House gift book

I was going to write about several widely distributed, somewhat recently released, house books, so that you might add them to your holiday gift list. I was thinking of highlighting Deborah Needleman's The Perfectly Imperfect Home and Diane Keaton's House -- both pleasant diversions, but instead, I want to share with you a small-press offering: House and Home, an OrangeArt Miniature. It's a tiny 3-1/4" x 4-1/2" letterpress original by Darrell & Elisabeth Hyder of The Sun Hill Press.

It's full of sunny and/or pithy house-related quotations and intermittent tiny sketches, all bound between faded-blue, house-plan end papers. Within its pages find insight like Frank Lloyd Wright's "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other." And quips like Joan Didion's, "You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." And heart felt sentiment like Mark Twain's, "[Our house] had a heart, and a soul...we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace..."

Pick up a copy, where OrangeArt Miniature's are distributed, to savor the rest of House and Home's wisdom.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Reading musings: Easy Edible Garden

Broccoli I grew in last season's idjit, square-foot garden. (Who knew that broccoli blooms if not harvested in a timely fashion? Not this idjit gardener who thought the flowers were pretty.)I picked up Sunset's Easy Edible Garden special-interest-publication at my local supermarket when I was shopping hungry. You probably know better than to shop hungry, but, sometimes, it can't be helped. The Easy Edible Garden title and cover shot of a breezy, mozzarella, mixed-tomato, and basil salad appealed to both my appetite and my idjit gardening skills.

Inside Easy Edible Garden, I found a fount of accessible gardening information for the gardening-challenged (my term, and a more PC way to describe idjit gardeners such as myself). There's a section about different garden bed sizes and styles suitable for the urban, suburban, or rural gardener -- complete with basic, edible plant recommendations. And, best of all, there's a lengthy section which focuses on 20 of the "easiest veggies, fruits, and herbs you can grow -- and dozens of delicious ways to enjoy them." The recipes are the clincher. They're always my favorite part of Sunset magazine. (I know, I know, it's a west-coast magazine, and I'm a New Englander, but who couldn't benefit from a touch of the other coast? Plus, fresh edibles are fresh edibles.)

I'm looking forward to using some of this season's idjit-garden bounty in "Cilantro chicken," "Sauteed Swiss chard with pancetta," and "Spicy eggplant, pork, and tofu stir fry" -- among other Easy Edible Garden recipes. Pick up your copy on newsstands before May 18.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Lou Ureneck's Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine

cover image courtesy of I go again, commenting on a book I’ve neither held nor read. I have, however, read its inspiration. Like New England Icons by Bruce Irving, which is based on articles written by the book’s author, Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine by Lou Ureneck took inspiration from the author’s blog "From the Ground Up" on The New York Times website. 

There, Ureneck wrote, for example, about the intrinsic charm of his cabin’s structure: “For me, a timber frame is poetry made manifest in wood. I love the way the timbers fit together, tenon inside mortise, to make a snug joint; and I love the way the structure stands against the sky, shoulders squared and strong enough to shelter those who dwell inside it for centuries.” So, if you followed the blog, even intermittently, you, too, have some sense of Cabin.

“From the Ground Up” caught my attention in late 2008 initially because my book concept Small Retreats, Backyard and Beyond had been “killed” by its intended publisher a few months earlier. I, like Ureneck, imagined many folks could appreciate the simple pleasure of a small place of one’s own, especially when times are tough. I may have even sent a link to Ureneck’s blog to my former publisher in hopes of bolstering my case that there was in fact an audience for writing about small retreats.

Now, Ureneck’s memoir -- about the restorative powers of building a cabin and, in the process, building relationships and peace of mind -- has found its way to the shelves. For further insight into the book, check out the WBUR Radio Boston podcast of their recent Ureneck interview about his 640 square-foot, timber-frame cabin built with his brother in Stoneham, Maine. I’ve added Cabin to my wish list. Have you? 

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast