Friday, July 9, 2010

Domestic Liberation Revisited

I promised I would read and report on Life's Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheetsby Lisa Quinn. While there are a few good tips in the book, I can’t in good conscience recommend it; it is unnecessarily crude. In an attempt at humor, the author comes off crass and even at times downright vulgar.

The book begins by explaining the struggle many women face in attempting to balance kids, work, home, husband, social lives, and even personal hygiene. While feminist and author Helen Gurley Brown taught that women could ‘have it all,” Ms. Quinn confesses, “Here’s the brutal truth, ladies: you can’t have it all.” She talks about all the pressure she felt in her own life while trying to “be the perfect picture of domestic bliss at work,” and she says that her dirty little secret was the she was living a lie, since she could never pull it off in her own home. “The daily grind left no time for forcing bulbs, alphabetizing my pantry, scrapbooking, origami napkin folding, or even keeping the house very clean, for that matter. I didn’t entertain as much as I liked because I dreaded the effort...I could barely get dinner on the table for my family three nights a week. I was no domestic diva. Instead, I was an overwhelmed working mother of two, and I felt like a complete fraud….Maybe I just didn’t have the time (or the desire) to keep up the facade anymore. I couldn’t help but suspect that other women out there felt as smothered as I did by the pressure to be perfect.”

Out of this newfound realization to enjoy life more and stress less about housekeeping and entertaining, Lisa Quinn developed some shortcuts. I found her last-minute cleaning checklist helpful. Here’s her list of “The Top 10 Things You Have to Clean—in Order—if Company is Coming in 30 Minutes”:

1. The toilet

2. Clutter (Stick it in a basket with a lid, a laundry hamper,the oven, etc. Just get it out when guests leave, and deal with it then).

3. Floors (spot clean)

4. Dust quickly (she says Kleenex with lotion work great in a pinch)

5. The fridge (check to make sure there are no nasty spills)

6. Mirrors

7. Cobwebs

8. Your Bed

9. You

10. Spray a non-toxic cleaner by the door so it smells like you cleaned, even if you didn’t really do all that much

She also shares some housekeeping shortcuts using everyday items, like salt. Did you k you can prevent ants from entering your home by sprinkling salt over doorways and windowsills? Apparently ants won’t walk over it. You can slip one of those mis-matched socks over your hand and use it as a dust rag. An ice cube tray in your dresser drawer doubles as an earring holder, and a silverware tray is a perfect place for necklaces. Good tips!

The book also delves into answering some decorating and entertaining dilemmas, offering very manageable tips. She shares several recipes using a rotisserie chicken, which I thought was helpful since working with raw chickens is messy, time-consuming, and requires quality cleanup to remove the bacteria.
While there are take-away tips, the language in this book is coarse and the humor borderlines on vulgar. If you still want to read it, please know that up front. It’s sad, because it ruins an otherwise good book.

I recently read a review of Organic Housekeeping in Parents magazine. I checked it out from the library. So far, I'm impressed. It seems to focus on getting back to the old-fashioned way of cleaning (using baking soda, vinegar, and other more frugal and environmentally-friendly products). I'll keep you posted!


  1. I saw a positive review for this book in some magazine I was reading in a doctor's waiting room. It was on my list of books to read. Thanks for letting me know about the foul content. I guess I won't be reading it after all!

  2. I wish I had a good library close by! I dont. Can a library mail me books!?!?! Maybe I will just have to play on trips so I can check books out. The local library here doesnt have anything...maybe they can find them? Let me know what you have experienced. Great review!

  3. I haven't read this book, but I thought I'd just say to "Bitterroot Mama" that what one person may consider vulgar and foul, another wouldn't. Since we don't have an example of what our blogger took to be in that vein, perhaps it shouldn't be completely written off just because she thought some of it might be off colour... Kind of like judging a book by its cover -- judging by a review!

  4. Here's an update... Just read a few pages from the Amazon website (link above) -- the author's text is peppered with words like "HE-double hockey sticks" or "half-assed" -- and she called Martha Stewart the "B" word -- all in the first introductory pages... Even so, I think I'd like to borrow this from the library because I can see myself in it... Not because my house was perfect (far from it) but I've gone the other way... if it can't be perfect "and my vision of that" then to **** with it all and not even trying ... years of clutter piled up so that the house became dysfunctional as a home and only recently have I become aware of this and like the author of the book, had an ephiphany that I have to decide what is important and work on that... and with each handful of junk that goes out the door, life starts to seem a little more sane and the vision of what I'd like to be as a wife and mother and homemaker becomes potentially a wee bit more possible... So, our blogger is right -- it is a bit vulgar but then I don't think this was labelled as a Christian book, was it?

  5. The more I think about it, I have come to the conclusion that the author of this book probably wrote in this style (with the frequent coarse language) because that's how she talks on a daily basis... and in trying to be "chatty" to the reader, she just blurted everything out as if she was sitting across the room from them... maybe what the book needed was a good editor!!!

  6. I also was less than impressed with this book. Her writing style and choice of language turned me off right from the start (and I am usually able to "overlook" a potty mouth)so I ended up skimming through most of the book just in case it had some redeeming qualities. About the best thing I can say is that I loved the "look" of the book- the graphics and page layouts were really pretty. Too bad the content wasn't as nice!

    Glad to hear that it wasn't just me! :~D