Friday, August 17, 2007

Any travel tips for a bad back?

Yes! I have been struggling with this myself lately. Beyond the obvious suggestions (back-friendly pillows and pads, gentle stretches, heat and ice, etc.), I have also come up with one more idea: When you check into a hotel, set up the ironing board out of the way, along a wall, and think of it as a table. This gives you a surface that is likely higher than the counters and other tables in the room. Use it for any sort of "standing" activity such as sorting your purse, writing a quick note, picking out your jewelry, or whatever. Some of my worst back problems come when I'm doing a quick, mindless task on a tabletop, bending just a little farther than my body would like for me to. The ironing-board-as-table idea helps prevent this from happening.

Monday, August 6, 2007

How do I clean an artificial tree?

Q - What is the best (and easiest way) to dust my fake tree, none of my methods have worked so far.
Barking up the Wrong Tree

A – Dear Barking,

Go at it with a blow drier on the Cool setting and blow that dust away. (For some reason, blowing works better than vacuuming.) If the plant is really dusty, you might want to do this outside!

If that doesn't work, you need to include water in the process, as shown:

- For a sturdy artificial tree, try rinsing the leaves with the hose (or inside with a handheld shower attachment)

- For a more fragile artificial tree, fill the tub with cool water, mix in a few drops of dish detergent, and then carefully immerse the plant into the water several times and gently swish it around. When it seems clean, drain the tub and refill with water. Immerse and swish again, to get out all of the soap.

It's messy but worth it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's the best way to clean miniblinds?

I like the "two sock" method: Get two clean athetic socks and put one on each hand. Bring along a bucket of warm water with a drop of dishwashing liquid mixed in. Dip your left hand in the water and run it across the top slat. Run your right hand, still dry, across the same slot, in the opposite direction. Work your way down the slats, wetting and then drying, until you have gotten them all.

It's tedious, but it works--and you shouldn't have to do it very often unless you live in a particularly dusty area.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How do I get a red wine stain out of carpeting?

Yikes, that's a tough one. According to one of my favorite household books, 2,001 Amazing Cleaning Secrets by Jeff Bredenberg for Reader's Digest, you have to do the following multi-step process, for which you will need dishwashing liquid, water, a clean rag, paper towels, something heavy (like a small pile of books), plastic wrap or aluminum foil if your heavy item needs protecting from moisture, and a spray bottle (with plain water inside).

First, mix 1/4 tsp. dishwashing liquid with a quart of water, dip a clean rag into the solution, then use a blotting motion to work the solution into the stain. Blot with a clean, dry paper towel. Spray with the water. Blot again. Continue to spray and blot until the suds are all gone. Finally, spray one more time with water, but don't blot this time. Instead, lay a pad of clean, dry paper towels over the area, top the towels with the wrap or foil (if necessary), then top that with the heavy item. Let it sit like that until it's dry.

Once dry, if the stain is still there, start over again, but this time use 1/2 tsp. dishwashing liquid for the first step.

Once dry, if the stain is still there, try moistening the area with 3 % hydrogen peroxide, let it stand for an hour, then blot and repeat until the stain is gone. You don't have to rinse, but do dry the area by using the paper towel procedure described above.

Good luck!

Monday, July 30, 2007

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled broadcast...

No tip for today, instead, I want to take a moment to put in a plug for something called "ChapterAWeek". This is an online service for fiction fans, with one function: If you sign up, each week you will be sent the first chapter of a new inspirational fiction release. That way, you can "try before you buy", not to mention keep an eye on the latest and greatest from your favorite authors. This week's excerpt is from one of my mom's favorite authors, Stephanie Grace Whitson. Here's the blurb:

JACOB'S LIST by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Copyright 2007 Bethany House Publishers

When tragedy strikes, Jacob Nolan's estranged parents face the most difficult challenge of their lives. Their son's list of "things to accomplish before I settle down" won't be completed the way Jacob envisioned, but God has redemptive plans for Michael and Pamela Nolan, who come to realize that their son's list is about a lot more than youthful adventure. Jacob's List is a book about reconciliation against all odds.

To read a chapter from this exciting new title, sign up for ChapterAWeek at this link:

or to order the title go to

I'll be posting a new ChapterAWeek blurb here each Monday. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another tip from Tulip!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How do I get chlorine out of my hair?

Wet your hair down with tomato juice and let it sit for a minute, then shampoo and condition as usual (though you might want to lather up one extra time for good measure.) For a stronger treatment, you can also smear tomato paste all over your hair, let it sit for 5 minutes, then shampoo.

