Find inspiration in “Handmade Home”

All photos are by Amanda Soule

This giveaway is now closed.

If you have the popular book The Creative Family, or if you read the uber-popular blog Soule Mama, then you’ve heard of Amanda Soule. She’s a mama to four little ones, crafting, homeschooling, and living life up in Maine.  And her second book, Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures, debuts in bookstores everywhere August 11.

I’ve been privileged to devour an early copy of the book, and I absolutely adore it. My daughter and I spent a recent cozy Saturday morning together, flipping through the book, marking which ideas we were going to try first, and feeling the stress leave with every turned page.

Amanda’s books emanate peace and a joy for life, where she shares her passion for living a creative life with all family members. She’s a real mama, but she takes the time for the little things in life, the things many parents miss because they’re too busy racing out the door.

Reading Handmade Home inspired me to pull out my sewing machine and get crafting again, and it encouraged me to try those crafts I haven’t yet made the time to learn. It’s been relaxing and rewarding to just make something, a reminder what a cathartic release it is for me to create.

I got a chance to chat with Amanda recently, and I asked her a few questions about her latest release.

Tsh: Congratulations on the release of your next book! I absolutely adore your first book, The Creative Family, so can you tell readers what this next book is about? How is it different from your first one?

Amanda: Thank you! And thanks for hosting this interview Tsh!

Handmade Home differs from The Creative Family in that it’s more of a craft book (it will be found in the ‘craft’ section of bookstores) than the first (found in the ‘parenting’ section). It’s a little bit more of a practical, hands-on guide to ‘making things’ for your home – with or for children, and inspired by family home life.

Tsh: I know many mamas feel like they don’t have time to create or repurpose things; that it’s quicker and easier to just buy something at the store instead. What would you say to those mamas?

Amanda: Buying things at a store is certainly quicker and easier than creating something ourselves, but not always better or more fun!

The beautiful thing about the position so many of us are in — this day and age — is that we have so many choices about how we choose to spend our time, energy and resources. Making things by hand does take a bit more time, surely, but if creating is something that brings you joy, it can add so many other things to our lives besides just the items’ given ‘purpose.’ Making things by hand nurtures ourselves, connects our families, and conserves both financial and environmental resources.

I also find that including so much handmade in our family life helps us to lead simpler, more mindful days together. When we make something versus buying it, we’re aware of how much time and energy went into its production, which makes us more mindful of the purchases we DO make. So it does slow us down…but in really wonderful ways, I believe.

Tsh: What’s one word you would use to describe the atmosphere in your home?

Amanda: Cozy!

There are lots of natural textiles and fibers to be found in our toys, furniture and tools. Wood, cotton, wool. Lots of ‘soft’ places to be found for reading, knitting, crafting, drawing, creating, and snuggling. I have this silly goal of having a quilt within arms reach from any spot in the house! We’re also blessed with lots of natural sunlight and the smell of bread baking almost non-stop. In the winter, the woodstove is always keeping things extra warm.

We’re quite home-based as a family – we homeschool, and Steve and I both do most of our work out of the house now, so the coziness translates into the people too. In a fairly small space, there are six people living and working and playing together. Sometimes it does indeed feel cramped and crowded, but in those moments especially, we really try to remember “cozy!”

Tsh: I know you get asked all the time, “How do you do it all?”, and your answer to them is, “I don’t do it all.” What don’t you do? What are some things you wish you knew how to do, but haven’t yet learned?

Amanda: Oh, there are SO many more crafty things I want to try! I really want to learn how to spin. I would love to work with clay (I did once upon a time and love, love, loved it). And so many more things! I know the time will come for those in later years, and as my family grows. Right now, what we’re doing as a family, and what I’m doing in my own creative time – it feels just right.

Tsh: I hear you’re writing your next book. Any clues on what this one’s about?

