Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dry Boots

Snow piles up regularly in the winter where I live. Boots can often be a problem - they get wet in the snow and don't dry in time for their next usage. No one enjoys putting on wet boots! The obvious solution is to put them near a heat source. Here's what I do:

I have (yet another) basket by the front door. This one is actually a small clothes basket with a towel at the bottom of it. Anyone who comes in the house with wet boots can put them in the basket and then put the whole basket in front of a heat vent. This dries the boots quickly and keeps the floors dry and clean!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Deconstructing Macaroni and Cheese

When I was growing up macaroni and cheese was the occasional quick lunch out of a box. It was fast and easy, and for some reason I liked it. (Studies show that the color orange makes people hungry. A cheesy marketing ploy by Kraft?) I still like macaroni and cheese, but not the kind I had growing up. I do occasionally buy the boxed kind, but only Annie's. It makes for a quick side dish. I prefer to make my macaroni and cheese from scratch. Here are a few adaptations that make it a little healthier than the white-flour-pasta and powdered cheese variety.
  • Use whole wheat pasta rather than white. Believe me, you won't notice the difference unless you really try.
  • If you bake your macaroni and cheese make a wheat germ topping.
  • Mix in veggies. Peas and broccoli both work well.
  • Use soy milk or other substitutes.
  • Mix in some tofu - it has the same texture as cheese and absorbs the flavor of the dish.
  • Add seasonings like basil, chili powder and curry powder. The more flavor you get out of seasonings the less cheese you'll need.
Now I'm making myself hungry. I might have to change tomorrow's meal plan to include some good old macaroni and cheese!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Folding Laundry

When I do my laundry I try hard to keep the t-shirts (both long and short-sleeved) from wrinkling. I find it incredibly annoying to take a folded shirt out of a drawer only to find wrinkles in it. :) Here's my method:
  • If I'm able to fold the laundry as soon as the dryer is done I pull out all the shirts and fold them first.
  • If I can't fold the laundry right away, when I come back to it later I take all the shirts and lay them on top of each other, one by one, spraying water on each of them. I hang them over the back of a chair. This is especially handy because when I'm ready to fold them I can put the entire pile on a table and fold them directly from the pile.
Now if only I had one of those handy dandy dryers you can hang clothes in...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Storage Throw Pillows

I love throw pillows. They're handy to have around. A few years ago I received two zippered throw pillow covers free with a purchase I made. I didn't know what to do with them - I didn't need new covers for my pillows! Then I had an idea. I took a bunch of scrap fabric (some small pieces, some large pieces, whatever worked) and filled the pillows. I had instant scrap fabric storage and new pillows! Now I periodically sew zippered throw pillows and fill them with various unused fabrics. This also works for storing underused sheets, blankets and even towels. Keep in mind that the type of fabric and how much you put in will change the comfort of the pillow. I love storing fleece - I often buy fabric long before I use it and the fleece makes for a cushy pillow!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bookshelf Storage

I previously wrote about book organization, but there are many other uses for bookshelves. If you're low on storage space in your house, think up instead of out. Tall bookshelves are incredibly handy. You can buy relatively inexpensive ones or make your own. They can always be painted or varnished to match the room they're in. Here are some uses I've found for tall bookshelves in the past:
  • Kitchen Pantry - I used a tall bookshelf as a pantry by storing cereal, pasta, cookbooks and small appliances on the shelves. (Adjustable shelves made it easy to fit the shelves to their contents.) Having sewn my own kitchen curtains, I sewed a matching curtain to cover the shelves. All I had to do was pull back the curtain to my "pantry" and items I commonly used were at my fingertips.
  • Bedroom Closet - I came upon this idea while contemplating the need for another bedroom dresser. We have great clothes storage in the summer, but winter clothing is bulkier and needs more space. Another dresser would have fit but the drawers wouldn't have pulled out comfortably. I took an unused bookshelf and created shelving for sweaters and sweatshirts. I even made the top shelf shorter so it can be used for books - whatever we're currently reading. I haven't put a curtain up in front of this one, but it could easily be done to create more of a "closet" look.
  • Game Shelf - Bookshelves are for more than just books. Designating one for board games and puzzles made it easy for me to organize them (a shelf for puzzles, a shelf for family games, a shelf for strategy games, etc.) I find this much easier than digging through a closet (unless the closet has great shelving!)
I am currently only using the Bedroom Closet idea, just because in my current house I haven't needed the others. A useful tip is to buy (or make) the same type of shelves for all around the house. This way you can put two adjustable shelves on one and four on another if it suits your fancy. (If you make your own bookshelf I suggest making the shelves adjustable - you'll love it in the long run.) I love shelves. They make me feel very organized. What can I say? I'm an organizing geek.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cats in the Rain

I know, I know, I just wrote a cat anecdote. The thing is, when the weather gets cold and rainy the cats get a little crazy. Today it was pouring rain and all three cats were whining at my feet to let them outside. I opened the door, mainly because Brogan sometimes ignores the rain and runs out, but they wouldn't go out. For hours they whined but refused to go out in the rain. Finally I opened a different door. As if the rain wasn't still pouring down, both Brogan and Nola ran outside (Charlie was smart enough to stay in.) I wasn't surprised about Brogan, but Nola rarely goes outside to begin with. She's a stay-on-the-porch-for-15-minutes-and-come-in cat. She ran out in the rain, ran under my car and stayed there for hours. Go figure. Weather changes make them a little wonky.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brogan's Turkey Dinner

I'm pretty sure my neighbors fed one of my cats, Brogan, some of their leftover turkey. I saw him in their yard and he's such a friendly cat that they like to visit with him. He came back very happy and very sleepy. He didn't touch his food bowl, which he usually does after being outside. Well, I just hope he didn't eat too much. As long as the floor stays clean, I'm happy. I do find it odd that my cat is more social than I am sometimes...