Helpful hints for in and around the house

If an idea works, why not share it with others? Here are a few such ideas for those who ask, ``Why didn't I think of that?'' They may save you money and time: Mud holes under outdoor faucets can be prevented. Remove some soil under the spout and then fill the area with gravel. This is a big help where small children play in the yard and often turn on the water to get a drink.

Petunias planted in a tube cake pan make an unusual centerpiece for an outdoor umbrella table. The umbrella can be inserted through the openings in the pan and table.

To pull poison ivy safely, slip your hand into a plastic bag. After uprooting the ivy, peel the bag from your hand and down over the vine before you dispose of it.

Work gloves still have some use after one wears out. If the right-hand glove goes first, take two left-hand gloves, turn one wrong-side out, and presto! You have a new pair.

When we're through with a plastic bottle of dishwashing detergent, I fill it with water and put it in the car. There's enough detergent left to make soapy water to use on the road for washing dirty hands.

A sign-out sheet helps family members keep track of tools borrowed from the workbench.

A magnet inside a kitchen drawer keeps a bottle opener in place.

When painting a chair, drive a nail in the bottom of each leg. Use 2-inch nails and drive them in half an inch. This will do away with collars of excess paint around the bottom of the legs.

Turn one of your long-handled, two-pronged forks into a jack-of-all-trades by bending both prongs (about 1 inch from the points) until they are perpendicular to the handle. Now you have a tool for pulling hot pans of food, cakes, or baked potatoes from the oven. It also comes in handy for reaching articles on high shelves and for fishing things out of narrow spaces.

Do you wear mud-collecting, waffle-soled boots and shoes? Try spraying these muddied soles with Pam, let the mud dry, and then hit the shoes together. The soles will come clean every time.

Hot vinegar will take paint spots off windows.

To tighten bothersome handles, such as the plastic knobs on appliances, drawers, etc. that repeatedly work themselves loose: Pull the knob off and apply three or four drops of lacquer thinner inside the knob and on the screw that holds it. Wait a few seconds so the lacquer can begin to set and then screw the knob back on. This time it will stay put for good.

When it's difficult to get a nail started in an awkward place, put a ball of putty on the tip of the nail to hold it in place while you drive in the nail. The putty is easy to remove once the nail has been secured.

To avoid clogged kitchen drain pipes, pour a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a pot of boiling water. Sure makes the grease let go fast.

Tuck a few pieces of charcoal into your tool box to absorb any moisture that gets in and keep your tools from rusting.

Now that people have started using wood-burning stoves, it might be good to know that those long-handled brushes used for sweeping snow from car windows work great for cleaning out lengths of stove pipe. Authorities remind us that it is important to clean the pipe periodically.

And speaking of wood-burning stoves: If you need a good cleaner, take a scoop of ashes from your wood-burning stove and sprinkle them on the object to be scoured. Ashes do the job!

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