Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book reviews: Complete Idiot's Guide to...

I recently received three books from the Complete Idiot's Guide series that I am really excited about. The books are the Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Soaps, Amigurumi, and Easy Freezer Meals. Here's a bit about these three books, from the Idiot's Guide website:

Amigurumi, the traditional Japanese art of knitted or crocheted stuffed figures, is a craft that is sweeping the country. In The Complete Idiot’s Guide(r) to Amigurumi crafters will learn the basic stitches of crochet, how to make basic shapes (heads, arms, legs, torsos), stuffing techniques, and embellishments such as hair, eyes, and tassels. They will also learn how to make flowers and vegetables, and will acquire the tools to be able to let their imaginations run wild and create their own unique and adorable Amigurumi.

 Freezers allow busy home chefs to plan their family menus a weekend, a week, or even a month in advance. Now expert chef and flood blogger Cheri Sicard presents recipes for 120 delicious, healthy meals that can be frozen and then reheated-and still taste fantastic.

• Over 120 delicious, unique and easy to prepare recipes

• Great cooking tips designed to help the home cook

• Flexible menu planning from a weekend to a full month
Making Natural Soaps:

Soapmaking has always been a popular craft with a dedicated group of followers, but with the explosion of urban homesteading and people looking to go green, noncrafters are now joining in on the fun. Whether it's making natural soap to live greener, give as gifts, save money, or make money, The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Making Natural Soaps has everything the new soap maker will need to create organic, natural soaps of all kinds.

•Includes recipes to make a wide array of molded, poured, and liquid soaps

•Contains soap recipes for body as well as household and even pets
I am ridiculously excited about these three books.  The freezer meal book is one that I was especially glad to receive, as the concept of dinner time and needing to actually plan a meal is one that I forget every single day.  I am inevitably shocked when 5 PM rolls around and food has not magically appeared in my kitchen.  I love the idea of taking a day or a weekend and making a bunch of meals ahead of time. And with these recipes, I can know exactly what's going into my family's meals, rather than when I buy pre-made foods at the store.  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Easy Freezer Meals does a  nice job of showing exactly what ingredients I need, has easy-to-follow instructions, tips on how to best reheat after freezing, and even variations on the recipes. 

In general, I'm not a "crafty" person, but that's largely because I often feel overwhelmed by crafts and don't know where to begin.  So I'm really liking the Complete Idiot's Guides to Making Natural Soaps and to Amigurumi.  Both of these books start with the basics and don't assume any prior knowledge of the topics.  They present the information in a way that's easy to read and isn't at all overwhelming. I can't wait to try to make some soap for my family, and I'm really excited about the idea of crocheting some little animals for my kids! 

If you're looking for a fun holiday gift idea or if you're just wanting to learn something new- check out the line of Complete Idiot's Guide books. They cover so many different topics- you'll be sure to find something that interests you!

Disclosure: I received these books to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.