More on homekeeping books

I am intentionally violating the 500 word post recommendation. There is just too much to say. And maybe I have too many words to say it in fewer words…. anyhoo, here goes.

More on homekeeping books: the ‘how to go about homekeeping’ genre

I love me some coffee at strategic points during the day. As often as not, its just apart of the routine of my day and if I don’t have a good cup of hot coffee at particular points, it can really throw me off. Hot chocolate, hot tea, or chai (hot or cold) can sort of replace the hot coffee (note that its hot, not cold), but its not quite the same.

I have a routine. Its not really a schedule, because much of what I do doesn’t have a set time that it gets done, but things tend to happen in the same order. I’m fairly flexible, such that if something comes up, something gets thrown off, etc, I can float on through and complete my day fairly well. But, oh, am I so happy when I can stick to my routine.
I’ve found this to be even more important with a toddler around. Yes, yes, I’ve read this is multiple places, but its when you live it that the truth of it sinks in. Little Man likes his routine and life goes better when that routine keeps on keeping on.
Every how-to-go-about-homekeeping book I’ve read says the above in some way or another. Keeping house is very much about redoing the same task at some given interval. For example, you might shower each day before bed. And you might vacuum each week on Monday morning. Routine. How each book says it and how they frame it varies book to book. Every author will also declare that to work for you, you gotta think on it and adjust it to fit your life and circumstances.
Some of the books I want to talk about are e-books, and I plan to cover those in the next post.

Sink Reflections, by Marla Cilley

First up, Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. I read this book once, in 2007, I think, with my ESL class. They were all mom’s and immigrants with school aged children (and some babies) and were struggling to adjust to life in the USA. Cilley’s writing style is laid back and is a quick read, so it was fairly accessible to my students. My love of flylady is mostly email/web based, but her book supports her online message quite well. She teaches about how to establish routines, such as morning or evening, and what kinds of things you might include in that routine. She takes the reader through, step by step, how to set up those routines and start on them. She teaches ‘baby steps’, small changes spaced out. For someone who feels a bit lost thinking about keeping house and overwhelmed at the enormity of the task, this is a perfect first book.

Large Family Logistics, by Kim Brenneman

One of my favorite books is Large Family Logistics (LFL). Don’t let the name turn you off, what she teaches works for families of all sizes and even singles. Brenneman, the author, starts with a comment about why she wrote this book. Its a story that is told by so many in this genre: ‘I didn’t learn it growing up and had to figure it out on my own or with a neighbor’s help. I wrote it all down so that you, reader, can learn in a more straightforward fashion.’ I’m certainly thankful that these women wrote down what they learned, I just wish that I had that neighbor who would walk along side me in this area. But that is a soapbox for another post.
Anyhoo, back to the book. Brenneman approaches life not as much on a daily basis as a weekly basis. She discusses designating each day for a specific set of tasks: planning day, town day, kitchen day, etc. She discusses the routines of meal planning, reading aloud, doing laundry and a slew of other tasks. And she talks about it in the context of… you’ve got a lot of everything. Lots of kids to read to, lots of laundry to do. Thus, if you are like me in that you’ve got *some* to do (but not necessarily *a lot*), you can assume it will take less time to whatever it is.
In part 1 of her book, she does discuss various family dynamics, routines, and attitudes that can either make life run smoother or make it run rougher. I love how she shoots straight and tells it like it is. She discusses Proverbs 31, goals, systems, self-discipline, attitude, how to deal with an interrupted day and a slew of other relevant topics. She has homeschooled her large family, and she discusses how home keeping and homeschooling work together.
Best of all, the book its self is printed on heavy, matte paper (no glare!), on 8.5 x 11 pages and printed in 13 or 14 point font. The book itself is quite non-threatening and approachable. Many chapters are only a few pages long — both because of the size of the book and that Brenneman doesn’t beat around the bush or wax eloquently (not that she is a poor writer…) on and on about the topic.

Other books that deserve a short comment

Home Comforts does address this ‘how to go about homekeeping’ question, but its a short section in the Beginnings chapter. Its useful and informative, I’ve just found that LFL addresses the topic in a more accessible manner. Its really a matter of author’s perspective and experience. Both LFL and Home Comforts are, I think, living books (going with a Charlotte Mason definition of ‘living book’ –see below for a comment on that).
Along the way, I’ve found a few other books that lend something to my thoughts on home keeping. An old favorite is “Nesting, its a chick thing” by Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry, “A Life that Says Welcome” by Karen Ehman, and Martha Stewart Living Magazine (when I can grab a free subscription!).
Things that have fallen flat: Real Simple Magazine, and most other magazines that are about ‘keeping house’. The attitude is usually that housework is drudgery and best avoided, but when you do have to do it, here’s how to do it with the least work. No thank you. I really like flylady’s sentiment: when you keep house, you are blessing your family, so don’t be a martyr. Home Comforts and LFL also take this attitude. MS Homekeeping Handbook does also, but to a lesser extent, since it is much more a ‘text book’.
Until next time, read a book. A homekeeping book. Then, come tell me something you learned, something you liked or what you need/want more on. Deal?

3. Living Books

Living books are the opposite of textbooks–quality literature (either fiction or non-fiction) written by an author with a passion for the topic. The writer’s passion and expertise breathes life into the book, as opposed to a textbook that gives impersonal overviews of many topics.

Living books present inspiring stories that engage the minds of children and adults alike, providing characters our children can look up to and emulate.

– See more at:

Books that get READ

So, some book you just read. And some books you READ. I’m currently working on two books that one must READ.

First up, I’m reading On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

Wow, this book is amazing. I started it the summer of 2011, so that means I’ve been reading it for a year, and only the 600s (pages) of 800 some-odd. I have minor in chemistry from undergrad and am unceasingly hungry for knowledge. This book meets both needs (chemistry info and knowledge), plus food. There is history of all types of food, information on the chemical changes that occur as you mix, cook, sear, bake, grill or whatever you might do to the food you are working with. He discusses the traditional ways of doing this, that and the other, and the more common modern or industrial ways. He explains why somethings just aren’t done at home any more. I’m currently in the chapter about sauces, and I suspect I will want to experiment with the next sauce I make. Hubby won’t like that, I don’t think.

I’m also working on Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Its different from Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, but I’m still thinking through how they are different. The two books do overlap in some ways, and it seems, intuitively, that Home Comforts is more timeless (and Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook more bound to current times), but I’m not able to articulate exactly what makes me think this. The two books are organized quite differently, and Home Comforts, despite being thinner, is a full 120 some-odd pages longer. Home Comforts has many, many fewer and smaller pictures and smaller text, while the Handbook has some very nice, large black and white pictures. The text is more non-academic-reader friendly (its a bit bigger), but Home Comforts never struck me as “academic”.

So, when I finally finish the Handbook, I plan to write a nice detailed discussion of how the two are different. I suspect that to happen in a month or so.

Anyone else working on books that need to be READ?