Top Tips For Girls: Real Advice From Real Women For Real Life

Paperback | June 24, 2008

byKate Reardon

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REAL LIFE MADE EASIER

In today’s lifestyle guru–obsessed world, where we all turn to magazines and TV personalities to teach us how to organize our lives, cook, look, and live better, it’s refreshing to hear clever, who-would’ve-thunk-it suggestions from regular women.

In Top Tips for Girls, today’s primer for women in the know, Kate Reardon has collected just that—literally hundreds of tips on all areas of our lives, be it raising kids, staying fit, dressing well, planning a wedding, gardening, dating, dieting, traveling, or working. Far from garden variety, the tips you’ll find here are surprising—the sort that women used to get word-of-mouth from their own moms, grandmothers, aunts, and best friends. Some of the many helpful, and even hilarious, tips you’ll read here include:

•To avoid blisters from new shoes, coat your feet with Vaseline.
•Invest in a certain number of “nice” hangers. When you start having to use the metal ones from the dry cleaner, it’s time to clean out your closet.
•Impress guests with homemade-tasting mayonnaise by adding fresh lemon juice and capers or thyme to ordinary mayo.
•Perk up wilted ferns by spraying them once a month with weak tea.
•To find your car in an unfamiliar area, use the camera on your cell phone to take a picture of the nearest street sign.
•Tone up your butt by squeezing it in quick reps of fifty while watching TV.
•To safely dispose of receipts and bank statements without buying a shredder, simply keep a container of water to pop them in and let them dissolve.

And many more!

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From the Publisher

REAL LIFE MADE EASIER In today’s lifestyle guru–obsessed world, where we all turn to magazines and TV personalities to teach us how to organize our lives, cook, look, and live better, it’s refreshing to hear clever, who-would’ve-thunk-it suggestions from regular women. In Top Tips for Girls, today’s primer for women in the know, Kate R...

From the Jacket

REAL LIFE MADE EASIER In today’s lifestyle guru–obsessed world, where we all turn to magazines and TV personalities to teach us how to organize our lives, cook, look, and live better, it’s refreshing to hear clever, who-would’ve-thunk-it suggestions from regular women. In Top Tips for Girls, today’s primer for women in the know, Kate R...

KATE REARDON is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and has worked for Vogue and Tatler. Visit her website at toptips.com.

other books by Kate Reardon

Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6.1 × 1.5 inPublished:June 24, 2008Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307406695

