RJK’s Helpful Hints


This is one of those moments where my mind goes to things that I do to make my life smoother and/or greener.

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  • Once done painting a room, take the main switch plate or an outlet plate if you need to and put a small piece of masking tape on the back with the information of the paint you used, the date, and how much you used.  That way, next time you PAINT THE ROOM it will be easier.
  • An inexpensive way to make NICE SWITCH PLATES is to take simple plastic ones and to spray paint them with a special pounded metal look alike paint that is available in any hardware store.
  • Buy special violet pots, they come in two parts; one is the actual pot the plant is in, the other part is the receptacle it sits in.  This receptacle is filled with water thus allowing violets and orchids even, consistent access to the water.  It also means you have to pay less attention.  VIOLETS AND ORCHIDS WILL BLOOM MORE with this system.
  • To easily MIX NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER, go online and find this system (see the picture) which allows you to mix it without a mess.
  • STAYING WARM when you are keeping your thermostat lower is sometimes hard.  Buy nice afghans and throws to keep in the room where you spend most of your non-sleeping time and keep in a place that is easy to get to.  This has become a tradition in our house.
  • REMOVE STAINS easily with Fels Naptha soap.  It is a hard rectangular bar I find in the grocery store and/or hardware store.  It looks like a yellow brown bar of soap.  Pre-treating stains with this makes it a snap to get rid of most stains.
  • GETTING RID OF LIVE CHRISTMAS TREES is sometimes a pain.  I try to leave mine in the back yard where I can see it, maybe put old bread or something that birds like on it.  Then I take the pruning shears and easily cut off the branches and use them as mulch and/or in the compost.  The pole you are left with is great to grow climbing things like pole beans in the summer!
  • It is very annoying when you have some sort of item like a Carpet Spot Remover and you realize you cannot remember how to use it and/or YOU CANNOT  FIND THE MANUAL.  I punch a hole in the manual’s upper left hand corner and use a plastic tie that I can easily remove to attach the manual to the handle.  You never get into that predicament again!
  • You just painted the room and someone nicked the new paint.  Put some TOUCH UP PAINT in a small mason jelly jar and tighten with a cap.  I usually put several layers of plastic wrap under the ring that usually holds down the lid.  You can easily see the color if you forget to mark what it is.
  • Buy a METAL FIRE STARTING CHIMNEY to start your charcoal.  I hate the smell of lighter fluid on my food and this is inexpensive since it uses newspaper, usually one double sheet is enough to get it going.
  • BUY HIGH QUALITY CANDLES as the don’t drip and they last longer.  They are worth every penny.
  • BUY HIGH QUALITY FRENCH MILLED SOAP.  You think it is overpriced but once you try it you shall realize why it is more expensive.  It doesn’t turn to mush and lasts forever.
  • SHEA BUTTER in anything makes a difference.  Dry or sensitive skin will love it.
  • TIMERS are great just to keep your house safe but also for winter decorations.  I have an inexpensive mood light on either side of the fireplace from IKEA and connect these to timers which I connect my indoor Christmas lighting to, one less thing to do!
  • GARLIC AND ONION SMELLS on your hands are easily removed by rinsing your hands in water as you rub and/or hold a piece of stainless steel (I usually use a piece of silverware).  It is an amazing chemical reaction.
  • NYLON ROPES AND BELTS that are constantly coming undone can be fused by quickly exposing the ends to a match.  Be careful to not let it catch on fire!  This is an old Boy Scout trick.
  • PAPER COFFEE CONTAINERS like those found at Trader Joe’s are great for all kinds of storage and are easily labeled.  Metal coffee cans are great also.
  • VANILLA SUGAR  is easily made by putting a vanilla bean in a container with regular sugar.  When the sugar is depleted, add more.  You can use this in all sorts of recipes or wherever you use sugar (your coffee?) to add a subtle vanilla flavor.
  • A CUBE OUTLET PLUG (which allows you to plug more than one appliance in) is always in my travel bag.  I always seem to need one with all the electronic items I travel with.
  • REAL VANILLA and other non-artificial flavorings make a big difference when you cook, don’t shy away from them.
  • TRAVEL VALETS (as they seem to call them), a fold flat item that you pinch the four corners of to hold items like wallets and keys are great to take with you when you travel and make it less likely you will lose your valuables.
  • SOAP AND CANDLES are great for lubricating zippers that are not working smoothly.

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