Gardening in the New Normal

While the unprecedented heat wave that brought triple-digit temperatures to the Pacific Northwest has passed, it has left its mark on the region’s trees and plants. Fir trees with brown patches, rhododendrons with scorched leaves and grass the color of straw dot the landscape. Since we should expect wetter winters and drier summers in the future, it’s a good time to reconsider how we garden.

In Gardening for Summer-Dry Climates, Nora Harlow provides suggestions and solutions specific to Pacific Northwest gardeners. A large portion of the book is devoted to plants that can withstand hot, dry summers; and to preventative measures, such as ways to harvest rainwater and landscaping that minimizes the risk of forest fires, making this a must-read for serious gardeners.

Olivier Filippi, known in France as the “dry gardening guru,” brings his expertise to Planting Design for Dry Gardens. Instead of water-hogging lawns that require constant maintenance, Filippi provides gardeners with alternatives such as ground covers and flowering meadows, ornamental grasses and shrubs, and gravel gardens that simultaneously highlight attractive, drought-resistant plants while keeping weeds at bay.

Xeriscaping — gardening or landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need to irrigate plants — has been widely practiced in desert and Mediterranean-type climates; as Pacific Northwest summers get drier and hotter, it’s a practice worth considering. In The Water-Saving Garden, Texas-based Pam Penick suggests drought-tolerant plants that are showstoppers along with practical solutions like grading soil and embracing pots and containers. In the section “Oasis or Mirage? Creating the illusion of water in the garden,” Penick “squeezes water from stone” with ideas for using glass and other materials to enhance your garden in surprising ways.

~posted by Frank

What’s Cooking? Fall edition

The pandemic turned many of us — perhaps not willingly — into home cooks, resulting in cookbooks with long holds queues, printing delays and a publishing industry scrambling to meet demand. While dining in restaurants is resuming, many of us will continue cooking and baking at home for ourselves, family and friends. Here are a dozen of the fall’s most anticipated cookbooks, which focus on accessible, simplified recipes and techniques.

Early September. Kick the season off at summer’s end with The Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach, and eat more veggies during the week for your health (and the environment’s), saving meat for weekends. Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski’s sophomore cookbook, Let’s Do Dinner, features balanced and flavorful fare. If you’re a foodie who enjoys the craft of cooking and an eccentric guide, Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook is the book for you.

Continue reading “What’s Cooking? Fall edition”

To the Max: ’80s Music in Books


Let’s face it…many a music snob would declare the 1980s as the worst decade in music, while others would put ’80s music in the “so bad it’s good” category. A flurry of recent titles chronicle the highlights, and occasional lowlights, of the decade’s most influential artists.

For me and my high school friends, heavy metal ruled, starting with my first concert: Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet tour in 1984 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. In Nöthin’ but A Good Time, you can explore all things metal – from the heyday of hair bands (confession: I’ve seen both Whitesnake and Skid Row in concert) to the edgier Guns N’ Roses, before heavy metal gave way to grunge in the ’90s. Spanning hard rock classics (Ratt’s “Round & Round”) and obligatory metal ballad (Poison’s “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn”), authors Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock take readers on a wild ride. Continue reading “To the Max: ’80s Music in Books”

Spring Cooking

As we prepare to face a second spring largely indoors, it’s a good time to be inspired by some new culinary skills and dishes. Here are a baker’s dozen of cookbooks coming out this spring to enjoy, whether cooking solo or for family and friends.

Nigella Lawson returns with Cook, Eat, Repeat, her first cookbook in three years, which combines imaginative recipes with delightful essays. The latest from Julia Turshen, Simply Julia, puts fuss-free healthy comfort food like Kitchen Sink Frittata front and center. In Cook This BookInstagram fave Molly Baz (620,000 followers and counting) delivers 95 easy recipes for those new to home cooking. Continue reading “Spring Cooking”

#BookBingoNW2020: Trans or Non-Binary Author

For transgender and non-binary folx, 2020 has been a mixed bag politically, while the intentional killing of trans folx continues, unabated. Publishing has been a bright spot, as trans and non-binary authors are more visible than ever before; yet J.K. Rowling’s controversial position on trans rights, considered by many to be transphobic, shows more work must be done. For Adult Book Bingo, consider one of these outstanding books for the trans or non-binary author square.

Nonfiction Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2020: Trans or Non-Binary Author”