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20 Miscellaneous, Unprioritized, and Unasked for Pieces of Wisdom

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1. Hang paintings at eye level.

2. Use vinegar on jellyfish stings. Don’t pee on them. Unless you’ve been drinking vinegar.

3. When lost in a city, follow the direction of the heaviest traffic; it’s usually headed to the city center.

4. Sage is the Thanksgiving spice. When you want to make that Typical Thanksgiving Gravy, it’s sage. I swear it.

5. Sean is pronounced the same as Shawn. Seamus is Shamus. Sinead is Shin-ade. Celt always has a hard C, like cotton, unless you’re talking about a sports team, and I have no idea why you’d be doing that.

6. Your dad told you, and I’m telling you again: turn in the direction of the skid.

7. If you feel tired after drinking coffee, drink a glass of water at the same time.

8. The reason why your skin looks funky is because none of us wash our faces enough. SCRUB, dammit. No, you don’t need soap. Just get that dead stuff off, for crying out loud.

9. If you need the meat of a nonfiction book in a hurry, read the first chapter and last chapter. If you have more time, the first paragraph and last paragraph of each chapter. If you have even more time, first sentence and last sentence of each paragraph. That’s the point of it. The rest is just proof.

10. Hank is short for Henry. Chaz for Charles. No, I do not know why.

11. The longer you soak beans before you cook ‘em, the less farting happens. Soak overnight and rinse before cooking and then rinse after cooking for the least explosive dining experience. But you can also boil them for a minute and let sit for an hour before rinsing and cooking and rinsing again.

12. Don’t drink milk when you have a cold. It thickens your mucus and makes it last longer.

13. If you’re not checking luggage at the airport, you can be way later for your flight and still make it.

14. When two strangers are in a conversation, they have a tendency to adopt the same position. The person who changes position first has the upper hand in the discussion.

15. Athletic shoes have been carefully designed to provide as much support as the bare human foot. Being barefoot is awesome.

16. But you can get hookworms if you’re barefoot.

17. Less likely to get athlete’s foot, though. Athlete’s foot is a fungus that likes warm, moist places and hosts with sweet teeth.

18. Your marker probably didn’t actually run out of ink; it probably just ran out of solvent to keep the pigment flowing. You can use water to rejuvenate most pens, but for a marker, you’ll need something more like what the company puts in there. Which is a lot like lighter fluid.

19. Your home-made cake doesn’t taste like a box cake because you’re using butter instead of vegetable oil.

20. Don’t stand behind a strange horse, don’t look a strange dog in the eyes, don’t rub a strange cat’s belly, and for God’s sake, don’t let strange men handcuff you to your bed.



Feel free to add a piece of wisdom below.

  • Truer words!
    I did not know about the beans. I’ll let my wife know about the beans thing. She probably already knows… 😀

    The one about two strangers talking is fascinating. I’ll keep that in mind and watch strangers talk next time.

  • Scarlet

    Ants hate cinnamon! Sprinkle some in their way.

    • Do they really? Also, ants walking in a very dense row usually means it’s going to rain.

      • also, ants are not fans of vinegar or chalk. So, if you’ve been stung by a jellyfish and come home to a house full of ants, vinegar can be your new best friend.

    • Other Maggie

      Ants also hate grits (if you’re in the South).

  • Marianne

    Don’t wake a sleeping baby. It only pisses them off and really, what do the need a schedule for? They’re babies.

    Love and enjoy your grown kids for who they are turning out to be. Creating a human bein is not “all about you.” Most things aren’t.

    My $.02. And I haven’t even had my coffee (now served with a side if water) yet!

    • Haha – and see, I thought about adding: schedule nap times for your baby.

      But it really is true that it is not about you, it’s about them!

    • I never got that either. Docs all told me to wake my daughter up every four hours. She was almost colicky. I told them they were all nuts, just like you say. They don’t have/need a schedule!

  • When you’re visiting another country, be sure to learn how to say at least “Please.” “Thank you.” “Can you help me?” and “Where is the bathroom?” in the native language. You ‘ll get a friendlier response. 🙂

  • Jamie

    My random tip to add. This works best with metal measuring cups. Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup (like butter or peanutbutter or other non “butter” but equally viscous ingredients), fill it with hot water, dump out the hot water, but don’t dry the cup, add your ingredient, and watch how easily it slides out…some speediness is required…

    • Oh, oh, this is a good one — also, if you’re measuring honey, spray cooking spray into the measuring cup first, and it slips right out too!

