When I got my KitchenAid Mixer the first thing I did was buy a beater blade for scraping down the sides. This meant I now had 3 extra attachments just hanging around when I wasn’t cooking something. I had a habit of losing them in drawers or the deep space of my baker’s nook.
As part of my kitchen makeover, I’d built a little baker’s nook to hold all my extra baking supplies. That might sound a little silly but I have a lot of supplies. The baker’s nook was actually built to accommodate our lower window and give me a surface to roll out cookie dough (or bread dough or pizza dough) on easily. The nook was made by substituting vanity cabinets for kitchen cabinets and then just using a separate piece of countertop.
One side holds all my baking sheets and cake pans while my drawers hold things like cake piping tubes and tips, food coloring, sprinkles, and just general odds and ends. I had one lower cabinet left to fill. I added in my cake and cupcake stands, my hand mixer, and my double set of springform pans. The whole thing felt a bit empty still.
Enter those pesky Kitchenaid mixer attachments. There was plenty of space in there for them but I didn’t want them to get lost in medium springform pan #2 (heaven forbid!) so I came up with a solution that seems so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: 3M hooks. Look how easily I can find my hooks now.
And a closeup
For under $5 I’ve got an easy storage solution that my college self would be proud of.Pin It
How many of you drive an older car? I have one really new car and one really old car. How old? I bought it my senior year in high school and my 10 year reunion is coming up soon. It was already used when I bought it and right now it has over 241,000 miles on it. The car is likely to fall apart before it stops running. I’ve lost a gas cap and a door handle but I still get better gas mileage than most people I know. I also can’t handle the idea of saying goodbye to the car that lasted me through my first job, senior prom and the glitter I swear is still in there, those crazy Hello Kitty decorations I put in it, all those trips to and from college, the trips with friends, and the memory of taking my little puppy home in it.
In an effort to make my car last just a little bit longer, I decided to do something about my front headlights. If you’ve ever driven an old car you know that they can grow hazy thanks to oxidizing. It isn’t just a pain; if I can’t see the distance that could mean hitting a deer on the rural roads I live on. I saw on Pinterest that you could use toothpaste to clear off that haze but I didn’t know how great it would work. I decided to test a different method on each headlight, toothpaste for one and baking soda for the other. For the baking soda, just add enough water to it until it forms a paste. Here’s the results:
It might be hard to see how it ended up so I made a detailed comparison for you.
And a quick before and after of each of the lights
While I didn’t see any miracles like the original pin showed, I did see an improvement from both methods. It may be a bit hard to see on your screen (click the images to enlarge) but the baking soda paste ended up getting the haze off just a touch better. It also used less product making it the more cost effective solution as well. I think I’ll keep applying baking soda to the headlights each time I wash the car until they look like new or until the car gives up and goes to car heaven.Pin It
Do you have a cluttered desktop on your computer? It’s one of those things that can get out of hand quickly. You might save a file to the desktop to look at tomorrow and 3 weeks later it’s still there with all the other items you’ve saved since then. Here’s how I’ve decided to handle the situation.
This is my desktop. You can click it to enlarge it but my method has 3 columns to keep me organized. I tend to work from left to right on my screen so while it might make sense to keep my most frequently used items on the left, I actually put the most urgent items over there. That way when I’m procrastinating and clicking around, I’m more likely to click on something I should be doing instead of a way to waste time.
My first column is labeled “This Week” for tasks I’ve assigned myself to do ASAP. I keep a text file with a basic schedule and meal plan here and usually I leave it open in my task bar. As you can see, this week’s tasks include addressing my finances and working with photos. My Finance Folder is full of links to websites to help me research some financial changes. Over on the right I have shortcuts to all my photo folders on my home computer network and a desktop shortcut to my DVD burner so I’ll finally get around to a much needed photo backup.
Tip: Put shortcuts on the desktop instead of actual folders.
My second column “This Month” focuses on longer-term projects that still need a deadline. In one folder, I’ve put links to all my summer vacation plans in along with copies of forms and confirmations. I also keep a backup meal plan in this area with some meal ideas based on what’s currently in my freezer, as well as plans for the spring and summer. You can see my other ongoing project is to keep checking for updates on the 1940 Census that was just released. I have one text file that logs where I’ve searched for family and what pages I’ve located people on for printing later.
