okay. Yes. Yes, I did. However, after reading this, I’m 99% I mistyped myself, as INFPs are prone to do. Afterall, I’ve been testing as an INFP for YEARS. What, suddenly I like to surround myself with people and I’m an extrovert? Yeah, so I retook the test and answered all questions with an extrovert angle. Thus, ENFP. I’m dumb. Apparently we’re also guilty of mistyping often.

This type lives in a world of identity possibilities and they are constantly shifting their perspective and redefining exactly what it means to be themselves.

Anyway, this book made me realize I’m just not operating on a healthy level as an INFP, which is really messing with me.

One thing that I have a difficult time coming to terms with — especially pursuing the career path that I am — is that I am a very emotional person, in the sense that I feel deeply and am constantly processing everything around me on an emotional level.

emotional intensity of the INFP is this type’s greatest blessing as well as their greatest curse.

But enough about me. The book was good — though I did enjoy the ENFP guide better. This one was VERY heavy on the cognitive functions and I found myself flipping back and forth to make sure I was getting it all. I had to stop often to make sure I was absorbing the information; it was a lot of heavy stuff to take in, whereas the ENFP guide was a lot more fun-centric. This one was very deep and definitely hit the darker points of my type, which was needed. If you’re looking for a funny read on what your type does at a party, though, THIS IS NOT IT.

One of my favorite parts of the book was how INFPs work with other types — though it was phrased in the context of relationships, it was pretty easy to ignore that language and relate it to how I interact with other types in a day-to-day sense. It was also helpful from a romantic angle, though, as my boyfriend is an ENTP and we often see the world very differently. All of our challenges were spot on and provided helpful tips on how to understand where the other type is coming from.

The ENTP may feel smothered by the INFP’s need for reassurance and commitment, whereas the INFP may feel neglected by the ENTP’s need for independence and freedom.

#needyAF

Overall, the book was exactly what I needed to identify my funk and figure out a plan of action on how to get out of it. I’ve definitely been rolling in a tertiary loop and need to work on strengthening my functions.

If you’re an INFP, I recommend this. If you are close with an INFP, I recommend this. I rated it a 4/5 on Goodreads.

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The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

29405093In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over. – Goodreads

I. Can’t. Even.

It has happened. Someone has dethroned Mindy Kaling in my book of comedic royalty, and that someone is Amy Schumer. From the first chapter, I was sucked in and couldn’t stop. Which was good, because I read the first three-quarters on our journey to Mexico and the last quarter in the first day.

Seriously, I couldn’t stop laughing. Snickering. Inhaling sharply. “Is Amy writing about penises again?” the boyfriend would ask. This book is not safe for children and if profanity and vulgarity offends you, don’t pick it up.

Despite the naughty humor — which you should expect if you’ve ever watched Amy’s show or standup — the book tackles some pretty serious topics, too, such as gun control, sexual assault and multiple sclerosis (her father suffers from it). There is some sass and humor mixed in, but she does a very good job and shedding some light on these serious issues. It definitely showed me another side of Schumer and made me appreciate her so much more.

If you enjoy self-deprecating humor, stories about sex and being blackout drunk, feminism and some serious stuff, check this out. I had a ton of laughs and really enjoyed it. I rated it a 4/5.

 

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The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe

26838309Life as an ENFP is no walk in the park.

Despite the happy-go-lucky attitude they exude, only those who share the specific preference for extroversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can truly understand the unique form of chaos that governs this type’s restless mind. Embodying a profoundly strange stack of cognitive functions, ENFPs approach the world with both the enthusiasm of a child and the wisdom of an old soul.

In this detailed, type-based survival guide, seasoned MBTI author and shameless ENFP Heidi Priebe explains how to manage the ups, downs and inside-outs of everyday life as one of the most passionate yet self-contradictory types. – Goodreads

Once upon a time, I thought I was an INFP.

I was wrong.

First off, I love Heidi Priebe. After all, I just finished How You’ll Do Everything Based On Your Personality Type. If you haven’t checked her out on Thought Catalog, I highly recommend it. If you don’t know your MBTI, go here.

As an ENFP, I feel crazy about 98% of the time. “Having a thousand great ideas that you never follow through on”, “wanting to be alone….but like, with other people nearby” and “being a walking contradiction in almost every way” are my three favorite descriptions of myself that I read in this book. Along with a multitude of others, because that’s the point of MBTI, right? To read a description, snap your fingers and go, “Yes! Someone gets me!”

The book is split into sections — Introducing the ENFP, Growing Up ENFP, ENFPs in the Workplace, Unhealthy ENFP Behaviors, ENFP Relationships, etc. The breakdown made sense and flowed well. The ENFP in me fought to skip past the boring cognitive function section, but it proved useful and actually quite interesting.

