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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

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The classic bestselling resource for every American home. Choosing fabrics, cleaning china, keeping the piano in tune, making a good fire, folding a fitted sheet, setting the dining room table, keeping surfaces free of food pathogens, watering plants, removing stains -- Home Comforts addresses the meanings as well as the methods of hands -- on housekeeping to help you mana The classic bestselling resource for every American home. Choosing fabrics, cleaning china, keeping the piano in tune, making a good fire, folding a fitted sheet, setting the dining room table, keeping surfaces free of food pathogens, watering plants, removing stains -- Home Comforts addresses the meanings as well as the methods of hands -- on housekeeping to help you manage everyday chores, find creative solutions to modern domestic dilemmas, and enhance the experience of life at home. Further topics include: Making up a bed with hospital corners, Expert recommendations for safe food storage, Reading care labels (and sometimes carefully disregarding them), Keeping your home free of dust mites and other allergens, Home safety and security, A summary of laws applicable to the home, including privacy, accident liability, contracts, and domestic employees and more in this practical, good-humored, historic, philosophical, even romantic, guidebook to the art of household management. --back cover


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The classic bestselling resource for every American home. Choosing fabrics, cleaning china, keeping the piano in tune, making a good fire, folding a fitted sheet, setting the dining room table, keeping surfaces free of food pathogens, watering plants, removing stains -- Home Comforts addresses the meanings as well as the methods of hands -- on housekeeping to help you mana The classic bestselling resource for every American home. Choosing fabrics, cleaning china, keeping the piano in tune, making a good fire, folding a fitted sheet, setting the dining room table, keeping surfaces free of food pathogens, watering plants, removing stains -- Home Comforts addresses the meanings as well as the methods of hands -- on housekeeping to help you manage everyday chores, find creative solutions to modern domestic dilemmas, and enhance the experience of life at home. Further topics include: Making up a bed with hospital corners, Expert recommendations for safe food storage, Reading care labels (and sometimes carefully disregarding them), Keeping your home free of dust mites and other allergens, Home safety and security, A summary of laws applicable to the home, including privacy, accident liability, contracts, and domestic employees and more in this practical, good-humored, historic, philosophical, even romantic, guidebook to the art of household management. --back cover

30 review for Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Randalynn

    I have a sick obsession with reading books about how to manage a home. That said, I have really enjoyed this book because the premise is solid. The author doesn't avocate principles of order and cleanliness so that the neighbors will think you're great or to assert her domestic divinity (MS). She has some really sound advice that points toward creating an environment that makes your house a home where people feel they have a place. As always, I applaud women who give dignity and purpose to what I have a sick obsession with reading books about how to manage a home. That said, I have really enjoyed this book because the premise is solid. The author doesn't avocate principles of order and cleanliness so that the neighbors will think you're great or to assert her domestic divinity (MS). She has some really sound advice that points toward creating an environment that makes your house a home where people feel they have a place. As always, I applaud women who give dignity and purpose to what most consider maid's work -- but here that the emotional needs of home are actually being explored. I love it and would recommend it to anyone with similar wierd taste in non-fiction.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debra Cleaver

    i secretly like to tend house. shut up. i'm not interested in your comments. anyway, this book tells you how to take care of your house, your clothes, and your everything else. and it's kind of funny. and realistic. this woman won't go all martha stewart on your ass and tell you you're a bad person for not ironing your sheets. she'll just tell you you _could_ iron your sheets if you realy felt like wasting your day. and then she'll tell you to wash your sheets in hot water, not cold, so that the i secretly like to tend house. shut up. i'm not interested in your comments. anyway, this book tells you how to take care of your house, your clothes, and your everything else. and it's kind of funny. and realistic. this woman won't go all martha stewart on your ass and tell you you're a bad person for not ironing your sheets. she'll just tell you you _could_ iron your sheets if you realy felt like wasting your day. and then she'll tell you to wash your sheets in hot water, not cold, so that they're actually clean. i love her this woman. she used to be a lawyer and now she's doing good for humanity.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I got this book in a used bookstore for five bucks. I NEVER would have paid full price for it, but for five bucks, I figured it was worth it. Full disclosure: I am a slob. If there is something in my path, I will step over it for months before it will occur to me that I could pick it up. Before obtaining this book, I had no idea what a dustmite looked like or how many billions of the little critters I have squirming around in my pillow every night. It never dawned on me that my living room drape I got this book in a used bookstore for five bucks. I NEVER would have paid full price for it, but for five bucks, I figured it was worth it. Full disclosure: I am a slob. If there is something in my path, I will step over it for months before it will occur to me that I could pick it up. Before obtaining this book, I had no idea what a dustmite looked like or how many billions of the little critters I have squirming around in my pillow every night. It never dawned on me that my living room drapes could use a good vacuuming. I never gave the temperature of my laundry water a moment's thought. With the precision of an extreeeemely obsessive compulsive attorney (which, it just so happens, she is), the author of this book explains the proper way to clean, scour,wash, dust and vacuum everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in your living space, including your dog. She also explains how often you oughta do it, which, for me, is quite frankly, not so often. But when it's springtime in Chicago, and the starling is in the tree, and the urge to suction the dust bunnies off my baseboards hits, I now know exactly how to do it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Neligh

