Simply Good Tips http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com Bringing You Good Tips for an Improved Life. Wed, 18 Feb 2015 22:11:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In Your Microwave http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/pineapple-upside-cake-microwave/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pineapple-upside-cake-microwave http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/pineapple-upside-cake-microwave/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 22:11:57 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2994 Make a fancy & flavorful dessert in under 15 minutes. Microwave cake can taste just as good as the traditionally baked variety when you follow these steps.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In Your Microwave - Simply Good Tips

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pineapple upside-down cakeWant to make a homemade cake that friends and family will enjoy? OK. No problem. Want to do it without using your oven? Good luck. Unless you enjoy awful tasting food with a rubbery texture, you probably won’t like the results you end up with. It’s incredibly tough to duplicate the look, feel and taste of cake that is actually baked, but with the right stuff, you can come pretty darn close. When you lock in moisture, heat and flavor as you cook, you can make a delicious dessert that is just as moist and flavorful as anything you bake the traditional way. As an added benefit, the microwave version will require a fraction of the time and effort in comparison.

Bottom line? Microwave baking can be a last minute time saver, or an everyday convenience, and most people devouring the goodness will not even be able to tell the difference.

Anyone can mix up a box from the store and then slap some frosting on it, but few dare to tackle more exotic pastries because it seems way too difficult. When you serve an upside-down cake instead of something that looks Birthday related, everyone will still be satisfied with their sweet treat, but they will also be asking “how did you do that”. Although the results will look pretty amazing, if you use the easy recipe below, you will be serving your gourmet dessert in less than 15 minutes, and with hardly any effort on your part.

Upon looking at it, it will look like one that’s been baked, and upon tasting it, it will taste the same too. The texture will not be ruined, and it will not be dry, or rock hard in any area. The MicroBuddy Dishes are key to outstanding results with this recipe, and regular dishes will never work as well. More than just for cakes though, you’ll be able to prepare all sorts of meals and desserts in your microwave using the same dishes, and the results will be just as fast and flavorful.

What’s An Upside-Down Cake

It’s not a clever way to conceal the side that you accidentally ruined, upside-down cakes are actually prepared and cooked in reverse, and then flipped for serving. You layer all of your ingredients in one pan, top stuff first, and then bake until done. Once cooled, you turn it over onto a dish so that the base faces up, and then cut and serve, upside-down. In most cases, there will be butter, sugar and fruit at the bottom of the pan, so that once flipped, it acts as a decoration and a topping. One of the most widely recognized members of the upside-down confection family is the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, but there are a few others such as the French Tarte Tatin, and the Brazilian Bolo de banana.

How To Make Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In Your Microwave

Items Needed

1 Micro Buddy Container (Large)

1 or 2 microwave safe dishes that fit inside.

Servings

1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 9oz box yellow cake mix. (about 2 cups) prepared according to box instructions
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Pineapple rings
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (take from ring container)

Directions

  1. Rub softened butter evenly across the bottom of the container(s).
  2. Place pineapple rings onto the buttered surface.
  3. Place a cherry at the center of each ring.
  4. Sprinkle with brown sugar to create an even coating.
  5. Fill with cake batter.
  6. Pour pineapple juice into the base of your large Micro Buddy container and then secure the rack on top.
  7. Place your filled containers onto the rack, and then cover with the lid.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes at a medium high setting. (NOTE: times and temps will vary based on machine. Adjust as necessary.)
  9. Once cooked, turn over onto plate and serve warm, or at room temperature.

That’s all there is to it. A fancy dessert that tastes delicious can be prepared, start to finish, in a matter of minutes. No preheating an oven, no cake tins to wash by hand, and no waiting. Quickly whip up this after meal treat by using microwave, and you will have a finished cake after only cooking for ten minutes. Thanks to the MicroBuddy container, your quick and easy version will be strikingly similar to others that are baked with traditional techniques and appliances.

How Does It Work?

Glad you asked. When you attempt to cook at high speeds, you normally plan on mediocre dishes as a result. When you surround food in the advanced chamber provided by the Micro Buddy, the results improve drastically. Increased airflow around the food ensures more even cooking, and a sealed chamber locks in heat to cause food to finish sooner, and with better results. Added moisture in the bottom of the tray causes steam to form which flavors food, and keeps it moist at the same time. Taking the simple step of using one of these containers will improve the taste and texture for  anything you cook in your microwave, and traditionally baked desserts like cake, are no different. Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.

What About Regular Cake?

Well…You can do a regular old chocolate cake too, and guess what? It’ll only need five minutes to cook. Similar to the pineapple one, it will end up remarkably similar to baked versions, but you won’t have to wait so long. Just mix up your batter according to the instructions, add to a microwave safe dish that fits, and then place into your cooking container to cook for five minutes. Silicone bake ware is ideal for this use, but any microwave safe plastic or glass dish will work well too. Once cooled, slather with frosting, or add a different topping like chocolate sauce and nuts.

Have your own microwave baking technique? Share in the comments section below. Want to brag about how tasty your creation was using our technique? Everyone is dying to find out, so share that as well.

Products Mentioned

  • Micro Buddy Microwave Cooking Set – Buy One

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake In Your Microwave - Simply Good Tips

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Cleaning a Marker Stain on Carpeting http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-marker-stain-carpeting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cleaning-marker-stain-carpeting http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-marker-stain-carpeting/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 23:07:36 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2974 Artwork by children is great, except when it's on your rug. Discover a fast & effective way to clean marker lines off your carpet without any risk of damage

Cleaning a Marker Stain on Carpeting - Simply Good Tips

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marker on carpetGotta love kids. Especially the creative, artistic type. Their colorful pictures are always impressive, but if they would stick to paper instead of household objects, everyone would be a whole lot happier. Thanks to curiosity, devious behavior, and accidents, if you have children, markers and carpet together in the same house, sooner or later, they will all combine to create an awful mess.

Marker lines on rugs and carpets are difficult to remove no matter what type it is, and spot removers you find at the store can be dangerous and ineffective. Home remedies and all purpose sprays are pretty laughable for this type of grime, so most people are left scratching their heads, or thinking about rearranging the furniture. If you want to go back to admiring their work instead of scolding them for the damage, you’ll need a fool proof method to get that color out of your carpeting. When you don’t have to worry about permanent staining, then you won’t get so mad the next time you see a big blue line on your lovely, cream colored carpet. You may have a spot to remove now, or you may just want to be prepared for the next time disaster strikes, but if you continue reading, you will discover a quick and effective way to make that marker disappear.

What You Will Need

The supply list is short, and the steps that follow are incredibly simple and fool proof. Gather your ingredients from the list below, then continue to read step by step instructions for tackling this job.

  1. Quick N Brite Paste
  2. 2 Cloths or Rags
  3. Water

You might not have any Quick n Brite on hand, but before you get all “I’m not buying another piece of crap cleaner” on us, take a look at the pictures that follow. The results speak for themselves. Unlike the other garbage you have wasted your money on in the past, this stuff actually works. Complete with a money back guarantee, you are sure to remove the stain when you use it, and it’s totally safe for any carpet, no matter the color or material. What’s even better is that it also works well as a tub and tile cleaner, a degreaser, a stain fighter for clothing and so much more. Totally biodegradable and environmentally friendly, this cleaner is safe for use just about anywhere, and highly effective. Get it to make quick work of any stain on your carpet, but then keep it around to save time, money and effort when cleaning other stuff too.

cleaning marker on carpet step 1Step One. To begin, take one cloth, rag or towel, and get it wet with warm or hot water. Soak it down, and then ring out so it’s not dripping wet. This cloth will be your applicator. Scoop up a generous amount of the pink stuff, and then apply to the stain. Work it in with an up and down, or back and forth motion. You want to make sure that the cleaner penetrates the fibers as much as the pigment from the marker did. There is no scrubbing necessary, just work it in, and make sure you cover the area.

cleaning marker on carpet step 2Step Two. Once you get the cleaner on there, it will look something like the picture above. What seemed like a very faint line was actually a much larger mess than anticipated. After getting started, we could really begin to see just how much color was there, and it was not something that anyone would consider faint.

You will notice that the blue color has loosened in the image above, and it is trying to spread around. This is because the QUick N Brite is working to release the bond the stain has with the carpet, and then causing it to float up off the surface. This makes it easy to remove, but it can also allow for spreading, so be careful, and don’t work too hard. Once the cleaner is in place, just let it sit there for about five minutes. It will continue to break down the stain and release it from the fibers. Not waiting will only make your job harder, so be sure that you don’t skip this step.

leaning marker on carpet step 3Step Three. Once it sits, take your other cloth rag or towel, and buff the stain out. This second cloth will be your removal tool, and you’ll want to keep it dry. The stain will transfer onto this remover, so make sure it’s not one of your favorite towels. Take a look at the picture above. We have just rubbed the area to remove most of the stain. You can see a faint hint of blue still on the carpeting at the top center and left, and you can also see a large grayish-blue area on the cloth. The discoloration of the rag is due to the fact that the marker has lifted off the rug(along with some other grime), and is now on the rag. As you rub, continue switching to a clean section of the towel. Once no more color is lifting out, move on to the next step.

cleaning marker on carpet step 4Step Four. Because the stain was not all the way gone after a single application, we grabbed the damp rag, and reapplied some more cleaner. This second application was lighter in comparison to the first, but it was worked in the same way, and we let it sit for another five minutes before doing anything further. As the cleaner sat, the last little bits of blue were loosened up, so a final round of buffing was sure to remove the remainder of the marker.

cleaning marker on carpet step 5Step Five. After rubbing again, all of the cleaner was removed, and no signs of blue were left on the beige carpet. This close up view shows the area after cleaning, and the marker has completely disappeared. A small residue of cleaner was left over, so we took a clean section of the removal towel, and got it slightly damp. After buffing with the damp, clean surface, all of the residual soap was lifted off too. Nothing was left except a shockingly clean surface that was soft, and free of any toxic fumes.

cleaning marker on carpet step 6Step Six. Here is a close up from a slightly different angle. It was taken after the damp cloth was used to remove any extra cleaner left behind. No blue remains at all, and every bit of cleaner is gone too. The carpet looks rejuvenated, and completely clean. Every spec of blue has been lifted out, and no damage or lasting effects have been inflicted on the carpet.

cleaning marker on carpet step 7Step Seven. The job is now complete, and the picture above shows the end result. After only about ten minutes of barely trying, the blue line has been completely eliminated. There was never any risk of bleaching or ruining the material, and the surface is soft and clean instead of stiff and sticky.

In this case, the stain was created by a child’s marker. It could also be regular dirt, food, pen, crayon, paint or just about anything else. The same technique will remove just about any spot from your rug because this is probably the best carpet cleaning solution available. You never risk any harm to the material, and the ingredients are totally non-toxic and safe for use around children and pets. The steps above are ideal for any spot or line you encounter, but for larger areas, full rooms, or whole area rugs, add some Quick N Brite to your steam cleaner. You can use less than you would when using the normal soap, and it will work way better. For spot cleaning, the paste will always be the best, but when adding to a carpet shampooer, the liquid is far more convenient. Just pour some in, and you are good to go.

Other Options

Maybe you’re cheap, or maybe you just like a challenge. The steps above are pretty much fool proof, and guaranteed to work, but if you like to torture yourself, continue reading to discover a couple of the common recommendations for this type of stain. Because marker is tough to remove, the following methods may not work at all, despite the fact that they are often the go-to options for people that don’t know any better. You probably have the stuff on hand to try the techniques below, so if you’re still arguing with your computer screen, and saying stuff like “I’m not buying some tree hugging green cleaner”, then you may want to give one of them a try. Although our method will work with little effort, hardly any time, and at a very low cost, some of you will want to break out the hair spray to give it a go. We can’t guarantee that either method below will work at all, and you may even make the mess bigger, but if you ask someone else, or continue to search, these are the words of wisdom you will encounter.

Traditional Method #1

The hair spray method.

There’s nothing like using a sticky liquid full of perfumes and other hazardous ingredients to remove a stain. It probably won’t work, but you will make it smell nice, and as an added bonus, you can style the carpet fibers after you finish.

The type of hairspray is important if you want it to work, so make sure it is oil free. The idea here is that the stuff in the liquid will loosen the stain, and allow you to remove it.

  1. To begin add a generous amount of hairspray to a clean white cloth.
  2. Use the cloth to dab the marker stain. Color should now lift and transfer to the rag.
  3. When working, use a firm and deliberate motion, and avoid wiping to prevent any chance of spreading.
  4. Repeat as necessary util the stain is gone.
  5. For best results, and to avoid damage, test a hidden area of carpet first to see how it reacts.

Traditional Method # 2

The hurry up and pray method.

This method is all about speed. Those who recommend it believe that if you move quick enough, you can get the stain out before it locks itself in. There is some truth to this, but we don’t always have the luxury of tackling each stain right away, and many go unnoticed for hours, days or weeks. If you have your track shoes on, and you’re hovering like a helicopter over your children, you may be able to act fast enough to clean the stain with regular old soap and water. This method requires both luck and speed to eliminate the grime, so only attempt it with fresh messes on your carpet.

  1. To begin, take a clean cloth and press down to lift up any marker that you can. If still wet, you should be able to get some up before continuing.
  2. Once blotted, any loose pigment should be removed. To tackle the set in portion, use a wet rag with dish soap.
  3. Use your soapy cloth to continue blotting.
  4. Do not rub. Use a firm and deliberate blot to avoid any smearing.
  5. If one area becomes saturated with color, switch to a new spot, and continue working.
  6. Continue cleaning until all color has faded, or lifted away.

Don’t get mad the next time you see a stain on your carpet. Get busy cleaning it, and make it disappear in a matter of minutes. This type of mess is incredibly difficult when using stuff under the sink, or even special products from the store. When you choose Quick N Brite instead, the task will be incredibly simple, and you are sure to get the spot out. With such a powerful tool at your disposal, you won’t have steam pouring out of your ears the next time your child spills something on the carpet.

Products Mentioned

  • Quick N Brite Cleaner – Buy It

Tip Highlights

Cleaning a Marker Stain on Carpeting - Simply Good Tips

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Remove Blue Paint From A White Shirt http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/remove-blue-paint-white-shirt/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=remove-blue-paint-white-shirt http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/remove-blue-paint-white-shirt/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 23:56:12 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2953 Oh No! Blue Paint on a white shirt creates a pretty wicked stain. Follow these easy steps to completely remove a paint stain from any type of clothing.

Remove Blue Paint From A White Shirt - Simply Good Tips

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Blue paint. White shirt.Home improvement projects are great. Forgetting to change into your work clothes? Not so great.

When clumsy people and wet paint are in the same vicinity, accidents are almost guaranteed. It’s almost like there is some sort of invisible attraction between super stain-y things and clothing, especially white clothing. This being the case, and because someone was too impulsive or cool to change prior to starting work, that someone ended up with a good amount of fresh paint on their favorite shirt.

Most people would probably consider the shirt ruined at this point. Others may attempt a cleaning only to spread and smear the paint, making things worse. This particular paint is no joke, so either result would make perfect sense. Thick, dark, and intended for commercial applications, most cleaners and techniques would not even begin to work. It was very far from a child’s art supply, or something that would wash off easily, so if left on there, it would have created a permanent stain that would be impossible to get clean. Because we ran to the sink within a few minutes of noticing it, the paint was easy to remove, and we were able to clean it completely, with no trace left after finishing.

We did not use a stain stick, or some colorful liquid spot remover. We also didn’t waste any money or effort trying to find something at the store that would do the job. No off-the-shelf cleaner will never remove a paint stain from clothing without intense effort and luck, and most would probably bleach or otherwise ruin the fabric in the process.

The method detailed below can be used on any type of stain, and on any type of fabric. You may not be able to remove permanent inks and paints if they’re allowed to cure, but when attempted right away, it can be quite easy to make up for your accident, and cause your clothing look like new again. More simple stains can be cleaned no matter how long they have been there, or what you have used on them in the past, but for a nasty one like this, attacking it quickly can save your garment, but also save you time and effort in the process. Once dried in place, you’ll probably still get the stain out with enough work, but if you do it right away, the results are pretty much guaranteed, and fool-proof to achieve.

How To Clean A Paint Stain On Clothing

It could be on a white shirt like in the pictures here, or it could be on any other color or type of material. You could remove paint like we have, or you could remove pen, grease, dirt, food, blood, grass, or just about anything else with the same simple process. The only thing required that you may not already have is some Quick N Brite Paste. This means that you might have to spend some money, but if you save one shirt, it will pay for itself, and once you discover the hundreds of other jobs it works on,  you will quickly realize the incredible value offered by this amazing cleaner.

It’s completely safe for any material, and it will remove just about any stain you may encounter. It’s probably the best stain remover available for clothing, but it also works incredibly well as a degreaser, tub and tile cleaner, window cleaner, carpet shampoo and much more. Get some to fix your ruined shirt, but then keep it around to remove soap scum or clean your kitchen cabinets with a safe and effective product.

The process is pretty simple, but follow the steps below to ensure you get the stain out on your first try.

Step one. Cleaning a paint stain on a shirt.Step One.

When the paint spot was discovered, it was a thick blob. Still wet at the top, but starting to dry at the bottom. In order to minimize the mess, and remove as much loose pigment as possible, we first took a paper towel to quickly lift away anything we were able to. A blotting technique is best. As you can see, we did a slight wiping technique that did cause the color to spread a little bit. Once all of the wet and gooey stuff is removed with a paper towel, you can concentrate on the actual stain left over. The picture above shows what the shirt looked like after wiping.

Step two. Cleaning a paint stain on a shirt.Step Two.

After wiping, we added a little bit of hot water in order to dampen the sleeve in the area where the paint was. Once damp, an initial application of the cleaner was smeared in place. As you can see, we used a liberal amount in order to cover the entire stain, and get down into the little gaps in the material. The cleaner was gathered with bare fingers, and then worked into the material using a scratching motion. The completely non-toxic solution is totally safe for skin, so you don’t need gloves or anything else. As an option, you can apply it with a sponge, a rag, or a small brush if you prefer.

Once on there, we let it sit for a couple minutes. After sitting, we took a clean, terry cloth towel, and buffed the area to lift up the cleaner and most of the blue paint. As you buff, you’ll notice that the color will transfer from the shirt you want to save, and onto the towel you are holding.

Step. Three. Remove a paint stain from clothing.Step Three.

After the first application the stain was reduced significantly, but still very much there. The pigment that soaked down deep is all that remains, but it was always going to be the toughest to remove. The texture of this particular fabric didn’t help matters either. If cleaning a smoother material, you may be able to get away with a single attempt, but with dark blue paint ground down into this white thermal fabric, a second application was pretty much guaranteed.

Step Four. Remove a paint stain from clothing.Step Four.

The next step is to reapply the cleaner the same way you did the first time. Make sure to get it wet it again first in order to apply heat, and flush out any loose material. Once the cleaner is on there you will, once again, let it sit for a few minutes. When you let the cleaner sit without touching, it will break down the stain, and float it off the surface. For tougher stains you will want to let it sit longer, but for any type of cleaning, at least 30 seconds will make all the difference. Because this was a second application to a very tough stain, we increased the wait time to more like five minute instead of just a couple. If we would have let it sit for longer the first time around, the results may have improved, but this cleaner will only ever remove one layer at a time, so for wicked stains like this one, it will usually take a couple of attempts to make everything disappear.

Once it sits, grab your towel like the first time, and buff the stain away.

Step five. Cleaning a paint stain on a shirt.Step Five.

The second application almost did the trick, but a faint bit of blue was still left over after finishing. This little bit probably would have just washed of in the laundry if we had applied a pre-treating layer and then washed as normal, but we wanted to ensure that it was totally clean, and show everyone that perfect results can be achieved by hand, with very little time and effort. Once again, the stuff left over is the deepest down in the material, and it is more location than anything that is causing the multiple applications in this case. Any material that is smoother will certainly come clean easier, and with less steps.

When compared to multiple steps with another cleaner though, this stuff is like magic. Another spray cleaner, used two times in the same area is more likely to create a bleach spot, ruined fabric, or a larger blue smudge instead of the pretty amazing results you see in the picture above.

Step six. Cleaning a paint stain on a shirt.Step Six.

Third time was a charm! As you can see above, after applying it a third time, the stain is basically gone. Most people won’t be able to see in the photo, but there was a faint discoloration that could still be detected if you tried hard enough. Most of you would not even notice it, and to the naked eye, the stain was pretty much removed. The third application went the same as the second one. We let the cleaner sit five minutes before rubbing it off, and after this last attempt, no blue paint remained on the white fabric.

Step seven. Cleaning a paint stain on a shirt.Step Seven.

Because we are clean freaks and perfectionists around here, we took this one step further to ensure no signs of the paint remained, no matter how close you inspect. This last step involved us adding one last application of the cleaner. This time though, we did not rub it off, we just let it sit on there. Once in place, the shirt was tossed into the laundry basket for washing later. Although it was essentially clean after the third application, adding this last layer prior to washing it will eliminate anything else left when it goes through the wash.

For basic dirt and staining, this last step alone will work to remove many things that other products don’t work on. Just rub some on, and let it sit for hours or days before washing. Use your regular detergent, and wash like normal, but then notice how much cleaner your garments get.

In this case, after washing, the favorite shirt was able to go back into rotation as not one spec of blue was left on it. Success!

Don’t toss out clothes just because they have a stain, and don’t avoid painting projects just because you are accident prone. You could use the useless product you have in your laundry room the next time you run into some wet paint, but you could also use this instead, and actually get the fabric clean. Other products are loaded with harsh chemicals and bleaching agents because they try to burn through, or dissolve stains instead of removing them. This product is different. It is totally biodegradable and environmentally friendly. You can safely use it around children, pets and food, and you never need ventilation or rubber gloves when you clean with it. Despite how gentle the formula is, it is incredibly powerful when cleaning any type of stain. Instead of trying to pulverize whats there, it will naturally break it down, and float it above the surface so that you can remove it without effort.

Complete with a money back guarantee, this stuff comes with proven performance. Why guess with other products when you could get this one and guarantee the outcome? Use it with confidence to remove paint and other tough stains from your clothes, and never worry that it won’t work, or what possible damage may occur. The technique above is fool proof, and when cleaning with Quick N Brite, your results are guaranteed.

Tips For Sucess

  1. Use the paste version. Liquid Quick N Brite is great for other jobs, and extremely convenient, but for tough stains like this, you really need the paste.
  2. Wet with HOT water. Heat helps the cleaner work, and a damp surface will allow the stain to lift easier. Prior to each application of cleaner, make sure to wet the area with warm or hot water.
  3. Patience is a virtue. Letting the cleaner sit is key to removing stubborn grime like we did here. Make sure you let each application sit for a period of time, and don’t be surprised if the stain takes more than one attempt to clean.

Products Mentioned:

Remove Blue Paint From A White Shirt - Simply Good Tips

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Never Lose Your Lighter Again! http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/never-lose-lighter/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=never-lose-lighter http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/never-lose-lighter/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 20:10:41 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2945 Gotta light? Of course you do. You’re super smart so you have one always at the ready thanks to your Lighter Holder. Lighter […]

Never Lose Your Lighter Again! - Simply Good Tips

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lighter holderGotta light? Of course you do.

You’re super smart so you have one always at the ready thanks to your Lighter Holder.

Lighter Holder?! What the what?!

