Reader's Exchange

Can you take a hint?

Recently, I read that Heloise will be appearing in Austin in November.

From the sound of it--she's a columnist, author, speaker, contributing editor, etc.--Heloise doesn't have much time for novel reading, yet she would be perfectly at home in the library.  She's our sort of person, offering an endless store of life-enhancing solutions and apparently never considering any question ridiculous.  

Were she to visit us, however, Heloise might discover competition among our library staff.   While I have consulted Heloise's tips both online and in print on occasion, it's more likely that, faced with an issue of everyday best practices, I'll turn to one of my co-workers first. 

Elaine, for example, is a genius at entertainment and excursion planning.  For anyone expecting out of town visitors and needing amusement options (especially if kids are involved), Elaine is a terrific resource.  We all depend on Eric for the latest info about green lifestyles and ecological wisdom; Chris is the go-to guy for online tools, etc.

We know who's lived in other places, acquired specialized knowledge from previous jobs or studies, raised children, nurtured pets (both exotic and otherwise) and pursued skills that could benefit the rest of us.  Along with books and databases, the library staff represents a significant repository of practical intelligence.

Here's proof: when I surveyed library staffers for "a tried and true tip on something practical", they responded with too many wonderfully useful tips for one blog post.  Thanks go out to Pat M, Pat B, Eric, Regina, Chris, Chip, Tricia, and Elaine for their handy hints.  Heloise would be proud.Vintage suitcase

  • Stain removal: Peanut butter gets out gum. Ice and a knife will remove wax from carpet. To get gum off clothes, place clothes in freezer for a while.
  • Laundry:  A cup of vinegar eliminates funky odors from clothes left in the washer too long.
  • Choosing an internet service provider:  Try http://www.dslreports.com/.  You can search for reviews by zip code and check discussion forums, news, and speed tests.
  • Conserving resources:  To aid you in choosing the healthiest, greenest, most ethical products, check out  http://www.goodguide.com.  Ratings are based on scientific research.
  • Versatile hair spray:  Coat the end of your thread with it before threading a needle.
  • Tackling sticky residue, e.g., price tags:  Use rubbing alcohol (but not on plastics, and test the area first) OR try Avon Skin-So-Soft lotion.
  • It's for the birds:  When cleaning up after birds, placing a dryer sheet on the floor will prevent the feathers from floating all around and make sweeping up easier.
  • A second life for pantyhose:  Buff your shoes with them to achieve a high shine.
  • Relief from bug bites:  Try a paste made with baking soda or rub a damp/sticky bar of soap on the bite.
  • DIYers, take note:  Put a small piece of tape on the wall before hammering in a nail.
  • Kitchen wisdom:  Keep your knives sharp;  dull knives are accidents waiting to happen.   A little vinegar will bring slightly wilted lettuce back to life.  Add a small pinch of salt to your hot cocoa to enhance the chocolate flavor.  Marinate game meat (venison, rabbit, etc.) in buttermilk to alleviate the "gamey" flavor.   Put a cup of vinegar down your drains once a week to clean and deodorize.  (If you haven't done this and your garbage disposal doesn't smell lovely, freeze small ice cubes made of lemon juice and "dispose" those; this also cleans your disposer's blades.)
  • Travel tips:  When parking at the airport, put some cash in your glove compartment so you can pay your way out of the lot when you return!  If you're traveling in ice/snowy terrain, carry a large bag of kitty litter in your trunk.  (It adds needed weight to the rear of vehicle and you can scatter the product on the ice to provide traction.)  For space-saving, wrinkle-preventing luggage packing:  layer similar garments together (example: stack all your shirts and tops, fold the entire stack over, then fold all the sleeves at once across the top).  For suits and dresses, leave garments on the hanger, encase in a plastic bag, fold the bag over once.   This really works!

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