GREAT Hints and Tips

Food & Cooking | Bed & Bath | Home Living  | Furniture | Garage & Auto | Yard & Garden
Pets | Travel | Seasonal | Gift Tips & Ideas |
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Food & Cooking Tips

  • Soften frozen butter in a zip-lock bag and put it into a bowl filled with room temperature water. In just five minutes the butter is nice and soft, but not melted
  • Remove the odor of onion, garlic and other spices from your hands by soaping them up and rubbing them on your kitchen faucet. Stainless steel removes the odor. They sell stainless steel stones for this very purpose, but why spend the money?
  • Screw cup hooks onto the back of a pantry door to hold mesh bags of potatoes, onions, or fruit. Make sure the hooks and your door can handle the load and stress.
  • Store popcorn in the freezer to help eliminate un-popped kernels and keep popcorn fresh.
  • Preserve ripe bananas by wrapping them in aluminum foil and storing them in the salad drawer of your refrigerator. The foil will halt the ripening process, keeping the bananas from turning brown.
  • Run out of lemon juice? You can substitute 1/2-teaspoon vinegar for 1-teaspoon lemon or lime juice in a recipe.
  • Eat breakfast—and still get out the door quickly in the morning. The night before, set the table with dishes and silverware, and put out nonperishable foods, such as a package of muffins, bread loaf, preserves, or cereal.
  • Gather some clean, fresh snow, and form snowballs. Place each one in a bowl and drizzle with your favorite juice for delicious summer-in-winter snow cones!
  • Don't throw away leftover wine. Instead, freeze it in an ice cube tray to use later in casseroles, desserts, and sauces.
  • Broken cork in a wine bottle? Use a coffee filter to train the cork particles
  • Keep veggies fresh longer by lining the bottom of your refrigerator's crisper drawer with a paper towel to absorb liquids.
  • Here's an easy way to clean your microwave: In a heatproof glass, add 1 teaspoon baking soda to water, and heat for 2 minutes on HIGH. All that steam from the water will loosen food particles, making them easy to wipe off.
  • To prevent cheese from sticking to your grater, chill the grater first, place it in the freezer for a few minutes or hold it under cold water.
  • A teaspoon in the glass will prevent it cracking when boiling water is poured
  • Save money on frozen pancakes or waffles: Next time you make a scratch batch, make a few extra and freeze them in a sealed bag. Just pop into the toaster to reheat.
  • If you get in the habit of lighting candles at dinner, it can lift winter spirits and even boost a child's self-esteem...if a child is old enough, give them the responsibility of lighting or extinguishing.
  • To rid your cutting board of strong smells, such as fish, garlic or onion, cut a lime or lemon in half and rub the cut side over the board. Or, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply generously, then rinse.
  • Sprinkle baking soda onto crusted baking pans to remove baked on grease and food.  Dampen slightly, soak and scrub
  • Did you know you can store garlic cloves in the freezer? When you need some for a recipe, peel and chop before thawing.
  • Need softened butter in a hurry? Just grate the amount you need! Or, invert a small, heated pan over the butter dish.
  • Before pouring honey, molasses or syrup in a measuring cup, grease it first with butter, oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • Here's a trick to get the new bottle of ketchup moving: push a drinking straw to the bottom of the bottle, and remove. You'll have created an air pocket that will start it flowing!
  • Use a pastry blender to break up ground beef into small pieces after browning for chili or spaghetti sauce.
  • To get the most juice out of oranges, lemons, limes and other citrus, place whole fruit in warm water several minutes before juicing.
  • To keep potatoes from getting eyes, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
  • To prevent egg shells from cracking, add a pinch of salt to the water before hard boiling.
  • If you accidentally over salt food while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt in a pinch.
  • For celery to keep longer, wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil before putting it in the fridge.
  • Pasta---Drain pasta noodles after cooking, then add a little grated Parmesan cheese. It creates a bumpy texture for the sauce to cling to. Add noodles to sauce in saucepan and toss until pasta is coated.
  • Use Lifesavers as Birthday-candle holders. Make sure you buy the original rolls of candy for a snug fit. (The LifeSavers sold in big bags are slightly larger and don’t work as well.) Secure candle inside candy and then place on top of frosting.
  • To get the most juice out of fresh lemons, bring them to room temperature and roll them on the kitchen counter before squeezing.
  • Peel too many potatoes? Cover them with cold water and add a few drops of vinegar. Refrigerated, they'll last 3-4 days.
  • An easy way of preparing onions for cutting is to trim the ends off, but don’t peel them. Microwave the onion on high for one minute. It is then easy to peel off the skin, and also you won’t cry when you chop them up.
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Bed & Bath Tips

