Home Ec 101: an interview (and giveaway!) with Heather Solos

This giveaway is now closed. Check here for the winners!

I don’t remember when I first bumped in to Home Ec 101, Heather Solos’ blog about everyday life skills for the home, but I was smitten by its no-nonsense approach to getting things done around the house in a practical format. Home Ec 101 is practical, to the point, and retro in both its look and its content. Who among us actually took Home Ec in school? Not many, I’d wager. But goodness, those life skills would have been practical as I started my grown-up life, that’s for sure.

Heather’s book, Home Ec 101: Skills for Everyday Living, just hit bookstores this spring (and it shares my book’s publisher, funnily enough). I chatted with Heather a bit at Blissdom this year, and knew her book would be a hit with Simple Mom readers. (It’s available on Kindle, too!)

Here, Heather shares some about her book, her blog’s tagline, and why it’s rewarding to plunge your own toilet. At the end, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of her book!

An Interview with Heather Solos

1. What’s the main message of your book? If readers finished it with just one big idea, what would be their big take-away?

Life is messier than it is portrayed in mainstream media -well, except for that show Hoarders, but that’s whole other story. I believe that many of us quit trying because our homes never, no matter how hard we work, look like they do in the glossies. It’s not fun to live in a state of embarrassment and apology; I want people to know there is a middle ground. Home-Ec 101 gives readers to the tools to pull their households together. Life usually exists somewhere between the neglected bachelor pad and the showcase floor.

2. I love the kitschy, retro layout of your book. Does it speak a bit into the book’s topic — getting back to the basics, learning what our mothers and grandmothers learned about basic homekeeping?

When the website was first launched, I wanted a specific connotation that covered the site’s focus, and the term Home Ec just fit. Home Ec also carries a mental image of retro dresses, old public service ads, and line drawings. I thought it would be fun to mix it up.

I like to play off the traditional ideal and add a bit of modern expectations, wit, and science. Hopefully the 101 is a bit obvious, the site and the book are written for those just starting out. It is an introductory course. I’ve been told that Home Ec classes — where you can still find them — are now called Family and Consumer Science, I find that a bit sterile.

The tagline of the site used to be “What you wish your mama taught you,” which helped illustrate that the scope of the site covered what we should have learned growing up. However, I always felt a bit too silly saying that outloud. My editor and marketing team helped come up with “Skills for Everyday Living.” This is something I can say with confidence, and also lets readers know that goal isn’t unobtainable.

3. Your book covers a lot of topics — fixing appliances, translating recipes, dusting, and the like. What part of home management comes naturally to you? What’s a bit more challenging; out of your comfort zone?

Years ago I was a chef, so I can usually tackle anything in the kitchen with enthusiasm. Cook dinner for 20? No problem!

Home repair has immediate payoff. As gross as it is, I don’t mind unclogging a sink or plunging a toilet. First of all, not paying a plumber is fantastic incentive; secondly, I find a huge sense of accomplishment in solving a problem.

Self-discipline is my white whale. Put the empty can in the recycling bin instead of on the counter? Hang the keys on the hook by the door? Sort the mail as I bring it in? Impossible! Well, not really, but I always find myself dragging my feet and having to talk myself through the effort. It’s not anything that comes naturally and I really have to work at it.

4. Give us one non-obvious housekeeping tip you share in your book.

Oh man, that’s a hard one.

Don’t over-dry your clothing. Not only does this waste electricity and time, it weakens the fibers, which causes premature wear.


Heather would like to give 10 Simple Mom readers a copy of Home Ec 101: Skills for Everyday Living!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What’s your most challenging area of home economics: cooking, cleaning, or fixing?

If you’re reading this in an email, you must come over to the blog to comment.

That’s it! But if you’d like three additional ways to enter the giveaway, here’s how:

Additional entries

1. Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including @simplemom, @HomeEc101, and the URL of this post — http://bit.ly/gSiOlH. Then come back and leave an additional comment on this post, telling me about your tweet.

