looking for something?

if you've known me for more than a minute you may have heard my expression for what it feels like when i get an idea that just makes sense: 'it's like a white hot hammer of inspiration to the back of the head'

Monday, December 31, 2012

Break it to fix it, part 1

courtesy of my large collection of vintage how-to, DIY, helpful hints, home repair and craft books, i want to share some of the break it to fix it tips i've learned.

Reader's Digest The Family Handyman Helpful Hints, 1995:

1. sagging cabinet door with standard butt hinges? pop the top hinge pin out, give it a slight bend and hammer it back into the hinge. it will lift the sagging hinge just slightly back into place.

2. need a can rack in your pantry? buy a vinyl coated standard wire closet shelf and mount it upside down at a slant so the back is elevated enough to send the cans rolling toward the front and the front edge forms a lip that catches the can.

3. if you are a gardener with a broken lampshade, save the shade and rip the covering off. next time you have a short droopy plant that needs a frame, use the lampshade like you would a tomato frame to keep your greenery from falling down

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Magnet madness

Finally got around to making the sheet steel backing in the medicine cabinet a permanent installation. Liquid nails is great!

Not all of these things will go here in my cabinet permanently, but earlier today a friend asked what i would hang like this. So i tried everything i could think of in 5 minutes. Note: tube of neosporin didn't work. But that's ok because it's got an adhesive hang tab and a cup hook
Total project, including the liquid nails (of which there was a lot left in an already partially used tube) was about $15.
steel: $6
liquid nails: $3
magnetic hooks (4): $3
20 pack 8mm magnets: $3
(the bulldog clip was junk from a drawer, no idea where it came from or how much it cost at the time, but harbor freight sells a 3 pack for $3)
Result: no more lost little items or bandaids stuck to the bottom of sticky cough medicine bottles.

There are multiple techniques at work for hanging:

1. Steel items can be stuck to super strong magnets that are stuck to the steel sheet. Like hairpins, scissors, nail clippers, spare drain plugs with a steel ring in them, little containers of lip balm or lotion (this example is burt's bees res Q balm).

2. Lightweight containers with thin walls get a loose magnet dropped in. Take the container down to use and the magnet automatically gets drawn back to the sheet steel when you hang it back up. Good for pill boxes, bandaid/gauze boxes, sewing kits from the dollar store, little thin walled plastic tubs. This might also work with dental floss containers but i already messed with my roommate's dental floss this week and i didn't think she'd appreciate me opening it up to put magnets in it. (definitely wouldn't work for my waterpik!)

3. Magnetic pencil holders, 25 for $1 from american science and surplus. This is good for any light cylindrical items that fit. Eye pencils, lipliner, a pen, toothbrush. I also use these on my fridge for the dry erase markers.

4. Thin things held up in a "normal" way with magnets. Loose bandaids, tooth whitening strips, sudafed, plastic baggy of pills, whatever will hold. the ace bandage clips will be staying in my cabinet like this because i lose them like crazy.

5. Slightly heavier non magnetic containers with magnets glued on. In this case a plastic tub of safety pins.
putting it in the cabinet is for demonstration purposes only - the safety pin tub actually hangs on the wall from a giant washer nailed up, that you see in the left in the above photo

7. Magnetic bulldog clip for heavier flat things. No, i don't know why a spare house key was loose on the shelf in my medicine cabinet, but it was so i hung it.

8. Magnetic hook. Great for hair ties!

I am sure you could come up with more things for your own cabinet.

the magnets came from dealextreme. Super cheap but also slooooow (free) shipping. they carry several sizes of super strong rare earth magnet discs in packs of 10, 12, 20 or 100.
harbor freight also sells a 10 pack of rare earth magnets for $3, but they aren't as thin and i have not tested them so i am not sure how strong they are
There's also an after photo so you can see how it works with the bottles and shelf items in place. And yes, i do use a cut up cardboard box as a mini shelf in there

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Working on the next big thing

the hammer hit a LOT over the time i had off work for the holidays.
in addition to the previous posts about adhesive hang tabs and broom clips, i also thought of a few things that will have to be implemented later

in this ooooooold post i show you the broomstick i chopped and mounted over my kitchen sink. there aren't pictures yet, but picture the empty space on the left with spray bottles of kitchen cleaners hanging from the rod.

