Dish Soap Dispenser

Is the built in dish soap dispenser at your sink broken?
Are you still reaching under the sink for the bottle?

The little contraption shown below has been pumping for 10 years. It has been performing flawlessly, precisely and consistently delivering from a tiny drop to a mother load.

The contraption is an old Colgate bottle crossed with a pump from some of the Costco brand toiletries.
dish soap dispenserThe hero here is the pump.
The pump has a large, long and strong straw which makes it nice when cut to size.
The only inconvenience is to find a bottle that will screw into the pump.

Shown are a couple of bottle alternatives that will work until you find one you are comfortable with.
On the other hand, Scope mouth wash has a very nice feminine bottle that almost looks like a faucet but alas, the pump is a little small. Oh well!some bottle alternatives
The labels peel off and clean easily with paint thinner, therefore making the clear bottles the preferred ones.
Pour different color dish soaps slowly to acquire the shown mix.

The Gancio

Not necessarily a new idea, this is a silly little tool born out of necessity.  It consists of a serious handle from an old tool such as a shovel and a sturdy hook at the end of it.

magnificent handling through tight spacesIts purpose is to be maneuvered through the tight turns of twigs and branches to knock down fruits such as lemons from a tree.Gancio grande
It is also very effective in knocking down dead branches from high places in trees that produce zillions of dead little twigs such as the Camellia.
It works well for raking the fallen branches because hooking one branch will pull the others.
It actually removes and pulls to your side dead branches that hang over the neighbor’s yard.
It eliminates using a ladder in most cases.

By using a different or ‘modified’ type of hook it can be used in garages to hang items up high and out of the way.
The sturdier it is the better.
Pre drill the hole.

Plastic Storage Jars: A Closer Look

These clear plastic storage jars are all around us and we pay for them when we purchase what is inside.
Recycle them by reusing them appropriately.
The labels usually come off easily with paint thinner and their mouths are of standard size with colored lids which can be interchanged easily to suit. The jars offer transparency to the contents and keep us organized.


These are large wide mouth jars and good to hold bulk such as rice, sugar, flower etc.  Find them at Costco with sometimes Biscotti and other items sold in them.  The lids are brown or black.

De Cecco is king!

The tall plastic jars are good for long items such as spaghetti and fettuccine.  Find them at Target with popcorn in them.  The lids are aluminum.


Shown in the coffee jar is a flexible cutting mat which becomes very handy in delivering the goods with great speed and minimal spill.
From the jar pour straight into the coffee maker.  No spoons, no measuring cup.
How fast was that?
Add the time and the hand movements that it takes every time the coffee can from the store is opened, dealing with the spoon…spoonful at the time and then resealing the can.


Both found at Costco, the hexagonal jars usually have jelly beans with red lids, the oval ones usually have mighty fine chocolates and black lids. forgot the rice They both hold about the same volume.

Found in supermarkets usually in two sizes these Parmesan cheese jars are handy to store goods and food.  Their lids flip open for pouring.

This container provides a great fast tool for delivering Miracle Grow with no mess.2 sizesmiracle grow

These small plastic jars are in the spices section of supermarkets which,
spices apart, have an interesting assortment of other small jars.
They are very handy for arts and crafts and for small items.
The lids come in different colors.  The plastic is thick and strong.small

These square plastic food jars come in a couple of different heights, have built in handles and are found anywhere.  Some have lids that flip open to pour.square
This kind of jar is really found anywhere containing goods.

toughThe jar with the silver plastic lid comes from Target and found in the food section.  As with the old classic peanut butter jars, these are of tough plastic and very handy in the garage to hold screws, nails, nuts and so on.

Also very handy to store things away that are really not needed for a while.  A descriptive note “Hardware for old bed” for example should be placed visibly in the jar.  Basically the jar becomes a clear box.
Stacking is somewhat possible.

just tapes

When the compact discs are all gone we are left with a container.  One of the best uses for this container is to impale all the kinds of tapes we have in the garage.  There is only one place the tape or ribbon we are looking for might be.  Of course at times the roll of tape or ribbon might be too wide to fit.

With the center rod removed they can store other kinds of items.

The CD containers also stack and interlock.stackingThe jars above have proven to be good everyday gifts to friends, donations to elementary schools or local industries such as Goodwill.  No jar is ever tossed!

Tomato Plants: Free Range

tomatoes uncaged

Tomato season is almost over and the plant shown is not the greatest example of bounty but the idea here is to celebrate the rake.

Considering the high price of some tomato cages, the sawed off rake that would have been tossed otherwise, provided a certain “free range” growth for the tomatoes allowing them ample air and sun space.  Leave alone hand space for harvesting.
The small bungee cords never once severed the branches and easily allowed adjusting as the plant grew.

The rake never bowed in any direction because the bungee cords were arranged with a sense of balance and the pole set as deep as possible.

The growth of the tomato plant will gradually make the rake visually disappear.

A smaller rake might work also but gather the plant too tightly.

If you decide to do something like this in the dirt, embed 2/3 of the overall length to avoid over turning.

So maybe next year instead of buying a couple of tomato cages, for the same money or less you can get the aging rakes replaced, avoid waste and still support your tomatoes off the ground.


Do we need to run or drive to the store to buy another potion
so we can make our plants’ leaves look like these
maybe two or three times a year?
The answer is in the refrigerator.

got milk?

Enjoy the luster for weeks to come.

