Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Three (Cheap!) Little Gadgets You Won't Want to Miss!!!

I've discovered three things recently that have knocked my socks off with their "wowness" factor by either making a project (or dinnertime) way easier than it would've otherwise been, or by just simply saving me time and effort. These three little gadgets have made such an impact on my domestic life, that I just HAD to take a moment to share them with you! I cannot wait for you to be as equally impressed!

Up first... Steel Wool.

So, it all started when I bought a rusty old cast iron skillet for $5 at a favorite thrift store. I looked up how to restore/refinish it on Pinterest, and it called for a couple of items including...steel wool. I headed to the Dollar Store, bought a pack of steel wool "balls" in a three-pack (for $1!) and began the de-rusting, de-greasing, and de-junking of my new skillet. After letting the pan soak in oven cleaner for a few days, I grabbed one of the steel wool balls and began to scour the pan (I had never used steel wool before because I'd always shied away from the shiny balls of scratchy metal coils afraid of what they might do to any surface they touched) something miraculous happened: with hardly any effort or "elbow grease" the gunk was literally melting off the pan! I pulled a few cookie sheets and baking dishes out of the drawer that had been covered in layers of black "tar" (grease drippings, burnt marinades, etc.) that hadn't even budged under the pressure of my blue scouring sponges or the heat of my dishwasher, just to see what would happen, and I almost passed out: the black stuff just scrubbed right off...good as new! This opened a whole new world of cleaning power to me! I felt invincible! Suddenly, things that I had never been able to get really clean seemed do-able! I boiled some water in my tea kettle, poured a thin layer of the steaming hot water onto the surface of my stove, let it sit for a minute or two, and then rubbed those stubborn crusty stains right off! My stove looked cleaner than it had in...forever! I was thrilled! Those little metal balls have become my best friend in the kitchen! In fact, my old blue scouring sponges now make me laugh just a little. Sure, they might soap up the dishes, or wipe off the counter well, but when it comes to getting tough gunk off of anything...steel wool is the way to go. (But do make sure to test any new surface before scouring away as steel wool can scratch some surfaces)

Secret Weapon #2: A Painting Edger

A few months ago I decided to paint our laundry room. We've lived in this house for almost 8 years, and although we've painted most of the walls in our home, the laundry room had remained a stained up, yucky off-white color, riddled with unused nail holes and lots of scratches. It had bothered me for years, and it was time to do something about it. I picked out a lovely purplish grey color (unappetizingly called "Wet Concrete"), took the time to tape the molding and light switches, and began to paint. Usually my husband has done most of the paint work, but this project was all me. And amazingly, I got most of it done! But although I had rolled the paint nearly up to the ceiling (or as close as I could comfortably get without actually hitting the roller ONTO the ceiling), there was about a 2 inch strip of white paint at the very top that still needed painted. And for a few months, that's how it sat. And I started to wonder if I was ever going to finish it. Because once you lose your painting groove, it's hard to get it back. And honestly, I just didn't know how to DO that part! Do I tape the entire ceiling? Do I do it by hand with a tiny brush! How painstaking! I don't have time for that! I was mentioning my unfinished painting woes to a friend (a friend who happens to be a domestic goddess - seriously, Martha Stewart would be impressed with what this girl's got going on) and she nonchalantly explained to me the secret weapon of painting: a $2.97 red plastic painting edger, conveniently located in the painting section of your local hardware store. She explained to me the beautiful simplicity of this tool. It's a little plastic square, with a flat brush/sponge on the back, and wheels on one side. You gently set this miracle worker, brush side down, into your paint, (don't push it down, just rest it gently on the top of your paint so it gets a nice thin coat on the brush), then position it with the wheels against the wall or area you DON'T want painted (so for me, I had the wheels against the ceiling), and just glide it along! I started in one corner, went along that wall, re-dipped, went along the next wall, re-dipped, finished the third wall...and the fourth. I had finished the entire room - with a PERFECT straight edged line - in less than five minutes!!! In fact, it worked so well that I realized I may never have to mess with that silly blue tape again! This thing is so great (and covers a good 3-4'' of space) that you can literally paint the main area without taping anything and then just go around the edges with this handy tool to finish everything up! And less than THREE DOLLARS, folks! It's a no-brainer!

And finally, the easy dinner solution: Pre-packaged, vacuum-packed, Organic Sourdough loaves from Costco.

We were strolling down the bread aisle at Costco a few months ago, and on one of the end caps, they had something new: a three pack bundle of Organic Sourdough bread loaves. The bundle of three separately packaged loaves was about $7. A little over $2 per loaf, but they were good sized loaves, so we figured it was worth it. Because the best part: they are sealed in air-tight packaging that has had all the oxygen pulled out which means these loaves don't last just days (like the ones we usually buy fresh from the bakery only to find them hard and dried out if not used up the next day), they don't even last weeks...these bad boys last up to several MONTHS. Fresh bread, at your fingertips, for MONTHS. No more having to call Robert on his way home to have him pick up a loaf of bread (such a hassle for one item!), no, now I have fresh bread on hand for every meal! I simply cut open a package, pop the loaf into the oven for 8 minutes to warm it up, and voila! Like I baked it myself! Perfect with soup, and the next day I slice up what's left and use it to make the best french toast you've ever tasted. So now when we go to Costco, I usually buy two or even three bundles knowing that I can use them as-needed and that they won't go bad for MONTHS! And they're amazingly delicious, too! Win, win!

So. Those three little things have literally revolutionized my ability to clean, paint, and make dinner. Less fuss, less money, and way more convenience. It truly is amazing how sometimes just having the right tool really makes the job easier. You can get all three of those things for about $10 TOTAL, and if time is money, then it's most likely the best $10 you'll ever spend.

Let me know which "tool" works best for you! And if I come across any other miracle workers...I'll be sure to let you know!



  1. Great finds, Holly! I'm all about finding the right tools to get the job done. Sometimes it's just the little things! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Seriously, Jodi! It has me wondering what other life-changing tools are out there that could make other jobs a whole lot easier!!!

  2. Great post, very interesting paint thingummy! I don't think I have ever seen anything like that here. Must look on e-bay. I did a post like this a few months back, take a look here: http://throwinanything.blogspot.com.es/2014/04/thingummies-for-organizing.html
    Have a lovely day :) S.

    1. Thank you! And I love your organizing ideas, too! I do the same thing with socks (!) and those pastry cutters you bought are just lovely! Blessings to you!