and over here you met my hard working fridge and all the magnetic stuff i've attached to it

there's actually a whole different fridge now, and a lot more magnetic things adhered to it

i have cats. if you have cats, you know sometimes they puke. the side of my fridge is next to the hallway, which is carpeted, and has the cat feeding station. some of my cats have behavioral issues and try to competitively outeat the other cats to prevent the other cats from getting food.
so i keep a roll of paper towels right in the hallway and there's a bottle of pet stain remover carpet cleaning spray right on the floor near the cat food.

the most recent time i tripped over it, i was facing the fridge and thought
1. "if i just had a towel bar on the side of the fridge i could hang this pet stain remover spray right there. it would be out of the way, AND convenient"
2. "what i need to make that happen is a magnetic towel bar. i wonder if magnetic towel bars exist"

lo and behold, they do. 


it would have been ok if they hadn't because i know little magnetic cafe style curtain rods exist - i used to live in a house with a metal back door with a big window in it and i had occasion to look them up once to see how to hang curtains over the window glass in the door.
but they are less sturdy seeming than the towel bar linked above, so that would be my last resort for hanging anything of weight off them. they are more decorative than functional.

so next paycheck or so i will be considering the purchase of a lovely magnetic towel bar for the side of the fridge to hang spray bottles on. and possibly a magnetic paper towel holder because i just found out those exist. and i still have metal doors. hrmmmm, might need a couple of magnetic paper towel holders.

Things I learned at the toy store

have you ever worked retail? especially a toy store or store that carries toys?

any store that carries blister pack products that hang on pegboard hook will know exactly what this is. in fact, while i was shopping for them, i took a picture of the item on my phone [yay new smartphone with a screen people can actually see images on] and showed it to retail employees with the question "i know you USE these here, but do you SELL them here?"

Kevin at Office Max is a genius. they don't sell them but he thought about who might and suggested i try michaels crafts in the same shopping center. yup, they had them on an end cap near the framing aisle. weird place, but at least they had them.

sometime last week the hammer hit and i decided i wanted to try to hang things on my pegboard utility wall with adhesive hang tabs. i no longer live down the street from a retail supply store [not sure there's even one in this city] so i started looking online and in local stores. 

it's for the issues like these: you get a package of something and open it and use some of it, but then you have the item without the package and it no longer is convenient to store. things get lost on my shelves. i wanted to hang the liquid nails back on the wall where it's easy to find next time i or my roommate needs it.

yeah, that's what i was looking for!
of course then i got interested in seeing what else would benefit from this treatment. 
like my roommate's dental floss that tends to be considered a cat toys by the resident felines. not anymore!!

the neosporin got the same treatment. both my roommate and i are accident prone and we live with cats, volunteer with cats and she works in a hardware store. the neosporin is a multiple times a day use item, no point in putting it away. now it's easy to find anytime. 

Ode to Broom Clips

this is a broom clip. or a "spring grip clip" if you prefer. 

this particular one is also installed with a rubber bumper dot behind it on the bottom, to ensure it stays tilted slightly. you can sort of see the dot at the bottom of the clip in the picture. 
that's because this one is a razor holder on my bathroom wall. the razor isn't tightly gripped by the clip so it needs a little gravitational assist. but the razor had to be moved out of the reach of my bitey cat and this was on hand. much less expensive than a fancy razor holder. sure, it's not the ideal stylish thing, but it works quite well.

last year i picked up a ten pack of these cheap [that includes quality] LED flashlights for camping with some kids.
a few of the flashlights still work and my house tends to have plenty of power outages due to the rural nature of the neighborhood.
so i keep them on hand for emergency lighting.
a ten pack was $10 at Big Lots.
i've seen these lots of places and prices vary but more than $2 a flashlight and you are getting ripped off [if it doesn't have batteries]
one day i had both an LED flashlight and a broom clip on my kitchen counter near each other.
as one is wont to do with sudden impulses, i followed mine and discovered that yes, tiny cheap LED flashlights DO fit in a broom clip.
so i put a couple on the walls near the front door and the kitchen door.
very handy place to have a light whether you are coming home to the power out or need to go outside and chase a possum away from the trash can, there's always a light right there.

