MADE FROM SCRATCH: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life

Jenna Woginrich's book about living off the grid leaves us feeling freshly encouraged to live a more down-to-earth life.

Maybe you can stitch together a skirt. Perhaps you prefer to shop vintage. You might even manage to grow some of your own food. But whatever it is you do, Jenna Woginrich can kick your earth-friendly, DIY, recycling ass. Because not only does she do all of the above, but she also grows her own (angora) yarn, raises her own chickens, keeps her own bees, and churns her own butter. As a homesteader, Woginrich ultimately strives to be as self-sufficient as possible, and in this book she encourages even us city-dwellers to get off the grid in whatever ways we can.

We featured Woginrich in the last issue of BUST and told a bit about how she went from a run-of-the-mill city girl to a grinds-her-own-coffee-in-a-mill farm girl. In Made from Scratch, she gives a bit more insight into how she made that conversion and what her life is like now—a tale that is also detailed daily on her blog, Coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com. Woginrich is funny, and the stories she tells are both completely relatable and inspirational to the extreme—when she describes the joys of baking her own bread, I want to run right home and get out the loaf pan, and when she discusses the benefits of making coffee in a percolator, I’m ready to set aside my Krups. But chunks of this book are devoted to instructional bits, which are both too much and not enough. I would have rather read more of her delightful personal stories about her adventures in beekeeping than the few pages explaining how to get started keeping them myself—after all, if I were really going to do that, I would need much more than a few pages of info.

I devoured this book in a single evening, savoring every morsel, and it left me feeling freshly encouraged to live a more down-to-earth life. I can’t get enough of reading about Woginrich’s life on her Vermont farm, where she plays her fiddle by the campfire, wakes to the sound of roosters crowing, and has trained her dogs to pull her around on a sled, and this book left me wanting much, much more. Hopefully, someday she’ll write a sequel and skip the instructional parts. Until then, there’s always her blog.