My “Always” folder on the right is where I keep my most frequently used items. On the right you can see where I keep hard copies of my eBooks and the program I use to organize them. I have a small eBook addiction and this helps me manage them. I have desktop shortcuts to each of the image folders for each of my websites along with my website mission statements and organizational charts. After that I have a calendar with a daily task on it, a document where I log the meals I’ve tested with notes on improvements, and my bulk cooking cheat sheets that are slowly being added to the website.
Want to know how you can make your own desktop? I took all my desktop icons and aligned them along the top of the screen. Then I hit the Print Screen button and pasted the screencap of my desktop into Photoshop. I divided the screen into thirds with blocks of color and then labeled the top of each section. After saving the file, I just right clicked on the image and chose “Set as Desktop background”. My resolution is set at 1366 x 768 so if you want this desktop background and you use the same size, just save the image from here.
What does your desktop look like?Pin It
I mentioned in yesterday’s post how Pinterest planned to roll out new profiles and they’re here! The new layout takes some getting used to but as far as I can tell we’re gaining functionality instead of losing it so it seems like a move in the right direction to me.
Here’s what I’ve already noticed in the last hour. Did you find any more changes? Share your insights in the comments!
1 Convenient Location
The real convenience comes on your profile page. People previously had a hard time finding how to edit their profile but now it’s located right on your profile page, where the red arrow is pointing to. Learn tips for updating your profile to protect your privacy.
The purple arrow points to where you’ll now click if you want to rearrange your boards. Just click it and you’ll see instructions telling you to “Drag around your boards to reorder them” and I have to say, I’m pleased to say it’s much easier to move boards around. Just click the box again when you’re done sorting. This is a great way to create a food row, sort your home boards by theme, or put all your to do pins next to your completed pins.
The blue star is next your activity feed. It’s a new link and it shows what you’ve recently been clicking on, who you just followed and what you just liked. It replaces the old side bar you may remember from the old profile. I like the idea of it but I still need some time to test it out to see if it’ll change how I use Pinterest.
The green box is around the new “Repins from” box. I’m not sure how it calculates who goes up there since I have repinned a ton from one person, a lot from another, and I’m not even following the boards of a third. I still have a lot to learn but I’ll be watching to see if my “repins from” box changes over time.
A New Preview
Thank goodness I had some open tabs I hadn’t sorted through when the big change went out. I had Under the Sycamore/Ashley Ann Photography’s Pinterest page open so I will show you a quick before and after of the boards from her page. (click to enlarge images)
The new boards look more modern and what I really love are the new previews. Even better, by moving all the profile information to the top of the page there are now 6 boards in a row instead of 5. (Note: This will vary based on your screen resolution) I think it’s a better look, do you?
Just the Profiles
Everything else looks the same. Sites like Facebook tend to overwhelm people with all the changes but Pinterest seems interested in letting us get used to the new look before switching anything else around. I like that. Not all change has to be bad and Pinterest hasn’t changed any privacy settings with this new look (much different than Facebook) so already I feel a little better. This isn’t Pinterest’s first makeover and I doubt it will be the last. Make sure to follow the Pinterest blog, twitter page, and facebook page for their latest updates.
Follow Me on Pinterest!
for everything home, food, renovation, crafting, and garden related
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My last Pinterest post has been more popular than I ever imagined. The discussion in the comments has been full of some great questions and some great tips so I wanted to follow-up in case you missed all the extra tips we’ve been sharing.
How to Share Your Own Work on Pinterest
This has been the #1 question in the comments and you’ll be surprised how easy it is. If you have a blog, you just need the Pin it Button but if you’re like most people out there you probably just have photos of your creations saved to your computer. Don’t worry, this is really easy. Just look on your top bar on the right for the Add button. Right where the red arrow is in the photo below.
Now choose the center option, Upload a Pin and browse until you find it in the right folder. Then just place it in your board and type a description.
Writing a Good Description
Speaking of descriptions, we had a nice discussion in the comments on how important a detailed description is. While a word like “yummy” might describe how you feel about a recipe, try using keywords like “salmon” or “dinner” so other people can easily find the recipe. I tend to forget to write a good description when I’m in repinning mode but I’ll definitely make an effort to do better in the future.
Don’t forget that you can use the @ sign to alert a friend to a pin. You can also use the # symbol to tag a pin. That makes them very searchable (that is, when Pinterest’s search is working) and if you want to still say “yummy” for your recipe then just say “yummy #salmon #dinner” and you’re good to go. The last special symbol I use is the dollar sign. Just press $ and insert the current or approximate price of an item and it shows up on your pin. I do this to track the price on my favorite items or to help do a quick budget of a project’s cost. Below is an example of a good description. I used keywords like Target and dress and listed the price. (By the way, I tried on the dress, it’s adorable but you’ll probably want to size down.)
