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Summer Reading - books for all ages.
Featured Resource

Making a Home: Housekeeping for Real Life


Making a Home: Housekeeping for Real Life

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Publisher: Better Home and Gardens, Meredith Books

List Price: $29.95

Ages: Adult

Reviewed By: Peggy Flint

Hardcover, Ring-bound, 2.26" X 10/32" X 8.74", 384 pages

"I've often thought about what makes a home. I've concluded that the true measure of home is not about the past or the future. Home is about making the most of your life and your family's life every day. In the midst of finishing this book and starting others, I often think of the hard lessons I've learned through the years as my family and I make our home. The most important one I've learned is to create a home and a life that you and your family enjoy. I think of planning, organizing, cleaning, cooking, and maintaining as the tools to making the home we want."

This first paragraph for Making a Home sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is written in such a comfortable tone that I often felt as if I was sitting with an older friend as she shared her tips and techniques for creating a clean and cozy home. This book is a page-turner because the information is presented in such interesting and informative ways that I always want to read just one more tip or one more section....even as I refer back to it now to write this review.

So what is Making a Home about? It is about all of the areas of your home that need to be maintained on a regular basis, yet it is also about much more. The book is broken down into the following chapters: Organization, Cleaning Routines, Surface Care, Furnishings Care, Kitchen Keeping, Living & Dining Rooms, Bedrooms & Baths, Linens & Laundry, House Systems, Home Environment, Entertaining, Etiquette, Records & References and finally, Resources. Each two-page spread has a column on the left-hand side that gives a tip in one of the following topics: Time Saver, Space Saver, Budget Stretcher, Family Friendly, Healthy Home, and Safety Alert. Interspersed throughout the book are full-page diagrams and photos to share lessons, for example, "The Well-stocked Cleaning Caddy", "Choosing the Right Mop/Broom for the Chore", "Cookware Comparisons" and even the six steps in "How to Make Your Bed". I am only going to describe three of the chapters in detail because I can't adequately discuss all of the areas in this limited space.

My favorite chapter is "Cleaning Routines". When I was growing up, my mother said I was too stubborn to learn homemaking from her and I have struggled with homemaking for many years. I loved the fact that the book said, "Determine your comfort level of neat and clean: Some things, such as a clean kitchen and bathroom, are nonnegotiable, but shelves or door frames that don't always pass the white glove test may be acceptable. Likewise, keeping public rooms - living and dining rooms - neat may be important to you, while you may be less vigilant about your bedroom or hobby space." The reader is encouraged to read through the various chore lists in the chapter and then establish their own routines based on the given suggestions. Fortunately, there are lists for chores on a daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly and even seasonal basis. The book provides tips and a suggested map for spring-cleaning ("Start with a room at the top corner of your home...or a corner room...and work inward and downward."). The book suggests laundry routines and even deals with the question of hiring help for homemaking (and suggests what responsibilities should be given to the maid or housekeeper for various types of family situations). For example, a single person might need a helper once a month to help clean the kitchen and bathroom and do some dusting and vacuuming, while a family with school-age children and both parents working outside the home may need help weekly to do cleaning, grocery shopping and possibly even light errands. Suggestions are given for locating and hiring reliable household help if you decide it is needed.

"Kitchen Keeping" was also fascinating and I reread portions of it several times. I appreciated the tips on setting up a starter kitchen and I highly recommend the "stocking the pantry" section. The cookware section not only described various types of cookware but also how to clean each type of item. One of the cleaning lessons in this section was titled "Anatomy of a Refrigerator". It had a line drawing of an open refrigerator and gave cleaning instructions for noted sections: icemaker, freezer compartment, door handle, shelves, door compartments, door seal, produce drawers and coils & vents. Until I read this book, I never knew that after cleaning the door seal, you should apply some petroleum jelly to it.

As fascinating as the book is, I appreciated the fact that it started out with the basics of organization; I especially like the tips for getting started in organizing and deciding what tools you need. Until reading this section, I had forgotten that pegs and hooks are often effective tools in organization. This book looks at all areas of the house and helps you think through and define your needs for organization in each area. Several areas had quick fixes and space savers suggested and these were often ideas I had never considered. One storing lesson had a drawing of an organized clothes closet and showed how to store separates, bags and hats, long-hanging clothes, shoes and boots, low-hanging clothes and even folded clothes. Pictures were presented of dust-free storage boxes and one page even showed a picture of the organized family medicine cabinet and what items should go in it.

I could go on and on about this book, but I would take up too much space and still not begin to adequately describe it. Among the other topics I saw covered in sections were:
  • Buying wood furniture (with descriptions of the various woods)
  • What size dining room table to get (how many people each size can fit)
  • Setting up the linen closet
  • Basic tools to own
  • Cut-away drawing of a forced air-gas furnace and a gas water heater
  • Seasonal checklist for maintenance of the house - like the furnace and heater, etc
I highly recommend this book to homemakers everywhere. It is a great resource for homeschool moms to use both in taking care of their homes and in training their students to do the same; it should be required reading for any home education course. It would also be a great wedding shower gift because the homemaker who reads it will go forward in life prepared to take care of her own home. I know, because after 22 years of struggling as a homemaker, this book has helped me too.

Making a Home: Housekeeping for Real Life sells for $29.95.
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Purchase Now From the Eclectic Homeschool Resource Center
Peggy Flint
Art and Peggy have been homeschooling their twins, Eric and Robin, since 1989. They started out teaching the kids, and now find themselves learning from their own children--and liking it.
Copyright © 2002 Eclectic Homeschool Association
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