Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eight Things that are Essential to a Clutter Free Kitchen

Most of us don't have enormous storage filled kitchens.  We have a galley kitchen or an eat-in kitchen at best.  If you do a lot of cooking, clutter can get out of control before you know it.

Here are some helpful tips to master the main culprits that cause a cluttered kitchen.  

Too many dishes


I love buying colorful pretty dishes.  While they might be pretty, unless you use them regularly, multiple sets of dishes can be a big source of kitchen clutter. Choose the dishes that you actually use on a regular basis, keep enough for when you host gatherings, and donate the rest. Also, declutter regularly by getting rid of chipped or broken pieces.

Storage in the walls


Odd little corners and between the studs are kitchen decluttering gold.  They're perfect for a single depth of containers or dishware, which makes it less of a chore to find and organize items. Look for spots where you can easily carve out 6 or so inches -- by a door or between the studs in your wall. To give the space a design boost, paint the back wall a complementary color, and skip doors in favor of well-chosen items and pretty containers. 

Counter Tops


No matter how large your kitchen is, if you have the counter tops loaded with appliances, canisters and other items, you have a cluttered kitchen that will feel half the size.   Try to clear off those surfaces and organize them at least once a day. Stash unnecessary pieces in cabinets, and corral loose bits and pieces in pretty bowls or trays.

Pots and Pans


Many big cooking pieces, such as pots and pans, aren't used with daily frequency. But still, they're good to have when the need arises. A good storage solution that can help declutter a drawer is to install a hanging rod -- here, a simple length of pipe. If you don't have room to suspend it over an island or sink, consider a near-the-ceiling spot in an open kitchen eating space -- here, in a seating nook adjacent to the kitchen.

Another great idea is to deal with it the way Julia Child dealt with it....hang them on your wall.  I mean, who can argue with Julia Child?  Right?


Appliance Clutter


Honestly, when's the last time you used that fancy mixer, food processor or juicer? Those pieces can quickly gobble precious counter and cabinet space, even as they gather dust. It's time to declutter: If you haven't used an appliance in a year, find it a new home. If you use it several times a year, find a spot other than the countertop to store it.

Plastic Containers


A cracked lid, a chipped container, a plastic container that is now pink because you once stored Strawberry Jello in it.  What about the seemingly thousands of plastic containers whose lids have vanished?  At least twice a year, pull them all out of your cabinets, pairing lids with containers and throwing away anything that doesn't have a match or has seen better days. Replace, if necessary, with clear containers that have useable lids as in those that flip, snap, and are pourable.

Windows and Walls


A few inches here and there can quickly add up to loads of organization ready square feet, especially around windows and near ceilings. That, in turn, can offer space to open up cabinets and drawers by displaying pretty collections or oft-used pieces in convenient spots. Here, narrow shelves stretch around a low window and up to the ceiling; the pared-down display of wood, ceramic, and glass pieces helps the space to feel open and airy.

Out with the old!


Dingy kitchen towels, a pan with a broken handle, a cracked cutting board: Sentiment or habit might have prevented you from tossing or replacing these pieces, but anything old or broken simply adds to your kitchen's clutter problems. Take an hour or two to review your cabinets and drawers, and get rid of anything that is in disrepair or has outlived its usefulness......don't forget that "junk" drawer while you're at it.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Make an Unexciting Bedroom Exciting

I have a bedroom shaped like a small box.  Nothing architecturally stunning about it.  4 walls, 2 windows and a floor.  Yawn.

When you have a large bedroom there is just so much you can do to spruce it up.  There are amazing occasional chairs that you can put in there to form a reading nook.  Or perhaps an ornate dressing table?  How about splurging on a canopy bed much as they had in medieval times?  But when your bedroom is small, you have to be far more creative.

Most designers will tell you that you need to splurge on one big dollar item and build your room around that.  I say that's great if you have $5,000 (or more) to spend on a big wonderful bed!  However, I don't.  So my solution is to snaz up what I have and improvise.  Nearly anything can be made to look far more expensive than it is if you dress it up a bit.

Dreaming of a canopy bed?  Try this trick.

Look how elegant this is! Curtain rods attached to the ceiling and heavy drapery.  
That's all you need to accomplish this look!

The look above is so simple! Attach a curtain rod to your wall and slap on a set of curtains! As your mood or the season changes...so can your mini canopy! Works wonders for a small room with low ceilings! AND if you put a mirror behind it?  The illusion of a window will be born!

