Category Archives: DIY

Mason Jar Nation by JoAnn Moser

Mason Jar Nation

Mason Jar Nation: The Jars that Changed America and 50 Clever Ways to Use Them Today is very well researched with an extensive history of canning jars. Who would have thought that canning jars were invented because of a challenge issued by Napoleon. The history is great. Mason jars really did do a lot to change America, amazing.

The craft section of the book is great, recipes are included, each with their own individual history. The crafts range from very simple children’s crafts and easy ideas for adults to more complex and requiring some skills with tools. There are very cute gift jar ideas and crafts like Moonbeam Stakes, Moroccan Lantern Trio, Sparkling Outdoor Chandelier and many others.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book published by a small press


Fishing the Chesapeake by Lenny Rudow

Fishing the Chesapeake

I tend to stick to novels and books of short stories in my reviews, but in light of an impending move to Maryland I have been a) really busy and can’t binge novels, and b) have been obsessing over fishing the Bay once more. It is in that context that I have poured over Lenny Rudow’s Fishing the Chesapeake with the same level of rigor and belief a conspiracy theorist brings to dissecting the illuminati symbols in Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.” I’ll be posting two other fishing-book reviews, but I’m starting with Rudow because this is the all around best book on fishing the Chesapeake I’ve found.

Rudow’s guide is a wealth of information about any and everything related to fishing the Chesapeake. Part I gives a detailed overview of all the different MD and VA tributaries and bay-proper waters from the Connowingo Dam south to the CBBT. Pat II is an impressive breakdown of tips and tricks surrounding various tactics– from trolling to chumming to jigging. Part III adds some filler by describing the various species of fish. I found this last section a bit tedious– nothing too eye-opening, but still fun to read once you’ve read and re-read all of Parts I and II.

The most useful aspect of this book, by a country mile, are Rudow’s detailed “hotspots” for each and every section of the bay. These are labeled on reproduced depth charts and then narrated in the descriptions. For example, I’m dying to get out to “The Puppy Hole” to the west of Janes Island in the Tangier Sound. The maps are a bit hard to read and the labeling system is downright confounding— but if you’re willing to squint and cock your head to the side, you’ll figure it out. You’ll need more accurate and recent charts to safely navigate the waters— I wouldn’t rely on the book for that.

Tight lines, as the fisherfolk say–

Availability:  USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Shane D. Hall
Rating:  Highly Recommended

Crocheted Scoodies by Magdalena Melzer and Ann Thiemeyer

Crocheted Scoodies
A scoodie is a combination of a scarf and a hoodie. They are very cute. This book was originally written in German and translated into English.

US and British instructions are included in the book. It lists German yarn, and doesn’t include the US weights, but there are very good pictures in the book so you can tell by the pictures that most of the scoodies are done in bulky or super bulky yarn, a couple are of medium weight. Most of the patterns are rated at a difficulty of 1 or 2. Don’t let the fact that the book is translated from German or doesn’t list US yarn weights from trying some of these beautiful projects.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book published by a small press. A translated book.

Heirloom Plants by Thomas Etty & Lorraine Harrison

Heirloom Plants: A Complete Compendium Heritage Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, & FlowersHeirloom Plants: A Complete Compendium Heritage Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, & Flowers

I liked the book. The authors did a good job of describing heirloom varieties of veg., fruits, etc., and why it is important to save them. The book is British, so there are varieties listed that seem only to be available in the U.K. and Europe, but it does list many varieties that are
American. Many good resources for seeds from the U.S. and Canada as well as the U.K. and Europe are listed. I feel this is a good book for someone interested in gardening with heirloom pants, but that probably is a limited audience.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Recommended

500 Crochet Stitches: The Ultimate Crochet Stitch Bible

500 Crochet Stitches: Ultimate Crochet Stitch Bible

This is an excellent reference book for a beginning or an advanced crocheter. Every stitch has a picture, diagram, as well as written directions. This book does not have any patterns, you will have to make them up yourself. There are many beautiful stitches that should spark your creativity. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in crocheting.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book with a number in the title

Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham

Grow FruitThis is a how to book on growing fruit, it has very detailed instruction, nice pictures, and gives different design ideas for growing the plants. It is broken down by species and then gives you a yearly calendar for each. Diseases and pests are also well covered as well as the best varieties for different situations. Looking thru the must have brambles section, I came across dewberries, I’ve never grown them before. Yes, now I dewberries, the book did convince me that I needed them.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Shelley Clark
Rating:  Recommended

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids

Most design books seem overwhelming for me and way out of my price range, but this book is filled with great ideas and simple tips on how to make to have a stylish home while living with kids. It’s broken up into 7 areas of the home and how to make simple and inexpensive changes to design your home to fit your family. I’ve already started to remodel my entryway after reading this book. It’s a simple read, but I want to keep it around since there are such great ideas in it.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Joni Schoeny
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: A book you can read in a day