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The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping

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Want to create an organized, productive, and beautiful kitchen and home? Popular Seattle blogger, Erica Strauss (Northwest Edible Life) shows us how in this modern homekeeping handbook for thrifty DIYers who care about sustainability. A fresh take on modern homemaking, this is a practical (and sometimes sassy) guide to maximizing your time, effort, and energy in the kitche Want to create an organized, productive, and beautiful kitchen and home? Popular Seattle blogger, Erica Strauss (Northwest Edible Life) shows us how in this modern homekeeping handbook for thrifty DIYers who care about sustainability. A fresh take on modern homemaking, this is a practical (and sometimes sassy) guide to maximizing your time, effort, and energy in the kitchen and beyond. With a focus on less consumerism, it will teach you how to organize your kitchen and home to make the best use of your time. For those yearning to live a more ecologically minded, grounded lifestyle, this book is full of practical, no-nonsense advice, fabulous recipes, and time- and money-saving techniques.


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Want to create an organized, productive, and beautiful kitchen and home? Popular Seattle blogger, Erica Strauss (Northwest Edible Life) shows us how in this modern homekeeping handbook for thrifty DIYers who care about sustainability. A fresh take on modern homemaking, this is a practical (and sometimes sassy) guide to maximizing your time, effort, and energy in the kitche Want to create an organized, productive, and beautiful kitchen and home? Popular Seattle blogger, Erica Strauss (Northwest Edible Life) shows us how in this modern homekeeping handbook for thrifty DIYers who care about sustainability. A fresh take on modern homemaking, this is a practical (and sometimes sassy) guide to maximizing your time, effort, and energy in the kitchen and beyond. With a focus on less consumerism, it will teach you how to organize your kitchen and home to make the best use of your time. For those yearning to live a more ecologically minded, grounded lifestyle, this book is full of practical, no-nonsense advice, fabulous recipes, and time- and money-saving techniques.

30 review for The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping

  1. 5 out of 5

    Juli Anna

    I ordered this book from the library fully intending on mocking it and looking forward to writing a scathing review. Lo and behold, this is actually an excellent addition to the ever-growing sector of alternative home economics books! Strauss' writing is cheeky, self-aware, and (usually) shies away from the rural sentimentality that plagues this genre. Her food recipes are inventive, but not cloying; fresh, but not too trendy. Her personal care and cleaning product recipes take into account the I ordered this book from the library fully intending on mocking it and looking forward to writing a scathing review. Lo and behold, this is actually an excellent addition to the ever-growing sector of alternative home economics books! Strauss' writing is cheeky, self-aware, and (usually) shies away from the rural sentimentality that plagues this genre. Her food recipes are inventive, but not cloying; fresh, but not too trendy. Her personal care and cleaning product recipes take into account the actual chemistry of mixing substances together, rather than simply regurgitating the collective "wisdom" (read: hooey) of the blogosphere. My favorite thing about this book was the "Basics" chapter at the beginning, which works through the nitty-gritty of how to create a home environment that you love, whatever that means to you. Most of these sorts of books expect that you will simply start doing projects; ostensibly, making strawberry jam will lead to container gardening and chickens and suddenly your life is a veritable Kinfolk photo spread. But Strauss has her readers make lists of goals--as well as impediments--in their homes, and gives solid advice on creating routines that make a home-based life more feasible, even if you never intend to take on any of the projects in the book. She is refreshingly realistic about the barriers that make running a "hands-on home" difficult for people, and she offers humorous, encouraging, practical strategies for overcoming them. This is far too often neglected by writers in this genre. For me, this book easily joins the ranks with Eric Knutzen's and Kelly Coyne's The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World as a practical, creative reference for do-it-yourselfers and radical homekeepers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I have been a follower of Erica Strauss' blog 'Northwest Edible Life' for quite some time now, and have gotten so much wonderful information from it. However, I have found that sometimes the successful blog does not translate well into book form. So I was alternately very excited and somewhat apprehensive when I saw this was coming out. I'm thrilled to say that it's fabulous! Strauss takes the reader on a seasonal "homekeeping" journey, imparting hints, tips, recipes and more to help the curious, I have been a follower of Erica Strauss' blog 'Northwest Edible Life' for quite some time now, and have gotten so much wonderful information from it. However, I have found that sometimes the successful blog does not translate well into book form. So I was alternately very excited and somewhat apprehensive when I saw this was coming out. I'm thrilled to say that it's fabulous! Strauss takes the reader on a seasonal "homekeeping" journey, imparting hints, tips, recipes and more to help the curious, the lost, and the frustrated figure out a way to do it better. What I loved the most is that she never preaches, nor is it her way or bust. There's a very friendly "we're all in this together" kind of vibe going on, and it was...sort of...comforting? The book is divided up into six sections: Basics & Techniques, Year-Round, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Within those sections are hints & tips, suggestions, and recipes for cooking, preserving, home care and personal care. Year-round recipes include flatbread, one-hour ricotta cheese, infused vinegar, all-purpose cleaner, and "potty powder". Spring has watercress salad with stir-fried beef and peanuts, vanilla cream tart with fresh strawberries, pickled asparagus, carpet freshener, and two-in-one facial exfoliant and moisturizer. Summer has grilled nectarines with red onion, basil, mint, and blue cheese, grilled strip steak with fresh herb chimichurri, simple jam with flavor zings (well worth reading for the "zing" information alone), lacto-fermented pico de gallo, stink stopper toilet spray, comfrey and aloe skin-soothing gel. And on it goes, season by season, full of amazing information and wonderful recipes. All easy to do, all with the goal of simplifying and making your home cleaner and more natural. The book itself is gorgeous. The cover is embossed and thick, the pages are thicker-weight, and the bookmark ribbon was the best touch. Sadly, there is only one ribbon, and I have already marked multiple pages. If you're in a rut with your home, frustrated, or just want to explore new options to benefit your family and your home, this book is well worth the purchase price. I highly recommend it for just about everyone who wants to be a little more hands-on while feeling less overwhelmed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bekah

