How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew by Erin Bried

December 13, 2010 · 45 comments · Print This Post

in Book Reviews, Contests / Giveaways

Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Emmy, lucky number 39!

You may remember around this time last year that I glowingly reviewed a book by author Erin Bried. I couldn’t say enough about How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew and I’m certain that those of you who picked up a copy felt exactly the same way.

In the spring, Erin Bried tweeted about looking for grandfathers to speak to for a follow-up book. As soon as I read the message I contacted her. I had the perfect candidate in mind: CK’s lovely grandfather. A flurry of emails ensued and eventually an interview was scheduled and I’m exceedingly proud to report that charming Grandpa Kelly is quoted on numerous occasions throughout the book.

My grandfather passed away when I was only 5 years old so I only had a brief period of time to collect memories of him and I. I cherish those I have though. When CK and I started dating I was so incredibly nervous to meet his family but his grandparents were the epitome of gracious hosts. These days I love talking about cooking and flipping though food magazines with Sandra and look forward to cocktail hour when Grandpa Kelly mixes a seriously delicious Manhattan. Then he tells wonderful stories about being a pitcher in the major leagues and socializing with Sam and Marilyn Sheppard back in the day.

But, while I’m partial to Grandpa Kelly, all of the gentleman featured in the book have an abundant amount of advice and tips to offer including: how to make a toast, how to buy a suit, how to comfort a loved one, how to handle bad news, and even how to write a love letter. For my foodie friends there are tips on how to make killer ice cream, homemade root beer, season a cast-iron skillet, and how to grill a steak (I’ve dog eared that page for later).

Needless to say Erin has outdone herself once again. While reading How to Build a Fire I can’t help but feel incredibly nostalgic for the time that these wise men lived in and I feel unendingly grateful to be in a relationship with someone who was influenced by a man who can relay a tale as romantic as the following:

My friend and I were talking about who would be your favorite wife. I said I would marry Sandy Nussel and worry about falling in love with her later. She was so beautiful, and I admired her all through high school. A week later, I got a postcard from her. We went to dinner and then to the ball game. Two dates later, I proposed, and she said yes! That was in June or July and we got married that November. It was a quick courtship, but when you know, you know. And how! I picked her up and we went to have a bite to eat. We just sat there looking at each other and we couldn’t even find words. We couldn’t even breathe. I feel it even now. — Bob Kelly (Page 207 on “Finding the One”).

I’d sincerely love for you to have the opportunity to read and reminisce with this book on your own. If you’d like to win a copy of How to Build a Fire simply leave a comment on this post; perhaps a memory of your own grandfather?

You can also receive up to two additional entries in the contest (for a total of three chances) if you become a fan of Erin Cooks on Facebook, tweet about the contest, or simply add Erin Cooks to your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to leave additional comments on this post alerting me to each action. By the way, if you already subscribe to Erin Cooks in some manner just let me know that in your comment(s).

All winners will be selected via the nifty random number generator on Friday, December 17th at 10:00 AM EST, and then I’ll promptly arrange to have this wisdom filled book mailed to your home. Best of luck!

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Hungry Crafter December 13, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Wonderful post — you know how to sell a book! I definitely would enjoy reading this — and making the soon-to-be-hubby read it too! 😉


2 The Hungry Crafter December 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

And I follow you using Google reader. Thanks again! (p.s. — I’m giving away an apron and some other things on my blog if you’re interested!)


3 Stacey December 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

That’s too cute! I would love to win this book


4 Stacey December 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I subscribe via RSS


5 Kirsten December 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Oh the thought of this book makes me a bit teary, a bit happy. I lost my wonderful Grandpa 2.5 years ago and I miss him dearly. He taught me how to light a match off the back of a matchbook, I was so scared it would burn me! Things I wished I’d learned from him: how to carve a turkey (he did it every year), how to play tennis (not that it’s really my sport, but he loved to play when I was young and I wish he’d have taught me just to share his passion, and how to have a quarter of the faith he maintained over his lifetime.


6 Kirsten December 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I also subscribe via rss


7 jo December 14, 2010 at 7:57 am

My grandfather passed away when I was 19. I am still sad he never met my husband as they are both engineers and would get along like a house afire.
My Grandfather was a real dog lover. His old 65 Mustang was held together with dog spit and fur. But my favorite memory is that my he never went anywhere without dog biscuits in his coat pocket because you never knew when you might meet a dog who would like a treat.


8 wummy December 14, 2010 at 8:09 am

This book sound wonderfu!!


9 kara December 14, 2010 at 8:22 am

Thanks Erin! As the only daughter and youngest of seven, I think I speak for my whole family when I say that “Grandpa Kelly” has truly been a remarkable father and teacher. He is moral beyond words, and his lessons in life have truly helped to shape all the Kelly’s and generations to come. I look forward to owning this book and cherishing it for years…decades, to come!


10 April in CT December 14, 2010 at 9:02 am

What an awesome post!! I definitely want to read this book!

I only knew my maternal grandfather as my paternal passed away before I was born, but I have wonderful memories of him and was lucky to have him in my life. No particular memory stands out, but just him overall as a person left an impression on me. He was hard working and took such wonderful care of my grandmother, even after his passing. I loved spending weeks during the summer with them.


11 April in CT December 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

I follow your blog in a reader! 🙂


12 Kim Winn December 14, 2010 at 9:18 am

I just became a fan on Facebook!


13 Kim Winn December 14, 2010 at 9:19 am

My grandfather passed a way a year before I got married, so he didn’t get to attend my wedding. But my greatest memory of him is sitting in his big recliner watching tv with him when I was really young.


