Christy’s Simple Tips–How to Clean a Coffee Pot

How to Clean Burned Coffee From a Coffee Pot |

You know the smell. Someone forgot to turn off the coffee maker and now you’ve got burned-on coffee stuck to the coffee pot until the end of time if not longer. Relax. I’ve got the inside trade secret on how to get that ooey gooey stinky stuff out.

How to Clean a Coffee Pot

  1. Allow the coffee pot to cool completely. This is important, so you skimmers and shortcutters better not skip this step. You’ve been warned.
  2. Toss in two or three spoonfuls of salt, a handful or two of ice, and a couple splashes of lemon juice.
  3. Swish it around—you know, hold the coffee pot and swish; don’t bother getting a spoon and stirring or anything as complex as that. That only results in more dishes needing washing.
  4. Watch in amazement and awe as the goo loosens.
  5. When finished, rinse with cool water.
  6. Repeat if necessary, depending on how long your coffee pot was neglected.

No lemon juice, no problem. Any acidic kitchen liquid will do just fine, like plain ol’ cheap ol’ white vinegar. In the restaurant biz we used lemons because we always had them on hand and already sliced at the end of a shift, so it was easy to grab, squeeze, and toss the whole shebang into the pot…almost every night…because we were so-not-good at remembering the coffee.

I knew my restaurant experience would come in handy. Now if I could only find a use for my college degree.

Contact me to submit your favorite simple tips for publication and a link to your blog or website from Christy’s Simple Tips.


My Simple “Ten Things” Strategy

Sometimes life is overwhelming and everything just seems…complicated, which is the opposite of simple. I’m totally not on board with complicated. Away from me, Complicated!

When my life is feeling complicated and I don’t know where to start, I turn to my little bag of simple tricks. One of my favorites is my ridiculously simple, but highly effective “Ten Things” Strategy. It goes like this. Pay attention now.

Do ten things.

Do ten things! Simple life strategies from The Simple Homemaker.

That’s it! That’s the whole strategy.

You could stop reading right now and go do ten things, or you could procrastinate hang out here and let me break it down for you. Hangin’ around? Okay. Here’s the gist of my simple “Ten Things” Strategy.

If your backside is plastered to the couch, tell your backside, “Listen up, Backside. You can do ten things. You really can!” Backside may whine a little, but eventually it comes around and says, “Hey, you may be right about that. Let’s do it!” (Please tell me you have conversations with your backside, too.) Between the two of you (you and Backside, that is), you can quickly blast through ten things.

Sometimes doing ten things doesn’t make much of a difference, but if you and Backside work smart, those ten things can really add up.

Here are ten ways to be smart about my simple “Ten Things” Strategy.

1) Do ten simple things that make a big difference, like picking up the big blankets on the floor in the family room, or making the bed in your bedroom or putting ten big things in the dishwasher or picking up the ten biggest toys in the playroom.

2) Enlist your children. When I enlist all of my kiddos, that’s 8 people at work. That means 73 things gets done or picked up or folded or washed. (That’s 73 instead of 80 because the one-year-old can only count to three, so she stops there.)

3) Don’t give it too much thought. If you’re a TV watcher, hop up as soon as the commercial hits or the Netflix episode ends and do your ten things. If you walk into your bedroom and it isn’t inviting, quickly do ten things and then continue with your day.

4) Just do it, even if (or especially when) you don’t feel like it. If you’re just feeling blah and you want to ignore the mess in the kitchen and eat hot popcorn with chocolate chips melted in it, throw ten things in the dishwasher first, or clear ten things off the table. Whatever!

5) Let your progress fuel you. Sometimes (like in my alternate reality) there are only twelve things that need to be done. When I get through ten, I find myself motivated to do the last little bit.

6) Listen to your body, but don’t listen to your body if you’re in a funk. In other words, if you’re really hurting, pick up ten dirty socks and call it a day. If you’re just feeling unmotivated and whiny, pick up all the dirty socks and call it one thing–the dirty socks.

