My lovely friend Kate, of Hip Girl’s Home fame, has published a book: The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficiency – on a Budget! While the official release date is tomorrow, April 19, her publisher, HarperCollins, was kind enough to send me an advance copy to review and an extra copy to host a giveaway on the blog!
To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about this review: obviously, I know Kate, I like her; I know how hard she worked on the book, and how hard she will be working on the book tour to promote it. I want to do everything in my power to ensure success for her and the Hip Girl’s Guide. Yet I have this pesky habit: I’m
annoyingly insultingly unflinchingly honest. What if I didn’t like the book? I mean, knowing Kate and her sassy style, I’m sure I could find something good to say about it; but would I be able to give a truly glowing review? Would I hear Kate’s voice on every page, or would it be stunted by the editorial process? Would I be able, in good conscience, to tell you that it is worth shelling out your hard-earned $20 for? I should have known better.
In truth, I am in love with this book. I read the whole thing through in a matter of days, and have started dipping back into chapters where I need some help of my own: budget-friendly, non-toxic household cleaners for one (the bathroom is my nemesis), tips for the home office (mine is essentially in my kitchen – I’ve learned to do the dishes before bed regardless of how tired I am), and thrifty ideas for container gardening. I love the little illustrations, the sidebars and Hip Tricks offering up handy bits of info on the fly.
Like Kate, I don’t spend a lot of time looking through design/decor magazines, online sites or blogs. But also like Kate, I’ve spent a lot of time in small apartments, where space is at a premium: I think it forces you to get a little creative in how you arrange your space, organize your stuff, and display your treasures. I smiled as I read so many tips that I’ve put into practice in my own home: pulling grains out of the cabinet and displaying them in Mason jars; hunting for thrift store linens and tablecloths; keeping a kitchen journal (or a blog!); using bookshelves to divide a room (or to create a hidden nook for a bike, laundry hamper, climbing gear), and dressing up tired doors or cabinets with funky & gorgeous hardware.
Amidst the things at which I was nodding & smiling, there were some gems that I hadn’t heard, or that I’d heard once upon a time, but forgotten: using borax in the wash cycle for the whitest whites; letting garden can water sit overnight to allow volatile chemicals to off-gas; mimicking a vacuum seal by submerging a filled Ziploc in a bowl of tepid water.
Through it all is Kate’s voice: enthusiastic without being psychotic-cheerleader (or Rachael Ray) peppy; straightforward without being condescending; encouraging you to venture forward to a healthier, happier, hipper home without sounding the least bit holier than thou. Hip without the -ster, if you know what I mean. Really, I think most anyone can benefit from having this book on the shelf: to dip into when you need inspiration, as a handy resource (now how much green, and how much brown, goes into the compost pile?), for the straight skinny on home-preserving without terror. I think it would be especially useful for new grads, just starting out in their first apartment, new moms, or moms or dads to be, who all of a sudden have a whole lot more stuff, and a whole lot less money, or anyone who has been itching to become more self-sufficient but doesn’t quite know how to start.
- Read the blog. First, if you aren’t already familiar with it, you can get to know Kate a little better by spending some time perusing her blog. You’ll find all sorts of goodies there, from jelly recipes, to DIY dresser drawer raised garden beds, to info on food swaps across the country, all told with Kate’s inimitable style.
- Watch the videos. Kate did a series of Hip Girl’s Guide videos, including folding a fitted sheet (see the master in action!), decorating with flowers on a budget, and introduction to water-bath canning. Check ’em out!
- Browse the book. You can browse inside the book at the HarperCollins website.
- Buy the book. Tomorrow is the big day! The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking will hit “brick-and-mortar” stores (check IndieBound for an independent bookstore near you) as well as online sites such as Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.
- Meet Kate. Scope out Kate’s book tour schedule to see if she is coming to a town near you. In our neck of the woods, she will be at The Bookmark Shoppe in Brooklyn on Wednesday, April 20; at Concord Bookstore in Concord, MA on Thursday, April 21, and at a houseparty thrown by the ladies of From Scratch Club in the Albany area on Friday, April 22. Kate will be back in NYC in early May and has scheduled appearances all over the country; do check back for updates often!
And lastly? Win a free copy here! HarperCollins has generously offered a copy of The Hip Girl’s Guide to one lucky Local Kitchen reader (US and Canada residents only; sorry rest-of-the-world). Now the usual way to go about this is to leave a comment to register your entry, and then I go visit the trusty random number generator and let it pick the winner. But maybe, by now, you’ve noticed that I’m a wee bit of a control freak. And possibly you’ve noticed that “usual” is not exactly my métier. So I decided that I didn’t want some faceless computer program picking the winner: I wanted to have a say. More than that, I wanted you to have a say: without you, after all, there would be no blog to host this ‘giveaway.’ So here’s what I propose: a contest instead of a giveaway.
Tell me a story about a DIY project. It can be any project: a new recipe, a new plant, fixing your dishwasher, filling your bike tires, rearranging the living room, knitting your grandmother a hat. A comedy, a tragedy, a disaster, a triumph. You can tell it in any format: prose, epic poem, sea shanty, haiku, Instagram (a picture is worth 1000 words, no?), YouTube video. You can tell your story directly in comments, or leave a link to your own blog (or video, or epic poem) below. Submissions will close a week from now, Monday April 25th, at midnight. I will read (or view, or listen!) every one and pick the best few (3? or 5? or 7? I don’t know yet. Surprise me.) as finalists: then it’ll all be up to YOU, Gentle Readers. I’ll put up a poll on the blog of the finalists and you can vote to determine the winner! Fun, no? Clever, maybe? Dare I say… hip?
So lay ’em on me! Share your best DIY story: we’ll all be inspired, we may get a chuckle or two, and best of all, you may win a wonderful book. It’s a win-win-win!