A Guide to Natural Housekeeping
By Christina Strutt · Reviewed by Katy McRae
Christina Strutt’s A Guide to Natural Housekeeping is your classic, entry-level handbook on how to tread lightly upon this earth. It’s not the sort of thing a survivalist would include on their compulsory reading list, but it does touch on a wide range of topics in its quest to encourage you live a greener existence.
Christina introduces the book with an apology: “If my tone wanders from technical to bossy, from stating the patently obvious to the downright cross, I apologise here and now. I have become an ‘eco-worrier’, but worrying is no bad thing when it comes to saving our environment.” It’s an apology worth remembering because the book does oscillate a bit between some good old-fashioned wisdom on housekeeping and some fairly alarmist statements. My personal favourite: “We are in a perilous state and unless we all react and understand the situation TODAY, we will be leaving our children and grandchildren a world of chaos, catastrophe and disaster . . .”
This may well be true. Some might say we are already living in a world of chaos, catastrophe and disaster . . . but it does seem a little at odds with her comments further along in the book, like her one on the value of having matching hangers. ‘Begin with matching hangers. A well-organised, presentable wardrobe will make life a million times easier and it will be a pleasure to choose from.”
A million times easier? Really? Had I known I would have done that years ago.
She has also produced a really handy guidebook that might just make you think twice about using that chemical cleaner. I’m going to have to be living in a post-apocalyptic world before I will contemplate inflicting the honey and fennel face pack on myself. However, her section on ‘The Usefulness of Herbs’ is, as described, very useful. Similarly, her chapters on ‘Keeping House’, ‘Energy for Life’, ‘The Kitchen Garden’, ‘The Well-stocked Larder’ and ‘Inspired Gifts’ are packed full of handy hints and clever ideas. She mixes grandma’s advice with some newer ideas and innovations to create a really useful resource that you’ll be reaching for every time you want a refresher on the many benefits of bicarbonate of soda (and believe me, there are many). And, as you would expect from the woman behind the fabric, fashion and interior design company, Cabbages & Roses, the book is a very pretty read.
Katy McRae likes formica tables, sharp scissors, fabric (especially felt), strong-smelling solvents and words. She also likes to make stuff. She’s not a fan of the colours peppermint and royal blue.