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Thompson: Include a plunger in your party planning
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The holiday season is upon us and I know that a lot of you will be hosting parties. Here is a tip that you’re not likely to find in any of the women’s magazines: Make sure that have a toilet plunger in every bathroom. I’m serious about this. Toilets always seem to know when you’re throwing a party and that’s when they decide to back up. By having plungers in each bathroom, you can avoid a really embarrassing situation for you and your guests. (Contributed by Bryan Reksten).

Have you ever finished reading a book and thought to yourself, “Boy, I wish I could find another great book just like this one”? Well, if you have, I’ve got a Web site for you. It’s You just enter information on the book you just read and the Web site makes recommendations for you on similar books that you might like. Check it out.

Here’s a great cooking tip. After spraying a cake pan with cooking spray, use a silicon brush to spread the oil around. By doing this you will make sure that none of the cake will stick and that the whole thing will cook evenly. This tip also works for muffin pans, pie pans, etc.

Cleaning out gutters is one of the worst jobs. Call me lazy, but this is one of those tasks that I prefer to hire someone to take care of rather than do it myself. (Do you know how many people get hurt from falling off ladders each year? A lot!) If you decide to go ahead and clean them yourself, here’s your tip: Use a large spaghetti spoon to clean out the muck. It works amazingly well and makes a bad job a little easier.

The next time you need to reach something on a high shelf, don’t go and get a step ladder. Instead, use a pair of long grilling tongs.

Tim Thompson lives in Gainesville. E-mail Tim your ideas for tips, tools or tricks.