    As someone who is often skeptical of the practicality and safety/sanitation of DIYing *everything* in your life, I enjoyed looking through this book and feel I gained good information to change some habits in practical ways that work for me. While I know that I will certainly never make my own shampoo, toothpaste, or toilet bowl cleaner, the explanation on how soap works in general and how different soaps can clean has convinced me to give a petroleum-free dish cleaner a try as well as making my As someone who is often skeptical of the practicality and safety/sanitation of DIYing *everything* in your life, I enjoyed looking through this book and feel I gained good information to change some habits in practical ways that work for me. While I know that I will certainly never make my own shampoo, toothpaste, or toilet bowl cleaner, the explanation on how soap works in general and how different soaps can clean has convinced me to give a petroleum-free dish cleaner a try as well as making my own general purpose cleaner. And as much as I would love to try preserving foods or make my own ricotta cheese or yogurt, I know that is not a realistic thing I have the time, drive, and money to do. But this book did make the idea of baking my own bread every once and a while feasible and some of the other recipes looked good, too. For as much as I probably wouldn't personally use or do in this book, it does offer ideas, encouragement, and information to make some changes you might have been thinking about, but just didn't know where to start. The writing is clear, informative, and succinct. I like that Strauss encourages you to pick the things you want to try and not feel like you have to do it all at once. This is a rare 4 star rating from me for a DIY natural/homekeeping kind of book. I think most people would get a few things from it no matter their skill set, time investment, or level of interest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Peterman

    Great book written by the season with recipes for meals, preserving and DIY cleaners and personal care items.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jori

    Really helpful guide to eating seasonally and preserving your own food. Also, amazing presentation of DIY cleaners and personal care products--not just "it's natural and smells nice," but detailed explanation of the chemistry behind the ingredients. There's something in here for everyone--just starting out in eating seasonally to advanced pressure canning. I'll be using this book again and again. Really helpful guide to eating seasonally and preserving your own food. Also, amazing presentation of DIY cleaners and personal care products--not just "it's natural and smells nice," but detailed explanation of the chemistry behind the ingredients. There's something in here for everyone--just starting out in eating seasonally to advanced pressure canning. I'll be using this book again and again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

