Tip #18 – Cleaning Your Microwave

January 19th, 2009
A simple mixture to clean your microwave.

A simple mixture to clean your microwave.

We all know that a microwave can get messy…especially those at our place of work.  (People often seem to forget to cover their food.)  Well, here’s an easy, inexpensive and “green” way to clean any grimy microwave.

In a large, glass bowl combine approximately 1 cup of each of the following ingredients:  water, lemon juice and white vinegar.  One thing to note, the length of time you need to microwave the mixture and let it sit depends on the dirtiness of your microwave.  The times below are approximate

Start your microwave and let it run for enough time that the mixture will boil for 3-6 minutes.  After this, keep the microwave door closed and let the mixture sit and steam for 5-10 minutes.  Once the food debris has softened, it is ready to wipe away.  If needed, you can repeat the steps above.

Tip #17 – Recycle Ink Cartridges

January 17th, 2009
Recycle your ink cartridges with your local school.

Recycle your ink cartridges with your local school.

All of us have at least one…a printer. And we all have ink cartridges that we are needing to discard. More than likely, our first thought is to just toss the cartridges in the trash. Some folks take them to their local office supply store for a small credit toward their new cartridge.

Did you know that you can help your local school? Many schools take part in a program called “Cartridges for Kids.” This program allows schools to collect items such as ink cartridges, cell phones, iPods, and other items. The school then sends these items in and receives cash. Visit the web site or call your local school to learn whether or not they participate in this program. Help the students of today and the leaders of tomorrow.

Tip #16 – Plastic in the Garage

January 17th, 2009
Use plasitc storage containers.

Use plasitc storage containers.

During this time of year, the mice are on the prowl for a warm, dry place to nest for the winter. A great way to keep the mice out and your belongings in, is to store items in strong, plastic containers

In your garage, basement, or crawl space, you can store items including: clothing, holiday decorations, bird seed, etc, in a durable plastic container. Personally, I use the Rubbermaid brand. I have two containers in my garage that keep my sunflower seeds, corn, and other bird seeds away from the mice. The covered, plastic trashcans also work great for storage.

Depending on where you live, it may be beneficial to keep your items in this type of container year round.

Tip #15 – Fresh Breath at Work

January 15th, 2009
Keep travel-sized items in your desk drawer.

Keep travel-sized items in your desk drawer.

Go ahead…enjoy that garlic or onion in your lunch at work. All you need to do is keep a travel-size toothpaste & toothbrush or mouthwash in your desk drawer. This makes it quick and easy for you to freshen your breath before interacting with coworkers or clients.

Don’t limit yourself to just your drawer at work. You can keep travel-size items in a variety of places: backpack, glove box, diaper bag, etc. And you may want to check out all of the other great travel-sized items that could fit your needs at work or home.

Tip #14 – Home Egg Sandwich

January 14th, 2009

Here’s a healthier alternative to a certain restaurant’s egg sandwich.

You can use either two slices of toasted whole wheat bread or a low calorie English muffin. (The type of bread you decide to use will determine the size of bowl you will need.)

In a bowl, approximately the same size as your bread, mix an egg and about a tablespoon of milk. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook until done. (You may need to use a small spatula to flip the egg while cooking.)

Select your favorite type of meat: turkey bacon, turkey sausage or Canadian bacon, and cook as directed.

When you have your egg, meat, and bread/muffin ready to go, start building your sandwich. Don’t forget to replace your butter or margarine with the spray version of “I can’t believe it’s not butter” and some lowfat or nonfat cheese.

You can make your home egg sandwich for 300-350 calories versus the 400 plus calories for a meat and egg sandwich at a certain fast food chain. Plus, you know exactly what the ingredients are.

If you want to cut out even more calories, you can use egg whites or one of the popular “Egg Beaters” products.

Tip #13-Reusing Plastic

January 13th, 2009
You can reuse your plastic bags in a variety of ways.

You can reuse your plastic bags in a variety of ways.

