Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

7 Thanks For Rain

March 13th, 2009 by Amy

We are in the middle of a drought.


And, today it’s raining!


1.  When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin


2.  Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.
Mark Twain


3.  Water is the only drink for a wise man.
Henry David Thoreau


4.  In every glass of water we drink, some of the water has already
passed through fishes, trees, bacteria, worms in the soil, and
many other organisms, including people… 

Living systems cleanse water and make it fit, among other things,

for human consumption.

Elliot A. Norse


5.  You could not step twice into the same rivers;
for other waters are ever flowing on to you.
Heraclitus of Ephesus


6.  The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.
American Indian Saying


7.  Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head

with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
Langston Hughes


7 Products For A Lead-Free Lunch

February 26th, 2009 by Amy

Economical … Ecological … and Lead-Free.


Looks like the new power lunch is the one that comes from home!


The silver lead-free lining?


See how much money you’ll save by packing a lunch.



1.  Fish Food

These lunch bags cost a little more than most, but when you consider how much you’ll use them – oh, maybe a billion times – they are a terrific investment in both function and fun.


2.  Laptop Lunch

A bento-style lunchbox you don’t need a PhD in Engineering to assemble! An array of wonderful, colorful, and thoughtful lead-free lunch gear makes this product more of a lunch system than a simple lunch box. Their website even includes menu ideas!


3.  Lunchbots

I haven’t tried this new product yet, but my first reaction is “Thank You!” Seriously, how many times have I hoped for something like this?  Affordable, durable, and toxin-free … The fact that it’s stylish is gravy!


4.  Magic Box

This sleek, lead-free lunchbox by Aladdin comes complete with its own custom ice pack. Well-designed and well-made, this lunchbox rocks both the cafeteria and the office.



5.  Snack Taxi

A wonderful alternative to plastic sandwich/snack bags, these cute little pouches transport snacks for everyone from toddlers to teenagers … and beyond. Easy to clean, use, and label and unique enough that your goodies shouldn’t get “accidentally” eaten by anyone else. Handmade in Massachusetts by a small company with a big heart.  


6.  Stackable Stainless Steel

In a word … Brilliant! Wondering about those little containers in the picture? Those are for sauces! Again … Brilliant! Lightweight and lead-free, this amazing product is from To-Go Ware, an innovative company in India that puts its money where its mouth is. Read all about their story here.


7.  Zippy Zoo

Though my 5 year old son reported that he was told his Lefty Munchler was too “pre-school,” his quirky 9 year old sister happily brings her Benny Munchler to school everyday. The ingenious design unzips flat, making for much easier cleaning. Though priced practically the same as the ubiquitous lunchboxes at the Big Stores, this one is lead-free, with whimsy to spare.

7 Ways To Restyle An Old T-Shirt

February 6th, 2009 by Amy

I’m starting to look at all the random under-used T-shirts in my drawers as free fabric. Wonder what I could make?



I love this bikini idea. It’s inexpensive, functional, and adorable. That said, I have absolutely no plans to make or wear it and am in awe of those who might! This cute video will walk you through the steps.



Well, you can’t actually make a book, but this book will give you plenty of ideas of what to make. Poking around in a bookstore the other day, Generation T caught my eye. Well, what really caught my eye was the sassy red halter and that was enough to make me take it off the shelf and start drooling. The Pied Piper of T-Shirt crafts, Megan Nicolay will have you cutting, shredding, ripping, and restyling your T-Shirts with utter abandon. She used to hold “Tee Parties” in her Brooklyn apartment so that folks gather and repurpose their Ts together. Brilliant. Her new book – with tons of new ideas – will be out in the Spring of 2009; pre-order here.


Somehow in my Internet wanderings, I ended up on a website of a Swedish design group. Fuldesign provides “design for everyone who is not perfect and does not fit into the artificial total make-over world.” Of course, I felt right at home. Check out their handy How To: Make a Monster out of a TShirt … The results are imperfection anyone could love.