    It's probably no coincidence that my two favorite genres currently are post-apocalyptic fiction and canning how-to (thanks, Walking Dead), but the end result is I've read pretty much every back-to-the land homemaking book to cross my library's shelves. This one is exceptionally good—not just because of the quality of the recipes, but also because of the friendly, witty (e.g., "Make hay when the sun shines and make sauerkraut whenever"), approachable writing. I already do some of the stuff covere It's probably no coincidence that my two favorite genres currently are post-apocalyptic fiction and canning how-to (thanks, Walking Dead), but the end result is I've read pretty much every back-to-the land homemaking book to cross my library's shelves. This one is exceptionally good—not just because of the quality of the recipes, but also because of the friendly, witty (e.g., "Make hay when the sun shines and make sauerkraut whenever"), approachable writing. I already do some of the stuff covered I this book—gardening, canning, scratch-cooking, and chicken raising—but the author inspires me (rather than pressuring/shaming) me to do more. I'd recommend this to anyone looking to begin or further his/her living-off-the-land pursuits.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Useful and inspirational home management book. I find the canning directions simpler to follow than many, and think the cleaning product recipes are particular gems. That said, the fact that it's a "seasonal" guide seemed to mean that some things were split strangely, or chapters ordered strangely (like laundry products being multiple chapters away from cleaning products). The seasonal cooking recipes worked for what's fresh when, but I feel everything else could be better organized. Regardless, Useful and inspirational home management book. I find the canning directions simpler to follow than many, and think the cleaning product recipes are particular gems. That said, the fact that it's a "seasonal" guide seemed to mean that some things were split strangely, or chapters ordered strangely (like laundry products being multiple chapters away from cleaning products). The seasonal cooking recipes worked for what's fresh when, but I feel everything else could be better organized. Regardless, I had this one from the library, but I'm adding it to my wishlist to own: it would be good to have.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Similar subject matter as Little House Living, but the author's voice and POV in this one appealed to me a bit more/was more relatable for me on some levels. As living in Japan gave me a healthy appreciation for the seasons and their changing (read: obsession with), I liked that this one was organized by season, with different recipes and activities for each. A beautifully photographed and designed book. I definitely want to try some of this stuff out! Similar subject matter as Little House Living, but the author's voice and POV in this one appealed to me a bit more/was more relatable for me on some levels. As living in Japan gave me a healthy appreciation for the seasons and their changing (read: obsession with), I liked that this one was organized by season, with different recipes and activities for each. A beautifully photographed and designed book. I definitely want to try some of this stuff out!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    My review of The Hands-On Home 🧺 . . Finally finished this bad boy! It’s a large book full of legit, VERY “hands-on” DYI home keeping. I gravitate towards family and consumer sciences, and this book pulled me in when I saw it on display at @sunrivergardens. I checked it out at the @provolibrary, and have enjoyed going through it! If you are wanting a less consumerism approach to home care, this book is it. If you want to get into canning/preserving, this book is it. If you want to eat seasonally an My review of The Hands-On Home 🧺 . . Finally finished this bad boy! It’s a large book full of legit, VERY “hands-on” DYI home keeping. I gravitate towards family and consumer sciences, and this book pulled me in when I saw it on display at @sunrivergardens. I checked it out at the @provolibrary, and have enjoyed going through it! If you are wanting a less consumerism approach to home care, this book is it. If you want to get into canning/preserving, this book is it. If you want to eat seasonally and get some great recipes, this book is it. . . I enjoyed learning while reading this book. I don’t can food (it actually kind of scares me haha!) or have a lot of knowledge of seasonal eating, and this was great information. When I’m ready to try, this book would be a great resource. For now, I was ready to pull out some yummy recipes to try, a couple DYI home-care solutions to think about (grease grime spray for vent hoods, softening shine hair spray, oven cleaner), and the knowledge of seasonal eating and being more proactive in my attempts for our food industry and my taste buds. . .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janelle F