Curtain rods can be attached to the wall behind your bed OR they can be attached to your ceiling!  You can hang heavy draperies to give it drama or hang lightweight curtains to give it an airy and light feel!  And the absolute best thing about this type of canopy bed, is you can change it out at a whim.  You're not married to any particular look, style or color scheme.

What if you're just not a canopy kind of person?  What to do?  How about a comfy "head board" that will look great and give you a cushion for those nights when you want to sit in bed and read or watch TV?  All you have to do is purchase inexpensive beadboard, nail or glue it to your wall, paint it and then attach comfy pillows to it.  Note:  If you are a renter, make sure to get permission from your landlord before permanently affixing anything to your walls.  If your landlord won't allow a permanent improvement, then hang it like a picture.  Attach picture hangers on the back of your beadboard and hang it.  Nothing permanent about that!

If you don't want to do the beadboard, this would still be comfy and super cute if all you did was hang floor cushions on the wall behind your bed.  Either way, you get a great look for very little cash.



For the head board above, all you need are two (or three depending on how big your bed is) floor cushions.  Try thrift stores or bargain stores.  Don't worry if you hate the look of them when you buy them.  You can easily change that with a bit of fabric or pretty pillow cases.  Get the cheapest ones you can find, recover them, hang a couple of hooks on your wall and sew a couple of rings on the back of the cushions and you have a head board that will give you style AND comfort!!

What always makes a room, any room, appear larger and brighter than it really is.......mirrors!

If you have a wall that perhaps isn't right for a piece of furniture due to traffic flow or maybe it's just too close to the bed or another door such as the closet, try putting a mirror there.  It will furnish that space, allow light to bounce around and give it some style and functionality all at the same time.  Let me show you a sample of a unique mirror below.....


Old doors can be found at salvage companies, on the curb, at Habitat for Humanity outlets or maybe even in your basement or attic.  This one was just a simple unadorned door from a renovation that was going to be tossed out.

All it took was some paintable wallpaper for the inset at the top, some molding to put around the inset as well as on the top and then going to the glass store to get a piece of mirror to fit nicely in the front.  Once you have your mirror, glue it in place and put a thin molding around the edges with brad nails and glue.  This will not only give it that finishing touch, but will keep it firmly in place for generations to come!  Note: do any painting before you place your mirror otherwise you just might have a mess to clean off your mirror.

As for the door knob, take it out and using a wall repair kit that comes with a plastic screen for large holes in walls, patch the area where the knob used to be.  Once it's all dried, paint and no one will ever know it was even there.

OR you could leave the doorknob if it's an unusual piece and use that to hang your purse or scarves on.  Whatever you wish!

Enjoy and have a great time trying these tips out in your own home!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Yard Tea Party!


I am always on the lookout for a cheap yet attractive project.  I ran across this on the Hometalk page and had to share it.  It looks cheap, easy and really really cute!

Super easy way to get that pouring tea pot/kettle into a teacup look for your backyard.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
You will need:

A tea/coffee pot of your choice (Thrift Store)
Candle holder stand (Thrift Store)
Tea cup and saucer (Thrift Store)
Plastic crystals (Hobby Lobby)
Garden hook (Dollar Tree)
Silicone or outdoor adhesive of your choice.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your tea cup and saucer together to make them stable.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your cup and saucer onto your candle holder.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your plastic crystal into place on your tea/coffee pot.

Let all silicone dry completely before bringing outside.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Place your garden hook in the ground and hang your tea/coffee pot on it.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Place your tea cup and saucer stand under the "drip" of the pot.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
If you want the tea cup stand to be more solid, dig a little hole and bury the stand bottom in the ground.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Please join me on Hometalk's Facebook Live show on April 11th at 7pm EST to see me make this and more tea cup projects!

Monday, May 1, 2017

DIY Concrete Planter Idea

I love unusual planters.  But unusual planters can be super expensive.  So what do you do if you want them but don't want to take out a second mortgage on your house in order to have them?

You make them!  Yep.  It's not as difficult as  you have think.  Below are step by step instructions and pictures.  Make sure you read the tips at the end of this article.  They can save you a lot of money, time and frustration.  





Aren't these just the cutest planters?  Now onto the instructions!

Materials

All you’ll need for this easy DIY project is 

A dust mask, 
A safety pin, 
Bag of rapid dry cement, 
A couple pair of rubber house cleaning gloves, or old garden gloves and 
A big bucket to mix your concrete in. 

Of course, once everything is dry you’ll need an assortment of flower or succulents to fill it with, of course. Put this concrete planter in your home or adorn your garden with a collection of these.