Amanda: Yes! I’ve actually be working on the third for a little while now. AND…I am very happy to tell you that this one includes the writing of my very favorite Papa writer! Steve (a.k.a. SoulePapa) and I have been having lots of fun working together on this book project, and I’m so thrilled at the direction it’s heading in with his involvement. We’ve still got lots of work left to do – it’s scheduled for release in 2011.

Giveaway Time

Alright, Simple Mom readers, to celebrate the release of Handmade Home on August 11, Amanda is giving two of you a copy of the book! It deserves a permanent place in your family library, because you’ll go to it again and again when you’re itching to create with your family. If you enjoyed The Creative Family, you’ll love Handmade Home.

To enter, leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What is your favorite method of crafting?

This giveaway is open until this Friday, August 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll announce the winners soon after.

I hope you win! And thanks, Amanda, both for writing such an inspiring book, and for your generosity to Simple Mom readers.

And if you want another chance to win this fabulous book, head to the giveaway at our daughter blog, Simple Kids!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. Love sewing the most turning old clothes or sheets or whatever into something new! I look forward to this new book and what fun ideas someone has come up with to keep me busy and to go green!!!!

  2. I love scrapbooking using collected things and saved items. Thanks for the contest entry!

  3. I love to sew if I ever get the time! Someday.

  4. Sewing is my favorite method of fabric. I’ve just started to explore repurposing old clothes for new items and am really enjoying the process!

  5. Sewing and scrapbooking 🙂

  6. great interview! right now, my craft of choice is sewing!

  7. I love to knit baby things but sewing seems to be something I get to do more. I love Amanda Soule!
    .-= Calee´s last blog ..Grace in Small Things 38 of 365 =-.

  8. I have recently come to love sewing. I was previously a knitter but had gotten busy with work and graduate school. Since the birth of my daughter, I am getting back into knitting and now sewing. I’m so excited about it, and I can’t wait to see this new book!

  9. I love working with clay, but I find sewing, knitting, and crocheting are much easier to fit into my daily routines.

  10. My favorite crafting activity is scrapbooking.

    BTW, I loved The Creative Family book!

  11. Scrapbooking, but I really want to get confident in sewing! I am working on curtains for my son’s room 🙂
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..Glorious Mess =-.

  12. Genevieve says:

    This looks wonderful! I love scrapbooking and card making, and I’m trying my hand at sewing and home decor items now.

  13. Wow! Do I have to choose just one method of crafting as my favorite? Probably sewing right now. Love turning thrifted/used clothing and fabrics into new things. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book and Amanda has inspired me to learn how to knit!
    .-= Crafty Mom´s last blog ..Revamping my blog! =-.

  14. Sewing. I have recently gotten into it and loving taking old clothes and making new ones 🙂

  15. Michele Johnson says:

    I absolutely love photography…I am still learning. I love to take photos and make them into something amazing. I love to add them to my sewing projects and love to put them in simple photo albums. I love to create with my 2 year old. We make all sorts of things from home- made play dough to small art projects…for example he is really into guitars so we made one out of an old tissue box we added rubber bands around the whole and there it is a home made guitar. Any way, great website.

  16. Laurie M says:

    I love all sorts of crafting but right now I would say crocheting toys and simple accessories. I love to paint and have taught myself how to spin yarn with a hand spindle but three little kids keep me on my toes! I would love to learn to sew better.

  17. I’m constantly being inspired by SouleMama’s writing and photography and the life she seeks to foster for her family. My fave crafting method would definitely be sewing at the moment.

  18. I love finding new ways to decorate and making things for the house. I would like to do more sewing if I could though.
    .-= Jessica Brammer| Losing the World´s last blog ..Let the Learning Begin =-.

  19. I love to sew! (with my new machine) 🙂
    .-= MeganAnne´s last blog ..happy sewing =-.

  20. I love papercrafting, cards and decor and silliness like that. Paper and scissors and pens make me so happy. Thanks for the entry! 🙂
    .-= liz (´s last blog ..newly organized closet =-.

