Monday, April 11, 2016

GIve Us A Hint!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  There's always some clever new thing,  right? I was at an event last week, and the server (what a nice person) kept trying to give me a dessert. I kept saying "no thank you." But then another server would  try,  and present me, again,  with another caramel-chocolate-whatever-it-was. The fabulous Daryl Wood Gerber (Avery Aames) was sitting next to me, and she said--"Cross your fork and spoon in front of you. That's the signal for 'No thanks.'"

Really? I did not know that! Brilliant. And it worked.

And yesterday, no sooner had our tulips budded than I spotted a hungry squirrel sniffing around them as if they were...dessert. I called a pal, and said "I will be so unhappy if those %&($#@ squirrels bite the heads off my tulips again. But I don't want to red pepper them, because they ducks might get the hot stuff on their feet.  What do I do?"  He said: "Sprinkle garlic on the tulips. Squirrels hate that."  Really?

And my mother always told me: to get onion smell off your hands, just rub them on chrome. 

So much valuable stuff to know!

Reds and Readers--tell us something we need to know!  Maybe channel the spirit of Heloise (remember?) and give us a hint!

HALLIE EPHRON: Ah, Heloise. She taught me how to polish silver by dropping the pieces into boiling water laced with baking soda. Or that club soda takes out red wine stains. Does anyone remember Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Housekeep"? It had tons of shortcuts and tips and it was funny. 

Something I learned just a few days ago... I love pan-crusted scallops but when I try to make them, they don’t develop a nice brown crunchy crust. So off to the Internet to discover why. 
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Turns out most of the scallops we get (and those on sale at my supermarket) are “wet scallops” – treated by retain water. And that’s why they won’t crust. But trust America’s Test Kitchen to come up with a fix: 
Soak them for 30 minutes in (for my 3/4 lb scallops) 1 cup water, 2 T lime or lemon juice, 2 tsp salt. Pat dry… thoroughly. Get the oil in a heavy (cast iron) skillet smokin’ hot. Add the scallops not touching each other. Cook 1 1/2 minutes on a side (during which time you do not try to move them around in the pan). PERFECTLY browned crusty scallops just cooked through.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Nice! I'm trying to think of my tricks and shortcuts. Honestly, I'm grateful I can still call up my mother when I want to find out, "How do I do..." and she can give me the answer. Let's see...

If you have a half bottle of wine left over after dinner, cover the top tightly with Saran wrap and it'll stay good for another day.

(HANK: Leftover…wine?)

JULIA: If you travel a lot, always have a prepacked vanity bag, with all your essentials and your makeup basics (separate from what you usually use at home.) Toss in your Rxs and you're good to go.

If you're having a firewood emergency (I do realize this is probably not a lot of people!) you can make "Yankee Firewood" by tightly rolling newspaper sheets into a column and tying them with string. The "log" will burn a surprisingly long time.

If you drink a glass of water after each glass of wine/beer/liquor, you won't feel hungover when you wake up.

...yeah, I got nuthin'. Boy, you can tell housekeeping is not my thing, can't you?

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: My best is that in a pinch you can use toothpaste as silver polish. I got that from the TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Remember them?

RHYS BOWEN:  Eek! I don't think I have any handy hints. I suppose I must have done when my kids wrote on walls with crayons or trod bubble gum into carpets. Wait. I remember that one. Freeze the gum. Rub ice cubes on it. Works well for gum in hair too.
And another. I'm on a roll now. Iron out wax dropped on tablecloth by placing paper towel and then using cool iron. And salmon poached in red wine is delicious. And Hallie, I'm grateful for the scallop hint because I adore them and have been frustrated.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: LOVE the scallops hint, Hallie! I've almost given up on them because they always go watery and soggy, no matter how hot I have my pan. And they're too expensive to ruin.

I know quite a few of these things, but not polishing the silver with baking soda. Going to try that. And I've never poached salmon in red wine, Rhys, so am going to try that, too. Julia, you assume we have leftover bottles of wine???

Hank, we have a dreadful problem with squirrels digging up everything, especially the pots on my deck. (Gave up on tulips years ago--very expensive squirrel food.) Last year I tried garlic powder and they seemed just to think it made nice seasoning... Boo.

LUCY BURDETTE: How to roast a chicken when you can no longer afford a delicious salty crust on the skin? Mash together a couple of tablespoons of butter, some lemon zest, and two crushed cloves of garlic. Loosen the  skin on the chicken and spread the mixture between skin and flesh. Stuff the cavity with more lemon or half an onion. 

