Helpful household hints

Colored bird nests

A reader wrote that she was helping an elderly neighbor rake her yard and came upon a bird nest that had blown out of a tree. She noticed that there were tiny little strings of yarn and even some crochet thread woven into the nest. The lady told her that she saves all her little scraps and puts them out early in the spring for the birds to use when they are building their nests.

Grime and grease remover

A reader wrote that she was having trouble getting mechanic’s grease out of the cuffs and collars of her husband and sons’ clothes after they had worked on tractors and other farm machinery. She just happened to have a friend give her a perfect and cheap solution. The friend told her to take plain chalk—the kind one uses on a blackboard—and rub it really well into the grease on the clothing. Let it sit overnight and then wash as usual in warm water and soap. The reader said that the first time got most of the black marks out and so then she re-did the chalk one more time and all the black marks came out.

Cooler coolers

Here is yet another use for those plastic gallon jugs that hold milk, juice and water. Instead of tossing them, fill those cleaned out jugs with water and store in the bottom of your chest type freezer. They are real handy to have if you need ice for coolers. Just put in a jug or two. Best of all, the stuff in the cooler stays dry too. If you have a power outage that lasts quite a few hours or even a day or so the frozen water will help to keep the items in the freezer from thawing until power is restored.

Ant-free garden

I save my used coffee grounds, let them dry a little bit and then sprinkle them around the plants in their rows and also around the hills of cucumbers and the tomato plants held up by stakes. It was also suggested by my friend to put some of the grounds around any ant-hills that show up in the garden, so I did. The ants moved out. Guess they don’t like the smell of the coffee grounds.

Sandbox help

We put a sandbox out in the back yard for the kids and, pretty soon, we were invaded by ants and flies that drove the children crazy. A friend stopped by one day and I was telling her my troubles. She asked if I had any cinnamon. I got it out for her and then she asked for a 1-cup measure. I got that out, too, wondering what she wanted with that. She took the cinnamon and the cup outside and put one full cup of cinnamon powder in the sandbox and stirred it all around. She told me that the smell would chase off the ants and the flies wouldn’t come around either. She was right! No more ant or fly bites and best of all the cats don’t like the smell either and they quit using the sandbox as their bathroom. A true win-win!

Fruit fly trap

Any time I bring home a quantity of fruit to make into pie filling or jams or jellies, I am inundated with fruit flies. I think they hide in the fruit and then come out in a day or two and it drives me crazy.

A friend shared this idea with me and it does work. Take a pint jar and put 1 inch of vinegar in the bottom. Then add ? teaspoon of your liquid dish soap. Stir just a bit and then take a piece of clear plastic wrap and cover the top of the jar with it. I use a rubber band to hold it in place. Then take a sewing needle and poke some holes in the plastic wrap and set it close to the fruit. I left it all night long and was amazed at how many flies had been hiding in the fruit and were now in the trap.