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. 

Strawberry Hulling

Hull strawberries with e grapefruit spoon. Makes jam making a lot easier!

Fruit flies

Since it's summer & we have all kinds of produce in the house, nasty little fruit flies are finding their way in. Put 1 cup of apple cider vinegar plus a couple drops of dish soap in a small bowl, cover with plasic wrap and cut some holes for flies to get in. They'll never get out - our kitchen was fly-free in 2 days.

Save butter wrappers for

Save butter wrappers for greasing pans. For easy keeping, fold them in half, and store them in a plastic sandwich bag in the freezer.

Bernardin (or Ball, for you

Bernardin (or Ball, for you Americans) makes plastic lids to fit their mason jars. The seal isn't quite as solid as the metal lids, but they don't rust. You know you've got a jar of relish in your fridge somewhere with a rusty metal ring. Go change that lid.

baby food jars

Baby food jars make great containers for spices--and sometimes the baby food is cheaper than empty jars of similar sizes! I buy mostly butternut squash babyfood, and just stir the contents into squash or potato soup.

Moths in your grains

We buy our grains like rice, millet and quinoa in bulk from Whole Foods. I hate it when those little grain moths come out and infect everything. Tip #1: Buy often from a reputable seller that rotates their stock Tip #2 Place a few bay leaves inside each container, it seems that the moth larvae don't like them.

Push Pin Holes

When I was renting an apartment in college, instead of buying spackle for all the push pin holes, I bought a travel sized tube of white toothpaste from the dollar store. The toothpaste dries white, and doesn't shrink or leave any visible marks. I never had a problem receiving my security deposit back, and I saved time and money. Plus the toothpaste was repurposed as regular toothpaste. No waste!

PushPin Holes

When I was renting an apartment in college, instead of buying spackle for all the push pin holes, I bought a travel sized tube of white toothpaste from the dollar store. The toothpaste dries white, and doesn't shrink or leave any visible marks. I never had a problem receiving my security deposit back, and I saved time and money. Plus the toothpaste was repurposed as regular toothpaste. No waste!

PushPin Holes

When I was renting an apartment in college, instead of buying spackle for all the push pin holes, I bought a travel sized tube of white toothpaste from the dollar store. The toothpaste dries white, and doesn't shrink or leave any visible marks. I never had a problem receiving my security deposit back, and I saved time and money. Plus the toothpaste was repurposed as regular toothpaste. No waste!

Making your own Freezer Gel

Making your own Freezer Gel Packs for sprains & pains
Ingredients

3 parts water
1 part rubbing alcohol
Directions

Mix, then seal in a freezer bag, then encase in a second bag. Place in the freezer. The more alcohol you use, the softer the pack will be, making it gentler on injuries than an ice pack. Wrap loosely in a towel and apply to injuries.

Trash odor

Freeze fish wrappers and other strong smellling garbage until the morning of trash pick up, Sitting in the hot garage all week is just too much.q

Stain assassin

My mom was the queen of removing stains, and now I have continued the tradition.

For pen ink stains, pre-treat with spritz hair spray (not aerosol).

For other tough stains, make a paste out of oxy clean powder (or laundry detergent powder) and water and work it in, adding water as needed. The grit of the paste should help lift the stain. Treat stains with cold water as soon as possible after they happen.

Keep away clutter

I have little shelves in my kitchen that have been collecting junk. I've decided to start filling jars with dry goods - beans, rice, pasta - and putting those on the shelves. That way no one can walk through and deposit the junk they don't know what else to do with, because there won't be space. Not only do the jars look pretty, but it saves me some room in the cupboard.

This leaf will keep the ants at BAY

With a home kitchen bustling day and night I have a perfect vacation site for ants. Food, water and lots of ways to get in. My great Grandma was a lady of many tricks and she living on a farm in the Sierras in the 20s there wasnt the local Home Depot to pop in and get a can of Ant death. GMa just went out side to her trusty Bay Laurel tree and pulled some young leaves and crunched them in her hand to release the essential oils that keep a stock pot smiling and the ants at BAY. It works so nicely and in the winter when those buggars are all over I add a little chili powder to the leaves and neary an ant all rainy season long. ta da thats my story and I'm sticken to it.

Having to share a very small

Having to share a very small studio apartment with a cat, I'm a dusting freak. The one thing I'm obsessed with is brushing the dirt and dust off the window screens.

Put a few drops of essential

Put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and suck it up with your vacuum cleaner. The vac will fill the air with whatever aroma therapy suites your mood, and your house will be clean to boot!

best tip

I have one of those hanging shoe pocket thingies - on the closet door - we keep our ipods, cameras, cell phone chargers, earbuds, etc in the various pockets - I used a sharpie and wrote on each one "mom's cell phone charger", Kids ipod, etc. We make sure we put the right things in the right pocket - makes it very easy to find them.

Cleaning The Car

The best thing I have found to clean the interior of my car is a tablespoon of baby shampoo to about 24 oz of water. Has worked everytime with out damaging anything!

Cleaning The Car

The best thing I have found to clean the interior of my car is a tablespoon of baby shampoo to about 24 oz of water. Has worked everytime with out damaging anything!

