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Anne Heidemann's Blog

Appetite for Reduction

Appetite for reduction: 125 fast & filling low-fat vegan recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz — Are you trying to lose weight? Looking for a healthy way to do so? Don't be put off by the word 'vegan' in the title here — you don't have to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle to take advantage of some of the benefits. Even eating vegan now and then can help you to reduce your weight and improve your health. This book contains tips, recipes, and more info about eating vegan and eating healthy.

The New Frugality

The new frugality : how to consume less, save more, and live better by Chris Farrell — Are you looking for small changes you can make in your everyday life to save money? Perhaps to streamline things so that life feels less complicated? This book has many great tips based on a philosophy of living with a "margin of safety" and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Many of the ideas here seem like common sense but that you might not have thought about.

Grow your own nutrition

Did you know that there are many really easy to grow veggies that are super-nutritious? Some of them are even extremely tasty, like the sweet peas (from my garden) pictured here. You may find yourself eating them right off the vine! Check out this Top Ten list and start planning your garden for this summer.

Homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs: a bountiful, healthful garden for lean times by Jim Wilson; photography by Walter Chandoha

Saving and Sharing Seeds

Seed libraries are a way for people to share the seeds from the plants they grow, as well as to gain access to other heirloom varieties with which their neighbors may have had good luck. The Bay Area Seed Interchange Library is one such organization, which appears to be working well. Have you swapped seeds with others? Do you keep your own library of seeds from year to year? Would you be interested in participating in a seed swap in Canton? For more info on saving seeds, check out this article:

You can compost

No, really, you can! Even if you live in an dwelling without a yard, you can still turn your food waste into rich, useful compost. Michigan garden expert Colleen Vanderlinden shows you how over at Planet Green. You can also check out some of our many resources on composting:

The compost specialist : the essential guide to creating and using garden compost, and using potting and seed composts by David Squire

Starting Your Veggie Garden From Seed

Now is the time when many gardeners in our area begin to start seeds indoors, so they'll have lovely seedlings to transplant into the garden when the weather warms up. You can even reuse many items from around the house, to save both money and time. We also have a number of books that will help you with starting from seed:

Gardening with heirloom seeds: tried-and-true flowers, fruits, and vegetables for a new generation by Lynn Coulter

Michigan Family Farms

Many people know that Canton, before it was developed, was largely farmland. But did you know that there are still functioning family farms in the area? Check out Michigan Family Farms.com to find information about local farms and lots more information about finding local food and events. You can also look forward to fresh, local food from some of these farms at the upcoming Winter Markets at the Canton Farmers Market.

To-may-to, To-mah-to

Don't those tomatoes look delicious? This winter weather may have us stuck inside, but we can at least prepare for the glorious gardening days to come, right? There are many types of tomato cages you can use to support your plants, several of which are highlighted in this post over at Mother Earth News. Personally, I've never used anything as architectural as these folding wooden tomato cages, but I think I might try building some.

How do you Save Money in Your Garden?

Gardening has many rewards, but as we all have to scrimp and pull our belts a bit tighter, it can seem like it's expensive to get started. There are many things we can do to be more thrifty in the garden, though! Over at The Home Gardener, Dave Townsend offers three really great tips: start from seed, propagate your own plants, and participate in plant swaps.

Are there other ways that you've found to save money in the garden? I like to reuse household objects to make garden items, and I recycle my friends' and neighbors' decorative straw bales as mulch each fall. What tips do you suggest?

Living Large on Less

Living large on less: a guide to saving without sacrifice by Christina Spence — Just about everyone is doing more with less these days, and this book is a great guide to many aspects of balancing one's personal budget and making the most of the dollars we do have. One of the most important steps here is to make a budget that actually works for you. You can use spreadsheets, personal finance software, or an online service like Mint.com to track your spending and make some of the adjustments suggested here. The ideas range from quick fixes to challenges that offer a trial run at a larger change.

What do gardeners do in winter?

We drool over seed catalogs and dream of what we'll grow when the snow is gone! Winter is a great time for some other garden projects, though — the kind you can do while nice and toasty inside. And as an added bonus, many times you can re-use materials that you'd otherwise have to toss in the trash. Check out Michigan gardener and author Colleen VanderLinden's list of 15 "Trashy" Ideas for Your Garden. While you're at it, take a gander at some of the many books we have about crafting for the garden.

Comforts of Home

The comforts of home : thrifty and chic decorating ideas for making the most of what you have by Caroline Clifton- Mogg — One of the 2010 Librarians' Picks for Non-Fiction, this book offers the philosophy that a comfortable home is an orderly home. With a plan for where things should be, it becomes easy to make it useful and a place in which you want to spend time. There's no time like now for being thrifty as well, and using the tips here you can make your home work for you, using (or at least starting with) what you have.

Simple Times

Simple times by written by Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello — Fans of Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence will not be disappointed by her latest guide. Now is the time to be thrifty and to embellish your life with your crafty skills while you scrimp and save. No one crafts like Amy Sedaris, but you can try to imitate her by following her instructions. BONUS: the images in this book are simultaneously gorgeous and hilarious, and there are even illustrations by renaissance guy Justin Theroux.

Sewing Home Furnishings

Illustrated guide to sewing home furnishings : expert techniques for creating custom shades, drapes, slipcovers and more — Have you ever seen a gorgeous fabric in the store but thought you didn't have the skills to make it into curtains, a pillow, or a slipcover? Look no further, this book has clear instructions that will allow you to teach yourself as you go. It includes a variety of techniques as well as instructions for calculating yardage and other seemingly tricky parts of the process.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting

Stitch 'n bitch superstar knitting : go beyond the basics by Debbie Stoller ; with photography by Gabrielle Revere ; [illustrations by Adrienne Yan.] — Debbie Stoller is a bit of a knitting rock star, and when you see "Stitch 'n Bitch" in the title, you know there are going to be some hip, fun projects inside. This book has a ton of techniques that those who know the basics will be eager to learn. You can also use this book as a trouble-shooting guide: have difficulty getting your intarsia to lay flat? Problem solved. Puzzled by how to read lace charts? All set. And the projects are awesome! I'm not a sock-knitter, but the Skull Isle Socks might just make me a convert.