Reuse coffee can

Two more painted containers for pretty storage.

reuse coffee can

reuse coffee can

I just happened to have paint in the exact blue colour of the lid so I added some stripes and didn’t paint the side of the lid. Now it’s a container for my sewing ribbons.

upcycle tin

upcycle tin

Peel plastic label off coffee can.

Peel plastic label off coffee can.

A pretty Dutch tin but the inside was getting rusted and beat up.

A pretty Dutch tin but the inside was getting rusted and beat up.

DIY raisin boxes to save money and trick your kids into eating

My son has developed a penchant for raisins. Not raisins out of a bulk baking bag and into a bowl, no, only Sunmaid raisins in the little box. We believe it’s the box that makes the raisins.

the little white strip on the red box is the only place that needs glue

the little white strip on the red box is the only place that needs glue

diy raisin boxes template

So I undid one (only glued on one side) and traced it 4X on an 8.5×11 piece of paper. Using this template I will print out and assemble coloured cardstock boxes that we will fill with raisins ourselves. Or print Thomas the Train or Dora the Explorer on lighter cardstock and stuff the boxes with any other manner of little food.

Score the cardstock along the dotted lines and cut along the solid lines. Double sided tape will work better than glue to hold the thing together.

Homemade bath soap paint for kids, 2 ingredients: cornstarch and bubble bath

I was about to buy some for my kids to play with in the bathtub when I was thunderstruck by the power of google. I found several recipes, then changed them to actually work and here it is.

use the darker coloured bubble baths so you don't have to add food colouring

use the darker coloured bubble baths so you don’t have to add food colouring

any brand will do

any brand will do

Mix equal parts bubble bath and cornstarch. 1/4 cup of each is enough for one kid in one bath.

The great part about the bubble bath is that it comes pre-coloured so you don’t have to add food colouring. If it’s not dark enough or not the colour your kid likes, add food colouring.

I was apprehensive about adding food colouring in case it stained the bathtub, but it’s mixed in with so much soap that it doesn’t stick.

I gave each kid a cheap paintbrush in turn to paint with. It just wipes right off when you’re done.

Another dispenser option is an empty syringe. Ask for a few free ones at your local drugstore. They don’t have needles in them, they’re just the squirty bit.

Reuse broken coffee mug and save the tomatoes!

It’s getting colder, nights may bring frost so if you were a late planter like me and your tomatoes are just now starting to turn red, maybe you could dig them out of the ground, put them in planters and keep them indoors. Put them out in the midday sun then bring them in to sleep.

Hubby broke this mug at work a few days ago but I said “no problem, I’ve got a use for that since I don’t have enough planters.”

Reuse broken coffee mug, save the cherry tomatoes.

Reuse broken coffee mug, save the cherry tomatoes.

Make your own mint tea

I’m assuming you have a mint plant, otherwise, skip this post.

hardy.  Grows indoors or out.

hardy. Grows indoors or out.

I had the absolutely brilliant idea to check the gardening book on how to harvest mint leaves for tea. Turns out you cut the stem wherever you feel like it and let it dry. When it’s dry, crumble the leaves off the stem, throw out the stem and let the leaves dry some more.

Store in airtight container or freeze.

In my case, I’ll be putting the little crumbles in my tea infuser and making mint tea.

Reusing to help in the garden

my watering can

my watering can

I position this jug under the drip in the bathtub to keep the water. I have a bucket by the door to collect the water to water the veggies at the end of the day or I just take the watering can to the flowers when it’s full. Oh the cardiovascular workouts.

labeling plants and plots

labeling plants and plots

This is a concentrated can of orange juice lid. I’ve got two labeled “bulbs” in other plots in the garden to I know that there’s something there.

to protect the brussel sprouts

to protect the brussel sprouts

We’re coming into the weather for the brussel sprouts, as it gets cooler they’ll get taller. They need to be protected from the wind but not the sun. I cut the bottom off an empty yogurt container, not even washing it since the milk product contains nutrients which are good for the soil.

an old knife to stake a peony?  pansy?

an old knife to stake a peony? pansy?

Hubby brought a cheap, thrift store, mismatched set of cutlery with him when he drove across the country to use until the moving truck arrived. I thought I’d given the set to our babysitter but I apparently missed one knife. I was going to throw it out but then this little flower, whatever it’s called, needed to be propped up.

Reuse around the garden (2)This is a shelter for ladybugs to hibernate and multiply during the winter. We aren’t in the woods or near any so getting sticks to tie in a bundle for the ladybugs is hard. But the day lilies are done and the lignin in the stalks is getting rather hard. I pulled up all the used stalks and tied those to whatever dowel or stake like thing I had to make my ladybug hotel.

