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Use ketchup to shine your cookware's copper bottoms. Just rub some ketchup on the bottom of the pot and wait a few minutes. You will see it start to work. Then rinse. Works every time!
To keep squirrels, raccoons, and other animals out of your garbage cans, spray a mixture of vinegar and water in the cans. The animals do not like the smell and will leave the cans alone.
When we finish a jar of store bought pickles, I like to thinly slice up a cucumber and put it in the jar of leftover juice. In a few days, I have a brand new jar of pickles for the cost of one cucumber!
Leftover Halloween Candy
Instead of throwing out leftover Halloween candy, use it to make frosting. For candy corn, add a few drops of water to the candy and microwave until it is a smooth consistency. Try tootsie rolls, candy bars or other candy. Candy from other holidays works as well.
Custom Greeting Cards
Why waste money on individual cards that cost a fortune? I buy blank cards by the box and save. This was reinforced when I looked at a "Get Well" card recently; it was plain and small but cost $3.50! For $3, I bought two boxes of large, pretty, blank cards. I have a pile of 36 art cards that I picked up on a clearance sale for $18. Not only do I save money, but also this idea lets me make each card personal with an individual message tailored to the recipient.
I buy a good quality vanilla bean and put it into a small glass container filled with vodka. Then I put it into a dark cupboard and let it steep for four weeks. Viola! I have homemade, quality vanilla that tastes great in everything from a favorite recipe to coffee. And as you use it, you keep adding more vodka, so you never run out. Cool, huh?
Marsha in Homosassa, FL
Combo Lock Trick
At the end of the school year or during any long break, use a Sharpie(r) permanent marker to write the combination on the bottom of your lock. When your kids bring it back to school, the marker can be erased with alcohol on a cotton ball. I have used the same combination lock for my last three kids through high school. When the time comes that we don't need the lock anymore, I can sell it in a garage sale, since I still know the combination!
Katy V. in Owasso, OK
Avoiding Post Office Lines
Order stamps from your mailbox and save on gas to the post office. Leave a note in your mailbox for the mail carrier with the flag up, stating that you would like to have an orange envelope to order stamps from your mailbox. When the mail carrier leaves your order envelope, simply check the stamps you would like to purchase, put your check in the envelope, and put the envelope back in the mailbox with the flag up. This is a great resource for me and saves me from having to run out to the post office for stamps. I know you can get them from the grocery store checkout, but I usually get home and realize I forgot to ask the cashier for stamps. I may wait 24-48 hours for my stamps to be delivered, but what I save in gas is worth it to me.
Easier Menu Planning
As a working mother trying to cook for a family, with one member requiring low sodium food, I created a menu notebook. Once a week, I work up a menu for the week, which includes the day, food, name of cookbook, and page number for recipes. It is easy to make a grocery list from the menu and recipes. I have done this for several years and use it to create weekly menus when I am having brain block. Having the name of the cookbook and page number, I can easily find a recipe without having to search through all my cookbooks. I often make comments next to the day's food list if something is really good or bad and whether or not it should be repeated. This has been a real time saver.
C.W. in Georgia
Inexpensive Roach Trap
Use duct tape. Tear off a strip about 12" to 16" long, fold down the ends about half an inch, and press down on counter top with sticky side facing up. The roaches will run over it and get stuck. Lift it, fold it sticky sides together, put in a sealed plastic bag, and dispose of on trash day. You can use it on cabinet doors, appliances, under the sink, and even in the air intake for your air handler. It works really well.
As a caution, lizards or other beneficial animals will get stuck to it. Cats ignore it until there is movement on it and dogs will make a mess, so put it where they are not going to reach it. This way, you are not using poison, and you will learn what kind of infestation you have to deal with.
Putting the Word Out
When there is something I am looking for or want, I put the word out. I let my friends know, and I don't expect to get the item right away. Often someone has what I'm looking for, doesn't want it, and is glad to get rid of it.
For example, my microwave drew its last breath and I was debating getting a new one. I mentioned this to my friend, and she said, "Oh, don't buy one. My daughter just brought me one that she got free at a garage sale. She didn't want it, but thought someone could use it and dropped it off at her mother's house. It had been sitting in the shed for six months unused! I cleaned it up and had a new-to-me microwave that worked perfectly. Her daughter said that the lady got a new one to fit in with all her new appliances. There was nothing wrong with the appliance. She just didn't like the color! So letting folks know you need or want something can often produce results that are good for you and good for the environment.