Handy Shortcuts & Hints

This page is full of helpful ideas, shortcuts, hints that you may find useful around the house and outside the house!!! New ideas will be entered above the last entry in a non-categorized list. I hope you find something useful!! Use the search box for a specific hint.

To avoid measuring mishaps such as what you have added to the ingredients, hang a fine mesh strainer over your bowl and place the most plentiful ingredients in the sifter first (flour) and add the other ingredients on top in mounds on top of flour. Then sift everything at one time.

To keep nuts and fruits from sinking to the bottom of the muffin tin or cake pan, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour from your ingredients before you mix it all together. Don’t increase the flour in your recipe, just reserve some.

Don’t you hate throwing away that egg yolk when the recipe calls for the white only!! Freeze those yolks in an airtight container with a pinch of salt or a heaping teaspoon of sugar for every three yolks to prevent gelling. When you’re going to use them let them thaw overnight in the fridge.

Use a serrated knife to chop bars of chocolate. Use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls from a slightly warm block of chocolate.

Save time waiting for a stick of butter or margarine to soften by grating it into a bowl!

Instead of folding nuts into brownie batter, sprinkle them on top of the batter before baking to keep nuts crunchy.

Keep eggs at room temperature to create greater volume when whipping egg whites for meringue.

One table of yeast is equal to one packet of yeast.

Bay leaves are natural insect repellent. Place a bay leaf in your flour canister to protect against insect infestations.

One pound of boneless chicken equals approximately 3 cups of cubed chicken.

Adding tomatoes to a roast helps to tenderize the meat because of the acid in the tomatoes.

If a dish is too sweet add a little vinegar or lemon juice.

Dried herbs are stronger in flavor than fresh herbs so only use half when substituting dried for fresh herbs.

Rub sweet potatoes with vegetable oil before baking and the peel will come off much easier.

Glue bunion pads on the feet of your furniture to prevent scratching when moving it around on your wood floors. Don’t have bunion pads, slip heavy socks on the legs of the furniture.

To keep a rocking chair from marking your wood floors, put a strip of adhesive tape on the bottom of the rockers.

Put a bunch of marbles in the bottom of the vase to hold your flowers upright and in place.

After cutting an onion or garlic on a wood surface, rub the surface with a slice of freshly cut lemon, rinse well and wipe dry.

When your glass shower door gets spotty or dull, wipe it down with white vinegar on a soft cloth and then shine with a dry cloth, I like microfiber cloths for this purpose.

Got a clogged shower head? Unscrew the head and take the pieces apart. Soak them in a bowl of vinegar and brush out any stubborn settlement.

To remove a broken socket from a lamp, unplug it, then wearing a heavy glove take a wad of newspaper and press down in the socket and twist counterclockwise on top of the socket. The broken bulb hickey will come right out.

My personal favorite homemade window cleaner is a mixture of ¼ cup white vinegar, 3 tbsp rubbing alcohol, 1 tsp cornstarch, and ¾ cup water. Mix and pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake before using. Spray on surface and wipe with a microfiber cloth (no lint) until clean.

Do you garden? Do you use eggs? Well, save those egg shells because they’re great for the garden. I could never raise green peppers her until a friend told me about this little trick. Egg shells are full of calcium and plants need/love it. Wash those empty egg shells, turn them upside down in a tin pie pan that has a paper towel pressed in it and let dry. Once they’re dry, drop them in a ziploc bag and crush them and save them in a container with a lid (I use empty Cool Whip or margarine bowls) and save until you’re ready to plant. Sprinkle them in the ground before you place your plants or seeds. Drop the seeds or plants and cover and let Mother Nature go to work. My roses love them too. More tips in the gardening section when I start that page.

Do your cakes or cookies dry out too fast? Place a slice of fresh bread in the container with the cake or cookies and in a few hours, they’ll be fresh again, but the slice of bread will be hard and stale.

To keep cheese from drying out, wrap in a cloth dampened with vinegar.

Did you know that if you store a carton of cottage cheese upside down in your fridge it will keep twice as long.

Submerging a lemon in hot water for 15 minutes before squeezing will give you twice as much juice. You can also wrap and freeze that lemon after squeezing for recipes calling for lemon rind or zest.

When your candles get dusty, sponge with a piece of cotton saturated with alcohol. Candles will also burn more slowly and evenly with less dripping if you place them in the freezer for several hours before lighting.

Sticky zippers will slide easily if rubbed with a lead pencil.

Fix squeaky floors by dusting with talcum powder.

Screws, left is loose and right is tight!

Best homemade stain remover in my laundry room is 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 4 tablespoons of Dawn and 8 tablespoons of peroxide. Mix ingredients in a small jar and swirl to combine. Place a lid on the jar and keep it beside the washer for anytime you need to get out a tough stain. I use an old toothbrush to rub it in the stain good before washing. It works great on hubby’s tough bibs.

