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?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

African Violets: Re-potting and Propagation


About this time last year, I wrote a post with a few tips on how to care for an African Violet and how to encourage it to bloom.  Since then, my plant has bloomed two more times!  It has also grown significantly and has nearly outgrown its pot.  As the plant grows taller, more and more of the stem becomes exposed making the plant top heavy.  


 

Not sure what to do, I visited my local garden center.  While perusing the store, looking for good deals on house plants, I asked one of the kind employees what to do about my African Violet!  She told me that in order to help an overgrown African Violet, all I needed to do was to repot it and the exposed stem would grow it’s own roots.  I decided to document this process to share how to repot an overgrown African Violet, but also to try my hand at African Violet propagation.  Let’s see what happens!

To start, I cleared space to repot my plant.  Due to the crazy low temperatures and rain, I had to do this project inside instead of outside!   To contain any spilled dirt or water, I use a boot tray.  I get mine really cheap from Aldi and they work perfect to keep my space clean while indoor “gardening”. 


I then took a look at my plant.  Yes, I just LOOKED at it.  One of the coolest things about an African Violet is that it grows uniformly in a circle, so I wanted to make sure that I kept that shape.  Much of the stem was already exposed due to leaves falling off throughout the year, so I took note of which leaves I could take off and the plant would still look balanced.  I didn’t want the plant to be lopsided! 

Next, I popped several of the leaves off.  First, I removed the leaves that were yellowing.  Then I popped off the green leaves that would balance out the plant since I just removed the yellowing ones.  Then I popped a few off to make the plant the size I wanted it to be.  In all, I popped off about 15 leaves.  These will be used for propagation, so I took off a few more than I might have done otherwise. 


By “popping” off, I mean that I carefully wiggled the leaf at the base until it “popped” off from the step.  If you try this method and the leave rips off, that’s okay.  You can use it for propagation, and pop the rest of the stem off at the base.



Next, I planted the main plant back into it’s pot with fresh soil.  I made sure to clean the pot out completely to give it a fresh start.  I have used the Espoma African Violet soil in the past, but I purchased the Miracle-Gro African Violet soil from my local garden center because it is what they had in inventory.  My review of these soils is below.



I first put some soil in the pot, placed my plant, and then filled in the rest of the pot with soil, fairly easy.


I purchased a second African Violet on clearance while at the garden center this weekend, so I potted it up the exact same way.  I have no idea what color the flowers will be, so I’m excited for this one to bloom.





Propagation:

You can propagate African Violets from cuttings.  This means, you can grow a second plant from a piece of the original plant, much like succulents.  You don’t have to gather seeds and re-grow a plant like a pepper, for example. 


To propagate, take healthy looking leaves from an African Violet plant and take off the stems to about an inch from the leaf. 


Next, fill pots full of moist African Violet soil.  


Make sure the soil is moist and not completely dry!  I used my watering can from Gardner's Supply to water my soil first.


Then, place the leave stem into the soil at a 25 – 30 degree angle.  The little hairs on the stem will turn into roots and a new plant will grow from that leaf.


I put a tooth pick in one pot to mark that pot as having the “new” African Violet leaf, and not the my already known purple flowered plant.  Any time I do an “experiment” I try to label and record as much as possible so I can learn what worked and what didn’t.      


Espoma Vs Miracle-Gro Soil


I didn’t think that the two soils would be very different because they are both made for African Violets, but boy was I wrong.  The Miracle Grow soil was more mulchy, while the Espoma soil is more loamy.  I personally like working with the Espoma soil better.  I also like that the Espoma has a zipper to close the bag, vs having to just fold it over – it is much more tidy! 

Currently, I’m noticing that the Miracle-Gro soil holds onto moisture a bit differently and my plants are reacting as if there is too much water in the pot.  I re-potted and propagated using the Miracle Grow soil, but after a week I might report them again with the Espoma soil.  I’ll give them all a week to settle into their new pots and see what happens.  Most plants are fairly resilient, so they should bounce back in either case. 


Make sure to follow Classy Event Organizer on Instagram and Facebook for updates on these African Violets.  Leave a comment if you have any African Violets and how you’ve repotted them or propagated them.  I’d love to hear about your experiences!!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

DIY: Chocolate Covered Pretzels


 I LOVE the mix of salty with sweet, specifically pretzels and chocolate. 


Chocolate covered pretzels are an easy fix for a salty/sweet craving!  I have one issue with making chocolate covered pretzels, however, and it is that when I try to cover the ENTIRE pretzel, I get chocolate all over the place! (my hands, the counter, the floor, etc.)  I have a new method that still gives me a bit of salt and sweet, while not creating a mess – only covering half the pretzel! 

For this quick and easy DIY - you will need semi-sweet chocolate chips and pretzels.  I use about 1 cup semi sweet chocolate for 40 pretzels – this doesn’t have to be exact.

First, melt your chocolate chips.  I always use my Crofton soup bowl from Aldi to melt my chocolate in the microwave.  The bowl is microwave safe and has a nice handle so I don’t have to touch anything hot!  It also has a wide opening that I can fit my hand in without getting covered in chocolate!



To melt chocolate chips in the microwave, put the bowl with chocolate chips in the microwave for intervals of 30 seconds.  Between each interval stir the chocolate chips, making sure to move the ones on the bottom to the top so nothing burns.  When you don’t have anymore lumps, your chocolate chips are melted!

While the chocolate is melting in the microwave, cover your work space with wax paper for a place to lay your pretzels.  This step makes clean up much easier!

When the chocolate is melted, cover your pretzels by holding one side of the pretzel and dip the other side into the chocolate half way.  Wipe any excess off the back of the pretzel on the side of the container.  Lay the pretzel on the wax paper to set.  Continue until you have used up all of your pretzels or all of your chocolate!  Tada! Easy peasy – you made chocolate covered pretzels and didn’t make a mess! 


If you want, you can add sprinkles to your tasty treat to make them more festive!  While the chocolate is still “soft” sprinkle your choice of sprinkles onto the chocolate for a bit of extra fun!  I made three different “kinds” of pretzels, some with white sprinkles, some with multi-colored sprinkles and some that were just plain chocolate covered pretzels.


Now let your pretzels set until the chocolate is solid! 

You can store these in a plastic container, or make a small gift bag with plastic wrap and some baking twine or ribbon!  These could be such a cute gift!  I store mine in a plastic container in the fridge so the chocolate doesn’t become soft.    


There you go, chocolate covered pretzels, in about 10 minutes and without any mess!  For other quick and easy snacks, try out these chocolate covered Oreos or no-bake cookies!

Leave a comment below of your favorite salty and sweet snack!

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