Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grandma's Tips

Grandma Keeling may have been the smartest person I ever knew! That tiny little woman who's feet hit the floor before the sun came up each morning knew a thing or two about stretching a dollar. Every summer I would spend time with my Grandparents at Lead Hill, savoring the sweet freedom from the rules of my parents and basking in Grandma’s love! Their little rock house smelled of fresh baked pie, cooled in the summer by their black Emerson fan that set on the kitchen table. Grandma’s kitchen had a white enamel table where she and Grandpa would have breakfast. She spoiled anyone who came into that house with meals fit for a King. Hot bread for every meal, big fluffy “cat-head” biscuits or golden cornbread baked in an old cast iron skillet that she had used since they married in 1921. The first thing I smelled when my eyes popped open at my Grandma's was coffee. She perked it on top of the stove every morning in an old coffeepot with a little glass knob on top. After breakfast she would dump the Coffee Grounds into a bucket that was destined for the garden...

Compost Material – Coffee grounds release nutrients that make the dirt richer and more acidic.  Just spread them evenly in your garden and your plants will reward you by producing robust blooms.
Coffee grounds + egg shells = no blossom rot on tomatoes!

Grandma kept her pie crusts from burning by covering the edges with aluminum foil.  This may be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s not the only way she used Aluminum Foil... 

Keep birds out of your fruit trees- Hang twisted strips of aluminum foil all over your fruit trees using fishing line. The light reflections and the sound will keep birds away from your fruit.
Protect saplings- Rodents and other animals sometimes chew on young trees in the winter. Protect your saplings by covering their bases with aluminum foil. Remember to change the covering
periodically as the tree grows.

Beer wasn't in Grandma's Fridgidare, but it was out in the shed. Grandpa would use it in the garden for pests...

Kill slugs and snails – Fill old pie pans or wide-mouthed bottles with beer about a quarter to half way up. Then bury these in your garden. The slugs or snails will be attracted to them and drown.
Kill mice – This may sound a little far-fetched but fill a bucket or pail about a third of the way with cheap beer with a board or something leading to the rim at the top. The mice, smelling this, will jump in, and not be able to climb out.

In the kitchen is where most of the magic happened at Grandma's. She knew every secret in the book...

If you happen to over-salt a pot of soup, just drop in a peeled potato. The potato will absorb the excess salt.

To banish ants from the kitchen, find out where they are coming in and cover the hole with petroleum jelly. Ants won’t trek through the jelly. If they are coming under a door, draw a line on the floor with chalk. The little bugs also won’t cross a line of chalk.

Before making popcorn on the stove or in an air popper, soak the kernels in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, then pop as normal. The additional moisture helps the popcorn pop up quicker and fluffier with fewer “old maids.”

Don’t store your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits. Separate your bananas and place each in a different location. Bananas release gases which cause fruits (including other bananas) to ripen quickly. Separating them will keep them fresh longer.

To keep potatoes from budding in the bag, put an apple in with them.
After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.

When making a soup, sauce, or casserole that ends up too fatty or greasy, drop in an ice cube. The ice will attract the fat, which you can then scoop out.

If two drinking glasses become stuck together after stacking, it’s not impossible to unstick them. Just put ice in the inner glass and dunk the outer glass in warm water. The warm glass will expand and the cold glass will contract, making the glasses separate easily! I just used this tip the other day with a couple of bowls that were "glued together!"

One more and this is a good one...
How to Trap Slugs with Grapefruit Rinds
1. Cut a grapefruit in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving the empty rind. You can just cut the sections up and enjoy them for breakfast!
2. Place the rind, upside-down (skin up, pith down), in your garden wherever you've noticed slug damage. A few of these halves scattered throughout your vegetable garden or perennial beds go a long way toward taking care of your slug problem.
3. Let the rind sit overnight.
The following morning, lift the rind up. Slugs will have gathered on the underside of the rind. Dispose of them as you see fit ( feed them to your backyard chickens or toss them in a bucket of soapy water, then dispose of them.) Replace the rind and repeat until you stop catching slugs or you stop seeing damage. Then just compost the rind!


  1. So many great tips, my favorite is the grapefruit/slug one! Thanks. xo

    1. I know the grapefruit half works, Dad used to do this in the garden each year!

  2. Enjoyed your post Joyce. Some of the tips I was familiar with but quite a few I have not heard of. Will have to try and remember these. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day

    1. My Grandma could make a penny oink! So many of these are just common sense, but truth is... we've got away from THAT!

  3. My grandmother was a miracle worker in the kitchen. I remember the big feasts she would fix for breakfast, then she would cover the leftovers with a white tablecloth and everyone would stop back occasionally, to grab something to hold them over until the next big meal. Not sure why we didn't die of food poisoning... but we didn't!

  4. I am going to try that grapefruit trick with slugs. Every year my hostas are ruined by

    My mother who was married during the depression could stretch a dollar farther than anyone I have ever known! She had to.

    Ms. A, I had to laugh. My grandmother did the same thing with her one ever got sick. My daughter watches me like a hawk to be sure I get leftover in the fridge immediately. I can't convince her we won't all die of food poisoning.

  5. Grandma was a smart one, sounds like you learned a lot of things from her.

  6. Weren't our grandma's wonderful! I'm so thankful that I had my 2 grandma's and a great grandmother for quite a few years of my life. This post also reminds me of my own Mom...frugal in her own way. Thanks for the memories!


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