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New Uses For Common Things

February 3, 2010

Below I’d like to share some great ideas I found in a magazine – but first I’d like to add one of my own.  As always with me, just telling you straight out takes away the fun of expounding… so expound I must: 

As you may or may not know, we have just a couple of cats.  They are mostly enormous cats too, Maine Coons.  The problem with cats is to me two-fold, first they shed (no solution to that one yet…) and second, litter.  Blech.  It is just disgusting, right?  Imagine what 4 big domesticated cats can produce, and multiply it.  It is more and worse than what you think. 

Toilet Training

I have a distinct dislike for stinky smells and the one that really got me was that of our garbage can, the big one kept outside in our garage (SW Florida gets and stays hot and humid – once again I ask you to imagine, this time think of the inside of a garage under those conditions; 140, 150 degrees?). 

When you pried opened the snap-on lid of that refuse receptacle to throw away your Hefty bags of household trash, it was like a Tsunami wave of horrible cat urine hit you in the face and then lingered.  Gaggingly GROSS.  By garbage day, our cats had produced 7 days worth of little stink-bomb bags and they all lay fermenting in there.  To compound this, our big garbage can had that smell permanently infused into it, you couldn’t effectively use Lysol spray, baking soda, oxy-clean products, nor bleach it to get that stink out.  Even empty, it reeked.

I was so ashamed to have those garbage guys pick up our can and dump it into the gaping jaws of the truck.

So here’s what I did when we moved to a new place and got a new can.  I went and bought a Diaper Genie Elite!  Brilliant, eh?  It is, it is, and well worth the cost!  This way, those smaller bags are collected and housed in the anti-stink contraption.  It’s made for holding disgusting baby diapers so I thought “it must be good at keeping the odors trapped”, and it is.  When you go to empty your collection, it is now double-bagged.  You can toss it the big can on garbage day and it doesn’t smell.  I swear it works! 

Control Litter Odors

Now On To The Ideas:

