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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Susan's helpful hints


Having lived 56 years and being married for 37 of those years, I've learned a few things about things around the house.

  • Do you have a king-size mattress? Is it starting to look a little worse for wear? You can add another few years to its life by giving it a quarter turn. It's like getting a new one! It hangs over the box springs by an inch or so on each side, but when you make the bed, it doesn't show.
  • Look on the ends of your boxes of aluminum foil and plastic wraps. There's a tab to push in and lock the roll in place (don't know why waxed paper and parchment don't have them). I'm not sure how I lived 54 years without realizing this!
  • I have almost eliminated the use of paper towels in my kitchen. I have stacks and stacks of white (bleachable) bar mop towels for drying dishes and wiping up spills. For window cleaning I use microfiber cloths made for that purpose. They do a much better job than paper. There's no streaking! I use one for wiping and a clean one for drying. I can do all my inside windows with just two and then I just throw them in the wash. I even use them on the outside and for car windows and bathroom mirrors. I still use paper towels to clean up cat yack though!
  • I also use cloth napkins instead of paper. I've made a lot and whenever I find used ones at Goodwill or other thrift stores, I snap them up. I've accumulated LOTS of them. It isn't any more time-consuming to wash and fold than it is to look for them in the store. In fact, they're great for kids to fold.
  • Did you know that grocery bags aren't the only ones that are recyclable? You can recycle any plastic bag that your finger will easily poke through. Dry cleaning bags, produce bags, and newspaper bags are just a few examples.
  • To keep baked goods from drying out, place a slice of bread in the container. It will extend the life of your cookies, brownies and muffins.
  • You will never have to throw out hard brown sugar again, if you have a Brown Sugar Bear. Actually, at Lehman's.com they come in several different shapes. They're made of terra cotta and you just soak in water for 15 minutes. Then place it in an airtight container with your brown sugar and it stays pliable and moist for months. Note: I put a piece of waxed paper between the disk and the sugar to keep the disk clean.
  • Making your fresh produce such as lettuce, parsley, etc. last longer in the fridge is as easy as 1.2.3.  1.) As soon as you get home from the grocery or farmer's market, wash the produce.  2.) Shake off excess water and wrap gently in a non-terry kitchen towel [I like linen, but cotton works well, too].  3.) Return to produce bag and place in crisper drawer of refrigerator. Parsley especially will last a couple of weeks. Dampen the towel every few days and pull out any yellowing pieces.
  • Do a lot of your recipes call for 2 tablespoons of something or other? Save yourself some time and get a coffee scoop that holds 1/8 cup which equals 2 tablespoons.
  • Speaking of scoops, ice cream scoops come in many sizes and they make great, perfectly-portioned cookie scoops.
  • If you don't already have one, get a 6-inch whisk. They're perfect for making a sauce in a small pan when a regular one is too large.
  • I use my citrus reamer all the time. I can't squeeze lemons because of the carpal tunnel and arthritis, so this works great for me. I use the reamer over a measuring cup holding a small strainer. Quick and easy.
  • Clothespins work just as well as bag clips and they're a lot less expensive. Get wooden ones as the plastic ones tend to slip on plastic bags.
  • Cut brownies with a plastic knife. It won't stick and drag. You come out with clean cuts every time.
That's all for today, bloggy friends. If you already knew all of these, then my hat's off to you!

41 comments:

stacybuckeye said...

Great tips, Susan. Interesting about the king sized bed. We're thinking about getting one so I'll have to keep that in mind. I don't use many paper towels anymore either, but I'm having a hard time breaking my hubby of the habit!

Cora said...

Thanks for these tips...they are great and you had some new ones for me. When I was reading about the bar mop towels replacing your paper towels I knew you could not eliminate the paper ones altogether! LOL Cat yack!
I have found if I place a dry plain white napkin in a ziplock baggie with my half used onions, bell peppers, etc. they last a lot longer in the crisper too.
Thanks for sharing these!!

Wanda said...

Well, now I know how to cut brownies, thanks Susan! You can also, after washing, trim the bottom of the parsley, place it in a glass of water and store in the refrigerator, maybe drape a plastic bag over it, for even longer storage. It looks like flowers in the refrigerator, very cheerful!

Together We Save said...

Great tips... I am trying to use less paper in my house that is for sure.

California Girl said...

so now I know what that thing (citrus reamer) is called and what it does. I never knew~!

Cindy said...

Well, aren't you a regular Heloise? Seriously, great tips! I need to print this out and hang it in my kitchen.