A mom over at whipped up a pair of adorable play pants … in less than an hour! Right in the middle of a busy afternoon, this mom whittled a castaway adult T into toddler wear. She sounds like a pro. These super simple shorts from a different blog are a variation on the theme and just as cute!



Do what they did years ago with rags … crochet a rug! Wonderfully colorful and amazingly durable, these rugs are a great way to recycle. If you get started now you can give them away as gifts next holiday season!


Tote Bag

Check out this video for instructions on how to give your neglected T new life as a busy tote bag. 



While most folks don’t make their own undies these days, I found a brave blogger who boldly crafts new skivvies out of old Ts. Again, I am in awe.

Love the idea, but not that crafty? The sewers at will make ‘em for ya.



The folks at promise to show you how to make a vest. A little leery? They also promise that it ”doesn’t suck.” Check it out!

7 Tips For Dealing With Paper Clutter

February 4th, 2009 by Amy

It feels like every horizontal surface in my house is covered with a thick layer of paper. Part of me likes the “lining the nest” aspect of knowing that all the paper that’s come into my house is still in here somewhere. But, another, larger part of me is getting tired of struggling constantly to cope with the mess.


Truth be told, I have no tips for dealing with paper clutter. But, I’ve been trolling the Internet looks for answers and am happy to share seven that seem promising.


1.  Bind It

Create binders for different topics. Three-hole punch recipes, warranties, bills, school notices or anything that would benefit from being together and put it all in a 3 ring binder. Easy to add and subtract paperwork and much more useful than having everything shoved in an overflowing file. I’m counting on this tip to change my life. 


2.  Contain It

Searching for tips, it’s easy to think that the solution lies in one massive trip to IKEA or The Container Store. Since I just want tips, not stuff, I’ve had to limit myself, but I just couldn’t resist the appeal of this clever solution on


Brilliantly repurposed magnetic containers allow you to contain the little things help in the fight against paper clutter. Use these in the home office or transfer them to the fridge, either way they let you transport the little things you need to deal with paper – the clips, stamps, and seals – to wherever the piles are most critical. They work vertically, horizontally, and when they inevitable slide off the mountain of paperwork, there won’t be any spills. Photo credit: Katy Maslow




3.  Display It

They say a cork board is the answer and I’m desperate enough to give it a try. Instead of using it for calendars and To Do lists, I think I’m going to use it for inspiration. (Geninne posted a lovely and inspiring example on her blog.) My plan is to take all the postcards, paint swatches, photographs, and fortune cookie fortunes off the floor and put them on the wall. Yeah, that should help! Photo credit: Geninne



4.  Divide It

Separate the personal from the professional. Sounds obvious, but it felt revelatory. My desk is laden with alternating layers of household bills and professional paperwork, meaning that I am forever distracting myself by mixing the business with … well, other business. Today I’m going to dig out two old shoe boxes, mark one “Home” and the other “Work” and see if I can’t delineate a boundary between the two.


5.  Note It

I make lots and lots of notes on lots and lots of tiny scraps of paper which are then promptly lost in the shuffle. Yet another great example of how my attempt to get organized ends in more disorganization. One shockingly simple solution: write it all in a notebook. Not only is everything in one place, but the paper trail of phone numbers, names, and dates is there when you need it. Using the Napkin Notebook has a way of making even minutia feel Very Important.  


6.  Recycle It

So much of what comes in to my house can just turn around and go right back out. Putting a recycling bin by the front door has helped me separate the wheat from the chaff.


7.  Store It Online if a nifty site with downloadable templates for lists. What is most appealing is that all the bits of information floating around my house are consolidated into an format that can be easily manipulated and printed.

7 Uses for Baking Soda

January 23rd, 2009 by Amy

I’ve recently joined Costco and one of my first purchases was a 12 lb bag of baking soda! Here are some of its many inexpensive, easy, and environmentally-friendly uses:

1.  Baking Powder
Constantly confusing the two? Since they co-exist side-by-side in most pantries, we often have to read the labels twice to be sure to get it right. While you can not substitute one for the other, you can sift together 2 parts of Cream of Tartar to 1 part baking soda and 1 part cornstarch to make your own baking powder in a pinch.


