Nov 29th
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Eco News Self Reliance Old-time Hints
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bread_sough_dough_283pxThe following hints and tips are taken from a collection of old books and sage clippings belonging to a beloved grandmother. Whatever your grandma did to fix and maintain things around the house and garden, it probably worked. That’s because the old ways are often the best ways when it comes to solutions for everyday problems, ideas for saving time, and handy advice for getting the job done. Here are a collection of old-timer, helpful hints, tips and sage secrets that can help you in everyday life.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that our Granny was a lot wiser with our environment than we think. Not only were Granny's remedies low on pollution, they were low on cost and extremely effective too compared to the mass produced chemicals we see on the supermarket shelves today. Rather than the superstitions they were once branded, it seems they make a whole lot of sense! Granny's medicine chest contained only the basics - - but even with a minimum of comforts and a maximum of chores and children she coped admirably. She knew how to make full use of ordinary foods and herbs, not only as cures for ailments, but in everyday house cleaning.

Gran knew how the pain of a black eye could be eased by applying cucumber slices, and that generous helpings of beetroot would stimulate a poor appetite, while lettuce aided insomnia sufferers and celery those with jumpy nerves. Gran fed carrots to asthma sufferers and grated apple for mild diarrhoea, and frequent drinks of barley water settled cases of stress or tension.

lemon_slices_246px.jpgThe backyard lemon tree was then, and still is, a great standby in lots of ways. Lemons are invaluable both for internal and external use. Mixed with honey the juice will ease a red raw throat: mixed with milk it livens the dullest complexion, when applied directly to the skin. Acne Treatment; After washing the face to remove oils, pat the face with lemon juice three times a day. Blood Purifier; Drink the juice of one lemon in a cup of warm water each morning. (Lemon juice should not be consumed if you have an ulcer).Hand Cleaner, Softener, and Odour Remover; To cleanse and soften the hands after washing dishes or to remove vegetable stains, rub hands well with lemon juice. It will also remove strong odours such as onions and fish from the hands. Heartburn Relief – Add one teaspoon of lemon juice to half glass of water and drink.

Rust stains disappear like magic when a mix of lemon juice and salt is applied and the garment spread in the sun. After the fruit is juiced to make refreshing drinks, the used halves will soften and whiten work-worn elbows. Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon is a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and or baking soda to make cleaning pastes. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains. Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice and you have a furniture polish for your hardwood furniture. Rub on wooden or bamboo chopping boards and dry in sun / mix with sea salt to remove mould and a degreaser.

The potato's another handy item; And from whom did you learn that a pulped potato is an effective healer of burns?

baking_soda_packet.jpgSodium bicarbonate, one of the most useful inexpensive cleaners for bathroom scouring powder, water softener,chrome polisher, bicarb and a damp cloth for all the kitchen cleaning - fridge, oven, hot plates, china, crockery.Absorbs odours - cupboards, rugs, refrigerators. Cleans teeth and keeps body odour away - for a very effective deodorant - use a shaving brush and brush sparingly under arm area.Baking soda serves as a safe, light bleach. A baking soda and salt mixture can also restore the shine of dingy teeth (dip a wet toothbrush into 1/4 teaspoon soda and sprinkle with up to 1/8 teaspoon salt) as effectively as it polishes your pots and pans. However, straight baking soda is safer for people on no-salt diets.

Baking soda is a must for any camper; It can serve as a dish washer, pot scrubber, hand cleanser, deodorant, toothpaste, fire extinguisher, and first aid treatment for insect bites, sunburn and poison ivy, as well as much more. Plus, it saves space (one box compared to many products!).

Relieve the itching and pain of an insect bite with a baking soda paste. After you have removed any stinger, make a paste by combining 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Apply it to the affected area and let it dry. Wash it off and repeat, if needed

Gout is caused by high acidity levels in the blood and the basic qualities of  baking soda lower the acidity level in the blood. Tastes awful, but  I have been told - a spoonful of food-grade  baking soda in a glass of water per day, will not be long before your gout free!

Grandma's recipe for flatulence; Sip 1 cup hot water steeped with 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, which stifle the enzymatic action that causes gas.Ginger tea may also of been offered. The active ingredients in ginger root can calm queasiness and relieve indigestion and excessive gas.

Vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner; Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home. Vinegar is a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Always test on an inconspicuous area. It is safe to use on most surfaces and has the added bonus of being incredibly cheap. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout. Never use vinegar on marble surfaces. Don't worry about your home smelling like vinegar. The smell disappears when it dries. Here are some uses for vinegar in the rooms of your house. Use it in the . . . 

Bathroom; Clean the bathtub, toilet, sink, and counter tops. Use pure vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of rings. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down. Pour the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl. Mop the flour in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution. The substance will also eat away the soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and tiles. Make sure it is safe to use with your tiles.

Kitchen; Clean the stove top, appliances, counter-tops, and floor.

Laundry; Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener. Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively.

Vinegar mixed with salt is sudden death to ring-worms. Looking for a natural insect repellent? Try splashing a little vinegar on exposed skin.

