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$4.95
61. Origami Paper: 24 7 x 7 Sheets
$58.49
62. Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Collection:
$14.39
63. Dog Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar
$8.39
64. Dewey: The Small-Town Library
$10.04
65. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday
$16.47
66. Martha Stewart's Cookies: The
$13.57
67. The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple
$9.00
68. Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline
$13.57
69. Country Wisdom & Know-How
$32.97
70. Blue Book of Gun Values: 31st
$9.96
71. Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's
$58.49
72. Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Collection:
$11.53
73. Best of Sewing Machine Fun For
$23.10
74. Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food
$23.10
75. Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia
$23.10
76. The Best 30-Minute Recipe
$15.63
77. Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists:
$12.21
78. Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting:
$11.13
79. Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen
$10.20
80. How to Sew a Button: And Other

61. Origami Paper: 24 7 x 7 Sheets in 12 Colors
by Dover
Loose Leaf
list price: $4.95 -- our price: $4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0486268292
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 1704
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

High-quality Japanese origami paper specially manufactured to resist tears and produce clean lines and crisp folds. Each sheet is colored one side only to make it easier to understand the various folds and a sturdy shrink-wrapped folder keeps papers neat and clean until ready for use.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Good set of paper, September 24, 2000
As a beginner, this was a nice set of paper to work with. Lot's of colors to start and easy to fold..

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun & Convenient, September 2, 2005
This set of origami paper was very convenient and my 8 year old daughter had a lot of fun using it. Not to mention the convenience of having it shipped right to our mailbox. She loves to get mail and packages. The price was very reasonable too.

4-0 out of 5 stars Convenient, January 8, 2009
I bought this paper pack a couple of weeks ago and found out that it contains only 2 papers each of the various colors. Maybe I overlooked it while buying. But this made it impossible for me to fold Modular origami models or Kusudamas. This paper pack will be ideal in case you are more in the habit of folding models of animals, butterflies and such. Good quality and folds easily, otherwise. The colors are bright too.

4-0 out of 5 stars alright, December 16, 2007
I thought the paper would be thiner, but it has a substantial feel to it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Origami paper, November 19, 2008
Product is as advertised and will be enjoyed by gift recipient. Merchandise was promptly shipped.

4-0 out of 5 stars Origami paper, July 5, 2010
I purchased this item for my grandson and he has been delighted to have the paper he needs at his finger tips and is also able to share with his brothers who now also feel the need to get with the program. They have loved it.......

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice product, not a great value, January 15, 2007
The paper was fine. I used it with a basic origami book. My group of 7 kids went through it all in about an hour. It probably would have been a better value if I bought it at the local craft store. ... Read more


62. Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Collection: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, and Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten
Hardcover
list price: $99.99 -- our price: $58.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0307720012
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Sales Rank: 962
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In her first ever boxed set, bestselling cookbook author and Food Network star Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, unites her initial three titles in one beautiful package.

Here are the books that started it all for Ina Garten, who turned a passion for food into a successful specialty food store in the Hamptons and is now beloved by millions for her Barefoot Contessa television show and cookbooks. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina's first book, has all of the fabulous, easy recipes that won Ina a loyal following at her retail shop, including Perfect Roast Chicken, French Potato Salad, and those irresistible Coconut Cupcakes. In Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ina shares her very best menus, divided by season, for fuss-free yet gorgeous entertaining, from a summer garden lunch for eight to an intimate fireside dinner for two. Barefoot Contessa Family Style is full of crowd-pleasers you'll make again and again, like roasted asparagus showered with freshly grated Parmesan and a French toast made with challah and just the right amount of grated orange zest and pure vanilla extract to make it sing.

Together, these three titles form a timeless collection perfect for every home cook, whether accomplished or amateur, and for every occasion, whether a weeknight dinner with family or a larger, more festive gathering. With stunning photography and Ina's helpful tips, this boxed set makes the perfect gift for those who love to cook.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Contessa Cookbook, December 7, 2010
Great book I receive as a gift.
Contessa cookbook provides a variety of recipes that will please almost any appetite.
I recommended,Any cook would appreciate the addition of this cookbook to his collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars INA IS UNIQUE - SO IS THE CONTESSA COOKBOOK, December 21, 2010



For those who haven't had the pleasure of shopping at Ina Garten's specialty food store in the Hamptons The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook delivers - literally. Some 160 gorgeous photos plus Ina's favorite recipes fill the 252 pages of this indispensable kitchen reference
As Martha Stewart writes in her Foreword, Ina is unique. "There is a freshness in cooking, a total lack of finickiness, a reliance on the freshest and best, and a casualness that I know will be appealing to everyone who uses her book." How true!
Ina stresses freshness, noting that after several weeks in Provence where she found radishes and carrots with "soil still clinging to them," she determined to base her cooking on ingredients from local sources. A lesson for us all.
Hosting a cocktail party, she decided, was not much fun if she spent all of her time running back and forth to the kitchen to get hot hors d'oeuvres out of the oven. So, she does everything possible to be sure that she does not leave the room. For instance, she has a table with all the drink fixings on it, and appetizers that can be served at room temperature so everything is either out or ready to pass when the first guest arrives. Thus we find common sense and uncommonly good appetizers from Roasted Eggplant spread to Guacamole to Smoked Salmon Sandwiches.
Her soups are splendid, most of them starting with sauteed onions "to give a sweet, rich flavor to the stock." Parker's Split Pea Soup, which Steven Spielberg said tasted just like his mother's, is rich, hearty and beautifully presented topped either with toasted croutons or diced smoked ham.
The joy Ina finds in cooking is evident in all of her dishes. She's a cook who makes simple food very, very special.
Highly recommended. ... Read more


63. Dog Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar 2011
by Workman Publishing
Calendar
list price: $15.99 -- our price: $14.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0761157611
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 876
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

A tiny poodle in a patch of sunlight. A puli's outrageous coat. The mischievous spark in a Jack Russell’s eye. A very fashionable Chihuahua sporting a hand-knit sweater. Plus a Yellow Lab frolicking in the surf, three playful Pugs, a Husky—one brown eye, one blue—and a curious puppy, nose stuck in a shoe. Dog is a loving tribute to our most faithful companions, with hundreds of beautifully composed photographs in color and black and white. The images perfectly capture their subjects' indomitable canine spirit—playful, reflective, soulful, and affectionate.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Love dogs? Excellent calendar!, September 28, 2010
I love this calendar. I am presently (Sept. 2010) on my third one and have ordered next year's not only for me but also for two friends. Outstanding photos and captions of dogs at work, at play, getting into whatever, and at rest. Every day is a surprise! You will likely find your favorite breed in the Dog Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar. You will also enjoy the mixed-breeds. (I for one love the "mutts.") All too cute! At work, just about everyone in the office stops by daily to check out the day's dog(s). Lots of comments from the dog people! Did I say I love this calendar? I'm sure you will also.

5-0 out of 5 stars Holiday gifts for elderly, vision impaired, animal lovers., August 10, 2010
These Calenders are large enough for people who have some vision problems. It also gives people, especially elderly, something to look forward to each morning. All of my love ones look forward to theirs each year. Some get the Cat on instead. Which is equally as good. Great to order this way, as I have wiped many a book store out of their supply!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful dog calendar, November 23, 2010
I buy this gallery dog calendar every year along with another page-a-day dog calendar. I like them both but the photography on this one is outstanding!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful--, December 5, 2010
This particular dog calendar is one of the best, if not the best, that really shows why dogs are truly responsible for some of the most touching, funny, even
sad moments of life. If one really loves dogs, this calendar will provide you with so many heartfelt moments. It makes me look forward to the next day, the next story or photo. That may seem far fetched, but with our lives so busy, these moments make you realize why it is so important to live in the moment...just like our canine companions!!

5-0 out of 5 stars the best calendar, November 30, 2010
I have been purchasing this calendar for the past 5 years. It is a sturdy desk/table top calendar that displays nice. The daily pictures (SAT/SUN share a picture,) are a sturdy card that has great color to it. I get many compliments on it and have purchased multiples to give as gifts. Dog lovers are always stopping by my desk at work to check out the latest picture as well as flip through the rest of the pictures. This calendar is a bright spot in my morning when I come to work and flip back yesterday to see what dog is waiting today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great calendar, November 10, 2010
This is the perfect gift for any dog lover. There is a different type of dog for each day printed in beautiful color on sturdy card stock. The lucite holder stands easily on its own. My mother-in-law's favorite Christmas gift!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Calendar, August 23, 2010
Beautiful calendar with great pictures of amazing dogs. Makes a great gift for the dog lover in your family..... ... Read more


64. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
by Vicki Myron, Bret Witter
Paperback (2010-10-07)
list price: $13.99 -- our price: $8.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0446407429
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Sales Rank: 1468
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility (for a cat), and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars HAPPY, HEARTWARMING, AND HOPEFUL
Remember Marley: A Dog Like No Other, a canine greatly loved by his master? Well, here is Dewey, an abandoned orange kitten not only beloved by his mistress but by the entire town of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's origins were questionable as was his introduction to library director Vicki Myron. January 18, 1988 was a frigid Monday in Spencer. "It was a killing freeze, the kind that made it almost painful to breathe." When Vicki arrived at the library that morning her assistant told her she had heard a noise coming from a metal slot, the library's after-hours drop box behind the building. Soon, they both heard the noise and thought it was an animal. The opening of the box was only a few inches wide, so whatever it was had to be very small. Being metal the box was even colder than it was outside, and there in a corner of the box was a tiny kitten.

It was the most pitiful thing she had ever seen, so thin she could see every rib, and she could feel its heart beating, its lungs pumping. "The poor kitten was so weak it could barely hold up its head, and it was shaking uncontrollably. It opened its mouth, but the sound which came two seconds later, was weak and ragged." But one look into his big eyes and she was Dewey's and he was hers.

Dewey was not the only one who had endured hardship - Vicki was a single mom who had lost the family farm and survived an abusive husband. The people of Spencer were going through tough times during the farm crisis of that time. Depression, ennui seemed to be everywhere.

Nonetheless, Vicki was determined to capture the interest of those who came to the small library and hopefully make them a little happier. With the help of Dewey she did that and more. For 19 years he returned the affection of the townspeople twofold, amusing them, enchanting them, rubbing against many hands in gratitude for their caresses.

What difference can one small animal make? Dewey's story spread across state lines and even around the world. In 2003 Japanese Public Television filmed Dewey, and his obituary ran in well over 200 newspapers. His story will warm your hearts, make you laugh and cry. Don't miss it.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Cat, Good Humans
Dog lovers who are also readers have had some good books to get through in the past couple of years, like _Marley and Me_ or _From Baghdad with Love_. If they really wanted to read a classic, there was always _My Dog Skip_. Cat people may now rejoice, as may anyone who has an interest in pets, or how people get along with pets, or just in a good story. _Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World_ (Grand Central Publishing) is a lovely, loving story written by Vicki Myron (with Bret Witter), the former librarian of the little town of Spencer, Iowa. Dewey was a remarkable cat, since cats are not generally known for their outgoing natures, and some of the stories about him seem, well, too good to be true. But there is documentation! A whole town got to know this cat, not just library staff; reporters came in to tell his story, as did documentary film makers. As remarkable as Dewey was, the librarians and other citizens who came to love him are revealed to be just as remarkable; this is a perfect story of how pets are good for people and vice versa.

Dewey became a library cat in the most fitting of ways. He came into the Spencer Public Library via the book return slot. He didn't volunteer - he was far too small a kitten on that cold January morning of 1988. Someone thought it would be a good idea to shove a kitten in there. The poor cold cat could hardly stand, and it was grey with dirt; only cleaning it up revealed it to be a long-haired orange tabby. His paws were frostbitten, but he hobbled to each of the librarians as if to thank them for the rescue. It was the sort of thing he would continue to do for nineteen years, welcoming anyone who came into the library's front doors, attending meetings, sitting in laps, posing for photos, and generally being agreeable. Dewey turned out not to be just popular with the townsfolk, who, if they did not meet him at the library, heard about him from those who did, or from the local papers. People from small towns in adjoining counties would come by just to meet Dewey. When the _Des Moines Register_, though, the paper of the state capital, printed a story about Dewey, then other papers ran stories, and news crews came to the library. He was in a documentary made by a Japanese crew, and if a "magazine had _cat_ in the title, Dewey was probably in it." People from out of state who happened to be visiting "nearby" (perhaps a four hour drive) would make the trip to see him. His own needs were simple: "All Dewey ever wanted was a warm place to nap, a fresh can of food, and love and attention from every person who ever stepped foot in the Spencer Public Library."

Dewey lived to a ripe old age, slowing down gradually but always paying attention to his library friends. When his death came (I dare anyone to read the final chapters of this sweet book without a lump in the throat), his ashes were of course buried in the library's garden. His cremation had been donated by the crematorium, and his memorial stone was donated by the local funeral home. Myron got thousands of e-mails and condolence letters, because the obituary ran in over 270 newspapers worldwide. Myron herself seems like a tough survivor, but her book makes clear that her friendship with this ingratiating cat was the most successful of her relationships, so it was good Dewey was there for her, as well as good for the library and good for the town. Of course, she has lessons from Dewey she wants us to take away from this book, and they are good ones: "Find your place. Be happy with what you have. Treat everyone well. Live a good life. It isn't about material things; it's about love. And you can never anticipate love."

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming Story of a Cat, His Town, and Their Library
I don't read a lot of non-fiction, and I definitely don't read about cats, but I do love libraries so I bit the bullet and requested a copy of this book for review- boy am I glad I did! This book is a must-read for anyone who loves cats, libraries, Iowa, or just a feel-good story about normal people working through the hard times.

Found half frozen in the book return slot after the coldest night of the year, Dewey becomes the official cat for the local library in Spencer, Iowa and helps keep people entertained for the next 19 years. As the town reeled from the economic and social impact of the farm crisis of the 1980s, Dewey served as a touchstone, dedicating his energies to those who really needed the love and attention only he could provide.

Author Vicki Myron's love for Spencer and for Dewey shines through every page of this story, and her own inspiring story of overcome a troubled early marriage and finishing her education mirror the story of the town itself. Vicki's tireless dedication to making the Spencer library a vibrant and valuable member of the community speaks volumes; every small town librarian should take heart and find inspiration in her successful efforts.

I loved the anecdotes about Dewey's spreading fame (a Japanese documentary? really?) and his love for rubber bands, but it was the stories of people whose lives were touched by Dewey that really powered the narrative for me. I confess to tearing up at the very end, even though it was clear Vicki made the choice that was best for Dewey. When Dewey died in 2006, his obituary appeared in over 250 newspapers- after reading this book, I understand why...

All in all, I highly recommend this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
This is a heartwarming story about the rescue of a kitten who became a very important part of the life of those who worked in and used the library in a small town in Iowa. As time went on, he became a national celebrity.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a real winner!
Dewey was summarily abandoned in what might seem to be a rather cruel manner (he was placed in the Spencer, Iowa library book drop box), but that drop box would turn out to be what saved the kitten and helped a town.

Vicki Myron, a single mother with numerous problems (her family farm was lost, she'd had a cancer scare and her alcoholic husband was, well, gone) found the kitten that was near death.

Dewey was nursed back to health and flourished and grew into Spencer, Iowa's library cat. To say that Vicki Myron, librarian and the town of Spencer was never the same would be an understatement. The townspeople named Dewey and the library visitors (the response of the children and particularly, Crystal, to Dewey will touch your heart) were befriended, entertained and in some ways given hope by this little cat who started out in life as an abandoned kitten. His fame grew and people began driving to Spencer to meet him. And through it all he gave Spencer the will and determination to survive crisis.

I was literally handed a copy of Dewey by the publicist while I was in New York. The cover (a photo of Dewey) captured my attention and I vaguely remembered a story about a cat, a librarian and a Midwestern town. I was determined to finish the book I was currently reading on the plane trip back to Minneapolis, but Dewey called to me and I could not abandon him.

And I'm thrilled I picked up Dewey to read. It's one of the most delightful stories I've read in ever so long. It's filled with hope, happiness, strength of character, determination and it's, well, a story of a town brought together by something greater than themselves.

If you love animals (the cover will grab your heart) you must read Dewey. You'll be able to face the world feeling refreshed and hopeful.

Armchair Interviews says: Buy it! Dewey will bring a smile to your face that will become a grin. Then buy copies for others and help them feel good. ... Read more


65. Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems
by Cesar Millan, Melissa Jo Peltier
Paperback
list price: $13.95 -- our price: $10.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0307337979
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 1251
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

“I rehabilitate dogs. I train people.” —Cesar Millan

There are at least 68 million dogs in America, and their owners lavish billions of dollars on them every year. So why do so many pampered pets have problems? In this definitive and accessible guide, Cesar Millan—star of National Geographic Channel’s hit show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan—reveals what dogs truly need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

From his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show to his roster of celebrity clients to his reality television series, Cesar Millan is America’s most sought-after dog-behavior expert. But Cesar is not a trainer in the traditional sense—his expertise lies in his unique ability to comprehend dog psychology. Tracing his own amazing journey from a clay-walled farm in Mexico to the celebrity palaces of Los Angeles, Cesar recounts how he learned what makes dogs tick. In Cesar’s Way, he shares this wisdom, laying the groundwork for you to have stronger, more satisfying relationships with your canine companions.

Cesar’s formula for a contented and balanced dog seems impossibly simple: exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order. Taking readers through the basics of dog psychology and behavior, Cesar shares the inside details of some of his most fascinating cases, using them to illustrate how common behavior issues develop and, more important, how they can be corrected.

Whether you’re having issues with your dog or just want to make a good bond even stronger,this book will give you a deeper appreciation of how your dog sees the world, and it will help make your relationship with your beloved pet a richer and more rewarding one.


Learn what goes on inside your dog’s mind and develop a positive, fulfilling relationship with your best friend

In Cesar’s Way, Cesar Millan—nationally recognized dog expert and star of National Geographic Channel’s hit show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan—helps you see the world through the eyes of your dog so you can finally eliminate problem behaviors. You’ll learn:

• What your dog really needs may not be what you’re giving him

• Why a dog’s natural pack instincts are the key to your happy relationship

• How to relate to your dog on a canine level

• There are no “problem breeds,” just problem owners

• Why every dog needs a job

• How to choose a dog who’s right for you and your family

• The difference between discipline and punishment

• And much more!

Filled with fascinating anecdotes about Cesar’s longtime clients, and including forewords by the president of the International Association of Canine Professionals and Jada Pinkett Smith, this is the only book you’ll need to forge a new, more rewarding connection with your four-legged companion.




Also available as a Random House AudioBook


From the Hardcover edition.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Cesar says dogs need exercise, discipline and affection in that order! Read and you'll know why., April 12, 2006
This is a wonderful reference book and makes for good reading as well. I bought the book to give as a gift to a young couple whose dog needs some behavior modification. I planned to quickly scan through it to get an idea of its contents, wrap it up, and give it away. However, I ended up reading it word for word and will add it to our library! (I can think of several dog owners and parents who could use the concepts in this book for raising both dogs and children. I'll probably end up buying several copies as gifts.)

I notice that one reviewer complained about the frequent reference to the pack leader concept Cesar writes about. Perhaps that reader is unaware that in a reference book clarification in the form of repetition is needed for those who are looking up only one or two segments at a time, such as "Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations," or "Dominance Aggression." I found Cesar's personal history and anecdotal material about him and others (Oprah Winfrey has a whole section on the relationship between her and her dog, Sophie) very interesting and enlightening. The book is clearly and concisely written. It is easy to see that Melissa Jo Peltier's writing abilities were very helpful to Cesar.

Cesar was born in Culiacan, Mexico, and came here in 1990. He is now applying for U.S. citizenship. He has quite a story to tell about his childhood and his special relationship with dogs from the time he was a small boy. When he came here he noticed with dismay that American dogs had a number of "issues" related primarily to the fact that we Americans view our dogs as "four-legged humans" instead of dogs (animals). Our dogs need us to be calm-assertive pack leaders and to provide them with exercise, discipline and affection in that order. Cesar gives many illustrations of how this concept works and the fact that dogs use smell and the sixth sense of energy to evaluate other dogs and animals, including humans.

I highly recommend this book to dog owners and, as mentioned earlier, to those contemplating having children or who already have children who need help. In a nation with increasing numbers of obese children, I was struck by the #1 need of dogs as stated by Cesar: EXERCISE. Perhaps, we might consider the same order of needs for our children: exercise, discipline, and affection in order to grow happy, healthy, productive human adults.

Carolyn Rowe Hill

5-0 out of 5 stars Common sense makes sense....., June 18, 2006
I have read the negative reviews of all the "spoiled-sports" who disagree with Cesar Millan's philosophy of the dog-human relationship. I feel they are merely jealous of the fact that he has become a "media idol" in the dog-training arena and is now pulling in the big bucks.

As a dog rescuer who has taken in and re-homed over a thousand dogs over the past 10 years, I just wish Cesar had been around back when I first became so deeply involved in "pack mentality." I'm sure that I could have made some better decisions, saved even more dogs' lives, and dealt more effectively with some behavior issues.

Of course, time breeds experience, and by the time I first saw Cesar on the National Geographic Channel last year, I realized to my great pleasure that many of the things I had learned and was now utilizing myself were based on the very premise Cesar promotes.

Cesar's philosophy is based on common sense: humans are human and dogs are dogs. Most dog owners become oblivious to any common sense they may have possessed prior to adding a dog to the household when they bring their "new baby" home.

There is nothing wrong with a "calm and assertive" approach with dogs, and nothing equally wrong with the dog being "calm and submissive." This does not mean that you will have a frightened dog that will submissively urinate, cower in the corner or become a fear-biter.

As the supposedly more intelligent and sensitive being, you have to approach your relationship with your dog in a common sense manner and tempered with consideration for the natural temperament of the particular dog. But I do share and support the premise that dogs are much happier when they know that their human is the one "in charge." They are relaxed, content and much more prone to "be good."

