The Plan - to provide the answers

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"Hints and Things is my way of trying to share all those little pearls of wisdom
that used to be passed from generation to generation"
June Jackson

20th Anniversary 2000 - 2020

For all those pet matters and any animal related subjects, visit the Kennel Why not come out to the garden for tips and advice on many subjects relating to gardening and nature For all things musical this is your place If it is culinary information you need e.g. recipes, shortcuts, weights and measure etc. My Games room includes puzzles, brain teasers, game cheats and much much more For hints and things for everyday life try here Bathroom contains information, hints, tips and advice on things such as hair, make-up, beauty, weight and much much more For reference matters try the library For all those stain removal, cleaning and laundry tips everyone loves The workshop contains hints,tips, and information on DIY, hobbies and crafts Visit the garage for many hints and things relating to cars and motoring If it doesn't belong in any other room, try here! For information, hints, tips, advice and help relating to raising children including games, nursery rhymes etc., to keep them amused Another great reference room with many subjects covered from small business and home finance to reference resources In order to help you locate the information, hint or tip you are looking for, we have used a house plan format with information being placed in the most appropriate room. With so much information it is hard to give an indication of each rooms contents but hover over a room and a list of the hints and tips that you may find will appear. Of course you can always just search Hints and Things by using the search link below

Hi there, thanks for popping in, just click on the appropriate room in the above plan OR the room name at the head of each section below to be taken to a list of the articles available within that section. There are 800+ pages within the site so it is impossible to mention everything but that is the fun of it, go and explore you never know what you may find behind the door.

If you are looking for something in particular use the search facility below to search the whole site.



Beauty tips, health, exercise, make-up and bathroom DIY, accessories etc.,

How to make the most of your make up


Bronzer is sort of a wonder product when it comes to different uses. First off, you can use bronzer to create the illusion of thin legs; all you have to do is apply a little bronzer on your calves and thighs, and you’ve got skinnier-looking legs.

Brunettes can really appreciate bronzer as a hair product because dusting a little over the head creates a beautiful shiny effect.

One more thing you can do with bronzer is mix it with matte nail polish to create sparkling finger nails. Just don’t go overboard when mixing in the bronzer!

read more.....


Garden, gardening, plants and planting, garden structures, hard landscaping, hot tubs.

Useful gardening tips such as .......

A piece of wood placed upright in a plastic water barrel will prevent the barrel splitting when it freezes.

An old plastic sweet jar (available from most sweetshops) makes an ideal propagator.  Lay sweet jar horizontally and place plant tray inside.  Replace lid.

To "age" new garden statues, smear with natural yoghurt.  Algae will quickly cover the item making it look older.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen so good as plant fertiliser.

Banana skins around roses gives them a boost.

Cola around plants also give them a boost.

More gardening tips.......




Cars, vehicles, motoring, fuel, driving, car maintenance.

What to look out for when buying used cars

This is always a mine field and nothing guarantees success but there are a few things to look out for before parting with your hard earned cash.

Read the whole article.......

Should you buy new or used?

To avoid MOT re-test charges for minor reasons check lights, windscreen wipers, tyre condition and pressure, seatbelts and that all doors open and close correctly BEFORE getting the MOT.

There is also information on what to look out for when buying a used car, a fuel conversion chart, and fuel saving tips



Soft furnishing, furniture, decor, entertaining, lifestyle, cocktails, decluttering, storage, weddings.

Storage Ideas

Flat topped trunks, storage cases, boxes with lids, can double up as coffee tables and storage. 

If this is to be frequently used as a table it would be best used to store items that are not required too often otherwise it may be slightly inconvenient. 

It is also important to remember not to store any items that can harm children e.g. craft items, unless it can be locked.

Read the rest of the article to find out other useful storage ideas......


The living room section also contains some more unusual pieces covering subjects such as ways to avoid accidents in the home, how to serve cocktails, non-alcoholic cocktails



Pet, animal and bird related information, hints, and tips as well as some more unusual articles such as lists of Collective Nouns and special pages for more inventive collective nouns many of which have been contributed by visitors.

