Iím been writing about homes and gardens for almost 20 years now. And in 20 years, Iíve picked up a whole lot of great tips.

Today I thought Iíd share a few of my favorites with you.

If youíre a regular reader, you might recognize some of these. But I figure good information is worth repeating.

Here goes.

1. To make a jewelry chain knot easier to untangle, sprinkle it with talcum powder or cornstarch, or place it in a few drops of baby oil.

2. Put a wide rubber band over a stripped screw head to help your screwdriver grip the head.

3. Having trouble letting go of an heirloom? Ask yourself whether it makes you happy.

4. Clean up oven spills by sprinkling on table salt while the oven is still warm. Once itís cool, wipe away the spill.

5. Clean a blender by filling it with hot water and a few drops of liquid dish detergent. Blend, dump and rinse.

6. If cut roses from the florist droop before their time, it may be because air bubbles have formed in their stems. Revive them by recutting the stems underwater, laying the flowers flat in a bathtub and submerging them in lukewarm water for an hour.

7. Use a clean paintbrush to dust a pleated lampshade. The bristles will reach into the grooves.

8. Keep a steel wool scrubbing pad from rusting by storing it in a plastic bag in the freezer.

9. To clean a cloudy vase, fill it with warm water, add one or two denture-cleaning tablets and let it soak a few hours or overnight.

10. To get melted plastic off a toaster, unplug it and use a little nail polish remover.

11. Clean candle holders by freezing them and then scraping out the hardened wax. Remove any remaining film with mineral spirits.

12. Make a job-site easy chair by tipping a wheelbarrow up so its handles rest on the ground.

13. Over-the-door shoe organizers are great for storing gloves, hats, sewing notions, scarves, belts, craft stuff and more ó even shoes.

14. Disguise a scratch in wood furniture by rubbing it with a walnut meat or filling it in with a brown crayon.

15. Donít throw away old wrapping paper. If itís too wrecked to reuse for wrapping, shred it for use as packing material.

16. Improve garden soil the easy way by spreading an inch or so of compost on top in fall. You donít even need to mix it in. Worms and microorganisms will do the work for you over the winter.

17. Find tiny lost items like earring backs by covering the open end of a vacuum cleaner hose with a piece of old stocking, held in place with a rubber band.

18. Remove whitish heat marks from wood table tops by covering with plain, brown paper and ironing on medium heat.

19. Wrap gifts to grandparents in the kidsí artwork. Youíll delight them and clean off the front of your fridge.

20. To unstick stacked drinking glasses, fill the top glass with cold water and dip the bottom glass in hot water. Gently twist apart.

21. A tuna or cat-food can makes a great homemade rain gauge. Check and dump it weekly.

22. Loosen cooked-on food in a microwave oven by boiling a container of water in it and then letting the hot water sit in the unopened microwave for a few minutes. The steam will soften the gunk so you can wipe it away easily.

23. Whiten mildewed tile grout in the tub or shower by wetting bits of toilet paper or paper towel with chlorine bleach, sticking them to the grout and leaving them overnight. Be sure to ventilate the room and protect your skin and eyes. Remove the paper the next day and rinse.

24. Instead of raking your leaves in the fall, run over them with a mower to chop them up and just leave them in place. As long as you can see grass among the leaf pieces, the leaves shouldnít smother your lawn. Instead, theyíll decompose and filter down into the soil to improve it.

Now itís your turn. What are your favorite tips and tricks? Send them to me, and Iíll share the best in a future column.

You can email me at the address below or write to me at Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640. Be sure to include your first and last names, your address and a phone number where I can reach you during the day in case I have a question. I wonít publish your street address or phone number, but I will say what community you live in.

Deadline is March 11.

Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or mbrecken@thebeaconjournal.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MBBreckABJ, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckABJ and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.