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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

To Househave, and to Household

(Science happens every Sunday over at Secondhand SCIENCE.

Something like science, anyway. A few of the same letters are involved.

This week, the topic was absolute zero, which turned into something about a card game with ice queens, a shrunken-headed actress and naked George Costanza.

I can’t tell you how these things happen. You’ll just have to go see for yourself.)

I saw an ad the other day calling for writers for a “household tips” website. I didn’t apply, because I’m not sure I have what you call a firm “household”. It’s more of a housefumble, really. Or maybe a housedrop.

“Dry cleaning takes up nearly fourteen percent of the average household budget, probably.”

Also, I wasn’t sure a series of awful puns would qualify as my first post. So I let it go.

But since then, I’ve been thinking more about it. I live in a house, practically every day. I must know something about saving money or time or sanity in the routine of living. Surely, my advice would be useful for somebody out there.

So I decided to practice. Here are three home-living tips from me. On the house.

#1. Save on dry cleaning bills.

Dry cleaning takes up nearly fourteen percent of the average household budget, probably. That jumps to forty-three percent if you work on Wall Street, or are a big Mad Men cosplay fan. So how to manage those huge expenses?

Stop wearing nice clothes, obviously.

Right now, go toss all your fancy suits and dresses and snazzy slack-‘n’-blazer combos into a box of mothballs and put them away. The dry cleaning industry — not to mention the suitmaking industry, the “dressy heel” cabal and whoever the hell invented wrinkly silk ties — has perpetrated their dastardly scam for too long.

Dry cleaning is for before and after weddings, funerals and the more important proms (senior year, just the spring one and only if your date is hot). It’s not an every day, nor an every week thing. There are only two reasons we don’t all wear sweatpants and T shirts to work right now: the shadowy influence of the dry cleaners, and us not all rising up at the same time to stop the madness.

If we do it now, we’ll save time, money and the hassle of those stupid flimsy hangars covered in paper for some odd reason. I’m in, if you’re in. Let’s kill two birds with one stone.

And then let’s starch that son of a bitch.

#2. Throw away your alarm clock.

Sometimes we have to get up in the morning. Whether for work or a court date or because the park will be opening to the public again at dawn, there are schedules that we simply have to meet.

But that doesn’t mean we need a fancy newfangled ten-dollar alarm clock to do it. There’s an easy way to get up at any time you like, and it won’t cost you a dime:

Right before bed, simply drink eight ounces of water for every hour less than ten that you want to sleep. Retiring at ten, to awaken at six? Sixteen ounces for you. Up until midnight, with a meeting at six? You might need forty, or an ounce or two more.

Whatever the situation, drink enough water and you will wake up in time. You’re setting your bladder — and there’s no snooze button on that thing. None that you could reach, anyway. And if this “alarm” doesn’t go off?

Well, at least you’ll have a good excuse for missing your appointment. Nobody’s going to question that story.

#3. Use your freezer as a pantry.

One handy tip I’ve heard involves freezing citrus squeezings. If a recipe calls for the juice of half a lemon, what do you do with the other half? Some say to juice it into ice trays and freeze it, so you’ll have it for the next time. I think this is fantastic advice.

But why stop there?

I see a lot of recipes calling for half a diced onion. Fine, but don’t throw that other half out. That’s wasteful. You know what to do instead:

Dice it into an ice tray and throw it in the freezer.

Or what about a cake that needs four eggs — but you just went and bought a whole carton of twelve?

Break the rest into ice trays. And put them in the freezer.

Last night, I made mac ‘n’ cheese. And the box said that I should drop a pinch of salt into the pasta water. So I did. But there I was, with a whole shakerful left over, minus the one pinch. What’s a terrible-but-frugal cook to do?

I shook the rest into ice trays, and I put them in the freezer.

Now I’m ready for just about any recipe. My freezer is packed top to bottom with trays full of leftover cumin, extra Russian dressing and pickles that wouldn’t fit on my sandwich. It’s the perfect food storage system.

Except all the trays look the same. And some of them smell kind of funny. Also, I’m out of ice cubes.

Okay, so maybe it’s better I didn’t get that particular writing gig. I’ll just wait for something a little more up my alley — like chainsaw juggling tips or home gallbladder surgery for dummies or 101 household uses for gasoline.

It’s all about finding a niche, you know?

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Me on Film 'n' Stage:
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