  • Birch bark makes great kindling.

  • Wow great advice.

    I don’t have any of my own but I’ll add to one of yours.
    Chuck or Chuckie are also short for Charles.
    Jim can sometimes be short for James.

  • Sara

    Another useless tip to add: Spray hairspray on a pen ink stain and let it dry. The stain will come out after you wash the stained material.

  • 1. Spray seedlings with (cooled) chamomile tea daily and/or sprinkle the surface of the soil with cinnamon. It will keep them from dying off from crazy killer fungus.

    2. 1 teaspoon raw honey, mixed with a couple drops of water, is the most soothing remedy for those annoying, itchy spots on the scalp. Just apply mixture directly to the spot, ideally an hour or so before washing your hair.

    3. For a homemade, gentle scrub, mix equal parts honey and baking soda. For something really abrasive, mix equal parts sugar and olive oil.

    4. Marry someone that you feel so very comfortable with. The sort of comfort you have with your closest friends and family members– where you can be utterly yourself and not even think about it.

    5. The year on the bottle of the wine refers to the year the grapes were harvested. Always get a bottle of wine with a year on it.

    • Anonymous

      And if you know nothing about wine… pick 1986, because most of the world had good rainfall that year.

  • Brilliant! Especially the bit about getting tired after drinking coffee.

    I will add to the treasury:
    1) Most consistent cure for hiccups: get a mouthful of water, plug both ears, swallow the water, repeat as necessary — it works best if you can time the swallow for when you’re just about to hiccup.
    2) Most consistent cure for ice-cream head freeze: press your tongue or your thumb to the roof of your mouth. Blood vessels run close to the surface there and when they get too cold, the headache comes — warm them up again for relief and speedy return to ice cream consumption.
    3) The gun is always loaded.
    4) Polly is short for Mary (wth??) and Sally is short for Sarah.

    • I’ve actually got a bit of an explanation for this one. Just a few years ago, top baby names were more like “everyone’s names”. Mary was the top girls’ name for decades, which means that, like, 7/10 girls were called Mary. Even families with multiple sisters were all called Mary. So, naturally, loads of nicknames developed for these really common names. I imagine that Sarah, Charles, John, etc. all have similar histories and therefore, sources for their seemingly nonsensical nicknames.

      • Okay, please excuse my typos and weird sentence structure. Still working on my first cup of coffee.

  • hnodc

    Thank you for including the Irish name pronunciation tips. I have a Sean AND a Seamus in my family, and it’s amazing how often these are mispronounced.

  • Crystal

    If you want to keep your dog from going through the trash, try sprinkling some black pepper on top.

    Also, just cause a cat has kittens in the oven doesn’t mean you call them biscuits.

    Think about it.

  • Doesn’t get much more random than this:

    Not all lip augmentation is done with silicone. Why use boring old silicone when you can have cells harvested from cadavers plump up your lips? Oh, and some of those “age-reversing” cosmetic formulas are chock full of human cells from various sources (you don’t want to know).

    Perhaps that’s why Maggie recommended you wash your face with plain water?

    And Niamh is the Irish name that always threw me for a loop on pronunciation.

    • Roni O’Connell

      And so….how do you pronounce it?

  • 3. Unless the heavy traffic indicates a mass exodus away from the city center where [insert large semi-intelligent force of destruction here] has decided to go on a rampage. (What is it about big cities?)

    10. Dick is short for Richard, Peggy is short for Margaret.

    11. I usually soak my beans overnight in salt water to make them cook faster. A half cup of vinegar helps with the gas too.

    11a. Salt in your soaking water makes beans soften faster while cooking. Salt in your cooking water makes beans go hard.

    13. Sometimes you can still make your flight if you are VERY late. But you may have to sign a voluntary separation waiver from your checked baggage.

    13a. If you are very very very late for a flight, don’t expect to get to pee before takeoff. Hope you can hold it til cruising altitude!

    x. Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows.

    • 5. Siobhan sounds like “shivon.”

      • Thanks for that one. I’ve been wondering how to pronounce author Siobhan Dowd’s name for students.

  • LIsa

    Friends are Family (quote from my daughter when she was 6) I’ll add to that: If you don’t consider your friends family, they’re probably not real friends. Ditch them.

