In this month of celebration and solstice, we anticipate the slow return of daylight and contemplate the coming year. What did 2013 bring? What’s germinating for 2014? Whatever your plans may be, Storey Publishing wishes a new year of health, happiness, and creativity to you and yours.
Illustration by Elayne Sears, from the Journal of Country Living, 1994
This Month’s Giveaway:
Give the Gift of a Hobby
We love the self-sufficiency and independence that books allow, but we know how empowering it can be to sit side by side with a teacher.
In our Give the Gift of a Hobby Giveaway, we’re contributing $250 toward a learning experience that allows one winner to try something new or deepens skills in a favorite area.
So go ahead: take that workshop at your local quilting store or sail away on the knitting cruise you’ve been eyeing. Register for bee school, enroll in a carpentry course, or try a painting class. We’ll help you foot the bill.
Need some ideas? Many Storey authors devote time to teaching. See where you can find them in 2014 when you enter.
Entries accepted through December 31, 2013.
Full details available when you enter.
First hobbies are a little like first loves: they consume our thoughts and make us lose track of time. We asked Storey authors about the lasting impact of those first favorite pastimes.
Can you solve this puzzle from Patrick?
When I graduated from college, one of my “life goals” was to have a crossword puzzle published in The New York Times. But twenty years would pass before I took it up as a hobby. My first puzzle was for my wife on her birthday. Using graph paper and a pencil, it took me six weeks to complete, working every day. Several years later, I sold my first crossword to the Times. And then another, and another. Eighty crosswords have now appeared in the Times, as well as in other newspapers, magazines, and books. What started out as a hobby ended up becoming a big part of my career.
Patrick is the author of Fowl Play and Bird Brainteasers. Find more puzzles from Patrick on his website and his blog.
When I was six or seven, I had a favorite elder auntie who had a big stamp collection that she loved sharing with me. Stamp collecting was something special that I could do that my older sisters did not do. I remember the excitement of spending my little allowance money to order stamps from a catalog. I loved the colors, the different pictures, and figuring out where the countries my stamps came from were. This might have begun my fascination with maps, geography, and travel and my continued interest in the geographies and ecologies of place. Though I sold my collection (I’m not sure why), I still use stamps with my students as an example of where Nature Art can be found!
Clare Walker Leslie is the author of The Nature Connection and Keeping a Nature Journal. For more from Clare, visit her website.
Sewist and Designer
My first hobby of memory was eating candy and Fruit Loops while watching General Hospital or reruns of Alice, but once I peeled myself out of the stupor of adolescence, my first real hobby of any merit was sewing. I had some basic knowledge that I learned from my mom and practiced on the antique sewing machine console she tucked out of her way in my bedroom. The hobby didn’t take flight until I was seventeen and partnered up with a boyfriend I met in a vintage clothing store. Together we would buy vintage patterns and sew our own clothes or alter them and create new designs.
Alethea Morrison is the author of Homegrown Honey Bees, and her family’s experience raising chickens is chronicled in Chick Days.
Buffi’s Dress Design: Sew 30 Fun Styles
Whether clothing design is your long-time wish or long-held hobby, Project Runway contestant Buffi Jashanmal offers a fresh approach to creating fun fashion statements that fit you and your sense of style. With Buffi’s Dress Design: Sew 30 Fun Styles, you’ll unlock the mysteries of measurement and making patterns to suit any body type, and you’ll take three basic dress designs and vintage pieces to new creative heights.
Patrick Evans-Hylton sent us this recipe for cheese straws. He says:
Every southern cook has a recipe for cheese straws, handed down from generation to generation. Although recipes vary a bit — some add pecans, others sprinkle with paprika — the premise of the pastry is always the same. This heady mix of sharp cheese, butter, and fiery spices is a classic that is served graciously at teas, luncheons, and cocktails in homes across the South. Cheese straws are quick and easy to make and are often given as gifts, especially around the holidays.
