Category Archives: handy hints

The V Word

I used it today!

“Why?”  I hear you ask.

Well let me explain and then I will show you……

I know I told the world to vacuum the iron every so often to clean out the dry rusty deposits.  Well between use and the moist damp weather in these parts my iron never had the chance to dry out properly in the past fortnight.  It does have a ‘self-clean’ mode and I decided to use it.  To do this you need to fill the water chamber.  Sitting on the counter at the time just happened to be my spray bottle of Vinegar.

Hmmm, I thought add a splash to the water.  I added three splashes and proceeded to fill the water chamber.  Plugging in the iron I left it to stand on end at full heat for a few minutes. Three minutes became five before I came back to the iron.

Holding the hot water filled iron over the sink I began the process of self cleaning.  The grunge that came out the spray holes in the sole-plate was unbelievable.  Once empty I took this photo to show you.  That looks like a crusty lime deposit. We are not in an area for furry deposits on the elements of the kettle or coffee maker.

It was not easy to remove once the iron cooled.  I used an old toothbrush (never throw them out when you replace them in the bathroom) it was just right for the job.  When I was happy that I had removed all the deposits,  I refilled the iron with clean water and repeated the process.  The wash through was cleaner but to be sure I did it a third time and cleaned the sole-plate once more.

Now I am all set to iron the Roman blinds from the kitchen, since I took them down and washed them the other day.

Did anyone see that ladder?

How to iron a shirt

On Tuesday, rather stuck for an idea to post I mentioned my task of ironing.

Alice from My Wintersong has challenged me to give instructions for ironing a shirt.  I warn you I do it exactly like my mother did!

Way back… when I was little more than the height of the ironing board, I was taught to use the iron.  First it was the handkerchiefs. it was back in the days before boxes of tissues became the norm.  From that I graduated to my brothers pyjamas!  A pyjama jacket was in fact a dress rehearsal for ironing shirts.  Back then shirts were worn by all men and boys; all day every day.   They were white, heavy cotton and difficult to keep in pristine condition.  Collars and cuffs needed to be starched and that was an art in itself.

In the early days of Black & White Television, the Newsreaders wore light blue shirts.  “Why?”  I hear you ask.  A white shirt came over on screen as a dull well worn greyish colour, while the light blue shirt appeared to be as white as the driven snow.

So to the task in hand…

Is the ironing board cover clean?  Have you been using it to press blue jeans?  The colour does transfer eventually.  Turn jeans inside out before washing and pressing and any fading will then be on the inside.  The same applies to all black items, it certainly slows down the greying process.

Nowadays most of us use a steam iron.  When did you last vacuum yours?   OK!  OK!  I hear you laughing, but it is important.  Any water remaining in the iron at the end of a pressing session should be emptied and the iron allowed to air and dry.  Now we all know that water leaves stains… the shower will verify this fact.  When the iron has been sitting for a few days, take the vacuum hose to the sole plate and vacuum the water holes.  It will remove the dried out rust specks that remain when the water evaporates.  Those same specks are what leaves rust or dirty marks on freshly ironed clothes…. and as we all know they love the front of a blouse or shirt!

So we have the ironing board set to a comfortable height, and the iron heating to the required temperature.  The little label down low on an inside seam will give you that answer.  Even so, always check the dial and press an inconspicuous part of all garments before ironing for the first time OR if someone else has used the iron before you, they may not have returned the dial to where you want it.

So now we need the shirt…

This should be fun, trying to take photos with my left hand as I iron with my right one!

The pin tucks should tell you that this is a dress shirt.  I always begin with the buttonhole band, underside up and holding it taut I apply a little pressure and work my way from the tail to the collar.  Then I repeat this process with the button band, with the buttons facing the board, then there is no chance of removing them with the iron.

Step two is the collar.  Place the collar front side facing you.  The upper fabric is marginally bigger than the stiffening layer to allow for a neat fit as it bends around the neck.  The most common problem is that some people iron from one side to the other in one movement and end up with a mini bulge at the seam.  Unfortunately this error shows up at eye level…. not something you need when attending an important interview!

So begin with I press the neck band before going back to one edge of the collar and press with a little pressure to the centre and then from the other edge to the centre.  This way you get a crisp professional finish.

Then it is on to the yoke; slip the shirt carefully on to the ironing board to fill out one shoulder.  Press from the shoulder edge to the centre careful to avoid adding further creases to the fabric.  Remove and do the same from the other side.

Now it is on to the sleeves.  I admit to not using a sleeve board for everyday shirts.  I do have one and make good use of it for other items.  I straighten out the sleeve along the underarm seam and press from there to the center shoulder line and work my way along the sleeve to the cuff.  Thankfully I have never needed to press a shirt for a member of the PSNI a regulation shirt requires not one crease line but two creases, equidistant along each arm of the uniform shirt.

Now for the final stretch… The body of the shirt.  Begin on the left front and work from the shoulder end down the front to the tail.

Then move the shirt until the side seam in near the back of the board ans slowly iron your way to the other side seam, and continue to the right front working from the tail end to the shoulder.

And Voila:

The finished item.

This description seems to make a major task out of ironing, but it really takes only about five minutes to complete one shirt.  Thankfully my days of ironing fifteen or more shirts in one session are over.  In those days the finished items were folded and looked like they were just out of a package.  Nowadays I just hang the freshly ironed shirt on a hanger and place in a wardrobe when fully aired.

