Book Review: Made from Scratch

Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich

Made by Hand is a charming memoir/ how-to book from Jenna Woginrich who is a city girl turned country girl. Woginrich has the decency to still have a nine to five job and to work with computers. It’s what she does when she gets home that makes all the difference.

She talks about her aha moments and her mistakes in equal measures. This is the story of how she started tending bees, growing her own veggies, keeping chickens and rabbits, and training her dogs. It’s also about discovering the pleasure of playing an instrument and the joys of being with friends. It’s about the complexities of the simple life that is not so simple. As she says: “How complex is the simple life? Complex enough to make a Buddist-vegan kill a rabbit.” You’ll have to read the story to understand. It’s powerful and worth the time.

Her descriptions are so true and honest that one can smell the bread baking in the oven and hear the dogs barking at the window. And that is also the problem. The memoir bits are so lovely and well-written even at their most difficult, that when she switches over to writing the how-to sections it’s a jolt. I wanted to know her so much more than I wanted a how-to on using a needle and thread. I wouldn’t have minded a few sources and what she thought of them, but I did not need twenty pages on training sled dogs. I already know how to bake and I know how to sew. I’ve been buying used for years. Don’t tell me that. Tell me how the wax felt the first time you melted it to dip the candles you talked about. Don’t tell me how to use the library.

Still, all and all, I found it an enjoyable, quick read. I think it’s worth it for anyone to read. If you pick it up at the library, you can skip the how-tos without guilt after all.


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