Homemaking Tips Library: Advice / Ideas / Reference

The art of homekeeping is one particular interest held in common by women past and present. Though most no longer step out in the morning every day to sweep clean the front stoop or get a batch of bread dough started after the kids are off to school, something within each of us desires to keep our surroundings tidy, organized and running tickety-boo. It's how we're wired.

Some people live in magnificent dwellings, the rest in more humble abodes. Regardless of the property and value of contents, it's actually cleanliness and order that sweetens the environs. A truth I learned the hard way: a really messy, chaotic home does affect the mood & well-being of each individual residing there. At one time a residence in disarray and having clutter packed to the rafters was considered a reflection of a disordered soul--there's real wisdom in this.

Farmhouse Kitchen Style

I've been a housewife and mother for over 30 years and Tipnut.com has been online for 15 of those--the goal is simple: try to share all I've learned in the homekeeping arts. At my age and after all this time, I'm still curious and always on the hunt for easier, new and improved ways to get things done (hopefully save money too).

This website as a whole has a huge cataloged assortment of helpful information, ideas and notes instructive to today's overwhelmed homemaker--everything is freely available, no annoying hoops to jump through. This particular section archives those pertaining to miscellaneous housekeeping issues and neat-to-know general information. Included are various intriguing takes captured from the past century, but most apply to contemporary times and issues...many are useful with numerous creative hacks that are sure to be tucked into your personal file of reference.

Feel free to poke around and see what experience has taught me and what's been discovered via other nifty sources...plenty here to keep a person busy quite awhile :).

Topics
In This Archive

  • Frugal Living
  • Household Notes
  • Kitchen Tricks
  • Organization

TN Recommends

My top pick for economical, comfortable wireless headphones that are tough enough to hang in there while I do housework, cooking & assorted tasks. I've had mine for years and use them to listen to music & catch up on podcasts while bustling around the house. Works with iPhone/Android (acts as Bluetooth phone headset, smart phone speaker for microphone).

This little KitchenAid chopper does a beautiful job when you only need a small quantity of something (chimichurri, hummus, salsa, onions, whatever)--no more hassle pulling out the big heavy food processor with all its blades & gadgets. Very convenient & dishwasher safe! Lots of colors to choose from.


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Household Notes

Traditional Housewarming Gifts (& What They Mean)

Giving a food basket as a housewarming gift is a safe bet, they are sure to be appreciated and can be as economical or as expensive as desired. Fill with a bottle of wine, sweet treats and artisan preserves...whatever preferred!

Interesting Old Wives' Tales For Homemakers

The job of these old tales was to impress the importance of doing (or not doing) a particular thing, in a manner which would be remembered and easily passed on through generations. Sometimes the hidden nuggets need to be interpreted.

Silverfish: Simple Pest Maintenance You Can Do

A common pest that feasts on things like wallpaper glue, bookbinding, plaster, paper, drywall, carpet and other materials. Although the building is unlikely to suffer extensive structural damage, everyday household items can be destroyed if these critters are left unchecked.

There's A Mouse In The House! Here's What To Do

Now that a mouse (or its droppings) has been spotted around the property, it's vital to get rid of it asap before the critter multiplies and does damage to the structure. Mice can carry diseases or be infested with fleas. Gross!

Fight & Control Pesky Houseflies: Handy Guide

At the first sign of warm weather, every homemaker takes up arms against this most persistent form of pest life. Since houseflies do not bite, many folks merely worry about them as an annoyance. What's important to remember though is they're also highly effective disease carriers.

77 Practical Uses For Baking Soda Around The House

Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda or bicarb) is a frequent ingredient required in many baking recipes, but it's a staple in household solutions too! Here are over 50 ways to put it to work.

12 Quick Tips For The Home: Tipnut’s Mailbag

Here is the latest batch of helpful quickies sent in by readers: Keep bread fresh by sticking a piece of celery in the bread bag before closing. (Tracey) Use wooden pants hangers to hang rugs on the clothesline (Dale)...

