The Best DIY Books of the Last 12 Months
In honour of World Book Day, I wanted to share with you the best DIY Books for the last 12 months. These are the books that stand out among the thousands of DIY books that were published in 2016 and the first part of 2017. 5 are traditionally published books and 1 is self-published. All speak to the do-it-yourself mindset. They offer inspiration, recipes, and practical tips to make the most of your handmade life. With the recipes and information in these DIY books, you’ll be ready to tackle your seasonal projects, save money, and you’ll be helping planet earth, too.
The Beeswax Workshop
Transform miraculous beeswax into the products you need for your home, your health, and your inspiration. My DIY book has more than 100 recipes that begin with beeswax. Using simple ingredients that you can find online or at your local stores, you can soap, shampoo, cosmetics, healing balms, wood conditioners, art supplies, and even candles. You’ll learn the way beeswax works and how to develop your own recipes from scratch. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could just pop some beeswax, shea butter, and olive oil in a jar and with a little herbal alchemy heal the hurt, polish the wood, or change the atmosphere of your home? And all this for pennies. You’ll save money and find inspiration in my book, The Beeswax Workshop.
The Do-It-Yourself Homestead
The Do It Yourself Homestead will guide you along the success path from apartment dwelling to living at the level of self-sufficiency you crave. This empowering book is organized into levels of self-reliance that will hold your hand while you journey to this adventurous lifestyle. If you are serious about self-reliance the companion workbooks are organized by level of proficiency and remove that sense of overwhelm that makes you feel you have to do it all right now.
This isn’t just a list of recipes or suggestions gathered off the internet. Tessa Zundel is the voice behind Homestead Lady dot com. She has been in the trenches of the homestead movement for decades. And as if her own expertise wasn’t enough, she’s interviewed dozens of in-the-trenches homesteaders from every level of homesteading and shares their wisdom and expertise chapter by chapter.
This is a thick book, that’s heavy in inspiration as well as practical suggestions to bring you success quickly.
Disclaimer: I am one of the homesteaders that Tessa interviewed for this book.
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine
This is an inspirational book that will get you outside with a basket and mushroom knife in hand. It looks at wild herbs, wild greens, wild nuts, wild mushrooms, and even wild protein sources and prepares them all using traditional techniques like fermentation, brewing, and salting. You won’t just bring home dinner but you’ll be preserving the seasonal freshness to consume in the off-season, too. Preppers and homesteaders are going to love using this book to tap into the wild pantry that is available just outside their back door. Preppers will love it because knowledge is survival. Homesteaders will love it because they’ll learn what to do with their local resources. And if you don’t know where you fit in the continuum of self-reliance, this book will inspire your exploration of local wild cuisine.
Because one of the first caveats of wild food, is to be sure of the identification of the plant or animal before you harvest, please use this book with a companion field guide, and the first time you venture in harvesting food in the wild, take an experienced forager with you. When you encounter a new (to you) wild plant or fungus, identify it using a minimum of three sources, including an experienced guide, a field guide book, and at least one independent source, before you eat it. There are poisonous look-alikes out there. To paraphrase a Croatian proverb, “All wild foods are edible, but some only once.”
This book is not for the squeamish connoisseur. There is a chapter on eating bugs, including wood bugs and slugs. Apparently, wood bugs taste like shrimp. Preppers might want to know this, but I hope I never have to test this observation.
The photography in this book is amazing. And the recipes are the kind that will both inspire and impress your guests. Add this one to your DIY library.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
The Alchemy of Herbs
This is my favourite herbal DIY book published in 2017. The book is a beginner herbal book that takes you step by step into creating amazing herbal condiments and main dishes that highlight the flavours of herbs. The book is divided into five taste profiles. Then each chapter highlights a single herbal ingredient. You’ll be given the background herbal information including the botanical name and herbal energetics profile of each herb. The chapter then offers two or three recipes that showcase the best uses of that herb. Some of the recipes are for dishes you might serve your family or your guests. Other recipes will help you stock your herbal apothecary in a gentle, easy to master way.
The book has a companion course through LearningHerbs.com.
