DIY Disclaimer


I don’t know about you, but YouTube seems to be my go-to for DIY solutions around the house. Recently I wanted to know how to get a stain out of my hardwood floor and YouTube provided me with plenty of simple solutions to try. They did require things to be laid or poured onto the problem area, and if I didn’t live alone, someone might have wondered what in the world I was doing. I’ve realized from this and past experience that one might need a disclaimer for those who live with you if the techniques found are unconventional.

Before YouTube there was Heloise, and my mother was a loyal disciple of hers. If you aren’t familiar with the name, Heloise Bowles Cruse began a syndicated newspaper column in the 1950s, called “Hints from Heloise,” that helped women with time-saving tricks around their homes. After her death in 1977, her daughter — whose name is also Heloise — took over the business.

One “hint” suggested saving lemon halves after the juice had been extracted. That’s because you could rub the bottom of your copper-bottom pots with them for quick cleaning. Another is to use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin curls from a stick of butter, because those curls will instantly be soft enough to spread.

Heloise published many books, and I’d tease my mother about some of the more unorthodox, or at times unnecessary, efforts that she made that Mom was convinced were brilliant. One in particular had my sister ready to send Millie Pete to the psychiatric ward.

My mother retired early from being an art teacher when I began school, instead staying home with me and dedicating any spare time to personal painting projects. I was an unexpected pregnancy, as my parents were in their 40s and thought their child-rearing days were over. I was far enough behind my sister and brother that they headed off to college while I was still in elementary school.

My sister once came by for a visit before I got home from school and found Mom asleep in her chair. Laughing at Mom’s slumped pose with her mouth agape, she proceeded to the kitchen to grab some food. Noticing the oven light was on, she clicked on the light to get a quick peek at what was for dinner. She was horrified to find a pan of rocks cooking.

When I got off the bus, my mother was in tears from laughter after having been woken up by her panicked eldest daughter, who was sure our mother had finally lost her mind. Turns out the warm serving of rocks was meant for the dog. Clasping her hands and shaking off the chuckles, Mom explained: Heloise suggested to warm the rocks in the oven before placing them in a bag for the doghouse. Rocks retain heat longer, and they would help our cocker spaniel stay comfortable on cooler nights outside.

Needless to say, we requested warnings for future Heloise-inspired experimentation, and I recommend you do the same with whatever DIY project you plan to spring upon your loved ones.


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