By Deborah Goldstein
It softens and protects winter-battered skin, but did you know Vaseline also helps care for leather furniture? The following items—from vanilla extract to blankets to cookie cutters (don’t pack them away just yet!)—are more versatile than you think.
If you bought too much for holiday baking, use it to keep your fridge and freezer smelling fresh. “Sprinkle a few drops of vanilla extract onto a damp cloth and wipe the interior walls and shelves,” Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham suggest in 4 Ingredients: More Than 400 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Recipes Using 4 or Fewer Ingredients.
They just might encourage your fussy eater to eat his sandwich. “Try to make food look attractive and fun—simple things like serving half a kiwifruit in an egg cup or cutting sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters can do the trick.” —SuperFoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel
Dieters, use pepper to thwart a potential binge: “My wife and I love gooey chocolate desserts. When we dine out, we order one to share between the two of us. We each take three or four bites and then pour pepper on the rest. After the pepper, we won’t eat any more dessert no matter how long we linger at the table.”
—The Pritikin Edge: 10 Essential Ingredients for a Long and Delicious Life by Robert A. Vogel, M.D., and Paul Tager Lehr
Maintain leather furniture with this dry skin savior. “To clean, wash it with warm, soapy water using a nail brush and cloth. Allow to dry, then coat the cleaned area with Vaseline; rub it in with a cloth to get the residue off. This works better than most expensive cleaners.”
They’re not just for keeping warm on the couch. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, authors of A Love That Multiplies, have their little ones sit on blankets for a certain amount of time while playing quietly. The Duggar’s blanket-training helps children “have self-control and self-discipline, to entertain themselves, and to be pleasant in almost any setting.”
Did you adopt a new kitty? If she chews on electrical cords in your home, coat them with hot sauce such as Tabasco. “The unpleasant taste experience may stop the chewing problem,” says pet expert Mordecai Siegal, author of I Just Got a Kitten. What Do I Do?
Not just for moisturizing, baby oil also makes removing Band-Aids easier if you “soak a cotton ball in baby oil and rub it over the tape.”
Sure, it’s great in hot tea, but its citrusy scent can also calm nausea. Alison Sweeney, author of The Mommy Diet, used it to soothe her pregnancy morning sickness: “I found some tangerine essential oil at a health food store and kept it with me all the time. Or you could just cut a lemon in half and smell that.”
Or, “soak your nails in lemon juice” to whiten your fingernail tips, recommends 4 Ingredients.
Tell us: What are your favorite household tricks?