Yeah that’s right. All the cool kids are sporting Lighter Holders these days. Why you ask? Because they all know about the wicked buzz kill created by an endless search for a lost lighter. No longer will they be like other suckers out there that dig through pockets, or dump out purses just to find the tiny lighter at the bottom. If someone says “hey bro, you gotta light?” they are able to whip one out within seconds, instead of minutes later, or not at all. When clipped to a set of keys, dangling from a bag, or connected right to a belt loop, these young champions of ingenuity can produce the needed flame without any effort or investigation necessary. Within seconds, the lighter can be located, retrieved, and then used without all of the typical hassle. A Lighter Holder is a simple device that solves an ages old problem, and it may even score you some cool points, or create a new friendship in the process.

How Does It Work?

Glad you asked. The clever design allows for simple operation, and a fail-proof grip on your lighter. It’s made from a solid piece of high quality stainless steel, and it’s also manufactured in the USA so you know the quality is good. The durable device will never wear out, bend or break, and the lightweight, yet sturdy material ensures that it doesn’t add bulk either. It has a carabiner clip at the end to allow for attachment, and it has a tension holster on the other side for your lighter. It’s specifically designed for use with mini Bic lighters so use those for best results, and don’t complain to us if you can’t get it to work with other ones. You were warned. When paired with the intended flame-makers, the fit will be snug, and slipping and falling out will be impossible. The low profile holder will easily connect to your key chain by using the clip and hook, but you can also hang it on just about anything else. Try it on zippers, straps, hooks, rings and more to always have a lighter in a location convenient to you.

When To Use It

Perfect for the youngsters that frequent clubs and concerts, but also great for us older folks too. It’s the perfect accessory for anyone that smokes on a regular basis, but it’s also nice to add to camping, hiking or survival gear. As an outdoors-y style tool it can become indispensable as you always have fire at the ready, and you can easily keep it in a dry and convenient location. Connect to a backpack when you go hiking, clip onto your BBQ scraper for lighting fires prior to cooking, attach to your camp stove to fire it up first thing in the morning, or secure inside a boat or vehicle to use in an emergency. This product was probably designed with the cool kids in mind, but there are many uses relevant to us boring old people too. Get one to make fun times less frustrating, but don’t forget about the more responsible activities it can facilitate as well.

Double Duty

Because a super convenient lighter holder wouldn’t be good enough for some of you hard-to-please folks out there, this one also does something else quite useful. When the clip is open, you can crack open a cold brew with ease because it acts as a bottle opener. Just line it up and flip off the cap to any beer or soda bottle without any effort required. This one tool can get the party started by lifting the cap off the first round of beers, and it can keep the party going by providing a light to anyone on board once the buzz kicks in.

How To Use It

Honestly, a monkey could use this thing, but we’ll provide instructions and tips below for anyone saying to themselves right now “hey monkeys are pretty smart”, and also for those that want to maximize longevity and value for this device.

  1. The most important thing is to use a compatible lighter. Others may work just fine, but this is designed for use with Bic Mini lighters.
  2. The connection method works on tension. To install your lighter, you need to slide it under the tension bar, and then push it all the way in.
  3. Once in place, it will remain securely held until you pull it out. Removal works the same, but in an opposite direction, so pull out to remove.
  4. Pressing upward on the tension bar as you slide the lighter in or out can make it easier.
  5. To attach holder to other objects just use the hook. Press with your thumb to open the hook, then connect. Press back until you hear it click to close shut.
  6. Operating the lighter does not require removal from the holster.
  7. To use as a bottle opener, just flip open the clip, and press onto the cap of your bottle. Rotate upwards to remove.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t fumble around in your pants only to discover that you, in fact, do not have a lighter. Don’t stack the wood for your fire only to discover that your matches are soggy, and no other option is available for miles. Don’t get stranded on your next hike without the essential life saving ability of fire. And don’t waste money on inferior alternatives that are more gimmicky, more breakable, or more prone to wearing out. This amazing little contraption will secure your lighter without fail, and allow you to keep it right where you need it.

Products Mentioned

Never Lose Your Lighter Again! - Simply Good Tips

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5 Killer Baked Potato Recipes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/5-killer-baked-potato-recipes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-killer-baked-potato-recipes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/5-killer-baked-potato-recipes/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 23:48:50 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2915 Tired of the same old side dish. Kick it up a notch to impress friends and family, or just enjoy something delicious. These five baked potato recipes are sure to please.

5 Killer Baked Potato Recipes - Simply Good Tips

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killer baked potatoWho doesn’t enjoy a freshly baked potato with all the toppings? Loading on the stuff at the end can make a boring side a whole lot more appealing, but if you’re tired of the same old stuff, try one of the awesome recipes listed below. They won’t transform your spuds into warriors like the ones above, but they will add mouth watering flavor to this versatile root vegetable. Don’t worry about coming under attack by blood thirsty potato people, but do experiment with the recipes below the next time you need a snack, or want to make the perfect side dish. Each one offers it’s own unique flavor, but everyone is sure to find one that is appealing. Just follow the easy step-by-step instructions, and you’ll be looking like a pro as you enjoy your delicious creation.

1. South Of The Border

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Potatoes
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1/3 Cup Salsa
  • 10 Ounces Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Scallions chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp Sour Cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash potatoes and poke with a fork to prepare for cooking.
  3. Place potatoes into oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  4. While your spuds bake, take a large, nonstick pan and add in your ground beef.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and garlic, then cook until browned.
  6. Drain any fat that has pooled, then add in your salsa, and continue cooking on low for about five minutes.
  7. Set aside once finished.
  8. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, reduce oven temp to 350, and remove all four spuds.
  9. Cut open the skin, and remove the inner white stuff form each potato.
  10. Add all of the innards into a bowl, and then mash. Set skins aside.
  11. Add in your beef mixture, cheese and scallions and stir until blended.
  12. Spoon the mixture back into the skins, then pack tightly into a casserole dish.
  13. Bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven, then dress with one scoop of sour cream before serving.

2. Vegetable Lover’s

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large potatoes
  • 4 small yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, steamed
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 Tbsp Sour cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450
  2. Wash potatoes, and poke with a fork multiple times.
  3. Place all four into the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Take a large frying pan and preheat at medium-high, then add in olive oil.
  5. Saute your squash, mushrooms, garlic and onions until tender, stirring regularly.
  6. At the same time, steam or microwave cauliflower until tender.
  7. Once cooked, set both aside.
  8. Cut open potatoes, and scoop out the insides. Collect the white part of all four spuds in a bowl, and set the skins aside.
  9. Add milk, butter and salt to the bowl, then mash or whip until blended.
  10. Stir in cheese, and mix lightly.
  11. Refill the shells with your mashed insides, then cover with sauteed veggies.
  12. Add a single scoop of sour cream to each potato.
  13. Sprinkle with diced tomatoes, then serve right away.

3. Sunrise Special

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 6 Strips of bacon
  • 10 Tbsp Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Wash and poke potatoes, then place in the oven.
  3. Cook potatoes for 50-60 minutes, or until done.
  4. While your spuds are baking, take a frying pan and cook your bacon.
  5. Once crispy, place bacon on paper towels to cool, then chop or crumble into small pieces.
  6. After the taters are finished, remove from the oven, turn it down to 350, and then use a knife to cut off the top of each spud.
  7. You will now create four bowls by scooping out some of the middle.
  8. Once your bowls are ready, place 1/2 Tbsp of butter into each one.
  9. Carefully break an egg into each bowl, making sure to leave the yolk intact.
  10. Once the egg is in place, top with bacon cheese and parsley.
  11. Transfer to a baking sheet or dish, then cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.
  12. Once egg whites are set, the dish is complete.
  13. Remove from oven and serve.

4. Texas Chili

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Potatoes
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can (8 oz) Tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 oz) Tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz) Kidney beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 Pinch garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Wash and pierce potatoes, then place in oven for 50-60 minutes.
  3. While your taters cook, get a large saucepan, then place it on the stove at medium heat.
  4. Place in beef, and season with salt, pepper, garlic and pepper flakes.
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in onion.
  6. Cook until browned.
  7. Mix in chili powder, then cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to medium low, then pour in tomato paste, sauce, and beans without draining them.
  9. Cover and simmer until potatoes are done. 20-50 minutes.
  10. Remove potatoes from oven, then slice open.
  11. Top with large scoop of chili, and then sprinkle cheese over the top.
  12. Serve immediately.

5. Creamy Goodness

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Potatoes
  • 1 Onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/8 Cup cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp Whole milk
  • 1 pinch garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven. 450 Degrees.
  2. Wash potatoes, and pierce with a fork.
  3. Place prepped spuds into oven, and cook for about an hour.
  4. While they cook, take a frying pan, and heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook bacon until crispy, then reduce heat and set strips aside.
  6. Using the same pan, pour in onion, and saute for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  7. Take a clean bowl and mix cream cheese, milk, onion, and bacon together.
  8. Mix or whip until creamy, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic.
  9. Stir to mix.
  10. Remove potatoes from oven, then cut an x in the top.
  11. Press open slightly, then top with your creamy goodness.
  12. Serve immediately.

 Other Classic Combinations:

  • Just cheese – Shred your favorite, and sprinkle on top.
  • Sour Cream & Chives – Scoop a dollop of cream on top, then sprinkle finely chopped chives over the top.
  • Bacon & Cheese – Cook crispy strips, and chop into bits. Add to the top, then sprinkle with shredded cheese.
  • Ham & Cheese – Use deli meat or baked ham. Cut into small pieces then add to potato. Top with shredded cheese.
  • Baked Beans – Heat some straight from the can, and add a scoop to the top of your cooked potato.

5 Killer Baked Potato Recipes - Simply Good Tips

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Complete Registration Sticker Removal In 5 Easy Steps http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/complete-registration-sticker-removal-5-easy-steps/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=complete-registration-sticker-removal-5-easy-steps http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/complete-registration-sticker-removal-5-easy-steps/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 21:17:24 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2913 It's annoying enough to have to register your car, but changing out the sticker only makes it worse. Discover an easy way to clean it off completely.

Complete Registration Sticker Removal In 5 Easy Steps - Simply Good Tips

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Remove registration or inpection sticker
You know how it goes. It’s time to put your new registration or inspection sticker in place, so you pull off the old one, only to have a good portion of it remain in place. Even if you do get most of it off, a sticky residue will remain to collect dirt, and make your windshield look awful. Unless you’re lazy, don’t care about appearance, or you want your new sticker to roll up at the corners, and peel off right away, you’ll want to clean the glass, and remove every last bit before applying the new one. Most of us will begin scrubbing with a pad, picking with our fingers, or spraying blindly with blue liquid and other useless cleaners. These methods may eventually work, but the amount of effort required will verge on ridiculous. If you would prefer to save the sweat for the gym, and completely remove any sticker from your windshield easily, then continue reading for our simple, 5 step process. Just for giggles, we’ll also include some of the commonly passed around techniques for this job for anyone that needs a laugh, or wants to struggle with removal.

The Stuff You’ll Need

You only need two things to complete this job. You may have one or the other already, but they are both powerful and versatile, so if you get them for just this job, they’ll pay for themselves in the convenience they offer. Once finished, you’ll be able to continue using them for hundreds of other tasks and they will be amazing at those jobs too.

  • Quick n Brite. You can get it here. It’s available in multiple sizes, and in two different versions. You only need a very small amount to create the diluted spray used for this job. You could literally find the change necessary to cover the cost of the spray you will create by looking under your seats. Using the liquid will be easiest, but you can also melt the paste. Take about three tablespoons, and mix it into one quart of hot water to create an all-purpose cleaner. This spray will be awesome for stains on clothes, greasy counters in your kitchen, cleaning the dashboard in your car, and much more, but it’s also the perfect substance for melting away that registration sticker so it slides right off the glass.
  • Good cleaning cloth. Find them here. You ‘ll also need a microfiber cloth to complete the job. You may have one already, but keep in mind, quality does matter with these. If you don’t already have one, or if you want a better one, we have a wide selection available. The one we used in the demonstration that follows, is our multipurpose cloth. After the Quick N Brite does it’s job, it makes the perfect tool to wipe the windshield clean and leave no spots, dirt or lint behind. After this job is complete, continue to use it for windows, mirrors, walls, counters, stainless steel appliances and more. It can clean all sorts of stuff with only water as a detergent.

How To Do It

Before you get started, you’ll want to gather your supplies. If you had old residue on there that’s been baked in by the sun, you may want to use the paste version of Quick n Brite. For most people just cleaning the single layer of gooey sticker left by one that’s been on there for a year or two, the liquid mixture mentioned above will work just fine. Paste is also a great option if you’re concerned about dripping, but you could also just lay your rag down when you spray on the liquid. Quick n Brite is the key to this technique, so if you’re just gonna try what you already have, you may as well continue searching the internet, and attempt method after method using vinegar and other stuff you do have at home. For those of you not messing around, and those that just want guaranteed results, our technique that follows will have your new sticker on the window in a matter of minutes. Once you have your cleaner, and dry cloth ready, you’re all set to proceed to step one.

Step 1

The first step is to peel off your old sticker. Don’t work too hard, but do try to take off as much as possible. Once your windshield looks like the one in the picture above, you will be ready to move on to step number two. This same method will work fro inspection stickers, bumper stickers, decals, and any other window sticker you have on your car. The four steps that follow will take your back window or windshield from sticky mess to sparkling clean in less than ten minutes, and with absolutely no scrubbing, or risk of damage.

Step 2 Spraying on the cleaner

Step 2

Once most of the paper has been peeled away, you’ll be left with the outside frame, or some portion left stuck in place. Sometimes it’s just that annoying white layer, and sometimes it’s almost invisible, but still incredibly sticky. If you neglect to take it off, dirt and dust would stick like glue, and your new sticker would have trouble staying in place. To begin the removal process, just take your spray bottle, and coat liberally with your heavy solution. To prevent moisture from getting into vents and other areas that might be underneath, just spread out your cloth first, and it will absorb anything that falls. If you’re applying the paste instead, use a damp cloth, or your finger to scoop some up, and then wipe it all over where the residue is. Once you finish, it should look something like the picture above. As soon as you have this done, proceed to the next step.

Step 3

After applying the cleaner, you need to let it sit. Just let it soak in for  a few minutes. If you don’t let it sit, then it will not have time to work, and the sticky stuff will still be tough to get off, just like when you use other cleaning products. If you do let it sit for 1-5 minutes, the cleaner will begin to break apart the goo, and it will then lift it up, slightly off the surface. At this point, if you take your finger, and just press against it, it will begin to slide around. If it’s not quite slippery enough, allow it to sit for longer, or apply a bit more cleaner. Once you do achieve the slippery surface, it’s time to move on, and get that decal off.

Step 3 Let it sit

Step 4

Once the cleaner has time to work, the surface will not longer feel sticky. It will feel slippery as you touch it, and the stuff that used to be glued in place, will be totally movable in most places. Proceed to use your finger to pull off the larger chunks, and continue until the surface is mostly clean. This should only take you a few seconds, and you don’t really have to worry about being thorough. Just get most of it off to prepare for wiping with your cloth.

Step 4 begin removal

Step 5

Now that you have it mostly clean, use your microfiber cloth to wipe down your windshield, and completely remove every last spec of registration sticker. A single, back and forth swipe is usually sufficient to complete this last step, and after you do, the glass should be completely free of grime, and totally streak free and polished. Once dry, it will look like the picture above, and you will be all set to proceed with putting the new one in place.

Totally clean windshield
Now that your windshield is sparkling, and there’s not one sign of anything sticky, you can apply your new registration, without worry that it will peel up, or fall off prematurely. The cleaner used is totally safe and non-toxic, so you don’t run any risk of damage. It will not discolor any material or harm the glass in any way. It does not employ harsh chemicals to burn and fry the sticker, instead, it utilizes natural ingredients to gently and effectively break down the grime and then float it off the surface. Allowing it time to work eliminates the need for scrubbing, or straining due to inadequate products.

Now, just for fun, lets review some of the ridiculous recommendations you can find if you continue searching the internet. It’s at least good for a nice laugh, but it will also give you some ideas of what other people are using to attempt this job. We would obviously recommend that you avoid the razor blades and baby oil listed below, but hey, some people like a challenge.

Commonly recommended tools for this job.

  1. Knife – Whether plastic or metal, this tool is mentioned as a good one for picking away at the glued on sticker. It will allow you to get underneath, but you may be risking damage, and who the heck would want to work that hard anyway.
  2. Razor Blade – These are better used for opening boxes, but lots of folks will tell you to use a plastic or metal one to get up as much sticker as possible. You could scratch away, and pick of sticky goo all afternoon, but that sounds silly in contrast to our method above.
  3. Credit Card – Used as another tool for peeling stuff away, it would honestly be faster if you just pulled it out to place your order for some Quick N Brite. Instead of picking away for the next three days, you could just wait for your package to arrive, and then finish the job in as little as five minutes.
  4. Rubbing Alcohol – A commonly recommended supply, this stuff is tough to use properly for this job. If we lived in zero gravity, it would work way better, but in order to dissolve the goo as intended, you really have to saturate the material, and intense picking or scrubbing will still be necessary.
  5. Vinegar – Similar to the rubbing alcohol, this stuff is widely mentioned, but if you don’t apply and let it sit, then re-apply, then let it sit, and then re-apply again, and again, and again, it’s not going to work. It’s nice because most people already have it, but without a good amount of effort, it will be tough to completely clean the surface.
  6. Baby Oil – Intended as a tool to loosen the really stuck stuff, this and other oils are recommended as a way to loosen stubborn goo after you have picked for a while. It can help some, but it’s certainly not fool-proof.
  7. Soap and Water – Not sure why anyone would try regular soap and water. If that worked, none of you would be reading this page. Skip this one unless you are a glutton for punishment.
  8. Methylated spirits – Have some of this at home? We didn’t think so. Who does? IF you did have some, you could try it as a solvent to dissolve the residue.
  9. Heat – Simple, but surprisingly effective, a hot day, or running the defroster can actually soften the goo, and make it easier to pick off. You’ll still be picking, but heat we can all come up with, and it should ease the chore if you give it a try.
  10. Peanut Butter – Yep. People actually recommend this, and even smarter people actually try it. Just like the baby oil, it should loosen the residue, but who wants to slather food all over their car just to take a sticker off. Why not just make a sandwich while you let the Quick N Brite sit and do the work for you?

Have your own tip or fool proof method for completing this job? We would love to hear about it, and it may help others too. Use the comments section below to add your method here, or use the submit a tip link above to send it directly.

These same tools will work with similar cleaning techniques to remove sticky stuff, old stickers, and yucky residues from almost any surface. For more information about how to do it, and clean more than just your windshield, click here.

Products Mentioned

  • Quick N Brite Cleaner - Buy It
  • Multipurpose Microfiber Cloth - Buy It

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Creativity And Exercise Combined http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/creativity-exercise-combined/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=creativity-exercise-combined http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/creativity-exercise-combined/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 00:27:55 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2840 Looking for a way to encourage kids to get outside and play? Want to increase enjoyment when they ride bikes, or use a […]

Creativity And Exercise Combined - Simply Good Tips

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chalktrail in actionLooking for a way to encourage kids to get outside and play? Want to increase enjoyment when they ride bikes, or use a scooter? Then check out the Chalktrail. It comes in two versions, and it quickly attaches to existing equipment in order to add an artistic flare to your child’s bike or scooter. Once in place, it will transform the ride on toy, and turn it into a giant instrument for making art. As an added bonus, your child will need to get their blood pumping, and body moving in order to draw and create. It’s awesome when used solo by a single child, but craziness, and complicated designs will result when several kids play together. All they have to do is ride or scoot like normal, and a bold, colorful line will follow them wherever they go. By turning and twisting as they ride, geometric designs and colorful pathways will begin to emerge. Once they master the technique, the possibilities will be endless, and they’ll begin to create games, or improve output as drawings and enjoyment improve with use.

How Does It Work?

You won’t need any tools to install it, and there’s no permanent hardware to attach. Either version can pop on and off in a matter of seconds, but they stay securely in place while being used. The clever attachment method allows kids to take them on or off whenever they feel like it, and it makes it easy to share or move to new bikes as children grow. The main frame of the toy is like a wishbone clamp. At the end there will be little cylinders that attach to the rear wheel at the center. At the other end of the Chalktrail, you can see the actual chalk holder part. A simple tab system grips by tension, so chalk pieces are held secure, but they’re also easy to replace. Once installed on the bike or scooter, and after chalk is in place, the holder will cause it to press against the ground at all times. The curving shape, and exacting angles provide the perfect amount of pressure and support to ensure that frustration is eliminated, and chalk lines will follow, every inch of the way.

How To Install It

  1. Parental guidance is not required, but children should be made familiar before left to do it themselves.
  2. To attach it, simply pull the arms apart to separate, and then line up with the rear hub.
  3. Once it position, release the arms to clamp the holder in place.
  4. Double check alignment to make sure each side is correctly aligned and secure.
  5. Once it’s on, install a piece of chalk by squeezing the tabs to open the tension holder.
  6. Insert a piece of chalk, and then release the tabs to hold it in place.
  7. For the bike version, adjust the angle of the end piece to account for tire size.
  8. After it’s installed, double check to make sure it’s touching the road, and then ride like normal to draw and exercise at the same time.

ChalkTrail For Bikes

This version is compatible with nearly any bicycle out there. It works with beginner bikes and larger adult, mountain bikes all the same. It doesn’t matter what the wheel size is, and you can even use it with training wheels installed. In order to account for differing wheel sizes, this one has an adjustable chalk holder at the end that rotates to provide the perfect angle. When you attach it, it will connect to the rear hub, over the nut that holds the wheel in place.

ChalkTrail For Scooters

Use this one on almost any scooter that kids ride. It works with any razor style scooter, and clamps onto the back wheel in much the same way the bike one does. Because wheel size is pretty consistent with scooters, no angle adjustment is present on this model.

What’s Included

You don’t need any hardware, and there is no assembly required. The actual toy is a single piece, and the standard package for either version comes complete with the holder and one piece of chalk to get you started. Extra chalk can be purchased separately, or combined as a combo to save you money. A single piece will last for 1.5 miles of colorful drawings, but children never seem to have enough, so to keep the fun going longer, stock up ahead of time.

Riding bikes is fun, but when you can prove where you’ve been, create paths and trails to follow, or draw amazing designs as you swerve down the street, the fun level increases quickly. Children will be so focused on what they are making, they won’t realize how much exercise they are getting. Instead of sitting around playing video games, or whining about how bored they are, you can give them something to do that will promote creative thinking, and a healthy lifestyle. Once they’re so tired out from pushing the limits of what this toy can do, you will notice improved attitudes, decreased laziness, and an improved desire to get outside and think for themselves. Get one to encourage outdoor play, or get one to make other kids in the neighborhood jealous. It’s guaranteed to please, and it won’t take long before little Jimmy is riding down the street, laying down chalk every inch of the way.

Products Mentioned

Creativity And Exercise Combined - Simply Good Tips

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Cleaning A Sandstone Surround http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-sandstone-surround/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cleaning-sandstone-surround http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-sandstone-surround/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 22:45:45 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2865 Although sandstone is a porous material, it can be quite easy to clean. Even with tough stains caused by soot. Discover a safe method that's highly effective.

Cleaning A Sandstone Surround - Simply Good Tips

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cleaning sandstoneThe black grime created by burning fires can be pretty difficult to remove, and that’s probably why our article on cleaning fireplace soot is so popular. It provides a generalized method to clean any mantle or hearth material, but it doesn’t go into specifics with regard to slight variations in technique for certain surfaces. Sandstone is one of the more delicate materials used in fireplace construction, so it’s not surprising that we received an email from Carol wondering how to clean it. Lucky for her, and anyone else reading this now, it is possible to thoroughly clean it without any risk to the surface, and without resorting to dangerously toxic chemicals. If you have a similar surface in your home, whether it is a surround or a counter in your kitchen, it can be safely and effectively cleaned with Quick N Brite.

