Friday, September 21, 2012

A post about keeping house, and all that entails

Oh my, a chill is in the air even in these parts! Hard to believe summer is almost over. I'm always sad to see the main growing season go, but by now I'm also worn out by super hot and humid weather and mosquitoes as big as hummingbirds. So, bring on Fall!

Thoughts of cleaning, organizing and nesting have set in, and as I look around the house I can see I have some major work to do. I never really got back into a routine after we moved back into the house in March, and my sanity (and the state of my house) has suffered greatly for it. I make valiant attempts to "get back on track" but they never seem to stick. I need help!

Enter in my favorite new book, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. This comprehensive housekeeping guide, written by Cheryl Mendelson, is not only an encyclopedia of indispensable explanations and tips for every household task, it is also brilliantly written. Sort of like a cookbook that you want to read even when you are not actually cooking......

The book is a large one, at almost 900 pages the hardback version is formidable. The pages are divided into the broad categories of Beginnings, Food, Cloth, Cleanliness, Daily Life, Sleep, Safe Shelter and Formalities. Those eight sections are further divided into 72 chapters, so you can find exactly what you need when you need it without getting overwhelmed by all the rest.

At the moment, I am focusing on the "Beginnings" category at the front of the book. I have flipped through the pages many times, reading a few of the short chapters here and there as I've had time. This first section is amazingly inspirational for me. Cheryl gives a brief history of housekeeping, gives her argument for why it is important and worth our time, and states a strong case for good old fashioned work. Then there are the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly task lists (she admits they are overzealous) that are so helpful for folks like me that do not fall into a rhythm easily on their own. 

This is not a flowery, overly stylized book. The simple line drawings sprinkled throughout the chapters are charming and informative, but there are no glossy magazine like spreads of perfect bedrooms or gleaming kitchens to compare your own home to. If you check out the bibliography at the end of the book, you can find an amazing list of resource materials that Cheryl referenced to compile her book. This author has done her research and then some! She has combined the domestic wisdom of her grandmothers and an early life on a farm with a philosopher and lawyer's education into the quintessential reference on keeping house.

Jenny, have you received your copy yet from the library? Anyone else out there interested in reading this with us?


  1. I download the trial version on my iPad . I have liked what I've read so far. Even after being married almost 32 years I need all the help I can get.....

  2. Thanks for the great resource! I ordered a copy from my library :)


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