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Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,994 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Discovering the pleasures of a handmade life was a longtime dream for urban homesteader Jenna Woginrich. At 24 years old, living in an apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee, and working as a computer designer, Woginrich was nurturing her dream of learning to homestead. Now, at 27, she’s settled on a rented farm in rural Vermont, where she cares for two working sled dogs, chick ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published December 3rd 2008 by Storey Publishing, LLC (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Neligh
Mere nostalgia for a so-called “simpler time” is not enough reason for me to do anything; I have to know there is some modern benefit, something to justify its practice in the here and now. The author of Made From Scratch does an excellent job not only convincing me of this, but stoking my excitement for it.

Of 11 chapters, I loved 6:

Chickens. Eggs aren’t that expensive -they might be some of the cheapest sources of protein available- so why raise your own chickens? First, by doing so you’ll kno
...more
Brixton
Nov 23, 2010 Brixton rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yuppies who want to learn how to kill a variety of animals all by means of negligence
Recommended to Brixton by: amazon robots, <i>wie ironisch</i>
Pathologically self-absorbed, undeservedly self-congratulating-- especially given her apparent special talent for neglecting animals to death-- and overwhelmingly under-helpful.

"Me. Memememememe, me!" x 184 pages = Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

An open letter to the author:

Dear Jenna Woginrich,
I hate to inform you of this, but "pioneers" did not send animal hair to online retailers for processing into yarn, nor did they have laptops for ordering, well, anything at all. Especially consider
...more
Inder
After an amusing, promising start, this devolves into disorganized rambling about a variety of disconnected and increasingly ridiculous DIY projects, none of which seemed to be done particularly well. The author gets excited about but then fails at chickens, bees, and sewing, shares a recipe for basic (boring) white bread, and then goes on pointlessly about her antique cheese grater ... blah blah blah, who cares?

I skimmed a bit, and then I gave up entirely. I could really care less about traini
...more
Jenna
Read this book if you check three more of the following:
__You want to raise hens and lay awake at night imagining how good their eggs will taste.
__You have untapped desires for shopping antique malls and acquiring old things.
__You are jealous of fancy-pants farmers who spend all day in their gardens and all winter spinning wool from sheep, but work a 40 hr. a week job.
__Reading about a flopped bee hive in this woman's backyard sounds interesting to you.
__You want to live simply, so you learn how
...more
Sally
"Plenty of people in suburbs and sublets all over the country are replacing their pansies with peas and putting up henhouses where the doghouses used to be. Knitters are casting on in subways, and homebrewed wine is fermenting in your neighbor's basement. A revolution is self-sufficiency is riding the L train, and we saved you a seat."

What begins with this sage observation continues to offer enough information to inspire and humor to educate. Yes, that's what I meant. The information and resourc
...more
CJ
I know the feeling of making something yourself. Woginrich really takes it to a new level in that she not only knits and spins (like I do) she also raised hens, kept bees, and taught herself how to play both the mountain dulcimer and fiddle. While this book is essentially a shallow primer of all her accomplishments, it really provides an interested reader the highlights (and lowlights) of each task she took on.

I enjoyed the lighthearted take on everything and the book did make me want to try a f
...more
Audrey
THIS is what I wanted from the last book on homesteading / hobby farming that I read. Interspersed among the little anecdotes about homesteading is solid advice about raising chickens, planting a garden, cooking from scratch, and more. I thought the dogsledding/packdog section seemed a bit strange for inclusion, but the other topics were just what I wanted to find. This will definitely be taking a spot on my reference shelf, and I'll be heading to the library to check out some of the other books ...more
Chuck
About the most I can say for this book is that her enthusiasm for the subject was fairly infectious. Definitely made me excited for the sort of projects/ideas she was presenting. However, most of the projects unfortunately can't really be done if you live in a true urban setting (read: condo with no back yard). Other than her enthusiasm for growing her own food, raising chickens, bees, and rabbits, about the only thing I got from the book was that you should be prepared for these things to be di ...more
amelia
oh, how i longed for this book to be more. while i guess it's interesting to hear tiny stories from a person's experiences with "homesteading," i was really hoping for some lengthy narratives and real advice/experiences from which to learn. this would have been much more compelling and useful if it was about twice as long/she focused on half as many topics with the same number of pages.
Ashley
You know those books that feel like you're settling deep-down into a big, cozy couch in a nice, warm living room strewn with quilts? (If not, just go with me here anyway.)
This is one of those books, guys.

After turning the last page, I found myself wanting to bake homemade bread more than I ever have in my whole entire life; to start making plans to grow a salad garden of my very own; to embrace the beauty of thrifted kitchenware; and also, to high five the author.

