Make your own changing table
photo by Ruth L
Changing tables aren’t needed for a long period of time. It’s not a necessary baby item, but if your heart is set on having one, rather than spend a lot of money, you can make your own from a dresser. If you’re able to find a vintage piece, it can become the focal point in the nursery. You can partition drawers or add a fabric-lined wicker basket for added storage to keep essentials close by. The first tip uses another piece of furniture as a changing table.
MULTIPURPOSE FURNITURE: Shortly after my marriage, I attended an auction where I picked up an old buffet (aka sideboard). I knew I wanted a family right away, and I knew I did not want any one-purpose baby furniture. I also knew that a typical changing table was too small to be convenient for the two or so years a baby would need it and that it was too low for me to use comfortably. I stripped the buffet and refinished it, adding personal touches with painted flowers. I shopped around until I found a good, thick foam pad, then covered it in oilcloth so it would be easy to clean. When the time came, I filled the drawers with clothing and the sides with diapers. A buffet can hold a lot of diapers. As time passed and a changing table was no longer needed, it was easy to turn the buffet into a sort of dresser. It isn’t much trouble to repaint, and refinishing was easy when a more mature piece of furniture was needed. — Moonrani, e-mail
LEFTOVER PANCAKE BATTER: My sister uses the batter for frying chicken. I have never tried it, but she says it’s good. — P. Kelly, Connecticut
CHEAP MEAL: I make frijoles about every other week. It’s inexpensive and nutritious. I serve it in bowls with either tortillas or homemade corn muffins. I use up leftovers by mashing them into refried beans for burritos.
1 pound dry pinto beans (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
6 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt, to taste
Sort and rinse beans, and soak overnight. Rinse and drain, and set aside. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook for 2 minutes until brown. Reduce heat to medium, and add onions and jalapeno. Cook 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Add beans, water and cumin. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat; cover and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Add salt.
I don’t make this on the stove, but use my slow cooker instead. I follow the above recipe cooking the bacon and adding the other ingredients, then transfer to my slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Don’t add the salt until the last half-hour, after the beans are already soft. — Mary, Wyoming
RAZOR TIP: I have been shaving my legs with the same razor for almost four months now. I use cheap conditioner instead of shaving cream/gel, along with using a hair dryer (as I’m drying my hair) to completely dry the blades. — Angie, Florida
QUICK CARPET CLEANUP: I use shaving cream — the foamy kind that I can get at the dollar store — on light-colored carpets. This worked great before we owned a home and were renting apartments. You know how that beige carpet always had mysterious stains that would appear after living there a few months? Squirt a little shaving cream on them, and dab/blot them with a damp rag. Wait until dry, and then vacuum the spot. You may have to treat it two or three times, but it works. I got soaked-in, dried red soda out of white carpet and coffee out of beige carpet. — Jessica, Washington