My son is playing football this year for the first time.  It’s always so hot when they are practicing, and they go through bottled water like a freight train, and we have to furnish the water for our own kids. I save the gallon plastic milk jugs, wash them well and then fill and freeze water in them. These are put in one of those big freezer bags used to bring groceries home from the store and will hold at least two gallon sized jugs. The water is cold, and sometimes still has a little ice in it. By doing this, I save a lot of money and plastic. Maybe some of the other mothers might want to try this–my son says several of his friends are now bringing gallon jugs of water to practice!

–tip submitted by MARY K, IA


Mix ¾ cup water and ¼ cup rubbing alcohol and put in a brand new zip-type freezer bag. Press all the air out and then put the bag into another freezer bag and freeze it won’t get rock hard, just slushy and will fit over an injured knee, shoulders, elbow, etc. because it wraps around the injured part. I wrap the frozen bag in an old dishtowel just to prevent frostbite damage to the skin initially.

–tip submitted by RR, NE

(PENNYWISE says: This was sent in years ago by a subscriber and is worth repeating as the athletic season gets underway.)


We don’t do much grilling outdoors in the fall–in fact, we usually put the grill cover on at the end of September and don’t take it off until the next spring. Cleaning the grill before storage used to be a real problem for me until my neighbor taught me how to clean my grilling racks with almost no effort. She said to put that gunky, blackened grill rack in a heavy-duty black plastic garbage bag and pour in a cup of household ammonia, and then seal the bag up really tight. It’s best to tie a knot in the open end of the bag and pull it tight so no air can get into the bag.

Now, set the whole ‘shebang’ out in the hot sun. I put mine on a cement patio, but a sidewalk would also work. Leave it sit for at least a full day, or better yet, two days if you can. Then cut open the bag, fish out the racks and use the garden hose to blast off 99 percent of the caked-on gunk. (I took mine out to the edge of the yard to do this since it was really crusty.)  I did have to use a paring knife to scrape off a couple of really stuck on ‘somethings’, but otherwise, it came out clean as a whistle.

–tip submitted by EC, ID


I was sitting at my sewing machine fixing some of my children’s socks when a friend came to visit. She almost fainted when I told her what I was doing. She said,  “Repairing socks? Why on earth repair socks–they are so cheap!”  Well, maybe for her, but as the mother of six very active children, the sock bill can get pretty pricy. When the kids wear out the toes of their socks, I just turn the sock wrong side out, trim off the ‘holey’ part and stitch the end of the sock into a curve.  The sock isn’t that much shorter and if they don’t quite fit the one who made the hole, they will fit the next one in line. I have also learned that I can darn socks on my sewing machine by using some masking tape or even iron-on mending tape to cover the hole and then I zig-zag over the tape to completely fill the gap. When the socks are washed, the tape comes off in little bits and all you can see is the stitching. I can stretch the use of socks by several months using these methods and don’t have to spend that money that is so hard to come by.

–tip submitted by JO, OH

(PENNYWISE says: One of my sons learned to sew at the ripe age of 5 and patched his own jeans; did a pretty good job of it too. But, we had to laugh one morning when we got up early and heard the sound of the sewing machine. My husband walked out into the hallway and found a brand new sock of his–with a hole cut out of the bottom! When he went in to the sewing room, there sat son, patching his ‘very favoritest’ pair of socks. We didn’t scold, as this was ingenuity at work. I did patch his dad’s new socks.)


My granddaughter came over the other day very upset–a ‘friend’ of hers had smashed a big wad of bubble gum into her long hair, unbeknownst to her. It had been in the pony tail the most of the day because it was pretty dried up and she couldn’t get it out. Her mom was at work and she was frantic.

I told her to put a spoonful of peanut butter on the gum and start working it around for a while. The peanut butter breaks the gum down into little rubber-like balls that can be easily washed out of the hair. A quick shampoo and all was well again.
With school starting up again, I thought this might be a timely hint.

–tip submitted by ML, MN

(PENNYWISE: This works on all kinds of gum, not just the bubble gum. It also works to take gum out of carpets and off of upholstery.)


(PENNYWISE: Growing up in a household of children who shared a bedroom and one very small closet, this tip would have been very helpful.)

