Thursday, April 17 , 2014

Get Scuff Marks Off Your Wood Floors

The plumber did a good job fixing that leak, but he left a trail of scuff marks on your hardwood floor! Here's how to clean them without scratching the beautiful wood...

Put a little petroleum jelly or baby oil on a cloth, and work it into the floor to remove the mark. Once it's gone, go over the area with dry paper towels, making sure there's not a trace of the slippery jelly or oil left. The jelly or baby oil cleaner should work on both laminated and untreated wood.

If the marks are too tough for petroleum jelly or baby oil, get an old, clean toothbrush, apply some white toothpaste and gently scrub the mark. Then wipe the area clean with a damp cloth or sponge.

More help for your floors…


Tuesday, April 15 , 2014

Magic Crystals for Your Garden

It's time to clean up your plots and get ready for gardening! It may be a little early to plant, but it's not too soon to start thinking soil enrichment. Here's what to do...

Some gardeners will not sow their crops (or anything) until they've enriched the soil with Epsom salt. It is said to help grow stalks stronger, leaves greener and blossoms more substantial. It also makes plants less vulnerable to disease.

Sprinkle about one cup of Epsom salt over every 100 square feet (or 10-foot-x-10-foot patch) of garden. You can do this while you're preparing your land or just before you plant your seeds or seedlings (after the final frost is the best).

You can also sprinkle one-half cup of Epsom salt around mature plants, such as rose bushes, which will help strengthen the color of the flowers and yield blossoms sooner, due to the magnesium content. For new rose plantings, feed your up-and-coming bushes according to their height—one teaspoon of Epsom salt per foot—worked into the soil around the stem. Expert rose growers suggest doing this during the first and third weeks of May and during the first and third weeks of June.

More help with gardening...

Tuesday, March 04 , 2014

Procrastinator's Guide to Painting

There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to lift your spirits and make it look like you live in a new home. But it's hard to find time to paint a whole room in one shot. Paint one wall at a time! Here's how to make it easy...

If you don't finish painting in a day, instead of cleaning the brush or the roller, just wrap it in aluminum foil, put it in a plastic bag that can be loosely closed with a twist tie, and put it in the freezer. The next day, thaw out the brush or the roller for at least one hour before you're ready to start painting again.

The best news: A wrapped paintbrush or roller can be stored in the freezer for days, weeks or even months, until the next time the painting bug hits you.

More household help...


Thursday, January 30 , 2014

How to Tame Computer Cables

If you haven't gone completely wireless yet and there's a spaghetti-like mound from all the cables and wires behind your desk/television/sound system, here's a tip for you...

If you have an old telephone around—a unit you'll never use again—and it has a coiled cord, cut off the cord (or just remove it by hand if it uses squeezable jack connectors). Then gather up your messy computer or entertainment wires and, following the curvature of the coiled cord, wrap it snugly around them to keep them together in a neat bundle.

If you don't have an old corded phone or coiled cord, you can buy coiled telephone cord at the hardware store, Radio Shack or Amazon.com.

More ways to make life easier...


Monday, November 04 , 2013

Get Those Stains and Smells Off Your Cutting Boards

To remove a stain from your plastic cutting board or wood butcher’s block, sprinkle table salt on it, then rub it with an inch-thick wedge of lemon or lime until the juice combines with the salt and the stain begins to dissipate. Rinse and dry. The salt draws out the grease that’s clinging to your board and acts as an abrasive, while the lemon/lime helps bleach out the stain.

To remove a strange smell from a cutting board, take a bigger piece of lemon and rub (again, the flesh side) wherever the smell is coming from. Rub until the lemon scent overwhelms the smell. This works on plastic or wood. Rinse. Dry. Sniff. No smell! Note: Most bacteria cannot survive without moisture. Keep all surfaces in the kitchen dry...especially cutting boards and butcher’s block.

More household help...


