Easy Chicken Stock I make my chicken stock in a pasta pot, and it couldn't be easier. I fill a pot with water, add a pasta strainer with carcass and other ingredients inside, and cook away. I remove the pasta strainer when done and everything goes into the compost bucket. There's no need to fish things out of the pot! Heather in CA
Recycling at Home My vinyl/flannel-backed tablecloth had seen better days and it was time for a replacement. I wondered what to do with the old one and decided to recycle it by making a garden kneeler. I folded it a few times, placed some large pieces of foam rubber, and then folded it again. The final size was about 27" by 15". After I duct-taped all the edges, I then inserted my new kneeler in a black lawn and leaf bag, folded it to fit, and applied more duct tape to seal it shut. It turned out great and took minutes to make, and my knees will thank me this summer! Helen
Brown Sugar Blocks I don't know where I first heard of this trick, but I just recently decided to try it. I put a heel from a loaf of bread in a container with hard brown sugar. It softened it in a matter of days. I can't tell you exactly how long it takes. I just know I had some really hard brown sugar, and after putting a heel in with it, it was soft when I needed brown sugar the next time. Marie
Safe Safety If you keep your safe in a basement, put it on a raised platform in case of basement flooding, especially if you keep important papers in it. Our safe is about two feet off the ground on a simple stand. Accidents happen. It just makes sense to be a little more safe and secure. S.
Moisture Control Following a recent tip about keeping fresh vegetables and lettuce fresh by putting a paper towel over them, I now put a paper towel in my bottle of vitamin E soft gel capsules. They used to clump and stick together whether in the fridge or on the shelf. No more! The paper towel absorbs moisture and the capsules never stick together. J.
Prom Savings If you have a friend at another school, consider borrowing or trading dresses if the two of you are the same size. If you live a ski parka sort of life and occasionally need a proper winter coat or grown up rain coat for a trip, see if you can borrow one for a weekend or an evening, returning it in good shape and dry cleaned, of course! The same thing is true with an evening bag or dinner jacket. T.
Don't Drive Much? We called our insurance company and explained that we are cyclists and use our bikes for all city errands and commutes. We drive our vehicle only when we go on vacations or on our planned errand day. We managed to put less than 8,000 km on our car last year. Our insurance was dropped down to an occasional driver status and our rates fell dramatically. If you are a cyclist or use mass transit, it is worth calling your agent! Brenda K.
From Closeout to Consignment I wanted to share a recent consignment store experience with fellow readers. I know that a lot of people swear by shopping at consignment shops for clothing, claiming that the best deals can be found there. I consign my children's outgrown clothes at a local shop. I rarely find anything there to purchase because I seem to find better deals on clearance racks at department or discount stores. Just last week, I went to the consignment shop to drop off several items and they told me they had money to pay me on my account. With the money, they gave me a print out that listed the items that I consigned and the amount each item sold for. I was flabbergasted when I saw that an outfit I purchased at a discount store for $3.99 two years ago for my two-year-old daughter sold for $9. So, I walked away from the consignment shop with $4.50, actually making 51 cents on an outfit she wore for two summers! K.
Before You Refinance We were considering refinancing our mortgage to get a lower rate. We figured it would cost about $2,500 by the time we paid all of the costs. We also learned that by taking a slightly higher rate, the lender would pay the closing costs. Noting the high cost, I called our current lender to ask if they would reduce the rate with a change in terms agreement. (This leaves everything in place and only amends the note.) They agreed and charged us a $600 fee (and dropped our rate by over 1.5%). We didn't have to pay for new title work, an appraisal, filing fees, or any of the other costs normally involved. I was sure the mortgage company wouldn't reduce the rate, but figured that the worst thing they could say was no (at which point we would have just refinanced). I am so glad that I called! B.