Archive for the ‘Kitchen’ Category

Friendly oven mitts

30 Aug

Happy oven mittsMost oven mitts are either utilitarian (functional but undecorated) or are decorated in some bizarre country farmhouse motif. I took plain oven mitts and made the kitchen a little friendlier by giving them an easy makeover with buttons for eyes. If you’ve ever made a sock puppet, you should be smacking yourself for not having thought of this one.

A cutesy, childish craft? Of course. Effective in producing smiles and chuckles from folk of all ages? You bet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Art?, Kitchen


Eat your own cereal, not Kellogg’s

10 Aug

Bowl of cerealEveryone I know has breakfast cereal in their house. I can’t assume this is a universal trait, but there’s something wholesome and American about a bowl of cornflakes, not to mention great pleasures in Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs and the like. It’s more fun to eat a breakfast cereal you invented than one someone else invented. I’ll tell you a secret, too: it’s easy.

Having been a near-connoisseur on the breakfast cereal scene in the late 1990s (I’m surprised you haven’t heard of me), my gluten-free diet put shocking limitations on my cereal options. After all, tasty gluten-free cereals are few and far between…and never cheap. It also stinks to buy a $5 box of cereal only to dislike it on the first bite. Desperate, I went the organic-health route and found making my own blend was easy, delicious, and cost-effective. That’s a rare win-win-win. You don’t even have to go gluten-free to see the benefits of mixing your own cereal. Read the rest of this entry »


Making cloth napkins/handkerchiefs/dishrags from old clothes

19 Jul

Stack of napkinsLet me begin by saying that I have nothing against paper napkins or people who like them. I prefer not to waste too much on disposable personal hygiene, though, and I’ve always bought the cheapest paper napkins I could find (Target and Dollar Tree). Still, we can all admit that cloth napkins are softer, classier, and more absorbent than their paper counterparts. They are also reusable, and I much prefer reusable products over disposable ones, which typically leads to saving both money and natural resources. I’ll admit that the environmental benefits of cloth napkins are a bit debatable, but making cloth napkins from my own scraps of fabric should be a sure winner. Using my own castoff clothing would avoid any of the emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting a truckload of new cloth napkins. Plus, I like making things myself, so it’s a form of entertainment if you want to think of it that way.

You can make great cloth napkins out of old white t-shirts. I have a constant ecosystem of white undershirts in my home. When I buy new shirts, the oldest ones get turned into napkins or rotated to the kitchen for wiping up spills. I used to throw used napkins and worn-out shirts away, so making my own napkins reduces our trash output on two fronts while also saving money.

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Aesthetic upgrade to Ikea Bekväm stool

12 Jul

Stool after finishingWe have a very simple Ikea step stool that we use to reach high shelves in the kitchen. I believe it’s an old single-step version of the Bekväm stool (the current model has two steps and costs a bit more than ours did). It came in unfinished pine, which was fine for utilitarian use but not all that handsome to look at.

It turned out to be very easy to give the stool a makeover without even taking it apart. I used a small butane torch to scorch the surface of the step, including the visible edges of the underside of the step. A little masking tape and spray paint later and we had a classy piece that wouldn’t gather so many grimy footprints. I applied three coats of spray finish to protect the wood and called it a day.  Why spend more time or effort on a $10 stool?

You could apply the same techniques to any kind of unfinished wood. This already matches all of my furniture — I like the contrast of a rich wood texture with flat black (a popular Ikea combo, too).

Burning the woodStool masked for paintingStool being paintedFinishing the stool


Creative Reuse: Breadcrumb can from empty coffee can

02 Jul

Can labelThink about how many containers you buy and then throw away every week: shopping bags, soda bottles, cereal boxes, all the way down to sugar packets. Since I hate to throw away useful things, I hang onto coffee tins and shoe boxes and film canisters hoping to find a use for them someday. Put a new label on an airtight container and it becomes a new object entirely. The containers accumulate quickly, so you have to get creative to keep them from piling up. I’ll share several examples with you over the next few weeks.

Here’s today’s reuse project: a Trader Joe’s coffee can turned into a container for homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs. Coffee and breadcrumbs are both frequently found in cardboard canisters, so it was an easy fit. All I needed to do was scrub out the coffee tin and relabel it. My “breadcrumbs” consist of the ground-up crumbs from various packages of cornflakes and potato chips blended with costlier gluten-free breadcrumbs. Do you remember what I said about throwing away useful things? I HATE THROWING AWAY USEFUL THINGS. Read the rest of this entry »