How To Sew a Button, Et Cetera, Et Cetera

December 15th, 2009

About a week ago, I received a copy of the book, How To Sew A Button in the mail.  The author, Erin Bried is a friend of Jean Martha who thought that I might like to blog about the book, so Erin had her publisher send a copy to me.  This very sweet, very witty, very useful book is a collection of recipes, how to’s, instructions and advice on how to do many of the tasks that recent generations have lost both the ability and the will to do. To gather the information for her book Erin, who is a senior writer for SELF Magazine interviewed ten grandmothers from across the country.  The grandmothers she interviewed are from very different backgrounds – one grandmother grew up on a farm in Iowa with no electricity or indoor plumbing, while another grandmother was raised one of four children in a two bedroom apartment behind the family barbershop in Brooklyn. The wonderful women that Erin talked to survived the Great Depression, the 1918 flu epidemic and and along the way they figured out a few secrets to a happy life.  Strangely, none of the secrets seem to involve elaborate weekends at a spa, expensive vacations, or designer handbags.  Instead, these women focused on what they could make out of their lives with what they had on hand.  If they had dirt, they made a garden.  If they had a tight budget, they made an elaborate meal chart with a fabulous matching grocery list.  If they had a sink, they made their own cleaning supplies.  If they had clothes, they learned how to patch, darn and sew up a hem.  If they had feet, they learned how to give themselves a pedicure and if they had a face – they made homemade facials.  They were clubby – meeting with friends over bridge and books and they reveled in the details of each other’s lives.  If they had a husband, they learned how to keep their marriages exciting and fun and if they had kids – they learned how to read a good bedtime story.  All of these skills as well as their stories are in How To Sew a Button.  I spent part of yesterday working through a few of the chapters.  Let’s see if I managed to learn anything….  




How To Make Blueberry Pancakes….


Assemble ingredients and falter…

That is a lot of ingredients.

Perhaps a bowl of cereal instead?


Soldier on! 




Turn over a new leaf!  





Can I even begin to tell you how much better these pancakes were than a bowl of cereal?

No, I can’t.

There really are no words to describe it.

Other than maybe….

pure ecstasy.




How To Fold a Fitted Sheet

And since I was now properly fortified with a indescribably great breakfast, I moved on to perhaps the most difficult task in the book.  

Folding a fitted sheet.  


Except that I had to fold a fitted sheet while photographing myself folding a fitted sheet and that my friends, is even harder.

I am not even sure that the Great Depression could prepare you for just how difficult it is to fold a fitted sheet while photographing yourself folding a fitted sheet.





It borders on the impossible.






You can’t even see where to point the camera.






But I thought about those grandmothers and I persevered. 







Folded fitted sheet!  

Now who needs a drink?



How to Make a Martini

I turned to the chapters on how to make a Manhattan and how to make a martini.  

Sadly – even though I had a startling variety of booze on hand, I did not have the required bourbon for the Manhattan and I didn’t really feel like drinking a martini alone.  It just doesn’t seem right to drink a martini alone. Even if I photographed myself drinking the martini, I would still have felt pretty pathetic, so since the back of my throat was a bit scratchy and I had a stuffy head, I moved on to….



How to Make a Hot Toddy


Still – I didn’t have the right booze as Erin’s recipe calls for bourbon as well, but I just substituted brandy.  

Somehow, I don’t think the grandmothers would mind.


This little medicinal concoction was very good and my throat felt instantly better.  

Thank you grandmothers!



Initially, I thought I would give away my copy of this book – but clearly – it is far too valuable to me and I am not going to be able to let it go.

Sorry dears.  

You will have to buy your own copy or several copies as it would make an excellent Christmas present.

Now I am off to make another batch of blueberry pancakes, followed by a homemade facial and then I am going to do some Christmas shopping and see if I can summon the courage to put into practice the chapter on ‘how to drive a bargain’.  I may need to take a batch of martinis along with me if I am going to attempt to do that.

Tra la la.


  • Awesome! I think I can cross off some of the girls on my Christmas list with this one!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • NB:

    Fabulous! I may have found the gift I’m giving myself for Christmas this year.

    My grandmothers are both gone. I would have loved to have their stories.

  • I am gonna have to buy that book based on the sheet folding alone. I roll my fitted sheets up, which is very unlike me as I like things all neat and tidy. It’s a frustration every time and until I started rolling, I spent 100′s of hours I’ll never get back attempting to fold a perfect fitted sheet. Your’s looks pretty good. I hope the instructions are easy to follow. Did you have that toddy before or after the folding?

  • Looks like fun and a great stocking stuffer for the SILs and nieces.

