Review and Giveaway: "The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking"

HipGirlsGuideToHomemaking_REV Look, Martha Stewart I ain't. Give me 200 pounds of tomatoes to can or boar legs to cure and hang and I'm down, but when it comes down to the myriad chores and tasks that make up the art of keeping a perfect home, I find it hard to get excited. In fact, when I went freelance last year, and we made some fairly radical changes to our spending habits, the one luxury we kept was the house cleaner, because he was still significantly cheaper than couple's therapy or a divorce lawyer. 

All that said, I have found inspiration in Kate Payne and her new book, "The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking," spun out from her blog of the same name. A New York transplant, Kate sought to conquer the homemaking beast to create a serene and personalized oasis amidst the urban maelstrom of the city, all in a manner that is friendly both to the wallet and the planet. 

The book is chockablock with handy tips and ideas, and always in her breezy, chipper voice. You can tell she finds great inspiration in making each homemaking task her own little conquest, and delights in sharing her hard-won efforts with the reader. 

Kate's common-sense approach to the home is everything Martha is not. Her philosophy is not about making a home that's perfect, but one that makes you perfectly happy. Unlike Martha's relentless pursuit for the camera-ready life, Kate's tips are approachable, inspired, and will not send you into a shame spiral. 

I don't think I can better expound on the book's virtues than Kaela, Autumn, Marisa, Julia or Meg have. But like them, I can help you get a copy.  

Giveaway
I can offer one copy of "The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking" to a lucky recipient. All you need to do is to leave a comment on this post with your favorite household tip. Maybe it's your secret stain remover, or how you organize your spices, or a clever way to turn your collectibles into a gallery-worthy display. (Be sure to enter your email so I know how to contact you if you win.) For a bonus entry, click to tweet this post. Entries will be open through midnight PDT on June 25. Go on, you know you want it. 

Make your bedroom ready

Make your bedroom ready before you leave home

Hang dry clothes inside out

I don't have a dryer and have to hang my clothes up to dry in my washroom, where there are windows on both sides. To avoid clothes losing their color and fading, I turn them inside out before washing! Works great!

Get handy!

Learn how to complete simple tasks on your own. I just cleaned out a few drains in my home with a wrench, vinegar, baking powder, and a strong stomach!

So many good suggestions already posted!

Including many that I was thinking of posting.... and many others I hadn't yet heard and will definitely be trying!

In addition to save veggie and chicken scraps for later use in making stock, as many have mentioned, I also save the water that's leftover from steaming veggies or soaking beans. That goes in a separate container in the freezer, and then when I'm ready to make stock, I've got a supply of nutrient dense water, to add to the water base!

Putting Your Potatoes to Sleep

favorite little trick...that all my friends have first laughed at; but, later have done themselves.
whenever, you need to boil potatoes and want to keep them warm for later. Drain them and return them to the same pot covering them to retain the heat.
now with pot in hand walk out of your kitchen and into your bedroom...and tuck those little spuds under your bedding. yes, that's right...put your taters to bed until you need them.
they will keep warm for quite awhile in this little speed bump of slumber at the end of your bed...until needed to either serve or use to mash up still warm.
this tip brought to you by me via my little danish grandmother...who used to say 'go put the potatoes to sleep for me' when i was a little girl growing up in denmark. thanks bedstemor for my favorite tip.
added bonus...your bed is heated up for those cold feet : )

coffee grinds

sprinkle used coffee grinds over your salad beds and slugs and caterpillars won't come near

I'm somewhat of a novice and

I'm somewhat of a novice and haven't heard of using coffee before. I will definitely try it, thanks!

coffee grinds

Sprinkle used coffee grinds over your salad bed to stop slugs and caterpillars eating them:-)

Baking soda is great to

Baking soda is great to remove coffee and tea stains from mugs, or to clean casserole dishes and pans.

Tip

I use kitchen shears to cut up whole canned tomatoes while they are still in the can. They are better quality than the already diced up ones.

does it matter?

