Who Knew? 10,001 Household Solutions by Bruce and Jeanne Lubin (Castle Point Books, 2018)


“What’s this book?” my friend, Linda, asked me picking up my new copy of Who Knew? 10,001 Household Solutions by husband and wife writing team,  Bruce and Jeanne Lubin.

Linda was paging through the volume already and commenting on how interesting and helpful the book seemed to be. “I’m going to stop on my way home and pick up a copy of this,” she announced, and she did exactly that.

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Linda’s enthusiasm toward the tome of household hints, designed to save the consumer money, provide solutions to cleaning problems that seemed unsolvable, and be an eye-opening and fun read, spurred me to take time out and take a serious look at the title myself . . . and I am so glad that I did.

The Lubins explain in the book’s forward that they began compiling household tips a quarter of a century ago, never expecting that they would turn their discoveries into a book that would become an encyclopedia of quick and inexpensive fixes for people everywhere. “What started with ‘Hey, did you know that eggs last longer when they’re stored upside down?’ turned into thousands of tips, hints, and advice to help solve problems the second they spring up---and make life just a little bit easier,”state the writing team in the preface.

The book is divided into six easy to follow sections; Who Knew? Heroes, Home and Auto Hacks, Chef’s Secrets, Health and Beauty Boosts, Healing Remedies, and Fun and Family Time.

The first section of the book that I explored was Healing Remedies. (There is no reason to read Who Knew?  from cover to cover. My grandfather was a pharmacist, and when I was a child and had a tummy ache, Grandpa would send home a brown bottle of sweet, viscous cola syrup. It was so thick and delicious, the nausea usually dissipated rapidly. The Lubins suggest, chewing on ginger root, which is particularly helpful to women struggling with morning sickness. A  tea made of one tablespoon of peppermint leaves steeped in one cup of hot water will ease nausea and vomiting, as will a glass of canned pear juice. “There is no scientific reason that has been uncovered as to why this trick works, but tons of people swear by it! Some doctors suspect it’s similar to the old-time remedy of cola syrup,” report the Lubins.

In a section of the book entitled “Holiday Helpers,” the Lubins suggest some clever Christmas ideas, and since we are rapidly approaching that time of year, here are a couple of their fun-family activity plans:

For a holiday treat, carve the nuts out of walnut shells split in half and place

fortunes or little prizes inside. Glue back together and decorate with sparkle

paint. When the shells are dry, collect them in a basket for a unique centerpiece

and fun activity. Pass around the table after dinner and let family members

take turns reaching for a walnut and cracking it open to find out what’s hidden

Inside. You can even turn the nuts into a countdown, marking a day of Advent

for each.

Practical tips for the holidays include spraying pine wreaths and garlands with hair spray right after they are purchased to keep the needles from shedding. The hair spray keeps the needles moist and prevents them from quickly dropping on the floor. Placing pinecones that are sticky with tree sap into an oven at 300 degrees for ten minutes will dissipate the goo and allow you to decorate the pine cones with glitter and paint, or just place them in a bowl and enjoy the fragrance without getting the hands sticky.

For the chef who is caught in the kitchen and realizes that she is out of sugar, the Lubins offer this tip, “Try reducing the amount of sugar in your recipes by half and doubling the cinnamon. Not only will the cinnamon taste help retain sweetness with the fewest calories possible, but it has also been shown to help control blood sugar levels.

A kitchen tip that is terrific for making a dessert with sumptuous whipped cream, the Lubins share this little secret. Instead of using heavy cream to make the topping, substitute light cream and whip it into a firm, mousse-like consistency by adding one tablespoon of unflavored gelatin dissolved in one tablespoon of hot water for every two cups of cream. After whipping, refrigerate for at least two hours.

My mini-dachshund, Dali, is scared when I put her in the laundry tub for a bath, and the Lubins have a great suggestion to help a dog feel safe during a bath. Place a towel at the bottom of the tub before filling it up so that it will be less slippery under the dog’s paws, and will ease her anxiety.

I could go on and on, sharing these fun bits with you, but I think that it would be far better if you go buy your own copy of Who Knew? 10,001 Household Solutions and keep it in an easy to locate place for those moments when it is needed sorely, or you just want to improve your knowledge of household skills. Let me suggest, also, if you are having difficulty in finding a holiday gift for someone, this friendly volume makes a perfect conversation starter. I have even considered creating some kind of benign Cards Against Humanity game out of some of the solutions offered. This is a book that I promise will be enjoyed by you and your family.