7) Apply this to anything–a pile of paperwork, a full email inbox, messy bedrooms, garage sale items needing pricing, unfolded laundry, lonely socks looking for soulmates, bushy eyebrows, unwrapped presents, thank you notes, dusty knick-knacks (no knick-knacks, no dust…just sayin’), fund-raiser phone calls, push-ups needing pushing.

8) I’m not above bribery. When my backside is feeling particularly unmotivated, I say, “Hey ,Backside, we do ten things, we’re eatin’ ten M&Ms.” It’s not pie, but it works.

(If you’re one of my food nazi friends (love ya!) cringing at the thought of my eating ten M&Ms, two things: 1, I don’t eat M&Ms because they make my stomach hurt and cause the air around me to turn a rather unpleasant shade of green (a humiliating, but amusing post for another day), and 2, chill. Still love ya.)

9) For a bigger impact, do ten things in ten areas of your life. Do ten things in the bedroom, bathroom, office, purse, sock drawer, email inbox, junk drawer, garage, van, laundry room, piano bench, spice cupboard, junk drawer, pantry, tool box, play room. That’s pretty intense. Usually I stick to ten simple things.

10) Use the ten things strategy in reverse to keep your playtime in check. “I will only pin ten things, read ten blogs posts, eat ten cookies (What?! They’re little!), chat on the phone for ten minutes, read ten pages.” Mmmm…cookies.

My “Ten Things” Strategy is so ridiculously simple, that it really didn’t need a ten step expose. Still, that was fun, wasn’t it? Yup, fun over. Now it’s time for you and Backside to get down to business. Now, right now, let’s get up and do ten things. (Eating ten cookies doesn’t count.) Ready? Break!

For Monday through Friday “Do Ten Things at Ten” reminders and fun, join me on Facebook or Twitter. Are there cookies? You’ll just have to find that out for yourself.

Did you do it? Did you do ten things? What’d ya do?

An important note: After reading the comments from some of my Simple Homemaker Facebook friends and Twitter tweeps who are doing a daily Ten Things Challenge with me, I’m noticing some confusion. When I say “Do Ten Things!” I do not mean these ten things:

  1. Clean the bathroom until it shines, AND
  2. Cook dinner…for a month, AND
  3. Do all the laundry in the house…or neighborhood, AND
  4. Change the tire on your car, AND
  5. Mow the lawn, AND
  6. Run for President, AND
  7. Get your doctorate, AND
  8. Write lesson plans for your child’s entire educational career, AND
  9. Get married and have children, AND
  10. Get therapy.

I mean something more like this:

  1. Wash ten dishes, OR
  2. Pick up ten toys, OR
  3. Trim ten little toenails, OR
  4. Address ten Christmas cards, OR
  5. Tackle ten things in your paperwork pile, OR
  6. Fold ten things from the clean laundry basket that’s become a permanent household fixture, OR
  7. Put away ten things from the dishwasher, OR
  8. Put away ten things on the kitchen counter, OR
  9. Pick up ten things on the family room floor, OR
  10. Dust ten things on the mantle (which, by the way, you would never have to do if you didn’t have ten things on the mantle, you know. Less is more because less is less dust, less work, less clutter, which means more time, more fun, more living!).

Please don’t feel like I’m telling you to work for an hour or wear yourself out. This is a simple strategy to make a little dent in a big project or to extinguish a hot spot or to tidy up a small mess. It’s simple! Of course, if you can and want to, go ahead and run for President and get your doctorate this morning…but don’t feel you have to. Are we clear? Good! Now go do ten simple things! 

How to Wash a Pillow the Simple Way

How to Wash a Pillow

I recently read an article in All You Magazine (prime bathroom literature, my friends) which claimed that after two years, 1/10 of the weight of your pillow is made up of dust mites and their waste…as in itty bitty little dust mite poo.