Question:

I have a new sandstone fireplace surround that has some soot in a section above the opening. Although it is a gas burning fireplace, we think one of the grandchildren threw papers into it, thus creating the soot. I have read about the Quick n Brite method, but don’t know which of the products I should use——spray on liquid, or paste or ?? I am ready to give it a try so would appreciate an quick response. Thank you, Carol

Answer:

We’re glad that Carol submitted this question, and we’re sure that the answer below will provide the detail necessary to complete the job. The quick answer would be yes, use Quick n Brite to achieve amazing results.  The longer answer that follows, will detail when and/or why you would chose the paste or the liquid, along with how you would apply each version to complete the cleaning process. Anyone else will be able to use the same techniques to clean counter tops, flooring, surrounds and other things made from the same material. To understand why sandstone can be a difficult material to clean, its important to understand what it is, and how it’s different from other common stones used in construction.

What Is Sandstone

Sandstone is a relatively soft stone that’s also referred to as arenit in some cases. It’s a sedimentary rock that’s composed of mostly sand, but you’ll also find similar size rocks and mineral bits mixed in. It is formed when quartzite stones erode as a result of wind and water breaking it down over a long period of time. The tiny pieces will then build up slowly in order to form a solid mass. Sandstone is mostly made up of feldspar and quartz particles. It comes in many colors, but it’s most commonly found in shades of tan, brown, pink and gray. Sandstone has been a popular building material since ancient times because it’s pretty soft, so carving it to shape is easy, even with primitive tools. Some versions are resistant to weathering, but others will require sealing in order to provide long lasting durability. Because it’s naturally porous, it can absorb stains more so than other stones, and the delicate nature can make it difficult to clean without causing harm.

How To Clean It

Although it’s pretty delicate, and incompatible with many harsh cleaners and abrasive tools, sandstone can be quite simple to clean. By choosing Quick N Brite, you can be confident that you won’t change the color, erode the surface, or contaminate the air, and because you don’t need to scrub like crazy, you can be sure that you won’t scratch or mark the surface either. It will be effective on all types of dirt and stains, but for the purpose of the directions below, we will talk about removing the black soot stain that Carol is concerned about. Because soot is one of the toughest types of grime you will ever encounter, any technique mentioned for smoke damage will certainly work with regular dirt and greasy build up too. If anything, you would just modify to a more diluted application if the dirt is not so stubborn or prone to staining.

Before you begin, you’ll want to determine the severity of the job, in order to decide which version, or technique you will use. For light staining, a completely liquid application should work fine. For really tough build up, the paste will give the best results with the least amount of effort. A combination technique is optional, but it may speed the process, improve results, and allow for fewer applications to achieve a spotless surface.

Liquid

When using this version for periodic maintenance or light cleaning of new or small black stains, you’ll want to mix it up and dilute it into water. To make a heavy solution that will work perfect for this job, pour 3-6 tablespoons into a quart spray bottle, fill the rest of the way with hot water, and then shake to mix it together. Once you have your cleaner mixed, follow the steps below to clean the surface.

  1. To prepare the surface, use a vacuum, or a dry cloth to dust and/or vacuum the area in order to eliminate any loose chunks of dirt that will only compound the problem once you add liquid.
  2. Once the dry debris has been cleared away, spray on your cleaner making sure to cover the whole area.
  3. When applying the cleaner, be sure to use a liberal amount, and cover all parts of the stain.
  4. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. After it sits, take a damp terry cloth towel, and gently blot and buff the area in order to lift the stain.
  6. The black color will lift off the sandstone, and transfer to the towel. If any remains, reapply the cleaner, and then buff again until gone.
  7. If more than two applications are required, you should have used a stronger formulation, so continue to the paste method below.

Paste

The paste offers full strength cleaning power, but it’s not any more harsh on the surface you are working with. When you use this version, you will apply it full strength using a damp terry cloth towel. Because the stain is probably tough, you’ll also let it sit longer in order to let it work. When it sits on the grime for a long period, it does not affect the material, but it does break down the organic material causing the stain, release it’s bond with the surface, and then gently float it to make it easy to wipe away.

  1. For this method, or any other, it’s important to vacuum away or wipe any loose dirt. This makes your job easier.
  2. Once the surface is ready, take a damp cloth, and then dip it into your tub of paste to collect a good amount on the towel.
  3. Use a circular motion to apply the paste to the stained area like you are waxing a car.
  4. No scrubbing is required, but use an up and down, or circular motion to cover all areas and ensure proper penetration of the grime.
  5. Once applied allow to sit for up to 50 minutes.
  6. After sitting, take another clean towel, and get it damp.
  7. Use a similar motion to remove the cleaner, and all of the loosened stain.
  8. The dark color will lift off the surface, and transfer to the towel.
  9. If more stain remains, use a second application to completely remove it.
  10. Once the cleaning is finished, lightly spray with water and wipe with a dry towel, or take another clean damp towel to buff the surface and make sure all the residual cleaner is removed.

Combo Method

Using a combination of liquid and paste can cut down on your effort, but also make the job take less time. For this technique, you will spray the area first, then apply the paste. This ensures maximum coverage and thorough penetration. It also speeds up the break down, and makes the stain lift a little bit easier. It will require you to have both versions on hand, but you can always make liquid form paste if you only have the one version. Simply melt on a low setting on the stove, or in your microwave, and then add to water as instructed above. Just be careful because it melts quickly and holds heat well. For ease of use, and thoroughness of cleaning, this technique is tough to beat. For really stubborn grime, it may also help you avoid a second application due to the increased efficiency.

  1. Prep area to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spray on liquid like in technique one.
  3. Use a damp towel to apply a good amount of paste on top.
  4. Work the cleaner in.
  5. Let it sit for 30-50 minutes.
  6. Take a clean towel and buff out the stain.

Prevention

In order to protect against staining over time, it is highly recommended that you seal the sandstone surface. The material is very porous, so it can absorb liquids and other materials in order to create long lasting discoloration to make it look dirty. Not only will a proper seal prevent stains from settling in the first place, it will also make them easier to remove when they do occur. There are many different products on the market that are able to seal the surface, so consult with the manufacturer of your tile or stone in order to determine which one might be best.

For a safe and gentle cleaner that will remove nearly any stain from sandstone, Quick N Brite is a great choice. It contains no harsh chemicals or harmful abrasives, and it doesn’t even smell bad. It works by naturally breaking down the staining, and then surrounding it so it lifts off the surface easily. You run absolutely no risk to your fireplace when you clean with it, and it quickly takes out stains that other cleaners don’t work on. Because you don’t even have to scrub, you never have to worry about marks or other damage on the surface. If you’ve tried other stuff in the past that didn’t work, or if you are just wondering what works best, you will not be disappointed. It’s totally safe for use around food, children and pets, and it comes with a full money back guarantee because it works so well. For a fool proof method that has proven to eliminate tough stains, stop searching the internet, and try this amazing natural cleaner.

Please Note

If you don’t’ take our advise, it won’t hurt our feelings, but please make sure to avoid products that contain alkaline, acid, ammonia or bleach if you choose to use a cleaner you already have. Any of these substances can break down the sealant layer, and make the job more difficult. Even if you don’t choose Quick N Brite, you should select a neutral cleaner that is formulated to handle natural surfaces like sandstone.

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Relieve Pain Naturally http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/relieve-pain-naturally/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=relieve-pain-naturally http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/relieve-pain-naturally/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 03:38:36 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2873 Pain pills are dangerous and unhealthy, but there are alternatives you may not know about. Natural options are just as effective without any side effects.

Relieve Pain Naturally - Simply Good Tips

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Are you sick of the pain? How about the endless pills and the damage they do to your body? Nobody should have to live their lives popping medicine all day, and it turns out there are many things you can do to get rid of the pain in a more natural way. Chronic joint discomfort, or back problems can make simple everyday tasks a complete chore due to agonizing pain. The good news is that most of the hurting is caused by inflammation, and there are many ways to eliminate it, and make yourself feel better without reaching into your medicine cabinet. Although your typical NSAID does seem to work, they also come with a whole host of side effects you may not be aware of.

It doesn’t matter if your pills are off the shelf or via the pharmacy, they all come with a certain level of risk, and a known amount of side effects. Once you swallow any of them, you open yourself to the risk of gastrointestinal problems, kidney trouble, liver damage, delays in muscle regeneration, and the reduction in healing of ligaments, tendons and cartilage. When you try anything else instead, you can get the same level of relief without much of the risk, but it’s tough to know which alternative to try when discomfort builds. There are two main categories of treatments when looking at natural alternatives, so the first thing to decide is whether you should ingest something, rub something on, or do both. Once you decide the delivery method, relief should quickly follow.

Below you will find a list of commonly used alternatives that are proven to work. Variations, combinations or things not listed may be more effective in some cases, depending on the exact problem you’re trying to fix, but keep reading to find out what works for most people when treating common problems.

Ingestible

Foods, herbs and dietary supplements are all ingestible remedies that can reduce inflammation, heal muscles and take away pain. These will not offer the fastest fix, but they will offer more long term benefits. It’s always recommended to consult with a doctor or other professional prior to using any new pain reliever because even natural options can react and interfere with medications you may be already taking. A change in diet, a one time treatment, or a life-long vitamin habit have all been proven to reduce pain in joints, and chronic pain in other areas.

Vitamin C

The perfect vitamin for combating the common cold, Vitamin C is also useful for reducing inflammation and helping to promote collagen production. One of the easiest ways to benefit from this nutrient is to increase your consumption of foods like oranges, broccoli, peppers and other fresh produce, but you can also take it in supplement form. Because high levels tend to increase the benefits, even people with perfect diets may want to take a pill on a regular basis too. When optimal levels are achieved, and maintained, swelling should decrease, and your body should begin to produce more cartilage. Once this takes place, friction will lessen, and you will feel less pain when moving around.

Vitamin D

This nutrient is tough to consume naturally, but fortified foods like milk and cereal are a couple viable sources. Several studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with increased levels of chronic pain, so consuming more may help to eliminate sensations that other options fail to remedy. When consumed at high levels, vitamin D has all sorts of benefits, but specific to pain, it can reduce chronic pain, joint pain, and symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Ginger Root

Not just for baking, this medicinal root can also cure upset stomachs and fight pain all over your body. For headaches, joint discomfort, cramps and other minor problems, this could be the natural option you’re looking for. When consumed, it will trigger endorphin production, and that’s how your body naturally reduces painful sensations, so it really just augments, and initiates your own intrinsic abilities. It’s available in supplement form, but you can also find chews and lozenges that offer adequate delivery methods. As with anything else, eating foods that contain it will be one of the best ways to consume it, so try some tea, or add a honey ginger coating to your favorite fish.

Omega 3’s

Commonly found in fish oil, plants like algae, seeds like chia and flax, or nuts, this special oil can be administered to reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. It can be consumed in supplement form, or by upping your intake of foods that contain it. Real food sources are always the best, but gel caps of the right quality may be easier for some. This option is good for nerve pain, headaches, back aches, and even arthritis. Fresh fish like salmon and sardines offer some of the best sources for this oil.

Curcumin

This remedy goes back a long way, and has been used for centuries in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It’s derived from turmeric, and it’s widely employed as an anti-inflammatory agent. Research is pretty clear on it’s benefits for those with arthritis, but it can also help with other chronic and neurodegenerative conditions. One easy way to consume more of this nutrient is to eat more Indian food because it’s heavily used in most curries.

Topical

Topical treatments are those that you rub on, or apply directly to your skin in some other way. These can offer some of the quickest routes to relief, but the effects may be more temporary when compared to other techniques that work more internally. One thing is for sure, when joints are swollen, or muscles ache, using one of the natural methods below will definitely make you feel better. Because the material is pretty powerful, you’ll want to make sure that your skin is not broken in any way before you apply it. You’ll also want to avoid the use of a heating pad or any bandage over the top, and you should definitely wash your hands right when you finish. If you neglect to clean up after the treatment, you may end up irritating your eyes or areas of sensitive skin if it transfers from your hands.

Hot and/or Cold Packs

One of the most simple remedies, can also offer some of the fastest relief. When you apply one or the other, or alternate between the two, you may be able to quickly reduce pain in sore joints and muscles. Although you may think to grab a tube of gel or cream from the medicine cabinet, it’s best to stick with actual ice or a heating pad for this type of therapy. Try cold to reduce swelling, or try hot to soothe stressed out muscles.

Arnica

This is a pretty standard homeopathic remedy for life’s bumps and bruises. It has been used for centuries to soothe muscle aches due to it’s special ability to heal soft tissues quickly. Just rub some on in cream form instead of popping ibuprofen,. It can eliminate muscle pain, heal bruises, reduce swelling and more. Never apply to broken skin, but do apply liberally whenever pain becomes unbearable, or accidents happen.

Comfrey

This medicinal plant has been used for ever to help older people treat the symptoms of arthritis. Once applied, it can reduce swelling in joints, and that has shown to decrease pain significantly. For this reason, it’s also useful for sprains and strains, and is known to help sports injuries heal faster. A light coating right to the area that is hurting or swollen will quickly make a difference, and help promote a faster recovery.

Capsaicin

The perfect ingredient for any salsa or taco dish, this fiery compound is more than just a heat component. It is the main thing that makes a chili pepper a chili pepper, and it may feel hot when first applied, but afterward, it will begin to reduce pain in any area you place it. Rub on right where it hurts to treat muscle aches, sore backs and other common problems.

Support

In some cases, painful sensations are due to weak muscle groups, or prolonged periods in the same position. Once your body gets tired of holding up a part, it lets you know by delivering a message to the area. If you know you have a weak back, or if you will be sitting for a long time, using a back support on your chair can eliminate the pain that usually builds over time. Instead of being tired and strained, it will be stretched and supported to maintain alignment, and help make up for any strength issues in the area.

Natural remedies can be just as effective as store bought medicines, and in some cases they work even better without any introduction of harsh side effects. Instead of destroying your liver with more pain pills, try one of the simple and effective methods above, and help your body to heal in a more natural way. You may be surprised at how effective they are, and how simple they are to administer. Once you become less dependent on ibuprofen and acetamedaphin, your body will begin to repair itself and the occurrence of pain and swelling will decrease.

Have your own natural methods? The list above is good, but it could never be complete. There are many ways to eliminate pain without turning to drugs, and our list includes some of the best, but not every one in existence. If you use a food, supplement or topical trestment that we didn’t mention, please use the comments section below to share your secret.

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Do Carpet Rakes Really Work? http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/carpet-rakes-really-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=carpet-rakes-really-work http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/carpet-rakes-really-work/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 21:16:34 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2866 Thinking about getting this tool to solve your pet fur problems. Find out how well it works, and if there are other tools that are better.

Do Carpet Rakes Really Work? - Simply Good Tips

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carpet rakeThis question comes to us from Ilene. She’s clearly a pet owner, and it sounds like she may be up to her eyeballs in shedding fur. Like anyone else in this situation, she’s searching for answers, and on the quest for the perfect tool. Many of the traditional products we use for cleaning our homes, don’t work well if you want to eliminate pet hair from rugs and carpets, so pet lovers often employ specialized tools in order to remain best friends with Fido, and keep a clean house, free of flying fur and pesky allergens. On her search, Ilene stumbled upon a certain device, and then sent us the following question:

Question:

I heard about this carpet cleaning brush (rug rake) that lifts pet hair from the carpet. Do you recommend it? I didn’t see anything listed, but it’s suppose to be “the best” cleaning tool especially for pet hair. It’s called the universal rug rake. Maybe you should post it on this sight. Thank you

Answer:

In a word, yes. Rug rakes do actually work, and pet owners of all kinds seem to get good results when using them to pull hair from carpeting. The one you mention is similar to others, but there are some variations in material and design, and that can affect performance, or limit the types of material you can use them on. As with anything, there will be pluses and minuses to consider, so continue reading to learn more about carpet rakes than you ever cared to. This may be the tool for you, or you may decide that an alternative is a better fit once you know more about them.

What Is a Carpet Rake?

Similar in appearance to a broom, or a large pet brush, these so-called rakes don’t really look like the tool you use in your backyard to collect leaves. They will all have long handles so you can use them standing up, but that is where the similarities end. The specialized heads on these tools are usually made from thin metal needles, or some sort of plastic. Many are not really made for pet hair, so pet owners will want to be careful which one they choose. Some are designed for revitalizing long pile carpeting more than lifting up fur, so it’s important to select the style more suited for cleaning. The Universal Rug Rake that Ilene is curious about is designed for hair, and it looks like an oversize cat brush on a long stick. The tiny “bristles” are positioned closely together, and they are moderately long. When used on a rug or carpet, the metal pins will dig down deep, lift up fur, and collect it right on the head.

How To Use It

The operation of this tool is pretty simple, and obvious based on appearance.

  1. To prepare, ensure the head is clean, and screwed on securely.
  2. Extend handle to desired length, then tighten in place.
  3. Press the head against your rug, and apply light pressure.
  4. To clean, pull back using short strokes.
  5. For best results, use firm pressure, and press down harder for deeper carpet.
  6. Work in one area at a time, and move systematically across the floor.
  7. Fur will collect in the bristles, so use your hands or a comb to remove hair, and empty into  the trash.

Benefits

The following list will include the main benefits of using a carpet rake, and for the benefit of Ilene, we have kept it specific to the model she is interested in. Many of these will be true for other versions as well, but some will be unique to this particular product.

  • Works on carpets and rugs inside, but also on upholstery in your home or vehicle.
  • Pulls out fur that vacuums and other tools leave behind.
  • Tin plated bristles are reinforced and secured in a plastic frame for extra durability.
  • Lightweight and easy to operate.
  • Compacts for storage, and handle telescopes for convenience while cleaning.
  • Fast and effective.
  • Holds onto fur. (This may be a downside for some)
  • Quiet, and non-electric.

Drawbacks

Although this tool does work well, there are some clear downsides to the purchase that you should be aware of in order to make a decision you’ll be comfortable with. Most folks that use them are generally happy, but it can be a costly, and limited tool when compared to others. Take a look at the list of drawbacks to follow, and then continue reading to learn about an alternative that may give you more bang for your buck, while still getting your rugs cleaner than ever.

  • Expensive. This tool can cost as much as 30 or 40 dollars.
  • Limited. Great at the job it was designed for, but useless for anything else. This tool is a one trick pony.
  • Short. It does have an extension pole, but it’s only four feet long. Many people would be annoyed by the hunched over cleaning that will be required.
  • Low Pile. It will produce good results with shorter nap, but for shag and other high pile options it may get stuck or cause damage.
  • Loose. This model in particular seems to have a pretty cheap handle, so many users have trouble keeping it extended. With added force, the head can even come loose to cause further annoyance.

The Alternative

A rubber broom is a low cost alternative to this tool, and it works in much the same way. It will also pull hair from deep down, and remove fur that your vacuum leaves behind. But unlike the rug rake, you can also use it on other flooring to collect fur, and it doubles as a scrub brush and squeegee for even more functionality. Instead of holding onto all of the hair you sweep up, it will form a neat little pile that you can easily move to a dust pan without touching. It’s extremely gentle on any material, and it will work with all lengths of carpeting. The sturdy handle telescopes for optimal sizing, or working in tight spaces, but instead of the short length the rake offers, it has a longer, full-length handle. Because the head is made from rubber, the correct technique will build a static charge to prevent fur from flying, and pull in pieces that the bristles don’t touch.

Why Use One?

  • Commercial grade quality.
  • Multi-job versatility.
  • Long lasting performance.
  • Ability to clean carpets, hardwood, linoleum and any other surface.
  • Sturdy parts that don’t come loose, or wear out.
  • Fast and efficient. Allows you to eliminate shedding fur.

Want to know more? Read more about removing pet hair from carpets using a rubber broom.

Have your own question? Ask us for help.

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Mango Salsa Recipe http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/mango-salsa-recipe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mango-salsa-recipe http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/mango-salsa-recipe/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 22:47:08 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2838 Spicy is awesome, but sometimes a nice hint of sweetness will create the perfect blend of flavors, and allow you to make a […]

Mango Salsa Recipe - Simply Good Tips

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mango-salsaSpicy is awesome, but sometimes a nice hint of sweetness will create the perfect blend of flavors, and allow you to make a more appropriate sauce or dip. You might not want to chomp down on fruit when enjoying a taco or burrito, but when scooping with a chip, or adding to entrees like fish, the sweet and hot combination can provide the perfect complimentary flavor. The tropical yumminess of the mango blends well with the strong bite of the jalapeno, and together they will enhance exotic dishes, or just give a new flavor to stuff you already love. The simple recipe below is easy to make at home, and anyone can prepare it by hand to impress friends and family. Use one of our spin top choppers to speed up the process and improve the results, or cut everything by hand if you don’t mind taking the time. Electronic food processors can also be employed, but be careful to leave chunks, and avoid turning the ingredients into a messy, red soup.

Ingredients

  1. 2 medium size ripe tomatoes (quartered)
  2. 1/4 medium size onion
  3. 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  4. 2 cloves fresh garlic
  5. 1 tsp. garlic salt
  6. 1 tsp pepper
  7. 2 tbsp lemon juice
  8. 1 jalapeno (hot), 1/3 jalapeno (mild),  2/3 jalapeno (medium)
  9. 1 medium size ripe mango

Directions

  1. If chopping by hand, cut all ingredients into tiny cubes separately, and then combine together.
  2. If using a chopper, place all ingredients inside, and then apply the lid. Spin to chop and mix at the same time. More rotations will result in finer pieces.
  3. Once blended to the ideal size and consistency, add in the mango, replace the lid, and spin again.
  4. Once finished, remove from the container to serve. Use as a dip for chips, topping for meats, etc.

Most people avoid making salsa at home because it seems impossible to chop by hand with a knife, and electric food processors produce a pureed paste that’s just not the same. If you like a perfectly chunky salsa filled with fresh ingredients, one of our choppers will quickly become your new best friend. You can see into the container as you chop, so you can easily get the perfect consistency to suit your tastes. Anything from large chunks to smaller pico-style pieces are possible when you use this tool, and it could not be faster or more fool-proof to operate. You can even make a liquid mush if you prefer, just keep on spinning until it looks the way you want. Not only will a spin top chopper allow you to make restaurant quality salsa at home, it will also reduce the effort it takes, and eliminate the number of dishes required. You will be able to enjoy this popular condiment, and it will be easy to alter the recipe to please your taste buds, or create your own special recipe.

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Five Ways To Cook A Baked Potato http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/five-ways-cook-baked-potato/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-ways-cook-baked-potato http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/five-ways-cook-baked-potato/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 21:18:03 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2824 Don't avoid baked potatoes because you think it's too hard, or too time consuming. Read about five different ways to prepare them quickly and easily.

Five Ways To Cook A Baked Potato - Simply Good Tips

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five ways to bake a potato Rich in potassium and vitamin C, but also utterly delicious as a meal or side dish. Baked potatoes often get a bad wrap because they take so long to cook, and they are relatively high in the oft vilified carbohydrates. Despite the perceived difficulty, and misguided avoidance, they can actually be quite easy to prepare, and in a lot of ways, they rival some of the healthiest vegetables when you tally up all of the vitamins and nutrients, especially when you eat the skin. If you’re looking for the perfect pair for that steak on the grill, or if you just want a hearty snack late at night, cooking a potato, and slathering on your favorite toppings, may be just what the doctor ordered. It doesn’t matter if you plan to melt some cheese on top, pour on homemade chili, or just keep it simple with a thick slice of butter, the initial cooking process will be the same. Once prepared to perfection, you can continue to add on whatever ingredients you prefer in order to create a delicious side or main course to enjoy.

