Vail Daily columnist Butch Mazzuca: Butch’s helpful hints
— You can flip a toaster on its side and grill cheese on a slice of bread.
— If you want to know how fresh the bread is in your grocery store, look at the tie that holds the wrapper closed. Bread is usually delivered on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. However, every company uses different color-coded ties. Learn the code and you unlock the secret.
— A standard tip for freezing ground foods or thick sauces in small portions is to first put the food into a large freezer bag and press it out as flat as possible to eliminate air pockets. (Making it thin speeds up the defrost time due to the increased surface area, and pressing out excess air guards against freezer burn.) Use a long chopstick or ruler to create divisions within the food, forming individual portions. This way when you freeze the entire bag, you’ll be able to quickly break off just as much as you want to use, which is much more efficient than individually wrapping packages.
— If you place a wooden spoon over a pot of boiling water, it won’t boil over
— Fabric softener dryer sheets have a repelling effect on mosquitoes.
— You can paint upholstery. The specific “how to” is too long for this commentary, so Google it.
— You can dye a plastic button with Rit Liquid or a powdered dye.
— A dry erase marker can be used on most desktops.
— If you break your blender jar, you can replace it with a mason jar. Many detachable blade assemblies screw right onto a mayo jar or a small mouth mason jar. Don’t fill it by more than half, though, and as with any regular blender, avoid very hot liquids.
— Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.
— Reheat leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, on med-low and heat until warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.
— Expanding frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cupcakes for the same price. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.
— Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.
— Newspaper weeds away: Plant your plants in the ground; work the nutrients in your soil. Then wet newspapers, put layers of the papers around the plants, overlapping as you go; cover with mulch; and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic, but they will not get through wet newspapers.
— To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or an empty giftwrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.
— Ladies, pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip or slacks to eliminate static cling. It works. You will not have a clingy skirt or dress, or slacks when wearing panty hose.
— De-fog your windshield: Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser. Works better than a cloth!
— Reopening envelopes: If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily. Only for old-fashioned “lick-type” mucilage envelopes.
— Goodbye fruit flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it halfway with apple cider vinegar and two drops of dish washing liquid. Mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever.
— Get rid of ants: Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it home, can’t digest it, so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed.
— Drop a small object on the carpet and can’t find it? Place panty hose over the end of the vacuum hose and start vacuuming. The panty hose will keep it from getting sucked into the vacuum.
— Get those furniture depressions out of carpet by blowing hot air on it with your hairdryer.
Quote of the day: “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” Bill Gates, 1981
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.