When I wrote about my shortcut for measuring out shortening while baking (you break the eggs into the measuring cup first, dump them into the bowl and then pack in the shortening – the remainder of the egg goo will make it slide right out), I got some feedback that made me realize there are probably all sorts of hints, tips and workarounds that we all use every day. Here's a baker's dozen of mine; some obvious, some perhaps not. I'd love to hear yours!
When diapering a baby, tent the clean diaper over the business end of the baby while you're getting the old diaper off and policing up the area. It will act as a shield – you're standing directly in the Pee Strike Zone, and some of those kids have some serious range.
If you want to measure ½ cup and all you have is a 1-cup measure (or you're stingy and don't want to have to wash another cup), simply tip the cup to measure. When whatever you're measuring reaches from the top edge of the base of the cup to the bottom edge of the mouth of the cup, it's exactly half. Out of measuring cups? Use a baby bottle.
When you're trying to put something into one of those death-by-static-cling produce bags in the grocery store, forget it – slip your hand into the bag instead. Then grab the item you're trying to bag with that hand and use the OTHER hand to pull the bag up inside-out around the item. It's much easier.
When you're serving corn on the cob, even a little kid can manage it himself if you give him a piece of bread. Butter the bread thoroughly, then wrap it around the corn to transfer the butter.
If you use shaving cream in a metal can, paint the bottom of the can with clear nail polish so it won't leave a rust ring in the shower.
Store your linens by folding the a top sheet and a bottom sheet together and sliding them into a pillowcase. If you color-code the sheets (i.e., queen is white, full is pink, twin is blue) then finding the right size and changing the beds will be a snap.
You don't have to wash out the brush, roller and pan if you're taking a short painting break; just slip them into plastic bags and twist the ends shut. That will keep the paint from hardening for an hour or two.
Put a clean tennis shoe in the dryer with pillows and comforters; it will help keep the filling from bunching up.
Put a sponge or a small drip tray in the bottom of a hanging basket before you add the dirt; it will help them retain water longer.
Teething babies love to chew on cold things, but you don't need to buy an expensive teething ring – just give him an unopened Otter Pop (the popsicles in the plastic tubes). They're rinse-able and reusable. Watch for cheek frostbite, though!
If your brown sugar gets hard, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. Put a few soda crackers in the container afterward to absorb moisture. The microwave works for honey and jam that have crystallized, too; just nuke 'til they're melted, stir and wait for them to cool.
To get gum out of fabric, forget peanut butter – even if it works you will have an oil stain on the fabric. Put the piece of clothing in the freezer. When the gum is frozen it will just chip right off.
Rub petroleum jelly in the socket of a candle stick before you stick the candle in. It will make it easy to remove the candle stub without scratching up the candle stick.