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Cleaning House: 'Accidental Housewife' left behind Mad Ave for the maddening chores at home

June 11, 2009 By:
Rachel Levy Lesser, Jewish Exponent Feature
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Julie Edelman, known to many women across the country as "The Accidental Housewife," says it's time for fellow housewives to understand that they are good enough and are doing the best they can.

Her latest book, The Ultimate Accidental Housewife, is a humorous "Guide to a Clean-Enough House," and provides housewives with out-of-the-box advice, such as strategically placing a get-well card on your mantle before having guests over.

This way, says Edelman, "they'll excuse your house for not being in tip-top shape," as they assume you are recovering from some ailment.

If that doesn't work, she continues, then serve them "the absolute best dirty martini" (recipe included in the book). Your house will look better to all eyes after only a few sips.

Edelman says that she had no intention of becoming a housewife; the thought never crossed her mind while studying at Duke and Oxford universities. Always career-minded, she worked her way up the corporate ladder to senior-level positions at various Madison Avenue advertising agencies.

Then, as she recalls, she found herself married, with a child and living in the suburbs. Before she knew it, Edelman had gone from "doing lunch to doing dishes and diapers."

While at a crossroads between managing her home and family, Edelman explains that felt as though she was losing her sense of self. No longer passionate about her career and sensing a need for a modern-day, homemaker role model, "The Accidental Housewife" was born.

The first book was launched three years ago to acclaim. College girls looked up to Edelman as a "hip 'Desperate Housewife,' " while senior citizens tended to view her as more of a "throwback to Erma Bombeck."

Known in some circles as the "Anti-Martha Stewart," this Jewish author embraces that title. She clarifies the differences between herself and the well-known maven of all things crafty and created from scratch: "Martha's followers are a sorority," notes Edelman, while " 'Accidental Housewife' believers are more of a community."

But What Would Martha Say?

The occasional "Martha Mood" creeps up on Edelman every so often, whereby she starts on an overwhelming project, but that "always passes in 15 minutes" -- and then Edelman is back to doing "just enough" while finding that balance that so many women crave today.

The Ultimate Accidental Housewife tackles more of the challenges of housewifely duties, including organizing with flair, manicure friendly cleaning, home repair and simple ways to make your house "green enough."

Edelman spoke this past spring at the Go Green Expo conference in New York City, where her eco-friendly tips appeared well-received by the "hard-core green" conference attendees.

The new guide suggests cooking with your toaster oven or microwave to save energy, buying recycled toilet paper ("Turn the other cheek," writes Edelman), and unplugging your cell phone once it's charged.

As in all her advice, Edelman insists that making small changes can make a big difference; they also will not leave you overwhelmed or discouraged.

Edelman's schedule is jam-packed these days with "Accidental" appearances on a number of television shows. She also has a slew of products in development to add to her growing brand.

For example, after testing store-bought and homemade products for years as part of the research for the books, Edelman is taking the leap into her own line of cleaning supplies, helpful gadgets and more.

Whether you had planned on becoming a housewife or this happened just accidentally, "you have to get it done," says Edelman. "Remember to take a breath and not take yourselves too seriously."

Good advice: Advice that shows that "The Accidental Housewife" actually practices what she preaches.

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