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I don’t often do book reviews.  There are a lot of books that I really love, but I am usually too lazy to think about it.  However, I feel absolutely compelled to tell you about Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion, and Fun by Amy Barickman.

I first discovered this book in the bookstore; I hadn’t heard anything about it previously, but this is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t been paying attention.  From the title, I had a vague idea that it was about sewing and vintage, but I didn’t really know anything else about it.   As I was running late for something that day, I took a quick flip through it (literally 30 seconds), and decided I must have it!  (And I am the kind of person who usually has to “visit” a book a number of times before I make any kind of big commitment to owning it!)  I put it on my Christmas list.

And I received it Christmas Day!  However, I didn’t really sit down and look at it until New Year’s Eve–and what an appropriate time!  The book is divided by month, and each section includes items appropriate to that time of year.  As I opened up before the New Year, I read this poem by Douglas Malloch:

Another Year

For every Winter there’s a spring–
Oh, that’s the beauty of the thing!
For ev’ry midnight there’s a morn,
For ev’ry loss a hope is born.

For ev’ry sultry day the dew,
For ev’ry old year there’s a new!
Yes, buds for all the leaves that fall–
That is the beauty of it all.

New dreams for all the dreams that die,
For ev’ry night a dawning sky–
For ev’ry heartache, failure, fear,
Another chance, another year!

So simple yet so inspirational and lovely, much like the book itself.   Vintage Notions is inspired by Mary Brooks Picken, who founded The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, PA.  This book is actually a collection of essays, recipes, illustrations, instructions, letters and advice found in The Institute’s newsletters, published between 1916 and 1934.

As the title suggests, this book includes all sorts of instruction in sewing, needlework, other crafts, recipes, beauty tips, and fashion tips.  It also includes practical advice for day to day life.  While the advice technically is “vintage,” it could not be more relevant.  In fact, much if it seems quite modern.

While the practical advice contained within is well worth it, this guide on living offers so much more.

One of my favorite things about this book is how uplifting it is.  It is so very inspirational.  It is encouraging.  It contains lovely poetry.  It exhorts the reader to take pride in her work, to be grateful, kind, to have faith, and to be continually learning.

If you’re wondering about specifics, a few of my favorite sections include:  How to Remodel Past-Season Frocks, The Secrets of a Perfect Pie, Simplicity Lends Charm to the Newest Lingerie, Planning Meals Without Meat, Growing Old Graciously, Making a Summer Purse, Beauty Versus Personality, and Appreciation Is The Key to Knowledge.  But, as I said, these are just a few.  They are all useful and entertaining.

I cannot say enough good about this book, but I will take a break for now, as my blathering may be a bit tiresome for the reader.  😉  Let me end with this corny little plug:  Whether you’re looking for advice on homemaking, beauty, or crafts; words to live by; or just love that bygone era, this is a book you will want to check out.