By Lauren Vaught
Keeping a house is an art only few can master perfectly. Some may come with the instinctual knowledge of how to clean, sort and serve but not me. I am as some would say the ‘undomestic goddess.’ This sort of house work was of no interest to me. My mother taught me to load a dishwasher, barely work a washing machine and turn on the microwave- all I needed to live.
So I was confused on my 19th birthday when I received the book "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House." What was this? I didn’t need this. This was for like stay-at-home moms. I’m a working girl and always will be.
But later as I thumbed through the book something changed. There’s something powerful about knowing all the tricks and trades of how to keep something as sensual as a house in order. The book teaches you everything from how to make a meal to how to iron properly, and everything in between.
The best part for me was that the author is a Harvard Law graduate, now living in New York City and has a passion for keeping house. If she could do it, then I could too. I’m here to teach you a few lessons so we can all be a “housewife” of sorts. Welcome to Housekeeping 101.
The book is broken down into sections and I’m going to relay one lesson out of each section.
The food section is my favorite. The kitchen is uncharted territory for me; I was excited and eager to learn all the different trades of the kitchen. The section has a whole chart of menus to choose a dinner menu and what constitutes a “real meal.” The most interesting part of the food section to me was learning about wine- how to serve it, store it, pour it and choose it. It gives you a chart with all different kinds of wine glasses to tell you what wine goes in which glass and even tells you some history on why the glasses are shaped that way.
The next section is cloth. It gives you a whole glossary of fabric terms. So, now I know the correct definitions of everything from burlap to organza. The most useful part of the cloth section however is the laundry care guide. Another glossary is offered, but with care label terms and a chart with their pictures. I always remember looking on my clothes tags trying to figure out what to do with no luck. It’s like reading hieroglyphics on those tags, lots of circles and "X"s with random dots. But now I have my guide for reading the ancient writings of my housewife ancestors. I too am informed on how to properly wash my linens.
The section on cleanliness was slightly intimidating. Not that I am in any way dirty, there is just so much to clean. But I especially enjoyed the guide on how to remove stains form your upholstery. It gives you an abundance of stains and a quick process or mixture that will get it up.
The sections continue and teach you things like how to store photographs safely and how to clean your electronics. This book taught me more about life than most any other thing has. Keeping a clean house is not just for old maids, it is for me too. It is never out of style to be clean and organized, no matter what the trend may tell you. Whether I am in Madison or New York City, I will know how to keep my clothes fresh, pick out my wine properly and I know what liabilities I could be held to when serving in my home (yeah, that’s in there too). And if anyone asks me “What’s your secret?” I'll just show them my book.
Published in the January 15 edition.