Instructions

Before starting this project make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. Protect your hands with disposable rubber gloves and your nose/mouth with a dust mask. Avoid breathing in any of cement particles. In a medium size bowl, carefully mix your cement and water. Follow the instructions on the package, mix until the cement is smooth.
Take your gloves and using a safety pin carefully poke holes in the fingertips. This will help remove air pockets. Place the gloves in a tall container to help hold it upright.  You can use a bucket, an empty clay pot or even a bowl.  It all depends on what you have on hand and what fits best.  
Carefully take your cement and pour it into the gloves. If the cement is too dry and difficult to work with, add a small amount of water to smooth it out.  It should have the consistency of oatmeal or pudding.  Carefully push the cement through the gloves, distributing throughout the gloves evenly. Gently tap your rubber gloves to remove any remaining air bubbles.
Once you have filled your gloves with the cement, you can keep them in the shape you want them to be when they're dry by using bricks, rocks or even votive candle holders and place them under the fingers or wherever you want.  If you just want the fingers to be curved in a  natural position, place them in a plastic bowl.  

Create a 2nd cement hand for a larger two hand planter. To merge your hands together carefully create a cut on your gloves where the two pieces meet. Scoop out a small amount of cement to merge the two pieces together. To create a bowl shape, place a piece of plastic wrap over the exposed cement and place a small bowl over the plastic wrap to create the bowl shape.
Let your cement cure for at least 24 hours. Thicker cement will require more time to dry.  If you live in a very humid area or it has rained recently, it might take longer than 24 hours.
Once your cement has dried carefully remove the rubber gloves. Strategically cut the rubber gloves off. Avoid applying too much pressure to the cement when removing the rubber gloves. If a finger is broken during the removal process, reattach it using E6000 glue.

Use small pliers to help remove the small stubborn left over glove pieces.
Once our hands are completely dry, all you have to do is add potting soil and small succulents.  You can also add pieces of preserved moss to decorate your planter. Water accordingly with a spray bottle.

TIPS

1.  Always wear a dust mask whenever pouring dry concrete or cement.  You cannot avoid the dust that blows up and you most certainly do NOT want to breathe any of it.

2.  When buying your materials for this project, BUY CEMENT - NOT CONCRETE.  Also makes sure it states on the bag that is can be used for casting.  Rapid set cement is what you want to buy.  Below is a picture of the bag.  You can see it states it can be used for casting.

3.  My last tip is to let you know that while this is a really easy project, the most difficult part of it will be getting the cement down into the fingers.  It will take a little patience and a lot of squeezing to get it down there but after the first finger or two, you will get the knack of it and the rest will be quick and easy.

4.  If you want a little color to your project, you can either add cement coloring to the cement when you are mixing it, or wait until the hands have completely cured (dried) and then simply paint them.  I have used left over interior wall paint, spray paint and even fabric paint on concrete planters and have had excellent results with all of the above.

Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Re-growing veggies you buy from the supermarket

Did you know there are several veggies that you can grow from scraps?  Yep.  How much money would you save and how much quicker, tastier and healthier would your dinners be if you could just step outside and pick whatever you needed?  Let's look at a few veggies that you should never have to buy from a store again.

Garlic

You can grow a new bulb of garlic with just one clove. Plant a clove in some potting soil with the roots face down. Now in case you're new to gardening, there is a difference between a garlic bulb and a garlic clove.  I have included a photo below to show you which is which. Keep the pot in direct sunlight and cut the shoots back once they get established. This will help encourage bulb growth. After the bulb has reached maturity, take a clove and repeat the process for more garlic.

Bean Sprouts

You can get a new batch of bean sprouts with as little as a tablespoon of scraps. Soak the leftover sprouts in a jar with a little bit of water. Leave the mixture on the counter overnight and drain in the morning. With the sprouts back in the container, cover with a towel and rinse them the following morning. Repeat the process until the new sprouts reach the right size.

Celery

Celery might be the easiest vegetable to regrow. Simply cut the base of the celery stalk and place in a bowl with warm water. Keep the container in sunlight and you will start to see the stalks thickening and growing from the base. Once this happens, transplant the veggie into soil to finish the growing process.

Avocado

Regrowing this superfood takes just a bowl of water and some toothpicks. Wash the seed thoroughly and suspend it over a bowl of water with some tooth picks inserted into the seed. The water should cover about an inch of the seed. Do not place the bowl in direct sunlight, but keep it somewhere warm. Add water on a daily basis as needed. A stem and roots will begin to appear, but it might take as long as six weeks for this to happen. When the stem gets to six inches in height, cut three inches off. Place the plant in soil once leaves start appearing.