  • Label each shelf in your linen closet to show its contents, such as sheets or pillowcases. This will make sure linens are put in their right places, and make them easier to find later.
  • Save your old toothbrushes for fast and easy cleaning of hair combs and brushes.
  • If two or more children share a bedroom, assign each one a color. Then paint drawers, storage units, even wooden hangers in these colors to show where each child's items are kept.
  • For an inexpensive and environmentally safe fabric softener, add two tablespoons of white vinegar to the final rinse.
  • For tough-to-clean wood blinds, dip Miracle Cloth in cornmeal and rub. The abrasion and absorption together help remove soil and grease.
  • Assign each person a room, and race to see who can un-clutter and clean his first. The reward is pizza-and-movie night at the end of the day...winner's choice!
  • Stuck finger rings? Use washing up liquid as a lubricant to remove stuck rings, I have seen it used to release a dog stuck in a rocky crevasse, alternatively use cooking or olive oil etc.
  • Finish daily chores faster. One way: Decide which areas need to be cleaned frequently, such as the bathroom. Fill a small plastic caddy with the necessary supplies (cleanser, sanitizer, sponge) and store it in that room.
  • To keep your bathroom mirror from fogging up during cold weather, spread a little shaving cream on the mirror and wipe it off with a tissue.
  • If you fill your bath with about an inch of cold water before adding hot water, your bathroom will become less steamy.
  • Don't throw away that tin of hardened and cracked shoe polish. Instead, heat in the bottom of a warm oven for a few minutes and it will become soft enough to use.
  • To keep moths away, put cloves in the pockets of winter coats or sweater before storing them.
  • Clean your bathroom after a steamy bath or shower. The walls and fixtures will be much easier to clean because the steam will have loosened the dirt.
  • Refresh sneakers overnight: Fill knee-high stockings with unused kitty litter, or place a couple teaspoons of baking soda in the center of a cotton cloth. Tie securely and tuck in!
  • Have a shower curtain that sticks and squeaks? Wipe furniture polish on the rod and the curtain will glide easily.
  • Trouble sleeping? Feeling stress? Try a glass of milk or other calcium-rich food. Calcium absorbs the lactic acid that is produced in excess when stressed.
  • Create your own bath soothers for a fraction of the cost. Toss several handfuls of Epsom salts in the tub to revive tired muscles, or add 2-3 teaspoons of baking soda to the water to help soften skin.
  • When running your bath, toss in a (tightly closed) bottle of your favorite skin lotion. When you're ready to moisturize after your bath, you'll have warm lotion to apply...no more chills!
  • For fresh-smelling closets, add some cedar chips to an old nylon stocking and hang. The cedar will also repel moths.
  • A facial scrub good enough to eat—almost! Mix oatmeal with water to form a paste; apply to your face and let dry until it feels tight. Rub off with your fingers in a back-and-forth motion to slough off dead skin.
  • When it's time to clean the medicine cabinet, place a cutting board atop the sink—an instant "table" for holding bottles and jars while working!
  • Hang an inexpensive set of measuring spoons on a hook in the medicine cabinet. When it's time for a liquid dose of medicine, you'll be able to pour the correct amount.
  • Denture tablets are good for more than just cleaning teeth! Before going to bed, drop a couple into the toilet bowl, then brush and flush the next morning!
  • To get rid of mold and mildew in the tub and shower, apply bleach directly to the affected areas.
  • Use a swiffer to clean leather shoes. You’ll be amazed how much dust clings to footwear.
  • Save your old toothbrushes for fast and easy cleaning of hair combs and brushes.
  • The plastic bag that your daily paper comes in, is great for soiled diapers
  • To Freshen the linen closet place cotton balls that have been sprayed with your favorite perfume. Once they are dry place them in corners and on the shelves or even in your lingerie drawer.
  • To Freshen Your Laundry Basket: Place a fabric softener sheet in the bottom of your laundry basket (remember to change it weekly). This will keep the basket from getting that stale odor, and will also keep the room where you keep your dirty clothes, smelling fresh.
  • Clean Blinds Easily! Never go through the horror of taking your blinds down, soaking them in the tub, scrubbing them and laying them in the driveway sun to dry again! Simply use a dryer fabric softener sheet (such as Bounce or Snuggles or something comparable in texture) to clean your blinds while they are hanging. Close the blinds and use the dryer sheet to wipe each blind. The rough texture of the dryer sheet removes all dust build-up easily and quickly and leaves your blinds shiny clean.
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Home Living Tips

