The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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12 Amazing "Gee, I Never Thought of That" Household Hints from Heloise

By Vicki McClure Davidson

Heloise from A to Z - An Indispensable Home Reference Guide by America's Most Trusted Household-Hints Advisor, Perigee Books, NY, 1992.

Informative Book: Heloise from A to Z – An Indispensable Home Reference Guide by America's Most Trusted Household-Hints Advisor | Photo credit: V.M. Davidson
Heloise from A to Z – An Indispensable Home Reference Guide by America's Most Trusted Household-Hints Advisor


I bought this little gem of a book at a thrift store recently, surprised by how many suggestions and ideas in it I'd not ever thought about. Heloise and before her, her mother "Heloise Senior," have been sharing useful ideas and frugal tips with us for decades. They have both been enthusiastic DIY cheerleaders for more years than I can count.

Here are a dozen of my newest favorite household hints that I've hand-picked to share with you to save time and money, from "Heloise Junior":

  1. Measuring Shortening – An easy way to measure solid shortening or lard for a recipe is to use the displacement method. For instance, if you need 1/2 cup of shortening, fill a one-cup measuring cup with 1/2 cup of water, then add solid shortening until the water level reaches the one cup line. Drain off water and the shortening will plop right out without any scraping.
  2. Easy Laundry Detergent Box Opening – Open those difficult pour-type boxes of laundry detergent with a beer opener to save manicures and tempers.
  3. Increase Countertop Space – To temporarily increase countertop space in the kitchen (like when you're preparing a big meal for company), open a kitchen drawer all the way, lay your biggest cookie sheet across it, and the close the drawer until it is snug enough to keep the cookie sheet in place. You've just gained additional temporary space for food preparation at no cost whatsoever.
  4. Cheap, Safe Match Holder – When you're about to light a wooden match, hold it securely with a spring-type wooden clothespin. No more burned finger tips when lighting candles, the barbecue, or the fireplace.
  5. Safe Mouseproofing – Instead of dangerous poisons or dangerous mousetraps, stuff all the cracks around gas and water pipes with steel wool to keep mice out.
  6. Can't find the Philips screwdriver to tighten a loose screw? Try using the tip of a metal potato peeler instead.
  7. Keeping facial tissues box dry on bathroom vanity counters – When you buy a new box of facial tissues, flip the box upside down and in each corner, stick a bulletin-board push pin. This gives it "feet" to elevate it above and keep it safe from any accidental water spills.
  8. Car Game to Amuse Children on Long Trips – Cut out pictures from newspapers and magazines of anything children will see while traveling—cars, trucks, animals, buildings, bridges, etc. Then paste or tape the pictures on index cards. "Deal" the same number of cards to each child when you leave the house. As the children see the objects on their cards, they put the card down in a "Seen Scene" pile. The child who "sees" all his or her pictures on the cards first is the winner.
  9. Frugal & Easy Diamond Cleaning – Try dipping each piece of jewelry with any diamonds in a bit of rubbing alcohol and then buff dry. It really makes diamonds sparkle.
  10. Quick-Fix Fudge Cutter – After homemade fudge has cooled and has hardened, cut it with a pizza cutter. It's much neater and quicker than using a knife.
  11. Functional Pencil Holders – Magnetic plastic flashlight cases will stick to the inside of a metal school locker door and hold pencils and pens, so hunting for them in the bottom of the locker can be eliminated. The flashlight cases can also hold pencils in the cabs of trucks.
  12. Avoiding "Mystery Keys" – When you get new keys, trace them on a sheet of paper, label them with what they open or start, and keep the sheet in your household files. As an alternative, you could trace the key on a sheet of paper in a household information notebook. Either way, you'll have a pattern to match when, a few years from now, you're trying to solve key "mysteries."




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