    "Each day I long for home/ long for the sight of home." -The Odyssey. The entire home industry, in its maneuver to sell us household goods by selling the promise of home itself, is some kind of Kincadian nightmare.* Despite peddling keys at a relentless pace ("How about this Hot Chocolate Pot? No? Never mind then; how about this cute little cabin of maple syrup?"), it will never unlock the glowing house full of loving people and hot food. "It comes down to the product versus the promise. It's no "Each day I long for home/ long for the sight of home." -The Odyssey. The entire home industry, in its maneuver to sell us household goods by selling the promise of home itself, is some kind of Kincadian nightmare.* Despite peddling keys at a relentless pace ("How about this Hot Chocolate Pot? No? Never mind then; how about this cute little cabin of maple syrup?"), it will never unlock the glowing house full of loving people and hot food. "It comes down to the product versus the promise. It's not ... the new pots and pans but the idea of the cozy family meals they will provide. People are finding that their homes are full of stuff, but their lives are littered with empty promises." -Peter Walsh. This book is about how a home is really created: by its continuous activity, its own rhythms and routines. "Housework done in the seven basic areas outlined in this book is the source of most of the good things that make a place homelike -fresh sheets, good meals, airy, clean, orderly rooms, and so forth. But other things also affect the tone of the home. ... It is a cliche, but true, that a room that looks lived in looks more homey. This implies not that you should be less neat but that you should actually live in your rooms. When you talk, read and write, play music or games, or sew, you leave traces of this in the room. These traces then invite people not simply to look but also to be engaged. It makes them feel as though the room exists for people, to live in and do things in. Faked signs of life make the room feel desolate and lonely. Signs of real life make the room feel comforting and warm." (p.28-29) She also notes that it is easier to make a small home feel homey than a large home. That makes sense when you consider that the more space you have, the harder it is to live in all of it. Large houses with multiple living rooms and dining rooms still tend only to use one of each; the superfluous rooms become well-preserved displays (or junk drawers). On the other end of the spectrum, a lived in room literally loses its warmth when it becomes a neglected mess; when I leave the laundry out to dry for days, it stops being cozy and takes on the cold feel of a crime scene. She stresses that "it's about how a home works, not how it looks." (p.4) "Making a home attractive helps you feel at home, but not nearly so much as most of us seem to think, if you gauge by the amounts of money we spend on home furnishings [and interior decorating]. In fact, too much attention to the looks of the home can backfire if it creates a stage-set feeling instead of the authenticity of a genuinely homey place. And going in for nostalgic pastimes -canning, potting, sewing, making Christmas wreaths, painting china, decorating cookies- will not work either. I count myself among those who find these things fun to do, but I know from experience that you cannot make a home by imitating the household chores and crafts of a past era. Ironically, people are led into the error of playing house instead of keeping house by a genuine desire for a home and its comforts. Nostalgia means, literally, 'homesickness.'" (p.7) If you are among the "far too many people who long for a home even though they seem to have one," you should give this book a look. (p.8) *http://artfiles.art.com/images/-/Thom... One Last Note: Many reviewers on Amazon scoff at this book, denouncing its anal retentive standards. Yes, she tells you how to clean anything you can think of, but nowhere does she say you have to do everything she explains. In fact, she says very plainly that the necessary level of housekeeping is simply "the lowest level at which health and safety can be preserved and enough comfort and order maintained to ensure that people want to spend time at home, feel restored there, and do not have that haggard feeling of homelessness that travelers sometimes have even when they are perfectly well housed." (p. 13) She also states that "the housekeepers who have done the most to give housekeeping a bad name are those who are compulsive about it. Compulsive housekeepers clean houses that are already spotless. They arrange their shoes along the color spectrum in a straight line and suffer anxiety if the towels on the shelf do not all face the same way. They expend enormous effort on what they think of as housekeeping, but their homes often are not welcoming. Who can feel at home in a place where the demand for order is so exaggerated? In housekeeping, more is not always better. Order and cleanliness should not cost more than the value they bring in healthy, efficiency, and convenience." (p.11) She goes on to say "I have deliberately offered more detail than you may really need. My spring cleaning list, for example, is so inclusive that my mother (a most thorough spring cleaner) objected to it. But let me assure you, as I tried to assure her, that I am not recommending that you do every task on the list or else move into a hotel. The list is intended to be inspirational and suggestive, so as to help beginners survey what would be useful in their own homes and avoid overlooking anything potentially important to them." (p.17-18)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    What happened is we moved to our first grownup house, here in the suburbs. It has a guest room and a garage. There's twice as many square feet. We have a yard. We've lived in cities all our lives. We have no idea what to do with any of this. Like we have this guest bedroom, right? And this past weekend my in-laws came to stay in it, and everything was a disaster. The bed was dirty, because our dog loves the guest bed for whatever reason. (To be fair, he loves all the other beds too.) We put new What happened is we moved to our first grownup house, here in the suburbs. It has a guest room and a garage. There's twice as many square feet. We have a yard. We've lived in cities all our lives. We have no idea what to do with any of this. Like we have this guest bedroom, right? And this past weekend my in-laws came to stay in it, and everything was a disaster. The bed was dirty, because our dog loves the guest bed for whatever reason. (To be fair, he loves all the other beds too.) We put new sheets on it but those sheets had been in some sort of bag for months and they smelled musty. What are you supposed to do? Do you wash the sheets right before guests arrive and also right after? Are there sheets for just leaving on the guest bed while no one is guesting, for the dog to roll around on? Like...do we stage our guest room? Is that a thing? How do you do houses? And when we moved to the suburbs, I kept my city job; now I work from home. So I've taken over most of the house cleaning and maintenance, because I like to stand up from my desk and fuss around periodically anyway. It only makes sense. My wife gets the commute, I get the laundry. I'm curious about all of this. We have brushed steel appliances, because of course we do, and they're always smudgy and shitty looking, because of course they are, this whole brushed steel trend sucks. What am I supposed to do? How do I make it less shitty? (That's a serious question, btw, please feel absolutely free to answer it.) Anyway I don't know if an 900-page book about all of this makes any more sense than just Googling twenty things a day, which is my current strategy, but I love that this book exists. I sortof want it. Believe me, I do have 900 questions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    MomToKippy

