Ordinary item: Butter
Extraordinary use: Keep mold off cheese
How: Each time you use semi-hard cheese, coat the cut edge with butter before returning to the fridge. (And who doesn't like buttery cheese?)
Ordinary item: Onions
Extraordinary use: Remove rust from knives
How: Plunge your rusty knife into a large onion several times. (Behold, tears of joy.)
Ordinary item: Rubbing alcohol
Extraordinary use: Shapable ice pack
How: Mix 1 part alcohol to 3 parts water in tightly sealed plastic bag. Freeze. (No more ice block slabs on tender knees.)
Ordinary item: Bathtub appliques
Extraordinary use: Non-slip kiddie pool
How: Prevent falls by placing these on the pool floor. (Now what will we film for AFV?)
Ordinary item: Candle
Extraordinary use: Make a secret drawing
How: Children make "invisible" drawings using a white candle. Then cover the paper with watercolor paint to reveal the picture. The wax prevents the paper from absorbing color. (This is day one of CIA training at headquarters.)
Ordinary item: Envelopes
Extraordinary use: Bookmarks
How: Recycle envelopes by cutting off the gummed flap and one end of the envelope. Slip the remainder over the corner of a book page. Kids can decorate these for themselves - or as gifts. (This beats my method of simply shoving an envelope between pages.)
Unfortunately, there are a few dud tips... like, make your own bumper sticker using duct tape and a marker. (There's nothing that I need to say that badly!) Or, use newspaper in an emergency to make a splint. (In an emergency, I'm not looking for a newspaper, I'm looking for a phone to dial 9-1-1!) But, overall, I'm looking forward to more useful discoveries.
And finally, a few tips from my own personal archive.
1. Use empty wrapping paper rolls to pretend you're Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. (Actually my older brother came up with that as a way to make me fight him when we were kids.)
2. Make a pencil cup as a gift using a tin can. It can be covered with fabric, scrapbook paper or (in my case) patchwork Partridge-Family-style squares. (Hey, I was 6 and my dad loved it.)
3. A tablespoon of ammonia in 1 - 2 cups of water in a squirt bottle will get just about any stain out of your carpet. Red wine, mysterious-giant-black-dingy circle from the previous home owners, shoe scuff marks, etc. (Trust me, just try this method first and you'll save yourself a lot of grief.)
Do you have any handy tips to share?