'Aunty' lifestyle hacks: 20 lesser-known tips to help you 'win' at cooking, shopping and others in between
Did you know house lizards don’t like the smell of eggs or that bread can help clean up broken glass? Being an Aunty is not just about folding plastic bags into triangles, as Hidayah Salamat finds out in this instalment of CNA Women’s Aunty Week series.
I was a 30-something-year-old when I found out that house lizards don’t like the smell of raw eggs. I don’t know why, for someone that gets goosebumps from the mere mention of reptiles, I didn’t think to Google for natural ways to keep lizards away.
It just never occurred to me.
This is how I feel about many of the things I learned when I started asking around (friends, friends of friends, parents of friends, my neighbour I ambushed while she was watering her plants…) for “aunty tips” – lifestyle hacks that help you save money and time, or are simply ingenious ways to solve pesky problems.
Here’s everything I learned:
1. Place dried chilli in the rice tub to prevent weevils.
2. After rinsing rice, use the remaining water to water the plants.
3. To draw out the fishy smell from mackerel or sardines, soak it in rice water for a few minutes.
4. Lizards hate the smell of eggs so wipe some eggshells dry and put it in places where you often see them scuttering about (like in the kitchen).
5. If you want to take your chicken or mutton dish to the next level, add ground nuts (like cashew and almond). It thickens the stew and “makes it nicer”.
6. If you get burnt by hot oil while cooking, immediately run the affected area under tap water. Apply some petroleum jelly on the burn to keep the skin moist while it’s healing.
7. Tying a rubber band around the lid of a jar increases friction and makes it easier to open. You can also rap the top of the lid several times with something hard, like a spoon, to release pressure.
8. After preparing food, rub your fingers on the flat side of your stainless steel knife as you wash it and it’ll help remove the odour from harsh-smelling ingredients like garlic.
9. Fill your salt shaker with rice grains to prevent it from clumping.
10. To make your shoes stink less, steep two teabags in hot water for a few minutes, let them cool, then place a teabag in each shoe. After an hour, remove the teabags and let the shoes dry. Use more teabags or keep them in for longer if the smell is especially foul.
11. If a zipper keeps getting stuck, rub a bar of soap over the teeth to make it run smoother. You can also try another lubricant, like petroleum jelly.
12. Accidentally left a piece of tissue in the wash and now your sweater’s covered in lint? A regular shaver works in a pinch.
13. When cleaning a ceiling fan, cover each blade with an old pillowcase and use it to slide the thick black soot off without it flying all over the place.
14. Buy a melamine foam block and use pieces of it to make scuffs on your white walls disappear like magic.
15. An easy way to keep your bed linens organised is by folding up your bed sheets and quilt covers, and placing them in their matching pillowcases.
16. Broke a water glass? After putting away the larger shards, use a slice of bread to pick up the tiny remaining pieces.
17. Make a list of your favourite non-perishable items like rice, canned goods and toiletries, and buy them in bulk when they go on sale. This can potentially save you a significant amount of money in the long run and guarantees you only need to do the heavy lifting once or twice in a year.
18. If it doesn’t make sense for you to go from shop to shop to compare prices, at least make it a point to figure out what produce is in season – seasonal produce is often cheaper (and fresher).
19. At the supermarket, buy your seafood frozen, not fresh. The former has likely been flash frozen near the sea and vacuum sealed, which means its quality is better than the fresh fish that’s been on the open display for who-knows-how-long.
20. Forgot your insect repellant? Vicks Vaporub contains cedar leaf oil, which is a natural repellant. Applying it after a mosquito bite also helps relieve itching.
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