Friday, February 22, 2013


Here it is – the household tips post! I've been thinking overtime about these household tips for the last few weeks. At first I couldn't think of many, but after a while I realized that I have oodles of little tips and shortcuts that I use all the time – they're just so much of a habit now that I don't even think twice about them anymore. Thanks to the people who sent in their tips, I think we've got a pretty good little list!

I hope you enjoy reading through these. If you think of any others, feel free to add them in the comment section below.

  • Wrap celery ribs in aluminum foil before you put them in the fridge. They'll stay crisp for weeks! For celery ribs that have already gone limp, cut a little off the bottom (stem) end and put them into a cup full of ice water for several hours to re-crisp them. You can then wrap them in the foil and they'll still keep for a while longer!

  • Use dish soap to remove both new and old grease stains on clothing.

  • Make your own laundry detergent.

  • Organize kid's birthday cards and notes from family and friends by punching holes in the cards and sticking them in a three-ring notebook binder. Along with this, purchase some page protectors and put special programs, bulletins or drawings in the protectors and add to the notebook.

  • When making meatloaf, meatballs, ham loaf, etc. - Take a small amount of your meat mixture and fry it in a pan so you can taste it and adjust the seasonings as necessary before you put the whole batch in the oven. This is especially useful when trying a new recipe or experimenting with new ingredients in an old recipe.

  • Use white vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner (Use about ¼ cup of vinegar to 2 gallons of water for floors. Use full strength for windows, just put in a spray bottle. You can even use old newspapers to wipe the vinegar off the windows.)

  • A Fun Kid's Activity: Pudding Painting! (I saw this on a friend's blog recently) – You use food coloring to tint instant vanilla pudding different colors, then let them “paint” with it on a clean plate (use a spoon, or fingers, whatever works!). Edible masterpieces!

  • Make your own play dough.

  • Our son loves this one – set out a number of custard cups or other small bowls, a liquid measuring cup with white vinegar, a small bowl of baking soda, spoon and liquid food coloring (in the little dropper bottles). We do this on the floor in the kitchen. He will pour a little vinegar in a custard cup, tint it the color he wants, then spoon in some baking soda. Voila! Colored bubbles!

  • Make your own vanilla extract for baking. I saw this recently online. You take some alcohol (vodka or rum) and put it in a mason jar, add vanilla bean pods and let it steep for a couple months. I'm going to try this when my current bottle of extract runs out!

  • So it's not really in style, but you can make cut off shorts from kids pants that have holes in the knees. They make great outdoor play shorts for the summer (and your preschooler doesn't care about the latest fashion, anyway).

  • Clean and save plastic containers from sour cream, gallons of ice cream, cottage cheese, etc. and reuse them for storing 1) leftovers, 2) dry food (beans, rice, flour, pancake mix...), 3) toys with multiple parts, 4) household odds & ends (nails, screws...), 5) craft supplies (beads, ribbon, crayons...), 6) homemade play dough, and many more! (It's great to reuse what would otherwise be thrown out right away, and if I forget something in the back of the fridge for two months and it becomes a science experiment – I can throw the whole thing in the trash and not feel guilty about it!)

  • Save old newspapers to use for starting campfires, as a drop cloth for messy craft projects, cleaning windows, etc.

  • Buy in bulk and freeze the extras when you can – baking supplies (chocolate chips, nuts...), shredded cheese, bread, muffins, cookies, meat, butter, etc.

  • If you have chickens and they are producing more eggs than you can use or give away, did you know you can freeze them (uncooked) for later use? They will last for up to six months in the freezer. There are several methods for how to do this – look it up!

  • When I make pancakes or waffles on Saturday morning, I always make a large batch and put the extras in the fridge or freezer for quick weekday breakfasts. To reheat, simply microwave or toast. (If you put it in the fridge, use it within a week. If you put it in the freezer, layer with waxed paper or parchment paper so they don't stick together, or freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then put them in a freezer bag.) I also make large batches of cookies and freeze them for packed lunches.

  • Finally, ENCOURAGE your little helpers!  (Even if it's sometimes messy.)

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