    Ah ha! Now I know where Heloise gets all her answers for her magazine column! This is an exhaustive collection of instruction and information on everything relating to housekeeping. There is a 100 page section of fabric composition and care alone. If you don't know how to wash dishes this tells you step by step - yea that's a little silly - and there are three different ways you may fold socks in case you are wondering about that with pictures! Some sections are common sense and some are very te Ah ha! Now I know where Heloise gets all her answers for her magazine column! This is an exhaustive collection of instruction and information on everything relating to housekeeping. There is a 100 page section of fabric composition and care alone. If you don't know how to wash dishes this tells you step by step - yea that's a little silly - and there are three different ways you may fold socks in case you are wondering about that with pictures! Some sections are common sense and some are very technical and detailed. It really is an encyclopedia. 3.5 because it scares me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Negin

    Housekeeping interests me and I’m often eager to learn more. This housekeeping tome is definitely informative and useful. The author, a Harvard educated attorney and part-time professor, takes on a rather academic approach to housekeeping. The beginning of the book was inspiring. She talks about housekeeping having become a dying art, and rather than focusing on perfection, the emphasis should be on making the home welcoming and clean. I would love to be able to do most of the things that the au Housekeeping interests me and I’m often eager to learn more. This housekeeping tome is definitely informative and useful. The author, a Harvard educated attorney and part-time professor, takes on a rather academic approach to housekeeping. The beginning of the book was inspiring. She talks about housekeeping having become a dying art, and rather than focusing on perfection, the emphasis should be on making the home welcoming and clean. I would love to be able to do most of the things that the author suggests, but many other things interest me also, and so housekeeping often gets put on the back burner. I learned quite a bit, but I have to say that much of it is rather overwhelming and there were parts of it that I felt were a bit over the top. Honestly, if I were to attempt to carry out most of her suggestions, which again I would love to be able to do, I would have to find a way to clone myself. Books like this have a tendency to make me feel slightly inadequate.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Petersen Wolven