  • Instead of an address book, consider keeping names, addresses and phone numbers on index cards in a file or recipe box. You'll also have room for email addresses, birthdays, even presents you've given or received.
  • Use all those address labels you receive from charities to label books, magazines, tupperware, anything you do not want to lose.  Great for your office stapler or tape dispenser too
  • Looking for a safe alternative to chlorine bleach? Try lemon juice. Soak stained garments in a gallon of water with 1/4 cup lemon juice added.
  • Save worn-out toothbrushes and use for cleaning jewelry, plant leaves, grout and other hard to reach places.
  • After washing pants, hang from the legs. The wet weight of the pants will help eliminate wrinkles, and little ironing will be necessary.
  • Before storing leftover paint, be sure to write on the can the room(s) or furniture that was painted with that color. If you have to do a touch-up later on, it will be easy to find the right can.
  • Can't remember where you put it? When you've stored items, write in two places where you put them, perhaps the back pages of the phone book and your date book.
  • Assign each family member a basket for mittens, gloves, hats and scarves. Keep them by the door most frequented...hung on the wall, or set on the floor or a shelf.
  • Take photos of a room and its furnishings; cut samples of its fabrics and carpet. Glue onto index cards. Next paint more cards with colors used in that room. Carry them in a binder for reference when adding to or changing the look of a room.
  • For longer life, store batteries in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Allow them to warm to room temperature before using.
  • Energy-efficient light bulbs last up to five time longer than conventional bulbs. Substitute fluorescent bulbs for standard ones. Use low-voltage Tungsten-halogen bulbs for powerful, unobtrusive lighting...such as in a kitchen.
  • If it's freezing outside: Fill a milk carton halfway with water, set outside until outer shell is frozen, yet center is not. Peel away carton, break top off ice and pour off water. Set it on your porch with a small candle inside!
  • Keep a bulletin board next to the washer and dryer. Pin tags, labels and receipts for clothing to it. If a garment does not wash as it should (or shrinks excessively), you can return it to the store for a refund.
  • Spring cleaning? When storing many boxes in the basement or attic, number each box. Tape a list to the wall with an itemized account of the contents next to the corresponding box number.
  • Know a budding young artist? Paint one wall of his/her room with flat black or dark green latex paint to create a giant, easy-clean chalkboard.
  • To remove a broken light bulb: Turn off the electricity, place half of a raw potato or apple into the broken base, then twist the bulb out.
  • Hang table linens on hangers padded with paper towel tubes to keep them from creasing.
  • Remove lipstick stains from machine washable clothing with petroleum jelly or vegetable shortening. Rub a little in, then launder as normal.
  • Keep household appliance instruction books and pamphlets in a single binder with pocket file inserts, and keep it on the bookshelf or next to your cookbooks. When you need directions for the steamer, microwave or iron, you'll know right where to look.
  • Freeze candles? The cold can make them last longer, so place them in the freezer before lighting them.
  • To remove candle wax from furniture, aim your hair dryer on the drippings...when it softens, remove it with a soft cloth.
  • An easy way to remove wax from glass candleholders is to pop the container in the microwave on LOW power, just until the wax melts off.
  • Looking for a safe alternative to chlorine bleach? Try lemon juice. Soak stained garments in a gallon of water with 1/4 cup lemon juice added.
  • Save worn-out toothbrushes and use for cleaning jewelry, plant leaves, grout and other hard to reach places.
  • After washing pants, hang from the legs. The wet weight of the pants will help eliminate wrinkles, and little ironing will be necessary.
  • If you have an older house you can save money on your heating bills by blocking up unused chimneys. Plastic foam is the best but I usually end up using old clothes.
  • Repairing burned carpet-- First cut away any brown area that has melted, then in a spot close to the wall clip some of the fabric. You then glue this on top of the burn spot. If done correctly with some patience this will work effectively to cover the burn with little to notice.
  • Regular cellulose kitchen sponges tend to get smelly, and the odor transfers onto your hands when you use the sponge. We have found that a spray of Febreeze (or any fabric odor remover, I would imagine) keeps that nasty odor away.
  • Utilizing these little pieces of soap that are always left over. Add a little glycerin and mash them up with a little warm water and you will have a liquid soap that is gentle and economical
  • To bring back the fluffiness in bed pillows, put them in the clothes dryer. The warm air does wonders in just a few minutes.
  • If an electric plug fits too tight and is difficult to pull out, rub its prongs with a soft lead pencil.
  • To clean a candle stand especially a glass one, place it in the deep freezer for one hour. The wax will chip off more easily .
  • Sprinkle a little boric acid on bathroom tiles before washing for economical as well as sparkling results.
  • While shifting residence, pack crockery while it is still wet. This way, the chances of breakage will be less.
  • To remove obstinate ball point ink stains, rub the affected area with a cotton bud soaked in cologne.
  • To eliminate beer stains from woolen outfits, scrub the affected area with a mixture of lukewarm water and salt. (be careful with salt as it can fix some stains )
  • Apply mineral oil over your shower doors and tile surface. That delays the mineral build-up in future use.
  • If your water pipes sometimes make a loud "hammering noise" after the toilet has been flushed or sink, etc. Ask at the hardware store for something for "waterhammer". It's a fitting or some thing which is easily installed in the line. A common problem and not very expensive.
  • Marks inside cups and mugs are caused by the metal cutlery abrading the glazing coating the service. Try an old fashioned remedy - toothpaste!
  • The whitening toothpaste usually contains alumina which is an abrasive. I suppose that if it safe on the teeth it has to be O.K. on cups etc
  • I run vinegar through my dishwasher once a month and this prevents hard deposits from getting a head start.
  • Broken Glass: Use bread to pick up fragments of broken glass -
  • Squeaky floorboards can be eased by using French chalk or talcum powder
  • When sewing tough material, rub the material first with an old candle or cooking paraffin. Used this technique to sew carpeting.
  • Faded carpets can be restored by hand painting using fabric dyes  (A useful range of fabric dye pens is available from Dylon)
  • House Plants: If you have an aquarium, save the water each time you change it and water your house plants with it. You'll be amazed at the results.
  • Socks can be useful in protecting the ends of unused fluorescent tubes.
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Furniture Tips