ISBN - 13:9780307406699

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Chapter 1• Home •or, Martha Stewart,eat your heart out.Just imagine, if you had absolutely nothing else to do at all, how magnificent your home would look. I’m thinking fresh flowers, bread baking in a spotless oven, no piles of laundry, perhaps a filing system for socks. Yup, we’d all be five-star generals of the home—if only we didn’t have jobs, and children, and a life. Modern woman is cursed by unrealistic expectations; just as she is expected to snap back into a girlish figure moments after childbirth, her home is now also supposed to be effortlessly perfect. The home is becoming an ever-more competitive arena. Women who once competed for the attentions of alpha (or perhaps beta) males can now devote years of experience and cunning to outdoing one another on the domestic front. For an unfair advantage, read the following.dHow to get rid of houseflieshPut some eucalyptus oil on a cloth, open the door wide, and wave the cloth vigorously, working toward the door. Flies will rapidly disappear.—CarolinedHow to get rid of antshAnts pretty much steer clear of anything that is “powdery,” so to speak. I believe it has to do with the fact that any powder disrupts their senses and makes their little legs not able to, say, climb a wall; they just fall right off. I’ve had really good luck with using baby powder.—lisaveronicadHow to clean windows andshiny metal without chemicalshFor floors and counters, use 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. For glass, use 1 part vodka, 1 part grapefruit juice, and 6 parts water.—AmydHow to clean windowshAdd dishwasher rinse aid to your bucket of water instead of soap.—MoodykatdHow to remove sticky tape from glasshPut some nail-polish remover on a bit of cotton and rub away.—buckridgedHow to make a candle fita too-small candlestickhHold the end in very hot water and it will become soft enough to be jammed in tight.—TawnydHow to keep candles burning longerhStore them in the freezer—this will add hours of additional burn time.—EstelledHow to get candle wax offwood furniture or carpethGet a large brown envelope or a paper grocery bag and a hot iron. Place the brown envelope over the wax stain, then press the hot iron on top of the envelope. The iron heats up the candle wax and the brown paper absorbs the hot wax, thus removing it from the carpet or furniture.—lulu8749dHow to build a great firehIf you want big flames, build a tepee shape with your logs against the back of the fireplace.—BelindadHow to stop a fire from smoking up a roomhRoll up a few sheets of newspaper, light them, and hold them up the chimney before you light the fire. This will heat the chimney and create a draft that will suck the smoke upward. And don’t forget to have your chimney swept regularly.—MelaniedHow to save the flattened carpetunderneath your furniturehPlace a damp towel over the area and iron it. The steam will restore the carpet’s natural fluff.—ChelseaLeave a small ice cube in the indent. Once it melts and dries a bit, vacuum with the brush attachment.—JCFdHow to clean lamp shadeshI keep a soft-bristled paintbrush around for this sort of task. It helps remove dust in tight ridges and grooves. I also use it for dusting bookcases and electronic equipment. These brushes are inexpensive and can be rinsed out.—melaniezelaniedHow to change a duvet cover easilyhIf you can drop both duvet and cover, holding the corners, over a stairwell and shake, this should work well. (Try storing linen inside one of the set’s pillowcases; it saves a lot of time searching for a matching set when changing the bed.)—josiedHow to downsize to a smaller kitchenhInstead of putting all utensils, cutlery, plates, and glasses away in their usual place, put them in a separate box or tub each time you finish using them. Within a few weeks, you will see exactly what you actually use, rather than all that junk that’s just filling up your kitchen.—HelendHow to have a tidy house with no efforthInstead of sitting gazing moronically at dumb ads on TV, get up and do something useful during every commercial break. That way, tidying, cleaning a sink, sorting laundry, going through paperwork, washing the dishes gets done in short bursts without becoming a major task.—aitchEach day, set an egg timer for fifteen minutes and get as much done as you can in that time. Sadly, I get extra excited when I finish and realize I’ve done more than the day before. Ah, the satisfaction.—CassandraMdHow to get grease and fingerprintsoff the wallshUse a slice of white bread to rub off any dirt or stains.—yvonne1987dHow to stop children’s junk fromtaking over the whole househLet each child choose his or her own big box (mine chose a large, brightly colored plastic one) and a smaller one. At the end of the day, have “tidy up time” and give a treat to the tidiest (my kids chose extra time in the bath or extra bubbles . . . they’re teenagers now, so those treats seem very tame!). All the toys go into the big box; the smaller box holds crayons or “losable” things. Then there is only one box to put away in the bedroom (or hide behind the sofa if mother-in-law is on the horizon).—faylin4dHow to make almost any abhorrenttask go fasterhSet a timer for thirty minutes and do nothing but that task while the timer is on. When the timer goes off, give yourself permission to be done. You’ve been productive and now you can take a break. I find this makes a big difference and helps me get done those tasks I don’t particularly enjoy.—CeeVeedHow to put away laundryhAlways put fresh laundry under the pile of similar things, or at the farther reaches of your closet. That way you’ll actually wear all your T-shirts and underwear, instead of the same three over and over again.—TawnydHow to stop static from buildingup from the dryerhPour a bit of laundry softener onto an old washcloth and put it in with your drying.—BriannedHow to hang sweaters on a clotheslinehTake an old pair of hose and thread the legs through the arms of your sweater so that the waist is sticking out through the neck. Then you can clip the feet and waistband of the tights to the line—it stops those annoying clothespin marks on your sweaters.—MargotdHow to get chewing gum out of fabricshIf the gum is embedded, rub with vinegar (preferably white), and the gum will break up and fall away.—CapricedHow to remove watermarks on dark woodhThis is a really yucky solution, but it does work: If you have white watermarks on mahogany or dark polished wood, mix a paste of olive oil and cigarette ash and work it into the mark. It will come out, and the smell will disappear quite quickly!