Night Stand

Main parts:
• 20” tall garden clay pot. $20 each
• An inherited refrigerator glass shelf to add a touch of Dadaism.
• (2) continuous color changing night lights from Costco.
The lights fade from one color to another and bland two colors into a third. Chances to get them both red are extremely slim.
The lights can also be set so that colors do not change.
• An old CD.
• Clear marbles.
• Extension cord.
• Larger felt pads for the floor and smaller clear pads for the glass.

one of two night stands

How to make:

1. Take white latex paint and dilute. Maybe 1 part paint, 4 parts water. White wash the interior to a desired shade.white wash

2. Use (4) ¾” felt pads at bottom of the pot to protect the floor and to raise the pot enough to allow electrical wiring clearance.
3. Insert an electrical extension cord into the pot through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. The hole might have to be enlarged with a drill to allow the cord’s plug to go through. The extension cord should be able to receive at least 2 plugs.

just a nice pic

4. Cut a slit through a CD to the hole and let the extension cord slide through the slit and into the center of the CD’s shiny face up.
5. Place clear marbles on top of the CD.
6. The CD and the marbles are for reflection. The CD is also to refrain the marbles from going through the drainage hole of the pot.
cord bearly enters
7. Plug 2 continuous color changing night lights to the extension cord.
8. Almost done!
9. Place a small clear rubber pad at each corner of the pot’s rim, gooey side up, so that the protection pads will adhere to the glass.
10. Connect the extension cord to the power.
11. Done!



The night stands (or anything you want them to be) will come alive in their elegance
during the darkness of night emitting very subtle color changes.
The pots come in different heights and could be
shocking focal points in outdoor spaces tastefully vegetated.
The night stand shown above would be very nice as a glass coffee table accompanied by a black leather coach and chairs while the inside could be orchestrated differently.

The energy and money used for this artistic furniture luxury is miniscule in relation to the many other ways we can save.

Please note these last pictures may appear much darker on some monitors.

Whimsical Toad

A 4 to 6” hole in the exterior garage wall due to the clothes dryer vent that was moved.

Behind the stucco there was wood.
A 1x wood board large enough to cover the hole was glued and screwed to the existing 1x from the garage side.

This left a depth of about 1.5” to the edge of the stucco finish on the exterior.

A hollow garden toad this time proved handy.  night shotPart of the toad’s back was sawn off with a hack saw.  Various tests occurred to see how the toad sat in the hole and then later with the anchor.

A coat hanger was doubled, bent to 90 degrees +- and cut once leaving a 3”x3” +- anchor.

A screw was inserted through the hole opening into the wood earlier applied.  This held the anchor.
Use those black common sheet rock screws.  They are mighty fine.

Some concrete (cement is OK) was placed in the hole followed by some small wire mesh.
More concrete was applied over the mesh as well as inside the toad.

The toad was pushed against the anchor sticking out of the wall and pushed into seat.
It was an orchestration of movements but it all worked.

The balance of the hole around the toad was filled, smoothened and a light texture applied.


At this point a long board, held by a garbage can, was placed against the toad to insure it would not fall.

Later after the toad had cured, Concrete Fix All over the moistened concrete patch helped achieve a finished texture look.
Chinese bristle brushes or a spray water bottle work well to moisten.

The hooked toad was caulked and primed.

The job took about an hour and a half and the cost of the toad itself was about $3.00.

Plastic Storage Jars

Plastic storage jars with lids to store dry foods are sold in stores for say an average of $ 5.00ea..  Stores also sell foods and other items in plastic containers which come in a multitude of shapes and sizes;  of course we pay for them.
We can however direct these containers to personal use rather than recycle.

a few that are available

At Costco one can find very nice large plastic jars that usually contain biscotti.  The biscotti do no justice to the real biscotti but these wide mouth plastic jars are very nice and can hold, depending the family size, large amounts of say flour, sugar, rice and so on.
Costco also has octagonal and almost oval jars that work very well to hold pastas, trail mix, jelly beans and the like.  Lids come in a variety of colors.
Potato chips will stay fresh but cereal in its beauty may be a little more critical.  Costco sells chocolates and jelly beans in these plastic candy jars at Christmas time.

Next size down, Target sells items such as caramel popcorn in tall round clear plastic jars which are perfect for spaghetti and fettuccine.  Their lids are aluminum and they look nice.

The Kraft Parmesan cheese jars can be very handy for smaller quantities needing storage such as sour gummy bears and worms on the go, pastina, polenta and so on.
They also work very well to hold and sprinkle Miracle Grow to plants.garage storage

Spices sold in the Mrs. Dash brand jars with their colorful lids are small and elegant as well as hold smaller items such as in the crafts world or in the garage.
Use them also to store the different kinds of beach sands you encounter on your vacations.

What about the labels?  Some labels are water soluble but most will come off easily with paint thinner.
When searching for an item, cupboards with clear plastic jars can be visually scanned at once and render an elegant and organized look.  Lids are usually standard in size and interchangeable allowing color coordination if desired.

kitchen storage

Plastic storage jars will also allow you to fit more in the cupboards since product packaging comes in all different awkward sizes that do not relate to one another and therefore rob space.

Bamboo Hamper Light

double exposure

Bamboo hampers that we often use for soiled laundry provide wonderful mood lighting with a light bulb inside.  Limit the wattage for fire prevention and of course a fluorescent bulb might be safer, less expensive to burn and offer a different lighting atmosphere.
Use Christmas lights for color.

For fire prevention purposes stabilize the light bulb inside the hamper so that it does not touch any of the basket’s surfaces.
For a cord use the ones like for the Christmas tree that have a foot button.

Hampers can be dyed with Rit Dye if desired.

Hanging Clothes

Drying clothes and storing coat hangers in a garage can be practical.

2 foot towel bars

just hanging ;)

Hang plastic towel bars from joists or where possible.