hey, let's go back to the bathroom for a minute. speaking of sudden impulses, i got curious as to what else would fit in a broom clip that i could get off the bathroom counter. this is a little glass dropped bottle from American Science and Surplus that i keep tea tree oil in. now it lives on the bathroom wall near the first aid kit, instead of in various places on the bathroom counter where the cats keep knocking it in the sink.


next to it you may also see the successful results of my experiment with hanging adhesive tabs, but that's another post entirely

off to the left, out of frame, are the two first aid boxes - they dismount from the wall for emergencies and camping trips.

then neosporin on an adhesive tab, tea tree oil in a broom clip and a little magnetic bar from ikea [oh, ikea, i love you so much] with nail clippers, cuticle tool, comedo toll, scissors, tweezers. in the bottom right corner is my roommate's dental floss that i also stuck an adhesive hang tab on. she may not keep it that way, but i wanted to see how well it held. her dental floss is another thing that tends to get batted into the sink by bored kitties. and at the very bottom, out of frame, is the lint roller on a cup hook.

i tried to get more broom clips at home depot, but they don't carry that kind. they are pretty inexpensive, rarely as much as a dollar per clip, and they usually come in a pack of 4 or 5.
if you want to get extra fancy and spend a little more, they come in vinyl coated but i don't bother.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scrub a Dub Glove

i'm a terrible housekeeper. due to a couple of chronic illnesses, i tire out easily so i tend to start cleaning with a vengeance and stop after 15 square inches of vigorous scrubbing. 
but i keep trying and sometimes i find a way to work smarter, not harder. 

this weekend i was having the usual fight with my cooking area - grease, spills, stains, etc.  kitchen crud, buildup, ick. and the places it hides. all those cute little fiddly bits on appliances: stove vents, exhaust hood vents, vents on the microwave. my microwave is a stove hood model so it gets crud everywhere. green scrubby pads and grout brushes weren't doing it. i needed something thin and flexible enough to get those crevices, abrasive enough to actually remove the crud but not rough enough to damage the finish.
what's thin, flexible, scrubby and good for sensitive surfaces?

bath gloves from the dollar store of course! so i ran out to dollar tree for a bath glove, and of course a couple of other things - oatmeal soap, cold cream and a shower squeegee.
i'm pretty sure this wouldn't work with more expensive bath gloves. the cheap ones are thin and a little loose and the fibers have enough give to squish into crevices. i've owned $4 bath gloves that had the firmness of a kitchen scrubby and the kitchen scrubby already failed this job.

i need to take some pictures of the microwave at the cleanest it's been since i moved in and update this later.

it worked really well for the microwave because i can sort of reach the top of the microwave if i stretch [i'm short] and i always worry about getting up on a stepstool and losing my balance while scrubbing an especially stubborn spot. but the glove was flexible enough and loose enough weave so that the fibers could really get into all the little places where ick likes to hang out.

all those horrible little crevices on the oven vents!

there's no reason this couldn't work for cleaning other places, just don't get your actual exfoliating bath gloves mixed up with your showerhead scrubbing bath glove.

oh, and of course to clean it, just wash your hands with the glove on. i used dish liquid soap to make sure to get the grease out and then hung it with my sponges over the sink

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hurricane season light hack

i know when the power goes out, i still have that instinct to reach for the light switch. 
just got an idea that will work with that instinct. 
for summer storms and hurricane season i always keep some little LED keychain lights around in drawers and on shelves, in most rooms. 
because fumbling around in a dark room on a shelf is such a good idea, that they've been there for months now, just hanging out.

Hello hooks!

hi, my name is catastrophegirl, and i have a flat surface problem

as in, if it's flat, i'll pile things on it. and leave them there. so a few years ago when i bought a house, i started trying to move things onto the OTHER flat surface - the vertical one. specifically, i bought a house for the purpose of being able to make holes in my walls and hang things from them

which all comes down to hooks.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the ginger cookie recipe

i had lost this for a while, what with moving bunches and never unboxing all my books.
but i recently found the cookbook i wrote it in, in the margins next to the recipe i modified it from and a couple of people had been asking

so here's the ginger cookie recipe that people still ask about 2 decades later, that i used to have to make by the quadruple batch [20 dozen] when i took them to school because everyone wanted a handful