by Kasey Tross
I noticed recently that I seem to be giving out a lot of (*cough*unsolicited*cough*) advice lately. I like to collect useful hints and tricks (often called "life hacks" these days) and when they're especially good, I really like to share them.
1. Baking Cookies- When baking cookies, if you want to ensure they're uniform, turn the baking sheet over and run it under cold water. When you put the next batch of dough on, they won't melt on the sheet and spread out (I have a million other hints for cookies, but I think this one is the best).
2. Making Caramels- When making caramels- especially the microwave ones- if you're not sure whether or not they're done, then take a small amount (1/4 tsp or so) and drop it into a glass of cold water- this will instantly cool it and you can check the consistency. If it's smooshy, you'll want to cook it longer. If it holds its shape well, then it's done!
3. Falling Asleep- At night, if you're having a hard time falling asleep, try the 4-7-8 breathing trick. Take a long, deep breath for 4 counts, hold it for 7, then exhale for 8 counts. This will slow your breathing quite a bit. Then count 10 of your own natural breaths and do the 4-7-8 again. It used to take me about 30 minutes to fall asleep- every since I learned this I'm always out in less than 5!
4. Being On Time- When you need to get your family ready to go somewhere, institute "Couch Time." For example, church starts for us at 9am. It takes us about 10 minutes to drive there. So for us, Couch Time is 8:30am- that is the time that everyone needs to be sitting on the couch, dressed to the shoes, coats on, hair done, with everything they need. Everyone present at 8:30 gets a little treat (mini marshmallows, M&Ms, Starbursts, and Skittles work great). That gives us another 15 minutes to handle any last-minute things (there's always someone who can't find their shoes) and usually gets us to church nice and early.
5. Storing Wrapping Paper- Now that Christmas is done, you might need a place to store your wrapping paper. Go into your closets and look up- see if there are any closets that have a narrow area between two walls. Install a board to act as a shelf from one wall to the other (about a foot below the ceiling- be sure it's only got walls on the ends and that the front and back are open). Slide the wrapping paper rolls up there so they hang over the edge. Now you can see all your wrapping paper but it's up and out of the way. When it's time to wrap, you just reach up and grab the roll you want, then just slide it back up there when you're done.
6. Drying Towels- I've noticed lately that after a busy day of cooking my dishtowel is usually wet and my oven is usually still hot- so now I open the oven door a crack and drape my dishtowel over the opening, using something heavy (like my metal trivets or a cookbook) to hold the towel in place. The hot air from the oven dries the towel in minutes. (Use caution if you have little ones around who might get curious about the hot oven!)
These are my little tips- I hope that at least one helps you out! Happy New Year!