Opening my mail to find a clever tip from one of my loyal readers about how to rescue burnt cookies took me back to my childhood.
My mother used to scrape burned toast with the back of a butter knife until it wasn’t burned anymore! Funny how visuals like that can get tucked away in our memories, isn’t it?
TOOTHPICK HOLDER. I needed something to hold toothpicks, so I cleaned out a short votive candle holder. It is just the right size and looks good, too. Tara
CLIP-ON BOOKMARKS. Metal snap hair clips make great, inexpensive bookmarks. You can snap the point of the clip so it points directly to the place on the page where you stopped reading. The clips hold onto the pages without ripping them. Available at the dollar store. Raquel
BURNT COOKIE RESCUE. Don’t throw away those burnt cookies. Wait a day or two until they set up and are hard and then take them to the cheese grater. Grate off the burnt surface on the fine side of your grater. That thin, burnt, bottom surface is only a fraction of the thickness of the whole cookie. You will be left with a delicious cookie that some people would never know had been burnt. It sure beats whipping up a whole new batch. John
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There’s nothing like microfiber for cleaning just about any surface in and about the house. If you’ve never used a microfiber cloth, you’re going to be amazed by how fast and efficiently you can clean!
For household dusting, use a microfiber cloth dry as you would a traditional dusting rag. (Notice how it acts like a dust magnet.) But for more general cleaning, you always want microfiber to be damp, even when using to dry a surface.
The first time you use a microfiber cloth, force of habit will have you soaking it with water and adding loads of soap—both of which will reduce the cloth’s effectiveness.
I find the best way to use these cloths is with as little water as possible. You can use microfiber cloths to clean virtually any hard surface. Try them on your bathroom or kitchen surfaces and you’ll be amazed at the results.
If you’re dealing with a fairly dirty situation, use a standard cloth and soapy water to wash all the dirt off first, then rinse. Now polish over with your damp microfiber cloth. Notice the smear-free, sparkling finish. Sorry to sound like a bad TV commercial, but these things are really good! I think you’ll agree once you hear things getting squeaky clean and shiny with so little effort.
Microfiber cloths come in varying sizes and grades to clean every surface imaginable from eyeglasses to countertops, windows, and cars, too.
VibraWipe Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. I’ve tested every imaginable grade and size of microfiber cloth out there. For me, a cloth I use for housecleaning needs to be easy to use and able to stand up to my extreme laundry habits. (Note: Never use any laundry softeners when laundering microfiber.) I don’t want cloths that fray around the edge, give off tons of lint, stain easily or shrink over time. I’m hard on household linens because I demand so much from them. VibraWipes microfiber cloths are fabulous. A pack of 8 cloths has lasted me for years now and I see no signs of them wearing out anytime soon. About $17 for an 8-pack.
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I’ve been using Instant Pot for a couple of years now. Somedays I wonder how I ever got along without it. It has earned a prominent place on my kitchen counter—a privilege enjoyed by few other items because I prefer for my counters to be clear open spaces.
Photo credit: Pinterest
My Instant Pot is now considered elderly, having been replaced by the newest generation of Instant Pots, DUO Plus 60, 6 Qt 9-in-1 Programmable model (about $130). It’s a honey and I’m battling my feelings of need vs. want.
While my older version replaces seven kitchen appliances, this baby takes that number to nine! Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Egg Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Warmer, and Sterilizer. Wow!
Recently, I’ve been on an egg kick. Granted making eggs isn’t such a big deal. Fry, scramble, poach, or boil, right? But who knew you could all of those things, but so much more with eggs in a pressure cooker?
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Today I am responding to two very frequently asked questions at two one-fell swoops—a phrase I’ve always found to be quite curious but fun to use. This way I get multiple opportunities to kill two birds with one stone. Or something like that!
Q: Air-fryers are all the rage and from what everyone tells me, the new way to enjoy all the deliciousness of deep-fried foods without the calories. Air-frying is a very healthy way to prepare food so it comes out perfectly crisp without a lot of oil. Which air-fryer do you recommend?
I have been dragging my feet on this matter of air-fryers. That’s because I am not a fan. In fact, I think this fairly new kitchen appliance known as an air-fryer is a rip-off. All it is in a tiny oven with a fan. If that sounds at all familiar you know what a convection oven is.
If you have a convection oven—an oven that has a fan(s) to circulate air around food—you already have an air-fryer. If you don’t have a convection oven, you’d be better off purchasing a countertop model because air-fryers are expensive and so limited in their use.
Rather than an air-fryer, my choice for Best Inexpensive™ convection oven is this Oster Countertop Convection Toaster Oven, about $70. When you check the price of air-fryers you’ll see they are much more. This Oster has many functions including Bake, Convection Bake, Broil, Toast, Pizza, Defrost, and Warm. You’ll be able to “air-fry,” bake cookies and casseroles (it is large capacity) and toast up to 6 slices of bread at a time.
