Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review Time

In the pile of souvenirs my parents brought back from New Zealand, one of them as this book:  A Home Companion: My Year of Living Like my Grandmother by Wendyl Nissen.  It's VERY similar to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, since she documents her year month by month and each chapter ends with a list of recipes.  It's not nearly as well written though.  (Which is a given, because no one can write as beautifully as Barbara.)  There are some similar themes too: the benefits of growing your own produce, the fun that can be had with a flock of chickens, and in general, living a cleaner, simpler lifestyle.  But, this book mainly centers around something that Barbara never touched on in her book:  Home made cleaning and beauty products.  More on that later.

Apparently this lady, Wendyl, is some big shot magazine editor, radio personality, and columnist in NZ, but of course, up here on my high horse in the US of A, I don't know who she is.  Lots of pictures of her with a chicken or two pop up if you google her name.  Anyway, so she decided to go from this crazy busy, corporate lifestyle to "living like her nana."  She decided to use and eat only what her Nana would recognize.  This change definitely left out Cheetos and high fructose corn syrup.  Pretty cool huh?

But the part I found most fascinating is all the home made cleaning products and stuff.  She makes it all, from bug spray to laundry detergent, from toothpaste (or toothpowder in her case,) to sunscreen.  It's pretty crazy stuff.  As far as cleaning goes, I've heard that you can clean anything with baking soda and vinegar, which is pretty much what she does.  She included Dr. Bronner's castile soap in some of her recipes, but that's pretty much it.  I really wanna start doing this.

There's just one problem.  Some of her ingredients are super expensive or hard to find.  She uses a lot of essential oils, which are pretty darn expensive, and rose water!  Where do you get rose water?  Sheesh.  There were a lot of ingredients I had never heard of either, maybe because they have it in NZ and not here or they just call it something else over there.  Did you know there was such a thing called "washing soda"?  I didn't.  Apparently it's made by Arm and Hammer and is sold right next to baking soda.  It's similar, just more caustic, so you have to be careful handling large quantities of it.

Overall, I'd give the book 4 stars out of 5, there were moments when her previous elite, corporate attitude would shine through, like when she said she hated her chickens for messing up her yard.  Hello lady!  That's what chickens do!  Appreciate them for what they give you!  She also talks about taking a nice long relaxing bath everyday, which I don't have the luxury, nor want to waste that much water.  She even has a little getaway trailer parked on the beach where she can escape and write her books.  Yeah, well we would all love that too...

I'm gonna make me some cleaning products.  ...once I find the ingredients.

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