I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas
by Anna Getty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas / 978-0-8118-6767-2
This collection contains a little bit of everything for Christmas - crafts, decorating ideas, and recipes - all overlaid with a lot of good green advice. Whether or not it's worth the price of admission, however, is going to be up to the reader - I enjoyed this book immensely, but it's admittedly not flawless.
The recipes scattered throughout this book are probably the least green facet of this book - as delicious as "Truffled Goat Cheese Macaroni and Cheese" looks and sounds, it seems a bit excessive to insist on 'real' Italian truffle salt shipped all the way from, you know, Italy (although the supposedly "more sustainable" option given is to "order fresh truffles from Oregon, leave out the truffle salt, and shave fresh truffles right onto the mac and cheese"). I'm not sure where the Foodie craze and the Green craze intersected so indelibly - it must have been along the organic food lines (tastes better for the Foodies, more green for the Greenies) - but sometimes the two make strange bedfellows. Still, you've gotta eat and most of the recipes in this book sound interesting, if usual to my ears (are "Prosciutto and Goat Cheese-wrapped Figs" sweet or savory or both?), and almost all are accompanied by lovely color photos of the finished product. And I really can't wait to try "Parmesan and Yeast Flake Popcorn" on the tree this year.
The decorating tips are very lovely, although I tend to be a little ambivalent about the "Green Decor" trends coming out these days because they seem to largely revolve around decorating your house with re-purposed, retro-kitch stuff, when I tend to prefer a more minimalist "just decorate LESS" approach to the green question. Still, that's largely a personal preference, and if you DO like the retro-kitch re-purposed look, there's a lot of good tips here like "Bottle Cap Refrigerator Magnets" and "Tea Bag Ornaments". I do like the "Twig Star Ornaments", for that matter, and intend to try those out soon.
As far as the crafts go, there isn't a whole lot here, but what is included is very lovely. I'd rather have a dozen or so good, creative, attractive projects than three dozen crummy ones, and this book delivers in that regard. I really like the "Herb Wreath" (for herb garden enthusiasts), the "Recycled Cashmere Pillows" (for sewing machine owners), and the "Recycled Wool Wreath" (for everyone) projects. Each project contains a lovely color photo of the finished project, but there are no "in between steps" photos or drawings, so these crafts really aren't for beginners. I think most people could stumble through them just fine, depending on your level of craft proficiency, but it's worth noting that this isn't really a beginner's book on crafting of any kind.
The real beauty in this book is the wealth of really carefully researched and thought-out green advice. It's hard to find a green book that really acknowledges the difficulties in deciding between the various "green" options out there, and this book provides a wealth of information on careful topics such as real trees vs. fake ones, shopping for presents online or in person, and the types of dishes, napkins, and other consumables best used for large gatherings. Each discussion is carefully explained, and alternatives are presented - for instance, for large gatherings, washable dishes are best but if you really must use disposable dishware, then invest in disposable bamboo plates, and so on. It's really nice to see a green book that explains *why* each option is better, and allows you to customize that advice for your own situation - it's definitely being taught how to fish as opposed to just being handed lunch for the day, and I appreciate it immensely.
A common criticism leveled at green books is that a *really* green book would make all this information available online and wouldn't clutter up the world with more books, but I think this particular book will weather this criticism well. There's so *much* here, and it's all packaged so nicely - it would be hard to track down all this advice, all these exotic recipes, and all these crafting and decorating tips elsewhere. If I had one other criticism to level, it's that I wish this book had gone more the "winter holidays" route rather than "Christmas" - there's absolutely nothing here that's overtly 'Christ' oriented (no nativity scenes made from re-purposed plastic bottles) and pretty much everything here will apply to any major winter festival, regardless of religious orientation, so it seems odd that the publishers would slap "Christmas" in the title when all this stuff would work equally well for Jewish and Wiccan winter-celebrators as it will for Christian ones. But that doesn't make the book bad, it's just odd. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I do recommend that you at least take a look if you get a chance.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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