And another thing ...|A winter well-spent

Well, I had the whole winter to improve my life and I'm happy to announce I now know everything! Everything about hom
Kathy Lilje
May 24, 2010

Well, I had the whole winter to improve my life and I'm happy to announce I now know everything!

Everything about homemaking, at least.

This new-found knowledge comes courtesy of the domestic diva herself, Martha Stewart. Her new book "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook" is billed as the essential guide to caring foreverything in your home.

One thing you've got to say for Martha is she doesn't mess around. She tells us how to clean and care for things in the home I had never even considered cleaning.

She identifies 14 kinds of forks to grace your dining table, along with 16 types of spoons. I like to think of myself as fairly civilized, but I didn't even recognize some of that flatware.

But now I know and, just like Martha, I can flaunt my knowledge to all the boors who are content with a nice spork.

What possible reason could there be to have 14 different kinds of forks if not for the snob factor?

Martha (I bought so many of her magazines, books and paints I feel I earned the right to call her by her first name) would have us believe we have disgraced our gender if we don't have a truckload of flatware and know how to use it.

I've never felt the need for a seafood fork, an oyster fork, a pastry fork or a snail fork.

A snail fork?

What, you don't have 16 matching snail forks? What will the neighbors think? How do you expect to get in the right clubs? How can your children live with the embarrassment? How did you even get a husband? What's to become of you?

Flatware is highly recommended as a great gift for newlyweds. But with the price of sterling silver flatware levitating like one of Yuri Gellar's spoons, the average giftgiver may only be able to afford one piece. Who would give a fork?

Speaking of wedding gifts, the handbook, a comprehensive guide to what every bride (or groom) should know, would make a good one. Or parents trying to discourage youthful marriages could tell their children they must pass a test on its contents before they will consent to marriage. Should cool those hot teenage romances pretty quick.

One chapter addresses the common dilemma of how to use a tumble dryer. Bet you thought you just flung wet clothes in, closed the door and turned it on. Once again you're losing points for your perfect homemaker badge. Check out that chapter to find out where you've been going wrong all these years and learn about the relative merits of plastic, nylon and cotton clotheslines. You never know when someone might ask you for clothesline recommendations. You'll want to be ready.

Martha has made a mint by being the homemaker in the know. This book is a compendium of her wisdom. In spite of the limited usefulness of the flatware pages, the book is filled with helpful information. It's a great book to have on your reference bookshelf -- if the shelf is sturdy.

At 800 pages, it could also serve as a weight for your exercise program, a stepstool or a weapon to use against anyone who questions your homemaking skills when they find out you don't have any snail forks.

Blueprint is another Martha Stewart publication. The magazine called The Fresh Fun Guide to Personal Style is geared toward younger, hipper and more casual readers. Since I fall into one of those target audience categories, I picked up the Premier issue last year. I subscribed and haven't been sorry. The latest issue features articles on small space makeovers, the truly doable dinner party and fashion's new necessities. It's a fun read, not nearly as uptight as Martha Stewart Living.

And so, armed with the Homekeeping Handbook, 10 years of MSL and three issues of Blueprint, I can boast that I know everything -- or at least I know where to find out everything.