  21. My favorite craft is… well, photography to tell you the truth. I love to take pictures of anything. To take time to be aware of the lighting and color. I am using my hands. My creative juices. The end result is a captured moment.

    I’d like to say that my favorite craft is scrapbooking, but honestly I shouldn’t based off of how long the supplies have not been pulled out of the closet.

    Can’t sew. Bummer.
    .-= On the Eastern Journey´s last blog ..Name That Popcorn =-.

  22. Hi There, right now my kids and I are into appliqué, we are taking scraps and making fabric pictures of their artworks – great fun and we are stitching our way through winter!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Sunday Snippet: Giveaway – Through The Gates of Splendor… =-.

  23. i love everything amanda does and would love this book (am now already looking forward to the book with Soule Papa too).

    I am new to crafting and spend more time reading about others’ activities so far, but am trying my hand at papercrafting, sewing and jewelry making.

  24. JeanineE says:

    I love photography. But lately, I’ve been eager to dabble and learn more about sewing and crochet. Thanks for sharing this giveaway.

  25. I’m new to reading Soule but I am already hooked just by hearing you talk about her. I’ve recently gotten into sewing and I’ve been repurposing old pants that no longer fit my husband/ myself into bags. I posted a couple pictures on my blog. That and I have been making reusable grocery bags from I’ve been using a canvas type of fabric for those because it’s strong/sturdy.

    I don’t have a great sewing machine but one of these days I might buy a nice one, once I’m good enough to make it worth while.
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Hilarious! =-.

  26. Hey,
    I like to sew for my kids and make some craftworks. It would be handy to have a book to gide me.
    Greetings, Veerle

  27. I’m more artsy than crafty, but I think collage counts for both. Mixed media is my favorite. There are no rules except that the object has to stick to the page! Dried flowers, magazine pictures, stickers, glitter, seeds, photographs, fabrics, leaves, buttons, etc…
    .-= Myrrh´s last blog ..My (Prize Winning) Summer Salad Recipes =-.

  28. I like to dabble in lots of different crafts, but I would be lost without my sewing machine – so useful in so many ways!
    .-= Heather – Dollar Store Crafts´s last blog ..Make Photo Frame Luminarias =-.

  29. My current favorite is a tie between sewing and repurposing stuff. but my ultime favorite is hanging out with my husband usually painting together, all though we have gone joint on a couple sewing projects. i can’t wait for my son to be old enough to craft me, just a little longer! and i am so excited for this new book i have been awwing over it for weeks now!
    .-= Sherrie Williams´s last blog ..Antique Fair =-.

  30. Well sewing (quilts and clothes) is special for me as I get to do it to relax after the kids go to bed, but I also love doing all the crafty stuff we do as a family – junk modelling, painting, creating playdoh monsters etc!

  31. I have such a hard time choosing! I guess it depends on what I’m working on at the moment. So right now, it’d be knitting. But I’m about to start several sewing projects (a cute stuffed kitty and a bunch of ‘green’ cleaning cloths, and some handkerchiefs for a friend’s birthday in Sept. And I know when I start that, sewing will become my favorite! I pretty much try anything that sounds fun! 🙂

  32. My favourite craftiness is sewing – specifically applique.

    I tried lots of crafts, but working with beautiful fabrics, especially in lots of colours, really floats my boat!
    .-= Claire – Matching Pegs´s last blog ..Our Chef must look his best =-.

  33. Amy johnson says:

    Thanks for publishing the interview. It was great to read a bit about the book from the author. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. I’d love to try come of those crafy things.

    • Amy johnson says:

      ps. I forgot to say: My favorite form of crafting at the moment is sewing… well, quilting really. I’m due to have my first baby in December and he’s already got a collection of quilts waiting for his arrival!

  34. Crafting right now means using simple household objects like paper, scissors, glue, and recycled materials. Most recently my kids (8 & 6) discovered origami. Using a website they googled on their own, they have made several objects out of folded paper. I like to use their handmade objects to decorate around the house – at least until enthusiasm for a new project surfaces!
    .-= Kristen M.´s last blog ..Washington DC, Part One =-.