A reader writes:

When several children share a closet and are nearly the same size, take a tip from the clothing stores and sort by size!Take some coffee can lids or ice cream lids and cut a slit to the middle of the lid.  Then mark a circle in the center of the lid just a bit bigger than the closet rod and another one 4 or 5 inches out from the first circle (adjust for size, as needed).  You will have a large circle with a slit to the middle where the hole for the closet rod is. Mark the size of the garment on the plastic with a marker, trim off any extra plastic on the outside edge and then slip the circle over the closet rod.  The size will show above the rod and the children can find their own sizes, with less fighting–not to mention the easing the job of sorting the clothes into the closet!

–tip submitted by SU, IA


You’ve just gotten home from a long, hard day at work after picking up your fighting children from the day care center. You walk in the house and notice that the kitchen and living rooms look like a bomb went off in them because of the late start this morning, and then,The telephone rings. ”Hi, this is your Aunt Tillie and Uncle John from (fill in the state). We are just passing through and will be near your house in another 20 minutes or so, and we would like to spend a half an hour with you if you don’t mind. It’s been five years since we last saw you.”

Panic time! Aunt Tillie is an immaculate house keeper. So, what do you do now?

Grab a big laundry basket and get the kids to toss in anything laying around loose in the living and dining room while you tackle the kitchen, make some coffee and dig out some cookies hidden in the back of the freezer. Tell the oldest one to put all the ‘stuff’ in the baskets in your bathroom in the tub, behind the shower curtain–and hurry it up!

In 15 minutes the house looks presentable and the kids have cooperated wonderfully. You give them each a treat and send them outside to play. (Homework can come AFTER the company leaves!)

Aunt and Uncle show up, check everyone out and true to their word, leave after a quick cup of coffee and a cookie.

You know you were a success when your 8-year-old remarks, ”Well Mom, we sure dodged that ball!” And you reply, ”Yup, now let’s clean out the bathtub and get everything where it really belongs before homework and supper.”

–tip submitted by AH, MI


If you use the juice concentrates in the can (some are frozen), you can stretch that juice a bit further by adding just one extra can of water to the mixture. If it calls for three cans, put in four; if it calls for four cans, put in five. This could save you from buying an extra can a week–over time, it does add up.

–tip submitted by MM, ND


Christmas is only a few month away now and you really don’t want to break the bank/budget this year if you can help it, so it’s time to plan ahead and start making lists of things you need to have on hand for gift giving, baking and decorating.

Decide in the next few weeks what you are going to be making for the Christmas season gift baskets, parties and other events; some of the old fashioned items can take a month or more to make (fruitcake comes to mind) as well as some of the cookies.

Watch for sales on things like chocolate chips, nuts, maraschino cherries and other items mostly used for treats during December. This will save you a tremendous amount of money if you do much baking for gift giving. I also stock up on flour, sugar, sprinkles, gumdrops, etc. when the sales come and store them in bags in the freezer – well away from prying eyes that would eat the treat before the appropriate time arrives!

I start by going through cookbooks, deciding what I will make so if I see something I need on sale, I can get it then instead of waiting for the inevitable price rise just before Christmas.

If you can, start a list of possible gifts for special folks in your life; as you find and purchase these items, have a special place to put them and mark with the name of the person you are giving them to. This way you won’t have five gifts for Sammy and none for Suzie, and have to make a last minute dash to the big stores and grab the first thing you see and pay the ridiculously high price for said item.

If you intend to give homemade jams and jellies as a part of your gift packages, now would be a good time to get those made up and ‘out of the way’ so you won’t be so hurried at the last minute. I look for gift baskets in the discount bins in the fall of the year. If I don’t like the color, you can use spray paint to change the color. It doesn’t take much more than 10 minutes to cover a basket. If you put the basket in a cardboard box out in the yard you can spray away without paint splatters everywhere.

One of my readers offered the following suggestion: She says, “Wrap as you go.” She has a place in a spare bedroom that holds wrapping paper, tags, tape ribbons. When she purchases the gifts, they are wrapped and put up on the shelf. She keeps a master list of gifts that are purchased so she doesn’t ‘double up’ on one person or miss another.

She is done with the gifting part by mid-November and then she can focus on helping decorate her home and can make special treats, have guests over for meals and enjoy the Christmas time of year without the stress.

–tip submitted by RT, MO

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.