Tuesday’s totally random tips



I was going through an old copy of MaryEllen’s Best of helpful hints book, and came across some pretty good tips to share.  Some of the tips in the book are outdated, but some are timeless.  I am sharing the timeless ones.

  • Save time and money by using the cheapest brand of dishwashing detergent available, but add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the dishwasher.  The vinegar will cut the grease and leave your dishes sparkling clean. 
  • To remove coffee and tea stains from fine china, rub with a damp cloth dipped in baking soda, or use denture cleaning tablets and let soak a few minutes.
  • Have lots of stainless steel in your kitchen?  Use a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove water spots.  Also, spots can be removed with white vinegar, and club soda will shine up stainless steel in a jiffy. (I like the word jiffy)
  • For tub and bathroom sink cleaning, use lemon juice and borax as a paste.  If you have any rust, this is especially helpful.
  • Make your own washer solvent that won’t freeze (for your car windows). Combine 1 quart rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons liquid detergent.  This formula is guaranteed not to freeze down to 35 degrees below zero.  *Side note – if you live in an area that is 35 below zero, move away today.
  • Place a bag of kitty litter in your trunk just in case you get stuck in the ice or snow.  It provides excellent traction.
  • Need an instant spot remover?  Try shaving cream.  Foam is a good spot remover.  Wash up with club soda or water.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on your carpet.  Let stand for an hour before vacuuming.  You will be amazed at the results.
  • If you don’t want broken crayons, wrap the new crayons in masking tape.
  • Clean your eyeglasses with a drop of vodka.  Not a drinker?  Then use a drop of vinegar.
  • Here’s a way to kill household odors and always have a fresh smelling house. for just pennies.  Put a few drops of wintergreen oil (available at drug stores) on a cotton ball and place out of sight in each room.  It will last for months and is as effective as room sprays.
  • Renovate wood floors which have become faded in spots by mixing brown shoe polish with floor wax and applying to spots.  It will give the floor an antique look.
  • Toothpaste will remove small scratches from glass.
  • Shaving cream is one of the most useful upholstery cleaners for ordinary dirt. 


Great homemade cleaners



Homemade Goo Gone
Anyone with toddlers or school-aged kids around the home knows about Goo Gone®. This stuff is amazing for all the special sticky messes kids leave behind. This mixture is also handy for getting sticker residue off candles and other containers.
1 part vegetable oil
2 parts baking soda
Stir oil and baking soda together until a paste is formed. Next, use a paper towel, microfiber cloth, or sponge and work the mixture into sticky messes until they release from the surface. Rinse with soapy, warm water.
Homemade Soft Scrub Cleanser
3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup castile soap
1 Tablespoon water
10-15 drops of tea tree oil
1 Tablespoon vinegar
First, mix the baking soda and castile soap in a medium-sized bowl. Now, add the water and 10-15 drops of tea tree oil. Stir with a fork or whisk until well-blended.
Next, slowly add vinegar. Prepare for bubbles! Stir the mixture until it becomes a paste. For future use, store in a clean container of your choice.
Hand-Washing Dish Soap
1/4 cup soap flakes or soap shavings
2 cups water
1-2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tablespoon glycerin (optional)
3-5 drops essential oil (optional)
First, heat water and soap in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and continuously stir until all of the soap is melted. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Once the soap is melted, stir in the vinegar. Now, allow the mixture to cool. Add essential oils of your choice for an added scent. Once the mixture is cooled, store in a clean container of your choice.
Bathroom Grout Cleaner
Try these two easy tips!
    1. Mix white distilled vinegar and water in equal proportions. Spray or pour onto grout. Let stand for about five minutes and then begin scrubbing in circular motion with a bristled brush. An old toothbrush works great! If this doesn’t work, try step two.
    2. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Smear paste onto grout and let sit for a few minutes. Begin scrubbing in circular motions with a bristled brush and then rinse. Repeat if necessary until your bathroom is squeaky clean!
All-Purpose Cleaner
We all need this on hand for counter-tops, table-tops and you-name-it tops!
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. dish soap
2 Tablespoons vinegar
Add all the above ingredients into a spray bottle of your choice. Shake it up to mix all the ingredients. Then, add warm water to the top of the spray bottle. Shake again and let sit for about one minute. Now, being your super-green cleaning!
Garbage Disposal Cleaner
Cleaning your garbage disposal can make your entire kitchen smell super fresh. This small chore only takes a few minutes.
Pulp from one lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon rind
Toss the pulp and rind into the garbage disposal. Turn on the water and grind for 30 seconds.
Furniture Polish
I love the smell of furniture polish, but in Cambodia? It’s over $6 for one can! I would rather spend my money on something else like really good coffee! Here’s a green and frugal way to keep your wood shined, clean, and smelling lemony fresh.
1 lemon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon water
Cut lemon in half and squeeze all the juice into a container, straining all pulp and seeds. Add the oil and water and whisk or shake. Now, you’re ready to polish!
This is a fresh polish and cannot be stored for further use. However, it’s quick and easy to make. The money you save and the chemicals you keep away are worth whisking up this easy cleaner.
Now that you have all the natural, frugal-friendly homemade cleanser recipes in your hands, start making your home sparkle!

