Things I picked up along the way

Random tips I never went looking for

When one of my daughters was about to add fabric conditioner to a towel wash, I pointed out that it applies a protective coating to the fabric which will hinder it from absorbing moisture (which is what a towel is for, after all).

It later occured to me that I wouldn’t have thought of that myself had I not been selling the stuff as part of my pre-lockdown door-to-door sales. It’s interesting what one picks up on the way through life while searching for something else (mostly income).

I also made the acquaintance of that ‘magic eraser ‘ that effortlessly wipes off stains that I previously had to scrub with cleaning fluid. I know it is also sold in supermarkets, but I would never have bought it from there if I hadn’t learned about it previously. Did you know that art restorers use it for restoring paintings?

Back when I was between careers, bring up small children, I sold (among other things) a range of skincare and cosmetics called Vanda (does anyone remember Vanda?) It was sold on the party plan and we were taught the basics of giving someone a facial and applying their make-up. Among the tips I’ve always recalled is that if I don’t apply face powder (preferably loose, with a brush) to cover the foundation, it isn’t worth applying foundation in the first place because it won’t stay put.

More recent experience has taught me that dusting my face with… well… fine dust, will only clog the wrinkles and make them more noticeable. Or maybe it’s just that I recall my gran’s dusty complexion after wielding her powder compact before going out. (That was it! Powder and lipstick. No foundation and, by then, a fine peach fuzz that covered her chin.) Now I’ve discovered I can buy a finishing spray from Boots (probably other make up finishing sprays are available) which sets my foundation without a layer of powder. Ideal for us oldies.

It’s useful to be reminded that, whatever my experience, there are still things to discover.


I’ve picked up a lot of information while writing and editing, and while formatting our writing group’s anthologies for publication. But there’s always more I have forgotten, or never knew, or that has changed since I was at school.

Then there’s general research. I often have to look something up to make sure I’m getting it right. Penning a recent story about flies, I discovered along the way that flies are said to dislike the smell of rosemary. Since I have a large bush of the stuff (which I rarely use for cooking) I brought some in to dot around in posy vases.

I’m not saying the flies have stopped coming, but there seem to be fewer of them, and those that do invade seem to buzz off quite quickly.



What have you picked up along the way, while you were doing something else?


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18 thoughts on “Things I picked up along the way

