11/1/09: new crocheting tip added.
If you have any tips, tricks or timesavers to share please go to the contact me page and I'll be
sure to post them here! New tips are always posted at the top of each category.
HOLIDAY TIPS AND TRICKS
Serve a crowd on the holidays? Planning to make homemade dressing? Instead of baking your dressing in a large
pan, like I've always done, mix your dressing and bake it in muffin tins instead! Instant individual servings!
Thanks to my future daughter-in-law, Sarah, for this great tip!
If you're shipping Christmas sweets or baked goods this year, consider purchasing new pans to bake them in. After
baking the treats, wash the pans, wrap the goodies in plastic wrap and place them back into the original pan. This helps
protect during shipping plus gives an extra gift as well!
Looking for gift ideas for those hard to buy for people on your list? Check out this site - they're pricey, but
the great thing is you don't have to buy from them, use their ideas to create gift baskets of your own for much less money!
After carving your Jack 'O Lantern sprinkles the inside with a
generous amount of cinnamon and nutmeg for
If you're like me and try VERY HARD to avoid credit card debt during the holidays, nows
the time to check with your favorite stores to see if they have layaway plans. I know the local Walmarts here have Christmas
layaways, usually starting September 1. You can leave the layaways in until sometime in December. This gives you
some time to pay for your gifts without the additional charges associated with a credit card. This is especially good
if you have kids as their toy selection is usually quite good, and also their household type gift items, candles and teacher
type gifts, etc. Many other stores I'm sure also have layaway plans, just check with your favorites. This gets
your shopping done early as well!
HOUSEHOLD/PERSONAL TIPS AND TRICKS
Store birdseed in a large bottle, for quick and easy filling of your bird feeders. Less mess, and less time
out in the cold!
Also cover the feeders with spruce boughs to give the birds some security and shelter from the wind.
I didn't really know which category to put this tip in, so I just stuck it here! Physically and mentally challenging
yourself for 45 minutes prior to receiving your flu vaccine can produce antibodies that make it work better, according to
a new British study.
People with the most vitamin C in their bloodstream have the lowest body fat, according to researchers
at Arizona State University. Snack on 2 vitamin C packed foods a day, like oranges, orange juice or broccoli.
Need to send large files over the internet? Visit www.yousendit.com and uload your large file there. Your friends will receive a link to the file, where they can dlownload it free!
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop seeds out of squash or melons.
To keep recipes splatter free, keep a trouser hanger handy, clip your recipe or book to the
hanger and hang from your cabinet knobs.
Use a wire cheese cutter to cut through the ready-made refrigerator cookie dough. Perfect slices
To make egg and tuna salad for sandwiches, use store bought sandwich spread that has pickles,
onion, pimientos and other seasonings already in it instead of plain mayo. You can have a tasty sandwich in minutes
by adding just one ingredient.
To keep purse organized, purchase small, clear cosmetic bags in different sizes with different colored trims. Put
"like" items together in each bag - such as ink pen, note pad, calculater, check book in one, aspirin, bandaids, lotions in
one, etc. This makes finding things in your purse much easier, and also makes it easier when it's time to change to
a new purse
If you have mold problems in your bathroom - or anywhere for that matter! - like I do, you're going to LOVE this one!
Make a paste of baking soda and lemon juice - add the lemon juice SLOWLY though because it will boil up on you if you're not
careful! Put this on your moldy areas, scrub, then rinse. I've used practically every mold remover product on
the market and this works better than anything I've ever tried - plus no harmful chemicals or fumes!
For smelly drains, sprinkle baking soda down into the drain, then pour in a little vinegar. You'll hear it bubbling
away! After a few minutes, flush with warm water - smells are gone!
Do you buy the trash bags that come in a roll? If so, keep part - if not all - of the roll all in the trash can
together. When you pull out the full bag to take outside, there's another bag already right there handy, just rip off
the full one from the roll!
A great way to recycle plastic grocery bags is to use them as trash bags in small wastebaskets. Believe it or not,
you can also find crochet patterns on the web using the plastic grocery bags!
Are your cookie sheets as old as the hills like mine? Or do you have new ones you want to keep new as long as possible?
Every single time you use them, line them with aluminum foil first - this keeps them cleaner, so they're easier to wash, and
they won't turn dark as soon.
Heres a timesaver tip - Whenever you brush your teeth and/or wash your face, be it morning or night (or both!) take a
few seconds to give your sink a quick wipe out every day - you'll be surprised how much this cuts down on your scrubbing!
If you're like me and have an upstairs and a downstairs, try to keep cleaning supplies in both places to keep from having
to carry them back and forth. I only have one large family room upstairs, so I don't have a lot of extra space.
I've got a broom, dust pan, swiffer mop, swiffer cloths, and a bottle of Pledge multi purpose cleaner - it cleans wood, glass,
electronics - everything and only one bottle of cleaner. If it's not feasible for you to keep cleaning supplies both
upstairs and down, store all your cleaning supplies in a large bucket, and carry the bucket with you when you clean.
