Readers' Tips

Homemade Energy Drinks

Make green smoothies instead. The all-natural fruit and veggie blend gives you total nutrition and the vitamins perk you up. Of course, going off of the caffeine will be an adjustment at first, but your body will thank you.
Gwen (via Facebook)

editor's note: Visit here for more on homemade energy drinks.

Burnt On Food

I burned some food in a pot this week. Here's how I solved the problem without a lot of "elbow grease." I filled the pot about half full of water and then added about a teaspoon of baking soda and the same of vinegar. I boiled the pot for about 30 minutes and then let it sit until cool. Almost all of the burned on mess had floated to the top of the water. The rest was easily removed with a nylon scrubber and mild detergent. A favorite pot was saved with very little effort on my part.

If you use this tip on a non-stick pan, you should re-season it by rubbing in a bit of vegetable oil. Other pans are good to go.
Barbara in CT

Storing Lawn and Garden Tools

When my husband was organizing our basement, he drilled small holes near the top of all of our large garden tools (shovels, rakes, pitch forks, etc.). Through that hole, he put a loop of heavy telephone wire (we had a lot of this for some reason, but jute or sisal rope works just as well). On the wall, he put some screw-in hooks to hang the tools. For small hand tools, we nailed up a few empty coffee cans (one strong nail near the top worked fine for us) and placed our hand tools in them. Both solutions worked well with very little effort on our part.
Kathleen S.

Additional TDS Resource: More on storing lawn and garden tools

Valuable Time

One way I was able to reduce my spending was to think of the cost in time and labor rather than dollar amounts. Before buying, ask yourself how many hours of work your desired item is going to cost. When you stop and think about the hours and labor something costs, it really makes a difference. When I take the time to think of the hours, days, or months of work an item costs, I often change my mind. Try it for three weeks, and you will be amazed at how often you change your mind. I have heard it only takes 21 days to change a habit. It worked for me!

That's My Pumpkin!

I have a cute tip for next year's pumpkin patch. I used to do this when all my nieces and nephews were small and I grew pumpkins. When the pumpkin is very small, take a sharp straight pin or needle and lightly break the skin of the pumpkin and spell each child's name. As the pumpkin grows, so does their name! The kids think it's cool, and they love watching their pumpkins grow.

Icy Car Mirrors?

Since I have no garage or carport, I use plastic newspaper sleeves over my exterior car mirrors in winter to save scraping snow/ice in the morning. This sure saves time. I slip one over each mirror and tie it shut with another one around the mirror arm. If you have an SUV with big mirrors, Sunday's paper has bigger plastic sleeves.
Gerry W.

Easy Coffee Pot Cleaning

You can clean your stained coffee pot with a half cup of table salt and a dozen or so ice cubes (depending on the size of your pot). Gently swish them around and then rinse with cold water.

A Great Side Dish!

Rice is a good choice when wanting to stretch your food dollar. A five-pound bag costs only a few dollars, and you can serve a family for just pennies!

We serve rice two or three times a week as a side dish with chili or soup on top. It really helps stretch the food and we love it. Rice is also versatile. You can serve it plain, with butter, with soy sauce, with vegetables mixed in, or with spices like garlic or chili powder added. The possibilities are endless!

Cleaning Greasy Kitchen Cabinets

I use white vinegar to clean greasy kitchen cabinets. I use two cups to a gallon of hot water. It is very thrifty as a gallon of white vinegar costs about $2. White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner. It's also great for floors and windows. There is no need for all the expensive cleaners.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning greasy kitchen cabinets

Eliminating Roaches

I have a tip that has worked for 15 years or more. I used to have a problem with roaches until I found this recipe. It works!

In a bowl, mix together:

12 ounces of boric acid (powdered kind only; available at grocery stores)
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 chopped onion or equivalent amount of onion powder
1/2 cup of shortening

Add enough water to form dough. Then shape into balls and place throughout the house. Of course, put them out of the reach of little hands and pets. About once a year, I replace them. I have not had roaches in all the time I have used these. It takes a few months the first time you use them, but after that, there will be no bugs at all.

Additional TDS Resource: More on eliminating roaches

If I Buy Two...

Here's something I learned as a mother of twins. Ask if there is a discount for twins or more than one of something you're going to be buying. On a well-baby visit to our pediatrician, we paid for one office visit and two of the vaccinations. For pre-school, we paid for full price on the first child and then 2/3 of the cost of the second. We received a cash discount at the orthodontist and so on. It didn't cost anything to ask, and more times than not, some concession was made in price.

Too Soon Potatoes

When you have a couple of baked potatoes that are done before the rest of the meal, slip them into a quilted oven mitt until you need them. They will stay warm until the rest of your meal is finished.
Yvonne Van B.

Custom Dusting Powder

When you finish using your favorite dusting powder from that nice box it comes in (the one with the puff), you can have a cheap replacement for it by using cornstarch and your favorite fragrance.

Just half fill the original dusting powder box with cornstarch and give it a few squirts of your favorite fragrance. It can be cologne. It doesn't have to be perfume. Then fill up the box with cornstarch, give it another squirt of fragrance, and put the lid on. The next day you'll have a box of dusting powder in your favorite fragrance that you cannot tell from the original.

Moving to a Smaller Home

My husband, our little boy, a dog and I all live in a home that is less than a thousand square feet. We used to live in a three-bedroom home with screened-in porch and huge attic.

I found that my cluttered way of decorating wasn't nearly as pretty as I thought when I began to do this house. I use big mirrors on the wall instead of paintings and use glass and crystal from garage sales as my "pretties." Then I can change the colors of my rooms simply by putting dried or plastic flowers in those clear holders or candy, etc.

Also, I painted our bedroom in mint green on three walls and white on the fourth. You won't believe how huge it makes our room seem. I also found that by painting my kitchen light yellow and the halls that connect to it white, it makes the kitchen look bigger as well.

Using sheer curtains and simply draping them across the tops of window blinds makes the room look brighter. In a small space, very simple decorating can look incredibly attractive.
Shelby W.

Additional TDS Resource: More on moving to a smaller house

Family Costume Ideas

One idea for a family Halloween costume is to reverse everyone's role in the family. Mom and Dad dress up as babies, and little kids dress up as grownups, complete with purse, briefcase, hardhat, etc. Each can wear a homemade nametag that states who they are ("Mrs. Jones" on the little one, for example, and "Baby Sarah Jones" on mom). A creative teenager can take it farther and go as the family pet.

Additional TDS Resource: More on Halloween party and decorating ideas

Vinyl Tablecloth Wrinkles

I have a tip regarding vinyl tablecloths stored from year to year or purchased new and how to get rid of the creases. I just toss it in the dryer on low setting for a few minutes, and it comes out ready to place on the table. If needed, it can be tossed in longer. Just be careful you don't leave it too long or it will begin to stick together. I have been doing this for years and never had a problem. Just don't do it on HIGH setting!
Tom I.

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