Homemade Ant Killers: Recipes & Tips

When trying to get rid of ants, it’s helpful to first have a basic understanding how they live and thrive: They live in colonies and one class within the colony is the worker/gatherer/forager. Workers make up approximately 10% of the…

Get Rid Of Wasps Easy As 1-2-3: Effective DIY Traps

Once stung by a wasp, you'll realize how well they live up to their reputation of being angry, aggressive and producers of mean, painful stings. When regularly spotted in the yard, it's a good bet a nest is nearby.

A Nice Mix Of Handy Hints From Nearly A Century Ago

These come from an old booklet published sometime in the 1930’s and provide general advice for running the home. The Timeless Wisdom collection is a regular feature on Tipnut.

Oldies But Goodies: 25 Vintage Household Tips

Gathered from a variety of vintage homemaking books and magazines published in the 1940's and 1950's. There are plenty of creative solutions they cooked up & it's clear ingenuity was prized.

ABC’s Of Decorating: Fundamentals & Rules

The best approach to begin home planning is to forget all the talk about changes in architecture, equipment, materials, and design. The fundamental rules never change, they are essential.

Brighten Rugs With Ammonia & More From The Past

This is a nice way to pick up some helpful ideas as well as take a look back in time when women used every little bit of anything they could in a purposeful way--nothing was wasted where possible.

Dozens Of Helpful Notes & Advice (Vintage 1950s)

Collected from 1940s and 1950s vintage magazines and articles, some are old stand-bys a bunch of interesting & new (to me) tips too. Enjoy! A button sewn to the corner of the dishcloth...

17 Quick Notes For Efficient Housekeeping

Freshen Up Wicker Baskets: Have a bunch of old and shabby wicker baskets? Lightly wash them then dry thoroughly. Once dried, give a fresh new look with a coat or two of spray paint. To camouflage small flooring nics & chips...

Hiding Valuables – Sneakier Uses For Everyday Things

When thinking of sneaky one usually thinks of something that is secret or hidden from you. Actually, the most common sneaky-use application is hiding valuable belongings from others. Hollowed-out candle Figurine Tissue container Trash container base Video or…

How To Train A Dog To Potty In One Spot

Choosing a particular area for your dog to use for potty breaks helps protect the rest of the yard so it’s nice, green and clean for kiddos to run and play. It also keeps the garden space urine free (hooray!).…

Sweet Smelling Moth Repellents: DIY Bugs-Be-Gone

Mothballs are very effective at keeping the critters at bay but ingredients include paradichlorobenzene which can cause all kinds of health problems such as damage to liver and kidneys. They're especially hazardous to children and pets if swallowed–and the STINK is nasty!

Kitchen Tips & Tricks

KitchenAid Fixes & Maintenance Advice

If stand mixer is on the fritz & needs a little tinkering to get working 100%, this is the page for you! Dozens of fix-it tricks and techniques offered (includes the famous Beater Level Dime Test).

The Nifty Wooden Spoon: A Little TLC Goes A Long Way

Wooden spoons have been an essential tool utilized around hearth and home for centuries. Even today they can still be found in nearly every kitchen…but who knew they can thrive for decades with just a little TLC?

Ready At A Moment’s Notice: Double Boiler In A Pinch

Oops! Trying a new recipe, get halfway through it and realize that the use of a double boiler is required...but don't have one tucked away in the cupboard? A simple substitute can be whipped up at a moment's notice.

7 Ways To Loosen A Jar Lid That’s Stuck Tight

Occasionally a lid just won't budge, even after bringing some serious muscle power to the job...so how does one remove them? Lists a few different solutions to conquer the problem.

Important Step: Safely Sterilizing Jars For Preserves

Home canning has been practiced for generations since it’s a great way to preserve the garden harvest or to take advantage of the bounty of in-season produce from local markets. It may be time consuming, but very rewarding.

