My Four Favorite Books for November

Today I’m introducing a new feature! Every month I’ll post four of my favorite books: one house book (Interior Design), one novel, one cookbook, and one book of art or design. All of them will be from my bookshelves and will be books which I use and love.

These are my picks for November:

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The house book this month is HAND and HOME, The Homes of American Craftsmen by Tommy Simpson and William Bennet Seitz. Published in 1994 by Little, Brown & Company. I bought this book soon after it came out and I have poured over it with a magnifying glass literally in hand, completely absorbed in the detailed work of the craftsmen and women who live in the houses featured.

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The homes in the book belong to some serious heavyweights in the craft world: Tommy Simpson and Missy Stevens, Bennett Bean, Thomas Mann, Sam Maloof, Lenore Tawney, Leo Sewell, and Wendell Castle. My knees are raw from genuflecting.

What inspires me the most about their houses is that they make, or alter, or embellish, or simply decorate with their own designs all the parts that make up their homes. Gee, I wonder if that’s had any affect on how I approach my own interior design?

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My favorite novel this month is Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin, copyright 1978. Laurie Colwin is my favorite author.

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I have every book she ever wrote. Every novel, book of short stories, and cooking memoir. Laurie was a Domestic Sensualist. Her stories are familiar, homely, bittersweet. You don’t want them to end, which is why I read them over and over and over. Laurie Colwin died in 1992, but her books are a refreshing pause on the continuum. Do yourself a favor and take a break with one of them. Happy All the Time is a great place to start.

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My favorite cookbook for November is: New Mexico’s Prized Recipes from The Albuquerque Tribune’s GREAT GREEN CHILI COOKING CLASSIC, copyright 1974. I inherited this cookbook in a book purge from my mom, after a cookbook purge from her mother. Thank you Gramma Dottie!

I have made many recipes from this book over the years but the one that gets made over and over, especially this time of year when you want a big pot of something hot and spicy steaming up the kitchen, is GREAT GREEN BEAN CHILI….

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This is one of those recipes that’s easy to adapt. Make it meatier, or beanier. Add more cumin, chili powder or garlic. Throw in some hominy. Whatever you want, just make a lot of it because it’s even better the next day. Duh.

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My fourth favorite for the month is the art book, and my pick for November is JUXTAPOZ HANDMADE, published 2010 by Gingko Press, Inc.

JUXTAPOZ is an art magazine we subscribe to and this is a book they’ve published of established and emerging artists who have “dedicated their careers to preserving the “hands-on” method to creating fine artwork and commercial products…both 2D and 3D works that use materials and methods such as paper, fabric, wood, fiber arts, sewing, embroidery, collage, papier-mache, clay and ceramics…both functional and non-functional.” Can’t imagine what I would find to relate to in this book either. Yeah, I’m pretty much an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum today!

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And now, as much as I’d truly love to sit down with a big bowl of green bean chili and reread Happy All the Time for the umpteenth time, I think I better get back to my house rearrangement. I have a Sewing Studio to outfit and Big Ass closet to fill. Action Girl: Activate, and Awaaaay!