Seriously, I wish I had learned to do so much more when I was younger. I desire to be a better homemaker, but sometimes life gets in the way. I am learning though.
When I was in sixth grade I moved in with my bachelor dad. Yep. Great timing, if you know what I mean. We got along great, but during those important years of learning how to cook and clean, well, I learned some, but really the expectations may have been a wee bit lower in my home than in others. I still saw my mom, but it was not in a way that I learned homemaking, though I do make a great batch of no-bake cookies with her recipe.
My grandmother crocheted all the time. But I never asked her to teach me anything but the simple chain. When Gramma was no longer able to teach me, I wanted to learn. And I did. (Kind of.)
Since I married Derek, I have learned a lot from his mom and grandma in the kitchen. They taught me to make applesauce, gravy, and pie crust. And they share their favorite recipes, too, though much of what Grandma cooks is not really from a recipe.
I taught myself to cook some things. The internet has helped me to clean and cook, as well. But there are some things in life that seem to be a lost art when it comes to homemaking. Erin Breid, senior staff writer at SELF magazine noticed this too. She wrote the book How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew. She interviewed grandmothers that survived the Great Depression for inspiration for this how-to book. (Click to read about the grandmothers!)
How to Sew a Button is truly a how-to book. It explains (and sometimes illustrates) how to do 110 different things. Some I already knew how to do (thankfully) and other tips I am excited to try. There are a few that I will happily skip.
I already know how to roast a chicken, can my own fruits/veggies (applesauce), hand wash dishes, make an apron (for a kid), build a fire, soothe a burn with a plant, swaddle a newborn baby, clip coupons, and enjoy the folks next door. I picked one tip from each chapter that I already do...except entertaining. Apparently, I need some help there!
Just for fun, here are things I don't know how to do. I'll include one from each chapter again. I have NOT filleted a fish (I don't eat fish), dried apples (yum!), spring cleaned (seriously, I never have), hemmed my fancy pants (properly), knit a scarf, perfect my posture, raise a good citizen, made a budget, start a book club, or sung in harmony (sit behind me in church...you'll hear for yourself). Obviously, some I will never do, but others are certainly right up my alley!
I really enjoyed this book. Mostly I appreciated the fact that Erin Bried showed great respect for women of an older generation who really deserve it. This book is not about them, though she includes an introduction to each of the grandmas. Also, before each of the 110 tips, she includes a quote from one of the grandmas. Before "Clean More Stuff Naturally", Bried quotes Lucile Frisbee saying, "There was no man's work or woman's work. There was only work, and anybody who was around was expected to chip in."
Bried uses a lot of humor in the book. It's an easy read, though it could be very dry and boring, being a how-to book. The many references to alcohol did get a bit old for me. I know she was just trying to be funny, but it was often enough that it turned me off. For example, in step 8 of How to Roast a Whole Chicken, Bried says, "Pop your chicken in the oven, set your timer for an hour, go have a glass of wine or a gimlet, and wait." Nothing offensive, but not what I expected to read (except in the sections of making dandelion wine and homemade beer).
This book was fun to read and very informative. I do recommend it!
Ballantine Books provided me with a copy of this book for the purpose of review.
Book Club: 1984 - Once again, I was asked to choose a book and lead a discussion about it for the *Reading to Know Classics Book Club*. This book club focuses on the classic...