  • Mom:

    Loved the blog. You are becoming quite the farm lady. I am waiting for you to write a book.

  • Still laughing at the sheet-folding while picture-taking….

  • joann in tx:

    all that in How to sew on a button book?


    you did better than i could have done…not
    a lot of liquior in my house that i couldn’t have
    made either the martini or hot toddy….wait! i
    do have some honey…. i don’t think its all crystalized
    yet?! LOL!!

    looks like a good book!

    joann in tx

  • So glad to see you here today; missed you!

    What a great book!! Those pancakes look deadly so naturally I’d love them.

    I cracked up with the pictures of you folding the sheet; hilarious~the look on your face.

    Have a wonderful day!! :)

  • I think substituting brandy for bourbon fit perfectly with the spirit of the book and making do. Good job! You’re well on your way to becoming a grandmother! I mean, uh, never mind. You know what I mean.

    There’s a wonderful set of cookbooks out there somewhere with recipes from the Depression era. In addition to recipes, the books are filled with stories about all aspects of life during those lean years. I need to remember the name of the series and get my hands on those books. I just love books like this, and I love listening to the stories Danny’s grandma tells about how they did things when she was growing up. It’s a wonderful reminder of the things we really need and what truly matters, and it’s absolutely inspiring to me.

  • Yay! I love this book so much.

    I want pancakes…

  • Holly:

    Maybe you should have tried the hot toddy before the sheet folding? The look on your face is *priceless.* What a great post. HYSTERICAL!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I’m going to have to get this book. Maybe multiple copies for friends too. Nnow that I’ve got everybody watching The IT Crowd!

  • Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. The pancakes look incredible!

    Susan @ Charm of the Carolines

  • AngAk:

    Holly has it right—hot toddies before folding sheets is the key. thanks for the heads up on this book. My bookclub ladies would love it for book exchange next Christmas.

  • LOL Rechelle! I would definitely need the recipe for the martini to use BEFORE attempting to fold the fitted sheet. It might make it more challenging but more bearable.

    In a related note, I gave the gimlet recipe a try with great success! My guests kept trying to get into my bedrooms to fold my fitted sheets. hmmm?

  • Ummm HELLO>>>> next time you are getting all liquored up for the “sake of the blog” ….. call me… I’ll come over and take the pictures… then of course… you will have your other hand free to whip us up a proper batch of martini’s.

  • That book looks positively brilliant! Onto my Amazon wishlist it goes (even though I already know how to fold a fitted sheet, make kick-ass blueberry pancakes and wash it down with a martini (oh yes I DID just go there))!

  • I love it. Missed you to btw :) My husband actually taught me how to fold a fitted sheet after we were first married. Of course his father was in the navy.

  • Lori Anne:

    Cute book! I’m adding that one to my Christmas list. :) (Meaning the list of items I will buy myself this week and tell my husband to have the kids wrap up and give to me on Dec. 25th).

    Glad you’ve touched base with blogland again my friend. Hope the calendar settles and you all have a great Christmas break.


  • What a great book!
    And I am drooling! Literally! (not really, but I am madly jealous) of your blueberries. Who knew?

  • Phew! I’m glad to know about this small tome. Now my sheets will not be in a dither.

    I still think you should have this as a book give-away. Have another toddy and see what you think. ;-)

    And it’s nice to have you back.

  • I too am giving away one of Erin’s books. If you don’t win here go to Gladys and maybe you will win there. Oh and I found the “How to make a Martini” most helpful since Bond, James Bond was coming for cocktails. Ok not really but in my dreams. ;)

  • Kellye:

    What a neat book and a great post. I think my throat is a little scratchy too!

  • great book review!

    The sheet folding/photography segment is AMAZING! :)

  • Sosososososososo Jealous! I’ve been dying for this book since Jean Martha first posted about it. Guess I’m off to Gladys’ to see if she’ll give me hers! : )

    (I don’t blame you for keeping it to yourself. What a fab book.)

  • Barb:

    Note to Rechelle – Fitted sheets aren’t meant to be folded. Just wad them in a ball and throw them on the shelf and they are as happy as can be – especially when you cover them up with the flat sheet.

  • Dee from Tennessee ?:

    Cannot fold a fitted sheet ….cannot! Have a Merry Christmas!

  • I bought two copies today for a gift exchange with my girlfriends tomorrow night. I didn’t get one for myself – waaaaaaaaaaa.

  • Jennine:

    Rechelle…I love this post. If only there were more step-by-step photos to help me understand.

    Like, how did you get the blueberries INTO the pancakes? There was no photo to explain and I’m lost.


    I love you. In fact, I want to have your babies which we could agree to raise without Photoshop.