Alison Wood is a writer for several online parenting resources, a missionary in Southeast Asia, mom to six kiddos and blogs about parenting, pregnancy and frugal living at Pint-Sized Treasures.

Burglarize me not

Things your burglar won’t tell you:
  1. Of course I look familiar.  I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.
  2. Hey, thanks for letting me use your bathroom when I was working in your yard last week.  While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.
  3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste… and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.
  4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it..
  5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house.. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.
  6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.
  7.  A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom – and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.
  8.  It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door – understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.
  9.  I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.
  10. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer?  I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.
  11.  Here’s a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.
  12.  You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. Find it at http://www.faketv/.com/

8 More things they won’t tell you:

1. Sometimes I carry a clipboard.  Sometimes I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake.  I do my best to never, ever look look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.

4. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?
5. I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.
6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address. Parents: caution your kids about this. You see this every day.
7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air.  To me, it’s an invitation.
8. If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs http://www.crimedoctor.com/ and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.

Be thankful!



Since it is close to Thanksgiving, and I have gratitude on my mind, (not turkey yet), I have come up with some different ways to be thankful.

  • Be thankful for your struggles and troubles, they can become your blessings.
  • Be thankful for setbacks, and a life of rich fulfillment will follow.
  • Be thankful you do not have every thing you desire.  There is more fun in the anticipation, and then you always have something to look forward to.
  • Be thankful that you do not know everything.   It gives you the opportunity to learn.
  • Be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and character.
  • Be thankful for making mistakes. They teach you valuable lessons.
  • Be thankful for difficult times.  In those times. you grow.

I know we can list dozens of “good” things we can be thankful for.  It’s a stretch to come up with “not -so- good” things to be grateful for.  How many can you come up with (and really mean it)?


Wealth of wisdom…


A Wealth of Wisdom

…from around the world.

  • There is no worse counselor than fear.      Chilean
  • The richest man, whatever his lot, is he who’s content with what he’s got?    Dutch
  • The tree of wisdom is watered by tears.    Swiss
  • The truth may walk around naked: a lie has to be clothed.    Yiddish
  • Truth and oil always come to the surface.    Spanish
  • We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give.    American
  • Wealth is like manure.: it’s useful only when spread around.    Chinese
  • Well done is better than well said.    French
  • When one must, one can.    Yiddish
  • When anger speaks, wisdom veils her face.    Chinese
  • When you go to your neighbor’s house, you find out what is happening at home.  Yiddish
  • When you have money, think of the time when you had none.    Japanese
  • When two dogs fight for a bone, a third one runs away with it.    Dutch
  • Whoever said that money can’t buy you happiness didn’t know where to shop.    American
  • Rule your passions or they will rule you.    Dutch
  • Shared joy is double joy: shared sorrow is half sorrow.    Swedish
  • Self-assurance is two-thirds of success.    Irish
  • Boasting begins where wisdom stops.    Japanese
  • Cheerful company shortens the miles.    German
  • Confidence is half of victory.    Yiddish
  • Courage is the best defense.    Russian
  • Difficulties give way to diligence.    English
  • Don’t be too sweet, or you’ll be eaten up: too bitter, or you’ll be spat out.    Yiddish
  • He who builds according to everybody’s advice will have a crooked house.    Danish
  • He who conquers his anger has conquered an enemy.    German
  • He labors in vain who tries to please everybody.    Latin
  • If you are healthy, you are wealthy.  Yiddish
  • No matter how far you have traveled on the wrong road, turn back.    Turkish
  • No help is also sometimes help.    German

