Friday, October 30, 2020

How to: Remove Wine Bottle Labels / Halloween Decor

 

You probably know by now that I love to turn trash into treasure.  I've shown you how to create your own "milk bottles" and how to reuse plastic containers in your kitchen.  This how-to is to explain how I take labels off of wine bottles and turn them into decor!  



First, you have to drink some wine, which isn't too bad of a step one if you ask me!  I've been collecting these wine bottles and finally have an idea of how to decorate them.  Before we make some decor, we must take off the labels!



Here is how I get the labels off of wine bottles:
1.  Fill your sink with some warn soapy water.  

2.  Toss in the wine bottles and let them soak.  You should be able to see the labels start to get soggy as they darken in color.  

3.  Start to peel the labels off by any corner.  If the label is fully "wet" it should come off fairly easily.  If the label rips as you peel it, toss the bottle back into the warm bottle bath to continue to soak.  

4.  If you have any "goo" left on the bottle after peeling the label off, use a magic eraser or goo-b-gone.

5. Wash and dry the bottles!



Once the bottles are dry, they are ready to paint! I decided to make three sets:  Frankenstein, Jack-o-lantern, and Ghost!  

I used acrylic paint and a foam brush to paint the bottles.  It took a few coats, but once the first layer of color was dry, it was ready to turn them into characters!
 


There you go, easy peasy Halloween decor, from some "trash" you were going to recycle!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

DIY: Halloween Brittle


I love using melted chocolate to make desserts because it is so easy to use and you don't have to pre-heat the oven!  Usually I stick to chocolate covered pretzels or oreos, but today I have a brittle recipe that is perfect for Halloween!

Just a few simple steps and you'll have a perfect snack while you watch your favorite Halloween movie!

What you'll need:
Chocolate Chips
Candy Corn M&Ms
Candy Corn
Wax Paper



First, place the wax paper on a tray for your brittle making surface.  Then melt the chocolate chips.  Spread the melted chocolate on the wax paper to make a "chocolate patty". 


Next, sprinkle the M&M's and candy corn on the chocolate patty.  Press the candies into the chocolate so they stick better when the chocolate hardens.  


Now all you have to do it wait!  Wait an hour or so while the chocolate hardens really well.  You could even put the chocolate into the fridge to speed up the process.  Once hard, break the patty into small pieces - this makes it a "brittle"!  


I can imagine putting a few pieces in a plastic bag with an orange ribbon for a gift, or just munching on a few pieces while watching Hocus Pocus!


Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Steps to a More Perfect Container Garden



Last year I showed you how I started my seedlings indoors.  My process worked, but as I have been upgrading my container garden, I decided a needed I a little bit more preparation this year in order to have a smoother spring/summer.  Usually I plant seedlings and put those seedlings into pots when they are big enough to go outside, however I never really thought through the space or number of pots that I had on hand.  So, I ended up putting a plant in either too small or too big of a pot, not having enough tomato cages, or not having the space to put them altogether.  This year, I decided to decide what my garden is going to look like BEFORE I start my seedlings so that I don’t waste time or effort later when it comes time to put them outside.

Last spring, the Mr. Fix-it husband upgraded my watering system from hoses and 360 degree sprayers that mostly just got the ground wet, to a fantastic built in piping system that allows me to have rows of container plants on my deck!  This is perfect because from where our kitchen is, I get to look out at my garden each day, as well as have easy access to the veggies for a fresh salsa or salad.  Below is a picture of what my “garden” ended up being organized last year:


I really enjoyed this set up last year, so I decided I wanted to do the same thing this year.  But first, I had to decide what I want to grow.  I had a few plants last year that I still have in the freezer that I don’t need anymore of (lookin’ at you jalapeno pepper plant) and some new ones I wanted to try. 


I started this process by writing down a list of the plants I knew I wanted to grow (tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, and herbs), then looked through my seedbox to find the seeds I already had on hand, and then looked through several seed catalogs to find new plants that I hadn’t grown before.  This process took most of January.  I took my time with this process because, everything was frozen and I really enjoyed looking at all the plant catalogs!  This process shouldn’t be rushed, and I wanted to take  to think about what I wanted to harvest in the future. 



Part of the process of looking at my own seeds included building my own seed storage box.  While searching for my seeds, I realized I had them stashed in all sorts of places and I wanted one container to call my seed box.  I shopped in catalogs as well as online for a box that I liked, but I couldn’t find anything in the shape or price range I wanted, so I decided to use my new wood working hobby to make my own.  (Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see the process in a post!)


