I recently tried a weed killer recipe that a friend found online, and it worked well. Take a gallon of white vinegar and pour out two cups for other uses. Then add one cup of salt and six to eight drops of dishwashing liquid. Mix well.
editor's note: For more on killing crabgrass, please click here.
It's nearing the end of summer, so it's a great time to stock up on clearance vinyl tablecloths with light cotton backing. They come in a variety of sizes and even more patterns. I usually stock up on these to use as play mats. They are great carpet savers when little ones are doing crafts. I've even washed these tablecloths on gentle cycle with no problem. I like being able to fold them up and shake them outside, and they store very easily.
I've not only used these for kids, but also while doing any messy activity like hair cutting, dog grooming, crafting, etc. They are quick to fold and easy to shake out or even toss if they get too messy.
I have a laminate floor and tried all the products with no success until my grandmother gave me the perfect solution. It is simply to use mild liquid soap and water to clean and then vinegar and water to rinse. The vinegar is the secret as it strips the floor of all the dulling film. The first time I used it, there was an immediate difference. Now, my floor always looks brand new and shiny. I just use equal parts of vinegar and water.
If you don't like the smell of vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil. I now use vinegar and water to rinse every thing I can. It takes residue off of everything! For scuffing, try baking soda and a little water.
Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning no wax floors
Sunrooms are all the rage, and in this past year, we built a 26' x 14' sunroom addition to our home. While we built and oriented the room to get light on three sides, we also oriented the room to only get the morning sun and a brief amount of afternoon sun. During the building process, we quickly discovered how warm the room can get. We removed two sets of sliding glass doors and replaced them with French doors.
We also found that we could zone our heat pump, so we installed three thermostats in the home instead of just the one and added a return for the sunroom. Since we both work, it would be a waste to air-condition the sunroom in the South's summer during the day. Instead, if we want to use that room after work, we just adjust the thermostat in that room.
My bonus is the natural dry heat in the room if we are not using the air conditioner. It feels great on my aging body. Sometimes I sit out there for 10-15 minutes and feel like I am receiving my sauna for free!
We also zoned the upstairs bedrooms so they are cooler than the downstairs. The sleeping temperature in our bedrooms is better than it has ever been before! Even after utilizing the methods listed above, we have not seen an increase in our electric bills over all.
I just bought a new car, but I have kids and clients coming in and out of my car all the time. I really wanted to keep it clean, but refused to keep hauling my vacuum cleaner out. Now, I use a small soft brush to brush off the car mats, and it picks up the dirt and dust. It takes seconds and costs nothing! I have a cleaner car, too!
We recently put wallpaper borders up around the top of the walls in our bathroom. I also removed the light switch cover, cut-to-size and wrapped a piece of the border over the front, "laminated" with wide clear plastic tape (to keep paper clean and washable), trimmed switch opening and screw holes, and remounted the plate. Then, I did the same with the GFCI outlet cover (just above the vanity level). I have a lovely pot of tulips on my bathroom light switch cover and some ivy around the GFCI!
Elaine in NJ
When it is just the two of you after the children have left home, an easy way to save on air conditioning bills is to install a window air conditioner in the master bedroom. At night, raise the temperature or turn off the whole house air, and use the bedroom window unit for the night. This has paid for the unit that we have in our bedroom many times over.
We are planning for our daughter's wedding and have found that we can use photographers and caterers from a smaller community, about 25 miles outside our metropolitan area, for about 25% less. The business people that we have gotten estimates from are more than happy to make the trip into town and don't charge extra. Their local Chamber of Commerce referred them to us.
My hair turned to frizz due to medication. It used to be shiny and straight. I spent about $50 trying different products until I came upon a natural and inexpensive solution. I keep a big plastic cup in the shower and fill it with about 1/2 cup of apple vinegar and 1/2 cup water. After I rinse the conditioner out of my hair, I use this as a final rinse, making sure to close my eyes tight. Vinegar stings! Vinegar corrects the pH of hair and actually smoothes the cuticle miraculously.
If I need further conditioning, I use that old fashioned Alberto VO5 in a tube. A tube lasts virtually forever. I rub it in my palms and run my hands over my hair. My hair doesn't look greasy after using it.
Maria in Tulsa
Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on how to affordably tame frizzy hair
The cost of paper tablecloths for parties is pretty high. I learned that a better alternative is to get twin bed sized sheets from a thrift store and save
them until the occasion arises. White is always good, but for holidays, there are pastels available, usually at the same low price. After the party, they can be washed and saved for the next big event.
We save a lot on babysitting by belonging to a babysitting co-op. We have a group of families, and we exchange points instead of paying. It is a fairly easy system. We have a bookkeeper and a chairperson, which are "paid" in points each month that they hold their position. It really helps to know that I can just call on these people to watch my children and pay them points, which I can earn back by sitting with someone else's kids at another time.
Wisconsin has been in a severe drought. To protect my newly planted cherry tree, I cut the bottom and top off of a two-liter pop bottle and sliced it up one side to fit around the tree trunk to keep the rabbits from chewing it. I also used smaller water or soda bottles in the same way to protect flower seedlings from becoming rabbit food. For a cheap mulch, I used hay around our stressed lilac bushes, purchased in a bale at a garden center.
"When in doubt, do nothing." This quote has saved me from many horrible mistakes in my life. It makes me stop, think, and sleep on things I am not sure about, halting a rash decision based on uncertainty.
I work for a company that installs vinyl siding. Often we're asked about how to clean vinyl siding. I checked with our Operations Manager, and this is what he had to say on cleaning siding.
Typically siding fades and is oxidized. You can clean it with "vinyl siding" cleaners from a hardware store, but then you will have a shiny, faded wall and a sore body for a week. You can also paint it, which is the best solution! You will have to clean and rinse the wall and then primer and paint it. Don't forget the primer first. Glidden Satin is the best and only type of paint to use.
Additional TDS Resource: More on cleaning vinyl siding
Does your child want a pet? How do you try one out to see if your child is ready for the responsibility before you buy one? First, volunteer to pet-sit a school pet like a hamster over a holiday weekend. Have the pet-desperate child feed it, water it, and clean the cage. Return the pet when school starts and determine whether the child is responsible. Or offer to pet-sit pets for friends going on vacation. Have your child do most of the work under supervision.
As a prize, I received a gift card to one of those coffeehouses that I don't frequent. I used the gift card to buy two smaller cards for teacher gifts! I also used a gift card from Applebee's that I had $8 left on to purchase a gift for someone in the amount of $15.
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