  • Rub a candle on the runners of a sticky desk drawer, it’s amazing how much of a difference it will make.
  • Furniture restoration: To make furniture look older mix varnish with soot and then paint on.
  • Light scratches on furniture can be disguised by using a wax crayon pencil. Another method is to rub with a Brazil Nut.
  • Small dents in furniture can be steamed out using a steam iron on a damped cloth. Be careful not to overdo it on delicate or very valuable items.
  • Removal of Sticky Residues  Given a few days to work, cooking oil will combine with the glue and soften it. After peeling off the label, the oily residue responds to hot water and detergent. You can help the oil to penetrate by peeling off or scratching the label's surface
  • Use WD40 to remove sticky labels. Just spray a little WD40 on the label and leave it for a few minutes. The label usually slides right off
  • Sticky label remover from glass I have found that if you put peanut butter, preferably not chunky, on glass, bottles, or even mirrors, it will remove the residue. Sometimes it takes more than one application. Most people have peanut butter on hand.
  • Removing Adhesive: Rubber cement thinner which you can buy at most art supply stores and some office supply stores removes most adhesives used on labels. Scrape off as much of the paper from the label as possible before applying the thinner and rubbing with a cloth or paper towel. It works great on glass, Formica and most non porous surfaces but will cloud many plastics. Also, it is extremely flammable. Lighter fluid often will also remove rubber based adhesives.
  • Use white spirit or lighter fluid to remove the residue from sticky labels.
  • Goo Gone works great on removing adhesives left behind by stickers, store stickers, gum, etc. It is found in Sears Hardware Stores and other department stores.
  • I used vinegar to remove adhesive from glass jars, and off of our sink. it worked pretty well -- Jan
  • Avon Skin so Soft. to take sticky goo off of things. I use it for many things. Including the dog and cat. I use it when cleaning old glass it helps take the old grease off and leaves everything shining. Baking soda is a all around cleaning solution. It is non abrasive. Cleans the outside of a refrigerator very well and takes the yellow away if you have white. I use it in the wash instead of softeners. It sweets the clothes and softens them also. It is also good to take the bugs off the car. Remember it is non abrasive.

