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I don't use a debit card. Instead, I only cash or checks. I find that the time it takes to fill out a check helps me to slow down on my purchases. No instant gratification.
Free Car Deodorizer
I use the perfume paper samples that come in magazines as air fresheners for my car. They are very plentiful during the holiday season. They not only come in magazines, but also they come in advertisements from department stores.
Affordable Bed Warmer
Here's another use for "fleece" material bought at a fabric store. Purchase enough length to cover the size bed you wish and place it under the bottom sheet. Then make up the bed as usual. I found my bed became warmer and cozier quickly because of this addition.
Easy Hardboiled Eggs
I once worked for an egg company. To cook "hardboiled" eggs so that the eggs do not crack and the yolk does not darken, just bring the eggs to a boil, turn off the burner, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Then drain and use as you like. Talk about energy efficient!
No Wrap This Year
My goal is to not use any gift wrap/purchased gift wrap materials this holiday season. To meet that goal, I plan to make gift bags from fabric and cast off clothing that I already have. A friend recently gave me clothing that she no longer needed. The "good stuff" was passed on via Freecycle and the "less-than-perfect" clothing was ideal for my purpose. I've been using it to make many different types of gift bags. For example, a graduation gown was perfect for making a very large gift bag! I used the pant legs of jeans that could not be passed on to make sturdy bags. An outdated red bridesmaid dress yielded a lot of fabric, which was perfect for holiday gift bags.
Pasta and Veggies
When preparing pasta recipes that call for veggies like broccoli florets or asparagus tips, I line the bottom of colander with the prepped veggies and pour the cooked pasta right on top. The veggies are steamed "al dente" while the pasta drains, saving the extra water, utilities, and time of cooking the veggies separately. Works for both frozen and fresh vegetables.
Cleaning Brass, Silver and Copper
I love the warm glow of metal ornaments, but I hate polishing them! An elderly friend showed me something that blew my mind. Mix one teaspoon of tartaric acid in approximately two liters (5 pints) of warm water, with a dash of dishwashing liquid. Stir until all the tartaric acid dissolves. Use plastic gloves to protect your hands, although the mixture is not seriously dangerous, just harsh on the skin. Increase ratio to amount of items needing cleaning and immerse items completely in the water for about two to five minutes. Tarnish disappears like magic!
Baking Soda Uses
I have found that baking soda works wonders on diaper rash. When I see "red," I just sprinkle about a half cup in her warm bath water. It's usually gone the next day and there is no need for diaper cream (that blocks the absorbency of the disposable diaper anyway).
I also sprinkle baking soda in the washing machine with just about all our clothes. It works just as good as those "detergent boosters" that they sell for $10 a bag at the store!
Jaime C. in McCalla, AL
Christmas Crafts for Kids
My grandkids, ages 4, 6 and 8, just got done making gifts for their teachers. We bought clear plastic ornaments (Christmas bulbs) for the tree. We took off the tops and squirted acrylic paint inside, one color at a time, and rolled the bulb around (sometimes shaking it) to spread the color. Once the first color was spread, more colors were added if desired. The bulbs are very pretty just as they are, but to make them extra special, we used glue to make designs on the outside and covered the glue with glitter. You can also fill the bulbs with small candies, but this makes them too heavy for the tree. For older children or adults, the glass bulbs give you an even lovelier finished product than the plastic.
For a craft project at other times of the year, you can do the same thing or decorate the outside with yarn, string, beads and ribbon to make decorative balls to be displayed in a table bowl as a centerpiece. These take more time and practice to get them just right but are worth the effort, especially if you enjoy crafting. Make sure your glue works for glass or plastic, depending on your base ornament.
When it comes to getting wood, be a good neighbor. I am on good terms with 99% of my neighbors, and all of them know that I burn wood whenever I have a supply. A few years ago, the remnants of hurricane Dennis blew though my area, downing a lot of trees. A day or two after the storm, I spoke with a neighbor that had trees in his yard and asked if I could get the wood after the tree service had finished cutting their trees down. They asked and the service agreed and charged my neighbor less because they didn't have to deal with disposal.
The service even brought the uncut pieces to my backyard for me. Unfortunately, they had been measured and cut to fit on the back of their truck, so I had some very large logs in my yard. I called a couple of my cousins and asked them to help. Both brought their chainsaws and one brought his log splitter. In an afternoon, all the wood was cut. I ended up with four cords of wood from a white birch, silver maple and cedar tree. It was all free, but I fed my cousins for their labor. This spring another neighbor was cutting down a maple tree that had become a risk to another neighbor's property, and they offered me the wood, which I accepted. We rented a wood splitter rather than bother my cousins, and in an afternoon, all but five trunk pieces were split.
(end Dollar Stretcher Tips)