2. ‘Like’ Simple Mom on Facebook and Home Ec 101 on Facebook.
Then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

3. Sign up for Heather’s mailing list, then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

This giveaway will end on 11:59 p.m. this Saturday, April 16, and I’ll announce the winners this weekend. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Fixing, but luckily I am married to a handyman 🙂

  2. This book looks really neat. I did take sewing and cooking in Home Ec…. My most challenging area is cleaning.

  3. Cleaning…clothes, specifically! I have a strong aversion to laundry.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Cleaning. So overwhelming. I want it to be perfect.

  5. Christina says:

    Fixing stuff! I always leave it for hubby!

  6. It must be the projects – the fix-its. I married a super-handy guy so I often feel intimidated by doing anything because he’s, well, a perfectionist. Good, except that he’s also super busy so nothing gets done unless it ABSOLUTELY HAS TO.

  7. Fixing, but my husband is great. Therefore, cleaning is my nemesis.

  8. liked Simple Mom and Home Ec 101 on Facebook! Woo hoo!

  9. I already ‘like’ Simple Mom and facebook, but now I ‘like’ Home Ec 101, too 🙂

  10. Right now, it is definitely cooking. With an infant and a toddler, I rarely have my hands free to focus on meals, so I end up throwing something simple together.

  11. receiving Home Ec 101’s newsletter 🙂

  12. I like both Simple Mom and Home Ec 101 on facebook.

  13. Like Simple Mom & Home Ec 101 on Fb.

  14. Cleaning! I’m convinced my house gets grosser than anyone else’s.

  15. My most challenigng of home economics is cleaning :(. With an 11 month old, I have learned to let go of some things but keeping up with all the cleaning is challenging.

  16. For me it’s definitely Fixin’ things. I can picture the beginning and end of a fixable project but the actual fixing part is lost in translation.

  17. Cristi Gray says:

    This looks like a great book – I am headed over to check out the site. Cooking is definitely my most challenging area! How in the world do you cook more than one thing and have them all ready at the same time?!?!? It NEVER works that way for me! 🙁

  18. Fixing is the toughest part for me. Thank you for the giveaway!

  19. I signed up for Heather’s mailing list.

  20. cooking and cleaning!

  21. Laura DeJohn says:

    I have the biggest trouble staying on top of a cleaning schedule. I often let things go until they really need a cleaning versus just doing on a tighter rotation. But I have a 3 yr old and an almost 2 yr old. Maybe once they are both in school/pre-school I’ll find the right balance. Thanks for introducing me to a new great blog!

  22. Cooking- dream of having food on the table in the blink of an eye.

  23. Laura DeJohn says:

    I already ‘like’ you on fb. I just ‘liked’ Heather’s fb.

  24. Laura DeJohn says:

    I just signed up for Heather’s email list

  25. Alethea G says:

    My biggest problem is finding the time to fix. My husband works 6 days a week and that leaves most repairs to me. I am handy, but sometimes there are things I just cant fix which then blows the budget because I have to hire someone.

  26. Wow- her site makes me happy. I thought I knew how to clean, but there is apparently a lot I don’t know.

    And surprise, cleaning is the worst for me- specifically the dishes. I just hate them.

  27. Alethea G says:

    I liked simple moms

  28. Alethea G says:

    I liked home ec 101 on facebook

  29. definitely fixing! Good thing I have a handy husband for that. 🙂

  30. My area is cleaning. Now that my baby is crawling I feel like all I do is clean. I wash the floors and her knees still collect a little dirt on them!

  31. Self-discipline is also my white whale. Cleaning and fixing have lovely, tangible results, and I find cooking relaxing and fun. But, that stray piece of mail doesn’t seem to make much mess, and then why not put more mail there and make a pile? Sigh. I’m better than I used to be, I think.