After I had settled on a list of plants and purchased seeds for the items I didn’t already own, I decided to stay organized and write this information down.  (I know, sounds simple, right?)  I have not been very good at keeping a garden journal so I don’t have a good sense of what time of year we normally have our last real frost.  There are several websites with rules of thumb, so I decided to use that date until I had a better understanding from my “future” garden journals.  My area’s average last frost date is April 15th.  This date is important because most seed packets reference a “start you seeds” date based on the last frost for the year.  I made a list of each item, how many weeks before or after the frost date they should be planted and made an excel formula to tell me when I need to start the seeds (yes, I’m an excel nerd).  Now I know exactly when to start the seeds for each item instead of looking at each of the seed packets each weekend and doing to math to decide if I need to start some or not. 


Once I had the seedling start date, I needed to decide how many seedlings to start!  In order to do that, I need to know how many mature plants I want.  I started to list in my same spreadsheet the quantity of mature plants.  This would be another helpful piece of information to keep in a garden journal, for example, do four tomato plants produce the quantity of tomatoes I need, or should I plant five to keep up?  Or were eight eggplants too much for one year and I should cut back to six the next, etc.  I had to guess this year based on what I remember from last year and picked out how many I wanted of each.  I then categorized each item by what type of pot they would go into, and used a count formula to add up the quantity of each type of pot.  This way, I already know many of each kind of pot I need.  Lucky for me, I have twenty of my five gallon vegetable pots and I want exactly twenty vegetable plants (don’t you just love it when a plan comes together)?


Here is an idea of the pots that I use:
  • Vegetable Pots:  mix of different five gallon pots are the perfect size for one plant (tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, etc).
  • Small Pots:  mix of one to two gallon pots for smaller herb or lettuce plants
  • Rectangular Pots:  foot long rectangular plants for onions (see post here).
  • Trough:  very large 150 gallon trough on sale that I am going to try and use for large crops, and perhaps potatoes in the future
  • Grill:  an old grill that I converted into a planter which is the perfect standing height for a planter and works well for small herb plants like basil, rosemary, and cilantro.     
  • Decorative:  pretty pots I have collected over the years that I use for flowers


Once I had my full list of plants, quantities, and pots, I decided to map out how the container garden would look, much like my 2018 view.  This is really helpful because, now I don’t have to think about where I’m going to put each plant when it comes time to place them outside in a couple of months!  I already did all the work!


Now to get started on those seedlings!

How do you decide what to plant?  Do you keep a garden journal?  I want to know!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spring Cleaning Plan: Declutter with Classy Event Organizer - *Free Printable*


Happy Last day of February everyone!  Tomorrow starts a new month, and we only have two and a half more weeks until Spring!  I don’t know about you, but I feel like Spring-time is a clean slate, sometimes more than the New Year, because the days are longer, all the bright colors are motivating, and everything is starting to grow, making a fresh start!   

Something that I usually do in spring is clean, everything from washing windows to wiping down all the baseboards in the house.  I’m sure you’ve heard of “Spring cleaning” before!  Along with the regular “cleaning” part of Spring Cleaning, I usually do my annual decluttering during this time as well.  This year however, I decided to take a different approach.  I’ve done the whole “15 minutes a day” cleaning, room by room cleaning, three boxes: keep, toss and trash approach, but still nothing really “sticks”.  I always end up with the same items being dusted off and put right back to where they were hiding.  I’ve bought organizing baskets, made my own containers, etc to store all the stuff I’m keeping, however my house has always felt cluttered, even after I’ve decluttered! 

Now I’m not a huge fan of the minimalist look, I like to see my stuff, and I like the memories they bring when I pass by a tray that holds my jewelry that my sister gave to me for my birthday, or the pink bowl holding bottle caps that my grandmother passed down to me.  These items bring me joy, but sometimes that joy is over shadowed by the not so joyful feeling of clutter.

I did listen to two audiobooks (thank you hoopla) in the last two months that I feel have significantly helped me deal with my clutter.  (Side note, if you have never tried to listen to an audiobook, I suggest you try!  While driving, while doing laundry, or washing the dishes.  It like multi tasking to the max!)  The first book I listened to was “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up” by Marie Kondo (which I listened to before I even knew she had a show on Netflix).  The second book was “Grace, Not Perfection” by Emily Ley, the owner of the Simplified Planner.  Although these books are completely differently, one of the points that both of these books had regarding “decluttering” was to not feel guilty about getting rid of something.  Thank it, and just LET IT GO!

The Theory:
Now, for those of you who know Marie Kondo’s method (Konmari), in my opinion, the theory of picking each item up and asking yourself if it brings you joy seems a little corny.  My friend and I joke about this anytime we pick anything up now.  Even the handy dandy Husband will pick up my cat and ask if we can get rid of her because she doesn’t bring him joy (yes, so funny).  But this theory of sparking joy is something that I think a lot of us are missing as we live amount our mountains of possessions.  Emily Ley’s theory was to simplify life, only keep the best, the favorite and the necessary.  Seems rather similar in theory and very simple.  I decided to try a mix of the two “decluttering” methods from these books and see how I did.

