Among the many self-help volumes on herbal medicine, Hands-On Healing Remedies by Stephanie L. Tourles stands out as a literally well-oiled handbook for treating an alphabet’s worth of ailments from A to Z. Got insomnia? Two drops of a chamomile, sweet marjoram and lavender blend on your pillowcase might be the answer, as could a rubdown with lemon-balm-based moisturizer. Cold feet? Just cook up some chopped ginger along with some cloves, cayenne and sesame oil, and you’ll have the toastiest toes in the house. Hot flashes, bee stings, razor burns, sore muscles, colds and coughs, anxiety and headaches can all be soothed with pure, nontoxic ingredients that are safe and easy to prepare. Tourles, a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist and “a gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism,” gives sage (and sometimes sage-oil) advice and topical (and topically applied) insight into even the deepest issues compromising the health of women, men, children and elders.

Backyard chicken-keeping: Everybody seems to know somebody doing it, and many of us have chicken-scratched our heads wondering how we might set out to do it ourselves. The reasons for keeping chickens are plentiful, especially if you’ve got kids: low maintenance, low cost, beautiful creatures—and (as Woody Allen famously remarked) we need the eggs. One obstacle to establishing your own little chicken farm is figuring out how to accommodate the ladies in style. For this purpose, Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe lay out a comprehensive guidebook in Reinventing the Chicken Coop. The projects are free-ranging in difficulty, from beginner to intermediate to advanced, with both urban and suburban lots in mind. All 14 designs are architectural wonders of reductive space and ample imagination. For any family with a shred of aesthetic sensibility (and just a tiny patch of backyard), this book can transform the chore of building a coop into a co-op of communal vision and hammer-and-nail-and-lumber-and-mesh constructive energy.

Geek Mom could not be more timely. Ideas have become the main capital of our technologically oriented culture. So the best thing you can do for your children and their future success is to cultivate their minds—and the best way to do that is to empower their natural sense of curiosity. This is the tremendous excitement of Geek Mom, a maternal breakthrough at once spiritual and pragmatic. The authors, senior editors at, present a broad curriculum of strategic parental intervention, all underpinned by the principle that complex learning can be not only a daily practice, but also something a child naturally loves to do. In six parts, focusing on topics ranging from Superheroes to Lava Lamp Chemistry to Cupcakes, the book lays out the main lines of benevolent attack against intellectual inertia. Being a geek can be a double-edged sword: The geek manufactures things which make it easier for others not to create anything at all. But in Geek Mom, there’s no such paradox. In the end, as the Beatles remarked, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

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