And my personal favorite ; 

  •      How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.    Spanish


(These “proverbs” have been taken from the book by Michael Lynberg, A Wealth of Wisdom)


Baby wipe wonder

I went to my local drugstore for a purchase, and saw they had a table of discounted items.  One of the items discounted was a giant package of baby wipes.  Hmmmmm. I am always thinking double duty on any item I buy. I don’t have a baby, but I do know a lot of uses for those wipes.  Here are just a few of my favorite tips on using baby wipes on anything but (no pun intended) a baby.
  •  Shine your shoes. These work great on leather pumps or patent leather dress shoes.
  •  Use as a pre-wash stain fighter.  Simply scrub the stain before you toss the garment into the washing machine. This works especially well for makeup and crayon stains.
  •  Dust fan blades. Hold a baby wipe in your hand when it’s still moist, and run it along the top of a ceiling fan.
  •  Blot stains. If you’ve spilled a glass of wine or beer, blot the spill immediately with a baby wipe.
  •  Clean your keyboard. If your keyboard has stains and loose dust, power down your computer and give your keys a swipe with a baby wipe. It will remove dirt, dried spills and gunk..
  •  Pick up pet hair. If your couch is covered in pet hair, use a baby wipe as a lint roller if you’re in a pinch. The moist cloth will pick up loose hair.
  •  Clean blinds. Blinds can be tricky to clean because they’re ultra-thin. Instead of half-cleaning them with a dry duster, grab a baby wipe. With the wet cloth in hand, rub your hand along the length of the blind.
  •  Remove fingerprints from leather. If your leather or vinyl sofa is covered with tiny handprints, erase them with a baby wipe.
  • Polish chrome. Make your chrome appliances shine  by rubbing them down with a clean baby wipe.
  • Clean refrigerator coils. The wipe makes it easy to get in-between tight grooves, so it’s perfect for cleaning refrigerator coils.
  • Clean up spills. These wipes are already damp, so you can skip a step and get right to the clean up.

Do you have any favorite uses for baby wipes?


Random preschool tips


child in scool

A friend lamented about her preschool child getting angry.  She wondered what she could do to help her child deal with anger.  A very good tip I offered is one I often used in my classroom.

  • Start to whisper. When the noise level gets too loud or your child exhibits anger, simply start whispering gentle words in her ear.  The soft voice and calm demeanor of mom will positively affect your child.   Children naturally will stop crying or yelling when you start to whisper because they want to hear what you are saying.  PS – This also works on husbands!

This same friend wanted to hang her child’s art work from Preschool but did not want to mark up her walls with tape. This particular child did not want her art hung on the refrigerator.  She said “art belongs on the walls, not refrigerators!”.  She has a point.  Here’s a good tip.

  • Buy some fish net from an arts and craft store.  Hang the fish net over one wall.  You decide which wall — bedroom, playroom, etc .  Then simply pin the artwork to the fish net with clothespins or safety pins.   I did this in m y classroom for our “Under the Sea” theme and hung the children’s sea creatures artwork.

Speaking of artwork, I have a good tip on soaking up paint spills before they happen.

  • When your child is using paint or glue, cut an opening in the center of a sponge and insert the container of paint or glue.  The sponge keeps the container from tipping over, and absorbs any overflow.

Since I’m on a tips roll, I just cleaned a bunch of stuffed toys using this method.  Using dry cornstarch, rub in, let stand briefly and brush it off.  I have tried different methods for cleaning them, but this was super quick and easy, and it did the job very well.

Have any preschool tips you want to share?


Face it…



…these are going to be great tips!

I wrote a lot about home made spa treatments that I have tried and they work.  I came up with some more and will share them with you.

