About a month ago I was working on doing one of my daily posts when I happened to notice in the upper corner of my WordPress dashboard that the total number of posts I have done since I started this blog was actually getting very close to ONE-THOUSAND!!! WHOA! I could hardly believe it, although logically I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, I have been doing this blog 7 days a week since June of 2011, so the math makes sense (even to a math-challenged person like myself!)
Well, a milestone of this magnitude deserves a BIG CELEBRATION, don’t you think? Me too! :-) So for today’s post I’m RE-sharing some of my favorite reader tips and tricks AND giving away a special prize package worth……..(drumroll please!)………$1,000.00!!!
But before we get to the awarding of prizes……take a look at some of my favorite “Good Things” that have been shared by readers over the last 2 1/2+ years. Like I always say……I have the SMARTEST, MOST CREATIVE readers in the universe! :-)
Favorite summer tip: Save your kids’ clothes (and yours!) from mustard, ketchup, chili, and relish stains by spiral-cutting those hot dogs before grilling. Just poke a bamboo skewer lengthwise through the hot dog and make one long spiral cut, rolling the hot dog across the cutting board as you slice. Pull out the skewer and grill. You can slice an entire package of dogs in less than two minutes. The spirals in the dog ‘hold’ the condiments on the dog in the bun.
Cooktop cleaner. I have a glass cooktop and when food gets cooked on/boiled over, I sprinkle on baking soda, then use a spray bottle filled with vinegar and squirt the baking soda until it’s foamy, but not diluted. I let it sit for about 5 – 10 minutes and then it wipes away clean with no scrubbing :)
Iced water bottles. I have 4 boys at home in sports. In the summer we go through water like crazy. I have about 15 reusable water bottles. I fill them 1/3 full with water and place in the freezer. When the kids are headed to practice or the park they can grab a frozen one and just add water. No messing with getting cubes in the bottle at the last minute while looking for cleats, hats, and gear. The one big “cube” melts slower also.
Using dryer sheets in the kitchen! I keep a box of cheap dryer sheets under my kitchen sink and when I have a particularly hard baked-on mess, I fill the pan with warm water and drop a dryer sheet in the pan. I usually let it soak overnight and by the next morning I can just wipe the mess out!! It works so well!! (P.S. Using a dryer sheet in the kitchen and to wipe down baseboards to keep them dust free for longer are the only times I use dryer sheets now that I am making my own…thanks to Jillee!)
When browning ground beef use a potato masher instead of a spoon. It breaks up the ground beef into small crumbles and especially helps if there is still some frozen hamburger that hasn’t completely thawed.
Dry, scaly hands, BE GONE! In your hand, pour 2 tsp. sugar, 1 – 2 tsp. olive oil and two pumps hand soap. Rub together into cuticles, and in between fingers until sugar is mostly dissolved. Rinse. Apply a bit of your favorite lotion.
When washing outside windows add a little Jet Dry to your washing liquid and then just hose off the windows. The water just sheets off – and no streaks!
For neck and/or shoulder pain, fill a tube sock with regular rice and tie a knot. Put the rice sock in your microwave for a minute or two, then put it around your neck. It stays warm for quite a while and if you have stiff shoulders or arthritis pain it feels like heaven. You can also put it in the freezer for an ice pack.
More manageable hair. My hair is fine and typically falls flat no matter what I do on hot, humid days. A few weeks ago I began to add one teaspoon of baking soda to my handful of shampoo along with a few drops of conditioner. Mix it up in your hand and shampoo as usual. The results are body, lift and control that stay all day!
Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns tips: First, cut the bottom of the pumpkin instead of the top. It interferes less with the design that way. Instead of making your base perfectly round, make a triangle shaped notch at the back to make it easier to tell which way the pumpkin will sit on it. To prevent your carved pumpkins from withering up, float them in a bathtub full of cold water until it is time to display them. Last but not least, right before lighting the candles, liberally sprinkle the inside of each pumpkin with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. The heat from the candles will warm the spices and pumpkin flesh up to create a heavenly pumpkin pie smell!
Summer time hair tip! After spending days in the pool, strip the chemicals from your hair by adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda to your regular shampoo! This leaves hair free of pool chemicals and silky and shiny! You can also use this to get rid of product build up! Do this once a week!
Cleaning the front loading washer. Take a magnet clip from and find your favorite absorbent cloth. Clip a cloth with the magnet clip then attach it to the side of your washing machine. It’s within easy reach to wipe down the rubber seal after each load. Keep happy about your fancy new washer actually smelling clean because you always have a rag within reach that hangs dry. And it’s right there to toss in the load once a week or so. So simple but makes laundry-life easier! Check the $1 store for the magnet clips. I found 3 for $1 that are strong enough to hold up a nice thick cotton rag!
To remember birthdays and anniversaries, buy several cards at once from the dollar store. Put the name of the intended recipient and the date of the event in the upper right corner of each envelope, where the stamp will cover the writing when you are ready to mail the cards. File in a basket in chronological order. Set your computer or phone calendar to remind you about 4 days before each event. Address the card, add my personal sentiment, stamp it and place it in the mail box for the mailman to pick up.
Avoiding container stains. Spray the inside of plastic storage containers with cooking spray before putting tomato-based sauces like chili and spaghetti inside. The spray keeps the container from getting stained.
Homemade “Magic Shell.” Mix Coconut Oil and Nutella together in a 2:1 ratio. By itself it’s amazing to snack on, but guess what?? You can spoon it over ice cream and it hardens within a minute, making a yummy alternative to store-bought crackle topping.
An easy way to sweep up sticky foods such as cooked rice, oatmeal or raisins. Simply spray the area lightly with water and sweep as usual. The food sweeps right up without a struggle.