John's tips on how to keep a rotten woodchuck out of the garden: Spread animal fur and coyote urine around the perimeter. Sprinkle plants with cayenne pepper. Extend the top of the fence inward with bird netting. When all else fails, station your wife outside with a pellet gun

HANK: First, get some coyote urine. :-)  Argh. I'm telling you, if the squirrels hit our tulips, there's gonna be trouble..

DEBS:  Okay, here's a hint I learned from my daughter. Hate cooking bacon because even when you use a splatter shield, everything on your cook top ends up covered in bacon grease? Instead, line a cookie sheet well with foil, then place wire racks on top of the foil. Arrange your bacon on the racks and pop in a 425 oven for as long as it takes to get the bacon crispy (15 or 20 minutes should do it.) Drain the bacon on paper towels, then, when the grease on the foil has solidified, you just fold up the foil and throw it away. 
No more greasy stove, no more trying to figure out how throw away the bacon grease! Unless, like many of our grandmothers, you still keep an old coffee can filled with used (and reused) grease by your cooker…

HANK:  A …coffee can? 
(And Susan, I loved Queer Eye. Also Stacey and Clinton.) And this just in: our intrepid Hallie found TIP HERO on Facebook.  Hilarious tips!

How about you, savvy Reds and readers? Got a hint, household or otherwise, that might change our lives? Like: hit "command Z" if you accidentally erase everything?  

I guess no one needs "put clear nail polish on your stocking to stop the run" anymore. 
SO funny, huh?
(I'm still thinking about where to get coyote urine. First, get a coyote.)
A copy of PRIME TIME to one lucky commenter as a reward!


  1. I I am chuckling over the coyote [and not too likely to pursue that, even if the woodchucks come to visit]. We’ve figured out how to keep the deer out of the garden [a fence too tall for them to jump] but I fear the tulips are fair game for the squirrels . . . .

    I learned this from my grandmother and suspect it’s an old folk remedy, but it does have an interesting bit of history as well . . . .
    To stop a cut from bleeding, simply cover the cut with a liberal amount of finely ground black pepper. [No, it doesn’t sting.] Cover with a bandage.
    [Of course, if the cut is severe, you’ll probably need stitches and you should head for the emergency room.]

    Since folks tend to roll their eyes and look at me as if I’ve lost my mind whenever I suggest this, I did a bit of research and discovered that during the Second World War soldiers used black pepper to stop their wounds from bleeding. The pepper, which is naturally antibacterial, causes blood to coagulate quickly.

  2. I've been shining up silver earrings with toothpaste for decades! Salt on spilled red wine absorbs it, too. Honey on a wound is antibacterial, too. You can use those little plastic squares that close bread bags to tidy up excess cord on your charger.

    But leftover wine? Sorry, don't know the concept.

  3. Coyote urine: Now there's a useful tip.

    Black pepper on wounds? I'll bet it hurt.

  4. Hallie, I would have paid for that scallop hint.
    Since I am fresh out of coyote urine and living half of the year on an island where everything is at least triple the price at home, I had to figure out how to clean the lizard poop that miraculously appears every morning on various surfaces and deal with mold and other island curses. I refuse to pay for Fabuloso what a good bottle of Courvoisier VSOP costs, so I looked to a book (of course) for help. "Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda" by Shea Zukowski for $1.54 on Amazon became my island "Hints for Heloise." And for once, I feel so virtuous.

  5. MIchele, If only the lizard poop would keep away the squirrels. Wouldn't that be perfect? (But what is Fabuloso?

    I saw a tip on line that said if you need to keep a cookbook open, while you cook, get a skirt hangar, open the book, clamp each dace page with the skirt hanger--are yo following me here?--then hook the hanger part of the hanger (what do you call that part anyway?) to a kitchen cabinet shelf. and the open book will hang up in front of you.

    Yeah, that'd work. but seems very elaborate.

    On that tips page on Facebook there's also a way to make a quiche crust out of potato puffs. I am wavering between thinking that's brilliant and thinking it's --weird.

  6. Pepper on a wound? That's is so counterintuitive, isn't it?

    And above it's supposed to say "On each facing page." I know what I need a hint for--o turn OFF the think that auto-corrects spelling. it is so often a disaster.

    For how many times do you put water in your liquid dish soap to use up the last drops of it before you decide it's more water than soap?

  7. "Leftover wine"? I don't understand....

