Hopefully I will soon find or think of more tips. For now, be sure to visit the Around the House page of ideas. CLICK HERE.


For many years I had a fairly thin blanket. It was perfect for times when it was cool but not yet cold. But alas, it worn thin and was then used for rags. Now, we've reached that time of year again and I had no luck finding a similar blanket. Because it was still handy, the flannel sheets came to mind. The top sheet was just the right weight for that not too heavy blanket. We're not yet into the cold nights when a heavy blanket or two is needed so that one heavy sheet is just right.



We have the hardest well water of any in the world. I was always wiping at the coffee and water marks on my coffee maker. They just wouldn't budge. It would take lots of heavy scrubbing to make any difference. By chance one day I happened to use a bit of distilled water. The spots all disappeared with ease. So now I just pour a little on my paper towel and the chore is finished very easily. I sure hope you don't have hard water but if you do, give it a try. Just don't ever drink water that has such minerals.



The easiest way to peel ripe peaches is to cut an x in either end and dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and the skins peel right off.


This was something I'd wanted to do for the longest but didn't have a sewing machine that would do the job. When I got one for Christmas, I knew I'd be preparing for the task.

During the winter, I had a set of flannel sheets that fit the bed perfectly. But the regular sheets for summer had a bottom sheet that liked to pop loose from the corners. I might get one day after washing, drying and tucking back in place but then it would be crawling all over the mattress. Our room is tiny and I hated having to get to the top corners to put it back into place. Long ago, I had some store-bought stretchies with snaps on the ends. They wore out after many years of use and I could not find any more in the stores. 

I had plenty of wide elastic on hand so I measured one corner and figured a 10 inch piece would be plenty long enough. I pulled the sheet around the mattress and had a good idea of where the elastic should go. Since I yet have no place for my notions, I didn't use pins, just held it in place and stitched away. It took longer to find the instructions and figure out how to put thread on the new bobbins and to thread the machine than to do the actual work. 

It has been a week now and everything fits perfectly. Not once has a corner pulled up out of place. I am a very happy camper as the saying goes. 



I discovered this tip accidentally one day. I had gathered eggs from the hen house and one was a first attempt by one of the young girls. That egg had only a thin shell so I laid it gently on top of the rest of the eggs. That would be in the pouch I made in the bottom of my shirt, I forgot to bring the big bowl for carrying. Sure enough, by the time I got into the house, the egg had broken and there was a big mess of yolk all over my shirt. Yuck. Easy enough to wash off of the other eggs but I wondered about the shirt. So I tossed it into the washer and filled it with cold water. The next day, I was pleasantly surprised to find all of the egg yolk gone. The shirt was ready to wash and continue its life.



Here is a page full of collected ideas and tips CLICK HERE and enjoy.



Okay, so it's been way more than a week since I had a tip to share. I seem to be running low on good ideas. 

Do you ever have chores during the day that you are always thinking how they'd be a lot easier to do if you could just add a few things or organize the area to make the job easier? When I had moved my clothes line area, I did it in a hurry. I didn't wrap the lines tight and didn't clean the ground below them. That meant that I was always having to hang pants only at the ends so they wouldn't hit the ground. It was worse when I'd have to come out after dark to gather in the dry clothes. There were wood scraps all over along with odd sizes of pieces, just big enough to turn an ankle if stepped on. Long boards complete with nails sticking out. 

So I took the time several weeks ago to take down the plastic line and use a better route around the trees. I pulled it tight and put it as high as possible. Then I cleaned the scraps and picked up any trash that could go to the garbage. I brought the big clippers and took out the dead branches that were hanging down everywhere. They wait for me to be looking down and I'd run right into them. Ouch. So now, it is very friendly and takes me much less time to finish the chore. 

You have to find your own stumbling block in your day and do something about it. Make the road less bumpy.



I always buy the carton refill of laundry fabric softener and pour it into the reusable plastic jug. Very convenient and cost effective but often messy. I used to stick the jug in the sink and scrub. I always had a slick and slippery mess that would finally rinse clean and then I could dry it. 

But then I tried using a few paper towels to wipe it down. No water necessary, just wipe all the streaks and dust bunnies away. Easy enough and done quick.



For the longest I was looking for the reason that my daily pot of tea would go cloudy. Sometimes it was fine and sometimes it looked terrible. Randy thought I wasn't using the distilled water but I was always doing it the same way. 

I had even asked Arlene Correll how she did hers. She uses and sells fancy teas that are loose and has even given me some. I don't have a strainer so I have yet to try them. But she had no problem with cloudy tea. 

I make a saucepan full of tea for the day. More on weekend days and less during the week. But the one things I did sometimes was to cover the pan with a saucer. Just to keep out the moths and bugs. 

That was it. Only when the pan was covered did the tea become cloudy. So I switched to covering the pan with a paper towel. Worked like a charm. Now, I have nice clear tea, never cloudy and no bugs floating around. This is probably not a problem for those with nice little tea pots. But it was for me.



