Since I still haven’t figured out how to include a reading list in my sidebar now that I’m blogging with WordPress, I thought I’d share some of the books we’re enjoying right now.
I’ve been staring at all the gorgeous pictures in Harvesting Color. Hanks of plant-dyed yarn drying along rustic fences, armfuls of herbs and bubbling cauldrons in beautiful farmscapes. Yes, please. This is one of those activities I could so easily add to my alarmingly large list of hobbies. I’m determined to learn to knit in the next year or so. And when that happens, well, then I think it’s likely I’ll be out in the backyard with large kettles and skeins of yarn. Yep, I think you can pretty much count on it.
Most of the plants in this book are native or invasive plants that grow around me in the Bay Area. I harvest many of them as herbs or food so it’s exciting to think of having yet another use for them. And while I’ve steered away from all but a vinegar mordant when plant-dying silks, she makes a good case for diluting mordants such as alum way down by reusing the liquid multiple times. Each time the wool takes up about 50% of the mordant so by repeatedly reusing the mordant liquid you dilute any metals down significantly. And then you can reuse the liquid for your next mordant bath, adding more liquid and mordant.
Audrey has also been staring at this book a lot. She told me, “Mommy, look she’s stripping elderberries [from their stems] and making purple yarn with them!” Last year I’d used elderberries to dye play silks but I don’t think she remembers. Mostly we just cook them or tincture them. I think she finds it just as interesting as me: finding a new use for a familiar plant.
I also picked up the new book by Luis Alberto Urrea. I so loved his book The Hummingbird’s Daughter. I’ve recommended it to a number of people. And I’ve found that other people who’ve read it, adored it as much as me. It’s so good. I’m excited to start his new book: Queen of America. We have a long car trip coming up so I’ll have plenty of time.
And the book Propagation Techniques. A geeky gardener book. Aaron is much more proficient at propagation techniques such as grafting and layering than me. Usually I limit myself to cuttings, seeds and dividing up root stock. But I’d like to get better at some of the other methods. This book is quite dry, but clear and easy to follow.
Audrey and I have been working our way chapter by chapter through Heidi. Recently she’s chosen it as her bedtime story so Aaron has been reading it to her as well. If you’re looking for some propaganda in favor of unschooling and nature as the best education then read Heidi. I’m an unschooling mother and I still think it’s a bit much. But Audrey is really enjoying it. And I remember loving it as a little girl. Who wouldn’t want to live in the Alps with two beautiful milking goats and fields of wildflowers? I know Audrey and I would.
We’ve also really been enjoying Boxes for Katje. It’s a really sweet story based on real events during the aftermath of WWII. Holland had been devastated by the war and Americans were sending relief packages to help. A little girl sends a package to Katje and Katje writes a letter back. Soon more and more packages are coming to Katje and she shares with everyone in her village. The packages get them all through the hard winter. The story really tugs at the heartstrings but in a non-melodramatic way. Very sweet.
We’re reading Brave Charlotte and the Wolves. Again. We check this book out every few months and during that time it’s on heavy rotation. Audrey had the entire thing memorized years ago. One read through with us and she’s back to reciting it to herself. And to Gray. Who loves to have it ‘read’ to him.
Festivals, Family, and Food is a book I don’t own but keep thinking about owning. Every fall I check it out from the library. It has all sorts of fun seasonal activities and crafts and recipes. This year I want to try one of the activities it describes: preserving colorful fall leaves. You take sprigs of leafs on branches and put them in glycerine. They suck up the glycerine and this preserves their color. I’ll let you know if it works well.
Gray has been loving Hands Can. I bought this book for Audrey when she was little and she loved it. Gray loves it even more, I think. He’ll ask us to read it over and over and over. It has beautiful photographs of small children engaged in all sorts of activities like throwing balls and planting seeds and playing peek-a-boo. It’s definitely one I’ll be passing on to other little ones when he outgrows it.
What are you reading?