Our lovely long weekend here in Central Ohio was a chilly one. I broke out some heavier blankets and cuddled up with a couple good books, one of which was Made From Scratch – Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life. This book sat on my wish list for a long time and then in usual fashion, I had to choose a wishlist selection to put me over the free shipping threshold at Amazon. I was in dire need of more Amazing Grass, so I picked up this book in the bargain. I sat down with my “Amazing” spinach, strawberry, banana smoothie and started reading about a handmade life.
This book is a practical guide about self sufficiency in a modern society. As the author stated stated, imagine American Gothic and replace the pitchfork with a computer mouse. LOVE that. But in all honesty I think the introduction slightly misrepresented the life of the author, Jenna Woginrich. I imagined she was living in an inner city apartment, striving to be more self sufficient in the heart of a downtown metropolis. But alas I read on to find she was actually renting a farm and she owns sled dogs she uses in winter for mushing. While I was 100% enchanted by her story and her life… it isn’t exactly modern living for the majority ya know?
But even though I don’t live in the wilds of a mountain region in Idaho I still found much of the information useful. I also put down the book with a burning desire to learn to play the fiddle. The book covers chickens, growing your own food, beekeeping, cooking the old fashioned way, using old and vintage stuff instead of new, making your own clothes, owning working dogs, and livestock.
The chapter on raising chickens was so inspirational. I have always wanted to own chickens and have my own source of eggs. It is on my someday list. My favorite chapters were on buying used and classic items. Products made 50 years ago or more were made to last and if they broke they were made to be repaired. Nowadays products are designed to have a short useful life. That is how corporations can count on your repeat business. They know the product you buy will only last a short amount of time and many make it difficult or impossible to repair so that buying new is the easiest option. I am all over buying used and buying vintage. I love my hand crank nut grinder and my vintage refrigerator dishes. Some of the dishes we eat our scrambled eggs on are over 100 years old. They don’t make stuff like they used to.
The author enjoyed drinking her home brewed coffee from green jadeite mugs (my grandmother had those!) and I love my Pyrex and Fire King. I just scored some of both at an auction this weekend. I got some beautiful lime green and pink gooseberry bowls and casserole dishes that are still vibrant in color. The little things make me happy. ;)
Other chapters on raising rabbits or keeping bees were interesting but not on my wish list. I think a part of modern self sufficiency is finding people in your community to provide the things you can’t provide yourself. Sewing clothing is on my wish list though. I have made stuff for the kids and for our home but I haven’t sewn anything for myself since I was 16. I need to start sewing more. I walked away from this book with a big to-do list. Each month I want to learn some new skill or way to become just a bit more self sufficient and less reliant on society to meet my needs. As the author mentioned, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride like nothing else can.
Monday, September 6th, 2010