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Easy tricks to try at home

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(Photo from mother-in-law sent this to me the other day, and the frugalista in my jumped for joy: It’s a list of clever, cheap ways to make life easier. I love finding out new ways to use the things I have lying around the house and easy ways to get more life out of the things I already have.

Did you know you could use a plastic drinking straw to hull strawberries? (Just push it through the bottom and out the top — the green part your kids hate will pop off.) I tried the trick for keeping a cut apple from browning this morning when I packed my daugher’s lunch, and it worked like a charm (with no sour taste from lemon juice or citric acid).

Here are my favorite tricks to try:

Tame your linen closet by storing sheets inside their matching pillowcases.

Forget tinny-sounding speakers: Place your iphone or MP3 player inside a bowl to amplify the sound.

Use baby powder to get sand off easily at the beach.

Hang a strip of heavy-duty Velcro on the wall, and stick your kids small stuffed animals to it.

Lost an earring, a bead, or something tiny? Slip a nylon stocking over the end of your vacuum cleaner’s hose and secure it with a rubber band and then turn it on and search the floor.

If you travel often for business, slip your shoes into extra hotel shower-caps to keep mud and mess off of your clean clothes.

Instead of lining cupcake pans with tiny paper liners, bake cupcakes directly inside ice cream cones (not the pointy sugar kind). Slather lots of icing on the top and decorate.

Turn your muffin tins upside down, press a chunk of pre-made cookie dough onto each cup, and bake to make fill-able cookie cups.

And the apple trick? Slice the apple like a tic-tac-toe board, with the stem in the center, but instead of taking it apart and throwing away the core, secure the entire apple with a rubber band around the middle, so it looks whole. The apple itself will keep the cut sides from turning brown.

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