April 2011: Your Abode


Mark these pages

What should you have on your bookshelf or coffee table this season? Here are ABODE’s picks for the best new home and garden books. Brew a pot of tea and enjoy.

Collins Design

This chunky little volume contains almost no text. Instead, page after page of Dwell-worthy modern houses, from all over the globe, line up to spark your dreams. Architectural drawings and minimal captions complement the crisp photos, organized into chapters like “Waterside House,” “Prefab Houses,” and “Small Houses.” The dwellings range from the wacky to the welcoming. A perfect bathroom book for the design-inclined.

A Householder’s Guide to the Universe
by Harriet Fasenfest

More than a reference book, this volume speaks to an undercurrent of our times: dissatisfaction with the globalized, commercialized, digitized culture and a desire to return to something more authentic. The author lays out a highly personal account of her own involvement with backyard gardening, food preserving and other domestic arts, along the way letting readers know how to dry herbs for tea and harvest potatoes.

by Christiane Lemieux

The founder of DwellStudio subtitled her book “The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design,” a claim borne out by the wide variety of styles represented inside. Twenty homes are profiled, each an expression of its owners’ very idiosyncratic tastes. There’s the Americana vibe in an upstate New York farmhouse, the Brooklyn apartment stuffed with kitschy collections, the Chicago loft that houses a fleet of vintage Jaguars. It’s not a how-to book. Instead, think pure inspiration.

Fresh Flower Arranging
by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks

They might have titled it “No-fail Flowers,” so detailed are the instructions in this book. It’ll delight the crafter (there are step-by-step instructions with exact quantities of each bloom needed for a plethora of seasonal arrangements) and the aesthete (it’s replete with big, gorgeous photos). A section on design principles and skills will whip you into shape before you dive into a project. There’s a special section on wedding arrangements, too. A shower gift for the D.I.Y. bride?

Tart & Sweet
by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler

Former ABODE contributor Jessie Knadler has teamed up with a Brooklyn chef and canning expert to bring you recipes for canning in every season, plus good general discussions of technique, all wrapped in delicious visuals. Inventive recipes—try Soy Garlic Cherry Tomatoes or Horseradish Lemon Pepper Sunchokes. A big plus is that the sugar content of the fruit jams and preserves is relatively low, in contrast to most traditional recipes.

Heart of the Artichoke
by David Tanis

The longtime chef at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse is known for the simplicity of his approach, and that’s the byword in this appealing cookbook. Many of the recipes have only a few ingredients—like the Spicy Cabbage Slaw that calls for cabbage, red onion, a chile pepper, lime juice, salt and pepper. Yet the food is sophisticated. Organized into seasonal menus, the book also contains a section of Kitchen Rituals, like Peeling an Apple and Making a Little Jam. You get the idea: It’s all about down-to-earth pleasures.

Home-Ec 101
by Heather Solos

Think of it as a hipster handbook to all those tasks that we associate with previous generations of apron-clad housewives—stain removal, etc.—but still have to deal with even in the new millennium. Served up with humor and a retro-fifties look, the advice in this book runs the gamut from laundry-sorting strategies to the definition of “deglaze.” It’ll make your household run as smoothly as June Cleaver’s.

The Edible Front Yard
by Ivette Soler

Looking to join the eat-your-lawn trend? Here’s your manual. Soler, a blogger and garden designer, not only lays out the data on growing edible goodies from tomatoes to taro. She also explains how to arrange them so they’ll be attractive enough to put right out front next to the sidewalk. (Example: Keep the cukes in the backyard; their leaves will turn yellow on you.) The book’s packed with pretty photos, but even better, it delivers the info you need on specific topics like planting lettuce and removing sod.

With sprinkles

By all means, keep those tender shoots moist. Certainly, do not neglect to douse your dahlias or saturate the spinach. But consider this (along with the lily): A well-heeled watering can may serve as a fetching accent piece on the front porch or windowsill, just as handily as it irrigates the irises. Choose one of these lookers from a local store, and the chore of watering will be as easy on the eyes as the blossoms themselves.

Top Row (from left to right)
Snow’s Garden Center, 1875 Avon St., 295-2159, $17.99
Target, 312 Connor Dr., 964-0231, $2.99
Caspari, 100 W. Main St., 817-7880, $20

Bottom Row (from left to right)
Hedge Fine Blooms, 112 Second St. NE, 293-8825, $24.99
Meadowbrook Hardware, 914 Preston Ave., 293-8052, $20.39
Lowe’s, 400 Woodbrook Dr., 975-7140, $14.97