Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Clothing, Suggestions, Timely Tips

How to Solve the Dilemma of Unmatched Socks

It happens to most of us. Somehow, a pair of socks isn’t a pair anymore. Does the washer eat one? Does the dryer hide one? It’s a mystery, but we sometimes end up with unmatched socks.

Now that summer is transitioning to fall and some of us are wearing socks again for the first time in months, the dilemma of unmatched socks is back. Some suggestions –
• Wear them with others whose “mates” have disappeared
• Use them as padding in packages
• Use them as storage for delicate holiday decorations
• Use them as dust rags
• Use them for craft projects, including as hand puppets
• Turn them into pet toys, like filled with catnip

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Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Fun Uses for Mason Jar Lids

From the archives, here are some clever suggestions for using mason jar lids. As canning season is about to start and with jars available in many stores, these could be both timely and fun.

While you might use a jar to hold flowers or other contents,
• Use the ring of a lid to press circles for biscuits or sugar cookies.
• Make a quick fridge photo frame. Trim a photo, using the flat lid piece as a template. Glue the photo to the inside of the flat plate and place it inside the ring. Glue a small magnet to the back of the plate. Ba-da-bing!
• Is your muffin tin MIA? If so, place six jar rings (wide side down) on a cookie sheet. Set a paper baking cup in each, fill it with batter, then bake according to the recipe.
• For a different votive candle holder, apply glue to the edge of the flat piece and place inside the ring. Let dry and enjoy candle light!

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Clever Re-uses

From the archives, here are two clever ways to reuse items. A plastic squeeze water bottle can double as a salad dressing shaker. If you mix your own vinaigrette, this is a handy way to bring it along to work or on a picnic. Also, the spout can prevent over pouring. Another use – for picnicking, to bring along cut carrots and celery sticks. Yet another use – store your sunglasses. This could be especially useful in the car, placed in a cup holder. No more crushed shades!

Reluctant to toss or recycle a smoothie container? It could store a ball of string, with the end coming out the end. Another use – turned upside-down, its lid can serve as a funnel for pouring homemade salad dressing into a bottle. Next, two uses for when painting. For kids, pour paint into smoothie cups. A brush can rest securely through the hole without tipping, and the lid minimizes spills. You might tape the lid to the bottom, “just in case.” For grownups, if painting overhead on ceilings or trim, place a smoothie lid over a brush handle to protect your hand from any drips or dribbles.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

A Way to Keep Foods Cold, With a Cool Additional Use

Here’s one that’s good for picnics and other outdoor events, especially timely with the upcoming July Fourth holiday in mind.

Need a way to keep foods cold in a cooler? Instead of using ice, consider this cool alternative. (Oh – bad pun!) Wet a sponge, put it in a plastic sandwich bag (or two), then place it in the freezer. You might want two or three.

Benefits: once placed in the bottom of a cooler, it’s flat, which could keep food containers upright. Also, since it’s relatively “skinny,” it also can be slid down the side of the cooler, to further help in keeping food chilled.

Bonus points – if you need a wet sponge for clean-up at the end of your event, you’ll have one ready. Once back home, repeat the process. Wet the sponge, replace in the sandwich bag, then freeze it for the next time.

Also, unrelated, but fun to think about with this particular holiday – “he who drinks a fifth on the Fourth will not go forth on the fifth.” Ha!

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Timely Tips

Toothpaste – Not Just for Your Teeth Anymore

Here are some downright nifty tips found online for how to use toothpaste; that is, beyond its normal way. It also can help to clean your house, remove stains, fix scuffed shoes and scratched phones, and even polish your favorite jewelry. Here’s how:

Polish your jewelry. To make your jewelry (yes, even diamond rings) sparkle and shine more, put some toothpaste on an old, clean toothbrush and gently scrub away any dirt and grime. When you’re done, clean off excess toothpaste with a damp cloth.

