The word terrarium may conjure grade-school memories of empty peanut butter jars and dead plants, but Terrarium Craft will dispel that notion at a glance. Artist and boutique owner Amy Bryant Aiello and garden writer Kate Bryant redefine the terrarium as art form, gardening complement and undeniable “eye candy.” They present 50 step-by-step projects adaptable to any mood or style and incorporating tiny treasures like found objects, trinkets and special shells or rocks. Plants are optional, believe it or not, but most projects recommend specific varieties selected for size, shape, color and habitat, and are easy to maintain. Terrariums can be almost any size—even wee glass baubles on a string—and can have a lid or remain open. After an introduction that takes readers through the basics—containers, foundations, materials and plants—the book divides the projects into Forest, Beach, Desert and Fantasy landscapes. The photographs throughout are simply gorgeous. Readers will be inspired to look for potential containers everywhere, to try and match the creativity and charm on display.

KITCHEN GIFTS
Presents from the kitchen are a lovely gesture. Whether baked, mixed, cooked or assembled from store-bought goodies, they are proof of time spent preparing something special. But how often do we end up stuffing a carefully created gift into a boring plastic zipper bag or disposable pan? Creative packaging ideas can make gifts from the kitchen twice as nice. The Creative Kitchen has recipes for drinks, breads, candy, cookies, pies, cakes, sauces, mixes, jams, snacks and holiday fare, but recipes are only half the story. The other half is presentation. The book pairs each recipe with quick and cute packaging suggestions. Choose from sew and no-sew fabric options, ribbons, fancy cupcake liners, papers, labels and non-traditional containers to spice up offerings. Templates and images to scan, trace and photocopy are included. Next time you need an edible gift for a host, sick friend or new baby, check here first. Plus, any of these recipes and wrappings will guarantee sell-outs at a bake sale.

TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES
Toxic Free is a “quick-start” guide to help readers understand how toxic chemicals affect our health and how to avoid them. Consumer advocate and “Queen of Green” Debra Lynn Dadd (Home Safe Home) starts by targeting the home. Most of us figure on finding bad stuff in our cleaning products, but the author also scrutinizes various beauty products, indoor air pollution, pest control, water, food, textiles, office supplies and interior decoration. Who knew about formaldehyde in no-iron bed sheets, PVP plastic in toothpaste, lead wicks in decorative candles, hazardous chemicals in perfume and DDT in our coffee? For each toxic consumer product in this formidable list, the author offers simple, natural substitutions. She’s not out to scare us, but to mentor us into better health. Another chapter clues us in on how toxic chemicals harm the environment and how we can minimize our “toxic impact.” And what about the harm already done to our unsuspecting bodies? The book suggests many simple and sometimes surprising things we can do to help protect and support our natural detoxification system.

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