Monday, December 31, 2012

Cleaning Your Humidifier

I don't know about your house, but everywhere I've lived we've always had a very dry house in winter. I get frizzy hair, dry skin, and the cats are static balls. It's been so bad this year that their water bowls evaporate by the end of the day - and normally I refill them once a week. A humidifier works so well to cure that problem, especially at night.

But how much thought have you given to making sure that it's kept clean? Think about it. It's a water reservoir, that's sole job is to create a warm humid place. And what loves warm humid places? Mold. Not something you want growing anywhere in your house.

And what else can muck it up? Using water with minerals in it. Anyone with well-water has surely seen the effects of too much iron on their toilets at some point or another. Not using distilled water can muck up the plumbing, and vaporize the minerals so that they're spread throughout your house and you breathe them in. Now I don't know what health effects that would carry with it, but it doesn't sound good either way!

So it's important to clean your humidifier, and regularly. Weekly is a good standard. To clean the filter, rinse it in water and let air dry. Don't use any sort of chemicals, as they can damage the filter (and who wants to buy a new part they didn't need?).

To clean the water tank, pour in vinegar and let it soak in half an hour. Clean with a soft brush so that you don't damage the plastic. Do this as many times as necessary, though once is often enough. Rinse it well with water, to make sure you don't end up with the lovely smell and effect of vinegar in your air.

To disinfect (though vinegar does a bang up job), use 1 tps of 3% hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water in the tank, and like the vinegar let it sit. Then rinse, and put it back together. Not too complicated, is it?

You can get more information here.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fish Tank Cleaning Tips

<i>Pictured Above: "Pleco - The Algae Eater"<br>
<a href=I haven't had fish in years, but anyone who has one knows that even the goldfish in a bowl still requires some upkeep beyond throwing some food into the tank daily.

Green algae forms quickly and is the biggest indicator that you need to clean. To stay on top of it, get an algae eating fish like the plecostomus, a type of catfish (in the picture). They come in a whole host of sizes, but finding one in a pet store is a good bet that it won't outgrow your aquarium. The more fish you have and the bigger thank, the better idea it is to get a little cleaning buddy to make things a little easier on you. To clean the algae yourself, it's a safe bet to get an algae scrubber and scrub the sides before dumping out the water so that you can get the worst cleaned in one fell swoop.

Instead of changing the water too often, remove 10%-20% once a week. It'll freshen the water, but leave some of the fish bacteria that is beneficial to them. You don't need to get any special filtered water from the store, tap water is fine. But do a quick check that your water is not chlorinated for the fish's sake. A lot of cities chlorinate their water, but a lot also remove that chlorine long before the water makes it to your house.

To clean the gravel in a small tank, just rinse it out in a strainer whenever you change the water. Do this a few times until the water runs pretty clean, but don't worry about cleaning them too well. As mentioned above, a little bacteria won't hurt the fish and is actually good for them. If you have a bigger tank, you may want to look into a special vacuum you can use to clear up the debris while the tank is still full (but any fish are removed!)

Finally, make sure to keep the filter clean if your tank needs one. But don't switch and clean all filter parts at once, to keep that good bacteria in the tank!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Laundry Tips

laundry tips 8Merry belated Christmas! I know in my home, the best Christmas's gifts are often clothes. Especially now with our quickly growing daughter! In that light, here are a few laundry tips:
  • Add a 1/4 cup (use this amount as a base, you may want more or less) baking soda to the powdered detergent cup in the washer. This helps whiten whites, as well as removes any detergent or softener buildup, making clothes softer and returning towels back to their original absorbency.
  • In the winter, hang clothes to dry on shower rods and over heating vents. Make sure your washer has a good spin so that they dry properly and don't drip. This will not only save you money, but will help to keep the air in your house a little less dry. (source)
  • Use a felted dryer ball instead of dryer sheets. For more information, see my post on dryer balls here.
  • Conversely, make your own dryer sheets. They are less work than making a dryer ball, and you can use your favorite fabric softener with them as well. 
  • To whiten whites without bleach (an alternative to baking soda), boil a pot of water with cut lemons and soak the whites in the hot water. It'll not only whiten your whites, but make your house and laundry smell fantastic!
  • Remove grease stains with corn starch or vinegar.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Silverware (& Anything Else) Cleaner

miracle cleanerSilverware will at some point get spots, especially cheap silverware. To get the spots off, all you need is a simple baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. Mix enough of the two together for a thick paste, and then rub it onto the stain or buildup to clean it quickly and easily. According to blogger Jillee at One Good Thing, this works not just on spots and stains on silverware, but stuck on paper gunk and mess almost anywhere. Head on over to her blog to see a full picture-laden tutorial. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Grow Candy Canes