My tip is to be kind to yourself when you aren't the image of Martha Stewart perfection. Will it matter when you are 70 that you haven't vacuumed or dusted in a few weeks? Probably not, but stressing over it makes your home unpleasant and an unpleasant home will matter when you are 70. Be gentle and loving first, have a clean kitchen second so you can love your family with tasty treats, and everything else can be done when the time is right.

Using bruised fruit

When picking over fruit to preserve, we all usually discard the bruised, broken, unattractive bits that aren't pretty to look at and might just ruin our preserves.

I save those out and make shrub syrups:

For each cup of fruit, stir in a cup of sugar. Allow to sit for a day or two in the fridge to macerate. Strain out solids, pressing with a spoon to get as much liquid as possible. Or even leave in a jelly bag overnight. Whisk this syrup with 1 c. of cider vinegar. Pour into a bottle and leave in the fridge for at LEAST 3 weeks. More is better. To serve, combine 1 part syrup with 6-8 parts seltzer water. (Or, 1 part syrup, one part rum, and 6 parts seltzer water!)

Use those suckas up!

Instead of saying "eeewww" to your veggie ends, peels, chicken carcases, etc. say "oooh" by freezing them in a plastic bag or freezer container until critical mass is reached. Make the most delicious stock from stuff you might normally toss.

Harvest in the morning...

... when all your veggies are reaping the benefits of a dew-filled night.

recycle like woah

I hate waste, and started buying bulk as much as possible ect. I also dislike plastic containers ect for food storage, and glasswear can be pricy. Now i just use my caning jars! i store leftovers in them, freeze them, use them to transport my lunch. They are inexpensive and I always have them on hand!

Upcycling

I've gone freelance too! Hence, my new thrift store obsession for delicate beautiful glassware, especially Depression glass. Although some of the pieces I’ve bought are for my personal collection, they have sparked my curiosity for art. I began upcycling these one-off pieces that have lost their mates in time by making functional art, pairing together plates and stemware to create dessert plates. I have been giving away these plates as gifts to family and friends.

notebook

i keep one with me wherever i go. just a little one to jot down notes, thoughts, phone numbers, books i want to read, to-do lists, etc. i used to put things on scraps of paper and would lose them or have cluttery piles of them everywhere. the notebook keeps this clutter bug a bit neater :)

Weed Killer

As a renter, it always feels like a chore setting up a garden again after each move. More often than not, I end up clearing out overgrown spaces. My trick for killing pesky weeds or small trees that just won't yield to pulling or digging is simple. I trim it flush to the ground, rough up the remaining root with pruning sheers, dig a little well around the root, and then let baking soda and vinegar do the rest. It will take care of the weed without destroying anything nearby or contaminating your garden.

Frozen pesto

It's not rocket science, but when I discovered the wonder of frozen pesto, it rocked my world. I freeze finished pesto (sans cheese) in 1/4 cup portions. It thaws in a snap for use in mayonnaise or sauces. And a frozen portion can be popped directly into soup or risotto for an instant flavor boost!

I use baking soda to clean,

I use baking soda to clean, sinks, tubs and faucets - just be sure to rinse well!

A Punk Mumma's Oldschool Remedies

I have a few that I didn't see already, so here goes.

BANANARAMA
My 3 year old loves her Doc Marten shoes - she's rough on 'em, though, and they're often scuffed and dirty. She also loves bananas every morning for breakfast. So, while she's eating her banana, Mumma is rubbing the inside of a banana peel on her shoes and buffing them back to their original glory with a dry towel. For especially bad scuffs, I'll just use a Sharpie in the same color as the shoe. Every punk mom has a Sharpie left over from their last concert! Color in the scuff, let it dry and then buff with the banana peel as normal. (Well, as normal as one can be when shining shoes with a banana peel.)

BIN COMPOSTIN'
If you have a compost bin or, better yet, a worm composting bin in your house then you know how fruit flies plague them. To prevent them from getting in, take that banana peel (or whatever fruit/vegetable matter you're composting) and toss them into a bowl in the freezer for a day before putting them in your compost bin. The freezing cold will kill the fruit fly eggs that are on most of the fruits and vegetables that come into our homes. Thus eliminating their introduction into your compost!

