These Farmhouse Bookshelves

May 4, 2013

Another Saturday, another peak at my bookshelves. This one is for the mothers.

I know what you’re thinking. Who has time for reading once they have children? Admittedly, this is how I feel about exercise, but I do know a few moms who make the time. Me, I make time for reading. Every Single Day.

The secret? Lower Your Standards.

It is not possible to keep a pristine kitchen floor and read a novel a week. Priorities, people. It’s about priorities.

With that in mind, here are a few books for Mom.

picture book


I gave this one to my own mother a few years ago: Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook (No) by Tessa Kiros.

This is a cookbook by a mom for moms (or anyone who cooks for a family). It doesn’t try to tempt children with smiley faces on pancakes. It doesn’t try to trick children by sneaking spinach purees into the brownies. This is a simple but beautiful book full of comforting, delicious, family-friendly food with a European flare.

This cookbook is all about memories. Creating them. Cherishing them. This is a cookbook that knows family happens around the table.

Apples for Jam is a satisfyingly hefty hardcover book full of beautiful photographs and the author’s own family memories.

Something else: the recipes in this cookbook are organized by color. Pink. Brown. White. And so on. It is wildly impractical and utterly enchanting. Kiros understands that many of us go looking for a recipe, not because we need an “entree” or an “appetizer,” but because we want to feed someone. We want to take care of ourselves and others. Maybe that requires an entree. But maybe that requires something white and beautiful. Or something rich and brown.

My Greek friends remember coming home from school to a piece of white bread, lightly broiled and splashed with olive oil, then sprinkled with some beautiful oregano, crushed between their mamma’s fingers.

This year I sent my mother-in-law Everything That Makes You Mom: A Bouquet of Memories by Laura Lynn Brown. Laura is a friend, but I’ve been excited about her book ever since she shared the concept with me.

This is a gift book, but I hesitate to call it that. Aren’t most “gift books” horrible? Do they ever get pulled from their place on the bookshelf? I’m willing to bet not often.

Everything That Makes You Mom is different. Full of great (read: not sentimental) quotations about motherhood and structured around the author’s own memories of her mother, this beautiful little book asks questions and offers prompts to help us record the big and little things we remember about our Moms.

Complete with your written memories, this would make a great gift for your mother. If your mother is no longer living, this book would make a wonderful keepsake for the next generation.

Mom bought a gravy whisk that we saw in a specialty kitchen store not so much because she needed a gravy whisk, but because its packaging claimed, ‘It scoffs at lumps.’ She gave it a new name: lump scoffer. When she made gravy, she whisked with glee, scoffing at those lumps herself with a single ‘Ha!’

Finally, here is the only parenting book I ever recommend: Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields.

I could tell you all about this one, but, really, isn’t the title enough? This book will set you free: free to live, to love, to be a whole person as well as a Mom or Dad.

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by parenthood itself or overwhelmed by all of the guilt-inducing advice send them this book. Trust me. When I first read this book I whispered thank you, thank you, thank you with every page I turned.

We want so badly to get it all right – our marriages, our parenting, our family dynamics. We want to meet all the requirements of a good Christian family. But God takes every hour of our home life, as well as every hour outside of it, and he uses the mistakes, the flaws, the pain as much, if not more, than he uses the good.


  1. Laura Brown

    My mother would have loved that cookbook.
    Does it have an orange section?

    • Christie Purifoy

      Of course! Cream of Winter Squash Soup, Mango Sorbet, Whole Wheat Apricot and Apple Pie …

  2. Em Climaco

    Thanks for the reading recommendations, Christie — I need Leyland Field’s book, as I’m way too susceptible to parenting myths! It’s the main reason I had to leave MOPS because the meetings sent me into a never-gonna-be-good-enough tizzy. (It wasn’t their fault but mine.)
    Have a great Sunday!
    Em 🙂

    • Christie Purifoy

      I understand, Em. I too am allergic to well-meaning, otherwise-helpful mothering advice. Benadryl won’t help, but Leslie’s book does the trick.

  3. Summer Gross

    Thanks Christie…even a few well-chosen words about such a delectable book was satisfying…perhaps it is a library book where I’m moving…
    Have a beautiful day, dear friend.

    • Christie Purifoy

      You are so welcome, Summer. Maybe we can trade books in person someday.

  4. Lisa-Jo

    Love this and you!

  5. kelli

    Apples for Jam is still my favorite cookbook. One day I will make a Pandoro cake, if only for the pictures 🙂
    I also loved Leslie Field’s book and am reading another great one right now, “Give them Grace” (Fitzpatrick & Thompson.) I am reading it slowly, underlining, dog-earing pages, and turning to scripture as it leads (a sure sign of a good parenting book, I say.) It’s less about how to parent and more, so much more, about how to preach the gospel to ourselves and our children every day. Dare I suggest you try it??

    • Christie Purifoy

      Sounds like a great one, Kelli. Thanks for the suggestion.


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