This is just good-old-fashioned
...more
Melissa
A wonderful mix of how-to and storytelling, this book is a testament to the simple pleasures in life. Cunningly split into several chapters, it encompasses many aspects of farm life as seen through the authors eyes and performed by her hands.

The first chapter, Chickens, is exactly that. From her own experiences with chickens, to a basic guide on caring for them, this encompasses all of what it means to have a small flock of chickens. I enjoyed the stories of her chickens and their antics, and th
...more
Robin Marie
I'll start by stating that I grew up on a working farm (as in a really broke all the time, long, miserably cold hours, stuff always breaking kind of farm) so I used to have an instant aversion to what I thought of as overeager "yuppie farmers". That is, until I moved off the farm into an apartment with NO LAWN AND NO GRASS and realized just how miserable life was without some form of self-sufficiency. Now I'm one of those "yuppie farmers" desperately trying to build a little bit of independence ...more
jess
Jun 03, 2009 jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I picked this up because Krista saw it somewhere and thought it looked good. Usually, by the time I end up reading a book I have no idea where the recommendation originated from, but in this case, I know it was definitely my wife. We got in queue at the library for this book, and waited for months. I guess it's pretty popular in Olympia lately.

I was pleased to find that this book is an accessible, clear, forthright memoir of one lady's efforts to become more self-sufficient. From cubicle to com
...more
Krista
This was a Christmas gift from Lynn, and it kept me from completely losing my mind as I was stuck in the airport on my way back to the 'burgh. It was a quick, light, enjoyable read. However, I'm going to have a little trouble reviewing it. The book is one part "how-to" and one part "anecdotal evidence." I enjoyed the latter much more than the former. I appreciate that the author was willing to share her many missteps when learning to raise honeybees and angora rabbits, among other things, and di ...more
Jeannen
Let me preface this by saying that I grew up in a family of women making their own clothes and people singing and playing instruments. Also, I live in Seattle, where keeping chickens is not uncommon, there are enough beekeepers to support a beekeeping association, and gardening is rampant. So, many of the things Woginrich talks about as somewhat uncommon steps towards a more sustainable life just feel like parts of people's normal lives to me.

I love personal essays, and what I think of as infor
...more
Happyreader
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mic
I know this seems like a weird book for me to read. I don't know why, maybe it's my grand fathers genes in me, but I want to live on about 40 acres in the middle of nowhere with a small farm house with my wife, 12 kids (JK honey), 3 dogs, 2 cats and other crazy barnyard animals. So maybe thats why I picked up this book.

I don't agree with some of the philosophy espoused in the pages (I think the writer is a buddhist) but I did realize just how attached I am to stuff. OK I will admit it. I'm addic
...more
Jessica
My Amazon review: This is a fun, quick read with some personal stories and a few tips for getting started on things like beekeeping, training working dogs, sewing clothes, keeping chickens and rabbits, cooking, making music and generally making the most of everyday life. This is not, however, (nor do I think it was meant to be) a book for someone looking for detailed information on becoming a homesteader or on becoming self-sufficient.

For those who already practice "the lifestyle" this will be a
...more
Jacqie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lain
I have mixed feelings about this book. I adore the premise (the exchange of the consumable society with a lifestyle that is more authentic), and the author is a great writer. There are moments of pure brilliance, like the introduction. But there were some things that bothered me.

The structure felt wrong to me. The book was set up as a series of stand-alone chapters on different topics (bee-keeping, working dogs, cooking, etc.), but this was very disjointed because Jenna Woginrich's story seems m
...more
Andi
A couple of months ago Mother Earth News ran the introduction to Jenna Woginrich’s Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life. I read the article as I sat in the eye doctor’s office waiting for my pupils to dilate. I can’t imagine a more pleasurable way to lock my eyes into a position that makes everything else foggy. Woginrich’s style and sensibility really stuck with me.

So last week, I went looking for her book, and lo and behold, my local library had several copies. I ord
...more
ebnewberry Newberry
While I agree with some of the reviews that the enthusiasm of the author is infectious, this book left me unsatisfied. Her anecdotes about how she got started in various parts of homesteading were very entertaining reading. I appreciate that she gives the good with the bad. I came out of this realizing that she's not very good at taking care of living creatures (except for her dogs). She killed two whole hives of bees, 5 chicks, and a rabbit. I therefore didn't feel that she was particularly aut ...more
Arminzerella
Jenna Woginrich is living my dream life. She’s able to keep chickens and bees and her two dogs on her rental property, and she’s got room for a decent-sized garden, too. Her book is a combination how-to-guide (for others who’d like to get back to basics and be more self-reliant) and story of her experiences (trials and tribulations) as she hones her new skills. You’ll find out how to set up your own chicken coop, grow your own fruits and vegetables, keep bees and harvest their honey, can your pr ...more
Matt
I enjoyed this book, but it was not exactly what I had hoped for. The sections where she talked about her experience with a topic were too short, in my opinion, and I wish they would have had better ties to the other chapters in order to give a better picture of what it was like to uproot your life like that. They seemed disjointed and out of order.