    I actually enjoyed this book. It was enlightening to finally find out the answer to why the homes of so many others are cleaner, how they seem to know as if by magic what foods, spices, and whatever else belongs in the kitchen should be there and their expiration date; how to properly launder clothing and sheets; how often one should vacuum; what that appliance that sits on the ironing board is for...etc. I have used this book as a reference when stumped by various situations caused by children I actually enjoyed this book. It was enlightening to finally find out the answer to why the homes of so many others are cleaner, how they seem to know as if by magic what foods, spices, and whatever else belongs in the kitchen should be there and their expiration date; how to properly launder clothing and sheets; how often one should vacuum; what that appliance that sits on the ironing board is for...etc. I have used this book as a reference when stumped by various situations caused by children or pets or my own ignorance, and not only did she always have an answer--it always worked. On the downside, she does not seem to think too much of having pets. Actual chapter headings--Pets, Muck, and Germs; Problems Caused by Pets; Pet Odor. She is adamantly against letting animals sleep in the bed. Reading this book made me long for the luxury of a bleached clean house and cool pressed sheets to sleep on, but I still don't want to put down my books and actually do the work myself. Perhaps some day I will be wealthy enough to avail myself of Chapter 70--Working With Household Help. Yes, she does include a helpful chapter on domestic employment law. I'm all set when that day arrives!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    This was a recommendation from a friend. Literally, every detail imaginable about keeping house. A few things are a little over the top - (i.e. bring an ice chest with you to the store in order to bring home perishables safely - who does that??) and if I could actually do everything the book suggests, I would have to quit my job, stay home, NOT have kids and spend every waking minute keeping house. It's hard to understand how the author, both an attorney and philosophy professor is able to follo This was a recommendation from a friend. Literally, every detail imaginable about keeping house. A few things are a little over the top - (i.e. bring an ice chest with you to the store in order to bring home perishables safely - who does that??) and if I could actually do everything the book suggests, I would have to quit my job, stay home, NOT have kids and spend every waking minute keeping house. It's hard to understand how the author, both an attorney and philosophy professor is able to follow her book's advice. I started reading the book page by page, but stopped at ch.7 and am using it more as a resource to turn to. It was a good bedtime read for awhile, but then started making me feel like getting out of bed and cleaning immediately - not the calming effect you want to have when you're ready to go to sleep. Overall though, I found the book to be inspiring and discovered that at least during the time I was reading it page by page, my home was cleaner than it usually was:-)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Mendelson approaches housekeeping from both a practical and philosophical perspective - with the occasional scientific explanation thrown in. She goes into immense detail on just about every aspect of home-making imaginable; from a discussion on types of fabric, to how to organize a pantry, to a dismaying examination of microbes found in food. IMHO, her focus on sanitization borders on obsession; I began to wonder if she had stock in Clorox, as she recommended bleaching towels and bedding to wit Mendelson approaches housekeeping from both a practical and philosophical perspective - with the occasional scientific explanation thrown in. She goes into immense detail on just about every aspect of home-making imaginable; from a discussion on types of fabric, to how to organize a pantry, to a dismaying examination of microbes found in food. IMHO, her focus on sanitization borders on obsession; I began to wonder if she had stock in Clorox, as she recommended bleaching towels and bedding to within an inch of their lives, as well as swabbing most kitchen and bathroom surfaces with the stuff. The last portion of the book covers more abstract topics - home safety, paperwork and legal issues. The writing was quite engaging when covering the basics of a topic; however, the lists and detailed information got a bit tedious as I went along. This really isn't a book to read from cover to cover; I'd recommend it as a reference guide, perhaps leafing through a chapter at a time, as the interest strikes you. Notes from the first few chapters In the preface she compared & contrasted her two grandmothers (English/Irish & Italian) and their housekeeping styles, which were often at odds with each other. One example being airing the bed vs making it as soon as you got out of it. She also pointed out that the hyper-cleanliness of the 1950's was probably a response to central heating and electric/gas stoves vs the coal/woodstoves of their foremothers. Discussion of neatening & clutter in the context of the "broken-window" syndrome: houses/neighborhoods that appear to be neglected are more likely to be affected by crime - carrying that concept into housekeeping - cluttered areas tend to accumulate more clutter. That's a principle I have to look more closely at in my own home! In the cooking chapter - she examines the sociological reasons behind each of the 3 main meals, as well as its physiological purpose. As an example, we tend to eat simpler, blandish foods for breakfast because we're still waking up and want homey foods. The chapter on serving meals made me feel pretty inferior... I'm not sure I have enough dishes for a typical dinner table setting! :^) Seriously... despite having a pretty nice dining set, we almost always eat in front of the TV. The section on tea, coffee, and alcohol was interesting, even though I rarely partake in any of the above. I can usually offer guests several soft drinks, water, milk or juice. She mixes the hows and whys well in this chapter - although if you're looking for a history of any of these drinks, look elsewhere; she does provide a few references for additional reading. The section on kitchen equipment also made me feel pretty inferior. She goes into a lot of detail about pot/pan construction & how the materials behave. Here's where the high level of cleanliness comes in... I don't dare mention how long it's been since I gave the fridge a thorough cleaning...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Clark

