Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DIY Pedicure


I'll give the quick and dirty suggestion first and put the story toward the end, just in case no one happens to be interested in the randomness in my life which contributes to my bursts of DIY genius.

(The genius part was a joke.)

1) Find a large bowl. Large enough to fit both of your feet and a good bit of water.

2) Mix a quarter cup of white vinegar with three or four cups of hot water. Use enough water to cover your feet once you've put them in the bowl.

3) Get your tools of the trade. If you've got nail clippers, bring 'em. Nail file? Sure thing. One of those little cuticle scraper thingamabobbers? Absolutely. Pumice stone / nail brush / tire iron? Get it.

4) Find a comfy place to sit and read / watch tv / knit while you are soaking your feet.

5) Lay a towel down under the bowl, put your feet in, and kick back. I would recommend fifteen minutes of uninterrupted soaking. Trust me, your feet will not smell like vinegar when this is all over.

6) About fifteen minutes into the soak, use your tools to remove dead skin from your toenails, between the toes, and your heels. I recommend using a cuticle tool to clean around and under your nails. Use a pumice stone (or if you don't have one, any kind of brush with stiff bristles will do. No extra brushes laying around? How about a washcloth?) to exfoliate your whole foot. The vinegar and water mixture will have softened your skin so that removing dead skin will be much easier. If you are having trouble scrubbing dead skin away, soak your feet for another fifteen minutes or so.

7) Dry your feet off. Enjoy. It feels pretty amazing to bring your feet straight out of a vinegar bath like this. They'll be soft and clean and bright.

8) Optional: Embellishments. Sometimes I like to finish up with some foot lotion and nail clipping and painting. Other times, I just let it ride. Clean, fresh, and vibrant feet.

What I really like about this method is that the only person who touches your feet throughout this process is YOU and you're not sticking your feet into a bath where goodness knows what kind of feet have been before. And, of course, there are no harsh chemicals in the mix to irritate your skin. And there are no funny smells (like we often encounter in nail salons). Oh, not to mention that this method will save you the cost of your salon-style pedi. More money to spend on wine!

... Now for the story behind the glory. If you are interested, that is. This might be a bit too much information for some of you. But that's what makes life interesting.

One Sunday, a friend and I were sitting on my couch after a long night of partying. We had been out on the town in Athens, GA where the drinks are cheap (so you buy lots of them). We're laying around, unshowered, reeking of the previous evening's libations. I look over and I see that my friend has fixed her gaze on something. I glance down expecting to see a bug or perhaps a forgotten clump of food from the late night fast food run the night before. Instead, I see that she is, in fact, staring at my little toe. As I realize this, she says to me,

"K, you've got toenail fungus."

What?! I look down. Sure, my pinky toe was a little yellow. And hey, it even looked a little cracked... but that was normal, right?! She gets closer to my toenail.

"Yup. I've seen toenail fungus before and you've got it. That's toenail fungus for sure."

Great. How do I get rid of this $hit? What do I have to do?

"K, you need to go to the doctor. You need to get some medicine for that."

Pffff. I tend to turn my nose up at suggestions like that sometimes (admittedly, sometimes I stupidly turn my nose up to ideas that seems too "conventional" for me. But that's because I'm a stubborn a-hole). I did a quick google search and found a suggestion to soak feet in hot water and vinegar for thirty minutes a day in order to kill toenail fungus and to prevent future bouts with the sucker. I quickly pieced together a huge bowl, some hot water, and some vinegar. Within minutes, I was back on the couch, hoping for the tussin-like powers of the vinegar to take away the toenail fungus with which my friend had very recently diagnosed me. I kind of liked soaking my feet. In fact, I got all interactive on my feet. I clipped and cleaned my nails, used a scrub brush... by the time my vinegar feet soaking experience was over, my feet were lookin' good. The most surprising thing about the whole experience to me was how CLEAN the vinegar made my feet. And how soft they were afterwards. They were just about glowing when I was done with the whole thing. I thought that was kind of neat.

Oh, and the toenail fungus turned out to be a case of dirty feet; I had worn open-toed shoes the night before while we were out on the town. Pinky toe fungus averted! Cheap pedicure idea invented! It was destiny.

Dog and Dishwasher Smells


I'll probably post a lot in the future about vinegar. My husband always laughs at K and I and quotes Chris Rock's, " 'tussin" routine but uses the word vinegar instead of " 'tussin". But currently I'm impressed with the ability of vinegar to correct all my "stanky" issues. Below are two I really like.


Solution to stanky dog:

Right now it is a hot MUGGY Georgia summer, BLECK! Every time I walk my dog and come back inside, I discover that she STINKS! She smells like she's run a marathon and all we did was go take a leak! Not to mention my dog has long wiry fur that tends to feel greasy quickly. This is sooo frustrating because I can't give her a bath without risking drying out her skin. Usually, she just had a bath within the past two days. But never fear, vinegar's here.


1. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

2. Spray dog.

3. Rub the solution down into the dog's fur.


And that's it! When the vinegar dries your dog won't smell of either vinegar or dog stank and his/her fur will look gorgeous and clean again!


Solution to stanky dishwasher:

Now K can tell you in my house the kitchen is always a wreck. ALWAYS. I work from home, my daughter is at home, and my husband is currently home as well. We just can't avoid making kitchen messes, WE'RE ALWAYS HERE! Our dishwasher constantly has dishes in it waiting fill up a load. Sometimes the dishwasher will sit for 2 or 3 days before one of us takes the time to finish loading it up. It never fails that the second you open the dishwasher door you are SMACKED silly by the odors of food residue I don't even want to think about! BUT THERE'S A SOLUTION that doesn't require you to alter your family's routine, because we all know that won't happen!


Pour a little vinegar into the base of the dishwasher and the vinegar eliminates the food odors! You might find that you do get a small whiff of vinegar when you open the door, but that is a far more tame smell the what can be otherwise lurking in a locked dishwasher for 2 days!


I also recommend this if you are headed out of town. Nothing like week old dishwasher stank to instantly return you to reality after a vacation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Big Book of Happy


My friend Lisa gave me this book, and I'm completely in love with it. I'm always trying to come up with cool, QUICK AND CHEAP ways to keep my child engaged. The TV becomes a #1 go-to item in our house. There are two reasons this bothers me, 1. I do not want my child to be a couch potato and 2. the novelty of the TV is diminished when it is on all day long.


The reason I REALLY love this book is that most of the games and activities are something that you can put together quickly, you are reusing products in your home, and you can also dispose of or dismantle instead of accruing more toys that inevitably your child will tire of leaving them only one option, to act as agents of mass destruction to the underside of adult size feet.


One example from the book that I really love: Using paper grocery bags as a canvas for water footprints that evaporate quickly to keep the fun going and it holds a small child's attention for at least 20 minutes I've discovered. I'm so in love with this activity because I do not have to worry about finding room in my daughter's toy box. I put my gladware container of water up and I recycle the bag!


Obviously, recycling and reusing is a personal goal that I'm not near as active as I would like to be. And I'm chronically forgetting my reusable grocery bags and I find kitchen cabinets overflowing with plastic bags that I refuse to throw away. For some reason my cat's litter box needs just can't keep up with my grocery bag collection.


Most of the concepts in the book are very simple ideas that you want to bonk yourself on the forehead for not thinking of yourself. But hey, I'm fine with letting some else come up with the ideas sometimes. That's why K and I started this blog, give people ideas from our heads!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Child's Play

My daughter's birthday was very recent. At her party she received toy pots, pans, and fake food. My daughter is in love with these items, but alas, the poor child has NO WHERE to use them. She thought the idea of cooking on her table was wrong, plain wrong. I looked at Target and I do not have $130 to spend on a child's toy stove. That seems insane to me. My child is 2, she doesn't care anything about a $130 stove. So I dug a hole in my brain to come up with a solution... and there it was SIMPLE AS CAN BE! A cardboard box.

This is how I did it.
1. Wrap the box in craft paper or old Christmas paper turned inside out.
2. Fold a small piece of your paper to make the back of the stove for the knobs.
3. Cut a square out for the oven door using a steak knife, box cutter, or scissors.
4. Use string, pipe cleaner, anything you can find to make the oven handle. Punch small holes using your knife and tie a knot in your oven door material and slide the to-be handle through to the other end.
5. Paint, use marker, crayon, pen, or whatever you have on hand to make the stove eyes, knobs, and oven window. I used paint and used both my fingers and a paint brush. You could even have your child join in for an afternoon activity.
That is all there is to it. This project took me 40 minutes and $0. My daughter plays with the stove everyday and it can be easily moved from location to location unlike expensive store bought versions. I can even pack it up to take to grandma's or stash it in my daughter's closet with ease.
The part my husband likes the most about my creation is the clean up. Not only did my daughter lack a place to play with her kitchen toys, but we didn't have a place to store them. Now when she's done, we ask her to pop all the toys in the oven and viola! Instant clean up and organization all in a simple "package". :)

Baking Soda

Since the day I scrubbed my bathroom with bleach and a toothbrush while I was 9 months pregnant, I vowed to NEVER use toxic chemicals in my household cleaning again. My bathroom was not well ventilated and I was very light-headed and queasy for hours. Some of that might had to do with me scrubbing for 3 hours with 25 lbs of baby attached to me, but I blame the bleach.