You want to see the shirt on me now?  Sorry I need to find my bow tie first, so it will have to wait for another day!

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 40

Forty weeks down the line… long enough to produce twins! 🙄  Today there is a little suprise in store.  I have a date with some Toyboys so while I am playing, I am letting you do all the work.

Now you have the chance to come up with 5 handy hints….. just like that!  😆

I am thinking of a change of topic for a Wednesday.  The household hints have run their course.

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 39

Make the soles of new shoes slip proof by scraping the soles along the pavement a few times.

To keep beetroot and cabbage red while cooking, add lemon juice or vinegar to the water.

For stainless steel and chrome, use a moist cloth and dry baking soda to make it shine like new. Rinse and dry. On stainless steel, rub in the direction of the grain.

Do you find eating tacos a little messy?  Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods

Now toyboys, why spend money on expensive aftershave? A little apple cider vinegar dabbed on freshly shaved skin will keep it disinfected and looking good,

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 38

Summer is the season of grass stains.  To remove grass stains from clothing, brush some white non gel toothpaste into the stain with an old soft toothbrush, then rinse and launder in the usual way.

With holiday time here once more, trips to the beach or the mountains for a picnic or hiking may be on the cards.  Pack a couple of bandannas.  They carry no weight but could prove very useful as facecloths, napkins, bandages or even as a sling for an injured arm.  Worn foreign-legion style under a baseball cap will save the back of the neck from sunburn.

If you intend going hiking, tell someone where you are going and ETR (estimated time of return).  Make sure your mobile/cell phone is charged, but allow for the loss of signal and bring a good whistle.  A brightly coloured t-shirt will make you easier to find in the case of emergency.

Timely reminder of ICE Numbers… You have forgotten the Podcast I made back in September ’06.  It is worth a listen it only takes two minutes and it might save your life!

How do you choose a lemon?  Feel the weight of it.  If it is heavy then there will be plenty of juice.  If your lemon is light and seems dry, then boil it for a few minutes and you will get more juice from it.

Right, I mentioned ice and lemon, I am off now to add them to my gin!  Cheers!

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 37

Keep salt moisture free. Put two grains if rice in the shaker. It will absorb moisture.

Need a spectacle cleaner? Vinegar diluted in water rubbed on the lens and then polished off with a soft lint free cloth. Voila! Like new again.

Easily reduce ashtray smell. Keep a small amount of baking soda in ashtrays at all times.

Anyone tried this tip to stop cabbage odours? Throw a couple of walnut kernels in pot while cooking.

When you need soft butter quickly…. If your butter is frozen or very solid, grate it.

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 36

This week we begin with some great advice from Maxine!

If you have difficulty removing a stubborn screw, I often heard to pour Coke on it. But now I have a new solution and that is to heat the screw with a soldering iron for a few seconds first, and then it will untwist easily.

Has your pet lost its appetite? Try giving it a saucer of beer. It is known to perk up the appetite.

Are your pets pestered with fleas?   Put a foam rubber pad in the pets bed and the fleas will abscond mighty fast they hate foam.

Do you have stubborn staples stuck to a dry cleaning ticket on the inside of your clothes? . An old nail clippers will work well to remove the staple.

No complaints now please…. the vinegar has gone on holidays!

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 35

So how many times do I mention the V word this week……?

To keep a burn from blistering, spray with or steep in vinegar.

When you buy chips/French Fries from your local take away do you ask for salt and vinegar with them?  They might be tasty, but I wonder what it does for your stomach since salt and vinegar make a really good copper cleaner.

Do kitchen stools slip or slide on your tiled floor?  Try putting rubber ferrels or tips from crutches on bottom of legs.

Are cooking odours a problem. I have mentioned before to light a candle while cooking, but if you do not have one try boiling a hand full of cloves in water for 30 minutes. All odours will disappear.

We had a debate the other week about slicing onions under water.  Nancy if the bath is in use, I have another idea try freezing the onions before slicing them.

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 34

How about a Nancy pin-cushion?    Since Nancy only had one bar of soap and needed it in the bath, why not try using steel wool to fill your pin cushion, it will keep needle points sharp.

Wash sweaters inside out and leave them that way until finished ironing.   Place a layer of muslin or an ironing cloth smoothly over the item to be ironed.  For machine washing – use the wool cycle only.

You can use certain fragrances to deter moths. Dried lavender blossoms in cotton bags or Cedar wood blocks hung in wardrobes or placed in drawers will do the trick.

Did you ever try cutting a hot or warm cake? Use a thread or dental floss, hold both ends tightly and lower through slowly.

Does peeling onions make you cry? Peel them submerged in a bowl of water. The ONIONS Nancy, not you! 🙄

Handy Hints for Wednesday ~ 33

Week 33.  How I wish I was ‘Turty tree’ again! 🙄

Once again I have five more handy hints for you:

When cooking if you over-salt food, add a spoonful of honey or drop a chopped potato or two into the pot.  As the potato cooks it absorbs the salt.

Over ripe bananas that you don’t want to waste?  Mash and freeze for making cakes and biscuits.

To remove coffee or tea stains from cups, fill with very hot water and a splash of white vinegar. Leave to stand for at least 20 minutes, or overnight.

To lengthen life of wooden clothes pegs. Place them in an old saucepan, cover with water & a spoonful of salt bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and leave in a single layer on an old towel to dry.

Do you need a neat string dispenser? Nail a funnel to wall and pull string out of bottom of funnel.