This keeps you from having to spend time searching for your various supplies.
Another little time saver I've found - If my stove timer has gone off, but I check and whatever I'm cooking isn't quite
done, I certainly don't want to go all the way back upstairs for just 1-2 minutes time, so I stay downstairs and do a couple
little quick clean up jobs. I can clean the kitchen sink, or dust the tops of the cabinets and refrigerator, or clean
the counter tops and stove top, spot clean the kitchen floor (seems there's always a spill on it somewhere), start a load
of laundry, load up the dishwasher, whatever needs doing that won't take up much time. That way I'm not just standing
around waiting for the food to be done, and I've gotten another chore out of the way!
To clean laminate flooring, white vinegar and water (more water than vinegar) will not strip it. There
is no harmful fumes and is safe. The floors are shiny I never have streaks and Recommended by "most" hardwood floor
dealers that are not out to get you with there products. Because vinegar has a natural acididty it works great. Cleaning windows
and linoleum floors, too.
FOR MORE TIPS ON USING VINEGAR AROUND THE HOME:http://www.kitchencraftsnmore.net/vinegar.html
Wash all black clothes together by themselves - slows the fading process.
For a burnt pan, put white vinegar mixed with baking soda into the pot to cover the burned portion. Boil 15-30 minutes,
let it cool a while, then try to remove the burnt stuff.
THROW MY PAN AWAY."
To remove white rings from wood furniture,
pour a little rubbing alcohol on the stain area, let set for a
few seconds, then blow dry with a hair dryer. The
rings should disappear.
To get lipstick stains out of fabric, use 1 cup dish washer detergent (the powder) and 1 cup
color-safe bleach. Put it in with the stained clothes and run the regular wash cycle, but let it soak for a while after
the washer has filled. I don't know
why, but it works! It even takes out the grease residue
from the lipstick.
When cutting/chopping onions, light a candle first in the area where you'll be doing your work. The candle
flame "burns up" the fumes from the onion and your eyes won't water - try it, it really works!
Speaking of onions - if you're like me and you like to use fresh onions, celery and green peppers
in your cooking, instead of the "minced" versions, but don't always have the time or energy to chop EVERY TIME you cook, do
what I do. When I go to the store and buy onions, celery or green pepper I wash and chop them when I get home and store
them in the freezer in plastic bags. This way they are always handy when you want them, are pre-chopped, and of course
they keep for months in the freezer, instead of days like they do in the fridge.
To make cleaning the fridge easier, use old dish towels folded in half to line vegetable and meat
drawers. I also use scraps of old shelf liner - the kind that's rubber backed, not the adhesive kind, in the doors of
the fridge. You can also use old dish towels inside your pots and pans in your cabinets so they don't get scratched
when you "nest" them.
If you need to soften cream cheese in a hurry, unwrap it and zap in the microwave for a few seconds.
This works for thawing Cool Whip as well.
Before cooking, place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter top. This makes a convenient disposable
spoon rest and makes clean up a snap.
If using a recipe that calls for pressing refrigerated dough into muffin cups to form a dough (I
think I have a recipe like this on the archive site), you can use a shot glass to press the dough into each cup.
It's a good fit and makes the dough nice and even, and speeds up this process GREATLY. Just remember to coat the glass in
Planning a trip in the spring or summer? Check out some of the freebie sites on the internet
and get free samples of shampoo, creme rinse, toothpaste, moisturizers, shower gel - you name it and you can find it.
That way you won't have to pack the large sizes of these items, just pack your samples. Less room in your suitcase,
less chance of spilling, plus you won't have to use them the morning you leave and then pack them up before you go!
NOTE: Sometimes you get your freebies quickly, sometimes it takes several weeks so do this WAY ahead of time.
Here's another travel tip. Buy a box of the small snack sized plastic zip lock bags. If you're a jewelry
nut like I am (I like to change my jewelry with my outfits) you can put jewelry for one outfit in one bag, another outfit
in another bag, etc. Also if you're taking more than one neck chain or bracelet, you can store them individually in
the bags to keep them from tangling together.
Another travel tip: Get a box of the large sized zip lock plastic bags and store your soaps, shampoos, conditioners,
lotions, shaving creams, make up, etc. in them - if they leak they won't get on anything else. Take the remainder of
the box with you on your trip - when you shower, shave, brush your teeth, etc. on the morning that you're heading home you
can store the "wet" items you used that morning in the bags to keep everything else dry. The large sized bags are also
good for taking home your dirty undies and socks.
To make panty hose or knee highs last longer, soak them in a salt water solution overnight then rinse
out before wearing.
For grease stains in clothes, treat with Dawn dishwashing liquid before washing in the washer - this
works for most stains, including stains that have been dried into the clothes!
For smells in the microwave, place a cup of white vinegar in the microwave and shut the door overnight.
In the morning remove the vinegar, odors should be gone. You can also boil 1/2 cup of lemon juice in microwave for two
minutes then turn off microwave and leave overnight.
