mixing bowl

photo by petit hiboux

Gathering your baking supplies can be time-consuming. Sometimes measuring cups and spoons get separated or pans get shoved far back into the cabinets. It can end up a real workout before you've even started mixing ingredients. You might end up buying replacements for supplies you've misplaced. The first tip is a wonderful way to organize your baking supplies. It will create fond memories for children, too.

ORGANIZE YOUR KITCHEN: Buy three large, clear plastic tubs (40 quarts). Label them cookies, cake and pie. Then put into each tub all the supplies and utensils relating to that category. Baking is a snap now when the grandkids come and bring out one plastic tub. I use a closet near the kitchen to store the tubs. It clears out the kitchen and makes it so easy to find things. -- Janice G., Washington

SHARPEN SCISSORS: When using soap-filled scrubbing pads like S.O.S., wet the object to be scrubbed instead of the pad. The pad lasts a lot longer and doesn't rust as quickly. I also usually cut the pad in two pieces before using. This stretches the pads and sharpens my kitchen shears at the same time. -- Dianne, New England
Additional comment: If you place S.O.S. pads in a zipper bag after use and store them in the freezer, they'll last forever. They will eventually lose their soap but you can add your own. The pads will, of course, be frozen when you take them out of the freezer, but they thaw fast under hot water. You'll rarely ever have to buy these again if you use this tip. -- Stacey, Pennsylvania

DISH-DETERGENT BOOST: If dishes are extra-greasy, add up to 1/2 cup baking soda to usual dish-soap water. -- Juls, e-mail

SHOPPING BINDER: I have an idea to make grocery shopping a little easier. I use a binder to keep my coupons in. It's one that has the plastic on the front to slide a sheet of paper in to make a fancy cover. After I make out my shopping lists, I fold them in half and slide them in the front of the binder. I use a dry-erase marker and just draw a line through the items as we put them in the cart instead of lugging along a clipboard to keep the list on. It wipes off easy. Since I have the page of paper folded in half lengthwise, I can use the same sheet of paper for four lists. -- Pita, Virginia

STRETCH DISHWASHER SOAP: I mix equal parts borax, baking soda and powdered dishwasher soap in a huge bucket, and it works great. I use a scoop per load. I do find the vinegar in the rinse-aid dispenser is a great idea, too. -- Cricket, Texas

REUSE PLASTIC BAGGIES: When I buy clothing, and it comes with extra buttons. I put the buttons in a snack-size zipper bag and then I write a description of the garment on an index card. I staple the two together and toss it in the top dresser drawer in a larger zipper bag. -- Missy, Colorado
Note from Sara: I put Halloween-costume accessories such as crowns, gloves, hats, leggings, etc., in them and attach them to the hangers with the costumes so I don't misplace any of the costume.

DOUBLE DUTY: I use a steamer basket on top of my pasta water. Veggies steam while pasta cooks. -- Suzanne, e-mail