FUNGUS 53
While we're on the subject of bugs, I have a great way to get rid of those pesky fungus gnats that just love our houseplants or seedlings. The solution is in your spice cabinet: Ground Cinnamon. Sprinkle it all over the surface of the soil in your infested houseplant. It is a natural fungicide, so it kills the fungus that attracts the gnats without damaging your plant. Bonus, gnats hate the stuff.

ADAM AND THE ANTS
Also speaking of bugs, did you know that sprinkling baby powder or Cream of Tartar in the path of ants will stop them in their tracks? They won't cross the stuff. Can't say that I know why, but when they got the idea to form a conga line to my dog's food bowl this Spring, I tartar'd them back to the garden where they belong.

Hope 4 wasn't too many and that they were unusual enough to win! :D Can't wait to read the book!

Get pen, latex paint, & Sharpie out of clothing/carpet

Squirt a little hand sanitizer on the spot & scrub with a toothbrush.

My housekeeping tip - marry a

My housekeeping tip - marry a boy who is willing to stay home with the kids!! (That and create a daily "basics" schedule that he can stick with such as Monday - Clean bathrooms; Tuesday - Make beds with clean sheets, etc.)

The Homemaker's Notebook

I learned a life-saving trick from Lindsay over at the blog Passionate Homemaking ... Last fall, I started a simple three ring binder with several different dividers like Menu Plans, Food Ideas/Preservation, Project Goals, Shopping Lists, etc. I also keep a master calendar and I have pockets for recipe clippings. Now instead of seeing something cool on a blog and then being unable to find it later or trying desperately to remember the name of a book I wanted to read, I just check my book and there it is!

Genius! Everyone should have one!! ;)

Ooops!

I somehow posted my comment twice!!! Sorry about that!!

The Homemaker's Notebook

I learned a life-saving trick from Lindsay over at the blog Passionate Homemaking ... Last fall, I started a simple three ring binder with several different dividers like Menu Plans, Food Ideas/Preservation, Project Goals, Shopping Lists, etc. I also keep a master calendar and I have pockets for recipe clippings. Now instead of seeing something cool on a blog and then being unable to find it later or trying desperately to remember the name of a book I wanted to read, I just check my book and there it is!

Genius! Everyone should have one!! ;)

Vinegar to Weed the garden

I use white vinegar to kill weeds. Its very effective, pet and kid safe. I use it to kill the weeds under the porch and only have to apply once a season. It is very effective so make sure you really don't want anything growing for a year.

Vinegar

I save citrus peels and let them soak in vinegar for a month then dilute with water to make a homemade citrus cleaning spray.

I also use vinegar in my downy balls instead of chemical fabric softener.

Wrinkle Free

I never hang up my work clothes. I just keep them in the dryer and turn it on for 5 mintues while I'm in the shower. When I'm ready to put something on, they're wrinkle-free and not too hot to wear.

Vinegar + baking soda...

keep your drains clear without damaging the pipes by making a grade-school science fair "volcano": a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup or so of plain old distilled vinegar. Let it bubble, then pour hot water down the drain. Cuts through the "gunk" without being hazardous to your health... do this once every month or two.

Borax

I use Borax for pretty much everything. It cleans walls, greasy stove burners, delicate laundry, toilets, floors, you name it. The nice thing is, it's really gentle, so you won't get any nasty chemical burns if you get it on your skin.

Truth!

When you have a plate of cookies on your table, and share, nobody notices (or cares) if your dishes aren't done!

Hydrogen Peroxide

I love peroxide! It's an excellent skin lightener, good on scrapes and cuts and a good mouthwash when diluted with water. I also use it on fabric for blood spots. Even if it's dried on. Just dampen the spot with water and let it set for a few minutes. Then flush with peroxide. It will bubble out the proteins in the blood and remove it. If some blood remains, pour a little more over and then rinse to see if it's out. Small traces may remain but should launder out after that.

