Giving household hints could become a hobby
Monday, May 05, 2014 3:31 AM
Someone - no one is sure whom - once said, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
I like to find the easiest way to do things and so often I find new or different ways to accomplish a task. I think that is a form of inventing and that leads me to believe it isn't necessity that leads to invention; instead, it is laziness.
One of the things I read fairly regularly in the daily newspaper, now that I am retired and have the luxury of doing so, is "Hints from Heloise." Sometimes I think the suggestions I read are pretty silly, such as new ways to use the little bags that hold dry Jell-o inside the cardboard boxes. I do recycle, but that is carrying it to the extremes. Or maybe other people use a lot of Jell-o and therefore have a lot of those little waxed paper bags, and after all, recycling is a good thing.
Many times I think of better ways to do or use the things I read about in those columns. Often I promise myself I am going to write to "Heloise" and share my own hints with the world. One of my better ones, I think, is a really old habit of mine. When I wore suits to work every day, they were of the "dry clean only" type, and unlike shirts, I didn't launder them after each wearing. But I couldn't always remember how many times I had worn each one since the last cleaning. So I devised a system to keep track. I had a small dish of plastic curtain rings that I kept on a handy shelf in the closet. Each time I wore a suit, I'd grab one of those small plastic rings and put it round the neck of the hanger for that suit. When there were four rings on that hanger, it was time for the suit to go to the dry cleaners.
My jewelry is not the elegant kind that comes - and gets stored - in velvet-lined boxes. It all just goes in a drawer, but inevitably the earrings get separated and I used to end up not being able to find the second earring of a pair. So I went to the secondhand store and bought all of the refrigerator ice cube trays I could find. They house my earrings, each pair having its own little compartment so they don't get separated. The trays are stackable, and I arrange the pairs by color, so it is easy to find what I want even if the trays are stacked three-deep in a drawer.
I solved the problem of necklaces getting tangled up by hanging pegboard on a wall inside a closet. The belts, bracelets, hats and purses can be stored that way too. At one house I had no accessible wall space in the closets, so I used a collection of decorative hooks and made an attractive display on the bedroom wall. I find that anything I can easily see or find gets used more, because I am too lazy to hunt!
The backs of deep base corner cabinets are pretty useless if I can't see what is there. I have never seen risers for use in deeper cabinets, so I cut down three sturdy cardboard boxes to three different heights, and voila! Now I have large tiers in my pantry so I can see what is in the dark corners in the back.
My spices are arranged in alphabetical order, label facing up, in a kitchen drawer. I use empty checkbook boxes to separate and arrange different-sized batteries in a drawer, so I never have to paw through those to see if I have a particular size. Those same boxes are also great for pens and pencils, and other small items that otherwise would roll around-and eventually out of sight-in the desk drawer.
The "invention" of which I am most pleased is a way to fold a top sheet so I never struggle with getting all sides even when making the bed. Right out of the dryer, I fold it in half, top to bottom, with the side I want facing up on the inside. Then I fold it in half again side to side, with the top edge of the sheet on the inside. From that point on I just keep on folding until it is of the size to stack in the linen closet. When making the bed, I unfold all except what were the first two folds, and place it in the middle of the bottom half of the bed. I unfold those remaining two folds, and again Voila: a perfectly centered sheet, ready to tuck in at the bottom.
I must admit there are still times when I cannot find something when I really need it. However, I am continually working on devising not necessarily the easiest ways; I prefer to say the most efficient.
Writing this has started me rethinking those little Jell-o containers, not the bags but the little boxes themselves. Cut out one side, and it becomes what could be a very useful small container, somewhere around an inch or so high and maybe three by three inches. I can see them now, a bunch of them inside a shallow drawer holding any assortment of things like paper clips, rubber bands, right next to the old checkbook boxes.
Hmmm...maybe I'll add a few boxes of Jell-o to the grocery shopping list.