Aadvarks to Butterflies
Car mechanics to Dung beetles
Editors to Gunzels
Hair stylists to Lumberjacks
Magicians to Ornithologists
Painters to Rock climbers
Sailors to System administrators
Talk show hosts to Urbanites
Vampires to Zombies


You can make a dog basket out of an old suitcase by cutting off the lid.  Paint the base ensuring any paint used is safe for pets.  Make a pillow case from some pretty fabric e.g. old curtains or duvet covers. Put the pillow case on an old pillow or cushion and place this in the newly painted base.   Hey presto - a unique and economical dog bed.



Books, reference, language, words, spelling, learning, countries, capital cities, currency, differences between American and British English place name pronunciation and much, much more.

PALINDROME (a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward) -

Neil, a trap! Sid is part alien!

Was it a rat I saw?

So many dynamos

Lager, sir, is regal

Go hang a salami, Bob, I'm a Lasagna hog

More Mnemonics, Palindromes and word related items of interest.

How to make paper look old and other book related tips.


Some libraries are now 'self service'. Unless you remember to press 'receipt wanted' you go off without any note of a return by date.

Notable dates and bank holidays for 2020.



Jobs, interviews, business, paper sizes, property, finance etc.


There are several articles on the complex subject of insurance within Hints and Things.  Home and general insurance can be found in the 'Office' or 'Library' section and those covering motor and vehicle insurance can be found in the Garage section.

Paper Sizes - A lot of us are familiar with A4 size paper (some of us even remember Quarto and Foolscap), but  what about the less common sizes such as A1, B2, C5, executive, legal, letter, Government Legal etc.?

How to avoid home working scams



Indoor, outdoor and online games; sports and puzzles.

Tips on how to improve your golf

Here are a few tips which may help to improve your golf but I make no promises:-

To help get your balance right practice by standing on two bricks (one under each foot).

To improve the speed of your stroke practice with a bamboo cane instead of a golf club - the cane allows you to hear the speed of your swing.

If you place your golf bag close to your side this will help to correct exaggerated hip movement.

The Games Room also has other useful information such as:

How to Set Up a Dartboard

9 Ball Pool Trick Shots

Number magic



In the middle of cooking and find you don't have a specific ingredient, sometimes there is a suitable alternative you can use, e.g.

Need sour milk or cream                      

Just add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to each half pint of fresh milk or cream and stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Or use natural yoghurt or smetana.


Recipe requires self raising flour and you only have plain. 

Plain flour can be used with the addition of baking powder.   The amount to add varies depending upon what is being cooked, however, a usual amount would be 1 level teaspoon of baking powder to 4oz. flour.

Other useful substitute suggestions.

How to make a little go a long way.

Release juices from a hard lemon by microwaving on high for a maximum of 30 seconds.

Don't rinse raw meat or poultry under the tap before cooking as bacteria can splash on surfaces and/or utensils. Correct cooking will kill anything untoward.



Bedroom related information and all other sundries including travel, weddings, party tips, shopping and fashion.


To check if an item is real amber drop it in a glass of cola.  If it floats it is amber but if it sinks it is plastic.

To make it easier to untangle a knotted necklace chain, dip it in a little cooking or baby oil.

Re-string a bead necklace or bracelet using fishing line, which is easy to thread, inconspicuous and very strong.

If you drop and can’t find a small earring or fastener, secure a piece cut from an old pair of tights/pantyhose over the end of your vacuum cleaner pipe with a rubber band. Vacuum over the area and the earring will stick to the tights/pantyhose.

More of the same.......

10 girly holiday holiday tips




Babies, parenting, rhymes, education, training, head lice, development, children and child care.

Have a sheet of paper laminated (this can be done very cheaply), and then this can be used over and over again if used with dry wipe marker pens. This is especially useful when travelling or camping.

To help young children to change quickly from shoes to plimsolls (pumps, daps, gym shoes, trainers - whatever they are called in your part of the world); use elastic instead of laces.

To get children to divide something fairly, let one child cut the item in question and then let the other child have the first choice as to which piece they want.


Some children these days seem to have a lot of toys, some of which never see the light of day.  To keep children interested and to get the best out of their toys divide them into two different toy boxes and rotate them every two or three weeks.

To encourage finicky eaters put a variety of food in a dish to make it interesting for them.  For instance you could use an ice cube tray and put things such as nuts, raisins, currents, cheese etc. into each compartment.

Pieces of bread soaked in milk and baked in the oven until crisp, make ideal rusks especially for babies that are teething.  As well as being cheap they have the added bonus of no added sugar.