Garage & Auto Tips

  • Always keep baking soda in the car as it will put out a fire, yours or someone else's. Cheap also. We used baking soda in our pool along with bleach for 14 years and never bought another chemical. We had the best looking pool in the neighborhood. Crystal clear. I also use it in my pond for the PH.
  • Daffodils: Don’t mix cut daffodils in with other cut flowers as the daffodils produce a toxin that kills off the other flowers.
  • After working on your car you can clean your hands with a mixture of dishwashing liquid and sugar
  • Use olive oil or other cooking oil to clean hands dirtied by engine oil
  • Mount a fold-down table on the wall for an instant workbench. Hang secondhand kitchen cabinets for extra storage. Add locks for cabinets storing harmful substances.
  • To remove odors from your car trunk, fill an empty coffee can with kitty litter and leave it in the trunk overnight.
  • To prevent rust on tools, place a piece of charcoal or chalk in your toolbox to absorb any moisture.
  • Draw simple silhouettes of your tools on a pegboard. You'll always know what you have, where things go, and what's missing.
  • If your car gets stuck in ice or snow, you can provide traction with kitty litter (keep a bag in your trunk). If you don't have litter, try placing the rubber mats from your car in front of the drive wheels.
  • Clear out a corner of the garage for garage sale items you'll gather. Inside, work room to room with three big bags: Garage Sale, Donations...and Trash.
  • To help put an end to painful and annoying static electricity shocks. Mix two teaspoons of liquid fabric softener and one quart of water in a spray bottle and spray the fabric and and carpeting inside your car and let dry before using.
  • Keep the center tube from a roll of paper towels in your car. It's great for transporting a child's artwork home from school undamaged.
  • Chipped paint spots on your car? Promptly clean the area thoroughly and apply a coat of clear nail polish to prevent rust.
  • Keep an old rolled-up window shade in your vehicle. If you need to change a flat, you can roll it out to protect your clothes from getting soiled from the road.
  • With winter weather sure to show up soon, now's a good time to put a pair of comfortable shoes in your trunk. It's a good idea to carry a lightweight, compact silver "space blanket" too.
  • Save empty tissue boxes and fill them with plastic grocery bags. When it's full, keep it in your car. You'll be surprised how handy the bags will be—for muddy shoes, plants from the nursery, wet scarves and mittens and more.
  • Keep a disposable camera in the emergency car kit. In the event of an accident, you'll have it to photograph the scene. (It also comes in handy if you see a moose along the side of the road!)
  • "Erase" steamed-up car windows...keep a blackboard eraser in the glove compartment and use it to wipe away condensation!
  • Keep a small flashlight in the car...it's good for road emergencies and map-reading.
  • Need a place to neatly store golf balls in the off season? Egg cartons are ideal!
  • To maximize floor space in the garage, hang as many items as possible on the walls. Pegboard and utility hooks provide plenty of hanging options.
  • Too cold for the car to start? Try using a hair dryer to blow hot air on the carburetor before resorting to walking.
  • When test driving a used car, map out a route that includes a city street, a bumpy road, a parking lot, a hill and a freeway to get a good idea of how the car handles on each of those surfaces.

