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I've found that I can shorten the oven cleaning cycle. I start it on the automatic cycle and turn it off after 1.5 hours. There are some ashes that I need to sweep out, but all the baked on crud is gone.
Home dry cleaning
Here's an easy, cheap way to freshen dry-clean-only clothes. Place them along with a dryer sheet into a garment bag. Put the bag into your clothes dryer for 20 minutes on low. That's it! Your clothes will be freshened and ready for wear!
In the winter, when I can't hang my clothes outside, I use my dryer. To keep the costs down, I only dry clothes until they're nearly dry. To finish them, I hang them on one of the three shower rods I have over my bath tub. Often they hang without wrinkling, so I avoid ironing, too!
Cleaning nasty pots
With all the holiday cooking, you're bound to burn something. Here's how to clean the pan without a lot of scrubbing. Add one inch of water to the pan and put it on low heat. After 10 or 15 minutes, gently scrape it. If there's still food stuck to the pan, give it another 10 minutes and scrape again.
Our house faces north, so our living room windows get cold in the winter. This year, I attached a Mylar blanket to the back of the drapes on those windows. My hope is that they'll reflect the cold out and keep the heat in. They cost a little over a dollar each, so even if they don't help, I'm not out much.
Christmas grocery shopping
Short on money for Christmas baking and cooking? Try this. Make December the time that you use up all the stuff you have in your pantry and freezer. Every meal that you make that way saves money that can be used to buy holiday ingredients. It's also a great way to clean out the pantry and freezer before things go out of date or get freezer burned.
Better cooking stock
If you want that beautiful golden yellow color you get from store-bought stock or broth, just throw yellow onion skins (cooking onion, sweet onion, or Spanish onion) while you make your broth, roast your poultry, or simmer your gravy. If I am simmering soup, I put them in a piece of cheesecloth for easy removal. They impart that rich, golden color as well as a bit of extra flavor.
Katie S. in Allentown, PA
Part-time holiday work
Each year, I try to find part-time work before Christmas. I use the extra income to help pay down any credit card balance I have. I also find that because I have less time, I spend less money on the holidays. My family doesn't mind since it means they don't have to do a lot of shopping for me. Therefore, I am saving myself money, and I'm helping my family members to save too!
Homemade windshield de-icer
A mixture of 3/4 vinegar to 1/4 water will keep your car windows ice free this winter. If you just spray them when you get home from work, they'll be ice free in the morning!
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