the gregarious homebody


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cinnamon Swirls and Comfy Quilts

from one of Beth Hensperger's books. She has the best books on bread.


There is nothing quite as exciting for me as coming home and finding a package from amazon on the porch. Nope. That's all I need to get my blood pumping (last post to the contrary). And this particular box was especially sweet because it containted two books that I've been waiting for ages to arrive. I immediately made myself a cup of tea and snuggled into bed to start reading.

The writer of both books, Jane Brocket, has a lovely blog called yarnstorm. It embodies all the homey things I love--baking, reading, spending time with family--along with knitting which I aspire to enjoy some day. Her blog feels like a cup of tea and a cozy afghan. When I read it, I find myself yearning for a slow-down, some time for a look around at what I'm lucking to have. A stay-at-home day. Her blog is extremely popular because there are apparently a lot of us homebodies and because of her great writing. And her books don't disappoint.

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer extolls children's literature of yesterday and the wonderful food writing found within. This subject speaks to me because reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's fond memories and wonderfully descriptive writing about such things as maple sugar candy being made and the heart-shaped cakes that Ma made when precious sugar was available was a huge influence on my writing and on my career as a chef. I wanted to crawl into those books for so many reasons and tasting the plain and lovingly-made food was a huge part of it.

There are so many wonderful examples of delicious food in children's books. Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer makes me want to load up my tote bag at the library with old favorites almost forgotten and new books I've never read and spend a weekend alternating between reading on the sofa with my girl M and covering the kitchen with flour to make such yummies as Mrs. Beaver's Gloriously Sticky Marmalade Roll (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) or St. Clair's Eclairs (from Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outer books, a new book discovery).

Brocket's other book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, was published in Britain in 2007 and I've been waiting almost that long for the American publication of it to come out. I found out about the book from reading a variety of blogs from Europe and America. Everyone in the blogosphere seemed to be on the Jane Brocket band wagon. I had to find out what the fuss was about and that's what led me to yarnstorm. The Gentle Art is an extension of her blog and as much of a treat to read.


My first thought before reading it, however, was that it would be a book about homecare-- cleaning tips, sewing project, recipes and the like. I already have the granddaddy of those kind of books, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendolson. I've already taken a perverse pleasure in reading chapters like "Vacuuming, Sweeping and Dusting," even though that aspect of homekeeping is (obviously to my home's visitors) not exactly my own priority. So I was wondering if this new book would be more of the same.

not mine (from Beth's book)--but mine looked just like this (but blurry!)

Ha! I think Jane Brocket herself would laugh at the idea. Because, while keeping a nice home is obviously a priority in her life, "keeping" has a much different meaning from the one in Home Comforts. Brocket is much more interested in the feelings that home conveys, not the image. The bright colors in her own home (pictured in the book) and cinnamony smells coming from the kitchen are much more important to her family's soul than a perfectly folded sheet or a tidied book shelf. She is more interested in snuggling in the sheets and reading the books.

the reward--a cup of tea and some yummy toast

The Gentle Art of Domesticity's subtitle "Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art, and the Comforts of Home" illustrates the varied topics she covers. It's a book you can pick up and open to any page, reading a snippet of something that will make you feel good. And while I love reading a cover-to-cover kind of book, it feels somehow more gentle that it's in this easy-going format. And, judging from Brocket's caring touch in everything she does, I'm sure that was exactly what she intended for her readers.

4 comments:

Jules said...

OK. You've officially freaked me out. I have both of Beth's books on bread, and was reading them yesterday *ahem* for fun.

I have Home Comforts and read it also, for fun. It was a gift from my SIL that she gave to me at my bridal shower--the joke being I hate housework. (I do. But I love to read about it!)

Jane's books are on my birthday list.

Cue the Twilight Zone music...

jen said...

Wow. That IS weird. I wish you lived on the east coast (or, let's be honest, I wish I was on the west coast) so we could be bestest bestest hermit friends!

Jules said...

We would never leave the house and ignore our children together while we read great books! ;)

asti said...

I only just borrowed the 'gentle art' book the other day..and I'm loving the snuggly feeling it oozes from every pore. That's how I see my life in my dreams ! Ok, we manage it sometimes ...for about 5 mins ;)

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