Wednesday, September 18 , 2013

Mildew-Proof Your Plastic Shower Curtain

The easiest way to keep mildew off your favorite plastic shower curtain is to prevent the icky growth from happening in the first place! Here's what to do: Before you hang up a brand-new curtain, fill the bathtub with a few inches of warm water, then add two cups of table salt. Submerge the new curtain in the saltwater bath, and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Shake off the water, dry with a clean cloth, and then hang your mildew-proof curtain.

More time-saving cleaning tips...


Thursday, August 01 , 2013

Fix That Hardwood Floor Scratch in a Jiffy

You try to protect your beautiful hardwood floors, but scratches happen and they can be ugly. Here's a trick to minimize the look of deep scratches without expensive renovation. Hardware stores have wax crayons that match most shades of hardwood. Or look in that old box of children's crayons for a color that matches your floor. Take the paper off the crayon, then put the crayon in a small glass container and melt it in your microwave. Your goal is to soften the crayon enough to manipulate, so start by setting the microwave for 10 seconds. (You may end up needing to give it more time to melt, depending on the power of your microwave.) Carefully scrape the melted wax into the scratch. Before it completely hardens, take a piece of semi-rigid plastic—such as a credit card—and glide it over the treated area, removing the wax that landed outside the scratch, making the filled-in scratch level with the rest of the floor. (Take care not to scratch the floor again with the plastic.) You can remelt the scraped-up wax as many times as necessary to get the whole length of the scratch filled in.

Another method that some people prefer: Instead of melting the crayon first, grate it using a kitchen grater and then press the little pieces tightly into the scratch. Next, use a blow-dryer set on low to soften the wax, then level it off with a piece of plastic. When the melted crayon cools and completely hardens, buff the area with a soft, clean cloth. (If you're into waxing the floor, this would be the time to do it.) Depending on the traffic flow, this fix should last indefinitely.

More clever ways to a better home...


Monday, July 29 , 2013

If You Have a Screw Loose...

That drawer knob just doesn't want to screw in tight to that drawer or cabinet door. What to do? Remove the screw from the knob. Coat the screw hole with a just-dipped nail polish brush, dabbing it just enough so that a thin layer forms. (Depending on how your knob is constructed, you may need to pull the screw out of the actual knob or simply work with the hole in your drawer or cabinet door.) Let the nail polish set for a minute, and then insert the screw and tighten. The bulk provided by the half-dried polish will help the screw tighten better right away...and then the cured polish will help keep it that way.

More do-it-yourself help...


Friday, July 26 , 2013

Silverfish Down the Drain

If you see creepy silverfish wiggling across your bathroom floor or bathtub (EW!), boil a pot of water and carefully pour it down the bathtub and sink drains. Silverfish love water sources, so dark drains are their favorite hiding places. The boiling water is hotter than what usually comes out of your faucet and should destroy the bulk of those pests who scamper when the light comes on. Sprinkle about a cup of table salt on the bathroom floor and in cracks and crevices (where silverfish usually enter), then vacuum the floor and all the cracks and corners of the bathroom (and any adjacent room, to be safe). The salt will help kill insect eggs and larvae that may get sucked into your bag. Oh, and speaking of your vacuum bag...change it (or empty the canister) immediately after sucking up the salt. Carefully seal the used vacuum bag in a plastic bag, and discard in a receptacle outside your home.

More natural ways to keep pests away...


Thursday, July 25 , 2013

Smart Disassembly

Are you getting ready to move or redecorate and you need to take apart that large IKEA (or other "assembled at home") piece of furniture? So many screws and bolts and nuts and dowels and clips! To keep from losing any of the hardware (and to keep the pieces organized), press them to the sticky side of a wide piece of tape, such as duct tape or thick masking tape. It's a good idea to stick the parts on the tape in the same order that you remove them. As you go, stick narrow strips of paper onto the tape width-wise to separate groups of hardware by their location in the furniture, and write on these strips to ID each section with a brief description of where the pieces came from. When you reassemble the furniture, you'll easily work your way across the tape to find the parts you need.

More great home-improvement ideas...