Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Book Review: The Unfinished Garden

September 20th, 2012

When asked to review of a new novel, I accepted the challenge. I’m not really much of a novel reader, generally I prefer something I can glean information from or biographies. Novels should appear on my list more often and what a better way for it to happen.

The Unfinished Garden arrived at the perfect time, just after we finished our upstairs project. I had no mental capacity for learning much of anything and needed something that wasn’t tedious to read. One afternoon, I sat down with a cup of coffee and settled in for some much needed reading time.

This novel has a gardening theme woven throughout seem more engaging to me, being a gardener myself. The author is an avid gardener and you can really tell. I e-mailed Barbara Claypole White and asked d for a few photos of her garden to share with you. She happily obliged and even sent along this lovely image of her mom’s garden over in England. All the rest of the garden photos in this post are of her garden.

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous that this was going to be a cheesy romance novel, which are on the way bottom of my reading list, in fast they never make it on the list. I nervously cracked the book bracing myself for the worst. The book was finished in just a few sittings, generally the mark of a good book. If I find myself wanting to continue reading way past my bedtime, it’s an engaging story.

This story intrigued me for a few reasons. One being that the main character is a widow. I have a very dear friend who lost her husband after only a few years of marriage at a young age. She definitely came to mind often while reading this book.

I won’t be telling you all about the book here, I am the type of person who doesn’t like to read descriptions before cracking the cover of a book. I like to fully discover the story without any preconceived notions about the book.

I will tell you, if you enjoy a good novel and enjoy gardening, I think you’ll find this book engaging.

Now that I have read the book, I no longer need my copy. If you’d like to find a copy of this book in your mailbox, comment below and I’ll choose a winner next week. Winner chosen. Kimberly who said: “I would love to read the book – it sounds wonderful! What lovely pictures of the garden!” As an added bonus, I’m sending this book along to Barabara Claypole-White the author, she’s going to sign it and send it along to you Kimberly. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite kind of book to read?

Friday Favorite: Watering Cans

July 13th, 2012

Up until four or five years ago, I’d never found a watering can I liked. I kinda felt like Goldilocks, they were all: too small, not balanced properly, water sloshed out while walking, or they just weren’t quite right. Then I found this one. I ordered one from I purchased a watering can from Gardener’s Supply after reading all the glowing reviews and fell in love.

I proceeded to order another one for myself and a few to give as gifts to my mom and a few gardening friends. Sadly this watering can is no longer available so I don’t know what I’m going to do when mine crack (they are plastic after all). I certainly wish I could have purchased these in galvanized metal so they would have lasted the rest of my life.

I LOVE this watering can because:

  • It’s perfectly balanced, seriously – you can barely tell you’re carrying 25 lbs of water!
  • Holds 3 gallons of water, reducing the need for extra trip and builds nice biceps in the process. I carry two at once which allows me to water a fairly large area with one trip.
  • Easy to fill, easy to carry, easy to use, easy to clean.
  • The crown comes apart for easy cleaning, which let’s face it, needs to happen often, especially if you harvested use rain water!

From what I hear, Haws watering cans are nice, but pricey. Perhaps when these finally give up the ghost I’ll spring for a Haws to see if they’re all they’re cracked up to be.  So now I’ve got you wanting this watering can that you can’t find any more.  Perhaps if enough people ask, Gardener’s Supply will start carrying them again.  If they do, I’ll be buying a few!

How many different watering cans have you tried? Do you have one you like that you’d like to recommend?

The Urban Farm Handbook Giveaway

February 15th, 2012

When my friend Annette Cottrell from Sustainable Eats asked me to read through her new book Urban Farm Handbook: City Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading, and Preparing What You Eat I gladly accepted. There’s nothing I love more than giving my friends a hand, especially when it means that I get a free copy of the book to give away to one of you!

I expected this book to be like most of the other homesteading books that abound these days. It seems everyone wants to relearn some of the skills that have been lost throughout the last couple generations, so homesteading books are flooding the market. Thankfully, this book is different. Anette’s personal style brings the information to life, unlike many other books of this genre that I’ve read. She’s passionate about why she does what she does and it comes through. Her directions/explanations are in depth enough but still simple. You won’t be overwhelmed with information and feel like it’s unattainable for you to incorporate these changes into your current lifestyle.