When working with new or old recipe, accurate measurements are necessary for most cooking success. To level a heaping cup of flour use a straight edge such as a butter knife. Never shake or tap a cup to level it because that will cause an over measure of the ingredient.

Got fancy molds for your kitchen and not sure what volume they hold? Simple, fill them with water and pour the water in a liquid measuring cup; write the amount on the bottom of the mold with a permanent marker.

I have a horrible time threading needles nowadays!! I’ve learned that if I spread the end of the thread with a dot of hairspray and press the thread tight between my fingers and then head for the hole in that needle. It really works!!!

Do you have a recipe that calls for hoisin sauce? Make your own with this mixture: ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, 1 tablespoon
dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Rice Wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste), 1 clove garlic (minced), pinch of black pepper (ground).

A graham or cookie crumb crust is easy to mold with the help of a duplicate pie plate. For an even crust, push excess crumbs into place with your fingers and press them down with the duplicate (same size) pie plate.

When making soup or stew and you get it too salty, add cut raw potatoes and discard once they’re cooked and have absorbed the salt. Another fix is to add a teaspoon each of cider vinegar and sugar.

Are your walls turning yellow from propane fumes or cigarette smoke? I use white vinegar to clean the walls and it works really well and the vinegar smell dissipates in an hour or two. I also use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser if all else fails!!

If you’re cooking and have the recipe too sweet, add salt.

Is your gravy too thin, try mixing cornstarch with water and slowly add to the gravy until it starts to thicken. Potato flakes work too!

Overcooked potatoes can become runny when the milk is added. Sprinkle with dry powdered milk for the fluffiest mashed potatoes ever.

Has your brown sugar become hard like a brick, place a fresh slice of bread in the container with the sugar and wait 24 hours, seal tightly. Brown sugar will be fresh as new!!

Do onions make you cry, you’ll shed less tears if you cut the root end of the onion off last.

Before measuring honey or other syrup, oil the cup with cooking oil and rinse in hot water. Great trick for measuring sticky liquids.

Nothing makes me frustrated quicker than cleaning up messy run over when making macaroni, rice, spaghetti, even potatoes. Trick one is to add a lump of butter as soon as the food starts to cook. For potatoes, stick a wooden spoon over the top of the pot. Mine never boil over now unless I forgot to put the spoon over the pot.

To determine if an egg is fresh without breaking the shell, immerse the egg in a pan or cup of cool salted water. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh. If it rises to the surface, throw that egg away!!

When you have glasses stuck together do not force them apart. Fill the top glass with cold water and dip the lower glass in warm water. They will come apart without breaking.

An open box of baking soda will absorb food odors for at least two months. A cotton ball with drops of vanilla poured on it and placed in the fridge will also help get rid of odors.

Use a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove water spots on stainless steel. Club soda will shine up stainless steel. My favorite thing to make my stainless steel appliances shine is a microfiber cloth sprayed with my favorite furniture polish. Rub it to a gleaming shine!!!

To keep cheese from drying out wrap it in a cloth dampened with vinegar.

With a big, cheap plastic tarp you can drag leaves, branches or mulch around your yard.

Before a winter storm/wind threatens, make sure you have a flashlight in every room with fresh batteries in them. Place a four inch candle in each room that’s easy to find. Keep extra matches or zippo lighters close by the candles.

Add a second shower curtain rod over your shower curtain to hang wet towels and wash cloths on, saves room and towels dry quicker.

When you’re mounting something on the wall with keyhole slots, lay paper over the slots and make a template by rubbing with a pencil. Then level your template on the wall and you’ll know precisely where to position the screws.

Purchase and mounted a mirror on the wall where you or the family can write on it with dry-erase markers and give yourselves a re-usable grocery list or appointment reminders.

If you’re hanging pictures and run out of those sawtooth hangers, just grab the nearest pop can. Bend the pull tab back and forth until it breaks off. Then screw it to your picture frame. Bend the free end out slightly and hang the picture.

If a recipe calls for onions and garlic, don’t put the garlic into the pan until the onion is nearly translucent. Garlic cooks faster than onions do. If you throw them in at the same time, it won’t taste as good, and the garlic will burn. It literally takes 30 seconds for minced garlic to cook.

The easiest way to remove blood stains is to use bar soap and handwash it.
And always use cold water, not hot because hot water will set the stains.

Tell the people you love that you love them more often. You really never know what life is going to bring and what could happen in an instant. There isn’t always a tomorrow to say sorry or I love you.

Ceiling fans are not just for summer! Flip the switch to reverse the spin of the fan and turn on the lowest speed to blow warm air down from the ceiling. During the day, open curtains and shades to allow sunlight to help warm the house, and then close at night to hold the heat in.

During cold weather months, it’s a good practice to keep at least a half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times. Not only does it prevent you from being stranded, but it prevents any water in the tank from freezing, which can damage the fuel pump.

Squirt a little hand sanitizer on your vehicle door locks and trunk. The alcohol that kills germs also lowers the freezing point of water and can melt the ice inside the lock within seconds.

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