by Paula Vogelgesang

Do you have any tips or ideas you would like to share? Email them to Paula at [email protected]  Be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.

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While shopping in a big city store a couple of weeks ago, I ran in to a little girl–or rather, she bumped in to me while she was bouncing “like a jumping bean”, as she told her dad. I just laughed and said I was glad to see a little one having fun with something as simple as pretending! The little one then showed me her birthday gift: a box of play dough. Her dad told me she enjoys it and makes lots of things, but sometimes she eats the stuff–and that he is not sure how safe the stuff is for human consumption.

That made me remember a play dough recipe from years ago that I made for my children, and I dug it out to ‘re-share’ the recipe again.

Mix together the following in a bowl and knead like bread dough until very smooth:

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered non-fat dry milk
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup oatmeal

Let the fun begin–put the children at a table covered with a plastic cloth, or individual place mats that can easily be wiped off and let them play (and eat). You can also use this recipe for simple, healthy treats for the entire family by simply rolling the mixture into small balls.

Quick and Cheap Kid’s Clothing Protector

If your children are doing crafts like painting, coloring with crayons, using glue or anything else that gets messy–like the Play-Dough recipe above–you can make a reusable ‘smock’ by cutting a hole in the bottom of a kitchen garbage bag large enough to go over the child’s head. Now measure down the sides and cut a hole on each side for their arms. This prevents clothing from getting stained or sticky and gluey, and these can be washed and reused.

(tip submitted by EJ, WY)

Care-Free Cake Carrier

If you or someone you know buys frozen pizza, ask them save the cardboard circles for you. These make great carrier of cakes, sweet rolls or other goodies. I cover the cardboard circles in aluminum foil and then stack on the sweet rolls, homemade donuts, cream puffs or any other treat and cover them with a sheet of plastic wrap and off I go. No empty pans to clean or keep track of!

(tip submitted by WT, OR)

Simple Way to Clean Antique Linens

As the weather warms in April, some folks take advantage of the gentle spring days to clean their antique linens, such as embroidered pillowcases and sheets, tablecloths and even those fancy crocheted table center doilies or the big crocheted table cloths. Here’s a simple way to clean those delicate items:

In your kitchen sink or a very large container, mix together 2 quarts of cool water, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon of liquid laundry soap. Mix gently with your hands to dissolve the cream of tartar and then put your items in the bath to soak for about 20 minutes.  You can press the item(s) gently up and down, but be very gentle with the old fabrics and stitching. Pull the plug and let the dirty water drain away.  Refill the sink with cool water and rinse your linens again by pressing the fabrics up and down in the water.  Repeat the draining and rinsing process until the water runs clear. Press as much water out as you can in the sink. Lift the items out onto a clean terry cloth towel and roll it up pressing as you go. (You may need to change towels if the items are very large.) Continue pressing out the water until damp dry and then spread on towels or sheets to complete the drying process.

Another helpful tip: I have a fried who would stretch sheets over her clotheslines on a nice day, place her damp items on the sheets and then cover them with yet another sheet to protect the delicate fabrics from any direct sunlight (or bird doo-doo) and let them dry completely.

(tip submitted by DB, SD)

Easily Clean Window Screens

April means changing out storm windows and screens in older homes or those without the expensive ‘all in one’ windows.

Take your screens and line them up alongside your house, attach a sprayer attachment to a garden hose and clean them with the ‘stream’ notch on the sprayer.  If they still don’t come clean, take them to your local car wash and blast them with the high pressure washer loaded with soapsuds. This will clean off all of the gunk and crud as well as knock off any loose paint. Load up the screens, take them home and let them dry thoroughly. This would also be a good time to repaint any of the wood trim around the screens needing a touch-up before you put the screens back on.

