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I compost old clothes when they get too old to use. Opening a ripe compost pile one day, out of the corner of my eye I saw this LONG earthworm rising with the first load. I froze. I took a long drawn-out breath to realize... that it was the leg seam of an old pair of jeans.
Textile labels may say "100% cotton," but this often refers to the cloth only; for decades sewing threads, tags etc. have been replaced with synthetics.
The front pockets came out with the next load.

Heirloom Linens

Good quality 100% cotton materials are hard to find new, so I look for them in second-hand stores.
I also save the seams after cutting them out: they can make surprisingly strong and lasting cordage and even decorative ties or drawstrings.

Bathtub Plug

A metal-backed, black rubber bathtub plug was wearing out - but nothing comparable or even usable was available to replace it. In desperation, I cut off 6cm from the closed end of a plastic vegetable bag, put the plug in the corner, wrapped the long 'tail' around it 3 times and stuck it in the drain.
Not only did it work, but the rubber stopped disintegrating, the 'tail' makes it easier to unplug the tub... and it still works after eight years.

Door Stops

Fed up with door stops that didn't work, I made my own from a piece of scrap wood 15cm long x 9cm wide x 4cm thick, sawed diagonally across the wide side between the far corners, made two triangles. They were too big, so the center was rasped down to fit under the door, then a small wedge sawed off the narrow edge to get the door closer to the wall. Finally: scraps of rubber glued to the bottom for better traction. That was 33 years ago.

Document Tubes

Tubes have been used to store and transport documents for thousands of years, and nowadays there's a usable cardboard tube inside most rolls of paper towels. Or a cut-down poster tube works too. Either way, it fits almost anywhere - including a purse - and doesn't crease or crush the papers.
Gently roll the pages into a tube shape, printed sides inwards, and make sure the roll is smaller than the tube you are putting it in. (Tip: if stapled, start rolling from the stapled end.) This works well for anywhere up to 10 pages.
And if the pages tend to curl up when taken out? Back-roll them for a few minutes to un-curl.

Disposable Gloves

* Some people are allergic to the powder used in disposable gloves. The solution: wear food-handling gloves underneath. Surprisingly this both protects the skin and actually increases sensitivity and grip... possibly due to air pockets trapped between the layers.
* Unless they are used in a medical context, disposable gloves may be re-used at least 3-4 times. The trick is to blow air into them while taking off or before putting on. I prefer them to conventional rubber gloves because of their tactile sensitivity... and their last use is for poop-scooping and garbage disposal.

Bottle Caps

Tired of child proof" bottle caps? {Especially when there aren't any children around?}
Most vitamin/supplement bottles have the same size openings - so when something else is used up, see if the screw cap fits.

Empty Tablet Bottles

Empty plastic tablet bottles are great for carrying small quantities of cough drops, decaf coffee, saccharine tablets, or storing paper clips, buttons, beads, screws – whatever.

Can Opener

Always keep an old style can-opener in the kitchen - for when those self-opening tabs break-off with the can still closed.


Keep a big-tined fork handy to untie plastic bag handles instead of cutting or ripping them open. That saves the bag for reused for storage, garbage, or plarn (plastic yarn).

Plastic Baskets

Plastic baskets organizers are great around the house.
+ Refrigerator: as 1 or 2 pull-out drawers for each shelf
+ Spices: use long, narrow baskets to line up 'savory' and 'sweet' spices by use
+ Linen closet: to stack pillowcases and face clothes
+ Vitamins & supplements: kept on a shelf in the spice cupboard, within easy reach
+ First Aid supplies: all in one basket and movable from place to place at need
Tips before buying:
~ Measure the space you want to use them in first (no over/undersized purchases).
~ Fancy decorative baskets cost more, take up more space and don't organize well - inside or out. Choose the plainest, cheapest baskets available: they clean easier and come in bright colors.
~ Pad the bottom with a paper towel or old kitchen towel for easy cleaning.

Which end is up?

Sleeping with an un-tucked top sheet causes this dilemma when re-making a bed, because most flat sheets don't have fancy borders. The solution is to tie a small knot in one of the 'foot' corners... and untie before laundering.
After squirting myself in the face for the third time, I learned to turn the nozzle of hand-sanitizers at least 90 degrees away from me before pressing the pump.

Expiry Dates

If it has an expiry date – it's important. Keep a bright, light colored marker handy and outline the date on the box/bottle/packaging when unpacking medicines, supplements or medical supplies, then store so that the oldest items are used first.
The marker fades on glossy paper, but it's still easier to see and check dates.
Tip: when more than one box of the same tablets are stored, 'flag' the current 'partial' box by leaving a side-flap open, standing up.

Mask Disposal

Before throwing away that used mask: cut open the top to remove the metal nose-bar and pull off the elastic ear bands. The metal bars make excellent bag ties. They're also great for crafters when rows/eyes/stitches have to be counted: just slip the ends through two eyes to mark rows already counted, and keep on going from there. It saves having to count again from the beginning.
The elastic will make a nice pompom pet toy when I have enough of them to tie together.

Sock Pin-Cushion

Turn a sock inside out. Rolling it down from top to toe makes a thick doughnut shape, with a depression in the middle ideal for holding a spool of thread.
Dark colored winter, sports or tube socks are best.

"Waking just one hour earlier cuts depression risk by double digits, study finds"

This was published May 28, 2021 online in
The University of Colorado at Boulder conducted a genetic study of 840,000 people and found that shifting sleep time earlier by just an hour decreases risk of major depression by 23 percent.
Judging from my own recent experiences: it works!

T-shirt Kerchiefs

Rather than throw away, 'rag' or compost Ts past their prime, I turn them into kerchiefs and sweatbands.
Each T produces 3-4 kerchiefs and 2 sweatbands, as follows:
Sleeves: make 2 doubled-over wristbands or, if large enough, 2 rolled headbands.
Back: makes 1 asymmetrical kerchief or 2 triangular ones.
Front: 2 triangular kerchiefs.
The pure cottons are great in summer both as neckerchiefs - for some reason I feel cooler with my neck covered - or rolled into headbands to keep sweat out of my eyes. The mixed fabrics feel luxurious in cooler weather – or air conditioning – while helping to keep from catching cold or a sore throat.
Or use them just to add a dash of color.


Watching an old Ivanhoe clip got me thinking about those dramatic veils women hid behind. It suddenly struck me that they weren't just hiding from men, but dust and flies too!
With weather hotting up world-wide, insects of all kinds are becoming more irksome. Thinking about this while pottering in my yard, I remembered a friend's gift of several gauzy shawls. Grabbing one, I knotted the short ends together to make a long tube, put the center over my neck and my hands through the knotted ends. Voila: gardening garb!
Some days I center the shawl on my head, put a peaked cap on top of it and flip the leading edge back over my head, away from my face. That works too!

Long-haired Summer

Wearing long hair in a bun in summer is hot, but tying it into a ponytail with elastic is little better. Putting it up one morning I suddenly got a brainstorm.
After twisting all the hair together I clipped only half of it to the back of my head, leaving the rest to fall over the clip. It's off my neck... and I can flip it at encroaching flying things, like a real pony tail!
Con: can't put my head back in a car with headrests.
Pro: it fits into the hole at the back of my peaked-caps, stopping them from flying away in the wind. 



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Monday, 22 July 2024

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