Broil with cast iron

When I need to do a quick saute, and don't want oil hitting my nice, clean burners, I heat up my flat, cast iron grill pan under the broiler. When it's very hot (like 450F hot) I add oil, then add and coat whatever needs that quick, hot saute: shrimp, chicken breast, fish, veggies, and so forth. It's quick, it's clean, and it's hot.

I don't have a jewelry box,

I don't have a jewelry box, but I needed to place to put my necklaces nicely so they would stop getting tangled. I found a few thumb tacks that have worked as hooks on the wall to hang my necklaces up. It's decorative, and nothing gets tangled anymore!

Sun Bleach

I hang poopie stained cloth diapers in the sun to bleach the stains out and to make my whites a bit brighter. Works like magic!

Stock!

I quit buying overpriced, salty stock and now make my own veggie and chicken stock. I just keep a gallon bag in the freezer for veggie scraps and one for chicken remains and when they are full I brew up some very tasty stock.

Sun Bleach

I hang poopie stained cloth diapers in the sun to bleach the stains out and to make my whites a bit brighter. Works like magic!

All things baby food jars

After 2 babies in the past 3 years I have, what seems like, an endless supply of baby food jars. These mini jars are brilliant for storing spices, buttons, homemade spreads and sauces and gifting cupcakes. By simply breaking off the bottom of the cupcake, adding a dollop of icing, adding the top, more icing and finishing with the tightened lid, and a cute ribbon bow you have an excellent gift for Christmas, Valentines, party favours... and so on. Even a simple picnic in the park is just a little more fun with a jar of cupcake and a wooden spoon.

Another recent fave tip is cornstarch as a window cleaner. Honestly, it works. A tablespoon of cornstarch to a cup of warm water. One clothe to wet and clean window with, another to dry and buff with.

Use for Canning Jars

I use old canning jars for storing just about everything from ribbon to cake mixes and pasta. They also make great flower vases!

Instead of getting a dresser

Instead of getting a dresser for my toddler's room I got a giant bookshelf and some canvas boxes to put her things in. It's great for putting clothes and diapers in the higher shelves and toys in the lower baskets for her to reach. Keeps her room organized and I don't have to worry about her pulling out the drawers and hurting herself.

Lemon Juice & Salt

Makes a wonderful paste to remove all that is stubborn on hard surfaces.

Lemon Juice & Salt

Makes a wonderful paste to remove all that is stubborn on hard surfaces.

Use a kitchen blackboard to

Use a kitchen blackboard to keep track of all the fresh vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator so that nothing gets forgotten about.

White Vinegar. I use it for

White Vinegar. I use it for everything, cleaning windows, softening clothes, preventing mineral scuzz from leaving its powdery residue on my canning jars when canning. It is the wonder cleaner, and cheap!

White vinegar

Use white vinegar and water to clean hard wood floors...cleans great and helps finish last longer!

I made a fertilizer 'tea'

I made a fertilizer 'tea' recently by submerging nettles in a bucket of water and letting it soak for a couple weeks. I strained it out and stored it in old jugs. I just dilute it down and pour it all over in the garden beds. Free fertilizer! The plants seem to dig it, but I admit it's awfully stinky! :P

Running a household tip

Make a weekly laundry schedule. Every day do one load, from start to finish, ie washed, dried, folded, back in drawers/closets. This prevents laundry from becoming an overwhelming household chore.

Love the tips!

I really like these; here are a few from me and my family:

-My mom uses cuphooks and screw-in rings to hang her wooden cutting board under the lip of the counter: it's always handy, and air-dries between uses.

-Bury banana peels near tomato plants; they love them!

-Grate ripe tomatoes for sauce with a large cheese grater; it even removes the skin!

-Save plastic mesh onion bags; stuff one with the others to make a dandy pot scrubber that's also gentle for getting bike grease and garden dirt off your hands.

-Used paint stir sticks make great herb labels. And bring home your used wooden coffee stir sticks to label seedlings instead of tossing them out at the coffee shop.

I could go on and on...

Keep tulips fresh

Drop a few pennies at the bottom of the vase and your tulips (and daisies) will stand straight up for several days

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