Today’s Top 10 features household tips. Most are not original ideas, at least one is though, so I’m sure you’ve heard them before.

#10: Use lemon to clean the garbage disposal. I usually cut the lemon in half or just run a piece through the disposal after I used it. It gives the kitchen a nice lemony smell. Oh, lime doesn’t work the same, it doesn’t smell very good.

#9: Meat tenderizer works great on ant bites.

#8: Baking soda is great to use on tough stains on dishes. It doesn’t scratch pans.

#7: I found a way to reduce our use of paper towels. I get a big package of bar mops from Sam’s or Costco and we use those instead of paper towels as much as possible. They are white so I just bleach them and use them until they fall apart or stained too badly.

#6: Reduce fat in foods by using chicken broth or stock instead of butter or other forms of fat. This works very well with enchiladas, macaroni and cheese (yeah, I know it still has a ton of fat) and other pasta dishes.

#5: Instead of using salt to season food we use fresh herbs, garlic, peppers and onions. If I must use salt I use sea salt.

#4: Whenever I bake anything I line the pan with baker’s parchment. That is the only way I can get brownies out of the pan in one piece.

#3: After we moved to Florida I was only able to get vanilla flavoring not extract like Adams and only sometimes I could find Mexican vanilla.  After doing some research I started making my own vanilla a couple of years ago. Split open a couple of vanilla beans, the ones from Madagascar are the best and add to a bottle or jar with brandy or bourbon. I’ve also read that vodka works very well, too. Allow the mixture to sit at least 30 days before using. Be sure to shake once a week for the first 3 to 6 months. It is much stronger than most vanilla flavor or extract you buy except Adams or Mexican vanilla. Oh, the last time I was in super Wal-Mart I noticed that one of the brands of vanilla they carry is essentially made the same way. They wanted like $7.00 for a little bottle.

#2: Ok, this is something I came up with myself.  We have several shirts that we hang dry and it seems no matter how you put them on the hanger they always get messed up. So, I use those plastic hangers that skirts or pants are on when you buy them. Just clip the shirts to the hangers upside down. They dry nicely and the shirts come out just fine.

#1: My favorite and secret ingredient of my brownies: Ever have problems with brownies coming out dry, well, I used to until I discovered this trick.  Add about 1/4 cup finely ground coconut to the brownies it makes them extra moist. Freeze the coconut before grinding it makes it easier to chop.

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