—SageIt sounds pretty daunting, but metal polish does work. Put a little bit on a soft cloth and work it in over the watermark, then polish off with another clean, soft cloth.—loopsdHow to protect walls from beingmarked by the tops of laddershPut old socks over the tops of stepladders so that they don’t mark walls when they’re leaned against them.—GeorgiadHow to hang wallpaperhHanging wallpaper is easier if you put the paste on the wall rather than on the wallpaper first.—ScoutdHow to fill tiny cracks whenpainting woodworkhAdd a bit of flour to your paint.—FerndHow to eliminate paint smellswhen decoratinghBefore painting, add a few drops of vanilla extract to the paint and mix it in well. If you’re using white paint, make sure you get clear vanilla extract.—lnmopdHow to make a room smell nicehPlace a dryer sheet used in tumble dryers on the top of a radiator. When the radiator is on, the sheet warms up and the smell fills the room.—BarbaraClarkdHow to clean decanters and odd-shaped vaseshTo clean decanters, fill a quarter of the way up with warm water, add crushed eggshell, and shake.—ScoutDenture-cleaner tabs are effective, as is a small amount of washing powder or dishwasher powder—just make sure the decanter is well rinsed afterward. (Because we don’t drink whiskey, we didn’t know that the expensive whiskey in the decanter we had “cleaned” tasted soapy!)—charpurdHow to clean antique ivory piano keyshI heard that toothpaste is good on white piano keys. It makes sense, because tusks are elephant’s teeth after all.—ValWdHow to remove scuff marks fromlinoleum floorshUse WD40 to remove marks left by shoes and sneakers.—jackandclairedHow to keep silver cleanhIf you keep a stick of chalk in with your silver jewelry, it keeps the jewelry from tarnishing—it is also great for silver dinner services. My grandmother taught me this and it does work.—diamondsparkledHow to clean silverhLine the bottom of a large bowl (or the sink) with aluminum foil. Fill it with hot, hot water, add baking soda, and put in your silver pieces. The tarnish will come off the silver and stick to the aluminum foil all by itself—no need to scrub or anything. Works like a charm in just a couple of minutes.—lalalanddHow to remove rust marks from chromehScrunch up some aluminium foil and rub away the rust—I tried it and it really worked.—animal2415dHow to stop a door from squeakinghIf you don’t have any oil or are worried about getting a mess on your carpet, try a tiny blob of washing-up liquid on the hinges. It sounds mad, but my grandmother has sworn by it for years.—saz57dHow to remove a broken lightbulbhTake half an uncooked potato (the big, starchy kind) and stick it over the ragged lightbulb end to protect you from broken glass. Twist the lightbulb out of the socket.—rsjdooleydHow to stop curtain tracks from stickinghIf your curtains don’t run smoothly on the curtain track, wipe the track with a little furniture polish. It works wonders.—RosboddHow to clean leather furniturehIf you are out of leather cleaner, a baby wipe is excellent; if it’s good enough for babies’ bottoms, it’s good enough for leather.—housewifeandsuperstardHow to stop floorboards from creakinghIf you dust talcum powder between the floorboards, it sometimes stops them from creaking.—SamanthadHow to make drawers run more smoothlyhIf old wooden drawers are sticking, try rubbing the edges with old candles.—BridgetdHow to pick up broken glasshUse a wet cotton ball; it should pick up even the tiny shards.—NoelleUse a slice of fresh bread; it easily picks up the smallest bits of broken glass.—ScarlettThink there are still shards of glass that you might have missed? Shine a flashlight over the area. Any remaining glass should shimmer in the light.—HollydHow to remove paint from skinhFor a nonirritating paint remover, use cooking oil.—LaradHow to fix screws in awkward placeshUse Blu Tack to stick the screw head to the screwdriver. This is brilliant in cases when gravity is against you, for example, if the screw has to go in upside down.—LevantineLassdHow to remove soap scum from children’sbath toys or keep it from building uphRun them through the dishwasher.—sk1970dHow to clean hard-water stainsfrom glass shower doorshI use lemon juice—the acid dissolves the lime scale. I also use a squeegee (used when washing and drying windows) to wipe the glass right after showering to remove excess water.—stardHow to clean tapshKeep an old toothbrush with your cleaning kit; every time you clean the basin or the sink, use it to scrub around the base of the tap— much easier than trying to get a cloth in there, and it keeps the lime scale down.—LabinkSoak a piece of paper towel in white vinegar and wrap it around the base of the tap. Leave it for as long as possible—at least half an hour. Gets rid of lime scale like a dream.—karenannerichardsdHow to temporarily stop the annoyingnoise of a drip from a leaking taphTie dental floss around the bottom of the tap and let the floss tail hang into the bowl of the sink. Water will travel down the floss into the basin rather than dropping from the tap.—TonyadHow to wash glasseshRemember when hand washing glasses that it’s the outsides that get the finger and lipstick marks; the insides are easy.—JudithdHow to deodorize your microwavehPut in a bowl of water with half a sliced lemon and cook on High for three minutes.—RosadHow to easily clean a disgusting microwavehPut some washing-up liquid into a jug of cold water and put it in the microwave on High for three or four minutes, depending on just how disgusting it actually is. After the time is up, you will be able to easily wipe all the gunk off just using a cloth and some warm water.—KatedHow to keep your kitchen sponge from breeding bacteriahPut the sponge in your dishwasher every time you run it.—frankiegpizzadHow to clean brushed stainless-steel applianceshClean first with a soft cloth and soapy water, then use baby oil on a cotton pad to polish it when dry.—tolgyesikaradHow to clean your dishwasherhJust put a handful of washing soda in the bottom of the dishwasher, set it on the hottest cycle, making sure the machine is empty, of course, and go.—sandrakdHow to clean a knife blockhWrap a blunt-ended knife in an antibacterial wipe to clean the slots.—leggbarbaradHow to remove ballpoint-pen ink from fabricshHairspray really gets rid of ballpoint-pen ink. Just drench the mark with hairspray and you will see it start to lift off. Then rinse with cold water.—Mya