We use all those plastic bags for picking up dog poo on walks (and off leash runs at the park). Can I still put them in the recycling?

I love those microfiber cloths too. Do you have a hint for keeping sponges smelling fresh?

Delwyn said...

Hi Susan,

thanks for the tips...
fortunately the paper towel think never took off down under and we have always used 'tea towels' must be an English thing...

I find that the tear off cleaning wipes can also be washed and reused a few times...

Happy days

Susan said...

Stacy, I know what you mean about the hubster. His theory is why use one towel when you can pull 3 or 4 off the roll! He'd never make it on a Bounty commercial!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Aren't you just the Martha Stewart! I learn something new everyday, and today I think I learned alot more than that. It seems I'm doing everything wrong!

Susan said...

Cora, that's a good tip about the peppers and onions, thanks!

Yes, I still use the paper towels occasionally, especially for the CY!

Susan said...

Wanda, that's a great idea for the parsley! I do that with asparagus that I won't be cooking the day I bring it home. I also do it with basil, but put it in the window.

The plastic knife hint also works with fudge. You'll be amazed.

Susan said...

Together, thank you for visiting! I've been cutting corners and saving money all my life. Your blog looks like a great clearinghouse for ways to save.

Susan said...

Cali Girl, I can't live without my reamer! :D

CottageGirl said...

Dear Heloise,
You are just a wealth of information! I love the tip about the plastic knife and the coffee scoop!!!! Thank you so much for the info!

Susan said...

Haha, Cindy! I'm pretty sure the people sorting at the recycling plant would prefer it if you didn't recycle the bags from Bailey's illegal activities! ;)

The only thing I know to keep sponges smelling not-so-funky is to soak them in a water/bleach solution each day. About 1 tablespoon bleach to 4 cups water sounds about right.

Susan said...

Delwyn, it's good to know that some of our wasteful habits haven't rubbed off on you folks down under.

I've reused disposable wipes, too, if they're only slightly used. If I wipe my hands on one in the car, I use it to clean the steering wheel.

Happy days to you, too!

Susan said...

Sandy, believe me, Martha Stewart I am not! It makes me crazy that she can fold fitted sheets so that they look like they just came out of a brand-new package! I start out tucking the corners into each other, get frustrated, and end up wadding it up and cramming it into the linen closet!

There is no wrong way to do things. These are just things that work for me. :)

Susan said...

CG, Ha! I've almost got as much silver hair as Heloise, too!

A friend of mine who is in her late seventies told me the tip about the plastic knife. I didn't believe it would work until I tried it. I haven't used anything else since!

Kim Living Life said...

Susan great tips for sure and I am with you about Matha and the fitted sheets, I have tried it so many times and mine never look like hers do why is that?????

Tattered and Lost said...

Okay, I have to add my 2 cents. Literally it probably costs 2 cents. If you ever buy lemons or oranges in those stretchy nylon net bags don't throw the bag away. Cut off both ends, especially the end with the metal tie, and use this thing folded over a few times to scrub your dishes. Made something with melted cheese or eggs stuck on a pan? Use this and you'll not only easily scrub your pots/pans/utensils but you'll be able to very easily wash the food residue from the netting. It never stinks like a sponge or a regular scrubby. You never have to spend time picking melted cheese out of a sponge or scrubby. And they last for years and years and years...get the idea? I'm cheap.

Char said...

so very smart - i learned a lot of new things

VaNeSsA said...

What a lovely lady you are! Thanks for the tips. The foil/plastic wrap one was a big "DUH!" moment for me - like, how many times have I said a bad word with that darn roll comes out of the box?!
An add-on to the plastic knife thing (and I have to admit I only read the first 10 comments or so, so if it's a repeat I am sorry - if you cut lettuce with a plastic knife instead of a metal one the edges don't get brown. I'm a tearer myself, but I know some people do cut. :)

Ruth said...

You are a fine woman. Smart smart smart too.

Ok, I'm going to break down and get the bar towels and get rid of paper towels. I do the washing of parsley and cilantro thing and wrap them in paper towel. But I'll do the linen instead. Thank you.

The 2 T-1/8 c thing is brilliant!

JackeeG4glamorous said...

OMG! I too use all of your hints! I began using cloth napkins in the 80's when we also crushed aluminium cans to recycle. I use rags (old socks, t-shirts or sweat pants) for cat barf instead of buying paper towels. I have a rag bag that I store them in - then I either wash or throw them away. Did you know that you can use a square old washcloth or dish rag on a Swiffer and it does the job? Or a microfiber square-which is washable and re-usable! Go Green!
Also, if you put a piece of fresh bread in a sealed container with hard cookies, they get all soft and chewy. Great for Toll house or store bought hard cookies.