I'm sure there are many other well-qualified dog trainers across the country, some of whom have written good dog-training books, utilizing equally-effective methods of training. There is and never will be "one" form only, but to trash Cesar Millan's methods is to me nothing more than an undeserved "cheap shot."

5-0 out of 5 stars It just works, April 4, 2006
I have owned purebred field Springer Spaniels and a pure bred Border Collie. I didn't believe in yelling or punishment myself. I found that my dogs paid more attention to my talking quietly and to a quiet rebuke than yelling ever did. It worked well for me in the past and some arrogance on my part assumed that I knew it all. I didn't.

When the last of my dogs died this year, I decided I wanted to have another Border Collie as my last dog before I died. This dog I would find, would be my ultimate challenge though. At 12 weeks of age I excused his behavior because I'm told he is a Taurus. A few months later he began to attack his food dish in what I can only describe as "rabid". Shortly after that he bit me when I walked by him while he was eating.

I was at a loss to what to do. He was a puppy. ...But a puppy like this you don't want to grow into a dog I thought. Then I saw a show called the Dog Whisperer. It made sense to me (hell I was brought up English! - if not for me why not the dog?) I was really worried that I might have to put this dog down until then.

I tried it Cesar's way. I started walking and running the dog in my backfield for at least 45 minutes. What a charmer he became! I added some new rules "no couch" and he got even better. If my husband would stop letting him into his lap he would be much better I am sure!

Finally, I would like to add that as much as I worried about my dog (which I no longer worry about) at least one dog owner I know gave up on his once. He regretted his decision. Thanks to Cesar I don't have to make that same decision.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cesar's Way Works, September 30, 2006
I have been a dog parent for years and have consistently had a pack of dogs (3, 4, 5 at a time). I have tried positive reinforcement alone and it doesn't work with dogs that have any tendency towards being stubborn, willful, or independent. When you have a pack of dogs you have to be the pack leader otherwise chaos will reign in your household. Before I began using Cesar's methods my dogs tended to misbehave. They are much happier and better behaved with me being the pack leader.

No Cesar's methods are not new, but that doesn't mean they aren't the correct methods. Just as our society has coddled our children to the point they have become spoiled brats, we have coddled our pets so they run a muck in our houses. Dogs are not humans, and we need to work with their innate behavior. Treating them as if they think like humans is a waste of time and is deterimental to their happiness.

People who critize Cesar's methods really don't undertand them. They are not about fear or pain. Tapping your dog with your foot, correcting it with a collar, getting its attention with a unique noise is not about fear or pain. Dogs, like children, must have "boundaries and limitations" and dogs are much happier when their human is in charge and makes them feel calm, secure, and safe.

Cesar does not say that you cannot use positive reinforcement for training. Cesar's methods are not for training, they are for creating a foundation for a stong and peaceful relationship with your dog(s).

5-0 out of 5 stars Your Dog Is Talking To You, August 5, 2006
I've had dogs all my life, but this book gave me a whole new perspective.

Cesar Millan's methods are based on the behavior of dogs living within packs. Packs are organised to the extent that there are pack leaders and followers. Instinctively, dogs need packs for survival, so they naturally follow the strongest and most stable dog and weed out weak, unstable dogs who threaten the effectiveness of the pack. When dogs are removed from their natural state, their pack instincts must be compensated or they become unstable.

The root of most dog problems that Millan is asked to correct originate not with the dogs, but with their owners who often view their dogs as furry little people. Even those dog owners who recognise that dogs are not people, use human psychology on their dogs. This often takes the form of affection and is often given to soothe the dog when it is acting stressed. But, affection given at the wrong time, when the dog is stressed, rewards the dog's behavior and makes matters worse.

Millan has several formulas that he applies to different situations. If you accept that dogs are pack animals, it all makes sense. If you want to control your dog, you have to become the pack leader. As pack leader, you cannot be unstable. You must be calm and assertive or the dog will dismiss you as the leader, though he might be fearful. As pack leader, you need to give the dog what he needs: exercise (dogs roam all day), discipline (packs are organised and the leader sets the rules, boundaries, and limitations) and affection, in that order. People often mess-up their dogs by giving affection and not much else. This results in the dog assuming, in it's mind, the role of pack leader. Every pack needs a leader and if you are not it, the dog will be.

Millan says that he rehabilitates dogs and trains people. Many of the situations he encounters are amusing, because some neuroses can be funny. But, once you get it (understand what you're seeing and why it's happening), the causes of the neuroses, along with the cures, become clear. Much of the cure for dog problems is in understanding what your dog's movements are telling you and immediately acting to short circuit escalating behaviors. They telegraph virtually everything if you are attentive and understand the signals. Bad behavior can by stopped immediately by snapping them out of a state of mind that will lead, often within a second or two, to unwanted behavior.

I think Millan's book is a practical and useful how-to guide and it gives you a basic understanding for building a mutually rewarding relationship with our flop-eared, furry friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cesar saved me and my dog, May 13, 2006
Four and half years ago, before Cesar had a book or a show, and after I had been told by numerous dog trainers in LA that my dog would never be social with other dogs, I contacted Cesar Milan. It was the best thing I could have ever done for me and my beloved but extremely dog-aggressive 85lb male pit bull. 6 years before this, I had rescued/stole this full grown, abused, fighting pit bull and made him my pet. He had been starved, fought over and over, fed hot sauce and gun powder to make him mean and was a mess. With my care, he turned out to be the best behaved, sweetest, most loving dog except for one major problem.....he could not be near another dog without trying to kill it. He listened and obeyed everthing else I wanted him to do except control his urge to maul other dogs. I was told over and over that I would never be able to change his "pit bull" behavior. Cesar was the only person that told me that he could rehabilitate my dog so I could take him to dog parks and not have to walk him with a muzzle in fear that around the corner we would run into another dog and disaster would strike. He kept my dog at his facility in South Central for 5 weeks and allowed me to be a part of his pack walks and trips to the beach. I learned so much from him and so did my dog. Is Cesar rough? Yes, somewhat. But I would never allow my dog to be hurt or abused and when you are dealing with dominant aggressive pit bulls that can kill another dog in a matter of seconds, I think you need to be a little rough. No other trainers would touch my dog, and Cesar did without hesitation. He taught me so much with his persistant calmness and extreme kindness and that will always be appreciated by me. My beloved pit bull recently passed away at a ripe old age of 14. His last 4 years were spent socializing with other dogs and enjoying being at the off leash park in Runyon Canyon. Cesar rehabilitated my 8 year old pit bull and made it possible for me live peacefully in a dog-friendly apartment complex. I can tell you from my experience that Cesar's methods work. His help made my dog and me alot happier and able to enjoy our last years together in a much richer way than if I had never met him. Kudos to Cesar!

5-0 out of 5 stars Want a Happier Dog?, May 5, 2006
We adopted a dog from an abusive home that was destined to be put to sleep. Thinking that we knew how to handle her we struggled for weeks, without success, using 'tried and true' methods of other trainers. While we made some progress her behavior was still unsatisfactory. Then, we bought this book and started watching Dog Whisperer. What a change.

Within two weeks we were able to change her into a very different animal. Now she walks by our side - doesn't lunge or pull, and she's a much happier dog than we've seen before. I can't believe the change in this dog. Her behavior at home is greatly improved also - she's quieter, more affectionate, and pays attention when we speak to her.

While she still has many of the 'fears' aquired in her previous abusive home, one by one we're working through those also.

The basis of Cesar's training is three-fold. Exercise, discipline and affection - in that order. He teaches that a dog is a pack animal that needs a leader. If you're not the pack leader then the dog will take on that role with the disasterous results you're probably seeing in your own dog. This is the key and that's where most dog-owners run into trouble.

Before ANY training can start the dog needs to be exercised. 30-45 minutes, twice a day. Cesar details HOW to walk a dog. It's amazing how few owners know how to walk their dog. In a pack the leader is always in front, and your dog should always be next to you or at heel - never in front.

Once the dog has expended that excess energy he's ready to accept training. It's so simple that it was hard for us to accept at first. And after the exercise and training, the dog needs affection - Cesar recommends quiet massage. The sequence of these three leaves the dog quiet, submissive and happy. At your next training session he will have retained that memory of a pleasurable experience, and will respond even better.

The book gives details about how you, as the pack leader, must present yourself to the dog; not weak, intimidated, excited or angry, but assertive and strong. If you really pay attention to what he's saying and follow his guidance, you will have a much happier household.

Cesar's Way is a wonderful book that will yield amazing results - provided you read it carefully and pay attention to what he's saying.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Read for Dog Owners, July 12, 2006
This book (1) provides a good though somewhat general overview of Cesar Milan's key approaches in what he calls "dog psychology and rehabilitation;" and (2) summarizes for his readers Milan's background and how he came to be so successful doing what he is doing today. On those two accounts, the book is a light, engaging, and thoroughly recommendable read.

I am a casual fan of Milan's show, but before reading the book was somewhat wary about all the hype surrounding it. Since finishing it, I've found that many of the criticisms thrown at it by other readers are unfair or unfounded.

Some readers have complained that the book, rather than being a thorough, step-by-step manual for dog training, focuses largely on "fluff" like details of Milan's life. However, Milan makes it clear throughout 'Cesar's Way' that the focus of his work is not dog training per se, but changing the pet-owner relationship by teaching the human basic proper ways of interaction and the right attitudes to adopt with the dog. With this fact in mind, I think Milan takes the right approach in focusing on making his ideas clear and easy to understand rather than providing a-to-z details on what exactly one should do in every possible situation.

Also, many of the people buying this book will be fans of his TV show who are curious to learn more about Milan's background, and I think the book balances these two different aims - autobiography and dog guide - well. Besides, Milan's story makes for a pretty good read: it's the classic hard-working immigrant rags-to-riches tale, and he tells it with humor and humility.

I also find it admirable that Cesar doesn't overstep the boundaries of his expertise, for example, when he explains the importance of displaying self-confidence around your pet, and then suggests to the reader that other sources (e.g., self-help books) would serve as good guides for developing a confident attitude. I mention this because there are many books that would go on to include an unnecessary chapter or two on developing your confidence, and Milan is smart enough to stick throughout the book to what he knows best, dogs.

Others have also complained that Cesar is a name-dropper. For example, in his foreward he thanks Jada Pinkett Smith and a slew of other celebrities, but can't remember the names of the owners of a dog grooming salon who gave him his first job sixteen years ago. Although he does mention a lot of celebrities throughout his book (and even very obviously dings Michael Eisner, though not by name), I never found the tone of his writing to be self-congratulatory or smug. Plus, given all the things he claimed Smith did to help him in his career, I think the gushing props in a semi-autobiographical work is not out of line. And as for those dog groomers, I have to admit that I can't remember the names of many casual acquaintances from sixteen years ago, either.

Finally, there are a few critics whose claims about Cesar's methodology are simply untrue. For example, some readers remarked about how harsh it seems that he never allows dogs to walk in front of their humans. This is in fact untrue; Milan writes that loosening the leash and allowing your dog to roam or wander in front of you for a little while is alright, as long as you first establish yourself as the leader by walking the dog alongside or behind you for at least a few minutes. Other claims of harshness also seem unsubstantiated.

In summary, Milan's down-to-earth, common sense approach to dog training is a welcome breath of fresh air in the sometimes kooky world of pet authorities (thankfully, "dog whisperer" is not an allusion to yet another pet psychic). I would wholly recommend this book to every dog owner as a general guide book for developing a healthy, well-functioning relationship with one's dog.

5-0 out of 5 stars Discipline AND positive reinforcement, May 20, 2006
This book is different.

While I am a big fan of positive reinforcement (PR) in teaching new behavior to many creatures, including dogs and humans, it has its limits, especially where there are so many natural reinforcers in a dog's environment that are beyond the trainer's control.

Millan's methods are controversial among dog experts, because his emphasis is on the UN-conditioned behavior that dogs have evolved over thousands of years. Dogs hunt in packs, and coordination among the pack members depends on discipline and leadership. The successful pack needs a strong leader who commands unthinking and immediate obedience. Dogs are born understanding this. They are born to either lead or to follow; there is no middle way. There is no democracy in the dog world.

Cesar Millan capitalizes on this dog-nature to obtain quick results when dogs live among humans. Dogs are not equipped to lead humans; dogs cannot even open doors nor can they use the telephone. The proper role of a dog in human society is to follow, not to lead.

That is why Cesar teaches the human how to lead the pack, using mild aversive control when necessary. This is a problem for the loving dog owner who does not understand dog nature and wants to be just the dog's friend, not its leader. If the human will not lead, the dog must and will try to fill the leadership vacuum, with unfortunate results.

The best way to be your dog's friend is to first be its leader. Your dog will relax into the follower role and will, in fact be the happier for it.

So save the PR for teaching tricks and stunts. Love your dog, but buy this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't disparage this man & his techniques...they work!!, October 27, 2006
For 7 years I've dealt with a standard poodle with issues. Having had this breed for over 40 years, I certainly thought they were perfect. Living in Texas, I flew to CA to get that perfect puppy from a well known breeder. Well, believe me, she was unlike any poodles I'd ever owned before...right from the beginning. It was a shock to me as from my young years, I'd been able to befriend & work with any dog...aggressive or not.

Finally, exasperated, I had a trainer come to my home and she spent weeks working with my dog. She told me she'd only ever worked with one more difficult or stubborn than mine & he was half wolf. She did what she could & it seemed that was all I could do.

I'd groomed my own poodles in the past but there was no way I could with this girl.

We moved to a new state 3 months ago & I suddenly had the National Geographic channel & luckily spotted the show "Dog Whisperer" on my new tv lineup. That was the beginning of learning a whole new way of dealing with aggression in my dog & for the first time in years, I'm seeing much success.

I'm making progress bathing and grooming & the worst issue of nail trimming is bettering. By applying the methods I've learned (and learning), it's working!!

Cesar's methods while authoratative, are most certainly humane and some criticisms I read are ridiculous. Certainly others have a right to disagree with his methods...but to deliberately use abusive terms to describe those methods is not only false, but in my estimation, totally unfair!!!

Cesar's Way is a good basic book that can be used often...and it helps me to better understand the dog mind and how to deal with many issues.

Incidentally, I've shared my findings of Mr. Millan's methods with family & friends & they're finding answers to their own dog issues...which has been invaluable to them & changed forever the lives of their animals. One daughter kept her puppy kenneled constantly because he was so uncontrollable & tho she felt badly to do so, she felt she had no choice. After learning of Cesar Millan's methods, that's a thing of the past & she is able to deal with the issues in a way that is good for her and provides a "real" life for her puppy.

I hope those who read all feedback will be open to the honest appraisals that are included. Aggression, for one, is not pleasant to live with & for the first time, we're moving in the right direction & I hope others might find some solutions as well. ... Read more


66. Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine)
by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Paperback
list price: $24.95 -- our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0307394549
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Sales Rank: 1173
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The perfect cookie for every occasion.

Cookies are the treat that never disappoints. Whether you’re baking for a party or a picnic, a formal dinner or a family supper–or if you simply want something on hand for snacking–there is a cookie that’s just right. In Martha Stewart’s Cookies, the editors of Martha Stewart Living give you 175 recipes and variations that showcase all kinds of flavors and fancies. Besides perennial pleasers like traditional chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, there are other sweet surprises, including Rum Raisin Shortbread, Peppermint Meringue Sandwiches with Chocolate Filling, and Lime Meltaways.

Cleverly organized by texture, the recipes in Martha Stewart’s Cookies inspire you to think of a classic, nostalgic treat with more nuance. Chapters include all types of treasures: Light and Delicate (Cherry Tuiles, Hazelnut Cookies, Chocolate Meringues); Rich and Dense (Key Lime Bars, Chocolate Mint Sandwiches, Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies); Chunky and Nutty (Magic Blondies, Turtle Brownies, White Chocolate-Chunk Cookies); Soft and Chewy (Snickerdoodles, Fig Bars, Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies); Crisp and Crunchy (ANZAC Biscuits, Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti, Almond Spice Wafers); Crumbly and Sandy (Cappuccino-Chocolate Bites, Maple-Pecan Shortbread, Lemon-Apricot Sandwiches); and Cakey and Tender (Lemon Madeleines, Carrot Cake Cookies, Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing).

Each tantalizing recipe is accompanied by a lush, full-color photograph, so you never have to wonder how the cookie will look. Beautifully designed and a joy to read, Martha Stewart’s Cookies is rich with helpful tips and techniques for baking, decorating, and storing, as well as lovely gift-packaging ideas in standout Martha Stewart style.
... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Enough variety to tempt any appetite ;-O, March 12, 2008
I love baking and I love cookies. That's what encouraged me to purchase this book and I'm so glad I did. There are around 175 recipes; I now have enough cookie recipes to last a lifetime and all the new possibilities of flavours makes my head spin.
I am so glad to see she made ANZAC cookies (something really popular in New Zealand and Australia). They are so devine and definately worth trying. I also love the Lemon-Apricot Sandwiches and the Chocolate Meringues. There are fantastic pictures to go along with them all (making them all the more tempting) and I can't wait to make more than the three I've done already. It's a good way to broaden your taste bud horizons because the variety is endless. I also find her instruction easy to follow which is so important.
If you are someone who loves baking and want to try some old favourites or new kinds, it's one of the better books I've seen. I love it and imagine it will be used many many times down the road.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful & Delicious!, March 13, 2008
I purchased Martha's special cookie magazine at Christmas a few years back, and it's simply falling apart now because I've made her cookies again and again. I was excited to see this book as a lot of my favorites from the cookie mag are included and the protective book allows me to keep these yummy recipes in one safe place. The photos are stunning - there's a pictorial table of contents (very unique!) based on things like 'soft and chewy' and 'crisp and crunchy' and there's even a delightful section in the back that shows you how to package your cookies for gifting. I simply can't wait to try the all the recipes!

5-0 out of 5 stars A must have., March 11, 2008
I pre-ordered my book and just received it today. There is a colorful picture for every cookie recipe. I just baked (pictured on the front cover) chewy chocolate Gingerbread cookies and the smell, texture and taste came out sensational. Honestly this is a book worth buying.

2-0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed., March 20, 2008
When I saw this "new" book, I was very excited because I have the Holiday/Christmas Cookie Book from a few years ago and I thought "Awesome, more cookie recipes!" Avast, no...as another reviewer has pointed out, it basically is a re-hash of the Holiday/Christmas Cookie Book, and recipes that are available on the Martha Stewart website.
:o(

5-0 out of 5 stars Makes a great gift for brides & new mothers - all the cookies they will ever need to bake are here!, May 10, 2008
This collection of recipes from Martha Stewart Living is beautifully organized by texture & type and covers the gamut from the most basic of cookies to some of the most adventurous. it is not by martha herself which I found refreshing since it doesn't pre-suppose you have a kitchen full of exotic ingredients and expensive equipment. Even the most daring cookies here can be attempted by a modestly equipped cook. Cookies with similar basic ingredients & textures are grouped together to illustrate how easy it can be to change up a basic recipe and trick it out for a more sophisticated taste-bud or occasion. The old standby's are here as well. All the recipes rely on good wholesome ingredients and very basic preparation methods but they add a flare of imagination. The cookie on the cover is a terrific example - chocolate filled chewy gingerbread! Yum! Inside are other similarly invetnive recipes such as Cream Cheese Shortbreads, Chocolate Malt Sandwhich cookies and more.

The best part of this book is that EVERY cookie is photographed so that you can see exactly how they are intended to look when finished. In addition, the instructions are free from frothy observations or self-congratulatory rhetoric that mar some her other publications. She did not write this book and it shows. Her editors wrote it. And that my friends, is a GOOD THING when it comes to a book such as this which is intended to be the only cookie book you'll ever need. I have already bought several as gifts for young mothers I know and dedicated cookie baking pals. This is really the last cookie book I will ever need. It will take me years to run out of recipes to try from this collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars I have made 39 of these recipes, January 19, 2009
Twice since I bought this book I have had large parties (150+) where it just made sense to put out large quantities of cookies for the marauding hordes. I have made 39 of the recipes in this book and frozen the raw dough of all of them. I loved 35 of them, I ADORED 3 of them (lime melt aways, carrot cake cookies w/cream cheese filling and OMG! the cashew caramel chewies) and been disappointed in one (peanut butter).
This book is so good because the book is divided into sections (like Chewy, Cakey, Nutty, etc,) and there is a photo of every cookie. No guesswork! I highly recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well organized, delicious, beaufiful pictures, December 24, 2008
I checked this book out at my local library and made a few cookies before ordering it. (I have too many cookbooks as it is). The recipes and photos are divine! The only complaint I have about this book is that I wish the publisher had included measurements by weight. Most home cooks use volume to measure out ingredients, but those of us who use weight have a hard and tedious time going back to volume. That being said, I want to tell you that the most delicious Palmiers and Chocolate Crackle cookies I have ever eaten, came out of this book. During Christmas I bake LOTS of cookies to give away, and this year I received many compliments on the cookies from this book. So next year I will use some of the same recipes plus a few new ones. Besides the great photos and recipes, the Table of Contents is a pictorial of the 175 cookie recipes. All the cookies are right there, in front of you to choose from without having to peruse the entire book to choose what you are going to bake. This to me is a great time saver. The cookies are divided into the following sections:
Light and Delicate
Soft and Chewy
Crumbly and Sandy
Chunky and Nutty
Cakey and Tender
Crisp and Crunchy
Rich and Dense
Tools and Techniques
Packaging and Giving
Sources
This is a great book to own, but be careful.....those cookies have a way of jumping out of the page, make you bake them, and then insist on following you everywhere by sitting on your hips, thighs, belly, etc. If you are not a cookie monster now, you will be one if you have this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent recipes, April 23, 2008
I'm often intimidated the long, difficult recipes that appear in Martha's magazine -- and there ARE a few of those in this book -- but most of these recipes can be made with a reasonable amount of effort. The focus is on excellent ingredients, thoughtful flavor combinations, and precise instructions. I've made three of the recipes so far and found them to be simply brilliant! For example, in the Fruit and Nut Cookies, Martha calls for coarse salt instead of ordinary table salt. It sounded crazy to me to put coarse salt into cookies, but I gave Martha the benefit of the doubt and used fleur de sel. WOW. The little unexpected hits of salt with those lush chunks of dried apricot took those cookies to a new level of Delicious. Another recipe I made was a chocolate shortbread thumbprint cookie filled with sweetened cream cheese and minced fresh strawberries. Those were positively mind-blowing and disappeared almost immediately. This book is well worth its price.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!!, March 13, 2008
Martha Stewart and her team have out done themselves again. This book is very similar to the 'Everyday Food: Good Food Fast' cookbook. The pictures are beautiful and I love all of the recipies. If you love to bake, you must buy this book today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Endless Yummy Possibilities, March 31, 2008
Martha Stewart Living has done it again!! After watching Cookie Week on Martha Stewarts daytime show a few weeks ago I couldn't resist ordering this cookie cookbook. It arrived a few days later and I now have a new hobby. I make a cookie recipe a week and just love it!! So far I've tried the Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies, The Chocolate Thumbprints and the Macaroons. Every recipe is easy to follow and make and the results are amazing. I highly recommend this for your cookbook shelf and even as gifts for birthdays and holidays. You could even bake a batch and make it a package gift of cookies and cookbook!!! ... Read more


67. The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines
by Yoshihito Isogawa
Paperback
list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1593272774
Publisher: No Starch Press
Sales Rank: 1713
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines is a collection of hundreds of working examples of simple yet fascinating Technic models that you can build based on their pictures alone. Colors distinguish each part, showing you how the models are assembled. Each photo illustrates a different principle, concept, or mechanism that will inspire your own original creations.

