Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summertime, and the living is Green

Looking for ways to live closer to nature, and eliminate chemicals, pesticides, and other worrisome elements from your home, food and yard?
And what about those light bulbs?

Here are some titles to explore:

Easy Green Living
A definitive guide to an eco-friendly lifestyle shares sensible suggestions for using an array of "green" home, garden, and beauty products and routines, with recommendations on safe, affordable options for renewable energy solutions, allergen-free textiles, cleaning products, and other ways to eliminate toxins, enhance personal health, reduce waste, and promote environmental awareness.

Everything Green Living Book
Provides information on ways to live a "green" lifestyle. Covers such topics as building a green house, using nontoxic cleaning supplies, eating organic foods, recycling, ecotourism, and transporation.

Building green : a complete how-to guide to alternative building methods : earth, plaster, straw bale, cordwood, cob, living roofs
Helps environmentally conscious readers build a home with the health of the planet as a primary concern, offering advice on design, siting, and construction of various types of sustainable buildings.

Farewell my Subaru: an epic adventure in local living
Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows full well they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint? Inan attempt to find out, Fine moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he brazenly vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on restaurant grease. Never mind that he has no farming, mechanical or electrical skills. Whether installing solar panels, defending goats he found on Craigslist against coyotes, or co-opting waste oil from a local restaurant to fill the tank in his Ridiculously Oversized American Truck, Fine's undertaking makes one thing clear: It ain't easy being green. In fact, his journey uncovers a slew of surprising facts about alternative energy, organic and locally grown food, and climate change.

Your naturally healthy home

Discusses home renovation, improvement and construction.

The Organic lawn care manual: a natural, low-maintenance system for a beautiful, safe lawn
Explains how to make a lawn safe and environmentally friendly using organic methods, and how to pick the best grass for each climate and sunlight situation.

Solar Living Source Book
30th Anniversary Edition, and still going strong.

Diet for a small planet
The book that started the trend toward less meat, more veggies.
Encourages making changes in dietary patterns by explaining the ways in which plant protein compares favorably with meats and providing numerous recipes for inexpensive, meatless meals.

Non-toxic home and office by Debra Dadd-Redalia
Or any of the several books by this author, which all focus on how to live as chemical-free as possible.

Natural Home magazine provides on-going tips and suggestions, with beautiful pictures, of how people across the country have implemented a "green" lifestyle.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Visit phantom Great Britain from your armchair

Lochdubh, the sleepy Highlands town of P.C. Hamish MacBeth, has the usual petty small village crimes of poaching, and disturbing the peace. But there's also an unusually high murder rate, which he finds really annoying, since he doesn't want to work too hard, and would rather go fishing, or have a pint.
Death of a Gossip is the first in the series, which has improved with age. The most recent in the series, which is up to #24, is Death of a Gentle Lady.
Hamish MacBeth's character became the genesis of a popular BBC TV series, starring Robert Carlyle, that was filmed in the real town of

Llanfair, in mountainous North Wales, is home of P.C. Evan Evans (yep-not a typo),
who comes there seeking a peaceful existence after a personal trauma.
Evans Above is the first of 10 titles in the series, which is on hiatus as the author, Rhys Bowen, concentrates on other series.

Somewhere in the Cotswolds, former London advertising executive, Agatha Raisin, retires and buys a cottage. She pays someone else to decorate it. She doesn't like to garden or cook, either. She's got lots of money, and lots of time on her hands.
Somehow, she just can't get the hang of village life.
Used to competitive corporate ways, she tries to cheat her way into acceptance by winning a food contest at the annual fair in
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. Agatha takes a lot of lumps over the course of 17 mysteries so far, as she learns, or rather, unlearns, how to live. She also discovers lots of dead bodies, and makes a lot of enemies along the way. But Agatha is a survivor. She's also determined to have a man in her life. Agatha, off-putting and maddening, has a lot of fans.

Tilling, Sussex a small coastal town, is the setting for the fiercely funny episodes of the (ahem) ladies, Mapp and Lucia, who vie for social prominence as they one-up each other at fests and dinner parties. Penned by E. F. Benson in the 1930's, these were also made into a BBC series in the 1980's. Social snobbery at it's finest.

