1. Phone credit back-up plan

Coolest phone card vendor on the block. He taped a bunch of cards together in the shape of Africa.
Coolest phone card vendor on the block. He taped a bunch of cards together in the shape of Africa.

Considering there are phone card vendors on nearly every corner, it’s surprising how often I run out of credit and there’s no vendor in site. Augh.

But my brilliant husband came up with a solution for me.

Buy a phone card and save the credit code in your phone. I have mine saved as a note, but you could also save it as a phone number under the name Emergency Credit. Then when you run out, just copy/paste, send and voilà! Just remember that the cards do have expiration dates, so you may want to note those too.

Bonus hack: This is a way to be easily enter in more credit on bonus days without having to track down a vendor… you know, a whole block away.

2. Getting the sticker off wax print fabric

Wax prints from HLM market
Wax prints from HLM market

This tip I picked up from Fatou Kiné in St-Louis. Before you try to peel the sticker off, lay another thin piece of fabric over it and iron it with a very hot iron. The iron melts the glue and it just slides off.

3. Getting rid of paint smell the Senegalese way

Onions + water + basin
Onions + water + basin

We recently had a room repainted and got a free tip in the process: place a small basin of water in the freshly painted room and add a sliced onion. I know. I know. But it worked!

(That said, the tip I got from women in my village about putting a slice of onion on your head while cutting onions does not in fact seem to stop the tears. At least for this toubab!)

4. Don’t forget to de-worm!
My friend Julie also grew up in Africa and her parents came up with a great way to remember to take your Vermoxx, a de-worming treatment, every six months. Take it on New Year’s Day and July 4th! Easy dates to remember, eh?

5. Sending Orange phone credit to another number

One for me, one for a friend!
One for me, one for a friend!

Enter *116*1* followed by the destination phone number * followed by the cfa amount you want to send * your four-digit PIN code.

So it would look something like this: *116*1*775551234*500*1234* Then hit send.

Again, this is great info to store in your phone as a note so you always have it on hand!

6. Stopping the itch of mosquito bites
Dab a bit of (preferably clear) nail polish on the bite. Let it dry, then go on in peace.

7. Keeping bread fresh

Sam's Bread
The best way to store your breads

You know those awesome Senegalese baskets that are even popular in the US? Yup. They are ideal for keeping breads fresh. Just wrap the bread in a clean tea towel and store it in the basket. This tip is courtesy of Sam’s Bread and Pizza, but tried, tested and approved by yours truly every week.

8. Dates on water bottles

Excellent vintage!

Like many of you, we store filtered water in empty Kirene bottles. But over time, the plastic can begin to deteriorate, so it’s best not to reuse them for too long.

When we add new bottles to our collection, Cheikh writes the date on the bottle in Sharpie so that it’s always easy to rotate out our stock.

9. Learn to use lait caillé.

These are just some of the things you can do with unsweetened (non-sucré) lait caillé. (Tip: Ardo brand is the best!)

  • Add a small spoonful of jam for a sweet snack.
  • Use in place of buttermilk in recipes. (Especially good for recipes using whole wheat.)
  • Strain in a coffee filter for 2-3 hours to make Senegalese-Greek Yogurt.
  • Keep straining for another couple hours (until firm) to make Senegalese Sour Cream.
  • Keep straining overnight and you’ve got a great cream cheese base for cheesecake.

10. Add your own!