We’ve all been there. Calling our mums to ask, “How do you get out grass stains?” Or googling “how to get rid of horrid streaky marks all over stainless steel appliances.” The fact of the matter is that most of us aren’t walking around with all that knowledge in our heads, although I am much more of an expert now than I was in my 20s. I’ve glanced at books by people like Heloise or Martha Stewart but haven’t been very inspired.
Jolie Kerr’s new book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag offers a great resource to anyone in any stage of life. She teaches the basics, everything from bathroom to linens to refrigerator insides to, yes, those pesky stainless steel appliances. (Seriously, why is it so hard? I only have a dishwasher, but it is perpetually streaky) Her style is humourous and conversational, and she clearly explains not just the how but the why. She goes into great detail, recommends products (spoiler: her favs are ammonia and white vinegar), and clearly spells out step-by-step processes.
For me, though, the best parts were the things that you just would never in a million years ask your mother, unless your mother is far younger and hipper than mine (which is possible. Actually it’s probable. Still, some things just might be embarrassing). Everything is addressed, from how to clean aids to intimacy to how to remove certain unmentionable stains on sheets, from pee stains on popcorn walls to bong water in the carpet to explosions amongst the bottles storing home-made beer which result in sticky shards of glass all over the kitchen.
The stories are hilarious in a schadenfreude kind of way, from the drunk groom spilling red wine down his bride’s gown just before the much-photographed first dance to the boyfriend who actually did barf all over and into an expensive leather handbag. Jolie Kerr either knows how to clean it or she’s willing to do the sometimes unsavory research needed to find out. And her advice is given with humor and a lack of judgment that your mother, honestly, might not share. (Because seriously. Don’t get drunk at your wedding before the first dance and spill red wine all over your bride’s gown. That’s not cool. And I’m not even the bride’s mother.)
My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha has many uses. It’s a lovely gift to a young person just starting out on his or her own (I firmly believe, all evidence to the contrary, that men can clean), especially as she goes into basics such as how to mop or how to sort laundry. It’s also a great resource for your own library. I ended up reading the entire book start to finish, although since it’s a reference-type of cleaning book I imagine most people will just look up specific answers they need. I learned things, I laughed and groaned, and I was inspired to try white vinegar on the stainless-steel dishwasher.
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