Both of these books were also similar in the fact that they both gave “permission” to let things go.  Don’t feel guilty that you don’t use an item anymore.  For example, I’ve had half of my closet full of beautiful dresses, skirts, suits, clothes, etc. that don’t fit because they are too small.  Some of them I’ve had for 10 years or so.  Each year I did my spring cleaning, I kept these items because “one day” I’ll fit back into them, or I felt guilty because they were rather expensive when I bought them.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem!)  These items no longer sparked joy.  They sparked guilt and sadness that I was no longer that smaller size.  When I gave myself permission to get rid of anything that didn’t spark “joy” or make my happy I was able to open up my closet and find clothes I had forgotten about.  I kept two of my very favorite dresses that were still a bit small, but I just enjoy looking at them, the rest of them were I the “get rid of pile”.  It is so freeing to be able to let go of these items and not feel guilt.     

The De-Cluttering Plan:
The KonMari method is about going through your possession in category, not by room and I understand this theory as she explains it in her book, however I already know that I’m not going to store my novels with my cookbooks or vice versa.  I like my cook books in the kitchen. And I like my novels stored in my library shelves.  So, I decided to use the Emily Ley theory of going room by room and mix it up with the KonMari method of sorting category by category.  This way will also keep my messes of pulling everything out blocked off to one room and not the whole house as this process can take several months. 

So here’s was my plan, and how I decided to organize myself. 

By using each “room” in my house as a first category, I made a list of what sub categories I store in that room.  I decide to start this de-cluttering in a room that we call my “closet” room.  It is a guest room that houses my clothes, shoes, hand bags, make up, etc.  I thought this would be the best room to start as it wouldn’t disrupt normal everyday life and it was clothing was the first and seemed like easiest category in Mari Kondo’s book. 

I made a checklist (see below for printable) and started to go through all of my clothes.  I first started with tops, so I pulled out all of my tops (folded/hanging, tshirts/sweaters, old/new, etc.) and placed them on my bed.  I went through each item, picked it up and decided if it “sparked joy”.  Some items were easy!  However, some items were hard.  I through those items into a pile to go through last.  By the time I got to those last few items, I was prepared to make a final decision. 

I then continued through my list and parred down my clothes to about half (okay, maybe like 60%). I ended up with so much space left in my closet which I thought would make it feel barren and sad, but it actually felt freeing.  After the first day of my decluttering, I tackled two “sub categories” and I could actually see what was in my closet the next morning.  Trying to find an outfit was “easy”!  WHAT?!  And even more exciting, I found a pair of new sweatpants with the tags still on them that I totally forgot that I purchased months ago.  I’m wearing them as I type this, and they are so soft and warm.  The ease of getting ready in the morning was such a great feeling that I couldn’t wait to get back to my decluttering that evening.  Also, I have now ingrained in my brain that I never want so many items in this space that I won’t over-buy, or keep items due to guilt again.    

After going through several “sub categories” I found myself with a very large pile, (about 4 trash bags) of clothes.  I found an app called “Poshmark” where you can sell (and buy) almost anything, but the sales are usually geared towards brand name clothes and accessories.  I decided to take a few pictures and see if I could sell these items.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I posted a few items that were brand named and actually made some sales!  I turned those clothes that were sparking negative joy into some moola!  Poshmark is like having a garage sale 24/7, and you don’t have to try and make change for anyone or deal with those pesky neighbors who just want to see what you have to sell (please tell me you know what I’m talking about here).  Never heard of Poshmark, but want to try it out?  Just use my code “JSandlin10” to sign up and get $5 just for joining!  For full disclosure, I’ll get $5 if you make a first purchase!

I’m almost done with decluttering my closet room, and it feels fantastic!  My next task will be the room I am usually in the most during the week which is my kitchen.  I will tackle each category as I did before one at a time and viciously keep or get rid of each item.  I am actually rather excited to see what comes out of that category! 

You might be wondering how you keep from creating this same decluttering issue in the future, well I have a solution, my friend.  For example, each time I fold and put away my clothes, I take an extra second (it only takes one or two) to check over my clothes and ask myself if the item still “sparks joy”.  This mental process each and every time I go through my laundry will keep me from having to spend days and weeks going through my closet and having to do an annual decluttering each year.

The Checklist:
To help me stay organized and on track I made my own checklist to put in my planner so I can cross off each item when it is complete.  Oh the sweet, sweet, feeling of crossing something off a to do list.  I wanted to share this checklist as a printable freebie to give you some inspiration to join me in this decluttering journey once and for all!  


