My mom hasn’t passed on any homemade recipes deeply rooted in family history, and my great grandmother’s idea of an important, basic, tried-and-true recipe includes “Velvet Salad,” a product of 1960s cuisine involving lemon jello, mayonnaise and pineapple. Not all of us have been blessed with handwritten heirloom recipes or domestic traditions, and so we must learn the basics from the beginning. That’s what Kate Payne’s The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-sufficiency – On a Budget! is all about: how to keep house for men and women who find themselves wanting to ditch the pre-fab, pre-made, convenience lifestyles we’ve grown accustomed to, and really dig in and learn to do it ourselves.
Payne teaches you how to decorate your house, use tools, start a garden, stock your pantry, bake bread, make preserves, clean with DIY soaps among other various domestic pursuits. Once you get a handle on the basics, you can take it to the next level with Payne’s great resources for doing so, from blogs to books to valuable websites of information. There’s no pressure to be perfect; Payne doesn’t pretend that she is flawless at keeping house, and she doesn’t advocated an all-or-nothing attitude. More like, first you’ll start making your own bread. Soon enough, it will become standard procedure in your house, and you’ll love that it’s healthier, cheaper and tastier. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll be like, okay, what’s next?
I appreciate that the book is built for the reader who has very little disposable income. Payne told me, “There are times in everyone’s life where making do with less is important, if not essential… leaner times don’t mean you have to sacrifice charming surroundings.” She doesn’t include anything that can’t be done inexpensively, and she gives great advice as to how to source supplies and spend as little money as possible.
Payne writes, “Beginners, I promise you, if you keep with it, there’s nothing that won’t become normal in your house.” Kate Payne is so confident that you can, and will, pick up these basic housekeeping skills that reading the book is like a self-esteem boosting exercise. You can put up your own preserves, bake your own bread, mend your own clothes, decorate your house on the cheap and throw a genuinely laid back and cool dinner party in your house. And you will.