Sweet Potatoes

You need half a sweet potato to regrow a new plant. Suspend the half of the potato with toothpicks over shallow water and wait for roots and sprouts to appear. When the sprouts hit about four inches, break them off and put them in a bowl of water. Once the roots in the new bowl reach an inch, it’s time to transplant to soil.

Potatoes

Like the sweet potato, regular potatoes are a resilient plant that can be regrown with just a few peelings. The trick is to make sure the peelings have eyes and are cut into smaller pieces. Now you might say....what's an eye?....I have included a photo of potatoes with eyes.  Notice the bumps that stick out on the potatoes?  Those are called "eyes".  You may have to do a little searching at the store to get potatoes with eyes these days as a lot of potato producers have them rubbed off before shipping (I don't know why).  They rub off super easily.  Each section should have about two or three eyes. Let the peelings dry overnight and then plant them in soil to a depth of about four inches. In a few weeks, you will begin to see a new potato plant sprouting leaves.  

Lettuce (practically any type) and Cabbage

It's easy to regrow lettuce and cabbage with just a few scraps. Pour a small amount of water in a bowl and place the lettuce scraps inside. Make sure the bowl gets a lot of sunlight and mist the lettuce a few times a week. In three or four days, you will begin to see new roots and leaves growing. At this time, remove the lettuce or cabbage from the bowl and place in soil.


Onions

Onions take a bit of a different approach.  I have included a link to a site that gives very good step by step instructions on how to regrown onions.  Short article with great step by step photo's and great information.  Well worth a read.



http://www.anktangle.com/2011/03/growing-sprouted-onions.html

For other sites that offer even more veggies that you can regrow, try these:

https://www.davidwolfe.com/stop-trashing-your-scraps-16-produce-items-to-re-grow-at-home/

http://freshorganicgardening.com/search/window+sill+onions/

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Air that You Breathe

Renter's have a special problem and that's air quality.  If you are a renter, the chances are great that you aren't the only person who has ever rented that space.  There have been others.  That brings up a multitude of questions.  Did the people before you own dogs or cats?  Just because your landlord doesn't allow pets....doesn't mean there weren't any living there. Also, just because a pet owner swears their pet NEVER has "accidents" in the house....doesn't mean they haven't.   Did the former residents smoke?  Again, just because the landlord says they didn't...it doesn't mean that's true.  Even if they didn't smoke, you can never be certain that their visitors didn't smoke inside the house.

Was the carpeting replaced before you moved in?  If it was, was the subfloor resealed? Was the space painted and if so what kind of paint was used?  Is there a chance that asbestos, lead based paint or oil based products were ever used in your space and that there might be a trace of it still?.  These are a likely possibility if the space you're renting is older.  How is the ventilation in your rented space?  If it's an apartment, the chances are you have fewer windows and the ones you do have are probably smaller and seldom opened.  

Bad air quality can not only cause a plethora of health issues over time, it can greatly aggravate existing health issues like asthma, COPD, allergies, even migraines and sinus infections.

How do you handle poor air quality?  The first thing to do is clean.....everything.  Maybe your landlord had the carpets cleaned before you moved in....maybe not...maybe they just vacuumed.  Best to err on the side of extreme caution and head down to the local hardware store and rent a carpet cleaner.  The thing to know about cleaning your carpets is that the water will soak into your carpet pad to some extent.  If that isn't allowed to thoroughly dry, mold will grow.  Now it's not going to be the horrible black mold that everyone is so afraid of, but it will be mold and any type of mold can cause an unattractive odor.  It can also aggravate your sinuses or asthma so the best thing to do after cleaning your carpets is to put out fans and make sure everything is dry.  

Once that's done, it's time to clean all the other surfaces no matter how clean you think they look.  Even if your landlord hired professionals to come in and clean it top to bottom, you still have to wonder what products they used.  Cleaning products like bleach and/or ammonia are super cleaning products in that they will kill about any germ that they come into contact with.  However, they are also not at all user friendly in that their chemical components can linger for days even weeks after they've been used.  While you're cleaning, don't forget the ceilings.  Remember smoke rises and the ceilings will collect it all.

Once your rental is spotless and you're feeling great about how clean it is, the next step to living a clean life is to get plants that actually purify the air.  Of course, you can buy an air purifier but how pretty is that?  

Plants are cheaper than purifiers, lower maintenance than purifiers, they don't wear out or break down and best of all, they're prettier than purifiers.  Some studies suggest that having plants in your house can actually help lower your blood pressure.

Let's look at some indoor plants that make great purifiers.

English Ivy

These plants are super easy to care for and control.  Because they're an ivy, they will trail. All you have to do is train them to trail where you want, or snip off the growth.  Kinda like giving your plant a haircut.  They don't require a ton of light or a ton of water.