Organize kitchen counters for free

There are 3 counter surfaces in this kitchen; one corner, one long, one island. The electrical outlets are NOT distributed efficiently (AAARRRGGG!) so some larger electrical appliances have to be stored near a socket, taking up space be darned (AAARRRGGG!).

Thankfully, there is a microwave ledge built in so that thing doesn’t have to take up counterspace.

So, we move in, we unpack, we do our best to get the stuff that we need out where we need it and finally, I move it from “well, it works” to beautiful efficiency.

As you can see, this is the remainder of the countertop that I organized in a previous post.  The microwave is above the cookbooks.

As you can see, this is the remainder of the countertop that I organized in a previous post. The microwave is above the cookbooks.

The cookbooks are here, the tub of flour, the coffee maker, and my ice cream bucket for collecting coffee grinds for the garden.
pantry area

pantry area

Obviously the waffle maker doesn’t belong ON the coutertop, it belongs IN its box on the top shelf.

sandwich making station

sandwich making station

Some things have got to change
It’s not that every cupboard is crammed with stuff, it’s just that we moved in with 2 small children and needed food and food preparation STAT. We didn’t have a system. Now we do.

Underneath the corner counter is a lazy susan type cupboard but without the turning part. In it is stored a giant, stainless steel frying pan as well as bulk baking goods. Because this pan is not in the pot cupboard under the island, Hubby never uses it when he’s cooking. He uses the enormous cast iron frying pan that is a bitch to clean. So I made a switch and put my boxes of Cliff bars inside the iron pan.

frying pan switcheroo

frying pan switcheroo


Cliff bars in pantry, not countertop

Cliff bars in pantry, not countertop

Then I set about putting all the children’s cracker snack foods in see-through glass jars so they can see the food, decide on their own what they would like for a snack (and therefore eat it?) but are not able to reach it (yet). The last holdout where the square saltines. I had no empty jam jar with a wide enough mouth to accommodate them. I started looking around and found that I had stored the cornmeal from a punctured bag in an empty glass peanut butter jar. I transfered the cornmeal to an empty water bottle (not really great for reusing for water because the plastic leeches into the water) and used the PB bottle for the crackers.

cornmeal container switcheroo

cornmeal container switcheroo

After

the brown mat is my drying rack for the dishes.  See food, eat!

the brown mat is my drying rack for the dishes. See food, eat!

kitchen island after 1I put marshmallows in empty glass spice jars, each one with a child’s initial on it rather than an empty travel coffee mug with no label. My citronella tea light candles and twist ties for the kitchen garbage are in the pretty little paper box I made.

I repurposed a complimentary travel coffee mug from somewhere we bought something for the straws so the kids can get the colour they want themselves. The sunscreen bottle is also here, beside the grocery list pad so we can slather up on our way out the back door.

The Tupperware with the blue lid is the peanut butter. Hubby buys the giant container but once it’s half empty it gets annoying and messy to scoop out the PB, so I spooned it all into a smaller container. And washed and reused the big one of course.

The water reclaiming jug has to stay there (it’s about 5 feet to the door where the water bucket it), and the coffee grinder and ice cream maker have to stay near the only working outlet in that neck of the woods.

with cookbooks gone, flour tub fits

with cookbooks gone, flour tub fits

I got rid of 6 cookbooks, gifts THAT WE NEVER LOOKED AT A SECOND TIME in at least 6 years. Also threw out 1 of the 2 “what to see in ….city” we got when we first moved here. With at least half the space cleared out I was able to push the tub of flour back to the wall to act as a bookend and to give us more counter space in the front.

I also took the book ends I’d made in shop class in grade 7 upstairs to my son’s room where he desperately needed bookends.

well, you can imagine the "before" picture

well, you can imagine the “before” picture

Why this works
The kitchen will stay this way because I didn’t put the cornmeal in the upstairs linen closet. Everything is where it used to be, or moved slightly to a more reasonable location. Things we didn’t use are gone. We can see everything and when you can see it, you’ll use it, keeping up the flow of fish crackers without backlogging the Ritz crackers.

This is how our lifestyle works and since everything has a place, everything can be put away!

Increase storage in your refrigerator crisper drawers

I was inspired by a post on this blog http://gracefulorder.com/2013/08/03/kitchen-organizing-before-and-after-photos/ although I can’t find the actual one with the picture.

The first problem with the crisper drawers is that they get dirty quickly. This is a small problem, just put them in the dishwasher.

The second problem, the one we care about is that it’s a big drawer you shove stuff into. No dividers, no see-through storage. The stuff on the bottom gets forgotten because you don’t see it, or it gets squashed by the stuff on top.