Cut gas costs

  • Slowing down from 70 to 55 saves 15% of gas
  • Properly inflated tires saves 10% of gas use
  • Change the air filter 2x a year and spark plugs every 50,000 miles
  • Reduce the clutter (and weight) in your trunk
  • Drive the smaller family car when you can

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Yard & Garden Tips

  • Coat the blade of your snow shovel with floor wax before you start shoveling and you won't have to struggle to knock the snow off the blade ever again. It will slide right off!
  • To encourage moss between patio slabs or brick sections, harvest some moss from another area of your yard. Place it in a blender with some plain yogurt, mix well and then "paint" it where you want moss to grow.
  • For simple and inexpensive frost protection, cover vulnerable plants with one or two layers of newspaper. Secure with bricks or large stones.
  • Enjoy cut tulips from your garden longer! To keep them from drooping, add a few drops of vodka to the water in the vase.
  • To keep grass from growing between bricks in a walk, sprinkle the spaces with salt.
  • Rub houseplants with mayonnaise to shine the leaves and keep dust from settling.
  • If the stems of flowers you're arranging are too short, stick them in clear drinking straws, then trim the straws to desired length. Even in glass vases, the straws are not noticeable, and you can still use those short-stemmed blooms in your arrangements.
  • Continue gardening even in the cold weather: plant an indoor herb garden! Grow basil, chives, parsley and thyme in 6" clay pots, making sure they get 4-6 hours of light per day (you can use fluorescent light). You’ll enjoy fresh herbs for cooking all winter long.
  • Can't tell if a houseplant needs watering? Poke you finger 1" into the soil: if it's moist, don't water. If it's dry, do. You can also use a knitting needle; if it comes out dry, it's time to water.
  • Dissolve one envelope of unflavored gelatin in a quart of water to make nitrogen-rich plant food. Water houseplants with a fresh mix once a month. (Signs of nitrogen deficiency include pale yellow lower leaves and rusty brown edges).
  • Before throwing out old gloves, consider using them to dust the leaves of your indoor plants. You can clean both sides in one swipe, and toss them in the wash when you're done.
  • Place a few ice cubes in plants that need watering. They'll slowly melt into the soil, providing adequate water without the drippy mess!
  • When repotting plants, put a coffee filter over the hole in the pot to prevent soil from washing away during watering.
  • Starting seedlings inside? To water, wet a sponge and slowly wring out the water. The gentle drops won't damage the tender plants.
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Pets & Nature Tips

