My cell phone only handles countdowns up to one hour, and the standard kitchen timer has the same limitation.

I wanted to set a timer for three and a half hours. My computer does everything else, so I Googled how to set a timer in Windows 10. And there it was, I can set multiple timers for up to twenty-three hours, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Yay!

Click the Windows symbol in the bottom left corner, click Alarms and Clock, select Timer from the top, and click the plus sign at the bottom, then choose the number of hours, minutes and seconds you want. Other versions of Windows may have something similar. To find out, Google “how to set timers in Windows <version>.


Never Mix Bleach and Vinegar

I knew never to mix ammonia and bleach. Why do they not mention that mixing bleach with vinegar creates the same toxic gas? I’ve been experimenting with all-natural daily shower sprays. They weren’t working, so I thought, why not add a tablespoon of bleach? Luckily I Googled ‘can I mix bleach and vinegar?’ and found out why not.

Never mix bleach and vinegar, or any other acid, including lemon juice.

Is It True? Zap! ‘Restorer’ As Seen on TV

There is a type of commercial I’ve learned to be suspicious of. The product always is supposed to solve a real life problem with amazing wonderfulness. They always offer a second one free or for a nominal price, “just pay an additional handling charge.”

After seeing the commercial for Zap! for the umpteenth time and wondering if it would clean the grout in my floor, I Googled “Zap! complaints.” The first result was a link to where it is sold on Amazon (not solely online as they claim). Here are the reviews:

Most said it was no more effective than any other ordinary cleaning product, and was not effective on grout.

When in doubt, Google it.


Staging A Home To Sell

I’ve just been reading an article on staging a home to get the best price when selling. In addition to the usual advice to remove clutter and personal items like photos and all that stuff on the fridge, they mentioned having a friend or relative look at the place with a fresh eye. We see our own homes all day every day, it’s easy to see only what we want to.

Something similar that helped me when I last staged a house was to take pictures, just for myself, to see what they showed. Oh my! I didn’t notice that stack of papers until I saw it in the picture. Too many decorative items – it looked fine to my eye, but the camera is merciless. It doesn’t just add ten pounds to a person, it adds ten pounds of clutter to a room!

My home wasn’t ready to show until my pictures looked like magazine pictures.

Kitchen Fires – Baking Soda Really Does Work

I had read about putting out kitchen fires, grease fires, with baking soda. Recently I set a box of baking soda up on top of the refrigerator where I could find it quickly even if flustered by an emergency.

Well, this morning I put a pan of pepperoni slices in the oven to crisp them, wandered away and when I came back they were literally on fire. (This suggests that they might make good fire starters for the grill.) With a potholder, I pulled the oven rack out far enough to sprinkle baking soda on the burning grease.

By golly, the fire went out immediately with no difficulty. Sure beats exhausting the fire extinguisher and getting whatever the chemical is all over the oven. And talk about inexpensive. Maybe a cup of baking soda at most, a few cents’ worth. The other pan that was farther from the heat survived, and I could rinse the little bit of baking soda off them.

The pan will live to bake another day, and since it’s windy today the smoke alarms didn’t go off with both doors and windows open.

I should have just ordered a pizza.


Challenge Me!

My book is all about finding useful, affordable alternatives to the things modern life has conditioned us to believe we “have to” buy.

Think of something that costs money that you don’t know of an alternative for. Challenge me to offer an alternative by leaving a comment on this or any other post. Please include the word “challenge” in your response.

Oven Cleaning – Take the Door Off

This year for the first time in my life, I cleaned the oven. Previously, my oven cleaning strategy had been to just move. In 2013, for the oven cleaning section of my book, I enlisted an experienced friend to help me test out the homemade oven cleaner recipe. This time I did it on my own.

Combine one cup salt, one cup baking soda, a squirt of dishwashing liquid, and enough water to make a paste. The dish liquid cuts grease and the salt and baking soda are coarse and fine abrasives. Slather it on, let it sit, and scrub.

The thing that made it easy was using a pumice stone for scrubbing. It’s much faster and easier than any other scrubbing tool. Then follow with a green scrubby for the finer points.

Even easier, take the door off. I didn’t know until I researched it for my book, the oven door comes off! Open it a little, to the point where it will stay on its own, then pull upward, and off it comes. I perched on a low stool, and with the door out of the way it was easy to reach the inside to scrub and rinse.

The door goes back on easily if you line it up straight with the metal thingys you’ll see as soon as you take the door off. They fit into slots in the door.

A big thing for me was the realization that with the door off, cleaning up spills as they happen is almost as easy as wiping the stove top. I don’t have to wait for the oven to be all icky before I put some baking soda on a sponge and wipe up whatever spilled. Wiping out the oven could easily be part of the weekly kitchen cleaning.