2.  Cleaning

Greasy pans covered with burned on gunk are a lot easier to clean once they’ve had a soak in a baking soda and water bath. Scrub out thermoses, coolers, and food and drink containers with baking soda to banish stale smells and funky fumes. Works wonders on stains in coffee pots. You can even mix a tablespoon into 8 cups of water and run it through the coffee maker to scour out the insides. Use baking soda to buff tile, countertops, and sink hardware. Throw a cup in the laundry. This list is endless.


3.  Dental Care

Why use harsh and expensive whiteners when you can just dip your brush in a bit of baking soda? Gentle – though admittedly a little salty – baking soda does a great job for less than a penny a brush. Gargle a baking soda and water slurry for cold sore relief or swallow it to subdue a sour stomach.


4.  Deodorizer

From litter boxes and refrigerators to underarms and smelly sneakers, baking soda powers out odors. Put an open box in the ‘fridge, use a powder puff to dust your underarms, or cover the bottom of the litter box with a layer of baking powder before adding litter. Take an old sock, fill with 1 cup of the white stuff, tie, and jam into offending footwear to neutralize stinky sneakers. Throw handfuls on your carpet and couch. Wait 30 minutes and vacuum.


5.  Firefighting

Isn’t it comforting to know that baking soda can put out fires on clothing, wood, upholstery, and rugs? It’s particularly handy for fighting grease and electrical fires. Peace of mind in a powder!


6.  Fruits And Vegetables

To get dirt and insecticides off you fresh fruits and vegetables, wash the produce in a full sink of water with a quarter cup of baking soda and rinse before using.


7.  Wounds

Make a paste of baking soda and just enough water to thicken, smear on a bee sting or bug bite and let dry. For sunburns, chicken pox, and poison ivy or sumac, climb in a warm bath doctored with a half a cup of baking soda. Cooling, soothing, and softening.




What do you use it for?

7 Reasons I Cannot give up Our TV Set(s)

January 6th, 2009 by Jane

Did you know that the average American household has 2.24 television sets? Or that 66 percent of homes have 3 or more? Well, I am not necessarily proud to admit that my household is one of the 66 percent. I have fantasies about getting rid of all of our TV sets and pursuing high-minded thoughts and activities all day long. But here are seven reasons that fantasy is unrealistic for me:

1. Fluff and Fold
I am incapable of folding laundry without having something entertaining to watch to go along with the mind-numbing chore. I know, I should try to make it a meditative activity, but I guess I am just not that evolved. I tell myself that the Dalai Lama probably doesn’t fold his own laundry and then I feel better.

2. Public Television
Television for the people-you know you love it.

3. Creative Pairings
Iconoclasts is one of the best shows on television, in my humble opinion. The producers of this Sundance Channel show pair creative thinkers in the arts, sports and business then let them have a conversation. And the viewer gets to eavesdrop! Most of the people have been friends for years and are leaders in their fields. Who knew Mike Meyers and Deepak Chopra have been friends for almost ten years! Or that R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe and chef Mario Batali have been sharing meals together all over the world. Take a look, you won’t be sorry!

4. Bravo, Bravo!
In the same vain, Inside the Actor’s Studio on the Bravo channel let’s you peek into the creative process of some of our greatest actors.

5. Sweater Love
I get to share the timeless humor of The Cosby Show with my kids. Really, it is still funny twenty-plus years later.

6. In The Pink
Sometimes I just need to cook dinner without help from the three short people that live with me. I love Pinky Dinky Doo on Noggin and so do my children. I have a lot of recipes I can prepar
e in the 22 minutes they are watching this adorable show!

7. Mad for Madmen
And finally: Don Draper, Don Draper, Don Draper on AMC. Folding laundry will fly by. I promise.

7 Alternative New Year’s Eve Celebrations

December 31st, 2008 by Jane

Don’t feel like going to that big New Year’s Eve party this year? Here are some fun and festive ways to ring in 2009 whether you are alone or with your family.

