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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House Paperback – May 17, 2005
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Mendelson, a homemaker, lawyer, and mother, learned about housekeeping from an early age from her grandmothers, one Appalachian, the other Italian. The two grandmothers taught her that although different ways of keeping house can be appropriate, there are generally smarter, faster, and more creative ways of housekeeping that make it less of a chore and more of an art. In a practical, authoritative tone, Mendelson discusses the ins and outs of homemaking, such as washing dishes, recommended cleaning methods for various surfaces, housekeeping for those with pets or allergies, and emergency preparedness and safety procedures.
Mendelson's well-researched book includes meticulous sections on food (for example, which foods belong in the fridge versus the pantry, food storage times, picking the freshest fruits and vegetables, and keeping your kitchen and food sanitary) as well as laundry (caring for various fabrics, how to read--and read between the lines of--clothing care labels, and removing stains). Mendelson covers a lot of ground, and as she herself points out, readers shouldn't feel required to do everything mentioned in the book--simply pick the activities that seem appropriate for your particular home. This is a comprehensive reference book that should serve homemakers well and induce a greater appreciation for the effort and specialized knowledge that go into keeping house. --Kris Law --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Home Comforts is not "the fascists guide to spotless houses at the expense of friends, family, career, and joy". Indeed, the author repeatedly stresses that her methods and schedules are suggestions, nothing more, and goes to great lengths to explain why each task should be done in the first place, and how to balance the effort against the benefits. I found nothing in it to suggest that I, living alone in my brand-new house, should be forced into hours of weekly drudgery in order to meet an irrational white-glove standard; what I found was a set of clear explanations that would allow me to make informed choices on how to set my own standards and keep up with them in a reasonable and realistic way.
Attempting to read it from cover to cover in one sitting is indeed overwhelming, and I can see why it left some people feeling inadequate or with the false impression that the author was looking down her nose at the readers. I didn't know most of those things either, and much of what I thought I knew was wrong.
Some aspects that others find off-putting added to the charm for me. Who but a lawyer would, when faced with the complications of laundry care labels, reach immediately for the federal regulations governing them? The book gets a bit chatty, but if I didn't know what sort of person the author was, how would I know what motivated her advice in a particular area? I don't think I'd reached page seven before I was wondering "if there were any more at home like her", and not because I wanted to hire one as a full-time housekeeper; Mendelson is a "rational romantic", mixing equal parts of enthusiasm and sensibility into her writing.
As for omissions, I'm hard-pressed to find any significant ones. Doesn't say anything about doing your own plumbing or electrical work? Why should it? The information it does supply is geared to living in a home, not repairing or renovating one. For those who choose to do more in that area, she makes a point of recommending other sources. Personally, the only thing I've noticed so far that it doesn't say anything specific about is getting stains out of concrete floors, something I'm willing to research on my own, since she's saved me the trouble for pretty much every other kind of floor and wall covering I'm likely to encounter.
Oh, and I bought Mom a copy. Hopefully she'll take it the right way...
Yes, the author is often obssessive--and she freely admits to that charge. (Has Martha Stewart ever done so?) In fact, she details which chores she believes are essential and which tasks are obssessive. But her advice seems to be generally sound and thoroughly researched, especially when it comes to explaining the scientific & medical reasons of why certain tasks should be done in certain ways. (The chapter on dust mites is, frankly, slightly terrifying.)
This isn't a book about decorating or crafts for the home or time management (though there is some advice about organizing). There are dozens of other sources for those subjects--take this for what it is. It's fantastic, and it's changed the way my husband and I keep our house. I wish more books--fiction and non-fiction--could be so well-written.
The book is more like a detailed, well-organized textbook than a "helpful hints" manual. For example, the "Cloth" section begins with descriptions of modern fabrics, and thoroughly discusses everything relevant to choosing, laundering, ironing, folding, removing stains, sanitizing (for contagious diseases, lice, or poison ivy), and troubleshooting fabric difficulties. And she manages to make it interesting!
My mother, whose home was perfectly maintained, used many of Mendelson's techniques and scheduling ideas, but never passed them on to me (she preferred to do it herself so that it would be done "right") so I grew up feeling that housework was something I couldn't successfully do.Since there are few things more depressing than feeling incompetant, I've tried to learn homemaking through trial and error. This book would have eliminated much of the error, and provided a much shorter and more pleasant learning curve.
I recommend this book to anyone who has a home or wants to be prepared to maintain one. It's well worth the price.
In the past, the only cleaning I did during the week was wash the dishes, clean the counters and take out the garbage. That left weekends as the only time to launder, dust, vacuum, and on and on.
Needless to say, weekends were not a lot of fun and the feeling of peace that you feel when you're in a clean home only existed for one or two days.
Thank you, Ms Mendelson, for helping me find a way to have a comfortable home 7 days a week and time to enjoy my week-ends!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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