Cleaning & Caretaking

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The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping

The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping

Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance
edition:Hardcover
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Introduction
As a young boy, when I got up to leave the breakfast table every morning, my mother would always say, “Mon petit chéri, don’t forget to make your bed.” For some reason, I really struggled with making my bed! It seemed complicated and onerous, and I thought, “Why bother when I’m just going to get back into it?” Trying to get all the bedding components on my twin bed perfectly aligned was a seemingly impossible task, and I avoided it at all costs.

But my mother strongly believed that it was important to make your bed every day, so she persevered. Eventually, she realized the way to get me to complete this simple task was to simplify the makeup of my bed to just two elements: a fitted sheet and a duvet. It became so easy! I would just flick the duvet back in place and my bed was made. My room looked tidy and, more to the point, my mother was happy.

So, what is the moral of this story? Well, it taught me that there are many different ways to perform a task. And there are many different ways to keep house. When you allow yourself to look at the options, you’ll find that housekeeping doesn’t need to be laborious or boring. You can often find a simple path to a beautiful home, and you might even begin to enjoy the tasks you dreaded before!

This is not to say that the goal in housekeeping is to get things done as quickly as possible and without thought. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When I hear people talk about “speed-cleaning systems” and how you can clean a room in just 12 minutes, I simply don’t believe it! That kind of approach does not allow time for the necessary attention to detail. After all, the purpose of cleaning your home is to have a clean home. Cutting corners simply means you do not achieve that goal.

To me, there is nothing better than a freshly cleaned and organized home. The difference is palpable: the air is fresher, the surfaces are smooth and gleaming and the clutter has been cleared away. It is simply a more pleasant place to be. Although your approach to housekeeping will be uniquely yours, I hope that my tips and suggestions will help you find that same joy in your own home.

Cordially,
Charles P. MacPherson

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The Clutter Connection

The Clutter Connection

How Your Personality Type Determines Why You Organize the Way You Do
edition:Paperback
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The Inviting Life

The Inviting Life

An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness
edition:Hardcover
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A Digestif

It’s a given that when we host a party, or attend one, we’re expected to put our best face forward: we’re at ease, we look good, we’re smiling and welcoming, we’re showing genuine interest in other people’s comfort, and we’re being generous and helpful. It’s not realistic to maintain these levels of grace and charm around the clock, day in and day out, but it isn’t a bad notion to have that ideal in our minds as a guide and at least to strive for that, not just at a black-tie event or a community barbeque, but everywhere—at the office, on public transport, in an overcrowded shopping mall. For one thing, it’s a good way to snap ourselves out of being grouch almighty or from acting like a sulky opera heroine whenever we find ourselves in situations that push our buttons, say in a traffic jam or dealing with a customer-service rep over the telephone.

I suppose every era has the same complaint (at least somewhere on the planet), but I have to say that in my lifetime, the world has never felt more uncivil or full of hatred, violence, and fear. The Middle East is a disaster; much of Africa is in strife; Europe is straining at the seams; the states of America feel about as united as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out of their box onto the floor; the World Wide Web is a perpetual warzone of differing opinions and standards of behaviour. Not that anyone ever said life was all roses, the world one giant, fragrant garden of justice and kindness. Evil is always with us, jerks always among us, and every era has its reasons for getting up in arms.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” If you want to get depressed, it doesn’t take much. It’s overwhelming, too, because when the world is in so much trouble all at once, those of us who care can feel powerless and wonder how we can begin to try to fix it.

I’m hoping that the answer is “little by little.” Our tiny, so-called insignificant daily acts—helping someone across the street, watering a flower, making a good soup—are cracks in the gloom that let in light. The more rays we allow through, perhaps the sooner the skies may clear. “That best portion of a man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,” as Wordsworth phrased it, is, at the end of the day, what’s at the heart of hosting and making home.
These are the thoughts and actions that can flip the coin from hostility to hospitality side up. These oft-dismissed activities in fact can be important leadership roles, major civilizing forces vital to the health of society and an essential place to start taking back power and changing the world.

Ten Ways to Make Life More Inviting Right Now
1. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a while and find out how they are (especially if it’s to heal an old wound).
2. Cook something delicious and invite someone over to eat it, even if it’s just a baked potato.
3. Clean something dirty, even if it’s just a doorknob.
4. Fix something broken, even if it’s just a fingernail.
5. Make something ugly or banal into something beautiful, even if it’s just your thoughts.
6. Say something nice, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself.
7. Do something kind, even if it’s just to smile at a stranger.
8. Give a thoughtful gift, even if it’s just a wildflower.
9. Lend a hand, even if it’s just holding open a door.
10. Write down ten more ways to make life inviting, and start making them happen right now.

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Office Zen

Office Zen

101 Ways to Make Your Work Space Calm, Happy, and Productive
edition:Hardcover
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Clean My Space

Clean My Space

The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster--and Loving Your Home Every Day
edition:Hardcover
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The Home Decluttering Diet

Organize Your Way to a Clean and Lean House
edition:Paperback
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