That’s kinda gross.

I have had the same pillow for, hmmm, let’s round down to 10 years, so if every two years 1/10 of the weight is replaced by mites and mite-poo, and I’ve had mine for 10 years, that 10 divided by 2 times 1/10 equals…ewwww…50%.

Even with my faulty math, that almost makes me want to buy a new pillow.

But I love my buggy, pooey pillow.

Lucky for me, the article was kind enough to explain how to wash a pillow, a bit of information I am kind enough to pass on to you, in case you, too, love your buggy, pooey pillow.

How To Clean a Pillow 2

How to Wash a Pillow

  1. Check the washing instructions. Most pillows are machine-washable. (If mine says it is not machine washable, I wash it in the machine anyway. Yes, even feather pillows…but you most certainly did not hear that from me. The only exception in my home is very old pillows that will not survive the process, or those, like my son’s with more holes than casing due to a few too many pillow fights.)
  2. Wash two normal-sized pillows or one jumbo pillow at a time to keep your machine balanced. You don’t want it doing a fox-trot across the floor.
  3. Set your machine to the longest, hottest cycle.
  4. Use liquid detergent, since, supposedly, powder detergent leaves a residue. I can’t imagine why someone who’s been sleeping on a pound of dust mite poo would care too much about a little detergent residue, but, I guess dust mite poo is “all-natural,” so, there ya go.
  5. Run the pillows through the rinse cycle twice.
  6. Toss the pillows in the dryer with a couple tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff them up and speed up the drying process.
  7. Dry your pillows completely at medium-high or high heat until dry. It may take several cycles. Check the pillows between each cycle, and consider letting your dryer rest for half an hour between cycles so it doesn’t burn out. Yup, it happens. Boo.
  8. Be sure the pillows are completely dry by squeezing them with your hands to feel for moisture. Optionally, squeeze them with a paper towel. If any moisture shows up, pop those babies back in the dryer. It is not unusual for the drying process to take 3-4 hours.
  9. Use an allergen pillow case from here on out to prevent a reinfestation of mites and their poo.

I think I said the word “poo” far too much in this post.

Check out the comment section for some helpful questions and answers.

Do you have any tips for how to wash a pillow?

Also, I am happy to tackle any other obscure homemaking tasks you’d like demystified. I warn you, I don’t “homemake” by the rules, but I’m happy to answer questions…the simple way.


40 Things I’ve Learned About Simplifying

Today is my 40th birthday. I know, I know, I’m supposed to lie about my age, but I don’t, and here’s why:

  1. I don’t look bad for 40, but I look terrible for 23, so…why go there?
  2. Nobody can call me a liar liar pants on fire.
  3. Every day is a gift from God. Why would I pretend He’s doted on me any less than He has. That’s not very grateful.
  4. The number 40 makes me sound wise enough to pull off a post like this one.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

In honor of my 40th birthday, and particularly because of number 4 above, I’m sharing 40 things I’ve learned about simplifying. On your mark…get set…read!

1 – Humans can complicate anything, including simplifying.

2 – Simplifying is first and foremost a mindset.

3 – To do anything in life, especially something difficult, mere mortals need motivation. Find it. Mine is my family, peace, and joy.

4 – Less is more, true, but less is also less. If stuff acts as a security blanket, there are deep-seated emotions that need to be addressed before that stuff can be taken away. Nobody can throw out someone else’s stuff…although you’re welcome to get rid of mine!

5 – I love being able to reach into a drawer or cupboard to get something and know exactly where it’s going to be. I especially love not having to move anything else to get it. That’s motivation to not bring anything new into the house…or travel trailer, in our case.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

6 – Empty cabinet space is my friend. You are my friend, too…but you may not put your stuff in my empty cabinet space.

7 – Stuff means clutter, and clutter means work, and work means time that could have been spent with loved ones or on something worthwhile that matters a whole lot more than dusting and organizing and cleaning and putting away stuff. (This is from my 12-year-old philosopher.)