What is it?

mystery crisper drawer

mystery crisper drawer

Hubby does the grocery shopping, so I am less informed about what we have to eat in this house. Balling it up in a grocery bag doesn’t help either. Deductive reasoning tells me it’s onions because they shed their flaky skin and make a mess of the drawer.

They are onions!

half a 4L milk jug

half a 4L milk jug

I cut the bottom off a milk jug, washed it and put the onions in it. FYI, I washed it in the dishwasher. I don’t have to worry about the plastic cracking because, as a milk jug, it’s designed to be fridge temperature safe.

Extra storage

visible storage, a divided drawer is a useful drawer

visible storage, a divided drawer is a useful drawer

Now that the onions are visible, contained and corralled, creating extra space, I put the lettuce head in the drawer too. We can see both vegetables, the lettuce won’t roll to the back of the fridge and be forgotten and there’s more space on the pre-lettuce shelf for leftovers.

If you can see all the food in the fridge, then you’ll eat it, not let it spoil. There should be a Commandment against throwing out food.

Reuse matchless socks or damaged socks

matchless socks

matchless socks

Cut sock in half, a little above the ankle.
1- Hem the foot part to become a running shoe sock.
2- Hem the top part to become a hot coffee cup holder.

3- Cut the feet off a bunch of socks and sew them together in a long snake. Stuff with more matchless socks. Sew the ends shut, draw on eyes and a mouth with permanent marker if you feel like it, and make a door draft stopper.

4- Fold sock in 2,3 or 4, whatever is needed to achieve desired thickness, and sew it together to make a washable mouse pad for your wrist.

5- Bend a metal coat hanger end into a square, put sock around it (probably have to sew in place) and use as a net to scoop bugs out of the kiddie pool.

6- Use to store individual sandals for the winter or travel.

7- Use to hold broken glass or other sharp garbage so it doesn’t rip through your trash bag.

8- To store pruning scissors.

9- To store regular scissors for travel.

10- Sew leg part shut to insulate a water bottle.

11- Make leg or arm warmers.

My husband makes homemade beer so we have a giant, glass jar for part of the process. It’s impossible to dry and we can’t leave it lying around for 2 weeks to “air dry” because we have toddlers. You can’t store it in the basement without saran-wrapping the opening or the bugs get in, but then the water can’t get out. Last night when I had a stroke of genius I popped a doomed matchless sock over the opening! The water can still get out, the bugs can’t get in and the 15 pound jar can go in the basement! Plus, we don’t pollute the environment with plastic wrap.

Other things to do with matchless socks

Stuff a matchless sock with another matchless sock and sew/knot it shut. The sock-ball has the advantage of being very fun when wet outdoors in the summer. It’ll work indoors for toilet paper tube bowling.

Potty training “accident” that didn’t make it all the way into the potty? Wipe up with a matchless sock and you can throw the offending rag in the garbage.

They also make good bean bags if you fill them with small dry beans like lentils. Older children can play hackey sack and teenagers can biff them at each other.

Grownup’s matchless socks hang around for no more than one month before they line the compost bin to suck up the goo that invariably leeches out from the compost bag so I don’t have to wash the mini-bin as often.

Children’s matchless socks hang around for longer because they may not necessarily have gotten eaten by the dryer. They may be wedged under a mattress, or stuck on a doll’s head. But even these, eventually, are officially labeled uni-socks and go out by the same route of the compost bin. Except for the one lucky sock last night.

How to clean stubborn hardwater scale in your bathtub without harsh chemicals

When I say “harsh” I am not entirely specific. You will be using coca cola, generic or otherwise, and believe me, that stuff is harsh. Hospitals use it to clean out parenteral nutrition tubes when no other industrial strength cleaner will work. It’ll clean a penny, then dissolve it. It’ll dissolve your insides too technically speaking. And your teeth. And hopefully, the scale on the bathtub.

I’d tried comet/ajax to no avail. Then I googled and this idea came up. Here’s what you do.

how to clean bathtub hardwater scale

how to clean bathtub hardwater scale

I have my testing area (brown) and my control area (no paper towel because I ran out) so I can tell you whether it worked or not.

You will need
Two 2L bottles of coca cola, whatever brand you prefer
a roll of paper towel
big bucket

Pour the cola into the bucket, then dip each sheet of paper towel into the cola and stick it to the bathtub. Leave on for half an hour, then squeeze out the paper towels and throw them away. Wash the bathtub.

Mixed results
While this method is the only one that has worked so far, it didn’t remove all the scale. There is an improvement, about 65%, but it’s not perfect. I’ll have to do it again. I hate doing things twice. If something’s going to work it had better work the first time around.