The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living


This is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their careers and high-pressure life in New York City tomove to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where they made, built, invented, foraged, and grew all they needed to live self-sufficiently, discovering a new sense of value and abundance in the process. Alongside their personal story are tips and tutorials to guide readers in the discovery of a fulfilling new lifestyle that relies less on money. Tremayne wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the ...

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The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living

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This is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their careers and high-pressure life in New York City tomove to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where they made, built, invented, foraged, and grew all they needed to live self-sufficiently, discovering a new sense of value and abundance in the process. Alongside their personal story are tips and tutorials to guide readers in the discovery of a fulfilling new lifestyle that relies less on money. Tremayne wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the skill, imagination and creativity to make it work.

Tremayne not only teaches the art of making biofuel, appliances, structures, gardens, food, and medicine but also presents reasons for makers to share their innovations and ideas through open source and creative commons licenses.She shares the joys of creating out of waste, home manufacture, and reconnecting with nature, and she teaches readers how to live off the grid. Practical, contemplative, and action-oriented, The Good Life Lab is the manual for life in a post-consumer age.

In addition, The Good Life Lab is filled with illustrations contributed by a community of artists -- Alethea Morrison, Allegra Lockstadt, Andrew Saeger, Bert van Wijk, Christopher Silas Neal, Gina Triplett, Grady McFerrin, Joel Holland, Josh Cochran, Julia Rothman, Kate Bingaman Burt, Katie Scott, Kristian Olson, Mattias Adolfsson, Meg Hunt, Melinda Beck, Miyuki Sakai, Rachel Salomon, and Sasha Prood -- making the book itself a work of art.

The Smyth-sewn binding style is the highest-quality book binding available. It is more durable than a glued binding and lets the book open flat, making it easier to read. The Good Life Lab has an exposed spine so that readers can appreciate and understand how the object was made.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Wendy Tremayne was a high-pressured New York City creative director before she overcame her "lust for stuff" and chose a decommodified life that emphasized time and experience, rather than money. In this good-spirited, hands-on memoir, she writes about how she and her partner moved from Big City madness to a foraging, self-sufficient life in a remote part of New Mexico. Filled with practical back-to-basics tips and tutorials about everything from growing plants to biofuel, The Good Life Lab combines the best features of a first-person account and a practical guide to a pared down life. A trade paperback and NOOK Book original.

Publishers Weekly
This rollicking, inspiring tale of Tremayne’s journey from being the creative director of N.Y.C. marketing firm Green Galactic to being a Burning Man volunteer, yoga teacher, Sufi seeker, and hardscrabble DIY urban homesteader in a former trailer park in the eccentric community of Truth or Consequences, N. Mex., is alternately funny, tender, philosophical, and practical. Tremayne and her partner, Mikey Sklar, in their “decommodified life,” choose time over money. As she convincingly writes, “Our clothing wears the signs of our labor: stained, torn and burned.... Every stain and tear contains a story, a moment that we treasured on our adventure.” Illustrated with whimsically florid drawings by a variety of artists and interspersed with essential how-tos for living “life in the waste stream”—from fermenting tempeh and brewing mead, to building a papercrete dome and removing rust from wrenches with electrolysis—the memoir riffs off Scott and Helen Nearing’s 1954 Living the Good Life with much more style and humor than the original, bringing the back-to-the-land genre up to date with impressive sophistication and appeal. Color photos and illus. throughout. (May)

"Stop whatever you’re doing and get this book. I’ve just finished reading it and I have to say that Wendy and Mikey could easily be the poster children for modern day hacking. ...There wasn’t a single piece of their lives that wasn’t somehow improved by their efforts to play an active role in their own living. … Their life is their workbench. … should be handed out in high schools as part of the curriculum.”

Boing Boing

“Captivating right from the start … Whether for inspiration or as a road map to creating your own off-the-grid homestead, Tremayne’s book is a must read for any maker who fantasizes about stepping off the consumer-centered treadmill and into a life that is connected to nature, unhurried and meaningful.”