    Is this the kind of book you read cover to cover? No. But I did anyway. Yes, it's mostly and at it's core a reference book, but it's a reference book put together with such a passion for the subject it's a joy to read. I won't follow every routine and suggestion but I will probably re read the introduction yearly. It stole my heart. Is this the kind of book you read cover to cover? No. But I did anyway. Yes, it's mostly and at it's core a reference book, but it's a reference book put together with such a passion for the subject it's a joy to read. I won't follow every routine and suggestion but I will probably re read the introduction yearly. It stole my heart.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    This is the most complete, detailed, up-to-date home reference I have ever seen. Unlike most home-themed books published today and in the past, this one relies on research, not on the author's opinion, or the way her mother did it. That's not to say this book is impersonal; the author frequently talks about the different ways her grandmothers kept house and shares little tidbits from her life that relate to the subject at hand. This book has gotten a lot of complaints from people who say it sets This is the most complete, detailed, up-to-date home reference I have ever seen. Unlike most home-themed books published today and in the past, this one relies on research, not on the author's opinion, or the way her mother did it. That's not to say this book is impersonal; the author frequently talks about the different ways her grandmothers kept house and shares little tidbits from her life that relate to the subject at hand. This book has gotten a lot of complaints from people who say it sets up an unreasonable standard for housekeeping. I say that's okay. The author doesn't say you're a bad person if you don't vacuum as often as is optimal. She doesn't even say she vacuums that often. She just tells you what's best for your home, family, and carpet. Taking this book with the right sort of attitude, I learned a lot about how to clean my home, why I should keep it clean, and which tasks should take priority when I don't have time to clean everything (and who does?). This book isn't just about cleaning though. You can also read about cooking, shopping, safety, fabric identification, sewing basics, book repair, legal situations and documents, and preservation of records. Pretty much anything that you can think of that has to do with your home will be in here. This book was first published in 1999, making it twelve years old. While by and large most of it is up to date, there were a few things that seemed dated—the section on computer backups, the section on telemarketing (laws have changed drastically since then), and some of the sections on care of different surfaces (like one other reviewer noted, there's a lot on marble and not much on fiberglass or other man-made surfaces, which is probably more common nowadays). I'd love to see this book updated every ten or fifteen years.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam B.

    This book changed my life. Having a pleasant/orderly home has always been important to me but, until I read this book, I thought the only way to really achieve this goal was to hire a regular housekeeper, which I did. Home Comforts showed me that I was not an abject failure at all things home-related (as I previously thought) but rather, that I had a SERIOUS prioritization problem, e.g. periodically/randomly obsessing on organizing closets while dust bunnies collected in visible areas or dishes This book changed my life. Having a pleasant/orderly home has always been important to me but, until I read this book, I thought the only way to really achieve this goal was to hire a regular housekeeper, which I did. Home Comforts showed me that I was not an abject failure at all things home-related (as I previously thought) but rather, that I had a SERIOUS prioritization problem, e.g. periodically/randomly obsessing on organizing closets while dust bunnies collected in visible areas or dishes needed to be done. ANYWAY, I want to give a heartfelt thank you to my friend's mom who bought her this book after she had her first baby (my friend didn't really appreciate the *subtle* hint from her mother, while trying to manage new baby and law career, and happily handed the book over to me when I expressed an interest)! Unfortunately, I had to give the book back b/c I raved about it so much! Oh yeah, this book also showed me (what should have been) "the obvious": that housework is just a ton of WORK, that it takes time and that is an endless, rapidly-repeating cycle. For some reason, I previously just always thought it should be easier, take less time, last longer and somehow blamed myself into inaction when the results were not what I hoped they'd be or seemed to go away too quickly. People: if you do not do your own housework but still live in a clean/pleasant home, you should REALLY APPRECIATE whoever is making your living space nice!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darby