Nancy reminded me in the comments of another great way to write a description without having to type. If I see a post I like with a descriptive title and a cute picture, I just highlight the text of the description and then click my “Pin It” button. All the words I just highlighted appear right in my description box and I just have to choose a board and hit pin.
How Does Pinterest Work?
I really have no clue. I assume there’s some sort of fairies or magic at play. Really though, the site has a ton of web developers working on algorithms and mechanics and I am not one of those people. If you want to know more about the company and just how it has taken off, Business Insider has a great graphic and background story on Pinterest. One neat nugget of info- Pinterest users spend an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes on Pinterest a day. I’m so glad they aren’t tracking my usage!
What’s in Store for Pinterest?
Pinterest was at SXSW this week and they shared that they hope to rollout new Pinterest profiles (update: they’re here! see the details about the new Pinterest profiles) that make it easier for us to connect with others and show off our pins. (Details over on my facebook page) I can’t wait to see what that’ll look like but I do expect some glitches to come with it. Don’t forget that Pinterest is still in beta mode (that’s why it’s invite only) so glitches are to be expected. I like to wait an hour and try to be productive. You can always tell when Pinterest is acting up because usually I decide to do some huge crazy project.
Pinterest also announced they were hoping to rollout a new iPad app this spring so all you iPad users will finally get what you’ve been asking for. While you wait, go do like some commenters suggested and invite the people asking to join Pinterest over on Pinterest’s main facebook page. Consider it a good deed and share the love.
What pinterest feature do you want to see next?Pin It
After I had the cabinets installed, I struggled to know how to keep them organized. I have a ton of space but I also have a ton of stuff and I wanted to use the space to the best of my advantage. I’ve already shown you how I failed with my lazy susan but I wanted to show you an arrangement that’s worked for over a year now.
This is the cabinet I use most minus the ones that hold plates and cups. It holds my tupperware, gladware, mystery brand-ware (I have no brand loyalty) and my tall appliances.
So I found a new home for my rolls and used the undercabinet baskets in a new way. They were the perfect size to fit under my shelves and hold all those tricky lids. Tupperware lids in one basket, gladware lids in another basket. Then I just stacked up all the plastic containers how I like to use them. An easy solution to an annoying problem.
In the middle I store my rice cooker, blender, and ice cream maker. You’ll be seeing a lot more of that last one soon. I keep the blender in the middle because I use it the least and I keep my most frequent tools right at an arm’s reach. Don’t be afraid to switch up the standard placement of your shelves. I tend to start at the top and work my way down when setting shelf height.
At the very top I store 4 bowls. 3 are usually in my freezer holding chili but chili season is over so all 4 are ready for ice cream and sorbet duty this spring.
What do you do to keep your cabinets organized?Pin It
With Facebook and Pinterest connecting even more these days, there have been a ton of new Pinterest users coming online and wondering what the heck is Pinterest. In a way I’m glad I joined over a year ago so I could figure out all the fun ways to use it without anyone I knew watching me. (BTW- you can find me on Pinterest here) Now it seems like everyone is online using it so if you’re clueless we all get to see it. Here’s some tips to help the Pinterest newbies and even some tricks that experienced users might want to try.
1. Stop Sharing It All on Facebook
Pinterest being linked to Facebook makes it easy to find friends but how annoying is it when you see 12 updates on your Facebook feed because someone just discovered cute puppy photos? Don’t be that friend, the one who doesn’t realize they’re annoying everyone on Facebook when all you need to do is uncheck some buttons.
Log into Pinterest and go to your Settings page. Feel free to link your Pinterest page to your Facebook page but by toggling off “Add Pinterest to Facebook timeline” you’re one step closer to making your Facebook friends happier.
Now get ready to repin something. Anything. When you see the popup, make sure neither the facebook or twitter boxes are checked. Then you’re good to go!
2. Edit Your Profile
First up, I hear so many people complaining when they get new friends because then they get lots of emails every time their pins get repinned. You probably already spend time on pinterest and can view which pins of yours get repinned by viewing your pins page – http://www.pinterest.com/YOURUSERNAME/pins (so mine is http://pinterest.com/julieannie0729/pins/ or you can see the page here) so turn those pinterest emails off!