    This is the best compendium of DIY household cleaners that I have ever read. The introduction section at the start explains the chemistry of cleaning very simply and then the recipes are simple permutations of just a few ingredients: borax, vinegar, baking soda, essential oil, rubbing alcohol. I spent about $12 and made glass cleaner as good as Windex, a good oven cleaner, and a grout cleaner that is the best I’ve ever used. There are also food recipes, which are fairly basic. If you’re new to s This is the best compendium of DIY household cleaners that I have ever read. The introduction section at the start explains the chemistry of cleaning very simply and then the recipes are simple permutations of just a few ingredients: borax, vinegar, baking soda, essential oil, rubbing alcohol. I spent about $12 and made glass cleaner as good as Windex, a good oven cleaner, and a grout cleaner that is the best I’ve ever used. There are also food recipes, which are fairly basic. If you’re new to seasonal cooking, these would be a good start. I liked a lot of the seasonal reminders: like a spring mattress airing, sunning white linens in summer, etc. This is a beautiful book that is relaxing and do-able.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Tennant

    I loved everything about this book. It's a sturdy, hard backed large book, with thick pages. It has a variety of DIY ideas- from cooking to canning to cleaning. Everything seemed pretty simple and straightforward. I have done a little canning before but I loved her explanations for why to do things certain ways. I have only done water bath canning up to this point but I am eager this try pressure canning now! I really like her cleaning products, not sure if I will venture into the beauty side of I loved everything about this book. It's a sturdy, hard backed large book, with thick pages. It has a variety of DIY ideas- from cooking to canning to cleaning. Everything seemed pretty simple and straightforward. I have done a little canning before but I loved her explanations for why to do things certain ways. I have only done water bath canning up to this point but I am eager this try pressure canning now! I really like her cleaning products, not sure if I will venture into the beauty side of things- but if I do, she has some great things to try.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ShanTil Yell

    This book is an absolute treasure chest! I just checked it out from the library for a couple of weeks, but it would be a great resource to own. Loads of fun recipes and tips to try in the kitchen and all around the house, from preserving produce to DIY personal care products. I wasn't quite brave enough to attempt canning anything...there's a whole section on the dangers of botulism that effectively scared me away. However, I did make some simple cleaning solutions for us, which turned out to be This book is an absolute treasure chest! I just checked it out from the library for a couple of weeks, but it would be a great resource to own. Loads of fun recipes and tips to try in the kitchen and all around the house, from preserving produce to DIY personal care products. I wasn't quite brave enough to attempt canning anything...there's a whole section on the dangers of botulism that effectively scared me away. However, I did make some simple cleaning solutions for us, which turned out to be a cool lil' weekend project. 4/5 stars for helping me channel my inner housewife/chemist.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    It does what it says on the tin, perhaps too literally. It stays exactly on path devoting all of its pages to cooking, recipes for home care products and preservation techniques. This is a good overview but I was hoping for more niche material. I suppose I was thinking this'd be more of a homesteading book, but its a bit too focused (yet not focused enough as I'd rather read a preservation book for example) for me It does what it says on the tin, perhaps too literally. It stays exactly on path devoting all of its pages to cooking, recipes for home care products and preservation techniques. This is a good overview but I was hoping for more niche material. I suppose I was thinking this'd be more of a homesteading book, but its a bit too focused (yet not focused enough as I'd rather read a preservation book for example) for me

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Carlson

    This felt like she had done a lot research and practiced what she preached. I felt like the cleaning product recipes would do the trick and were scientifically sound. The recipes for food were seasonal, but had lots of meat and cheese in them so I didn't make any. He ideas for cleaning were good and practical. If you are looking for a book to help you be a thorough homemaker this is the one to get. This felt like she had done a lot research and practiced what she preached. I felt like the cleaning product recipes would do the trick and were scientifically sound. The recipes for food were seasonal, but had lots of meat and cheese in them so I didn't make any. He ideas for cleaning were good and practical. If you are looking for a book to help you be a thorough homemaker this is the one to get.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    To be completely honest, I only skimmed through this to see what it looked like, so I can't speak to how well the recipes and ideas offered here work. Look to other reviews for that. It looks like good information, though -- lots of step-by-step images with captions, as well as immediately useful information, all organized into seasonal sections. The photography is beautiful, but this isn't a photo-heavy book. To be completely honest, I only skimmed through this to see what it looked like, so I can't speak to how well the recipes and ideas offered here work. Look to other reviews for that. It looks like good information, though -- lots of step-by-step images with captions, as well as immediately useful information, all organized into seasonal sections. The photography is beautiful, but this isn't a photo-heavy book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Thompson