I love to make them to enjoy myself and to share with others, as well as for the memories of Christmases past that they evoke.
Yield: 1–3 dozen, depending on cut
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ tablespoons whole milk
Note: Adding ¼ teaspoon dried thyme to the recipe adds an herbaceous flavor profile. You can keep the straws in an airtight container for several days or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw for 30 minutes before serving.
Combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt, cayenne, dry mustard, and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Pulse a few seconds at a time until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds. The dough should be firm and smooth but not wet; if it is too crumbly, add a little more milk.
Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350º F.
Roll the dough out into an ⅛-inch-thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut the dough lengthwise into ½- to ¾-inch-wide strips with a lightly floured pizza cutter. Cut the strips into 2- to 4-inch-long pieces.
Carefully transfer the dough onto ungreased baking sheets, placing the strips about ¼ inch apart; if a strip breaks, press the dough back together. Bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they just begin to turn golden. Set the baking sheets on a rack and allow the straws to cool completely before serving. Repeat with remaining dough.
Holidays are not for humans alone! By decorating an outdoor wreath — whether made fresh for the occasion or retired from indoor use — with a few simple treats, you can ensure a happy holiday season for our feathered friends as well. The bright splashes of color and happy chirps filling your backyard will reward your efforts for days on end.
These decorative ornaments bring the holidays outdoors and provide welcome winter food at the same time. They can be made quickly to replenish the supply for as long as there are hungry birds. They also make quick and easy gifts to give to your bird-loving friends.
Seeds or dried fruit
Cookie sheet with raised edges
Melt the suet in a saucepan over low heat. Mix in the seeds or dried fruit.
While the suet is melting, line a cookie sheet with a piece of aluminum foil.
Pour the suet mixture onto the foil-lined cookie sheet. Allow to cool completely.
Press the cookie cutters into the suet to cut out shapes. Dip the cookie cutters in warm water before using to keep the suet from sticking to them.
Make a hole in the top of each ornament and thread the ribbon through so that you can hang it from your wreath.
Recently, we received an email from Don Schrider, author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys. He’d had an exuberant message from a reader who had finally found in the pages of Storey’s Guide the information he was looking for, after nearly seven years of book buying and research: “Tonight I read the breeding chapter of your book. I am just writing to tell you that I wish I had read it first...You know your subject so well that you can explain things simply…the information is priceless for a beginner, like me.”
When I reached out to Mr. Lawrence Earle of Canada to ask whether we could share the news of his turkey triumph with other Storey readers, he replied he’d like to help but there was “one small problem…I don’t raise turkeys.”
It seems that while purebred poultry is scarce where Mr. Earle lives, sound advice on breeding a closed flock of show-worthy bantam chickens is even harder to find. He recognized Don Schrider as a reputable source of poultry wisdom — so why not seek the answer to his chicken question in Don’s book about turkeys? Success for Mr. Earle...but this wasn’t the story I’d been expecting!
In fact, it’s a better one, and a perfect example of the creative self-reliance Storey books are all about. Or, as Mr. Earle himself remarked, “It’s one of those ‘the title is specific, but the knowledge is universal’ moments.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
— Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor
As a subscriber, you’re the first to know about this month’s Fresh Picks Flash Sale: our brand new Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design ebook is just $2.99 for three days only!
On Sale December 2–4
With six projects and over 900 photos covering everything from coil springs and couches to fabric and interior design, this one-of-a-kind book empowers the dreamy-eyed upholsterer to breathe new life into tired furniture.
Missed the Flash Sale? You can still receive a Spruce Sampler as a free download on our Fresh Picks page.
The year may be ending, but there’s no time limit on learning something new. Fill the indoor winter months with DIY ideas from brewing beer to beekeeping, with ebooks for just $2.99.
This exclusive sampler from Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design delivers tips on setting up your work space and safely stripping furniture, along with instructions for making three types of pillows. You’ll start to see a world of potential in that faded old couch!