Ask the grumpies: Tips and tricks for everyday situations/tasks?

Katherine asks:

Does your family have any quirky tips & tricks for everyday situations/tasks? are they effective?

e.g. my MIL has the best hiccup cure I’ve ever tried: take a spoonful of sugar and pour some red wine vinegar in it, then swallow the sugar-vinegar mix in one gulp. I get hiccups a lot, and on the (very few!) occasions this has failed me, a second dose has done the trick. Family opinions vary as to why/how this works, but everyone agrees that it does.

I would love to learn some tricks for getting rid of an earworm, or other annoying but minor everyday problems.

The only way I know to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another earworm…

You’re welcome.

Grumpy Nation, what tricks and tips do you have?

p.s.  We love this question!  And really want to read what Grumpy Nation has to suggest!

19 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Tips and tricks for everyday situations/tasks?”

  1. Mary Says:

    If you cry when cutting onions, put a small piece of white bread in your mouth. My grandmother taught me this trick. I’ve never had an issue with tearing up, but the bread trick totally works for my kids.

  2. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    Whenever I needed to count, money or anything, and had trouble with losing count (usually because of a rude older brother who would deliberately try to throw me off by randomly saying different numbers out loud), I’d switch to another language mentally. So he couldn’t disrupt the count because English numbers wouldn’t interrupt the flow of counting in Spanish etc.

    I’ve been using the baking soda for cleaning pans trick for a long while now. When I burn something or the pot or pan is too gross, I set it on the stove top with a lot of baking soda and water to boil. Eventually it loosens up all the crud and I can quickly scrub it clean.

    I think that’s it for me, I don’t have many household tricks :)

  3. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    Mary; Does it have to be white bread specifically, or can any bread work? I have a real problem with chopping onions so can’t wait to try this one.

    • Mary Says:

      My grandmother said white bread, but we’ve found that sourdough works too. Not sure about other kinds of bread, but I don’t see why not. Good luck and let us know if it works for you!

    • Mary Says:

      My grandmother said white bread, but we’ve found that sourdough works too. Not sure about other kinds of bread, but I don’t see why not. Good luck and please let us know if it works for you!

  4. Turia Says:

    Why, oh WHY would you post links to ear worms? I haven’t thought of the second song in literally decades, but the title was enough to establish that I still remember ALL the words! Off to find something else to try to drive it out of my head now.

  5. Alice Says:

    I tried every onion trick ever posted, and the only one that ever worked for me was to put the cutting board on top of the stove and turn on the vent fan when cutting. Sucked the onion vapors right away from my eyes.

    We did plain sugar for hiccoughs growing up, no vinegar. I read once that it works because the sugar massages the roof of your mouth.

    Not much of a trick, but I put my silverware into the dishwasher organized—so the spoons that go together are all in the same spot, forks, etc. Makes for a very slightly faster unload. Pretty much everything I do to make life smoother centers on organizing and pre-prep. And labeling. (When we have multiple jars of peanut butter in the pantry, I write “this one is open” in Sharpie. And I’ve adding cooking ratios in Sharpie to my dried bean containers…which are washed, delabeled peanut butter containers.)

    • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

      Alice, I’ve done that vent fan thing too!

      I started doing the same thing with the dishwasher utensils loading but since JB is in charge of unloading the machine and they select utensils utterly haphazardly anyway, it saves no one any time.

  6. Jessica Says:

    This is a great question! I don’t think I have many but I’m enjoying reading the responses!

    We keep safety glasses in the kitchen for cutting onions, literally just blocking your eyes helps a lot.

    Hydrogen peroxide for eliminating blood stains, but people probably know that one.

    Even if you don’t have a pet, using a pet stain cleaning spray for stinky messes / spills.

  7. middle_class Says:

    For hiccups, hold your breath and force air into your throat. You should feel little puffs of air at back of throat. Do this and count to 25. If you hiccup during the count, start over.

    Sounda crazy but it always works for me. Once i shared with a friend with a bad case of hiccups. Nothing helped so i told her my trick and it worked. I generally don’t share as it is hard to describe and seems weird.

  8. Lucy Says:

    Hiccup solution that only requires water:
    Hold your breath while taking small sips of water, keeping an arm high in the air to extend the diaphragm. Keep going until you run out of air, and of course go back to breathing again. Should be more like gulping air if you have stayed enough time holding your breath. Works 100% of the time.

  9. First Gen American Says:

    Using oil based stainless steel cleaner to shine your black cooktop. Cleans up beautifully with no streaks. But first, you spray the burnt on spots with simple green and let sit so you can gently clean without scratching the surface. Simple green cleans (but is very smudgy), the SS cleaner shines.

    Soaking clothes in OXI Clean odor booster and/or Clorox 2 are the best at eliminating urine smell in clothing. (min 2 hours) Also, resolve urine destroyer is amazing at spot cleaning carpet and upholstery. I have yet to find something that takes urine out of marble.

    Ice Cubes in the garbage disposal seems to be the best way of all the ways I’ve tried to get the bad smell out.