The Technic models in Simple Machines demonstrate basic configurations of gears, shafts, pulleys, turntables, connectors, and the like. You'll learn how to create small, elegant machines like cranes, operable doors, motorized cars, a rubber band-powered rocket launcher, a hand-cranked drag racer, and even musical instruments.

This visual guide, the first in the three-volume LEGO Technic Idea Book series, is the brainchild of master builder Yoshihito Isogawa of Tokyo, Japan. Each title is filled with photos of Isogawa's unique models, all of which are designed to fire the imaginations of LEGO builders young and old.

Imagine. Create. Invent. Now, what will you build?

Visit the No Starch Press website (nostarch.com) for a list of the special parts used in the book.

... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Simple pleasures, October 11, 2010
If you are a LEGO builder like me, you have gotten pretty proficient at building what is called the System type of models. These are buildings and vehicles that are the scale of the minifigure and are the majority of the things that are built with LEGO elements.

However, there are other scales and other parts that are not the typical brick and plate. Once called Expert Models, these became the Technic theme, which are models that have working features, like working steering and gear systems. These are sets that are more complex, and as a result, are tough to explore building possibilities. With The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines, using Technic parts becomes a much easier exercise.

As the first book in the LEGO Technic Idea book trilogy,Simple Machines explains the parts and their uses in a clear, easy-to-understand format. There are no words used in the diagrams: all ideas are explained with graphics and colorful photos of example models. This makes it really easy and fun to pick up on building. The simplicity of the photos and diagrams also allows the builder to adapt the model to his creations.

For the beginning builder this is a great guide to learning how to make working models. For the experienced builder, this is a good reference on building techniques. This book would also be useful for FIRST LEGO teams, as it explains how to use gears, which is useful for MINDSTORMS robot builders.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thinking in LEGO -- where to find those pesky parts, November 8, 2010
There are hundreds of models in these books and, unless you've got a massive storehouse of LEGO Technic parts in your 10,000 square foot basement, you may not have all of the parts you need in order to build a particular model.

We want to help you find those parts. To that end, Yoshihito Isogawa has prepared a hyperlinked list of the more unique parts in the books to help you to find them at the Bricklink website. We can't post a direct link to that list here, but here's how to find it on our website:

(1) Go to the main No Starch Press website
(2) Search for the word "technic"
(3) Click the first search item that comes up ("LEGO Technic Idea Book Complete Set")
(4) When you reach that page, click the link that says "See the parts list for the books," which you'll see just underneath the red text that says "Buy the whole set and save . . ."

or, if you can read between the lines, try:

nostarch dot com /technic

Please remember that these are idea books; buying these books is not like buying a pre-packaged LEGO set. As such, you're encouraged to explore and invent with LEGO. Many of our readers draw considerable inspiration from the pictures of Isogawa's models alone and I hope that you will, too.

Sincerely,

William Pollock, Founder
No Starch Press

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have Resource for LEGO TECHNIC and NXT Builders, October 21, 2010
I just received a copy of this book today, and I am SO excited. Finally---a book of basic mechanisms that I can use in designing TECHNIC machines and NXT robots! This book---along with the other two volumes, The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Fantastic Contraptions and The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Wheeled Wonders, should be on the Christmas list of anyone who uses a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Kit.

In addition, the photos and paper used in this book are of such high quality that I just want to sit and look through it. This (along with its reasonable price) make it an all-around best buy in my book.

If you've seen Yoshito's Japanese editions, you haven't seen anything like this. Its terrific!

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, November 5, 2010
I was very excited to get this book after many months of waiting but it turned out useless.
At first, the models look inspiring but when I wanted to start building with my son, we were missing many small parts although we do have an incredible amount of Lego pieces at home. For example, a special kind of Lego Technic gear or some pumps.
Worst, you can't buy the parts easily, since they are not for sale on the Lego website. After researching, I found out these parts are sold for schools so you may buy them at a special shop but they are only parts of sets, a few pieces here, a few parts there and they are not cheap, even by Lego standards.
I sent the book back to Amazon with the other two from the same author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great books to advance your LEGO building techniques :90 second video review, October 30, 2010
If you or someone you know is interested in expanding their LEGO building techniques or is seeking inspiration to build like a professional, this three book series is the answer.

I give the series of books five stars with a special commendation for the simple machines book because it covers a wide variety of advanced building techniques in an extremely simple manner.

Similar to the LEGO idea books from the 70's and 80's, these books are chock full of clever creations, but instead of specifically describing how to build things like houses, spaceships or vehicles, this series of books takes creativity to an even higher level by teaching the reader how to build foundational components that can be used to build practically anything.

Using full color photo illustrations and an intuitive icon-based index system, you can quickly find how to build mechanical walkers, automatic sliding doors, flexible vehicles, and much more. These books contain virtually no words beyond the first few pages, but this is no problem thanks to Isogawa's carefully arranged photographs that indicate where to place every piece.

Novice builders wishing to learn how to connect bricks in unique and interesting ways such as sideways, upside down or at angles will particularly enjoy the Simple Machines book, whereas Mindstorms robotics fans and LEGO Technic fans will enjoy the entire series due to the frequent use of gears and beams to achieve startling results.

Whereas the titles of these books aptly describe the bias towards technical creations, all three books should be on the shelf of every serious LEGO fan.

4-0 out of 5 stars Be Creative with LEGO!, December 4, 2010
Most LEGO sets are purchased to build the item pictured on the front of the box, whether it's a house, a firetruck, a helicopter, or the Millenium Falcon. If one needs further inspiration for expanding one's repertoire, these books are a must. They include "Simple Machines," "Wheeled Wonders" and "Fantastic Contracptions," and can be purchased as a set as well as individually. The complexity of the models tend to increase as one works through the 3 books.

They really are idea books, rather than a list of instructions on how to build. They have no prose, but list color pictures taken from many angles to show the construction of the toy. Most of the projects are fairly simple in concept and construction, but often elucidate concepts that can be adapted to other models, and thus they encourage creativity. And for the young builder whose grasp of language and/or attention span may not be up to following a list of the 10 or 20 instructions required to build a model, the graphical approach will encourage focus and ultimately success.

If your house is like mine, you have a large box of LEGO parts from many different LEGO projects. You may not have all of the parts necessary to make these models. The publisher lists a website (referenced in the reviews for this product) that details the parts required for each model, including a reference to the merchant who can sell you the part. This is good, but it would be more helpful to have the merchant make up a set of parts that fulfill the requirements for building each model, or a set of parts for each book. Many people interested in this set of books will have interest in, or have already purchased a LEGO Mindstorms NXT set. Since the Mindstorms set already has a wide variety of parts, cross-referencing the requirements of the models in these books versus the parts content of the Mindstorms or other LEGO sets would also be of benefit. I deduct one star because of this deficiency, but the concept of an illustrated guide to the creative use of LEGO parts is a strength of the set. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, December 3, 2010
This set of books packs more ideas, techniques and solutions than any 10 other prose/project style LEGO books. The Technic system requires a totally different approach to building models than traditional LEGO bricks. One builds Technic more from the inside out than the bottom up, demanding new and different intuition about how to solve design problems. The wealth of ideas and inspiration here is fantastic. I fully expect to wear out (or enthusiastically give away) my copies and then buy more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Lego Idea Book!!!, December 2, 2010
Now THIS is more like it!!!

I reviewed another one of Mr. Isogawa's LEGO Technic Idea Books recently and found it frustrating that there was such a lack of instruction, the problem being that the aforementioned book was too complicated for pictures alone. With 'The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines', the pictures are enough to get the job done. Like other books in the line, this SCREAMS inspiration and in beautiful full color!!

Great for all LEGO Technics lovers, you will LOVE this book!!

***** HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

1-0 out of 5 stars Not what you expect - Really bad for kids!!!, December 27, 2010
This was one of our son's worst Christmas gifts. He is 9 and LOVES legos. He can build legos designated for 12 year olds in just a couple of hours. He has gone to Lego Engineering camps and loved every project. I thought this would be perfect for my budding engineer, but even his father, who is an engineer, couldn't figure out this book.

Our biggest complaint is that there are hundreds of SIMPLE MACHINES pictured, but there is no parts list and no step by step diagrams. The "directions" are comprised of photos of the finished "machine" from a couple of different angles. The worst thing according to my son is that he has no idea what these machines are meant to do. Initially when we opened it, I thought it was showing us components to a bigger machine. Nope. A whole "machine" might be only 8 lego pieces, and have no discernible purpose.

I thought he would be taught to build pulleys or small cranes or ANYTHING that he could imagine playing with once built. Even some of the bigger "machines" gave no clue about what they were actually for.

I wish I could figure out how to post pictures of a few of the "Machines" so you could understand what I mean. If you go to "Search Inside this Book" and then "Surprise Me" you can go to pictures of the pages 89-93. This is a perfect example of what I am referring to. Each SEPARATE "MACHINE" is in a grey box. These are not separate steps to build something, these are each different "machines" and we have no idea what any of them might be built for.

4-0 out of 5 stars nice book, December 16, 2010
This is a nice book. The photography is fantastic in showing how to build various models. I purchased it for my son. However, we did return it after looking through it. We do not have a lot of the technic bricks that were required for the models. Also, I was hoping for more of an explanation of how the gears work together, it is all pictures but really nice ones! If you have a load of technic legos this would be a great book for you. ... Read more


68. Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat
by Gwen Cooper
Paperback (2010-09-07)
list price: $15.00 -- our price: $9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0385343981
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 1841
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

ONCE IN NINE LIVES, SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS.
 
The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever.” But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease, survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night. But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that transformed Gwen’s life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized that Homer had taught her the most valuable lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars An uplifting tale of adventure and love

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?) This nonfiction account of the life of Homer the cat is truly heartwarming. Gwen Cooper's writing is superb; it's so warm and personal, I felt like I was reading a story written by a close friend. (For this reason, I'm inclined to refer to her simply as "Gwen" in the rest of my review!) So engaging is this book that I could not put it down and eagerly finished all 300 pages within 24 hours. There's action, adventure, laughter, tears, danger, romance, suspense -- all the "essential" elements of bestselling fiction, but this is not fiction: every part of it is true. That's what makes this story so captivating.

Spoiler-free plot summary: A Miami native in her mid-20s, Gwen adopts her third cat, Homer, a very young, blind kitten that no one wanted. From day one, Homer is a spunky, nimble, demonstrative, fearless little cat. The feats he accomplishes are nothing short of amazing. Gwen decides she wants a better life for herself and her cats than her nonprofit job can provide; she works tirelessly and is eventually able to move to New York. Everyone in her life who meets Homer loves him, and vice versa (with very few exceptions, which you will read about). Gwen ties her own story of love and self-discovery to the life lessons that Homer teaches her.

For those who are extremely sensitive to animal suffering (as I am), you don't need to worry about any abuse, graphic details, or death in this book. When it comes to Homer's blindness, Gwen dispassionately states only the facts that are essential to the story and to the reader's sense of Homer's personality and agility. However, you will probably need a tissue at a few points, as people's sheer kindness, love, and generosity towards Gwen, and particularly Homer, are powerfully touching (these are tears of joy and gratitude, not sadness or grief).

The chapter where Gwen is living in Manhattan's Financial District during 9/11 -- her apartment was on John Street (!) -- was an emotional one for me. With both the reader and Gwen herself acutely aware of the massive human suffering experienced that day, it's deeply moving to read her account of the unimaginable horrors she witnessed and her subsequent efforts to get back into Manhattan to reach her cats. They are her family. It's important to note, though, that this chapter is not sappy or self-pitying in the least. Gwen stays strongly focused -- a technique that some people take on after experiencing a catastrophic event for reasons of pure human survival -- on the logical steps to reach her cats.

The only part of this book I found tiresome was near the end, where Gwen takes 10 long pages to describe the personality of her love interest in exacting detail. This could have easily been condensed into 2-3 pages while still getting the point across. Although this part has nothing to do with Homer, it will probably appeal to readers who like some romance in their literature.

I loved this book! Although it was poignant at times (not necessarily a bad thing), I laughed often and was filled with immense joy while reading it. This is an uplifting, satisfying tale that any cat lover would enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars HOMER'S ODYSSEY EXCELLENT READ
Well, if the truth be known, Homer IS a special cat. I laughed out loud through most of this heartwarming book. And I even shed a few tender tears. The book is hilarious and unlike one reviewer, I found nothing preachy about it at all. I was on the edge of my seat while reading of her efforts to get back to the apartment after the World Trade Center tragedy. If you liked "Marley and Me", and "Dewey The Library Cat", you will totally love this book and you will shed no sad tears. I had difficulty putting the book down. I have a 3-legged cat and I think she is special. But Homer surpasses everything. This blind cat can really see his way right into one's heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars How Fearlessly Leaping into the Unknown Can Change Everything

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?) Gwen Cooper writes with heart. And that's really all you need to know to dive into her tale of love and growth. For whether you love cats or not (and I do), Gwen's tale is a story that will reach into your heart and stretch your soul.

There's no doubt that Homer, Gwen's eyeless cat, is extraordinary. Life in the dark would have appeared to predestined him to a life lived in quiet corners, but such was not to be. He jumped from heights into the unknown, and, as he did, taught Gwen to act freely and fearlessly in the face of the unknown. How could a tiny, blind cat terrorize a burglar/rapist? And yet, he did. How could he understand human emotions and react to human commands? And yet, he did.

Homer's Odyssey is a tale of an extraordinary cat, but it is so much more than that. It is a tale of growth, of learning to see what's inside (and it's not always beautiful) rather than being blinded by the illusory outside. It is a tale of becoming truly human through contact with a non-human species. It is a tale of acting on "blind" faith, and profiting through those actions. It is a tale of learning to see through the eyes of love.

I have seldom read a book I found so touching and so meaningful. Especially in these turbulent times, you'll find strength through the odyssey of a tiny cat and his mistress.

Five stars!

5-0 out of 5 stars Homer, Life Personified

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?) Sometimes it takes a tiny, fragile little kitten to remind us that life is a series of infinite possibilities, and that making the most of what we have is not just an often repeated cliche, but something to live by! This is a great inspirational story about the little engine that could and did!

The book is an easy read, you could finish the 280 or so pages in a single day, if not in a single session if you like. However, it may be more fun if you read the book over a period of a few days instead. Because once you finish it, you will want to have more of Homer's adventures waiting for you! That way, by extending the reading over a few days, you will have more Homer in your life :)

Homer and the other two cats (Vashti and Scarlett) are the stars of the show, but running parallel and obviously intertwined is the story of adulthood of the author, Gwen Cooper.

This is a highly recommended book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming Story of an Amazing Cat!

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?) People who own cats (or are owned by them) know that cats have personalities. Homer, the cat in this book, has the biggest and most wonderful personality and his presence lights up this touching and beautifully written book.

Homer begins the story as a two-week old abandoned kitten with a severe eye infection. To save his life a vet removes his eyes and tries to find him a home. No one wants him until Gwen Cooper sees in this little guy his unsinkable, adventurous, and brave soul. Thus begins the love story between cat and young woman. Homer is there, right next to her through job loss, moving, relocating, a burglar in her apartment, 9/11 happening blocks from her home, and, finally, love and happiness with the man who becomes her husband at the end of the book.

Through it all Homer charms and fascinates everyone who meets or even hears about him. It seems to me that his blindness is such an essential part of his personality making him braver, smarter and more playful than other cats.

I was so enchanted by this book, I couldn't put it down and reading it I thought of the wonderful cats I have had and wished they all had been, as great as they were, as wonderful as Homer.

I can't recommend this book enough. The story is fantastic, written by a writer with a real gift for storytelling, and the cat is marvelous.

Hurray for Homer!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gem of a Book
Gwen's Cooper's book chronicles the life experiences of her adopted blind cat, Homer, in such a way that reading her words is both heart-warming and soothing. Homer's tale is unique and inspirational. So is Gwen's, and as the story unfolds both their lives become intertwined in the narrative, and we see them both grow and develop together. For anyone who has a love of animals, especially cats, this book is for you. The prose is witty, and I found myself laughing out loud many times as Gwen's voice shines through with wonderful humor. This is a great read, upbeat and enriching, that will leave you smiling and wanting more when the last page is turned. This one's a home run. Read it, and you'll love life a little more, and hold your own critters a little closer.

John R. Bruning

5-0 out of 5 stars Love and Adventure, with Cats
There are a lot of stories about animals, both fact and fiction, and their immense popularity is consistent: they are mostly heartwarming and sentimental, and remind us of what our "best selves" can accomplish. Gwen Cooper's story, of the 12 year journey shared with Homer, an abandoned kitten rendered blind by life-saving surgery, stands out, for approach and style. Cooper is a born storyteller with a deep appreciation for the whole history of storytelling and a keen sense of detail, so that Homer is named for the blind poet of the Odyssey, the great epic story of adventure and homecoming, and passages from that epic introduce each chapter. And Homer's tale is vividly, broadly referential: he is also Daredevil, the blind Marvel superhero and the Man Without Fear. The pathos of his situation quickly gives way to consistent emphasis on his strengths: his courage (he foils a burglar, and leaps tall bookcases in a single bound), his keen senses (he detects tuna and turkey even from great distances, and through firm packaging), his consistent friendliness and "good attitude" (most people would envy Homer's ability to make friends and influence people), and his consistent fierce devotion to Gwen. And yet the story is really as much Gwen's odyssey, and this is a witty, strikingly observant tale of becoming an adult at the turn of the 21st century; as the old certainty about rites of passage breaks down, and education doesn't guarantee a job for life, and numerous failed relationships precede finding the right one, maybe being an adult doesn't mean finding a job or buying a house or getting married and having children but more, as Gwen concludes, taking on responsibility for someone other than yourself. The story follows Gwen, Homer, and the two cats she already had, Scarlett and Vashti, from Miami on a "leap of faith" excursion to New York to look for work; in fact, this story shatters so many of the cliches about single ladies who have multiple cats (though its author does express her fears about becoming those cliches): Gwen Cooper is outgoing, ambitious, well connected to the world around her. She is unafraid to enlist a little help from her friends (even to transport three cats via air in the cabin); she is a generous, shrewd, smart "people person" as much as she is a "cat lady", and her dissection of the dating scene is something many readers will wish they'd read a long time ago. By the time she meets Laurence and eventually marries him, you feel not so much that she's been swept off her feet as that she's found someone whose standards are hers. Years ago, I asked an advanced composition course if there were any universal qualities of "good writing": my students identified clarity and wit. Homer's Odyssey has both. The precision of detail brings everything to vivid life: cats and people, all are real. You're right there with them, on the Pussy Galore Tour through frustratingly designed highways and airport terminals. You follow Gwen through the ashen streets of Manhattan after 9/11, and hear both the silence and the sound of a thousand fire truck sirens. And at the very beginning, as impossibly tiny Homer puts his paws between the cables of Gwen's sweater, you realize that each has imprinted on the other, that the journey is beginning, and by the end, you realize it is ongoing, that there are still adventures to be pursued.

5-0 out of 5 stars A soul-touching memoir
Some books about animals warm your heart. Others touch your soul. Homer's Odyssey, subtitled A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat falls into the second category. This moving, inspirational and often funny story about a blind cat with a huge spirit and an endless capacity for love, joy and a determination to persevere no matter what the obstacles is a wonderful celebration of the bond between a cat and his human and the transformational power of loving an animal.

Homer's story begins when the stray kitten is brought to Miami veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly (who wrote the foreword to the book), host of the popular veterinary blog Dolittler, at only three weeks of age. Homer loses both eyes to a severe eye infection, and while nobody would have faulted Dr. Khuly for euthanizing this kitten, she saw something in him that made her determined to save him. When Gwen gets a call from Dr. Khuly asking whether she would come take a look at this kitten, the last thing the author wants is another cat. She already has two, and she's worried about crossing the line into crazy cat lady territory by adopting another one. But she agrees to take a look - and falls in love.