8 – A child is happy playing with rocks and sticks. Why mess with that?

9 – A person can only wear one pair of pants and two shoes at a time without looking like a clown. Throw in a few extra so you’re not doing laundry every day and voila! Enough!

10 – Obligatory gift-giving has gotten out of hand. As my 12-year-old philosopher says, “If I can’t eat it, use it, or read it, I don’t want it.”

11 – I used to think that good stewardship meant keeping my things for a rainy day. Meanwhile, my rainy day stash was ruined by age and mini-disasters (otherwise known as mice) in storage. Now I define good stewardship as passing things on to others who can use them now, because maybe today is their rainy day. Part two of that is trusting that my need will be met on that eventual rainy day.

12 – An empty schedule is a thing of beauty.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

13 – If an empty schedule scares someone, that someone needs to learn to enjoy being alone, being still, and being with family at home getting to know each other better as people, rather than mostly knowing each other as tasks on a calendar.

14 – The best times I have had with my family and with visitors is sitting at home with no activities, no television, no schedule, just talking and laughing…and eating.

15 – The best aspect of homeschooling is the simplicity–no buses, no bells, no parent-teacher conferences, no carpool, no pressure.

16 – We have had full schedules and empty schedules. When asked their preference, my children unanimously voted on empty schedules. I wonder if parents fill up the calendar for themselves, for the kids, or for society. We keep ours empty for simplicity, peace, and together time.

17 – I gave up keeping up with the Joneses when I realized that the Joneses weren’t heading where I want to be.

18 – I gave up keeping up with the Smiths when I realized that the Smiths had no idea what they were doing, and were only imitating the Joneses.

19 – I gave up keeping up with my own expectations when I realized, humbly, that my expectations were unattainable, unless I was willing to sacrifice joy, peace, and home on the altar of perfection. Unrealistic expectations complicate life.

20 – I gave up trying to meet other people’s expectations about two weeks after my first child was born (and again about every two weeks thereafter), because I realized that their expectations did not fit in with my family. Trying to please everyone complicates life.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

21 – The word “need” is often confused with “want,” “might need,” and “am experiencing a momentary and illogical whim.” Ignore it.

22 – Money should be kept on a tight leash, giving being the exception…unless you are giving to a child (full-grown or otherwise) to fulfill a “need.”

23 – Getting rid of processed foods may initially seem like complicating life, but in the end it is simple, affordable, and healthy.

24 – Few things are as therapeutic as a walk outside with the man you love.

25 – Simplifying makes time for the important things, like a game of chess with my boy or calling Mom and Grandma.

26 – Screens are time-suckers. Turn. Them. Off.

27 – Use the word “no” often with others so you can use the word “yes” often with your family.

28 – Never volunteer without sleeping on it for a week, and discussing it with your husband and kids.

29 – Don’t let other people undermine the peace in your home.

30 – Homeschoolers need to set visitors’ hours, because some people think homeschooling means they can bring their kids over at any time to play with your kids.

31 – Answering machines and voice mail are excellent tools. Use them.

32 – It’s okay to wipe the slate clean and start over.

33 – Sometimes we need to go into crisis mode, and that’s okay. Handling the basics during that time (food, safety, and snuggling) is enough.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

34 – The words “I can’t” are often synonymous with “I don’t want to.”

35 – Everybody has a different definition of simplifying. To me, simplifying is reducing clutter, stress, outrageous schedules, and anything else that robs me and my family of our joy.

36 – People should always be prioritized above ideals, possessions, pets, and pretty much anything else under heaven.

37 – Use your time, energy, and calendar space on that which is most important to you first, such as the children and dessert. Don’t save the best for last, because all-too-often there’s no room left.

38 – Never start one activity until the previous activity is finished, even if that means you’re eating bananas and popcorn for lunch.

