Adapting drawers for herb and spice jars

The three drawers in the island will eventually be replaced when we build a new island. For now though, I needed a way to keep my herb and spice jars easily sorted.

These French Quarter bottles (Target’s Archer Farms spices) were too big to fit into the drawer with the old organizer, so we came up with this easy and quick solution: a piece of scrap quarter round, trimmed to size, and glued into place. One drawer was warped so a few tacked in finishing nails kept it in place.

This works with any bottles that have a neck as it is the neck that rests on the wooden bar. It angles the jar so it is easier to grab and it keeps them from sliding around in the drawer.

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Transfering your Book Collection to Digital

bookmoundsReading is one of my biggest hobbies and we have a collection of over 1,000 books! After lugging book boxes from Oklahoma to Missouri and Missouri to Oklahoma, I knew we needed to rethink this before the Big Move.

In about 3-4 years, the plan is to sell our current house of about 2700 sq. foot home (4 bed, 2.5 bath) to a much smaller home of less then 800 sq. ft. I will not have room for rows and rows of bookshelves (which we own 8 now) in the new house. And if we decide to travel, the collection can come with us anywhere.

If you are big reader, you owe it to yourself to start doing this too – it’s far too expensive to move over a physical collection into digital in one swoop. If you take your time, you can use sales, gift cards, and discounts to help you build back your collection.

Yes, it is irritating that you are buying full price for a book you already own. Yes, it is irritating that you have to re-invest this money. However, the reality is that as Egon said in Ghostbusters, “Print is dead.” Technology is moving forward to digital formats.

FIRST STEP: The first thing to do is assess your collections – books fall into some general groupings:

  • books I am reading now – they are in a hold area;
  • books I love and often re-read – I will keep these until they are replaced;
  • books I love/like that I re-read but not as often – depending on how often, I may just mark them on my list and go ahead and donate them away;
  • books that I read once and won’t read again – immediate donation pile;
  • books that are damaged or need to be replaced anyway – trash after putting them on my list;
  • books that are not available as an e-book – depending on how “favorite” they are I keep or donate;
  • and reference/coffee books that I will be keeping in hardback form as they serve their purpose best in that format

Go through your collection and determine what to keep and what to toss/sell/donate. I donated my books to the public library which is a tax break you can use during taxtime. Another option would be to turn them into a paperback trader but what are you going to do with all that credit? Buy more paperbacks? That is not moving to digital 🙂

Another option is to sell on Craigslist, at a Garage Sale, or if the books are valuable due to age or a niche market, on ebay. It just depends on how valuable your collection is and how much trouble you want to put into recouping some of your investment.

SECOND STEP: Hence at this stage, the best thing you can do is go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and start a wish list. My Wish List was titled “Old Fiction” which was to group it separate from New Fiction I was interested in buying but hadn’t read. Whatever you name your list know that it as your “replacement” list.

Not all books are available in a digital format. I have many that were published over 10 years ago that no one (publisher or author) has transferred to a digital format. With these books you will have to decide if you will keep and treasure or release.

THIRD STEP: We own a lot of books, and when we moved back to Oklahoma from Missouri, we started to transfer all the Agatha Christie mysteries onto an e-reader. You would think that these books wouldn’t cost much – after all Christie has been dead for decades – but they still sell for about $7+ on Kindle!

However, if you pay attention they often go on sale, so using my wish list of books to move onto Kindle – upon each paycheck, I allotted $20-$50 to buy whatever is on sale that is on the list. It took me about five months but at this time all the Agatha Christie mysteries that we once had in paperback (we had more than we decided to buy – sticking to our favorites) were bought on sales.

Amazon Prime members sometimes get special discounts or free books. In my experience, these are usually new authors, not older books.

Also, Amazon finally has put together an option to share accounts so if you are a couple, you can both (legally and easily) have access to each others books.

All you have to do is try out a tablet or e-reader to get hooked on the convenience of being able to read anything, at any time, with a built in light system for those late, under the cover, readings! They are awesome for those who travel or have to wait a lot (in doctor offices, appointments, bank etc…). Husband was devout he would not get rid of physical books… that was before I bought him a tablet. Now that he has seen the convenience for himself, he is gung ho on moving over to digital.

So it’s time to say goodbye to space wasters and hello, convenience! The amount of space saved and the convenience will be massive! I think once you buy into digital you won’t look back.