Should you be determined to have a single-use air-fryer appliance, go for the Philips AirFryer, about $200. Just know that I do not recommend it, only that for those who must have one, it has a good reputation for reliability and service.
I do recommend highly the AirFryer Cookbook, which is easily adaptable to use with a convection oven.
A few years back, Eric and Donna Reed shopped for groceries and household products only once for an entire year. How on earth? I know. That was my reaction, too.
The Reeds got the idea after reading a column in USA Today, wherein the writer confessed to his weakness when it came to buying clothes. So driven to buy new sweaters, slacks or shoes every time he stepped inside a clothing store, publicly he announced he was giving up buying anything for one full year.
Eric and Donna wondered if they could do the same. Their minds went to the grocery and discount stores, the mall and Amazon.com. And what about restaurants and home improvement stores, they pondered. How would they handle gifts and seasonal items every household needs through the course of a year?
The Reeds, like most of us, don’t simply stop into the store to pick up milk. Or eggs. No, they buy the milk—along with a basket of other stuff, too. It’s expensive to be a frequent-buying consumer. But could they plan ahead well enough to make it through a whole year without spending? They decided to see if they were up to it by trying it for one month. One month with no exceptions. Not even gifts. Could they do it? They bought supplies for the month and then gritted their teeth.
Imagine for a moment that you were not in debt and didn’t have to send those big payments to credit-card companies every month. What would you do with that money instead?
One reader whom I heard from recently faced that exact, and may I say awesome, situation. Her reward for getting out of debt was the freedom to start paying herself every month instead of Visa and MasterCard!
Recently, after saving for 10 years, I paid cash to remodel my kitchen with stainless steel sinks, granite countertops and new wood cabinets. I’ve been reading your columns and newsletter for many years and used your Debt-Proof Living method to get out of debt and stay out. What advice do you have for caring for my new sinks, counters and cabinets? Thanks, Mary, for changing my debt-ridden life to a beautiful debt-free life! Karen
Dear Karen: Getting out of debt is no small feat, but once you hit that goal, the money you were sending to credit-card companies each month was yours to save. You did it exactly right and I am so proud of you!
STAINLESS STEEL SINK
Daily Stainless Steel Cleaner. Start with a clean 16-oz. spray bottle. Pour in 1 1/3 cups white vinegar, 5 drops Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent and 2/3 cup water. Apply the spray top and shake to mix.
To use: Simply spray on stainless steel sink (appliances, too) then scrub with a cloth or sponge to clean, rinse well then buff with a dry microfiber cloth to shine. (Be sure to label this product clearly, as you DO NOT want to use it on natural countertops of granite, marble or stone because it contains vinegar.)
Then once a week, or as needed, scrub the sink with Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and warm water. Unlike porcelain sinks, durable stainless steel stands up well to abrasive cleansers. BKF is by far the best cleanser for stainless. Remember always to scrub in the direction of the polish lines (look closely and you’ll be able to see these grain lines in your sink) then rinse well with hot
I love to discover a second use for something most of us have around the house or can easily find. Today’s first tip may give you a big surprise, but for sure a big laugh. By the way, this really works!
POTTY LINER. Line the bottom of baskets and pots with a disposable diaper (yes, clean and unused!) before you put in the potting soil and plants. This keeps the soil from rushing out of the drainage hole and helps retain soil moisture while still allowing the plant to drain. Stacy L.
BETTER RUG GRIPPER. Recently I purchase a product, Rug Gripper, for my 5-ft x 3-ft kitchen rug, which was unsatisfactory because it didn’t work to keep the rug in place. I got the bright idea to use a roll of rubberized shelf liner, which I happened to have already. It worked great to keep the rug in place. I am very happy with the results. Florence
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The idea to buy a mattress online and have it shipped to your home is still rather mind-boggling. It seems so risky, to say nothing of dubious quality. Like who would do such a thing?
It’s a concept whose time has come and one that’s here to stay. The idea of a bed that fits in a shipping box has exploded over the past five years and turned the $15 billion traditional mattress industry on its head!
The idea is simple: Order online and have your mattress shipped to your home in a box. Once it arrives, carry that box to your room of choice, open it up, unroll the mattress and allow it to de-compress for up to 72 hours. You won’t believe your eyes (or your back!). Behold! A full size, deep, comfortable mattress that can be set on the floor, on a bed frame or other foundation.
Many perks come with bed-in-a-box mattresses including cheaper prices, more convenience, better return policies—all while providing a solid product! These mattresses come with full instructions and easy online support.