Friday, April 22, 2016

Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother Book Review

I love reading books about the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, and Plain People. I used to live in Ohio and we would go to Lehman's Hardware store in Kidron often. Lehman's sells non-electric alternatives and a whole slew of really neat products that I loved perusing every time I was there. I was captivated by the Plain People that lived there. I would see them shopping at Lehman's with their families too, on the road with their horse drawn buggies or trying to make a living selling their wares on the side of the road. I always fantasized about how simple and perfect it might be to live like them. They seemed so much apart from my own life in the city.

Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother by Marianne Jantzi is a collection of journal entries from her own Amish family. The book is the 4th part of a series called Plainspoken by Herald Press. This series gives readers an inside scoop of the life of a Plain Person with actual accounts from the Anabaptists themselves. Each book includes "A Day in the Life of the Author" and the author's answers to FAQs about the Amish.

While reading Simple Pleasures I couldn't help but notice how similar the author's challenges and parenting struggles were with mine. She struck a chord with me. I had been fed, for the most part, only half truths about the Amish. In the media their lives were portrayed as somewhat idealistic. Marianne Jantzi opened my eyes to a more revealing and honest account of how the life of an Amish mother really is. Her book is an authentic and true-life tale from slices of her life. She is very open on what she feels and she tells her story how it actually is.

I was glad though that in the first few pages (Author's Note) of Simple Pleasures Marianne introduces everyone in her family and how the book was going to be laid out, so for me there were no surprises, but I do wish that each entry had a date so I wasn't guessing at that. The book is laid out in 8 parts that are categorized by a main theme. Each part has chapters under it that goes into even more precise themes. Each chapter has snippets of  Marianne's life that are separated by three dots. These are not in sequence of how they happened in her life, but rather by the themes.

My favorite parts to read were Winter Blows Cold and Garden of Plenty. When I lived in the city I really hadn't noticed how much I took for granted, but living in the country shows me how thankful I am for the very food on our table and the fact I helped grow some of it! In Thankful Hearts on page 49 I love how she writes about the fall season. "Once again, late autumn speaks-urging us, warning us. Time is running out. Frosty days are just around the corner. Gather those apples, cabbages, pumpkins, and squash. Fill the woodshed. Stuff the cracks. Hurry, hurry through the golden autumn days." It was also so nice to read about Marianne's garden in Five Rows of Peas (chapter 29). I love gardening and now that I am a certified Master Gardener I expect to be doing a lot more of it. I also love the "instructions for planting a garden" she included in this chapter. Such great advice! I've also never heard of "Kiddie Packets" (page 189) and will have to try these out with my youngsters if I can find which seed company offers them. I thought her seed apron was a fantastic idea and although it sounded fairly simple to make I still wish I was better at sewing to make myself one.

I love that at the end of the book the Jantzi's include their favorite family recipes. I will have to try Sister Kathryn's Salsa this harvest season when I have enough tomatoes, peppers, and onions from my garden collected. My kids will love the easy treat recipes that are also included too because they love to make goodies to eat.

About the book (from the publisher):

Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother (MennoMedia, March 2016)

Young Amish homemaker Marianne Jantzi invites readers into her family's life on the snowy plains of Ontario.

The mother of four young children and wife of a storekeeper, Jantzi writes about her daily routines and heartfelt faith with equal measures of wit and warmth. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and helping to manage the store take up most hours in her day, but Jantzi finds time to pen columns for the Connection, a magazine beloved by Amish and Mennonite readers across the United States and Canada. Never sugarcoating the frustrations of motherhood, Jantzi tells it like it is, broken washing machine and bickering children and all. But through her busy days, Jantzi finds strength in simple pleasures of family, fellowship with her Amish community, and quiet time with God.

About the author (from the publisher):

Marianne Jantzi is an Amish writer and homemaker in Ontario, Canada. Formerly a teacher in an Amish school, Jantzi now educates and inspires through her "Northern Reflections" column for The Connection, a magazine directed mainly to Amish and plain communities across the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband have four young children and run a shoe store among the Milverton Amish settlement of Ontario.

This would be a wonderful gift for Mother's Day. Purchase a copy:

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

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