Book Review:The Rooftop Growing Guide

Living at a high elevation in Flagstaff, AZ with considerable snow in the winter, there are not many flat roofs around to take urban farming to the next level. Still, I was very interested in reading the recently released The Rooftop Growing Guide by Annie Novak to look for new ways to promote and incorporate creative gardening ideas in the community. While we do not have many flat residential roofs, we do have to think outside the box in order to fit personal and community gardens into our urban setting.

The Rooftop Growing Guide is filled with interesting ideas and unique solutions to combat the city garden challenges we face. What may not work on our pitched roofs could work perfectly on an upper balcony or deck. In fact, some techniques like vertical gardening in containers would probably work better on a balcony that faces the sun rather than on a roof completely exposed to the wind, rain and direct sunlight all of the time. From my gardening experience, I think that just about everything in this book can be adapted to any urban setting regardless of the building types.
A wealth of information on every area of city gardening is included in this book. Standards like setting up cold frames and compost bins are sprinkled throughout but this volume also includes much more than just the basics. Chapters touching on rooftop honeybees and rooftop bird habitats show a wholistic approach to the urban farm taking place. Everything from “how to” schematics to zoning and building codes are well written and explained in simple terms. Dozens of photos compliment the text. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fresh perspective on gardening in limited space.
I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.

Book Review: Baking 60 Sensational Treats

Book Review: Baking 60 Sensational Treats

As a mother who works full time while juggling soccer practice and softball for the kids and yoga classes for myself, it is very hard to find time and energy to focus on baking. This is unfortunate because all too often the default dessert in our house ends up being unhealthy store bought snacks that filled with preservatives and ingredients that most people can’t even pronounce.


So I was thrilled when I stumbled across Food 52’s new book Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off In A Snap. This book was created for the sole purpose of giving people like me quick recipes that don’t take a ton of planning and and are somewhat healthier than a box of Twinkies.

Covered categories include Breakfast Goods, Fruit Desserts, Special Occasion Cakes among many others. Nothing too fancy, but all very very good. As this book says, these are the kinds of recipes that grandma used to make!

You can buy the book on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Food52-Baking-Sensational-Treats-Works/dp/160774801o

Instant Happy Journal

The Instant Happy Journal : 365 days of inspiration, gratitude, and joy, by Karen Salmansohn

I love the idea of keeping a journal.  I constantly find myself picking up pretty notebooks, special pens and pencils, stickers and embellishments with the good intentions of using them in my journal.  Unfortunately good intentions is about as far as it ever goes.  So, when I received The Instant Happy Journal, I didn’t expect it to go much further than sitting on my shelf adding to my other blank journals and notebooks.  But when I opened this little book, I knew I had found my way of journaling. Each day gives a prompt and either several lines, numbers, bullets or in some cases a blank page for a drawing.

Here are some of my favorite prompts from the book:

-What’s something you need to finish? Why haven’t you?

-Resentment merely dims your light.  Gratitude grows your light. Light up this page with appreciation!

-Take a few moments to breathe.  Then listen.  What do you need to pay more attention to in your life right now?

-Draw a picture of what your mood would look like if it were a flower.

The pages are colorful and uplifting.  I have only had this journal for a few days, but I can’t wait to see what each day has in store for my, to bring me happiness, and appreciation for my life.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for my review.

Book Review: The Plain Choice

The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore is a true story of choosing to live an Amish life.  I expected more of the reasons she chose to live an Amish life, but she tells a tale of how her life brought her to the Amish life.

This book takes you on a journey through the authors life, weaving through turmoil, grief, and so much more.  The author has a way of writing that puts you right there with her by her side as she recounts her journeys.  I couldn’t put it down after the first chapter. This book is sure to bring a smile to your face in one chapter, and tears to your eyes in the next.

Overall, its a great read.  It really made me appreciate how easy my life has been in comparison to this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Printer and the Preacher

The Printer and the Preacher : Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America, by Randy Petersen

When I picked up this book I expected a  a history of the friendship between Ben Franklin and George Whitefield and how it inspired and formed America.  What I didn’t expect was two entirely separate biographies of each Ben Franklin and George Whitefield, compared side by side, which is exactly what this book is.

This book starts by going into detail of how Ben Franklin and George Whitefield were raised as children, their religious experience, and their early careers.  Then continues through each of their lives, intertwining with each others time line here and there, throughout the book.  I must admit that after the first half of the book, I lost interest and was unable to finish the remainder.  I’m sure this book is appealing to many out there, but I just couldn’t get into the dry writing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Between the Dark and Daylight

A couple chapters into reading Between the Dark and Daylight by Joan Chittister, I was full of doubt that I could get through the entire book.  It began as somewhat preachy and it took several weeks of the book sitting on my side table before I decided to pick it back up and try to get through it.   I was however, extremely surprised at the depth in the remaining chapters.

Each chapter discusses a contradiction in life.  Chapter eight, “The Poverty of Plenty”, talks about how buying and accumulating things in life can be a form of poverty.  I enjoyed the perspective the author came from on the subject. Chapter 11, “The Energy of Exhaustion” really hit home with me as I read through the book.  I’ve had a difficult time with energy in the past couple of weeks.  Finding it difficult to start new tasks, or even finish what I’ve started, this chapter helped me realize that the exhaustion I’m feeling can actually be a positive feeling, proving that I’ve been working hard.

Overall I would say that this book ended up being way better than first expected.  Not only should you not judge a book by its cover, but this one showed me to not judge a book by its first 20 pages either.

For more information about this book, click here.
Thanks for reading!
Cindy Dorfsmith
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Finally, a FUN cookbook

I absolutely love cookbooks!  Nearly every trip to a book store, or thrift store ends with a cookbook in my hand.  Needless to say, I have read more than my fair share of cookbooks.  Even though I love to flip through them and find new recipes and ideas, I’m often left with the feeling of deja vu.  The recipes are all similar, with one or two slight differences here and there.  Recipes rarely stand out, and I often only find one or two recipes that I believe are worth my attention.

I expected the same when I received “Milk Bar Life” by Christina Tosi.  I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open this book and began flipping through the recipes.  Not only are the pictures gorgeous, but the recipes are fun and unique.  After the first 10 pages, I stopped trying to flag recipes to make because nearly every page was tagged!

Throughout the pages there are tips, and ideas in the margins.  I find the “feel free to add” bubbles extremely helpful in making a recipe unique to our family.  The author also includes some history of the recipes and her restaurant, Momofuku Milk Bar.


One of my favorite sections is “hand me downs” which contains recipes from the authors family that we are lucky enough to receive.  Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies are included in my long list of must makes from this book.  These cookies look amazing, with sweetened shredded coconut and a confectioners’ sugar glaze. Another recipe on my list is “Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter and Breakfast Sausage”, all I have to say is YUM!

Anyone that knows me, knows that baking is part of who I am.  I love winter because my house is warmed by the oven and there are cookies, and cakes always ready to be enjoyed.  This is why I especially look forward to trying the recipes in the chapter, “A Cookie a Day….”. Maple Pecan Cookies, Fruity-Pebble Meringues, Molasses-Rye Cookies, Banana Cookies, Thai Tea Cookies.  Whatever your taste, there is a cookie in this book for you!

I’ve only scratched the surface of the incredible recipes in this book.  Other recipe sections include: Supermarket, We are Family, Weak Nights, Freakin’ Weekend, Cookout/Bonfire, Craft Night/Sleepover, and Going Out.

I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone with a sense of adventure in the kitchen.  Now lets get baking!

For more information about this book, click here.
Thanks for reading!
Cindy Dorfsmith
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review