  • If you want to encourage your pet bird to sing, position a mirror in its cage so that it can see itself. It will think it sees another bird and will sing to its reflection.
  • Cats and wildlife may climb onto vehicle engines for warmth during cold weather. Be sure to check under the hood before starting your vehicle and honk the horn to startle any animals seeking shelter inside.
  • Keep a file for each pet, with their medical files, records of vaccinations, weight, birth history and more. You'll be prepared for vet visits and petsitters.
  • Discourage pets from digging in potted plants. Put cinnamon sticks or strips of lemon peel into the soil. Most animals dislike the smell, so they'll be less likely to dig up the soil or chew the plants.
  • If your cat refuses liquid medicine or hairball remedies just put it on his fur and watch him lick it off.
  • If your new puppy is restless and cries at night, wrap a ticking clock in a soft towel, and put it in puppy's bed. The quiet, regular noise is like the mother's heartbeat and will help to comfort the puppy.
  • If your cat becomes an unwelcome alarm clock, feed it before you go to bed. Or entertain your pet by placing a birdfeeder near a window that's well away from your bedroom.
  • Recycle leftover pine cones from your holiday decorations. Roll them in peanut butter and then birdseed for a winter treat the birds and squirrels will love.
  • If cats or other animals dig in your planters or pots, rub some camphor oil along the edges. (They hate the smell.) Reapply when the smell fades
  • Got a smelly dog? Rub baking soda thoroughly into Fido's coat, then brush it out. The baking soda will absorb any unpleasant odors.
  • A box of ten plastic lawn bags makes forty economical kitty litter pan liners. Cut each bag into four rectangular pieces.
  • Brewer's yeast rubbed on a dog's coat helps prevent fleas.
  • Store pet food in a plastic container with lid. Put a scoop inside and keep the container handy in the pantry for nightly feedings.
  • Cut a hole in the bottom of a large trash bag, and two holes on the sides, then slip into this instant waterproof "apron" when washing the dog!
  • Get extra mileage out of a worn bathroom rug: use it as a sleeping mat for the dog or as a grooming mat in the garage.
  • Keep your dog's coat shiny by adding one tablespoon of olive oil to his food.
  • Use a kitchen baster to add water to your bird's cage...no need to disturb him and no more "gentle pecks" from your pet!
  • Do you have a good picture of your pet that shows his or her distinguishing markings? If she ever gets lost, you can use the photo as an identifier on posters and flyers to aid in her speedy return.
  • Recyle an old leather belt and use as a dog collar! Just cut it down and punch some new holes for a perfect fit. Remember to slide on his ID and a ring to which you can attach his leash.
  • Having a tough time removing pet hair from upholstered furniture? Try wiping a damp sponge over the furniture, rinsing sponge as needed.
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Travel Tips

  • Cover the top side of a map with clear contact paper. This will reinforce the map so it won't fall apart, and will help protect it from dirt and moisture.
  • Help prevent jet lag by avoiding alcohol for two days before flying. The day before a flight, eat only light meals to prevent bloating or nausea.
  • Safeguard your passport. If a hotel requires you to leave it overnight, get a receipt. Before you leave home make photocopies, keeping one stateside, another in a separate section of your luggage.
  • When packing for a family trip that will involve an airline flight, mix the family's clothes in different suitcases. If one bag is lost, no one has to do entirely without extra clothes.
  • Before you travel, pack a first-aid kit with bandage materials, disinfectant, antibiotic ointment, motion-sickness pills, upset stomach medicine and aspirin or other pain reliever.
  • When sightseeing, nothing is more important than a comfortable pair of shoes. So if yours start to rub or irritate, risking a blister, apply a little petroleum jelly to that spot on the shoe where there is friction against your foot.
  • Pack several sizes of zippered plastic bags in your suitcase. Use them to store postcards, trip mementos, credit card receipts or leftover food from an impromptu picnic.
  • Before you travel, save money by emailing the chamber of commerce or tourist bureau for free maps, and guides for lodging, restaurants, special events, historical information and tourist attractions.
  • Why throw out a perfectly good suitcase just because the handle is broken? Run a dog collar through the metal rings and latch. It's an instant fix with a distinctive look you'll spot easily on the luggage turnstile!
  • Ask a neighbor to pick up mail and the newspaper, even when gone for just a day or two, or stop delivery until your return. Piled up newspapers and mail are a dead-giveaway that you're not around, making your home a target for burglars.
  • Write your name, address and phone number on a piece of paper and slip it into a small zippered plastic bag; put the bag inside your suitcase, whether you check it or not. If the outside tag falls off, your luggage can still be identified.
  • Use a covered cake pan to carry kids' art supplies or toys for long car trips. All the pieces stay in one place, and the cover creates a sturdy writing or coloring surface.