PIN: Dealing with tarnished silver

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This cleaning solution is to de-tarnish silver: line your sink with aluminum foil, add 1/2 c table salt, 1/2 c. baking soda, fill with hot water, then dump in all the silver. Let sit for about 30 min.

I put in some silverware that I found at a junk/antique and it did a nice job of removing a good layer of the tarnish. For a truly nice shine, I did need to finish off with some silver polish. Overall, though I was pretty impressed by how much tarnish it really took off. The biggest tip is to be sure to let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

PIN: a few not-so-great or failed cleaning Pinterests

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Homemade Goo Gone used Baking Soda and Cooking Oil. Didn’t work. It’s just a scrubbing paste like anything would be when you combine Baking Soda.

Removing Bottle Labels with Baking Soda, Vinegar and dish soap. This did an “okay” job but is no “magic” method by any means. I used it on glass jars that held Spaghetti sauce, honey, salsa etc… While it did help to remove the jars, especially if you soak them. However, I still had to use commercial Goo Gone to remove all the stickers and glue.

Cleaning stinky towels with vinegar must be the most overrated Pin on Pinterest. After trying this on regular dirty towels, to mild smell to one really horrible towel, I ended up with towels that STILL didn’t smell clean AND had a strange feel to them. That strange feel to the towels is due to the Vinegar (everyone crows about as the ultimate cleaner) and 30 washes later these towels still have a rough, stiff feel to them due to this one method. YUCK!

PIN: Cleaning Stove Top Burners and Pans

Of all the Pinterest cleaning ideas I’ve tried, this was the only one which really worked just like I read AND was super easy. It’s how to clean your stove top burners and the pans. If there is one pin to try, it is this one!

As always, follow the full link to get the info but in brief, you use gallon sized, plastic baggies, and put one burner or pan inside per bag, with about 1/4 or less of full strength Ammonia. Seal bag, let sit overnight, and in the morning the baked on grunge slides off with a light scrub or even rinse.

Lessons Learned: The only issues I would strongly caution you about is 1.) Ammonia is dangerous so have eye protection on or be very, very careful. You don’t want any of this to splash into your eyes, mouth or nose. 2.) Ammonia SMELLS! You might want to do this in the garage or on the back porch.

Future Use: Wow! Definitely this will be done any time I have horrible looking burners or pans. It will be on my regular cleaning schedule and would be great cleanup for after the holidays when we do lots of cooking and baking.

PIN: Homemade Flea Shampoo for Pets

I’ve known that animal rescue groups recommended Dawn liquid soap to wash kittens too young for flea treatments but I saw this on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a try. It combines equal parts of Dawn liquid dish detergent with vinegar. I mixed it into a squirt bottle and both dogs got a bath.

Lessons Learned: Reported success with dogs, only one of the two had a live flea during brushout. On the barn kitty, it reduced the fleas but still a lot there. Barn kitty was the worst infected and lives outdoors so while better then nothing, I think for outdoor pets, other chemicals may be needed.

Not quite sure that this removed any more fleas than just a bath would have… but it was cheap to put together and probably did exterminate a few more than just simple, non flea, shampoo. It might be more effective if you leave the soap on for a full 3-5 minutes like flea and tick shampoo has in the instructions.

Future Use: Liked it for the dogs but I think I’ll follow up with an aloe vera conditioner as they had rough skin due to the flea issue.

Note! This won’t cure your flea problem because they are in the house, the bedding etc… so the house needs to be treated. Fleas also have a life cycle so while you killed the adults, you still have eggs that will hatch and give you more fleas! Although, if you don’t have a bad issue with fleas you can just keep bathing the animals, using a flea comb to remove active fleas and you can destroy the flea population that way. It just takes a lot longer and patience.

Edited to Add: after doing this once more, and seeing what happened, I can tell you pretty conclusively that this recipe kills no more fleas then a regular bath would (we did one dog with regular shampoo and another with the Dawn concoction). It also dries out the dogs’ skin something terrible!

PIN: Freshening your Mattress using Baking Soda

A personal goal is to try a deep cleaning method or organization chore as shown on Pinterest. This pin uses baking soda scented with essential oil to clean your mattress. You sprinkle over the mattress and then vacuum off. Travel the pin for complete instructions as I’m just reporting my experiences here with the method.