Speed and technique will vary depending upon which method you choose below. They will all result in a similar texture, and level of doneness on the inside, but the outside will only be crispy if you use the oven for some portion of the cooking process. No matter which method you select, the most important step is the one at the beginning where you poke holes in the skin. If you skip this step, heat and pressure will build up inside the spud until it causes an explosion to let the steam out. Unless you want to clean up a mess, and start all over, be sure to puncture your potatoes with a fork after you wash them. Continue reading to find out about five different ways to bake a potato and have it turn out perfect.

1. In The Oven

The most traditional way, and the method that offers the best finished product, but also one of the most time consuming ways to do it. When using a conventional oven, you will have to wait about an hour to enjoy your russets, but if you wait it out, and do it right, you  are pretty much guaranteed to have a finished potato that is crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside.

  1. To begin, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Gather your potatoes, and wash them thoroughly. Larger ones will work best, and if cooking several, try to choose some that are similar in size.
  3. Once clean, use a fork to puncture the skin several times on each one.
  4. Leave them plain, or add extra flavor by rubbing with olive oil, and then sprinkling with some salt and pepper.
  5. Once prepped to your liking, place them into the oven on a baking sheet, or directly on the rack.
  6. Continue cooking for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Check them to see if their done by testing the skin, and poking with a fork. When finished, the outside should be crispy, and your fork should poke in without any effort.
  8. Once done, carefully remove from your oven using tongs, pot holders or something similar.
  9. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then split open, dress, and serve.

2. In A Slow Cooker

With the right technique, you can use a crock pot to cook potatoes and have them turn out like they came from the oven. The skin won’t be quite as crispy, but the inside will be almost identical. This method takes even longer than using a conventional oven, but it doesn’t produce as much heat, and you can let them cook unattended. Many people like this way of preparing baked potatoes because they can set it up in the morning, let it cook all day, and then enjoy a mouth watering dinner with very little effort.

  1. Wash your potatoes and pierce the outside with a fork.
  2. Leave them all natural, or add some additional flavor by coating with olive oil, and then dusting with salt and pepper.
  3. Wrap each one individually in tin foil and then place them into your slow cooker.
  4. Make sure you only have a single layer on the bottom for best results.
  5. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  6. Test to see if they’re finished by poking with a fork. If it slides in easily, they are ready to eat.
  7. Once all the way cooked, split open, add additional ingredients, and enjoy.

3. In A Pot

That’s right, you can even achieve an oven baked finish by cooking your spuds in a pot of boiling water. This method is often used by restaurants because it offers a quick way to finish the job. You won’t get crispy skins like you do in the oven, but you will be able to plate the finished product in less than half the time. This method will take about 20 minutes depending upon the size and qty you are cooking, but if you don’t want to use the oven, and you don’t have a slow cooker, it’s either this or the microwave method that follows.  Don’t confuse this with traditional boiling because with this method the water will not soak in as much, so it will end up similar to what baking provides.

  1. Wash potatoes with water, dry and then puncture with a fork.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  3. Wrap potatoes individually with foil.
  4. Place into water carefully, and cook for 15-30 minutes.
  5. Test to see if their finished by removing one and poking it. If your fork enters easily, they are finished.
  6. Use tongs to fish out your finished product, and be sure to allow any excess water to drip down safely.
  7. Unwrap, cut open and add your favorite toppings.

4. In Your Microwave

Some people don’t like the inconsistent results that a microwave offers, but few can argue with the fact that it’s one of the fastest ways possible to prepare a baked potato. From start to finish, you could be eating your food in less than ten minutes if you choose this method of cooking. You won’t get a crispy exterior, but you should be able to achieve a delicious and fluffy center if you do it the right way. With this method there is no advanced planning necessary, so it’s perfect for last minute meal ideas, or impulsive cravings, and many people choose it as their method of choice because time and effort are most important to them. If you would like to improve results when cooking a potato in the microwave, a specially designed pouch can be used to eliminate guess work, enhance the quality, reduce time, maintain consistency, and guarantee results.

Regular Method

  1. Wash your potatoes and poke them to prepare for cooking.
  2. Keep them plain, or rub with oil and sprinkle with salt for added flavor.
  3. Place them into a microwave safe dish, and then stick it into the microwave.
  4. Cook on high for five minutes, then remove and flip over.
  5. Stick in again, and then heat on high for another five minutes or less.
  6. Check by poking them with a fork. If not finished continue microwaving for as long as necessary, one minute at a time.
  7. Once finished, remove, cut open and enjoy.

With a Microwave Potato Cooker Pouch

  1. Wash spuds and leave slightly wet.
  2. Poke with fork to vent.
  3. Wrap in wax paper if desired, and add oil and salt and pepper if you wish.
  4. Place one or two potatoes inside the bag, and place into the microwave.
  5. Heat on high for four minutes for a single potato, and heat for six minutes for two.
  6. Remove from microwave and test for doneness.
  7. If not quite finished, cook for another minute and test again. repeat until finished.
  8. Once done, cut open, add toppings and eat.

5. The Hybrid Method

Some people resort to a combination technique to get the perfect results, but still save time. If you reduce cooking times for the microwave or boiling technique above, and then finish the process in the oven, you can have the best of both worlds. You will save a bunch of time, but you will still get the crispy exterior you prefer. Just pre-heat your oven while you’re washing and cooking for the first few minutes, and then toss them into the oven to complete the process. Your microwave or the boiling water will do most of the work in a short amount of time, so 10-15 minutes in the oven should be plenty to complete cooking. If you choose to try this method, wash, poke and season like outlined above, and then microwave for 3-4 minutes, or boil for 5-10 minutes. After that, use the oven to crisp up the outside, and cook until done. This usually takes another 10 minutes. You can save tons of time when compared to traditional baking, and the results will be almost identical.

Most people probably never knew there were five different ways to bake a potato, but there are probably even more methods out there that we left out. If you have your own method that works well, and you don’t see it in the list above, please share with others by using the comments box below.

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Grilling Fish On A Cedar Plank http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/grilling-fish-on-a-cedar-plank/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grilling-fish-on-a-cedar-plank http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/grilling-fish-on-a-cedar-plank/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:00:30 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2790 For perfect results when grilling salmon and other seafood, try placing it on some wood. A cedar plank can improve results, and ensure smoky and tender fish.

Grilling Fish On A Cedar Plank - Simply Good Tips

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art of plankingFish is incredibly delicate, so it can be difficult to cook, and for this reason, many of us avoid this healthy fare, and opt for something more simple. Most folks don’t realize it, but cooking a salmon steak can be just as easy as cooking a hot dog if you do it the right way. One of the best methods for guaranteed flavor, and fillets that aren’t dried out or overcooked, is to use your grill. When done properly, the finished product is tough to match thanks to the tender texture, and smoky flavor you can achieve. However; when you go about it the wrong way, the results can be disastrous. To avoid pieces that get stuck, or cooking to a crispy, flavorless jerky, follow the instructions below, and look like a pro. It doesn’t matter if you are preparing salmon, sole, tuna or mahi mahi because any type of fish can be cooked with a similar technique.

What Is It

A cedar grilling plank is nothing more than regular wood, cut down to size. Natives in the North West have used them as a tool for preparing salmon and other fish for ages, and because of the wonderful results, it is also popular today. Sourced straight from the forest, this ordinary board will help you use the same ancient technique to prepare your seafood. Depending upon where you get it, the thickness and size will vary to accommodate more or less food, but the cooking method will be pretty much the same.

When using this technique it’s more like smoking than it is like grilling because the fish will be indirectly heated with the lid on as moisture steams out of the wood. The fillet will never touch the metal grate, and there will be no lines on your finished product, but the result will be amazingly delicious, restaurant quality food. Placing the board on dry would be a bad idea, and it does need to be fully saturated prior to cooking. Once on the grill, the soaked wood will steam in flavor and smoke your fish to perfection. The added flavor resulting from the natural wood further enhances the grilled taste usually achieved when barbecuing, and the indirect heat allows the fish to cook at the perfect speed for maximum flavor, without compromising tenderness.

To Soak Or Not To Soak

If you have several hours or a day to plan, you can certainly soak your own boards with little trouble, but for anyone that is bad at planning, or pressed for time, a pre-soaked plank might be the way to go. These come with the water already added, so all you need to do, is rip open the package and head to the grill. A dry board will need to be submerged in water for two or more hours, but using one already prepared can save you this time, and eliminate the main hassle from this cooking technique.

Preparing Your Plank

If not using one that’s pre-soaked, you will have to do it yourself. This can be advantageous for anyone that wants to experiment with other flavors, but it will take 2-6 hours at a minimum, and most would agree that best results are achieved when the wood soaks overnight. When prepping your own, you can stray from straight water, and mix it up with flavored liquids like beer, wine, fruit juice, herbal tea and more.

  1. To get your plank ready, first cut down to size if desired.
  2. Fill your kitchen sink, baking pan or bucket with water or other ingredients for flavor.
  3. Place one or more boards into the water.
  4. Use a soup can or something heavy to weigh them down, and keep them under water.
  5. Allow to sit for several hours.
  6. Once fully saturated, and you are ready to cook, pull the plank(s) from the water.
  7. Take them straight to the grill and preheat by cooking with the lid closed for one minute on each side.
  8. As an option, rub with sea salt, garlic or olive oil to add flavor before you head outside.
  9. To prepare extras for later use, just get a big freezer bag and pop them inside after soaking. Freeze until later, and then a quick ten minute bath in warm water will get them ready for action.

Cooking Instructions

In the demonstration below we will show how easy it is to make mouth watering fish right in your own backyard. Salmon is a popular fish to plank, and you could use the same technique, but we opted for Mahi Mahi in this case. If you do choose seafood with skin on it, just make sure to place your pieces with the skin side down. With this technique, you will not flip or rotate the meat, but it will cook all the way through. You can check by temperature if you are concerned about doneness, but look and feel are usually good indicators too. Anything in the 140 range will be considered well done, and something in the range of 120 will be rare in comparison. It should take anywhere from 12-25 minutes to finish cooking, and you should leave the lid closed for as much of the time as possible.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • Fish – We used mahi mahi.
  • Seasoning – We use salt, pepper and garlic.
  • Marinade – Optional. We chose a garlic ginger sauce formulated for fish.
  • Cedar Plank
  • Grill – Charcoal is best in our opinion, but any will do.
  • Water to soak the wood. – You can also use other flavored liquids.

Basic Steps

  1. Prep the plank.
  2. Fire up the grill.
  3. Season you fish.
  4. Pre-heat the wood.
  5. Place your fish.
  6. Cook for 12-25 minutes.
  7. Remove and serve.

Those are the basic steps, for detailed instructions with pictures, scroll down to keep reading.

STEP 1: how to grill fish on a cedar plankStep 1: We chose Mahi Mahi pieces as our fish of choice. Each little chunk is a bit smaller than a standard fillet, and everything combined was about enough to feed a family of 4-5. The fish was prepared by first adding a sprinkling of salt, pepper and garlic. It was then completely covered in a garlic ginger marinade. We allowed it to sit for about 30 minutes, and because it will cook right in the juice, longer marinade time is probably not necessary. For the plank, we opted for a pre-soaked board, so it was ready to go as soon as we took it out of the wrapper. You could easily substitute any other fish, and any other seasoning. Also, the size of each piece doesn’t matter either, so grill up some little nuggets like we did, or stick to one large fillet if that’s what you prefer.STEP 2: how to grill fish on a cedar plankStep 2: To get your board ready, you will want to preheat it. This will warm it up to improve cooking, but it will also enhance the smoky flavor, and cause the wood to resist warping. Simply preheat your grill, toss it on, and you will be good to go. For gas grills, use a medium setting, and for others, try to maintain a temperature of about 350-400 degrees. Once heated, add the wood right onto the grate and then close the lid for about a minute. After the time is up, flip it over and do the same to the other side. Some crackling is normal, and it will let you know that it is warming up like you want it to. Over heating can dry the wood, and release too much moisture, so be sure not to pre-heat for too long. When done properly, the dark coloration of the wet wood will lighten as it becomes less saturated on the outer layers. Some grill marks on the wood is normal, and nothing to worry about.
STEP 3: how to grill fish on a cedar plankStep 3: Once the grill is hot, and your plank is ready, it’s time to add on the raw fish. You don’t want any portion hanging over the edge, and if cooking small pieces like we did, you don’t really want them touching. As you position your food, make sure nothing overlaps, and there is a bit of space between each chunk. The plank can be positioned right over the coals or burner, or it can be off to the side for more indirect heating. If not directly over fire, the meat will cook more slowly, so the flavors will be more intense. It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but ours was sort of half on and half off. Once in position with food on top, quickly close the lid and leave it shut. This style of grilling is not like traditional methods, and is more like smoking or steaming. Without retaining the heat and moisture inside the closed chamber, your finished food will not be as tender or flavorful.STEP 4: how to grill fish on a cedar plankStep 4: After about five minutes, open the lid to take a look. Make sure there are no flare ups, and lightly spray with water if there is. It’s normal for the wood to char, and some bubbling moisture would be considered OK as well. You will not need to rotate the board or touch any individual piece. There will be no flipping or turning from start to finish. If everything looks fine inside, replace the lid and continue to cook. Water from the board will evaporate and mix with the intense heat trapped inside your BBQ, and the combination will gently smoke your fish until it’s done perfectly.STEP 5: how to grill fish on a cedar plankStep 5: After about 12 minutes, you should check again. It may take more time depending upon the cut you are cooking, but when it starts to look like the picture above, your fish will be ready to eat. You can use a spatula to test for firmness, or you can take the temperature of one the the thicker portions if you want to make sure. Once it begins to have a mouth watering appearance like ours above, it will be time to remove it, and dig in. You’ll notice that despite the lack of flipping and turning, all sides are golden brown, and cooked to perfection. We like our fish a little well done, so if you prefer a more raw texture, take them off before it looks like this. For us, the caramelized and slightly crispy outside pairs nicely with the tender and juicy interior.

After Cooking

Once finished, you will need to remove your food, and then serve it. The easiest way to take it off, is to leave it right on the wood. Get a large platter or tray, and then use a spatula to transfer the board from the grill  to your tray. Be careful because the wood will be hot, and parts may still be smoldering. Use a spray bottle if necessary, but be careful not to wet the fish. Once on the tray, transport inside, and serve portions right on the board, or plate them for a more sophisticated presentation.

What If It’s Salmon

For whatever reason, it’s probably the most common fish that gets cooked this way, but you can pretty much grill any seafood with the same technique. It even works for chicken, beef, vegetables and other stuff too. The only variation from the method above would be placement and seasoning, but cooking technique would be basically the same. Salmon steaks will often have the skin still on, so remember to season both sides, and then place the skin side down when grilling. When finished, you can use a spatula to sort of peel the salmon up to serve it, while leaving the skin still on the wood.

Instead of a wet marinade like we used above, most people with go with a more dry approach with salmon. A light sprinkling of salt and pepper may be all that you need, but you can certainly kick it up a notch by adding other herbs and spices too. You can even spread out fruit slices or vegetables to act as a bed for the fish, and it will add moisture and flavor to the end result. Because salmon is often quite thick, it may finish cooking without cooking enough on the outside to suit your tastes. If this is the case, just pop it in the broiler for the finishing touches. The resulting fillets are just so moist, so tender and so deliciously fragrant, all infused with that delicate sweet and smoky aroma.

Reuse The Plank

Most can be used at least twice, and you can usually get three or four uses from a single board if you try, and you cook off the flame. If it’s not too charred on the bottom, just wash it to clean off any food, and then dry and store for later use. Once it becomes useless, you can recycle the wood for use in your BBQ or fireplace, and if broken into smaller pieces it can even be used as mulch. If you do decide to toss the plank after cooking, make sure it is totally extinguished prior to throwing it in the garbage.  If you submerge it in water, or hold it under the faucet, you can be pretty confident it won’t cause trouble.

Other Options

If you don’t care about the smoky taste caused by the wood, but you just want to stop fish from sticking and improve results when grilling delicate foods, you may want to check out our BBQ Grilling Mats. They are basically a non-stick sheet that you can place over the metal grate to give yourself a large flat surface to cook on. Nothing will ever stick to it, and it will retain juices and marinades right next to the food, so increased flavor, and improved results are easy to achieve. It can be used over and over again, so you won’t have to replace it like you do with wood. Just hand wash, or place it in the dishwasher for cleaning. They come in a a large thin sheet, but they can be cut to size for smaller grills, or used in tandem for larger operations. They are great for grilling seafood, and you actually still get grill marks through the material. Because they turn your barbecue into a big skillet, you can also cook weird stuff like eggs, pancakes and stir fry, and have it take on a robust, off-the-grill taste.

Often considered impossible, or only for professionals, cooking fish on a cedar plank is actually quite easy. It’s almost impossible to ruin the results, and the incredible flavor is unmatched by any other cooking method. Don’t head out to a restaurant the next time you’re craving a gourmet fish dinner. Use the same technique that’s been used for generations to ensure tender meat and bold flavor. It will still look fancy and impossible to friends and family, so impress them with your new found knowledge, or just treat yourself to the best tasting fish you’ve had in a while.

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A Mini Wrench And Multi-Tool That’s Also A Keychain http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/mini-wrench-multi-tool-thats-also-keychain/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mini-wrench-multi-tool-thats-also-keychain http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/mini-wrench-multi-tool-thats-also-keychain/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:41:29 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2745 Make your keys more useful than ever. Attach this little tool to provide 7-in-1 functionality. It's a wrench, scraper, screwdriver, bottle opener and more.

A Mini Wrench And Multi-Tool That’s Also A Keychain - Simply Good Tips

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mini wrench multi-toolLooking for a teeny tiny set of wrenches? How about a dangerously awesome looking key chain? The Pocket Wrench is all that and more, so your search may be over. Cut from a solid piece of metal, this multi-tool has no moving parts, but it will help you tackle several key jobs right when they pop up. It can attach easily to any key ring, but you can also strap it to backpacks and purses, clip it to carabiners, or stow it conveniently in a glove boxes or desk drawer. It’s made in the USA with top quality raw materials, and it’s way thicker and more sturdy than similar tools sold elsewhere. It comes in your choice of metric or SAE sizing, so you’ll need two for a full set, but you can also just choose the one you use most often. It’s perfect for anyone  that wants to improve preparedness, but tinkerers, carpenters, mechanics and others will have a hard time leaving home without it.

Why Choose This One

A set of wrenches takes up a lot of room, and each one will usually remain separate, so keeping them together can be a real chore. You could certainly drag a large bag or box with you, but storage may be a problem, and speed will not be on your side when you go to retrieve them. Fancy, do-everything, multi tools are great to pack power into a small package, but they can be expensive, and most do not include any size of wrench or socket. If you can find a product with similar functionality, it will probably be thin and flimsy, and it will most likely be double the size without adding any benefit. This one offers loads of functionality, and it’s small enough to fit almost anywhere, but not so small that it’s difficult to use. The rugged design guarantees a long life, and is extremely resistant to any kind of damage. With such a low price tag, you will easily get your money’s worth, and it just might save the day. No more running to the tool box, and no more getting caught without the right tool.

What Can It Do

A valuable addition to any pocket, bag or purse, this little tool is packed with functionality. It’s actually seven tools in one, so get it to have several wrenches in the palm of your hands at all times, but keep it around for all of the other jobs it can handle too. The front part looks like a beak from some prehistoric bird, and it could probably be employed as a self defense weapon, but it also makes the perfect can and bottle opener. Flip any kind of lid with little effort thanks to the design and strength offered, and just rotate to switch between cans and bottles. The same pointy part also makes a really good scraper or pry bar thanks to the incredible strength, and exacting angle. Quickly remove old paint, or flip open a sealed lid.

Move to the very tip of the beak, and you will notice that it is flat like a screwdriver. This part makes the perfect #2 flat head screwdriver in a pinch, and the comfortable grip allows for easy use, and ample torque. The smaller hole near the front of the tool can accept any standard size bit, so use it to transform this little guy into a manual drill, or ratchet with any size socket. The larger hole provides four or five different wrench sizes depending upon version, so you will be able to remove or put in place any number of nuts and bolts. To round out the list of duties, the outer edge can also be used as a ruler. Each little notch adds grip to facilitate use, but it’s also exactly 1/8″ away from the one next to it, and the group is exactly one inch from side to side.

  • A scraper.
  • A bottle and can opener.
  • A pry bar.
  • A wrench with multiple sizes.
  • A flat screwdriver.
  • A drill or socket wrench when bits are added.
  • A one inch ruler.

With an overall size that’s just slightly bigger than your house key, this tool packs tons of power into a little package. It may save the day if your car breaks down, or a key piece of equipment fails, but you will find it useful for regular work too. It’s nice to have a high quality tool in your pocket so you can save a trip to the garage, and this compact wrench will be able to slip into any tight spot to tackle some jobs that your larger stuff can’t even handle. The small price tag is nothing compared to the piece of mind and utility it will provide, so enhance your pocket, beef up your key chain, or add the finishing touch to your hiking bag with this tool.

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How To Compost And Make Compost Tea http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/compost-make-compost-tea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=compost-make-compost-tea http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/compost-make-compost-tea/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:46:00 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2777 Beneficial for you and the environment, compost is an ideal fertilizer and soil amendment. Learn how to make it, what it is, and why you should start producing it.

How To Compost And Make Compost Tea - Simply Good Tips

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how to compostWhat Is Compost

Comprised of decayed organic material, the dark, nutrient-rich substance resembles mulch, and is used as a fertilizer for plants, or conditioner for soil. It can be sprinkled on top, or mixed in to improve soil quality, and promote plant growth. In order to make it, you need to pile green waste, mix it with equal parts of brown waste, and then keep it warm and moist. Regular turning will aerate the mixture to promote even decomposition. When environmental conditions are ideal, microorganisms will consume the organic matter and make it decompose. Worms and fungi will aid in this process. Stuff will degrade naturally anyway, but the composting process speeds it up, and improves the end result.

Why It’s Good

There are many benefits to composting that go way beyond feeding plants, or throwing less stuff in the trash. Both those things are great, but the long list of other benefits below, only add to the appeal.

  • It is a biologically active soil amendment, and the bacteria, insects and fungi contained in it will make plants healthy in a natural way.
  • When added to the dirt in your yard, it will improve the soil structure. Sandy soil will be able to retain more moisture, and soil that is dense with clay will be easier to work with, and more conducive to root growth.
  • When you use it, the pH level of your soil will balance. It doesn’t matter if it is acidic or alkaline because the compost will neutralize it, and make the perfect amount of nutrients available to your plants.
  • Not only is it more complete as a fertilizer, it is also slow to release the nutrients, so it lasts longer too.
  • Because it’s so delicious, it attracts earthworms and microorganisms to further enhance the surrounding soil.
  • It can help to prevent and control erosion.
  • It reduces waste in your trashcan and landfills.
  • Saves you money and the trip to the store to buy commercial products.
  • Reduces your exposure to harsh chemicals found in of the shelf brands.
  • Reduces weed growth, and insulates during cold weather when used as mulch.
  • Saves on watering because it will hold more moisture, and promote healthier root growth.