Clean gunk off your iron. Rub some toothpaste on the bottom plate of the iron and wipe it off with a damp cloth. Of course, be sure that the iron is unplugged and cool before you do it.

Brighten up your car headlights. If your headlights are looking dull and grimy, you can use toothpaste to clean them up. As long as your headlights aren’t glass (toothpaste won’t be abrasive enough), you can scrub your headlights with some toothpaste and a rag, using slow and steady motions. Rinse off with water when you’re done.

Deodorize hands after cooking. Toothpaste can remove the smell that cooking fish or chopping onions leaves behind on your hands. Just rub it on your hands and rinse it thoroughly.

Remove scuffs from your shoes. To get scuffs and marks off canvas-covered shoes, apply a little bit of toothpaste to a clean cloth and gently polish them away. Wipe off any residue with a clean damp cloth, and let dry when finished.

Take out carpet stains. Rub toothpaste into stains on your carpet, then rinse or wash as usual.

Fix a scratched phone. Dab a little toothpaste onto a soft cloth or cotton swab, then gently rub it in (in circular motions) until the scratches seem to be gone. Then, use a slightly damp cloth to wipe off any excess toothpaste.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Salt – It’s Not Just for Cooking

While reading a newspaper online or just noodling around recently, I read some interesting uses for salt. (I gotta get out more!)

Here’s how to peel hard-boiled eggs easier. Add salt in water to boil the eggs. When they are done boiling, drain off hot water and run cold water over them until the eggs get cold. Crack each egg against kettle just enough to make a few cracks in shell. Let eggs sit in cold water about 10 minutes and peels usually peel off fairly easy.

Next, here are some non-chemical cleaning suggestions.
If you spill wine or fruit juice on your tablecloth, pour salt on the spot immediately to absorb the stain.
Apply a paste of salt and olive oil to ugly heat rings on your table. Let sit for about an hour and then wipe off with a soft cloth.
To restore some of the color to faded fabric, soak it in a strong solution of salt and water.
Mix a tablespoon of salt into the water of a vase of cut flowers to keep them fresh longer.
A mixture of salt and vinegar will clean brass.
Salt on the fingers when cleaning meat or fish will prevent your hands from slipping.
To kill unwanted weeds growing in your driveway or between bricks and stones, pour boiling salt water over them.
For perspiration stains, add enough water to salt to make a paste, then rub into the cloth. Wait for an hour, and then launder as usual.
To freshen smelly sneakers (or any canvas shoe) sprinkle their insides with salt. Wait 24 hours for the salt to absorb the odor, and then shake them out.
Pour salt directly onto a grease spill and come back to it later.
Stainless steel can be cleaned by rubbing it with a gritty paste of two tablespoons of salt mixed with lemon juice. Rinse well and pat dry with a soft cloth.
Rub two to three tablespoons of salt onto the stains inside your glass vases, and then scrub clean with a damp bristle brush.
Gargle with warm salt water (¼ teaspoon salt to one cup water) to relieve a sore throat.
Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.
When silk flowers get dusty, put them in a paper bag with several tablespoons of salt and shake gently for two minutes to clean them.
Refresh household sponges by soaking them in cold salt water for ten minutes.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Kitchen Organization, Recycle, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Vol. II

Do you have some extra things in your kitchen that you might toss out? Here are some suggestions for reusing them. An old, funky cupcake or muffin tin could store office supplies, jewelry, or to plant succulents. You also could use it to serve condiments at a party. An extra colander? Visualize yarn storage. You could feed strings through the holes to prevent tangles. Have too many, somehow? Hang them on the wall as fun art. You also could use one as a planter, though be sure to add something underneath to catch water. Hang one or two on chains, to store small objects. Do you have old, unmatched flatware? You could bend forks and spoons into napkin rings or curtain stays/pulls. An extra wine rack, somehow? It could hold wrapping paper. You could place one in the bathroom, with rolled towels inside. A surplus paper towel holder could hold bracelets and hair scrunchies, tape and ribbons for wrapping presents. If horizontal and meant to be hung on a wall, think about bracelets and necklaces. Any mismatched dishes? Hang them as wall art. Teacups could store jewelry. Ice cube trays? Great for storing jewelry and office supplies. Or, if you’re planning an art project, a paint palette in the making. If these suggestions spark your imagination, but you don’t have the needed pieces, it’s garage/yard sale and flea market season! Go forth and have fun!

