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Turn ordinary items into extraordinary things

Anne Marie O'Neill of Real Simple magazine shares some ideas for finding new uses for everyday household items, to make life a little bit easier.

On any given day, you may be juggling upwards of half-a-dozen roles: short-order cook, chauffeur, sleepover chaperone, and, oh yeah, wife, friend, and full-fledged member of the workforce. Sometimes it seems as if multitasking is your middle name. Well, guess what: You're not alone. In every room of your house, from the bedroom to the home office, not-so-ordinary household items are going above and beyond the call of duty to make the things you do every day just a little bit easier. Anne Marie O'Neill of Real Simple magazine was invited to appear on "Today" to share some handy ideas for those everyday items, as featured in the magazine:

KITCHENIn less time than it takes to heat up last night's leftovers, ordinary kitchen items can step up to the plate in plenty of unexpected ways.

Wine bottle or cork:

  • Slide bottles into boots when storing them so they keep their shape and stand up straight.
  • Roll pie crust or pizza dough flat with a wine bottle.
  • Slice corks into disks and glue them to the bottoms of furniture or heavy pottery to protect delicate floors.

Uncooked spaghetti:

  • Push a piece of spaghetti into the top of a cake to keep plastic wrap or a soft box lid from smudging the frosting.
  • When you don't have long matches but you do have plenty of candles, use a piece of spaghetti to fire them all up in one go. Also handy for lighting a candle in a deep holder.

Did you know...?
Dried pasta can stay in a cabinet or on a pantry shelf for a full year, even if the package has been opened.

Ice-cube tray:

  • Mix paints for the kids' art projects in a tray's compartments.
  • leftover cooking wine, broth, and sauces for cooking. Then store the cubes in plastic freezer bags until you're ready to use them.

A soak in the tub can wash away your cares. But there's more magic to be found in the medicine cabinet.

Antacid tablets:

  • Drop a tablet in a little water and let it sit for several minutes. Wipe and rinse.
  • Toss in two dissolving antacid tablets, such as Alka-Seltzer, wait 20 minutes, then brush.
  • Dissolve two tablets in a glass of water, then dab on bug bites.

Baby oil:

  • Massage a dab of oil onto the tangled area, then use a straight pin to carefully pull apart the knot.
  • Avoid involuntary hair removal — and extra agony — by rubbing baby oil over and around the sticky parts of an adhesive bandage before pulling it off.

A few surprising spins on utility-room essentials can give you a whole new appreciation for laundry day.


  • When you have houseguests, write their names (and yours) on separate clothespins, then attach each clothespin to the appropriate towel to avoid mix-ups when all the towels are hanging in one bathroom.
  • or to keep napkins and plastic utensils together at a backyard barbecue. Spray-paint them bright colors for a fun, summery look.

Laundry basket:

  • Line the basket with a trash bag and fill with ice to make a cooler for impromptu parties.
  • Store a coiled garden hose in a basket; stash sprinklers, nozzles, and other attachments in the middle of the coil.

For more of Real Simple’s 101 Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, check out: .