    Will definitely be coming back to this one for some canning recipes, but I'm not the biggest fan of the DIY personal/home care recipes. They tend to include a lot of ingredients that I don't feel super keen on having hanging around my home like lye, washing soda and borax. With all this in mind, I would still recommend this book if you're interested in trying to skip the store bought products and making things yourself. Will definitely be coming back to this one for some canning recipes, but I'm not the biggest fan of the DIY personal/home care recipes. They tend to include a lot of ingredients that I don't feel super keen on having hanging around my home like lye, washing soda and borax. With all this in mind, I would still recommend this book if you're interested in trying to skip the store bought products and making things yourself.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is a beautiful book. I've tried a couple of the cooking recipes and they've been great. Her jam flavor combination ideas are spectacular. I made peach jam with whiskey and vanilla, which was delicious. I'm going to stay far away from the personal care recipes, though. I don't trust anyone who says to put essential oils on your face. This is a beautiful book. I've tried a couple of the cooking recipes and they've been great. Her jam flavor combination ideas are spectacular. I made peach jam with whiskey and vanilla, which was delicious. I'm going to stay far away from the personal care recipes, though. I don't trust anyone who says to put essential oils on your face.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is a beautiful resource with lots of great ideas - food preserving, home care recipes, and personal care recipes. This helped me up my natural DIY home. While I am largely vegan, I still got a lot from the book (just avoided most of the meal recipes).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hefner

    Fun collection of recipes and DIY home projects for each season.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Checked this out from the library, and I realized I need to buy this! I want it close to me always!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I loved the front section on the basics of cleaning products.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kerrymac

    This is a beautiful book with lots of helpful home ideas.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I like the cleaning and personal care recipes much more than the cooking ones. Some of the canning recipes look interesting - especially for meat and beans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ros

    Full disclosure: I follow the author's blog, but wasn't going to buy this book because most home-making and home-care books don't really include material I don't know/don't already do. I was curious enough to get my local library to order it, though... and, once I read it, impressed enough to order a copy of it for reference. Biggest like: this is comprehensive. This is condensed. There is a LOT of information here. For example, for jams, vinaigrettes, and creamy salad dressings, Strauss include Full disclosure: I follow the author's blog, but wasn't going to buy this book because most home-making and home-care books don't really include material I don't know/don't already do. I was curious enough to get my local library to order it, though... and, once I read it, impressed enough to order a copy of it for reference. Biggest like: this is comprehensive. This is condensed. There is a LOT of information here. For example, for jams, vinaigrettes, and creamy salad dressings, Strauss includes one 'base' recipe that uses a basic template, and then a 2-page chart of modified recipes based on the template. I've seen SO many cookbooks that would have stretched out these 2 pages of information into a full chapter. And there's almost 400 pages of condensed information of this type. Some of the information I found irrelevant (I already know the cleaning schedule that works best for my family and our expectations and lifestyle, though the section about 'find something that works' might be super helpful to some!), and some I found HYPER relevant (the section on different kinds of dirt combined with what works to clean it was more straightforward than I've ever seen it, and the recipes for household cleaners prompted me to make mostly-scent-free cleaners that don't give me headaches when I clean. Huzzah!) I wouldn't advise buying this as a cookbook. The recipes are good, and always include suggestions for modifications (which is nice, since I'm a chronic modifier-of-recipes based on needs or what's in the fridge), but they're not the backbone of the book. The preserves, personal care recipe (OMG the shampoo recipe i love it) or the household maintenance, though? Yes. Absolutely. Worth the cost of the book, and then again more. One comment: given the author's blog, i would have expected more gardening or make-from-scratch-from-your-garden type of information. I'm holding out for a second book on producing food; I would absolutely buy that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Payne