I don't remember where I saw this originally, but a very cute idea for your kids this time of year is "growing" candy canes. The idea is that they get magic candy cane seeds/dust, whichever you prefer. It can come in a note from the North Pole, from you Elf of the Shelf, or even "bought" at the store. To make the dust/seeds, crush some candy canes or mints, or keep mints whole or halved. To create fertilizer, use glitter mixed with talcum powder. Large glitter works best, or dye large sea salt red or green and let it dry (be wary, the salt takes several days to dry, unless you have a dehydrator). Put this in a separate container from the seeds/dust, and write a letter on how to "grow" the candy canes to the children. Include a pot of fake snow/sand/whatever you wish, and help your little ones to plant the seeds/dust, then fertilize it. If you wish, they can water it again. After one or two days, replace the seeds with whole candy canes before the kids wake up. They'll be amazed at the magic that happens when their seeds grow up! If you wish, you can also have the candy canes "grow" in increments, breaking whole canes into smaller portions that increase in height daily. For a description of the process that includes photos, visit A Dragonfly's Red Thread Family.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easy Winter Car Fixes

My husband hates scraping windows. His solution is to carry a big bottle of windshield wiper solution, the kind that is supposed to de-ice, in the trunk. He pours it out over the windows that he'd otherwise have to scrape. However, I'd like him to use something that is more earth-friendly. The cost isn't really a problem, as a big jug lasts about a month of bad weather, and costs roughly $3.50. Through looking around, I was able to find a good alternative, as well as other winter car trouble tricks. Some great tips I found, that are more earth-friendly:

Wipe or spray vinegar on your windows before the storm and freezing, as acetic acid raises the melting point of water.Mix it three parts vinegar to one part water. Spray it on the frozen windshield as well, to melt the ice.

Rubbing alcohol should keep the wipers from skipping and squealing when rubbed on. While this doesn't defrost the windows, it helps keep the windshield clear and your nerves from fraying :)

Shaving cream can be used to keep the inside from fogging. Spray on, wipe off. Don't worry any more about window fog!

Cooking spray keeps the doors from freezing shut.

Car wax keeps the headlights and taillights clear from snow and other winter goop.

Hand sanitizer unfreezes the door locks and handles


Monday, December 3, 2012

Dust Your Christmas Wreath

Salt used to decorate wreathSo this one is actually very well-timed. I love wreaths on my front door, but they don't look too great when they're covered in dust. So to clean them - easiliy - put them in a bag big enough to hold the wreath, and add around 1/4 cup of salt, depending on the size of the wreath. Use a bigger grain, or you'll be right back where you started with the mess. Put them together in the bag, and shake until clean. If it's a pinecone wreath like on the left, or any other one that has lots of tiny areas to hold the salt, you may have to shake the wreath outside to remove the salt residue. Hang it up on the door, and you've got a pretty, fresh wreath.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remove Hairspray Buildup

Rubbing alcohol used to lift hair spray residueI don't use hairspray much anymore, but still love this tip. As of my last hair appointment, my hair is 32 inches long. So when I do use hairspray, I use a ton. And it gets EVERYWHERE. Instead of scrubbing or even doing any hard work, spray a mix of 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar, and a small amount of dishwasher liquid. Spray it on the surface, and it'll wipe right off. If you use it on a mirror, I'd suggest cleaning the mirror again, as this may leave smudges.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Clean a Vase

Rice used to clean vaseSo I know it's not summer any more, but I still like to have flowers in my home when I can. So this post isn't so terribly timed, if you think of it that way.
Oddly shaped vases - or any other container- are a pain to clean. One way to clean them is to add a tablespoon of rice or so to the soap water, then swishing it around until it's clean. The rice helps to scrub where you cannot reach, while the soapy water does, well, what soapy water does.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Remove Unwashable Grease Stains