The photography and the layout of the book are first-rate. This book would be a lovely gift for budding herbalists and BFFs who are just starting out in herbs. If you are an experienced herbalist, understanding Rosalee’s unique teaching on the taste profiles of our herbal allies and what that means for how the herbs can help us is important. (Rosalee isn’t the only herbalist to speak about herbal tastes in this way, but she does it with flair in the Alchemy of Herbs.)
I purchased my copy of Rosalee’s book from Amazon.
Make It Up
I was delighted to finally get my copy of this DIY book by Calgary blogger Marie Rayma. The recipes in this book will inspire and delight you as you customize your beauty routine to your own skin type and skin pigment. The book is divided into chapters focused on the different parts of putting on your morning makeup. These included facial masks, blemish concealers, and moisturizers, as well as minerals, makeup for the face, cheeks, eyes, and lips. If you don’t wear makeup, you might feel better making your own with wholesome ingredients that won’t deliver a hefty dose of toxins to your body every morning. Just like cooking from scratch, making your own makeup from scratch allows you to control the ingredients as well as the colour profile.
Have you ever invested in mineral makeup only to find a) it wasn’t as nontoxic as you thought, or b) the colours made you look garish? With Make It Up, you’ll be able to get the exact makeup that you’ve always wanted and match it specifically to your own skin type.
Marie has a you-tube channel where she takes you step by step through some of the recipes in the book so that you won’t have any confusion about how to get the look you’ve longed for.
The book was inspiring and delightful. Buy Make It Up from Amazon, as I did.
Using natural plant dyes you can achieve every colour of the rainbow on natural fabric. And natural colours originate in the same flavonoids and anthocyanins that our herbal medicine originates within the plant chemistry. This is a key to creating therapeutic clothing that not only looks fabulous on the body but also makes the body feel fabulous and brings real healing. Part of the sickness in this modern age is our dependence on chemicals and the way we colour our clothing is no exception. The textile industry is the number 2 polluter of air and water in the world, just behind chemical agriculture. But it didn’t use to be that way. Natural colour will help you change that paradigm for your family by inspiring you with projects for your wardrobe and for your home that focus on natural dye colours and organic fabrics.
If you’ve been following Joybilee Farm for a while you’ll know that natural dye is one of our favourite things to talk about. And this book is a great addition to our natural dye library. Where this book stands out is the step-by-step projects that are offered for your inspiration. It doesn’t just talk about natural dyeing but leads you through each project, beginning in your own kitchen. You’ll grab some natural dye resources right out of your compost pail, like avocado pits, spent rose petals, red cabbage leaves, and aloe vera leaves. When you finish this book, you’ll have a new appreciation for the therapeutic use of colour on both clothing and household textiles.
The book has a chapter on the therapeutic use of colour in Ayurvedic medicine.
Medicinal dyeing can boost our health and immunity at different times of the year as we enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables and use their by-products to make beautiful colours. For instance, citrus peels (which make gorgeous yellows, golds, and light greens) make a wonderful winter dye recipe — and deliver an infusion of vitamin C. Pomegranate juice is a vital and powerful antioxidant, and pomegranate peels in tehdye pot give us beautiful colors and a natural mordant.
You may have some of the many common medicinal plants that are also staple dye plants in your own herbal or medicinal garden. Medicinal dyes are also easy to obtain from your local apothecary [or natural dye store]. All plants are worth getting to know more fully, as you’ll often be surprised at their inherent medicinal properties. (Natural Color, p. 170-171)
This book is well worth reading just for the perspective on the medicinal use of natural colour in clothing and textiles that are used next to the skin.
I received a copy of this book from a friend. Natural Color is available on Amazon.
The Best DIY Books of the last year
These 6 are my favourite DIY books that were published in the last 12 months. But this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are a few topics that were explored in these books in brief chapters that I’d love to do a deep dive into, like the seasonal therapeutic use of natural dyes, or the wild cuisine in my own region. But I hope this inspires you to check these books out of your public library or pick them up at Amazon and explore these topics yourself.
#LoveToRead and love these DIY books as you spring into the next season and dig deep into the soil of your own garden, with roots in your own DIY ethos.
What inspiring DIY books have prompted you to actually make something fabulous in the last few months? Which ones are just gathering dust but are on your “gonna list” when the work slows down? #LoveToRead