Papering Whitewashed Walls; If you wish to have a wall papered which has been previously whitewashed, it must be well brushed over with vinegar, or the paper will not stick.

Gran certainly knew what she was about. Another of her fields of expertise was the flower and vegetable garden . . .

Cooled water from boiled eggs helped their growth and crushed eggshells round the base of her precious gerberas and other plants made them blossom profusely.

If buds began dropping unopened from her favourite shrub, Gran soon had it covered in blossoms again by giving the shrub a single application of - a tablespoon of borax dissolved in about 10 litres (2 gals) of water.

Try starting seeds in eggshell halves. Store planted shells in egg cartons so they can easily be moved to planting, plant as is. Roots break through and the decomposed shell acts as a fertilizer.

Bone meal is an excellent source of nutrients for all the plants in your garden. You can make your own by drying your leftover organic chicken bones in the microwave. Depending on the quantity, cook for 1-4 minutes on high. Place in a sturdy paper bag and grind them up with a mallet, hammer or rolling pin. Distribute the powder around your plants. They will love it.

Don't throw out organic coffee grounds or tea leaves. They are full of nutrients and good for your garden. Simply sprinkle them over your plants and the soil.

Fertilize your plants with Epsom salts. Mix it into your soil around the plant, not too close to burn the plant roots. For tomatoes, use one tablespoon for every foot of height, water in well.

fly-dead-385px.jpgPest Removal

In those days before chemical sprays were commonly used, Gran turned to her herb garden to rid the house of insect pests. Most of us today grow chives and it's a great insect repellent; so is garlic. Both were familiar plants in her garden. A spray made with chestnut and clove scents deters spiders. Mice dislike garlic and elderberry liquid.

Moths dislike the smell of lavender, natural camphor, cloves, mint, sage, wormwood and rosemary. Rid clothes of moth eggs by hanging them in the sun.


Bunches of lavender hung in a corner to drive flies and mosquitoes out and little lavender bags in linen not only left it sweet smelling, but kept moths at bay too. A bay leaf placed in your dry food containers will discourage weevils and food moths from laying their eggs. Prevent mosquitoes breeding by keeping sources of still or stale water away from the house. Herbs that repel them are citronella, penny-royal, pyre thrum, basil, mint, chamomile and tansy. Try burning citronella oil or basil oil near open windows to prevent flies from entering.

The ever useful dry borax sprinkled around a room soon freed it of ants and cockroaches. Ants; Gran knew if ants are particularly anxious, you can expect bad weather. Find the trail that leads between your house and their nest and obliterate it with mint, sodium bicarbonate or aromatic oils. Paprika is a good deterrent. Ants also dislike penny-royal, lavender and garlic. The idea is to keep destroying their signposts that lead to the house.

Eucalyptus oil; typically Australian, fore-bearers soon discovered its many uses. Dabbed on the pillow or mixed with hot water and inhaled, it greatly relieves head and nasal congestion, and as a remover of stains it's unequalled.Keep the mossies and nasties away - Blend together 1/2 cup glycerin, 5 drops of eucalyptus oil 2 drops of deodorant (such as rose oil, oil of citronella, or lavender oil) Rub on the skin. Another one for nasal congestion, try:putting a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the floor of a hot, running shower and inhaling the steam that accumulates. (Note: The room may be too hot for children). Add several drops to your dogs shampoo as a flea deterrent. Along with supplementing your pet's diet with brewers yeast and garlic can make the animal's body chemistry inhospitable to fleas.

For itches; The inside of the pad of a broad bean rubbed on an itch relieved and bought any swelling down.

Another Grandma tip for bites; spiders etc - make a poultice of bread, vinegar, borax and honey. Warm honey to make mix with other ingredients. It draws out the poison, also good from pricks of rose thorns, etc.

Headache; Nutmeg grated into a cup of boiling water will cure a violent headache!

At the first sign of a cold try eating 8-10 small leaves of white horehound crushed with honey.

Bee Stings; The old time washday blue bag was used as a sure cure for bee and wasp stings. (had to put this one in, childhood memories from many bee stings and blue bags) not sure of the ingredients - earth friendly???

Splinter Removal; Also have witnessed many times the effectiveness of a sugar and grated soap poultice. Applied overnight it will draw to the surface the largest thorn or splinter, also great for treating boils.

More Housecleaning; Even without our modern cleaning aids Gran was a whiz at housecleaning. Leftover cold tea cleaned varnished floors and woodwork.


Borax made the old enamel bath look like new.

Gardening Hat

Just a soak in mild salty water, and old straw hats could be reshaped and dried to take on a new lease of life. The same solution kept wicker furniture from turning yellow.

For sparkling silver, gran popped a piece of chalk in the cabinet - it stopped tarnishing and absorbed moisture

To Prevent Boots From Cracking

To prevent new boots from cracking take some boiled linseed oil, and with a piece of flannel or rag wet-ted in it,rub over the soles upwards until they are quite dry. This method not  only keeps the boots from cracking but renders them more impervious to damp.

For Hanging Brooms

A screw eye inserted in top of a broom or mop handle is far more convenient and lasting than a cord.

