I can imagine that it must difficult to walk the line between engaging memoir writing and obtuse preachiness when you are trying to make the world a better place through living a sustainable lifestyle (I often wonder just how annoying my blog posts are for that exact reason); this quandary becomes painfully obvious at several points in "Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life." In this book, Jenna Woginrich writes about her love of all things handmade and her day-to-day pursuit of hobby farming/urban homesteading.
This is a lovely, little book with many positive thoughts and humorous quotes and, overall, I would say it is a delightful lazy weekend read. But, there were those moments when I found it nearly unbearable to read about Jenna's interest in, say, dog sledding or her particular feelings about what antiques she and her twenty-something friends feel are cool to buy. If all of the sustainable pursuits described in her book were necessary to living sustainably, the pill might have been easier to swallow.
Pursuing a handmade, sustainable life is a noteworthy achievement, especially for a twenty-six year old child of the world's most consumer culture. I applaud Ms. Woginrich's efforts. But, I must note, giving advice on how to be a successful beekeeper, even though she has not yet been successful as a beekeeper, seems a bit absurd.
The author relates her mistakes and disasters in a delightfully, vulnerable prose that is most definitely endearing, but she errs when she assumes that her readers either want to do what she is doing or are twelve-year olds who have not already done so. The preachy tone, at points, overshadowed the valuable resources and information that Ms. Woginrich included in her manifesto.
All in all, I'd give "Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life" a solid B+. Although the fixings may have been over-salted at points, the meal was sustainably harvested and made from scratch.