Teeny Tiny Tip: Double Sided Tape

A quick trick that doesn’t require a 500-word essay

Double sided tape is a great weapon for a crafter.

It’s perfect for quick assembly.

But it can be frustrating if you don’t know a few tricks:

  1. Don’t be me, and buy 1″ wide tape. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality, glue flaps on paper boxes are more normally in the 1/4 to 1/2″ range. I can’t wait until I use it up and can get a better size. Until then, I’m left to cut what I need, which is a sticky situation (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun 😉 )
  2. If you do need to cut your double stick tape, dedicate a cheap pair of scissors to the job. They will get gummed up and unusable, but at least this way you are not gumming up all of your good scissors.
  3. The best tool for removing the carrier (that part that isn’t sticky) from double stick tape is the hook from the Silhouette. I pick at the corner with the sharp point and then slide the hook underneath to pull it free.

Foolproof rice

A super easy method for cooking a main dish staple

I’m not sure if this is a recipe or a teeny tiny tip, so I’ll categorize it as both.

Making rice always seems more difficult than it should be. There’s that magic formula of water vs. rice and cooking time with the lid on that generally didn’t really work out that well for me. So I bought a rice cooker, and for about 10 years never gave rice a second thought.

Then last summer, a co-worker gifted me a box from one of the meal subscription services, and it contained a stuffed pepper recipe that featured a new-to-me method of rice cooking. And I’ve never gone back to the rice cooker – in fact, it has moved from the kitchen to the basement, along with other one-trick appliances that aren’t earning their keep.

The technique is ridiculously simple – you just prepare rice as if it were pasta.

Cook rice like pasta for a foolproof dish

Bring a pot of water to boil, add rice, continue to boil uncovered until the rice is cooked to your desired finish. Drain and serve.

Never too crunchy or too soggy. The only caveat on this method is to make sure the holes in your colander are small enough to catch the rice and not let it all go down the drain.

Foolproof Rice

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice

Directions

  1. Bring a medium to large pot of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Add rice to pot, reduce heat slightly so it doesn’t boil over and stir.
  3. Keep rice cooking at a boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Test occasionally beginning at about the 15 minute mark (longer if you are using brown rice).
  5. Remove from heat when rice is cooked to your desired finish. Drain and serve. Don’t forget to freeze the leftovers.

Teeny Tiny Tip: Microwave Splatter Shield

A cool trick that doesn’t require a 500 word essay

I’m a big fan of kitchen gadget stores. I love to browse the catalogs, websites and the actual aisles, looking at tools, appliances and decorator items.

But I rarely buy anything. I like to be resourceful and use what I have. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.

Take microwave splatter shields. Really good idea. I hate, hate, hate to clean the microwave (true fact: more than once I’ve thought about just buying a new one instead of scrubbing something off the ceiling of the existing one). But they seem really expensive for what they are.

Last winter, in a fit of organizing, I threw away or gave away all my mismatched plastic food storage containers and switched over to glass. At the last second, I snatched two very sturdy lids back from the pile.

Why? Because they were the perfect size to use as splatter shields for my  bowls. They cover almost all of the top of the bowl, but let a little space exist on the corners for steam to escape.

And they are sturdy enough to use as a placemat/trivet for the hot item to be carried from the microwave to the coffee table.

You do eat all your meals on your coffee table, right? 🙂

Teeny Tiny Tip: Protect Your Work Area from Glue

An easy trick that doesn’t require a 500 word essay to explain

Save you junk mail to create a protective surface for using a glue stick | suzerspace.com

A glue stick is often my weapon of choice when putting together simple crafts. But the trick is finding a way to use it so that you can apply it and not turn everything else around it to a sticky mess.

Enter today’s teeny tiny tip – use your junk mail. Those magazines you get but you are positive you didn’t subscribe to? Perfect. Apply glue stick liberally to the item you want to stick together while it is on top of the first page of the magazine. Don’t worry about the glue that goes wide of the item. Keep moving the craft that needs to be glued to a safe spot on the sheet as you go, until that sheet is too sticky to use. Tear it off and recycle it, and guess what? Another sheet is ready to go, right below it.

Also visible in this photo is an even tinier tip – paperclips make great clamps for holding the edges of paper together as the glue dries.

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Tool Tray

A Silhouette Cameo Tip

 

A plastic soap dish holds tools for my Silhouette Cameo

When I craft with my Silhouette Cameo, I’m forever chasing my hook and spatula. They are rounded on the handles, and no matter where I place them they roll.

A few weeks ago, while at Ikea, I bought a simple plastic bathroom set that had a soap/lotion dispenser, soap dish, toothbrush holder and water glass. It’s called the Varpan, and I’d link to it, but it doesn’t seem to be on the website. You don’t, of course, need the exact set from Ikea. Any similar soap dish will do. But then you don’t get to wander around Ikea dreaming of a more organized life.