  8. I think I left my skirt hangers with my coyote urine.

  9. And if it's a heavy book like the Joy of Cooking, not seeing how the skirt hanger would do the trick...

    I'm going to tell John we need more info on the coyote urine:)

  10. Homemade cheesecake--made them for years, came out great every time until I tried a delicate lemon-flavored cheesecake recipe. Batter ALWAYS turned out lumpy, no matter what I tried. TIP I learned: Add the eggs as the last step, beating each one gently before adding. No more lumpy batter--delicious (and pretty) cake!

    I'm betting you can buy coyote urine online, and I don't want to know how it's 'manufactured.' The coyotes leave scat in my backyard, but if they leave any urine, it doesn't appear to worry our woodchucks. Grrr...

  11. Hank, Shall I send you a baggie full of lizard poop so you can experiment with the squirrels?
    Fabuloso is the contemporary equivalent to yesteryear's Lestoil, Pine Sol, etc. It's a purple liquid and has a fake lavender smell.

    I forgot one hint I got from my former mother-in-law when I was a young bride. If you're having company and don't have time to clean thoroughly, or better have someone do it for you, put cups of smelly cleanser in the toilets. The odor will mislead your guests into thinking your house is cleaner than it really is. Really. We talked about stuff like that.

  12. Also, we have squirrels, we have tulips--the squirrels don't bother them. I think it's because my backyard is also full of black walnuts and acorns. In fact, the black walnuts get picked up and thrown on a brush pile to get them out of the yard, and the squirrels simply go to the 'larder' all winter/spring long and help themselves.

  13. Oh, yes, the "give them a better option "suggestion. But that's why I always worry about that tip that a saucer of beer in the garden will lure away slugs sbd keep them from eating the plants..
    I figure if you put out beer, the slugs will say: hurray! Party at hanks house!

  14. And Michelle, my mother used to tap a bit of flour onto her cheek, or nose, when she was cooking something. It's clear that you're making it from scratch if you get flour on you,!right? But ahem, she rarely was.

  15. What great hints. Note I said hints, not hacks. When did that substitution happen anyway.

    My favorite new learning experience came from listening to NPR Test Kitchen on Sunday afternoons.

    When baking a chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate whatever, it is done when you start to smell the chocolate. If you leave it in the oven much longer, you start to destroy the chocolate flavor. No kidding. This works. Trust me. I am a nurse

    (And yes, I make a killer chocolate cake using the recipe on the back of the King Arthur cake flour box.)

  16. No that… Is brilliant, Ann. And thinking back, does it work for other things, too? Like the toast is done when it starts to smell like toast?
    And do you add anything to the cake mix?

  17. If you add a piece of aluminum foil to the boiling water and baking soda, it will polish the silver even faster (and better).

  18. Okay, I hadn't heard about the pepper on cuts but recently a friend told me Crazy Glue on cuts would work wonders. And she had got that from an Emerg doctor when the cut on her hand just wouldn't stop bleeding. (as Joan said, if you need stitches, that's another matter).

    So I tucked it away for future reference, and the very next day I sliced my finger tip quite deeply while cutting a lemon (ouch!) A few moments of panic (bleed bleed bleed) while I tried to recall the magic treatment. Ah! Crazy Glue! Down to the work room (bleed bleed bleed). Yes! Here it is! I smeared on a lot and it quickly formed a solid cap all over the top of my finger. Yes! It works!

    Crazy Glue needs to be in the kitchen, and on camping trips.

  19. Really? That's o interesting, Kristopher! Wonder why,

    Speaking of which: Does it actually work to add salt to make water boil faster?

  20. When an acquaintance (you don't need to do this with friends) calls that she's going to drop by to pick something up or drop something off, whatever, and your house is a mess and you care about such things.... You don't need to clean up. Just haul out the vacuum and strew it all over the front room, to show you're IN THE MIDDLE OF CLEANING UP. You can put it away when they leave.

  21. I"m thinking about all the wonderful uses there were for coffee cans.
    A lost art.

  22. It has to do with the chemical reaction between the aluminum foil and the baking soda. I believe even if you don't boil the water, the water will form bubbles which will work to polish the silver. But boiling speeds it up. (Note: I don't do much silver cleaning, so I'm no expert)

    As for salt in the water, yes, this too works. Again, chemistry in action. I remember doing a science fair project back in the day showing that salt water takes longer to freeze as well.

  23. You can get coyote urine, in liquid form, at Home Depot. Seriously. And anywhere you buy hunting stuff, like Bass Pro or Cabela's.

