Tag Archives: Crafts

Little Homesteader: A Fall Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom, by Angela Ferraro-Fanning

As our world spins faster and faster and our connection to the natural world grows more distant, many of us feel a yearning for a simpler existence, and thoughtful parents desire to see their children live richer, more mindful lives.

Angela Ferraro-Fanning has written a series of picture books tied to seasonal themes and activities. The fall volume is filled with apples and pumpkins. The author explains what happens to plants and animals in the fall, and then she offers an array of suggestions for traditional activities for young children. The book offers many recipes and craft ideas, often needing adult supervision. Illustrator Annelies Draws covers the matte pages with cute, childlike drawings of rosy-cheeked, diverse children and cheerful animals.

Ferraro-Fanning maintains an environmental awareness throughout, which seems to be important to the publisher, also, as Quarto’s Ivy Kids announces on the front and back that the book is printed on 100% recycled paper. Suggestions for using up waste are sprinkled into the pages, too. After the cinnamon applesauce recipe, there are instructions for making apple tea or feeding your peels and core to animals. After the pumpkin muffin recipe, children are encouraged to roast the seeds or make percussion instruments with them. There are many more ideas that are not food-related, as well, and I am fascinated with the idea of making acorn cap tealights as part of a fall centerpiece.

These are valuable books of simple, wholesome ideas to get your little ones away from screens and toward self-sufficiency—in other words, to make them little homesteaders! Creative, warm, and fun.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

A Craftsman’s Legacy, by Eric Gorges

Craftsman's LegacyMy husband actually read this one, but he read so much of it aloud to me and we discussed it so thoroughly that I feel as though I read it myself. Based on the PBS television show of the same name, the book’s subtitle, Why Working with Our Hands Gives Us Meaning, was the catalyst for me to bring it home from the library for David.

Gorges worked in the corporate world before opening his motorcycle shop, Voodoo Choppers, and becoming a master metal shaper. After considering the changes in his life because of his creative work, he decided to visit craftsmen in other disciplines to examine the influence their handwork wrought on their minds and souls. Deep stuff for a biker.

David and I have been diving into the spiritual aspects of handwork lately, as well, and this book really helped to drive some of our conversations. David has been continuing his generations-long family tradition of woodworking with small and large projects, and perhaps a future of entrepreneurship. A year and a half ago, I checked off a box on my bucket list by learning to knit. Since then, I have become an avid fan of this needlecraft, my favorite in a long list of needlework throughout my life. Each project has taught me a new skill, along with knowledge of the fibers and the history of the stitches. The tactile pleasures of working with wool, silk, and cashmere while crafting warm garments with Celtic-knot cables or open lacework are soothing and satisfying. I liked it so much that I committed myself to knitting five Christmas presents this year, which I will never do again.

Working with one’s hands does absorb the same time that could be used for reading and writing, and I am only so fond of audiobooks, so I will have to take that into consideration in the future. However, David and I both found that handcrafts moved us away from technology and slowed our thinking in ways that were healthy for us. We both believe that God created people in his own image, and part of that image is our innate desire to be sub-creators, as Tolkien expressed it. The growing joy that one feels as a project begins to take shape under our hands, gradually assuming the image that we had in our minds, is a delight that makes us return to our craft again and again. Each time, we also have grown and learned new skills and are able to bring more complex and beautiful works into being. A bit of ourselves is woven into each product, and inanimate objects take on meaning that survives beyond our human lives.

As Gorges visits each artisan, he tries his hand at their craft. Pottery turns out to be much more difficult to throw than he expected, and he marvels at the bulging muscle on the engraver’s carving hand. Glassblowers, woodworkers, and sculptors all have skills developed over years of labor. I was especially interested in the chapter on calligraphy, since that is next on my list of artistic endeavors. I made a stab at it years ago, but my Christmas list this year included split-nib pens, ink, alphabet books, and a light table. We are fixing up a craft room right now, and I hope to have ink-stained fingers in no time. But first, I owe David a scarf.

If you have an itch to create, Eric Gorges will show you how your soul will be enriched by the work of your fingers. Oh, and download an audiobook from your local library while you work.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and my husband’s and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else. This column is reprinted at www.TheReaderWrites.com, with additional photographs.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Christian Life