Practical Advice: Grandma Really Does Know Everything!

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By  Kathy Megyeri 

A review of the book “Grandma Knows Everything,” by Amanda C. Ahlenius, available on Amazon

My German grandmother once made a needlepoint pillow that read, “Ve get too soon oldt and too late schmart.” And how true that is! Medical nutritionist, wife and mother of two girls, Amanda Ahlenius from Purdue University asked herself the simple question: “How much practical advice could we learn from each other if we all shared the random things that the women in our lives taught us?” Collecting tidbits of practical advice from her own grandmother, she asked TikTok and got 80,000 responses. Thousands of women shared their wisdom, insights, and practical advice from their own grandmas – some funny, some useful, and some heartwarming. The book is meant to be shared, added to with lessons from your own grandmother and passed on to your daughters and friends. It celebrates the power of women, honors the bonds that tie us all together and shows just how “schmart” we old women become with age. 

Related: Book Review: How Did I Get Here So Fast

Critics say the practical advice is great but with only one tip per page, the book’s design could have been more efficient and could have been organized into sections such as kitchen/cooking, cleaning, organizing, beauty tips, relationships, etc. Some tips may be out of date, others are repetitious, and some are silly, but all are part of that golden advice from grandmothers. For example: 

  • Cut both ends of the tomato paste can and push one side all the way through so you don’t have to scrape it out. 
  • Put three bags in the trash can at once to minimize reloading the can every time. 
  • A dollar bill is 6” long, so if you have to measure something without a ruler, just use a dollar bill. 
  • Wash scratchy towels with vinegar to make them fluffy.   
  • Wrap rubber bands toward the narrow ends of hangers to prevent clothes from sliding off. 
  • Rub your hands on a stainless-steel sink to remove the onion smell after peeling them. 
  • Flip your hangers backward. Then put your clothes and laundry away normally. Every 6 months or so, go through your wardrobe to see which hangers haven’t been turned around. Donate those clothes. 

Ahlenius admits that as a child, most of the advice she received was generally ignored but, in this book, she gathers the knowledge that’s become even more valued throughout her years. Ahlenius has created a modern day “Hints from Heloise” only this time, it’s mostly young people who appreciate her life hacks on X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook and in this self-published book. Her next venture is a book of her great-grandmother’s recipes including one for potato doughnuts (“spudnuts”) and buttery caramels and another volume offering advice from grandfathers because, as she says, “they deserve equal time.” 

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