  32. I signed up for Heather’s mailing list.

  33. Definitely cleaning!

  34. Already liked you on fb.

    Just liked Home Ec 101 on fb.

  35. Has to be cleaning, hands down. I have actually taught myself to fix lots of things, and cooking isn’t too hard. But I never have a picked up or even clean house. And yes, I missed the whole spring cleaning series. . .

  36. Already “like” you on FB. . . that’s how I heard about this giveaway! 😉

  37. Cynthia Smith says:

    Keeping things clean! Luckily my husband helps. 🙂

  38. Cynthia Smith says:

    I already liked Simple Mom on Facebook. I just clicked the Like button for Home Ec 101.

  39. I “liked” Home Ec 101 on FB. 🙂

    My toughest challenge for the past few years has been cleaning. I used to be super at keeping up with my house, but somewhere along the way, it got away from me, and just stayed there. I think that at some point I convinced myself I wasn’t doing something right, or my routines(whatever they were–can’t remember, now) were wrong; not sure. I just know that even though my kids are all older, and I’m a stay-home Mom, I *still* can’t get hold of it. Maybe it’s just lack of discipline or motivation….

  40. paper clutter…if that’s a part of the book.

  41. Fixing! I try to fix things, but they don’t always work the way they are suposed to. 🙂

  42. Cleaning is my weak point…I have runs of really good days and then I just lose energy and our home looks like a tornado 🙁

  43. I dabble in all areas… but my biggest challenge is probably fixing. Thankfully I have great life lines–my parents are only a phone call away for advice/directions, and only 15 minutes away if it’s something I can’t (or shouldn’t) attempt myself!

  44. I think I am deficient in all three! I can cook thanksgiving and christmas. normal dinners, not so much. I get overwhelmed as far as cleaning because of the organizing problem! and I have a husband who does the fixing :hangs head in shame:

  45. I *Liked* you both on Facebook!

  46. I already like you on Facebook but now I like Home Ec 101. 🙂

  47. Cleaning or fixing…but I’m not sure I’ve ever had to fix anything other than a plugged toilet.

  48. I joined Heather’s email list.

  49. My most challenging I think is the cleaning. I never was much of a cleaner in high school, so I’m having to work hard to teach my kids to do better than I did.

  50. With 3 small kids, def cleaning. I feel like I am constantly cleaning. I clean one area, only to find a new mess they have made!

  51. Leah Seydel says:

    Cooking… at least cooking healthily, from scratch.

  52. Added Heather to my google reader.

  53. It’s the fixing that gets me, for sure!!

  54. I liked both pages on Facebook. Looking forward to reading more from both of you.

  55. My toughest area would be cooking. I would love to be more competent in the basics. Cleaning, however, is where I need a little extra push or motivation.

  56. I love a clean house, but doing the dishes is the thing I avoid the most.

  57. I am now on the mailing list! Yay!

  58. I signed up for Heather’s mailing list.

  59. Fixing stuff is my weakest point – although I (thankfully) do know how to plunge a toilet 🙂

  60. And, I’m now subscribed to the email list!

  61. Kathy S. says:

    Cleaning, hands down, my nemesis. I’d love to have this book!

  62. Kathy S. says:

    Just signed up for Heather’s mailing list.

  63. Kathy S. says:

    I just liked Home ec 101 on FB, and I already like your FB!

  64. Sherlynn James says:

    I like simplymom and home ec101 on Facebook.

  65. Cleaning is my bug-bear. I lack the discipline. I’d rather play.
    The book looks fabulous, though – hope I win!!

  66. DARA GATES says:

    Cleaning! Tile floors! I have hard water, so the residue ring in the toilet, around the kitchen faucet, etc

  67. DARA GATES says:

    I ‘LIKED’ Simple Mom on Facebook and Home Ec 101 on Facebook

  68. my most challenging area is cleaning certain things – i hate dusting and mopping but will happily do laundry and clean bathrooms etc (and apart from sewing back buttons etc I do nto do any fixing / DIY)

  69. I’m interested in reading this book!! I actually was a Home Ec teacher until I decided to stay home with my boys. I came into the position after having taught kindergarten. I’m interested to see what I do and don’t know after teaching the subject 🙂

  70. Cleaning. Absolutely. I have no problem re-grouting the tub, patching holes in walls, nor cooking a meal for the entire extended family. But get me near the dishes or mention dusting? I cower in the closet.