Vinegar Socks. I know this is going to sound strange but it works. When you have a baby or small child who has a very high fever and medication just won’t bring it down. Take a pair of white socks, soak them in apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Put them on the childs feet and wrap the feet in a towel. Wait until socks have dried, if fever is still high repeat. I’ve never had to do it twice, once has always done the trick.
Terry cloth teethers. My son had received terry cloth booties as a gift, but he rarely wore them. One day, as I was freezing washcloths to help with his teething discomfort, I looked at the unworn booties and thought “teethers!” By wetting the toe area and freezing in a plastic storage bag, the baby gets a cold, soothing teether and we get a dry cuff to hold onto. Since there are 2 booties, there’s always one ready in the freezer.
SUPER easy homemade caramel sauce, perfect for dipping food into or drizzling onto ice cream. Melt a half cup of butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3/4 cup corn syrup and a 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in one teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. You can serve it hot, room temperature, or cold! It’s addicting!
To remove grease, oil, use LARD. I use a lot and make sure it covers the oil spot and the surrounding area of garment. Then wash with regular detergent. Lard breaks down oil, detergent breaks down lard and its all down the drain.
Sore feet relief! If you have plantar fasciitis or tired, achy feet, fill a plastic water bottle 3/4 of the way with water, freeze it and use it frozen after a workout or long day to roll the bottoms of your feet to reduce inflammation.
Natural carpet freshener. Combine 1 part dried bay leaves to 3 parts baking soda and pulverize it all in the blender. Pet and Child Safe! You can also do this with cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, depends on your scent preference! Store in an air-tight container, punch holes in the lid for sprinkling. One added benefit is that most pungent herbs and spices are natural bug and rodent repellents!
Tried and true tip for making juicy pork chops. Spread a light layer of mayo on the chops and then pile on italian bread crumbs. Bake in the oven and they come out delish everytime!
Easy way to shuck corn! To avoid shucking corn and trying to get all of the silk off, just microwave your corn 4-5 minutes in the microwave for one ear; or 10 minutes for 3 ears. The husks keep the moisture in and help steam the corn. Cut an inch off the wide end and the corn slips right out…no silks!
Clever cake tip! Before you frost a cake, place it on a serving plate wrapped in plastic wrap. That way, when you eat half of the cake, you can just lift the ends of the plastic and wrap it up. It’s also make it easy to transfer the cake to another plate without messing anything up.
DIY gravy separator. When you make a turkey and you want to make gravy, take your baster and suck up the turkey juices and put them in a plastic zipper bag (after it’s cooled a tad of course.) Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. All the fat will rise to the top and then all you do is cut a hole in the bottom corner of the zipper bag and release only the good stuff on the bottom. No fancy gadget needed.
Handy recipe organizer. I put convert all my recipes into .PDF files and then send them to my Kindle Fire (one document per category, like “breakfast” or “pies”). I now have all my recipes with me at all times and it is very handy in the kitchen – I don’t have to drag out my cookbook.
DIY water globe. I love the convenience of water globes for plants and in my larger plants instead of a couple of globes I just use an empty wine or coke bottle!
Kitchen time-saver. This is a tip I use every time I make potato or macaroni salad. I like to put eggs in my salads but rather than boil the eggs separately, I just put them in the pot with the potatoes or the macaroni and they all get done at the same time. Plus, it saves me from having to clean another pot!
Use a hot cast iron skillet for the BEST ever cornbread! Preheat your oven and place your cast iron skillet in the oven along with the amount of oil that is called for your recipe. After the oil is hot and the skillet is heated, remove skillet from oven and pour the heated oil into the batter, mixing and transferring the batter back into the skillet. Place in oven and bake for desired time. This greases your pan plus makes a crust like edge on your best ever corn bread!
A tip for better baking: buy a scale and weigh out your solid ingredients. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given cake recipies and such out, only to have people complain it won’t work for them. The usual culprit is too much flour, which is easy to over do using volume. One cup of regular white flour weighs 125 grams. Also, don’t over mix! Unless the recipe specifies otherwise, stopping when the dry and wet ingredients are just incorporated gives a very tender product. Pie crust is not bread. The less you can mix, the better.
For a quick desserts, use cake mix batter in the waffle iron. Make enough for dessert that day and freeze extras for drop-ins. When needed just toast or microwave & top with ice cream or fruit & whipped cream.
Stretch your baby soap! I have three little ones and we used to go through liquid baby soap like crazy. I found an old foaming soap bottle and put about an inch of baby soap in then topped it off with water and shook gently. My last bottle of baby soap lasted about 6 months using this method! The kids think its fun too!
Use baking soda in your flowerbeds and garden. I sprinkle baking soda around my flowerbeds to prevent rabbits and deer from eating my plants. I also sprinkle it on my garden in the backyard for the same reason and as a bonus, by sprinkling baking soda on the soil around your tomato plants, it actually sweetens your tomatoes!
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST………..
Make sure you tell others that you love them… OFTEN. And if you have furry family members, make sure they know, too. Although it isn’t one of those super helpful hints, I think it goes along with some of Jillee’s other posts that remind us about paying it forward and how to be happier. I know it makes me happier when those around me know they are loved.
This list really is “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the wealth of information that has been shared by YOU on this blog. Regular readers, I’m certain, would attest to this being true.
I wish I could have shared MORE….but after reading over comments for more than half the day yesterday, I had to draw the line somewhere. :-)
I can’t thank all of you enough for reading and commenting and sharing in this community for the last 2 1/2+ years! YOU are what makes this blog successful and I hope you will continue on this journey with me for years to come!