Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter

I’m using my Grandma Britson’s name for the alliteration, just as the original “Heloise” did when she added an H to her name. Do any of you Babooners remember “Hints from Heloise” – household help in the form of syndicated newspaper columns, articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping, radio programs…  Well, there is still a Heloise, second generation, and of course a website:  a website , where you can find her Bio, Books, On Air offerings, Recipes (including Texas Caviar and Red Velvet Cake), and a section about her mom, the Original Heloise. The current Heloise has appeared on Oprah and Letterman, and is still writing books and making appearances.

I started this post thinking I would just share my tip for Trapping Fruit Flies, which seem to have shown up earlier this season. Instead of cider vinegar (which I’ve probably shared here before) I’ve found something less messy, and more attractive to the flies:

– put a peach pit (with some peach remaining on it) in a small container

– cover tightly in plastic wrap, into which a few knife holes have been punched; the flies can find their way in, but can’t seem to find their way out

– take outside periodically and release fruit flies; recover and begin again – they’re never completely gone

Then yesterday when I was complaining about how often I have to polish my favorite earrings with a silver cloth to keep their sheen, I was told this secret:

– find an old toothbrush and polish them with toothpaste

Who knew?

I’ve also managed to find a way to resurrect an old wicker rocker whose seat has broken through:  a couple of longish boards across the seat, anchored in place by a cushion, stick out on one end to create sort of side shelf, for books and (bird-watching) field glasses. A temporary fix, perhaps, but at least I don’t have to throw it out.

Do you have any Helpful Hints (household or otherwise) that either Heloise or I should bring to the attention of others?

68 thoughts on “Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter”

      1. Somehow I can’t get too excited about trying to polish shoes with a banana peel – not that I ever polish shoes anyway, but still. It just seems too weird.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I told husband about this, and he said, I know. Learned that while in the military. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me? I’m saving tomorrow’s banana peel and see what it does for my shoes. Do I use the inside or outside of the peel?


  1. A friend pointed out to me that releasing the fruit flies outside would be counterproductive – they could just come inside again to gather on more fruit. Is this correct? How did the fruit flies get here in the first place? Do they come as tiny eggs on fruit? Going to look this up…


  2. Just don’t bother. Don’t iron clothing. Don’t dry dishes – let them air dry. Don’t start cleaning because once you start, you see even more things that need cleaning and you will never finish (that last one is sort of a joke).

    Do: declutter and stop buying so much stuff. Do: keep on top of papers, because there’s nothing that makes a place look worse than heaps of paper everywhere, not to mention it’s impossible to dust or vacuum untidy piles of paper that are on every horizontal surface.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am assuming that is a typo, not a racist slur! Especially with fruit pies, that is my rule—more spice, less sugar. Many times the sugar, when there is too much, mutes the fruit’s flavor.


  3. Rise and Shine Baboons, or at least get up from your afternoon nap,

    I have been busy all day today, so I did not get to write until now. I also found my portable keyboard—woohoo—which it makes easier to post from my iPad. I read Hints from Heloise in the Des Moines Register as a kid. It fit with my 4-H activity perfectly. So I knew how to use vinegar and ammonia to make a window wash. If I was washing Grandma’s windows, then you had to finish the job with rubbing with old newspapers. Definitely a Heloise-type hint. Women would hoard their hints and send them in to Heloise for publishing. If someone got a hint published it was a big deal. Heloise II was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air sometime in the last 5 years. The big hint she gave in that interview was “how to get skid marks out of underwear.” Unfortunately, I do not remember the answer.

    Here is my homemaking hint for today:

    To keep towels from accumulating a mildew smell wash them in detergent, then do a second, short wash and rinse, in vinegar.

    I feel just so Iowa home econimost-ish now.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Economist. That old dyslexia just pops up.

      I thought of another: use an old cookie jar to collect compost scraps.


