I have been frequenting my local library lately for two reasons: free wifi (I’ve mentioned the need for this before) and free movies, a need which comes consequentially as a result of not having Internet — no Netflix; gasp!! The word “free” sings lovely love songs to me, just be careful not to rack up any late-fees. The library can be intimidating for some, I know, I’ve spoken to you. I promise, though, once you can find your way around yours, or it’s online catalog, it’s just as fun as shopping (if you’re the kind of person who likes shopping for media.) Every now and then, I’ll take a book recommendation from a friend, but generally I find my best picks just by browsing the shelves. There really is something romantic about thumbing through spines, getting caught up by intriguing cover art, and imagining all the other hands that have flipped through those pages.
My library branch is a small one; as if it were organized just for me, the crafting, fashion, and fine arts books are all in one aisle, and right across from the music and DVDs. I came across this book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, a few weeks ago as I was perusing. In life, I despise the word “hip” — I mean is it relevant anywhere outside of the 70s? Who uses that word anymore? Maybe it’s just me, my problem. However, I fully resign to the fact that I gravitate towards any title containing the word because the content usually speaks to me. Hip or not, this book is awesome. So awesome in fact, that throughout reading it, I kept thinking of all the friends that I wanted to buy it for. Whether your single or married, if you live somewhere — anywhere, Kate Payne won’t make you feel bad if you still have cinderblock shelving or shame you for picking up furniture from the side of the road.
This book is absolutely jam-packed with information, but here is a list of my single-most favorite take-aways from each chapter:
- Chapter 1 // Kitchen and Dining Rooms • The one thing I went out and did immediately was pick up a pack of wooden clothes pins from my local dollar store. She outlines a handful of good uses for these simple little tools, but as for me, I am happy just to have a solution for closing up bags instead of those obnoxious-looking plastic chip clips; why is it that you never seem to have enough!!? So for $1.25, I’ve now got 50 of them and have already put them to good use in the cabinets and fridge and all the extras are collected beautifully inside a clear growler on my pantry shelf.
- Chapter 2 // Living Areas • This chapter really focuses on decorating on a budget and utilizing things like Craigslist and flea markets to your advantage. I already fancy myself as a pro at these things, but there was one thing that Kate made a point about that really stuck out to me. It was about seating arrangements and having guests over. Josh and I have people over to our house every week so we have crammed as many seating apparatuses into our living room as possible without driving us both crazy. You’ve seen our living space before, right? The one piece I was obsessing over finding was the 70s hanging basket chair. I searched forever and thanks to Craigslist, finally got my hands on one. The issue? This is the one seat that no one ever takes on a Tuesday night — I think they’re all afraid of it. Being that its kind of tucked into the corner of the room and not adjacent to the TV, I rarely sit in it myself. Actually, the most fun we have with the chair is tossing a ball into it and watching the dog try to get it out. So I’m going to put it on the porch for the summer and then reassess the situation. I guess the moral of this short story is that form cannot be over functionality if you want your guests to have a good time.
- Chapter 3 // Bed, Bath, and Between • Sometimes you just need someone to say something out loud for it to sink in, amiright? Well obviously, it was not said, as i was reading, but you know what i mean. Anyway, my bed linens have been in transition for a while. I find prices for new, quality linens a bit obscene so I’m kind of refusing to shell out $100+ just because we have a king sized bed. So I’ve bought a sheet here, a sheet there, just kind of biding my time until I happen upon the right sale. The result of this has led to 4 different coloured linens on our bed, including a mis-matched flat and fitted sheet. We’ve long since squelched the idea that you need to match your bag with your shoes, I get that — but aren’t your sheets supposed to match? Isn’t that why they sell them in sets? No more, friends, no more. I’m so secure with my mismatched linens and I’m never turning back. There’s even an illustrated how-to for folding your fitted sheets. I’ve already YouTubed this long ago, but it’s still a good refresher.
- Chapter 4 // Outdoor Spaces • Our potted plants usually suffer from pest population in the warmer months. Kate helps you identify “good” bugs and “bad” bugs for your plants and has given a simple spray solution that I’ll be trying if it occurs for us again. Dilute a few drops of ordinary dish soap or Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap into a spray bottle filled with water and apply directly to foliage. Bonus points if you use Bronner’s peppermint or lavender variety, as these scents are known insect repellents. Bye-bye buggies!