We have all heard of the wonderful uses of WD-40 but the trick is to remember them when the need arises. Part of finishing the roof on the house was to use tar to seal the edges. Stuff works well but is a gooey mess on anything it touches. 

Randy had used a spatula to apply the tar and it was a mess but so were his hands. I found him scrubbing away at the sink. But in plenty of time to grab the WD-40 can and spray his hands. The tar wiped off easily and he washed again to remove the oiliness of the WD-40. Same with the spatula. Easy clean up. The rag he'd wiped his hands on was disposable so into the garbage it went.

Couldn't find my WD-40 use page so here's another one: CLICK HERE !



So, it's been some very busy weeks but I have another tip. This time it is for an alternative method to the address book for starting your new email. Lately, so many internet services have gone to rejecting emails sent as a reply. Sometimes they just disappear and sometimes they are returned. They give you no warning and it could take weeks before you figure out what has changed. 

Okay, you have received an email and you want to send one to the person sending it to you. As you are looking at the email you have just opened, look to the first line at the top where it says who sent it to you. Left click on the name/address and it will be highlighted. Then right click and it will open a dialog box. The second or third item in the list will be "send mail" and show the sender's address. Click on that and you have just started a message to that person. 

Your program may have different wording but these instructions should be able to get you familiar with the method. Makes it easier and saves some time while keeping you from using a reply that will probably not arrive where you send it.


02-04-07 (This is something I wrote many years ago but is always very good to know and to remember doing)

Check the dryer vent and you could save more than money:

   Spend just a little extra time to save a lot of money. No one ever thinks about tending the clothes dryer; at least not until the dryer takes forever to dry a load of clothes. Most newer dryers have a handy easy to clean filter that is in the front and center where you clean it out with every use.

   Cleaning a lint catcher is a simple chore but what about the other end of the vent hose; you know, the outside end that probably puts out that warm humid air full of lint under the house. I had never thought this could be a problem until my youngest daughter had a house fire that nearly cost them their lives. Instead, it cost most of their possessions. It took a fire inspector to tell them afterwards that the fire started from lint build up at the end of the vent tube. It had probably built up over a period of many years but after use that one evening had created enough heat to start a fire during the night.

   Now, when the dryer isn�t drying clothes as fast as it should, think to check the outside end. Mine is under the house and fairly easy to reach. I had worried that critters could crawl up and into the house and had devised a screen covering. That just made the lint build up really fast. Make sure the opening stays clear and your dryer use will be minimized and that�s a lot of money to save and you will have peace of mind that there is no fire smoldering below your house just waiting for you to sleep!  



Want something fun to do? Especially with kids or grandkids. Weather permitting, go for a walk in the country. If necessary, go for a drive down your favorite country road but this time, look up in the tops of the trees (don't drive and look at the same time but be careful out there). Look for the bird's nests that are now visible from the ground. There is one particularly BIG one in a cluster of oak trees near our house. I imagine it is the home to a Blue Jay since it is so large. Even the small nests close to the ground are visible while the leaves are gone from the trees. They will all be hidden when the leaves are again full and green on the many branches.



I had noticed on a visit to Mel's website that she had something about doing the chores in 15 minute segments. I don't understand the title given to the concept but that is the gist of it. I am very glad when my chores don't take more than 15 minutes but most take about 30 minutes. That's about how long I can last without needing to move around, stretch, whatever and a little rest before going back to the chore or starting another one. I used to make lists and check off things but I found myself spending too long making those lists so every morning I do a mental check and note what must be done that day and what will be coming up. As I plan for an event, I decide what tools will need to be gathered and if there are any new supplies that need to be purchased. 

Often I will spend more time gathering the tools needed for the chore than actually doing the deed. Sure makes the work easier and the project finished faster. Of course, if I can't find a hammer then I don't even get the work started. I must find something to use as a hammer or go buy one before I can begin.



One of my favorite helpful tips for this season is for keeping celery fresh longer. It always seems to go limp and old all too fast. 

When first taking the celery from the package, pull all the stalks off the heart. Use what you need and put the rest of the stalks back in the plastic bag it came in. Use a twisty or rubber band to secure and put the package back into the refrigerator. It will keep for a much longer time and not wilt like it would if left all together. The center stalks are the most tender and always used first. 



These are tips that have been in my Around the House tips for ages but I saw them given on a TV spot this morning and they are worthy of being mentioned again. (Especially since I couldn't think of anything else.)

When you need to dry just one or a few items in the dryer, toss in a dry item or two. Not particularly a towel since it will lend its fuzzy lint as well. But some dry items that will help take the moisture from the wet ones. It will make a big difference and your wet item will be dry quick. 

If you've let a clean item get wrinkled and don't want to iron, sprinkle the article of clothing with water and toss it into the dryer. Add a few other items to keep it bouncing lightly in the dryer and the wrinkles should come out just fine. That is unless it always needs pressing. 

