Readers' Tips

Bath Bomb Recipes

Most bath bombs are just Epsom salts with essential oils. You can get a half gallon of salts at any store and add your favorite oil. Since the salts are about $3 or less and oils cost about $3 to $5, you will have over a year's worth of relaxation for less than two bath bombs. Enjoy!
Judy M. of NY

editor's note: Visit here for more bath bomb recipes.

Lunch Containers

This morning, while packing my kidsí school lunches, I was short two small plastic containers (I try not to use plastic baggies). That's when I grabbed two plastic kiddie cups (the kind you get at restaurants for the kids to take home with them)! I just filled each up with pretzels and snapped on their plastic lids!

As long as you only put in dry items (because of the straw hole in the lid), you are good to go! Most of us moms have too many of those cups to count!

Quick Biscuits

Here is a very easy recipe for biscuits that takes less than five minutes to make and dinner can cook while they are baking.

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Stir up and pat out on floured surface. Make them as big or small as you want. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook about 15 minutes, depending on where you live and how your oven works.

My husband doesn't like mayo, but he loves these and I make them a lot.

Additional TDS Resource: More ideas for quick, tasty biscuits

Reduced Restaurant Spending

If you have an eating out problem and you're still trying to budget your grocery bill, here's a tip. Raise your grocery budget. Because I'm not eating out as much, I don't feel guilty spending more on groceries. Now my pantry has a lot more interesting food in it, and I actually spend less on eating out! Instead of running out of good stuff to eat and getting whatever's convenient (and expensive), I shop my pantry. I save overall and eat healthier, too. It's one of those cases where spending money really does save you money.

Oven Boiled Eggs

Need to make a lot of boiled eggs? Simply place them on a muffin tin in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. The muffin tins prevent them from rolling. Then place in cold water and they will peel easily!
Shirley M. in Fenton, Michigan

Cheaper Floor Cleaning

I bought a microfiber mop with reusable pads and a refillable bottle. I use a mixture of white vinegar and water as the cleaning solution. It does a great job, gets off greasy messes, and cleans the floor without a soapy residue. After I throw the pad in the washer and let it air dry, it is ready to use again.

Additional TDS Resource: For more ideas, visit the 'cleaning floors' section of our library

Marble Care

My husband came up with a great idea for my marble bathroom sinks. He waxed them with car wax. They shine like crazy! And cleanup is a breeze.

Additional TDS Resource: More articles on cleaning your bathroom

Time to Save Seeds

I save seeds from my annual plants. I collect seed heads and crumble them into an envelope, muslin bag, or an empty pill bottle. Then I label with the flower name, date that I collected, and any information I'd like to remember about the plant. This works great with zinnia, calendula, all varieties of sunflowers, blanket flower, blue flax, bachelor buttons, and snapdragons. If I'd like the plants to self-seed, I leave some of the seedpods on the plant. I keep my seeds in a dry, cool place until the next garden season.

Cleaning Greasy Driveways and Garages

When I was a kid, my father pulled the engine on his Volkswagen bug in my Grandmother's garage. He made a huge oil stain on the floor, which Nanny tried to clean with all sorts of compounds. She finally used Pepsi and a scrub brush. It got the stuff off when nothing else would. She swore by it after that. And it's non-toxic, inexpensive, and readily available.
Linda B

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning a greasy driveway

Bacon for Two

When I buy bacon, I bring it home, cut the whole package in half, put the two halves into plastic zip baggies, and freeze. Then when I want bacon for two, I just bring out a package. A half-pound is just enough for western sandwiches, a salad that calls for bacon, or for breakfast for two. If the half-pound is too much for one meal, I cook it all up and put the excess in the fridge. Then, I use it the next day to make BLTs. You can buy bacon when it is on special and increase your savings.

Creative Couture

Make clothing do double duty. Wear a tube top in a matching color with another sweater to turn it into a turtleneck sweater. Cut off old sweater sleeves to use as child's leg warmers. Wear a sweater over a dress, and you have a skirt.

Jewelry can also multi-task. A chunky belt can double as a necklace. A necklace can be paired with a scarf to become a belt. Old belts can have other uses, such as replacement handles for a handbag or a wrist cuff. Wrap a shawl around your waist and you have a sarong. Use a bracelet with a clip closure to lengthen a necklace. Clip the bracelet clasp to the jump ring of the necklace and then use the jump ring of the bracelet to attach the necklace clasp. Use one necklace to double up another. Use a brooch to cinch the back of a blazer for a more tailored look. Use a safety pin to shorten a necklace. Use a brooch to shorten dress straps from the back. If you have a lost earring post, use the solo post as a stick pin in a cork board.

Advice from Grandma

My grandmother taught me this tip. To keep lettuce fresh longer, rinse it, cut it, and dry it off. Put the lettuce in a gallon-size resealable bag. Close the bag only far enough to insert a straw in the top. Suck out all of the air with a straw and then carefully seal the bag. It keeps for weeks like this without turning brown!

Winter Heat Loss

Attic fans are a popular convenience in modern homes for summer cooling, but the louvered ceiling vents can cost you precious heat in the winter. I noticed that my attic fan's louvers open slightly when opening an outside door (suction pulls air through the vent and out the attic ventilation; windy conditions can increase the suction considerably). This airflow is definitely undesirable in cold winter weather. Since heat rises, it's easily lost through an opening in the ceiling. I used foil insulation (Reflectix) over the vent and sealed the edges with aluminum tape, and it made a noticeable difference in heating the house last winter. I've seen prefabricated attic fan vent covers in home improvement stores that are available in different sizes.

Moist Slow Cooker Meals

The number one thing that I found that helps my meals stay moist is to brown the meat before placing it in the slow cooker. This helps seal in the juices. Don't lift the lid during cooking unless absolutely necessary. It increases the cooking time and lets precious moisture escape. Also, make sure you are putting enough liquid in the cooker to keep things moist. It doesn't need to be a lot, but a little will help your meal steam a bit, which prevents moisture loss.

Find recipes that require enough cooking that they won't be completely overdone when you get home. For example, a recipe that calls for eight hours of cooking is probably fine on low for up to ten hours, but a recipe that only calls for five to six hours of cooking could be overdone if you don't get home until ten hours later.

Additional TDS Resource: More on avoiding dried out slow cooker meals

A Little Here...

My husband gets paid on a commission basis, so our monthly income fluctuates from month to month. Since I never know what the coming month will bring, in January and throughout the year, when I go grocery shopping, I purchase either a $10 or $25 gift card. I also purchase gift cards at another retail store where I shop. I save these gift cards and use them at Christmas for holiday entertaining, gifts for others, etc. This is a painless way to save for the unexpected costs during the holidays. There have also been times during the year when my husband's check was low and I was able to use these gifts cards to help with the food budget.

editor's note: You could accomplish the same thing by putting the money into a savings account or onto a debit card.

Extra Tomatoes?

I made a great discovery today. I was finished canning (or so I thought) until I saw another crop of ripe tomatoes. They were mostly Roma tomatoes. I started cooking them down to make sauce and then I saw a recipe for tomato juice. I just cooked them down and strained out the seeds and skins. After adding herbs and horseradish, I had fresh juice without the sodium. This can even be done with store bought tomatoes. My husband and I even enjoyed a cocktail with some leftover spirits. It made the best ever Bloody Mary!
Judy M. in N.Y.

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