  • ReD

    Make your corn in the microwave.
    2 minutes per ear, high power.
    Cook right in the husk.
    When it’s done, chop off about an inch from the end. Turn the corn up-side-down. Shake. Cob will fall off with no silk on it.

    When faced with an angry dog, turn your head to the side and yawn as exaggeratedly as possible.

    Add 2 drops of contact solution to liquid eyeliner to have it last longer.

    • Or ask the angry dog if it wants to go for a walk. “Go for a ride in the car” also works. It usually defuses the anger, but then you’re stuck walking with an unpredictable dog.

      • ReD

        But that doesn’t always work as well on a stray dog. Some strays are uncomfortable with human voices, especially if they’re used to dealing with people yelling and then throwing things at them.

        Dogs yawn to reduce stress and as a calming gesture to other dogs. Lip-licking works, too, but the motion is a lot smaller and not as easy for the dog to pick up on.
        An angry dog is usually frightened or showing dominance, and the gesture helps to reassure it without dominating/submitting to it.

    • Random

      When dogs yawn, it means they’re either happy, sad, or angry. It’s not like that with humans though! 😀

  • Stephanie

    Hydrogen peroxide will get blood out of fabric. The quicker you do it, the better it works. Including white dresses when little girls skin their knees and bleed all over it. 🙂

    • ReD

      I just used the hydrogen peroxide thing on my sweater for tomorrow. Thank you so much for that!

  • You can flip a toaster on its side and grill cheese in it.
    If you place a wooden spoon over a pot of boiling water, it won’t boil over.
    Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and stronger flavored.
    Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
    And for those with ancient (in a good term of course) cars?
    De-fog your windshield: Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth, and much better than fingers.:/

  • Sarah

    One I’m always telling my children: If you don’t know what it is–Don’t touch it.

    You can use Mint oil to keep spiders away.
    If you use Afterbite on a tic bite right after pulling off the tic, the bite won’t ever itch.

  • Mel

    The funny thing is my sister always drinks milk when she isn’t feeling well, she claims it helps no matter what is makeing you ill. She was rather shocked at hearing this. Silly girl. We also made a cake with butter abd felt a little sick a few minuets ago…. for being random this list is strangely convenient.

  • Beckie

    Be true to yourself and you will always have peace 🙂

  • K

    Daisy is a nickname for Margaret, based on a double meaning of the French version of the name.

    Speaking of names, don’t ever give your kid a name you wouldn’t be willing to wear yourself.

    Th nachos from Taco Time are the best, but they’re even better heated up in the microwave the next day.

    Just because it’s fashionable doesn’t mean you have to wear it. That goes for super skinny jeans, crop tops, and the weird cardigans that are longer in the front than the back. If they flatter you, great. If not, don’t bother.

    • And while we are speaking of naming children, don’t spell their name so they go through life having to spell it for everyone.

      • K

        Yes! Naming your child Tuesday is a little odd. Naming them Twozdae is over the top, and they will not thank you for it. Proceed with caution.

  • Beth

    This is like your own version of Pinterest.

    That #6 is hard. It can be instinctive to jerk the wheel. Which is why I believe that all people learning to drive should have to attend a skid track course as part of their driver training so they can learn to retrain their reaction.

    Learn something new everyday. I thought it was Chuck for Charles.

    The part about the beans is interesting. Though my family would protest that this takes away all the fun. LOL

  • Becky

    Babies drink their own pee in utero. It’s sterile though, so apparently it’s okay. But no wonder they come out screaming.

  • Elizabeth has a lot of nicknames such as Betty, Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Eliza, and Ella – although Ella is more commonly short for Eleanor.

    Unique names are generally overrated. Uncommon names, however, are great.

    Never yell at someone who works at customer service or tech service, because they will usually go out of their way to help out the one person all day who hasn’t screamed in their face.

    When in doubt, wear comfortable shoes.

  • pernille

    For babies; sleep begets more sleep – best advice a midwife ever gave me . Don’t wake them. Their sleep pattern will draw out to an acceptable length, and you might rediscover what a lie-in was.

    Shampoo dabbed on a food-grease stain, the stain should be gone once re- washed in the machine

    The truth will only hurt you once.

  • Sarah Lyn

    and, always speak the truth, even if your voice shakes…

  • mazoku

    1) Slugs like beer. If you have slugs eating your vegetables in the garden, just put a glass full of beer nearby: they’ll choose beer over veggies every time.

