Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Non-Fiction Obsessions of the Moment

  • French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano - Though FWDGF plays up its diet-book identity, it isn't just a diet book. The cover states "The Secret of Eating for Pleasure" and the author isn't a doctor, a nutritionist, or even  a diet guru. What she is, is a Frenchwoman - and the CEO of Veuve Clicquot, and therefore an expert on eating. The book runs through a life-changing, create-your-own diet plan that starts with Magical Leek Soup, and moves on to your personal plan of moderation through classic French ingredients (from tomatoes to oysters to chocolate and bread) with recipes to back it up. At the core of the book, Guiliano preaches balance and enjoyment of food; seasonality and fresh, "real" food are a huge part of that. While reading, I re-evaluated what was going into my mouth while I was transported in my mind to the markets of France. I haven't tried a weekend of Magical Leek Soup yet, but I will.

  • Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure by Colleen Kinder - I've just re-read this book yet again: I'm struggling with the knowledge that grad school may not be happening for me  this year. Kinder acnowledges that "the real world" is what you make of it, but this book is mainly for delaying the dull, cubicle job, grad school (oh good!), or settling down. She runs through ideas about living abroad, jobs in adventure or arts & entertainment, volunteering anywhere, travel, and - thankfully - a chapter on how to enjoy life if you're staying "in your own backyard".  It's packed full of links to ideas and programs, though many are for Americans - I did find enough for Canadians. It may have helped in my motivation to: head off on my 9-week European Backpacking Odyssey after graduation, and actually write my first novel. After reading it again, I've revisited my priorities. I'd like to live abroad and learn a new language, volunteer abroad, find the career that's really right for me, and between it all: have a good time in my own backyard. There's a lot to offer.

  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp & Camille Kingsolver - A family of "locavores" living a "100-mile diet" for a year may not sound groundshaking, but when the Kingsolver/Hopp family did it, they weren't following the trend. For a year, they farmed their own food and bought what anything else from local farmers. A,V,M follows the family from the first asparagus of April to the last pumpkins of October, and the canned and frozen food "put by" through winter. Barbara's narrative sparkles in her description of their quest and her tidbits about commercial food production. The beautiful writing isn't surprising: she's also the author of The Poisonwood Bible, among other works. Her husband, Steven L Hopp, a professor at a local university, has informative sidebars throughout the chapters. Her daughter Camille provides an essay at the end of each chapter along with a few recipes that tie everything together.  By the end of the book, I was inspired - in no particular order - to grow some of my own food, shop at farmer's markets more often for things in season, and move in with the Kingsolver/Hopp family.
Do you have any favourite non-fiction books of the moment or of all time?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Crafts That Will Blow Your Mind. . . Verging on a Nerdy Theme

I have a special section of my craft links tagged "amazing". These are things that I just can't imagine making due to their size, general tediousness, or the level of skill necessary. For some reason I can't quite understand, it also tends toward the nerdy. Here's a pick of the bunch:

This cross-stitched Mario Brothers 3 map is the culmination of my childhood "work" in a wall hanging format. In fact, just thinking about how long I stared at that screen is mind blowing. What takes it to another level is knowing that every pixel is a cross-stitch. (And oh man, while "researching" for this post, I found a website where you can play it online !)
This polymer clay version of a Wendy's chicken meal with its intense attention to detail looks good enough to eat, but believe it or not, it's smaller than the palm of your hand.

Amigurumi are by definition "cute", and this amigurumi-style Gimli from Lord of the Rings is no exception. This crafter went so far as to make the entire cast of The Fellowship of the Ring in amigurumi, complete with felt clothing and accessories. And that's where the amazing comes in. If you want to attempt your own Gimli or a hobbit, she offers a free pattern.

18th Century Ballgown made out of plastic . Enough said. But if that isn't quite enough for you,  the creator has a blog post about "The Birth of a Plastic Ball Gown" .

Finally . . .
RELEASE THE KRAKEN! There is nothing that can be wrong about a giant (Super Mario style) kraken.