(tip submitted by AW, NC)

Double Puzzle Fun for Kids

When you are ready to give your children their first puzzles, you can make them do ‘double duty’ by assembling the puzzle ahead of time, then turning one piece over at a time, or the whole thing if it will ‘hang together’. Then use a marker of some kind and write the letters of the alphabet or beginning counting numbers on the individual pieces of the puzzle back.  Since most small children’s puzzles don’t contain more than 30 pieces, you can put the whole alphabet and a few numbers on the backs quite easily to turn the puzzle into a ‘teaching/learning’ tool as well. If the child puts the puzzle together from the back, they will have the alphabet and some numbers ‘in the right order’ when all the pieces are in place.

(tip submitted by PM, OH)

Window Washing Tips from the “Queen of Window Washing”

(The following tips came from someone who calls herself the “Queen Of Window Washing”. She is very organized–something I am not!)

She says:

“I never use soap. I use a mixture of 1 cup of household ammonia, 1 cup of white vinegar and 4 Tablespoons of cornstarch. You can easily find these items in your kitchen cupboards. I use old rags (terry cloth washrags or old undershirts) to wash the windows. And, I use a toothbrush and a nutpick to clean the stuck-on dirt in the corners. I dry my window with old chunks of crumpled-up newspapers, and they always shine up so nice! Just don’t use any colored advertisements or slick stuff–just the plain black and white parts of the papers.

“I use a wooden ladder when I do the windows (my house is old and has those big narrow windows). I screwed several of the metal cup hooks from the hardware store under the topmost step and hang my cleaning rags there. I know where they are and they stay put, thanks to the hooks!

"Since you can’t step on the top board of any ladder, I put an old wooden grape box from the grocery store on the top and secured it with screws. The box holds my buckets of cleaning mixture and crumpled newspapers (held in the bucket with a rock). This way, I can get up on the ladder, do my cleaning and then move the ladder to the next window. I do take the water bucket and the paper bucket out of the box before I try to move it even a foot or two.”

(submitted by EJ, TN)

Boost Your Tomato Crop

To improve the amount of tomatoes each of your plants will produce, just put a teaspoon of Epsom Salts in the bottom of the holes when you set the tomato plants out in the garden this spring. I tried this and had a huge crop!

(tip submitted by TT, WY)

(Pennywise says: I tried this last year and had a monster crop that I could share with family and friends, and did a lot of canning besides!)

Laundry Soap Savings

A neighbor taught me to cut the top off of my gel-type laundry soap and then use a kitchen rubber scraper to clean the sides and bottom of the containers. I had well over a cup of soap left in the bottom after I was done scraping. So, I got out my jug of gel-type dishwasher soap and did the same thing and got a good half-cup or better from it. That stuff costs serious money and I’d rather not be throwing it away!  She also taught me to use the cut off containers once they were emptied and washed well to hold small items on my pantry shelves and in my bathroom sink cupboard instead of buying some plastic ‘thing’ at the discount store.

(tip submitted by MR, MI)

Instant Tent Fun for the Kids

Those of you that have clotheslines in the back yard have the framework for a ‘tent’ for summer fun for the small fry. All you need are some old sheets or blankets and a few clothespins. Hang the sheets over the clotheslines and secure with the clothespins–I can usually span 3 lines with a double sheet. This makes a great fort, circus tent, play house, what ever they want to call it.  The fabric protects their skin from the hot burning rays of the summer sun and yet they can be outdoors in the fresh air.  It’s easily taken down for hanging out your laundry, and if a summer storm with high winds comes along or the sheets get dirty from grubby little hands, it’s an easy fix! Just wash them and put them back up again!

Phone a Friend

Every spring, we get new telephone books from our local co-op and I used to just toss them in the recycle bin. Not any more–now I put the ‘newest old ones’ in our vehicles under the seat or the front arm rest. Yes, many of us have cell phones with a directory of frequently called numbers, but I for one don’t have every friend in my phone or the phone numbers of businesses in a city two hours away. That phone book under the seat gives me the access I need and my phone isn’t cluttered with seldomly-used numbers.