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Handy Hints and useful tips for around the home

Recycle Those Old Wine Skins
  The silver wine skins from inside Chateau Cardboard boxes are often just binned. Here are some practical ways to make use of them:

  Open the valve on the pourer and blow in air, turning the skin into a shiny balloon that can be hung up in fruit trees and vegie patches to deter birds. The kids can even paint them to make their own, special party balloons.
  Blown up not quite so full, and they are a handy camping pillow. And why buy expensive bubble-wrap for packing fragile items, when these cost nothing?
  With the pourer prized off (sometimes they are a bit stiff); the skin first washed inside and drained; then it can be partially filled with plain water - about half the capacity is probably best. Once the cap is snapped back on to seal, it can placed in the freezer to serve as an ice pack for chilling an insulated bag or Esky. Apart from keeping food cool on picnics, it will help save the frozen shopping defrosting for quite some time.
  Instead of cold water, pouring in hot (definitely not boiling!) provides a convenient, temporary heater to keep those take-outs warm on the way home from the Chinese or Burger Bar.
  There are probably dozens more uses for those old wine skins, if you just think about it.

Protecting your best china
  Most people use throw-away plastic and paper plates occasionally, but they aren't a patch on china. Cheaper crockery is usually preferred for everyday meals, especially when clumsy kids are around, while the really good stuff is reserved for special occasions. Care is taken when handling, serving and washing up to prevent chipping and breakages. Then this prized porcelain is stacked up in the cupboard, one on top of the other, delicate surfaces rubbing and scraping the glaze on the plate or dish below. Given time, they will all start to show wear.
  Protection is simple. Use a sheet of paper kitchen towel to separate each item and prevent the hard surfaces coming into contact. Then your best crockery will remain in as-new condition for your lifetime; and afterwards for your heirs to carry on the good work.

Save the Tin Lids
  Even the re-cyclers don't seem to want them, yet they are pretty handy around the home. Metal lids from stock powder and gravy containers can be placed under chair and table legs as floor protectors. We even use the heavier glass-jar lids as cups under the bed castors.
  When touching up paintwork, instead of dipping a small brush into the can, pour a little in a tin lid, then re-seal the can to prevent the paint drying out.
  They are also ideal for holding small amounts of glue, in particular when mixing epoxy resin adhesives which seem to get over everything if you do it on a piece of card or paper - and when the job's done, just wrap the lid up and bin it.

Making Use of Vinyl Flooring Offcuts
  Left-over pieces of vinyl flooring have a multitude of uses. Cut to size, they are handy for lining shelves, especially in the kitchen, to prevent surfaces being scratched by pots, pans and dishes. The same in the pantry - spills from sauce bottles and oil are easily removed and won't stain the original veneer.
  Smaller offcuts are good protection for worktops and tables - keep a square or two in a cupboard and bring out when needed. Even the smaller odds and ends make convenient coasters and pads under plant pots and ornaments.
  Aerosol cans sitting in damp areas such as bathrooms and laundries will eventually rust at the base, leaving stains on tiles and laminex which are difficult or impossible to remove. An odd piece of vinyl for them to sit on saves this happening.
  Even narrow strips can be cut up and used to pack and stabilise rickety tables and prevent the feet of other furniture from damaging polished floors.
  So don't bin it - use it.

Masking Tape for the Freezer
  Labelling food consigned to the freezer is essential, particularly with regard to the date, and using a felt marker makes it easy to see at a glance, except when it rubs off. This can even happen with indelible ink, especially on plastic freezer bags; and if it is used on plastic containers, sometimes it can't be removed at all.
  As soon as the food is bagged or packed, stick on a small strip of masking tape and write on this. As long as the surface is dry to start with, it will stay on for the duration and the written details won't smudge or disappear over time. Just remember to strip off the label from containers before the contents defrost to avoid any gum residue.

The Scrunch Test
  Next time you shop for clothes, try the scrunch test. Take a handful of the material, squeeze tightly, then release. If this produces a mass of creases when it's dry, imagine what it will be like when it comes out of the wash. If you don't like ironing, look for another label in a different fabric that will pass the scrunch test.

Removing Label Gum
  Labels often leave gum residue on a surface. Rub gently with a soft cloth moistened with Mineral Turps, turning the cloth frequently as the gum is taken up. Clean off the turps with a little household detergent or bar soap and water. Dry with a soft cloth.
  Remember to test the turps on an inconspicuous area first to avoid damage to the surface you intend to clean. If Mineral Turps is not available, kerosene or lamp oil are good alternatives.
Avoid contaminating food-preparation areas and utensils, and dispose of the cloth in the outside garbage can - left indoors the smell will invade not only the bin, but the entire room.

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