Her guide is sectioned into three parts: a “Room-by-Room Guide to a Homey House, Homie”, the “Impressive Acts of Domesticity”, and “life After Restaurants”. In each section she weaves stories of her own homemaking experiences with helpful hints on everything from repurposing old pickle jars for future uses, to replacing toxic cleaning agents with the “awesome threesome” of vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap, to the top eight things to do with a loaf of your homemade bread (perfect crust recipe include).
Kate provides her good old-fashioned know-how with efficiency in mind, highlighting the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways in which to create a cozy home without breaking the bank or sacrificing sustainability. I had a chance to talk with Kate about her adventures in domesticity, and delve deeper into her passion for nesting. Check out her interview and excerpt from the book, and Kate’s videos below, then check out her website. And, be sure to pick up a copy of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking for yourself – this is the one guide you’ll keep referring to until its dog-eared and falling apart!
Caroline: There are an endless number of practical and creative tips and tricks in your book. What was a memorable learning experience you had while making your own home?
KATE: A few months into my very first garden experience, years back, I remember taking my ailing spinach plant into our local organic garden store for help identifying the problem, and the woman behind the counter exclaimed sweetly, "Oh honey, it's too warm for spinach now. The bugs are just doing their job. Go home and pull it up and plant your summer crops!" My very first lesson in seasonal food!
What is your favorite homemade dish to grow, prepare and share with friends?
A great, beginner- and urban-farmer-friendly homegrown dish on my list is salad. Salad may seem like a boring thing, that is, until you grow your own greens! I've made some fab 'fancy' salads with homegrown arugula, spinach and fun lettuce mixes.
Developing “a relationship with your dishes,” is a unique way to celebrate your style at home and when entertaining guests. What is a favorite dish, glass, or mug that you’ve collected on your travels, and why do you feel so connected to it?
I bought a Charles & Diana wedding day salad plate for $3 at a yard sale in Berkeley during my first trip to the Bay area. I love that plate and have toted it from city to city in my home's travels. Regardless of your British political bent, it's just funny to eat pancakes off UK Royals' faces. It always appears at dinner parties and is received with much enthusiasm.
Do you have a preferred hip trick to make cleaning your home more enjoyable and to motivate other housemates to join in on the “fun”?
I prefer to do my house chores with music full blast. The mop makes a great microphone.
A good friend came up with a fun collage project called the chore wheel that works well in roommate situations and in multi-sibling families. It uses some elementary-school hardware, a brass fastener or split pin brad, and sets in rotation a wheel of different sections of chores each week. My friend's wheel includes an off-week with the instruction to "put your feet up and enjoy a cold one for us!"
Your book has some inspiring tips on recycling everyday items to utilize in new and interesting ways, but saving objects for future projects or uses can take up valuable space in smaller homes, and can quickly become clutter. How do you choose what gets tossed or recycled, and what holds future value?
I've always been a packrat, much to my mom's chagrin, but as I've set off on my own and moved into smaller spaces I ask myself the following questions before stashing or tossing seemingly useful or pretty items: will I encounter the same or similar object again at some point in the future, how much work is involved in turning this trash into treasure, will I ever actually do the project in mind, are there any sub-utilities of the items before I get around to re-purposing? Setting aside a small area for my art supplies and future projects in each of the places I've lived is important to me and it helps keep the chaos of future creativity contained.
You mention several moves to new cities and new homes. What are some tricks for efficient packing and storing? How do you approach starting a new homemaking endeavor?
What perfect timing for this one; we just moved into a new place two weeks ago. My grandma Mannie, the queen of moving and packing (she was a military wife), said once that you need a uterus to be able to efficiently pack a lot of stuff into a small space. While that may or may not be true, I've learned how to label boxes really well and utilize all available space within them by placing smaller items inside larger ones. I've learned that clothes and linens that need to be packed anyway make great padding for dishes and fragile home goods.
New homes in need of 'making' require targeted attention. Make certain areas livable first, the kitchen, bathroom, your bedroom. Sometimes larger furniture and structural pieces are in order, and sometimes our budgets restrict us from getting it all right away. Go slowly and get the big stuff settled, and then focus on decor and fun flourishes.
Who is your homemaker (homemaking?) hero or heroine?
My mom. She's the queen of juggling lots of stuff, which I think is the most essential skill in modern homemaking.
Your guide highlights ways to make your house a home on a budget, but if you could get any item or appliance regardless of cost or convenience, what would it be and why? Are there items that do not have an economical substitute?
I'm saving up for a Vitamix blender. A handful of not normally extravagant friends own one and totally love it. I'll keep you posted!