Stuffing for Pincushions

Dried coffee grounds answer well for filling a pincushion. They do not attract moths like wool, nor mice as bran does, and if well dried they do not smell.

A Stale Loaf

If the loaf has become dry, but it is still wholesome, dip into a bowl of water for three minutes; let it stand for half an hour for the moisture to penetrate, then bake it in a steady oven, This is best eaten hot.

Clean Sponges

To keep your sponge in good condition, you should occasionally wash it in warm water with a little tartaric acid or soda, afterwards rinsing it in clean water.

Extracts from The Queensland Official Grocers' Price List and Year Book,. 1898.

Mariner's Soap

This is made by substituting coconut oil for fats or oils used in making common soap. It has the advantage of forming a lather in salt water.

Oatmeal Soap

Make a saturated solution of borax, cut into it any bits and pieces of soap. Add a little glycerin. Let the mixture boil until the soap is dissolved. Make It as thick as cream by boiling or by adding more if too thick; then stir into the mass oatmeal enough to make a soft paste. Stir until it cools and hardens. Place in a greased wooden box before it hardens, then turn out and cut into squares. If a sand soap is required, add a little refined sand while boiling. This will clean the dirtiest hands.

Bath Salts

Crush 1lb washing soda (sodium carbonate) small. Dry well in oven about three hours. Put in a glass jar and add thin slices lemon rind. Keep well corked with the soda crystals for a week. Smells like verbena.

Frozen Perfume

Take 2 oz oil of lemon grass, 1/2 oz oil of cloves and 1/4 oz oil of lavender flowers. Mix them well together. For this amount of perfume you require about four quarts of melted beeswax. Pour the oils into the melted beeswax while warm, stirring it while pouring.

This perfume is in a solid transparent form, any by rubbing on the handkerchief it imparts an exquisite perfume. By carrying it in a pocket it perfumes the entire wearing apparel. By keeping it in a drawer or box all articles therein obtain the benefits of this perfume.

A Bed Warmer For Children; Take a piece of strong material about half a yard square, double it and stitch firmly around. Put into it about 4lb of silver sand (fine sand) and then sew it up firmly to keep the sand from running out. If put in the oven for about one hour it gets nicely hot, and will keep up for several hours.

Chewing gum can be used to repair holes in petrol tanks; it hardens when in contact with petrol. They was used as a "quick fix" during WWII to repair holed fuel tanks on spitfires.

A small piece of leather around a screw can be used to temporarily plug a leak.

DIY Beautiful Blue Writing fluid; Dissolve basic or soluble Prussian blue in rainwater. This is the most permanent and beautiful blue ink.

Black Ink; Shellac 4oz, borax 2 oz, water one quart (one litre). Boil until dissolved, add 2 oz gum arabic dissolved in a little hot water. Boil. Add enough of a well triturated (rubbed to a fine powder) mixture of equal parts of indigo and lamp-black to produce the proper colour. After standing seven hours, draw off and bottle.

Substitute for wax on corks; Instead of bottle wax, which crumbles on the insertion of the corkscrew, and the particles of which may fall into the liquor, cover the cork with a solution of gelatin (or substitute with agar) , dissolved in glycerin by the application of heat.

To Preserve Harness; Harness requires the application of neatsfoot oil every year, and it should be washed every three or four weeks in strong suds of Castile soap, and kept in a dry place. It will thus be prevented from becoming hard, dry or rotten.

Washing Linen; The Dutch and Belgian washerwomen, who get up linen beautifully, do not use soda, but borax. In the proportion of a handful of refined borax to about 10 gallons of boiling water. They save nearly half the quantity of soap, and the borax does not injure in the least even fine lace or cambric.

From; The Best of Everything, published in London by Frederick Warne & Co, 1874.

1001 Old-time Household Hints: Timeless Bits of Household Wisdom for Today's Home and Garden. Collected from a number of vintage cookbooks and housekeeping manuals, there’s at least one tip from New Jersey homemaker Mary Anna Clement’s “Receipt Book, circa 1840. To keep the seats of cane chairs clean and tight, Clement would turn them upside down and wash the seat thoroughly with soap and water. “Let it air-dry and it will be clean and firm as new,” according to the book.

Find the best hints, tips and secrets for everything from cooking, cleaning and home maintenance to pet care, gardening and holiday celebrations. You’ll also find ways to adapt and improve some old-time methods.

Discover an amazing variety of useful and clever ideas, including how to:

Propagate Rex begonias from their leaves alone.

Clean copper pans, using buttermilk and salt.

Make real sourdough bread the way the pioneers did.

Organize common space in your home.

Use ivory soap for polishing silver and insect control.

Build a rain barrel from a 55-gallon recycled food container and other materials.

Safely separate drinking glasses that have been stuck together

Most helpful might be the information for living with pets; In addition to tips for encouraging better behavior, there is advice for improving a pet’s oral hygiene. Try giving meat scraps such as chunks of cooked beef heart or chicken gizzards. According to the book, this practice of grandmothers actually helps clean the cat or dog’s teeth because the tough meat is full of connective tissue that requires lots of chewing. The meat should be offered in 1- to 2-inch squares once or twice a week.



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