Quickies: 50+ Neat-To-Know Helpers & Hacks

Strawberries: Wash freshly picked strawberries then take a wide plastic straw and insert it at the bottom of a strawberry–use it to push the stem out. Measuring Hack: Rinse measuring cup in hot water before using syrup, oil, etc. Will…

How To Properly Measure Food Ingredients

There's a trick to measuring syrup, honey or molasses to ensure all of it empties from the cup or spoon. Although cooking has a little leeway with amounts, baking is an exact science.

Common Kitchen Questions & Their Answers

A list of random questions and answers pertaining to the kitchen (cooking, baking, ingredients, etc.). A few already have full articles shared here on Tipnut but this is a nice review.

Go Go Gadgets: 30 Clever Uses To Check Out

An egg slicer will produce uniform slices of more than just hard boiled eggs: You can slice mushrooms, soft fruits (such as strawberries, kiwis, bananas), olives, deli cheeses and more. Great for garnishes too! A pizza cutter will slice everything...

Cool Hack: Crush Garlic With A Rock & More

Neat! This was sent in by Janet & is totally new to me, I think it's fantastic: Here's a trick for crushing garlic that once tried, you'll never go back to the current method being used.

60+ Cookbook Notes {1930's to 1960's}

A collection of notes culled from a variety of vintage books, cookbooks and magazines published during 1930's to 1960's. Many are shared by women who would send these in, so resourceful back in the day!

Everything You Want To Know About Herbs & Spices

A few notes to help figure out whether or not those herbs and spices are stale or still good to use. I also added some DIY spice rack projects to the page and a few recipes for making custom blends.

These 20 Money-Savers Help Trim The Kitchen Budget

I think it's safe to say that the monthly food budget is where things can go real steep, real fast without too much trouble. Something catches our eye and since it's only $5 here and $10 there, we toss it into the cart without too much thought.

More Kitchen Quickies: {via Readers & Bloggers}

Each of these were selected because of their usefulness and I've included the name of the person who submitted them beside each tip (thank you!).

18 Smart Ideas That Help Simplify Your Kitchen

Stash plastic bags in empty paper towel tubes, hanging bag holders or even fold them so they take up less room yet still convenient to grab and go. Find plenty of projects on this page. A crock can be used…

Charming Vintage Kitchen Prayers, Poems & Stories

These sweet, charming prayers, simple stories and old-timer words of wisdom were frequently found in old community cookbooks and vintage homemaking tip magazines. They were clipped and pasted into recipe scrapbooks, done in cross stitch to be framed and hung on…

Thoughts On Keeping Recipes Organized & Accessible

Recipes a mess? Whether or not you're a serious collector and have hundreds of paper slips to deal with, or just a few dozen, organizing them in an efficient manner can be challenging. There are a few goals to accomplish, they need to be…

Fragrant Home: 15 Simmering Pot Recipes

Simmering potpourri is a lovely way to make the house smell cozy and inviting, especially when using warm and fragrant spices during the holiday season. A creative trick to humidify the kitchen too!

Illustration When bed sheets wear out, they can be folded in half and pillow cases sewn. Cut them to desired width, stitch two sides together (better to use the original hems).

Keep sparkle on the metal trim of handbags, metal compacts, brass buttons, silver earrings, belt buckles and any other metal objects that are difficult to spray with clear nail polish or a tarnish preventive.

Cut open old socks then sew together to produce car wash cloths.

Best to test a stain remover first on a section under the hem of the garment to find out if it will affect the color of the fabric before fully applying it.

Wear white cotton gloves sprayed with furniture polish to do the dusting.

Paint the steps of a stepladder and sprinkle clean sand on the paint before it dries, it will give the steps a non-skid, stay put surface.

Papering or painting a room? Do it right & make a notation of the amount of material needed to do the job, and place the notation under the main light switch in that room. It won't get lost and it will save a lot of extra work when the space is being painted again.

