Amy Tries Again

2001 Handy Household Hints! – or – Things I Like, Part 1.
March 21, 2010, 3:03 PM
Filed under: Things I Like | Tags: ,

Before I regale you all with tales of me being frightened of horror movies, I thought I would demonstrate to you, O Reader, that there is some warmth in my hate-filled heart.  There are things in this world that fill me with joy and happiness, and, being a Sunday, I thought it a good time to introduce the first in a series of very inconsequential little things that soothe me.

(At the risk of sounding horrible, let’s just take it as read that I am all for things like family, world peace, true love, puppies, kittens, and flowers.  I don’t want this to turn into the blog version of some hideous forwarded email about guardian angels.)

Right!  Let me introduce you to an old friend.  Many people turn to religious texts in times of stress.  I have a tome of my own.  It is a balm to my weary soul.  It is 1975’s finest work: 2001 Handy Household Hints, compiled by Anne May (and rather splendidly illustrated by Christine Lott).

Encyclopedia Domestica.

It is, essentially, a compendium of soothing facts, facts that I will never need to know – facts that were probably fairly outdated in 1975.  Imagine you’re stressed.  You’re angry.  The world is harsh and unfair.  Now, read this:

A simple, pleasing and inexpensive decoration for a birthday cake can be found in a garden.  Choose some smallish flowers, wash them lightly and brush well with egg white, then dip in sugar.  When they crystallize, scatter over the cake.

Don’t you feel better just knowing that somebody is all over that sort of thing?  Still a bit stressed?  Try another:

To seal a crack in a saucepan, get oxide of lead from the chemist, mix with glycerine until consistency of cream, then add a little of each until you have a substance like putty.  Work well into the crack and allow to stand at least a week before using.

How practical!  How resourceful!  How alarming!  Whether you’re eating any old brightly coloured shrubbery or she’ll-be-right-ing your saucepans with creamed lead, the hints have a wonderful air of danger about them.

(I should add that the bolded words are as in the original text –  it’s like a website with an incredibly rudimentary search function.  You just open the book to the relevant section and scan until you find what you want.  Even this appeals to me.)

And the illustrations!

Self adhesive paper wrapped around a bottle, sticky side out, makes a good lint remover.

I have actually purchased this book twice.  On both occasions I got it at the Lifeline BookFest .  Now, I have quite the obsession with ironic books, so I LOVE the BookFest.  I go in and purchase bags and bags of 1960s welcome-to-puberty instruction manuals, gloriously hideous technicolour cookbooks from the ’50s featuring anything and everything floating in jelly and every jolly-hijinks-at-an-English-boarding-school book I can get my hands on.  Then I take them all home and never read them.  They invariably end up in big dusty boxes underneath my mother’s house because I don’t want to throw them away.  Eventually, I throw them away or donate them back to Lifeline, and the cycle begins again.  (Yes, I am probably a bit of a hoarder.)

It has just occurred to me that I may have actually purchased THE SAME COPY of this book twice.  Heh.

Anyway!  This book soothes me and makes me happy.  Whilst I appreciate the…interesting…Christmas craft projects:

Collect all the golf balls you can, and wrap them firmly in aluminium foil.  They make a decorative bowl with the addition of a ribbon or piece of holly, or can be used to advantage in other decorative arrangements.

I’ll leave you with a fact that is sure to make you feel as if someone’s just cooked you a hearty stew, cleaned your bathroom and made your bed.

When piping loose covers, wash piping cord first to pre-shrink it.  The piping will not buckle when covers are laundered.  In fact, any embroidered edging should be pre-shrunk before using to prevent puckering.

I have no idea what most of that means: but damn, I feel safe.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Amy? I love you.

Comment by Raynor

I never pipe loose covers!

Comment by Ash

Ditto Raynor. 😀

Comment by Kate

I adore such books too!

Thanks for the piping hint which I’ll pass along to my brother, he’s been having trouble sleeping and I wouldn’t mind betting it’s because his loose covers have puckered and he’s too emabarrassed to let on.

Comment by Jiny

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