Recharge your portable electronics - cell phone, iPod, BlackBerry, PDA - without getting your wires crossed. By repurposing a low-tech shoebox, you can organize and safeguard your high-tech accessories.
STEP 1 Empty a clean, sturdy shoebox. Measure and cut wallpaper or decorative fabric to its dimensions, wrapping the top and bottom pieces separately. Secure the material with spray adhesive.
STEP 2 On one long side of the box, measure and mark placement for four evenly spaced eyelet holes. Make the first hole about 3 inches in from the box's edge. Cut eyelet holes with an X-Acto knife. Repeat on the other long side, aligning holes so the wires cross through the box.
STEP 3 Purchase an extra-large eyelet kit from a hardware store, and fit the pieces using the manufacturer's directions as a guide. Feed the wires through both sets of holes and close the lid; recharge your gadgets.
Keep electrical devices such as plugs and power strips outside the shoebox, to avoid
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Read More »from Cute and functional storage shelf
Want a workspace that's both functional and pretty? Clear an ample work surface, keeping it free of piles of paperwork and clutter. Items that you use regularly - phone, computer, reference books, writing implements - should be within reach, while nonessentials can be neatly stowed on shelved or filed in drawers. To maximize space and for visual appeal, attach jelly jars to a shelf above your desk. Fill them with colorful craft and office supplies.
Space-saving storage shelf
Measure your shelf to determine the number of jelly jars to attach. Space them out evenly and mark their placement with a pencil.
HOW-TO Start with clean jelly jars. Turn the shelf over and position the jar lids along the underside of the shelf. Attach each lid securely with two small nails; if the lid is too loose, it will spin. Fill the jars with colorful office and craft supplies - check out seejanework.com - and twist onto the lids.
See more crafty storage solutions.
Elegant Desktop Organizer
Sandra Ivan/Jupiter ImagesRead More »from Learn How To Cultivate Compost
Looking for a practical, inexpensive, and ecologically sound way to grow your best garden ever? With compost you can improve the soil, deter disease, mulch, prevent weeds, conserve water, and fertilize plants. Compost happens when the right ratio of nitrogen- and carbon-rich organic waste is mixed with soil, water, and air. How it gets from garbage to gold might seem like magic, but the breakdown of organic waste is due to billions of soil-dwelling critters and good microbes that include bacteria, fungi, earthworms, and other beneficial creatures. Here's the proper recipe to follow.
Measure out a space on your property that is at least three feet square. Your compost heap can be a simple pile or mounded into a ready-made or custom-built compost bin.
Use branches or twigs to start the bottom layer, then add alternating layers of carbon (or brown) material - leaves and garden trimmings, for instance - and nitrogen (or green) material such as kitchen scraps and manure (processed waste of
Read More »from DIY Sewing Kit
Visit a local farm stand for a vintage-looking egg carton, and store all your sewing basics in one lightweight, portable kit.
HOW-TO Cut a piece of material, such as ticking or gingham, the size of the egg carton's lid. Make the safety-pin cushion (see further instructions below), and hot glue the fabric to the carton. Cross-stitch the elastic to the fabric to hold sewing scissors; try Ginghers. Make the pin cushion and set in carton. Fill the carton with sewing notions; for everything from thread to batting, log on to purlsoho.com.
SCISSORS Create a place to hold your sewing scissors. Cut a piece of elastic 1 1/2 inches wide, and cross-stitch it to the fabric.
PIN CUSHION To make a pin cushion: Ball up batting. Wrap a piece of fabric tightly around the batting, and stitch the fabric closed.
SAFETY-PIN CUSHION Cut batting to fit the right half of the carton's lid. Place batting under the fabric, creating a cushion to use for safety pins.
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QUESTION: I would like to update my laundry room but can't afford a complete remodel. What can I do to make the area more attractive and functional, without spending a great deal of money?
ANSWER: Get inspired by the room above: Use cheery paint to brighten the walls. Paint a metal sink in contrasting colors to give it the look of furniture. Add a table with shelves, or hang a galvanized bin from the wall to create extra storage. Any small personal touches will make the space more inviting.
More Laundry Tips
- STORAGE: For a thrifty alternative to a wall of cabinetry, use a vintage medicine cabinet as a place to stash detergents and stain removers.
- DRYING RACK: Get an expandable rack, which can be folded up when not in use. Groundwork Group makes one that can be mounted to the wall.
