Do-it-yourself ideas, bargains and resources for all around your home.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vinyl tiles under the sink.

The June 2008 Good Housekeeping has a great idea for the area under your kitchen sink: add self-stick vinyl tiles to the bottom on your sink cabinet. This will protect it from the spills and mess that inevitable happen there. I'm pretty sure we still have some plain black tiles leftover from the previous owners and I think I may try this.

Among the other good ideas from the article:
• Install a pullout basket for storing cleaners, dishwashing detergents, etc.
• Attach a wire basket to the inside of the cabinet door for sponges.
• Use a riser shelf (normally used in upper cabinets) to expand the vertical space (tuck smaller items, like garbage bag boxes, underneath and put taller items, like a bucket, on top).
• Add a lazy susan in the front of the cabinet for frequently used items.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Walgreen's $10 off $30.

Walgreen's must have been happy with the way last week's coupon did. Click here to print this coupon, which is good for Friday, May 30 only. I've already made my Walgreen's trip this week, so I believe I'll pass on this one. But it's good to see another pop up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recycling for dollars.

I just stumbled upon, a website that gives rewards points for your household and business recyclables. The service isn't available where I live (our recycling is picked up by the city), but oh how I wish it was. I've signed up so I'll be notified if it does come here.

Every week when we put out our trash, we have a filled recycle bin, along with two small trash cans of additional materials. Our large garbage bin (also provided by the city) is never full anymore. I look up and down the street and maybe see three or four recycle bins set out. None are even close to being filled.

I don't understand why more people don't recycle. Especially when, in our area, all you have to do is put your stuff out on the curb. You don't even have to separate paper from plastics. When we redid the kitchen last year, I made sure to include a pull-out trash cabinet that has two cans. The front one gets trash, the back one gets cardboard, paper, plastic and metal. When I pull out the cabinet, all I have to do is think about which can to drop the item in. Easy peasy. Even my girls know which one to use.

Are there any good reasons for not recycling?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Party tip: chill drinks quickly.

We just finished hosting Margret's first grade class end-of-the-year party, and I think it was a success. Nineteen of the twenty kids came (one had a death in the family) and we had maybe half a dozen siblings and another 6-8 parents. One mom brought her small moon bounce, which of course was a big hit. So was the wagon I pulled out of our shed. It seems like every kid took turns pulling every other kid in it. They played on the playground, blew bubbles, dug around in the sandbox, twirled hula hoops and drew with chalk. We let them decorate bags, then each kid got two whacks at the pinata.

Lunch was pizza and chips, along with juice bags and water and ice pops. And then the greatest thing happened. The ice cream man showed up! Okay, we called ahead of time. But the kids looooooooooved it. About 20 minutes before the kids had to go back to the classroom we brought them inside and made them put on shoes and gather their stuff. I got to give each kid a hug and tell them I enjoyed getting to know them this year.

Wait. I think I was supposed to be giving you a party tip. Oh yes. When you are having a party and need to chill a bunch of canned drinks quickly, put your ice in the cooler (or other large container) and add water. Then sprinkle a handful of salt into the mix. Dump the cans in and they will be chilled in about 30 minutes. Cool, huh?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walgreen's $5 off $20.

Need to pick up a few things for the house? Click here for a Walgreen's coupon that gives you $5 off a $20 purchase. But it's only good on Friday, May 23. Check your weekly flyer and see if there's anything your family needs. And pay attention to items that say "Register Rewards" in the ad. When you buy those items, you'll get a coupon back for $ off your next purchase. You might also check your coupon stash (if you have one) and the Walgreen's EasySaver catalog (found in the store by the rack of weekly flyers). It has coupons on select items and info on rebates. You can use a Walgreen's coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on the same item as long as you meet brand/size/limit requirements. Even better, you can sometimes get a rebate back that makes the item free or close to it.

Once you have all the stuff you are going to buy, make sure the price without coupons is at least $20. Then hand the cashier the $5 coupon and then the rest of your coupons.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Planning on leaving your house?

If you've got a vacation coming up, you may want to check out "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush." You'll find checklists for a variety of types of travel (beach vacation vs. a cruise vs. a driving trip). I haven't made a list, but we have a few trips coming up and I'm going to give it a shot.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.

My friend, Roxi, posted on my other blog about the fabulous Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. You may get these in the mail or in your Sunday paper, and maybe you have tossed them because they have expired. Don't do it!! They will take expired coupons and they will take a coupon for each item you are buying. And, they will take Linen N Things coupons also (LNT has filed for bankruptcy and may still be taking B3 coupons; in any event they are closing stores in some areas but keeping a few open.).

I love B3 and frequently go there when I need a household thing: bath towels, kitchen rug, plastic cup for the bathroom, canvas bins for our closet, etc. If you aren't getting the coupons, you can sign up on the home page under "email sign up". I keep a few coupons in my purse, and the rest in my large coupon file.

Home Depot's Garden Club and Workshops.

