Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Oily rag mailbag

Oily rag mailbag
By Frank and Muriel Newman

Last week we asked readers to help out with a couple of questions. True to form the oily rag community rallied around with suggestions.

Viv from Masteron asked, “I have an excess of Nashi pears. Has anyone got some good tips? I thought about jam but not sure what to put with them.”

K Silvester from Morrinsville suggests, “Make them into Chutney. There are many recipes on line and you just substitute the pears for the nashi.”

Busy Mum from Auckland asked, “Now that the new recommendations suggest children should have ten servings of fruit and vegies a day, does anyone have tips on how to achieve this on a low cost budget?”

K Silvester also suggested, “For the vegie side I would suggest salads and soups. Personally I was raised in the 1960's on porridge for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (that were jam/marmite or peanut butter- sometimes cheese) and a piece of baking and a piece of fruit plus drink. Raisins were playtime food. Dinner was meat and "3" vegies and I am a healthy person at 54! I think we need to be careful not to get too caught up with what the ‘experts’ tell us we need and do the best we can. Plant a vegie garden if you can. Grow the plants from seed and you will have no trouble meeting the vegie intake per day you want for your family.”

Faye from Auckland has this suggestion. “Quite recently I have started to make healthy green smoothies from the vegie garden. Into the blender I put last night’s left over vegie water, along with a handful of spinach and silver beet leaves, 2 or 3 young beetroot leaves and some parsley. To balance the bitterness, in goes 2 bananas and or other fruit plus a sprinkling of cinnamon. Since having these I am sleeping better and am not so tired.”

Graeme from Christchurch had an absorbing question. “I have bought some new towels that only smear the water, not absorb it. I did hear a long time ago you could put something in the wash water to get rid of the manufacturer’s dressing on the towels, but I can’t remember what it was. I was wondering if anyone could help me make my towels absorbent.

There were lots of absorbing answers.

“Soak the towel in a bowl with salt dissolved in warm water. I can't recall how much, but have an idea it was about 1-2 tablespoon. I'm sure that using more if you wish will do no harm! Then wash the towel in the usual way.” – MS, Christchurch.

“Soak the towels in water and add 1 tablespoon epsom salts for each towel. That's how we used to get the dressing out of new towels.” - Jo G, Christchurch.

“Always wash new towels first in hot soapy water. Then add half to one cup of white vinegar to the rinse. This removes the manufacturers' fabric softener they add to make their towels look soft and fluffy in the store. To keep them fluffy and absorbent, do your towel washing on a windy day and hang them out to dry. The wind will fluff them out again. Cheaper and better for your clothes and pocket than a tumble dryer.” - Susan, West Auckland

“Graeme could try adding white or brown vinegar to his wash rinse cycle to improve the absorbency of his towels.” – Valerie

Still on questions, Warren asks, “Our mailbox has been invaded by snails and ants eating our mail - fine for the bills, but not so good for the cheques! Does anyone have a non-toxic solution as grandchildren clear our mail.”

Annette from New Plymouth has a question about an all-too common problem. “Have you any ideas what takes ball point pen off wall paper (small child drawing!)”.

And a reminder about the question from Melsy in Auckland: "Years ago I was given a banana tree, which has grown so big that I cut a lot of it back, and now my clothes are covered in banana sap stains - any suggestions for removing them?”

If you can help Warren, Annette and Melsy, please let us know via the website (and if you know how to teach snails to eat bills instead of cheques we suggest you patent it before telling anyone else!).

We love hearing about your favourite frugal tips - please send them to us by visiting or by writing to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei and we will share them with everyone else!

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Leonardo da Vinci - The Graphic Work

The breadth of da Vinci’s work is incredible: from animals to weaponry, architecture to fabric, maps to botany. The works have been divided into themes such as Proportion Drawings, Anatomical Drawings and Drawings of Maps and Plans. Each section begins with a short essay. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: James Hector: Explorer, Scientist, Leader

Publication of this comprehensive 274-page account of the life and work of James Hector by the Geoscience Society of New Zealand marks the 150th anniversary of James Hector’s appointment as New Zealand’s first government scientist. More>>

On Shoestrings And Phones: Rossellini And Contemporary Film

Howard Davis: Roberto Rossellini's Neo-Realist Rome, Open City provides some fascinating technical parallels to Tangerine, an equally revolutionary Independent movie made exactly seventy years later. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news