yAs the word "homespun" in the name implies, this book contains plenty of ideas to create a warm atmosphere for the holidays, filled with homemade, hand-crafted goodies. Mingling among the recipes and craft projects were poems, book suggestions, insider's tips, and stories from the authors lives. The whole thing had a relaxed and casual feel, giving me a sense of family and genuineness. It was as though some neighborhood moms got together over coffee to chat and share their favorite holiday ideas and traditions, with one of them compiling it all in a nice collective presentation afterward. I have a family cookbook from my grandparents generation, which includes cooking tips, quotes, and memories interspersed throughout. This ebook reminded me of that.
Since my girls absolutely adore cooking, crafts, and poetry, they nearly thought it was an early Christmas present to go through the book and choose their favorites! They wanted to give something from each area a try - choosing from the recipes, book suggestions, games, traditions, and crafts. However, a few things don't apply or work for us right now, either because we live in Hawaii (and seasonal experiences like raking leaves aren't the norm for us here) or because I have Celiac (making many of the recipes less appealing since it would require adapting them to be gluten free). Luckily, there was enough substance in the ebook to give us plenty to try out, despite our minor limitations.
Aside from saying that the recipes in the ebook all sound yummy, I won't comment on them further in this review. This is because the changes I would have to make would alter the result, making the taste or texture slightly different, resulting in an unfair judgement of the original recipe. (I am, however, happy to elaborate on our experience with the recipes for any of my readers who also eat gluten free and might be curious about this - simply feel free to email me or comment below if you have any questions!)
I enjoyed reading the stories of seasonal traditions in other families (especially the shepherd's dinner - which we haven't done but I'm sure my kids would love), which sparked thoughts on new traditions that I'm considering implementing in our house. I love traditions!
Our kids could sit all day listening to books, so we always like to hear about other people's favorites. There weren't many books mentioned in Homespun Holidays: Fall & Winter, but you will find a few treasured story suggestions in there. The poetry was cute, but not awe inspiring or extremely memorable. Additionally, I think it would have been a nice addition if audio book and family-friendly movie recommendations had been included as well... something to listen to or watch while enjoying the other cooking, baking, or crafting projects!
"The crafts were the most fun aspect, in my family's opinion. The ideas in Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter could appeal to a variety of skill levels and interests, from the quick and easy to the slightly more time consuming and complex (albeit not too much so). This is nice for those hoping to get a spectrum of inspiration from the book, but maybe a tad disappointing for those that only want simple projects or only things that young kids can do on their own. Nonetheless, I didn't find any of the included ideas to be too difficult or beyond the realm of possibility (given enough preparation and effort).
I am not the most crafty mama - though I would certainly like to be (you should see all my lofty Pinterest-y goals!) - so things like the "scarecrow welcome sign" weren't in my realm of readiness and skill level at this point. (I did, however, just get a sewing machine as a gift for my birthday, so I hope to improve in this area soon!) But not to worry! There were also simple crafts that we were able to do with things normally found around the house. "Normally" being the key word here... since finding a good old-fashioned wire clothes hanger took us DAYS. Ha!
The girls had so much fun brainstorming other craft possibilities while we were there! We ended up leaving with a bag full of goodies for homemade gifts - both from ideas in the ebook and of our own design. We plan to include some of these gifts in the "treat bags" mentioned above (which we will use as homemade gift bags).
As soon as we had the chance, we started working on the crafts from the book. About 10 minutes into the wreath project (which is made using plastic trash bags), my 8-year old commented that she "didn't think this would be a fun craft, but it really is!" She loved it. While she handled the majority of the design and execution, we each contributed (even Little Sister was able to help a lot) and we all felt proud of the result. It was a good family project and we bonded during our time spent together working on it.
Overall, we liked Homespun Holidays: Fall and Winter. You can find it at The Old Schoolhouse's Store. Normally it costs $12.45 but at the time of this writing, it is currently available for free! (That could change at any moment, of course!) Being free, I would definitely recommend it to others! At the full price, I'd say that it depends on the person and what they are looking for. It does have a lot of value and heart put into it! I think that a lot of fall and winter ideas similar to those in this ebook can be found on Pinterest or elsewhere on the internet, but this format brought things together by season, makes it easy and quick to have a fun selection to choose from, and I think it would be a good starting point - especially for those that would be overwhelmed by the vast number of options (and trying to find them) online. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, there was that special "family feel" to this ebook, making it feel like a friend offering their beloved ideas for enjoying the season.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.