  1. I knew about the fabric conditioner and have never used it for that reason, and because it adds up on the shopping bill which was always quite tight in my younger days. I never knew about the rosemary and flies though and I shall definitely be trying out that one. My Mum used to worry about smells created for the house so I grew up never using smelly candles or room scents. She worked on the premises of fresh air and natural smells. If she felt a room was musty all the windows would be opened a gale allowed to blow through and then a wash of all paint work with fresh lemons in hot water. That always seemed to work. In fact nearly all our cleaning was with lemons, salt and bicarbonate of soda. It was also cheaper than the branded stuff sold at the shops. I still use mainly lemons, salt and bicarbonate with the occasional bit of white vinegar too. Possibly because they don’t cause skin reactions in me that other cleaners do.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I rarely wash down walls and paintwork, and when I do finally notice the need, it requires that ‘magic eraser’ sponge.
      I don’t like room scents either; I’d rather bring in a couple of smelly roses or sweet peas from the garden when I can. When I can’t I look for freesias from the supermarket, but these days they don’t all have a scent. I suppose it’s to do with the cross-breeding for different colours. I sniff before I buy.
      I’m not keen on smelly candles either – and I have dogs. But I’d rather know if they’re smelly and deal with that than try to mask it. I do occasionally light a joss stick though – sandalwood’s my favourite.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Since I was a teenager I’ve always preferred natural ways to deal with things.
    I remember way back in the day – when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth – I checked out a book at the library about the usefulness of weeds. I brought it home and right away went into our backyard and saw a ‘weed’ with one single stalk about 4-5 feet high. At the top of the stalk it was frilly at the top.
    I looked in the book (it was of local ‘weeds’) and I identified the it.
    The book said that if you pull it out of the ground from the base you’ll see something similar to carrots, but paler in color. They can be eaten just like you would carrots.
    So, I went in the backyard, pulled up about 5 of those ‘weeds’, took them inside, washed them, cut them up and ate them raw. They did taste very much like carrots, but had a much milder flavor.
    I don’t believe there are such things as weeds. We only call them weeds because they are extremely prolific and not as beautiful as the legitimate plants. Even the ones that have a tendency to choke the other ‘useful’ plants out may have a purpose.
    I hope I don’t gross anyone out here, but as a teenager, I got in the habit of using natural sea sponges to stop the flow of my….you know…down there.
    One time I had a horrible infestation of fleas. I didn’t have the money to buy all those expensive products and I read up about natural ways to get rid of fleas. Table salt. Yup. I went to the store and bought as much table salt as I could. I went home and literally covered the whole carpet in the living room with the salt.
    They said the best way to use it is to grind it down to a fine powder, but I didn’t have the means to do so. I just poured it straight onto the carpet.
    The results weren’t immediate, but within 2 weeks I noticed my ankles weren’t getting as bitten as before. By the end of 4 weeks the fleas were all dead. They ingest the salt and the salt dries them out and blows them up like a balloon. All that was left to do was vacuum up the salt.
    Another remedy I learned is, if you have a fresh stain on your clothes, take white vinegar in a spray bottle, lay the garment flat and spray it thoroughly until it is soaked. Let it sit for at least 6 hours. When the time is up take baking soda and pour it on top of the white vinegar. Let that sit for another 6 or so hours.
    What happens is that the acid in the vinegar works to break down the stain. The baking soda works to absorb all of the vinegar including the smell.
    At the end of 6 or 8 hours go outside with a brush to get the baking soda off. It really works! And, the baking soda absorbs the smell, so everything smells fresh.
    Thanks for this post, Cathy! Learning a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding fleas, you can also use baking soda. That’s a much finer powder that is more effective and works much faster.
    There’s also another product that is even better because it’s even finer than baking soda. That is diatomaceous earth. I strongly suggest you don’t use that inside. I tried it once. Because the product is so very fine it can more readily get inside the cell structure of the fleas body, literally like glass shards cutting their insides.
    I don’t suggest it for inside use because it gets into every nook and cranny of your home. Vacuuming it up was a laborious chore as well. I’ll stick with salt. It takes a little longer, but it’s far less mess. When the fleas ingest it, they swell up and dry up inside at the same time. Some wither up and die, others burst.
    Another thing I found out too. If you have termites get lemons, limes, or oranges. Squeeze the juice into a bowl, get a sponge and soak the area that’s affected by the termites. Termites hate citric acid.
    Personally, I would only use the juices of lemons or limes. There is too much sugar content in oranges. Just my personal preference.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In the past I went to a site for natural remedies for repelling fleas on my cats.
        The site is called ‘Only Natural Pet’. It’s great. I got the product that you put behind the pets shoulder blades. It’s only a once a month treatment and it worked beautifully!
        I’ve heard so many bad things about Hartz and how many animals have died from the treatment. I’m not sure because I don’t buy the product and never have, but I think they’re required to put a warning on the label because of it.
        When it comes to my furbaby’s, it’s natural all the way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I get the tablets from the vet. Again, it’s once a month. It used to be a dab-on-the-back-of-the-neck pipette but now they favour tablets, and they are easier to administer. The dogs didn’t seem to like the drops; I’d have to catch them first, but these tablets must taste good. I don’t know Hartz – there are a number of supply companies in the UK. These come from somewhere in Europe.


          1. Do yourself a favor. If you ever see the Hartz brand anywhere in the UK….RUN!!!!! That isn’t a good product.

            Do you want to know how I would administer pills to my cat that the vet prescribed?

            I’d crush them up and add a little water and mix it around. Then I’d get a syringe and put the solution inside the syringe. Then I’d get my cat, open her mouth and shoot the medicine in her mouth.

            She hated it when I did that, but it was the easiest way for me to give my cats their medicine. The cat I have now, Luna, isn’t taking any medicine for anything. Thank goodness.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Soaking brass items in Coke – the original stuff, not the Diet. I used this when I was a Verger in the College Chapel to clean the thurible – the incense ‘handbag’ that gets swung about in churches and cathedrals, usually during the Communion/Mass/ High Table. When it burns, incense in its natural state sticks to brass like glue and is ~very~ difficult to get off. However, a couple of hours soaked in a bucket of Coke meant I could get on with other things whilst waiting for it to do its stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d never thought about your point on fabric conditioner, it makes a lot of sense though – I use it very sparingly or not at all, just because those chemicals end up very close to the skin or inhaled through bedding etc. On the same note though, mixing a little fabric conditioner with water in a spritzer bottle can make for a great carpet/rug freshener! ✨✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a bit wary of putting stuff on carpets – including carpet cleaners that are supposed to be vacuumed up. I just imagine the residue cleaning the bottom of our shoes whenever we walk across it. Watered down white vinegar can help get rid of smells; I use it on my dogs when I’m nowhere near bathing facilities. It’s OK as long as you don’t mind them smelling like a chip shop while it’s working.

      Liked by 1 person

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