    2) If your dog/cat gets a tick, there’s no “oil/jelly/whatever” trick: you just need to use a tweezer and pick the tick as close to the animal’s skin as possible. You pull toward you rotating the tick counterclockwise. And that’s it.

    3) If your cat pees on things, wash it with water and vinegar: cats hate vinegar, so your cat won’t go anywhere near that place again.

    4) Vinegar is also perfect to clean water bowls with limestone stains.

    5) If your cat is cleaning his face by licking his paws and then passing them over his face, watch whether the paw passes behind the ear: if it does, there’s a good chance it’s going to rain soon.

    6) Oil stain on clothes: a bit of dishwashing soap gets rid of it most of the time.

    7) Gatorade is perfect when you are hungover. You feel bad because you’re dehydrated, so drinking it helps quite some.

    And that’s it. 🙂

  • Kaida

    Mosquitoes are attracted to people with stinky feet, wear flipflops in the summer so your feet don’t stink up your shoes and henceforth attract mosquitoes.

  • korey

    You are a Goob; you know that, don’t you? But, I must say, you are the coolest Goob on the planet. Thank you for your Goobiness. And, thank you for your incredible insight and talent.

  • 1. If you’re camping in the Canadian wilderness and you’re desperate for a cigarette, you can roll dried pine needles in toilet paper. Just so you know. You might want to quit smoking instead, though.

    2. WRIST would make a great band name.

    3. Mimi is pronounced ‘me me’.


    wow, those are some pretty interesting things! never gonna drink milk when im sick again (thx for tellin’ me)!:)

  • Julia

    If your children are throwing up a lot stop giving them anything with milk. The stomach stops processing milk proteins when sick and so things go up instead of down. (Side note if you have a child who is very attached to milk and is upset by not being able to get it rice milk is a good substitute)

    Topher (rhymes with gopher) is a nickname for Christopher along with Chris.

    If you get a stain on clothes that you plan on wearing again and can’t treat right away stay out of the sun — the heat will set the stain.

    If you want to know how a person feels look at their feet. They usually point in the direction they want to go. Also staring at feet can make a large group of people quiet down (or so my high school English teacher swore — never tried it out, but it might be worth it).

    Always tip the drivers who deliver your food well so if there are a lot of orders they will usually deliver yours first and (I’ve been told) fight other drivers to deliver to your house.

  • Tricia-wa

    Um. You probably are getting sick of folk advice, but if you’re ever out of brown sugar and have already poured all the other cookie ingredients into the bowl, you can substitute a teaspoon of molasses per cup of white sugar to replace it. Also, applesauce instead of oil (but everyone knows that one.)
    Let’s see… Also, always carry a pocketknife or scissors of some sort. You have no idea how many friends you will make just by being able to clip off that visible tag or extra string. (and how many security guards will hate your guts)

  • Ananya

    Continuing the Irish name theme….Caoimhe is pronounced Keeva, Aoife is Eefa, Niamh is Neeve, Roisin is Rosheen, Saoirse is Sairsha.

    Also, if you bump your shin really hard falling on the stairs, rub it really hard before putting ice on it. It helps.

    Plus, freeze your grapes for a few hours before eating them and you will be delighted. 🙂

  • Walter

    In addition to turning into the skid (I learned that the hard way) NEVER apply the brake. Take your foot off the petals entirely. (And ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS!!) Also, loose gravel is the worst possible thing to drive on. Dirt roads will get you. I flipped my car over driving 35 on loose gravel.

  • Walter


  • Susan

    The answer is always “no” unless you ask.

  • Liz

    Pee before you drive. Otherwise, if you get in a bad car wreck, your full bladder might rupture from the force exerted by your seat belt. Then you will either need surgery or have to have a catheter for several weeks. (I am a trauma surgeon & I have seen it happen…)

  • Random

    Never put out a kitchen fire with water, put it out with baking powder. Hopefully, you won’t start a fire in the first place. 🙂
    This happened to a friend of mine and it worked!

  • Random

    One other thing, if there are stray cats roaming around your house and you don’t want your porch to smell like cat pee, sprinkle pepper around the porch. (Or wherever stray cats may pee) because cats hate pepper!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so, so much for number five! I’ve lost count of how many times I have had to explain to people the difference between Celtic as in the people group versus Celtic as in the Boston sports team.

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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