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Thompson: Make popcorn for one in a paper bag
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Here's an interesting tip that you've probably never heard before. You can cook regular popcorn in the microwave without having to buy the more expensive microwave popcorn. Simply put a small amount of popcorn in a paper lunch sack, fold the top down twice and then put two staples in the top to hold it in place. (No, the two staples will not cause the microwave to explode. The mass of the two staples is so small that they're not affected by the microwave at all.) It works like a charm!

You know you should be eating whole wheat pancakes, but the kids aren't crazy about the taste. What's the solution? Create a mix of half whole-wheat batter and half regular batter. The combination tastes great and these pancakes are healthier than the regular ones.

Jere Randall has provided me with a lot of great tips over the years. His latest has to do with keeping yellow jackets away. His tip is to take a large baking tray and fill it with vegetable oil. Lay the tray on the ground near the swarming yellow jackets. They land in it and drown in the oil. If you need to bait the oil to draw the yellow jackets, simply add fruit or some form of meat.

I normally don't talk about cell phones, but I have to share this. The new Nokia N-series camera phone does something really cool: It tags your pictures with GPS coordinates. You can take a picture of that great little restaurant you ate at on vacation and be able to find it again later using the coordinates. You'll never again be stumped as to where or what you took a picture of.

Here's a tip most people don't think of. Put self-adhesive squares of cork inside your cupboard doors. You can put your shopping list and other information on the cork squares, and it will stay hidden behind closed doors.

Do you have trouble figuring out if the dishes in your dishwasher are clean or dirty? Here's a great solution to this problem. Leave an empty cup sitting right side up inside the dishwasher. If the cup is full of water, you know that the dishes are clean.

If you have a flower pot with drainage holes that are too big, here's a tip on how to keep the dirt inside it. Put a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot. The dirt will stay in and the water can still drain out.

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