Homer, the blind kitten who doesn't know he's blind, has a giant heart and an indomitable spirit. He quickly adapts to new situations and environments, and turns into a feline daredevil who scales tall bookcases in a single bound and catches flies by jumping five feet into the air. Eventually, Gwen and the three cats move from Miami to New York City (and the story of their move is an adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat with worry and concern for this family of four). Adjusting to city living in a cold climate takes some time, but once again, Homer's adaptable spirit triumphs. He even survives being trapped with his two feline companion for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center.

But it wasn't Homer's physical feats and his ability to adapt to physical limitations that ultimately transformed the author's life. Homer's unending capacity for love and joy, no matter what life's challenges may be, were a daily inspiration for Gwen, and ultimately taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn't something you see with your eyes.

It's rare that a pet memoir is the kind of book you can't put down - but this one is. Thankfully, I knew at the outset that Home is alive and well, so unlike what happens with so many books in this genre, I didn't expect to cry while reading this book. Little did I know how the gut-wrenching account of the author's experience in the days following 9/11 would affect me. Gwen Cooper lived through every cat owners' nightmare - fearing for the safety and survival of her cats, and being unable to get to them for several days. The moving narrative and emotional impact of this chapter will leave few cat lovers unaffected.

Homer's Odyssey is a must-read, to quote from the book's cover, "for anybody who's ever fallen completely and hopelessly in love with a pet."

5-0 out of 5 stars You Don't Need Eyes to See Love

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?) I'm a sucker for pet stories, and Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper promised to be no exception. Abandoned, homeless animal? Check. Incredible odds against the animal's survival? Check. Animal teaches owner the meaning of life? Check. This book has it all, and more than that, it takes all the classic elements of a pet story and ends not with sadness but with triumph.

When we first meet Homer, he is a 4-week old kitten whose eyes have been surgically removed because of infection. Gwen Cooper, a twenty-something party girl in Miami, already has two cats and doesn't want another one, but when she meets Homer, the two of them bond instantly, and Homer joins the household.

I laughed out loud several times when reading about Homer's antics. Cooper does a masterful job of telling the story of her world, always in the context of what it means to her three cats. While Homer is, of course, the focus of the book, we also meet his sisters, Vashti and Scarlett. I loved the way Cooper was able to get inside the cats' heads and describe things from their point of view, and I loved the way she showed each cat's unique personality. I also loved the way that through everything she did, she put the well being of her cats first-- from paying for two friends to fly to New York so each cat could be accompanied by a person in the main cabin of the airplane per airline regulations, to her struggles to reach her cats when they were trapped in her apartment, which was in the restricted zone around Ground Zero after 9/11.

This book is a testament, not just to Homer, but to the transformational power of love. If you've ever cared about an animal, you will love this book. And if you aren't an animal lover, this book might make you into one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
This is one of the greatest books I've read in a LOONNNGG time! The writing and story are marvelous and extremely touching. Everyone is sure to love it; a definite purchase for a holiday gift! ... Read more


69. Country Wisdom & Know-How
by The Editors of Storey Publishing's Country Wisdom Boards
Paperback
list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1579123686
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
Sales Rank: 1431
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Reminiscent in both spirit and design of the beloved Whole Earth Catalog, Country Wisdom & Know-How is an unprecedented collection of information on nearly 200 individual topics of country and self-sustained living. Compiled from the information in Storey Publishing's landmark series of "Country Wisdom Bulletins," this book is the most thorough and reliable volume of its kind. Organized by general topic including animals, cooking, crafts, gardening, health and well-being, and home, it is further broken down to cover dozens of specifics from "Building Chicken Coops" to "Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt" to "Improving Your Soil" to "Restoring Hardwood Floors." Nearly 1,000 black-and-white illustrations and photographs run throughout and fascinating projects and trusted advice crowd every page. ... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, very thorough, great reference, April 30, 2005
If you could gather up the wisdom of the many generations of farmers, ranchers, outdoorsmen, homesteaders, and mountain-men and put it into a book you would end up with a book like this. While this is not as thorough as the multi-volume sets like the older Foxfire series, it is one of the most complete single-volume works available. The text is small in order to cram all the information into this oversized almost 500 page book but it is still readable and very interesting. The book is divided into the six major sections of animals, cooking, crafts, gardening, health and well-being, and home. Each of these major divisions is subdivided into multiple more detailed sections. For example, the animals section includes information on attracting desirable animals such as humming birds, building bird shelters, feeding birds while preventing squirrels from robbing the feeder, getting rid of problem animals, taking care of your pets, herbal treatments for dog problems, rabbit husbandry, horsemanship, raising chickens and ducks, beekeeping, and butchering. Each section is similarly detailed with the gardening section being particularly large. Country Wisdom and Know-How is an indispensable reference volume for anyone interested in country living and is highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Full of Fascinating Information, April 14, 2006
This is an odd book for someone to buy that lives in a major metropolitan area. However, if you are interested in how things used to be done, and/or are looking for more control over the products that affect your family this is an interesting read.

PROS:
1. Nice collection of feline information. From building a cat tree, to giving your cat pills, and teaching your cat tricks.
2. Very detailed information on gardening.
3. How to make homemade candy including salt-water taffy. Who knew?
4. Significant section on Preserving, pickling, canning and distilling.
5. Natural Home Remedies for many common ailments.

CONS:
1. The print is very, very, very small. Expect to use reading glasses.
2. I would have preferred a hardback, but that wasn't an option.

Overall, a highly recommend for those that are lacking in how to do things that our parents and grandparents took for granted.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book - Text is sooo small, December 28, 2004
I got this for xmas 04. I have looked at a few subjects and the amount and depth of facts on so many subjects is very impressive. 500 pages and the book is huge. The font/type size is really small which adds to the size of the info but it is really kind of small to read. Its a good thing Im nearsighted..
I read about raising ducks. It was so much info - very interesting and complete.
Recently I bought Readers Digest Back To Basics at a library book sale. It is also really good although maybe not as in depth it is really good and the illustrations are better. I like both books.

2-0 out of 5 stars Great Info but Greatly Disappointing Book, March 9, 2008
A huge compendium of information from animal husbandry to construction and crafts to gardening...even how to recipes. That's the good news. I have great admiration for Storey Books and own many of their products. This book, however, is not up to par with their other products.

The publishing (not by Storey itself) leaves much to be desired. I'm surprised Storey put their name to it. I'd have gladly paid triple the price for a better quality soft-cover or hard-cover books with good quality pages and larger print...even if in several volumes. In fact, that's exactly what Storey should do with this and the similar "Survival Wisdom" book. They would be great hits and huge sellers. So what if it's a collection all in one book. The brown paper cover and lighter-than-newsprint pages require extremely delicate handling, and the tiny print is almost painful to read.

Much, if not all, of this book's contents are from the Storey "Country Wisdom Bulletin" series. It would ceratinly cost more, but a set of the bulletins may be the better option.

Overall, I'm disappointed. Regardless how potentially useful the information in its pages, this book is not a prudent buy.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is responsible for me moving!, March 28, 2008
Our copy of Country Wisdom & Know-How is very worn and tattered but still remains the focal point of our coffee table.
I discovered this book at a Barnes & Noble while living in the city. Was attracted to it because of it's paper-bag-like cover. Even though I lived in the middle of a city, in an apartment, I bought it anyway. My wife and I became hooked! Fell in love with the idea of having a hobby farm because of this book and packed up and moved to the country.
Everything you could think of is stuffed into this book, from Beekeeping to butchering chickens to building a compost bin. The book it's self is huge, but the print is very small. The "organic" looking cover doesn't last long. But the material inside is awesome.
Since this book, my wife and I have started a small side business keeping honeybees and selling our honey at farmers markets. We also enjoy making pickles, canning, raising chickens, and watching our daughter grow up in a world much richer than what we had in the city.
Highly recommend this book for any city dweller interested in starting a life in the country. It's a reference you'll never live without!

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Small Print, September 11, 2007
I agree with a lot of the reviewers that the print is small. But this book is packed with tons of info about country living. After having lived in the city for years we now live in the country and have found a lot of helpful hints. It's divided quite well and particular topics are easy to locate.

3-0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, September 14, 2009
I originally intended to leave a scathing review, but held off until I was in a better mood. There is a lot of good information in this book - printed in tiny text on very large pages. This is not a problem for my 20/10 vision, but may be an issue for some. I really like the info about cheese and yogurt making. The gardening and animal sections are good solid starting points although leaning a little more towards conventional methods. There are lots of good recipes. (Perhaps a few too many.)

My problem is that in between the good information, there are a lot of perfectly useless topics such as training your cat, feeding birds, stenciling, busy-work crafts, etc. These are not awful subjects to read about, but this text devotes way too much time to such superfluous pursuits. Before you think I'm cold-hearted, consider the fact that there is 3 times as much material about feeding birds than there is on raising chickens. Then consider the title of the book and you tell me...

Great if you are looking for a overview of many subjects to get started with.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great resource - very small print, March 12, 2007
This book is filled with a lot of information and I believe a great resource. It includes a great deal of details on all topics listed. This book was a present for my father who has retired and working to "live off the land". He was very impressed.
The only draw back is the small print -

5-0 out of 5 stars Even my grandma was amazed, April 27, 2007
This book is filled from cover to cover with great information on how to do things yourself. I love learning about how to do things the old-fashioned way. With modern technology so easy to crash, I feel safer knowing that I can survive on my knowledge a little better after having this book. Some of the ideas my grandma could even remember doing with her grandma. There is something to say about the strength of time honored tradition.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Content, Bad Packaging, January 7, 2010
I am sure that the information in this book is excellent, as I have read other Storey guides before and found them very helpful. However, when the other reviewers comment on the size of the font and the quality of the paper, they have a very legitimate complaint. The font is miniscule, and the paper is thin and flimsy. Also, the large size of the book makes it difficult to pick up and flip through. As someone interested in the aesthetics of a book as well as the content, I would have to say this is a very poor design. I would rather pay more and get a book I could read more easily. ... Read more


70. Blue Book of Gun Values: 31st Edition
by S. P. Fjestad
Paperback
list price: $49.95 -- our price: $32.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1886768986
Publisher: Blue Book Publications
Sales Rank: 1479
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

The new 31st Edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values by S.P. Fjestad has been expanded to more than 2,300 pages, easily making it the highest page count of any firearms book currently in print. All new 2010 makes and models have been included, plus updated values on discontinued firearms and antiques. Paramilitary rifle values have also been brought up-to-date, reflecting recent major changes resulting from political changes in Washington, D.C. Once again, the 80-page Photo Percentage Grading SystemTM provides high resolution color images that are the last word to help ascertain any firearm s correct condition factor based on the percentage of original condition. Revolvers, pistols, rifles, and shotguns are also shown separately, in addition to NRA Antique Condition Factors.Other sections have also been expanded, including serialization, and the helpful Trademark Index, which lists all pertinent information on many of the world s firearms manufacturers, distributors, and importers. Most of the information contained in this publication is simply not available anywhere else, for any price! ... Read more

Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good guide; only lacking photos, November 17, 1999
This book covers an extensive array of firearms and prices for varying conditions. It is an excellent reference. All it needs is photos of the firearm described. There are small variances in many, particularly the Winchesters, that may make them difficult to identify without a photo.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for Gun Collectors, March 3, 2002
The Blue Book is the "bible" for those who deal in used firearms.
Whether buying or selling, this is the place to start when setting a price to buy, sell, or bargain with respect to a particular gun. It is comprehensive and user friendly for those who do not engage in this area very often, but it can be well worth the price in terms of over- or underpricing of firearms for sell or purchase. As an added bonus, this edition honors a true American hero on the cover and inside with an interview of Joe Foss, WWII ace and Medal of Honor recipient. I highly recommend it to all dealers, collectors, and other interested persons!

3-0 out of 5 stars Military weapons are low, April 6, 2006
I deal with guns on a daily basis and I refer to this book several times a day. Most of the values listed in the book seem to correspond with the market. However, U.S. military firearms and some of the Colt pistols are listed too low. For collecting purposes the descriptions are too vague. I refer to the many auction sights and specialty dealers on line that list these types of weapons for sale. Some of these dealers are are highly reputable and published authors on US martial weapons.These types of firearms increase in value quickly as the interest in U.S.military history grows. This book does not reflect the rapid increase in value that these guns have made in the past few years. Overall this book is very useful, but when researching the value of a specific military weapon, consult the internet or buy a book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blue Book of Gun Values is great, May 18, 2005
We, in the Customer Service department for Browning and Winchester, have the most updated copy of the Blue Book of Gun Values at our fingertips. We are always being asked about the year of manufacture and whether we have any other pertinent information on a particular Browning or Winchester gun. The Blue Book allows us to have access to the most recent information available, and we help our customers on the spot. We would not be as efficient if it were not for the Blue Book. We highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in firearms.
Browning/Winchester Customer Service Manager- Jackie Love and Historian-Glen Jensen

5-0 out of 5 stars Accurate and Concise. Rely on it before I Buy. Collector, February 17, 1999
When I need to know Manufacture dates and model differences and values I rely on this guide. Covers rare/common and hard to price American and European models. Has a cross Reference for makers and serial # made on dates. Shows the listing of model variations/dates/serial # runs in a series of gun. All one needs is the Gun in hand or complete list of features to determine Model/Type & Era. Each listing has the wording on the barrel of each model it covers to determine the type. No guide can be complete end of story. This gude takes you where you need to be to determine Type and value.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Reference, May 5, 2005
Just received my 26th Edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values. I use this book to evaluate guns that I am interested in adding to my collection. I am active in several gun collecting societies, and attend many gun shows during the year, but I find it is impossible to stay current on pricing in all the different aspects of what I have interest in acquiring. I have learned over several years of relying on this book as a guide for pricing that it is the most accurate reference available to the collector and dealer. The information is presented in a logical, understandable, and useable format. I have found the pricing to be realistic and up-to-date, and most dealers and collectors will agree on the pricing as a base line in negotiating whether buying, selling, or trading.

Also, I also do some appraisal work for a local company in estate valuation. When thay have gun collections large or small that need appraising, I typically utilize the newest Blue Book of Gun Values as the reference and starting point. The formal pricing presented, whether for insurance or estate valuation, has never been challenged. I highly recommend this publication to all dealers, collectors, and appraisers.

Bill K
Minneapolis,MN

5-0 out of 5 stars Better late than never, October 18, 2001
I should have bought one of these (earlier edition) years ago. Now when I sell a firearm and someone says that is too much I can show them the price range. I also use these figures to calculate how much to insure the firearms for and the Insurance Agent checks it also. I will use it at the next gun show and hope it will save me some money from greedy sales-people.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gun Show Use, February 17, 2000
I am really impressed with the book and every dealer at a gun show has the Blue Book Of Gun Values

4-0 out of 5 stars The best (book) source on gun values., May 13, 2007
The blue book of gun values is the best publication of it's type. However, it's not perfect. The biggest problem is that many prices in the book simply don't reflect the going rate. This is mainly true for models recently discontinued ~ in the last 2-3 years (for example HK P7 series are WAY off of actual street price) as well as any "assault weapons" that seem to change rates on every rumor of new litigation. So, while it is a good resource, you end up double checking online sites like AuctionArms and Gunbroker to determine price anyway. Also, many gunstores seem to refer to this publivation when buying, but it's strangly absent in their arguments as to why their used stock is priced so high.... That said, it IS the best of what's out in the printed world, so it gets 4 stars in my book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blue Book of Gun Values, 26th Edition (Blue Book of Gun Values), September 7, 2005
Wealth of firearms information dealing primarily with modern firearms, 1900 and some info on mid to late 1800's era production. Helps with identification of model vaiations, values as well as guidelines for grading. Also provides contact information for many manufacturers and collecting associations. A must have for the collector, occasional trader or dealer. Produced and updated annually. TDail
... Read more


71. Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook
by Debbie Stoller
Paperback
list price: $13.95 -- our price: $9.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0761128182
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 1374
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Knitting is hot, with 4 million newcomers in the last few years joining a core group of 38,000,000 knitters nationwide. And these are primarily young, creative, connected chicks with sticks who are coming together in living rooms, knitting cafes, and chic yarn stores, and making everything from funky hats to bikinis.

In Stitch 'n Bitch, Debbie Stoller-founder of the first Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group in New York City-covers every aspect of knitting and the knitting-together lifestyle: the how-to, the when-to, the what-to, the why-to. Writing with wit and attitude (The Knitty-Gritty, Blocking for Blockheads), she explains the different types of needles and yarns (and sheep, too) and all the techniques from basic to fancy, knit to purl to cast-off. She also shares her special brand of corrective surgery for when things go wrong, and offers fun and informative sidebars on such topics as how to find the best yarn for less, how to make a buttonhole, knitting etiquette, and what tools to keep in your knitting bag. At the heart of the book are forty stylish patterns: Alien Scarf, Big Bad Baby Blanky, Mohair Hoodie, Kitty and Devil Hat, Cell Phone Cozy, and Wonder Woman Bikini. And for anyone interested: how to start a Stitch 'n Bitch group.
... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for old and new knitters!, October 18, 2003
Debbie Stoller outdid herself on this one! Not only is this book fun to read, it has all the basics you will need to learn to knit and complete all the projects in the book, and it includes ideas on how to branch out and learn more about knitting. The stories Stoller has included are inspiring, sentimental and a great history lesson, it is just like reading the magazine edited by this wonderful author. The 40!! projects are fun, creative and a flash of something new. There is something for everyone - beginning, intermediate and advanced to the most conservative knitters and some for the flamboyant. If you are a new knitter the skills you will pick up and take away with you after reading and practising on the projects will be valuable for everything you make in the future. You definately did a great job Stoller, I give my props to you and cannot wait to see what the future will bring for knitting - here's hoping for more amazing books like this!

4-0 out of 5 stars An Almost Naughty Guide To The Fascinating World Of Knitting-Everything from Choosing Yarn To Choosing A Man!, November 9, 2005
For an Italian guy who grew up surrounded by Mom and Grandma knitting, reading Stitch 'N Bitch was totally interesting to read. I purchased 2 copies as gifts for the upcoming holidays. Just for fun, I started to read the introduction of the book. Before I knew it, I found myself interested enough in it to fisnish reading it in one sitting. It was too late to start wrapping, so I headed to bed with a sort of giggle in my voice. No-I didn't feel like one of the girls. Instead, I found great information about everything from the newest types of knitting to ways in which an individual could start a knitting group.

I can tell you, very honestly, that it's not a typical book for a typical guy to read. However, I DO feel that they should market this great little book to anyone who ever was surrounded or affected by knitting. For anyone who is even thinking about started to knit, this book is intended for you. Knitting is, once again, becoming more popular than ever.

When I was growing up, as a young boy in an Italian area in New York, every Saturday my Mother, Grandmother and Aunts would travel to one or more fabric stores to find the best deals on yarn and supplies. Knitting was a part of all of our lives. It was not uncommon to walk into our house on a Saturday evening and find my Mom and Grandmom and 5 other women-all finding a special place in the living room where they could knit and converse.

My Grandmother was my very best friend. When she passed away, my Mom and Dad were in charge of their Estate and asked me to give them a list of everything that I wanted from Grandmas home.
When I talked to them I told them that I already had everything I wanted-it was the great memories that I had with her and my Grandfather. I did, however, ask for one or two of her afghans and her knitting box. They were surprised at my request as I didn't want for anything more than the memories we had shared and some of her finely knitted afgans. And when they arrived, during the cold winter weather in Iowa, I was elated and reminded of what a great life I had with her and what an awesome crocheter and knitter she was.

I guess my story might be different than some other reviewers. I'm certain that I didn't include all of the many great details of this incredible book on knitting. Perhaps that will entise you, even more, to purchase a book that even a man found to be interesting and full of pizzaz.

Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook is an amazing book that takes knitting to a level that one would never expect. You'll be transported deeply into the fascinating relationships that can take place when one knitter interacts with another. It doesn't matter whether you're a novice or a professional as all knitters have a couple of things in common-they are determined to create a great finished product and they enjoy good gossip.

You'll find all the necessary tools of the trade for your new knitting project. The book literally covers much more than I expected-everything from types of yarn to use to chatting with other knitters on the Internet. I enjoyed reading it and I felt so strongly about it that I wanted to put together some sort of review. And I pray that at least part of this review was helpful to you.

Warm Regards and Happy Knitting!

[...]

3-0 out of 5 stars Indispensable for the Beginner!, May 18, 2004
I had a friend show me the basic knit and purl stitches about a year ago -- she even cast on the stitches for me! So I consider this book to be my tutor on all things knitting. I picked it up in a bookstore about three months ago and started my first project, the beautiful baby blanket pattern. Since then, I have turned knitting into an enterprise -- I'm starting to sell some of my projects, I've started a knitting group at my neighborhood coffee shop, and everyone I know is getting handmade gifts that I'm knitting!

My assessment of this book is that it is ideal for the beginner. The book very clearly takes you through all the stitches and techniques step by step, with helpful illustrations, and it also provides lots of resources for yarn, patterns and supplies. And, beyond beginning, it makes a good reference when you're working on other projects. If you're an experienced knitter, it's probably not the book for you, because many of the patterns ARE basic (as noted by the reader from CA below who didn't like the scarf patterns). But I will tell you, my sister-in-law simply ADORES her baby blanket that I lovingly made from this book as my first project! It looks like the heirloom I intended it to be!

I now consider myself a fairly experienced knitter, and I owe it mostly to this book. I will offer a word of caution, though...I'm currently working on one of the more complex patterns, the "Little Black Top," and I'm finding that the instructions could be more explicit. Especially since this book seems to be aimed at newer knitters, too much is left to the knitter's intuition (like which decrease stitch you should use, etc.). But overall, I'd say it's a really good resource for new knitters.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Knitting Book I Own!, November 5, 2003
So I'll admit it doesn't have much competition, but this is easily the best knitting book I own. The patterns are all cute, and the instructions are helpful to someone like me who knows only the basics. I particularly liked the segments on the history of knitting and Stoller's personal knitting-related experiences. It's a cute book just to pick up & look through, even if you aren't planning on doing any knitting. One glance will tell you that a lot of work went into the planning & production of this book, and that it was all top-notch!