    Please just take my word for this, and don't ask how I know, 'kay? :D

    There are still coffee cans, but they're so small as to be virtually useless. Libby, I mourn, as well.

    Another way to freshen the air in a pinch is to strew potpourri around, then vacuum it up. The vacuum will disperse the volatile oils into the air.

    You can start a fire--either in the fireplace, charcoal grill, or a firepit--very quickly if you use a champagne cork, pinecone, dryer lint, or a paper egg carton torn in half, or any combination thereof. Since no one has newspaper any more. All of these things catch fire quickly, and burn for a long enough time for the fire to catch, without the need to use a chemical (and smelly) lighter fluid/starter. Safer, too.

  24. Start a fire with dryer lint! SO amazing. I mean--who'd have thought? Problem is saving the dryer lint. I will keep it with the coyote blood, I guess.

    In the MIDDLE of cleaning. That is downright diabolical, Susan D! Truly. Now. WHERE is our vacuum cleaner?

    And even though I no longer have coffee cans, I DO have way too many plastic canister/containers that once held rice. I cannot throw them away! SO I use them to cracker,s and tea bags, and nuts. And flour, and sugar. The packaging--square, with clear heavy plastic and screw on tops--is just too useful to toss. But now I have so many empty ones.

  25. y'all are so funny. you make me laugh every day. Helpful hints? Nothing. I've got nothing. Except, do your best not to have left over wine.

  26. Hank, you can also get coyote urine at the feed store--if you live someplace where you have such things. I thought about trying it for the squirrels but was afraid the dogs would freak out. Any dog owners tried that?

    But do I really want to know how they GET the coyote urine??

    SuperGlue for cuts, yes.

    Hank, still laughing about your mother and the flour on her nose....

    FChurch, can you give us that lemon cheesecake recipe (along with your tips?)

    And can I just be an old grouch and say how much I hate the term "hack" for hints or tips.

    This, I'm guessing, is the derivation:

    Definition 7. a. from


    to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app."

    Irritating, but I guess that's the wonder of the always evolving English language.

  27. P.S. I am such a messy cook that no one coming into my house would have any doubt that I'd done the cooking:-)

  28. Love the vacuum cleaner!!

    PS, the coyote urine did not bother Tonka one bit

  29. Yes! I've wondered the same thing about how they get the urine! Boggles the imagination, doesn't it?

    And I so agree about the term "hack". So overused, badly used, and well, hackneyed.

  30. Okay, IN MY DEFENSE re: the leftover wine, you all will remember I throw large holiday dinner parties. We stock in two bottles per (drinking) guest, plus serve a cocktail or punch. Then our guests bring wine and beer. If we drank it all we'd have to provide sleeping accommodations for thirty! (Or hire a shuttle van and driver.)

    My only other tip has to do with head lice, and I'm pretty sure that's worse than discussing coyote urine.

  31. PS, the way to get coyote urine is obvious. First give the coyote a beer. Then just wait a while.

  32. Toothpaste works for an emergency silver polish.

    I once read essays for a contest. One was about how to cover your tracks when you are having an illicit affair. The author provided a long explanation about swirling a lit match over the toilet bowl if you or the man....well, it was TMI for me, and probably for you too, so never mind.

    But, lit matches get rid of smells.

  33. PS - Forget stockings. Buy leg spray! Panty hose in a can.

  34. Oh wait, another idea… ! Just give the coyote the left over wine!

  35. What an entertaining post today! I'm wondering about the leftover wine, too. And coyote urine? Woohee! I wouldn't be surprised if you could buy it online. Or, Julia's method of giving a coyote a beer. Hey, that sounds like a great title for a book, "If You Give a Coyote a Beer." Hahaha!

    Debs, I cook bacon in the oven and will never go back to the skillet. However, my method is a bit simpler because I just put the bacon right on the aluminum foil. It browns each side perfectly and takes around 18 minutes. I do fold the foil up a bit around the edges, but I've never had any spillage over the foil.

    Edith mentioned salt on spilled wine red wine. Salt also works on blood. My sweet dog who passed away last year had a place on her tail that she kept chewing on. I tried to keep it bandaged so it would heal and blood wouldn't get on anything, but she would manage to get the bandage off and blood would get on the carpet. The salt with water would take the blood out.

    My tip for unexpected guests or last minute guests stopping by is one I saw on FB. Keep some get well cards close and pull them out to sit upright on a table. Then, the visitors will assume you have been sick and couldn't possibly be responsible for having a clean house.