Cornmeal used to absorb grease stainsMost things that get grease on them can be cleaned in the wash, but there are some things that just can't be washed. To clean stains off of upholstry or any other fabric that you can't wash, cover the stain in cornmeal. The cornmeal will absorb the grease without damaging the fabric or causing any hard work on your part. Just let it sit for 15-30 minutes and then vacuum it up to remove the cornmeal grains.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Secure Lose Glasses Screws

0509glasses-nail-polishHere's another glasses fix, and another fix that includes nail polish. When you tighten loose screws, dab it with some nail polish to secure it. It should work in other areas as well, just be cautious to use it only on screws you don't anticipate removing it any time soon (or else you will have to use polish remover to get a good hold on the screw head, and I honestly don't know how it reacts to different materials). And the bigger the screw, the less of a fix this would be. But a simple dab would be enough to hold the screws into your glasses if they are lose.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tape to Stop Shoelace Fraying

Transparent tape used to fix frayed shoelaceToday's tip reminded me of something I hadn't thought of since my childhood. As an adult, I wear lace-less shoes, reserving the laces for my workout shoes (which I don't use nearly often enough) and work boots (which I currently don't own). My husband wears out his shoes rather quickly because he works 10 hour shifts on his feet all day, before the laces would have a chance to fray. He also uses paracord as laces, burning the ends of them to keep from fraying (as he also breaks normal laces when tying his shoes). And then there's the toddler, who I refuse to buy shoes with laces until we're at the point she's learning to tie them herself. But when I was a kid, my laces would wear out much faster than my shoes. The aglets (the little plastic caps on the end) fell off rather quickly, and it was only a matter of time before the ends would fray badly. If you don't want to, can't, or aren't comfortable melting the ends of the laces, use tape instead. It may not last months, but it is a great temporary solution that can be easily replaced if needed, and keeps you from having to run to the store to get a replacement pair of laces.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Freshen Up the Carpet

To remove carpet odor, use baking soda. I add some cinnamon and other ground spices too, because I love the smells. Simply mix a big batch up, being cautious of any spices you add. If you add cinnamon and have a white carpet, you may need to break out the steam cleaner or hand wash any brown spots that appear on the carpet, especially if it gets wet before you vacuum. I have a brown carpet, so I don't need to worry about that though. Sprinkle it onto the carpet liberally. If your carpet isn't bad you won't need very much. I use less than a half cup on my entire home, which is mostly carpet and about 1,500 square feet. But if you have dogs, indoor/outdoor cats, people wear their shoes inside, or any other reason the carpet is highly used and smells musty you may need to use more. I use a fork to spread it, though a metal strainer would probably work better. After about 4-5 hours, vacuum it up and enjoy the fresh carpet! The image to the left has it extremely thick, but the blogger I got the image from used her version of the mix to freshen up after 17 8-year-old's partied in her home, so it was probably very justified!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chemical-Free Drain Unclogger

Baking soda used to clean drainWe live in an apartment complex, and enjoy the maintenance department we have. However, they can be quite slow, especially when we have cold weather and neighbors with so little sense that they went on vacation and turned their heater off, causing their water pipes to burst and flood their entire building (not ours thankfully!). When we have minor issues in areas that we cannot wait several days to a week to be fixed, like a clogged kitchen drain, I take matters into my own hands.

The best chemical-free, and inexpensive method I've found has been vinegar and baking soda. Pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by an equal amount of vinegar. Cover the drain with a damp to wet cloth so that it has nowhere to work out but down, and wait about five minutes. Flush it out with hot water. This should work in any drain, though I have only used it in the kitchen. It won't dissolve hair or other big clumps, but should still push the clogs down the drain and out of the way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clean Your Iron... With Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets with an iron Here's a tip I keep seeing, but haven't been able to try because, frankly we don't own an iron. When we really need one, we come to my parents and use theirs. And they live close enough that it's never been a problem. But if you iron a dryer sheet or two, it will remove all the built up goop without any hard work or damage to the iron. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eraser Earring Post

Pencil eraser used to secure earringI don't remember where I met the woman, but I somehow got on the topic of loving earrings with a random stranger the other day. I'd forgotten the tip she shared with me until I was looking for a good tip to share with you all today. I am constantly losing the backs to my earrings, as I A) never take them out and B) have a toddler who pulls on them. But I am also allergic to nickel, so I cannot just go out and buy a lot of extra cheap earring backs. (Here's another nail polish tip though - coat earrings or jewelry that you are allergic in a layer of it, and you can get a reaction-free wear each time.) There are also the times that the back falls off, and there's not a post around, like at work or the airport. In that case, slice a slab off of a pencil eraser, and use it as a post. It's not a long-term fix, but it certainly does the trick, at least for the rest of the day!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fold Fitted Sheets Perfectly