  71. Liked both on Facebook.

  72. cleaning–I just don’t ever feel as inspired about it!

  73. I would say cleaning: from dusting to washing the floor, dishes to laundry, these are the tasks I drag. I actually had a post on How I hate Laundry in March.

    Fixing is the next thing that got left behind… I actually like fixing a whole lot but dinner and having clean clothes (when I haven’t done laundry for a weeks… or more…) for family are usually more urgent than fixing my son’s toy.

  74. I subscribed to your mailing list because I need all the help I can get. My wife recently passed away and I need to learn more about how to keep my home clean.

  75. Oooh goodness…the CLEANING! I look around every night at my house and just wonder where I went wrong. (fixing is easy because my husband knows how to fix almost anything). If things aren’t clean though, my motivation to cook runs low as well.

  76. I like Simple Mom on Facebook

  77. I like Home Ec 101 on Facebook

  78. Oh my goodness. CLEANING! Most specifically dishes and folding/hanging laundry.

  79. I like Simple Mom and Home Ec 101 on FB.

    Super cute book cover, too! I would totally pick it up at the library!

  80. I liked both pages

  81. Most challenging would be cleaning. It’s okay when things are just a little dirty, but I refuse to do it when things get really dirty (aka when they actually really need to be cleaned) haha..

  82. Fixing!

  83. Signed up for mailing list.

  84. cleaning. yes it is definitely cleaning.

  85. My most challenging area is fixing. I can kind-of/sort-of fix some things….just not well nor happily.

  86. cleaning! mainly b/c I have two young kids and a third on he way.

  87. Oh so very necessary!!! What a resource!!! From a mother with many toilet blockages I have to wonder why they didn’t teach us all this stuff at school!!! I guess fixing is my hardest area of expertise – we have had a kitchen cupboard off its hinges for three years!!! I guess I am waiting for hubs to fix things and he just hasn’t got time!!! I have to muscle up and get on with it!!!

  88. Jenna Kim says:

    probably fixing! also, i did #2 and #3

  89. Desserts! I can’t eat wheat products, so it is so frustrating for me to make pies or cakes… because I have no clue what they taste like at the end!

  90. Cleaning! I love a clean house but it feels like a never ending battle with little ones in the house.

  91. OH – cleaning for sure. Specifically laundry. Ugh!! I need help in a big way!

  92. I signed up to Heather’s mailing list

  93. I ‘like’ you & Home Ec 101 on FB

  94. Cleaning. UGH!

  95. Definitely a mix between cleaning and fixing. My perfectionist tendencies tend to get in the way of my actual DOING of either – basically, if I don’t have the time to complete the task now, and complete it WELL, I have a tough time even getting started. I like things being ‘perfect’ or at least very close to, and don’t like leaving a job half done…though this invariably means things won’t get done at all until the last possible point, and then I take almost twice as long to complete it than if I’d just gotten into it in the first place!!

  96. Fixing! My husband is very good at this so we balance each other out.

  97. I think I’m most challenged with everday cleaning. I’m always trying to overcome the clutter that comes in the mail-box and take care of it as soon as it comes in the house, instead of letting it pile-up. I don’t like emptying the dishwasher and will do almost anything to avoid it. Silly I know–one way through it is to play beat the clock (I set a timer for 10 min.) and usually it takes me about 5-8 minutes.

  98. Fixing! Although, I could use some tips to be more efficient at cleaning as well!

  99. I signed up for Heather’s mailing list