  4. My daughter would squawk with astonishment if she saw me posting a tip on kitchen hygiene. She can’t believe I continue to survive in spite of my unconventional habits. I eat most evening meals from wooden salad bowls. It is hard to get them clean after a meal, even if you use hot water and soap (which I rarely do). So I wash them in my usual way, then nuke them for 90 seconds in the microwave. It’s my theory that the microwave clobbers all the evil bacteria and viruses into submission. I could be wrong, but I’m still living on the right side of the grass, so nuking my bowls can’t be dangerous and might help.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It seems to me that nuking it would be a good way to shorten the life of a wooden bowl. My wooden bowls are dear to me, can’t imagine subjecting them to that. My sponges on the other hand, I’m not particularly close to. They get nuked every other day.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a useful comment, PJ, because it opens the door to a useful idea: fact checking.

          I’m told I dry silverware the wrong way. After washing, I put my silverware in the nylon pocket attached to the dish-drying drain. I put them in with the business side down (with the friendly side up). I’ve been told often that this is unhygienic. My answer is that my way does not raise concerns about stabbing myself on knives or forks while handling them. Will this promote disease? It hasn’t in fifty years, so I feel safe. But to be fair, the people who dry silverware with the sharp side up probably don’t impale themselves a lot, so I don’t judge them for doing it their way.

          This relates to wood bowls, I have two. They are gorgeous things made of teak. I use one or both every day, which means in the past dozen years I’ve nuked them between 700 and 800 times. So far, so good. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Debating whether to give you some smart ass retort, or take the high road. Heck, I need some exercise, I’ll take the high road.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Years ago I read a tip for busy moms from a mom. She suggested doing more than one thing at a time – her example was she read books to her daughter while the laundry was in the dryer.

    I had to wonder: before she had children, did she stand there and watch the dryer while the clothing dried? SMH.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hydrogen peroxide on blood stains. Citric acid for rust stains and mineral deposits. When hard boiling eggs, put some onion skins into the water. It colors the eggs brown, so you can easily tell them apart from the uncooked eggs in the fridge.

    Cut up banana peels and plant them at the roots of your garden plants to fertilize. You can also use leather from old worn-out shoes and purses as fertilizer.

    Sour milk can be used for baking if you add a little baking soda to cut the sour taste.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Speaking of eggs, you can also tell a hard-boiled egg by spinning it on the counter. Fresh eggs won’t spin. And you can tell how fresh an egg is by putting it in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs sink. The more the egg floats, the older it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just learned recently that gently tapping two eggs together has a distinct sound as long as both shells are good. A minor crack in one will cause a different sound.
        95% of the time I see the crack, but this helps find ones that I miss.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The 1950’s Betty Crocker Cookbook had wonderful house keeping tips. l loved the suggestion that a woman should take a nap on the kitchen floor (after its daily cleansing) so that she didn’t get the nicely made bed mussed up. Of course, the woman in the drawing was wearing a dress.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Next thing you know, the husband will tell her that her lefse is too thick and Papa Eddie Whipple won’t have anything to sell her for that.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. That’s a smart comment, BiR. When I look at old commercials, especially those highlighting attitudes toward women, my first reaction is utter disbelief. Even though I lived through those times, I’m stunned by the condescension. Then I check the date of the commercial, expecting it to be early 1950s, and maybe it is 1968! The change in attitudes on gender is simply astonishing.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. I have a small space where I computer, watch TV, manage my meds, manage our accounts, etc. I needed a bit of table space to hold a few things such as a tea can holding pens, remotes, etc. I bought a cheap blonde stained stool at then height for eating at kitchen counters, bought a sixteen inch diameter one inch thick unfinished table top for six bucks at Menards. I bolted the top to the top of the stool and varnished it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A good fruit fly trap if you have a dishwasher: After you load your dishwasher, pour in a little apple cider vinegar or a small amount of red wine. Leave the door slightly ajar for an hour or two. Close the door and run the dishwasher.

    Not having to drive your fruit flies to the other side of town saves on gas.

    Liked by 3 people

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