The book covers everything from keeping chickens and grinding grain, to growing your own vegetables and making cheese. She makes these tasks seem achievable by anyone who sets their mind to it and takes away some of the mystique that surrounds them. If you’ve ever considered dabbling in keeping goats, chickens, making your own cheese, grinding grains, growing your own vegetables and all other kinds of self-sufficient things, this will be a fabulous reference guide to keep on your bookshelf.

Annette’s book is a great resource for the newbie, especially those of you that live in the Pacific Northwest. She lives in that area provides many resources that she knows about first hand. Reading about all the wonderful groups she’s a part of made me wish I had something similar here in NE Ohio.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book for your library, comment below. I’ll choose a winner next week.

What is one area of homesteading that you’d like to learn a bit more about and possibly incorporate into your life this year?

We have a winner – Congrats to Andres from Stell Homestead.

Anette is having a year long Urban Farm Handbook Challenge on her blog if you’re interested in joining. Each month a different area is featured, it’s the perfect way to work on incorporating changes into your life slowly without feeling overwhelmed.

In case you missed it, the winner for the Victory Garden Poster winner is Chicago Mike.

Hothouse Flower Review and Giveaway

October 19th, 2010

A couple months ago I was contacted by Trish from TLC Book Tours to see if I would review Hothouse Flower: and the Nine Plants of Desire. I’m not much a modern novel reader, but figured since was a novel featuring plants, I would give it a shot.

I received my copy many weeks ago when I was super busy getting ready for vacation. I finally cracked it open last Wednesday when we arrived home. I have to admit when I read the back cover I was a bit nervous:

Lila Nova is a thirty-two-year-old advertising copywriter who lives alone in a plain white box of an apartment. Recovering from a heartbreaking divorce, Lila has a simple mantra: no pets, no plants, no people, no problems. But when Lila meets David Exley, a ruggedly handsome plant seller, her lonely life blossoms into something far more colorful. From the cold, harsh streets of Manhattan to the verdant jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, Hothouse Flower is the story of a woman who must travel beyond the boundaries of sense and comfort to find what she truly wants.

I was happy that it wasn’t the romance novel I had feared, at least not much of one. There were a few romantic sections, but it definitely isn’t the main point of the book, thank goodness! It was a quick read, I finished it within 24 hours of starting. It only took me a couple sittings to get through the entire book, which I always enjoy. I hate books that are tedious to read and difficult to make yourself sit down to finish them. This book held my attention enough to make me want to sit down and read through it.

This book is a fluffy quick read, not an in depth book that includes lots of detail and history. You’ll find gaps in the story, perhaps questions about the mythology, storyline, the main character’s decisions and so many other things. But this book isn’t meant to be a John Steinbeck novel, it’s meant to be a quick summer read so you have to take that into consideration. If you go into it expecting something deep and meaningful you’ll be disappointed. I reminded me a lot of a Barbara Kingsolver novel, only shorter, less descriptive and a little less environmentally preachy. If you like her novels you’ll most likely enjoy this one.

The plant references were particularly interesting and I found myself wanting to look up all the plants mentioned in the book. Margot definitely has a wonderful imagination since she came up with an entire mythology about the nine plants of desire and the lore that surrounds them. The 9 Plants of Desire give the person who has all 9 of them power, insight and understanding. While reading through the book I found myself wanting to read more in depth about all of these 9 plants: gloxinia, mexican cycade, cacao, moonflower, sinsemilla, lily of the valley, mandrake, chicory and datura. There were also many other plants talked about in the book: bird of paradise, fire fern, orchids, a special nameless extinct plant, Chinese windmill palm, croton, Mexican fan palm, floribunda rose, and others.

I won’t go into much detail about the book, I don’t want to give anything away (I always hate that). Now that I’m finished with this book I’ll be giving away my copy of this book as well as a copy from the publisher. All you have to do is comment below and you’ll be entered into a drawing for the book.

Any great quick read novel recommendations? Do you know of any great books that feature botanical themes?

Kaytee from Gardening to Preserve

Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.