    It is a book I have used countless of times. It has everything in it: How to do all basic sewing stitches. How to iron a dress shirt and how to fold sheets. How to make up a bed with hospital corners. How to choose proper sizes for sheets, tablecloths, and other household linens. How to set the table for informal and formal meals. Expert recommendations for safe food storage. The most exhaustive and reliable information on fabrics, textile fibers, and their laundering, and drying. A thorough exp It is a book I have used countless of times. It has everything in it: How to do all basic sewing stitches. How to iron a dress shirt and how to fold sheets. How to make up a bed with hospital corners. How to choose proper sizes for sheets, tablecloths, and other household linens. How to set the table for informal and formal meals. Expert recommendations for safe food storage. The most exhaustive and reliable information on fabrics, textile fibers, and their laundering, and drying. A thorough explanation of care labels and why and how you should often (carefully) disregard them. Housekeeping guidelines for people with pets or with allergies. What to do about dust mites. How to clean and care for wood, china and crystal, jewelry, ceramic tile, metals, and more. Guides to stain and spot removal. It is a great book for anyone as it just a fantastic resource to have around the house! **Just wanted to add this book is very detailed. How she does all she does to keep her house I am not sure. I don't use it as a "has to follow" type book. I use it for in the invaluable information and instruction it gives. It is a wonderful household reference.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    This is hands down the best homemaking book I've ever read. I expected to just thumb though it, but I found myself wanting to read it cover to cover. It is the first comprehensive homemaking guide that did not fill me with guilt that I've been doing it all wrong and instead made me feel like I wanted to get up and clean my oven and then bake something in it. I have Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, and it is very comprehensive, and had tons of checklists and pictures, but is very cold and im This is hands down the best homemaking book I've ever read. I expected to just thumb though it, but I found myself wanting to read it cover to cover. It is the first comprehensive homemaking guide that did not fill me with guilt that I've been doing it all wrong and instead made me feel like I wanted to get up and clean my oven and then bake something in it. I have Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, and it is very comprehensive, and had tons of checklists and pictures, but is very cold and impersonal. Whereas Martha's approach tends to be very, "You should do it this way because that's how it's done," Home Comforts gives both options and reasons for housekeeping approaches. I found myself taking notes. While some of the info is not anything that I will ever use (I can't imagine ever hosting a full multi-course formal dinner complete with china and crystal) most of the advice and tips are practical for beginners through experienced homemakers. I plan to include this in my personal library. *I should note that the one criticism I have is that it does seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on sanitation and safe food handling practices, but maybe this is not common sense for newcomers to the kitchen.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    This must be the only housekeeping manual written by a philosophy Ph.D. and Harvard Law School J.D. She's also practiced law and taught philosophy at Columbia. And she's really, REALLY into homemaking. The book is very pleasurable reading, even though you know (because you know?) you could never possibly be as anal as Cheryl Mendelson, and because she's a good writer. Some of her advice is just common sense: Don't buy celery "that is limp, splitting, or woody." "Crocheted antimacassars are quite This must be the only housekeeping manual written by a philosophy Ph.D. and Harvard Law School J.D. She's also practiced law and taught philosophy at Columbia. And she's really, REALLY into homemaking. The book is very pleasurable reading, even though you know (because you know?) you could never possibly be as anal as Cheryl Mendelson, and because she's a good writer. Some of her advice is just common sense: Don't buy celery "that is limp, splitting, or woody." "Crocheted antimacassars are quite out of fashion." Other advice is precision science: "The Marble Institute of America estimates that it takes at least eight steps before the dirt on your shoes is removed in ordinary walking." I refer to this book again and again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    Includes so many seemingly esoteric techniques for every possible aspect of cleaning & maintaining a house/apartment and all of the possessions in it. Very helpful reference with instructions I’ve seen nowhere else. Useful for both the novice/hopeless as well as those already skilled at housekeeping.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    An interesting, well-written book, if a bit anal-retentive, on the art of keeping house. While the author does get a bit over the top and rather hyper about the details, there is still an awful lot of very good information in it. And she's not nearly as smug and annoying as Martha Stewart. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_27012... An interesting, well-written book, if a bit anal-retentive, on the art of keeping house. While the author does get a bit over the top and rather hyper about the details, there is still an awful lot of very good information in it. And she's not nearly as smug and annoying as Martha Stewart. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_27012...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kimber

    I re-read this from time to time. Not cover to cover because it is more of a reference, but it is also beautifully written!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bambi Moore