Swear we should be related, or sisters, or at least friends...

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Great tips!
I want a king sized bed.. these little doggies take up the lion's share of a double bed. Hubs and I hang off the edges.

culdesacchronicles said...

I loved these, Susan. Such great ideas and I didn't know about many of them. I do use clothespins for bags and I love the citrus reamer. My hat's off to you for using the bar mop towels. Great idea. I had no idea about the tab on the ends of the aluminum foil box. I'll be checking that out.
Thanks. Great tips.

Susan said...

Kim, thanks for visiting! Those danged fitted sheets drive me nuts! The ones that have the elastic all around are the worst. I have found that it is a little easier when they've been hung on the clothesline. You can use the pins to help you out.

Susan said...

Tattered, that IS a great idea for the nylon bags! If they're large enough, I usually save them to hang beef suet in for the woodpeckers, but I will definitely add this to my list. I hate it when the scrubbies get gunked up!

I prefer to think of us as "thrifty", instead of cheap! :)

Susan said...

Thanks, Char! Always ready to hand out advice...that's me!

Susan said...

Vanessa, can you imagine how "DUH" I was since I only learned it a couple of years ago?!! I can't believe my mom didn't know this, or if she did she never told me about it!!

Thanks for the hint using the plastic knife for lettuce. We use it so fast around here that it never has a chance to get brown! ;)

Susan said...

Ruthie...why, thank you, ma'am. It takes one to know one. :)

The environment is going to thank you if you switch to cloth towels. It's a little hard to break the habit at first, but now I don't even think about it.

Don't you hate when a recipe calls for "1/2 tablespoon"? That drives me crazy! Why don't they just say 1 1/2 teaspoons?!!

Susan said...

Jackee, we must be "green sisters"! :) Those are really great ideas! I don't know why I haven't thought of using old rags for the cat yack....I will enlist my grandkids in cutting the old t-shirts into smaller pieces. I may even make a bag to store them in...you know like they have for plastic bags? The ones that have holes in both ends?

I actually have a microfiber dust mop that I use. It works really well, except when you run into a wet patch on the floor where it kind of hangs up and leaves some dirt behind. My dog slurps water all over the place when she drinks!

Susan said...

Natashya, I don't know how you sleep with another person in a double bed!! I would kill my husband, because I'm not the snuggling type when I'm sleeping. It's hard for me to sleep with him even in a queen-size now!

Susan said...

Bella, I'm glad you liked my little attempt at being Heloise for a day! I'll try to come up with some more for another post some day.

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Yeah, I would like a microfiber dust mop, I've seen them, but am too cheap to buy one!

ds said...

I do solemnly swear to cut down on my usage of paper toweling, and to make a concerted effort to use cloth napkins! Some of the other stuff was familiar--also if you haven't got a citrus reamer, a fork does nicely. Mr. L-S's ears burn every time I dig a perfectly recyclable plastic anything out of the trash!

You are much better than Heloise or Martha because you have an awesome sense of humor ("cat yack" indeed!) :D

Thank you.

Deborah said...

Susan I thought I had already commented on the post, but I guess not! I read it last week and came back to refresh my memory about that citrus reamer thingy. I have broken a number of lemon squeezers of the conventional sort, always using WAY too much force with then. This is the tool for me! Loved all your tips.

Susan said...

ds, I even go through my daughter's trash sometimes and dig out the recyclables! And if I take the grands to (horrors!) McDonald's, I bring home the little containers that can be recycled. I'm such a nerd!

A fork! Got it! Sometimes the grands steal my interesting kitchen gadgets to put in their play kitchen, so that hint will come in handy.

I wonder if Martha has ever used the term "cat yack"? haha

Susan said...

Thank you, Deborah! I'm glad some of them were useful to you. I've never had a lemon squeezer. I could use one of those for squeezing the lemon into my tea! Kitchen gadgets are my favorite thing to buy. I love Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table.

Oliag said...

Dear Heloise.,

I'm with you on using cloth towels and napkins...so much nicer too...

and how in the world did I never hear of the tabs on the foil boxes?

Susan said...

Hi Oliag! How was your vacation?!! Glad to see you made it home safely...just in time for the next big snow! ;)

The tabs: I KNOW!!! How did I not notice those for all those years?!!