April 6, 2020

Book Review: Attainable Sustainable

I have in my hands a real treat of a book. It's another book that seems especially appropriate for the uncertain times we are living in. I received a review copy from tlc book tours when I agreed to participate in an online book tour. I'm very pleased to share it with you.

Attainable Sustainable: the lost art of self-reliant living
by Kris Bordessa. 

Kris is a fellow blogger who began blogging with a goal to encourage others toward self-reliant living. Teaching traditional skills one step at a time, she created a popular blog and has now written a book!

The book is gorgeous. Published by National Geographic, it contains 320 full color pages of well-organized information covering all aspects of self-reliant living. It acquaints the reader with a well-rounded selection of self-reliance skills and includes numerous recipes, tips, and DIY how-tos. It's divided into two parts.

Part I: Indoors

Chapter 1: Eat 
This chapter is, of course, about food! Covers all aspects of food preservation with clear, easy-to-follow instructions: canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermentation, making fruit juices, breads (quick, yeast, and sourdough), grains & legumes, infused oils and vinegars, and meat, from sourcing good quality meat to charcuterie, the art of making seasoned meats such as bacon and sausage.

The chapter is sprinkled liberally with recipes, such as chewy dried bananas, pickled ginger, crunchy sourdough baguettes, and strawberry switchel. It also contains DIY projects such as moisture absorbers, and useful tips such as using linen bread bags to increase the shelf life of homemade bread (with instructions for making them in the next chapter).

Chapter 2: Make
This chapter is for the crafter in all of us. It has lots of DIY projects, such as oil lamps that use common vegetable oils, reusable produce bags, waste-free food wraps, felted soap, a coiled rope basket, a leatherbound journal, mosaic trivet, and how to make your own blocks for block printing. My favorite section is on natural dying for a rainbow of color. Each section covers the craft basics and gives detailed instructions and photographs for the many projects.

Chapter 3: Clean
Chapter 3 starts with an excellent discussion on soapmaking and offers two recipes to get you started: pure tallow soap and a moisturizing soap bar. You'll find recipes for items like lotion bars and deodorant cream in skin care. Two of the several projects you'll find in natural hair care are a time-saving dry shampoo and a hydrating avocado hair mask. In herbalism, you'll learn how to make tinctures, infused oils in your slow cooker, and hydrosols. In natural remedies you'll find homemade help for a number of ailments including elderberry syrup to boost immunity and a decongestant chest rub. Lots of goodies in cleaning & laundry including a citrus scrubbing cleaner, DIY diswasher soap, and a stain remover. Air fresheners and pest control round out the chapter nicely.

Part II: Outdoors

Chapter 4: Grow
An excellent gardening primer covering getting started, seed selection, vertical gardening, container gardening, natural weed control, soil improvement, greenhouse growing, edible weeds, edible landscaping, and pest and predator control. Lots of good tips, for example, I didn't know sweet potato vines are edible! Lots of projects. Make a terra-cotta olla, a salad tower, and soil blocks for seed starting,

Chapter 5: Farm
Any backyard can become a farm! Discusses using orchard trees in your landscape, how to attract pollinators, beekeeping, composting, chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, rabbits, even goats and pigs. Projects include making a mason bee house, rendering beeswax, making a vermicomposter, and DIY udder balm, with recipes for herb-infused honey and fruit mead.

Chapter 6: Trek
This chapter focuses on enjoying the great outdoors through hiking and camping. There are sections on bushcraft knives, cast-iron cookery, and foraging. Learn how to make a tuna can stove, clean a fish, make a natural shelter, make a mini-flower press, and tap trees for syrup. Not just sugar maples, but butternut, walnut, birch, sycamore, and ironwood can all be tapped for making syrup. Lots of good ideas for family activities too: natural weather forecasting, trail signs and tracking, and plant identification.

The appendices include a climate zone map and "tools every homesteader should have." You'll also find an extensive resource list for further reading.

This is an appealing book, the kind you might think of as a useful coffee table reference book. It is encouraging, well-written, and beautifully designed. It would make an excellent gift, especially for those who are feeling helplessly stuck at home because of the current pandemic. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & NobleBooks-A-Million, and your local bookstore (you can find one at IndieBound).

To learn more about Kris Bordessa, visit her "Attainable Sustainable" website, and check her out on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.


Hill Top Post said...

Kris' book sounds wonderful! I may have to invest in this one! I also enjoyed your post, "A New Normal" which is so much the way we live on our farm. I know we need to keep informed but sometimes I can almost forget...almost!

Michelle said...

Exciting to see an entity such as National Geographic get behind a subject like this; I can't help but think that will enlarge the market.

Leigh said...

Mary, thank you! Lots of good ideas and information in this book.

I'm glad things are going well for you considering the pandemic. I agree it's a luxury to feel like life is normal at home, at least. For staying informed, I think there are healthy ways to do that and unhealthy ways. The least drama, the better! lol

Michelle, I agree!

Retired Knitter said...

Wow, sounds like a great book.

Helen said...

You sold me on this book. It sounds much more interesting than the standard do-it-yourself gardening book. Thanks.

Sandi said...

There is so much we can do really.

Leigh said...

RT, it is, and I think it's a timely book, especially for people who are looking for ideas for not only greater self-reliance, but for something creative and constructive to do under self-quarantine.

Helen, I definitely think so. It has a good variety of information, ideas, and projects. More than something for everybody.

Sandi, I agree. Hopefully, people will be trying new things. Having more home time is a great time to learn and do.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

The cover looks lovely.

Leigh said...

TB, the interior is just as lovely. A very appealing book.

Rain said...

That's a good review Leigh. I really appreciate you sharing these posts now. I often overlook books like this, thinking "well, I'll get to that when I have time"...there's never enough time!! :)

Leigh said...

Rain, now that you have your own house to move to and get settled in, you will especially be short of time! I think the timing of this book is perfect for a lot of people, though, especially the creative and independent types that are looking for constructive things to do while stuck at home.

Do keep us posted on your move! All your followers are excited for you.

Sam I Am...... said...

This book looks wonderful! Especially since it is from National Geographic. There are many books out there but I think one needs to be careful about some of the advice and sources as some "herbal" and "natural" remedies can be as dangerous as prescription drugs. I would love to give this to my daughter for Christmas and one for me too!
Thank you for your excellent review, as always! Stay well!

Sara Strand said...

I love all of these sections and although I'm not really in the group that this is marketed for, given the quarantine, these are things I definitely want to try anyways! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

Leigh said...

Sam, it's a great book. And I agree about almost all health advice. Good sources will remind everyone of that. I know both you and your daughter will enjoy this book!

Sara, I've loved being a part of the tour. And yes, given the quarantine, this is a good time to think about things we can do at home to be more productive and have more bountiful lives. It's only a matter of time before the next dread disease comes along.