  36. Ooh, I have one good hint that often seem to surprise people. If you're cooking and need to peel a fresh tomato before chopping it, stab a fork in it and dunk it in boiling water for a very short time -- probably 5 seconds or so. It seems like the peeling shrinks, or the inside expands (I don't know which) causing the peel to split. It's super fast and easy to peel it off then.

    Also, back on the dryer lint comments. This is a well-known strategy among Boy Scouts, and when my son was still at home and involved in Scouting, he would often say, "Please save the dryer lint for me this weekend. Going on a campout next week." So every time we cleaned out the lint trap that laundry cycle, we'd just deposit the lint into a baggie instead of the trash. Easy for us, and it made fire starting easy for him. Everybody won!

  37. Kathy Reel, laughing myself silly--"If You Give A Coyote A Beer"--conjures up a great picture book!

    Deborah--sure, always happy to share a recipe: Lemony cheesecake

    Crust: 32 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed (or graham crackers, digestive biscuits, prepared crust); 1/4 cup unsalted butter

    Filling: 2-1/2 pkgs reduced fat cream cheese, softened; 2/3 cup sugar; 2 eggs; 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; Zest of one lemon; 2 teaspoons lemon juice

    1. Heat oven to 325F. For crust: mix cookie crumbs with melted butter, press into bottom of 8-inch springform pan. Bake at 325F for 10 minutes. Remove pan to wire rack to cool.
    2. Filling: In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then beat in flour. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Then add eggs one at a time, beating each one gently before adding, mixing just until well blended. Pour filling into pan, spreading level.
    3. Return pan to oven and bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes, until lightly golden around edges. Remove to rack to cool.

    Some homemade toppings I've used: strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry-lemon, fresh mixed berries. Also works well with regular cream cheese or a combination of reduced fat and regular.

  38. I'm still laughing about coyote urine. Okay, so you can buy it, but how do THEY get it??? "Here, Mr. Coyote, take this cup and..."

    Helpful hints? How about using ketchup to polish copper. And Coke will clean a toilet.

    And I'm still stuck on the leftover wine thing, too. Really???

  39. Susan, I love that tomato tip! It works for peaches, too. And I always think it's scientifically fascinating.

    Who has an "how to prevent yourself from crying while chopping onions" tip?

    (Mine is: Get someone else to do it. But that's just me.)

  40. Hank, I have no explanation for it, but I don't cry when cutting onions if I'm wearing my contacts. Of course that doesn't help one bit if you don't have contacts!

  41. Annette, I definitely needed the tip about ketchup and copper! That is so hard to polish.

    Nurses will tell you that your own saliva has the ability to dissolve your own blood. So if you get a papercut and get blood on your favorite top, remember that. For bigger jobs, or someone else's blood, hydrogen peroxide.

    Rhys, peanut butter, or olive oil (or corn oil) will soften chewing gum in hair, too. And hairspray will remove ballpoint ink on almost anything.

    As for the onions: One summer I grew about 90 pounds of onions, so I decided to slice up about 30 pounds worth and dehydrate them. (FYI: 30 pounds of dehydrated onions equals about a half of a one-gallon Ziplock bag. Astonishing.)

    When I was cutting them up my eyes were streaming so badly that I couldn't see, and I was worried about cutting me, instead. Nothing worked. I tried holding a burnt match in my teeth, I tried running water, and a couple other tips people had shared. Finally, I spotted my husband's swim goggles where he'd left them after swimming his laps, and in desperation I put those on. Eureka! I looked like the biggest dweeb who ever graced a kitchen, but didn't shed another tear.

  42. Oh, I thought of a great one! Perfect hard-boiled eggs: Cover eggs in sauce pan with COLD water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Let eggs sit for 30 minutes. Drain. Cover eggs in cold water for a few minutes, then drain again and you're ready to peel. No more yucky gray ring around the yolk and they are tender and delish.

  43. Ketchup polishes copper, Annette? SO cool!

    Flora. That sounds PERFECT.

    Karen! I wish there was a photo of that...but hey. if it works, it works!!

  44. Debs, I do that, too. I think Julia Child says let them sit for 17 minutes, but, like you, I do it longer. But do you cover the pan when the eggs are sitting?

  45. Hank, yes, I cover the pan. And it doesn't have to be 30 minutes. Less works fine.

  46. Okay,I do, too. And hey, I think longer is better. Can't hurt.

    Karen--your saliva only works on your OWN blood? I am SO stealing that for a mystery.