More of these tips can be found here.

Unfortunately, cyberbulling and bullying seems to be getting worse, check these pages out for some ways to deal with the problem and so very useful resources from experts on the subject.


Pepper neutraliser - to take the sting out of your hands after handling chilli peppers, rub in surgical spirit.

Windowsill cleaner - To brighten up rain spotted or discoloured wooden windowsills, wipe with a soft cloth and little surgical spirit diluted with water.

Bathroom cleaner - surgical spirit will remove hair spray from mirrors and restore the shine on chrome taps.

Crystal/Porcelain cleaner - carefully clean delicate crystal and porcelain objects with a cloth dampened with surgical spirit.

Stainless Steel cleaner - use surgical spirit to remove spots from stainless steel.





*When using bamboo skewers on a BBQ or grill, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before using to prevent them catching fire.

*Stop meat sticking on barbecues by wiping some cooking oil over the bars with kitchen paper BEFORE the grill gets hot.

*Light coals well ahead of time and pile them up towards one side of the tray as this provides an area on which to cook items more slowly or to keep them warm.

*Do not keep turning or touching meat on barbecues.  Leave to cook on one side for about 60% of the time before turning and cooking the other side for the remaining 40%.

*To remove a white ring on furniture, cover stain with dry, clean cloth and iron over the stain using a dry iron on a MEDIUM setting.

*Hydrangeas are renowned for drooping once picked they can, however, be revived by placing them upside down in deep water for 3 hours.

*To remove bird droppings from vehicle body work put some undiluted shampoo onto the droppings;  leave for a few minutes then was the vehicle in the usual way.

*To freeze fruit, skin bananas, wash berries and put lemon juice on apples and pears (prevents browning).

*To make your own sun dried tomatoes cut tomatoes in quarters and remove seeds.  Place in a single layer in a NON metallic dish (tomatoes react with metal).  Cover with cling film, pierce holes in the film and leave in direct sunlight. 


One of the most useful musical mnemonic I have ever come across;

Father  Charles  Goes  Down  And  Ends Battle.

or even in reverse.

Battle  Ends, And  Down  Goes  Charles'  Father.

Basic music notation explained.

3 things to consider before buying your first acoustic guitar.


DIY, decorating, tools, refurbishment, tradesmen, security, hobbies and crafts etc.

Money Saving Tips

We all know that one of the cheapest and yet most effective ways to save money and energy and yet keep your home warm, is to buy insulation such as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. There are, however, many other things we can do to save on heating costs.

Did you know that a cut side of a raw potato can be used to remove rust?



NEW - clear instructions, including illustrations, on how to deep clean an Aga or other range cooker.

Cleaning tips, laundry, home remedies, and stain removal.

*If you place half a cup of bi-carbonate of soda (baking soda) in the washing machine with your detergent brightens and whitens.

*Soaking in salt prior to washing prevents colours running.

*Try removing stains on upholstery using white vinegar then use a small amount of foam from a soapy liquid on a clean, white cloth and leave to dry.

*Clean canvas shoes with dilute washing up liquid (hand dishwashing liquid) and an old toothbrush. Rinse with clear water.  Pack with paper and leave to dry.

Other uses for Tumble Dryer Sheets*

*These are the fabric conditioner sheets used in tumble dryers.

To remove baked on food from a pan, fill with very hot water and one dryer sheet and leave to soak for an hour or two.  Pour off the water, toss the sheet and wipe out the pan.  All the baked on food comes off easily.  If it does not come clean, leave to soak overnight.

Thank you "bluejayfoxy" and also Doreen and Craig Stocker

When cleaning dust and animal hair from free standing fans, window unit air conditioner filters or venetian blinds, use a dryer sheet.  It not only removes dust and hair faster, but after prolonged use it creates a protective coating on the wires of the fan for even easier dust removal.

 Debbie George, Doreen and Craig Stocker

Dust your television and computer screens with a used dryer sheet as this will reduce the static and prevent dust resettling.

Clean shower doors with a used dryer sheet to dissolve soap scum.


1:  If you knit first and last stitches of knit row and purl first and last stitches of purl row it will produce a firm edge and ease the toils of sewing up.