    I have only had this book for two days and I can tell you that in the past two years I have been reviewing Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review, this book, by far, is the best book I have received; perhaps with the exception of Orhan's Gift. I have skimmed through this beautifully crafted book and read several of her DIY articles and am amazed by the depth and breadth that Hands on Home contains. This generation deserves a book like this. Somewhere in my basement is a weathered a I have only had this book for two days and I can tell you that in the past two years I have been reviewing Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review, this book, by far, is the best book I have received; perhaps with the exception of Orhan's Gift. I have skimmed through this beautifully crafted book and read several of her DIY articles and am amazed by the depth and breadth that Hands on Home contains. This generation deserves a book like this. Somewhere in my basement is a weathered and lovingly worn book that has been passed on down from my great-grandmother to me and soon I will pass it on to my daughter. Hands on Home is the definitive book for today's homemakers whether they are stay-at-home moms or career minded women. There is something for everyone in this treasure trove of all-things home. Erica has included everything from DIY tips on soap making to household cleaners and back again, to what sound like wonderful recipes for all seasons. There are even things in Erica's book that would appeal to men who like to help out around the house. I can tell you, that in my household, my husband will be into the recipes because he is the chef and I am the one who will gravitate between the baking sections and the body scrubs and fizz bombs! I would recommend this book without any reservation, to just about anyone. I am a photographer and I immediately fell in love with this book because of the simple, yet stunning images that are interspersed throughout the book. The presentation is beautiful. Love the bookmark. Erica knows how to deliver a quality work of art. So much so, in fact, that this particular book won't be given to my daughter anytime soon. But I may just buy her one of her own for Christmas this year.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a really unique book. The author goes through various ways to make your home more sustainable and how to do more yourself. She goes over a few basic techniques in the beginning then the book is divided into year-round, spring, summer, fall, and winter. In each section she discusses cooking, preserving, home care, and personal care. Each category has recipes for meals, how to preserve seasonally, and recipes for cleaning and beauty products to make yourself. I really like how the book is This is a really unique book. The author goes through various ways to make your home more sustainable and how to do more yourself. She goes over a few basic techniques in the beginning then the book is divided into year-round, spring, summer, fall, and winter. In each section she discusses cooking, preserving, home care, and personal care. Each category has recipes for meals, how to preserve seasonally, and recipes for cleaning and beauty products to make yourself. I really like how the book is organized and I like how she looks at the whole household - not just canning and preserving, but other aspects. She also gives lots of tips on how to clean - from everyday things to annual deep cleaning. This is a book that I might buy because it's just so full of great information and tips. Some quotes I really liked: "We trade our time and our skills for money, and then trade that money for the promise of things that will save us time. It's a vicious circle as we outsource the essentials of life: food, fuel, clothing, entertainment, and comfort, and then work to afford all we've outsourced." (p. xvii) "Sure, I can get blackberry jam at the store on sale. Unless I go for the very high-end artisan jam, it'll be mostly high fructose corn syrup and added pectin and not much fruit, but it'll be cheap. Or, I can grow or glean or buy fruit in season at rock-bottom prices from farmers I know and spend an afternoon making all the jam I'll need for the whole year. My ingredient cost will probably be less than the crappy jam at the store, and the quality will be better than the best stuff available for sale." (p. 20)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Holly Scudero

