Send PennyWise a Hint or Idea

If you have hints or ideas to share, send them to PennyWise, Box 518, Kadoka, SD 57543; or email them to pennywise@goldenwest.net. If you send me your name and address, I’ll send you a FREE copy of the PennyWise Newsletter. Please mention High Plains Journal when you write.

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Storing wool rugs—Summer is here and those of you that have wool rugs are looking for a safe way to store them. This hint was sent in by a subscriber who says she’s used this idea for years and it works for them.

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New baby gift wrap: When you welcome a new “little” into the family, here’s an idea for wrapping the gift. Instead of fancy paper which gets ripped and tossed away, use a small baby blanket or even a burp towel to wrap the gift in. Use a few big pins to hold a couple of rattles on—right wher…

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Sick crud cleaner: This is the time of year when kids and adults pass flu, cold and crud germs around like candy. Sometimes, upset stomachs are the result and then vomiting will happen. The stench can be awful—even for those with a strong stomach (which I don’t possess).

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Plant watering idea: My grandma taught me to put half of a wet sponge in the bottom of the flower pots when I repot for winter. The sponge absorbs the extra water and the plant can drink it instead of it running out of the pot and you don’t need to water quite so often.

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Emergency fire extinguisher—A reader wrote: We do a lot of outdoor cooking with our charcoal barbecue grill and I have a metal bucket to put the coals in once we are done cooking, but to be on the safe side we have homemade fire extinguishers handy. We take 1/2 cup of plain baking soda and m…

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Bugs in the cupboards—If you find some of those little worms or flies/bugs crawling around inside a box of cereal or a bag of flour—you have weevils. These items will need to be tossed, and then clean and scrub out the cupboard they are stored in. Freeze any flour-type item for at least 24 h…

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Fire ant killer—Mix 2 ounces orange oil, 2 ounces blue dish soap and 1 gallon of water together and pour down the fire ant hills. This combination will kill the ants and not hurt the ground.

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Cheap dirt mover—I have trouble carrying a lot of dirt in a bucket or even carrying a load of weeds from the corner to where I can dispose of them. But I have discovered a much easier way to move “stuff.” I took an old ripped shower curtain out to the flower bed and put all the old dried ste…

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Towel gift wrap—A subscriber writes: For a wedding gift wrapping try using towels. Bath towels and washrags will cover a good sized gift and dish towels are also a wonderful wrapping idea. I wrap my gift in a couple of dish towels and then use an oven mitt and some measuring spoons as the ri…

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Painting hint: I am a terrible slob when I get to painting and end up with enough paint on my hands to cover part of the wall. Until a friend showed up one day when I was painting the kitchen and she noticed my hands and arms. She said to put hand lotion all over my hands and arms before I s…

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Use it all: A reader wrote—I’m saving the spilled grain that lands in the yard as the guys fill the drills for seeding the summer crops. I’m going to save it for this winter to fill bird feeders instead of buying bird seed at the stores. I am using old 1-gallon milk jugs and only putting in …

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Shop helpers: Save those big gallon plus plastic laundry detergent jugs. Wash them well and then dry. Set in the farm/ranch shop, they are ideal to haul oil to farm machinery. Saves time by not having to return to the shop to refill.

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Slip saver: Keep a plastic milk jug of kitty litter by the front and back doors. It’s a given when it snows or you have a freezing rain that someone could fall and get badly hurt. The kitty litter is just clay and won’t eat up the sidewalk or kill the grass like salt does.

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Home made cleaners: We were warned by a friend who has a motor home that the chemicals in the septic system of an RV cannot be mixed with any kind of bleach because it forms chlorine gas, also known as mustard gas, and it can kill if breathed in. They had a sewer leak that got into some carp…

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Save aluminum foil: A reader shared this idea. They have a community gathering and of course there is always some kind of a treat to serve and they come in covered with foil, which gets discarded at the end of the event. A lady who was visiting that evening said that one could revive the foi…

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Labor saver/time saver: My ceiling is quite tall and I have to use a big ladder to reach the ceiling and the tops of the walls over the windows. I was constantly having to crawl down and get my cleaning rags off of the floor because they wouldn’t stay put when I was moving the ladder from sp…

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Cleaning planters prevents mold and mildew: I often buy big clay flower pots at yard sales for way less than new price, but if there are any mold spores in the clay, it’s trouble when you repot your favorite plants.

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Recycle those holey bath towels: A reader writes, “I take my old holey bath towels and cut out two mitten shapes (overly large) and zig-zag around the edges of them. I use these when I wash my car windows (lots of bug juice on them). The roughness of the terry cloth takes off all the ‘parts’…

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Sand remover: If you are lucky enough to make a trip to a beach this summer and don’t want sand all over the inside of your shoes or your car, try sprinkling some plain talcum powder on your feet and then rub with an old towel just before putting on your shoes. No more sand in shoes and on t…

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Egg carton organizer: Why buy plastic gadgets to organize your drawers—just use egg cartons! Rip off the lid and put your stuff in the little cups. Works good and is same as free. When it gets crappy looking, toss it and fix a new egg carton.

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Cleaning ceiling fans: Wipe your fan blades with a cloth dampened with white vinegar to cut through the grease and dirt (this really works).

