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BEFORE YOU THROW THAT AWAY
How many times have you thrown something in the garbage can, only to
wonder if there was something else that could have been done with it,
but you didn't have time to think it through at that moment? If
you've run into that situation, you might find some helpful hints in
here to get you thinking along those tracks.
If your kids have drawers full of old t-shirts that no longer fit, or
they're torn, or they're simply ready for the rag bag, it may still
be difficult for them to part with the sentimental ones. Maybe it's a
t-shirt that has a favorite team logo on it. Or the shirt might be
from a team on which your child played. T-shirts with cute sayings,
fun pictures, or a commemorative phrase can be special and hard to
part with, too. If this is the case in your home, consider taking
those shirts and making a great gift for your child by cutting 12
inch by 12 inch squares out of them where the logos are and making a
quilt by sewing them all together. The quilt can last a lifetime and
bring back memories on a daily basis. Twenty of those squares can be
sewn together, with four-inch strips of neutral fabric creating
frames for each block, to make a four-block by five-block quilt. And
we all know how soft a t-shirt gets after several thousand
Until a clothing dryer manufacturer comes up with a machine that
doesn't eat socks, there are many things that can be done with the
orphans. If you have kids, you can sew buttons on them for eyes, and
embroider noses and mouths with yarn. Fashion a puppet stage from an
old box, using fabric scraps for curtains, and watch them have a
great puppet show. They also make good rags for cleaning
hard-to-reach places, especially silver pieces like candlesticks.
Christmas cards make great To/From gift tags for the following year.
Cut out the image on the front of the card and put the information on
the back. You can secure it by punching a hole in the top and using a
ribbon to attach it to the package.
Teach your children a little about charity. Old toys don't have to be
tossed. If your child is involved in picking out some things that he
is willing to give up, put them in a box and go to a charity to give
them away. Your child will learn about those folks who have very
little and the joy of giving. It will also make way for all those new
Christmas presents that Santa left under your tree.
A fun, inexpensive way to enjoy old catalogs and magazines is to use
them for craft projects for your kids. If you've got stacks of
magazines that have to go, but you hate to just toss them, have a
little fun first! Have your kids cut out interesting pictures with
safety scissors, and use them for collages or even photo bingo! Using
multiple pictures of the same thing (i.e. dogs, houses, cars, etc...)
you can make bingo cards and have a keepsake game that the kids made
It might sound silly, but crumbs from the bottom of snack bags make
wonderful casserole toppings. Saute them lightly in butter, and place
them on top of a casserole during the last five to ten minutes of
baking time. Potato chips, corn chips, and even pretzels work great
Cardboard oatmeal boxes are wonderful containers for small objects,
such as toy blocks and building pieces. Or, in your tool shop, they
can hold paintbrushes and other tools. For a decorative touch, you
might use contact paper or paint it and decoupage it once the paint
Velveeta Cheese boxes make perfect drawer organizers. They are the
perfect size for pens, pencils, scissors, markers, etc. Or you can
use them in the refrigerator to hold the extra fast-food packets of
ketchup and mustard that you don’t want to throw away. In
the pantry, they can hold the packets of gravy mix and other sauces,
to keep them organized.
If you prefer your bread soft and fresh and tend to toss the bread
that gets hard, consider this: Stale bread is great for French toast,
bread crumbs, and casseroles like strata. You can also make bread
cubes, seasoning them as you go, then store them in an airtight
container. As a last resort, make friends with your neighborhood
birds by tossing it out the back door!
Over-ripe bananas can be frozen and used later, if you remove the
peels first. They can be used in banana breads, muffins, and banana
milk shakes. Likewise, with apples, peel out the bad spots, cut them
up, and bake them with apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and
All it takes is a little creativity to use those things you might
otherwise discard without a thought. You know what they say; a
penny saved is a penny earned.
About the Author:
Mia Cronan is the mother of
three daughters, ages 4, 2, and 6 months, living in Pennsylvania. She
also co-publishes a Web site for stay-at-home moms, called Main
Street Mom. The site offers support, inspirational stories, comedy,
money-saving tips, a nationwide playgroup listing, and much more.
Visit Main Street Mom at www.mainstreetmom.com
and our Family Budget page at
While there are many reasons for teaching kids to cook -- less expensive than eating out, preserves family heritage, etc, the most important
reason is that by teaching your child to cook, you're giving him a better chance to be a healthy grown-up. Enabling your child with the ability
to appreciate freshness and to transform ingredients into tasty foods opens their eyes to making wiser choices about what to eat...