I do so miss my dryer especially on days like this when it is extremely cold, the air is full of dust and dirt and I will get to spend the afternoon ironing shirts that would not need to be ironed if they'd been dried in a dryer. Some folks say they love the smell of clothes dried out on the line but it is the same aroma that makes my head stop up and I can't breath at all. Miserable. The dryer filters out so much and I look forward to getting one again but it will be after we can build a shed for the washer, dryer and probably the hot water heater. Don't know about that yet.



Back when we started using Splenda, I thought the plastic bag it came in to be a good idea. We have an occasional mousie and one found a bag and tore right into it. I got a set of large sized canister-type heavy duty containers. The kind that comes with the burpable lids. They are available at Wal-Mart and not the more expensive home ordering company. It was a set of 6 or so but the biggest went for keeping oats for the chickens. 

The next biggest size went for storing the Splenda. But the next problem was how to measure the Splenda when needed. I kept a small jar with tight lid in the shelf by the creamer but that was only good for spoonfuls. On the next shopping trip, I got 2 sets of measuring cups just for the purpose of scooping. There is now a 1/2 C. measuring cup in the Splenda (always dry) and always ready. There is another 1/2 C. size in the sugar canister (for the hummingbirds) a 1/4 cup size in the mixed seeds for the cockatiels. I keep the 1 cup size hanging on the wall for the usual measuring needs and now always have one clean and handy.



I don't use regular milk in any cooking now. We buy the canned condensed milk and I usually make it stronger than the recipe would call for it as regular milk. I am now spoiled to using the canned milk and won't use anything else. There is usually leftovers but I just keep them in a small covered bowl in the frig. We had bought some of the powdered milk but even mixed stronger than the directions, it just doesn't taste very good and doesn't cook very well. The canned evaporated milk has lots less sugar than most regular milk. Our HEB store makes a low everything milk but it still gives me a big time stomach ache so I avoid it as well.

I like the canned milk because it does not separate when heated. It stays smooth and is always creamy. If I am making something sweet, I add Splenda. To compare the canned milk to whole milk, it is much lower in the sugars so it is much healthier. A can will measure 1 1/2 Cups of liquid. When a recipe calls for 2 cups of milk, I use the can full plus 1/2 cup of water. We are spoiled to the richer taste and definitely prefer it.



The above blooms are from the Trumpet Vine during it's budding time. Right now, they have made seed pods and those are slowly drying. I watch for them to open so I can catch the seeds before they fall to the ground or into the wind.

I read lots of references to how to get them to bloom. Well, I'd read up on them before we ordered two plants and still I wondered for 4 years why they weren't blooming. They had the right location, watering, lack of fertilizing. What more could they want. Time. Lots of years. This past year was 6 years and it was absolutely wonderful. About the time I'd been thinking that their season was over with, I'd water and surprise, they'd be blooming again. All the experts told of not watering too much. We have sand and it drains completely, holds little moisture and dries very quickly. Like most plants, their first blooms of the season are the biggest and the best. And worthy of bringing the camera to catch some of the prettiest of the season. Try taking photos at night or dusk, the flash makes great light with the black of darkness as the background. A very special effect.

But there is always the beauty of the sunlight hitting the blooms making them seem to glow. Remember the old time use of the bloom, cutting off the small end as an opening and dipping the big end in soap water and blowing out streams of bubbles. Endless fun.  



I use a the granulated beef and chicken instant bouillon but have not found the "shaker" type in a long time. The only difference between the plain and the shaker is the plastic top with the holes in it for restricting the flow of the granules. I do have a few from past but never have the time to get one out and put it into place. Solution? There is always a paper seal on top of the jar just under the screw on lid. Take a sharp knife and cut open only about 1/4 of the top. That will allow you to shake out only what you need at one time. I always go for about 1 teaspoon per use so it is done quickly and easily.



Don't have one of those kitchen gadgets that helps to turn the meat patties? The fancy double sided wide spatulas that lets you lower the patty neatly and without splashing the grease all over you and the stove? Use two of the plain ones. 

Put the one under the patty as usual and then lay the second one on top. Hold gently but firmly and turn all at one time. It will take a little work to become really good at it but you'll be turning it like it had a hinge in the middle and you won't splash yourself with burning oil.



I was needing to wrap and odd sized item for mailing the other day and had to stop to figure what would do for the chore. It was an over sized calendar to send to Aunt Ruth. I don't have any such rolls of plain paper and could think of nothing at first. Then I noticed the rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. Turned plain side out, it made for perfect plain white paper. Wrap securely with tape only, no twine. I do a print out of the mailing and return addresses, then cut and tape them on to the package. Most markers or pens will smear and smudge before the ever dry enough on that slick surface though the stamps will stick just fine. If you must use such a marker or pen, cover it with tape to prevent the smearing. If the items inside are an actual birthday or special gift, use that type of paper and the person will have the special paper around the gift.