Readers' Tips

A Little Olive Oil Please...

Expensive European creams and lotions often have olive oil as a main ingredient because it is so good for dry skin. You can add a little olive oil (regular or EVO) to either your everyday lotion/cream or your more expensive perfumed types. I pour a little in and stir. If I think it could stand being a little thinner, I add more oil and stir. The olive oil doesn't affect the fragrance at all and adds just a little touch of luxury to my daily routine.
Kathy D.

Gift Un-Wrap

Another good reason to remove (and save) Christmas gift packaging is that if you plan to someday re-sell your children's out-grown toys at a yard sale or resale shop, they sell much quicker and for much more if they are in the original packaging.

Cheaper Cat Dishes

We desperately needed new cat dishes to replace the plastic ones our cat was using. She was pushing them around and tipping them over when she ate. When I looked at cat dishes in the pet section of a local discount store, I was shocked at how expensive they were.

Then I considered the bowls only needed to be small and heavy, so I went over to the housewares section. I found two lovely ceramic bowls that fit the bill perfectly. They were called "ramekins" and the total for two of those was less than half the price of the cheapest cat dish in the pet section. It pays to "think outside the box."
Jari S. in Mason City, IA

Another Baking Soda Use

A great way to soften and deodorize clothes is to pour one teaspoon of baking soda into a liquid softener dispenser (the ball type that opens during the rinse cycle) and then slowly pour vinegar up to the fill line. It will bubble but not overflow if the vinegar isn't poured too fast. Clothes will soften and be odor free without perfumes and chemicals!

If you really like the softener fragrance, store cut pieces of sponge in a clean jar filled with liquid fabric softener. Squeeze out the excess liquid so it doesn't drip and throw the sponge into the dryer with the wet clothes like a dryer sheet. When the clothes are dry, just drop it back in the jar to use in the next load.

An Adventure Gift

I decided to save money on shipping by sending an adventure gift of money. It's hard to explain, but I put several separate adventure ideas in an envelope and sealed it with a check inside. On the envelope, I told my daughter and son-in-law to pick a number between one and ten and then call me. Whoever was closer to the number I picked was chosen to open the envelope and pick out the adventure to spend the check on.

It's a great way for us to be involved in each other's holiday by talking on the phone and sharing the gift-opening process.

Some adventure gift ideas include a lunch and museum day, dinner and movie night, hotel and spa night, dog sledding day, and white water rafting day.

My Tip as a Banker

Save at least 10% of your bonus. It's even better if you can save 50% and then use 40% of it beginning January 1st and purchase the things you wanted before Christmas at reduced prices.
Venezia in South Africa

Using Your Freezer

I use plastic crates to organize our freezer. I don't use cardboard boxes because cardboard is an insulator and doesn't allow the cold air to circulate. I use different crates for different categories. Red is for beef, yellow is for chicken, green is for veggies, etc. I can look in at a glance and see where I need to stock up. I use a diagram to keep track of where the crates are located.

Additional TDS Resource: More on using your freezer efficiently

Reusing Wedding Tulle

After my daughter's wedding, we had yards and yards of white tulle from decorating the reception hall. I used it, along with colorful yarn remnants, to sew reusable produce bags (instead of the plastic bags in the produce section). Some I gave as homemade Christmas gifts, usually with something inside, such as a vegetable brush, herbs from my garden, or a favorite recipe. Some I sold at craft fairs.
Nancy H. in Elk Grove, CA

The Ribbon Challenge

I read somewhere that if each American family reused two feet of ribbon this year, we could save enough ribbon to wrap ribbon around the entire earth. That really struck me. So I decided to use what I have this year and not buy any additional gift wrap. I have stocked up on tape and some tissue, but besides that, it has been fun to gather up everything I can use for wrapping gifts, including maps and my kid's art. It has made me more creative in wrapping and has been a fun challenge to use what I have on hand to wrap up this Christmas.
Jen in Rio del Mar, California

Body Warmers

In cold weather areas, packages of hand, toe, and body warmers are sold for use by hunters who choose to stand for long periods of time in the woods. Put a package of body warmers in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Should an accident occur and you are likely to remain there for some time, these really work to preserve body temperature. Toe warmers and hand warmers work well for long periods of snow shoveling.

Body warmers are also great for power outages. Just snuggle with one under a blanket and you will be warm for hours.

For people with Raynaud's Syndrome or who suffer from past frostbite injuries or cold feet from diabetes, these are an inexpensive solution to use any time. They can be bought now and will keep for years until opened. Often they go on sale for $1 per package as the season ends, but don't wait. They even make considerate gifts.
Bev in Michigan

What? Potato Water?

When making mashed potatoes to accompany a meat dish like pot roast, I always drain the water the potatoes have cooked in into a large Pyrex® measuring cup. When it's time to make the gravy, I use the reserved "potato water" along with whatever other liquid is needed and stir it into my roux. The "potato water" gives my gravy an extra burst of flavor. If I have more than I need, I use it to water plants after it cools. They love the extra dose of potassium.
Sue S. in San Antonio, TX

Clothes for Nursing Moms

As the mother of six, I have a bit of experience in what clothes a nursing mother needs and perhaps could offer some help. I tried the very expensive and trendy catalog clothes and I can tell you now that the easiest and most comfortable clothing for me and the baby was over-sized t-shirts!

I would buy pretty ones and tie a knot at the hip when I was not nursing the baby. When it was time for nursing, I untied the knot and had plenty of room for baby and enough soft material to keep myself covered. At one time, I was nursing two babies (one adopted and one home-birthed). The t-shirts really worked well for me. I nursed all my babies in malls, restaurants, and even walking around flea markets and nobody really could tell because I was covered by my t-shirts. Also, it helps uncomplicate matters if you go without a bra. But if there are times when you just can't, then get one that is easily accessible to opening and closing with one hand.
Kay A.

Additional TDS Resource: More ideas on clothes for nursing moms

Sewing Patches

I have a solution for sewing patches on clothes. If you use clear nylon thread, the thread will not show at all, and if you are not the best at sewing, mistakes will not show. I have used this thread for many patches with great success. It is also extremely durable!
Maureen M. in Virginia Beach, VA

Traveling With Gifts?

For gift wrapping, I'd like to suggest that wire-edged ribbon is the way to go! I don't buy any other ribbon. Why? Because if a present has to be transported, I can mash the bow flat, and then when we arrive, the bow can be re-formed thanks to the wire. Packages are easily tied with the ribbon and then just a simple "shoelace" bow. The bow looks elegant because of the wire edge that can be "tweaked." The best part is that the wired ribbon can be reused over and over again. We have some that date back several years!

Additional TDS Resource: Visit our library section on gift wrapping

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