Keep fresh ginger in the

Keep fresh ginger in the freezer. Then it keeps indefinitely instead of spoiling before I can use it up!

i wanna win!

lots of great comments here - lots with my favorite - vinegar - acetic acid is an amazing thing. I have cats and sometimes - well - they are bad - very bad - in the laundry pile waiting to be washed- white vinegar added to the wash gets rid of some of the very worst of cat stench!

i noticed that some bug was scratching in a crack in one of my walls - gotta nip that in the bud for sure - I took a syringe/needle filled with pure cinnamon oil and squirted it into the crack - no more bugs! (i have the syringes and needles cuz i have dairy goats and need to give them meds/vitamins/vaccines at times) - be careful with pure cinnamon oil - can burn you or kids or pets or even plants badly.

I don't have a lot of money

I don't have a lot of money to spend on wall decor. I have a lot of earrings, so I framed some wire mesh and hung it on my wall to display my earrings. . . great way to keep my jewelery organized, and to break up a bare wall.

Stock from scraps

I save onion skins, carrot peels, etc., in a 1 gallon freezer bag (in the freezer). When it's full, I make homemade stock in my slow-cooker.

Newspaper!

Use old newspaper to wash windows & mirrors. Works fabulously.

boiling water

gets out those berry stains like magic. just pour it over.

Vinegar and baking soda down

Vinegar and baking soda down the drains to keep them flowing freely! Oh, and for a bonus space saver...hanger on a nail to hang sunglasses if you have more than a few pairs.

Finger crossed. :)

My biggest tip is 15 minutes

My biggest tip is 15 minutes a day. In that amount of time, you can find a small project and clean to completion. For example, yesterday I invested 15 minutes into my sock drawer- pulled out holey or mismatched socks, purged socks that were uncomfortable, and then put everything else back in an orderly manner. The result? now I'm not tempted to shove things in the drawer, I can see what I have immediately, and it is a pleasure to open the drawer.

tennis balls

I put a few tennis balls in with my clothes in the dryer. The balls help to move the clothes around and save on the drying time.

Wood polish

I make my own polish for my wood furniture and floors by mixing one part white vinegar with one part olive oil and a few drops of a scented oil (usually lemon or orange). It costs a fraction of the price of store-bought cleaners over the long term, and I know there aren't any freaky chemicals for me to worry about.

Display shoes

We have very little closet space in our house and I have quite a few shoes. I take the boots and display them on the low shelf we have in our foyer. They take up the most space to store and when they are hidden away I forget to wear them. Now I have a unique foyer, more closet space, and shoes I don"t forget to wear.

My laundry pretreater is a

My laundry pretreater is a mix of 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 Dawn. Works awesome even on stains that I miss the first time around...which with a messy husband and 5 kids happens a lot!

oh jewelry!

over the years, i've gathered quite a collection of necklaces, rings, earrings, etc... i hate stashing the pretty baubles in a drawer or jewelry box...

take an old lace bra & pin to a cork-board.... the bra becomes an earring holder!! broaches get pinned right into the cork, and necklaces dangle from pushpins. the jewelry becomes an art display... i've also found i wear a greater variety since its all in view and NEVER tangled together! for extra drama, spray-paint the bra & cork-board black & use only black pushpins

Deodorant

I have a great recipe for making my own deodorant. I do it so I know what my 21 month old son is ingesting when he gets into my gym or toiletry bag. As a single mother who works and goes to graduate school full-time, I'd rather take the 10 minutes to save loads of cash making my own toiletries and cleaning supplies than constantly worrying about the health and safety of my son. It's the same reason I'm using this site to learn how to can and be an overall kick-@$$ homemaker and mom :)

canning

Well seems funny but I hate to use two burners when canning one for jars one for lids. So I scoop up some of the hot water in a bowl from the canning pot and pop my lids in they sit till my jars are filled and i seed time water and gas. Wala

Keep it simple!

Having a fondness for modern design helps, with its clean lines and uncluttered functionality, but I've really come to enjoy having a home that's not junked up with tchotchkes and knickknacks. I display a small rotating selection of collectibles and decorative items. There's less to dust, always something interesting to look at, and each piece has special meaning and a story.

dry goods storage

Having lived in a small apt. with a small kitchen and not much storage, I store canned goods and other non-perishables in extra dressers.

Cinnamon repels ants!

I sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon in my kitchen cabinets and pantry to repel those pesky little sugar ants that always turn up in the springtime. It works like a charm and I don't have to worry about using any toxic chemicals that might harm me or my pets.

My favorite household tip

My favorite household tip shows the frugal side of me. I freeze leftover vegetables in zip loc bags and use the veggies for homemade vegetable soup. I just toss all the veggies in a pot with tomato juice and soon it's dinner! I also chop up left over pieces of beef or chicken and freeze them seperately so they can be added later to casseroles. It is a great way to save on my budget, and my time, while making the most of our food resources.

cheap frames and spraypaint

i take a lot of pictures and like to put them on display. i will occasionally spring for ones that are of good quality, but to keep the collection cohesive, i turn to thrift store picture frames and spraypaint them the same color as the more expensive ones.

tip

white vinegar also helps kill germs & odors in the toilet. 1/2 gallon, let it sit a few minutes & flush. also, when moving into a new apartment, ditch the cheapo slatted plastic blinds. they are *horrid dust catchers, a bitch to clean, & they get tangled too easy. go out, buy, & install roller blinds. you will be much happier.

My apartment building is cute

My apartment building is cute but almost 100 years old. No matter how neat and clean one keeps the place, the inevitable spider will try to get into the laundry basket, bed, or linen closet. I put dryer sheets and satchets of dried lavender + baking soda around the house to deter them. As a bonus, the nice smell makes me forget all about the bugs!

White vinegar

White vinegar is my new BFF in the laundry room. I use it in the rinse cycle to get the musty smell out of towels.

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