Miss Read is the author of two series that occur in the small villages of
Thrush Green and Fairacre. The unmarried school teacher of the village, named "Miss Read" becomes involved in the lives of the villagers through her students. Gentle reads of life long past, these timeless tales are said to have influenced Jan Karon, among others. More relaxing than a vacation in a cabin on the lake.

Before there were any of these series, Anthony Trollope created the Chronicles of Barsetshire, a fictitious Cathedral town in 6 novels tracing the manners and maneuvers of the gentry in 19th century England.
Barchester Chronicles on DVD, starring a very young Alan Rickman, incorporates the first two novels by Trollope. Parts of this were filmed in the beautiful cathedral town of Peterborough.

Cranford, based on three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell,is a market town in northwest England in 1842. It is a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. It seems that life has always been conducted according to their social rules. For spinsters Deborah Jenkyns, the arbiter of correctness, and Matty, her demurring sister, the town is a hub of intrigue. Handsome new doctor Frank Harrison has arrived from London; a retired Captain and his daughters move in across the street and preparations for Lady Ludlow's garden party are underway. The town has some secrets which are about to be revealed. But news comes that shakes the town, a railway line from Manchester is coming to Cranford.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

On staycation? Visit some imaginary places in the United States

The Ladies of Covington send their love from their new home in Covington, North Carolina.
Follow Grace, Amelia and Hannah as they decide that the last thing they want to do is live out their lives in a group home. To the dismay of their children, they pool their resources and move to Covington, North Carolina, and new lives. This is the first title in a series of seven so far by Joan Medlicott.

Not so far away from Covington is the beloved town of Mitford, home of Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley, Barnabus the dog, and Violet the cat.
At home in Mitford introduces the main characters. After 9 books in Mitford, Father Tim returns to his childhood past in Home to Holly Springs (a real place in Mississippi.)

Lumby is somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Mark and Pam Walker, a vacationing couple from the East Coast, arrive in the tiny Pacific Northwest town of Lumby, planning to restore the village's dilapidated Montis Abbey and turn it into an inn. It takes a while for the quirky locals to warm up to the idea and to the newcomers, especially irascible William Beezer, owner of the local newspaper
The Lumby Lines.
To date, author Gail Grady has penned 3 in this series in which Lumby has seen a new B& B established, investigated an art theft, and hosted a hot air balloon festival.

In the fictional small town of Harmony, Indiana, Sam Gardner becomes the pastor of his hometown church, Harmony Friends Meeting. In this delightful, first-person novel, Sam describes in a warm, down-home style the moving and humorous adventures he encounters his first year, Home to Harmony.

Maggody, AK
Ozarks small town sheriff, Arly Hanks has dealt with a citizens revolt against a new supermarket, a Hollywood production company come to town, returning country music superstars, Confederate gold rumors, crop circles and tabloid reports and militia groups, along with murder, mayhem and just plain goofy citizens.
Malice in Maggody is the first in this long-running series by Joan Hess.

Lake Wobegon, Minnesota
The episodic novels of Garrison Keillor, recounting the citizens and woes of Lake Wobegon, include
Pontoon, and
Wobegon Boy among other tales.

Moose County, Maine
Home of Jim Qwilleran, and his brilliant Siamese cat, Koko, later joined by Yum Yum, and assorted odd-ball characters in the territory.
The Cat who could read backwards is the first in this long popular series.

Cape Light on the coast of New England introduces a hamlet populated by colorful inhabitants who share a strong sense of community and caring for their neighbors.

Waterford, PA is home to Elm Creek Manor.
When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to the small town of Waterford, Pennsylvania, to get a fresh start, Sarah struggles to find a fulfilling job. Disheartened by failed interviews, she reluctantly accepts a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping seventy-five-year-old Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale after the recent death of Sylvia's estranged sister. As part of her compensation, Sarah is taught how to quilt by this reclusive, cantankerous master quilter.
The Quilter's Apprentice is the first in this ever-growing series, featuring quilting patterns.

Next posting: imaginary villages in Great Britain.