What To Put In

There’s a wide range of ingredients you can use, but certain things should be avoided. You basically want an equal mix of green and brown organic matter. The green stuff is going to be wet and full of nitrogen, and the brown stuff will be dry and full of carbon. When combined under ideal conditions, the two will create a balanced mix that decomposes evenly, and creates a high quality mixture often referred to as black gold.

Greens – Commonly used green stuff will include: Fruit skins, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, coffee filters, tea bags, egg shells, garden scraps, plant trimmings, table scraps and leftovers.

Browns – Commonly used brown stuff includes:  Dry leaves, grass clippings, straw, sawdust, shredded newspaper, shredded cardboard, and shredded egg cartons.

DO NOT Put In – Avoid adding stuff like those in the following list: Meat and fish, dairy products, sauces and dressings, oil and fat, pet waste, diseased plants, seeding weeds, bones, and cigarette butts.

Basic Instructions

Below we will detail the basic process of composting in your yard. Anyone can use the following directions along with a few basic tools to make their own fertilizer and soil amendment. If you want to ease the process, and speed up results, continue reading to learn about how to use our Deluxe Tumbling Composter.

  1. Choose a location. Building a box or bin can help keep things neat, but you can also just pile it up.
  2. When adding materials, make sure they’re not too big. Reduce size to about an inch for fast and even decomposition.
  3. Add your ingredients to create the pile. Choose equal parts green and brown matter for an ideal level of nitrogen and carbon.
  4. Moisture and heat are required for it to work. It will insulate itself to create heat, and moisture should be at a damp level, and not too wet. A hot pile will degrade quickly, but a cool one will take twice the amount of time in some cases.
  5. Aeration is also necessary to aid in the process. Mix your compost a few times each week so air can get to all ingredients.
  6. After several months your mixture should be ready to use. The smell should not be rotten are stinky. It should smell rich and earthy.

Using The Deluxe Tumbling Composter

An advanced tool can speed up results, improve nutrient levels, and make it way easier and less stinky to compost in your yard. The spinning action will allow you to keep your pitchfork in the garage, and reduce effort to almost nothing. A few rotations a week is all that’s required to maintain it, and everything will be ready to use in way less time than any traditional method. Because it’s totally enclosed, odor will be reduced to make it more pleasant, and heat will increase to speed up the process. An added benefit of this deluxe version is the collection of liquid fertilizer under the rotating bin. You will be able to produce 52 gallons of dry compost, and a bonus, 3.5 gallons of liquid fertilizer at the same time. To use it, just follow the easy steps below.

Step 1: Getting Started

  • Use a container inside to collect waste in your kitchen. Remember, smaller pieces will break down faster.
  • Combine indoor waste, with brown waste collected from your garden and elsewhere.
  • A 50/50 mix will always be best. Once collected, open the latching door, and add to the inside of the drum.
  • As an option, add a small amount of good soil to activate your first batch.
  • Once loaded, close the lid and then secure the latch to keep it shut.
  • Add more ingredients over time as they are collected.
  • Once shut and filled, rotate the bin to mix the stuff inside.
  • Eight rollers underneath and large grooves around the outside make spinning it easy.

Step 2: During The Cycle

  • To ensure air circulation and a good mix, make sure to rotate the bin at least three times each week.
  • As the drum fills to capacity, it may become too heavy for some people to rotate. In this case, a rocking motion will work just fine.
  • For best results, don’t fill the container more than 3/4 full.
  • Keep the stuff inside wet, but not too wet. A low level of dampness is ideal, but if there’s too much water, it may begin to stink. If this should occur, just add more brown material to soak it up.
  • The finished product will take 4-6 weeks to produce. If you want to speed things up, just rotate the drum more often.

Step 3: Using Your Finished Product

  • To use your compost, separate the drum from the base, and roll it close to the spot where you want to use it.
  • Unlatch the door, and open it up, then roll the bin forward to make it easy to take the contents out.
  • As an option, leave a small amount inside to activate your next batch.
  • For use on indoor plants, let the compost air out in a bin, or on your lawn to reduce moisture. This will take 1-2 days.
  • Make a potting mix by mixing one part compost along with equal amounts of peat moss, sand and ground bark.
  • Mix it into flower beds and vegetable gardens to improve the soil and feed the plants. If it;s the first time, mix in a 3-4 inch layer. If it is a repeat application, use as little as one inch.
  • Use like a mulch by spreading in and around flowers in a 1-4 inch layer.
  • Surround trees and shrubs in a thick layer to feed roots, and retain moisture.
  • Feed your lawn by sprinkling a thin layer all over.

Step 4: Using Your Compost Tea

  • With the drum removed, the liquid collected in the base will be easy to access.
  • When new, there will be four plugs installed. Two in the composter, and two in the base. To collect the tea, place all four into the center holes in the base.
  • Be sure to keep the holes at the ends open and free of blockage.
  • To empty the base, attach a garden hose to the threaded opening, or just dump everything into a bucket.
  • To use it as fertilizer, mix one part compost tea with ten parts water.
  • This highly concentrated liquid is an extremely potent food for all plants.

Use 12 Months A year

Unlike other techniques and solutions, this one can be used all year long. As long as it gets cold enough in your area to freeze, you can easily compost in the winter. To make access easy, you should relocate the bin to a spot close to your home. Continue to add waste throughout the cold months, but don’t spin it at all. The freezing process will break down the fibers in organic material, and will accelerate decomposition in the spring.

Why use This Tumbler Over Other Options

Traditional techniques are slow, and they require manual labor that some want to avoid. Also, you only get a dry mulch with regular bins and piles, so you lose out on the liquid fertilizer referred to as tea. Other tumbling options are often made with cheaper materials, smaller capacities, and drums that are difficult to spin. Some may be as large and easy to use, but they won’t collect liquid or last as long in most cases. If you are looking for a top of the line model that will make the process fool-proof, then look no further. This one could not be more easy to use, and the results are amazing. Your yard will look better than ever, and you will be able to do it without expensive purchases, dangerous chemicals, or loads of extra effort.

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No Dustpan. No Problem. http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/dustpan-problem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dustpan-problem http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/dustpan-problem/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 22:38:57 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2657 A cleaning tip to end the annoyance when you don't have a dustpan, or the one you do have stinks. A simple household item could save the day.

No Dustpan. No Problem. - Simply Good Tips

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The following is a user submitted tip from Sandra Hogan. We thought it was useful enough to save people some time, so we are sharing it below. We love to spread the word about new tips that reduce effort and eliminate frustration, so if you have your own, please submit it to us to share with others.

Cleaning Tip

When you don’t have a dust pan, use a paper towel by wetting only one end with water and sweep dirt over wet end then use dry part of towel to wipe up.

Our Take

So, if you are without a pan, or the one you are using is giving you trouble, replace it, or improve it, with a simple paper towel. If we understand it correctly, the wet side will cling to the floor and allow you to push all of the dirt up and onto the paper towel. Once up there, you can sort of fold it over, and grab it to lift up, and throw it all into the trash. This technique would quickly solve the problem of a missing tool, but it may also become your preferred method because it’s so fast and easy. You don’t have to search, and you don’t have to worry about pushing everything in to eliminate it because instead of a fat edge, you will have a paper-thin ramp.

Not only would this work as a replacement for a dustpan, it would also work to improve one by adding a ramp. When you drape it over the front end of a metal or plastic pan, the paper will make up for thick edges that cause problems with fine particles. Once the towel is in place, the front edge will basically be flush with the floor, so it will even outperform products with rubber edges. The super thin entry ramp will allow you to sweep everything into the pan, instead of pushing it across the floor without picking it up. By using this technique, light dust and minute particles will not slip underneath, or brush up to the edge without going in. Once the pan is full, flip the wet edge back, and proceed to empty into the garbage.

It’s not exactly the most eco-friendly way to move swept dirt from the floor to the trash, but it is effective. If you are trying to go green, you may not like the whole disposable aspect of this tip, but as far as universal replacements go, it is hard to beat. If you are at the point of annoyance, or if you just can’t find what you need, try this tip to finish the job and move onto something better. Almost everyone will have this item on hand, so it’s a quick, go-to solution that can allow you to finish cleaning your floor without running out to the store.

How To Do It

  1. Begin by sweeping your floor. A good rubber broom can make it easy.
  2. Use a systematic sweeping motion, and collect everything into one or more piles.
  3. Once your piles are set, get a paper towel and get the front third damp.
  4. Lay the towel down next to your pile so that the wet edge is just barely touching.
  5. Once in place, use your broom to push the dirt over the wet part, and onto the the dry potion.
  6. After your pile is transferred to the paper towel, use your hand to wad it up and lift it off the floor.
  7. Dispose in trash can.
  8. To enhance an existing dustpan, simply place the dampened towel into the pan with the wet edge hanging out the front.
  9. Align next to your pile in the same way, and the wet ramp will make it easier to get everything in with one try.

Have your own cleaning tip? We would love to hear about it, and share it with everyone else. If you have other cleaning suggestions or handy tricks that you consider good, please submit them to us and help others save time and money too.

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Sweep And Mop At The Same Time http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/sweep-mop-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sweep-mop-time http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/sweep-mop-time/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 21:37:27 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2727 Sweeping and mopping go hand in hand. Most of us use two tools to complete the two step process, but this tool will do both jobs at the same time.

Sweep And Mop At The Same Time - Simply Good Tips

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sweep and mopAsk anybody how to mop a floor the correct way, and they will probably tell you how important it is to sweep first. In most cases this is very true, and good advise to follow. The problem is that none of us have extra time on our hands, so none of us really care to spend the little time we do have, going over a floor twice. If you’ve ever tried to skip the sweeping, and then proceed to clean with a regular mop, you know what a mess it can make. Regular sponge mops, string versions, and even microfiber flat ones, can’t handle loose debris, so if you don’t pick it up first, you will end up pushing it around, or saturating it to create mud. There is a tool that can do both jobs at once, so continue reading to learn about a powerful tool that will save you time and effort without compromising cleanliness.

Why Sweep

It seems obvious, but some of you novices may not get it yet. Kitchens and bathrooms get coated with crumbs, hair, pet fur, regular dirt and unknown grime. If you don’t sweep it up before you mop, then it can cause real problems that will make your job more difficult, and could end up damaging your floors. Course particles can be pushed across the surface to make marks or cause scratching. Softer ones can turn to mud with added moisture, and then smear from one side of the floor to the other. Human and pet hair will usually just glue in place and stay there to annoy you, and make it seem like you never even cleaned your floors. If you go over tile, linoleum, hardwood and other surfaces with a broom first, you eliminate the debris, and allow the mop to clean only the stuff it’s designed for. Surface grime and light staining can be easily mopped up when there’s nothing in the way, so if you use a broom first, good results are much easier to come by.

A Better Way

If you’re super lazy, or just crunched for time like everyone else, you may want to try our PVA  Mop. With this tool, you can literally skip the sweeping, and still get outstanding results on any type of floor. The special design will allow you to pick up loose debris and scrub the surface clean at the same time. That means going over the floor once, and finishing the job in half the time. No dust pans to worry about, no bristles to annoy you, and no trips back and forth to retrieve, and put away a series of tools. This one tool can thoroughly clean any type of hard floor in one quick and efficient step. Use it on tile, linoleum, cement, wood, marble, stone or anything else and the results will be the same. Quick results, easy operation, and outstanding cleaning power.

How It Works

It may look like a regular squeeze action sponge mop, but it’s far from ordinary. It does have a built in wringer to eliminate moisture, and rinse out dirt easily, but the head isn’t made from a regular cellulose sponge. Take a look at the picture above, and notice the ridges that run down the length of the head. Those integrated ridges aid in scrubbing, but they also sweep up debris as you move across the floor. Once the dirt is released from your floor, it’s sort of sucked up, and held within the groove until you rinse or wring to dispose of it. Because it’s lifted up off the surface, you don’t have any of the problems that are common with other tools that just push it around. Push and pull over the surface, and the soft sponge will wash every inch, and when you encounter hair, crumbs or other dirt, you can move right through it to lift it up, and wash underneath.

PVA Material

The mop head on this tool is technically a sponge, but it’s probably way different than what you’re used to. It doesn’t have little holes in it, and it has way more cleaning power, but that’s just the beginning. When wet, the material is smooth and squishy, but when it dries, it becomes rock hard. If you compare it to traditional versions, it will be more absorbent and more sanitary overall. Soak up tons of  liquid to dry floors quickly, or hold more cleaning solution to mop a larger area in less time. Because it won’t stay wet, or lock in bacteria and other yucky stuff after you’re done, it won’t stink or grow mildew like regular tools do. The added ridges create a gentle scrubbing ability, and they also lock in any loose debris you mop over. Because the material won’t deteriorate, or rip with regular use, each head will last longer, and clean better with each use. It easily conforms to uneven surfaces, and dips down into cracks and crevices, so surfaces like tile and stone come clean with little effort. The material is compatible with any type of soap or chemical, so you can use whatever you like best.

How To Use It

Cleaning a floor is pretty simple when you have this tool, and you will use it like any other mop that’s similar. It has a built in wringer on the handle, and you just press it forward to contract the rollers, and squeeze out everything being stored. The main difference is in the head material because it will be more durable, and it will act like a broom and mop in one. When used correctly, it can save you time and energy while getting your linoleum cleaner than ever. For best results, follow the step by step instructions below.

  1. Before you begin, make sure the sponge is wet. If not properly soaked, it will not squeeze, and attempting to do so may break the handle.
  2. Soak for 2-3 minutes to get it ready for cleaning.
  3. Fill a bucket or sink with hot water and your cleaning solution of choice.
  4. To mop, dip the head into your soap to saturate. Wring out more or less depending upon floor type, preference and other factors.
  5. Clean floors by using a back and forth motion where you are pushing the tool away from you, and then pulling it back.
  6. As you move it will pick up crumbs and other loose dirt, and also wash the surface at the same time.
  7. Once the sponge is dirty, or full of debris, wring out by pressing down on the handle to release the dirty water and grime.
  8. Dip into clean soapy water, and repeat steps above to continue cleaning.
  9. Hang when not in use, and allow head to dry.

Stop spending more time than you need to, but don’t settle for gross looking floors either. Try this tool instead of the mop and broom combo you’re using now, and you might be surprised by how quickly and easily you can clean your floors. It’s not magical, so if your bathroom or kitchen is completely covered with dirt and hair, you will want to use a broom first, but for regular use on most people’s floors, it can be used to sweep and mop at the same time. Thanks to the powerful cleaning head, and the simple squeeze action wringer built into the handle, anyone will be able to use it for a simple and effective way to remove any kind of dirt from tile, stone, cement, linoleum and more.

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Fabric Softeners And Absorbency http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/fabric-softeners-absorbency/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fabric-softeners-absorbency http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/fabric-softeners-absorbency/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 20:35:27 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2721 Adding liquid softener to your laundry, or drying with dryer sheets can reduce absorbency in towels and cloths. Find out why, and learn about other options.

Fabric Softeners And Absorbency - Simply Good Tips

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Question:

I washed my shammy and forgot and used fabric softener. Did I ruin it ?

Answer:

Good question. We always recommend against using traditional fabric softeners with shammys and other cleaning cloths because it will affect ability over time. For those unfamiliar, a shammy is a non-woven, synthetic cloth known for its incredible ability to absorb moisture and lock it in. The main side effect to using dryer sheets or liquid softeners on towels and other items is a decrease in absorbency. The good news in this case, is that a single exposure will not render the cloth ineffective, but with continued use, it definitely will not work as well. Don’t go tossing it in the trash just yet, because that shammy should still be able to suck up incredible amounts of water.

Why This Happens

Traditional fabric softeners contain a mix of chemical compounds and perfumes, along with other ingredients. When added to your laundry they will completely coat the fabrics, in order to soften them and add that familiar pleasant scent. Much will be eliminated by rinsing, but some will always remain. For materials like microfiber and viscose shammys, this action will result in clogged pores, blunted ends, and residues that linger. When the material can’t function as intended, you end up with a tool that is less absorbent, or less able to pick up dirt. As previously stated, a single dose will not cause much harm, but build up over time is guaranteed to make your shammy, bath towel or cleaning cloth noticeably less effective.

What’s In It

More that your ability to soak spills, or dry your body, you should be concerned with the ingredients you are exposing yourself to on a regular basis. The substances in liquid softeners and dryer sheets can absorb into your skin, or be inhaled into your lungs. Because there is some pretty dangerous stuff in there, you should think twice about adding it to any load, not just towels. Safe and natural alternatives such as dryer balls or vinegar, can soften fabric just as well, but they will not effect absorbency ever. You won’t get any of the perfume scent, but for many people that is another benefit.

If you take a look at the list of stuff inside that bottle or infused into those sheets, you will discover a list of timer release chemicals, and many have been linked to different forms of cancer. It smells really nice, but you may want to limit exposure for health reasons. Formaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, chloroform and other nasty stuff is lurking within the fresh mountain scent that you are adding to your laundry. These are known irritants and carcinogens, and have been linked to various diseases in study after study. Less serious side effects are often the first to arise, and prolonged exposure can lead to more serious complications. If you have unexplained headaches, disorientation, mod swings, numbness, memory loss or irritability, it could be from your fabric softener.

What’s The Alternative

There are a handful of legitimate alternatives out there, and they will allow you to soften fabrics without exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals, or worrying about side effects like decreased absorbency.  Regular white distilled vinegar is a good choice to add to your washing machine, and dryer balls are ideal for softening stuff in the dryer. Neither has any fragrance, but they also lack toxic ingredients that can lead to trouble. As far as how the fabrics feel, both will offer similar results when compared to regular products, minus the flowery scent.

Vinegar

Most people have this around the house already, but few realize that it can be poured in as an alternative to liquid softener during the rinse cycle. It has a similar effect, but it rinses off completely, and will not leave any sort of residue. You may think that it will cause your clothes to stink, but they actually come out smelling just like your detergent, not the vinegar. To use it, simply add in a 1/4-1/2 cup when the rinse cycle starts, or add to the dispenser labeled fabric softener. It costs less that traditional products, it’s made from renewable resources, it is totally safe to touch your skin or inhale, and it will not coat fabrics to reduce absorbency.

Dryer Balls

Don’t want the hassle of running to the washing machine at the exact right time? toss a set of these into your dryer, and never worry about fabric softeners again. These little balls will tumble around as your clothes dry to separate and massage fabrics. Clothing will be softer, static will be reduced, and drying will take less time because the air will flow between garments more effectively. This method is by far the least expensive, and it is totally hypoallergenic and non-toxic. Your laundry will feel as good or better than it did with regular products, but you won’t have to worry about affecting performance of cleaning cloths, or adding dangerous residues to clothing and bed sheets.

Why Go With An Alternative

  • No side effects. – One of the most obvious reasons is that it will solve your absorbency problem. No chemical residue means towels, shammys and other cloths will continue to work just like new.
  • Healthier. – Who wants to increase exposure to carcinogens and other dangerous stuff? Not many people. We sleep in or wear laundry all day long, so if you are addicted to that sunshine scent,l and also wondering why you always have headaches, maybe take a look at what you are putting into your laundry.
  • Eco-Friendly. – Vinegar is renewable, and dryer balls never wear out. You could continue buying the product you use now, but the production and ingredients involved are resource intensive, and the introduction to ground water is questionable
  • Cheaper. – With dryer balls it is a single purchase, and with vinegar it is still several, but each one costs way less. You are guaranteed to save money when you choose one of the alternatives mentioned above.

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Have your own question? Ask it here.

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Cleaning Tile Grout http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-tile-grout/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cleaning-tile-grout http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-tile-grout/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:45:03 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2685 Keep tile looking its best, and maintain a healthy environment. Clean grout lines regularly with one of these 4 proven methods, and step by step instructions.

Cleaning Tile Grout - Simply Good Tips

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cleaning grout

Those little lines do more than just collect dirt. They also seal and fill joints between flooring and wall tiles in order to create a solid surface, and secure the pieces in place. It’s sort of like cement, and it comes in many different colors. It will go on thick and liquidy, and then set over time to end up completely hard. Once dry, it becomes a permanent fixture in your bathroom or kitchen, and depending upon style and tile type, the lines can be thick or thin. The area between each tile will be completely filled with grout, and it’s always lower, so it’s ideal for collecting grime, and also making it impossible to remove. In order to keep your tiled surface looking it’s best, you will probably have to resort to specialized tools or techniques because it can be pretty difficult to get good results with a simple spray and wipe system. A gleaming surface is much nicer to look at, but it’s also way safer. Use the tips and techniques below to improve appearance and create a healthier environment at the same time.

Why Clean It

It’s pretty easy to mop the tops of each tile, but getting down into the cracks can pose a real problem. Most regular tools will slide right over the top, and will completely miss the grout. You may even find more dirt and grime deposited after cleaning, than you did before you started. The material is very porous so it holds onto stuff well, and makes it difficult to remove. When soap scum, mildew and other yucky stuff are allowed to stay in the lines, it will discolor over time, and then become unhealthy as it’s allowed to cake and build up. Getting the lines clean will make the whole room look better, but it will also eliminate hidden dangers at the same time. You may need a better tool to make the job easier, but you may also be able to combine stuff you already have in order to save a few bucks. Unless you like to bathe or cook in a grimey germ hole, it is very important to clean each tile and the grout that surrounds it.

Health Risks

If ignored, and left alone, all of that dirt may start to affect the people that encounter it. Asthma and allergies can be triggered. Skin, eyes and lungs may be irritated, and in some rare situations, serious diseases can be found lurking within the mold and mildew. It is well documented that mold is bad for you, and the longer it’s allowed to sit, the more potential for danger, and the more difficult it will be to get off. Some varieties are more dangerous than others, but they all look bad, and even the most benign can be irritating to some people.

For those allergic to the grime encountered in this area, it is common to see runny noses, itchy eyes, coughs, sneezes and throat irritation as a response. In some cases, it will manifest in a more chronic  and severe manner to become asthma or some other long term condition. When substances in the grout lines don’t cause full blown allergic reactions, they may just irritate in an annoying way. This can lead to unexplained headaches, fatigue, trouble catching your breath, concentration problems, nausea and more. The most rare problems caused by dirty grout lines are the ones brought about by invasive diseases. This is not at all common, but it is a risk in some extreme cases. Typically these powerful germs can only compromise those with already lowered immune systems.

Cases of asthma have skyrocketed all over the country, and one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your family is to keep things clean, but also stick with products that don’t add to the problem. If you use harsh chemicals to fry the dirt, you may be doing as much harm as good due to the harsh, toxic ingredients. The tips and cleaning methods below will help you to do a good job without resorting to dangerous products that may cause even more irritation that the stuff you’re trying to remove. Keep reading to learn about several proven ways to accomplish this task, and feel free to add your own in the comments section if there is anything we missed.

4 Ways To Clean Grout

 

Use Chlorine Bleach

This is one of the most harsh methods we will list, so best to get it out of the way. We would recommend trying the other techniques first, and then resorting to this if necessary. Bleach can be an irritant to some, and should not be on your skin for any amount of time, but many people swear by it, and prefer it for this job. If you choose to try this method, be sure to use proper precaution with the chlorine bleach. Because it will distort colored grout, you should only use this stuff on white or lighter colored lines, or those that you do not mind changing colors.

  1. To prepare your cleaning solution, get a bucket, and add in 2 cups of baking soda.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of bleach and add to the baking soda.
  3. Use a stick or ruler to mix the two ingredients together, and continue until you have a paste.
  4. Grab a toothbrush and dip into your paste to apply some to the bristles. A larger, more powerful brush may make the job easier.
  5. Use an up and down, back and forth action to scrub along the lines.
  6. Do one section at a time and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Once it has set, use a mop and some water to rinse clean and remove any residue.
  8. Repeat if needed to get the results you want.