We all get plastic bags from a variety of places: produce at the grocery store, items we purchase at various stores, our newspaper, Ziplocs from food, and more.

Don’t just throw them in the trash – REUSE them! Here are several ideas that will help you reuse your plastic bags:

  • Use a Ziploc more than ONE time – especially with sandwiches, chips, and some fruits.
  • Carry your lunch to work or school in a plastic grocery sack.
  • When you’re out playing sports, camping, or just enjoying the outdoors, take along a few grocery sacks for wet and/or dirty clothing and shoes.
  • Keep misc. items organized in your family vehicle using a plastic bag.
  • Use any of the sacks to clean up after your pooch while on a walk.
  • And for those of you who are really pinching pennies, you can even wash out your Ziplocs with soap and water and reuse them. (If you’re bag contained raw meat, it’s best to not reuse the bag.)
  • Take the grocery bags that are in good shape back to the store for a second time.
  • Use your produce bag for all or part of your lunch. They also work great for some leftovers.
  • Place your grocery sack in a small wastebasket as a liner.  Fill it, pull it out, tie it off, and throw it away.  (Or you may even be able to reuse it again!)

Tip #12-Painting Clean Up

January 12th, 2009

Are you doing some painting around your house? If you’re like me, you never finish the project in just one day…and you HATE cleaning the brushes. (There’s times when I’d rather just toss the roller in the trash then clean it for a second use.)

So, for those times that you do need to save your rollers and/or brush for the next day, pull out your Ziploc baggies! Remove some of the excess paint from your roller. Take a gallon-sized baggie and with the paint roller still on the handle, place the roller in the bag. Grab the roller and pull on the handle, leaving the wet roller in the bag. You can also place your other brushes in this bag, or in separate bag. Be sure to seal your bags tightly, keeping out the air, and your brushes will be ready for the next day.

Tip #11- Cleaning Your Windows

January 11th, 2009
Using newspaper when cleaning windows eliminates streaks.

Using newspaper when cleaning windows eliminates streaks.

When you get ready to clean your windows next time, get rid of the paper towel and get your hands on some black and white newspaper.  Newspaper paired with Windex will give you an amazing streak-free shine.

If you are looking to save some money, you can use a 5-1 mixture of water and vinegar.  You will have to use a few more newspapers in order to absorb this mixture.

Tip #10- Office Supplies

January 10th, 2009

Don’t want your cubicle or desk to look like an “office space?” Do you want to personalize it and make it your own space? Look for creative ways to store office supplies like paperclips, binder clips, pushpins, pencils, pens, and rubber bands. Small vases, candle holders, flower/plant pots, and even candy dishes. These containers add a little pizazz

Use different types of containers to store office supplies.

Use different types of containers to store office supplies.

to the typical “office by providing a variety of colors, materials and textures.

The stores today carry a variety of baskets and organizers to help you with the larger items like papers, folders, and documents. Even then, think outside the box when looking for storage solutions.

If you are a person who likes to keep theses items out but don’t want to see them, opt for decorative boxes. They come in all shapes and sizes and if you’re feeling a little creative, stop by your local craft or scrapbook store to purchase unfinished boxes, coverings and embellishments.

Another great place to look for items is at your local thrift store. Here you can find a number of those small mismatched items that would work perfectly for this type of project. And don’t forget about your home office as well. It’s another great place to add a few unique touches.

Tip #9- Spices Rack

January 9th, 2009
Organize spices alphabetically on this spice rack.

Organize spices alphabetically on this spice rack.

Need a spice but can never seem to find it?  Spice containers like cinnamon, dill seed, thyme, and so on, are often small and can easily get lost in your cupboards.  Purchase a plastic, multi-tiered expandable shelf.  This will give your cupboard a new dimension, along with the ability to more easily see the spices in the back.

Another way to organize your spices even more is to arrange them in alphabetical order.  This makes your baking and cooking go a little quicker – you aren’t having to dig through all your jars and containers.  When you use the multi-tiered shelf, it doesn’t matter that a larger container is in front of a smaller container.