One of my favorite book series

I love to read. A lot. I always have, since I was little. But whereas my husband likes a good story more than anything, I like good characters more than anything. Back when I used to review books, I discovered The Nora. You know, Nora Roberts. The grande dame of romance herself. My favorite Nora Roberts books, however, are not to be found under her name; she writes futuristic thrillers under the pseudonym of J.D. Robb.

The thing is, while I love Nora’s J.D. Robb books, and the trilogies written under her own name, I absolutely cannot read her stand alone books. I don’t know what it is, but I have tried to read 3 of them and have hated every single one of them.

Anyway, the J.D. Robb books are great, and at the center of them is Eve Dallas, the tough police lieutenant who fights for justice in every book. She is a complex character, and she is what keeps me coming back to these books. The hottie husband, crabby butler, and rest of the characters don’t hurt, but it’s Eve who is at the center of these books.

Some of them do get a little gory and the language is rough, but if neither of those things bother you, you might want to give the In Death series a try.

Book Giveaway: Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison

This week is book week at Casa de Berry, apparently, because this week I am giving away a copy of the fabulous maven of healthy cooking Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers. I first became acquainted with Deborah Madison when I bought her fabulous Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone; and this latest book is just as wonderful – tons of great ideas for lunches and dinners, and you don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the book. These ideas also work as sides next to some meat, chicken or fish, if you so desire. If you ARE a vegetarian, this book gives you lots of delicious options, most with suggestions on how to make them vegan as well.

What you need to do to enter to win:

1 – be a follower of my blog
2 – leave a comment (a nice one, preferably, heh)

for extra entries

3 – tweet about this and leave a comment saying you did
4 – post on your facebook and leave a comment saying you did

that’s it!

I will announce the winner of this book on Friday!

The book that started it all

Three years ago I decided I wanted an herb garden. Then I gave up when the darn things died because I never remembered to water them.

A few months later, right before the holidays, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – I don’t remember if it caught my eye at the library or I read about it somewhere – and I found my calling. I despaired that it was the middle of winter and I had to wait MONTHS before planting my own vegetable garden.

The book is about one year in Barbara’s family life where they choose to only eat locally: either they grow it, they buy it from local sources like farmers’ markets or farmer friends, or they do without it. Her narrative is so straight-forward and natural it feels like she’s talking to you across the dining room table while you both sip some (sweet) tea. The book includes sidebars by her husband and essays by her daughter, and many great recipes.

This is my third year of growing veggies and I love it more and more each year. except the weeding. Weeding sucks, let me tell ya, although I am impressed at the resilience of those little suckers. This year, I have a water-bath canner and a food dehydrator for my veggies and fruits; I look forward to using them both, a lot.

Don’t be daunted – Barbara has years of experience growing things and I certainly didn’t. I have a backyard, she has LAND. It doesn’t matter. You can grow delicious tomatoes in a container, herbs on your windowsill, it just takes the impulse to say: I’m doing it. And for that, I thank Barbara. Maybe someday I will meet her and say it in person.

Has there been something that inspired you to make a change or start a venture?

Bookcases revamped

I went through the masses of books my husband and I have about a year ago, our bookcases looked pretty good. For a while.

Then . . . you know how it goes. More books get shoved in, kids put their toys on the shelves, tall shelves get used as spots to put stuff the kids can’t get to, and this is what you get:

Pretty disgraceful, huh?

I’d been meaning to get to the bookshelves for a while, and then this post from the lovely Michaela Noelle was the final impetus I needed to get going. After a long process of weeding out some books and packing them up for storage in the garage, this was the result:

Still a lot of books but my husband and I are avid readers.

Here is one of the Fantasy shelves, with appropriately fantastic gargoyle in the middle:

Our Gardening books look lovely with pretty yellow ranunculus!

Two handcrafted home accents my husband got at a craft fair accent our – what else – Home shelf:
I’m pretty happy with the results – which meant four grocery bags full of books got put away in the garage. And some random items that somehow (ahem) got thrown on the bookshelves, like bouncing balls, marbles, the case for a handheld game, etc. found new homes.

Now I only have the kids’ bookshelves to deal with. Oy.

What I’ve been doing

I’ve been feeling like lightening up my home with some spring-y blues and greens. A couple of trips to Michaels and IKEA helped in that endeavor.

These candles got glammed up with some flowers – $2.99 for six at Michaels – and ribbon.
The center one is on one of my yellow ramekins from World Market.

We’ve had this lovely glass vase since our wedding – we used it for cards with good wishes our guests wrote. After, it languished in the master bathroom for almost eight years. Then I saw this on the PB website.
I got a fake plant (because our dining room is so dark it wouldn’t be fair to a poor real plant) and I love how it looks, flanked by my beloved Fleur-de-Lis candlesticks.

With the help of one of my new BFFs, Valspar’s Everglad Glen spray paint, I brought a frame into the spring season.
This is one of my all-time favorite pics of my boys together.

Last week I was super inspired by Kimba’s Map Decor link party and did this:
The lantern is from IKEA (I also have one in light green) and the tray was paint sprayed with another new favorite, Valspar’s Exotic Sea. I love the combination of the bold turquoise with the muted map print and the white lantern.

So that’s my mini Spring-a-looza tour – I am currently working on a long project that involves lots and lots – and lots – of fabric. Stay tuned!

What I got last week

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I won a copy of The French Room, courtesy of a giveaway at Casa Bella

As you might expect, the book is full of gorgeous pictures and tips to create your own inspired French decor.

This bedroom is a favorite of mine, how lovely and soothing in shades of blue and green!

I love fashion illustrations, I might attempt to create a set of prints for my guest bathroom.

Isn’t this cart gorgeous? It would definitely claim a spotlight in my home!

If you have not yet discovered Casa Bella, go, now, run! Silvia is a fellow sudamericana and has impeccable taste in decor and adornment in general. Thank you, Silvia, for the gorgeous book!

Giveaway! Urban Pantry

Today I’m giving away one copy of this awesome book – Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington.

Urban Pantry is full of tips and ideas for growing, preserving and cooking your own food, it is beautifully photographed and was named one of the top 10 cookbooks of 2010 by

In order to win you must:
1 – be a follower of this blog
2 – leave a comment

that’s it!
The giveaway closes on Sunday night (March 6) and I will announce the winner on Monday, March 7. Good luck!

Well Preserved

Well Preserved is the title of an awesome book I got a couple of weeks ago – I am so excited to try some of the recipes! It’s all about preserving food, which is something fairly new to me. I have made fruit jam and frozen lots of stuff but am new to canning/dehydrating.

The author is pretty no-nonsense, there is no pretentious bullshit, the recipes look yummy and the preserving instructions crystal-clear. It’s a really good book if you want to try your hand at preserving food in small quantities.

One I mean to try as soon as the main ingredient is available is the Cherries in Wine recipe – for every preserving recipe there are three recipes on how to use your newly preserved item. Did that make sense? For example, you get a Cherries in Wine preserving recipe, then recipes for Cherry Tenderloin, Seared Duck Breast with Cherries, and Cherries in Wine Soup with Mascarpone. Yum.

Between this book and my newly acquired dehydrator, I think we are going to have some very happy bellies this year!