Use Oxygen Bleach

Similar to chlorine, but safer, and generally more effective on grout. It works on all sorts of stains, and will usually provide better results than professional steam machines. It’s a general purpose cleaning product made from a combination of soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. When mixed with warm water, it becomes activated and offers a powerful cleaning solution that works well with added scrubbing. The oxygen will break down organic build up to make it easy to release it from the surface and lift it away. Although it is a bleach, it will not harm color like the chlorine stuff does. It’s also less toxic and therefore safer for you and your pets.

  1. To prepare for cleaning, mix an amount with warm water according to the instructions on the package. It will totally dissolve once mixed in.
  2. Pour the solution you made directly onto the floor.
  3. Continue pouring until all grout line are flooded.
  4. Once the floor is saturated, let sit for 15-30 minutes. As it sits, it will do the work for you by breaking down the grime.
  5. If your cleaning solution absorbs or sinks in, add more. The area should remain wet.
  6. After 30 minutes, use a scrub brush to clean the lines.
  7. Add more solution as you scrub to make the job easy.
  8. For best results, use a nylon brush, and work in sections.
  9. In a grid, work from top to bottom, and left to right.
  10. Rinse the floor with water and wipe clean with a mop or rag.
  11. Repeat if necessary to get the results you want.
  12. For maintenance after you get it clean, add a smaller amount of oxygen bleach to your water every time you mop.

Use A Homemade Cleaning Solution

Want to make a similar substance with stuff you already have? A simple home remedy can do a pretty good job if you also have a good tool. It will be pretty tough to get grout clean without any effort, no matter which method you go with, but skipping a trip to the store will at least reduce the time it takes. When you use a simple list of ingredients you already have at home, you can be sure it is safe and non-toxic, and you can mix the exact amount you need at a very affordable price. When applied with a good scrub brush, the following solution has been proven to remove soap scum, mold and other stuff without much trouble.

  1. To get ready, mix your solution in a sink or bucket.
  2. Begin with warm water and then add in 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar.
  3. Mix in some lemon juice for scent and acidity. 1/3 cup.
  4. Combine this liquid with about 1/2 cup of baking soda.
  5. The ingredients will immediately react and bubble. Wait until it settles.
  6. Once calm, add to a spray bottle for walls, leave in a bucket or apply right to the tile for floors.
  7. Once applied, let it sit for 5 or more minutes.
  8. Use a scrub brush to clean grout lines and remove grime.
  9. Clean one section at a time, and move from one location to the next in a methodical manner.
  10. Once finished, rinse clear with water, and use a mop or rag to remove any residue left over.

Use A Steam Cleaner

This method is probably the most expensive, but it also might be the easiest. For regular build up these machines can be quite effective, but when the grime is caked or on there for long periods, they may not provide the scrubbing power necessary to get the floor clean. No t many people could justify a outright purchase, but a one day rental may help you improve the look of your grout. Most home improvement stores offer rental machines that you can get your hands on locally. It won’t do you much good for tile on the wall, and it would be pretty silly to use in a small room. This method is best used for large sections of tiled flooring.

  1. Once you get the machine home, be sure to set up according to the instructions.
  2. Fill the machine with water, and then turn the power on.
  3. Allow it time to reach the proper temperature.
  4. Begin at one side of the room, and move toward the other. As you move make sure the brush makes contact and continue in a forward motion.
  5. As you reach the other side, turn directly around, and continue in a line parallel to the one you just made.
  6. Keep steaming until you get the results you want. It may be necessary to go over certain areas more than once.
  7. Use a mop or cloth to soak up any residual moisture and wipe clean any residue or debris.
  8. Turn off machine and allow to cool.

Extra Tips

  • Choose your tool based upon the durability of the tile.
  • Always use a good scrubber for fast and easy results.
  • Fresh dirt is easier to clean than old stuff. Clean regularly, and tackle tough stains right away to make the job easier.
  • Grout sealer can be applied to keep it clean longer. Put on according to direction once fully cleaned.
  • If using chlorine bleach, ensure that you open a window, turn on an exhaust fan or ventilate in some way.
  • Gloves should also be worn when handling chlorine bleach.
  • Using a steam machine on grout that is cracking or broken may cause problems. Avoid this.

Good Tool = Easy Cleaning

Using a better grout brush will save time, reduce effort, and make the job easier. It’s nearly impossible to thoroughly clean the lines between each tile without a brush of some sort, and all of them are not created equal. Shape, size, material and durability all play a role in making one tool better or worse than another. For the quickest job with the best results, you will want a tough scrubber that doesn’t wear out. A brush that works as a hand tool or one with a long pole will increase convenience and allow you to reach areas that are high up, or far away. You also make it possible to switch to floors or tiles without using something different, or resorting to awkward stretching or straining. We carry some of the best grout cleaning tools available, but anything similar will also work. Be careful when shopping elsewhere though because most other tools are flimsy and prone to bending or smashing to become ineffective.

Shark Grout And Tile BrushThe Shark Grout And Tile Brush

This red, gray and blue brush has some of the stiffest bristles you will find. It’s a commercial grade tool that features unique bristles angles to make it easy to use, and also allow it to clean the top of each tile as it removes everything from the lines. It points outward at each end, so you can scrub right up to the edges, and it has a triangular shape underneath to dig deep down into any size grout line. A swivel attachment at the top can be used to connect a mop or broom pole for added reach, but it folds flat for comfortable use when gripped with a single hand. Quickly lift up tough grime with a simple back and forth motion and almost no pressure. It’s safe for any cleaning solution, but it does most of the work for you, so the cleaner used is less important.

Demon Pro Grout BrushDemon Pro Grout Brush

Similar to the shark, but with more advanced bristles at the center, and longer bristles overall. Get professional looking results with little effort, and use a tool that doesn’t wear out. This brush is red, gray and black and features the same angles and shaping as the one mentioned above. This means that it will also clean tile and grout with one motion, and allow you to scrub right up to baseboards without extra effort. You can attach it to a pole in the same way also, so high sections of walls are easy to reach, and doing a whole floor does not require to get down on your hands and knees. Nylo-Grit bristles at the center are more durable and more flexible than regular nylon, and they have more cutting power thanks to the silicon carbide extruded throughout. Bend and flex to get every crack and crevice, and power through dirt with the high performance bristles.

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Peeling Tomatoes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/peeling-tomatoes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=peeling-tomatoes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/peeling-tomatoes/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 00:10:58 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=1978 Four traditional ways to peel a tomato and one that's way easier. Read step by step guides to make this job easy, and easily prep tomatoes for sauce or stew.

Peeling Tomatoes - Simply Good Tips

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peel tomatoesRemoving the outer skin is important when cooking with tomatoes. If left in place, they will eventually separate to ruin your sauce, chili or stew by adding a stringy texture. If you try to use a regular peeler, the smooth skin and squishy texture will make it extremely difficult. Most times the tool will glide right over the surface without actually cutting, and if you apply pressure, it may smash and make a mess. In order to remove the skin without ruining the fruit, you need to release the bond that the inner meat has with the skin, or you need to use a better tool to skin without effort. There are several ways to prepare the skin and make it easy to peel off, and we will provide the steps for these below. Some people also use a  knife to do it by hand, but that can be difficult and wasteful. After providing instructions on how to do it by boiling, cooking or bruising, we will show you how a specialized peeler can do the job in less time, and with less effort. Follow the steps for whichever method you like best to complete this task with stuff you already have, or get an affordable tool to save yourself time, effort and frustration.

4 Ways To Peel A Tomato

Boiling

  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. You can easily do up to four at a time, so choose the right size according to volume.
  2. Get a bowl ready with ice water, and keep it accessible.
  3. Prep each tomato by rinsing thoroughly, removing stems, and then scoring an “X” at the bottom with a knife.
  4. Place each one into the water carefully, but do not overload.
  5. Continue boiling until the little x you cut begins to split open. This should only take 30 seconds or less, and you want to make sure to avoid cooking too long.
  6. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove from the water, and place directly into your bowl of ice water. Allow to cool.
  7. Remove from the water once no longer warm.
  8. Start peeling at the x, and pull back gently to remove the skin.
  9. Most flesh should be preserved, and the skin should separate easily.
  10. If overly smooshy, or already losing skin, you cooked too long, so reduce time when you try again.

Bruising

  1. Prep tomato by washing, drying and removing extra stuff like stems and leaves.
  2. Hold your fruit in one had, and grab a butter knife with the other hand.
  3. Use the back side of your knife to sort of scrape the whole exterior.
  4. Use a top to bottom technique, and go all the way around.
  5. Do not actually cut or penetrate, but do bruise thoroughly to free the outer layer from the meat inside.
  6. Once that step is finished, use a sharp knife to make a small cut to start the peel.
  7. Use your hand to finish the job by gently peeling back the skin.

Cooking

  1. Heating over an open flame will cause the skin to open up and separate. Use a gas stove top or something similar.
  2. Use a fork or skewer to hold the tomato. Poke on the top side where the stem was for best results.
  3. Set your stove to high heat so you have ample flame to work with.
  4. To heat, hold the tomato over the fire. Keep it an inch or more away.
  5. Ensure even distribution by turning to expose all sides.
  6. After about 30 seconds the skin will begin to split and open up.
  7. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  8. Once cool enough to touch, start removing the skin by grabbing it at one of the splits.
  9. Pull back to peel and remove all over.
  10. Do not hold over the heat too long, or the tomato will start to cook.

Cutting

  1. Get tomatoes ready by cleaning with water and drying thoroughly.
  2. Remove any stems and other stuff, then slice into quarters with your knife.
  3. Work with one section at a time to remove the skin.
  4. Set one on a cutting board and hold steady with your hand.
  5. Press down firmly and then use your knife to slide under and slice off the skin.
  6. Begin at the pointy part at one end, and slide to the other end making sure to leave as much of the meat intact as possible.

serrated peelerThe Easy Way To Peel Tomatoes

If you’ve tried these techniques and had a hard time, or if you would prefer a method that requires less steps, less effort, and less skill, try a fruit and vegetable peeler designed for the task. A regular peeler with a straight blade will never do a good job, but if you get one with a specialized blade, you can quickly remove skins without any of the special steps above. Serrated peelers have little teeth along the edge of the blade, and that allows them to perform much better on slippery stuff, smooth stuff and fuzzy stuff. Not only will it make this job super easy, it will also allow you to skin kiwis, peaches and peppers just as easily.

How Does It Work

Instead of skimming over the top due to fuzz or smooth exteriors, the jagged teeth dig down gently to grip the skin, and peel it off easily. You won’t smash food by using too much pressure, and you will not get frustrated by a skin that refuses to come off. The razor sharp teeth will glide through any type of food, and they will slice just below the surface to lift off the outer layer and leave all of the good stuff behind. The high quality options that we carry ensure effortless operation thanks to superior construction and super sharp blades.

How To Use One

  1. Prep tomatoes by washing and drying. Remove any stems.
  2. Hold the peeler in your dominant hand, and hold the food in your other hand.
  3. Peel from top to bottom, and work your way all the way around, or work from back to front, and rotate to get all sides.
  4. Touch the blade to the skin, and apply slight pressure to break the skin.
  5. Pull back to slice off thin peels and remove all skin.

Options Available

We have several styles and brands to choose from, so choose the one that fits your preferences. The important part is the blade style, but handle style and materials will vary, so select the one that works best for you. When you have the proper tool on hand, impossible stuff like peeling a tomato is all of a sudden possible. Keep your stove off, leave the pots in the cupboard, and avoid pretending like you have the skill necessary to use a knife. Our serrated peelers are incredibly affordable, and you can use them for almost anything you peel. They will work on shiny or fuzzy stuff that others can’t handle, but regular stuff like apples and potatoes can also be worked with. Use the links below to read more about the benefits and specific traits of each model.

Star Serrated Peeler

Piranha Swivel Peeler

Piranha Y Peeler

 

Peeling Tomatoes - Simply Good Tips

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Cleaning Stainless Steel Cutlery And Other Utensils http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-stainless-steel-cutlery-utensils/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cleaning-stainless-steel-cutlery-utensils http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/cleaning-stainless-steel-cutlery-utensils/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 20:34:37 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2663 Keep your cutlery clean, and preserve it for the long haul. Take care of silverware with stuff you already have, or get something new to make it easier.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Cutlery And Other Utensils - Simply Good Tips

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washing cutleryMost manufactures will advise against placing cutlery in the dishwasher for cleaning. This is because it can lead to a dull finish, water spots or mineral deposits. The problem is that most of us don’t really care because it’s so much easier, and less time consuming. Washing by hand will take longer and it will require more effort, but it should be done periodically at least in order to keep your silverware looking its best, and ensure it lasts a long time. When manually cleaning, you can be sure the job is thorough, and you can also prevent damage, avoid over-washing or guarantee dryness. A regular routine will keep things sparkling, but extra scrubbing or polishing may be necessary from time to time as well. Follow the steps below to maintain properly, and then keep reading to learn about a product that can save you time, while also providing a hand-cleaned result.

What Is It

In order to make stainless steel cutlery, companies take an iron alloy that has at least ten percent chromium. This results in a strong and durable metal that resists bending and warping. It is known for it’s stain resistance, but it does have the ability to dull over time or show fingerprints and smudges. Most of us have this kind of forks, spoon and knives in the drawer, but many other larger knives and utensils are also made from the same material. There is a range in quality and mixtures available, but caring for any will be pretty much the same.

Care And Maintenance

Hand  Washing

  1. Before using for the first time, and after each subsequent use, be sure to clean thoroughly by hand.
  2. Use hot soapy water, and scrub thoroughly with a sponge, scrubby or dish cloth.
  3. Once clean, rinse under hot water to remove all of the soap. If left on, the residue can cause dulling over time.
  4. Once the soap has been rinsed, use a soft, absorbent towel to dry. If left to air dry, water spots can dry in place, so it won’t look a shiny, or be as clean.
  5. When washing after regular use, use a safe and effective detergent or soap, and hot water. Make sure to get all sides, and in between cracks and crevices.

Polish or Remove Streaks And Stains

Over time, cutlery can become stained or streaky due to constant contact with food, or prolonged exposure to heat. Even with regular cleaning, it will dull over time without polishing. Follow the steps below to attempt removal of stains, or shining of the finish with stuff you already have around your kitchen.

Vinegar

  • The acids and cleaning properties of white distilled vinegar can clean and polish stainless steel cutlery.
  • To brighten up dull areas, apply some to a cleaning cloth and rub away dirt and tarnish.
  • Reapply more vinegar, and repeat to really make it shine.
  • Rinse under hot water and dry with towel to finish.

Olive Oil

  • Use a cloth with olive oil added to rub out visible streaking.
  • Ensure the fork is clean, then add a small amount of oil to your cleaning cloth.
  • Rub and wipe to remove streaks or make them less visible.
  • Wash, rinse and dry to finish.

Lemon Juice

  • A simple application of lemon juice can take out heat stains and streaking.
  • Get a cleaning cloth, and dampen with the juice.
  • Wipe and rub  until stain has been removed.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • Once finished, rinse clean and dry thoroughly.

Club Soda

  • Cleaning with club soda can take out stubborn stains.
  • Rinse or let soak, and then wipe with a cleaning cloth.
  • Repeat as needed to completely remove stain.
  • Rinse and dry to finish.

Additional Tips

  • Stubborn but possible. – Some stains will take a lot of work to remove. A single cleaning may only cause the color to fade, but with repeated effort, you should be able to completely remove most of them.
  • Sooner is better than later. – When left to dry in the sink, food can become stuck like glue to spoons and forks. Washing right away will make the job easier, but also prevent staining that only occurs over time. Also high salt content, or acidic foods like pasta sauce can pit and damage silverware if left on too long.
  • Dishwasher? – When using a dishwasher, it will certainly save time and effort, but be sure to dry by hand to avoid spotting. Stubborn stains and caked on food may not remove all the way when using a machine, so follow up cleaning may be necessary.

cutlery_cleaner-2The Easy Way To Clean

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a product that would allow you to achieve hand wash style results, but with the same speed and lack of effort that a dishwasher provides? Of course it would, and you’re in luck because there is such an item. Our Cutlery Cleaner does all of the tough work for you, but it remains gentle and effective for any cutlery or utensil you have. It’s an unobtrusive plastic box that attaches to the side of your sink with a suction cup. Inside of it, there is a mass of nylon bristles on all sides that overlap to cover the interior. It is poen at the top and bottom to allow for a plunging action of one or more pieces of silverware, large knives or cooking utensils. Simply add some soap and in a matter of seconds, you will be able to completely clean anything you use it on. Stubborn food will wash away with ease, crusty stuff will scrub right off, and food that stain will be completely removed to prevent colors from sticking.

How To Use It

  1. Use attached to the sink, or by holding it to reduce time and effort while improving results.
  2. To adhere to sink, ensure that the area and suction cup are clean and dry. Press firmly to create a lasting bond.
  3. To clean, prep the tool by adding dish soap across the top of the bristles.
  4. Grab one or more pieces of cutlery, rinse to add moisture, and then press down through the bristles.
  5. A quick up and down action will thoroughly scrub large knives, serving spoons, or silverware used to eat with.
  6. Once clean rinse under warm water to remove residual soap.
  7. Towel dry for a guaranteed spot-free finish, or place in a  rack to air dry and make things easy.

Everybody has to eat, and the things we use to consume or create our food will inevitably get dirty. It is important to some of us to do a good job, but a large group of those same people don’t have the time required to do it. This little gadget can save you time and effort, while still allowing you wash cutlery by hand. You get the same protection, accuracy and results, but without all of the wasted time, prolonged effort, and additional tools. With is in your sink, you only need a couple seconds to make most metal utensils sparkle.

Products Mentioned

Cleaning Stainless Steel Cutlery And Other Utensils - Simply Good Tips

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Easily Add Filling To Cupcakes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/easily-add-filling-cupcakes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=easily-add-filling-cupcakes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/easily-add-filling-cupcakes/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 00:20:22 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2608 Removing the middle a cupcake can be difficult, but when filled with frosting & other stuff, it sure will taste yummy. Use this tool to simplify the job.

Easily Add Filling To Cupcakes - Simply Good Tips

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filling a cupcakeWant to make some delicious cupcakes that look like they came from a high end bakery? Sure you do. It’s a quick and easy way to prepare an eye-catching treat for birthdays, weddings and other parties, and you are pretty much guaranteed to impress friends and family when you produce something that is both professional looking, and mouth watering. Simple tools can mean the difference between the perfect finished product, and failing miserably, so be sure you have the right supplies if you want to decrease frustration, and improve your outcome.

One of the tricks that many pros will use, is to remove the middle of the cake to make room for more frosting, pudding, or something else yummy. You could attempt this with a knife or spoon, but you will never get a uniform size, and you are very likely to deal with annoying stuff like cupcakes that collapse, or sections of cake that don’t remove all the way. Using a cupcake corer will make this job fast and simple, but it will also ensure that every hole you cut is the same, perfect size.

What Is It

This tool is incredibly simple, but also very useful and effective. As mentioned, you could certainly use things you already have, but the results won’t be as good, or easy to come by. You could also pay more, and get one that is unnecessarily fancy, or one that is equally simple, but just more costly. The affordable tool we carry will get the job done without breaking the bank, but you won’t compromise quality, or make the job any more difficult. It is easy-to-use, and easy to clean afterward. A simple action of press, twist, lift will remove the perfect amount, so it won’t cave in, crumble or squish.

Our Cupcake Corer is actually a two piece set. It comes with one standard size cutter, and one smaller one that is perfect for mini’s. Both are very similar, but one is just a bit skinnier and shorter. They are essentially plastic cylinders with a tapered edge at the bottom, and a fat, flower-shaped handle at the top. The slightly sharp edge at the bottom allows it to slide in easily, and the large handle allows you to lift up without any trouble. They are both sized to take out the perfect amount from the center, and prevent any frustration caused by uneven cuts, holes that are too deep, or cores that don’t come out in one piece. The material is BPA-free and dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals, or the time it takes to hand wash.

How to use it

Way easier than using a knife or anything else, this tool will allow you to remove the middle in a matter of seconds. Once you take it out, you can have a little snack, but you can also fill the dessert you are making with something extra yummy. Squeeze in extra icing before frosting the top, or add pudding, jelly, custard or ice cream for something truly special. It Works well for virtually any size of cupcake, but you could also use it for muffins as well. Anyone can use this tool to improve the taste and presentation of their creations, but follow the steps below for best results.

  1. Step one is to decide which one you want to use. The green one is a standard size, so it works for regular cupcakes or ones slightly bigger. For smaller ones, choose the pink tool because it cut a smaller hole.
  2. Step One. Using A Cupcake CorerTo use it, simply align it over your dessert so that it is right in the middle. Once lined up, simply press down to desired depth. You can cut using the full length, or you can do less. A slight twisting action will ensure a clean cut, and make sure the center pops out easily, and in one piece.
  3. To take out the cake you cut, simply lift straight up. It will remain inside the tool, so nothing is left behind. Press at the center with your finger to pop it out and proceed to the next cupcake.
  4. Step Two. Using A Cupcake CorerOnce the center is gone, fill the cavity with frosting, jam, ice cream, pudding or custard up to the top.
  5. Step Three. Using A Cupcake CorerTo finish the job, spread regular frosting over the top to conceal your filling, and then decorate as desired.
  6. Hand wash or place in the dishwasher when dirty.

Don’t spend a bunch of money to have someone else do it for you. And don’t waste energy, or get frustrated just to save a few bucks. This remarkable tool will transform this job from something impossible, into something easy. Instead of wasting the whole batch as you shred and mutilate your cake, you will be able to do one after another in a matter of seconds. Save money, impress guests, or just give yourself a new toy to play with.

Products Mentioned

Easily Add Filling To Cupcakes - Simply Good Tips

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A Building Toy Powered By Suction http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/building-toy-powered-suction/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=building-toy-powered-suction http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/building-toy-powered-suction/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 21:17:56 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2653 These fun little suckers break the building block mold. Don't settle for bricks and blocks. Get them a toy powered by suction instead.

A Building Toy Powered By Suction - Simply Good Tips

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squigz_starter-2Most building toys snap together, or stack without connection. This results in fun for sure, but it also guarantees rigid structures, predictable applications and difficulty for some children. Pieces are generally small in size, and  connecting parts can be difficult to work with. Each part is usually hard to the touch, and play is usually structured by following step by step instructions. When you step out of the brick and block world, the choices are few, but a growing number of toys are beginning to emerge with unique shapes, and never before tried attachment methods.

Squigz are building blocks in funky shapes, and they attach to smooth surfaces, and each other, by using suction power. There are several figures in each set, and they all have a different number of suction cups. The main body of each piece is a perfect sphere, and each one will have suction cup protrusions at different angles. Some will have as few as one, while others will have several. A simple press will result in a strong bond between two Squigz, or allow you to suspend them from smooth, flat surfaces. They are perfect for everyday play, but they  also make great bath toys, and the construction is totally outdoor friendly. Combine several together to build crazy monsters, odd vehicles, or silly structures. Children won’t be able to form solid walls, or brick houses, but they will be able to stretch their imaginations to create an endless number of fun projects.

How They Work

Each piece is made from pure silicone, so they are colorful, durable, long lasting and resistant to odors and staining. They are easily washable, and the high quality material allows them to grip really well. Just like any other suction product, these work by holding firm to smooth materials and other cups. For this reason, you can attach to tables, windows, desk tops, counters and other materials, or you can stick pieces together to build large objects. Simply press and apply direct pressure to connect or attach. The bond will be strong and immediate. To take apart, simply pull in opposite directions and listen for the pop. A fun popping noise will be heard as the bond is broken thanks to the powerful hold.

