Saturday Project: Denim Placemats

6a0120a8a2f331970b015432de7346970c-800wiWe have a bin full of old “scrap” jeans. These are pants that knees have ripped out on or hems have frayed or have some other condition that make them non-wearable. But most of their fabric is still good and I am always looking for projects to do with them. Today’s project will use up a bunch of the jeans…by making placemats. Today’s Nest has great instructions for making denim placemats from jeans.

If you don’t have enough scrap jeans, consider hitting a thrift store or yard sale, where you can often pick them up for $2 a pair.

ALTERNATE IDEA: If you don’t want to do all the sewing or have full denim placemats consider adding just the pocket to existing placemats. Either pick up some inexpensive ones or use what you already have. Simply remove the back pockets from jeans and sew them on to existing placemats.

Homemade Granite Cleaner

DSCN2574These days a lot of us have granite in our kitchens or bathrooms. Keeping granite counters clean can be an
expensive chore. Granite cleaners can be purchased for $7-$15 per small bottle. And if you are anything like us, we use our counters for everything from school to rolling dough and cutting pizzas, so they get messy. I have been looking for a good, less-chemical way to clean and not harm our counters. After trying out many recipes and ideas, here is what I like best:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (actually any alcohol will work) – This provides streak-free cleaning
  • 3 drops Dawn dishwashing soap – Yes the brand is important because it cuts grease and grime better than others. And yes, it really only takes 3 drops.
  • Water – this amount will vary from 1-2 cups, depending on how you keep the solution.

Many people suggest using a spray bottle but I have found that I like using an empty alcohol bottle. The bottles we get have a lid with a small hole for easy pouring. I put the alcohol and Dawn in the bottle and fill with water. Then I pour some our on the counters and use a soft cotton cloth to clean. I get fabulous results, with lots of shine and no streaking. In the picture you can see how shiny and clean the counters look!

Room-by-Room Organization: Pantry

A major part of kitchen organization is having an organized and fully stocked pantry. Whether you have a large walk- Pantryin pantry or a small cabinet, keeping your pantry well-stocked and organized will keep your kitchen, and in turn your home, running smoothly.

Pantry Essentials – A complete list of items to keep in your stocked pantry

Pantry Essentials – The Next Steps – How to organize all the stuff you now keep in your pantry

Dishwashing Tub Organization – Using these inexpensive tubs will help keep your pantry items organized. You can use one for paper products (plates, cups, napkins, plasticware, etc.) and another for items like potatoes, garlic, and other produce that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer – If you have a pantry with a door, consider using and over-the-door shoe organizer for things like plasticware, kids snacks, or even cleaning products.

Tip: If you don’t use it everyday, keep it high. If the kids need access to it, keep it low. Use eye-level shelves for items you need regularly.

Make Your Own Dishwashing Detergent

DSC02666I have been experimenting with making my own dishwashing detergent and have found a recipe that is simple, doesn’t use Borax, and gets the dishes very clean. I settled on a recipe from The Eco-Friendly Family. Here are the ingredients & steps:

  • 12 oz. Lemi-Shine powder (available in the dishwashing detergent aisle, usually with rinse aides on a high shelf)
  • 1 1/2 cups washing soda – This is the main ingredient in most commercial dishwashing detergents and is the same thing used in making your own laundry soap. The basic pH is what does the washing.
  • 1/2 cup baking soda – for more washing power
  •  1/2 cup sea salt – I used coarse crystals but any sea salt will work.

Put all these items together in a container that will seal air-tight. Humidity is the enemy of this powder. Shake the container to mix and evenly distribute ingredients. Use 1 tablespoon in your dishwasher’s main reservoir with each wash. You can add 1/2 tablespoon to the secondary reservoir for more washing power.

TIP: For a rinse aid – fill your dishwasher’s rinse-aid reservoir with white vinegar. This will rinse the dishes clean and keep them spot free.

