Monday, January 21, 2008

Stealing a Meme: Household Tips

Being in a state of career (and thus, income) flux, my interest in clever, handy, and frugal household hints has grown recently, which coincided nicely with Witchypoo's idea for a household hints meme. Even those of us who do not aspire to be the next Suzie or Sammy Homemaker probably have a few ingenious ideas to make running our lives a little simpler, cheaper, or easier.

I'm offering up three tips of my own, and ask you to chip in as well, either in the comments or on your own blog.

1. If you find your kitchen infested with fruit flies, first get rid of the source - that old banana or an innocent-looking houseplant or a neglected potato in the pantry. Then put a little apple cider vinegar in a jar, put on the lid, and poke holes in it. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar and make their way through the holes. Those that don't drown themselves, won't be able to make their way back out through the holes and will be trapped.

2. To save on water, whether you want to reduce your bills, your demand on natural resources, or both, keep buckets in the bathroom and the kitchen. While you're waiting for the tap water to heat up, run the water into the bucket and use it to water plants.

3. This one was The Husband's genius idea. A nine-inch round cake pan, with a little bit of a lip around the edge, will fit over the top of a six-quart saucepan to create a double boiler. We used this makeshift double boiler to make candy for Christmas presents.

Bonus tip: Make your own candy for easy, inexpensive, homemade gifts. For example, peppermint bark is just melted white chocolate with crushed peppermints and a few drops of peppermint oil mixed in. Spread the mixture into a cookie sheet, let it cool, and then break it into pieces.

Bonus bonus tip: When melting chocolate it is very important not to let even one drop of water get into the chocolate or it will turn into a grainy, sticky mess.

Bonus bonus bonus tip: Check out Home Ec 101 for lots of ideas from people way better at this housekeeping stuff than I am.

Now I'm supposed to tag some people.

Greeneagles, because I suspect he's a closet metrosexual and probably has a really good tip for getting Bearnaise sauce stains out of silk or something like that.

Holly because she's managed to keep a child in one piece for more than eleven years running.

Traivor because I bet he's a whiz in the kitchen.

Sealegs Sophie McPhearson (whose blog is evidently set on private) because her house always seems to be clean despite her four furry roommates.


witchypoo said...

I'm so happy you participated in this! Does this mean you like memes or just household tips?
Nothing is stolen if you link to it. Word.

UnrulyDuckling said...

I don't mind memes, but I particularly like household tips.

Traivor said...

I watch metric buttload of cooking shows, and I occasionally cook something that isn't completely inedible. I don't think that makes me a whiz in the kitchen.

However, I will endeavor to come up with something meme-erific for when I'm back in the land of non-dialup internet access.

sealegs said...

I don't know what "meme" means, so I don't think I'm qualified for this task....

Anonymous said...

Meme is a term coined by Richard Dawkins to describe the way that knowledge, ideas, etc can spread and evolve in similar ways to genes. Dawkins gives examples such as tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing fashions, skills, and technology.

In this context, it is basically the blog equivalent of a chain-letter or those notes that people pass around in junior high.

greeneagles said...

I'll admit that I am a bit lost on what is expected of me. I'm better at the cooking side of the household than the cleaning. However, here is a good tip for those who like to keep cookies in the household: Put a slice of bread in with your cookies a day or two after they have been baked to keep them fresh and moist. When the bread becomes stale, remove it and replace it with a fresh slice.

Here is a cute website explaining the miracle of cookie osmosis.

UnrulyDuckling said...

Damn me and my unclear memes!

I forgot to include the instructions:


Write your tip(s) with a link to who sent the meme to you, along with the instructions. They are better if they are your own discovery, or not widely known. Still, tips that make a difference to you are all good. After your tips, you will want to tag some friends who may even be hard up for blog fodder."

Basically, I just wanted folks, especially y'all I tagged, to share some of your helpful hints from around the house. Greeneagle's was great, and Traivor had some excellent ones, as well.

sealegs said...

ok i'm gonna buck the system and your directions and post here. These may not be original but perhaps they aren't widely known:

1) Put a bowl of water in the microwave for a minute or so to loosen up cooked-on foodstuffs before cleaning out interior of microwave.

2) Cloves, nutmeg and crushed red pepper flakes are all non-toxic ant repellents (and possible other insects). I even had some ants moving into a potted plant, so I sprinkled with cloves and they went away.

3) Use newspaper instead of paper towels or cloths when cleaning windows/glass or mirrors. Doesn't leave streaks and/or lint.

UnrulyDuckling said...

Thanks, Sealegs. I never heard the one about spice repelling ants.

SerenitySprings said...

I finally got around to responding to this on my blog. Sorry it took so long but I love reading what everyone has to say so I'm hoping the 10 or so people I tagged respond.