Monday, September 15 , 2014

Easy Jar-Opening Trick

Vacuum seals on jar lids are great for keeping food fresh...but they can really be a hassle when you're trying to open the jar! Here’s how to double your lid-removal grip...and all you need are a few common household items...

Put a thick rubber band around the lid of the jar and another rubber band around the middle of the jar body. Grasp each band with a hand, twist...and enjoy whatever is in that jar. You can also get a good double grip with rubber gloves, but we think the bands provide a better hold. And we usually tend to have more rubber bands available than gloves on any given day.

More ways to make things easy...


Thursday, September 11 , 2014

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Fridge Bins Clean

Do you hate pulling out those cumbersome fruit and vegetable bins to clean them? So do we! Here's what to do…

For easy cleanup (and to prevent messes), line the fruit/vegetable and meat drawers with old plastic place mats (or even with cheap new mats from the dollar store). You may have to cut them to fit, but considering how easy they are to wipe clean, it will be worth the effort. You can easily remove the mats to clean them rather than pulling out the entire drawer.

If you don't want to bother cleaning place mats, line the drawers with paper towels. They will provide some protection and help absorb moisture, which means that the fruit will last longer.

Some people try to line drawers with plastic wrap, but we've found that the paper towels are much more cooperative.

More help with cleaning your kitchen...


Wednesday, September 10 , 2014

Clean Your Pewter with Cabbage?!

Did you just inherit a beautiful candelabra (or maybe a set of tankards) that looks tarnished beyond repair? Don't despair! Here's what to do...

Use a large, outer leaf of a cabbage as you would use a cloth to rub the pewter clean. We find that the large white cabbage leaves work the best. Then buff the pewter with a soft cloth.

If a pewter object is badly tarnished, use #0000 (super-fine) steel wool dipped in olive oil and cautiously scrub off the tarnish. Then wash, rinse and buff dry with a soft cloth.

More household magic...


Wednesday, September 03 , 2014

How to Clean Your Fake Flowers

We have transitioned from houseplants that need little care (succulents, spider plants) to realistic-looking artificial flowers that need very little care (just a yearly cleaning to keep them from looking dingy). Here's how to keep fake flowers looking fresh and new.

To clean sturdy fabric flowers, take a plastic or paper bag (big enough to hold the flowers), and pour in one cup of table salt. Hold the flowers by the stems, and put the blossoms into the bag. Hold the neck of the bag closed around the stems, then shake, shake, shake, giving the salt a chance to clean the flowers.

When you take the flowers out of the bag, do it over the sink (or outside) and gently shake off any salt remaining on the flowers. Inspect the flower petals closely—if there is still any residual salt, you can brush it off with a clean pastry brush or a small paintbrush. The flowers should be clean, and their colors fresh and bright.

More great ways to decorate and organize...


Monday, September 01 , 2014

De-Stink a Lunch Box

No one wants to go back to school with a smelly lunch box! Here's how to brighten up the food container that's been hiding away all summer.

To freshen up a stinky metal or plastic lunch box, moisten a slice of bread with distilled white vinegar and let it sit in the lunch box overnight. The next morning, throw away the soggy bread, wash out the lunch box with warm soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Then load it up with your child's (or grandchild’s) sandwich and fruit.

More ways to fix funny smells...


Monday, August 25 , 2014

Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

Do you have a lovely crop of roses or daisies or chrysanthemums (or any other flower) that could serve as a perfect decoration for your dining room table...if only the stems weren't too short or too uneven? Garden flowers don't always grow to the right length to fit in an arrangement. Here's what to do...

To lengthen stems that are too short for a vase, stick each in a plastic straw and then cut the straws to the proper length for the vase. A straw will also keep a droopy stem straight and cooperative.

To help keep different-weighted flowers evenly spaced in your vase, put transparent tape across the mouth of the vase, crisscrossing it according to the size of the vase and the number of flowers you intend to put in the arrangement. The tape will make it easier to do the arranging because it will hold the flowers in place...just make sure you have enough bottom foliage to cover the tape.

More garden help...


Friday, August 22 , 2014

Easy Protection for Oven Mitts and Potholders

You try to be as careful as possible, but that cheesy casserole spilled over onto your attractive fabric oven mitts. Here's what to do to prevent light grease stains from ruining your mitts or potholders.

Before you use your new potholders or oven mitts, thoroughly spray them with scent-free laundry starch. Let them sit overnight to dry completely. You won't need to wash them very often, but each time you do, spray again after washing. The starch forms a coating that protects the potholder or mitt, preventing oily stains from seeping through the fabric.

More help with stains...


Tuesday, August 19 , 2014

Kill Aphids the Natural Way

Certain critters can be the pestiest of pests, especially on precious houseplants and hanging potted flowers that make our homes a better place to be. If you've recently had an invasion of tiny crawlers that seem to be sucking the life out of your favorite foliage, here's what to do...

Aphids are plant lice—soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that are less than one-eighth-inch long and are most commonly green, yellow or black. If you see aphids on your plants, mix one-half cup of powdered milk with one quart of warm water and put the solution in a spray bottle. Spray the plants' leaves thoroughly. As they dry, the aphids will die. And you have spared the air in your home from toxic chemicals.

More ways to fight pests...


Thursday, August 14 , 2014

Nonbleach Trick to Brighten Whites

Don't you hate it when your favorite white cotton top starts to get that grayish dingy look? Here's what to do…

Fill a basin or sink with warm water, and add one-quarter cup of powdered automatic dishwasher detergent. Add your tops, socks, underwear and whatever else needs brightening. Swish them around, and let the garments soak for one hour. Wring out the sopping clothes—enough to get them to the washing machine without making a mess—and then launder as usual.

More help with laundry...


Tuesday, August 05 , 2014

Remove Stains from Your Marble Top

If you have a beautiful white marble surface (an antique armoire or a coffee table, for example) that does not have stone-sealer protection, you need to be on the lookout for stains, because marble is a porous stone. Be sure to wipe up any spills immediately, and then do this...

For white marble: Mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide to four parts water. Dip a cloth in the solution, and rub the stain, then wipe it quickly. If the stain doesn't go away, repeat the process. Do not use this solution on colored marble because peroxide can lighten nonwhite surfaces.

For colored marble: Spill enough table salt to cover the stain, then dribble on some milk to dampen the salt (sour milk works well, if you happen to have that around). Leave the salt-milk paste on the stain for two days (cover with plastic wrap if it's in a high-traffic area). Then use a damp cloth to wipe up the milky salt. The stain should be gone for good!

Note: These cleaning methods are safe for most marble surfaces, but there are many varieties of stone that might react differently. Be sure to test an unseen spot first with either solution to make sure it doesn't discolor the marble.

More household magic...