Around the House

Hints and Tips

from Readers



09-12-03 The many uses of Fabric Softener Sheets from Nita & readers



Another way to bake potatoes in microwave: Wash potato thoroughly, pierce with fork or knife, rub Crisco or olive oil on potatoes, wrap in plastic wrap. Pierce them again with fork or knife and cook for 7 minutes at 70% and then 5 minutes @ 70%. You will have to adjust the time to the size and number of potatoes. I use BIG bakers and divide them in half for the grandkids and we pig out on 1 and a salad. The potatoes are creamy and the skins are easy to eat and cut. You can do this as well on a campfire if you substitute foil for the plastic wrap and place each potato in a foil boat that has a little butter/margarine/olive oil in the boat! You need to watch them and squeeze them regularly as they will cook to long very quickly and you have about an 1/4" of black potato but the inside is still quite good.




Parsimonious Living Tips from Byron Tumlinson


03-06-03 Tips from Wanda -removing pitch (tree sap)

1. To remove pitch from your hands, just rub butter on them and wash with soap and water!

2. To remove pitch from clothes, rub orange pumice hand cleaner on clothes, let set over night, and rub with wet cloth the next day. Then wash as usual. Jay got pitch all over the backside of a new pair of denim bib overalls (he was peeling a log and sitting on it!) and I was able to get ALL of the pitch out of it.

3. To remove pitch from linoleum floors, squirt some lighter fluid on the fresh pitch and then wipe with a cloth. Lighter fluid will also remove the sticky glue left when you peel off a price tag! Be sure to wash area well with soap and water.

4. When transplanting plants, I always put a coffee filter in the bottom of the planter. It keeps the dirt from falling out through the holes and water is still able to flow out.

5. Use a paint brush to dust those hard to dust knick knacks! It is soft and reaches into the crevices quite well. I spray mine with a little furniture polish first.


02-24-03  More wonderful tips from Wanda Lynch

1. Don't have time to make banana bread but your bananas need something done with them? Just peel them and put them in freezer bags to make banana bread with later on. Just mark on the bag how many bananas are in the bag!

2. Don't throw away the plastic bags from groceries. They make great garbage can liners for the smaller cans like in the bathroom. After it is full, just tie the handles together and give it a toss!

3. Reuse your empty water bottles. I refill them and put them in our fridge. Then when we need something to drink, we grab a bottle of water! Great for when you are traveling instead of buying pop. Much better for you too!

4. Tired of store bought bread going stale before you have a chance to eat it all? This tip came from my daughter! She puts her bread in the fridge and it lasts a lot longer.

5. During the holidays, save bows and wrapping paper that are still like new. I have been known to reuse the same bows for years!!! I store them in the grocery plastic bags and hang them on the back of the door to my craft room.

6. Make your own gift tags. Use the craft scissors that have different shapes on the blade and create unique gift tags. I save the front of pretty cards and then cut around the design with the scissors. Use the design as a template and cut a little larger on a piece of colored construction paper. Punch a hole in the top using a hole puncher and use ribbon, yarn, etc. to tie them together. Instant tags! Great fun and you can include the kids too!

7. Trying to "train" your kittens? I have found that a squirt bottle works wonders!



Wanda Lynch is providing more great money saving ideas this week ! Enjoy ! 

1. Don't throw away small amounts of leftover vegetables. Keep a quart bag in the freezer that you can put them in and when it is full, make a vegetable soup!

2. Jay's aunt taught me a trick with the septic tank to keep it cleaned out. Every three months or so I put 1/4 cup of yeast in a bowl with very warm water. Stir until dissolved and then flush down the toilet. Works like a charm and much cheaper than the septic cleaners. We have never had a septic problem either! The yeast helps break down the stuff in the septic tank.

3. If you live in an area where having roadside garbage pickup is an option, opt not to have it! Our friends pay over $25 a month to have their trash picked up and we pay $5 every three or four months to go to the dump! Quite a savings!! Being organized and recycling helps cut down on what is actually thrown away. We burn all burnables and have 80 lb. feed bags hanging in the shop that we put the recycles in. Then when we go to the dump, all we have to do is load them and then dump them into the correct bin at the dump. Recycling is free and makes good sense!

4. Save junk mail, etc. that is only written on one side (or used computer paper) and cut it down to fit a memo cube. I haven't bought memo pads in over 15 years! Makes great scratch paper too!



Amy in RI shares this Worthy Tip:

I have a wonderful tip that I think you'll like. It's a recipe for fire starters that really works.

Take an egg carton and cut off the top. Fill each egg holder with dryer lint (yes, dryer lint) Then you take all the left over scraps of candles that are hanging around and melt it down and pour it over the lint. You need to get the lint pretty well saturated, the more wax the better they work. Let them dry and then you can peel off each little cup as needed.

These eliminate the need for any newspaper or kindling. Light one under your logs and you're good to go!


Wanda Lynch shares lots of great tips:


1. Cut your dryer sheets in half. They work just as well but you get twice as many loads out of a box!!

2. Wash in cold water as much as possible. The hot water heater is one of your biggest electricity users!

3. Before putting clothes in the dryer, shake them out so that your dryer doesn't have to work so long to dry a load.

4. If possible, dry clothes outside or on drying racks. I like to add liquid fabric softener to my clothes so they are softer.

5. Buy generic fabric softener for either liquid or sheets. It works just as well as name brand but is much cheaper!

6. Buy your laundry detergent in larger quantity as this is usually the cheapest. I buy laundry detergent in five gallon buckets so we reuse them when I am finished!


1. Rinse dishes in cold water. It gets the soap off easier and doesn't cost as much!

2. I save all my bread crumbs from when I slice my homemade bread (I use an electric knife). I store them in a jar so when a recipe calls for bread crumbs I always have some on hand!

3. If you use plastic zip lock bags, don't throw them away! Just wash them and reuse them! The only ones I don't save are ones that have had meat in them. The ones that get small holes in them can be reused to hold small craft objects, anything that doesn't require an airtight seal. I save empty tissue boxes to store my bags in. I put my grease can (a recycled tin can that I pour grease into) in a reused baggie so that the smell doesn't go all through the house. Then when it's full, I just throw it away!

4. Use the wax paper inside the cereal box for putting flour in when you need to flour a meat. Then just throw it away when done!


1. Find a bank that has free checking!

2. Order your checks through the mail. This is so much cheaper than ordering them through your bank.

3. Do banking over the phone instead of driving to the bank. Credit unions are especially good for this and more lenient.

4. If you use a credit card, check with your bank or credit union. Usually their credit cards carry a lower interest rate than other cards.


1. Turn off all lights when not in use.

2. Purchase the energy efficient light bulbs. They are a little spendy at first but save money in the long run and don't use as much electricity. We even use them in the chicken house and on the porches.

3. Turn your furnace down and put on a sweater during the day and turn it down to 60 or lower at night.

4. If you have electric or gas heat, make sure all windows and doors are sealed and caulked. Houses lose a lot of heat through unsealed doors and windows!

5. Shut up all rooms not in use. No need to waste electricity heating or cooling unused rooms! Be sure to close the vents also!

6. Replace the filters as recommended on your furnace and air conditioner. It helps it to run more economically.

7. Turn down the thermostat on your hot water tank.