- COUNTERTOP: To make the most of a small alcove laundry, add a countertop above a front-loading washer and dryer, or use a table like the one seen here. It's the pefect height for
A humble picnic table can be set with as much care as your fine dining table. Surround yourself with beauty -- with thoughtfully prepared treats presented in a memorable way. Our 4 tips for setting a country table will have you eating well in no time.Dress up a wooden picnic table with an embroidered cotton or lace runner. Use wooden clothespins or a few strategically placed bowls and plates to anchor the cloth.
Add color with centerpieces made by filling white ceramic pitchers with bright summer blooms -- roses, lilies, orchids, and sunflowers are in season.
Forget the paper plates! Serve meals on easy-to-clean enamelware in playful country patterns, such as the bandanna-printed plates (above) from Golden Rabbit; from $8.95. goldenrabbit.com.
Go Casual with old mismatched silverware found at flea markets and garage sales -- the utensils are nicer than plastic and reduce waste.
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Window boxes from top to bottom:
Cast-iron rectangular planters in antique brown by Touched by Dutch; touchedbydutch.com
Merlin Garland window box from New England Pottery; 800-366-7687, nepottery.com
Cottage Planter by When I Was Your Age; choice of 50 colors of distressed wood; when-i-was-your-age.com
Westbury window box set from Smith & Hawken; 800-981-9888, smithandhawken.com
All-wood window box from Diamond Teak; 215-453-2196; diamondteak.com
Growing advice, according to Kevin Reiner, Country Living contributing editor and owner of Firmly Planted, "When planting any of these 10 plants in window boxes, I recommend adding a slow-release fertilizer applied at the label rate, which can last up to three months in the soil. Another option is a weekly application of liquid fertilizer at the label rate."
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
- COLEUS: Noted for keeping its color through the season. Pinch regularly, water thoroughly, and allow to dry
Read More »from 4 Tips for Decorating with Pink
Some colors relax, others excite; pink does both. It provokes romance and glamour, and it is the color of love's first blush. Pink delivers feel-good emotion in the same way that ranunculus blooms, one layer at a time. Give in to pink's pretty power.
Between the dramatic intensity of red and the classic purity of white, waltzes in lovable, versatile pink. This agreeable hue has always enjoyed a feminine association, reserved for the boudoirs of babes and baby girls. And it continues to take its role in fashion. But now it's time to seriously revisit pink in the home. The mission: to maintain pink's compelling allure while diluting its "girls only" attitude. Positioning pink alongside plenty of neutrals will help make this rosy hue palatable for most, while pairing it with white makes the effect so young and fresh that a room practically sparkles. Or introduce deeper hues such as brown and burgundy, to steer the room in a more elegant and sophisticated direction. Living with pink
I love the lush, green-looking patios and gardens of the eastern coast. How can I duplicate that look here in Phoenix?-Margaret C., Phoenix, AZ
You can't, and you shouldn't. Part of our problem in gardening today is that we attempt to replicate landscape styles in areas that are completely unsuitable for them, usually with disastrously wasteful results. The lush gardens of the East belong in the East, where they have sufficient rainfall and rich soil. In Phoenix, where all water is imported and prospects look grim for finding additional supplies, you need to embrace native plant materials that can tolerate dry, hot conditions. To do otherwise is expensive, wasteful and extremely environmentally unsound. Besides, I have seen examples of incredibly beautiful desert-style gardens that are the envy of many an eastern gardener, including myself! I know this is hard advice for someone who yearns for lush eastern gardens, but it's important for all of us Read More »from Landscape For Your Location
Andrew McCaulRead More »from Daily Nutrition Guide
Eat fewer calories and make wiser choices. Here's what we recommend to fill up your food pyramid...
Fruit: The brighter the better! A range of different-colored fruits--fresh or dried--provides the vitamins and minerals you need. Munch on at least two cups a day.
Vegetables: Count colors: Eat two and a half cups a day of dark green and orange vegetables to get your daily fill of potassium, beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamins A and C.
Grains:Make half the grains you eat daily whole grains; they're full of fiber. Try multi-grain Barilla Plus pasta, sprinkle flax seed on cereal, or choose brown rice as a side.
Dairy: Three cups of low-fat milk and milk products provide the right amount of calcium for the day. Snack on Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese and ----- e Total Yogurt.
Legumes: Beans--dried or canned--are high in protein, fiber, and B-vitamins. Toss them into salads, pasta, or puree with olive oil and lemon juice until smooth for an easy dip.
Oils: Try to moderate your consumption