If you linked up Facebook and Pinterest then your first and last name are right on your Pinterest page. That might be fine with you now but if you want some anonymity then you can change your first or last name right from your settings page. Change any other info you want on this page, including your photo. You can add your website, a bio, a location, link your twitter page, or even your facebook page. They all end up displayed on your main pinterest page like so. My website is represented with a globe and my twitter and facebook pages are linked as well.
3. Pin It!
When I helped my mom sign up for Pinterest, I noticed she was clicking “Add” and then “Add a Pin” every time she found something new on the web. Go to the Pinterest Goodies page and just drag that Pin It button right up to your toolbar. There’s some additional info needed for Chrome so check out the page for instructions.
4. Pin the Post (Not a Blog)
I often see a really neat pin, click it to view the webpage and discover that the original pinner pinned it from their RSS feed or the front page of the website. That means a lot of searching to find that really awesome DIY project I wanted to try. Always click the title of the post you’re on to make sure you’re pinning the right part of the website. If you see something like “http://www.thehyperhouse.com/” You haven’t gone deep enough. Make sure there’s more after the slash, like this one is “http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/02/7-new-ways-to-use-pinterest/” which means you can pin this page and anyone who clicks on it will be brought right to this post.
5. Keep a 5:1 ratio
It’s really fun to discover new projects on Pinterest, right? But I’m sure you have had times when you’re browsing and you see the same dang smoothie recipe for the 100th time. I think anyone on Pinterest last fall remembers the super simple pumpkin cupcake recipe that wouldn’t die. If you’re just clicking repin on pinterest, you’re missing out on half the fun. You should try making your own creations or finding ideas from your favorite websites and pinning that new idea. Try to pin 1 new idea for every 5 repins to help keep Pinterest fresh.
6. Clear out your Bookmarks
Do you have tons of items bookmarked in your browser but never go to them? As you can see, it used to be impossible for me to find any recipes. I’m a visual person so seeing all my ideas in a Pinterest board means I’m more likely to cook the recipes instead of just meaning to. I just load my bookmarked page, pin it to a board, and then delete the bookmark. Spend 5-10 minutes a day clearing out your bookmarks and you’ll have a head start on your 5:1 ratio too.
7. Clear Out Your Folders
Let’s be honest, Pinterest appeals to most of us because we’re the type of people who had inspiration folders all over our computers. I had some leftover from my wedding, ideas for home renovation, even just funny photos making fun of the first Twilight movie. It was bad. I also had no idea where most of those photos came from and I don’t want to upload ideas to Pinterest without giving credit to the original creator.
Enter Google Images. You can drag and drop images from your computer right into the search field and it hunts down the original source for you. The results are amazingly accurate.
It not only knew from my photo that the images were plates but it also knew they were 12 days of Christmas plates, made by Rosanna, where they were online to buy, and other images cropped from the same image I had uploaded. When you use it for pinterest, just drag and drop your inspiration photo and look for the original source or a page that gives credit to the original source. Giving credit on Pinterest is always a good idea.
Like this Pinterest Post? Check out even more great Pinterest tips! Or Discuss the New Pinterest Profile.
Do you have any Pinterest secrets? Share your Pinterest account in the comments and I’ll follow you!Pin It
Hello and welcome to my lazy susan.
Sure it looks safe from the outside but inside it was a wild and dangerous place.
Let’s take a look at the offenses.
Poorly labeled containers with a dirty stand? Check. Giant duplicate containers? Check. Even more poorly labeled containers that could lead to a baking powder and baking soda mixup? Check. A hodge podge of spices and poorly bagged sugar? Check. A giant mess that makes it hard to find things? Check.
It was rough in there. Confession: I had never emptied it since I piled stuff in there after its installation in 2008. I empty out my pantry regularly but this area was out of control and hidden so I just never addressed it.
So I followed my simple organizing plan. I removed everything and cleaned it up. Then I consolidated any duplicates and threw out all the junk and expired goods. I started cleaning out all the containers and bought new ones to put all the bagged and boxed goods into.
I buy spices in bulk (if you’re a St. Louis local you won’t believe the deals for spices at Old Town Spice Shoppe in St. Charles, $2-$4 is how much I pay for most spice blends) so sometimes I just plop them in my lazy susan rather than putting them away (because I’m lazy). I finally put them all in the right place and refilled old containers that needed it.
Then it was time to put everything back. I made labels using my Cricut and some chalkboard contact paper (if you don’t want to go that route try these Martha Stewart chalkboard labels from Staples). I put the items back so I spin one way to reach all my baking items and another way to reach all my cooking items. The results speak for themselves.