39 – Simplicity (and the joy and peace that go with it) cannot be obtained over night. The little victories and improvements along the way are almost as good as chocolate…almost.

40 – Simplifying is hard work, but it’s worth it.

40 Things I've Learned About Simplifying |

There you have it, friends. Forty years of wisdom condensed onto one page. It’s almost frightening how puny 40 years of wisdom looks.

Ah well, my daughter is making her amazing variation of these chocolate goodies for me right now, and I’m certainly wise enough to not be late for that party! I’m outta here!

Please share your simplifying wisdom in the comments below.

For a little glimpse into our family life on the road, check out A Day in the Life of the Travel Bags.


Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs

Peeling hard-boiled more bad eggs!

Few kitchen tasks make a person feel more inferior than the often bewildering process of peeling hard-boiled eggs.

Here are some save-the-day (or at least save-the-egg) tips for a clean, easy peel (almost) every time:

Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: The Prep

Boil the eggs properly. To learn how, read How to Boil an Egg: Making Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs. There are other recipes which have you boiling for even less time, which is fine, but do not boil longer!

Do not use fresh eggs. If you are using supermarket eggs, don’t worry about it.  They’re not fresh.  If you have your own chickens and ultra-fresh eggs, store the eggs for a couple weeks before boiling.

Plunge the eggs into ice water to cool as soon as you’re done making them. You may need to add more ice as the water warms up. The ice causes the egg itself to contract, thus separating the egg from the membrane and shell…but you knew that, because you totally paid attention in science class, didn’t you?

Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: The Process

There are two main successful approaches to peeling hard-boiled eggs:

Peeling hard-boiled eggsCrack the larger end with the air bubble in it where the membrane is most separated from the egg. Get in under the membrane and start sliding the shell off with your fingers.


Peeling hard-boiled eggsCrack both ends. Then roll the egg between your palm and a hard surface until the entire shell is cracked. (Gently! You’re a 100+ pound human being.  It’s just a wee little egg.) Slide the shell off.


Peeling hard-boiled eggs

Peeling hard-boiled eggs







There is a third approach, but I hesitate to mention it.  Okay, fine, here it is.

Peeling hard-boiled eggsRandomly crack the egg and pick little bits of shell off while muttering your egg-peeling frustrations under your breath…but you already know that approach, which is why you’re here reading about peeling hard-boiled eggs.

Give the egg a quick rinse and your beautiful masterpiece is ready to…smash into egg salad.

What are your best tips for peeling hard-boiled eggs?

Thanks to reader Theresa for submitting this question. If you have a question you would like The Simple Homemaker to answer, submit it through my contact page. I would love to hear from you!


How to Boil an Egg: Making Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Today I am honored to have as a guest blogger, my lovely daughter Hannah.

How to Boil Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs...and I Mean Perfect!

It’s almost Easter! And one of the most popular signs of Easter is the Easter egg. So I’m here to tell you how to make the best hard boiled-eggs ever!

You know what I mean by “the best”? I mean a perfect bright-yellow-yolk-minus-the weird-green-color, easy-to-peel, and superbly delicious hard-boiled egg.

How to Boil an Egg: Making Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

What you need:

A pot and cover
Eggs–as many as you want, as long as they fit in the pot with some room to spare.
A stove
A timer
A good book

How to boil an egg:

First, put the eggs in the pot and cover them completely with cool water. Set the pot on the stove.

How to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

Turn the stove on high; as high as it will go, its absolute highest, and wait for the water to come to a roaring boil. (When I say roaring boil, I don’t mean a few little bubbles at the bottom of the pot. I mean roaring, so that someone else can hear it from the next room.) 

How to boil en egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

When it comes to a roaring boil, set the timer for three minutes. Then wait.

How to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

After the three minutes is up, turn off the stove, put the cover on the pot, and set the timer for seven more minutes. (Leave the pot on the burner!)

How to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Then wait. Again.