- Chapter 5 // Cleaning and DIY Suds • Ok, here’s the weird thing about me that you might be hesitant to believe: I love cleaning. It’s true. Well it’s not like I get up in the morning and I’m all ready to go, but once I get motivated to clean, I get really into it. I’m that person scooping up all kinds of new cleaning miracles and handy tools. This chapter lays out all the good and bad things we’re putting into the planet with these potions and offers really simple ingredient to have one hand — and many that you probably already have. Check it out:
White vinegar for killing mold, cleaning floors, mirrors and windows.
Baking soda for stuck-on stuff from baked food to soap scum.
Dish soap for stained concrete and granite countertops.
Castile soap for pretreating laundry stains, hand and body wash, and the bug repellant I just told you about.
Salt to help boost baking soda’s abrasive power and pour some down the drain as a deodorizer.
Hydrogen peroxide is safer than chlorine bleach and can be used for whitening everything — everything.
Borax for heavy-duty scrubbing projects.
Essential oils to add to any of your solutions to leave a desirable scent in the room.
Citrus solvent (I use Goo-Gone) can be used for anything from removing sticky gunk from glass jars to degreasing the stovetop.
Kate also lists a bunch of other great reference books and blogs after each chapter. One that made it to my library hold list is Slow Death By Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things.
- Chapter 6 // Managing Cloth • This one is packed full of laundry tips, and I already told you how much I like cleaning. Hubby came to me just aft I’d read this chapter with a big problem: he had unexpected car troubles that day, but luckily, being the handy man that he is, he was able to fix it himself. The problem was that he got engine grease on his best pair of blue jeans. I did just as was suggested and dabbed dish soap on the stain. Obviously, I’m stoked, and he’stoked. Win win. Also, she says that adding white vinegar to your rinse cycle will get rid of any static cling in the dryer. If you still want your laundry to smell prettier, just make up a sachet with lavender and a reusable linen tea bag; it’s good or up to 10 uses.
- Chapter 7 // Tapping the Tool Kit • I also fancy myself as a really handy lady. My dad always did his own home repairs and I usually was at hand to help him. My mom is also incredibly talented with a tool box, so maybe it’s in the blood? Most of my girlfriends wonder at the fact that I’ve aways had my own toolbox, but this chapter outlines all the essentials you’d need for home decorating needs so you can have one too. Here is one really good tip I’ve never thought about before: install an anchor into your wall and screw in a vintage or quirky Anthropologie drawer pull. You can use this method to organize your jewelry, hang towels or pictures with ribbon. Fancy that.
- Chapter 8 // Cooking at Home • This one offers a lot of tips, especially for those of us newer to cooking and maybe a bit intimidated by the kitchen. Kate offers tips on how to shop smarter, what to buy organic and what is safe to buy conventionally grown, where to spend money in the kitchen and what tools are useless, and she speaks much on baking your own bread. This task I always leave to the hubby. He really likes it and we love love bread, but do find that we need to go through a loaf very quickly so that we can enjoy it before it starts to go stale. She offers a tip that you should store homemade breads on the counter, tightly wrapped in wax paper and butcher’s cord. I want to attempt my own loaf, just so I can test this trick.
- Chapter 9 // Preserving Food at Home • I’m not really at the canning-level yet and there is tons of information here on how to get started. I seriously admire those that can, preserve,and jelly on their own, but I don’t know that it really interests me — until I saw her simple recipe for fridge pickles:
- Chapter 10 // Entertaining Projects • I’ve already mentioned how we have people to our house weekly. However, this did inspire me to do it even more. I’ve had an idea on the tip of my tongue for a while. A lovely girl at a Beggars Banquet I did in November said she was going to start a sewing circle. I got stoked for it, she took my name and said she’d be in touch, but no, indeed she hasn’t. So I’m going to start it myself, and since the very idea was here in the book, I no longer feel guilty about taking over the idea. See how that works? Once a month I’ll be hosting Mending Mondays in my living room. It will include munchies, dranks, and the incentive to finally knock out your huge to-do mending stash. I’m currently trying to get my friend to commit to coming also, as she’s the loveliest person I know that has a machine and knows how to use it and whom would benefit from some scheduled adult-time. Let me know if you want an invite!!
So that’s it. I didn’t get paid for this post, but I probably should have. Wink!! I just really, actually like this book. Go pick it up and also check out Kate’s blog and her house on Apartment Therapy.