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Recycle used coffee and filters: A reader writes, “I save and dry my coffee grounds and put them in the compost heap to help lighten up the soil, and I recycle the coffee filter by rinsing it off and letting it dry. Then we use it to cover the holes in the bottom of those plastic and clay po…

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Large sized shower caddy: My bathroom has very limited storage and I have a lot of shampoo, conditioners, etc. and didn’t really have a place to keep it handy until I went to a yard sale this summer and found a rather large mesh basket for holding produce in the kitchen. It is flat on one si…

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New use for a pool noodle: A reader writes: “My mother is gradually losing her sight, but still drives to the stores in the small town where she lives. She has trouble spotting her car in the parking lot off Main Street. So, my son took a bright blue pool noodle, cut it off just below the to…

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Book storage: I have a lot of books, more than I have shelf space for. I prefer to buy pocket books because they are easier to manage when I read in bed or take one in my purse. I lay them flat down on the shelf and find I can fit many more books on a shelf than if they stand upright. The ti…

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Money management idea: I have three checking accounts and sometimes have problems balancing an account. I bought some colored markers and use a different color each month to check off each of the cleared checks. I put a corresponding color on the envelope. This makes it easier to balance eac…

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Bag a gift: A reader writes: I shop yard sales for those old-fashioned hand-embroidered pillowcases. The one with the handmade lace along the edges. I take them home, wash and then starch them and use them instead of buying paper gift bags. The pillowcase becomes a part of the gift and can b…

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Paint strainer: I got a note from a reader in Colorado a while back and she said she buys old nylons at yard sales and uses them for paint strainers. She’s kind of a “free spirit” and buys odds and ends of paint at yard sales, strains them and then mixes "new to her" colors for her walls. I …

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Free fire pit lighters: Most of our friends now have those fire pits someplace in the yard to sit around on cool fall evenings. Some of my friends use twisted newspapers to start the fire and others use commercial products, but my son was thinking of Christmas the other day and asked, “Mom, …

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Removing old decals: If you love to refinish old furniture, there is an easy way to take off those decals without destroying the finish underneath. You just get some vinegar, either white or brown, doesn’t matter. Put in a small dish or jar and using a brush, put several coats of vinegar ove…

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Removing old decals: If you love to refinish old furniture, there is an easy way to take off those decals without destroying the finish underneath. You just get some vinegar, either white or brown, doesn’t matter. Put in a small dish or jar and using a brush, put several coats of vinegar ove…

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Washing caps: Did you know that you can wash caps the guys wear out in the fields and shop on the top shelf of your dishwasher? I put several on the top rack at the same time, give them a good wash. Don’t use the drying cycle. Just take the damp caps out of the dishwasher and put them over t…

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Cheap waterers for cats, dogs, etc.: I needed some extra water pans for my critters, cats, dogs, chickens, goats, etc. and had seen where it had been said used old refrigerator drawers could be used in the barn. So, I went looking at a thrift shop and found three of them. One was a heavy pla…

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Saucers as lids: A subscriber writes, I put leftovers in small to large bowls and cover them with saucers or plates. This makes the lids stable so others can be stacked on top, which frees up a lot of refrigerator space. The food is easily heated in the microwave with no worries about the pl…

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Store out of season clothing: I store out of season clothing in lidded plastic garbage cans. They’re much cheaper than the totes if purchased on sale. The clothing stays clean as they are mouse proof and moisture free. These containers can also be stacked (if you get the right kind) and used…

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Sick room safety hint: To keep a sick room safe for the person who is ill as well as the caretakers, put a small light under the bed at night. This way, if the person who is ill needs to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, the light is on the floor so they can see to get around withou…

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Make your own wipes: Instead of buying those containers of disposable wipes, I cut up old socks or heavy T-shirts to size and use them in the disinfecting water. They can be washed and reused many times and the only cost is for the cleaner.

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Time saver tip: When emptying waste baskets around the house or the office, put several liner bags in the bottom of the container so you will have one ready the next time. Save steps.

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Gifts for the elderly: I was reminded once again the other day of some of the gifts we can give the elderly in the nursing homes. These dear folks have to purchase their own personal items, and most are on very limited budgets. Some suggested items for a gift basket include:

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Tie a toy: To keep your toddler from tossing all of the toys off the stroller tray or swing, just tie a piece of elastic cord to the toy and then to the tray. It can be knocked off, but will be hanging just below the tray so it’s easy to retrieve by older brother or sister.

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Company’s coming “quick clean”: You just got home from a long hard day at work. Picked up the fighting kids from the daycare and head home. You walk in the house that looks like a bomb went off and the phone is ringing. “Hi, this is Aunt Tillie and Uncle John from XXX state. We haven’t seen …

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Recycle old metal tomato cages: I was given a stack of old twisted metal tomato cages and figured out a good use for them. I cut off the bad part on the bottom which made them a lot shorter and then put them around my peony bushes. They hold the stems up beautifully and because the cages are…

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No mark coat hooks: I have a closet with a rack full of coat hooks about halfway up the wall so that young folks can hang up their own coats. The problem is that they are metal and would stretch the fabric and make a sort of a hump on the back of the jacket that showed for a while.

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Bird spook for gardens: We’ve all seen those plastic ‘snakes’ used to keep birds away from berry bushes, strawberries, etc., but they cost money. My husband and kids all wear belts and they outgrow them after a while. Last year, I used belts instead of buying ‘snakes’, and it worked like a charm.

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Recycle the old rug: Don’t toss that old bathroom rug. Those grippers can come in handy. Flip it over and put it by the back door so the grass clippings and mud from kids playing in the sprinkler can be wiped off of shoes before they track all over the house. It’s easy to shake them clean an…

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Piggy cereal: I read this idea in a farm magazine (can’t remember which one) years ago and we’ve had good luck with it so thought we would share a "tried and true." My son bought a few sows a couple of years ago and once in a while we have a mama that doesn’t want certain babies so they beco…