Making Our Own – Review of The Made-From-Scratch Life

madefromscratch Book informationThe Made-From-Scratch Life

Author – Melissa K. Norris

Publisher – Harvest House (February 2016, $12.99 digital, $12.99 print

First things first – unlike the author, I am definitely not a homesteader. While many of my relatives live out in the country, I was raised in town. I live in a more rural area now and love it, but still, I’m only on a couple acres. So I came into this book with some homemaking skills learned from family and from kind mentors, but you wouldn’t want me running your farm.

So, does this book speak to people like me? You bet it does. First of all, I really liked Norris’ style. This is not just a dry book of recipes and information; the author has put a lot of herself and her own experiences into her writing and that makes for a book that is not only informative but full of heart.

The book is divided into user-friendly categories, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Some of it (such as the information on raising livestock) didn’t apply so much to me, but a beginning farmer or someone newly married into a farm family would likely find it helpful. I already make some of my own cleaners and I cook just about all of our meals from scratch, but Norris includes some helpful facts and plenty of great recipes to increase my repertoire. Continue reading

Favorite Homemaking References

homecomforts A few weeks ago, I posted my review of The Lifegiving Home. As I touched on in the review, this wonderful book does have tips on how to implement the Clarksons’ ideas, but at its core, this book is really about the heart issues and goals of homemaking rather than a practical how-to manual. If you’re looking for encouragements and inspiration, this book is a great place to start.

However, after writing this review, I found myself thinking about the practical homemaking helps I’ve encountered over the years. For cleaning, I use the Flylady method and I’ve found a few other helpful sites out there as well.  However, many of my favorite home guides are books and I find myself returning to them again and again.  Here are some that I’ve liked:

  1. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping HouseWeighing in at nearly 900 pages, this colossal guide isn’t the sort of book that I’d sit down to read cover to cover, but it’s a wonderful resource to have on hand for answering all of those home-based questions. I’ve consulted it for figuring out how to remove just about every kind of stain known to man, for example. There’s helpful information in here not just on cleaning, but on many facets of home maintenance in general.  Whether you own or rent, this one is a true must-have.

Continue reading

Review of The Lifegiving Home

lifegivinghome Book InformationThe Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging & Becoming

Authors – Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson

Publication Information – Tyndale Momentum (February 2016, $15.99 print, $8.57 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

“As I do all of this, I am aware of the Kingdom coming. As I order and hope, fill and form, the Holy Spirit is renewing one more corner of the world. Here, in my room, the fallen stuff of broken earth is being formed back into love, into home.

There’s no place like it.”

– Sarah Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home


It is no exaggeration to say that I have been longing to read this book since I first learned of its impending release. I stalked it on Netgalley to no avail, and finally pounced on release day.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one waiting. Our local Lifeway sold out the day the book was released.

So, was it worth it?  Well, the short answer is yes.  This book is exactly the sort of resource for homemaking (home culture, really) that I have wanted for many years. There are many good books on there that touch on how to keep an orderly home, a clean home, a well-planned home where your kids won’t run feral, and so on. However, books on the real heart of a Christian home are few and far between. Continue reading

Pulled in Way Too Many Directions?

manydirections “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

The Scriptural reminder from Colossians seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Of course we should be placing the things of God above our earthly concerns.

However, as soon as we get out of bed, the mundane concerns intrude. What to do about a difficult situation with a friend, a child needing attention, pets to feed, yet another pile of clutter to tame, taxes to complete, errands to run,….the list goes on an on!

No matter what type of lifestyle we have, modern life pulls us all in way too many directions. It can be all too familiar to fall into living in survival mode, just putting out the fires as they arise and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

Putting God, home and family, and all of the most important pieces of our lives first takes intention and real focus. I often have to pray for the ability to focus in my own life. And I’m learning that when I put my focus on God, the rest has a way of falling into place. It isn’t always easy, but He does make the way clear.

And so this year, I’ve returned to what used to be my discipline of spending a brief time with God before I ever even get out of bed. Focusing on Him focuses my whole day.
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From My Library: Home Comforts

homecomfortsBook InformationHome Comforts

Author – Cheryl Mendelson

Publisher – Scribner (2005 – $22.00 print, $16.00 digital)

This book is one that I go back to again and again, and I’ve given it as a wedding gift to more friends than I can count.  I’m not a born homemaking maven and I’m not one of those women who loves cleaning, but this book has been a valuable tool in helping me keep house.  More importantly, it has done much to help me make our house a home.

Home Comforts is not a book that I’d recommend reading from cover to cover all at once. It’s pretty much an encyclopedia of home keeping, and it’s the kind of thing that you will find yourself pulling off the shelf again and again whenever you forget something your mother taught you or simply come across some new conundrum.  Not sure how to remove stains?  Oh boy, will Mendelson teach you how to remove just about any stain!  That includes all the crazy messes that come with infants and toddlers.  We inherited a cream colored throw rug, and a tip from this book actually worked for getting strained beets out of it (don’t ask.) Continue reading