The dense foliage of the Ivy absorbs formaldehyde - a chemical that is extremely common in the making of carpeting.  Formaldehyde is the most prevalent indoor pollution of them all and is present in glues, pressed woods products such as some flooring, kitchen/bathroom cabinets, pressed wood shelving, wall paneling and even some furniture.

Peace Lilly

Some people call this plant the funeral flower.  This is another easy to care for plant that requires little light, little water and little maintenance.  I would recommend whenever you dust your furniture, to dust the leaves of this plant, while you're at it.  A thick layer of dust on any plant will prevent it from breathing and from absorbing pollutants.  I recommend putting a large dollop of olive oil or pure vegetable oil on a clean cloth or paper towel, then using that to clean the leaves of your plant.  It not only gets all the dirt off your plant but give them a shiny appearance.  Warning:  some plants don't like to have their leaves cleaned with oily products so google before you oil a plant if you have any doubts. 

This plant is one of the absolute best plants to have in every room of your house.  This hard worker gets rid of VOC benzene which is a carcinogen found in paints, furniture waxes and polishes.  It also sucks up acetone, which is emitted by electronics, certain cleaners and adhesives.

Lady Palm

The  Lady Palm is a hardy plant that can tolerate semi low light.  It's best to keep this one near a light source.  I have one that I've kept beside a floor lamp in my not at all sunny living room and it does fine.  This plant can get up to 6 feet tall but it is a very slow grower so you have plenty of time to figure out where to put it once it's that tall.

She is not only gracefully built and easy on the eyes, but she actually rids your air of ammonia which is a super villain of the respiratory system and is a major component of certain dyes, textiles and cleaners.

Boston Fern

The Boston Fern is such a beautiful plant.  However, it can be a picky plant and I've never had good luck with them.  I've known others who have tremendous success with them....but not me.  These plants have a need for constant moisture and humidity.

They are actually one of the best air purifiers known.  They remove formaldehyde which is present in glues, pressed woods products such as some flooring, kitchen/bathroom cabinets, pressed wood shelving, wall paneling and even some furniture.  There have been studies that show this plant even removes toxic metals such as mercury and arsenic.

Snake Plant (aka Mother in Law's Tongue)


If you can't keep this plant alive.....you don't need to have plants...at all.  This plant is so easy, it's crazy.  The only plant that is easier to keep alive is a plastic plant.  Once in a while dust the leaves and give it a small drink when the soil is dry.  That's it.

This is maybe the best plant for a small space.  It grows up - not out - and it tolerates low light or bright light.

This easy fella does his work at night.  During the night, he will absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the room.  He's one to have in every room of your house - including the bathroom.  Put more than one in your bedroom for a boost of oxygen while you sleep.

To make him even more invaluable, he also sucks in benzene and formaldehyde. 

Golden Pothos


Every live plant that I've ever received from a florist has this little ivy in it.  It's a medium growing ivy, it tolerates low light or bright light, it can go long periods of time without watering....it just likes to be dusted from time to time.  If you don't know whether it wants a drink, look at the leaves....when it's really thirsty, the leaves curl up and begin to look wilted.  Give it a good drink of water, and they will unfurl and look good as new. Like the English Ivy, you can trim it if it reaches further than you'd like and it's easily trained.

The Pothos suck in formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and Benzene.  Triple threat with this one!  This plant can be found anywhere that live plants are sold and it is the cheapest houseplant around.

Wax Begonia


If you have a sunny location and want some color in your plant choices, this is the one for you.  It has lovely leaves that look as though they've been waxed and the plant comes in a variety of colors.

This beauty cleans benzene and chemicals produced by toluene, a liquid found in some waxes and adhesives.

Red Edges Dracaena 



Beautiful plant that can actually get up to 15 feet tall, loves a sunny location and is compact enough to fit into most sunny corners.  Moderate to bright sunlight.  Requires little water and you will love the red edges on each frond.

This plant will take care of gases released by xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which can be introduced by lacquers, varnishes, and sealers.

Spider Plant


Another easy to care for plant.  You can use it as a hanging plant or in a pot atop a pedestal or table.  It is a prolific reproducer so if you want more of them, it's not necessary to go out and spend money on more plants.  All you have to do is wait until the plant grows "mini" spider plants at the end of it's leaves.  Pick one off and sit it atop some soil, it will root and grow.

This is a another plant that absorbs formaldehyde and benzene.  

Between the cleaning and these plants....you will have a super healthy indoor environment!

As always, enjoy your space!