The Rooftop Growing Guide (review)

First things first.

The Rooftop Growing Guide by Annie Novak isn’t quite what I had hoped for, but I’m not going to hold it against the book.  I don’t have a roof suitable for a garden, but I have a sunny patio.  I was hoping for a book that would house a good amount of information about container gardening, but it really is a book for overall guidance on rooftop gardens.


You might be thinking, “no duh, the title is pretty self-explanatory.”  In my defense, there’s a lot of crossover information, so maybe you can forgive me being a bit too optimistic at the time I turned the cover.   

After getting over my disappointment, I can tell you that this a great informational book.  There’s a section about assessing your climate, microclimates, sun exposure, etc.  There is some information about container gardens, like making your own sub-irrigated container (which I love to call a self-watering container and it annoys my roommate to no end – haha).  But the container gardening information is only about 10 pages.

I liked the section about irrigation methods and how to maintain a healthy soil.  The latter also has a very useful information about composting.  I wish I had this knowledge on hand when I had started my compost pile.  I might have gone with a tumbler system instead of an upright barrel system.  It’s more expensive, but I think it would have worked best for me.  (And looking at the Compost Troubleshooting grid reminds me that I should turn my pile.)

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There is some planting advice, but it’s fairly basic.  The chapter is 22 pages long, and 4 of them are dedicated to harvesting your plants.  The chapter that, to me, shines the most is the chapter about pests and problems.  It covers pest control, insects, and common plant disease.  The pictures were helpful, and there’s also mini-section about DIY/organic pest control.  (Note to self, try a nightshade spray and/or garlic oil this year.)


Do I like this book?  Yes.

Will I use this book?  Mostly not.

Would I recommend this book?  Only if you’re actually planning on having a rooftop garden.  (^_^)

Reference Links:

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

The Rooftop Growing Guide (review)

Not a gym rat, but I do like exercising

If you had told my younger self that I’d be dedicated to going to the gym regularly well before entering my midlife, I’d have scoffed at you.  And if you had told me that I’d like it, I would have thought you were crazy.

It’s funny how things turn out.

My favorite things to do is tabata/interval type exercises.  My inspiration comes from Bodyfit by Amy, Girls Gone Strong, and Zuzka Light.

I saw The 4×4 Diet by Erin Oprea on the list of available books to review on Blogging For Books, and got curious.  I don’t follow the fitness and nutrition of celebrities.  I didn’t realize that the was the personal trainer for Carrie Underwood.  Honestly, it almost put me off.  But I watched a clip of Erin Oprea on youtube where she went through a sample tabata circuit, and it looked interesting to me.  My workout routines need some new moves, so I went ahead a grabbed a copy of her book.

Bullet point #1 – I’m not reviewing the nutrition section of her book.  At first glance, it all seems pretty standard stuff.  Don’t villianize carbs, but don’t over do it either.  Don’t overeat sugar and salt.  Cut back on the booze.  The recipes seem pretty standard too.  I didn’t try any of them.  (Maybe I will in the future, though.)

Bullet point #2 – I’m not really reading the stuff leading up to the tabata workout breakdowns.  I go to the gym – all the equipment I need is there.  I already go regularly.  I’m already familiar with tabata workouts, whether tabata means four rounds of 30 seconds activity/10 seconds rest, eight rounds of 20 seconds activity/10 seconds rest, or even eight rounds of eight circuits for 20 seconds activity/10 seconds rest.

Bullet point #3 – I’m just here for the workout breakdowns.


I like the workout breakdowns themselves.  Oprea does say upfront that you can mix and match as you like (which is what I did).  The photos and descriptions of each movements is done well enough.  I think I would have preferred a bit more explanation on a squat, only because I know from personal experience that I was doing it slightly wrong for a long time.  (Recommendation – look up squats and butt winks on Girls Gone Strong’s website.)

I don’t love all of her combinations, but you can mix and match.  She generally provides information if a workout is cardio, or which muscles are being worked on for a particular movement.  It helps to mix and match better.  Some of the exercises are things I already incorporate into my workouts (ie. squat) but a lot of it was not (ie. hammer curls).