5-0 out of 5 stars How To Make A Good Knitting Guide Even Better. . ., March 29, 2006
I concur with the great reviews this book has gotten, and have recommended it to many people who have commented on my knitting projects on the subway. One thing with which I fault this book (and Ms. Stoller's subsequent ones) is that TRADE PAPERBACKS DON'T LIE FLAT. This was surely an oversight on the part of the publishers.

Here's a fix: Take this book to Kinkos -- or its equivalent in your area -- and have them shave off the binding and spiral bind it. The cost is minimal and it makes it much easier to use if you're just beginning to knit and need to study the illustrations.

Happy knitting!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great projects for a first time knitter, January 16, 2004
I only own one other book on knitting, but I was convinced that I couldn't learn from a book. I mean if something titled "How to Knit in Plain English" was too much for me, then where could I turn? I swore I'd never pay money for another knitting text.

At some point I started hearing the talk about how great this book was for beginners. I found the price to be reasonable so I set out on a quest to find a copy. I had to go to 3 book stores before I found one who wasn't sold out. It was so worth the effort. Not only did I figure out how to cast on just by looking at the pictures in this book, I've also completed projects that don't suck! Go me!

Seriously though, I'd recommend this title to anyone who doesn't have the time to take classes. It has really simple instructions and the writing style isn't as boring as you'd expect from something that deals entirely with yarn. The projects are great too. I wouldn't wear most sweaters I've seen on patterns, but I can honestly say that I'd wear nearly everything shown in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Taught me to knit, something other tutorials didn't!, October 13, 2004
I wanted to learn to knit mainly because I love scarves and hats and thought it would be fun to make my own. I found a hat pattern in a magazine that was so cute and I bought a "Learn to Knit" booklet at a craft store. No luck. I found a CD that I could watch on my computer to teach me. No luck. I picked up this book after hearing some good things about it. The instructions are very detailed, and within no time, I was casting on, knitting, and purling and knew the differences various stitch patterns. I think the biggest difference for me as been detailed instructions and diagrams so that I can visualize what I should be doing and that Stoller goes into detail about how stitches should look on the needle and why they look the way they do. Three projects in, I still knit with this book sitting nearby so I can easily refer to it to correct mistakes (love that chapter!). I have a number of patterns I'd like to try from this book and others and so far, haven't seen one that isn't described in this book. Granted, I'm sticking to easier patterns so I may have to seek out other help once I get more involved but for my beginner self, this is great.

In addition to instructions on how to knit, Stoller gives a description of various types and sizes of yarn and needles. It made me branch out of the craft store yarn section to a knitting store to find a couple of gorgeous wool yarns that have worked so wonderfully for my projects. At the yarn shop, I found so many other great things. She's far from a yarn snob though and even recommends acrylic yarns for certain projects where washability is more of a concern.

I'm 3 projects in now (a scarf, hat, and dog sweater, all from the book), and all have come out really well. The patterns in the book, while not always my style, are much more exciting and modern than the straight from 1981 patterns I see in many other knitting books. While they may not be for everyone (and many of them aren't my style!), I've found several that I'd like to try. The choices range from a basic garter stitch scarf to sweaters to even a cat bed. I'm wanting to try the cell phone holder and one of the bags next. Many are for beginners with some, especially the sweaters, being a little more advanced. I don't think any of them are super advanced but I haven't gotten to the point of attempting them yet!

I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to knit!

4-0 out of 5 stars Nifty Patterns!, December 3, 2003
I haven't used the instruction part of this book, but for $15, this is a great selection of patterns.

Overall I like the book, but for one or two small things. Many of the smaller project patterns involve huge numbers of colors and are therefore better for using up skein ends from an existing stash than for starting from scratch. This sort of ruins them as solo beginner projects - four skeins of wool is a big investment for one hat. Some of the knitting guages are a tad fiddly. If the manufacturer's guage is three stitches per inch, and the pattern calls for 13 stitches to four inches, you're more likely to wind up with a wrong-sized sweater than you are to get lucky with your personal slightly off-beat knitting tension (my first attempt at "Skully" is exceptionally funky handknit maternity wear, but experiments with the next needle size down demonstrate that a switch would have made it embarassingly snug). Despite this problem, the sweaters alone are worth the price of admission. Paired with Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Without Tears" (to readjust the knitting math when the guages don't work out), it's just about perfect.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best How-To Knitting Book, hands down, January 2, 2005
This book had me knitting and purling within a week without any prior knitting knowledge. The instructions are very clear and aimed at those who have never picked up needles before. When I decided to try to give knitting a try I bought the Vogue book - which is not a good beginners book (but great as a reference after you've learned the basics). If you want to give knitting a try but feel intimidated (and can't find an open knitting class) give this book a try. I bought it about a year ago and became an obsessed knitter in no time at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun, stylish patterns, great instruction, October 8, 2003
Debbie did a great job pulling together so many varied, interesting patterns. The level of creativity is impressive, and anyone who thinks knitting is for grannies needs to check out the Wonder Woman bikini. The patterns seem very wearable also. While I didn't need the extensive instructions (the first half of the book is largely instruction), it would be a great book for a beginner. This is the book Lily Chin *wished* she wrote when she did "Urban Knitter,"---this book has better patterns and far better photographs and art direction. For this price, just buy it already!! ... Read more


72. Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Collection: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, and Barefoot Contessa Family Style
by Ina Garten
Hardcover
list price: $99.99 -- our price: $58.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0307720012
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Sales Rank: 962
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In her first ever boxed set, bestselling cookbook author and Food Network star Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, unites her initial three titles in one beautiful package.

Here are the books that started it all for Ina Garten, who turned a passion for food into a successful specialty food store in the Hamptons and is now beloved by millions for her Barefoot Contessa television show and cookbooks. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina's first book, has all of the fabulous, easy recipes that won Ina a loyal following at her retail shop, including Perfect Roast Chicken, French Potato Salad, and those irresistible Coconut Cupcakes. In Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ina shares her very best menus, divided by season, for fuss-free yet gorgeous entertaining, from a summer garden lunch for eight to an intimate fireside dinner for two. Barefoot Contessa Family Style is full of crowd-pleasers you'll make again and again, like roasted asparagus showered with freshly grated Parmesan and a French toast made with challah and just the right amount of grated orange zest and pure vanilla extract to make it sing.

Together, these three titles form a timeless collection perfect for every home cook, whether accomplished or amateur, and for every occasion, whether a weeknight dinner with family or a larger, more festive gathering. With stunning photography and Ina's helpful tips, this boxed set makes the perfect gift for those who love to cook.
... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Contessa Cookbook, December 7, 2010
Great book I receive as a gift.
Contessa cookbook provides a variety of recipes that will please almost any appetite.
I recommended,Any cook would appreciate the addition of this cookbook to his collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars INA IS UNIQUE - SO IS THE CONTESSA COOKBOOK, December 21, 2010



For those who haven't had the pleasure of shopping at Ina Garten's specialty food store in the Hamptons The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook delivers - literally. Some 160 gorgeous photos plus Ina's favorite recipes fill the 252 pages of this indispensable kitchen reference
As Martha Stewart writes in her Foreword, Ina is unique. "There is a freshness in cooking, a total lack of finickiness, a reliance on the freshest and best, and a casualness that I know will be appealing to everyone who uses her book." How true!
Ina stresses freshness, noting that after several weeks in Provence where she found radishes and carrots with "soil still clinging to them," she determined to base her cooking on ingredients from local sources. A lesson for us all.
Hosting a cocktail party, she decided, was not much fun if she spent all of her time running back and forth to the kitchen to get hot hors d'oeuvres out of the oven. So, she does everything possible to be sure that she does not leave the room. For instance, she has a table with all the drink fixings on it, and appetizers that can be served at room temperature so everything is either out or ready to pass when the first guest arrives. Thus we find common sense and uncommonly good appetizers from Roasted Eggplant spread to Guacamole to Smoked Salmon Sandwiches.
Her soups are splendid, most of them starting with sauteed onions "to give a sweet, rich flavor to the stock." Parker's Split Pea Soup, which Steven Spielberg said tasted just like his mother's, is rich, hearty and beautifully presented topped either with toasted croutons or diced smoked ham.
The joy Ina finds in cooking is evident in all of her dishes. She's a cook who makes simple food very, very special.
Highly recommended. ... Read more


73. Best of Sewing Machine Fun For Kids -The
by Lynda Milligan
Paperback
list price: $16.95 -- our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1571202544
Publisher: C&T Publishing
Sales Rank: 1642
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Offering a delightful introduction to the world of sewing for children ages seven and older, The Best of Sewing Machine Fun for Kids offers clear, colorful directions to help kids have fun as they develop skills that will last a lifetime. Thirteen kid-friendly projects easily teach children how to sew. As kids work their way through the book, each project builds on skills they have already learned. Easy-to-follow instructions and safety precautions start with sewing basics, allowing children to learn at their own pace. ... Read more

Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Great for kids, December 27, 2004
I got this for my daughter for Christmas along with the Barbie sewing machine. So far she loves it. It's a great way to introduce sewing to beginners. The book starts out by having kids sew straight lines on paper without any thread. It's a great way to get kids familiar with using the sewing machine without wasting thread or fabric. The projects are fun and simple to do and the games and puzzles are fun and informative.

The only reason why I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is that I was hoping for more usefull patterns. One of the projects is to make a sandwich (meat, lettuce, bread, etc.) out of fabric. It looks like it will be fun to do but who really needs a fabric sandwich?

5-0 out of 5 stars Sewing IS fun!, July 28, 2005
What a great intro into the world of sewing. Lots of fun exercises and drills for technique as well as wonderful ideas to stimulate creativity. Get those girls (and boys) to the machine and let them go with this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ABC's of sewing machine--made fun!, January 11, 2006
This book is primary level, the very basics of sewing. It can be used with very young ages and should accompany the first sewing machine. I love the games and drills that will increase proficiency on machine work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Grandma's Helper, June 30, 2006
Great how to book to work through with children - good pace and keeps them interested while they are learning the very basic operation of a sewing machine. Good 'together time' activity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great fun & excellent instruction, July 29, 2006
This book rocks, per my 8 year old. She loved the practice exercises, and reads the book without help. Highly recommend it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Easy Beginner Book for Kids, September 20, 2005
Simple instructions and easy activities make it fun for a beginner to learn to sew on a machine. Fun activities and projects included.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best of Sewing Machine Fun For Kids, December 19, 2007
I purchased this book for my 9 year old grandaughter. What a wonderful introduction to sewing. First and formost, it is fun, visually attractive, in a easy to use spiral format on durable stock. It begins with some nice graphics and games that involve learning the parts of the sewing machine, moves on to some FUN drills that teach little hands how to control sewing lines, curves, points and so on. It ends with some very basic projects that kids can complete on their own giving them a real sense of acomplishment. This is a must have for children learning to sew.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Beginner Book, May 16, 2007
This book is perfect for a beginning seamstress. If you have a young person wanting to learn to sew, this is a great start! The book is a step by step on using the machine. I got this for my 11 year old grand daughter and it's perfect. Even could be for a younger person as very easy to follow.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Best of Sewing Machine Fun for Kids, November 11, 2008
I bought the book for a grandchild who was interested in sewing. This book has wonderful practice pages for the beginner sewer. The book explains and illustrates in a very easy way for the beginning person. I think this book would help anyone who wants to learn to sew, yes, even an adult.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love this book!, October 19, 2007
This is a great book. Inside it has actual patterns for your kids to practice tracing with their machine stitching. Very colorful and excellent quality...thick pages. Can't wait to try it out with my daughter after we give it to her at Christmas. ... Read more


74. Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends
by Rick Bayless
Hardcover
list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0393058999
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 1043
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Entertaining made easy,with Mexican-inspired recipes and handy tipsfrom the celebrity chef and winner ofBravo’s Top Chef Masters.Whether you’re hosting a casual get-together with friends or throwing an outdoor shindig, no one can teach you the art of fiesta like Rick Bayless. With 150 recipes, Bayless offers you the key to unforgettable parties that will have guests clamoring for repeat invitations. There are recipes for small-dish snacking (Mushroom Ceviche, Devilish Shrimp), dynamic cocktails to get the party started (Champagne Margarita, Sizzling Mojito), and Bayless’s signature takes on Mexican street food (Grilled Pork Tacos al Pastor, Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas). Live-fire grilled fish and meat dishes like the “Brava” Steak with “Lazy” Salsa will draw friends and family to the glow of open flames. And if you’re going to throw a truly epic celebration, you’ll need a killer finale like Frontera Grill’s Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars or Dark Chocolate–Chile Ice Cream.

Fiesta at Rick’s offers 150 diverse preparations organized into easy-to-follow chapters. But it’s far more than a collection of recipes. With four complete, can’t-miss menus for parties ranging from a Luxury Guacamole Bar Cocktail Party for 12 to a Classic Mexican Mole Fiesta for 24, Bayless has all your friends covered. Each of these parties has a complete game plan, from a thought-out time line with advance shopping and preparation to a fiesta playlist. Whether a first-time entertainer or a seasoned veteran, anyone can learn from the helpful sidebars, which cover topics such as how to shuck oysters, the perfect avocado for guacamole, and the best way to pick out fresh fish for ceviche preparations. Bayless breaks down the timeless building blocks that make up authentic Mexican food, explaining the value of fresh tortillas and providing surprisingly simple instructions for making your own Mexican Fresh Cheese.

Bayless’s entertaining blueprint eliminates the guesswork, so you can let your inspiration run free. Companion to seasons six and seven of Rick’s Public Television series Mexico—One Plate at a Time, Fiesta at Rick’s is required reading for everyone who loves opening their home to friends and good times. Four-color photographs throughout
... Read more

Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of good recipes, good supplementary Mexican cookbook, not a first reference, July 5, 2010
I view this book as a complement to Bayless's other books: once you are comfortable with Mexican cuisine, this book is a big help when you want to show off your skills for a crowd. He and his wife Deann (co-authur of the book) deal with the logistics of centering a party with various Mexican themes, from a "Luxury Guacamole Bar Cocktail Party for 12" to a "Classic Mexican Mole Fiesta for 24." Included are drink recipes, salsas, guacamoles (the roasted garlic and orange guacamole in particular is excellent), as well as many main dishes and desserts. Included are a surprising number of vegetarian options, important so that those guests don't feel left out of the party. The recipes also scale down well, if you aren't feeding 100 guests. Winners are the enfrijoladas, the guacamoles (not your typical guacs, these!), the Cochito Chiapaneco (grilled pork roast), the Tacos de Arrachera al Carb�n, and his twist on Enchiladas Suizas. I didn't care for the Queso Fundido al Tequila, but so far most of the recipes have ranged from pretty good to great.

If you are looking for an introduction to Mexican cooking from a beginner's standpoint, I'd suggest either "Mexico One Plate At A Time" (by Bayless), or "The Art of Mexican Cooking" by Diana Kennedy. Either of those will provide you with the solid fundamentals that you need before you can get the most out of Fiesta at Rick's.

Pros:
* Detailed party-planning timelines
* Mostly good to excellent recipes
* Easy to follow and understand instructions

Cons:
* A few "clunkers" in the recipes
* Not a good Mexican cooking intro: the recipes make more sense if you are already familiar with Mexican cooking

5-0 out of 5 stars If you like Mexican food you will like this book, July 9, 2010
Rick has a way to pick his dishes, and to describe them in an appealing way, with clear instructions. I'm biased, sure, I love Mexican food, and I love cooking. Still, having cooked out of dozens of cookbooks I can recommend Rick's books. This one addresses parties, cooking for larger groups of people, in a way that helps you organize the cooking work (which is an art in itself), the selection of the dishes and drinks, and the actual cooking. You'll not over-commit to too complex dishes, or run out of time - your guests arriving with your mole still cooking.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great book, July 14, 2010
This is a great cookbook with a unique spin. Each section is broken up into an outline for a party from appetizers to main course, including group size and even a suggested playlist. If you want to throw your own Fiesta but arent certain where to start this is definitely the book for you.

Beyond the party blue print there are some great recipes in here. My wife's family is from Mexico and these recipes are very similar to the traditional recipes they use, the main difference is he provides details, something that has been very difficult to get with the traditional recipes. My mother in law did not measure anything using a measuring cup.

Finally the photography and printing in the book are excellent beautiful photographs of nearly every dish.

4-0 out of 5 stars LIFE IS GOOD WITH THESE RECIPES, August 20, 2010

"Fiesta" is certainly a well chosen word to be included in the title of Rick Bayless's 7th cookbook because each recipe is a delicious celebration of food. Not only is the food the tastiest but with FIESTA AT RICK'S one finds joy in the preparation and most especially in sharing with friends.. Many of us who know how ebullient Rick is on television may be pleasantly surprised to find that this same joie de vivre and encouragement come across on the printed page.

Offered as a companion to the sixth season of Rick's PBS series, "Mexico - One Plate At A Time," this photographed filled volume presents 150 new recipes ranging from"Guacamoles, Nibbles, and Libations" to "Sweet Inspirations from Street Stalls, Bakeries and Ice Cream Shops" (do not, I repeat do not miss the White Chocolate - Mezcal Ice Cream found on page 310 - a little bit of heaven on earth!)

Whether you're cooking for yourself and a significant other or for a party of 20 Rick is a trustworthy guide, offering full menus and easy to understand day or two before the big event suggestions. For instance, since Fall is not too far away he suggests a Classic Mexican Mole Fiesta for 24. Your friends won't soon forget this get-together beginning with a Mexican "Cruidite" Platter with Chamoy Dipping Sauce followed by Lacquered Chicken in Classic Red Mole along with Sweet Plantains, Steaming Corn Tortillas and finishing with "Cafe de Olla" Flan. Yes, you can do this thanks to Rick's Fiesta Game Plan that includes equipment, a timeline (clearly explained day by day), serving strategy, and embellishments. It's a no-fail plan for a never to be forgotten Fiesta. Rick is a wonder at making preparations not only easy but fun.

What is my favorite recipe in FIESTA AT RICK'S? Impossible to say because each is so different treating us to varying taste sensations.

Next time I'm in Chicago my first stop will be the Frontera Grill owned and operated by Rick and his wife, Deann. Until then I've been having my first tastes of Frontera foods (FronteraKitchens.com). We started with Frontera Guacamole Mix - fresh tasting, just spicy enough with hints of tomatillo, garlic, green chile, and cilantro - unbelievably good! We made enough for 18 people and four of us devoured it in under an hour. So easy - simply mash ripe avocados and add mix - presto perfection!

Following that we tried Frontera Roasted Vegetable Soup - only 80 calories, no cholesterol - rich with tomato, corn, pepper, onion, zucchini. Yes, yes I know the directions say "Just heat & serve." However, since it's summer in Texas we served it chilled topped with dollops of sour cream and loved it. Know it will be yummy and warming when cold weather comes.

FIESTA AT RICK'S is a much appreciated book at our house, and Frontera foods are much enjoyed.

- Gail Cooke

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Awesome Bayless Book!, September 5, 2010
Just finished doing the dishes after a great meal cooked from recipes in this book! Looking forward to cooking more tasty dinners for family and friends. Even the "going all out" menus are simplified with a timeline to help you pull it all off without breaking a sweat. But not everything has to be used for huge gatherings. There's plenty here for everyone!

5-0 out of 5 stars Viva la Fiesta at Rick's!, August 8, 2010
I admit that I am a Bayless fan and have all but one of his cookbooks and use them regularly when in need of inspiration to cook some great Mexian food.

Here though is a different approach in that it provides sequence of recipes and menus and drinks and music play lists and suggestions for fiesta with friends. This is unique and so useful and a well done resource. Such a variety to choose from as well, e.g. Guacamole Bar Coktail Party; Classic Mole Fiesta; Mexican Tapas Party, and my favorite so far: Street Food Party!

The photos and helpful breakouts on such as Tequilla tasting, Guacomole Basics are truly well done and useful. This guy is expert and can provide all kinds of insights and tidbits to make fiesta so great!

So far tried Roasted Beet Salad with Red Onion, Poblano and Lime; Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese; Grilled Rack of Lamb with Honey-Pasilla Glaze; Flaky Turnovers with VArious Fillings; Blueberry-Tequilla Ice Creaml and Mojito Fruit Ice Pops (to which I added some coconut rum).

5-0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Rick Baless, July 26, 2010
Fiesta at Rick's explores multiple themes in Mexican cooking with multiple recipes organized to be used together for entertaining. In classic Bayless fashion, each recipe has an introduction explaining the dish, with its inspiration and ideas on when to make the recipe. Each section is concluded with an outline of how to throw a fiesta with menu, drink ideas and sound track inspiration.
Fiesta at Rick's explores variations on Guacamole, Mexican inspired cocktails and ice cream/gelato/sorbets much more than in previous books along with sections on taco fillings, seafood appetizers and a great section on wood fired cooking.
Great addition to Rick's collection of cookbooks.
... Read more


75. Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z
by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Hardcover
list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0307450589
Publisher: Potter Craft
Sales Rank: 1860
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Whether you just bought your first sewing machine or have been sewing for years, Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts will open your eyes to an irresistible range of ideas. A comprehensive visual reference, the book covers everything a home sewer craves: the basics of sewing by hand or machine, along with five other time-honored crafts techniques, and step-by-step instructions for more than 150 projects that reflect not only Martha Stewart’s depth of experience and crafting expertise, but also her singular sense of style.
 
Encyclopedic in scope, the book features two main parts to help you brush up on the basics and take your skills to a new level. First, the Techniques section guides readers through Sewing, Appliqué, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing. Following that, the Projects A to Z section features more than 150 clever ideas (including many no-sew projects), all illustrated and explained with the clear, detailed instructions that have become a signature of Martha Stewart’s  magazines, books, and television shows.
 