  35. Knitting by far. I have far too much yarn stashed around my house, but it always makes me happy to see when I walk into a room.

  36. Re-purposing anything really, but I especially love working with paper, my scalpel and cutting mat.
    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!
    .-= Pebbledash´s last blog for free =-.

  37. Fabrics, I love creating with fabrics. Sewing mostly but the occasional bottle of fabric glue comes out of the closet. One thing I really want to try is glass etching! Sounds so fun and would spice up my recycled spice jars. 🙂
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..A Month of Meals =-.

  38. Anything with a stitch. I love embroidery most of all, but I’ve been in the midst of hand stitching a massive quilt for awhile. Love it.

  39. at
    .-= robyn´s last blog ..Because… =-.

  40. I’m nesting in anticipation of my third baby right now, and that includes lots of fabric work, mainly sewing!

  41. sewing. and knitting. and paper crafting. do I really have to pick a favorite?
    .-= anja´s last blog ..the home stretch =-.

  42. Recently I’ve been trying my hand at everything! I’ve sewn curtains for the house, knitted some cushions and given old furniture some paint makeovers. I also like to take photographs and paint in my spare time!

    I think my favourite isn’t any craft in particular, but thinking of ideas and making notes about possible future projects!
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Scrumping =-.

  43. Photography and quilting are my two main crafty activities. I really enjoyed The Creative Family and I look forward to checking out this next book. Thanks for having a giveaway!
    .-= Elaine´s last blog ..beatin’ the heat =-.

  44. I love knitting and sewing (although I am a beginner) and crafting with the kids.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..blau / blue =-.

  45. michelle says:

    My favorite craft is scrapbooking & I have recently introduced it to my 9 yr old daughter; who loves crafts & making new things out of recycled items. Recently, our family has become minimalist – not entirely by choice either. And in the course of these, sometimes difficult, two years, we have learned how to live with less and enjoy our time together. And the best way we do that is by scrapping together!

  46. I love to do anything that relates to sewing. I sew mostly for my children and home, but am branching out to more quilting and making gifts for others.

  47. Actually, at the moment, I’m a little into woodworking – does that count as crafting? My father works with steel, creating sculptures from scraps he finds on his workshop floor (he’s a mechanic by day) – I find it fascinating, but the welder terrifies me! So, I’ve been working with wood, making simple toys or even just storage boxes. At school (a long time ago), I had the opportunity to use lathes and I’d love to have access to one now so I could make candlesticks, or even decorative table/chair legs out of old fence posts!
    .-= Marina´s last blog ..Long ago =-.

  48. sewing is my latest craze…happened after i had a baby girl. making little dresses, skirts, dolls, toys and bedding is so much fun! she’s just starting to say things like, “mama, sewed it.” and “mama, make it.” which makes it all the more fun.

  49. I’ve started doing a little sewing; but does arranging cool yard sale finds count as crafting? 🙂

  50. Margretha says:

    Crochet, I think. Thanks for the interview and giveaway, looks like a lovely book.

  51. I used to cross stitch, but it takes so long to finish a project! I am now trying to knit, which I find very calming. My daughter and I just taught ourselves to mod-podge over the weekend and had a great time making a special box for her kindergarten supplies!

  52. I love her books too! My favorite way of crafting – upcycling of course. I love to revisit things and try to make something new.
    .-= Cara´s last blog ..Homemade Father’s Day =-.

  53. I love to sew! (and quilt) I read Soulemama everyday and would love to win the book.

  54. Kimberly Racic says:

    I hand embroider. I’ve made stuffed toys/mobile for the baby and a baby-sized patchwork quilt. I’m now in the midst of trying weaving – using old clothes cut into scraps. Our apartment is super small so ˝re-purposing˝ things is essential – there’s just no room! I’m jealous of all you knitters out there! I knew how to knit when I was a kid but somehow lost the skill. Strange but true.