Today's tip comes from Stephmodo. I've always had trouble folding fitted sheets, which drives me nuts. I am a neat freak when it comes to my linen drawer and how things are folded. But with their tutorial, it is so easy. The only real trouble I have now is getting the time to fold it into such a nice square, because between our kitten and our toddler, anything on the floor or bed is immediately mucked up.

To see the image bigger or the full tutorial, click on the blog name above or the picture to the left.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nix Panty Hose Runs

I have a love-hate relationship with my pantyhose. They usually peek out over the top of my skirt, and cut into my waist even though I'm far from overweight. But they make my legs look amazing, and the thick pairs are fantastic during the winter to allow me to continue wearing shorter skirts and dresses through the winter. And a nice pair of hose is like the right shade of lipstick- it just takes the outfit to the next level, it perfects it. But pantyhose are fickle, and snag easily. Which is really a drag, especially when it's your favorite pair, the only pair that fits comfortably. But did you know you can stop the snag from running, or running worse? Dab a spot of nail polish (I always use clear, as it doesn't show up at all) onto your hose, and they're fixed. It's amazing, and has saved me more than once.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shapie Removal-Anywhere

I want to kiss the author of DIY Home Sweet Home. I just stumbled across an amazing list she has, of how to remove permanent marker. From anything. And it's not like there is one method per material (which ranges from vinyl to upholstery to skin to clothing), but multiples for everything. Just in time too, as I came home from work to sharpie all over the faux wood floor- in my apartment. That we are renting. I can't pay to replace the flooring in the kitchen! This woman is a life saver. And not only does she have this fantastic list, but she includes a printable version of the list, so you can keep it on hand and don't have to worry about even going online to find it. No, this isn't my toddler, by the way. Not because it hasn't happened, but because I just haven't taken a picture of her "artwork".

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cornstarch to Refresh Hair and Reduce Shine

Cornstarch as Makeup ProtectorCornstarch is another staple in my home. My daughter sweats like none other sometimes (when she was only a few months old she was in her diaper and nothing else, with the ac up so high I was in my fleece pajamas and she was sweating... and not sick. She's just very hot blooded like her daddy!), and I love it for her hair. She showers with me every morning, but her hair gets very unhealthy if it's washed too often with shampoo. I only shampoo it once a week, and during the summer regardless of how long I took on her hair it gets greasy by the late afternoon. Cornstarch comes is handy here; I rub some in her hair and comb it through. If you put it on too thick it's visible; she has very dark red-brown hair. But a little bit of water and a thorough brushing takes care of that. With the right amount, it livens up her hair so that she looks fresh out of the shower after I wipe her face too. I've used it for myself as well, but I usually don't need it (my bangs are long, and worst case scenario I can do a high ponytail and it still looks clean).
Another use for cornstarch in the beauty department is on your face. You can apply it after pulling some of the grease off of you face, or put it on top of a moisturizing cream that makes your face a little too shiny. It's inexpensive, makes your skin extremely soft, and certainly isn't bad for you to boot!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Remove Rust and Scale

soaking nuts and bolts in vinegarGenerally things in the house don't get too rusty, but some very damp summers can cause things to rust, and there's always the times you'll have to work on something that's rusted - or can show off your smarts to the one in the house who needs to get rust off of something. Sure, Cola can remove rust, but that means you have soda in your house. It's not cheap either, even if it's just a dollar for the small size. Instead, soak whatever needs the rust removed in vinegar. Not only does it remove rust, it also removes scale. This isn't a quick fix, as they should soak for a few days, however it requires nearly no effort on your part and you don't have to buy a replacement. Simply rinse the soaked whatever you needed cleaned, and the rust and scale will come off.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fix Glasses-With a Pair of Earrings