  47. I'm wondering how you get the coyote to pee in the bottle!

    Here's my take away - it's from my bug man (I live in Florida, we have bug men). Spray ants in the house with vinegar, they hate it and it disrupts their scent trail. Oh, yes, vinegar, a wonderful invention - rubbing alcohol and vinegar sprayed on windows will make them dry streak free--someone once told me you needed to wipe the windows down with newspaper, but I just show them my iPad instead. Works fine.

  48. Great hints! Leftover wine indeed. What is that? My husband's Mississippi aunt used to rub fresh lemon juice on her hands to get rid of shrimpy odors. You can clean your dishwasher with a packet of sugar free lemon drink mix. Just pour it in the bottom of the dishwasher. The citric acid eliminates stains. My husband's cure for bee stings (or wasp or other flying demons) is to put wet tobacco on the sting. He keeps a pouch of pipe tobacco around just for that. For that matter I hear MSG or meat tenderizer does the same thing. And of course everyone knows to keep and aloe plant around to put its sap on burns.

  49. Hank, yes, it's the enzymes in saliza that do it.

    Kait, that made me cackle!

  50. Vinegar for ants! I had been told to use lemon oil. IT DID NOT WORK. Next season, vinegar. Any kind, Kait? (or maybe it depends on the kind of ants...)

    Sugar free lemon drink mix is the dishwasher? WEIRD, Pat D! You have to wonder how anyone thought of it, you know?

  51. When someone spilled red wine on my white dress in Istanbul, far from home and laundry products, a friend told me that milk would minimize the stain. The lovely hotel clerk first raised his eyebrows at the request, and then headed to the kitchen to bring me some milk. It worked! I wore the dress to tell stories at a friend's wedding.
    I used to love those Heloise columns.

  52. I did too, marry. They were always so clever. I wonder if she knew about the coyotes…

    And what and almost tragedy about your white dress! It reminds me of when someone spilled red wine on my new persimmon satin shoes. I took an entire bottle of club soda, and went out to the back porch, and stood there, pouring water on my shoe.
    Someone came up to me and said, what are you doing? And I said I am pouring water on my shoe. Go away.

  53. Oh, Mary! You can see I did that entry above by dictation…

  54. For that last minute not having time to clean before the company comes: really, really polish the chrome fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen ..... people will think everything is that clean.
    Concerning squirrels and tulips: I didn't know that they ate the stems and flowers in the problem was the squirrels digging up the newly planted bulbs in the fall to keep them fat and happy all winter. Tis the deer that hunger after tulip blossoms where I live. And nothing stops a deer from munching except very, very, very tall fences.
    Cheers to the Happy Housewives...aka Jungle Reds.

  55. Yes, Elisabeth that's our secret identity! And yes, around here, the squirrels bite the heads off the tulip buds. Grrrrr.

  56. Toothpaste can substitute for spackle to fill in small nail holes (best to use a white kind without spangles.)

    Got a stale baguette? Sprinkle some cold water on the crust (don't soak it, just sprinkle) and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

    If you grill with charcoal or wood, divvy up the contents of a large bag into a bunch of grocery-sized bags, fold the tops and keep in a dry place. When you need to start a fire, drop the whole bag (or two) into the grill and light it with a match. Saves the need for smelly lighter fluid.

    Use kitchen shears to cut parsley. Do the same with basil (roll up the leaves then snip, snip, snip.)

    If you bought avocados that aren't ripening and it's the night before a party where you plan to serve guacamole, stick them in wool socks and put them in a closet or other dark place overnight.

  57. Brenda, the avocado/ wool sock hint is my favorite of the day!

    Deb Romano

  58. Avocados in socks! LOVE.
    Does it work better than in a plastic bag?

    And I have to say--I am IMPRESSED! By everyone! Such great stuff!

    See you all tomorrow--for a wonderful contest.

  59. White toothpaste can be used to remove white water rings from wood table tops. It also will remove pen marks from wood table tops and walls. Put a bit of toothpaste on a soft cloth and rub onto the wood until the mark is gone. (I don't know if gel toothpastes will work, but I wouldn't rub any with color in it.)

    Also if you get ball point pen on clothing, spray with hair spray before wash and it will come out. (Unfortunately it only works with ballpoint ink.)

  60. Wow. Robin. SO curious--what makes toothpaste such a miracle-worker? It almost makes me wish I had a water ring to try it…almost.
    And ball point pen ink? The scourge. As bad as mustard.

  61. AND THE WINNER of Prime Time is Ann in Rochester!

    Ann, email me at h ryan at whdh dot com and send your address!