Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Mixed Medley for a Dark Evening

Wet evenings are perfect for 'indoor' gardening activities

Rain is lashing the windows and it’s blowing half a gale – the first really wintry day we’ve had here in our part of the Cotswolds, though it’s still incredible warm; grass is growing and self-seeded rocket and spring onions accidentally left in the ground all flourish in the potager raised beds. The cold front crossing the UK seems to be affecting all parts of the country; time to snuggle by the fire and think of other things.

A year ago, I was cataloguing and planning; a task for indoors
Darker evenings and daytime inclement weather may be off-putting for gardeners, but perfect for working on garden-related activities indoors. For a start, why not catalogue your seed packets, list those favourites that need replenishing and investigate new varieties that you hope to sow and grow in 2012. And don’t forget to order them!

Some of my journals on display last weekend at a local exhibition
I find the winter months marvellous for catching up on entries in my garden journals, and trialling new illustrative and mixed-media techniques. I’m an avid collector of books that not only instruct, but inspire. Other people’s creations never fail to trigger ideas for different ways of presentation, adapting rather than copying. Not least, the discovery of new materials and how to use them.

Take a look at a couple of my latest book acquisitions – keep a notebook handy and jot down those ideas that particularly appeal. Making Handmade Books arrived this morning and is a revelation for anyone wanting to create something unique from easily found or recycled materials.  Beautifully illustrated, written by Alisa Golden and published in early 2011 by Lark Crafts, you can take your pick from “100 bindings, structures and forms”. Thumbing through it quickly, I particularly liked the very simple ‘Fan Book’ (page 86) or the ingenious ‘Flag Book with Envelope Pages’ (page 75) – either would be perfect for recording gardening activities. Once in my stride (and with a little time to spare), I know I’ll be experimenting like crazy to tackle more complicated structures.

Of course, not everyone is likely to share my enthusiasm for hand-made notebooks and record-keeping, so how about looking at the recently published Delicious Gifts – Tasty Creations to Make and Give, which instantly set my mouth watering with so many truly tempting sweetmeats, preserves and chutneys. Written by Jesse McCloskey, the gifts will be perfect for “chocoholics to chilli obsessives”. And as a bonus, you’ll learn how to present gifts in elegant containers: delectable sweet and savoury delights with clear instructions for both the produce and packaging.
Click on either book title for more details, or to order it from Amazon.

(from time to time, Ann Somerset Miles writes longer reviews on her Book Lovers Blog, and is planning author and publisher interviews in 2012)


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