    This book is practical instruction on caring for the home and its contents. I had aspired to read it all the way through (it's huge) but there are just too many portions that don't apply such as caring for silver. However, this book is an amazing resource and I turn to the index often for quick help. It covers the care of just about every possession a home could contain, as well as cooking, decorating, laundering, etiquette, table-setting and much more. This book showed me how little I really kn This book is practical instruction on caring for the home and its contents. I had aspired to read it all the way through (it's huge) but there are just too many portions that don't apply such as caring for silver. However, this book is an amazing resource and I turn to the index often for quick help. It covers the care of just about every possession a home could contain, as well as cooking, decorating, laundering, etiquette, table-setting and much more. This book showed me how little I really know about these things, ha!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I don't know who is crazier? Me, for thouroughly enjoying every last page of this 800 page masterpiece about housekeeping, or Cheryl Mendelson, the crazy woman who wrote it?! This book was so hard to put down. It has taken me months to finish but I HAD to finish it. Every last word of it was surprisingly captivating! I originally checked it out at the library to browse over a few chapters that interested me (mainly the laundry sections) but I found it to be so well written and everything so well I don't know who is crazier? Me, for thouroughly enjoying every last page of this 800 page masterpiece about housekeeping, or Cheryl Mendelson, the crazy woman who wrote it?! This book was so hard to put down. It has taken me months to finish but I HAD to finish it. Every last word of it was surprisingly captivating! I originally checked it out at the library to browse over a few chapters that interested me (mainly the laundry sections) but I found it to be so well written and everything so well researched that I just had to read every single chapter! Listen to the names of some of these chapters: "Peaceful Coexistence with Microbes", "Carefully Disregarding Care Labels" and my personal favorite, "The Cave of Nakedness!" Seriously! At first, I thought this type of book would only appeal to the Monica Gellars of the world, but I think most any woman could enjoy it. Especially those, like me, who are trying to find the best, most efficient ways to go about the daily mundanes. I know I am crazy to give such rave reviews to this type of book, but it was really well written and did not come across as snooty, like maybe a Martha Stewart type book might. Mendelson just seriously loves to keep up on her housework and her attitude and love for it pours out through the pages, leaving me to view the whole idea differently. I love the title of this book too. The word "comforts" could be seen as a noun or a verb. Take care of your home and it will take care of you! It sums up the whole idea of this book perfectly! I just purchased my own copy on Amazon and can't wait to own this gem!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I learned that my mother knew what she was doing, she just couldn't get us to do it when we were kids. So although she probably thought she wasn't a good housekeeper, she knew an awful lot about making beds, keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean, and cooking. As I read this, I was so appreciative that I didn't have to learn this kind of stuff from a book, as well-written as it is. I liked how the author told stories of her girlhood learning how to fold sheets and set the table with her family. I I learned that my mother knew what she was doing, she just couldn't get us to do it when we were kids. So although she probably thought she wasn't a good housekeeper, she knew an awful lot about making beds, keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean, and cooking. As I read this, I was so appreciative that I didn't have to learn this kind of stuff from a book, as well-written as it is. I liked how the author told stories of her girlhood learning how to fold sheets and set the table with her family. I did the same thing, and now every time I do those little tasks, I have those happy memories, and it's like a tradition that connects me to my ancestors. Beyond giving the emotional reasons for high housekeeping standards, this book has a section on the historical battle that humans have waged with dirt, and how in each generation something became the ultimate proof of how the family is moving from poverty to health/wealth/success. One hundred years ago, it was ironed sheets. Since I've battled both fleas and lice (Texas, it's just crawling) in my home, I can see that before mechanical dryers the only way to kill the eggs of those once-common pests was to iron the sheets! This is a super useful book that is like a fine cookbook. If you want to be serious about nurturing your family, you need this as a reference.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Lewis

    Okay, here is how much of a geek I am: 1. I have actually read etiquette books for pleasure 2. I took reading advice from the newsletter sent out by my former realtor These are the factors that brought me to "Home Comforts", a very interesting reference book on all things related to having a pleasant home environment. The author is a thoroughly modern woman with an old-fashioned view that there is a correct and desirable way to do most everything around the house. She has researched and compiled th Okay, here is how much of a geek I am: 1. I have actually read etiquette books for pleasure 2. I took reading advice from the newsletter sent out by my former realtor These are the factors that brought me to "Home Comforts", a very interesting reference book on all things related to having a pleasant home environment. The author is a thoroughly modern woman with an old-fashioned view that there is a correct and desirable way to do most everything around the house. She has researched and compiled this book, which can explain exactly how many sets of sheets you should have per bed, what types of cleaning are necessary for sanitation versus being compulsive or fanatical, and what the law generally allows you to do in the privacy of your own home. Among other things. I found it amusing to skim through, and I could see it as a nice reference book to give to someone setting up their own household for the first time. Except that most people setting up their own household for the first time would probably have the reaction my daughter had when I told her that I still get the newspaper (you know, the kind that is made of paper and lands in your driveway each morning): "Mom! There is something called the Internet, you know. Use it!"