The book seems to place more importance on the "how to get started" sections after each chapter. The "resources" section in the back seems more helpf
...more
Jennifer
It's one thing to have a starry-eyed vision of "the simple life" -- living on a farm, having cute animals, having all the good things our grandparents had. It's another thing to go beyond that vision, live the reality, and still retain a sense of wonder and humor along with the hard-earned wisdom that the fairy tale isn't quite what you expected. Jenna Woginrich manages to become more self-reliant through making mistakes, and even with the frank telling of her ups and downs, she still makes it s ...more
Kirsten
My friend Ali recommended this on her blog - it's about a woman who decided she wanted to be more self-reliant and do farm-type things on a small scale, even though she didn't own any land. She does chickens and rabbits and bees and dogs - she grows veggies - she makes some clothes - and so forth. Each chapter is a different topic, starting with a narrative of her experience, and then moving on to practical nuts-and-bolts information (of the here's-what-you-need-to-get-started variety). I liked ...more
Jenny
I really wanted to like this book. It sounded like a great idea, but in reality this was a total snoozer. I'd give it 1.5 stars if I could. (Give us 1/2 stars Goodreads!!).

I certainly don't know it all when it comes to sustainability, but I really didn't learn anything from this book. There was no substance to this book. I think I would do OK buying vintage things, I don't really need a tutorial on that.

The more books I read from bloggers, the less I like. Apparently, if you have a blog, you g
...more
Tiffany X
So far it's horrible! I think I should have stopped when she let her chickens die a horrible death by the teeth of her dogs by leaving them on a table at dog mouth level.

Okay, I DID stop reading after she KILLED the Queen bee from the group of bees she mail ordered. She let the Queen Bee die an awful death. Queen bees are mailed in a little box to protect her from the journey and is surrounded by the rest of the hive. She just dumped the whole thing into a bee box and the hive had no chance of
...more
Beth Jusino
A quick read on a summer holiday weekend, this is "homesteading light" -- a meandering series of experiments from a Millennial graphic designer who wants to be less reliant on the global, disposable economy...and maybe cuddle some rabbits in the process. There's nothing wrong with that. And Woginrich maintains a perky, positive, wide-eyed style of exploration throughout the book that one expects from a 26-year-old who naively, with the best of intentions, blunders through animal husbandry. I res ...more
Emily Mellow
Started it, found it boring and self-congratulatory, returned it to the library pretty much unread. I skimmed different sections, thinking, "oh, I can at least see what she has to say on beekeeping", but then would cringe at her writing. I just don't feel that she knows enough to be writing a book on this stuff, just because she has a friend with a farm. I want to read her friend's book, not this garbage.
It wasn't even saved by being the least bit funny.
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Former urbanite, future shepherdess and current farm writer — Jenna Woginrich has big plans. Plans that include living a more self-sufficient life with dogs at her side and wi-fi in the barn. She drives an orange pickup and shares her Vermont cabin and gardens with working sled dogs, a small flock of sheep, a hilarious goat, a flock of gregarious chickens, two awkward geese, wooly angora rabbits, ...more
More about Jenna Woginrich...
Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens from Hatching to Laying One-Woman Farm: The Seasons of Life Shared with Sheepdogs, Goats, Woodstoves, and a Feisty Fiddle Cold Antler Farm: A Memoir of Growing Food and Celebrating Life on a Scrappy Six-Acre Homestead

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“I THINK THE REAL TRICK to finding that sense of satisfaction is to realize you don’t need much to attain it. A window-box salad garden and a banjo hanging on the back of the door can be all the freedom you need. If it isn’t everything you want for the future, let it be enough for tonight. Don’t look at your current situation as a hindrance to living the way you want, because living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house. It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have. If a few things on your plate every season come from the work of your own hands, you are creating food for your body, and that is enough. If the hat on your head was knitted with your own hands, you’re providing warmth from string and that’s enough. If you rode your bike to work, trained your dog to pack, or just baked a loaf of bread, let it be enough. Accepting where you are today, and working toward what’s ahead, is the best you can do. You can take the projects in this book as far as your chosen road will take you. Maybe your gardens and coops will outgrow mine, and before you know it you’ll be trading in your Audi for a pickup. But the starting point is to take control of what you can and smile with how things are. Find your own happiness and dance with it.” 4 likes
“Don't look at your current situation as a hindrance to living the way you want, because living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house. It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have.” 2 likes
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