A friend of mine once suggested that I post a bunch of the tips and tricks I've learned over the years....so hear they are......at least as many I can get down while the girls watch "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"...again....
- A wonderful low-fat alternative to liquid coffee creamers, that is still natural dairy - Instant Skim Milk Powder! Can be kept in the cupboard at work, in a jar going camping, can even pre-mix with sugar or your favourite sweetener for a one-scoop solution!
- Buy your coffee beans whole - they stay fresher! You don't need any fancy equipment to grind it yourself - just a good old fashioned blender! I get a weeks' worth of coffee ground in about 5 seconds, and the smell of the grinding fresh coffee is better than the brew fragrance!
- Another coffee trick - like flavoured coffee? Don't have any? Add a drop or two of vanilla extract, or a fresh raspberry or two (slightly squished), a couple of teaspoons of irish cream, or a couple pinches of cocoa powder or cinnamon to the top of your coffee grounds before turning on the percolator. Instant yum! To just remove bitterness, a pinch of salt to the top of the grinds works very well.
- Cool lunch trick - pour boiling water into a tall insulated thermos. Put in one or two raw hot dogs or veggie dogs. Put buns or wraps in the lunch, and some condiments - packs gleaned from fast food restaurants work well. At lunch time you or your kiddo will have a hot meal of cooked hot dogs!
- Teach yourself or your children to use chop sticks without buying those fancy spreaders - a rubber band or hair elastic wound in figure eights around the two stick ends around 2/3 back is often enough resistance and spacing to help you out. If not, taping the two sticks to two sides of a clothespin?
- Children's stuffed animals lost their super soft newness? return them to their new-fluffy-glory days for under $2.00. Hit your local dollar store and purchase a cat/dog brush...If you already have one then you can do this for free! Most stuffed animals can actually be washed in the machine on gentle, an dried in the dryer on low. If your child has a favourite "buddy" you probably already know this! Once dry, give it a thorough brushing with the pet brush. Does wonders!!!!!
- Teach your little ones to wash dishes early - use 2 plastic tubs - like the Rubbermaid kind for dish washing when you're camping - on towels on the kitchen table. One for wash, with warm soapy water, and one for rinse. Have the young ones wash plastic dishes and non-sharp cutlery, and put them on another towel to dry! Start by making it a fun activity with pre-rinsed dishes, and work up from there, as often as they want to!
- Keep a baggie of hair elastics or rubber bands in your diaper bag if you have a mobile baby. When you go visiting to homes that aren't child proof, an elastic wrapped around two lower cabinet or drawer knobs will provide some crude babyproofing, at least slowing down the child's discovery process!
- Did you know you can use soft pastels/chalk pastels (bought in many art stores, such as Michaels) to temporarily put colour streaks in your hair? Great for kids' birthday parties, or even a funky do for the day...or to try on new shades before a more permanent attempt!
- Prolong the life of too small clothes - Leggings or sweatpants that have become too short can be cut down to make shorts or capris - no sewing required! To make girl's legging shorts look more like the store bought ones, put a little slit about 1.5" long up the outside seam of each cut leg....
- Shoes too tight?, need to work in new shoes? Do what Rock Climbers do - put some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spritz the inside of the shoes until damp, right before putting them on - speeds the leather softening process, and makes your shoes more cozy sooner!
- Looking for studs behind the drywall? Try using a rare-earth or superstrong magnet taped to a strong enough string..... dangle the string against the wall, and drag slowly in one direction across the wall...this will work best in a wall with steel studs, but big nails and screws in wooden drywall can work too. The magnet will stick to the metal parts of the studs, showing you where they are!
- Keep toothbrushes super-clean, and extend their lives - put about an inch of hydrogen peroxide (the 3% solution) in the bottom of a small mason jar or clean glass - put toothbrushes in headfirst for 5 minutes every week or three to kill organic matter including bacteria!
- Toilet Flusher not working? Check in the tank to see if the chain is broken. If it is, you can temporarily fix it with a paperclip or safety pin!
- Trying to move a heavy object or piece of furniture/appliance across the floor? Turn a bathmat or front door mat upside down and place under heavy object. Carpet side will slide easily across the floor, and grippy side of mat will keep the heavy object from slipping off of the mat while pushing!
- zipper or drawers sticky? Use a dry bar of soap, a crayon or some beeswax and "colour" the two surfaces that rub against each other. The wax will make the pull very smooth!
- Scratches in your finished floor or table? For black or almost black surfaces, like the laminated ikea style furniture or even picture frames, a black sharpie works really well. Draw over the scratch and then quickly wipe off of the excess. For screw holes or scratches in lighter wood, rub a similarly coloured crayon (yes, a crayola will work) hard and back and forth over that spot quickly to create friction heat - it will melt a bit of the crayon into the scratch/spot. Use a paper towel or rag to rub off the excess in the same fashion!
- Time to clean the microwave? Easy-peasy. Soak a dishcloth in water and put it in the middle of the turn-tray of the machine, spray a little lemon juice or vinegar around the inside of the microwave and on the cloth, and run the microwave on HIGH for 30-45 seconds. Grime wipes away super easy, and with the lemon juice, the machine smells lovely!!!
- Did you know that Epsom Salts are a GREAT natural fertilizer? There are many ways to apply it, either directly at sowing in granular form, or diluting it 1 tbsp per gallon as a foliage spray. Who knew!?
I'm certain there are more... tons more. there are always more! If you can think of any, let me know! I may even post them here!