Cleaning Quick Tip: Wood Stain All Over … Me!

Well, hi there. Here’s a little quickie I discovered after I made a giant mess of … myself.

On its back, the freshly stained bracket awaits the next step.

On its back, the freshly stained bracket awaits the next step.

A friend, who is a talented wood worker, made me a lovely bracket for my grain mill. I had been aching to mount it on the wall in the kitchen, but was afraid I might rip the whole wall down, if I did it myself.

My job was to finish it. I applied the wood conditioner, then the cherry stain.

Well, there weren’t any gloves around and I was very eager to finish my part so that it could be mounted.

I’m sure you can imagine just how messy a novice stainer might get. Oh, I was now a lovely cherry color thoroughly past my wrists.

Now what?

When I got to the sink I stood there a moment contemplating. Then I spied the salt that was not put in the cabinet earlier. Salt is supposed to absorb things, right?  You bet!

So with a few drop of dish detergent and about a tablespoon of salt, I easily scrubbed away all that cherry stain soaked into my skin.

I was shocked and thrilled.

So the next time you get over eager with the wood stain, remember….

Cum Grano Salis


Neighborly Advice: Vol 2 — Beginner Projects for Every Age

Climb over the fence and join your neighbors in a learning adventure.

Climb over the fence and join your neighbors in a learning adventure.

With beginner articles on kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms, we’ve got quite a bit of neighborly advice this week. Grab a cup of coffee and join us…

In The Kitchen

We begin with King Biscuit Pants and a wonderful method for the flavorful long-ish term storage of eggs. I have decided that if he eats too many of these I will simply rename him to King Crackle Fannie.

Shu’s Pickled Eggs

Here is a blogger of my own heart offering good advice on getting more food for less.

Frugal Grocery Shopping

Tracey has a quick tip for

The Most Perfect Rice You’ve Ever Eaten

Next, we will go visit Joel and Dana, who are using up their storage apple for a delicious endeavor. They have plenty of pictures so you can learn how, also.

How to Make Your Own Applesauce

Whew! Was it warm in there or am I having hot flashes? Let go see what’s going on…

In The Sewing Room

Hm. That shirt looks a little faded. Maybe you should perk it up.

How to dye with kool-aid

Grap your drop spindle, 'cause Einstein is ready for his Spring hair cut

Grap your drop spindle, 'cause Einstein is ready for his Spring hair cut

That’s better.

Spinning your own yarn doesn’t require an expensive spinning wheel or even sheep, for that matter.

Drop Spindle Spinning

Now, let’s go visit Melissa, who is knitting away on the back porch swing. She will offer you encouragement for your first simple knitting project.

First Ribbed Hat — Where Do I Begin?

Oh dear! Do you hear that? It sounds like the washing machine is off balance. We better run to see what’s going on…

In the Laundry Room

Aparna offers some simple advice to help keep your sinuses happy and you better rested.

Beware of Dust Mites on Your Pillows

Sometimes we forget some of the simplest frugal ideas. The Greenest Dollar will get you started with…

How to Line Dry Your Clothes

My clothesline is next to a mock orange bush. When I dry our clothes there, while it is blooming… Hoo boy! Delicious clothes. Makes me wish I was a goat so I could eat them.

Since we are already outside, let’s check out what’s growing…

In The Garden

You know your garden will be great, when you have an extension agent on your side. Ladybug at the University of Connecticut offers us a nice how-to for pea planting. Just remember, to check my “What to Plant Now” post for what timing is appropriate in your neck of the woods.

Time to Plant Peas

Of course, just about every vegetable gardener’s first experience is with tomatoes. So we have some neighborly advice here too.

Grow Your Own Tomatoes

Our neighbor, Mary will help you turn your kitchen waste into beautiful, rich soil with a little help from her friends.

My New Best Friend–A Worm

Run get your sugar free non marshmellow peep.

Click here to learn about getting started with your own Beginner's Flock of sugar free non marshmellow peeps.

Speaking of critters, let’s check out the new arrivals…

In The Backyard Barnyard

Every month Gina, takes question, shares reader photos and offers great advice. Sign up for your free subscription to…

Keeping Chickens Newsletter

For heavens sake, what are those boisterous children up to? We’d better take a peek at what’s going on…

Up In The Tree House

Try an old fashioned method for coloring eggs this weekend from DaVinci’s classroom

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Keep kid’s busy with this wealth of activities site from our neighbors across the pond

10 Inspiring Ideas for a Rainy Day

Now, while the kids are occupied for a bit, how about a little work on your own sanity.

In The Mind

There won’t be any new adventures taking place, if your feeling less than lovely. Here are two articles from neighbors that care.