Save those slivers of toilet soap that are usually thrown away, collect until there's a handful. Soak in water until they are soft then squeeze together forming a large bar shaped mass. Let harden and now there's an extra bar of bath soap in colors too.

When cleaning windows fill small spray bottles with water, add one teaspoon vinegar, one teaspoon ammonia and spray glass. Newspapers to wipe down glass! Makes them shine.

For books that got damp or are musty, sprinkle baking soda on the pages and allow time to air out. If there's mildew on the paper, rub the baking soda into the spots and lay out to bleach in the sun.

Use a clean paint brush to dust pleated lamp shades.

When wheel grease gets on children's clothes, rub lard on it to remove grease stains.

Remove stains in vases by filling with tea leaves and vinegar, shake or swoosh until stain disappears.

Coating the top of keys with different colors of nail polish will help to identify them quickly.

Make mittens salvaged from old towels and use to dust blinds.



Frugal Living

Household Budget Worksheets & Forms: {Net Source}

Ready to take control of the household expenses and monthly budget? Here are a few freebies handpicked from around the net. There are worksheets in both Excel and .doc format though most are pdf printables. Several of these are ideal for filing in a binder/notebook.

20 Tried & True Ways To Be A Savvy Grocery Shopper

Although we all need to eat and shop for groceries regularly, the monthly food budget is one of the first (and easiest) places to pinch the pennies when necessary. It can get a little tricky to manage rising food costs, clever marketing and smaller packaging.

Making Your Own Cotton Flannel Feminine Pads

If you’re into the environment and saving money, this is a great tip–imagine never having to buy disposable menstrual pads again! Even though I don’t faithfully use them, I did sew a large stack for myself (with a complimentary drawstring…

11 Ways To Reuse Newspaper Around The House

So much of what we read nowadays is online but even though I don’t subscribe to a print newspaper, I still have lots of sales flyers and promotional mailings to deal with plus a weekly Community paper and real estate…

Pointers For Stretching Those Last Bits of Food

Identifies several quick tricks for stretching out and using the last little bit of a food item instead of tossing the extras/scraps out. It's not only less wasteful–saves cash and many times adds flavor or enhances the dish in a big way!

20 Things You Can Use Twice Before Tossing

A previously published list of ideas that has collected lots of tips from readers over time and moved here for better organization. Are there any we missed? Please share ideas in the comments section below! Dry Cleaning Plastic: ...

Cashing Out On Junk: Garage Sale Tips For Success

I’ve managed several garage sales (or yard sales) over the past 10 to 15 years, both for our own household goods as well as for family and friends. I love operating them, but they are a lot of work and…

Making A Coupon Organizer System To Save Money

One of the most frugal, cash-saving things we can do is to take advantage of the free coupons at our disposal. We'll never redeem each and every one that comes our way, but by keeping them sorted and close at hand, you'll surely notice the dollars being shaved off the grocery bill. Cha-ching!

Sharpen The Frugal Senses: Keep A Wish List

Outlines a habit that helps my family keep the "I Wants" in perspective as well as make us strong shoppers and super savers. It doesn't matter how big or small the price tag is. A few things happen when you do develop this habit...

Once A Month Cooking: Helpful Notes & Resources

This is something I'd LOVE to develop more in our household, and some would say I'm a failure at it since I've been flirting with the concept for about six years now and still not fully participating on a consistent basis.

Stop Running To The Market To Cut Back On Spending

I have a feeling this is true for most: Every time I run to the store for "one little thing", I usually come out with a few items not on the list. Planning limited shopping trips does save money!

10 DIY Laundry Soap Detergents

A nice stack of different recipes for making homemade laundry detergent that I've collected over the years. Do they work? Yes, I've had good luck with them. Includes a few tips for best results possible.

How To Make Fabric Softeners & Dryer Sheets

One way to save dollars and trim expenses from the household budget is DIY cleaning & laundry products. Most recipes require basic, everyday items you likely have in the cupboard already and in most cases, are simple to mix & store.

