Mom's Tips

Tip #1: Cutting, pressing (a.k.a. ironing), and pinning are just as important as the actual sewing process. The more precise you are with these tasks, the easier the sewing will be, and the better results you will achieve.

Tip #2: Use a backstitch when starting and ending your stitching. This creates a knot so that your seam will not unravel.

Tip #3: In general, wash your fabric before beginning your sewing project. Different types of fabrics may shrink at different rates, so make sure the fabric has already shrunk before sewing. If your fabric has not shrunk before sewing, this may cause a problem after you wash your completed project.
Tip #4: Before sewing a project with multiple pieces, lay out the design ahead of time. This helps ensure that you will sew your pieces of fabric together correctly.
Tip #5: When leaving an opening to turn a project right side out, use double pins on each side of the opening as a reminder not to sew in that area.
Tip #6: Before turning a project with a corner inside out, snip a small piece of the corner -- ensuring that you do not clip the seam -- so that the corner does not bunch when you turn the project inside out.
Tip #7: When winding a bobbin with thread, the bobbin does not need to be empty of thread. If the bobbin is partially full with one color thread, simply wrap the new color thread a few times overtop the other thread and proceed with winding the bobbin
Tip #8: Many baking recipes instruct you to “cream” the butter or shortening with the sugar before adding additional ingredients. This is an important step not to overlook. Creaming the mixture simply means beating the fat and sugar together so that air bubbles are incorporated into the mixture. These air bubbles allow the batter to rise while in the oven.
Tip #9: When adding eggs to a recipe, crack the eggs in a separate bowl before combining it to the mixture to prevent egg shells from dropping into the mixture. 
Tip #10: Many baking recipes instruct you to combine the dry ingredients before adding them to the batter. This is an important step not to overlook. Combing the dry ingredients evenly distributes the elements so that you don't get a mouthful of salt or baking soda in your baked good.  

Tip #11: If the project requires multiple pieces of the same size, it is easiest to fold the fabric creating a double or quadruple thickness so that you make as few cuts as possible.

Tip #12: Before cutting the fabric, make sure the entire piece of fabric fits on the mat. You will need to use the mat's grid lines to ensure you are making a straight cut. So, continue to fold the fabric in half until all of the fabric fits on the mat.

Tip #13: When using fabric with a linear pattern, make sure you use the linear pattern as a guide when you cut to ensure that the cut is not crooked.

Tip #14: Use extreme caution when using the rotary cutter. The blade is extremely sharp, so be careful not to slip while using the cutter. Make sure the safety mechanism is on when not in use.

Tip #15: When making multiple cuts, try to move the fabric as little as possible. This will prevent you from having to re-align your fabric along a line and improves the precision of the measurements.

Tip #16: Try to make as few cuts as possible in order to reduce error and cut the most precise measurements.

Tip #17: When cooking or baking "messy" foods in the oven, line your pan or baking sheet with foil to minimize clean up.

Tip #18: Consider making multiple items of the same project (or meal/dish if cooking) at the same time. You can prep all your materials (or ingredients) at once, and this should cut down on time in the long-run. Then, you have extra gifts on hand in a pinch (or a meal in the freezer when you don't feel like cooking)!

Tip #19: Make sure your butter is COLD before making pie crust. You may even put it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so before you use it. Do not soften the butter! Softened butter will completely change the texture of the crust, and you do not want the butter to melt into the other ingredients. 

Tip #20: Handle pie crust as little as possible. The more you handle it, the less light and flakey it will be. 

Tip #21: You may freeze pie crust for up to 6 months. 

Tip #22: When measuring honey, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before putting the honey into the cup. This allows the honey to slide right out with easy clean up. 

Tip #23When using your hands to handle cookie dough or other sticky mixtures, spray your hands with cooking spray to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Tip #24: When browning ground meat, use a potato masher to break up the meat into small, consistent-sized pieces. 

Tip #25: If you will be leaving town and have fresh fruit in the fridge (or if the fruit is likely to go bad before you are apt to eat it), cut up the fruit and freeze it on a cookie sheet; then store it in a sealed container in the freezer for smoothies later. This works great for melons, berries, and grapes. Frozen grapes are also a delicious snack!

Tip #26: If making guacamole ahead of time, keep the seed of the avocado in the guacamole to prevent the dip from turning brown. Remove the seed before serving. 

Tip #27: Instead of throwing away peeled apple skins, lay them on a cookie sheet and put them int he oven at 225 degrees for 2 to 2.5 hours until they are crisp. For a sweeter treat, sprinkle the peels with cinnamon sugar before baking. 

Tip #28: Cracked tomatoes generally happen when excessive wet weather (either heavy rain or too much watering) occurs after a dry spell. If your tomatoes begin cracking, ease off on watering. Luckily, the tomatoes are still edible; simply cut off the cracked part.

Tip #29: If you're interested in planting a garden next year, consider saving seeds from your fruits and vegetables this year. Remove seeds from the desired fruit/veggie and spread them on a paper towel to dry for a day or two. Once they are dry, wrap them in a fresh paper towel, slide them into a plastic baggie, label the baggie, and store in a cool, dry place until they're ready to plant in the spring. This works well for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, and watermelon. 

Tip #30: After harvesting root vegetables like onions, garlic, potatoes, or sweet potatoes, they should be "cured" in order to toughen the skin, which will prevent decay and allow for longer storage. To cure the vegetables, allow them to sit in a warm, humid room (or direct sunlight during the day) for five to ten days. Once cured, store the vegetables in a cool, dry place for up to six to eight months! (Note: Sweet potatoes need an additional six to eight weeks post curing to develop the proper sugars, so hold off on eating them until then.)

Tip #31: Use a serrated knife to cut tomatoes. The teeth of the knife will easily slice through the tomato, and the pieces will not be smooshed. 

Tip #32: The acidity in lemon juice prevents apples from browning. So, toss peeled apples in lemon juice or add it to applesauce to prevent browning. 

Tip #33: Many baking recipes call for "packed" brown sugar. To do this, fill the desire sized measuring cup spoonful by spoonful making sure to press the brown sugar down with the back of the spoon after each scoop. 

Tip #34: To promote an extended flowering season on mums (and some other types of flowers), deadhead the flowers, which means to remove the dead flowers by pinching them off with your fingers. 

Tip #35: Preheat your teapots by swirling some hot water around the teapot prior to filling it with boiling water. Not only will your tea in the teapot stay warmer longer, but this will prevent your teapot from cracking. 

Tip #36: One way of preventing cookies from flattening during the baking process is to refrigerate the cookie dough for about an hour prior to baking your drop cookies (ex: chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, etc.). 

Tip #37: My thrifty side wants to use every last drop of hand soap in the hand pump containers. So, when the soap no longer pumps out -- but you still see soap on the bottom -- add a little bit of water to the container and use until gone. The soap isn't the thickest, but it does the job. Note: I try to use this method only on containers at non-guest sinks. Guests may think this is a little tacky;)

Tip #38: Instead of baking all the cookie dough at once, only bake what you're going to eat that day and freeze the remaining cookie dough by forming a 1" slab and scoring it into 1 1/2" squares. Cover with parchment paper and store in a sealable bag in the freezer. Simply break off the frozen dough you want for the day and bake. You may need to bake 2 - minutes longer than the original recipe since the dough is frozen. 

Tip #39: To keep your pancakes warm while cooking multiple batches, lay a clean dish towel over the cooked pancakes to trap in the heat until all your pancakes are finished. Now you can serve warm pancakes all at once!