    Brush with regular baking soda to whiten your teeth before using your regular toothpaste. Last visit, my dentist said there wasn’t any staining on my teeth from tea/coffee when I started doing it regularly. Not daily, but maybe once a week. I don’t use whitening toothpaste because I have sensitive teeth, so this is a way to be able to do both…use the sensitive toothpaste and whiten.

    Save reactionary, “I’m offended” emails in drafts and don’t mail until the next day. Most of the time, you can avoid inflammatory responses by sitting on it.

    Talk through problems with someone you trust that is the complete opposite of you. They usually come up with solutions/perspectives that would never enter your mind.

    My engineer friend with 5 kids said the optimal laundry scenario is to wash and fold one load of laundry a day. She used her mad process engineering skills to study it and this was the hands down winner if your family generates a lot of laundry.

    When heating up milk, put a little water at the bottom of your pan before adding the milk to prevent scorching.

    A good microfiber cloth for cleaning windows, counters is amazing. I can’t believe I lived my life without them.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      All excellent suggestions.

      And reminds me: Use flaxseed oil to season your cast iron skillet.

    • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

      “Talk through problems with someone you trust that is the complete opposite of you.”

      This is so good. A friend whose personality is VERY different from mine is a great sounding board for things I wouldn’t have thought of. They figured out that I am having flashes of anxiety before our weekend outings, not just getting mysteriously “sick”.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Oh, thanks for all your ideas. I may try the baking soda one! I would never have thought one load of laundry per day was ideal, but that’s what I do anyway since I have no drier and it takes all day to air-dry a load, so now I feel better about that!

      I used to think microfiber cloths were amazing, but I find that regular wash cloths work just as well for me (without the environmental problems of microfiber), even on mirrors and stainless steel.

  10. Debbie M Says:

    Okay, I finally thought of some of my strategies:

    * If your microwave is on the counter, prop it up on 4 matching mugs so you can open the door even if something (not too tall) is in front of it and you can store things under it.

    * Stick an old envelope to the refrigerator with a magnet. Add things to it for your shopping list; store coupons inside.

    * If any body parts rub together painfully, put lotion on them. Any lotion works. [While we’re making recommendations, let me introduce you to chocolate orange lotion from Indi in Seattle ( I also got to sample the mint chocolate (which I thought I would like best) and the regular chocolate–both I and my friend agreed the orange was best. It’s pricey, though.] (Now that I’m fatter, this knowledge is quite handy.)

    * Use a plate holder to store tall, skinny things like cookie sheets under your sink.

    * Put second/lending copies of books behind the other books. This gives you a little more room, and you can still see all your titles. Similarly, if you have a lot of paperbacks by a favorite author, you might have room for two rows–you can store your favorites in front of the others. So the best ones stay handy, and when you are on a binge, you can still easily find all the other ones.

    * When air-drying clothes indoors (especially in winter) turn on a fan (we use a ceiling fan) and flip the clothes over halfway through to dry more quickly. (And don’t put the rack too close to anything that might mildew.)

    * If I want to feel better, I can sing (and maybe dance) along to songs I like. One of my friends also recommended dramatically saying, “My life is a living hell!” (which probably only works if that’s such an exaggeration that it’s funny, and which doesn’t work at all for societal horrors that affect loads of people).

    * I do lunges while brushing my teeth. This encourages me, because now I’m getting two things done at the same time. If the thought of exercise is discouraging me (I’m just tired and want to go to bed), then I don’t do it. Win-win!

    * My boyfriend’s dad taught him that if your hands are cold, put on a hat. Shoes can also help, not to mention drinking hot liquids.

    * It’s all over the internet, but I do like storing sheets inside (one of) the pillowcase(s). Also, storing things behind doors or under lids helps minimize the dust accumulation on those things.

    * I’ve started sending emails to my friends when something weird makes me think of them (like when I cooked a recipe I got from one friend and had a dream involving another friend). It seems stupid, but it’s helped with my need for socializing during this pandemic–people often write back with actual interesting things to say!

    * For onions I mostly used to just suck it up but sometimes wore a diving mask. Now I have a hand-powered food processor that minimizes my exposure. [That device ( works great for onions cut into large sections, apple pieces, and mushrooms, but my blender works better for hummus.]

  11. bethh Says:

    I thought of one! I also have a topic for a future random question post. The topic: how do you do your sheets when you make your bed? My mom makes beds with the patterned side of the top sheet pointing in, and leaves a very long tail at the top of the sheet so she can fold it back/over the blanket. I prefer to put the top sheet with the pattern facing out, and I tuck in more of the tail so when I pull the top sheet straight, it comes up to exactly where I like it to end.

    This fussiness I have about the sheet ending in the right spot leads to my life hack: I put a safety pin at the bottom side-edge of the sheet, right at the point where I’ll start draping the sheet down and then under the mattress. I also have a few bottom sheets that are really hard to interpret which is a top edge, which is a side edge, so I’ve put a safety pin in the bottom-left-hand corner so I can tell how to orient the bottom sheet on the bed.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … what do mean “make a bed”? like… with nails and stuff? How are sheets involved? (I kid, I kid, but you can tell *our* answers to that question! As to what do we do when we’re guests at a person’s house… We’ll have to think about that. For me, DH usually makes the bed at his parents’ and his mom was a nurse so he does it all professional-like.)

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