  • I know some people will balk at the idea of putting petroleum jelly on their face.  I did too.  A secret source of mine informed me that a very expensive spa in the NYC area uses this as a moisturizing treatment.  The secret is not just putting petroleum jelly onto your dry face, but wetting it first, and while it is still wet, rub in a tiny bit of petroleum jelly.  Continue wetting your face until the jelly is spread evenly and does not appear greasy.  You will be amazed at how soft and smooth your face feels.  The trick of it not feeling greasy is to keep adding water a little at a time.  This very famous spa puts the petroleum jelly in an undercover container so nobody knows the difference between it and a very expensive face cream.
  • Miracle Whip is a miracle cream as well.  It removes dead skin.  Really!  It has to be Miracle Whip, not mayonnaise.  Rub a small amount of it into skin and let it dry a few minutes.  While your skin is still slightly moist, start massaging, rubbing vigorously and the dead skin will rub right off.  This is good for elbows, knees, and face -  (although I did not try this on my face, only feet and elbows).
  • Combine apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and mist your face after you have washed it.  This is a great astringent.
  • After you apply your make-up, spritz your face with mineral water in a small spray bottle.  I used to buy a commercial face spray to set make-up, then I looked at the ingredients, and the ingredient was mineral water.  So why pay for the name and packaging when you can buy a small spray bottle and keep refilling with plain mineral water. This really freshens your make-up if your face tends to be dry.
  • To make a super cheap, but effective facial scrub, mix a teaspoon of sugar to you cleansing cream or lather of soap.  I have started using Dove soap to wash my face because it seemed everyone over the age of 80 that had incredibly, soft, smooth skin when I asked what they used. it always came down to “just Dove soap”.
  • Does anybody set their hair with curlers anymore?  I had this done once at a hair salon school and I loved the way it made my hair look.  It was shiny, soft, and frizz free for days.  It also had a lot of bounce.  Instead of buying setting lotion that you may only use once in a while, dissolve gelatin in a cup of warm water.  It does the same thing.
  • I tried this and I liked the results. I am a brunette so I used cold coffee as a final rinse in my hair.  Blondes can use a few tablespoons of lemon juice, and redheads can use apple cider vinegar.  It removes any soapy film residue and gives your hair an incredible shine.
  • Plastic surgeon secret alert!  They use the odorless form of castor oil around their patients eyes as an eye treatment.
  • Rub some Vaseline ( thin layer) on your skin before you apply perfume onto it.  It will make your perfume last longer.

I hope I inspired you to get back to basics of making your own spa type treatments.  If you want to read more, go to my page on Authored.


Holistic prevention



If you are dreading the onslaught of cold and flu season, you can breathe a little easier (no pun intended), by using these holistic super foods to combat, and reduce the duration.

It is a well known fact that super foods boost immunity.  The basics are simple – lean proteins, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and lots of water.  To this foundation add cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale,  and cabbage.  We all know chicken soup and green tea, (anti inflammatory) are excellent liquids to add, and garlic, cultured foods and coconut round off the list.

You may wonder why coconut is considered a super food.  It contains a substance called lauric acid that demonstrates powerful antiviral activity.  The cultured foods such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi aids nutrient absorption and strengthens immunity.

So don’t fear the cold season.  Amp your immune system up, and before you know it, the cold and flu season will be a distant memory and you will be all the healthier for it!

What are some of your best prevention tips?


Beauty is in the eye…



…of the beholder, and also in our hands with the items we choose to purchase.  Here are few of my favorite fair-trade certified items.

A Fair Trade certified label means that since certain standards have been met by producers, the end product is both high quality and independently certified.

  • Argon Oil.  This is one of those all purpose oils that I use on my hair, face, and body.  A little goes a very long way.  It is extracted from the kernels of the argon tree in Morocco.  It is actually effective for dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, stretch marks, and acne.  It’s also effective on dry hair and split ends.
  • Coconut Oil.  This oil is rich in antioxidants and melts into the skin to provide maximum hydration.  It also is beneficial on dry hair and dandruff.
  • Shea Butter.  This has been used for centuries in Africa as an anti-inflammatory healing salve, and hair and skin care product. I can truly attest to it’s amazing healing power when I used some J.R. Watkins she butter hand cream on a burn on my hand.  It instantly took the burning on-fire pain away and left no scar.
  • Sugar.  Body and facial scrubs with sugar as a main ingredient help reveal fresher, younger looking skin as you buff away dead skin cells.  See if you can find evaporated cane juice because it contains glycolic acid to help break down dead skin faster.

If you know me, you know I like products I buy to do double duty, and these products do that, and then some!

What are some of your double duty  beauty products?