Vertical Baking Pan Storage

We are tying a new storage idea at our house – vertical baking pan storage. I hate keeping the baking pans that I use all the time in the drawer under our stove (okay so I actually hate our stove, but it will have to do for now). We decided to move some items that we do not use as frequently into the drawer and use cabinet space for the baking pans. After trying a lot of variations, we decided to use tension rods in the cabinet to create slots of various sizes for muffin tins, cookies sheets, and other baking pans. While we are going with tension rods, some other ideas include repurposing a desktop file or bill sorter, or turning magazine holders on their side to create slots for pans. Use items that you have or that are cheap, because no one but your family will see the inside of the cabinet anyway. 

Kitchen Quick Tip: Most Used Recipes

We all have a few recipes that we use regularly. What a pain (not to mention potential mess) to have to go to the computer or have the computer in the kitchen with us to prepare our favorite items. Instead of keeping those most-used recipes on the computer or in a recipe box, put them on the inside of the cabinet door where you prepare the food. At our house the recipe for Whole Wheat Pancakes, baguette bread, pizza dough, and our favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are kept on the kitchen spice cabinet, which is where most of the ingredients for these recipes can be found.

TIP: If you don’t want to hand-write or tape things to your cabinets, or if you are worried about the recipes getting messy, print out your most-used recipes and put them in durable binder sheet protectors. Use 3M Command Adhesive to secure the sheet protectors to the cabinet door without the fear of damage.

Kitchen Cheat Sheet

Have you ever needed to convert a recipe from metric to standard measurements? Wondered how long items in the freezer will keep? Or exactly where that cut of meat comes from?

Enter the Kitchen Cheat Sheet! This free printable is a great resource to post inside a cabinet or pantry door in your kitchen.

Dishwashing Tubs for Organization

Most of us don’t use dish washing tubs unless we are camping. But I love these for organizing. You can pick them up for under $3 for the largest sizes at your local ‘Mart and at times they are under $1.We use these bins in all rooms of our house. You can get them in a lot of colors these days and can spice them up with vinyl stickers or paint to match any decor. Here are some ideas for ways to use dish washing tubs:

In the kitchen:

  • In the fridge we have two – one for produce that doesn’t fit in the crisper drawer and one for items we use regularly such as string cheese, fajita shells, lunch meats etc.
  • In the pantry we have two – one for paper products for entertaining, another for potatoes (to keep the dirt contained) and other extra produce that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

In the school/office area:

  • One for library books so you always know where they are
  • One for scrap paper and one for extra printer paper
  • One for math manipulatives
  • One for science kit pieces
  • Divide one with silverware trays for extra scissors, pens, etc.
  • Art supplies (paints, brushes and the right paper all in one bin)

Kids’ Rooms:

  • Toy storage for items like Legos (sort by color or set), Hot Wheels or other cars, Barbies etc.
  • Clothes such as socks, underwear etc. can easily be stored in bins that are stacked on shelves in the room or closet

Bathroom/Linen Closet:

  • Organized items being stored by type (bin for hair and cosmetic products, one for paper products etc. )
  • Keep all first aid items in one bin, including alcohol, peroxide,, ace bandages etc.
  • Store sheet sets by room in a bin
  • Keep guest sheets and towels in one bin

Kitchen Organization Quick Tip: Put a Lid on It

Lids can get everywhere and get lost easily (especially things like sippy cup lids). Solution? Store lids directly with their container, on it if possible. We keep all our plasticware lids inside a large plastic tub. We keep our CorningWare lids in or on the dishes. We keep sippy cup valves in the cup with the lid on it. Storing the lid with its correct container will save you time and hassle trying to match them up when you need them.

Kitchen Organization Quick Tip: Keep it Handy

My home will never look like a show home. It is always neat and tidy, but I cannot keep the counters clear. This is because I believe that things I use regularly need to be handy. Cooking and baking supplies that I use everyday are either out on the counter (who wants to lug a KitchenAid mixer in and out of the cupboards 4 or 5 times a week?) or in a cabinet near where I use them. The spices and cooking oils are in the cabinet next to the stove. The cooking utensils are in crocks (and one cool tin can) on the counter next to the stove. Dry erase markers for our family calendar are in a tin can (I love re-using tin cans) on the counter next to where the calendar hangs. Keeping things stored neatly where you use them will make your kitchen run much more smoothly. And using creative storage solutions like a lazy susan or decorative tin cans keep counters tidy, while still keeping your daily use items easily accessible.