Anne Hailes: My top hints, tips and tricks for an easier life

We all tried to look like the current film stars but none of us held a candle to Sophia Loren

SO MANY of the programmes I produced both on BBC radio and Ulster Television concerned giving advice and, as a result, I love collecting little nuggets of information.

In no particular order, I'd like to give you a note of some of them in the hope they will be useful.

Most come from readers, although I worked this one out for myself when I was waiting for a luncheon date to arrive. I felt terrible, but there was no mirror about – so I looked into the screen of my mobile phone to see if there was a reflection but there wasn't then I had the brainwave of taking a selfie. There, plain as day, was the evidence: not great but at least I was able to re-do the coal pencil round my eyes for a little definition in a pale face.

I was telling someone this and she said that if she couldn't read the small print on prescription drug instructions, she would take a photo on her phone and then zoom in. Result!

Washing make-up brushes is a painstaking job, foundation especially is oily and hard to remove. So you'll get a much quicker and better result if you wash the brush in shampoo. A little hot water and a squirt of shampoo and the result is terrific.

Years ago, top models would have their own make-up tricks. Foundation, a puff of translucent powder and another layer of foundation and another puff of powder and your face is perfect all day. To stop it having too much of a matt look, they then took a sponge, squeezed it in cold water and patted their face to give a dewy look. Worked well, but these days there are lovely spray bottles with rose or lavender water to get that moist look with a pretty smell.

We all tried to look like the current film stars but none of us held a candle to Sophia Loren who was and is the most stunning of them all.

Oscar Wilde remarked: "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it." Not good for the figure when it comes to sweets. I thought I had the answer when I was given a box of luscious chocolates at Christmas so, to resist temptation, I put them in the deep freeze!

This worked well for a few days but then I overcame my desire to lose weight and thought 'I'll just take a couple out and thaw them, just a couple, no harm'. So I went to the freezer, opened the box, took one out and squeezed it – lo and behold, none of them had frozen at all. I had a lovely evening with my surprise treat.

There's one thing I would preach and that's to look behind you. In the house, in town, in school, at social events. First of all, if you look behind you you might well find a lipstick lying under your chair, a credit card could have slipped out of your bag, No matter where you are it's a good idea to take a backward glance to make sure. Even thought the days are lengthening, I find these evenings it's lovely to light a candle on the table – but it's very easy to leave the room and perhaps just go on upstairs to bed, forgetting that it's still burning. Safety is paramount and a look behind after you've turned off the light can save a terrible accident.

:: Tasty Stuffing

I LOVED this idea sent to me by Joan – I have tried it and it works. She uses a role of garlic bread to make stuffing for chicken and pork fillet. She says, if you're in a hurry, just gently fry it in a little butter and serve it crisp. She has an Aga cooker and also tells me that if you put three coins on the simmering plate you can leave your saucepan on a lot longer for a more gentle slow cook.

Another idea, from Pauline, who advocates drinking a couple of litres of water every day. She makes it easy for herself by using an empty litre bottle (Coke is good) and filling it with water and a little elderberry cordial, drinking it while squeezing the bottle gently to help the water go down.

This idea I saw in a magazine: When you're clearing out the interior of your car, use soft plasticine or putty to get in between the cracks allowing the dust and bits of debris to stick to it. Hand hoovers don't get into the corners and brushes only disperse the dust but this way it all adheres to the putty.

Keep a slice of onion in the fridge to keep the air fresh, spray a little WD-40 on the chain of roller blinds for smooth running and develop a child's visual memory by asking them to tell you their route to school tree by tree, shop by shop. They're unlikely to be able to, so tell them you'll ask them again in a week. If they accept your challenge, they will begin to see and remember – a great exercise.

And, if you're at a book signing, just get the authors signature without a dedication – the book will then be much more sellable in the future.

:: Do you remember The O'Haras?

SOME time ago I was contacted by Joe in Clonard, Belfast, asking If I could find out if there was a programme on television in the early 1960s called The O'Haras.

Well Joe, I did try and asked a lot of colleagues who worked in the media in the 60s without any success. No-one knew of such a programme, the only reference I can find is to a woman called Quinn O'Hara born in Edinburgh and appeared mostly on American television at that time, she died in 2017 aged 76 years of age.

If any readers can help Joe please let me know at

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