Keeping Your Fridge Working Hard

The truly hardest working appliance in the kitchen is the refrigerator. Even when you are not cooking, it is working to keep your items at just the right temperature. It is easy to forget all that it does until something goes wrong, which is the reason you have to treat it right to keep it working optimally.

Schedule regular cleanings.

Put it on your calendar: Once a month, plan to spend an hour cleaning. Take everything out, toss anything bad, and wipe down the shelves. The more often you do it, the quicker it’ll go.

Date everything.

No one has time to think about when they last used the cheese. Anytime you open a new container or add a leftover, take a second to label it.

Banish odors.

If everything is sealed up properly, your fridge shouldn’t smell — but sometimes you cook something so potent, the scent leaches out anyway. Add a box of baking soda to your fridge in order to keep smells at bay.

Get matching storage containers.

Having containers from the same set turns them into modular blocks that stack neatly on top of each other. Opt for clear versions so you can see exactly what you’ve got at all times.

Consider a zone system.

Most people naturally store produce with produce and meat with meat, but if you have frequently used combos,  group them together, so you can grab everything you need all at once. Consider storing smaller or oddly shaped items in bins to make them extra easy to find.

Really use your freezer.

If you’re not planning to use something within a few days, freeze it! You can freeze just about anything. If you don’t like reheated foods, think of a way to reconstitute them for the next round, like blending veggies into soup or turning salmon into burgers.

Freeze sauces flat in zip-top bags so they’re easy to stack. Divide larger portions into servings with parchment paper so you don’t have to reheat the whole thing for dinner.

Does Baking Soda In the Fridge Work

Some people absolutely swear by using baking soda to eliminate odors and others fervently call the idea a myth.

The Science

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a weak base that is also amphoteric, meaning that it can act as either an acid or a base, depending on what it comes into contact with. When bits of foods float around your fridge, things start to smell. Because baking soda is made up of millions of small crystals, each crystal provides a surface area to attract both bases and acids. So if you have enough baking soda surface area available for all of those floating food molecules, it will neutralize their odors.

There are other substances that absorb odors but baking soda is inexpensive, readily available, and the most commonly used solution. The key seems to be getting enough baking soda surface area to absorb all those smells, which is why Arm & Hammer has created a few products specifically designed for use in the fridge or freezer.

The Testing

We decided to test the baking soda theory, and minced up some garlic and left it in an open bowl in the fridge. After a few hours, the refrigerator smelled very much like garlic. We set a container of baking soda in and left it overnight.

What To Do With Old Furniture

We love getting new furniture (hello, redecorating!) but getting rid of our old furniture is a pain in the buttocks. It’s heavy, you don’t want to look at it now that we have new stuff, and if you don’t have a truck, getting it anywhere beyond the garden gate is a nightmare. You could just drop unwanted furniture on the curb, but it’s unsightly, and some cities charge to take it away. What’s a person to do?

Yard Sale

Well, luckily, we’re living in what old scifi movies simply defined as “the future” and you bet your butt there’s an app for that. OfferUp allows you to post your furniture (or whatever) online for potential buyers in literal seconds and protects both buyers and sells by only allowing communication in-app. VarageSale is similar, but allows in-app purchasing as well! If apps aren’t your thing, try MoveLoot. You have to hang onto your stuff for a while, but the company lists it for you and then comes to pick it up and deliver when it sells!

If you don’t care about making money from your old furniture, a lot of donation places will come and pick it up, right from your house! You’ll have to coordinate with them on when and where, but organizations like the Salvation Army offer this service for free. A different type of donation, FreeCycle is trying to fight pollution by encouraging less trash and more donation. They have groups in most major cities who are just waiting to pick up the furniture you don’t want. And that brings us to the old standby, Craigslist “free stuff.” This one probably reaches the most people, although it does require organization on your part. But hey, you can arrange to have the other party pick up, so you keep your hands clean after all!

Best Craft Invention in Years!

Attention, DIYers: there’s a new crafting product on the market, and its versatile, adorable, and cheap; in other words, everything we love! The product is called washi tape, and you’ve probably seen it crowding the shelves of your favorite craft or fabric store. It’s brightly colored and looks like masking tape and ribbon had a baby, but it’s actually made out of plant fibers (usually bamboo or hemp). It’s slightly sticky, pretty soft, and can be used as anything from wallpaper to stationary! These are some of our favorite washi tape uses; what are yours?

Striped Bike:

Why not start big? This was just an ordinary used bike before washi tape came along and turned it into a hipster’s dream! Now it looks like a beach cruiser meets an ice cream truck, a combo we never knew we always wanted!

 

 

Nail Polish Alternative:

You could get something similar to this at a nail salon, but we guarantee that it won’t be this cheap ($2-$10) or that you’ll be able to remove it just as easily.

 

Car Map for the Kiddos:

Everyone grew up with that same rug that had roads and buildings on it for playing cars, but this customizable version will delight your kids even more! You can make it a map of your neighborhood or let them draw their own city and then tear it up again!

Jewelry:

Create some super simple DIY jewelry with patterns you love, like this adorable feather earrings in funky bright patterns!

You Should Have a Potager!

If you’re thinking about re-doing your outside space and incorporating a vegetable garden, you HAVE to consider a potager. It’s a delectably French way of organizing a garden that means it always looks full, overflowing, verdant. Jennifer Bartley is an expert in potagers, which is pronounced po-toe-jay and literally means “for the soup pot.” Though Bartley grew up in the MIdwest where vegetable gardens are orderly and neat, she’s come to adore the potager as a thing of beauty, a wild, overflowing mix of herbs, non-edible plants, and vegetable sprouts all mixed together.

Berliner Kleingartenanlagen / Urban Farming

The key is to plant and harvest, and when you harvest, get right in there and plant something else. In this way, items are blooming and becoming ripe at different times, and at any point you can walk outside and gather a bushel of what’s in season and – if you wanted to – dump it all in the soup pot! To create your own, start with an enclosure of some kind, whether it’s practical (like a walkway or large garden box, or grown – raspberry shrubs make an excellent plant wall). Make sure it’s close to the house though; the whole point is to have it visible out a window, so that every time you see it you’ll be inspired to cook.

Don’t forget to make your potager beautiful, Bartley says, by planting your favorite flowers in and among the edible plants. You can harvest them in the same way, and they’ll end up in vases instead of bowls and plates. She also notes that not a lot of Americans have a huge garden to utilize, so she encourages those with a small space to keep it simple, and grow whatever makes them the happiest!