Just don't make the mistake I did and substitute V8 Juice for tomato juice. Because it is tomato-based, I thought it would be fine. It worked on the chlorine, sure, but when all was said and done and the juice was shampooed out, my hair was still full of vegetable pulp. Ewww, it took several more shampoos to get it all out. Remember: just juice or paste, no pulp!

Friday, July 27, 2007

How can I get duct tape residue off of my car?

Q - The hatch on my suv recently broke and to keep the galls window down untill I could get the part I had to use duct tape. Now I have the part and have had it replaced and there is duct tape stick stuff on the car. How can i get rid of it easily??

A - Tough question! Removing duct tape residue isn't usually that difficult, but the kicker here is that it's on a car—which means no caustic products that might damage the finish. I'm going to make a few suggestions, but you'll have to write back to let us know if you have success! If not, we'll take it up a notch and try something a little stronger. (The following products should be safe, but you might want to give a call to your local service department just to make sure they're okay for your car.)

I have three suggestions:

1. Saturate it with linseed oil, which is what the professionals use to get tar off of cars. Let the oil sit for a minute, then dampen a soft rag with more of the oil, and rub the area until the sticky stuff comes off. You can also try vegetable oil, though it may not work as well.

2. Put a dab of peanut butter on a soft rag and rub it around and around the area until the sticky stuff begins to roll off. (When removing tape residue, sometimes peanut butter works like a charm; sometimes it doesn't work at all.)

3. You might try the method recommended for removing bumper stickers: Use a blow drier to heat the sticky stuff, then use a credit card or something else with a flat edge to gently scrape it off. Just be careful of that finish!

So there you have it. Let us know how it turns out. And thanks for a great question!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How can I get out stubborn grass stains?

Removing grass stains can be difficult. Try dabbing the stains with rubbing alcohol. If that doesn’t work, try sponging on white vinegar. If that doesn’t work, try rubbing in toothpaste. Launder as usual, but don’t dry the clothes until the grass stains have been completely removed, lest you set the stains.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Do you have an easy cookie recipe?

The easiest cookie recipe I know requires only two ingredients: a bag of chocolate chips and a can of chow mein noodles. Following package directions, melt the chips in a big bowl in the microwave. When chocolate is completely melted, quickly stir in the noodles until thoroughly mixed. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into small heaps on waxed paper and allow them to cool. These confections may look a little strange but they taste great.

Some variations: try using other types of chips, such as butterscotch or white chocolate or peanut butter. To make a Christmas version, use white chocolate, and after you drop the mixture onto the waxed paper, sprinkle them with red and green sparkle candy (available in the baking aisle of your grocery store.) Move quickly, however, because the candies won't stick to the chocolate once it has hardened. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How I can keep steel wool pads from making such a globby, rusty mess on the sink between uses?

To keep a steel wool pad from rusting, simply put it in a plastic bag and stick it in the freezer. The next time you need it, take it out and reuse; it will be rust free.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How do I get a lipstick stain out of fabric?

Lipstick creates an oil-based stain, so water will only make it worse. Try rubbing in some vegetable oil and let it sit. After 20 minutes, sponge the area with some ammonia, then finally scrub with some liquid dish soap. Launder as usual.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How can I help my child learn to swallow pills? She always chokes.

Here's the method I used, and it worked like a charm! Just do it with a fun attitude, making a game of it so that your child will relax.

Go to the store and buy a box of "Nerds" candy. Back at home, have your child dump out the Nerds into a large baking pan or platter and then sort them into piles by size. (The candies range from miniscule dots to clumps as big as capsules.) Get a big glass of water and show your child how to put the tiniest Nerd in her mouth, take a sip of the water, and swallow without chewing. Once she can do it with the tiniest one, move up to the next size and try again. Continue doing this until she has worked her way up to the biggest Nerd of all. If she can swallow the biggest size, she's ready to swallow pills as well.

I wouldn't recommend swallowing an entire box of Nerds whole, as that might result in a tummy ache. But she will probably only need to do this 5 or 6 times until she has worked up to the biggest, and that small of a quantity shouldn't cause any problems (unless she's allergic or something). Good luck!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Welcome to Tips from Tulip

Do you have a household question or problem? You're in the right place! Please post your household hint question as a comment. Answers will be provided, whenever possible, in this blog.

Thanks for coming and be sure to check back soon!

Jo Tulip