1. Fun for the Family
Those creative people over at Family Fun have some great ideas for you and your kids to do tonight. Crafts, games and fun ways to count down to midnight are included! I love the one about setting LOTS of alarm clocks to go off at twelve.

2. Dance the Night Away
Set up your computer or your iPod with your favorite songs, push back your furniture and have your own ball. This is one you can do with your special someone or the whole family. Make sure to put in some kid-friendly songs that they love. Grandparents visiting? Download some Sinatra or Benny Goodman and watch them show you how it is done. 

3. World Traveler
Choose several New Year’s Eve traditions from other countries and try them out for yourself.  If you are having a few guests, set up tables or stations for each country.  I love the Spanish tradition of eating 12 frozen grapes, one at each chime of the clock at midnight.

4. Cocktails
Invite a few friends over early in the evening to try out some unusual mixed drinks. Shake up some mocktails for the designated drivers. Make sure you provide snacks so that people don’t get tipsy. When they leave to go to their next party, you can get in your pj’s and watch the ball drop!

5. Starters
New Year’s Eve is the perfect excuse to make dips and appetizers a meal! Make it a contest with your guests and have them vote on their favorite. You can make categories such as: crowd pleaser, most unusual ingredient, best use of sour cream, and most elegant presentation!  Winners can take home a bottle of wine or a small trinket.

6. Wrap-Up
Use the evening to wrap-up up a project that you’ve been meaning to finish.  Closet shelves disorganized?  Put on some of your favorite music and tidy it up. You will feel great about how you rang in the year every time you reach for a sweater! Have some photos to go through or craft projects left undone?  Invite a friend to bring over her unfinished project/object and have a great time catching up while you, um, catch up.

7. Exfoliate!
If none of these ideas sound appealing and you are just ready for 2008 to be over, then give yourself a mini-spa while you listen to music or watch an old movie. Start 2009 with a clean slate and smooth skin!  

7 Sweet Things To Do For Someone Who Is Homebound

December 16th, 2008 by Amy

Where I live, whenever someone becomes homebound, phone calls are made, ovens are set to 350F, and the casserole assembly begins.

We are never quite sure if folks just recover naturally or if the endless stream of soups and frozen entrees sort of picks them up and sets them back on track to health, but the outpouring of generosity seems to lift everyone’s spirits.

Whether old age, a new baby, a broken leg, surgery, or illness has someone you know holed up at home, here are seven super sweet things you can do to show them you care.  

1.  Gift a Gift Certificate

When my son was a newborn he was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. A dear friend of mine who lived out of town sent me a gift certificate to the supermarket near my house. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness, but what she never knew was that the financial stress brought on by that medical emergency was so great that her generous gift certificate literally sustained our family for two weeks as we struggled to right the little rowboat of our life. While we all get and give gift certificates for birthdays and holidays, in times of true crises they can be lifesavers.


2.  Got Gas?

Ask for the keys, drive your loved one’s car straight to the nearest gas station, and fill ‘er up. If you’re feeling energetic, consider checking the air in the tires and taking it for a spin through the car wash.


3.  Movie Night

Bring a lighthearted classic and treats and keep your loved one company. A friend of mine recently had surgery and another friend and I went to her house with the intention of seeing a movie, but some distractingly delicious lemon cupcakes with chocolate frosting and thrill of just catching up on all the details kept us from watching one. We ended up leaving a stack of DVDs for her to enjoy at her own pace, which hopefully means one less trip to Blockbuster for her husband.


4.  Offer To Do Household Chores

Make yourself the designated Trash-Taker-Outer. Mow the lawn. Sweep the porch. Water the plants. Clean out the litter box. Throw in a load of laundry. Change the sheets. These sorts of things tend to go completely untended, making them great tasks for you to step in and tackle.


5.  Pick Up The Tab For Take Out

Call in the order to your loved one’s favorite restaurant, pay for it yourself, and have it delivered directly to their house. Many restaurants offer online ordering, so be sure to check. What is great about this option is that it is something you can do from anywhere. Live in Miami, but have a new baby grandchild in New York? No problem, just call the parents’ favorite Indian restaurant and arrange for samosas to show up piping hot at their door at 6pm. So simple and so very much appreciated.


