This time of year, we get rain in a downpour, and it means mud! Once in a while, a vehicle will slide off the dirt road and get stuck and has to be pulled out with a tractor or pickup with a tow rope or chain. The following hint merely is an idea that works for the safety of the drivers of the stuck, and the one un-sticking.

Put a coat, a rug or even a sweatshirt on the middle of the tow rope or chain before you begin to pull. If it breaks, the line or chain will merely drop to the ground due to the coat/rug/shirt on the middle instead of snapping forward like a bullet, smashing the glass in the back window and hitting the head or heads of those in the vehicle.

(tip submitted by C, SD, who writes: I know of at least two serious accidents that were avoided because of this idea.)

Worm-Free Veggies, Naturally

When you see those white butterflies flying over your cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and other planted vegetables, that means that they are laying eggs which will turn into those little green worms that chew up the produce. You can get rid of them quickly with your pepper shaker. When you see the butterflies, pepper the plants – you will need to repeat this after you water the plants if you use a sprinkler, or if it rains, but it’s chemical free and doesn’t cost much.

(tip submitted by Eleanor, SD)

‘Bug Juice’ Remover

Mix up a paste of baking soda and water and clean the bug gunk off of the front of your vehicle. I use my hands to smear the paste around and then let it soak for a few minutes. I then wet and use an old rag to scrub the loosened bug ‘parts’ off the front of the car. This also works on the chrome. To keep it from building up again, spray a little bit of cooking spray or cooking oil on a rag and put a light coat of the oil over the cleaned vehicle front and the lights. Keeps the ‘stuff’ from sticking again, and makes it easy to wipe clean.

(tip submitted by Susan, SD)

Free Spreader

Instead of buying or renting a fertilizer spreader for your lawn, punch some holes in the bottom of a large coffee can with a nail. Fill it with the fertilizer of your choice and spread it yourself by just walking around the yard shaking the can. You can quickly tell if you missed any spots and the spreader is basically free.

(tip submitted by JR, CA)

Free Fertilizer

When you change the water in your fish tank, don’t dump it down the drain. Use it to water your houseplants – it’s loaded with fertilizer, and best of all, it’s free.

(tip submitted by AK, WY)

Sugar Ant Bait

I get these little pests every spring in my kitchen – they sneak in through the kitchen window and look for food to take back to the nest. I used to use bug spray, but don’t really want the chemicals where I prepare food.

I found a great alternative:

Mix together the following, in a quart jar:
½ cup sugar
1-½ Tablespoons Borax powder,
1-½ cups hot water

Shake this mixture up thoroughly, making sure sugar and Borax are dissolved. Soak three cotton balls in the mixture, and place them where the ants ‘travel. I set them on my backsplash – the ants will find them almost instantly, and suck up the juice to take back to the nest. The borax kills the ants, including the ones in the nest that eat the sugar water.

This recipe makes a full pint of the solution, and it keeps well – just give it a good shake again before you use again. I mark the jar ‘ANT KILLER’, and keep it out of reach of the children. The Borax I use is the 20 Mule Team brand found in the laundry section of most grocery stores (it’s a cleaner in its own right).

Tick Remover

Spring and summer are prime tick weather, and folks take long walks in parks and through tall grasses and weeds, just where ticks live and love to crawl on your pant legs, socks and even get in your shoes.

I was recently told of a natural ‘tick remover’ that most of us already have in our homes. It’s that handy lint roller we use to remove the fuzz from our clothes. Run the roller over your clothing as soon as you get home, and before you showers. It’s a good idea to run the roller over your legs, arms, back, and shoulders. It’s also a good idea to use this on the dog(s) who may have accompanied you on your walk.

(tip submitted by HT, MN)

(Pennywise notes: Another reader said, if a tick has attached, DO NOT try to pull it out as the head will break off and one can get an infection/sickness from the tick. Instead, use a cotton ball with a glob of petroleum jelly and place on the tick, holding down for at least 30 seconds to a minute. The tick cannot breathe through the Vaseline and will ‘back out’ so it can be disposed of. If you don’t have any Vaseline, you can undiluted dish soap soaked in the cotton. This will also make the tick ‘back out’ because it can’t breathe.)

(tip submitted by DL, IA)

Cheap Pattern Weights

I sew a lot for myself and others, and have an idea to save some money:
When you go into the sewing department, they have these cute little pattern weights to hold the paper down while you are cutting out the fabric. They are sort of expensive, but I have my own method: I use the canned goods from my cupboards – the standard 16-ounce used for most things – and I don’t spend money on something I don’t need.

(tip submitted by KL, MI)