Filed in Book Club, Lifestyle, Traditions — April 26, 2023

Book Review: Life From Scratch

When I was in Florida for Daddy’s cancer treatment this winter, I stopped in Target to grab some necessities.  While there, I ventured over to the book section thinking I would get something to read for when I was in the waiting room at Daddy’s appointments.  The title, and especially the subtitle, of Vanessa Lachey’s book caught my eye—Life From Scratch: Family Traditions That Start with You.  I love upholding family traditions, and the idea of initiating them, due to necessity or just because, appeals to me.  As part of a childless couple, I seek to find and establish new traditions because there are ones from our childhoods that simply do not translate for just two adults.  Vanessa has a different reason for starting family traditions from scratch, and her book is certainly worth a read if you are seeking new traditions in your family.


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Vanessa Lachey's book, Life from Scratch, surrounded by antique ironstone and pine


Synopsis of Life From Scratch

One of the things that I have always admired about Vanessa Lachey, actress and tv host, is her relatability.  Her book is equally down-to-earth and reveals how her upbringing inspired her to take charge in creating a beautiful life full of traditions.  She explains that by creating and practicing these traditions, she has learned a valuable lesson—“I have the power to create the family I want to have, not the family I wish I’d had” (7).  I love that revelation, could see it being used as a morning affirmation, and admire her vulnerability in sharing her background.


Vanessa Lachey's book, Life from Scratch, laid on vintage white wicker


The traditions she shares in the book are arranged by season, beginning with spring.  By arranging the book this way, she calls you to look at cultivating traditions frequently throughout the year and allows you to let this book be a quick reference for seasonal goal setting.  The focuses of these traditions vary from moments with the whole family, spouse, friends, to even traditions with yourself. Vanessa explains the background for developing each tradition, gives details on how she implements it, and offers variations that you could try. At the end of the book, she includes many of her family recipes related to specific family traditions.


Traditions to Try

As I read through the book, I added post-it notes on traditions of Vanessa’s that I would like to try this year or in the future.  I also made note of little details of hers that I could use to enhance traditions we already have.


Life from Scratch book on a shelf with autumn-themed antiques


SPOILER ALERT!  The following are some highlights from the book that personally spoke to me.  Be sure to check out Life From Scratch for all of the details and Vanessa’s thoughts on each tradition.


  • Page 16—Spring Cleaning and Organizing Party—This one combines my love of hosting and organizing. There are so many ways to interpret this concept too.  I could see it being a fun day with the gals!


  • Page 24—DIY Heirlooms—The one Vanessa shares involves her daughter, but I would like to think through this concept and apply it to my nieces and nephews.


  • Page 100—A Themed Halloween Party—I like the concept of theming an annual party, Halloween or not, because it allows people to distinguish each year from the other. You can tell Vanessa loves throwing this particular party, because it is a tradition she never skips, even hosting it two weeks before Halloween if that is what her schedule requires.


  • Page 109—Easy Thanksgiving Tablescape—I like how Vanessa involves the children and keeps it simple. Planning and executing the Thanksgiving meal can be quite the undertaking, so finding a system for designing the tablescape can cut down on stress.


  • Page 113—“Untraditional” Tradition—Vanessa’s tradition involves a tasty beverage. I like the idea of thinking outside of the box when it comes to traditions.  What unique traditions do you have?


  • Page 120—Holiday Card Planning—My family did not send out holiday cards growing up. Since most of our friends and family lived within a 10-mile radius and saw each other weekly, we did not receive many either.  We might occasionally get a card or two from second cousins who lived out of state.  This is a tradition that I would like to start, and I like that Vanessa offers up her timeframe for keeping it stress-free.


  • Page 145—Valentine’s Love Letter—What is a more romantic tradition than a handwritten love letter?


  • Page 190—Minnillo Beans—This recipe looks like one I would try if we had friends over for game day. I think it would be a hit with the gentlemen!


Antiques and a book stack featuring Life From Scratch by Vanessa Lachey


Left Wondering

If I had to evaluate the Life From Scratch book, I would say I was left wondering more about how the parties and events looked.  You get a quick glimpse into the traditions, yet I wish there were more pictures.  This is the decorator in me wanting to see those images, and I do think Vanessa could do a second book with an entertaining focus to capture more of those details.  Secondly, on a lesser note, she mentions a bourbon balls tradition on page 140, but I did not see a recipe in the back for it.  I think my husband would enjoy this tradition, so I might explore the internet for some recipe options.


Life From Scratch Quote-- "Tradition is all about the small personal touches you bring to a moment or an event to make it special."


Life From Scratch Quote-- "Tradition is all about the small personal touches you bring to a moment or an event to make it special."


Traditions Can Start With You

Overall, I think Life From Scratch is a good book to have in your library.  Having read through it once, I could see skimming it in the future to spark ideas for seasonal planning.  Plus, several of the recipes look appetizing and easy to make, so I will probably experiment with a few of them in the future.  Vanessa makes several thought-provoking statements throughout the book concerning traditions, and I will provide one here that I think is the best way to end this book review—“Tradition is all about the small personal touches you bring to a moment or an event to make it special” (81).  I whole-heartedly agree!  Repeating those personal touches, like recipes, décor, and activities, cements in our minds the joy and connection we experienced as a result.


Have you read Vanessa’s Life From Scratch book?  If so, what are your thoughts on it?


What is your favorite family tradition?


If you are inspired to explore new traditions, be sure to check out my Traditions Shop Page for sources.



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