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Holidays, Seasons, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Storing Holiday Ornaments and Lights

The best way to store holiday ornaments and lights is in original packaging. If you’re like most mere mortals, you’ve not kept it and it’s long gone. Here are some tips to help keep it all organized until needed next holiday season.

As written in another December posting, cardboard wine boxes with partitions are great for storing ornaments. If useful, you might write an inventory list on the box. Also good for small ornaments – egg cartons.

If you still have wrapping paper from opened presents and have access to a shredder, you might run the wrapping through it, then use the newly smaller pieces to cushion delicate ornaments. Bonus points – recycling!

If you’ve made food-based ornaments from salt dough and/or macaroni, place them in resealable sandwich bags. That will protect them from pests and humidity.

An empty coffee can is great for storing lights. Cut a slit in the plastic lid and place the plug end of the light string in it, with extra bulbs, if you have them. Include a piece of paper about where you strung the lights. Wrap the lights around the can to keep them tangle-free.

For each string of garland, attach a piece of masking tape about where you used it, to make next year’s decorating easier. You might loosely wrap the garland around a hanger, then place it in a big plastic dry cleaner’s bag. That kind of bag might hold artificial wreaths well, too.

Zippered garment bags will protect big lawn ornaments. Hang them in the garage, if you have one.

De-Clutter Me! serves Burlington, Vermont, and surrounding areas. Call or email today! 802.598.3639 or clearclutternow@gmail.com.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Holidays, Seasons, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Holiday Hassles Handled

Overwhelmed by holiday decorations? Here are some tips to keep you sane.

1. Do you have some that you don’t like anymore? Give them away or donate them.

2.You don’t have to use everything every year! Variety can be fun. Besides, if you rotate items, you may enjoy them more.

3. Buy storage containers only after you know what you really need. Some people prefer red and/or green, while others prefer clear ones, so it’s easier to see what’s inside. Wine boxes with dividers and egg cartons are great, too, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

4. If you have children, you might want to separate out their holiday items now. When they establish their own homes, you can hand over boxes of holiday treasures. Still using those items? You might start lists of what belongs to whom, to make the process easier when the time comes.

5. If you finish using a roll of wrapping paper, and if you have a relatively short string of lights, you can wrap the lights around the paper roll.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Home Maintenance, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Fixing an Oops

This page of Timely Tips is mostly meant to help you de-clutter, save time and brain power, etc. This tip might solve a problem and keep you safe.

I recently came across information about how to remove a broken lightbulb from a light fixture – hopefully nothing you will have to do anytime soon, if ever. Even so, it could be useful information to keep handy. Where? Perhaps you might place it in the One of a Kind binder suggested a few Timely Tips ago. Scroll down, and you’ll see it.

You’ll need a raw potato, a new lightbulb, needle-nose pliers, and (maybe) a stepladder.

If the broken bulb is in a ceiling fixture, turn off the electrical power by removing the fuse or flipping the circuit breaker for that light switch. If the broken is in a lamp, turn off the switch and unplug it.

Push the potato into the socket so that the glass from the broken bulb is inside the potato. Turn the potato counterclockwise until the bulb is completely unscrewed from the socket. If the bulb won’t budge, use need-nose pliers.

Replace it with a new lightbulb. If the broken bulb was in a ceiling fixture, turn the power back on by returning the fuse to its proper spot or by flipping the circuit breaker back on. If the bulb was in a lamp, plug the lamp back into the wall.

Problem solved – let there be light, and safely!