Yesterday at the gym, I ended up modifying her Beginner Tabata #7.  I did, mostly with 7.5lbs dumbbells:

round 1: hammer curls
round 2: tricep kickbacks
round 3: V-front raise
round 4: squats

I feel all that arm work today, but it’s a tired sore and not a painful sore.  I’m quite pleased!

So, if you’re looking to get into tabata style workouts, Oprea’s book is a pretty decent starting place.  Having said that, I still recommend Bodyfit by Amy, Girls Gone Strong, and Zuzka Light for more in depth explanations on movement.  Plus, for exercising, video examples tend to be better than photographs… unless someone wants to put out a tabata flip book which could be awesome and hilarious.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

Reference Links:



Not a gym rat, but I do like exercising

Small edible garden book for beginners

A gardening book graces my home this time!

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb is a good beginner’s vegetable garden book.  It was originally published in 1975, but the copy I have is a revised edition from this year.  There are sections in it that I really like: the plants per person suggestions, the 11 sample garden layouts, a section on container gardening, explanations on soil mix (like what is bone meal, blood meal, or fish emulsion), and introductory explanation about crop rotation (there’s a handy soil nutrient deficiency chart.

Most handy is the list of vegetables and herbs with symbols indicating if they are a cool/warm season crop, and how well they grow in small gardens.

The only downside is that since this book was originally written in 1975, the variety of vegetables and herbs is somewhat conservative.  I was surprised that there is a page dedicated to Asian Mustard Greens, but then again you’re not going to find any mention of shiso (which is an Asian herb that’s pretty easy to grow).  I was also a bit puzzled that celery listed in the section about companion vegetables, but there is no page dedicated to growing celery.

I guess another downside is in the pest section.  There’s a lot of handy information, but this is the one section where I feel that pictures would be really useful.  (There are no pictures in the book outside of the 11 sample garden layouts.)

On the bright side, there’s a great section on composting that I think is fantastic.  The author gives a few different methods:  anaerobic bacteria using a garbage can, garbage can using the more customary method of dried materials and wet materials, using a barrel, using a plain old pile, a quicker method using shredding, and lastly the familiar compost bin.

For the next month, I’ll probably be referring to this book regularly while I try to determine what I want to grow in my container garden this year.  It’s a pretty solid starting point.

Reference Link:

Disclaimer:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I am not getting compensated in any way outside of getting a book for free.

Small edible garden book for beginners

A pizza cookbook for the dedicated… which I am not

Note – The Pizza Bible: The World’s Favorite Pizza Styles, from Neapolitan, Deep-Dish, Wood-Fired, Sicilian, Calzones and Focaccia to New York, New Haven, Detroit, and more by Tony Gemignani with Susie Heller and Steve Siegelman was sent to me by Blogging For Books for free to review.  I am not being paid for this post.

Things that I like about The Pizza Bible:  The recipes all sound delicious, and there is a great selection of recipes.  Tony Gemignani obviously loves his craft and it shows in the amount of detail.  There’s a little more than a dozen pizza sauce recipes, and just as many varieties of dough recipes.  I also like the organization of the book.  It’s divided by type of pizzas – regional American, Chicago, Sicilian, Californian, Napoletana, regional Italian, grilled, and a few more thrown in.

The thing I don’t like about this book (and unfortunately I think it’s going to be a deal breaker for me) is that the recipes are quite fiddly and exacting.  I had been craving homemade pizza when I got a copy of this book to review only to be discouraged when I realize that I’d need to plan to make a pizza ahead of time.

One of the dough recipes that appealed to me the most essentially required two days of preparation before the day of cooking… which I had every intention of doing but then my schedule was waylaid by well meaning family members.  In short, I lost my motivation.  Another dough recipe of interest to me required at least 24 hours. (which I still might try).  I’m not unaccustomed to a slow risen dough.  I just wasn’t expecting it.

So, I’m only recommending this book to the pizza die-hards.  At-home cooks who prefer something more approachable may not want this book.  I will probably try give the book another shot in the kitchen, but I mostly suspect that I’ve acquired a new coffee table book.

A pizza cookbook for the dedicated… which I am not