Home Depot offers a garden club (you can sign up here) and I've heard talk of a "buy 1 get one free" deal on hanging plants available when you sign up for the newsletter. I imagine they send out other coupons throughout the summer time as well.

And this may be too late for you, but some Home Depots are offering a free seminar tonight on Landscaping and Outdoor Water Conservation. Click here for more details. I see that attendees get a $10 off $100 purchase coupon.

I went to a Home Depot workshop years ago and it wasn't very well done. But I think that the local people had not been well-prepared by the corporate team. Seems like they were sent a box of stuff without being given a program to teach. I'm sure they've gotten their act together by now, and I'd love to hear a review of this program if you go.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Free two-year subscription to Country Home.

According to Freebies 4 Mom (a website I love), you can get a FREE two-year subscription to Country Home magazine. I checked out the website and it says they will not send a bill, nor will they continue to bill you without notice for paid subscriptions when they expire.

I think I've picked up this magazine from time to time and I like it. But I'll read any home magazine just for the inspiration and ideas. I can't wait to get my first copy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

$10 off $25 at Lowe's.

I love Lowe's.

They built a new store a few years back that is so close to us so they are pretty much our default home improvement store. They also did my kitchen, which I love, so they get some extra points for that. We've bought lighting fixtures, CFLs, mulch, plants, lumber, hardware, PVC pipe and countless other things in the past year. We even picked up a push mower a few weeks back. And we used our $10 off a $25 purchase coupon to make it an even better deal. You can get one too: click here. You just need to use a Visa card, and that includes VISA debit cards as well.

And while you're at the Lowe's site, you may want to sign up for their free Creative Ideas magazine. It's got another coupon it in. And if I had a big porch at my house, I would surely be building that giant bed swing. Right this minute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free plants!

Spring Hill Nursery is offering $20 off a $20 purchase; click here for details. I've never used this site, but I've seen other blogs mention other deals offered and they really do come through for you. Only one offer per household and you pay the shipping. And don't forget to sign up for their newsletter.

I think I'll look around on this site tomorrow and perhaps pick something out. The girls and I picked up a $1 box of "bird and butterfly" flower mix from Walgreens and we plan on sprinkling that in the backyard in a day or two. Way in the backyard. Little girls need room to run.

I love caulk.

I especially love free caulk. Click here to get a sample of GE's new caulk singles. Mine arrived yesterday and I'm eagerly looking for a reason to use. I've already done my sink backsplashes, but if yours need redoing, this would be a great product to use. According to the website you need just one packet for this type of job. Let me know if you get one and tell us what you use it for.

ETA: I've added a clickable box in the upper right.

Cleaning a glass cooktop.

My self-imposed break is over. I originally started this blog with the intention of covering do-it-yourself home projects while I worked on my home. I've got most of my projects done, but I hate not posting here. So I'm back. Now I'll broaden my coverage to bring you posts that cover home maintenance and special offers that I see (check back later for some of these).

Today's topic is how to clean a glass cooktop. When we remodeled our kitchen last year, I chose a stove with a ceramic cooktop. I didn't do much research. I looked at the Lowe's sale flyer when I was placing my cabinet order and pointed to one. William, my kitchen designer, added it to my very long receipt. I bought all my appliances then because I could save the sales tax. Apparently if Lowe's is doing the installation, you don't get charged the sales tax. Which is significant in Tennessee.

Anyhoo. We got our stove. It looks lovely. But cleaning it is a pain! I've learned to use Windex for daily cleaning (409 gets smeary). And I also bought a bottle of ceramic cooktop cleaner at the grocery store. It's a soupy, pasty kind of stuff that I don't use every day, but when I want it to really shine, I'll buff some on. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that John hates this cooktop and says I can never buy another one like it. No seriously, he hates it and tells me that twice a week. I, too, would rather have a gas range, but that's just not happening right now.

Last night, after I let a pot of milk/water/noodles/spices boil over, we had a huge mess on the cooktop. Huge. After all, how do you clean up a nasty mess when your burner element is red hot? So we let it cool off and tried to clean it after dinner. Uh. Not good. See below.

Messes like this really show up well in person. The stove looks filthy and we look like complete pigs. Can't have that. I told John I'd work on it today.

I sprayed some Windex. Then the stain laughed at me. Then I Googled "cleaning a ceramic cooktop" and most of the advice was to use a single-edged razor at a 45 degree angle. I whipped mine out and went to work. I tried using it on a dry surface (good for the thickest areas of the spill) and also after spraying more Windex (good for lighter areas). After I scrapped as much as I could (probably about 10 minutes' worth), I used the cooktop cleaner and nearly every bit came off. See below, again.

Ahhhhh. I'm really amazed that it got this clean. I've read that with some stains/spills, once they got hot again they are impossible to clean up. I've also seen the recommendation to start scraping right after the spill -- use an oven mitt to hold your scraper. I'll add that while the scraper is great, you want to be very conscious of how hard you are scraping. Do just enough to lift the spill or you'll end up gouging the surface.

Anyone else want to add any cooktop cleaning tips? Besides thinking twice about buying this type of stove?