Book Page

“Visionary naturalist and conceptual artist Wendy Jehanara Tremayne presents a unique synthesis of memoir, travelogue, guru-level spiritual wisdom and pragmatic instruction on how to get out of the ‘waste stream’ in which urbanites wallow and re-enter the vital stream of the natural world.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

“Tremayne is part of a grand American tradition of abandoning urban commercialism to grow food and build houses far from the crush of city life. … There are many roads to satisfaction, from homesteading to buying a ticket into space, and the advice underlying [The Good Life Lab] ultimately has less to do with composting and more to do with deciding what you are willing to sacrifice to live as you choose.”

Book & Game Company

“Part essay, part how-to book, The Good Life Lab is for anyone who wants to live closer to the source of their food, housing, clothing and energy use. If you want inspiring examples of do-it-yourself creativity then read this book. From building with recycled materials headed for the land fill, to making biodiesel and more, this one is sure to spark ideas for your own hands-on living. A refreshing read from a couple who is leading by example.”

The Guardian

Named a Best Staycation Summer Read:“If you want to reset your psychological clock and improve your lifestyle while staying in the same place, then The Good Life Lab is the book for you.”

Rachael Ray Blog

“Have you ever felt so fed up with the materialism of the modern world that you wanted to opt out and go back to a simpler way of living? That’s exactly what Tremayne and her boyfriend ended up doing, in an effort to get in touch with what’s important in life."

DIY Network blog

“Shares a wealth of information to inspire people who may want to embark on their own path of discovery. “

Library Journal
Titles on low-impact and self-sustaining lifestyles have surged in popularity. Blogger Tremayne ( invites readers to learn from her experiences, promising opportunity for any level of commitment. However, only the last third of the book actually offers projects and how-to information. The bulk of it is autobiographical, chronicling the author's transition from consumerism to sustainability. The projects in the final section are much abbreviated but do contain some interesting ideas and information. The bibliography includes both print and online resources. VERDICT This title falls short of actually providing a variety of projects that can lead to a self-sustainable life. For readers interested in the transition from mainstream consumerism to living off the grid, this will appeal. Others may be frustrated by the lack of organization and indexing, which makes it hard to find the promised projects. For the nitty-gritty of achieving a self-sustaining lifestyle, a more relevant resource is David Toht's Backyard Homesteading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612121017
  • Publisher: Storey Books
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 695,128
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy Tremayne was a creative director in a marketing firm in New York City before moving to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where she built an off-the-grid oasis in a barren RV park with her partner, Mikey Sklar. She is the founder of the textile repurposing event Swap-O-Rama-Rama, which has spread all over the world; a conceptual artist; a yogi; a gardener; and a writer. She has written for Craft's webzine and Make magazine and, with Mikey Sklar, keeps the blog Holy Scrap.

Dale Dougherty is the founder, editor, and publisher of Make magazine.

Christopher Bamford is the author of An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West.

Brad Lancaster is the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond.

Sandor Ellix Katz is the author of The Art of Fermentation.

Alyce Santoro is a conceptual and sound artist and a member of the multimedia collective known as the Center for the Improbable and (Im)Permacultural Research.

Pir Zia Inayat-Kahn is the spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International.

The Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping, is the author of The End of the World.

Doug Rushkoff is a media theorist and the author of many books, including Life, Inc. and Present Shock.

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Table of Contents



Part I: Life Imagined

Life in the Waste Stream

Jump and the Net Will Appear

Broken Heart Seeks Giant Band-Aid

To Live a Decommodified Life

Everything Is a Tool to Change the World

Commodified People


Nature Is the Truest Book

Ladybugs in New York City

What Is the Cost of a Job?

The Sky Is the Ocean

Part II: Life Hands On

Makers of Shelter

Building in Truth or Consequences

Free Fuel

Things of Value

The Notorious Goblins

The Cost of Living

Take Time

Getting Better All the Time

Nature Unlocked

The Digital Homestead

The Least Useful Most Fun Thing

A Cottage Industry


Part III: Life Lab

Mad Skills

Kitchen Magic

Power, Electronics, and Technology

Cars and Fuel


Holy Scrap

Epilogue: Make Mistakes




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