16 Thrifty Homemade Dishwasher Detergents

[New! Updated with recipes shared by readers] Run out of dishwashing detergent and now in a pinch to run a load until you can get to the store and buy some more? Or looking to whip up a few batches to save money?

Organization

DIY Holiday Storage Solutions: {Projects & Ideas}

It’s a lot of fun decorating for the holidays but considering we only use the decorations, wrapping paper, Christmas lights, etc., once a year…that’s a lot of gear to pack and store away. Here are a few tips and ideas…

Folding Towels, Sheets & More: {Handy Reference}

Is folding items such as fitted sheets, t-shirts, towels and even socks a puzzle that can't be unlocked? Here's a quick reference sheet I've put together to help get the job done. Over a dozen items listed so far…

Inspiration & Help: Ultimate Sewing & Craft Rooms

I’ve moved some previously featured projects to this page as well as added a few new goodies. Many of these ideas for organizing craft & sewing supplies (and the rooms that contain them) are quite clever and make the most…

Nifty Meal Planners To Create (or Print)

Printable: A fun weekly planner (blank) to print and use for meal planning. Every day of the week has its own pot or pan with enough white space to write in the day's menu. Tip: frame this under glass to reuse again and again).

Beware Of Junk Bunkers: For Packrats Only

I know many of you are familiar with Don Aslett’s books about sorting, decluttering & cleaning routine advice--and I'm thrilled to be able to introduce his guidance to Tipnut readers who have yet to discover his common sense (and often humorous) approach to taking back control of your living space.

Creative & Handy DIY Storage Gear Items

A nice collection of free patterns and tutorials for making organizers and storage solutions for the home. Some have been moved here from previous features but there's a great bunch of new stuff too, enjoy! Cereal Box Storage Bins...

12 Simple Ways To Smooth Out Your Morning Routine

Here are a dozen things we do to help start each day on a positive note, all but the last two are done the night before. As small and insignificant some may seem, I find each do make a positive difference.

Get Back On Track: Mastering A Messy Home

Living a clutter free and bare-bones minimized possessions lifestyle would be great and easy to manage in single or adult couple dwellings–but here are some practical tips for mess-free family sized living: Regularly Junk Hunt: Race through the house and…

Domestic Inbox System For Bills & Home Management

There are all kinds of tools, software and gadgets available to help remind us about pending items and bills coming due, but here's a simple method I use that keeps things running smoothly involving a simple Inbox system.

Putting Old Biscuit Tins To Good Use

It seems this time of year I'm swimming in biscuit tins, but no complaints since they're such great storage tools! Plus the crafts you can make with them are gorgeous and not difficult to manage--go as simple or elaborate as desired.

Household Notebook Inspiration, Resources & Ideas

Build a customized reference/organizer for home management tasks such as cleaning schedule, meal planning, monthly payment due dates, etc. A binder or planner, some paper and a printer are the only requirements to setup an invaluable system.

Let’s Use Our Minutes

from Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, January, 1952: LET’S USE OUR MINUTES By Mildred Cathcart A New Year is a good time to begin doing something that you may have wanted to do for many, many months. Perhaps you have wanted to piece…

Apothecaries:
1 scruple = 20 grains
1 dram = 3 scruples
1 ounce = 8 drams
1 pound = 12 ounces

Dry Measure:
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
2 gallons = 1 peck
4 pecks = 1 bushel

Liquid:
4 gills = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
63 gallons = 1 hogshead
2 hogsheads = 1 pipe or butt
2 pipes = 1 tun

Square Measure:
1 sq. foot = 144 inches
1 sq. yard = 9 sq. feet
1 sq. rod = 30 1/4 sq. yards = 272 1/4 sq. feet
1 acre = 160 sq. rods = 43,560 sq. feet
1 sq. mile = 640 acres = 102,400 sq. rods
1 sq. rod = 625 sq. links
1 sq. chain = 16 sq. rods
1 acre = 10 sq. chains

How To Fold A Pocket Handkerchief:

Nothing is quite so essential to giving a man that well-turned-out appearance as a crisply four-folded white handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket.The same fanciness comes in handy many times in women's dress as well, to add a touch of white or other color.

