Cleaning Mini Blinds, Cloud Art, and Other Country Lore

A reader in Arkansas contributes a method of cleaning miniblinds, and reader in Washington an invitation to view "natural art," in this installment of a regular feature.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
October/November 1994
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There are at least nine simple — and free — things you can do to deter burglars.

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The following housekeeping tips and other bits of country lore were submitted by readers.  

Cleaning Mini Blinds

Miniblinds are a very popular window treatment and, like most people, we were clueless as to how to clean them. We tried vacuuming, dusting, and wiping them clean with towels. My wife still doesn't want to talk about the time I took them over to the car wash.

Well, here is an easy method that will give these popular shades new sparkle. Wash them in your bathtub.

If you have a shower curtain with a spring-loaded adjuster (built to accommodate a variety of shower widths), you're halfway there. If you don't, you can buy an adjustable shower curtain rod from your local discount store for just a few dollars. Place the shower curtain rod (minus the shower curtain) directly over the tub rather than along the side, and hang the dirty miniblind on the rod using the round ring holders used to keep the shower curtain in place. Then just spray the blind with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe with a sponge. Rinse, and they are like new again. They drip dry very quickly, but you might want to place a towel under them after rehanging to avoid water spots on the floor or window sill.

— Kent David
Vilonia, AR

Cloud Art

You're invited to attend a showing of divinely inspired sculpture by universally renowned artists. We are fortunate to have a local gallery that offers free parking, ample seating, and standard and reclining viewing areas. Simply visit an open space from which to view the clouds above. This work conveys its underlying message simply, yet eloquently. As with all great art, the feeling is powerfully portrayed, and since styles vary widely, each person will have little trouble finding those that have special, personal appeal.

— Rev. Fred E. Haga
Vancouver, WA

Burglar Deterrents

The old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" couldn't be applied better than in protecting your home from burglary. Here are nine things you can do now,  for virtually nothing.

1. Never leave a note on your door indicating that you are not home and will be back shortly.

2. Measure all your windows and sliding glass doors, and brace them closed with 2"-wide wooden sticks. A single lock on a window or door is usually not enough. By the way, if you must purchase a new lock, slide locks are a good bet on sliding doors and windows; use key-only, dual-side dead bolts on other doors.

3. Alarm stickers are available from any hardware store. Place them conspicuously and a burglar will usually not take the chance.

4. If you have an alarm system for your home or plan to get one, make sure that you put the outside siren box far up and out of reach. All it takes is a $3 can of spray insulation aimed inside the alarm box to prevent it from sounding.

5. Get an unlisted phone number. Friends will get your number when they need it, but annoying solicitors and thieves will not be able to call at random and ascertain whether you're home. And don't leave your number on an answering machine. People you know already have your number.

6. You've heard it before, but have you done it? Engrave your name and driver's license number on anything you want to keep. That includes expensive tools in the garage. And if there's anything at home that makes you particularly nervous to keep around, fork over a few dollars and get a safety deposit box. You will positively thank yourself for the effort later.

7. When buying or selling items in the newspaper or responding to personal ads, leave only a phone number, never an address. If a buyer or seller wishes to meet you, suggest that you meet them in a public place first. A pain? Absolutely, but the safe thing to do.

8. Always ask service people for their identification before allowing them to enter your home.

9. Try to use a P.O. box for your car registration. Mechanics or parking attendants can easily pop open the glove box and find out a great deal about you. Don't make it easy.

—Renato Carter
Tehachapi, CA

Recycled Pop Tops

My daughters and I discovered a fun yet practical way to recycle pop tops from aluminum cans. Would you believe fencing? The ring fence is definitely an undertaking (there are over 90,000 rings on the fence in front of our property), but it is certainly a pleasant alternative to barbed wire. We started small, collected gradually where we could, and built over time. Oh, by the way, the poles we used were remnants given to us from a logging site near our home.

—Mike Catalano
Hayneville, AL

Drill Bit Lubricant

When I use my electric drill for shop projects, I extend the life of the sharpened bit by using lard to lubricate cutting surfaces. I always keep a can full of hardened pork fat on my workbench. Then any time drilling metal is required, I first dip the end of the bit into the lard. It works far better than any expensive cutting oil I've ever used.

— Alan Pryor
Palo Alto, CA

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