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Thinking Outside the Box

One thing I’ve learned about living in the country, since  it’s an hours drive to the store – any store – you learn to think outside the box (OTB). Sometimes these OTB fixes are born of necessity – like running out of milk for the cream sauce so I use powdered creamer (not as tasty but acceptable) – and sometime they are just using something in a way you wouldn’t ordinarily think of using it. Occasionally these fixes work out to be better than expected, more efficient and  – my favorite – cost effective. I’ve listed a few of my more recent OTB fixes below.

Wind Socks

David and I both enjoy the yard and we like wind socks because they look pretty when they’re floating on the breeze and the ones near the garden seem to help keep the birds away. But….we were having a problem with the harness twisting in the wind causing the wind sock to break off where it was attached to the pole. We needed something that would allow it to spin in the wind so that the harness wires wouldn’t break.

David came up with the idea of using fishing swivels. They have a ‘loop’ on either end with a bit in the middle that swivels around 360 degrees. So now when we hook up the wind socks, he uses a fishing swivel between the harness and where he attachs it to the pole. They are free to twist and turn without breaking.    Nice thing too – the swivels come in all different sizes so we could get the right size for each wind sock – and they don’t cost a lot either. Look for them in the fishing section at the sports store … or in our case Walmart.

Laundry Soap

When possible I like buying the large packages of products to get more value for my dollar. Laundry detergent is no exception. The dispenser fits in the cabinet over the washing machine and dispenses the soap via a push spigot. But….I didn’t like the way all of the dispensed detergent didn’t pour out of the measuring cup. There was always a layer of soap left in the bottom of the measure that just would not pour out. With my old washer this wouldn’t have been a problem because the water would start pouring in the minute you turned the machine on and I could have rinsed the cup out. However, my new washer … with all its safety features … won’t start filling until the lid is closed. So I would have to take one of the items from the wash and try to wipe out the cup. Messy and I was still left with a gooey residue.

So…. I decided why not just put the detergent directly onto something and toss it in to the wash. Since I didn’t want to put detergent directly onto some of the more delicate items, I decided to keep a wash cloth in the laundry room. Now I just cup the wash cloth in my hand, dispense the amount of detergent I want and toss the wash cloth – detergent and all – right on top of the load to be washed. No more gooey cup, no more wasted detergent, and my clothes come out just as nice and clean as ever.


Seems everything is going up in cost and gardening supplies are no different. Wanted to plant a few things from seed but even seeds had gone up in price. So… since I had decided to focus on black-eyed peas – rather than buy a packet of seeds at the store for $2.00 that had maybe 20 seeds in it – I bought a bag of dried black-eyed peas at the grocery for under $1.00 and got hundreds of seeds. They grow just like the “expensive” packaged seeds. This also works for green beans – you can buy a bag of dried pinto beans, plant them just like any bean seed and get the best green beans you’ll ever eat – just don’t let them get too big before you pick them. Learned this from my Aunt Francis.

With all the beans and pea plants growing,  needed a lot of trellises. Didn’t want to invest any more money in lattice pieces so we took a couple of pieces of iron we had in the garage and used those. One piece was a folding shelf that David secured in the garden and the other was an old iron bed. David took the head and foot boards of the old iron bed and sunk them in the ground. I’ll stretch wire or fishing string at the bottom to fill in the open space. All of these make lovely trellises and didn’t cost a thing.

Another easy fix we found was how to hook up the garden hose to the hose cart. If you have used one of these carts, you know how hard it is to connect the garden hose to the inside. So…. David used a ‘quick connect’ to do this. Attached one part to the cart fixture, other piece to the garden hose and then just snapped them together. No wrestling to try and get the two screwed together… easy!!

If you use electric clippers or weed eater to trim, keep the wire from coming unplugged by wrapping it around something. This way when you’ve reached your limit – you won’t pull the plug out of the socket and maybe damage the prongs.

The decorative gate is finished and looks so nice. You’ll remember David took pieces of decorative fencing he bought at Lowe’s and pieced it together to make a gate. He then finished the sides with some cedar fencing he decorated with some iron finials. Best thing is the gate swings both ways!  (Picture is at top)

Mighty Tape

You see a lot of stuff advertised on TV, in the magazines, etc. but you gotta wonder …. does it really work?   We purchased some of the Mighty Tape because it looked like it would have a lot of different uses… and we we’re wrong. So far – so good. We’ve used it to wrap a leaky pipe, secure the cable ends holding the end of the trailer on and wrap some electrical cord that ‘accidently’ got cut with the weed eater…. oops!!   David had fixed it but the tape wasn’t holding – the Mighty Tape covered the cut and should keep out any water. 

The tape isn’t your typical vinyl, plastic tape. It comes with a backing that you peel off as you wrap and while doing this, you stretch the tape to conform to whatever you’re wrapping. The tape sticks to itself really well making a tight, snug seal. We’ve been really pleased with the results.

Summer is here – it’s been over 100 for the last few days so guess I’ll be looking for inside projects. Stay cool!!

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