Check out my printable (full page of A5 planner size) and print it as is or as inspiration to create your own and share it on my Facebook page!  I would love to see what you are using to declutter and spring clean this season!







Thursday, February 21, 2019

How To: DIY Plastic Containers Around the Kitchen



A few years ago I shared how I turned Starbucks Coffee Bottles into the popular faux milk bottles for parties, it was the perfect combination of making something similar to a product that I couldn’t afford, as well as recycling my trash!  I also shared how I turned beer holders into a cute utensil container instead of buying a new one.  I love using containers that I would otherwise throw out as something useful because I feel like I’m getting a bigger bang for my buck! 

I ran into two different issues in my kitchen that needed a solution and I decided to use my “trash” that was sitting in my recycling bin to fix!


Dish Brush Storage

The first issue I had was with the way I was storing my dish washing brushes, and I shared some of this project on my instagram (follow me here!).  I love using the dish washing brushes from Aldi because they seem to get my dishes cleaner and are easier to use compared to sponges.  They also last longer, but are harder to store.  I also just purchased two straw brushes from Amazon to clean my plastic straws that I wanted to make sure didn’t get beat up in storage as they are a little bit flimsier than the Aldi brushes.  

My current storage container was a plastic cup, yes, a plastic cup.  This worked for one or two brushes, but each time I went to grab one of them from under the sink, the whole thing fell over.  Also, the times I could get it to balance and stay standing, I had to store the brushes handle down which made them hard to get out and put away after use.  Since I store my brushes under the sink, I didn’t want to spend money on a caddy, the solution to my problem didn’t need to look “pretty”, it just needed to work. 


My goal was to get a container that was large enough to hold all the brushes handle side up and be able to drain, much like a plant pot.  When I found an empty pretzel container in my pantry cabinet (yes, empty, but that’s another story), I thought to myself “Self, could I turn this into a bin for my dish washing brushes?”  And then I thought, “Why not try it and if it doesn’t work out, I can just toss it in the recycling bin?”  I decided to try it out by throwing my brushes in the container to see if they would fit, and they did!   


To turn this pretzel container into a brush holder, I first took off the label.  I did this by using hot water, soap, and a magic eraser.  By the time I was done scrubbing, you couldn’t even tell it ever had a label on it.  It was just a clean clear bucket. 


Next, to make drain holes, I drilled some holes into the base.  I used a ¾ inch bit and drilled holes in the base about an inch and a half apart.





For a tray for water to collect under the container, I decided to try out the lid.  It was either use the lid or a plastic plate, so I opted for the lid to see how it worked.


Then, to keep my two new straw brushes safe, I added two command strip hooks to the inside of the bin to lock in the straw brushes.  The brushes just happened to fit in the command strip hooks, so they stay put when in storage but are easy to pull out when needing to be used.  


And there you go, an easy answer to my lack of dish washing brush storage!




Dish Soap Container

The second issue was with my dish soap container.  I had a very cute dish soap dispenser that I bought from the Container Store several years ago, but it rusted through most of it’s parts and no longer worked.  (it was a very sad day when I said good buy to this dispenser.)  In the interim, I tried to use a spare olive oil bottle for a cute replacement, however it was glass (breakable) and was very slow to dispense any soap onto my dishes in the sink because I had to turn it upside down and wait for the soap to slooowly come out of the top of the bottle.  It became more of a chore to use, and even though it was “pretty” on my counter, function wins over form what it comes to dish washing!  So I was on the hunt for a new container for my dish soap.  Could I just stuck with the Dawn or Palmolive soap container?  Sure, but I wanted something cute because it sits out all the time!

The solution to this issue started with washing my hair, yes, washing my hair.  I started buying Pantene Charcoal Shampoo and Conditioner a month or so ago, which by the way is AMAZING and totally worth the price if you ask me!  


The bottles have a nice large pump that doesn’t clog and the plastic is sturdy, not too flexible.  When my shampoo and conditioner ran out for the first time, I noticed that the labels were on the outside of the bottles, meaning it is a removable wrap label, not melted or glued onto the bottle.  I cut the label off to see what the bottles looked like without it and thought “these types of bottle sell for about $15 bucks at the store, what can I use this for?”  My answer to myself was “DISH SOAP!”


What is nice about reusing this type of container is that the bottle isn’t flimsy, but if I need to replace it, it won’t be as sad as tossing out a soap dispenser I purchased from the Container Store.  I can just recycle the old one and use a newly finished bottle of shampoo.  Easy Peasy!   

Now doesn’t that look so much better than a regular ol’ bottle of soap sitting on the counter?!



How do you re-use containers around your house?  Do you think about how to reuse a nice container before throwing it in the recycling container?

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