Here's how it's done:

Fold handkerchief diagonally forming a triangle with the base toward you. First corner is at left, as shown.

Bring top part of corner No. 2 down and lay it beside No. 1.

Bring corner No. 3 over and lay it beside No. 2.

Bring corner No. 2a (the one remaining) down and lay it beside No. 3.

Fold the extra part left after the last fold to the underneath. It may be necessary to do twice to conceal it behind the part that shows. Then fold the extra length under. Again it may be necessary to do twice.

Tuck the handkerchief with points up neatly into pocket. Source: The WorkBasket, 1955

Makeshift Measurers: It seems I find myself forever in need of a measuring stick...

I finally learned to note the length of my index finger (3 inches), hand (7 inches), and elbow to middle fingertip (16 inches).

Also helpful is the measurement of one's shoe and outstretched arms, fingertip to fingertip.

The Judge kept a belt having every 2 inches marked off on the inside. (Still my favorite method.)

A quarter is 1 inch in diameter.

A penny is 3/4 inch.

Source: Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping: Timeless Wisdom & Practical Advice / Miriam Lukken

Neat To Know

Children In The Home (from 1950's source)

Always greet family members when entering and bid goodbye when leaving.

Always rise to a standing position when visitors enter, and greet them after elders.

Never address a visitor until he has started the conversation unless he is a person of your own age or younger.

Never interrupt a conversation. Wait until the party talking has finished.

Always rise when visitor or elders stand.

Never let mother or father bring you a chair or get one for themselves. Wait on them instead of being waited on.

If leaving or crossing the room say "Excuse me."

If a visitor should say, "I am glad to have seen you," say "Thank you."

Never run up and down the stairs or across the room.

Talk in a low, even voice. It denotes refinement.

Always give way to the younger child. It is your duty to look after them instead of fretting them.

Never retire without bidding the members of the family good night.

Follow these suggestions assist in making the members of your family happy as well as in benefiting them in many other ways.

No calendar on hand? Here's an easy method to determine which months have 31 days & which have 30:

Count the months on your knuckles & the grooves between each. Leave out thumb.

Every month landing on a knuckle is 31 days, every month that lands on a groove between is 30 days (or 28 for February).

Starting on the forefinger's knuckle:

1st knuckle: Jan (31)

Groove: Feb (28 or 30)

2nd: March (31)

Groove: April (30)

3rd: May (31)

Groove: June (30)

4th: July (31)

Returning to first (the forefinger, remember--skip the thumb)

1st Knuckle: August (31)

Groove: September (30)

2nd: October (31)

Groove: November (30)

3rd: December (31)

Instead of moving right to left by starting with forefinger, one could also start on pinky knuckle and move left to right. Still works out the same.

Cheat Sheet: Grammar In Rhyme

Three little words you often see,
Are articles - a, an, and the.

A Noun's the name of any thing,
As school, or garden, hoop, or swing,

Adjectives tell the kind of Noun,
As great, small, pretty, white, or brown.

Instead of Nouns the Pronouns stand-
Her head, his face, your arm, my hand.

Verbs tell of something to be done-
To read, count, sing, laugh, jump, or run.

How things are done, the adverbs tell,
As slowly, quickly, ill, or well.

Conjunctions join the words together-
As men and women, wind or weather.

The Preposition stands before
A Noun, as in, or through a door.

The Interjection shows surprise,
As oh! how pretty-ah! how wise.

The whole are called Nine Parts of Speech,
Which reading, writing, speaking, teach.

Source: Dr. Chase's Recipes, 1863