2:  Yarn should never be knotted.  Always add yarn at the beginning of a row, ends can be sewn in later.

3:  Neck bands and 'V' necks - Always pick up the stitches with a finer needle even than that which is going to be used for the ribbing as this will avoid holes.

4:  Striped knitting - Always change the colour on a knit row.  This will avoid the two colours mixing on the right side.

More detailed knitting tips.



An instant and inexpensive way to rejuvenate old pine floorboards, kitchen units, wooden furniture and wall claddings etc.

A fashionable "distressed" or "weathered" look can be achieved by using gloss paint which has been thinned down with white spirits.

Cream, white, pale green and blues are the most successful colours.

Wear rubber gloves and protect your clothing and surrounding area when applying the paint as this thinned down solution is inclined to drip everywhere.

Method – mix 2 parts gloss paint to 1 part white spirit.

Prepare the woodwork by stripping off the old paint and sanding down any rough surfaces. Wipe clean and dry.

Work on a small area of approximately 3ft/1m area at a time

Apply the paint mix with a wide brush.

Allow this paint to sink into the wood (about 5 minutes)

Soak a rag in white spirit and wring out well.

Use this cloth to rub off excess paint from the newly painted area.

Allow to dry, then sand any uneven paint streaks and patches to give a uniform look.

When choosing wall paint colours, instead of just painting small areas onto a wall, paint a whole test pot onto some lining paper.  This can then be moved to different areas of the room to see how the colour looks in all types of light.

Richard Keane, one of my site visitors, has kindly contributed the following tips which were passed on to him by a 'pro' :

1. Between sessions of painting with gloss/oil based products keep the brush from hardening by immersing it in water for the full length of the bristles. It works - a little shake to rid it of droplets and off you go again.

2. Keep rollers between sessions in Pringles tubes - obviously only if the tube can be closed tightly with the original lid.





1:  Perk up popcorn with zest of two limes, chilli powder and garlic salt.  Mix all ingredients and shake with popcorn.

2:  Fizzy water cleans windscreens.

3:  Place a biscuit in with coffee to keep it dry.

4:  Cut a tennis ball in half to use as a sink plunger.

5:  Use moss from lawn to line hanging baskets.

6:  Keeps herbs fresh by rinsing, shake off excess water and wrap in kitchen paper and store in fridge.

7:  Umbrellas can be waterproofed by spraying with hair spray, however, test on a hidden area first as some spray and/or fabric can stain.

8:  Use vodka to ease jelly fish stings.

9:  Use bran to attract snails to a specific area.

10:  Place lemon or lime wedges in freezer to use in drinks.

11:  Place some kitchen paper in with lettuce or soft fruit to keep them fresh.

12:  When baking potatoes in an oven (NOT in a microwave), insert metal skewers into the potatoes to shorten cooking time.

13:  Parboil and freeze potatoes ready to roast at a later date.

14:  Beer dregs (if there are ever any available!) can be put in water and used as a lawn fertiliser.

15:  Boot/shoe polish (the wax variety) can be used to spruce up appropriate coloured car bumpers e.g. black or neutral polish for black bumpers.

16: Freeze left over chillies.

17: Cut chicken skin into small pieces, sprinkle with salt and spices and fry until crisp - this makes a tasty (and cheap) snack.

18: Put some frozen fruit, drizzle of honey and 2 tablespoons of yoghurt into a processor to quickly make ice cream.

19: Use a coin, possibly left over from a foreign holiday and therefore useless for anything else. Put it at the end of any roll of sticky tape, duct tape etc so the end is never lost and you don't spend hour picking at it with increasingly irritated nails. I find that positioning the tape so it's just halfway up the coin is the best method.  (thanks to Lynda for this one)

20:  If fresh tomato sauce is too bitter try adding a pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

21:  PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER BEFORE TRYING THIS and it is NOT recommended for valuable or antique pieces.

To remove black water stains from wood mix some Barkeepers Friend into a paste with a little water and spread over the stain.  Allow to dry then remove with a soft, damp cloth.  Use a soft, clean, damp cloth to ensure the paste is completely gone.  Bad stains may require several applications.  This should remove the stain but may also mean the item will need resurfacing. 

22.  An easier way to grate a piece of freshly peeled ginger is to freeze it and bring it out and grate when required.









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Home page last updated on 4th January, 2020


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