After that day I threw out my Spray-Away glass cleaner, my 409, Comet, and anything else that could possibly threaten me or my child with the word CANCER.
A lot of people know the tricks of using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to clean bacteria off of counters and toilets, but my dilemma hit with SCRUBBING. I started using Oxy-clean to avoid products like Comet. I quickly learned this was no good either. I was having the same inner turmoil with Oxy-clean. Then I came cross baking soda! THIS PRODUCT IS AMAZING!
I have SCRUBBED the grim off of my bath tub, my vinyl floors (great for small artsy grooves that a mop can't get), sinks, and my favorite, THE ELECTRIC STOVE EYE DRIP PANS! I have never in my life ever been able to get those clean.
Here are my baking soda tricks:
Vinyl floors
1. Using a spray bottle, spray down your floors with vinegar and mop as usual.
2. Using a sponge, scrub the floor with baking soda on any rough places. Do the whole floor if you are in super-clean-it-all mode.
3. Re-spray the entire floor with vinegar. Your floor should bubble a little. Let it sit for a few minutes.
4. Come back with a mop and clean up the baking soda and vinegar solution.
5. If you find there is still a small gritty film, a damp towel across the floor works well.

Stained aluminum sinks
Using a sponge, scrub like crazy with baking soda and let it sit. Then rinse with water.

Electric stove drip pans
1. Spray pans with vinegar, let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Liberally sprinkle pans with baking soda and let the pans sit over night.
3. Next day use a sponge to scrub the grime and burned on pieces away. It also does a stellar job removing grease stains.

Carpet stains (great for pets, wine, and milk)
1. Sop up all offensive liquid with a dry towel.
2. Saturate carpet with vinegar.
3. Sop up excess vinegar with a dry towel.
4. Sprinkle baking soda on top of vinegar and let sit until the baking soda dries. This could take 2 or 3 days. But if your dog or child touches it, no big deal, IT'S NOT TOXIC!
5. Vaccuum up baking soda. Use half water and half vinegar and a fresh towel to loosen any stuck on baking soda.

Now your carpet is nice and clean free of stain and odor.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Stupid Earbuds Won't Stay in My Wonky Ears!

So, my ears must be some kind of freak accident, because no earbud-style headphones will ever EVER stay in my ears. Especially when I'm running. Sh*t, I went to the pool today and was lying perfectly still there on the deck chair and the damned things STILL fell out of my ears. You might say, "K, why don't you buy a regular set of headphones and give up your earbuds?" That is a great question. To which I only respond that a combination of laziness mixed with a tight budget has prevented me from purchasing new headphones. Besides, I like to come up with ways to make things work on my own. So, without further adieu, I will share with you my simple yet satisfying way to make any old pair of annoying earbud headphones something with which you can lie at the pool and even go jogging, should you feel so inclined. It's amazingly simple, just like me:


1) Put your earbuds in.
Yeah, duh, right?


2) Find a visor
that you can adjust to fit your head size. If you don't have a visor, a sweatband that fits snugly around your head will do. You can use an old scarf, part of a towel... you just have to be able to fasten it around your head.

3) Adjust your visor/head band/do-rag so that it fits tight across your ears and your earbuds.

4) Go for a jog.

I have tried this many times with my silly earbuds and it works like a charm. I've used both sweatbands and a visor even on long runs, and the earbuds stay in place. So, no fiddling around with them while you're trying to get in the zone (or wherever you are trying to get...).

Simple, I know. But magical!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shine that Silver!

Recently a friend of mine told me that she had inherited a good deal of sterling silver pieces from a family member. She complained to me that polishing each piece was taking FAR too long. Her method? Buying the silver polish and using that tiny little brush thingie that comes with the polish. So, I shared with her a little something that I found to be useful when trying to freshen up tarnished silver. This will work for nearly any piece of silver, be it dishes, jewelry, door handles...

1) Grab an old sock. You know, a sock whose match has fallen victim to the dryer monster. Any lonely old cotton sock will do. I personally prefer white. Come on, you've got one laying around somewhere.

2) Grab the nearest tube of toothpaste (or silver polish, if you only want to half DIY).

3) Put that sock on your hand! Revisit the days of your DIY puppeting skills. For some of us, those days aren't as far gone as for others.

4) Moisten your sock with a bit of warm water from the sink.

5) Squeeze a quarter-sized amount of toothpaste onto your socked hand. Use your thumb and forefinger to spread it around a bit on the sock.

6) Rub the tarnish away. Depending on the surface area of the item that you are trying to polish, you'll have to re-load your sock with toothpaste or polish.

7) Rinse your item and VOILA! Take a gander at your new, beautiful silver jewelry/plate/serving spoon.