An enclosed CD includes full-size clothing patterns as well as templates that can be easily produced on a home printer. Fabric, thread, and tool glossaries identify the properties, workability, and best uses of common sewing materials. And, perhaps best of all, when you need it most, Martha and her talented team of crafts editors offer you the reassurance that you really can make it yourself.
 
The projects are as delightful as they are imaginative, and include classic Roman shades, hand-drawn stuffed animals, an easy upholstered blanket chest, a quilted crib bumper, French knot-embellished pillowcases and sheets, and Japanese-embroidered table linens, among many others.With gorgeous color photographs as well as expert instruction, this handy guide will surely encourage beginners and keep sewers and crafters of all experience levels wonderfully busy for many years to come.
... Read more

Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful, but not encyclopedic guide to sewing, February 24, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
When the first Encyclopedia of Crafts was published a few years ago I, like many others, was disappointed because textiles were conspicuously lacking. This book begins to remedy the problem by addressing sewing and fabric crafts.

The book has three sections. The first discusses in detail techniques, materials and tools. While it is a good introduction and is close to encyclopedic when it comes to machine sewing, it is only an introduction, not comprehensive, when it comes to any of the other techniques (embroidery, patchwork, applique, dyeing, and printing) it describes. There is enough there to get you started and to do the projects, but if you know or are interested in the technique, you will want more.

The second part of the book has the projects. Fabric projects from many years of Martha Stewart Living are grouped together by type, so coasters, for example, has oilcloth coasters, machine embroidery coasters, and ones made from bleached and overdyed fabric.

The final section gives additional details on materials needed and the resources in the included CD (not in the review copy).

This is a Martha Stewart book and has all the virutes and vices that go along with that. The projects are stylish, inventive, and beautiful. But if you read her magazine, you have seen them before. The technique information is accurate but not complete. For example in the dyeing section it doesn't bother to say that you should NEVER use pots you cook in to dye in because these chemicals are quite toxic. To my mind this is a glaring omission.

I always feel when reading one of her books that doing any of these projects or techniques is just so easy that I can whip it up in an afternoon and get lovely results without any prior experience. But the world isn't like that. It bothers me, as a fiber artist, that she doesn't take the trouble to rate the projects so that I can figure out which ones are accessible to me.

Ultimately, I think this is a useful book as far as it goes. The information is sound, if incomplete, the projects are nicely explained and beautifully illustrated. But encyclopedic -- NO.

Now I need to wait until she has done enough fiber projects to do that volume, but that will be awhile.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Reference for Martha Fans, March 9, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Let me start by saying I am reviewing a black and white copy without the CD. This is important because I have the Martha Stewar's Encyclopedia of Crafts and color is very important. Just like the magazine,the presentation is a large part of why you want the book. You really can't get the full impact without color. Without the color and CD what am I reviewing? What I can see from the black and white version. So what do you get?

What you will get is a beautiful bound copy of sewing information that is readily available on her website and in many cases in her magazines. But here is the selling point, you get all in one place, in an easy to browse and use format. Everything is here - from the directions, tools to use to additional techniques and suppliers. So the second positive is you can recycle all those magazines you have laying around gathering dust because there is one project in each magazine you know you will get to one day. You can also stop searching the web for that project you remember from some show you saw long ago on cat play toys. It's all here in the book. To me, that alone might be the best reason to buy it.

Let me warn you this is more a crafter's book than a sewing book. It is not for the serious sewer who want to turn out Chanel inspired garments and probably a little boring for the experienced sewer. So why should you buy it? It depends on what you are looking for. I found the Encyclopedia of Crafts a great way to plan projects with my granddaughters who loved looking through the book at all the different projects. I'm planning to use the sewing book the same way. Seeing two little heads going throught a book and planning projects to do with Grandma, priceless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent beginner projects, March 3, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
As someone who has owned a sewing machine for years but has neglected to do anything with it, this book serves as a step by step guide full of encouragement.

The most basic projects include felt purses, handkerchiefs and potholders to more challenging projects such as dog jackets, patchwork/quilting and stuffed animals. Also of interest are projects that, as someone new to sewing, I never even thought of, such as notebooks and checkbook covers. For the most part the book is full of domestically useful projects: curtains, bed linens, napkins, placemats and upholstery. There are even several basic clothing projects: seersucker pants, wrap skirt, tube dress, sarong, etc.

It is a misnomer to lump this into Martha's "Encyclopedia of" series, as it's more of a basic sewing techniques coursebook with cd of templates and patterns (reviewers did not receive this cd).

This would be wasted on those advanced in the craft, but it would make a great gift for the beginner.

2-0 out of 5 stars BASIC is the key word here, February 24, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Referring to this book as an encyclopedia is incredibly misleading. The instructional part of this book only takes up 90 of the almost 400 pages, and there are a LOT of pictures. VERY basic introductions to each of the six subjects are given, making this book, as far as a reference, suitable to one who has never sewn before or only done very small bits of handwork. I found the inclusion of the dyeing and printing sections to be interesting, yet somewhat ill-fitted, selections to accompany the other subjects and feel that the instructions aren't very in-depth. There are pictures of everything in this book, which I find to be a detriment. I mean, seriously, there is a photographic index of tools in the back, including pictures of items such as pins, needles, measuring tape, bottles of adhesives and an iron. That should be an indicator that this book is very clearly designed for the very beginner. On top of that, while my copy an advance black and white, I am sure the finished version will be in color and having all those pretty pictures will certainly contribute to the cost. To touch on the projects, these are definitely for beginners; basic stuffed animals, pillow covers galore, very, very simple projects that I think one could find instructions for with a quick internet search. My copy did not include the CD with patterns and templates so I cannot remark on that aspect of this book.

I can see this book making a nice little gift for someone who is just learning to sew but for any stitcher wanting to progress beyond the basics, this isn't the book for you. I am giving this book two stars from an experienced crafter's point of view, but would rate it closer to a three for someone who is a beginner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great projects!, March 3, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Looking for sewing books to help teach my daughter more about sewing, this book is just the quality I'd expect from Martha Stewart.
The first part of the book is tools and techniques which explains the basic tools necessary for sewing and how to do the most essential techniques. This section covers machine sewing, seams, hand sewing and the 3 essential stitches you need to know how to do (running, back stitch and slip stitch), appliqu�, fabric dye techniques like batiking and ombre shading, embroidery (including essential embroidery stitches), patchwork, and basic fabric printing using block printing methods.
After you get through that section comes the projects. The projects are mostly very simple projects that teach sewing basics in usable ways. The stuffed animals and hand sewn dolls will be my daughter's favorite. She does a lot of hand sewn dolls now.
The projects including clothing, dolls, pincushions, quilts and a great many other things. The techniques used to create the projects make it easy to customize them to suit your own aesthetics. Instead of a leaf sewing set, you could use an apple for your basic shape to make a sewing set for a favorite teacher.
Unlike a lot of other sewing books, this one has a lot of projects that are easily hand sewn which make perfect take along projects, and many of them use smaller amounts of fabric which means you could use old clothes and vintage remnants for the projects. I love machine sewing, but I'm trying to become a lot neater at hand sewing for it's portability.
My favorite project is probably the simplest one in the whole book. Rolled hem handkerchiefs. I can just see my daughter and I making these and hand embroidering them for friends.
There is also a wonderful section on aprons and I love aprons so much.
It will be a resource I know I'll refer to again and again. My mother was a dressmaker and I still feel I got a lot of good ideas from this book. For my daughter, she hates following patterns and the fact so many of the ideas in this book are very adaptable will make it wonderful for her.

5-0 out of 5 stars There's a reason Martha's such a household name., February 25, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
If you've ever seen another of Martha's encyclopedic works on crafts or cooking, you already know what to expect with this newest volume -- a compendium of art and craft and information that's both complete and accessible, filled with projects ranging from embroidery to quilting, that will keep you busy for a long, long time.

While I got an uncorrected proof (via Amazon Vine, full disclosure), and didn't get to see the full-color photographs, the ones I did see (front and back covers) are amazing, as always, and even the black and white ones inside were clear and enough to illustrate that the techniques are presented very plainly and easy for even visual learners to understand and master.

Informationally, Martha doesn't ever disappoint. If there's a technique, say, fabric dyeing for example, that you want to know more about, just flip to the section and read away -- you'll come away knowing not only how to do it, but a bit of the history of dyeing, to boot.

I'll be picking up a full-color version just as soon as I can put this one down.

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Makes Me Want to Dust Off My Sewing Machine, February 23, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Once upon a time I sewed all sorts of crafty things and then I quit.

When I saw this book I grew excited to actually pull out my sewing machine and give some of these projects a try. The appeal of this book reaches various levels of ability and commitment.

Some of the projects are instant gratification (good for a rusty sewer!) and also great projects to help your child learn to sew and craft. Things like the drawstring pouch, the child's oilcloth apron, and pie weight hand warmer would be great projects to do with children.

There are also more involved projects for the more advanced sewer like the quilted dog jacket, Roman window shades or a state bird embroidery quilt.

I am itching to make the menswear mice, constructed from brightly colored suiting and shirting fabrics. Also very appealing to me are the felt baby shoes and slippers. They would make a perfect baby shower gift.

There are some very clever ideas for reusing a discarded item. For example, the book shows how to turn an adult shirt into a darling girl's dress, or how to make tuxedo shirt into a clever pillow.

AND... I just have to say I have made the rabbits in this craft book out of old cashmere sweaters and they are beyond adorable!!

The book has a lot of extras. It comes with a CD for accessing all the patterns to copy. Amazon did not provide this to reviewers of the pre published copy so I can not attest to how well it works. But you can find some of the templates at marthastewart.

The book has an illustrated tools and materials list so there is no guessing about what is needed for the projects.

An excellent 'how to' section guides you through the crafts: 'how to patch a hole,' 'how to make piping,' 'how to make quilted fabric.'

The book is 400 pages of fun.

3-0 out of 5 stars Helpful Tips and Sweet Projects, but Book Contains Previously Published Content, February 25, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Beginning with the basics of sewing by hand and machine, _Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts_ progresses into an alphabetically organized how-to project book.

The beginning information on sewing techniques is intended for beginners through experts, and explains thread, fabrics, how to set up a sewing area, and important supplies to have (there are also recommended supplies in the back). As an experienced sewer, I found this information to be a bit basic, and also perhaps a little too authoritative at times. For example, the book advises to pre-wash fabric. However, there are plenty of quilters out there like me who prefer to wash cotton fabric after quilting to get even more of the puckering effect some of us prefer (quilters could debate this for years and still not reach a consensus). But even though some of the information is basic, it's nice to know there's a place to turn to when you forget that stitch you were an expert on the day before!

The projects in the volume include clothing, stuffed animals, a basic Waldorf doll with no face shaping, and even a few for the four-legged members of the family. A project that would no doubt become a beloved keepsake is how to turn children's drawings into three-dimensional stuffed animals. My favorite project is one for use with vintage handkerchiefs, and since there are reproduction hankies available, this is possible to do without ruining heirlooms. Some of the projects require printing out templates or patterns. I personally would prefer them to be separate and bound into the book.

As a _Martha Stewart Living_ reader, I have to admit to recognizing a lot of these projects from the pages of the magazine (and the website). I don't know how many were gleaned from its pages, but certainly at least a significant number of them were. Some people may find it nice discovering all of their favorite projects in one spot, but it may be a disappointment to people like me who have already seen these before and already used the ones we were interested in. It's a bit odd to open up a brand new book, as I did, and find out it contains more than one project in it that you have already made, and plenty you have rejected for one reason or another!

I would mostly recommend this volume to people who are new to sewing and aren't subscribed to _Martha Stewart Living_ magazine. It contains a lot of projects to get people started and practicing, and enough of a selection that most people should be able to find just what they want or need.

4-0 out of 5 stars A true encyclopedia..., March 18, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
There are many things about this book to enjoy but the crafter must note that it is an encyclopedia. If you are looking for in-depth treatment on a specific topic, you might do better elsewhere. If you are looking for a refresher, a place to find a quick how-to on french seams or which batting is best for your quilt, just as with any encyclopedia, you will find plenty of varied albeit cursory information.

The text covers sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting and patchwork, dyeing and printing. There is a section discussion tools and materials, a source section and an included CD for project templates (CD not included in my copy to review). The projects themselves range from Animals and Aprons to Upholstery and Wall Decor. You'll find projects for utilizing the skills covered in the how-to sections. For example, I found the projects and information on bed linens and pillows to be quite comprehensive, but I could have used more in the hankies, quilts and clothing sections. Again, it's all about encyclopedic and less about in-depth.

I found the tools and extra techniques section to be especially helpful and certainly worthy of review. The projects themselves were fine, if not exactly revolutionary. I'm sure I've seen some of these before in the magazine or online at the Martha Stewart website. I think they are best utilized to reinforce new skills.

Overall, I think it makes a handy reference guide, something you will keep in your craft room and refer to when you need guidance on specific problems or when you can't remember a certain technique. Because it is cursory in many places, personally I think it is better for someone with more know-how than a complete novice. That said, it would be useful for someone brand-new to sewing as a springboard to learn terms and to sample what's out there in the world of sewing, but I doubt it would be their last stop. If I were buying this for a gift, I would probably give it to someone who knows the basics but might need a bit of bolstering on technique.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone from 'tweens 'n teens to the proficient seamstress will find some WOW projects to do in here!, March 21, 2010

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
Some of us as very young children remember making doll clothes on the old treadle sewing machines, while others cut their teeth on much more sophisticated machines. Passion for sewing, however, didn't differentiate machines and many of us spent hours having a great deal of fun working on an assortment of projects. Martha Stewart's passion for sewing began as a young girl and she, her sisters Kathy and Laura, "would all become proficient seamstresses." Not all of us became proficient, but finding a new "craft" project can be exciting. I was pleased to see this book come out because, as we all know, one or two page patterns can be quite pricey and in comparison the hours you'll get poring over this book will make it into a bargain.

The beginning of the book can serve as a brush up on the basics and for the `tweens and teens it will be a perfect starting point to learn about sewing. In this section you will learn about:

* An assortment of fabrics, their uses, characteristics, and composition (solid cottons, patterned cottons, silks, linens, wools, and specialty fabrics)

* The types of threads: when to uses them, their composition, quality, weight, how to select the proper color, and the advantages of using good-quality thread

* How to set up your sewing area in a "convenient, comfortable," and easy to navigate manner

* Essential sewing accessories (pin cushions, needles, a measuring table, magnetic pin dish, magnetic hanging rack, etc.)

* Basic sewing techniques (sewing supplies, fabric preparation, basic stitches, the parts of your sewing machine, sewing a basic seam, sewing corners and curves, seam-finishing techniques, etc.)

* The basics of appliqu�

* The basics of embroidery (supplies, handwork, basic stitches, cross-stitch, the French knot, the running stitch, Japanese sahiko, ribbon-embroidery, machine embroidery)

* Quilting and patchwork (choosing supplies, fabrics, machine quilting, patchwork, how to appliqu� and echo quilt, and how to repair a patchwork quilt)

* The basic techniques of dyeing fabric (supplies, how to hand-dye, bow to batik, how to fade and overdye fabric, and how to create an ombr� pattern)

* How to print designs on textiles (basic fabric-printing supplies, stamping on fabric, block printing, and stenciling)

Once you have brushed up on techniques or have learned them, there are 150 A to Z projects to choose from. Any that need patterns are on the enclosed CD and include "full sized clothing patterns as well as template that can be easily produced on a home printer." Many of these projects struck my nostalgic fancy because they instruct the reader on things like embroidering handkerchiefs, one of my favorite things to buy at flea markets or antique shops. These can be done "with a few basic embroidery stitches." This was a WOW project for me! Another one, of course, was the basic canvas tote. If you are going green, you'll want to make loads of these to carry your groceries or books in. Then you can dress them up with suggestions in the "four embellished-bag projects" section. Personally, I love this book. There are lots of "rainy day" activities, brush up techniques, and ones I'd like to explore and share with friends. This book, that will satisfy a wide range of people from the beginner to the proficient seamstress, is one you might want to add to your craft wish list! ... Read more

76. The Best 30-Minute Recipe
by Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Hardcover
list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0936184981
Publisher: America's Test Kitchen
Sales Rank: 991
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Editorial Review

300 Fast and Flavorful Recipes from America’s Most Trusted Test Kitchen

Tired of quick recipes that aren’t really quick or don’t taste very good? While some cookbooks promise 30-minute meals, America’s Test Kitchen delivers. The Best 30-Minute Recipe is packed with more than 300 great-tasting recipes, along with time-saving techniques that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. You’ll also find honest evaluations of ingredients important to quick cooking, such as chicken broth, preshredded cheese, instant rice, and more. And because the type of equipment you use is important to the success of any recipe—made in 30 minutes or not—we tell you which brands are worth buying.

The Best 30-Minute Recipe features a surprisingly wide range of recipes. You get not only the very best versions of naturally quick dishes like salads and stir-fries, but also quick and easy recipes for typically long-cooking dishes that you’d never even think of making on a weeknight—including meatloaf, lasagna, beef pot pie, and a pad thai so easy that you may never call for takeout again. With efficiency and good taste, The Best 30-Minute Recipe is the time-pressed cook’s guide to getting dinner on the table, night after night. ... Read more

Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Great as a standalone cookbook, problematic for anyone with other ATK material, February 4, 2007
If this is your first cookbook from the ATK/Cook's Illustrated crew, I can almost guarantee you will be very happy with it. It's a very thorough and accessible approach to some cracking good recipes. The prose style is entertaining and informative and helps a less experienced cook get some insight into the tastes and textures that make a "good" recipe.

But if you want to learn more or get further into the style, you may find that you get less geniunely new material with each subsequent purchase. While any one of their books is very much worth having, they tend to endlessly repackage and reissue their recipes in various formats. That's a little problematic for someone who is a fan of the ATK approach, but also is in no way a collector of cook books. If a cook book has 3 or 4 recipes that I haven't seen before and genuinely want to try, I'll be satisfied, and each new ATK issue just barely satisfies that criterion. But the relatively high cost of acquiring these new recipes along with the 5th iteration of, say, mashed potatoes, Chicken Parmesan and skillet tamale pie, may irritate and exasperate some buyers.

One reviewer called these folks "A cottage industry gone amok". That has some truth to it, but it may be a little harsh. A more sympathetic reframing might be that they are simply trying to package their recipes in convenient ways so as to meet the demands of a particular segment of the cookbook market: "Best Recipe" vs "America's Test Kitchen companion series" vs "Cook's Illustrated compilation". And "Quick Meals" vs "Light Meals" vs "Vegetables" and "Soups and Stews". But at some point, the typical cook will probably decide that he or she is being rather cynically exploited by some shrewd entrepeneurs determined to squeeze every possible cent out of about 350 really good recipes, supplemented with some helpful product reviews. I haven't reached that point yet, but I may soon.

So in summary: excellent cookbook, but docked a star for my purposes because I am paying "all new recipe" prices for a "20% (or less)new material" format.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Cookbook By Cook's Illustrated!, April 21, 2007
This is my eighth book in my Cook's Illustrated (CI) collection and I have really enjoyed it. While it is true that many of CI's cookbooks are packed with repeat and/or repackaged recipes as other reviewers have pointed out, this book stands out from the pack in that it offers techniques in streamlining recipes so that you can get a delicious meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. And yes, every recipe I have tried has lived up to that promise (unlike other famed 30 minute cookbooks!). For people familiar with CI, this is quite a change in pace. My only real complaint with other CI books has been that the recipes can be involved and time consuming and leave your kitchen looking like a disaster area when you're finished. The good people at America's Test Kitchen didn't seem to be aware with how much kitchen equipment they had you dirtying with their recipes! This hardly made CI recipes very appealing on those weekdays when you needed a fast and easy meal on the table. This book changes all that! I can finally have delicious CI recipes even on high-stress, fast-paced days!

It is clear that CI had two very distinct goals when they put this book together...(1)every meal truly must take the average home cook 30 minutes or less to prepare, and (2)every meal must taste great. While this may sound like a given, most other 30 minute/quick meal books do not always deliver on those counts. Not only do they usually take the average cook WAY longer to prepare (do they even take prep time into consideration when they are putting together the recipes?) but even more importantly, all too often the shortcuts they take compromise the overall quality of the dishes, leaving them flat and unexciting. This is not so with CI's 30 Minute Recipe. They truly have found ways to shave time and effort off of so many of their recipes without compromising the overall flavor. How exciting to be able to deliver delicious meals even on the most stressed days! I do also love the "Got Extra Time" feature that some of the recipes come with, which gives you the option of making the meals even better if you have a few extra minutes (like using long grain rice instead of instant or adding a few other components to enhance the overall flavor) but the recipes as written are still perfectly delicious on their own. It's just nice to have that option on days that you have a little extra time to put into the recipes.

While the techniques are different than other CI cookbooks, you can still count on all the features that you come to expect from America's Test Kitchen...the product and equipment ratings, illustrations of techniques, quick tips, and detailed explanations as to how they arrived at their recipes can all be found in this book as well. Even the most seasoned CI veteran can still feel comfortable with this book--the techniques may be different but the governing principles of CI are still front and center!

In short, I love this cookbook! While I'm an avid cook and very often enjoy spending extra time in the kitchen putting together delicious and in-depth meals for my family and friends, even I need a quick, low-maintenance meal from time to time. Thanks to CI, I now have techniques to streamline my cooking processes while still delivering fabulous meals!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulously fast fantastic food!, March 25, 2007
I love all my cookbooks from the Cook's Illustrated line. This one is great, too! The recipes truly are doable in under 30 minutes. And when they say 30 minutes, they mean thirty minutes from start to finish- NOT 30 minutes of prep time and another hour of cooking!

My family loves the teriyaki recipes! I've never had better teriyaki- fast, light and fresh. We also have made some of the braised chicken dishes and they were very good.