5 Body-based Paths to Happiness

Owning Yourself Introduction: Making the Choice

Well, that’s it for this week. Here are links to some other editions

Neighborly Advice Vol 1pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale

Neighborly Advice Vol 4 — making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium

If you have a “How-to” article you would like to share, drop me a line at

Join us here in the Meebo box at the right on Saturday night around 9pm East coast time. We will be opening up the Neighborly Advice chat room. Meet your neighbors, share advice, recipes, whatever. I do hope you’ll come… and bring a friend or two.

Of course, there will be virtual coffee and and warm Philadelphia Sticky Buns.

Hop the back fence for the Saturday night Neighborly Advice chat room.

Hop the back fence for the Saturday night Neighborly Advice chat room.

So, which article was you favorite?

What would you like to see more of?

What new thing are you going to try?

Cleaning Quick Tip: The Microwave Comes After the Coffee Pot

Welcome back!

I hope you hung onto the gross vinegar from cleaning the coffee maker. We have one more job for it before you use it in the garden.

Put the yucky vinegar in some kind of microwavable container. I use a glass measuring cup.

Turn it on long enough to let the vinegar boil like crazy. Oh yes, a steamy, bubbly mess. That’s what you want.

Now just let it sit for about 10 minutes with the door shut. You may have to open and close the door or press clear to get the little “I’m finished noise to shush. But keep that door closed.

After 10 minutes, just clean up the mess. With beautiful ease all the baked on mystery stuff just wipes right up, leaving
a sparkly fresh smelling microwave.

A mess to create spotless cleaning, just my style. Don’t you think?

If there’s any of that nasty old vinegar left in the container, after you boiled it like a mad person, save it for one final task in the garden. I’ll tell you about that one another time.

Talk about bang for your buck! And no harsh chemicals to boot.

Click here to begin by Cleaning Your Coffee Maker

Do you have any less than common cleaning methods that work like a charm?

Cleaning Quick Tip: The Coffee Pot

Oh, hello. I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were here. I’ve just been so darn busy getting the garden ready. I just came in to get a cup of coffee.

Oh dear! Just look at that pot.

Forgive me. I’m just gonna grab the white vinegar and run a half pot of it through the coffee maker a few times. Just recycle it over and over, until it doesn’t get any darker.

You might want to open the window or hang out on the porch swing. It is going to smell like the house is being taken over by a giant salad.

Don’t worry. As the smell clears, it gets rid of other odd household odors with it. Clean, sparkly coffee maker, clean air, clean sinuses. Lovely.

Oh yes, don’t forget to run clean water through the pot a couple of times or your coffee will be… um… terrible. But then, it will taste a million times better.

Certainly hang onto that gross used coffee maker vinegar. I have another job for it another time.

Click here for Cleaning the Microwave with that coffee vinegar

(Neighbor Nancy hands you a giant cup of fresh, aromatic coffee.)

Now, what did you come to chat about today?

Cleaning Quick Tip — Hateful Windows

I never buy the spray bottle kind of window cleaner. What a waste of money!

Try buying windshield wiper fluid or vinegar in the gallon size. Which one? Whichever costs the least. If you are trying to go “green,” get the vinegar.

Pour it into any clean spray bottle and your off.

Save money on paper towels by using newspaper or a lint-free rag. I find that really ancient t-shirts — the kind you literally need to hide from the family member that has worn it to the state of indecency– make the nicest lint-free window rags.

Now when you wash your window, pick a direction. What am I talking about?

Well, for inside surfaces I squeegie back and forth and outside surfaces, I squeegie up and down. Then if there’s a streak, you know which side to buff.

(Neighbor Nancy pushes away from her computer, retying her cleaning apron and is off to squeege)

Yes, I do suspect I made that word (squeeeeeege ) up, but it has such a fun sound to it. Go ahead say it out loud. You know you want to.



Join me Friday afternoon for the 1st edition of the Neighborly Advice weekend magazine. A few neighbors and I have gotten together to share some beginner articles on backyard livestock, preserving, cooking, baking, knitting, etc. Join the fun as we challenge you to learn a new skill.

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cleaning Quick Tip: The Janitor’s Scuff Mark Secret

There is one really obvious way to remove a simple floor scuff mark that is always overlooked.

Remember when you were in school and the janitors were psychotic about “only gym shoes on the gym floor?” I always wondered if they were off fuming somewhere every time a school dance was held in the gym. Were they off pouting and cursing in some distant supply closet? These are the kind of questions that just roll about my mind all the time… even when I’m trying to concentrate on important things. Is that healthy?


How to clean scuff marks:

This tip is from Mr. Neighbor Nancy, my true love and a career janitor.

“Well, you could get down on your hands and knees and “erase” it with an art gum eraser, but why make so much work out of it?

Wearing any rubber soled shoe, except black, erase the scuff with your heel or toe, whichever is more comfortable. That’s it.”