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Seasonal Favorite Tips

  • Make your own Easter-egg dyes! Boil the eggs with grass for green, onion skins for yellow, and beets for red.
  • Sift a little bit of cornstarch over hard candy when you put it in a dish. Stir. Candy will not stick together or to the dish.
  • Use small marshmallows as candleholders on birthday cake. They’ll keep the wax from dripping into the frosting.
  • If you turn back the thermostat to reduce your energy bill (or when the power goes out), turn time back too. Bundle up, gather around candles or a battery-powered lantern and share stories with family members.
  • To make snow shoveling easier, apply a coat of household liquid wax to the shovel...even the wettest snow won't stick!
  • Make a list of what you need to do before you begin spring gardening in earnest...such as sharpen tools, tune-up the lawnmower, choose plants, prepare the soil, check the sprinkler system...and check them off as you go.
  • If you decorate with pinecones, but find some that are shut tight, simply set the oven at a low temperature and place the cones in a pan—in about an hour, they should open up and you can use them in your craft project!
  • Did the gift-wrap rush leave your supplies in disarray? Roll the gift wrap and slide it inside the tubes where it will stay neat until next year. Write a description on the outside of the tube.

Gift Tips

  • You'll always have last-minute gifts on hand if you buy doubles of things you need yourself, such as kitchen gadgets, bath toiletries, notepads and stationery.
  • Create personal thank you cards by taking a picture of you (or children) using or wearing the gift. They'll know you appreciate their thoughtfulness!
  • After your children have received a gift, take a picture of them playing with or wearing it and send it as a thank you note.
  • Sending money for an older child's birthday? Roll up a bill and insert it into a balloon. Mail it along in a card with instructions to blow up and pop. Works for party invitations, too.
  • For mothers-to-be, start a scrapbook of current events. Fill it with clippings of headlines, fashion photos, movie ads, etc. On the final page, place the front page of the newspaper on baby's birthday!
  • Try a gift box alternative: watering can, ice bucket, odd shaped box, trinket drawer, lunch box or toolbox.
  • Never again forget to send a birthday card on time. Buy and address cards in advance, putting the date to mail where the stamp goes and keep with your bills. Replace as used.
  • Keep a separate calendar just to note special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Check it the last week of every month...that will ensure your cards, gifts or flowers will arrive on time.
  • Start a collection of "thank you" or birthday gifts now. As you come across gifts that friends and family would enjoy, purchase them and put them away in a special box in your closet. You'll avoid last-minute shopping and will always have a selection of gifts to choose from!
  • As a good-bye gift or housewarming gift for a friend or neighbor, present them with a set of labels with their new address. You can easily create them on your computer, even personalizing them with photos and artwork.
  • Thoroughly wash a new "flying disc" toy and use it to heap cookies or treats on for a party. After the "plate" is empty, you can use it as a game or give it away as a door prize!
  • When you see individual or boxed "thank you" cards on sale, purchase them and stash them away. Then when you or a family member need to send a thank you, you'll always have a nice selection to choose from.
  • Don't delay writing thank you notes. Letting someone know you appreciate them is a gift in itself.
  • Make gift-giving easier by keeping a "wish" book. Create a page for each person and record personal information such as special dates, clothing sizes, favorite colors, even favorite foods and restaurants! As you buy gifts throughout the year, make a note so you don't duplicate.
  • Gift Shopping

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MORE TIPS

  • If the screws on your eyeglasses loosen often, use a little clear nail polish and they should stick tight.
     
  • To find a lost hard contact lens in a room, lower the lighting and shine a flashlight across the floor area. The lens should shine like a piece of glass.

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