Here are some of the books I believe to be the most helpful. They cover gardening, homesteading, raising kids, food, being a good homemaker, and organizing. Some of the books listed are absolute favorites of mine that I have read time and again. When I became a full time mom and homemaker it only took me about a year to realize that intuition and being raised in a way I appreciated didn’t give me all the info I need to succeed at my new job. So I did what any person who believes in self educating would do: I started educating myself. For me this involves lots of reading. But do not despair those of you who love images, many of these books are filled with great pictures and diagrams.
After emersing myself in books like these for many years I am now much better than I once was at all the tasks listed above. Never forget to love yourself on your journey.
Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide
This is the book I gave to each friend who moved to Portland. The Seattle Tilth puts out this wonderful month by month guide that lists when to start seeds indoors and outdoors and which varieties flourish here. It also contains very helpful information on composting, children’s gardens, and what to expect each month in a garden in the Pacific Northwest Martime climate.
Countryside is for those who wish to learn from the folk wisdom and down home experience of actual farmers and homesteaders. Each issue is written almost exclusively by the readers and is packed full of useful information. The inside of the magazine is all black and white, just one glossy photo per issue, and that would be on the front cover. But for they who wish to learn the true county skills, this is your ticket.
Written by two women living on the land and learning as they go, this beautifully illustrated book has diagrams of how to build fences and repair homes, as well as heartfelt journal entries about they were feeling along the way (leave it to women to get the job done, all the while processing their emotions about what is happening). This book has flow as well as information and make you proud to be a woman (if you are one) and give you the confidence to take on jobs around the place that might otherwise intimate you.
Householder’s Guide to the Universe
For years I read this book over and over and over. It is a month by month book, although of course at first I devoured the whole thing at once. Each month’s chapter has tasks to do in the garden, kitchen and home. There are recipes and knowledge given about how to choose a meat share that works for your family, how to can food, how to manage your kitchen and food supply. It is so well written and full of humor and insight that it is an absolute joy to read.
I’ve read a lot of organizing books over the past six years, and this one puts the whole life approach, and the details, into the simplest form. I put it in my stepdaughter’s hope chest because I believe it will benefit her as she creates her adult life. From budgets to time management, this book gives you a firm foundation on having a simple and organized life.
Portland Nursery Veggie Calendar (FREE!)
For those of you living in the Portland area, this is a great planting guide. Pick up your copy of the bright yellow tri fold pamphlet at one of the Portland Nursery locations.
The Mother’s Almanac
This book is quirky and will make you feel normal in about two seconds, even if you are struggling with two toddlers day in and day out. It’s written by moms who know their business and have empathy for you. The funny wisdom tucked inside has helped me through many a time. Lots of info on all the stages a little one will go through,a nd all the ways that you will feel along the way. Tips on taking trips with kids, sickness kids may have, how to set up a childcare collective and much much more. I keep mine handy at all times. Buy one for every new mama you know. It will serve her much better than a cute onesie.
French Kids Eat Everything
The woman who wrote this book started out feeding her kids starches and dairy, as many North American do. A year in France with her husabnd’s Family changed her view on food and changed their family’s habits as well. I love it because she is never judging you, she is right there with you. And the more you read the more it makes sense to all eat together, all eat the same thing, and gently encourage you kids to continually re-try veggies they may not have loved before. It also teaches us parents and caretakers how to slow down, while still keeping it healthy and enjoyable. Half story, half how-to this book is one that will have you relishing your reading time, and sneaking away to make more of it.
The Joy of Cooking
An absolute must have. If you decide to move to a cabin and cook everything by hand and bring only one cookbook this is it. This book is a classic for a reason. It covers just about every recipe you could wish for, including canning recipes. I love the baking section best of all, and it shows, with the binding tearing out and stains of chocolate on the pages. The book is a good teacher and the recipes are not too complicated (at least not the ones I choose to make). It also has helpful paragraphs introducing you to the types of food each section is about and charts telling you how to cook each and every type of grain.
Feeding the Whole Family
Healthy food in a way your kid will eat it. Each recipe has a simplified version for babies. There is wonderful lunchbox section that talks about what types of things each lunch you pack should include, and a handy little chart that I made copies of and hung on the fridge. There are recipes for yummy breakfast burritos and several Asian noodles dishes that are delicious. My friend loaned me a copy of this book and I loved it so much I had to get myself a copy. And then get my other friend a copy.
Zero Waste Home
For those of you who are concerned about the waste humans are producing these days this book is extremely helpful. She discusses minimalizing your wardrobe while still having versitality within it and making your own skin care and beauty products. She walks you through what a healthful grocery shopping trip looks like. (My favorite tip? Start in the produce section so that that is where you buy most of your groceries. Works like a charm). She discusses in detail how to find and use good bulk sections and how to buy things in bulk that one may not ordinarily think of as being available that way. She even has an app for finding bulk food sections near you.