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A book not only about HOW to make a home, but WHY it's important. Cheryl Mendelson is a lawyer and university professor who loves the simple comforts of home, but as a professional woman felt she needed to keep that side of herself a secret. From the first sentence, I was hooked: "I am a working woman with a secret life: I keep house....When I want a good read, I reach for my collection of old housekeeping manuals. The part of me that enjoys housekeeping and the comforts it provides is central t A book not only about HOW to make a home, but WHY it's important. Cheryl Mendelson is a lawyer and university professor who loves the simple comforts of home, but as a professional woman felt she needed to keep that side of herself a secret. From the first sentence, I was hooked: "I am a working woman with a secret life: I keep house....When I want a good read, I reach for my collection of old housekeeping manuals. The part of me that enjoys housekeeping and the comforts it provides is central to my character." This is a book for anyone who enjoys being at home and wants their living space to be welcoming, healthy and comfortable. When the book was written 20 years ago (when I first read it), it provided justification for women who didn't want to turn their backs on their homes while pursuing their careers. Today, I think that men who work outside the home would benefit from its ideas as well. There is nothing inherently "feminine" about wanting a clean, comfortable bed, homecooked food, and well-organized cupboards, and people of any gender can find the process of caring for their homes to be an act of love toward themselves and the other people who live there. I recommend purchasing the hard-cover version of this book and keeping it as a reference volume.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Outstanding book about "keeping house." It is a comprehensive guide about housekeeping. They should pass it out in all schools along with healthy-eating cookbooks. Why? Knowledge is power and this explains the whys and hows of living in a clean, pleasant environment. Don't all children deserve to be raised in a comfortable home? Chapters are: Beginnings; Food; Cloth; Cleanliness; Daily Life; Sleep; Safe Shelter and Formalities. Loved the section on "Caring for books" in the Daily Life Chapter. Outstanding book about "keeping house." It is a comprehensive guide about housekeeping. They should pass it out in all schools along with healthy-eating cookbooks. Why? Knowledge is power and this explains the whys and hows of living in a clean, pleasant environment. Don't all children deserve to be raised in a comfortable home? Chapters are: Beginnings; Food; Cloth; Cleanliness; Daily Life; Sleep; Safe Shelter and Formalities. Loved the section on "Caring for books" in the Daily Life Chapter.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I've had this book for about two years and don't feel like I've finished it. Its not because its bad or hard to read, it just has so much information that I like to go back and re-read the same sections repeatedly. The author's tone is very familiar and makes you feel like a friend or family member is giving advice. The tips on stain removal are excellent and the lists are very helpful. Overall this is a great resource for all things home related. I've had this book for about two years and don't feel like I've finished it. Its not because its bad or hard to read, it just has so much information that I like to go back and re-read the same sections repeatedly. The author's tone is very familiar and makes you feel like a friend or family member is giving advice. The tips on stain removal are excellent and the lists are very helpful. Overall this is a great resource for all things home related.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rhian

    Housekeeping porn. It will make you crazy, though -- thinking about all those microscopic mites in your mattress, etc. In another life I hope to come back as a person capable of achieving the housewifely standards of this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Boesch

    Technically I didn’t finish this book, but I read the first 15 chapters or so. I’ve read all 900+ pages of it before so I had no guilt not finishing it this time around. :)

  29. 5 out of 5

    LeahBethany

    As one of my main jobs right now is homemaker, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more about making a warm, clean home for my family. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House is a bit daunting (837 pages with an additional 60 pages of notes and index) but I committed to reading 20 pages a week and I'm so glad I did. Yes, the book was very dry but if there is anything you want to know about cleaning, laundering, the fabrics that make up your home, why society does certain thing As one of my main jobs right now is homemaker, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more about making a warm, clean home for my family. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House is a bit daunting (837 pages with an additional 60 pages of notes and index) but I committed to reading 20 pages a week and I'm so glad I did. Yes, the book was very dry but if there is anything you want to know about cleaning, laundering, the fabrics that make up your home, why society does certain things like laundry days or spring cleaning, this book answers all of those questions and even more that I didn't even know about concerning the upkeep of a home.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    What? The tone of this book is condescending and the information is poorly conveyed. Nothing comforting or comfortable, more like being lectured to by someone who’s pretty sure you’ve been wrong about everything in your life.

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