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Fuse Box Light
When you blow a fuse, it's frustrating to have to fumble around in the dark to find the right switch. Why not attach a flashlight to the box itself? Use magnets for metal flashlights and strips of Velcro or strong double-sided adhesive tape for other types.
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Dropping temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. If you label the main shutoff valves ahead of time, you'll know exactly which ones to turn off to avert flooding. Print the name of the water source on a peel-off label (or use a personal label maker). Affix the labels to copper plant tags, and wrap them around the appropriate pipes.
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It's hard to improve on something as simple as a dustpan, but we think we've found a way. Adhere a strip of magnetic tape, sold at hardware stores, toward the rear of the pan. Keep it in the garage, basement, or workshop. The tape will attract any small metal objects -- such as nails, brads, or screws that find their way onto the floor -- holding them fast as you tilt the pan to sweep up more debris.
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A simple piece of trim ensures that you'll never have to worry about a screwdriver, nail, or bolt rolling off a shelf and damaging a project on the bench below. Cut a 2-by-1/4-inch piece of wood to the length of your shelf. Attach the trim with finishing nails, one about every foot. Set the nails with a punch; then putty, sand, and paint.
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Too much clutter is the biggest challenge to staying organized. What is that clutter comprised of? Simply put, too much stuff. But paring down your extra belongings -- many of which we hold on to for sentimental or personal reasons -- can be an emotionally charged process.
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Protect your dearest ornaments from damage as you pack up after the holiday this year.
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Leftover Paint Storage
Transfer leftover paint from large cans to small airtight resealable tubs. Make sure to affix a label to the container; note the color and the room where the paint was used.
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To ensure that smaller terra-cotta pots emerge from winter storage intact and ready for spring planting, take the time to put them away properly in fall.
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Rather than letting the works of art that don't make it onto a refrigerator door gather dust, devise a system of storing them. One good solution is to label mailing tubes, available at office-supply stores, by semester or year, and fill with rolled-up stacks of artwork.
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Perhaps it's time to graduate from the shopping-bag school of organization. Ribbons will stay untangled and ready to use in this easily made box (a shoebox will do).
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Make heavy lifting a little easier by creating handholds after taping shut moving or storage boxes. With a razor blade or utility knife, cut a 4-inch slit about 3 inches from the box top on shorter sides, then a 3-inch perpendicular slit down the center to create a T. Score along diagonals to form two triangles; fold these flaps inward.
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Museums use expensive archival artifact boxes to store mammoth bones and Inuit carvings, but you can make your own, less expensive version.
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Zippered cloth-and-plastic bedding bags protect your blankets and quilts when not in use. Because the heaviest blankets spend so much time in the closet, the bags will keep them from getting dusty. The transparent plastic top makes it easy to identify the contents.
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Pipe and Wire Map
Don't wait for a clogged drain or power failure to figure out your house's inner workings. Make a rough sketch of the floor plans, and indicate the shutoff valve, fuse, or power source for everything in your home that uses water, gas, or electricity. Apply color-coded stickers for each utility. Keep this map handy, and be sure to leave a copy for any house sitter.
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A broken appliance is always annoying, but if you've lost the warranty or manual, it's positively maddening. Keep all those papers and guides in an accordion file, categorized with handwritten labels.