Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home by Amy Pennington

Amy Pennington’s “Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home” has some good information for first time gardeners (i.e. me), but not all the information I was looking for. I was interested in learning about how to care for common vegetables/herbs/fruits that I could successfully grow in containers on my balcony. What I found in this book was care information for uncommon vegetables/herbs/flowers/fruits such as chervil and lovage. While I appreciate learning about new foods to try, this information doesn’t help me learn how to care for my celery, onions, or broccoli.

Pennington also includes some recipes and designs for DIY projects and ways to use the things you harvest from your garden wholly and in unique ways. I also appreciate this as I’m an avid DIYer. Foraging is mentioned briefly at the end of the book but not in great detail.

In summary, I appreciate the expanse of topics Pennington has included in her book. Definitely gives the beginner a small taste of a variety of ways to garden in an apartment setting. I would have appreciated a bit more in the “What to Grow For Real” section that touched on more common vegetables that I’d be more likely to grow at home.

Inertia

Do you ever get in a funk? Do you ever feel like, really, your life isn’t this messy jumble of half-finished, and well-intentioned, projects — that it’s just been momentarily stalled? That’s how I’ve felt since this past January. This happens periodically. Especially after a particularly productive period — which is what happened between September and December of last year.

Last fall and early winter, my husband and I, started making our own household cleaners and hygiene products. We made most of the Christmas gifts we gave out by hand. And I landed a full time position as an administrative assistant. I felt elated and on top of things; organized and clear. Something happened between December and January that brought that feeling of clarity and purpose to a gradual halt.

Now, I feel at a stand still — inert.  I don’t know how to regain that forward momentum. I suppose this process is part of the natural ebb and flow of life. But, somehow I don’t think everyone feels as guilty as I do. There’s no reason to feel guilty at all. I’m not shirking any responsibilities but, I feel like I’m not doing all I could be doing and that this makes me a failure.

I often wish I had a different brain — one that doesn’t try and convince me that I should be doing more and be better. And, that if I don’t achieve more and do better, I’m not enough. I get aggravated with my brain for its failings. I feel it should be better than it is. And then it hits me: that is just another way to convince myself I’m not quite enough.

And so it occurs to me that maybe I should spend more time not striving to achieve and more time appreciating what I do accomplish on a day-to-day basis. I know I’m a hard worker, and I know our household is run well. I also know that having half-finished projects is an indication of my productivity, not an example of my laziness. But, sometimes, it can be difficult to remember these things. For now, I’ll remind myself that who I am right now, and what I’ve accomplished so far, is pretty great. I’ll take some time to appreciate what I have rather than wishing for things I have not yet done.

“Lady Susan”: Jane Austen’s First Work of Significant Length

Jane Austen’s “Lady Susan” is intriguing if only for the format it is written. Austen chose to write the novel as a series of letters between the people involved in the plot. This approach is interesting to me for a couple reasons: first, there is no narrator; second, we become intimately familiar with all the players without ever having a description of them. We get a clear sense of their motivation by reading their correspondence with those closest to them.

What I will say in criticism is that the ending has not been fully fleshed out. Understandably so, as Austen never intended for the novel to be published. Had she herself put it forward for publication I’m sure more attention would have been put on the details of the conclusion. That being said, the ending was rather unsatisfactory. The reader is not given much indication at all of what happens to the characters they have become attached to.

Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half”

Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and  a Half shines a much needed light on mental health issues and provides an in-depth look into what it feels like to suffer from depression and anxiety. It’s chaotic and confusing and often profoundly sad. However, Brosh takes this delicate subject and injects comedy which allows the reader to not be afraid of relating to the book. I am grateful this book exists and applaud Brosh for having the guts to make herself so vulnerable — she is an inspiration.

You should read this book if: you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, you know someone who is dealing with or has dealt with mental health issues, you are human.

You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/lnmpstx

Kat Kruger’s “The Night Has Teeth”

Kat Kruger’s The Night Has Teeth is a cornucopia of emotions.  I enjoyed it fantastically. Kruger has an easy and comfortable way with words.   Her novel`s voice is confident and I was rapidly lulled in to a cozy world of fantasy.  Kruger never lets you settle; whatever theories you may have are constantly being uprooted.  The reader experiences the story directly from the main character, Conner’s, point of view.  Thus, as his perceptions and ideas shift, so did mine.

There are two sides to every story, as the saying goes, and this expression definitely applies to Kurger’s novel. This aspect of the story means that I can empathize with Conner as he works to determine the right thing to do.  His decisions are not made lightly; he weighs each option carefully before making decisions.  Because of this, Conner is a role-model for young adults.  Although his life is fantastical, the idea of sorting through life’s intricacies is one that always applies in any reality.

As I was nearing the end of the novel, my mind was already thinking about what was to come in the next book in the series.  It was extremely tempting to pick up The Night Has Claws, the second book in The Magdeburg Trilogy.  I resisted, however, so that my review would be unbiased by how the story continues in book two.  But, because I am itching to dig in to the second book, I know The Night Has Teeth is a wonderful book written by an adept author from whom great things can be expected.  Everyone should read it so go out and get yourself a copy forthwith (follow this link to get yours: http://tinyurl.com/kuy6mlg)!