My favorite part of the book was the section on Unhealthy ENFP Behaviors. Yes, it’s all fun and games to read funny stuff about your type. But the nitty-gritty-shitty stuff is where it’s at. Of course, as Priebe states in the book, it’s a spectrum. Characteristics range from healthy to unhealthy and all the bits in between. For example, a healthy ENFP is reflective, meaning they need alone time to recharge and reflect on their emotions. However, on the flip side, an unhealthy ENFP may become reclusive, where they avoid social interaction in favor of obsessing over their feelings. There is a difference between being principled and self-righteous, etc. It was enlightening to read about these behaviors and spot the ones where I may lean toward the unhealthy side — IE the difference between being agreeable and a pushover.

It was a long, delightful read that I looked forward to opening each night.

In the end of the book, a group of ENFPs describe why they love their type. This one summed it up perfectly, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“I like that I can lead a group, sit in solitude for days, think far ahead, improvise, be a huge ball of energy, calm down others when they’re stressed, be a mushball, be tough and decisive, create new opportunities for myself, adapt to the world around me…I defy so many stereotypes, and I like it that way!”

If you’re an ENFP, pick this up. If not, pick up her other book that features all of the types. Or hit Thought Catalog. Whatever. I rated this a 4/5.

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Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook by Andie Mitchell

25852800In her inspiring New York Times bestselling memoir, It Was Me All Along, Andie Mitchell chronicled her struggles with obesity, losing weight, and finding balance. Now, in her debut cookbook, she gives readers the dishes that helped her reach her goals and maintain her new size. In 80 recipes, she shows how she eats: mostly healthy meals that are packed with flavor, like Lemon Roasted Chicken with Moroccan Couscous and Butternut Squash Salad with Kale and Pomegranate, and then the “sometimes” foods, the indulgences such as Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Marshmallow Whipped Cream, because life just needs dessert. With 75 photographs and Andie’s beautiful storytelling, Eating in the Middle is the perfect cookbook for anyone looking to find freedom from cravings while still loving and enjoying every meal to the fullest. – Goodreads

Damn, did I miss reviewing cookbooks. I took a brief hiatus because I kept getting distracted by other shiny objects (gardening books) and couldn’t focus. I’m back.

Fun fact: I used to write a cooking column for my college newspaper. It was titled Hooker in the Kitchen, because, well, my last name is Hooker and I cooked stuff. In the kitchen. I digress.

I was thrilled when I unwrapped this heavy number from its postage wrap. The cover art is gorgeous and the paper is thick — it’s a great quality cookbook.

I love that most of the meals are light and clean, which some not-so-light-and-clean recipes thrown in — after all, the whole theme of the cookbook is moderation and balance.

My one gripe with the book? The insanely long ingredient lists. It’s not very budget friendly to pick up a jar of apricot preserves, some special cheese, etc. if all you need is a tablespoon. I was a little bit disappointed at this (and at my barren fridge).

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Check out that rad Grandma plate.

My new roommate and I decided that roommate dinner needed to happen, so we decided to make the Lemon-Herb Fish with Crispy Oven Fries.

Now, I’ve made oven fries before. Yes, they’re in the shape of fries, but they’re usually limp and meh. According to Mitchell, the secret to these fries is the hot water soak right before baking. I didn’t believe her.

But she was so right. These fries came out AMAZING. Crispy baked fries?! What?! Yes. This alone made the whole book worth it. The fish was pretty fantastic, too.

Overall, I loved the wide variety of dishes to choose from (though I didn’t love the wide ingredient lists). Everything seems relatively simple to make and I’m excited to try more recipes out of this book. Give this one a shot!

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Rooftop Growing Guide by Annie Novak

25614778If you’d like to grow your own food but don’t think you have the space, look up! In urban and suburban areas across the country, farms and gardens are growing atop the rooftops of residential and commercial buildings. In this accessible guide, author Annie Novak’s passion shines as she draws on her experience as a pioneering sky-high farmer to teach best practices for raising vegetables, herbs, flowers, and trees. The book also includes interviews, expert essays, and farm and garden profiles from across the country, so you’ll find advice that works no matter where you live. Featuring the brass tacks on green roofs, container gardening, hydroponics, greenhouse growing, crop planning, pest management, harvesting tips, and more, The Rooftop Growing Guide will have you reimagining the possibilities of your own skyline.

This one is pretty self-explanatory — it’s a book about growing a garden. On a rooftop (or other small area).

I’m not planning on growing a garden on my rooftop, but I am pretty green (hah!) to this whole gardening thing. So, the information on irrigation, soil types, containers, depth, pests, diseases, etc. was all VERY simple and helpful for someone who knows nothing about keeping plants alive, much less producing a basketful of goods.

I love the concept of small farming, so it was cool to see Novak also introduce the idea of rooftop beekeeping and chicken farming.

Bonus: the photos were gorgeous and inspirational. I definitely cannot grow anything on my roof, but I wish I could. The views of rooftop gardens from all over were very cool.

Overall, I really enjoyed this read and am looking forward to planting my first garden. Thank you to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!

L