photo by deapeajay

Having cafe-quality coffee at home is easy with the first tip. Even leftover coffee has a refreshing and tasty use, so it's not wasted. If you don't want to bother with frothing milk, add some chocolate syrup to the coffee and top with whipped cream instead.

CHEAP LATTE: I start with a mug. In a separate mug, heat up about 1/8 cup milk or cream in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a drop of vanilla extract. I whisk with my Aerolatte milk frother/electric whisk ($10 to $20) for a few seconds. I pour my coffee into my cup, about three-fourths full, then pour on the warm, frothy, flavored milk on top. I sometimes add a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg for aroma. Flavoring the milk can be done with maple or chocolate syrup, flavored creamers or almond extract. We often make coffee and put it in a thermos carafe to stay warm all day instead of using electricity to keep the coffeepot on. I take any leftover coffee and pour it into ice-cube trays, and then into a Ziploc container. I use them to make iced coffee.

Iced Coffee

coffee ice cubes
cold coffee
sweet condensed milk

Fill a glass halfway with cold, leftover coffee, and sweeten with condensed milk to taste. Fill the cup with coffee cubes. Crushing the ice cubes in a blender into a slushy and adding the condensed milk would be delicious, too. -- K.K., Canada

FIRST-AID KIT: I keep band-aids in a large baby-wipes container. I open the band-aid box and dump them in. Sometimes, the band-aids are all still attached together (depends on the brand you buy). I detach them and toss them in the old wipes container. When the boys were little and we used fancy band-aids, they thought it was great to dig through the band-aid bucket and pick out which fancy kind they wanted. -- Cindy T., Oregon

NEW USES FOR OLD DIAPERS: Now that I have your attention, I mean cloth diapers -- and clean diapers! I used cloth diapers on my child, who is now in his 30s. So my old diapers are old! But I have used them over the years as dust cloths and car-washing cloths. I wrap them around my Swiffer and use them to scrub floors. Hubby has used some in the shop as rags for cleaning brushes or cleaning his hands. -- Diana, Missouri

MAKE YOUR OWN COOL WHIP: For less than a quarter! It's so easy, and one packet of gelatin will last you a couple of batches.

1 teaspoon gelatin
2 teaspoons cold water
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup ice water
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons oil

Chill a small mixing bowl. Soften gelatin with 2 teaspoons cold water, then add boiling water, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool until tepid. Place ice water and nonfat dry milk in the chilled bowl. Beat at high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Add sugar, still beating, then oil and gelatin. Place in freezer about 15 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator until ready for use. Stir before using to retain creamy texture. Makes 2 cups. -- Brittney, Kansas