"To get hard water stains off the bottom of your tub, use a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Don't use this on
fibreglass as the baking soda could scratch. This works really well on porcelain and cast iron tubs.
showerheads, remove from the downspout. If the holes are encrusted with hard-water scale, soak the showerhead in white
vinegar overnight. Dry and reassemble the next morning. Be sure to wrap plumber's tape over the threads before
screwing the showerhead back on to ensure a tighter seal.
Liquid dishwashing soap and water will remove small marks
To remove scale from a chrome faucet or showerhead, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and tie the bag onto
the faucet so it is submerged in the vinegar. When the scale is gone, rinse and buff.
Mix equal amounts of grapefruit
juice and salt to make a cleanser to remove rust stains from faucets or showerheads, and use a washcloth to wipe off rust.
The mixture provides a light acid and abrasive.
A lemon dipped in salt works well as a cleaner for brass faucets or
showerheads. Just cut the lemon in half, pour a little bit of salt onto a plate, dip the lemon into it and rub it over
the faucet. Buff the faucet with mineral oil when finished.
Another cleaner for brass is a paste made from equal
parts vinegar, flour and salt. Rub on the fixture then buff with mineral oil.
Rub stained enamel fixtures with
a cut lemon. For stubborn stains, use a paste of lemon juice and borax."
CROCHET TIPS AND TRICKS
This tip involves a product, which I normally don't do, but it really has helped me. In many
different catalogs I've seen a "yarn caddy". It's a round, plastic container with a lid. It'sectioned off
inside - a middle section which can hold hooks and scissors, and several sections - I think six - around that hold different
skeins of yarn. The lid has small holes in the top over each skein section, so you can close the lid and still work
on your project. A friend of mine got me one for my birthday and it has been a lifesaver for me. My dogs LOVE
to get into my yarn, and after trying several different places behind my couch to stash it THINKING they couldn't get into
it, and being proved wrong, I ended up piling it on top of my game table whenever I left the room. Now I can use my
yarn caddy and leave everything next to my chair - they can't get into it to make a mess, and my table is no longer piled
up! You can even store your project itself in the caddy if it isn't too large. And for the cost of about $20,
it's WELL worth it! I know the sell them in the Collections Etc. catalog. Just type it into your search
If you have problems twisting your beginning chains when joining to work in rounds, try working your first
row of stitches as if you're working a flat piece, and THEN join with a slip stitch and weave in the yarn end at the beginning
of the chain into the first stitch and join with a slip stitch - no more twisted chains!
Here's another great tip sent in by Dave from Serendipity Crochet. Thanks Dave for being a friend
to this site from the very beginning! If you're working on a project and you have skeins of yarn that
are the same shade name but different lot numbers, alternate between each skein - one row from one skein, the next row
from the other skein. This will make any differences in the shades of the yarn blend and not be so noticeable.
Do you have arthritis, carpal tunnel, or any other problem that affects your grip and gets in the way of
crocheting? You can buy a cushion grip to fit your crochet hooks into at most craft stores. They can accommodate
up to a size G hook. These are great for those really small hooks, especially the steel ones! HINT: Put
a drop of hand lotion or liquid soap on the end of the hook BEFORE sticking it into the cushion grip - makes it go in much
When working on something light, keep it and the yarn in a pillow case. When taking it out to work,
lay the pillow case in your lap. As the piece gets larger switch to a sheet laid across your lap and where your work touches
on the floor, then when you're finished working on it gather it up in the sheet until next time. This keeps it clean
and neat, and all together too.
When using several skeins of yarn at once for a project, such as with graph afghans, cut a slot into empty,
cleaned 2 liter soda bottles and put each skein into a bottle. Keeps them from rolling all over and getting so tangled.
Each time you turn your work, try to remember which way you turned it and turn it the opposite direction next time to keep
yarn tangle free.
Store left over yarn in large plastic freezer type bags. Place the paper "band" that comes around
the skein in the bag so you'll know the exact name of the color and/or the lot # if needed so you can match it if you need
more for a project in the future.
Do you make frequent trips to a doctors office, lawyers office, dentist office, picking up kids at school,
etc. - anywhere you have to spend some time sitting and waiting? Keep a bag packed with a super quick and easy crochet
project including your pattern, needle and supplies needed. That way it's always ready and you can just grab it and
go when you're on the run. For example, I have a bag with 1 pair of socks and 1 pair of gloves for each of Gerald's
female cousins to give them for Christmas next year. I keep a crochet hook, a pair of scissors, and 3 different colors
of the boa yarn in there as well. When I'm going to be running out I can just grab it, everything is ready to go, and
I'm crocheting trim around the gloves and the sock tops. By Christmas I'll be ready!
If you're making an afghan in the summer time, it can be hot work. Get a cheap t.v. tray, set a small
fan underneath it pointed at you, and drape the afghan over the tray instead of over your lap while you're working on it.
This keeps it off of you and won't overheat you in the process!