part II: "house things" I can't live without...

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I am so happy to have introduced so many of you to screw-in dimmers and plastic wedges!!  You will love them!   I thought of a few more favorites, so I decided to take it to a complete 20 House Things I can't live without! 

And at the end is a bonus-  my much older sister ;) Susan's tutorial on how to make the net dish washing balls that many of you requested!
(If you missed the first ten click here!)

More "House Things" I can't live without:

11.  Miele Vacuums
I have one upstairs and one downstairs, and am contemplating one for the barn room!  I have owned my first Miele for about 11 years.   I've always had hardwood floors, so I never use the rug attachment.  I purchase their natural bristle brush attachment for the floors.  I go into withdrawals when the vacuum has to go in for it's annual check up;) I love canister vacuums and these have HEPA filters and a telescopic/extension arm to adjust for your height.

12. Hi/Low/Off Lamp Switch
I use these on all of the small lamps around the house.  They can also be especially useful on "pairs" of lamps when you want both lamps to be dimmed exactly the same.  You can find these in on/off only (they look just alike so make sure you are getting the ones you want), but we always use the hi/low/off version.  They are easy to add to an existing lamp- you just have to get over the fear of cutting the wire (unplugged of course!)  As seen in this photo,  I even have these hi/low/off switches on a pair of lamps with three-way bulbs-  admittedly that can be a bit confusing!
Check you local lamp shop, or here.

13.  Cloth Napkins
I love napkins.  Have a wee-bit of an obsession with napkins!
I haven't purchased paper napkins in probably twenty years!  It is always so nice to sit down to cloth napkins no matter if it is a sandwich or for dinner!  I purchase some for everyday use and just take them out of the dryer and fold, others are for special dinners and I iron them. 
My favorite sources are Crate and Barrel Outlet and Home Goods.
These are just two of my napkin drawers;)  The drawer on the left are for Fall/Winter and the drawer on the right for Spring/Summer!

14.  Ikea Tealights
 I love lighting candles each night- in the kitchen I light candles every night; some nights I light candles in the living room and the bedrooms, so I buy 5-6 packages of these tea lights whenever we go to Ikea! (my closest Ikea is a hour and a half away)    And, while I love the convenience of tea lights in opaque candle holders, I was always told ;) that you should use real candles when you can actually "see" the candle (i.e. in clear/see-thru glass candle holders), especially at dinner parties-   you too?!

15. Naked White Sponges
I'm a sponge girl (to sanitize pop in the microwave for two minutes each/every other day), so when I found these white sponges by Twist I was sooo happy!  (yes, sponges can make me happy!)  Nothing worse than a hot neon pink sponge in my white sink!
I find these at organic grocery stores.

16.  Level
Use those levels people!!  I actually have a very "level eye"-  9.5 times out of ten I can level a painting without using a level.  This is not necessarily a good thing to have in the real world as I always notice when something is unlevel, and it can make me crazy (er;).  Dan learned a long time ago not to bet me when I said something wasn't level;)  The vintage red metal level on the bottom was a gift from my sweet nephew, Forest!

17.  Wax Paper Sheets
(These take me back to elementary school when my mother would put my sandwiches in wax bags, do you remember those?!   I have a box of those wax bags from the 1980's that I have used sparingly over the years, so was thrilled to find unbleached wax paper bags at the organic grocery store!)
  These are wax paper sheets that I wrap sandwiches, vegetables, cheese, cookies, well... anything!  They remind me of being in France where they beautifully wrap all your patisseries in paper, and everything feels so special!  I also use these instead of plastic wrap to cover dishes in the microwave, just tucking under whatever you are cooking. 
Purchased at Costco.

18.  Measuring Tape with Increment Markings
I hate having to count the little lines!!  This measuring tape has labeled increments marked (i.e.  3/8,  7/8, etc.)   I have one upstairs and one downstairs, and Dan knows 'don't mess with my tapes'!!  (he has his own army of tapes which somehow always go missing... ." 
I found this one at Lowes.

19.  Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
I discovered Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt from my friend Ina (hey, a girl can dream, can't she?!!)  I use it in and on everything that requires salt.  I use it teaspoon for teaspoon in cooking and baking.  
Interesting facts regarding sodium per 1/4 teaspoon in the following brands:
 Diamond Crystal kosher salt = 280 mg
Morton kosher salt = 480 mg
La Baleine sea salt = 580 mg
Master Kalas sea salt = 420 mg
Celtic Fine Gray Sea Salt (unrefined) = 460 mg
Morton table salt = 590 mg

An explanation for the different sodium levels from Smitten Kitchen.

20.  Household Cleaners:

Vinegar and baking soda
We are on a septic system here, so I have to be very careful about what I put into the system.  Vinegar is really amazing- for some interesting information go here!

I love this Liquid Dish Soap from Costco.  Works great,  great citrus smell (and I don't do fragrances), and is biodegradable.  I put it in a smaller container for keeping under the sink.

For stainless I love Stainless Steel Magic.  I have tried many brands over the years and this is my favorite.  The technique I use is to wet a sponge, squeeze out excess water, and then apply SSM to the sponge and wipe on your stainless surfaces.  Let dry for a few minutes and then remove with a microfiber cloth (be sure the cloth does not have stitching on it which could scratch the stainless.)
For nickel silver I love Flitz Metal Polish.
For general cleaning of our hotel silver and sterling silver pieces I use Wright's Silver Polish (paste formula.)

Several of you mentioned Invisible Glass in the last list, and I love it too!  I find you really need to buff it to dry to get the best results, but it does a wonderful cleaning job.


much-older-sister Susan's tutorial on
How to make Dish Washing Nets :

"This is an old Heloise tip from years ago that I have modified because I HATE to get the sewing machine out. I use rubber bands instead of sewing and it works great! My way is easy and not as time consuming as the sewn version.

Use nylon netting that you use for making a ballerina tutu NOT bridal veil netting (way to soft). The stiffer the net the better! I use nylon net balls in the kitchen and bathrooms. I literally could not keep house without them!! Wal-Mart's fabric department (or any fabric store) has the net in different colors, by the yard and is very cheap. I usually get about ten yards to keep on hand. I like white because I am always using Clorox.

Get the person at the fabric store to wrap the netting around an empty cardboard board spine (the cardboard that the net is wrapped around originally at the store). Wrap just like it appears at the store. Wrap tightly and as flat as possible without wrinkles if you can.

When you get home-

1. Place net on flat surface.

2. Unwrap lengthwise about 32-34 inches and cut horizontally.

3. Cut again lengthwise into three equal pieces and lay on top of each other.  There will probably be twelve layers. Some layers are folded because that is the way the net was originally wrapped on the cardboard.

4. Starting at one end gather the center, and gather all the way to the other

5. Wrap a heavy duty rubber band around middle of gathered net so that it
looks like a bow tie. Wrap rubber band around three times so that it tightly holds the netting.

6. Cut edges over waste paper basket to make even (this also cuts some of
the folded netting to be single layers).

7. Peel each layer of net on one side toward rubber band center. Peel other
side.  End result should look like a puffy ball.

8. Cut around ball again to look better and VOILA!!

These are easy and super cheap! They're just time consuming if you are making a lot
like I do for friends and sisters that whine -  'would you make me some more net balls? I don't know howwww.' :) "

Thanks Susan! 

(And, for the record.... I only whine a little!)

p.s.  I have Dan and Ella working on their list :)