Readers' Tips

Finishing Basement Walls

Do one wall in cork panels or a roll of cork to create a huge bulletin board. You can pin up seasonal cards, school papers, photos, etc. There are fun pins in all kinds of colors. You put it up with adhesive. It's super easy for anyone to do.

editor's note: Visit here for more on finishing basement walls.

Avoid Dryer Repairs

My dryer element just burned out because of lint blocking the vent. Be sure to clean out the long hose and the vent to your home outside and don't forget to clean your dryers inside lint catcher each time you dry clothes. It's a lesson learned.
Connie in NC (via iPhone)

Pricing Garage Sale Items

In pricing garage sale items, the first thing you need to decide is whether you are selling items to make money or if you are hoping to get others to pay you something to cart off stuff you don't want anymore. If the former, you should visit local thrift shops and antique shops to see what they are asking for similar items. This will give you an idea of the value of your items, but be prepared to carry most of your stuff back into the garage at the end of the day. Note that most shops don't sell out in a day. If the latter, which is the reason for my sales, I price items at what I would want to pay for them if I were considering purchasing them at a garage sale. Since I am an avid bargain-hunter, this means that I price my items considerably below their market value. However, at the end of the day, I have some space in my basement and some money in my pocket.

Additional TDS Resource: More on pricing garage sale items

Cheap Hairball Cure

Instead of buying the expensive hairball remedy products from your cat's vet, use plain petroleum jelly. Put a quarter size dab on their front paw and push it in a little so. They will promptly find a corner to groom/lick it off.

Nasty Pot Cleaning

Here's a tip for getting crusty or burned on food from your pots and pans without damaging the surface.

Sprinkle in baking soda to cover the bottom of the pan. Add water to about 1/2-inch deep. Then add 1/2 cup vinegar. The mixture will fizz. Heat the mixture. Simmer this in shallow pans, but go to a boil for deeper pots. Turn off the heat and leave the pan sit overnight. In the morning, you'll find the crusty stuff lifted up from the bottom and cleaning is a breeze.

Hair Conditioner

I use vinegar as conditioner for my hair. It also controls my dandruff. I work a few ounces into my scalp and hair. Leave it in for a minute and then rinse well.

Easy Sheet Folding

When folding sheets, make the first fold lengthwise down the middle. If you are making the bed by yourself, you won't have to go around to the other side to verify that the lengths are the same on both sides. You just use the fold down the middle to guide you.

Stopping Squirrels

I live in an old attached house and squirrels were getting into my attic from next door. The brick wall between us was stepped at the peak and there was no way to close the small gaps where each brick met the roof.

I got tired of trapping squirrels until I finally heard about dried blood meal. I got some from a local nursery and sprinkled it generously along the common wall.

Although it is odorless to humans, the smell repels squirrels. It can also be used to keep squirrels from digging in the garden. Since rain washes it away, it has to be reapplied often when used outside.

Additional TDS Resource: More on squirrels in your attic

How Much Party Food to Prepare?

My husband is a catering director. When determining how much food to have at a party, the guidelines are around 10 to 15 bites per person.

If you are trying to save money, have your party mid-day after lunch and before dinner. That way, you can plan for fewer bites per person. If you have a party around dinnertime (approximately 7 p.m.), then plan on more bites.

Also, if you are doing actual bites, like little bite-sized brownies and such, plan on more for dessert. People have a tendency to keep nibbling on them. If you're thinking about your budget, have a cake or something where you aren't just nibbling. People will think twice before going for a third piece of cake, but they don't think about the 20 brownie bites they nibble on as they pass the food table.

Additional TDS Resource: More on how much food for a party

Stains on Sensitive Fabrics

Here's an old stain remover tip. If you have a stain on a fine fabric and feel that only bleach can remove it, try this. Instead of immersing the item in bleach water, dampen a rag in bleach and wave it over the stain. Often just the fumes are enough to do the job.

Oily Skin Solution

I have very oily skin. My pores have been clogged since I was a teenager. I tried all kinds of products and they just dried out my skin but didn't remove the clogs. Recently a skin care specialist suggested that I exfoliate every day using cornmeal mixed with just enough olive oil to make a paste. I massage it gently onto my face, and then wipe off with a damp cloth. My pores have greatly improved for the first time since I was 12, and my skin is soft and smooth! A little goes a long way. A tablespoon of cornmeal is enough to last for weeks.

Clearing Acne

We have a 20-year-old grandson living with us. He has really bad acne. I was looking for something to help him when I read that basil is an antiseptic. I boiled three tablespoons of basil in one cup of water for ten minutes. Then I lowered the heat to a simmer for a short time. I finally removed it from the heat, left the lid on, and cooled it. After straining it, I put it in a bottle.

He washes his face two to three times per day, uses a pad to apply the basil water, and lets it dry. He is very faithful to this routine and his face looks fantastic! There is no need for anything else! We use basil from the spice aisle in the grocery store. We do keep this mixture in the fridge. It doesn't smell bad or color his skin.
Mary Ann

Additional TDS Resource: More help with getting rid of acne

Bug Be Gone!

Spray your screens with Skin So Soft from Avon and watch the bugs scram! This makes the house smell nice with every breeze, too!

Cleaning Range Hood Filters

There's a very easy way to clean range hood filters. You can melt the grease off. Find a pan large enough to hold the filter. Put a thick layer of newspaper into the pan (maybe eight pages thick) and set the filter on top. Put the pan into your oven and turn the oven on very low (like 250 degrees or "warm") and just wait. The grease will melt, flow down, and be absorbed into the newspaper.

Once you've melted off as much as will come off, run the filter through the dishwasher, using a bit more detergent than usual.

We did this with a truly disgusting filter when we last moved. The house was 20 years old, and my guess is that the filter hadn't been changed or cleaned in that whole time. We baked it in the oven for an hour, put it into the dishwasher, and the filter sparkled when it came out.

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning range hood filters

Carpet Touch-Ups

Do you have burned spots on your carpet from a fireplace or woodstove? I found that a little craft paint will camouflage the dark burn spots and make the carpet look like new.

Wood Scratches

If a stained wood surface gets a scratch and you can see the lighter wood underneath, all you need to do is get a walnut.

Using the meat of a walnut, rub it across the scratch. The oils in the walnut will hide the scratch. I've used it on oak, cherry, and walnut finishes with wonderful results.

Do you have a money or time-saving tip you'd like to share? Just click here to submit your suggestion. If we use your tip in any of our publications, we'll send you the next three issues of our print newsletter as a thank you!

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