Compatible Surfaces

  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Mirrors
  • Tile
  • Polished Wood
  • Fiberglass
  • Polished Stone
  • Any other smooth and flat material.

Available Options

These fun building blocks come in two standard sets, and you can also get packages of specific figures to end up with the exact mix you want. The starter set includes 24 pieces, and the deluxe offers a total of 50. The larger package offers the best value, but a smaller set may be better for a gift, or someone just starting out. Each option will provide a variety of parts, and will include some of each figure. The available pieces each have a name, so look for 8 Different types. Zorbit, Wonkity, Gobnob, Skootch, Yoink, Grippity, Doodle and Pip will all be represented when you choose either the starter or deluxe package.

What About Toddlers?

For smaller hands and curious mouths, there is a Squigz set just for infants and toddlers. It has only three pieces, but they are much larger, feature a textured exterior, and have a gentle rattle on the inside. They still stick to each other, and you can also attach them to smooth surfaces. Place one on a walker or high chair to add fun or distractions, or let your baby hold, squeeze and shake it in their hands. The bright colors and soft materials are very attractive to little kids, and the versatile play-ability allows for many options for fun. Keep them focused when out to eat, add a toy to your car window, provide the perfect teether and so much more. If your child is not quite old enough for the building and stacking that can be done with the regular set, get them PipSquigz instead.

Get them a toy that sucks in a good way!

Products Mentioned

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A Soap Dish That Installs Anywhere http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/soap-dish-installs-anywhere/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=soap-dish-installs-anywhere http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/soap-dish-installs-anywhere/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 19:46:07 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2642 Suction is for suckers. Choose this mount anywhere soap holder to reduce frustration and give yourself a better looking, longer lasting solution.

A Soap Dish That Installs Anywhere - Simply Good Tips

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griipa soap dish Suction is for suckers. Using anywhere in the title may be a bit of an overstatement, but this incredible product will stick to a wide variety of surfaces, and it will adhere way better than other options. The attachment method looks like a suction cup, but it is far less bulky and substantially more grippy. Instead of sliding down overnight, or peeling off under weight, this dish will act like it is cemented in place. After you install it, you can bump it, knock it, load it up and it will stay fixed in place without budging. If you have ever tried to attach a soap dish to your wall without the use of tools, hardware or glue, then you know the options are limited. If you are tired of the frustration and lack luster results provided by suction products, then continue reading to find out how a friction mount soap dish could be the answer you are looking for.

What Is It

It all starts with a simple, modern design that blends with nearly any decor. This white, plastic dish has a lip on the outer rim to prevent sliding, and it has holes in the base to promote drying. Those features make it an adequate soap storage spot, but the way in which it attaches to your shower, is what raises it to the level of amazing. Instead of screws, glues or cups you have to lick, this dish uses a friction mount bracket that works way better. You won’t need tools, and there are no parts included. The circular parts that sticks to the wall looks like suction, but it is thinner and more like a vinyl sticker. It will not leave any residue on the wall, or harm any surface, but the thinner material will create more friction as it hugs the wall more efficiently. Push up down or sideways and it will not move.

Stack up to ten pounds on top and it will hold steady without drooping or sliding. It is the perfect product to allow you to have a soap dish right where you need it. Make up for inadequate stalls, or allow someone to reach without bending. You can even place it on shower doors, mirror, tiles next to your sink and so much more. Once in place,it will remain unless you decide otherwise, but it is also completely reusable and re-position-able too!

What Makes It So Awesome

It does have a clean simple look that blends with any bathroom, but the way it works is what makes it so great. It really does feel like it’s permanently in place once you get it installed. Other similar options force you to rely on bulky suction cups, or something sticky, and they will never hold as well, or last as long. This dish mounts on almost any flat surface, and it sticks completely flush. It will not wobble or slide, and it will stay cemented in place for as long as you want. If you decide to take it down, or move locations, it will only taker a second, and there will never be any residue, marks or holes left behind. Stick to a glass door, attach to a shower wall, hang on a mirror and so much more. It gives you the ability to mount a soap holder right where you need it, and you won’t need any tools to install it.

Friction Mount

The secret is in the bracket that mounts to the wall. It is circular in shape, and it looks a lot like a suction cup, but the material is much thinner, and the overall design is a bit more advanced. When you press it against the wall, it will adhere more like a sticker, but there is no actual sticky stuff involved. Once you press out all of the air bubbles, friction against the surface increases greatly, and not only holds it on the wall, but also completely immobilizes it. You can run into it by accident, or put the heaviest bar of soap imaginable on top, and it will not budge at all. Other options will flop off when your not looking, or slide slowly as you shower. This one will look and act like it is screwed in place, but you will not need any hardware, and you will not be limited to surfaces that accept screws.

Easy Installation

If you have a few seconds free, and absolutely no skill as far as home improvement goes, then you have everything necessary to mount this holder. It is as easy as choosing the ideal spot, making sure it is clean, and then pressing it in place. Anyone can have it operational in one or two minutes, but follow these instructions for best results.

  1. Select a location and then clean  it. Removing dirt improve adhesion, and guarantee longevity.
  2. Most installs will be straight forward. Some surfaces will require the adapter sheet. If necessary, peel off backing and apply it first. Press on and push out any air bubbles.
  3. To mount the dish, remove the backing from the circular bracket.
  4. Apply direct pressure and press in place.
  5. Massage visible air bubbles toward the outside to remove them.
  6. Press firmly once more, and remove any remaining air bubbles.
  7. Attach soap dish to mounting bracket by sliding into place. Position above the circle, and then slide down onto center post.
  8. To remove or re-position, slide dish up and off bracket and then peel off circle to remove it. To place in new location, repeat steps above.

Compatible Surfaces

  • Glass
  • Mirrors
  • Glossy Tile
  • Acrylic
  • Fiberglass
  • Porcelain
  • Chrome
  • Stainless Steel (with adapter)
  • Matte Tile (with adapter)
  • Any other smooth, shiny surface not listed.

Products Mentioned

 

A Soap Dish That Installs Anywhere - Simply Good Tips

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Store Leftovers The Easy Way http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/store-leftovers-easy-way/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=store-leftovers-easy-way http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/store-leftovers-easy-way/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:29:06 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2633 The easiest and most convenient way to store leftover food. Keep it looking good, maintain freshness, and allow for easy re-heating with the Plate Topper.

Store Leftovers The Easy Way - Simply Good Tips

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plate topperWhether it is a single portion saved until someone gets home from work, or a full plate of leftovers that will be saved for days, we all need an easy way to keep cooked food fresh until later. Plastic containers work well if you don’t want to know what’s inside, and plastic wrap is nice if you like visible food that is also smashed. If you go the storage container route, your dinner will still look the same when you attempt to eat it, but you will have to switch back to a plate to heat it up, and you will end up using three separate dishes to eat a single meal. Plastic wrap allows you to keep using the same plate, but it can become costly and wasteful because you can never reuse it. The PlateTopper is a great alternative to clear film or Tupperware, and it will save you time, money, effort and dishes while allowing you to keep food more fresh and easier to re-heat.

What Is It?

Glad you asked! The name pretty much says it all because the Plate Topper is basically a lid for your dinner plate. In a matter of seconds, you can transform any regular dish into an air tight storage container. Simply place over the top of your food and press down to lock it in place. It will cover food without ruining it, and it will keep it fresh by locking out exterior factors. It’s totally refrigerator and freezer safe, so store your food almost anywhere until you are ready to eat it. It’s also safe for the microwave, and it makes the perfect splatter guard when reheating your food. Just break the seal, and heat like normal. It will prevent any mess from sauces that splatter, and it will help retain the moisture in your food so it won’t dry out like it usually does. Have several plates of food to keep? This sturdy storage solution is also stack-able, so pile one on top of the other to save room.

How does it Work?

A sturdy plastic shell is completely see-through to keep everything inside visible. It’s constructed from a high quality plastic that is BPA free and dishwasher safe. On the top side there is a convenient handle to make it easy to put on, take off, or re-position. Around the outside of the shell, there is a colorful border made from high quality silicone. This is the material that grips your plate, and creates the seal. At one point on the outer ring, there is a pull tab that allows you to quickly and easily break the seal. When pressed into place, the lid will hold on so tight that you can actually lift the plate by using the handle at the top. This isn’t the safest thing to do, but it does demonstrate just how well it will contain your leftovers. Similar to an oversize suction cup, the Plate Topper will stick in place, and hold strong until you remove it. When covering your food, it will seal in freshness better than most storage containers, and way better than plastic wrap. It offers a cheaper, easier and less messy way to save any food for later.

How To Use It

It certainly isn’t rocket science, so anyone can use this clever product to keep food fresh for any amount of time. Follow the instructions below for best results.

  1. For storage, use on a 9″ plate or something similar. To ensure a good seal, clear the area where the silicone will touch, and make sure it is free of any food.
  2. Position over your food, and press straight down to create a secure lid.
  3. To remove the lid, pull the tab to release the seal, and then lift off.
  4. Totally dishwasher safe for cleaning.
  5. For use as a splatter guard in the microwave, place over your food, but do not press to seal in place.
  6. Heat food like normal and it will catch splatters and retain moisture.

What Else Can It Do

It’s perfect for keeping a plate of food looking freshly cooked for hours, but beyond making someone happy when they get home from a long day, you can also use it for other stuff. See the list below to get started, but be sure to add a comment if you have other uses not listed.

  • Cooking Cover – Use in your microwave to keep it cleaner, and make reheated food taste better.
  • Fruit Preserver – Lock in or out gasses that cause browning. Make bananas and other fruits last longer.
  • Baked Goods Keeper – Seal cookies and other sweets under the air tight dome to keep them soft and moist longer.
  • Food Stacker – Running out of room? Place foods on plates and stack for storage. The hard shell is flat on top to make it easy.
  • Food Warmer – Keep the lid on after you remove food from the microwave and it will retain heat much longer than normal.

Plate Topper

Store Leftovers The Easy Way - Simply Good Tips

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An Advanced Finishing Spray With Nano Particles http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/advanced-finishing-spray-nano-particles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=advanced-finishing-spray-nano-particles http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/advanced-finishing-spray-nano-particles/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 18:04:38 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2629 Nano Technology Changes Everything Nano Power Finish has the power to protect and polish almost any surface. It provides an invisible coating that improves the look […]

An Advanced Finishing Spray With Nano Particles - Simply Good Tips

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nano power finishNano Technology Changes Everything

Nano Power Finish has the power to protect and polish almost any surface. It provides an invisible coating that improves the look of the material as it repels anything that might cause damage, or make it dirty. As you spray it on, teeny tiny nano particles will penetrate and seal the millions of  imperfections present in any surface. With a smooth and impervious top coat, dirt will slide off, liquids won’t get through, and whatever is underneath,  will look like new for longer. Traditional finishes only cover the surface without actually bonding so they will never last as long, or work as well. Just spray it on, and in less than one minute, this product will completely fill, bond and coat to ensure proper protection that has improved longevity. There are no oils, waxes or solvents left on the surface to be burn off or wear off, so you are guaranteed a long lasting bond. The smooth sealed surface makes cleaning much easy easier, and it protects the surface from further deterioration. Because the polymer particles are negatively charged, they will protect against static electricity and repel dust, dirt and other grime.

Save Time And Money

  • Fast application. The water-soluble formulation is totally safe, and the spray bottle makes it quick and easy to apply evenly. Once on, it seals in seconds for lasting protection.
  • Easier cleaning. Dust, dirt and liquids can’t penetrate the surface, so they slide right off. Oil and other greasy grime don’t stick either. When applied to surfaces, it has the potential to cut the time it takes to clean them by up to 80%.
  • Reduce friction. When covering a surface, the material will feel smoother because Power Finish will fill imperfections, and coat the whole area. These sealed surfaces will produce less friction, and show improved efficiency. Less wear and tear over time will make moving parts last longer.
  • Less replacements. Because the finish lasts longer and works better, you will ensure that the items being protected will get more use prior to replacement. Surfaces maintained in good condition save money.
  • Eco-friendly. Contains no solvents, waxes, oils or silicone.  Completely safe and odorless. Reduces exposure to chemicals and can reduce indoor pollution.
  • Low cost alternative. Expensive and environmentally harmful cleaning agents are no longer necessary when you have this safer and more effective product. This affordable option provides an amazing value all by itself, but it will also save money on cleaning products used at other times, because surfaces will stay clean longer.

Protect Machinery, Vehicles, Equipment, Appliances, Fixtures and Furniture With Just One Bottle.

Seal, protect, preserve and polish any surface without harmful chemicals, and get better results. This is one of the best all purpose finishing sprays because it is incredibly safe and versatile, but it also works. Use in literally hundreds of situations, and protect almost any material. The following list will get you started, but anything similar will also be compatible.

  • Cars – Can be used on the entire car, exterior and interior, from body to car rims, from glass windshields to interior dashboard. Use on any vehicle to provide long term protection from environmental pollution, insects and UV rays. Maintains beautiful appearance as it helps to repel dirt and ice. A car treated with it can be washed in minutes with just water, and if you seal the windshield, it will  improve visibility and provide much greater safety when driving in inclement weather because water will sheet off.
  • Trucks – Protects against road tar and dirt, maintains appearance as water and dirt roll off surfaces. Also acts as an ice and insect repellent. Cleaner surfaces with less imperfections helps maintain resale value of the vehicle.
  • Construction Equipment – Ensures easy cleaning of bird droppings and environmental pollution. Also protects against corrosion, and results in reduced cleaning cycles that save huge amounts of money.
  • Windows, Window Frames, Glass Facades, Plexiglass – Dirt and dust doesn’t stick to this stuff. Glass, metal and plastic surfaces will stay cleaner longer,  and they will be easier to clean. Maintenance costs will be lower.
  • Outdoor Plastic Furniture – Improves soil resistant effect as water rolls off and takes the dirt with it. Long lasting protection from pollution and UV ray degradation. Helps to maintain original appearance longer.
  • Pump Shafts and Bearings – Reduces friction. Prolongs life.
  • Machine Tools – Protection from corrosion. Improved performance.
  • Silk Screen Equipment – Reduces cleaning time dramatically.
  • Dry Lube for Switches, Hinges, Glides, Office Shredder Teeth – Slick surfaces slide better and don’t build up residue from petroleum based products.
  • Mold Release Agent (to 400 degrees F) – Gets the job done without using hazardous chemicals.
  • Sinks, Faucets, Bathroom Fixtures – Prevents corrosion and scale build-up, maintains beautiful appearance and reduces costly replacement of parts.
  • Glass Counters and Windows – Resists fingerprints and eliminates the need for chemical cleaners and paper towels. Allows you to clean with just microfiber and water.
  • TV and Computer Screen Monitors, Hand-Held Devices (mobile phones, etc) – Reduces static electricity, and causes surfaces to stay cleaner longer. Also provides a protective layer that will reduce scratching.
  • Wood Furniture – Repels dust, resists soiling and prevents water damage from accidental spills or moist environments. Helps to maintains a naturally beautiful appearance.
  • Stainless Steel Appliances – helps prevent scratching and fingerprints. Also maintains appearance and reduces cleaning time.
  • Refrigeration and Heating Coils, Overhead Vents and Registers – Improve efficiency and performance of heating/cooling systems. Reduce electricity costs, increase longevity of system, resist accumulation of dirt and oils.

Products Mentioned

An Advanced Finishing Spray With Nano Particles - Simply Good Tips

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Add Lumbar Support To Any Office Chair http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/add-lumbar-support-to-any-office-chair/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=add-lumbar-support-to-any-office-chair http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/add-lumbar-support-to-any-office-chair/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 22:43:56 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2243 A low cost way to increase support and comfort in any office chair. Longer lasting and more effective than other options. Feel better and get more work done.

Add Lumbar Support To Any Office Chair - Simply Good Tips

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Sitting in an office chair all day can be a real pain…..literally. They are not always equipped with adequate support, and it can be a real chore to get your boss to fork over the cash necessary to get a good one. Because your lower back supports a majority of your body weight, it can become tired and strained, just by sitting in one place. If you have an existing injury, poor support will only increase the agony and prolong the pain, but with proper support in place, you will decrease pressure, reduce pain, heal quicker and allow your mind to concentrate on the task at hand. It may take too long to procure a good seat through your employer, and shelling out for your own doesn’t make sense for most folks because quality ones are quite expensive. If you want to work in comfort without begging or waiting, continue reading to find out how you can transform any cheap office chair into an ergonomic cloud with the perfect level of lumbar support for any body.

What’s A Lumbar?

It is defined as the area of your back that includes the portion of spine between your diaphragm and pelvis. This portion of your lower back is a highly flexible area, and when weak or injured, it can make sitting very uncomfortable because it supports so much weight. This part of your body will generally curve outward, and it is comprised of large vertebrae that move as your body does. There are quite a few nerve endings down in this area, and the largest of all, the sciatic is also located there. This is why, in some cases, severe pain originates in the back, but then radiates all the way down to your feet. Relieving the lumbar area can eliminate pain throughout your whole lower half. The muscles that support your spine are pretty vulnerable to injury when lifting and twisting, but in most cases, injuries will heal in a matter of days or weeks. Long term pain in the area is more likely the result of weight or strength, and will require long term management to fix.

What Does It Do?

  • Provides structural support
  • Integral to body movements
  • Protects internal tissues

Where Does The Pain Originate?

This is a pretty complex area. Discomfort can stem from several locations and can be caused by a variety of situations and issues. Below are common areas  that aches and pains are found in. Once you locate the cause, it is easier to relieve the area.

  • The bony portion of your lower spine.
  • The discs between individual vertebrae.
  • Ligaments that surround the bone.
  • Spinal cord and nerve endings.
  • Muscles.
  • Internal organs in the area.
  • Skin that covers the lumbar area.

Office Chair Lumbar SupportMaking Your Chair More Comfortable

Increasing comfort and support may not fix every lower back problem, but it will fix many, and it can help speed up healing and support other therapy. With ideal posture, and reduced strain on the muscles and vertebrae in the area, you are sure to make things feel better. Because many of us spend more time in our office chairs than anywhere else, it is extremely important to make sure it is helping instead of hurting the problem. A chair with good lumbar support can help eliminate pain, while one with poor support can actually cause pain where there was none. The Back Saver is a unique support cushion that works on any seat, but is especially ideal for office chairs. It installs in a matter of seconds, and can be removed, repositioned, or taken off in the same short amount of time. Simply place it against the back, and use the strap to secure it in place. The first time you lean back, you will notice the difference as your spine is slightly stretched, perfectly cradled, and suspended without effort to reduce the load on your lumbar area.

How Does It Work?

It is a pretty simple concept, but it results in a highly effective product that works perfectly and lasts for many years without losing shape, or decreasing performance. A sturdy metal frame creates a contour pillow shape, but instead of being filled with cotton, foam or air, it utilizes a strong mesh material to provide support. The material completely covers the front of the frame, and the back side is left open. When someone leans against it, both the frame and the fabric will sightly flex to conform to body shape. This results in the perfect level of support, and ensures that your entire back is resting instead of straining. It is able to install on any seat, and an integrated strap can be used to keep it in place. The curved shape can be used right-side-up, or up-side-down depending upon back shape, area of pain, and what feels comfortable. Use it only at the office, or get two and use one in your car, at home on the couch, at the movies or a restaurant and more. Because it is so lightweight and portable, you could even transfer the same one to any spot you sit.

Mesh Vs Regular Padding

The mesh material that this back support is made from offers many benefits over traditional pillows. One of the most important ones is that it does not flatten out or lose shape over time. Because a slightly flexible metal frame supports this firm, yet flexible material, It will provide the perfect amount of support for anyone’s body, but it will always return to the original shape after you stand up. This means that it will hug your back, and support your spine just as well, no matter how many times you use it. It is also lightweight in comparison. Despite the fact that it provides better, more longer lasting comfort, it is also much lighter and easier to transport. Take it from one chair to the next without any sort of trouble. While sitting, normal pillows make the area hot, and eventually lead to sweating. The holes in this one, combined with the open back allow for adequate air flow so you will never have to worry about sweaty clothes, or a damp pillow.

Future Pain Prevention

Complete elimination of pain may be impossible for some people, but a comfortable chair is a good place to start. If your problem is the result of a specific injury, avoiding that activity could keep you pain-free, but without proper healing, stretching, support and strengthening, you might continue to have problems for years into the future. One of the best ways to prevent a healthy back from getting injured, is to strengthen the muscles in the area with specific exercises. One of the best ways to heal an achy lumbar is to take it easy, support it when possible, and let time pass. If you do not compound the issue, the tissues should heal over a period of days or weeks. With proper alignment and muscle positioning, the fix will be longer lasting, and your body will feel stronger and more healthy. If you pain is caused due to some weird situation with the actual bone, surgery may be the only fix available, but increasing comfort can make a difference in the short term.

Products Mentioned

Add Lumbar Support To Any Office Chair - Simply Good Tips

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The Perfect Towel Bar For Glass Shower Doors http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/perfect-towel-bar-glass-shower-doors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=perfect-towel-bar-glass-shower-doors http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/perfect-towel-bar-glass-shower-doors/#comments Sat, 05 Oct 2013 02:26:38 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2615 Suction is for suckers. This stronger and longer lasting product is just as easy to install, but it works way better. Use this bar on any glass shower door.

The Perfect Towel Bar For Glass Shower Doors - Simply Good Tips

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griipa towelbar postaOne of the most convenient places is nearly impossible to work with. Your shower door is one of the closest locations to hang a towel, but it is one of the most underutilized surfaces in the bathroom due to the material. Attaching a bar to glass can be a tricky proposition, but if you had one there, you could easily grab a towel without dripping on the floor, or touching cold tiles. If you are forced to hang it in another location, you increase risk and hassle unless you decide to toss it on the floor while you wash. If you do this, you will not only have to bend down to get it after you shower, you will also have to dry your clean body with possibly dirty material.

Available Solutions

If you use a regular towel holder, you will have to drill holes, and drive screws. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is pretty dangerous, and if you get out your drill, you are basically asking to be standing over a fresh pile of broken glass. It is super easy to damage the material, and shattering it completely would be a pretty expensive mistake. Even if you were successful, bars intended for a wall, will not mount right to your glass door because the back side is not taken into consideration. Those pokey screws will be pretty dangerous, and the overall look will not be professional in nature. For this reason, a model with suction cup attachments is often recommended as a good alternative. If you have followed a similar suggestion and tried to use one of these, then you know that most are pretty inadequate. It is common for them to slide down when weight is applied, or fall off completely for no reason at all.

You could give up on the idea of using the glass surface, and go with other options like over the door units, stand alone hooks, or a bar mounted to the wall. These will certainly work, but they negate the convenience that comes from having a clean towel close, and some people may have run out of room in other places. Bathrooms are compact, so if you don’t have an open spot on your walls, a glass shower door may be the only option you have left. If this is the case in your home, we have a product that is the perfect solution to this problem. It is similar to suction models because it doesn’t require tools or hardware, but this one actually works. It will grip without slipping, and it will hold more than ten pounds.

