The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, Kate Payne

Back in April one of my favorite blogs, Pink of Perfection, held a book giveaway. The book in question was The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficiency—on a Budget!, by Kate Payne.  And guess what? I won! Perhaps I should begin playing the lottery.

My copy arrived last weekend, and I’ve been dipping into it ever since. First of all, it’s a beautiful book. I love the color combination of the cover, the bright pink flyleaves, the heavy textured paper cover. Quite lovely.

The book is divided into three parts: Room-by-Room Guide to a Homey House; Impressive Acts of Domesticity; and Life after Restaurants.

The first section of the book works through each room in the house and gives tips on how to organize, clean and decorate it. It includes such tips as how to display jewelry, how to organize a living-room office, how to divert attention from your less favorite pieces of furniture/spaces/whatever.

The second part of the book is full ways to make homemade cleaners (Apparently I should stop buying cleaners and just use vinegar. I’ll let you know how this works out.), how to clean absolutely anything, how and why to start a container garden, how to do simple sewing projects, how to use all of the stuff in that tool box stashed under the bed and lots of information on proper recycling. I’ve marked about a million things to try; lots of great information here.

The third section of the book isn’t so much recipes as “developing a relationship with your kitchen… and using your kitchen as a grown-up.” That means not buying a bunch of ingredients for one recipe then wasting the rest of that bunch of parsley; always having the staples on hand to make something… and knowing how to do it; how and why to trade in your convenience food for the cheaper healthier versions… basically a lot of really great tips on living on the cheap with a bit of class.

I love that she talks about shopping on food stamps for a month’s worth of meals for herself and her girlfriend. The fact that she is up front about both financial hiccups and her sexuality is very cool in a happy homemaker book.

The absolute only drawback to the book is a weird hang-up I have about the title—specifically, the word “homemaking.” I’m interested in each and every one of the topics  presented in the book–I’m clearly the demographic that the book is meant for. However, I’d never refer to myself as a homemaker or my projects as homemaking. It seems almost derogatory. I think the word has specifically gendered connotations—there aren’t two homemakers in a couple. There is one homemaker (according to the rest of the title, this role is to be played by the girl, be she hip or otherwise) whose responsibility it is to make the house comfortable, to keep things on an even keel, basically to manage the emotions (disguised as creature comforts) of those around her.

The text of the book doesn’t skew this way—far from it. Payne specifically articulates that the book isn’t for girls (*ahem*title aside) and that assuming the female in the relationship is responsible for the house is ridiculous—and quite problematic if you live with another girl. But the title. Ugh. Absolutely the only thing I dislike about the book.

Maybe I’m nuts… anyone else have an opinion? What would you call it?


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