Timeless advice

Common sense is timeless ,and so are some household smarts.

That's the message delivered in Susan Waggoner's "Classic Household Hints" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007, $17.95). Classic is defined here as deriving from the period of the 1920s through the 1960s. Cover and color illustrations inside have the retro look, and some of the 500 or so items Waggoner has compiled may evoke readers' memories.

The New York-based writer said she explored many sources to collect the varied housekeeping hints in the book — old magazines, paperbacks and hardcover books, some publications distributed as giveaways to people buying appliances. But "everything in the book I wrote my way, it's my wording," she said.

And some items she'd never seen written down she drew from her own family traditions, she said.

She singled out an item on colanders in the kitchen chapter, which reads:

"Can't locate the splatter screen? No problem — just invert your metal colander over the skillet. A large colander is also a handy container for stale bread when you are dying for bread crumbs, and it's an excellent way to drain delicate hand-washed items that you don't want to wring or squeeze."

"That first idea came from what I saw my Swedish grandmother doing, and the use for stale bread came from my mother," she said. "The third use is from my own early, poor years in New York," she added with a laugh.

"Part of the fun of writing the book was so that people can think of things like this in their own family."

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