Good Old Fashioned Advice


Our family has had the same metal filing cabinet since before I was born.  Over the years it became so jammed pack full of papers that my mom finally broke down and decided to clean it out.  That filing cabinet contained everything from elementary grade cards to short stories we wrote in school to old tax returns. 

One of the most interesting things we found was a piece of paper with newspaper clippings taped to it.  It was full of tips and advice on how to clean things, keep food fresh and other useful household hints.  Now I don’t know where these helpful tips came from but I can tell you that some of the clippings look very old. 

If I had to bet, it would be my guess that some of the words of wisdom came from “Hints from Heloise”.  Thanks to the internet, I found out that she is still featured in over 500 newspapers and offers lots of tips on her website.  So make sure you check it out.

Mom and I loved some of these helpful hints.  We even tested a few of them and they worked!

Water stains inside vases.  To clean the inside of vases (especially those with openings too small to fit your hand in) just moisten the inside of the vase with a little water and then add a little toilet bowl cleaner.  After about 10 minutes the stains will be removed.  

  • Coffee stains in china cups.  Make a paste out of baking soda and water to remove coffee and tea stains from ceramic and china cups.  To prevent the stains from getting bad in the first place, allow the cups to soak in warm water and baking soda after using them.
  • Celery turning soft.  Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in your fridge and it will keep for weeks.  (Mom, why hadn’t you told me this?)
  • Cleaning glass tabletops.  Mix a solution of warm water and your favorite laundry fabric softener.  The tables will be lint-free and sparkling clean.
  • Potato Buds.  To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.  You know what they say…an apple a day keeps potato buds away.
  • Leftover wine.  Never throw away leftover wine (duh)!  Freeze them into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.  Another option which is not only easier but more fun, is to invite your friends over to help you finish the wine!
  • Water marks on furniture.  Cover the water mark with a thick layer of cigarette or cigar ash.  (You may be wondering where to get the ashes–I’ll leave that up to you).  Saturate a clean cloth in vegetable oil and work the ash into the water mark in a circular motion.
  • Too much salt.  We’ve all done this before.  You’re cooking a big pot of soup and as you’re pouring in the salt the top comes off!  Just drop a peeled potato in—it will absorb the excess salt.
  • Really dirty screens.  Remove screens from windows or doors.  Scrub screens with a soft sponge dipped in hot water and ammonia.  Spray at full force with your garden hose.

Cure for headaches.  Cut a lime in half and rub it on your forehead.  Supposedly the throbbing goes away.  This is perfect for people who like to drink Corona (Lynnie), mojitos (Cyndi) or margaritas (Patch) since you’ll be sure to have leftover limes!

Mom also recommended saving all your leftover toothbrushes for cleaning tight spaces and jewelry.  But she never told me how to keep celery fresh!

I hope you found at least one helpful hint.   If you have some secret tips to share, please post them.  We’ll all be thankful!

Be Smart and Smile,



  • lynn Pecora
    June 16, 2010

    Molly, I will test out the lime theory for curing a headache and get back to you on that! I can share a tip on storing cookies around the holidays. Cookies that are crispy, like pizzelles, should always go into a tin container, never plastic, ask Frank he knows this. Soft cookies should go in plastic containers. And remember I make the best pizzelles!

    • September 9, 2010

      Did you try the limes for curing a headache yet? I’m sure you’ve had one since the article first came out! Let us know!

  • Kimball Kraus
    June 16, 2010

    Molly- Love the hints and here’s one of my favorites: to keep freshly baked cookies soft and chewy, put a piece of bread (any kind) in the container with the cookies. The bread gets hard and the cookies stay soft- for days!

    • September 9, 2010

      Many people have contacted me to let me know this works! They were skeptical but very happy! Thanks for sharing Kimball!

  • Christine Rothberg
    June 18, 2010

    Hi Molly – I always love little tricks like the ones you have in this week’s post. I have some. You know my love for vinegar, I use it as a fabric softener and if I forget about it in the washer and it sours I do a second rinse and add a cup of vinegar rather than rewashing. It works every time and never has that vinegar smell. I also put a half cup of baking soda in the dryer with my wet wash to prevent static. cheers, C

  • Vicki
    June 18, 2010

    Left over wine? What is that?
    One of my favourite tips is to put wilted lettuce in ice water prior to making the salad. Makes it crispy and wonderful. I do it whether the lettuce is wilted or not but my sister, Tracy, and I did that while camping (in a tent without refrigeration) on the East Coast of New Zealand…. we had a cooler with ice in it! There wasn’t any wine left over on that trip!

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