  55. There a couple of things I love to do, one is digital scrapbooking and then I love to refurbish furniture.

  56. I am an addicted scrapbooker – love recording memories, emotions and stories behind photos and creating something that I can keep, whereas with most other crafts I tried I ended up giving away months of hard work to someone else (where frequently the work wasn’t appreciated). I do read Soule mama and have ‘The Creative Family’ though and have recently bought a sewing machine so may be trying some other crafts soon, so Handmade Home would be a big inspiration!

  57. I’m with Tamara, re-upping old furniture is a crazy habit of mine. Paint, fabric, batting….it’s like cheap instant gratification!!

  58. I joke about having crafting ADD! I love to dabble in all sorts of methods. Currently, my favourite is sewing though.
    .-= Coralee´s last blog ..Baby Love! =-.

  59. I love all kinds of crafting, but my favorite kind is and always has been baking. I know most people don’t see this as crafting, but it uses that creative side of my brain, and gives me that complete release and relief that I sometimes need.
    .-= Janie´s last blog ..Project Update =-.

  60. The book looks fabulous. My favourite crafting activity is sewing.
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..Railway Home =-.

  61. Cooking and working with paper (card-making) are my favorite craft projects. I’d love to win this book. Can’t wait to read it!

  62. Jennifer says:

    I would love to win this book. My favorite method of crafting is sewing.

  63. My favorite thing to do is knit or crochet. I’m not too good at either, but it keeps my hands busy while I’m watching TV or talking.
    .-= Erica´s last blog or blue? =-.

  64. I love anything I can do that makes my four year old want to craft along with me. It’s an amazing feeling to see my interests becoming hers. Plus she is such a creative inspiration!

  65. Love to scrapbook and stamp!
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..Austin Update =-.

  66. I love to scrapbook, sew, and lately have been getting into knitting too. Looking forward to reading this book!

  67. I love sewing and baking 🙂

  68. Favorite ways to craft…anything with textiles or paint. What a beautiful blog and family…thanks for highlighting this artist!
    .-= Morgan´s last blog ..Pretties =-.

  69. I am craft-challenged, just as any of my friends which is why I hope to win!:)

  70. My first thought was that I don’t craft. Then after reading a few comments in which baking/cooking is mentioned, I realized that, by golly, I DO craft! And frequently, at that!

    I really would like to venture into the world of quilting. My grandmother taught me to piece and I cherish the time we spent together on those quilts.

  71. Such a lovely giveaway! I love to sew, which I learned from my grandmother. When I slept at her house, I always woke up by the sound and the smell (can anyone, except me, smell sewing machines? :o) ) her old sewing machine. When I was little I always watched her, now we sew together as often as possible and I’m still learning so much by my ,now 86 year old, grandmother.

  72. I love to craft especially with wool. I am knitting a farm mat for my children to play with. Knitting leaves me fulfilled when I want to do something without thinking. When I feel I have extra energy for a project, I love to sew little felt animals and stuff them with wool roving.

  73. Wendy Inman says:

    Crocheting, scrapbooking, knitting, learning to sew…. love it all 🙂

  74. I love crafting, but *have* to make time for it otherwise it doesn’t happen. The other day I did some hand sewing and it was just lovely.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Adrenal Fatigue: Introduction and Definitions =-.

  75. catherine says:

    I love to paint scripture cards. These are little 4×6 cards with favorite scriptures printed and then hand painting along the edges. Just need to get those paints out again! My boys love to paint, I just need to join them more often!!

  76. I love digital photography, scrapbooking and occasionally painting

  77. My favorite everyday craft is cooking from scratch. My more ‘normal’ craft is knitting. I have learn to spin and am trying to improve but also keep it small (ie no plans to buy a wheel anytime soon)

  78. I love to sew. I love going to yardsales and to thrift stores and finding fabric and making something out of that fabric. I am making my youngest daughter a new backpack for school. I agree with Amanda about when you make something you take into account how much time and effort went into the production and you are more catious about buying it. I love looking around my house and seeing all the things that I have sew for my house and the love that went into.

