If you've ever needed to prevent children from closing a door and unwittingly locking themselves in the bathroom, you may know the old hand-towel trick: Throw the towel over the top of the door. That's it. No matter how hard a child tries to close it, no can do! I've always loved that handy, dandy trick. But I have to admit, I'd never thought about how to use a similar trick to keep a child from opening a door. Well, I hadn't until I heard from one of today's great readers...
CREATE A DOOR JAM. My 2-year-old grandson opened the door and went outside while I was in the bathroom! I live in an apartment and am not allowed to install a chain or other hardware on the door. I searched for a portable lock and found several kinds, all about $15 to $25. I finally heard of closing a folded washcloth in the crack between the door and door jam. That effectively jams the door without harming it. It takes an adult's strength to open the door and pull the cloth out. I'm so thankful for this tip because it didn't cost me a thing and it really works. — Barbara
USE 'EM UP TO THE LAST PEEL. Rather than throwing out overly ripe vegetables, I simmer them in water to make vegetable stock*. I keep peelings and other vegetable odds and ends — even potato cooking water — in a bag in the freezer until it's full, then I make the stock. — Cate
*To make vegetable stock, chop the vegetables into 1-inch chunks. (Make sure they've been washed.) Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a soup pot. Add vegetable scraps (onion, celery, carrots, scallions, garlic, herbs and so forth). Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt and water (more or less depending on volume of vegetables), and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, and discard vegetables. Store the broth in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
STACKED GRILLED CHEESE. My wife and I enjoyed your recent column on grilled cheese sandwiches. We may just try some of your suggested variations. When we make grilled cheese, we like to include pickle slices. We typically use the pre-sliced Vlasic Stackers dill pickles. Timing is important with these. You really don't want to heat the pickle itself, so you need to pull the sandwich apart right after it comes off the griddle, before the cheese sets, to insert the pickle slice. One alternative is to put a slice or two of deli ham on one of the bread slices, so that this quick action isn't needed. — John
DEAR JOHN: Although I am a huge fan of pickles, your humble columnist found this idea to be a bit off-putting, if not downright odd. Hot, melted cheese and cold dill pickles? But I must apologize for jumping to conclusions. I tried it. Oh, my! It's absolutely delicious. Next, I'm going to try Vlasic Bread and Butter Stackers. Your instructions are spot on.
RETIRED, BUT NOT FINISHED YET. I have been reading your blog for years and have used so many of your fabulous tips. I would like to add one that I've never seen mentioned. For a dusting/cleaning rag, I have found that nothing beats a good, old-fashioned cotton diaper. I buy two dozen very clean retired diapers (They'll never be that white again!) from Dy-Dee Diaper Service (dy-dee.com) in Pasadena, California, for $22.90. They last an incredibly long time, and I feel good about giving the diapers a second life and keeping them out of the landfill. — Stacie
DEAR STACIE: What a great idea. As I looked into this, I found that mechanics, contractors and others buy up retired diapers just about as fast as they become available for purchase. Every diaper service I contacted across the country, including Dy-Dee, sells its retired diaper stock. Some sell by the dozen (for as low as $.50 per diaper); others by the pound (for around $3 to $5 per pound). Some companies require local pickup, but others will ship.
Rather than listing companies here (because the pricing and pickup and delivery options vary), if you are interested, I suggest you search online for a diaper service in your local area and then give the company a call.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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