Post earring to fix eyeglassesI'm going to carry a set of post earrings on me at all times with this tip now in my head! I have to wear glasses to see, and get a massive headache, eye strain and nausea when I try to go without them - not to mention I can't drive without lenses. It's very difficult when a screw falls out and is lost, or you don't have a small enough screwdriver. If you are ever caught in that pickle, use a post earring to secure the glasses hinge, making sure to put the back on the post so that it stays in place.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Organize the Kids Room with Planters

simple-organizationGarden planters can be used as a great kids room organizer. This is definitely one I'll be doing once we move into a house, as it'll keep Mimi's room organized. All of her books can fit somewhere other than the bottom of my entertainment center in the living room, and the stuffed animals can have their own home that's within her reach as well. You can really make this a unique decoration, using whatever type of planters you can find. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keep Necklaces Untangled

Plastic drinking straw as tangle preventerHere's a tip I found that is just so clever and useful I had to share. When putting my necklaces away, be it in the jewelry box for storage or a suitcase to travel, it almost always ends up horribly tangled. If you can't hang them up, thread one side through a drinking straw (cut the straw if it's too long for the necklace) to prevent the dreaded tangling. What a fantastic idea!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Clean Away Stickers

cleaning sticker off a hard surfaceStickers are so fun for kids, but I can't stand them in any other circumstance. They are just a pain in the butt to clean off of whatever they are on. I get a lot of the goop under my nails, which drives me nuts. And the best solution I'd come up with on my own- soak it in hot water and then scrub with a brillo pad - left gunk on the brillo pad, and could only be used on things that can be soaked.

This Old House has a better solution - use vinegar. Yet again, vinegar saves the day and makes things so much easier. Dab it onto the sticky surface, then wipe clean. You may have to do this more than once, but it's certainly easier! If possible, warm vinegar works even better than room temperature.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Treat Yourself: Homemade Foot Soak

Every once in a while you need to take the time to pamper yourself. Take the time to relax and watch a movie, read your favorite magazine, take a bath while munching on pommegranite and listening to your favorite music (my favorite is the last)... Or soak your feet. Soaking your feet is so relaxing. And if you don't have the time to just sit and let them soak, you can soak them at your desk or wherever else you can sit still for long enough to let them soak.

Regardless of when you do it, or even if you want to gift a nice foot soak recipe, a fantastic one can be found at Or So She Say's. It's fantastic because it's all natural, relaxes your muscles, and your body won't be exposed to or absorb anything harmful. You can store it to use later, and as long as it's in an air-tight container you don't have to worry about the essential oil smells from fading away. So treat yourself, you deserve it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Clean Your Showerhead with Vinegar

dipping a shower head into a plastic bag filled with vinegarTo clean a showerhead, you need just some warm vinegar, a plastic baggie and a rubber band. If you are comfortable removing the showerhead, do so to avoid pulling on the spigot. If not, use your personal judgement on if you think the vinegar will be too much weight. It shouldn't be, but every shower is built differently and a different age.
Heat half a cup of vinegar to warm, but not hot (you don't want to take a chance of melting the bag). Put the vinegar in the bag and add the showerhead, if it's detached. If it is not, then use the rubber band to tie the vinegar-filled bag to the showerhead. Either way you do it, make sure that all of the holes that the water comes from are submerged. Let it sit for an hour, then rise and wipe clean. If it was detached to clean, re-attach it now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whiten Whites Without Bleach

ft_whitening_l.jpg Naturally brighten your whites: boil them in a pot of water with a few lemon slices. Boil the water and lemon first in order to avoid damaging your clothing, then remove from heat and add what you need whitened. Let it soak for an hour and then wash in a normal wash.
In normal laundry to help keep whites whiter and remove excess buildup in the washer, add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash. I use this especially on towels, and it helps to keep them very soft, fluffy and absorbent!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Remove Wallpaper Easier

spraying vinegar on the wallHere's a tip I haven't tried personally, but have heard plenty of good things about from a close friend who did it. If you need to remove wallpaper, saturate the paper with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar, using a spray bottle, sponge, or whatever is most convenient. The vinegar breaks down the glue and the water softens the paper, and after a few minutes the wallpaper should peel right off.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Keep Bugs Out of the Pantry

You can keep your house nigh immaculate, and still have a problem with grain bugs. My grandma freezes her flour when she brings it home from the store, which helps to cut down on the problem as it somehow gets rid of the bugs that can live in flour. But to keep any more bugs from coming into your pantry (like grain moths) and eating or ruining the food, tape whole dried basil leaves to the underside of the shelves.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Knife Drawer Organization and Safety