A Better Option

It looks like it uses traditional suction cups, but the attachment method is way stronger and longer lasting. Our friction mount towel bar uses a more advanced technology that looks better and has the feel of a more permanent solution. It mounts flush to the wall without sticking out or flopping around, and once in place, it will feel like it is held on with cement, or screwed in place. It works amazingly well on glass, but you can also affix it to fiberglass, acrylic, mirrors, glossy tiles and more. Despite the incredibly strong hold, it is just as reusable and re-positionable as a suction product, so you can move it around, or take it down as many times as you want. It does not use any glue or adhesive to stay in place so it has no ability to harm the surface, or leave any residue. When in place, it will provide a lasting hold that will easily support a wet towel. The wide 18″ span allows for plenty of room for a single bath towel, or multiple hand towels.

How It Works

It’s a little bit like suction, but it improves on the concept, and actually uses friction to create a stronger bond. Unlike bulky cups that never stick all the way, and always eventually fail, the mounting brackets on this bar are more like a vinyl cling. The thinner material lays completely flush against the surface, and you are able to push out all of the air to create a remarkably powerful bond between the circle and the surface you are mounting it to. Pull out and it won’t budge. Push down and it won’t slide. Lift up gently on the outer edge to peel it free, and it will lift off easily while leaving no marks. This bar uses two brackets, one on each end, for support. At the center of each friction circle is a mounting post. Because the bar can only attach in one direction, no amount of downward pressure will ever disconnect the two parts once it is installed.

How To Use It

Using this thing is super simple. You definitely want to make sure that the surface is clean before you start, but tools and hardware are not needed. Any dirt or residues on the surface can cause problems, and lead to a faulty install, so clean thoroughly with a good natural cleaner that does not leave behind film. Once the surface is prepped, it will only take a matter of seconds to hang this bad boy up. An included template will help you get the spacing right without a tape measure, but you may want to use a level to make sure you put it on there straight.

Installation Instructions:

  1. Select the perfect spot. Make sure it is reachable, but also not problematic when the door opens. Clean this surface.
  2. Determine location for brackets by utilizing the included template.
  3. Apply each bracket by peeling off the backing and pressing it into place. This bar uses two brackets, one on each end.
  4. To ensure a good grip, apply firm pressure when pressing it on, and then smooth out any air bubbles. Use a finger to push them toward the outside edge.
  5. Once in place, press firmly a second time at the center post to make sure it is all the way on, and all air is removed. Remove any remaining air.
  6. To attach the bar, simply position it above the brackets, and then slide it down into place.
  7. To remove or re-position, slide the bar up and off the brackets. Then peel off circles to remove them. To place in new location, repeat the steps above.

Location

Because this bar  uses the friction mount brackets, it is easy to remove, and initial placement is not that important. If it is slightly out of reach, or if it hits the when you open the door, simply peel it off, and reinstall it in a better spot. It works on either side of the door. Use it on the outside to hang your towel, or install on the inside to hang washcloths in a convenient location. Water and temperature do not affect the hold, so you can use it on either side without worry. For the ultimate in convenience, get one for both sides and really maximize storage space and convenience. There never seems to be enough space it tiny bathrooms. This modular towel bar works in multiple locations, so it is a great accessory to increase storage and improve organization in any bathroom.

Versatility

Perfect for glass doors, but also ideal for other locations too. This bar will attach to almost any bathroom surface so if you need one in another spot, it will probably work there also. It can stick to a mirror to hang hand towels, or it can attach to a fiberglass shower for storing washcloths. Any smooth or shiny surface is perfectly compatible with this product, any it comes with adapter sheets to convert a few materials that aren’t.

Products Mentioned

Friction Mount Towel Bar

The Perfect Towel Bar For Glass Shower Doors - Simply Good Tips

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Installing Laminate Flooring – Tips For Success http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/installing-laminate-flooring-tips-success/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=installing-laminate-flooring-tips-success http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/installing-laminate-flooring-tips-success/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 22:58:00 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2572 Looking to redo the floors in your home? Laminate flooring can be a great choice for many reasons, and these simple tips will make the install process easy.

Installing Laminate Flooring – Tips For Success - Simply Good Tips

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install laminate flooringLaminate flooring offers an affordable way to give your home a face-lift. Once installed, the room will have a clean look, and maintenance will be quick and easy. It’s great because you can re-cover a large area in a short amount of time, and professional help is not required for most homeowners. Your living room or dining room will have the look of natural wood, but you won’t have the large bill afterward, and you won’t have to baby it to keep it looking nice. Due to the ease of installation, overall look, stain resistance, and durability, this type of flooring is quickly becoming a favorite among contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike. If you are about to rip out some old carpet in order to replace it with this economical and sanitary alternative, make note of the tips that follow to ensure a successful project.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Originally introduced under the brand name Pergo, it is a synthetic flooring material that was invented in 1977. Some people refer to it as a floating wood tile because it most often mimics a natural wood look, and it does not attach directly to the material beneath it. It is manufactured by layering synthetic material and fusing it together. A picture is then layered on top and covered with a protective coating. The inner layer is typically melamine resin or fiber board, and that is what provides much of the weight and durability. It was originally glued in place, but everything you find today sort of locks in place with a tongue and groove system. The individual planks or tiles are said to be floating because a layer of foam material is used between the sub-floor and what you are installing to reduce sound and moisture. For more in depth information, check out Wikipedia.

Installation Tips

Ask For Help – Although it is quite possible to do the whole floor yourself, way less swearing and sweating will ensue if you have at least one extra pair of hands. In an ideal world, and for maximum speed, a three or four person crew will be the easiest and fastest option. Have two people laying the planks, one person running material, and one person doing the cutting. You could always switch gears and jump from one job to the next, but you could easily cut the time in half if you bribe your buddy to help.

Timing Is Everything – This is one of those jobs that ends up taking twice as long as originally planned. Instead of getting mad when the time runs out, allow for plenty of extra hours or days, and be happy if you get it done sooner. Also, you will want to acclimate the flooring prior to starting the job. It would be a bad idea to take boxes of cold tiles straight from the garage and begin installing right away. Let them hang out in the room you will be working in for at least one day. It will probably take you a day to remove old flooring and clean afterward. It will then take another day to do the actual install, and then one more to replace any trim and put the room back together. If you plan enough time before starting, the whole project will go more smoothly.

A Prepped Sub-Floor Is Your Friend – There is nothing worse than starting a big project and skipping a key first step. A clean and level sub-floor is your first step to a successful job, and if not prepared properly, you can set yourself up for disaster. Once your old flooring has been removed, take the time to thoroughly sweep with a good broom to remove any dirt and debris. If you find nails or screws sticking up, tap or twist them flush to prevent any bumps or high spots. For squeaky areas that you encounter, you can drive a screw through in the noisy spot to prevent any further sound. Before moving on to the actual install, you should also check several spots to ensure the surface is level. Slight imperfections can be fixed with extra underlayment, but larger problems will require grinding in the high spots and/or some sort of filler in the low spots. Because this material is not actually attached to anything underneath, having things clean and level is pretty darn important.

Give Yourself Room To Work – If there was already another hard floor type in place, then you probably have some sort of shoe molding around the perimeter of the room. Regular base board molding can stay in place because it will allow plenty of room underneath, but this quarter round extra trim should be taken out to ease the installation process, and ensure that it looks professional when you finish. It is important to be careful when removing it because you will most likely want to re-place the trim once the flooring is in place. If you use some sort of pry bar, you should be able to lift it off without any damage. When you put it back on afterward, it will cover the small gap between the baseboard and floor, but make sure to nail it to the molding and not your laminate planks.

Doorways Can Be Tricky – One of the key signs of an amateur install is flooring that goes around door casings. You don’t want to cut the floor material to fit around door moldings, you want to cut the molding at the bottom so that the floor can slip underneath. This is easier cutting-wise, but it also makes the finished product look way more professional and clean. If you are not sure how much to cut away, just lay down a piece of the underlayment, pop a board on top, and then mark where they reach to. Now just take your favorite saw, and cut away the little piece so that everything fits in nicely.

Don’t Forget The Underlayment – It has a pretty lame name, but it’s function is crucial. You should not attempt to save money or time by skipping the plastic or foam layer that should go over your sub-floor and beneath your new laminate. It will absorb moisture and sound to make the material last longer, and make the room quieter and more insulated. You don’t really need to attach it in any way, but it should cover the whole surface before you get started. In most cases it will come in large rolls, so simply spread it out and cut to size where necessary. When rolling it out, make sure the edges touch, but do not overlap. Applying some masking tape at the seams can make this a bit easier.

Sawing Is For Suckers – Although it is a totally viable option, most folks in the know would never use a saw to cut this stuff down to size. The MDF material that makes up the inner core is basically glued together saw dust, so when you cut it with a saw, you will end up with fine dust everywhere. You can buy or rent a special tool that chops it, and you will easily get the straight lines you need, but there will be no huge mess in the process. They look like large paper cutters, and essentially operate the same way. A large blade will clamp down to quickly cut the plank to whatever size you need. As an added bonus, the tool is also much quieter than a circular saw, and requires no electricity.

Tippity Tap Tap Tappy – Because the planks do not attach to the floor, a tight fit is essential to a good install. Each piece sort of snaps into the one next to it, and you will find yourself needing to give it a tap or two in order to lock the parts into place. You could use a mallet or hammer directly on the material, but putting a larger piece of wood or something similar in between can spread out the impact and prevent any damage. An adequate block can be made out of some scrap wood, but you can also get one direct from the manufacture in most cases, and those will be a better fit for the exact flooring you are working with. The real deal is generally made from a plastic resin and not wood. Use to gently tap each piece into place, and use again to close up the end-butt joints.

Drop It Like It’s Hot – The last piece is usually the most difficult and nerve racking to put in place. You will basically want to sort of drop it down into place, but a certain technique will ease the situation, and prevent damage at the last minute. First, you want to make sure all of your planks for the last row are connected end to end. Now align the whole row, at an angle, right along the next to last row. Once in place, fit the tongue and groove slots together, and press down to drop the whole row into place at once. It can be tricky, and you may need to use a pry bar under the baseboard in order to get it all the way down and connected to the piece next to it.

Oh Yeah, Clean Up – One of the most commonly overlooked parts of this job is clean up and disposal, but it is pretty important to worry about. If tearing out old carpet or something else, it is going to have to go somewhere. Also, all of the boxes and scraps from the new install will create quite a pile all on their own. Gloves and goggles can be a good idea when hauling out all of the trash, and dangerous stuff like nails and tacks are important to watch out for. If doing a single room, you may be able to toss everything into your regular can, but for larger jobs, and roll off container, or heads up to the garbage company may be in order.

Welcome To The After Party – Doing a good job putting it in place is great, but if you don’t maintain it afterward, your new floor will begin to resemble the old one before you now it. One of the key benefits to this material is how easy it is to maintain, but proper tools and techniques will always save time, reduce effort ,and make it look better. One of the best tools for removing dirt or sweeping up hair is a rubber broom. It will not harm the surface, and it has the ability to sweep up all dry particles in a single pass. For a more thorough cleaning, a microfiber mop will offer a quick and simple way to get the surface incredibly clean in a short amount of time. Use dry for light dust mopping, or get damp with just water to remove 99% of all dirt and germs down there while polishing to a glossy finish. If you keep your new floor clean, you can guarantee many years of service and a great look that will not fade.

Have any secret techniques or helpful tips not mentioned here? Use the comments section below to help everyone else out.

Products Mentioned

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Marinate Meat In Less Than 5 Minutes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/marinate-meat-less-5-minutes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marinate-meat-less-5-minutes http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/marinate-meat-less-5-minutes/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 21:51:09 +0000 http://tips.simplygoodstuff.com/?p=2244 Who has time to marinate meat the proper way? Use a special tool to cut out hours or days, and get the same flavor in as little as five minutes.

Marinate Meat In Less Than 5 Minutes - Simply Good Tips

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A proper marinade can make a huge difference when cooking on the grill, but it can be difficult to find the time to do it right. Whether you are whipping up something last minute, or just trying to plan daily meals for your family, factoring in multiple days for soaking fillets can be a little tough to manage. Ask any professional chef and they will tell you that regular meats like beef, pork and chicken NEED to sit overnight for the flavor to be right, and anything less would be an amateur move. Minimum timing can be as little as a couple hours in some cases, but that can be an eternity if you didn’t plan ahead. You can’t just toss raw meat directly on the grill, and expect it to end up as tender and flavorful barbecue perfection, but adding a little zing and some extra moisture can make anyone look like a pro. When you give it time, the sauce will infuse  flavor deep into the tissue, and added ingredients will actually tenderize the meat.  Slapping a quick coat of dressing on right before you cook is better than nothing, but when the ingredients fully penetrate to become more than topical, its a whole different ball game.

What is a Marinade?

For most people, the term refers to a liquid sauce that is poured over food in order to give it a certain flavor. This is fairly accurate, but technically they can also be dry, and scientifically speaking, they are able to do a bit more than just make things taste good. A marinade is used in marination which is a preparation process in which you soak foods in some sort of seasoned liquid. According to Wikipedia, the word probably stems from the use of brine in pickling which apparently led to the immersion of other foods to add flavor, or compensate for poor quality. There are essentially two types that you will find, acidic or enzymatic. Look for ingredients like vinegar, wine or lemon juice in the acidic blends, and find pineapple, papaya, kiwi or dairy in the enzymatic versions.

More that just adding a unique taste to otherwise bland food, the penetration of the marinade will soften the texture of your meat to make it more desirable, and  easier to chew and digest. Add variety without breaking the bank because a bland chicken breast can be infused with teriyaki one night and traditional BBQ sauce the next for a completely different experience. A good soak in the right ingredients can even make tough strips of beef fully edible if you have the time.

Dry

We know this isn’t the traditional way to go, but pasty or powdery coatings do fall into the same family in some cases. Minimalist sprinklings of salt and pepper probably wouldn’t qualify, but it is possible to bring together the key components without adding liquid. Although there is some variation, a paste is basically the same as a rub, but with a teeny bit of added moisture in the form of oil. These concoctions are usually made by combining dried herbs and spices, and they offer a pretty good way to flavor meat. The downside of this type of marinade is that it will remain on the surface only. Some of the oils will get absorbed a bit, but the taste won’t spread as thoroughly as wet versions allow. Adding specific ingredients like ginger helps to tenderize, while oils from things like garlic give it a bold flavor. When using this method, you will typically just slather the whole outside until it is coated.

Wet

A more saucy approach is pretty typical for most folks because it is easy to apply, and it allows for a variety of flavor combinations. The finished product usually has a bold taste, and if the timing was right, it should also end up tender and juicy. Simply submerge your meat and let sit for the right amount of time before you cook it. You can certainly find a delicious product at the grocery store, but mixing up your own can taste better, allow for healthier ingredients, and provide a unique flavor that suits your preferences.

To create the perfect marinade, you will need three basic components. Take something  fatty, something acidic, and something flavorful and combine together for the perfect sauce. Some people like a sweet taste, while others prefer something salty or savory. There is no perfect mixture, so as long as you think it tastes good before you put it on, it should work well after you cook. Oils help to preserve the meat and seal in moisture while acids help to break down and soften the texture. All other ingredients are usually included for the taste they provide, and subtle variations will result in unique flavors.

Common components include oil, vinegar, wine, citrus juice, garlic, herbs, spices and even fresh fruit. Experiment with all sorts of combinations, or go for something more simple because marinades with fewer ingredients are often some of the most highly rated. A starter recipe that can be used on almost anything is made by using olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. Try that alone, or add to it to make it your own!

Acids

When working with acidic ingredients, most chefs hope to cause the meat to tenderize a bit as it soaks. The acid is said to break down the protein bonds in order to create a moist and juicy piece of meat. Letting the acid work too long can have an opposite effect, but perfect timing can be really beneficial. When too much time is allowed, the bonds will actually tighten instead of relaxing. This has the negative effect of making your steak tough and dry. To avoid this, simply add less lemon or lime, marinade for a shorter time, or keep the length, but add the acid on later.

Enzymatics

Naturally occurring enzymes can be found in fruits like kiwi and papaya, but many people also opt for a synthetic variety as well. These ingredients are intended to break down connective tissue and make the meat more tender. Unlike acids, they will not have an opposite effect when used too long, but you may find that they are overly effective when used for longer periods. Instead of tough steaks, you could end up with mushy ones. For sauces that include some sort of enzyme, make sure you soak for hours and not days.

Timing

Exact times will depend upon ingredients, but when working traditionally, anything less than an hour or two will be insufficient, and many sauces work best when given 1 or 2 days to marinate. You definitely don’t want to leave meat at room temperature for more than 30 minutes, so store in your fridge while it is being flavored. Large pieces will require more time, while small chunks are often good within a few hours. There is no exact science, which can be a good thing  and a bad thing combined. Variations in ingredients, meat type, and specific cut can make a big difference, so use your judgement when timing your food, and always make sure that you give it long enough.

For those of you that never have time to wait, continue reading to find out how you can achieve great results in less than five minutes while you avoid many of the draw backs that come with using certain ingredients for longer periods of time.

Additional Tips

When applying a marinade to any meat, there are certain things you want to make sure of, and others you should try to avoid. Below is a short list of additional pointers to think about, but please feel free to offer your own if we left anything out.

  • Traditional time tables for maximum flavor and juiciness will vary from 2 hours up to 2 days. More is not always better, but enough is essential.
  • Beef, pork and poultry will require the full time, but seafood does not. Fish is pretty delicate, and could get destroyed with too much time. Keep to less than one hour when working with anything that came from the water.
  • For best results, lightly pat each piece with clean paper before cooking. This removes any excess and helps in the cooking process.
  • As you cook, avoid pouring marinade over cooking meat. It will stew or burn, and will not improve results. It can also cause flare ups if any drips down to the flames.
  • To keep food moist while cooking, lightly brush on a small amount of extra  sauce. Avoid this during the last few minutes though.
  • To avoid tainting your meal, or ruining the flavor, never use metal containers for your marinade. Something made from glass will be best, but plastic works as well.
  • If heating is required in the creation of your sauce, allow time to cool before pouring over your meat. Let it come down to room temperature first.
  • To avoid spoiling, keep food refrigerated until it is time to cook.
  • Be careful with sugary ingredients. When grilled at high heat, they can burn before the meat is fully cooked.
  • Raw meat juice is not something to play around with, so never reuse your marinades, do not pour remainder over cooked food, and do not use as a dipping sauce unless it was kept separate. Food-borne bacteria is not your friend.
  • To make use of leftovers, bring to a boil to kill anything harmful, and then serve on the side, or drizzle over the top.

instant marinaterA Faster Way

Because timing is the biggest annoyance when it comes to marinating meat, most people would welcome a quicker method that also makes things taste just as good. Luckily, there are tools available that will flavor and tenderize in a fraction of the time, and you don’t even need to compromise quality. Our Instant Marinater is pretty awesome, and has some unique features not found on other models, but you can find similar gadgets elsewhere that operate off of the same concept. Essentially, they all provide you with a vacuum chamber for your steaks, and instead of letting nature take it’s course over several hours or a day, they force it all to happen within a matter of minutes. When placed in a regular container and tossed into your fridge, flavors will gently creep in overnight, and infuse into your food. These advanced containers speed up that process by increasing pressure and forcing the liquid in at a much faster rate. The end result is the same, but the time it takes to achieve is drastically different.

How To Use It

These tools are super simple to use, and they  allow anyone to marinate meat at the last minute. Instead of waiting at least two hours for your chicken breasts to be all set, you will have them ready to go by the time your grill heats up. You can do a single piece with this container, or you can fill it to capacity and prepare up to 14. For perfect flavor in less than five minutes, just follow these easy steps:

  1. Select whichever meat you want. You can do whole pieces, smaller chunks, or even a skewered variety. Add some marinade to the bottom, and then place in food.Place desired number of fillets into the container.
  2. Add more sauce, dressing or marinade over the top until everything is completely covered.
  3. Fold down the lid to close the container, and then snap shut the locks to create an air tight seal.
  4. Grab the included pump tool and insert into the larger red gasket.
  5. Using an up and down motion, pump up and down util a full vacuum has been achieved.
  6. Ensure proper pressure by checking the smaller gasket. It will pop up once the container is ready.
  7. Allow to sit for five or more minutes. Longer can be better, but 4-5 minutes will be similar to a couple hours in a regular plate or bowl.
  8. When you are ready to cook, lift up on the larger gasket to release the seal.
  9. Position the container on a stable surface and then open the lid to transfer your food to the grill.
  10. As soon as you have emptied the contents onto your cooking surface, close the lid and lock it shut to contain any germs or bacteria.
  11. Once closed, the lid becomes a platter, so transfer your fully cooked food onto the lid for transport back inside.
  12. Cleaning is easy once you finish. The container quickly separates into two pieces, and each can go right in the dishwasher.

Advanced Features

Eliminate the possibility of cross contamination without getting an extra dish dirty. This advanced tool has a clever design that allows you to transport food in both directions without washing or replacing. The locking lid ensures that all of the raw juices stay contained in the middle, and the large tray makes the perfect spot to set food after it has cooked. Raised edges help to prevent slipping and sliding, but they also ensure that no juices drip to the floor. The hinge at the back is enhanced for stability, so even when open, this container remains safe and stable. This same hinge has a slide apart design that makes it easy to separate the top from the bottom when washing. It could not be more simple to work this gadget, and it offers a fool proof way to marinate meat in less time, but still end up with the same flavor and tenderness. Because it works so quickly, you don’t have to worry about acids making your meat tough, or enzymes chewing it into mush.

Marinade Recipes

Because we know you are dying to try something right away, and because you may not yet be an expert in all things saucy, the following will be a list of some of the most popular combinations that people use when flavoring meat for cooking on the grill.

Honey Dijon Chicken Marinade

Perfect for strips of white meat, kabobs or full breasts, this one ends up giving a sweet and savory flavor that is appealing to almost anyone.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper

Instructions: Sprinkle your chicken with the salt and pepper. Mix all other ingredients separately. Coat pieces with your sauce and let sit until ready to cook. For traditional containers, wait 35-45 minutes before grilling. In the instant container, wait just 5.

All Purpose Beer Marinade

More than just an excuse to knock back a few while you cook, adding beer is actually proven to be a healthy choice. When added it will reduce the formation of HCA’s and those are known to cause cancer. With less carcinogens to worry about, you can relax, and drink even more. Use on beef, pork or chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar, agave or honey
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Chop and mince your garlic and onion, then add to a pan and simmer until soft with half of your oil. Remove from the stove and then add in all other ingredients and mix together. Add meat to marinating container and pour over top. For traditional versions, let sit for 6-12 hours. For the instant variety, let sit for 10-20 minutes.

Basic Steak Marinade

Use this one for any cut of beef. It works well for sirloins and the like, but do to the simple nature, you could probably try it on other meats also.

Ingredients:

  • 4 or 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup of rosemary, minced
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper

Instructions: Sprinkle and rub on salt and pepper. Mince garlic and chop your herbs. Combine with liquid ingredients in your container. Add in meat and let sit. If you have a normal bowl or storage container, allow 2-12 hours for proper flavor. When using an instant vacuum tub, allow 5-30 minutes. garlic cloves, minced 1/2 cup fresh thyme, minced 1/2 cup fresh rosemary, minced

Skirt Steak Marinade

The perfect cover for meat that might otherwise end up tough and flavorless, use this one on skirt steaks or any other thin cut of beef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 scallions, quartered
  • 2 tbsp sea salt dissolved into 1-2 ounces of water
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp honey

Instructions: Mix everything together and coat pieces thoroughly. In a bowl, you will want to let it sit for 1-2 hours prior to cooking, but in an instant container, it will be ready in just five minutes.

Have your own favorite recipe? Use the comments section below to tell everyone about it.

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