6.  Take the Kids

To a movie, for a treat, to the park, or just out. Even if you only go as far as the back yard or the neighborhood playground, you are out of the house which is the most important thing. Same goes for the dog!


7.  Toilet Paper

Sure, the casseroles are essential, but when the freezer is full, turn your attention to other basics. Hand soap, shampoo, toilet paper, Kleenex, and paper towels are all necessary items, especially when you are feeling under the weather or have a newborn in the house.

7 Easy Holiday Centerpieces

December 5th, 2008 by Jane

Tired the same old vase and ubiquitous holiday bouquet from the grocery store? Use these simple ideas to give your dinner table a refreshing makeover.


1.  Look up! 

No, really. Search for lovely papers in ice blues, grays, winter whites, and silvers. (You can even glue two different sheets of paper together and make “reversible” snowflakes.) Cut out, attach monofilament (or dental floss: minty!) and pin or tape to the ceiling. Be sure to choose an appropriate height so that your guests will be enchanted rather than distracted. (Note: To prevent a fire hazard, skip the candles on the table!)


2.  Mirror Image

Do you have a small or medium-sized mirror hanging on your wall? Take it down, lay it on the table, and arrange several pillar candles on it for instant mood lighting.  Experiment with one color for the candles or several seasonal colors.


3.  Outside Inside

Find a nicely formed branch from your yard and spray paint with silver or glitter paint.  Place in a large vase, anchor with glass floral marbles, and trim with small ornaments, tinsel, handmade snowflakes, or beads.


4.  Punctuate

Simple and elegant!  Line your table with LOTS of small white vases and fill each with small red roses for brilliant contrast. Here are some beautiful and inexpensive vases.


5.  Recycle

Dig through your recycling bin and pick out glass jars in various shapes and sizes. Place a small votive in each and perhaps a ribbon around the top. Elevate the entire idea by arranging the jars on a cake stand. A few shakes of glitter and – poof – your “trash” has become “treasure.”


6.  Toys

For fun and nostalgia, arrange vintage action figures along a brightly-colored table runner. Check online for the Rankin and Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from your childhood and other ideas. The list of variations on this theme is endless. Dozens of dreidels? A parade of old-school metal Tonka trucks laden with gifts?


7.  Wrap It

Wrap boxes of various sizes in glossy paper and bright ribbons and arrange amid lit pillar candles. Sprinkle with Hershey’s kisses or gelt for edible shininess.

7 Uses For One Sock

December 3rd, 2008 by Amy

Two go in – washer, dryer, hamper, drawer – and only one comes out. It’s an age-old problem and we’ve got a few solutions.


1. Eye pillow

Fill with rice, sew or knot the end, and microwave for an at-home spa treatment that puts a stray sock back to work earning its keep.


2. Toy

Fill one stray sock with a couple more and knot the end. Pets and kids love them so much you can even give them as gifts.


3. Protection

A stray sock makes a great prophylactic for fragile items that spend much of their time in storage. Slip over ornaments, cutlery, and wine glasses for safety, containment, and protection.


4. Ice pack

Next time you’re injured, leave that frozen chunk of blue plastic in the freezer and reach for a clean stray stock and a handful of ice cubes instead. On a more dramatic note, a stray sock can be a real lifesaver when you need a tourniquet to stop excessive bleeding.


5. Wash mitt

Why pay money for a fancy wash mitt when you can simply bring a stray sock into the tub next time you bathe? Turn a tube sock inside out for more exfoliating power.


6. Make Animals and Dolls

A classic creative idea epitomized by the iconic Sock Monkey (a pattern which actually requires two socks.). Those looking for wacky and whimsical updated patterns will love John Murphy’s book Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks.


7. Buddy up

While the above are all remedies for a lone sock, an actual solution to the problem might just lie in keeping your socks from becoming strays in the first place. The Sock Cop is a small clip that secures socks to one another, keeping them paired from your feet, through the laundry, and back without becoming separated.

© 2008 7of