It took some work but it’s so much easier to spin that lazy susan now. It’s also very empty in there so I might be able to fill it up more or jest embrace a nice, accessible cabinet. The real key to this project was having plenty of jars and plenty of labels and now I don’t dread looking at 4 years of mess that had accumulated.
1. Go vertical
One of the easiest ways to change up your cabinets is to stack things or to find new ways to go up instead of out. I found these tiered can stackers at Garden Ridge but you can find them nearly everywhere (available online here). Other solutions I like are this Pull Down Spice Rack and this can rack.
2. Use Baskets
Baskets are key to organizing your cabinets. All those little packets and Tastefully Simple mixes get thrown straight into my baskets. This one is on my pantry’s baking shelf so it holds those half empty packages of nuts, white chocolate chips, and pudding. This is a CD basket from Target’s paper rope line. It fits perfectly in my pantry so naturally I have a million of them.
3. Use containers to hold new things
I use an old cereal container and scoop I bought from Target to hold chocolate chips. Yes, I bulk buy chocolate chips. I do in fact use that many and if you do too, a cereal container is a great way to store them all.
4. Don’t Buy Everything
You don’t have to spend money to organize. I took a shoe box from the running shoes for my giant feet and wrapped it in some wrapping paper. I used scrap paper from printing out coupons to make some dividers and now my teas, coffee mixes, and cocoa have some storage of their own. All for the price of nothing! (except the shoes)
5. Don’t Just Sort the Food
If I’m not careful, I can get messy very quickly with all those paper products in my cabinets. So I buy totes and hide it all away. One holds utensils, plates, and napkins. Another holds straws for summer parties. Yet another holds cookie cutters. I’ve tried plastic bags and the like but the only way I don’t have a crazy cabinet is by locking them all up.
6. Sort It Out
Much like my organizing tip for Monday, I’m really into sorting my items by use. You saw above how I have one shelf set aside for canned goods, well I have another set aside for baking items. On the left is my tea sorter, then my chocolate chip explosion, then my baking basket, and finally on the right are some cake mixes for speeding along baking, some molasses, some powdered egg whites, and finally applesauce to lighten up some recipes. Not every shelf of mine is sorted by use but it does make it easier knowing that if I’m baking up some cookies that all my good stuff will be on the third shelf down.
Tomorrow I’ll show you why these tips are necessary and how I put them to good use with my lazy susan makeover.
Yesterday I talked about how to clean out your kitchen and to take an inventory list. I mentioned highlighting any irregular items from your inventory and today I’m going to show you how to easily base your meal plan around your pantry.
When I did this last April, some of the items that popped up on my inventory were cherry pie filling, some leftover cream, white cake mix, carrots, peanut satay sauce, coconut milk, raisins, and canned clams. There were some more obvious choices on using up some items but other items had me stumped. The clams I used in clam chowder and the cherry pie filling I used up in a quick bread.
For the raisins I went to one of my favorite sites, foodgawker. I knew I wanted a raisin dessert or breakfast item so first I searched raisins and then I chose desserts and breakfast under category on the second screen.
I had 10 pages of results but on page 3 I found a perfect recipe that used both raisins and carrots: carrot cake! On the same page I also saw Hot Cross Buns. Since I was doing this in April, Easter was right around the corner so both Hot Cross Buns and carrot cake were perfect for my menu.
Another site I like to use is food.com. I figured both the coconut milk and the cake mix could be used in a dessert so I used the site’s recipe sifter tool.
Under filter by ingredient I typed “coconut milk” and checked the green arrow to add it to my sorter.
I repeated the process with “white cake mix” and then I had just 13 recipes.
The most popular recipe was a Tres Leches Cake that not only used my coconut milk and cake mix but also used up most of my extra cream too. Bonus!
For sauces like my peanut satay, I wanted to use it all up and quickly. I was working on this all last spring so I was into grilling a bunch of meat. I took several pounds of chicken and coated it all in the peanut satay sauce before throwing it on the grill. I froze a bunch of it and over the next few weeks I had traditional satay chicken, satay pita pockets, and grilled chicken salad with satay dressing. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed trying to eat up a single ingredient, freezing is definitely the way to go.
The best part of cleaning out your pantry is how few items you’ll need to buy for your many meals. I just added the extra ingredients needed to complete my recipes to my restocking list from the cleanout. For 20 days the only items I had to buy from the store were milk, some fresh produce, and bread. It was a great way to save money and you can do it every 6 months if you’re anything like me.
How about you–what are your best tips for making a meal plan from your pantry?