Hacks Around the House

I don’t have a lot of them, but I do enjoy having a vase of faux greens or flowers here and there. Because I don’t have a creative eye, I’m never pleased with my arrangement. Someone suggested I buy a toothbrush holder and use the (usually 4) openings to add the stems. This gives me an easy way to pull out stems and rearrange them without a struggle!

To properly build a fire, you need to have tinder (easy-lighting material), kindling (finger-size sticks) and fuel (logs). We all have a readily available supply of tinder: dryer lint! To make fire starters, just stuff empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint. Dryer lint “logs” light quickly and easily burn long enough to light up the kindling. And you don’t have to resort to lighter fluid!

The last time I moved (and I hope it’s the last time I move!), I didn’t have an excess of bubble wrap and knew I’d be using a lot of newspaper. The ink from newspaper can smear against things, especially dishes and glassware for the kitchen. So, I went to my local Dollar Tree and bought several rolls of clear plastic wrap. I didn’t care about its strength, so buying a less expensive brand was fine with me. I wrapped each of my breakable glasses and mugs in plastic wrap, and I placed a piece of plastic wrap between each plate or bowl I stacked up for packing. Let me tell you what a relief it was to unpack those items and not feel the need to wash each item before I could use it again. Not only that, but the poor handling of the moving company ended up with several boxes loaded into the truck on their sides and, as a result, one of my wine glasses had gotten broken. What I found was, because I had wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap, all of the pieces it broke into stayed inside the plastic wrap (the glass kept its shape in the plastic wrap even after being broken). I’m sure you can imagine what it is like to clean up anything made of glass when it shatters, and I’d have had to take a lot of time to be careful reaching into the box because of lose shards of glass. Nope! I threw the entire broken glass, still inside the plastic wrap, into the trash and moved on with my unpacking.

I am a fan of Sharpie pens. I use them mostly to mark plastic zipper bags to fill and put in the freezer, but I also use them to label large envelopes when mailing a book or similar material. However, if you’ve used Sharpie pens, you know that they are called “permanent markers” for a reason! But… there are some hacks to get away from that permanency when you’ve gotten the ink in a place you didn’t want it. Here is what I’ve learned: CLOTHES – Use hand sanitizer; WALLS – Use toothpaste or hairspray; WOOD – Use rubbing alcohol; CARPET – Use white vinegar; FURNITURE – Use milk; CERAMIC OR GLASS – Use equal parts toothpaste and baking soda. I haven’t had need to try all of these, but I do know that the last one, for ceramic or glass, works (don’t ask!).

For many of us, although we’re still enjoying nice warm weather, the cold and often frigid temperatures of winter are not that far around the corner. For me, that means nesting (stocking pantry and paper goods supplies, mostly) and not making any unnecessary plans to go anywhere because I never know what the weather will be like. However, some people do have to go out and go to work unless the government declares a ban on travel (it’s only happened once that I can remember, and it was a 16+ inch blizzard). Here is my piece of advice, and something I’ve always practiced: Put a blanket or sleeping bag in the trunk/back of your vehicle. Twice in the last several years, traffic has come to a standstill on a major highway, due to an accident and the inability for the rescue personnel to easily get to the scene because the shoulders of the road were piled with the snow plowed off of the highway, and traffic was completely at a stand-still for many, many hours. The last time I remember seeing it on the news, the traffic was stuck in place for 14 hours. Survival mode meant running your car to warm the inside and then turning it off again to save on gas. As the gas gauge showed lower and lower amounts of fuel in the tank, people suffered more periods of cold for fear of an empty tank. A warm blanket or sleeping bag can wrap around you and help keep your body heat close to you. I hope you never need to use it, but you will thank me if you ever do. And it doesn’t take up that much space. And a pack of snack crackers in your glove compartment, no matter how old and/or stale, can still put food in your stomach to keep you from having hunger pains. A pack of gum or hard candies come in useful as well, as both promote saliva when you don’t have anything to drink (unless you brought something on the start of your trip). Simple proactive steps – like having car insurance – that you never want to have to use but are grateful to have in place – – just in case…