I decided to go with an eucalyptus scented baking soda – about 10 drops per 2 cups and stored overnight in a glass jar and occasionally shaken, not stirred haha. If you want a strong Vick’s Vapor Rub smell, eucalyptus is your essential oil. If you need your sinuses cleared out, feel congested or flu-like, this would be a very good choice.

One reason I went with eucalyptus is that it’s known for antiseptic and pest repellant properties. I figured it would be great for telling any bugs to get out! Tea Tree Oil would be another good one with the same aspects. Cleaning house with these smells after everyone has been ill in the house can make the house feel clean, emotionally and physically. Next time, I’ll try lavender as husband likes that scent better and it aids sleep. Or you might favor lemon or orange essential oils. I think wintergreen or pine would be great to try at Christmas!

However, like all essential oils you need to be careful of reaction so please test before you go gungho. I would NOT RECOMMEND this at all for babies, young children or anyone with allergic reactions or with upper respiratory issues.

The Baking Soda sits for an hour on the mattress and afterwards is slowly vacuumed off with your hand attachment. This is also a good time to flip and rotate the mattress, doing both sides with the concoction. I also washed the sheets and cover with a hot cycle using my typical detergent.

Lesson Learned: First, to get really good coverage on ONE side of a King sized mattress took 4 cups of Baking Soda, not 1 or 2. Maybe I just was overly generous…?

It did seem that the mattress looked a little brighter on the surface so I do think the Baking Soda will take off surface grime or body oils from the mattress. However, if your mattress is heavily soiled or stained no amount of Baking Soda is going to bring it back.

After I vacuumed I rolled around on the bed and sniffed the mattress. The eucalyptus smell was still there but not overwhelming at all which surprised me.

Overnight the bed smelled very fresh but that could have just been from cleaned bed linens – when I flipped my pillow over (which I do through the night) the side that had been against the mattress did have an eucalyptus smell that was pleasant and not overwhelming.

If you want to double your smell intensity you could use a scented vinegar as a rinse for your sheets and pillowcases.

ETA: the smell only last about two days before it faded away.

Future Application: I think I’ll scent up a jar for each bed and store it in the room. Plan on doing this once a month, one bed a week.

PIN: Making your own Air Freshener with Baking Soda

This was a simple DIY Air Freshener pin so I figured it would work. You use a 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda and put in some essential oils. Place in a glass container and put in room.

Haha! I goofed it up! I got a little too creative genius and tried to do a combination of scents. Two turned out okay and a third was horrid! Well it was only baking soda so no harm, but to my nose, was done.

Personal recommendations –

Don’t combine essential oils. One scent works best.

Works best in a small room like a bathroom or close to something you want to deodorize like the kitchen sink or stove.

Keep one for congestion and allergies close to the bed to sniff deeply before going to sleep if you want to clear out your nose.

Smells are also linked to memories. You may have specific smells you have traditionally found pleasant. For example, my favorites are Peppermint, Wintergreen, Pine, and the citrus family.

I’d try 5 drops, seal the jar, shake and let sit overnight to let it set up. Open and if it is not as intense as you like, add 5 more. More then 10 drops is pretty eye watering.

Essential oils should be stored in a dark bottle in a cool place. If using an eyedropper to transfer your oil to the baking soda don’t mix eyedroppers between scents. Keep one eyedropper per essential oil. Mixing will contaminate your original essential oil bottle.

Plan on changing out weekly as baking soda absorbs and has a limited life span once opened. In the trial they 3-4 days before losing power. If it doesn’t give off the smell or has a flat smell, don’t replenish it with more Essential Oil, dump it, and put in fresh baking soda and re-scent.

Some ONE scent per jar, Essential Oils to try:

Eucalyptus – clears nasal passages, for colds, cleansing, purifying and invigorating.

Lavender – stress, relaxation, allergies, menstrual cramps, balancing, soothing, and healing.

Lemon – works against depression, uplifting and cheerful.

Peppermint – clears breathing, for colds, headache, nausea, menstrual cramps, vitalizing, refreshing, and cooling.

Pine – often used in household deodorizers, refreshing. Also a seasonal smell for winter holidays.

Wintergreen – allergies, breathing. headache, refreshing and bracing.