  79. Oh dear! Narrowing it down to one could be hard. I’d have to say that knitting is my favorite craft right now.

  80. Sewing for sure 🙂
    .-= Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog ..Shepherd’s Pie Recipe =-.

  81. Knitting in the winter . . . sewing and at this very moment I am preserving foods.

  82. We love crafting with paper. My daughter is really into making cards…for anyone, for any reason. It is just fun and relaxing to cut, glue, draw, etc. with her.
    .-= melanie´s last blog ..The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center =-.

  83. Southern Gal says:

    Anything that involves beautiful fabrics, so sewing is up there. I love photography and am trying to be more diligent with documenting little moments that pass by so quickly.

    The book sounds lovely! Thanks.

  84. We enjoy any type of gluing, painting, coloring and cutting at our house!
    .-= Lynley´s last blog ..Keep Waiting… =-.

  85. Valerie R. says:

    I like to dabble in all sorts of crafts, but currently, I mostly have been doing beading and papercrafts.

  86. Katie van der Meer says:

    I have several favourtie ways to craft. I am knitting, sewing and cross stitching at the moment. I also love making collages. I find great pleasure in these things when I have a few extra minutes.

  87. I love photography. But I also do a bit of knitting and sewing.
    .-= renee @ FIMBY´s last blog ..that is a beautiful photo of =-.

  88. I love to make greeting cards.


  89. My favorite crafts are things that I do with my children. We especially like to paint and color and cut and glue!
    .-= Kristi´s last blog ..Prepared Mama: 72-hr Emergency Kits for Kids =-.

  90. I love to sew whenever my three little boys give me a chance!

  91. Ooh I wonder when this book will come out down here in Australia!

    I love to sew… I am just not all that good at it and need to make time to practice lots more!

  92. To pick just one…so hard! I think it’d be a toss-up between knitting and sewing, with cooking as a close second (or would that be third?)!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Quiet =-.

  93. I’ve already ordered this book from Amazon but I’d love to win another copy to give to someone I love. I know it will be lovely, just like her first book. My favorite method of crafting? I like to try everything but lately I’ve been quilting, which is quite satisfying. Thanks for the nice interview.
    .-= molly´s last blog ..Homemade Crayons =-.

  94. Crafting is such a sweet joy and the happiness that I feel in creating something for my little ones and husband to enjoy is truly uplifting (and addicting!). I love to sew anything and am always looking for new projects to try in between my efforts to encourage a love for crafting in my 2 year old. Thanks so much for this wonderful chance and have a great start to the week!

  95. I love knitting. I just finished a hat last night for my dad’s birthday. I love being able to make a gift for someone!

  96. I’m a quilter at heart, but will sew anything. Wrapping up in a lovely crinkly quilt after spending time and love making it is the best feeling ever.
    .-= Andrea´s last blog ..A Year In Photos – Day 103 – Domesticity =-.

  97. My favorite crafting involves paper – drawing, painting, journaling. We love it all.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..My Time Card Sketch Challenge =-.

  98. I love just spreading our materials out on the table, and watching what little hands can make from it!

    Amanda does such wonderful work – it’s a pleasure to look at her books.

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Inspiration for Your Weekend =-.

  99. I love to knit and scrapbook…and don’t do either as much as I’d like to!!

  100. Lisa Tolson says:

    My favorite thing to do, although I really haven’t in probably years now… is scrapbooking. I love to go through the memories of our girls’ lives and put them on paper so those precious memories never get lost. I am so behind, but hope to start up soon! Thanks so much for this give-away! I’ve been reading so much about this book lately. I think I’m going to take the girls on an outing today to buy her first one. I can’t wait to get into these!