Tuesday, August 9, 2011
review: the rhythm of the family
As you may know, I'm a huge Soulemama fan. Over the years, I've been so inspired by her blog. I especially love her style of quick and satisfying sewing projects and the way she brings so many personal elements into decorating her home. And her blog serves as a wonderful reminder to follow the seasons and celebrate home and family life.
I have Amanda's other books and eagerly pre-ordered this third book as soon as it became available in her shop. And on Saturday we came home from an outing and there it was in my mailbox: my own copy of Rhythm of the Family!
It's lovely. Amanda's style of photography is always inspiring--colorful and celebrating the home and seasons and the everyday beauty of family life. The book is full of her wonderful photography and is arranged by month. Each month has an essay by "mama", an essay by "papa", and a handful of projects to "make" and a handful of things to "do." You will be familiar with the style of writing here, and indeed with the style of the projects, if you are a regular reader of Soulemama's blog (and we all are, right?). Which is to say, having the book is like having a little piece of the blog "to go." You can throw it in your bag and head to the beach, pool, or woods and get Soulemama-inspiration wherever you may wander.
I love seasonal projects, and I love a simple project, as you know. Some examples of what you will find to "make" and "do" in the book: a recipe for potato soup, instructions for how to make a pillow, instructions for how to make a drawstring bag (to hold muffins), a recipe for muffins, the idea to make an "I wonder why" bulletin board, on which to pin all the questions the children might wonder about during the day (to look up later), a few recipes for natural remedies, having a "canning" party, and a recipe for green smoothies.
This is all exactly my type of thing. That said, nothing much is "new" here. Most of these projects and recipes have been mentioned or alluded to either on Soulemama's blog or others' blogs before. For example, I was happy to see an "everyday bread" recipe as I was flipping through the book, but disappointed to see that it is the same "WHO" bread that she has published previously on the blog. Some of the projects, like stamping on fabric, she has shown before but the instructions here in the book are a bit more detailed.
I'm very curious about the Soule's actual life. I think we all are a little. It all looks so picturesque and lovely from the outside. And how awesome would it be to be able to quit one's day job and sew and knit and cook, then blog about it, for a living? So when I heard that Soulemama and her husband (Soulepapa) were writing a book in "real time", over the course of a year, I hoped we might get a teensy glimpse into what real daily life looks like for them. Nothing personal about the children, most likely, but perhaps the adult perspective on things? I had an idea that it might be a little bit like The Happiness Project book. In her blog, Gretchin Rubin writes more generally on the subject of happiness, but in her book she writes really personally about her journey through a year of testing happiness theories. I think her wonderful "real"-ness and down-to-earthness is what has made that book an international bestseller (and one of my favorites). I had no real reason to think that this new Soulemama book would be like that, and indeed it is not. She has said before that she is just not inspired to write about the "dark underbelly" of parenting, but I did hope that we might get a bit more glimpse into their lives. Alas, it was not meant to be!
So should you buy the book? I wanted it and am glad to own it. It completes my set, and, having a hard copy, I'm more likely to get around to making some of these projects (trying the WHO bread recipe at last, for example, and making some postcard holders from tree branches). If you are on a tight budget and have her other two books, I think you could hold off on this. And if you are on a moderate budget, but have a bit set aside for mama-inspiration? I'd wait and see what the 3191 ladies come up with for their next print project or buy the paperback of The Happiness Project.
Do you have Rhythm of the Family? I'd love to hear your thoughts!