I like to keep my knives in a kitchen drawer. Our apartment doesn't have a ton of counter space, but has a decent number of drawers. However, when you open and close the draw the knives slip and slide, which can not only damage them, but can cause knives pointing their sharp blades up,  and it's just dangerous to search through a drawer full of knives! Instead, lay a strip of no-slip material on the bottom of the drawer, and if it's not sticky on one side secure with double sided tape. My personal tip to add to that to make it more safe for a house with children? I put one of the very cheap flexible large cutting mats on top of the knives in the drawer. I'm lucky that my drawer is slightly smaller than our cheapy cutting mats, so the mats sit on perfectly and don't slide around. Our kid proofing keeps her out of the drawers, but that doesn't mean it's safe enough, at least not to my mommy side :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Clean Cast Iron

To clean cast iron cookware, just scrub it with salt and a good soft sponge. The pan will be cleaned gently, the salt acting as an abrasive and also soaking up any excess oil. A simple, cheap fix to a cleaning problem I've personally had for a while! Since you can't use soap on them, I've had issues with applying the right amount of elbow grease to the pans to clean them without scratching too much out of the surface.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Organize Cutting Boards and Pans

I love the drawer under the stove/oven, but sometimes it sucks having to lift them all up to get the pan or cutting board on the bottom. And there are times where it is literally impossible, like 9 months pregnant or toting a cranky clingy toddler on one hip. Solution? Find a place that the boards and pans fit standing on end, doesn't matter which. Then put in tension rods to support the pans (think mini shower curtains). The pans and boards can sit in a nice, orderly row and you can even put them up high enough that there is no bending required. Here they're shown horizontal, but I see no reason why you couldn't stash them vertical if that's what your space calls for.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Toss Old Paintbrushes, Do This Instead.

cleaning brushes in a bucket of vinegarI hate having to toss out old paintbrushes that still have paint in them. But if you spend several hours painting outside on a hot day, or set it down and forget to clean it quickly, you'll either have to throw it out or spend considerable time and effort attempting to clean them without even a guarantee that they'll come clean.
Instead, do this: soak them for half and hour in hot vinegar. I'm not sure why they're pouring it out of a vinegar bottle, probably for effect. But please don't heat it up in the plastic bottle, especially if you use the microwave. I imagine you're smarter than that, but the mom in me has to say it. After they've soaked, clean them normally with soapy water. Rinse, dry, good as new!
Recommended for nylon brushes, I don't know how it would work on other types.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tissue Trash Solution

I. Love. This. I can't believe I never thought of it before! We've got stuffy noses running through work and home, and I stumbled across this tip. It looks nicer with the little boxes, and takes up less space, but is still nice. And while the rubber band isn't exactly classy, it keeps the two boxes right next to each other. I'm sure you could rig up a nice, pretty, fancy version of the box on the right, maybe line it with foil or wax paper so that it's reusable and cover it with pretty wrapping paper, or glue the two boxes together. I like that this requires no extra work, however, and isn't wasting anything extra whatsoever. Even better, you don't have to wait for an empty box. See the tutorial on MeckMom for a simple picture of how to take the box apart in a way that allows you to pull the tissues out of one box so that you neither damage the box nor upset the nice neat stack of tissues (which can refill the full box once it's emptied). Genius!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Healthy Plants, Save the Boiling Water!

When you boil eggs, carrots, potatoes, noodles or any other food, what do you do with the water? If you just pour it down the drain, consider this instead. Pour the water into your houseplants. It's chock full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help the plants grow. You know the orange water you drain off of cooked carrots? That's exactly what is so good for the plants. You can use it on the outdoor plants too, but those plants at least have a higher chance of nutrients being replaced in the soil through natural cycles. To help perk  up your plants as well, the next time you  have a thunderstorm put them outside. Don't put them directly in the wind and rain, but the excess nitrogen in the air is amazing for the plants. It's why everything looks so much greener and prettier after storms hit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pot and Pan Organization

