Who Knew?

HDMI Switcher Saves the Day

Only one of the HDMI ports on my TV works. I want to connect both cable and Roku. I thought I’d have to buy a different TV. Luckily I entered “HDMI port” in my TV search on Amazon and the first thing that came up was a “switcher.” I had never heard of this, so I Googled it and learned that it can convey input from several different sources to the TV, and it automatically displays the one that’s turned on. So for $30 I can seamlessly switch from cable to Netflix.





Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.


That drawer under the oven

Who knew? On some ovens, that drawer I’ve been keeping baking dishes in is intended for keeping food warm. They keep one dish warm while the others finish cooking, or to keep the whole dinner warm if there’s a delay in sitting down to eat. They don’t cook food, just keep it warm at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not all drawers under the oven are designed to do that. The owners manual will say.

You CAN Get Latex Paint Out of Clothes!

I “knew” that once paint got on clothes, the clothes were doomed. Not so:


Hand sanitizer, an old toothbrush, effort and patience.

Who Knew? Granulated Sugar Isn’t Always Cane Sugar

This week I made a kind of oatmeal fudge thing I’ve been making for years. This time it came out grainy. I Googled to find out why. One of the answers was that to make fudge you have to use *pure cane sugar.* I thought I was, I mean that’s what’s in a bag of sugar, I thought.

The bag says “Granulated Sugar.” Nothing about cane sugar. So I Googled some more and learned that beet sugar is less expensive because it grows in a wider variety of climates. Cane sugar grows in hot places. So the cheaper sugar at the store is all or mostly beet sugar, unless the bag says “Pure Cane Sugar.”

For those tracking the GMO thing, beet sugar might very well be GMO, while at the moment Pure Cane Sugar is not.


Aunt Susie’s Unbaked Fudge Cookies

Boil together 3 minutes: stick of butter, 1 3/4 c pure cane sugar, 1/2 c cocoa (or 1 1/2 oz bar), 1/2 c milk (or water)

Remove from heat

Stir in 2 1/2 c minute oatmeal, stir one minute over heat

Stir in 1/2 c peanut butter (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir until cool and thick. Drop on wax paper. Makes about 2 dozen.

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.




Wonderful review

I am so moved by this review. “Tightwad Gazette of the 21st Century” is exactly what I wanted people to think about it:

“Great book!, February 18, 2014

By Lita McRiley “Sorlina”See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This review is from: Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely (Kindle Edition)

This book is jam-packed with tips, ideas, and strategies for saving money. It’s the Tightwad Gazette of the 21st century… internet addresses for DIY help, encouragement for readers, personal anecdotes, this book has it all. To top it off, it’s delivered in a light, easy to read style that isn’t preachy or judgmental. A very helpful, and enjoyable, read!”

The Tightwad Gazette has been the “bible” of thrifty living. My hope was to make it the ‘old testament’ and mine the ‘new testament’, and it seems I have succeeded.


Who Knew? Bleach Can Go Bad!

Well, not BAD, but it loses its effectiveness over time. I didn’t know that. One day last week I went to treat a spot of mildew that keeps growing back in the caulk behind the kitchen sink faucet. I did this several months ago by soaking a strip of cloth in bleach and laying it on the mildewed area and leaving it there all day to soak into the caulk.

This time, it didn’t work at all. The mildew wasn’t fazed a bit! The bleach I had used was the last bit in a bottle that had probably been in my cupboard for over a year. Puzzled, I started searching the internet and immediately found this: http://chemistry.about.com/b/2014/01/31/chlorine-bleach-shelf-life.htm

Come to find out, the hypochorite that makes bleach bleach breaks down over time and breaks down faster when it’s in a hot place. A new bottle of bleach should stay powerful for 6 months at 70 degrees F. It’s still useful after that, but its strength gradually declines. So in my case I should buy the smallest bottle they offer because I rarely use bleach. Bleach stored in a hot garage will break down faster than bleach stored in an air conditioned room inside.

If there’s use-by date on my bottle of bleach I can’t find it. So I guess I’d be smart to mark each new bottle when I bring it home from the store with the date I bought it so I’ll know how much time I have left to use it up.