14 Jade N December 14, 2010 at 9:36 am

My grandfatehr was really sweet and handy around the house too. He worked general construction and I got to work with him for a few summers while in high school. I will cherish those moments for ever. He passed away from leukemia and I ran a marathon to raise $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society in his honor.


15 Jade N December 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

I also subscribe via google reader and on facebook and twitter.


16 Nichole Bernier December 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

My grandfather was a radio operator in the merchant marines in WW2, and his boat was last ship torpedoed by the Germans — AFTER the end of the war, because word hadn’t reached this u-boat — right off the coast of Rhode Island. He survived along with most of the crew, and brought his old Underwood typewriter into the lifeboat with him. When he died 12 years ago, he left me that typewriter, and it’s one of my most prized possessions!

Love the sound of your book, Erin. Best of luck with it!


17 Jade N December 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

And twitter! 🙂


18 Renee F. December 14, 2010 at 10:19 am

My maternal grandfather passed away when I was 1 and my paternal grandfather was a jerk to everyone. My father is such a wonderful man and father and has taught us a lot. I feel that this book would make a perfect gift to him as his own father wasn’t really the man to teach much.


19 Suzi December 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

I had five grandfathers – two biological and three step-grandfathers (one grandma was widowed three times, one was widowed twice). One one of those grandfathers lived long enough for me to know him, and he passed when I was five, so I only have a few treasured memories of him. I would love to own this book.


20 Suzi December 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

I subcribe to you via RSS.


21 Weezie December 14, 2010 at 10:22 am

Ugh, I love grandfathers. I have two very different, but equally awesome ones, and I love them both so much.


22 Weezie December 14, 2010 at 10:22 am

I’m also a subscriber!


23 Suzi December 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

I liked you on Facebook 🙂 (kind of surprised I didn’t already!)


24 jules p December 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

I am not sure about my grandfathers…but from reading this little bit, it sounds EXACTLY like my dad/mom. Even though is has passed on (28 years ago) she still admires him so much. As do so many that knew him. Their love was so remarkable. I was so lucky to see that as their child, and be surrounded by it daily. True story…my dad died in December-Christmas eve- and he gave money to a close family friend. He was to take roses to my mom on their anniversary (one year later) for it would have been 35 years. A year later, door bell rang, and there stood our family friend with 2 dozen long stemmed roses-in hand- telling my mom, brother and myself the story. It was the most loving thing I have ever seen.
He could have written a book like this too! 🙂


25 jules p December 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

I became a fan…


26 jules p December 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

I get your emails too!


27 Kelly December 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Awww this is too sweet!


28 Hänni December 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Grandpa Kelly’s “the one” story is so sweet! My own grandfather’s whirlwind courtship and romance with my grandma was similar–and they’ve been married almost 60 years!


29 Amber December 14, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I always love reading your blogs, especially the ones I relate with. Bob and Sandra Kelly are what I hope Kyle and I are like someday. My grandfather was gone before I could remember, and I’m thankful to now have the Kelly’s as part of my life. The book will become part of my collection whether I win it or purchase it. Thanks for sharing this with us!


30 Jessica B December 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm

My grandpa taught me that you’re never too old to learn new things. He took classes in everything he could find at the local community center, from upholstery to clock repair to organic gardening. I’m not sure that he ever did any of those things at home, but he sure loved learning them.


31 Sarah December 14, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Sounds like a great book! Wonderful story from Grandpa Kelly.


32 Sarah December 14, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I’m subscribed to your feed.


33 David Russo December 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

My grandfather was in college at bucknell university during the depression and told me the story of how he would make extra money by going back to freshman rooms and telling them he owned the radiators and was coming to collect them. He would offer to sell them back to the freshmen. He would visit several rooms during the checkin time


34 priyanka December 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Awww… this seems like such a sweet book. Would love to win a copy!


35 Colleen Holt December 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Hi, Erin,
This was a lovely piece. And I’d really enjoy reading this book, because although both my grandfathers lived to be fairly old (in their 80’s), neither spent a whole lot of time with me (being a GIRL and all), and certainly didn’t teach me any practical skills. Too bad, because one grandfather was an electrician (would love to have some skills in that now!) and the other a writer (I’m a writer, so maybe something was transmitted through the genes). Happy holidays!


36 Bren December 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm

how beautiful Erin. And, Yes !! I do remember that post! This is great and so timely as my own grandfather will turn 90 on Christmas day… What a great gift to give… thank for sharing and updating us.


37 Bren December 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm

you were already on my feed. 🙂


38 Emmy Morrison December 17, 2010 at 9:02 am

Found your site via Chow – the cake recipe wound up being emailed out, so you should get a big boost from that. Emailed the link to a friend, too!


39 Emmy Morrison December 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

And I fanned you on FB so I can keep up with new posts!


40 Lyndsay December 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

This sounds wonderful!! And I’m already a FB fan! 🙂


41 AmyH December 17, 2010 at 10:47 am

I’d love that book. I think about my grandfather every day, and am so blessed to have known him!


42 AmyH December 17, 2010 at 10:49 am

…and I just added you to my RSS reader! Happy to have a great blog to read. 🙂


43 Ashley Ettwein January 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Hi there – I just saw a clip about the book on Fox this morning and can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with my husband about fond memories of our own grandfathers. I remember as a kid (4-5 years old) my papa took me to my first Cincinnati Reds baseball game. We sat up in the nosebleed seats, I was decked out in my red converse (which I wore to every Reds game) with ball glove in hand just in case a random pop up came our way. I loved my grandfather dearly and miss him terribly…

Now that we have a young son of our own, my husband can’t wait to take him with my father-in-law on camping trips to build memories of their own – finding the perfect camp site, setting up camp and obviously building a fire. I can’t wait to read this book…


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