Inspiration Library: All Things Wise and Wonderful

by Amy Azzarito

When Kate visited in October, I mentioned how much I love simple home tips, and she suggested that I track down this book. All Things Wise and Wonderful: A Big Little Book of Hints was published by the Pasadena Art Alliance in 1975. The Pasadena Art Alliance is an independent organization that formed in 1955 to support the arts in southern California. From the beginning, fund-raising was an important component of the organization’s mission. They began raising money for the arts by holding Treasure Sales. Members collected, appraised, priced and displayed donated items, which were sold to the public. Between 1975 and 1994, the Pasadena Art Alliance decided to supplement their Treasure Sales with book sales. The women of the art alliance brainstormed household hints, tips and related quotations, and All Things Wise and Wonderful was born. In the first 12 years of publication, the book sold 150,000 copies. The ladies were on a roll, and they wrote five more books. Some of the advice is pretty out there: “For large parties, use a washing machine to store ice, cool beer, etc.” But it makes for good reading. And all told, the six books raised more than $500,000 for the arts in southern California. Pretty wonderful. — Amy Azzarito

See more tips after the jump . . .

Suggested For You


  • There should be a tip on darning socks…you’d be surprised how attached people get to their socks, especially the RTW cheaply made ones. They wear them to death in the heels and the toes, but still want to wear them. Me? Sometimes I just run them under the sewing machine with a darning foot, but most of the time I toss them. But darning, I think, would make a comeback especially with all those sock knitters out there with a proper tip guide like this.

  • Okay, I really want that book! And do you think that really works with china? I wonder if I should store champagne in the washing machine for my next party? I need something to slice tonight to see if that slicing tip works!

    I am so inspired. Thanks!

  • Think about an old vintage style washing machine, up on legs, maybe a galvanized tub. That *would* be an amazing ice cooler for a party.

  • What a cool book. I definitely need to keep the hint about using sponges in your flower pots for next spring. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • i felt very lucky when i scored a well-loved copy of this book at the oregon country fair library a few years back. (you can take a book for free.) it has a prized spot on my studio shelf and is checked often for wise solutions to common problems around the house.

  • did I head straight over to amazon to get a (used) copy? indeed I did! what an awesome book, can’t wait for my copy to arrive. thanks for sharing amy!

  • You’ve sufficiently created a buyer’s panic and now Amazon has no more to offer! Why don’t you reach out to those ladies in Pasadena and convince them to do a re-print? Your followers would certainly snatch them up and help their cause all at once!

  • I just got one on Amazon!! (UK branch) It is just too cool. Love the tip about wiping the windows in different directions on the inside and out.

  • It is not as strange as you think. I actually went to a party once long gao where a wash machine was used like a cooler to store ice and beer. It worked like a charm. The ice stayed intact for longer than you would think and I imagine it was easy to clean up at the end of the party by just draining the wash machine. I think the washer was either in the kitchen or the mudroom where it was easy to go and help yourself.

  • A lot of this info is common sense, stuff my Grammy told me or things I learned in Home Economics in school. I guess everyone responding to this post must be under 20 years old because Home Ec. was dropped years ago as one of the classes no one needed – like art, music, sports, etc. Too bad – there’s tons of info like this that is just considered irrelevant these days when actually it’s anything but.

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