Helpful Hints

From An Unlikely Source: Me!

I am no Heloise. Not a single friend has ever asked me for housekeeping helpful hints. I learned my best homemaker’s advice from Barbara Bush who said that she tried to never touch the same item twice when straightening up.

When you finish your morning cup of coffee, don’t put it in the sink to wash later (touch twice), give it a quick wash-out or put it in the dishwasher (touch once). If you read the newspaper, don’t leave it scattered on the couch, fold it up or pitch it.

Making a sandwich? Using the mayo, pickles, lettuce? Put them back, bim, bam, boom, so when you sit down to eat, you know your chores are done except for your plate (which you slide into the dishwasher after you swallow your last bite). It’s the baby steps that keep order.

Another wise woman told me that, when deciding to throw her clothes on the chair as she undressed for bed, she asked herself, “Do I want to face this mess in the morning?” She knew that she’d rather toss the dirty stuff in the hamper now and fold or hang up what could be worn again so she awoke to no mess.

She called delaying the gratification with five minutes of attention now, “being nice to my next-day-self.” I like that. And as a recovering clothing-chair-stacker, my next-day-self is grateful for the thoughtfulness.

Recently I encountered a tip that solved a pet peeve. I have a dishwasher. I consider myself a master of geometry when using every nook and cranny of it. The dishes seemed clean when I put them away but the glasses were foggy.

And, I asked myself, if they were skimmed with something, mustn’t the plates and silverware also be coated invisibly? Yuck! What was that film? I didn’t really want to know, I just wanted it to go away.

Google has an answer for everything but so does my 90 year old mother. As I poured iced tea into glasses at Mother’s condo, I commented on the clarity of the glass and whined about my dishwasher’s failing.

“Vinegar,” Mom said, “A few tablespoons, poured right into the dishwasher as it’s filling. And a cup once a week or so to clean the machine.” I was doubtful.

This was the woman who my whole life has espoused vinegar as the perfect post-shampoo rinse and the cure for a sundry number of feminine irritations. I thought, “Yeah, Mom, whatever.”

But it nagged at me. So, modern woman that I am, I googled the problem with the keyword: foggy glasses from the dishwasher. The simple answer: Vinegar. And with Mom’s recommendation reinforced by computer savvy homemakers, I began the regime. The result: glasses that shimmer and plates that sparkle just like a fraudalent TV commercial from the sixties.

I admit that I have yet to try the hair-conditioning aspect of this fine product but I have to admit that my mother has silvery, thick hair to die (dye?) for. Who knew? Of course Mother and Barbara Bush did.

Patty pops corn the "old-fashioned" way

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