How to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

When that time is up, take the eggs off the stove and rinse them in cold water. Sometimes I get lazy and just use room temperature water. That works too. (My mother, The Simple Homemaker, cools them in ice water.)

 how to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

That’s it! Yep, you heard me correctly. You’re all done!

How to boil an egg: perfect hard-boiled eggs

You can peel and eat them right away, or you can store them in the fridge. (It’s probably best to eat them within a week, but it’s a popular breakfast and snack in our house, so we have no trouble with that.)

So that, my friends, is how to boil an egg, the perfect hard-boiled egg.

It was cheap, it was simple, and it only took about ten minutes.

Here’s the boring printable version:

How to Boil an Egg: Making Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Author: Hannah
Prep time: 1 min
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 11 mins
The perfect hard-boiled eggs.
  • A pot and cover
  • Eggs–as many as you want, as long as they fit in the pot with some room to spare.
  • Water
  • A stove
  • A timer
  • A good book
  1. Put the eggs in the pot and cover them completely with water.
  2. Set it on the stove.
  3. Turn the stove on high and wait for the water to come to a roaring boil.
  4. When it comes to a roaring boil, set the timer for three minutes. Then wait.
  5. After the three minutes is up, turn off the stove, put the cover on the pot, and set the timer for seven more minutes. (Leave the pot on the burner.)
  6. Then wait. Again.
  7. When that time is up, take the eggs off of the stove and rinse them in cold water or plunge them in ice water until cool.

Eat within a week.

For easy peeling, read Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs.

Enjoy your perfect hard-boiled eggs!  Happy Easter!

Horse Crazy BookwormHannah is my firstborn daughter. She was a “roadschooled” 15-year-old at the time of this writing, 2012. Now she is a budding photographer and a freelance writer who loves experimenting in the kitchen and cooking for people on restricted diets. She is currently working on a chocolate cookbook for people who can’t eat sugar, grains, dairy, or soy. Hannah makes all the hard-boiled eggs here at The Simple Home…the good eggs, anyway. She emphatically denies any accountability for yesterday’s batch of less-than-perfect eggs made by a certain someone (a-hem…her mother) who did not follow the above directions. 



3 Tips on How to Stop a Run in Nylon Stockings

The kids were already climbing into the van to hit the road for an early morning set of my husband’s concerts when I realized my nylons had a snag.  Not just a snag, a run.  Not just a run, the Grand Canyon racing down my thigh.  With no time to spare, I could not change.  I had about 20 seconds to implement Plan B: repair.

How To Stop a Run in Nylon Stockings

How to Stop a Run in Nylon Stockings

How to Stop a Run in Nylon StockingsNail polish–this is the old tried and true.  Dab a little nail polish on the area around the run to keep it from spreading.  Let it dry.  Voila! Clear is preferred, but if all you have is red and the run is on your ankle, why not paint on a flower! (Unfortunately for me, I don’t have nail polish.)


How to Stop a Run in Nylon StockingsHair spray–another old favorite.  Spray the area around the run. Let it dry, repeat.  Depending on the mammoth proportions of the run, you may need to use about as much hairspray as a locker room full of teenage girl in the late 80s.  (Unfortunately for me, the only mild hairspray I had in the house would be no match for the Civil War going on with my panty hose.)


How to Stop a Run in Nylon StockingsJam–dab a little jam on the area and gently wipe off the excess.  Tear off a small piece of tissue or napkin to place on the jam, if you like, to keep it from getting on your skirt while it dries.  Any sticky substance will work, as long as it will dry. (Peanut butter won’t dry, people! School glue will.)  If your body heat keeps the jam slightly sticky, the tissue will make that a non-issue.

My jammed nylons survived two of my husband’s concerts, three hours in the van, an hour of set-up and take-down, and two extra hours of socializing and child tending.  Sweet–in more ways than one!

What is your best tip for how to stop a run in nylon stockings?

Thanks to Blue Velvet Vintage for the great vintage stocking ad!