This book is in a similar format to many of their others: there is a discussion of ingredients and methods leading up to the recipe and then usually several variations on the actual recipe itself. I like this because it allows for some flexibility if you don;t have certain ingredients on hand. This cookbook gives tips for how to prepare the recipes in the most efficient manner (for example, it says "While meat is browning, chop the onions"). I usually find that when I've cooked a recipe several times, I'm much faster at it becase I figure out what steps to do in what order- these 'quick tips' help me get there sooner.

The resulting food is fab! This cookbok isn't just for rushed weeknight dinners, the recipes are good enough to warrant including in your regular repetoire of things to prepare for guests and special occasions. Quick doesn't have to mean lower quality, the folk from Cook's Illustrated have proven that here with this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Easy, and Delicious, October 14, 2006
Have tried four recipes and all have been very quick and easy to make and have been delicious. Have given the book as gifts and plan to give more. An outstanding book in a wonderful series of books. Never a disappointment with Cook's Illustrated books. Highly recommend to beginner or experienced cooks.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quickly became a favorite cookbook, November 13, 2006
I have yet to find a weak recipe in this cookbook and have used it nightly for several weeks. The recipes are straightforward to follow, use fresh ingredients, and yield excellent results. Highly recommended for any busy person who loves really good food.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Cook's Illustrated people do it again, January 7, 2007
I love the "Best Recipe" series from the Cooks Illustrated authors. Each recipe has been thoroughly tested and refined so that everyone who can follow directions can mimic their excellent results. The 30-minute recipes are a collection of recipes that I have cooked (they really do take only 30 minutes and are delicious) and plan on cooking in the future. The ingredients are those that are found in well stocked grocery stores and while I find that I often only use a few recipes from most of my cookbooks, I want to cook most of these recipes in this book.

The best part of this cookbook and the rest in the series are the directions and the explanations. They take the time to explain why some choices about ingredients or techniques were made and not others. They take the time to give directions on how to perform cooking tasks; these explanations are very well written and the simple diagrams, when necessary, are effective. I especially like their reviews of products and cooking items. The carefully describe WHY they prefer one item over another in different circumstances. Reading this book makes me feel like I am in a master cooking class and gives me the confidence and the knowledge to try my own ideas in the kitchen.

A large number of great recipes and great cooking lessons. A great deal for the price!

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Cookbook I have ever owned, February 4, 2007
I gave up on cooking many years ago. In the past, I would spend hours in the kitchen to make one dish that would turn out so so. I was so frustrated that my husband took over the cooking in our home. He can make up his own recipes and the dishes would turn out delicious. I do not have that skill. I have been looking for that one cookbook that had easy to prepare recipes that were fast and delicious. This is that cookbook. So far, I have made 3 meals since Christmas and they have all been easy to make and delicious. The recipes have been so good that I am actually looking forward to my next time cooking. I appreciate the written discussion with the recipes to explain some of the ingredient choices and hints to help with the recipe. With me not being an experienced cook, I need all the help I can get. I have been very pleased with this cookbook.

3-0 out of 5 stars don't order this from Cooks Illustrated, May 4, 2007
I agree with the reviewer who was frustrated with the amount of repackaging that Cooks does--although it is probably necessary for their business model, given that they accept no advertising. I have always been willing to pay their prices because of the quality of their recipes and of their techniques, and this book was no exception. What drove me over the edge was that, having ordered it from Cooks directly, I inadvertently got signed up for their "Automatic Preview Privilege," which meant that cookbooks just started showing up at my house. It tooks MONTHS to get them to stop. So, while I will keep buying their books and their magazine, I won't be doing it through them--will stick with Amazon, B&N, or my local bookstore.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Recipes, January 10, 2007
If you're tired of the same old quick dinners, this book is for you! I have been very impressed with the variety of cuisine in this book, and so far, I have been able to make them all in around 30 minutes. I have used AMT's "The New Best Recipe" for several years and the recipes always turn out as promised. This book has the same trustworthy recipes, but without the 2-3 hour cooking time! The recipes taste great and are easy to make as long as you plan out your shopping list ahead of time as some of the recipes use unusual ingredients. I gave this book to my sister and she loves it too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Any general-interest public library, especially those catering to busy professionals, will find it a popular lend., February 5, 2007
Plenty of cookbooks promise quick recipes, then either add time or skimp on flavor. Not so in The Best 30-Minute Recipe: each and every recipe here has been tested time and again - some 300 of them - and paired with overall time-saving techniques busy cooks will appreciate. The 'got extra time?' sidebars offer ideas for embellishments such as sauces which may be made when there's need for a little more zip, while recipes blend quick techniques (such as microwaving long-grain rice) with adaptations which retain flavor while speeding prep time. It also includes shopping hints as a way of speeding things all the way around. Any general-interest public library, especially those catering to busy professionals, will find it a popular lend.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch ... Read more


77. Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series)
by Carla Sonheim
Paperback
list price: $22.99 -- our price: $15.63
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1592536131
Publisher: Quarry Books
Sales Rank: 1761
Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Carla Sonheim is an artist and creativity workshop instructor known for her fun and innovative projects and techniques designed to help adult students recover a more spontaneous, playful approach to creating. Her innovative ideas are now collected and elaborated on in this unique volume. Carla offers a year's worth of assignments, projects, ideas, and techniques that will introduce more creativity and nonsense into your art and life. Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists offers readers a fun way to learn and gain expertise in drawing through experimentation and play. There is no right or wrong result, yet, the readers gain new skills and confidence, allowing them to take their work to a new level.

... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars "If I can't draw, I can't be an artist", June 25, 2010
I've never considered myself an "artist", because I've never been able to "draw". That belief has colored my artistic expression for decades. Lately, the pull towards art has led me to some wonderful books, but THIS BOOK speaks to me. When I look through the activities, I know I can do them, and I know they are non-fail projects. There is so much fun and whimsy built in, that creating will be a joy. I stumbled on this book by accident, and what a happy accident it has turned out to be. If blank pages intimidate you, Carla has solutions to inspire.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book for young and old, June 22, 2010
I love this book! It just arrived today so I haven't had time to try any of the exercises yet, but I've read it through and I'm looking forward to experimenting with the techniques and creative ideas provided by the author. For many artists, drawing can seem intimidating. I myself have less than fond memories of the drawing courses I took in college and later in art school. But this book is very different from the traditional studio approach to drawing--thankfully!
The exercises and prompts in this text are perfect for kids of all ages as well as for playful adults looking for ways to add an original element to their artwork. One of my favorites is the "Imaginary Creatures" assignment, which begins with random paint splashes and encourages creative thinking as you look for "creatures" in the paint, which you then draw with an ink pen in a sketchy manner. It's pretty cool, and definitely original!
If people and portraits are your thing, the author provides several exercises that will spark creative approaches to portraiture and life drawing. Out of the seven units in the book, my favorite is called Inspired by Famous Artists. Various assignments in this section encourage you to really learn from the masters by not only copying their work but adding a special twist of your own. One example is to try creating your own abstract drawings of dogs reminiscent of Picasso's cubism style; another is trying your hand at a Joan Miro abstract drawing. The author breaks down this assignment by starting you with simple hand-drawn symbols that anyone can invent (or use the author's provided symbols). Fill your page with them, and when satisfied with the design go over the penciled lines with a dark marker. Then add washes of paint, preferably in the primary colors that Miro often used in his art. And wa-la, you have your own "Miro" drawing/painting to enjoy and admire.
Speaking of painting, I really hope that the artist will follow up "Drawing Lab" with a book called "Painting Lab!" She's great with paint, and I'd love to see a fun project book on this subject from her. Someday I hope to take a workshop with Carla Sonheim (she has a stellar reputation as a workshop art instructor), but until then, this book will do very nicely. Thank you, Carla, for sharing your creative ideas and talents with us! And do please consider writing a book someday on your creative painting techniques.
Sharilyn Miller, author of Bead on a Wire

5-0 out of 5 stars inspiring and original, June 22, 2010
I buy a lot of art and craft books and consider it worth the money if I get an idea or two from a book. This book is absolutely inspiring from start to finish! I love each and every of the 52 drawing exercises and can't wait to try them out. I appreciate the creative twists to the old standby drawing exercises and found lots of new ways to approach drawing. This wonderful little book is exceptionally well done and perfect for young artists and artists young at heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love Carla, love this book!, August 1, 2010
I took a class taught by Carla Sonheim in 2007. I LOVED the class as she gives great instruction, pushes you to just try techniques, keeps things moving and yet does so in a relaxed, calm manner. I think I finished 50 drawings in less than 3 hours. I bought this book after looking at it because it included some of the same exercises we had done in class (my favorite ones!) and many more labs that are easy to follow. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours on any given day, there's an exercise in this book that will encourage you to discover your inner drawing talent!

5-0 out of 5 stars New approach to an age old subject, June 24, 2010
This book is brimming with brand new ways to approach the page, and whatever you want to learn to do on it. Carla is great teacher, she is very popular and now everyone can see why! Thank goodness for this quirky vision she has, it brings life and fun to the table for every level of experience in drawing. The added pluses are the approach of her various featured artists from all over the world, and the number of mediums she shows you how to use. Not just drawing, but how to add layers and textures in ways that are unique to her. It is hard to imagine the wanna be or already is artist not enjoying this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book meets you where you are.., July 7, 2010
I have countless drawing books, all of which have remained unused after the first chapter....but not this one. I love it. The exercises are fun and are tailored that you do them as you want to do them. It is all about you. It gives a list of materials that the author uses, but this is not a must have list...it is reinforced over and over that you do what you want, with what you like. The book is about providing inspiration for when you face that blank white page and freak out, or worse, remain as blank as the page. This is the book you want when that happens.

Don't be fooled that you won't learn technique however...the book is not only full of inspiration, but technique as well. Drawing instruction meeting you where you are now. Making this process easy and fun and giving you confidence to keep drawing. There are exercises that I am going to do with my children as well, so it really caters for all levels. I can't recommend it highly enough. The pictures re delightful, and there are artist profiles which offer great advise and tips as well as background about their work. I feel less scared just looking through the book, and I am off to do the first exercise now...

I have only one regret, that I did not know I could purchase it from Carla herself, as people that do get a special bonus, and I love that elephant drawing!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun and Useful!, August 15, 2010
It's easy to do one lab a day, and see the improvement. It's fun, and it's thorough. Out of all the drawing books I'd recommend for mixed media artists, this one would come first.

5-0 out of 5 stars Drawing Lab for Mixed media Artists:52 Creative Exercises to make Drawing Fun, August 8, 2010
This is a totally awesome drawing book. It is suitable for experienced and beginning mixed media artists. I really like Carla's drawing style and will apply her techniques to my own art. I recommended this book to several friends and they each bought one. I also ordered the other LAB books and enjoyed them as well.
[...]

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful, July 21, 2010
This book is simply full of ideas and inspiration! Not to mention it is confidence building. I have used some of the ideas, but with my own twists. I think that is one of the things the author was shooting for, to help people enjoy art, to find their own ways to enjoy and grow within each artist's own style, using their own intuition.

Yes, I would buy this one again. It's upbeat, positive, and encouraging.

5-0 out of 5 stars Drawing is Fun Again!, June 30, 2010
Carla Sonheim has written a book that makes drawing fun again. I don't have to just sketch the shadows on oranges or cones or cubes (boring...!). Instead I can have fun doing 100 different faces or finding animals in the cracks of sidewalks or doing any number of fun exercises she suggests. Reading the book is like taking one of Carla's wonderful classes - you feel encouraged, inspired and ready to spread your creative wings. Thanks Carla for such a wonderful book for all ages. ... Read more


78. Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics
by Debbie Stoller
Paperback
list price: $17.95 -- our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0761135979
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 1893
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Knitters: It's time to take it to the next level. And who better than Debbie Stoller to show you how. The expert knitter and gifted, edgy author who introduced knitting to a new generation with her New York Times bestseller, Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook, now shows her readers how to do more—lots more.

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting is the only knitter's handbook to teach the full array of advanced knitting techniques and skills, such as double-knitting, knitting lace, complicated color work, beading, and more. Writing with the clarity that makes her such an effective teacher, and the attitude that got her dubbed "knitting superstar" (San Francisco Chronicle), Stoller explains how to "knit by the numbers;" get creative with stripes; embellish with crochet, beading, and I-cords; how to make cable patterns; and how to use color forms. There's also a whole section on DIY—which gives a tutorial on creating your own knitting patterns.

And then the brilliant icing on the cake—41 cool, funky, and fabulous patterns from Debbie and the Stitch 'n Bitch community: a fluttery Rococco Shawl, Cap Sleeve Lattice Sweater, Jackie-O sequined cardigan, Empire Strikes Back dress, the adorable Button It children's sweater with changeable animal patches. Plus sexy stockings, stylish handbags, blankets, scarves, and more, all photographed in full-color.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally!, November 9, 2010
I preordered this book a really long time ago and then worried that since I'd waited so I might be disappointed when it finally got here. It was definitely worth the wait.
There are three parts to this book - Part 1: the stitches, Part 2: How to create your own patterns and part 3: the patterns.
The first two parts are awesome. 164 pages of detailed instructions, pictures and diagrams. Short rows, cables, colorwork, lace, a selection of cast-ons, buttonholes, decreases, increases, steeks, adding beads ... it's all in here, and more. The reading is easy and the concepts are clearly explained (at least the sections I've read so far).
I'm also very pleased that there's a section on creating your own patterns. As a knitter I'm pretty fearless, but I'm a wuss when it comes to designing my own patterns. It seems so complicated and usually I can find an already existing pattern for what I want to make, anyway. But now maybe I can finally make a sweater to fit my tall, skinny husband who has long arms.
The first stitch n bitch book gave a lot of young new knitters (like me) great instructions and patterns for things we would actually want to wear. This book does the same thing for advanced techniques. Cables are cool but those bulky aran fishermen sweaters might not be for everyone. The patterns in this book are fantastic. There are only a couple I'm not crazy about - it's not that I don't like them, I just don't like them as much as some of the other patterns in the book. There are 41 patterns for adults and children (and 1 dog coat) - sweaters, cardigans, shrugs, socks, hats, blankets, bags, scarves ... even a couple of dresses and skirts. The only trouble is deciding which to knit first. I've read through a few of the patterns I'm likely to start soon and the instructions seem clear, and there are charts and pattern notes where required.
Great book if you're new to these advanced techniques or if you're an old pro.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun, Well-Organized, and Easy to Read and Understand, November 11, 2010
Debbie has the gift of writing clear, easy to understand (and humorous!) instructions even when the technique may be an advanced one--I'm now knitting cables without a cable needle! The original patterns in the book are fresh and interesting with beautiful photographs. There is a wide selection of projects covering a variety of the techniques highlighted in the book. There is also a large section in the book on creating your own knitting designs--again, presented in an easy-to-follow writing style.

I'm relatively new to knitting and didn't know about Debbie Stoller and her books. I was lucky enough to meet her at a recent book signing and knitting class to promote this latest in her series--I've found a new favorite knitting guru! The book is a user-friendly joy to read, and I have already been using it as a resource as I navigate my way through my latest project.

I can't imagine any knitter being disappointed in this book. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great guide for beginning and experienced knitters, November 23, 2010
I have to say, I have all of Debbie Stoller's books and I think this one may be the best yet. The layout is great and the explanations are clear as always. The design tips are great and the patterns fit the book. Would recommend even for experienced knitters.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's a must have for the novice/developing knitter., December 5, 2010
There are three sections in this book: Part 1: the stitches, Part 2: How to create your own patterns and part 3: the patterns.

Debbie Stoller has a great way of explaining the stitches and making it easy to "catch on" and execute them into some of the great patterns she has in this book. The author introduced a lot of people to basic knitting skills in her first books: Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook Stitch 'n bitch - The Knitter's Handbook and Stitch 'n Bitch Nation Stitch 'n bitch Nation. I find her books to be "An idiot's guide to knitting" with a friendly and clear voice. It doesn't hurt that she has some really nice patterns in the book to boot. I am not into making my own patterns, however, I think understanding the basic concept of how to put it all together will be helpful. The only thing that I did not care for was that most of the patterns are done in her new yarn line, while understandable from a promotional stand point, not too happy as a knitter.

Lastly, there are approximately 31 patterns that will clothe your whole family quite smartly; including the dog!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond basics indeed, December 19, 2010
I've been knitting for a couple of months now and am fairly comfortable with the various stitches (or more accurately, how to read a pattern because that's all you need to do in order to get any stitch you want). However, as I advance beyond scarves and hats, I'm finding it hard to locate knitting books that address the more complex questions like how to increase or decrease a pattern that isn't available in your size or how to design your own simple raglan sweater or even what the differences (pros and cons) are between the various sweater types.

This book answers them all. And unlike others, which spend half of the pages rehashing beginner steps again (I mean, how many times do we really need to be shown how to knit and purl? It's not like we forgot between reads), it starts off with a bang and you're reading about doing wraps and short rows. Another chapter discusses how to measure yourself and formulate the perfect fit. Another after that is going into detailed instruction on designing your own sweater in each of the popular shapes.

Plus, I love the fact that she "talks" in her book just like a gal down the street. Some people like formality in their instructional books...I don't. I need plain speak and a simple visualization for things I may never have seen or done. For example, instead of telling me the cord is made from this material or ranks a five on a flexibility scale, just tell me it looks and feels like aquarium tubing and I'll have an instant frame of reference. Having Stoller talk about short rows being used to make a "pouch for your boobs" let me know instantly what they were used for and what shape they created. Down and dirty knitting. Emily Post need not attend. ... Read more


79. Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen
by Alton Brown
Paperback
list price: $17.95 -- our price: $11.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 1584796960
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Sales Rank: 1207
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Dedicated viewers of Alton Brown’s acclaimed Food Network show Good Eats know of his penchant for using unusual equipment. He has smoked a salmon in a cardboard box, roasted prime rib in a flowerpot, and used a C-clamp as a nutcracker. Brown isn’t interested in novelty, he’s just devoted to using the best—and simplest—tool for the job.

Alton Brown’s Gear For Your Kitchen offers honest, practical advice on what’s needed and what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t. For instance: You only need three knives, but they are a lifetime investment. And don’t bother with that famous countertop grill—it doesn’t get hot enough to properly sear. In his signature science-guy style, Brown begins with advice on kitchen layout and organization, then gets to the lowdown on these cooking elements: Big Things with Plugs; Pots and Pans; Sharp Things; The Tool Box; Small Things with Plugs; Storage and Containment; and Safety and Sanitation.

Gear For Your Kitchen is essential for all of Brown’s fans as well as anyone who wants a good guide to great kitchen gear. With more than 125,000 hardcover copies in print, this indispensable—and highly entertaining—book is now offered in a paperback edition that every home cook can afford.
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Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Informative, Entertaining and Ever So Useful, January 11, 2005
Don't buy this book if you're looking for recommendations on which brands of applicances to buy -- even Alton Brown would admit that you're better off checking out "Cook's Illustrated" or "Consumer Reports" for that. What this book is brilliant for is the explanations of what the most commonly used kitchen tools do and don't (and can and can't) do and how they work, along with the practical tips for picking the items that suit your needs best. Alton Brown does, from time to time, make specific recommendations, but he tells you why he likes those items so that you can accept or reject them on the merits. Also it should be noted that some of his recommendations run contrary to what he recommends for baking in "I'm Just Here for More Food," so if you bake a lot, you might want to read that book as well before shopping for items such as scales and mixers that are used in both cooking and baking. "Gear For Your Kitchen" covers items used in both, but emphasizes cooking.

Alton covers each type of equipment thoroughly, explaining, for instance, what types of pans are good for different types of cooking applications, and what are the various properties of the different materials out of which they are made. So not only do you end up understanding the diffference between a sauce pan and a saucier, you can figure out whether clad metal or copper is your best bet. This same type of treatment is given for knives, small appliances, etc.

But my favorite part of the book has to do with sanitation and storage. The explanations of why certain sanitary measures need to be taken are coupled with easy ways to do it. I couldn't get a frozen enchilada smell out of my microwave oven until I mixed water and bleach in the proportions Alton recommends in a plastic spray bottle. So simple and obvious and yet...

While reading this (cover to cover in practically one sitting -- it's that readable) I found myself enjoying Alton's humorous descriptions, numerous photos and drawings. But I've found myself going back to the book as a handy reference for ingenious ways to use items I already have and ideas for shopping more intelligently.

Since buying this book I've cleared out and reorganized my kitchen and even though I bought a lot more stuff after reading this book, I have more space and am able to use it more efficiently.

Thanks Alton!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Tune your Kitchen and add fun to your cooking, September 14, 2003
The top five (5) reasons for reading Alton Brown's GEAR For Your Kitchen are:

1. The tabulation of types of `Pots and Pans' materials, their advantages, disadvantages, and relative costs. This chapter alone is worth the price of admission. This section will not save you money except for its advice on non-stick pans. All sources I've seen from Mario Batali to AB agree on not spending a lot for Teflon � lined pans, except be sure to get them with oven proof handles for making frittatas.
2. The thoughtful discussion of knife design and how different design features are important, or not important for different cutting tasks. This section will save you money, unless you are a knife freak.
3. The discussion of most major types of gear, which give you the features you should find most desirable. You may not agree with AB's choices, but he tells you how to make the choice which is best for you.
4. The essay on kitchen sanitation. This is one of many areas where the home cook can learn from professional chefs' practice. I'll bet that even Martha Stewart is not as careful as Alton recommends, and I plan to begin following his recommendations immediately. Note that one can make a little game of finding all the oblique references to Martha Stewart in the book. I've found four (4).
5. The explanation of accuracy versus precision in evaluating measuring devices, especially weighing devices. Being a former chemist, I would argue that AB gives too little credit to the role of the balance, although I concede that using it in the kitchen does require both extra space and special knowledge the average chef may not have.

