Four Favorite Books for March ’14

Oh good grief! Another month has flown by and I have barely had time to read the “Suggestions for You” on my Netflix account, much less entire books.

As a result, this month I’ve chosen 3 old favorites and only 1 new book — the cookbook — which simplifies the time I spend dealing with meals and thus gives me more time to get to those sanity preserving Netflix marathons.

I’ve chosen A Big Storm Knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin as my novel, and yes, the title is a nod to the main distraction of my month.

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Laurie Colwin, as you know, is my favorite author and after my little rant in last month’s Four Favorite Books for February the choice of this book should come as no surprise. In fact, the New York Times review of this novel said “Laurie Colwin was utterly fearless in writing about happiness….The novel makes the idea of happy endings for decent people seem entirely plausible, almost inevitable — no small feat for a writer these days and no small pleasure for a reader.”

This novel is about Jane Louise and her marriage to Teddy Parker, her becoming a mother to Miranda, her best-friendship with Edie and her partner Mokie, and the intertwining of their families and lives in Manhattan, and in Marshallville in the Parker family home on Cabbage Hill Road. It’s about belonging, even when you feel like a total outsider, and about the family we build with our hearts, not simply our bloodlines.

For my book of interior design I chose RENOVATE — What the Pros Know About Giving New Life to Your House, Loft, Condo or Apartment, edited by Fred A. Bernstein, and published by Barnes & Noble, 2004.

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Remaking less than perfect spaces into ones which suit me and my family must be considered, after 9 houses, as one of my main focuses in life. I am always interested in what other people do to their homes and often find inspiration in their solutions. This book has one renovation in particular which I absolutely love.

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It is Leo Adam’s home which started out as a small cabin on the edge of the Yakima Indian reservation and is now an expansive space graciously transitioning the outdoors in while expanding the inside out. Leo is a painter, but he has the ability to take the most humble of materials and transform them into art. In the photo above, the base of the table is an old washtub resting on a wheel hub. The cross shaped wall-hanging is the outside of an old refrigerator, which Leo found, rusted and shot at in the desert. Like me, he doesn’t like carpet so his floors are OSB, with “rugs” of masonite painted like oriental carpets in his earth-toned palette. And yes — those rugs were the original inspiration which led me to paint rugs directly on my floors. Genius.

The art book I selected this time is Fantasy Worlds published by Taschen, 1999. My friend Allison gave it to me a few years ago before I ever produced any public art but it was prescient nonetheless because in spite of the fact most of the examples in this book at least started out as private art, they are public art now, and an odd comfort to me as I struggle with familiar materials on an unfamiliar scale.

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The book shows many examples which you may have seen before like the Watts Towers in LA, and the work of Niki de Saint Phalle — mosaic works works apparently hold up better in windstorms!

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There are also many examples of surface pattern design which I find particularly inspiring.

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My last choice this month is a brand new cookbook from one of my favorite bloggers – Michelle Tam, and her husband Henry Fong. It’s called nom nom paleo — FOOD FOR HUMANS and is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013.

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Over the past 15 years I have transitioned from low-carb to Primal to essentially Paleo, and Michelle’s take on the Paleo paradigm is perfectly aligned with my current understanding of how best to meet our nutritional needs — while eating like gourmets.

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All the recipes are made with whole foods using unprocessed ingredients. She even provides recipes for foods we are used to buying processed like mayonnaise and sriracha, and the right ingredients to replace those we no longer eat like using coconut or almond flour in place of wheat flour.

And of course there’s plenty of bacon.

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So on that note, as Porky Pig would say… “Th-th-th-that’s All Folks!”