Choose a smell that fits the room. For nighttime relaxation you might want to try Lavender over Peppermint. For the bathroom you might want to try Peppermint or Lemon. And when you are feeling congested, check out Wintergreen or Eucalyptus.

Want to explore more? Check out this list of Essential Oils for a comprehensive list.

Future Application: While it was cheap to make, the scent really didn’t last very long. I think the benefits would be the cost being low, customizing with your own jar, and being able to custom scent. However, I do think a commercial room freshener product lasts longer and has more power.

PIN: Dealing with Stuffy Smelly Towels

I’ve got different sets of towels for different bathrooms. The sherbert colored towels were used by the kids and unfortunately, they sometimes got wet with swimming or used as clean up and not dried or cleaned properly. No matter how many times I’ve tried washing them, there is still a slight undercurrent smell to the towel that is unpleasant.

Note! Before proceeding make sure you have a clean washing machine!

The first method I used to remove the towel mildew smell required that I run the towels through the washer twice. The first time with Vinegar. The second time with Baking Soda. No detergent. With the hottest water.

DO NOT MIX THE BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR IN THE SAME LOAD!!! They will react and you will have a foaming mess on your hands.

After they went through a normal dry cycle set at the highest heat (see below), the towels had a neutral smell and the texture of the cloth was rather rough, not soft like you get when you use a softener in your washer. The hard case, a washcloth, still had the smell.

Lessons Learned: Running double loads is going to take time out of your day so be prepared. With two loads of wash for the same towels and a drying cycle this took me 3 hours. The first method might work for towels with a slight smell but will be ineffective against anything with a real, deep in the fibers, stench. This method IMO is over-rated hype as I didn’t find the towels fluffy, smelling good, or feeling soft.

Another method I had pinned has several options –using Vinegar (like I did above) OR Ammonia. It too uses the hottest water setting. It also recommends you set the dryer on the hottest setting (which I did for the above method). I’ll use that method this week and report back on this post as to the results.

BTW Ammonia is STRONG SMELLING and if it splashes into your eyes very dangerous. Be careful when using.

Future Application: I’ll try the Ammonia method but overall I found this method took too much time and really didn’t clear out the deep smell in the towels. I think these towels will just be moved to the garage for cleanups and than trashed.

PIN: Cleaning the Front Loading Washing Machine

What I decided last week is that I will pick something off my Pinterest Cleaning and Organization board to try every week. Most of them will be deep-clean projects or trying a method completely new to me. This is supposed to get me organized and excited about getting the house cleaner (hmmmmmm).

I’ve learned that some of the Pins on Pinterest are highly overrated. Some didn’t work for me, or worked only okay (with a better method available), or just didn’t melt my butter. I’ll report here on the blog (as I’m between DIY projects) and on my board what my experiences were.

GE front loading washer and dryer

The How to Clean your Front Loading Washer Machine Pin showed how to clean the gasket and the detergent tray. Cleaning the detergent tray made me feel good as it was pretty goopy. My teen kids now do their own laundry so they goop a bit pouring the detergent in. The gasket wasn’t that dirty because we installed a brand new one when we bought the machines off Craigslist, however, leaving the door open overnight (beware if you have small kids or pets!!) REALLY made a difference in the smell inside.

Be aware that cleaning your machine like this – running empty loads etc.. will take an hour along with the cleaning time. If you do the double, empty machine, load method that will take half a day. The first empty load is vinegar and the second empty load is with bleach; both loads are the hottest water you can use on your machines’ setting. Next time I clean the machine I’ll try this method and see if I see any difference.

Before doing either method read the manual for your washing machine!

Lessons’ Learned: After doing all the loads for the day, do a quick wipe to take out the moisture in the gasket seal and leave the door open to dry overnight. Really cuts down on the humidity smell inside the drum. Cleaning the detergent tray did make a huge visual difference.

Overall, after doing a couple of loads of laundry the next day I couldn’t really tell a difference in how the clothes smelled or felt. This may have been due to the fact my machine wasn’t all that dirty to begin with. If you have kids in sports, you may see a more dramatic difference.

Future Application: After a full day of laundry, I leave the door open to the washer and let it dry out overnight. I no longer have toddlers in the house and the pets are at the second house. It makes a huge difference in the humidity smell in the laundry room.

Definitely, a useful, routine maintenance to clean your machine but for my machine use, a once a month clean would be enough (consider more if you have a household into sports, construction, etc..).