29 September 2014

Heat pancake syrup with your old bottle warmer

Use your old bottle warmer to heat syrup. #parenthacks

The bottle warmer is one of those baby gear items you just don't need. (Am I right?) But that doesn't stop people from giving them as baby shower gifts, or palming them off as hand-me-downs.

At least Ingrid came up with way to repurpose hers:

On the days we have pancakes for breakfast, we use our old Avent bottle warmer to warm up the bottle of maple syrup.

OK, fine. It's just as easy to warm your syrup in the microwave, but this saves you a dirty dish AND it gives your bottle warmer reason to feel a little better about itself.

Three questions for you:

1. How do you warm your syrup? (Do you warm your syrup?)

2. Do you agree that the bottle warmer is one of those must-not-have baby care items? I'm willing to admit I'm wrong on this one.

3. Do you have a bottle warmer hack/reuse?

Let's talk bottle warmers in the comments.

Parent Hacks is all about collective wisdom. Post your tip, shortcut or creative reuse on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #parenthacks, or submit it here.

25 September 2014

Your turn: Creative uses for...the binder clip

Binder clip iPhone Stand. Photo credit: Rich Sipe

I love "new uses for old things" -style tips. The cheapskate declutterer in me can't resist a) reusing an item I already have and/or b) avoiding buying another "unitasker" which will eventually make its way into the giveaway pile.

As I've been sifting through the archives for book research, I've discovered that we've got the makings for just this sort of list. Certain items are so multi-purpose they make their way into all sorts of hacks.

Take the binder clip. Useful for soooo much more than clipping together piles of paper.

A few examples:

  • Clip blankets to stroller for a quick sunshade
  • Wooden match lengthener so kids can light candles
  • Chip clip (of course)
  • Bookmark
  • Wine glass ID (if you use multicolored binder clips)
  • Pacifier tether

Rich Sipe (whose photo appears here) made an iPhone stand out of binder clips.

Help me find more uses! What's the most creative use you've seen for the binder clip?

Leave a comment or post on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #parenthacks. 

24 September 2014

Freeze french toast by the loaf for quick weekday toaster breakfasts

Freeze french toast by the loaf for quick weekday toaster breakfasts. #parenthacks

Jill's simple tip makes french toast easy and quick enough for weekday mornings:

Occasionally on a weekend, we'll make a whole loaf of french toast, then freeze it. During the week, we just snap off a frozen slice and put it in the toaster. Egg and whole grain bread right there. If you add vanilla to the egg mixture you get a sweet flavor without having to add syrup.

YUM. Warm and comforting on a chilly morning. It's even portable without the syrup.

To simplify this hack further:

1. Add the maple syrup to the egg mixture.

If your kids love that maple-y taste but you don't want to deal with sticky fingers in the morning, add the syrup to the egg mixture.

2. Bake french toast instead of pan frying.

Much faster to make large batches of french toast in the oven. Good Housekeeping's baked french toast recipe is a good place to start. The picture above was my solution to a stale baguette and the result was delicious. (I know, the French invented the concept.)

3. Quick-freeze individual slices rather than freeze as a loaf.

If you bake your french toast, your finished toast is already sitting on a lined cookie sheet. Let the pan cool on a rack, then pop it into the freezer. (I slide mine right on top of food that's already in there.) After a short time the toast will be frozen enough to transfer a Ziploc freezer bag for longer-term storage, and the pieces will stay separate and easy to grab.

Now I'm hungry.

What's your best warm weekday breakfast shortcut? For the kids or for yourself?

Leave a comment, or post on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #parenthacks.

I'm in Parent Hacks book research mode: a deep dive in the archives looking for gems among nine years' worth of hacks. Many of the best ideas are hidden in the comments. This tip -- left here in 2006! -- is one example. -- Asha

22 September 2014

Easier school lunch packing: designate a pantry "lunchbox zone"

My kids just started middle- and high school and I still hate packing school lunches.

Read more

19 September 2014

18 September 2014

Why "art career" isn't a contradiction in terms: my behind the scenes look at "The Boxtrolls"

Last Spring I was invited to LAIKA for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how The Boxtrolls was made. “Behind-the-scenes” anything is fascinating. But I was especially excited to learn about (and share with you) an example of a vital workplace filled with artists and technicians. Especially because my daughter is a budding artist herself.

Read more

15 September 2014

11 September 2014

Organizing tweaks now that "back to school" has become "in school"

I associate my kids' first week back at school with a return to routine and a predictable span of hours to work and think. Much as I'm sad to see summer fade, I think: it's easier during the school year. But it isn't. At least not right away.

Read more

02 September 2014

Turn baby food jars into LEGO storage

Victoria of ObSEUSSed noticed that baby food jars resemble LEGO minifig heads, so she decided to do something about it.

Read more

28 August 2014

Last chance to unlock vaccine donations: #Blogust ends August 31

Please take a minute to help Shot@Life unlock the last 10,000 vaccine donations on the way to the campaign goal of 60K.

Read more

ALL hacks in September 2014 →

Free updates

  • Subscribers are my VIPs. My weekly newsletter includes a personal update, the latest from Parent Hacks, interesting links and news.

    Subscribers also get priority event invitations and occasional surprises via snail mail.

Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

    Find out why doing less is the key to resourceful, thriving kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

    Minimalist Parenting is an encouraging roadmap for decluttering your schedule, your home, and your vision for family life. Reviewers call it "a much welcome alternative to the usual parenting advice."

    Learn More at Amazon

    Also available at Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore.

New Book Coming Soon!

  • Coming soon: Parent Hacks Book

Start Amazon shopping here