My husband says new black rubber soled shoes leave a new scuff mark, but once you wear them down a bit, they work, too.

Come back tonight for a new waiting-for-payday recipe or visit the category on the right if your hungry now.

(Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and heads back into her cozy kitchen.)

Household Quick Tip — Clearing a Slow Drain

So the sink or tub drain is getting slower and s-l-o-w-e-r.  What are you gonna do?

Well, you could dump that scary toxic stuff down there, but it’s expensive and … well … toxic.

If the drain is … um … draining, but is just slower than it should be, try this.

If it is out right blocked, get someone strong to try this. (Preferably, not wearing their Sunday best. The fun of it just might get out of hand.)

Once the sink is cleared and without running water first, dump some baking soda in the drain.

Get ready ’cause this is the fun part.

With some kind of stopper, even a baggie over your hand is fine, dump in some white vinegar and very quickly block the drain and hold it. Tightly.

Whee! Look at the fun.

A little kitchen chemistry saves the day.

Your kids will think you’re a genius– and very cool.

(Neighbor Nancy brushes a bit of mystery drain gunk from her cheek and marches off to the next project. )

Cleaning Quick Tip: Panic Cleaning

Your neat freak mother in-law, will be here in half an hour and being a busy, creative, productive person, your home looks like a bomb went off. What do you do?

Well, now, that’s not really appropriate if children are present.

The last time this happened to me, it was baking day, plus planting my spring seed flats and contemplating a spinning project. Wool everywhere.

Take a deep breath, ’cause here we go.

1. Weather permitting, open two opposing windows to create a wind tunnel effect, the bottom of one window and the top of the other will help create chimney effect to pull some mystery odors out and fresh air in. While you do this….

2. Send little ones to scavenge for dishes and glasses in weird spots. Yes, you were raised better that that, but it happens. Make it a game.

3. Start the dishes soaking in the sink or put them in the dishwasher, if you have one.

4. Bathroom next, because she always seems to need it during a visit and you don’t get to go in there with her to distract her attention.

Spray they sink, tub and or shower stall with cleaner.

Squirt the toilet stuff in the toilet bowl around the rim. Let everything soak, while you keep moving.

Grab all dirty laundry and towels and at least put them in a hamper, laundry basket.

5. Now work in from whatever door is her usual point of entry.

Keep little kids occupied by running little things like their shoes to their room. Bigger kids should grab a box and fill it with anything that belongs in their room.

Use a few boxes or crates, for example one for stuff that belongs upstairs and one for stuff that belongs on this floor.

6. About 10 minutes before her ETA make a pot of coffee. It doesn’t matter if anyone will drink it or not. The powerful smell of coffee is homey and hides a multitude of cleaning sins, like the odd odor coming from the heating vent where your three year old decided to store a cheese sandwich last week.

7. Work on the room where she will sit and visit. Focus on the view she will have entering the room and sitting down.

8. If by some miracle there is time left, run the vacuum over the most obvious bad areas. Try to get some dishes done.

9. Leave the bathroom for last.

If you absolutely must …. answer the door and excuse yourself. Very quickly, swab the already soaking toilet, wipe out the sink and anything obviously wrong with an exposed tub. Don’t take more than a moment or she’ll start looking around.

10. Take a deep breath and enjoy your visit. Her opinion is just that. Hers. This is your home and how you choose to keep it is your own business. Remember she is from a different generation that had very different priorities sometimes.

Oh yeah, better close those windows as she pulls up.

Remember at least she cares enough to visit.

Good luck, soldier.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 11:20 am  Comments (12)  
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Household Quick Tip: Mold, Lichen, Fungus

You know what they say about the guy who collects wild mushrooms, right?

He’s a Fungi.

I heard that joke in eighth grade and thought it very witty. Oh dear, that was so long ago.

Anyway, why are we here?

Ah yes,

Use straight vinegar to help remove mold and mildew from everything from flower pots to windowsills. It’s a biochemistry thing, whose explanation is much too far in my past to share. Ask your favorite organic chemist to explain.

I’ve even heard of it used in bulk to remove the lichen that sometimes grows on roof shingles, although I have no clue if that one works. Is lichen a fungus? I think so. Try it on a small spot and let us know.

(Neighbor Nancy grabs a bunch of grap, stuffs them in her garden apron pocket for gardening nourishment ,then disappears out the door, letting the screen slam)

Laundry Quick Tip: Ink Stains

When I was in 8th grade, I had a ball point pen “explode” on my clothes. My teacher shipped me to the science teacher noting, “maybe he’ll have something to get that out.”

You will never guess what he gave me.

Hair Spray

He saturated the ink spots and told me to leave them until the garment wash washed.

I couldn’t believe it worked. Well, it wasn’t perfect, but better than anything else my mom had ever tried. ( I was a pen chewer.)

Hurray for science!.

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment