Readers' Tips

Homemade Pork Rub

Here are my favorite homemade concoctions.


1/2 cup meat tenderizer
1/2 T. garlic powder
1/2 T. onion powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, optional

Apply lightly to both sides of meat and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before cooking.

Sweet and Sour Mop:

1 cup catsup
1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1 T. celery seed
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
Dash or two of tabasco and pepper, or to taste

Heat to boiling, let cool, and refrigerate. Brush on pork about 15 to 20 minutes before done.

Toddler Crafts

Here are my suggestions for simple toddler crafts. I have experience! I have six children! All of my kids could spend hours doing "crafts" with me. Buy washable markers (go cheap because they often leave the tops off).

Let them color popsicle sticks. You can glue them into a square and put a picture in the frame. Use a picture from a magazine or a photograph. Tie a string on two sides to hang it like a picture.

A favorite of my kids is to color with a marker on a sheet of paper towel. Paper towel has different, fun prints nowadays. You can even get holiday themes. You probably have a roll on hand. The markers give a soft, watercolor look on the paper towels. Markers color easily with just a touch for the littlest ones, and the older ones can make designs by marking along the raised texture of the towels. They will have fun making it look like a quilt. Try it!

Additional TDS Resource: More on toddler crafts

Cheap 'Air Conditioning'

I recently found a way to make a homemade air conditioner! Using a styrofoam cooler ($1 at a dollar store), we made three small holes the size of a toilet paper tube in one side. Then we stuck those tubes in the holes. Last we cut a circle in the lid and put a small fan on top that was facing down. Inside the cooler, we placed blocks of ice. The cold air lasted several hours! Once the ice melts, you can re-use it by freezing it again. My husband who gets hotter than me was even comfortable with just the fan.

There are more elaborate homemade air conditioners out there, including videos on how to make them. Just google "homemade air conditioner."
Julie S.

editor's note: You want to make sure that the fan can't fall into the water. Wouldn't want any of our stretchers to get zapped!

Before You Check Out

Because of my location, I do a lot of online shopping. Often I have taken advantage of the free ship to store delivery, which then meant I had to make time and spend the gas to go pick up whatever I had ordered, since doing so was "free."

However, I recently realized that just because it's free doesn't mean it's the best choice. By accident, I went through a shopping cart without doing the free ship to store option and saw the total due. Realizing that I hadn't taken advantage of the "free" ship to store option, I went back and corrected those items and got to the point of payment again. I was shocked to see that I hadn't saved more than $2.

I realized when you have things shipped from a large retailer that collects sales tax, the sales tax is often computed from the lower-priced area where a warehouse is located. When you have it shipped to the store for pick-up, you pay the sales tax on whatever rate is in effect for that store.

So, before you make a final decision on whether to have something shipped to you or not, try both options. You may find that the real shipping cost, taking into account a lower tax rate, is far lower than you think. In my case, it only cost me $1.89 to have a number of items delivered, which is far less than a gallon of gas. Plus, it saved me an incredible amount of time.

My Diamond Sparkles!

Do you want your diamonds to really shine? Try soaking them in a little warm water with a denture tablet like Polident®. When I tried it, I was surprised at the brilliance. This is better than any jewelry cleaner I had ever tried before and so much cheaper, too.

Natural Hair Conditioner

My hair is very think and long. One day I ran out of conditioner. Without it, I couldn't seem to get a brush or comb through my hair, so I needed a solution. I decided to try some baby oil I had in the shower. I put just a few drops on my hands and ran them through my hair after toweling it dry. Now that's all I use. My hair looks and feels great!

Barking Dogs

As an animal control officer for about five years, if your neighbor has a barking dog, I would suggest that you get up the nerve to go talk to your neighbor about the barking. Ninety percent of the folks to whom I've issued warnings say that they wished someone had talked to them before calling animal control. Talking to your neighbor is the fastest and most effective way to resolve the problem.

If you just can't do it, leave an extremely polite note on the door with your name and number to discuss the problem. If you want to be really proactive, visit some websites and print up some material about stopping nuisance barking (most dogs bark because they are lonely and bored!) to give to your neighbor. Give it some time; things can't change overnight. Talk to your other neighbors to see if they have a problem with the dog barking.

If your neighbor is unreceptive, then don't hesitate to call animal control or your police department. Find out what your local laws are and the process that needs to be followed and then do it.
Carmen in Colorado

Additional TDS Resource: More on barking dogs

Mosquito Bites

Last summer my friends all thought I was crazy until they tried it. The best way to get relief from mosquito bites is with Listerine. Just put a little on a tissue and hold it on the bite. You'll get relief within seconds without nasty chemicals or smells!

Dressed to Shop

My friend and I like to shop at thrift stores. We also like to be prepared, so we wear gym-style clothes when we do. Leggings, a tank top, and flip-flops make it easy to try on a skirt, shirt, jacket or shoes. I can find out whether something fits and looks good in just a few seconds!

Homeowners Insurance Discount

I have always been frugal and just need to boast about my recent savings relating to auto insurance. I have used the same company for over 20 years for both house and auto insurance. I called and asked for a discount because of my great credit score. They gave me a $200 yearly discount!

An Unusual Restaurant Choice

My family and I have discovered a very inexpensive way to eat out. Not only do we find an affordable meal, but we also add to someone's day. Where? We visit local assisted living facilities. Most areas have one or more. Some will allow you to buy a meal just like a restaurant.

We share a table with someone we don't know. Often they don't have any family in the area and are happy to make a new friend. We get the chance to hear some stories about the past that are often fascinating. I've even met someone who lived "Mad Men" firsthand. I heard some great stories!

You should call ahead to make sure the facility allows visitors.

Cleaning Stove Burners

I find that Trisodium Phosphate or TSP works wonders on stove burners and trays. It's a powder that is mixed with water to prepare surfaces for painting. Following the directions on the box, I mix the TSP powder with water and scrub away layers of grease and burnt-on food. Then I rinse well and wash again in hot, soapy water. Sometimes it's necessary to clean the burners again with a steel wool pad, but it's much easier after the TSP wash. I use TSP on stove vent hoods as well. This makes them look like new!
Susan F. in Ontario, Canada

Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning stove top burners

Natural Deodorant

I read that vinegar works well for underarm odor. It changes the pH of the skin, so bacteria that cause the odor are not able to grow. Since I like natural products, I decided to give it a try.

After my morning shower, I soaked a plain cotton ball in vinegar and ran it under my armpits. I still perspired, but there was no odor. I'm really happy to get rid of one more set of unpronounceable chemicals from my bathroom.

Protecting Paper Documents

Many families keep their important papers in a safe to protect them from fire. While that's a good idea, don't forget to make sure your safe isn't in a place where it could be flooded, such as a basement.

Unless a safe is waterproof, you could find that your safe isn't so safe after all. We keep our safe on a platform about a foot above the floor.

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