250 Cookbooks: Betty-Anne’s Helpful Household Hints

Cookbook #201: Betty-Anne’s Helpful Household Hints, Vol. 1, Betty-Anne Hastings with Mary-Beth Connors, Ventura Books, NY, 1983.

Why did I put this book in my “cookbook” database? There is not a single recipe in it, except ones for making play dough for kids. Well, the book’s in my database, so I gotta cover it!

Betty-Anne Hastings does not have much of an internet presence. Amazon lists Betty-Anne’s Helpful Household Hints for sale for $0.01, with one review: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say this book saved my life. For years I threw perfectly good trash away when I could be re-purposing it! Thanks Betty-Anne!” I did find Vol. 2 for sale too (note my volume is #1). A few other online bookstores have copies for sale. Betty-Anne’s Helpful Household Hints is noted in the Simple and Delicious blog (a 2014 entry).

Betty-Anne’s Helpful Household Hints is a small paperback, 127 pages in a largish font. Seven sections (see below), but no table of contents and – most importantly – no index. If you would like a tip, like how to make your dog safer while running loose at night, you have to go to the “Our Furry Friends” section and read through all the entries to see if the author has a suggestion (she does!).

These days, we simply “GTS”* to find tips on how to do most anything. Or go to a website/magazine like Real Simple.

I am not going to keep this book, but I’ll share with you some of the curious and helpful hints from each of the seven sections. And for my “recipe”, I’ll let my grandkids play with a batch of play dough!

play dough

1. A Potpourri of More Household Hints

“Ashtrays needn’t be a cleaning problem. For all your ashtrays (except your glass or crystal ones) just coat the surface with your favorite furniture polish. The protective coating will allow burns and ash build-up to just rinse out.”

“There’s nothing worse than a dull razor blade! But you may not have to throw it away yet. Try sharpening it on the striking edge of an old match book cover.”

“Let’s knot get the thread tangled. Even the most careful seamstress is likely to wind up with tangled thread while sewing. One way to help solve that problem is to work the knotting a little differently. Instead of taking the two strands of thread and knotting them together, knot each strand separately. You’ll be surprised at how few tangles you’ll have in the future.”

“Where can I store all my blankets in this small apartment? Lay the blankets out smoothly between the mattress and springs of your bed.”

2. Recycling Tips and Helpers

This is the first page from the recycling chapter – it’s a great example of the “tone” of this book.

recycling tipsA few more excerpts from this chapter follow.

“Keep a windowshade in the trunk. This is a space-saving device that you can be mighty happy to have handy. Use it as a ground throw for an impromptu picnic. Or, if you ever have a flat tire, a window shade can help to protect you and your clothing from the cold, dirty ground.”

“Take the juice of one banana skin . . . Would you believe banana skins have juice? Well,to find out for sure, try this bright trick. Cut off the hard ends. Throw the soft pulpy portion of the peel into a processor. Take the banana puree and use it to shine up your silver. You’ll be impressed.”

3. Gardening Victories

“Your very own compost heap . . . Everybody talks about compost heaps, but did you ever wonder what should really go into one? Here are some suggestions: coffee grounds . . . all leftover fruits and vegetables . . . plant cuttings and stalks . . . mulched up leaves . . . cut grass . . . any spoiled fruits and vegetables . . .  all peelings . . . eggshells . . . rinds . . . wood chips, etc. Leave out animal fats and anything that isn’t biodegradable.”

“Garden and have clean nails. If you don’t wear gloves, but hate the look of your nails after the job is finished, give them some extra protection with ordinary soap. Dampen the bar and then dig in. The caked soap under your nails will keep out the dirt.”

4. Clothing Care Tips

“Cold hands, cold wash. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and hang your clothes to dry outside in the winter, here’s a way to keep your hands a bit warmer doing the chore. Fill a hot water bottle with hot water and throw it into the basket. Each time you grab for another item, just give that bottle a warming squeeze.”

“Tired of grey looking lingerie? Next time this happens, give them a little color lift. Don’t worry about the dye. It’s easy. Make up some hot, strong tea and soak them until your lingerie is just a little darker than desired. Give one quick rinse in cold clear water and the dye is set – and so are you – with fresh, new looking lingerie.”

“New life for an old straw hat. Soak it in cold, salt water until it’s soft and moldable. Then shape it back to its original condition and let it dry.”

5. Traveling and Vacation Hints

“Just before you pack to leave, are you faced with a wet toothbrush? Here’s a way to travel nice and dry. Just take your hair dryer and use it to blow the toothbrush dry. That way, you’ll always be packing a dry brush.”

“A soda tote. Save that paperboard soda six-pack tote and bring it on your camping trip. It collapses flat so it takes up no space. When serving meals, fill it with salt, ketchup and other bottles and carry it all to thte table at once. Saves steps and makes serving a meal easier.”

6. Our Furry Friends

“Want to keep your dog safe when he goes out at night? Try this to protect your dog from being hit by cars when he takes his nocturnal stroll. Just place a reflecting strip on his collar, and that will alert motorists that he’s around. You can also check at your local pet store, for some manufacturers make flea collars that reflect, thus providing two-in-one protection.”

“Does your pet have trouble when rock salt get inside his delicate paws? Try this trick. Take 4 small plastic sandwich bags and fasten them to your pet’s paws with rubber bands. You’ll have instant rainboots!”

(Warning from me: do NOT put food coloring in your hummingbird feeders.) “Here’s a great tip to help you tell when your hummingbird feeder is out of water. All you need to do is add red food coloring to the water and you’ll be able to tell immediately when the water is low! An extra plus is that hummingbirds are attracted to the red color, and if you paint stripes on the feeder with nail polish, it will also help to attract them.”

7. The Kids

“Rememer this simple tip: a child in colorful clothes is easier to find. Nothing stands out in a crowd like a toddler in red, purple or yellow.”

“Want a way to outsmart the baby that shakes his crib and walks it across the room? The way to solve this problem is to place ‘bunion pads’ under each leg of the crib. Then, when the baby tries to walk that crib, it won’t crawl!”

“Use this economical way to store your child’s small collectibles. When you use those large coffee cans, save them. Smooth over any jagged edges. Then paint and glue the cans together. Then you can either place them on their sides so you have a bunch of cubbyholes or you can cap them with the plastic top and use them individually.”

“Have you ever lost your child in a crowd? If so, try this. Tie a whistle around his or her neck, and tell them to blow it repeatedly if they lose you.”


* “GTS” means “google that shit”


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