    In these days of modern conveniences, the art of basic housekeeping has fallen by the wayside for many. Many younger adults (and some older adults, too!) feel like their routines are missing something, and a book like “The Hands-On Home” by Erica Strauss is here to fill in those gaps. If you have no idea how to actually keep your home clean, Strauss offers tips for creating a routine--daily, weekly, seasonally--that works for you, along with recipes for making cleaning products to replace the ha In these days of modern conveniences, the art of basic housekeeping has fallen by the wayside for many. Many younger adults (and some older adults, too!) feel like their routines are missing something, and a book like “The Hands-On Home” by Erica Strauss is here to fill in those gaps. If you have no idea how to actually keep your home clean, Strauss offers tips for creating a routine--daily, weekly, seasonally--that works for you, along with recipes for making cleaning products to replace the harsh chemical-laden ones found in stores. If you’ve been wanting to start eating more seasonally, Strauss offers plenty of recipes, including plenty of ways to preserve foods via canning or lacto-fermentation. If you want to freshen up your personal care routines, this book has you covered there, too; there are recipes for tooth powder, soaps, moisturizers, and more. The recipes are clearly written and many include pictures. Readers will also love learning about the basics of canning and fermentation. The seasonal chapters are great for the recipes, but some readers would prefer to have all of the personal and home care recipes lumped together for ease of reference. Overall, this is a great book for anyone looking to make their home more natural. (Review originally written for San Francisco Book Review.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather O'Leary

    I can see myself referring back to this book someday, when I work up the courage to actually try preserving or making my own cleaning products or soaps. There is a lot of good information here about the different ingredients that can go into natural products and the instructions seem straight forward and easy to follow. The pictures are beautiful too! I really like the idea of doing these things, but for some reason reading the lists of steps to make my mornings less stressful and thinking about I can see myself referring back to this book someday, when I work up the courage to actually try preserving or making my own cleaning products or soaps. There is a lot of good information here about the different ingredients that can go into natural products and the instructions seem straight forward and easy to follow. The pictures are beautiful too! I really like the idea of doing these things, but for some reason reading the lists of steps to make my mornings less stressful and thinking about actually purchasing the ingredients and mixing my own household cleaners was strangely anxiety-provoking. This clearly has more to do with my own level of stress with trying to keep my home-chaos in check, rather than the usefulness of the book for those who are game to roll up their sleeves and dive in. Recommended for those who are ready to try their hand at homemade and natural cleaning, cooking and preserving and as inspiration for those who will maybe get to that point...eventually.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    First off, it's a lovely book. I like both the illustrations and photos. It feels solid—the kind of book you can use regularly and have it hold up. It wasn't what quite what I expected. I've been reading Erica Strauss' Northwest Edible Life (tagline: life on garden time) for a few years now, so I expected a little more of Erica's garden wisdom, maybe a little more Grow Cook Eat. If she writes a garden or garden/food book, it will be on my shelf. What I liked about the book: Seasonal organization V First off, it's a lovely book. I like both the illustrations and photos. It feels solid—the kind of book you can use regularly and have it hold up. It wasn't what quite what I expected. I've been reading Erica Strauss' Northwest Edible Life (tagline: life on garden time) for a few years now, so I expected a little more of Erica's garden wisdom, maybe a little more Grow Cook Eat. If she writes a garden or garden/food book, it will be on my shelf. What I liked about the book: Seasonal organization Variations on a basic recipe like salad dressings or jam flavor zings Explanations of why (e.g., why to use different types of cleaners on different kinds of dirt) There are some recipes I want to try. I had good results with the picnic bread. If I decide to finally try pressure canning, I'm coming back to the directions in this book. I'm not sure how much I'm ready to delve into homemade personal care and cleaners at this point, but if you are, I'm pretty sure Erica's a good guide.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Hmm --- It says this isn't to be published until September 29. Well, I'm holding a copy a purchased last week and it's a good book. There's a good mix of what I would call basic and advanced information. The recipes look yummy and practical. I especially like the sections on figuring out home care routines (probably because I have a similar philosophy...) I also appreciate the sense of humor infused in the book :-) Edit: I think my book has the ISBN of the coverless edition listed here. I'm stick Hmm --- It says this isn't to be published until September 29. Well, I'm holding a copy a purchased last week and it's a good book. There's a good mix of what I would call basic and advanced information. The recipes look yummy and practical. I especially like the sections on figuring out home care routines (probably because I have a similar philosophy...) I also appreciate the sense of humor infused in the book :-) Edit: I think my book has the ISBN of the coverless edition listed here. I'm sticking with this because the cover is so pretty.

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