To the book's credit, it has a wealth of references to actual makes and models, while I have detected no bias to any one manufacturer, in spite of some gratuitous general kudos to OXO. AB's opinions are based on a thorough and thoughtful use of kitchen tools over many years, so his opinions are much better than your Aunt Ida, no matter how good her apple pie may be. However, I take some with a grain of salt. I would not dismiss springform pans unless I heard both Maida Heatter and Nick Malgieri gave them up.

Another minor nit I would pick is in his use of the term multitasking. In computer science, where the word was born, it means the ability to do two things in parallel, not two different things in series! I would especially disagree with some of the uses to which he puts a rolling pin, as some secondary uses may lead to nicks which may harbor microbeasties and impair it function. The solution of sanding said roller may give it an uneven shape. Tsk Tsk.

This book is much better than his first, since it addresses in a comprehensive way a subject which is only dealt with in a very piecemeal way by any other source, including Cooks Illustrated. His first book was just another collection of recipes with humor and some (occasionally) misleading science.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Resource for Cooks of Any Caliber, October 12, 2003
"Gear for your Kitchen" provides a fairly in-depth discussion on the whys and hows of choosing various sorts of kitchen implements, from cutlery to pans to small appliances. Alton Brown uses his sense of humor to help present this information in a book that is truly easy and pleasurable to read. There is another book of this nature, a very large and diverse treatise, which attempts to showcase all the various sorts of kitchen gear available to the home cook. But unlike "Gear" it doesn't provide the information that we really need to choose our cookware.

What is great about this book is that in addition to giving actual suggestions of specific products for various sorts of implements, it also goes into great detail to show you how to choose items that will work for you. Brown is careful to highlight areas where paying more money isn't likely in your best interest (e.g. the non-stick fry pans as mentioned in another review, for instance) and where it is (e.g. cutlery).

The goal of having the smallest set of kitchen wear to do all the cooking you need to do is a running theme in this book. In addition to a suggested exercise in minimizing your current kitchen implements, there are many suggestions on how you can use items for tasks other than they are intended, instead of buying specialty pieces (e.g. using the bottom of a heavy fry pan in the place of a meat pounder).

This book is a great resource for cooks of all sorts, from beginners to those with years of experience. It will make a great gift for those people who are just starting out on their own!

4-0 out of 5 stars Where were you Alton?, October 12, 2004
About a year or so ago I finally gave up. All my knives were dull. All my pans were warped and flaking. All my appliances were not working as I wanted. I decided that I enjoyed cooking, but avoided it because of my equipment. I decided I'd start buying only stuff that'd last a life time or until something better came out.

It started with picking up some Wusthof knives, one every couple months. Then I started getting some new small appliances, and now I'm on to pans. I've cleaned out my "junk" drawer of unitaskers and replaced them with quality instruments.

The bad news, if I had Alton's book, I would have saved a lot of time on research. The good news is, I did fairly well on my own.

I admire Alton and this book in particular for two reason: He's innovative with his tools so that the least number of items can do the most tasks. I used to have four different garlic tools. I now I have one -- a knife. Also, a cooking tool doesn't have to come from a cooking store. Second, I enjoy how Alton doesn't shy from naming names, both the good and bad. In most parts of the book, he explains exactly what he thinks you should have and why. It's up to you if that sounds good to you.

A nice little plus is he gives recipes demonstrating some of the gear he discusses. So when you go out and buy something new, you can try it out.

You'll see a lot of this book on his shows. This is probably what this book is best at, a reference for the TV show. The book is not an authoritative look at what pan is best for this or that, or whatever. Cook's Illustrated is probably a better source for this. This is more of an overview of information. Some parts are more in-depth than others. I get the impression that the book was written from Alton's memory. In other words, Alton relied on past research and experience to write this book without going the extra steps to be more in-depth or complete. Some items are better researched and more in-depth than others, which illustrates this point. If it's important to Alton, he knows it front and back and has tested various products. If not, you just get a rough guide of what to look for.

In short, this book is basically Alton's view on cooking tools, which certainly is impressive, but I would not recommend making this book a shopping list. I don't agree with everything in the book, but it does arm you with enough information to know what you're doing at the store. Case in point, I'm looking for a new roasting pan. Alton incorrectly states that the All-Clad has an aluminum core -- it's only stainless steel. While certainly a quality pan, I'm looking for a more affordable alternative since the big thing with All-Clad is the aluminum core. Alton comes into play on what I specifically want: A stainless steel (non-reactive) pan that is heavy enough to de-glaze on the stove. In this case, I'm looking past Alton's strong product recommendation, but I know exactly what I want and why.

Alton's books and shows made me aware of my neglect for food safety. Some great tips in there. The kitchen truly is the most danger room in the house.

If you enjoy Alton's show and his tips for gear, you'll like this book, even if you've seen every episode. At the very least you'll have something to reference. For everyone else, I'd say page through it at a book store and look up topic you're familiar with. If you agree with what he says, buy it. You'll probably agree with everything else.

5-0 out of 5 stars I don't like the new Cuisinart either, June 29, 2004
I'm a hobby cook and also a gadget-junkie, so I was delighted to discover this book by one of my favorite people on the Food Network. Brown covers much more than simply can-openers and veggie-peelers, though. His topical chapters cover pots and pans, storage containers, small miscellaneous utensils, safety items, "sharp things," and "small things with plugs," and perhaps the best way to read the book is to browse from the beginning and then read his descriptions, comments, and opinions on certain items as they come to mind. I'm a regular reader of the consumer tests in COOK'S ILLUSTRATED, too, and I think Brown and Christopher Kimball would agree in many ways on what makes a particular tool useful and what features to look for among the products available. Brown's judgments are admittedly personal but he explains them very clearly. Not everything must be specially purchased, either; he recommends a length of dental floss for cutting slices of soft cheese, and he boils eggs in an electric kettle that automatically turns itself off when it reaches a boil. (Great idea!) The book's page design is also quite nice, with good photos and drawings of the tools he discusses, side discussions and tips highlighted in color, and lots of open space. All his sources appear at the back of the book. I certainly hope he does a revised and updated edition in about five years.

5-0 out of 5 stars Three words: buy this book, November 20, 2004
My fellow reviewers who agreed that this book is worth 5 stars have probably said what I feel better than I could. In a nutshell, this is an excellent resource to have on hand to learn which tools you really need for YOUR kitchen....not Alton's.

The six-month "purge" in the beginning of the book is worth the price of the book alone. It's such a simple technique but it's laid out in such logical detail that anyone who does this will know immediately how much space and money they've wasted on kitchen trinkets, cheap and expensive alike.

The section on cookware is an excellent resource for people who are scraping by on whatever cookware they got from their mother or from the local superstore. It'll help you choose the cookware (and individual pieces) that are best suited for YOU.
I also found his information on cutlery selection to be valuable.

Also, Brown doesn't automatically lean toward the idea that "expensive is better". In fact, he seems refreshingly honest when he tells you that superior tools can often be bought cheaper than at a restaurant supply store. One example is that he opts to use a trowel from the local hardware store rather than buy an expensive "pie server" from one of the houseware vendors.

In other areas, he's candid enough to say, "Hey, this is going to last you a lifetime and if you buy the cheapo, you're going to regret it."

Overall, I thought it was refreshingly honest, thorough and -- well, just plain fun to read.

Regarding the the person who said that "$28 was too much" for a book that "wasn't very big", I'm not sure what the complaint was. Although the book is 200+ pages, well-written and wonderfully designed, that's not even the pragmatic point of the book. It's this: knowing the information in this book will save you a heck of alot more than $28 when buying the RIGHT kitchen gear instead of wasting money on stuff you don't need or shouldn't own. If it does that.....well, in my opinion, it's done its job.

Plus, even if someone knows alot of this stuff, it's a good gift item for the chef/cook in YOUR life. Buy two and give one as a gift!

4-0 out of 5 stars Can a Kitchen Implement Book Be Interesting? YES!, August 9, 2004
How interesting can a book on kitchen implements be? I have always loved kitchen gadgets and machines, and although I'm the one who drags my wife through the kitchenware sections of stores, I still asked this question about this book. Well, it is a very interesting book, and I wish I had read this before buying most of what's in my kitchen.

Alton Brown is the host of the Food Network show GOOD EATS. The show was first brought to my attention by a local radio morning show DJ. Alton is a sort of combination of Julia Childs and Mr. Wizard with a little wackiness of Jeff Corwin thrown in. After quickly getting addicted to the show, I wondered if Alton had any books, and my search led me to GEAR FOR YOUR KITCHEN.

In the short time I've been watching the show, he's twice lifted his fire extinguisher and said, "This is the only unitasker in my kitchen." That philosophy permeates this book. You will also find that he will often use non-kitchen tools if he feels they perform the task better. He serves pie with a masonry trowel and scapes dough with a drywall taping knife.

He's not afraid to name names, which is extremely beneficial and not often seen in books (Don't want to upset potential advertisers!). So instead of just describing what to look for in an item, he tells you what item(s) meets those requirements. Of course, this risks making the book quickly dated. He is also not afraid to say what items he's abandoned when they were poorly "updated," such as now recommending the Kitchenaid food processor over his once-favorite Cuisinart because Cuisinart changed the toggle switch to a membrane switch. Hopefully, some of the revelation will guide the manufacturers to provide better products.

The book is very easy to read, and reads like listening to the author on his show. The layout is very attractive. The book is punctuated with interesting sidebars giving historical information on the materials and products. There are actually a handful of recipes using the tools described in that section. For example, the section on food processors includes a recipe for Hummus. The book is full of photos of recommended items. There is a several-page table on cooking utensil materials: what they are, what they're good for, and what they're not. Some of these sidebars and tables are very appealing to an engineer like me (Alton Brown, in general, probably appeals to engineers like me), but may be boring to others. You can skip many of them without much damage.

Chapters are Pots and Pans, Sharp Things (knives and slicers), Small Things with Plugs (electric countertop kitchen appliances), Kitchen Tools Unplugged (pretty much any tool that doesn't fall into the other categories), Storage and Containment, and a potentially ho-hum chapter on Safety and Sanitation, which wasn't so bad. I could probably benefit from this last chapter, although (famous last words) I've never gotten sick from anything I made in my kitchen. It's harder explaining to my wife why I'm buying spray bottles and squeegees.

I can offer a few suggestions for improvements. Mainly, additional illustrations are needed to help describe differences in some items. He could use diagrams to describe different kinds of pots and pans, different turners and spatulas, and the different whisks. He does this very thing describing different kinds of knives and the parts of the knives, but falls down on the job in the other sections. There are text descriptions like "straight sides," "curved sides," "flared sides," "sides that curve outward," "they all have an offset angle built into them either at the tip or in the handle," and others. It can be hard to conceive in your mind (or maybe it's really simple, and I'm just messed up because I'm an engineer and he's not describing what plane he's working in, what line he's referring the angle to, etc.) By "straight sides" does he mean "vertical?"

And p. 192 confuses me. Alton insists there is a difference between turners and spatulas, but under "Wide, Solid Turner," he describes a particular product he owns, and there is a photo of it with a caption that clearly describes it as the same item, but calls it a "spatula." Furthermore, the next section, "Cake Spatulas," the first describing spatulas, refers to "the spatula described above." Ugh. Which is it? Are spatulas and turners the same or not?

OK. Minor point.

Mr. Brown does concedes that there may be a few good unitaskers, and admits to owning a few, but only if they do a job you need a done a lot, and it does it very well. Oh...and he does discuss fire extinguishers.

I don't think I'll personally purchase this book since it is in the my local library, and it's not something I think I'll have to refer to frequently. However, if you don't have access to it, or want to keep it around for the recipes (or have an unlimited book budget and bookcase space), I'd highly recommend purchasing GEAR FOR YOUR KITCHEN.

3-0 out of 5 stars From a fan Great Book, but not a good buy, January 22, 2005
This is a great book, and very informative. As he does in his first book, he explains the concepts behind cooking in an almost scientific. BUT many of the most important tidbits are found in abbreviated with his first book. He also tends not to give the full story when endorsing a particular product. The Pressure Cooker, Stand Mixer, Perfect Beaker, etc. So before you buy, look at the recommendations on this site, consumer reports, and any other nonpartisan source you can.

My suggestion is try and find this book at your library, then decide if you want to buy it. For me I took a few notes, then returned the book. I can always go check it out, and its not the type of book I'll always have out.

(oh and before any of you try this, the terra cotta smoker is great, but not nearly as cheap and convenient as the smokey joe smoker in I'm just here for the food).

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have, June 10, 2004
Nominated this year for another James Beard Award (for Tools and Techniques), Alton Brown has yet another gem for all to enjoy, "Gear For Your Kitchen". In this wonderful gem, Alton Brown explains how you can declutter your kitchen within 60 days and stock your kitchen with useful tools that you will actually use!

As any "Good Eats" fan will tell you, Alton Brown believes in "multi-taskers." His logic is: Why have a yogurt maker when you only use it once a year? Instead, he shows us, on one of his shows, how he utilizes a heating pad and a couple of canisters to achieve the same results.

Not only does he suggest unusual items for your kitchen (a cigar cutter to chop chives), but he also recommends traditional items. He explains the process with which one should consider before purchasing any item. He does explain how he chose that certain coffee maker, but he explains how we need to figure out which one is best for us.

Being as he is forever in search of a great utensil or appliance, he is quick to point out which items are more difficult to clean, and not worth buying, and which ones are worth buying. In the section devoted purely to pots and pans, he explains each metal used for cooking, the best uses for that metal, how to care for it and the good and bad points with each metal.

Instead of purchasing that expensive imported terra-cotta cookware, he suggests (with diagrams) on how to create your own cookware from flowerpots...I mean, they are both made from the same material. Why pay more because one says "cookware"?

And he doesn't stop there. He also helps his readers by helping them select safety and sanitation supplies for their kitchens!

And if you thought that was not enough, he has a large resource section, in the back of the book, where he recommends some excellent places to purchase your items, either through mail, telephone or Internet!

This book is complete with Alton Brown's sense of humor, wit and enthusiasm. He is one of the only people out there creating books for people who never went to culinary school. I appreciate his thoroughness, and recommend this book to all new cooks, and for the more seasoned chefs as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Always fascinating, February 16, 2005
My husband bought me this book (along with the newest set of the Good Eats DVDs). Initially, I didn't think that this book would be for me even though Good Eats is one of my favorite shows. As interesting as Alton Brown is, I didn't think that a book just about kitchen tools would be interesting. Then I started reading it. AB has such a unique way of writing that I was instantly mesmerized. It makes me want to go through my kitchen and purge all the unitaskers I've accumulated over the years. I will get there, though it may take a while. As an added bonus, he includes quite a few interesting recipes (that correspond to the gear he is talking about). I will never again doubt AB. In my opinion, he's the best there is in the cooking world. ... Read more


80. How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew
by Erin Bried
Paperback
list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Isbn: 0345518756
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 1487
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Editorial Review

“Waste not, want not” with this guide to saving money, taking heart, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Nowadays, many of us “outsource” basic tasks. Food is instant, ready-made, and processed with unhealthy additives. Dry cleaners press shirts, delivery guys bring pizza, gardeners tend flowers, and, yes, tailors sew on those pesky buttons. But life can be much simpler, sweeter, and richer–and a lot more fun, too! As your grandmother might say, now is not the time to be careless with your money, and it actually pays to learn how to do things yourself!

Practical and empowering, How to Sew a Button collects the treasured wisdom of nanas, bubbies, and grandmas from all across the country–as well as modern-day experts–and shares more than one hundred step-by-step essential tips for cooking, cleaning, gardening, and entertaining, including how to

• polish your image by shining your own shoes
• grow your own vegetables (and stash your bounty for the winter)
• sweeten your day by making your own jam
• use baking soda and vinegar to clean your house without toxic chemicals
• feel beautiful by perfecting your posture
• roll your own piecrust and find a slice of heaven
• fold a fitted sheet to crisp perfection
• waltz without stepping on any toes

Complete with helpful illustrations and brimming with nostalgic charm, How to Sew a Button provides calm and comfort in uncertain times. By doing things yourself, with care and attention, you and your loved ones will feel the pleasing rewards of a job well done.
... Read more

Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Really "nifty!", January 22, 2010
How To Sew A Button... is a great read. It's got a lot of stuff in it that I'd call "lost arts." I loved the way it was designed and it was fun, as well. If you want to know about stuff that your grandma might have failed to tell you, get this book. It's wonderful! Also, it's about getting back to the basicc things that make life not only easier, but really enjoyable. A must, must read! I also suggest The Big Clean: How to Clean and Organize Your Home and Free Your Mind (Revised and Updated).

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Resource for the younger generations, March 25, 2010
An easy read, How to Sew a Button is going to be a resource for future generations. Due to the technology overload of generations such as mine and younger, so many of us no longer know how to do practical things that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents could do without skipping a beat. When starting to write this book the author, Erin, no longer had her grandparents to consult with for wisdom. Therefore, she rounded up ten grandmothers from different backgrounds, all across the country, to give her grandmotherly advice and knowledge.

The book covers topics such as:

- How to make a pie, which Erin tried to do for a group of friends and failed miserably at. I, myself, consider making a pie getting a slice of pumpkin cheesecake pie from Outback during the fall.

- How to properly fold a fitted sheet, the keyword there being properly. I know you all probably think you know how to fold a fitted sheet, but balling it up and tossing it in the linen closet doesn't count. I have been blessed with this lost art, so this advice wasn't needed on my end.

- How to iron a shirt. Now, you may be laughing, but while watching trasy TV the other day I saw a boy on MTV's made who told his coach he had never ironed anything. Seriously? He may need to read that section.

She also has some pretty cool how-to information, like:

- How to scent your home without candles

- How to love your body at any size

- How to brew your own beer

And information on the lost art of thank-you notes. She'll teach you how to write one. With your hands... and a pen... and paper.

And of course, you'll learn How to sew a button.

Erin has a great sense of humor which is reflected in her writing. You'll chuckle while learning a thing or two!

5-0 out of 5 stars As if your best friend suddenly morphed into a Donna Reed-Tina Fey hybrid, December 15, 2009
Conveniently, as we've all begun to tighten our purse strings, this book has appeared on the scene to offer us more than 100 straightforward and step-by-step how-to's for everyday life. Each is written in a practical yet humor filled and very approachable tone -- as if your best friend suddenly morphed into a Donna Reed-Tina Fey hybrid.

There is so much amazing content between the covers of this guide including how to: hone a knife, iron a shirt (wow do I need to study up on this one), clean an oven, tie a necktie, make a hot toddy, barter, start a book club, wear red lipstick, and my personal favorite how to make a Manhattan. My boyfriend's grandparents always serve Manhattans when we visit and even though I've observed them being mixed a number of times I always seem to forget the steps (probably because one lovingly composed Manhattan goes straight to your head).

I'm confident that you'll find dozens of useful tips in this book. I even discovered additional insights while reading write-ups on tasks that I thought I had down to a science. How to Sew a Button is a fantastic addition to your bedside table. In addition, I believe this title would make an excellent holiday present. Freaking out over what to buy for that friend, relative, or co-worker who has everything? Why not give them the gift of practical knowledge?! It will certainly last longer and be more appreciated than a box of chocolates or a scarf. Besides, after reading this book they'll be able to knit their own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Super-duper handy!, May 9, 2010
This book really fills a need. Sometime between our grandparents' generation and ours, a lot of basic how-to information just never got passed down, or we never learned it, for one reason or another. From topic to topic, I kept finding myself saying, "Oh, hey, that's helpful," or, "Oh! I've always wondered how to do this." Thanks to this book, I now know how. I liked the words of wisdom from the grandmothers at the beginning of each topic, which helped to connect their depression-era sensibilities with our need to conserve due to economic concerns. Plus, Erin's humor seasoned throughout the book makes it a fun read. I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot.

4-0 out of 5 stars fun read, March 9, 2010
This book made me feel a little nostalgic. It reminded me of things that I have learned from older relatives through the years. It's great for people who didn't have a chance to know someone from the depression era that they could learn from. It's very informative and entertaining. I suggest giving it to someone young for a gift. They would learn from it and enjoy the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Helpful and enchanting, February 8, 2010
In a time when it's too easy to buy things ready-made and toss things that are frayed, this book and its premise are a refreshing resource.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect book for our economic times, February 8, 2010
Lovely, simple advice on how to handle just about everything in your life. I was raised by my grandmother and I do know how to sew on a button but this book is so much more than that. This book covers so many different topics. Each chapter distills information that you might otherwise buy a whole book to learn. The book itself is such a bargain with all the wonderful information and the ideas have already saved myself and my family money. Thanks so much for this book! We love it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Things you never knew you needed to know!, June 10, 2010
There is such a wide variety of info in such a small book. No description is more than a page or two long so you're not mired down in lots of details. It gets to the point. I got this from the library first and loved it so much I bought 2 copies - 1 for me and 1 for a graduate going off to college. While she may not need to know how to make a Manhattan, hanging pictures will come in handy! I love this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book, May 29, 2010
This is simply a wonderful book. It would be a great gift for a college bound senior. I consider myself crafty, and enjoy the art of homemaking, and this is by far the best book I have read on the matter. Although I knew many of the things she taught, Erin Bried writes with such humor, that I would often read just to hear what she said on the matter. She writes clearly, and simply, and so cleverly that I often found myself laughing aloud even as I squirreled away knowledge for later use. Truly a wonderful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Found a lot of useful stuff in this book!!, May 10, 2010
I enjoyed this book and was a bit bummed I couldn't renew it at the library (there's a waiting list). There's a little something for everyone (or most people at least) in this book. I was inspired from this book to start cleaning more with baking soda and vinegar, to grow herbs, and to start canning fruit. There was also plenty of stuff I either already knew or wasn't interested in, too...but I think the author expects that. Something else I took away from this book was the reminder that I need to make sure I pass along the skills I value to my own children. ... Read more


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