The set was very inexpensive, and I really needed the toothbrush holder and soap dispenser portion. I didn’t have a use for the soap dish, until today.

When I realized it is perfect for holding my tools. It’s shorter than they are, so they stick out for easy grabbing. And they fit at any angle, so I’m actually likely to put them there while working.

Less chasing. Less dropping on the floor. More time for crafting!

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Saving Vinyl

A Silhouette Cameo Tip

Very often when I craft I just want to use my Silhouette Cameo to cut one or two small things from a sheet of self adhesive vinyl.

I always draw a box around the item to be cut. I weed that first, which gives me a safe area to then weed the actual artwork. No big pieces of vinyl get caught up in my actual work.

If you keep all the artwork on the same sheet you can tell where the free vinyl is located

I then save the file the same name as the color of the sheet of vinyl (so, in this case, I’ve called it “Silver” because that’s the color I was working with).

cut settings window in silhouette studio

I turn the previous artwork’s cut lines to “No Cut” in the cut settings window.

This gives me a guide for a good location of new art on the sheet each time.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Lunch

Batch cook to fill the freezer with ready to go meals

Cook ahead and freeze lunch meals so have a healthy, tasty and economical choice available.

Quick, tasty lunches for work used to be a challenge.

I’d look for the best prices on frozen entrees, but they tended to either be good but expensive or cheap and disapppointing. And almost all of them seemed high in carbs and sodium.

Those cups of instant mac ‘n cheese seem tempting, but they also fall into the expensive and high sodium camp.

My solution is to do a batch cook on Sunday afternoon of one type of meal. Once it cools, part it out into 5 or 6 lunch-serving sized zip bags into the freezer. If you do this every other Sunday, and vary the meals you make, you end up with a variety of freezer entrees to choose from on days when dinner doesn’t yield nice leftovers. It’s also good in a pinch on a weeknight when you are starving and just don’t feel like cooking.

I don’t have a big deep-freeze. I just pack the bags flat to take up less room. And it isn’t really very time consuming – I have a couple of easy meals I make that don’t require much hands-on time, so I can craft while they cook.

And the math ends up as amazing – this box of maccaroni and cheese was 29 cents. To make it a more interesting meal I added lentils to the water as it was boiling before adding the noodles and then added a bit of a low-sodium taco season packet when I made the cheese sauce. With the addition of the lentils, this made six lunches.

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Folded Plastic Bags

A quick trick for tidying up that pile of plastic bags

Just about everyone has a bag/box/drawer full of plastic bags from the grocery store. And there is no denying they have a seemingly endless list of uses (dog pick-up bags and trash bag liners for small trash cans are my top two).

But storing them in that tangled mess is not great.

Fortunately, if you ever went to fourth grade and played flick football, you already have a solution. Or we can call it origami and sound much more upscale! 🙂

Flatten out each trash bag and fold it in half so the loops line up.

Fold plastic bags into a football shape to save room

And fold that in half again.

Fold plastic bags into a football shape to save room

And then start folding in a triangle from the non loop side.

Fold plastic bags into a football shape to save room

Twist the loop over the finished football shape and you are done. A pile of these takes up much less space than a pile of squished up bags.

Fold plastic bags into a football shape to save room

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Taxes

On Super Bowl Sunday, are you ready for some ….Taxes?

For several years now I’ve used Super Bowl Sunday as my time for getting my taxes together.

It certainly is impossible to miss, with all the shouting on TV, and endless posts on social media. Even the crafting blogs get into it (guilty!)

The game doesn’t start until evening, but the TV coverage starts early. You have plenty of time to do this task and get it off your list way before it is time to start eating chip and dip.

Instead of waiting until the last second, using Super Bowl Sunday is an easy trick. Most, if not all, federal tax forms (W-2, 1099, etc.) are due to you by January 31st. And the IRS begins processing returns right around the first week of February as well.

If your taxes are easy and/or you are really a DIY-er, then this Sunday is a great day to get everything together and file online. If your taxes are more complicated, Sunday is a great time to find all the papers and get them into that envelope to send off to your tax preparer.

An extra bonus of filing earlier? If you going to receive a refund, it usually comes earlier, too!

 

Teeny Tiny Tip: Freeze White Rice

A quick trick that doesn’t require a full 500-word essay

At our house, those containers of white rice that you always get when you order Chinese food don’t always get eaten right away. They get shoved to the back of the fridge, and then discovered again on trash day.

Which is a shame, because a little white rice can turn leftovers into a great lunch. Or a plain broth into more of a meal. Rice isn’t exactly difficult to make, but it does require planning ahead.

Free take-out rice for future meals
Freeze take out rice in a thin layer for use in later meals

The easy way to make use of that rice is to freeze it. Plop that container of rice into a big freezer bag. Press it into a pretty thin layer that fills the bag, pushing the air out as you go. It can be frozen flat, so it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer. And that thin layer means even when frozen, you can snap off a little bit here and there to suit your needs.