Readers' Tips

Games for an 8 Year Old Girl's Birthday Party

There's a game played at bridal showers where you take toilet paper and wrap the girls to create the "prettiest dress." This would be so much fun for little girls! Get a bunch of toilet paper, divide them into teams, and then give prizes for the best princess costume made only from toilet paper.
Bridget (via Facebook)

editor's note: Visit here for more games for an 8-year-old girl's birthday party.

"Electronic" Appliances

I purchased a new range and new refrigerator within the last five years. They are "electronic." The company where we purchased them suggested a warranty on the range, which we purchased. They did not do the same for the refrigerator, so we did not purchase one for the refrigerator.

If your appliances have computers, I would recommend the protection. Both of these appliances failed within two years. The repairs are expensive.

I have had older refrigerators that operated for ages with no problem. I have a chest freezer that dates back to 1985, and it is still going strong. Just a word to the wise!
Barbara K.

Natural Congestion Remedies

To make your own cough syrup, bring two cups of water to a boil. Stir in two sliced lemons, half of a teaspoon of ground ginger, two tablespoons of honey, and two tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until the mixture becomes a thick syrup. Let mixture cool and then strain into a clean jar. For adults only, you may add one ounce of liqueur, brandy, or whiskey. Take one to two teaspoons as needed for coughing.

Additional TDS Resource: More on natural congestion remedies

Cord Control

I use pipe cleaners (now called chenille stems) to corral electronics cords. I use different colors for organizing cords behind the TV and computer. Green marks computer cords, red marks video games, and blue is used for TV cords. I also use them to keep cords wrapped up in storage. Best of all, they're about a dollar for 50 of them, which beats the Velcro ones in the electronics department ($5 for 6 straps). They also cut easily with scissors, so I use only what I need.
Teresa in Missouri

Cast Iron Convert

Recently my mom insisted on buying me a cast iron Dutch oven. I didn't want her spending the money nor did I need another thing in my kitchen. Well, now I've decided that I can throw everything else out!

I'm addicted to this thing. I browned a whole chicken and placed it in the oven. My baking time went from 2 1/2 to 3 hours to 1 hour. Brown rice that normally cooks in 45 minutes took 20 minutes.

My food is moist and super delicious, and it makes the best soup. The heavy pot holds the heat and moisture and cuts down on cooking time. It's not only saving on energy costs but time too.
Judy M. in New York

Getting Rid of Acne

My husband's back was covered with acne when we started dating. I pulled out my bottle of rubbing alcohol and gently applied a liberal amount. For that first week, I applied it a couple more times. Since then, he seldom has acne, but if one or two spots start to reappear, we repeat the process. There's no need to rub or irritate the area. Usually only once is needed now that his acne is under control and basically gone. Rubbing alcohol can be purchased for under $1 at most drug stores.

Natural Facial Mask

To minimize pores, make a paste using about a half of a cucumber, half of an apple, one egg white, and three tablespoons of already premade powdered milk. Mix in blender until it's a thick paste. Spread on face and leave on for half an hour. Then rinse and repeat every other day for noticeably smaller pores and soft, clean skin.

Additional TDS Resource: More on homemade facial masks

Unique Wall Decor

I wanted to change up the art in my living room, but buying a new painting was out of the question. I thought about getting some canvas material and making my own, but then I remembered I had an old sheet I was about to throw out. It was a nice beige color, so I cut out pieces in the size I wanted and stapled them to old picture frames. I had seen a design I liked of a tree shadow. Using painter's tape, I made the design in three frames and then spray painted the background in the color I wanted. After taking the tape off, the beige tree was revealed. It came out really nice and was free, using materials I had on hand.
Julie S.

Buying Carpet Direct

If you're afraid to buy carpet direct from the mills, check out the commercial carpet markets. A friend of the family has a commercial carpet shop and we will be getting new carpet from him soon. We checked around and found that we can get top-quality carpet with the top-quality pad for our whole house through him for less than what we could get average carpet with standard padding for one room elsewhere. It is just as easy as buying through a home improvement store, but costs much less.

Additional TDS Resource: More on buying carpet cheaply

Non-Microwave Microwave Popcorn

To make microwave popcorn, I use a bowl and enough paper towels to cover it. My bowl is Pyrex, but any sturdy, microwave-safe bowl should do. You could even use a lid that is not sealed on your bowl. I put a bit of oil in the bottom of my bowl, add popcorn, and coat it sparingly with the oil. Then I place the covered bowl in the microwave and turn it on for five minutes. When it almost stops popping, I turn off the microwave. I let it sit for a minute or two and then I carefully remove the bowl, as it probably will be hot to the touch. I pour it in another dish, and then add salt and butter as desired.

Affinity Cards

You know those "cards" for discounts at grocery stores and pharmacies. I have decided to take the ones that go on key chains, and put them on a key chain designated only for them. One will be in my car and the other will be in my husband's car. When we go into a store that requires the discount card, it will always be in the glove compartment.

Modern Art

A great decorating idea is to buy some poster frames and frame some of your kids' art. Even finger paintings can look like modern art if hung in a frame. Several "works" on 8 x 10 paper can be assembled into one frame to make a single larger piece as well. Plus, it will give a boost to your kids' self-esteem.
Evelyn S.

Raised Garden Resources

Because of mobility issues, I needed raised garden beds where I didn't have to stoop very much. We do live in the country, so we do not have close neighbors, but we looked at Craigslist for free or nearly free containers. We picked up two large tractor tires and a horse trough. We have two bathtubs, and we have even used a large clay tile culvert standing on end. Some fit only one plant, but I planted several herbs in one bathtub. Our tomatoes did exceptionally well in one of the livestock troughs. We planted squash and sunflowers in the tractor tires.
Ronda H. in Central Missouri

Additional TDS Resource: More on raised bed gardening

Space for Crafts

I found the best solution for a craft area is disguise. I have limited space and limited time and a growing craft business that started as a hobby. I picked up end tables and an ottoman with storage underneath, a tackle box, and an open box with a handle (I think they are used for carrying cleaning supplies from room to room). I also picked up a small folding table that adjusts to different angles for use as a painting easel.

The table slides easily under my couch, so I can pop it out when I have a few minutes. I pull out my boxes with organized paints from inside the ottoman and my current working pieces from under the end table. I'm set up and ready to go in minutes. When I need to stop, everything neatly hides away in only minutes. If I get surprise visitors, I can get completely cleaned up before I even answer the door. I picked up all of the above at various yard sales and spent less than $50 for all of it.

Additional TDS Resource: More on finding an area to do crafting and store supplies

Clothes Dryer Efficiency

I try not to use my electric clothes dryer more than I have to, but my family complains when certain items are line dried. I discovered if I throw a couple dry bath towels into the dryer with the wet clothes, everything dries much faster, using a lot less electricity.
Shannon S.

Why I Like Rice

In a homesteading or grid-down scenario, rice offers two important things, namely bulk and carbs. If you are working hard on the homestead or working on repairing your home, say after a natural disaster, the rice will be quite useful.
David P. (via Facebook)

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