  • Use a Diaper Genie Elite to hold cat litter sink-bombs (it would work with doggy-do too) between garbage days.
  • Repurpose an old frame for a vanity tray that’s pretty as a picture. Place a photograph, piece of colored paper or fabric inside as a finishing touch.
  • A Twister game mat makes a spot-on tablecloth for a child’s birthday party: Sticky spills and icing wash right off.
  • A toothbrush’s bristles lift away stray threads of silk from fresh ears of corn quickly and efficiently.
  • At a party, stash ice in a colander set on top of a bucket or a bowl. Water will drain out, and guests will get only the solid stuff.
  • Stop searching high and low for hair clips and elastics: Store them tidily on an empty TP tube.
  • Pick up interesting cardboard coasters at restaurants and bars you visit along your travels. Punch a hole near the edge, thread some ribbon through, and voilà: homemade gift tag.
  • Chalk is a moisture absorber: Tie up a few pieces in cheesecloth and store them with your good silver to slow any tarnishing.
  • Vegetable oil will put a shine on leather shoes. Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt, then run a soft cloth with a drop of oil over the surface to (literally) add polish.
  • Tuck a few needles, pins, and thread into a matchbox for an instant sewing kit.
  • Transform a six-pack holder into a condiment tote that’s ideal for summer picnics.
  • Have an old cassette case hanging around? (Oh, you know you do.) Coil iPod earphones and tuck them in to keep wires uncrossed.
  • One of readers’ all-time-favorite ideas: the LifeSaver as birthday-candle holder. (Candies in the original rolls provide the best fit―LifeSavers sold in big bags are larger and don’t work as well.)
  • Forget unruly plastic bags that seemingly regenerate under your sink. An empty tissue box keeps them neatly corralled and ready for use.
  • A giveaway shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling, preventing them from dirtying clothes packed in your suitcase.
  • Brand anything as yours―books, binders, Tupperware, a stapler―with a return-address sticker.
  • A clever way to keep straight whose drink is whose: Mark each glass with removable window decals.
  • A hard plastic soap case is the perfect size to protect a camera stashed in a carry-on bag.
  • Put off-duty winter mittens to work as protection for summer shades.
  • A supermarket bag, tightly secured with a rubber band, will keep a brush (or roller) moist for a day or two in between painting sessions: the end of dried-out bristles.
  • No more worries of camisoles and sundresses slipping off hangers when you wrap the ends with rubber bands.
  • A binder clip serves as a key chain/money holder you can clamp to your waistband for a purse-free morning walk.
  • Pretty ribbon revives an old lamp shade. Apply a thin layer of glue and press on each piece of ribbon, matching the ends neatly.
  • Save a countertop with an old mouse pad turned trivet. (Make sure it has a non-plastic coating.)
  • No more oops! moments when painting, if you cover doorknobs and hardware with aluminum foil.
  • That straightening iron works on more than rambunctious hair: Use it to press between buttons, where a regular iron won’t fit.
  • Gardeners can go easy on their jeans with homemade knee pads. A couple of plastic bags tied on keep them grime-free.
  • When traveling, eliminate clunky bottles for nonprescription meds from your purse by popping the pills into a contact-lens case. Note: This is not a childproof method for storing your pills. Don’t try this if you have small children that rummage through your purse.
  • Who says a towel rack has to be the dedicated realm of, well, towels? Mounted over the kitchen sink, it can also hold a collection of cleansers.
  • A clear hair elastic binds blooms together for a better arrangement in a wide-mouth vase. Stretch the elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally.
  • Make no-mess pancakes with
    the help of a ketchup bottle: Pour in batter, then squeeze out precise portions.
  • Rubber bands give little fingers a better grip on a chilly or slippery glass.
  • Why pack with Styrofoam peanuts when you can pack with popcorn (plain and air-popped). No air popper? Be sure to cover the item with a plastic bag.
  • An unused glasses case makes a convenient storage spot for beauty items on the go.
  • The cardboard tube from a spent roll of toilet tissue is a wonderfully simple tool for keeping extension cords (or any cords!) tangle-free.
  • Warehouse your shoes in an empty wine-bottle carton wrapped in pretty paper.
  • A lemon works to remove tough food stains from a plastic or light-colored wood cutting board. Squeeze on the juice of one half, rub it in, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
  • Avoid batter splatters and flour dustings on a cookbook by wrapping a plastic bag around everything but the page you’re using.
  • Slide bobby pins onto a hem to hold pleats in place as you iron them.
  • Stick a sparkler in Play-Doh, then light it up. The container protects hands from flying sparks, preventing burns.
  • Change dirty water in a flower vase by using a turkey baster to suction up the liquid without disturbing your arrangement. Add fresh water directly from the tap.
  • Silence cabinet doors that slam with cork sliced into thin disks and glued onto the inside corners.
  • Give Easter eggs a year-round use (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios.
  • Cut down on the amount of potting soil needed by crumpling plastic bags to fill the bottom of a deep pot (just be sure that you don’t cover the drainage hole, if there is one).
  • Organize bills―arranged in the order in which they need to be paid off―in an unused napkin holder.
  • A paint chip strip makes a dandy place card: Cut off a length of two colors, then fold.
  • Bridge the gap between too-short stems and too-deep vase by sliding on trimmed clear plastic straws.
  • Shower-curtain hooks provide sturdy storage for heavier items, like purses.
  • Liberally apply cooking spray to both sides of a plastic or metal shovel before clearing away snow, and ice will slide right off instead of building up.
  • Attach a magnet to the inside of a metal medicine cabinet, and you can promptly pluck tweezers (or nail clippers) when needed.
  • Give cocktails extra pop with lollies in complementary colors subbed in for stirrers.


And now a word from our sponsors…image

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 1:16 pm

    Great list! I love the lollipop in a drink. What fun. I need a drink right now…I even wish real hot chocolate was on my list of “may haves”, with a lollipop, of course.

  2. Emily Sweeney permalink
    February 5, 2010 8:17 am

    Good ideas!!!

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