I've always disliked having a single cabinet to haphazardly stack pot and pans, with a lid that may or may not hold all of the lids above. In the pictures to the left, two very simple organization techniques for organizing. Hang pots on a curtain rod with hooks, and your lids from the inside of a door or on the wall that has a towel rack screwed in. Curtain hooks work for the pots, if you cannot find an alternative you prefer. I love this . It's fantastic. The pots and pans are stored well, and it's easier to find them. They also aren't on the bottom of the cabinet, which means if there is a leak (like our water in the kitchen sink currently) then you don't have to worry about re-cleaning everything. Of course it also leaves extra room as well, so that you can put  a few awkwardly shaped things can fit underneath, like cake pans.Use towel racks on the inside of cabinet doors to hold your pot lids!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

DIY Wood Polish

Dsc_0321_rect540Make your own wood polish. The stuff at the stores is expensive, the aerosol is undesirable if you have any breathing problems whatsoever (or just don't want to inhale the stuff), and can leave unknown chemicals on your furniture as well as waxy buildup. To save money, use  lemon juice, olive oil and water. It smells fantastic, cleans well, and you don't need to save a space to store it. Mix the juice from one lemon with a tablespoon each of olive oil and water, and shake in a small container until it's well mixed. Use on a soft cloth suitable for the wood. Courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reheat Cold Rice

Rice is easy to re-heat, but often dries out in the process. My quick fix, to make it as good as the first time you had it, boil a mug of water (two minutes usually does the trick), then add the rice bowl (without removing the mug). Heat the rice, and the steam will not only keep the rice from drying out too much but will also add more moisture to the rice.
(image is of a garlic rice recipe from Life's Ambrosia. Click it to go to the recipe)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Use Less Water When You Flush the Toilet

I hand't realized that not everyone knew this trick, but it's free. Seriously. You don't need a new toilet to get one that uses less water, just a rock or brick. Don't worry about spending a lot of money to save money, or waiting until you own somewhere so that you can make changes. Put the rock or brick in the tank, to displace some of the water. However, make sure it's not a brick that would be eroded by water flow. Think more cinder block than the pretty red bricks used in house making.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Clean a Messy Mircrowave

0223_microwave00_rect540Microwaves can be so convenient, but are a pain to clean cooked-on food out of. Courtesy of Apartment Therapy, here is an easy way to clean those messes. Heat a mug of water for five minutes, and remove it. With a mitt please, or you'll burn yourself! Immediately clean the tray in the sink, closing the door as soon as the tray is out to keep the microwave hot and the steam in. Once the tray's clean, wipe the inside with a soft cloth. Replace the clean food tray. Viola! Nice, clean microwave.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Get Rid of Fruit Flies

I despise fruit flies. Granted, whenever I see them my high school biology class teachings come up, and I look at them to see their eye color and wing type. But I cannot stand them in my home, on any food that is not under wraps. My husband managed to come up with a solution that gets rid of fruit flies quickly and easily. They are attracted to apple cider vinegar, though I don't know why. If you add a few drops of dish soap, the surface tension disappears and when the flies try to land they will drown. Viola, no more fruit flies! This works better than any trap with a funnel, as there is no way for them to fly back out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blessing Bags

This tip doesn't help you clean your home, or entertain your kids. However, it's a great kit to keep on hand to help those in need. Colder weather is fast approaching, and when it hits you may want to modify the contents (include some gloves, for example). Fill a large Ziploc bag with snacks and hygiene things, including toothpaste, soap, deodorant, granola bars, a fruit cup, and chapstick. A good list of things to put in the bag can be found at KWAVS, and is pictured here. Keep a few in your car to give away to someone who is in need. So easy, and you're really making a difference, always ready to help someone, even if it's in a smaller way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Single Use Antibiotic Packets

DIY Single Use Antibiotic Pouches
I like to carry antibiotic ointment in many places, from my purse to the diaper bag to the center console of the car to my husbands backpack, and of course the medicine cabinet. However, I either don't have the room for a whole tube, or don't have a whole tube available to me. A wonderful solution I found is from Brian's Backpacking Blog, and requires nothing more than a straw, antibiotic ointment, a lighter and a pair of scissors. Having a pair of pliers makes it much easier, but it can be done without one. Simply cut the straw into hatever size strips you wish, fill them with some ointment, and use the lighter to melt the ends of the straw and seal the container.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Glitter

Glitter is so much fun to play with. It can be insanely annoying to clean, as well. However, when it comes to our kids their fun and smiles usually wins out over our convenience. All you need is salt, food coloring, and if you want sparkly glitter (a must, at least in my world!), silver dust as well. It requires some shaking in a container to distribute the food coloring evenly, and some oven time to dry the salt out. If you are fine waiting a few days and don't want to use the oven you can let the salt air-dry. It would also work to put the colored glitter into a dehydrator to remove the water from the coloring. Either way, what an ingenious way to save money on glitter, and not have to worry about finding the colors that you need or want! For a full tutorial, go to Say Yes to Hoboken.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Diaper Rash

There are all sorts of things out there that say they will cure diaper rash, but not all work well. And many kids have sensitive bottoms, which makes it even more difficult when trying to cure it and provide relief. If you are still lactating, the best, most hypoallergenic, fastest working cure is breast milk. Even bleeding rashes can heal fully in two days with breast milk on them, applied each diaper change or as you think necessary (from the experience of personal friends).

Second would be coconut oil. This is something I personally always keep in my home, as it can be used so many ways. I don't know how quickly this works on the very bad rashes, as my daughter has been fortunate not to have any. It can be used the same way as breast milk.

Third on my list- only because it's not one I always have on hand - is CJ's Butter (found here. I love this online store, the customer service is amazing and the owner is so helpful and kind!). You need very little to help your child, and it last's forever (I was given a sample size with one order nearly a year ago, and still have most of it). Like breast milk and coconut oil, it has more uses than just diaper rash. It works quickly, and has never caused any issues on either my daughters or my sensitive skin.

If you are cloth diapering, have no fear. All three options above are safe for cloth and spoosie diapers both,
and are fantastic natural or close-to-nature alternatives to many of the creams out there already.

If the rash lasts longer than five days, or is severe for more than three please contact your child's doctor. And if at any time it appears infected or for some reason looks "worse" than your child's normal rashes, please get ahold of your child's doctor immediately.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Easy, cheap laundry

So lets start with one of my favorite things. I have a huge aversion to man-made chemicals, and do my best to avoid them. The only one I use right now is Windex, there hasn't been a good substitute that I've found so far.

My favorite way to do laundry is really so much cheaper, a huge bonus. When I do the laundry, I fill the bleach up with white vinegar. The soap, I fill with baking soda. Between an 1/8 and a 1/4 cup per load, more so if it's really dirt. This is safe on all normal clothing, bra's, diapers, and other delicates included. An added bonus? Vinegar will clean out the inside of any HE washer with each use, removing the need to clean it out.

In the future I'm going to attempt to make this laundry soap, but I need to have the funds and time to do so. It's not that it's expensive, but that we are, and have always been, poor. Financially, that is. Emotionally, we are crazy rich. That's what happens when you have an amazing husband and daughter. :)

In the dryer, instead of dryer sheets I use something called a dryer ball.

That's it. It's that easy and inexpensive!

If you'd rather use a reusable, work-free dryer sheet, here is a great idea. You're still using the fabric softener, but cutting out the waste. And a version of the dryer ball, made with old socks, that I've never tried but looks so easy.

For the tutorials on how to make anything listed, just click on the links, and you'll end up on a free tutorial!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reusable Dryer Sheets

For anyone who doesn't want to spend the time (though it's isn't difficult) making felted dryer balls, and may still want the effects of fabric softener (though I find them negligible) and wants the scent that dryer sheets offer clothing, reusable dryer sheets are a wonderful option. It's quick and easy, and doesn't create any extra laundry. Simply cut some bar towels into squares, and throw them (clean) into a container holding fabric softener. Before each load, wring one out and throw it into the dryer. After the dryer is finished, simply throw the towel back into the container of fabric softener! Read more at One Good Thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bee Sting Solution

Bee sting symptoms - what to put on a bee sting (3) As we reach the end of summer, bee stings and other insect bites will slowly become less prevalent. I'd still like to share my favorite way to remove the venom from a bee-sting, courtesy of my Grandmother. When I was a kid, I was running barefoot in her back yard and stepped on a bee, which naturally stung me. To my surprise, she rubbed a paste of water and meat tenderizer (unseasoned) onto the sting. Almost immediately, the pain was relieved. The tenderizer acts as a salve to draw out the venom of the sting, causing relief. It may not affect the swelling or redness, and certainly isn't a substitute for an epi-pen or medical treatment for someone who is allergic to bee stings. But it certainly is a nice pain relief, especially for young children.