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Organize Your Shed
Spring-cleaning means not only giving everything a good wipe-down but decluttering your space to welcome the warmer seasons ahead. Follow these tips and you'll breathe a sigh of spring relief.
For storing everyday garden and home tools, wood lattice is even handier than a basic trellis. Choose a heavy-duty variety, sold in sheets at hardware stores and lumberyards, and screw it onto a door using spacers. Then hang implements from S hooks, which fit snugly in the diamond framework. For items that can't be hung, attach broom clamps or suspend binder clips from hook.
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Corral Your Magazines
Magazine holders are good for keeping old issues in order, but their handleless backs make it difficult to access them when you need to. For a permanent fix, position a sash lift on the back of a holder, and mark screw holes with a pen. With a hand drill, make two holes in holder to accommodate small bolts. Secure the lift to the holder with bolts and matching nuts.
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Keep Wet Umbrellas off the Floor
Transform an inexpensive flower bucket into a nice-looking umbrella stand by painting the bottom of the bucket with glossy oil-based enamel paint. In addition to providing color, the paint will help disguise any rust caused by dripping umbrellas. Mark the bottom third of a tall galvanized bucket (available at garden centers) with painters' tape; prime and paint this area and the bottom of the bucket. Let dry 24 hours before removing tape.
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Keep Your Machine Dust-Free
Keep sewing machine gears dust-free with a good-looking tea towel cover. Choose a cloth large enough to just drape over the machine; if it's too big, trim and hem it to fit. Next, cut four 14-inch pieces of cotton twill tape. Sew a double 1/4-inch hem at one end of each. Fold over the opposite ends 1/2 inch, and pin them to the cloth so that when the cover is on the machine, the ties line up on both sides; stitch ties in place. Drape cloth over sewing machine, tying twill tapes to secure.
This photo transfer project will let you organize all those (Martha Stewart) magazines and display a favorite photo at the same time!
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Conceal the Clutter
The things we store on shelves aren't always worthy of prominent display. When you want to put items under cover, a roller shade will do the trick nicely. Pick a reverse-roll shade in a color or pattern that will complement your decor, and have the merchant cut the shade to fit inside your bookcase. Use ceiling-mount brackets to install the shade on the underside of the shelf above. You can pull the shade down over one or several shelves at a time, depending on how many you want to hide.
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Tame Your New Plants
Here's an attractive way to prevent invasive plants such as dwarf bamboo from overrunning your garden: Plant them in terra-cotta chimney flue tiles. Use a tile with a diameter that is at least 4 inches wider than the plant's root ball. Sink the tile into the soil so that the lip sticks up 1 inch; plant inside the tile.
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This handy three-pocket pouch can be fashioned easily from a carpenter's canvas nail apron (available at hardware stores) to create a super-organized carry-all.
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Save Time with a Spring-Cleaning Bucket
For easier spring-cleaning, fill a bucket with basics that need to be toted from room to room: all-purpose and glass-cleaning sprays, a sponge, a toothbrush, a squeegee, a scrub brush, hopsacking, and terry-cloth towels in washcloth and hand-towel sizes. Between tasks, hang rubber gloves over the rim to dry.
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Document Your Expiration Dates
Putting warranty expiration dates on appliance boxes lets you know when it's safe to throw those cartons away. To store the receipt and warranty slips, place them in a cellophane bag. Write or type the expiration date on a self-adhesive label, and affix it to the bag. Attach the bag to the box with double-sided tape.
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Take a deep breath: Aromatic herbs like rosemary, cinnamon, lavender, and balsam can keep clothing and shoes smelling fresh; cedar can help protect woolens from moth damage.
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Among the many photographs we take over the course of our lives, some make it into albums and a treasured few earn spots on display. But the familiar face or place in today's snapshot might be a mystery to those who will gaze upon it tomorrow. Keep memories fresh and bring the charm of an old-fashioned album to the pictures on your walls by giving each a thoughtful label.
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Get Bloom Ready
Your favorite gardener (that includes you) will appreciate a kit for arranging flowers that she can use again and again. Pack all the essentials inside a jar that's attractive enough to double as a vase. Include a floral frog to keep stems in place, floral clay to anchor the frog, shears, a floral preservative, and a stem stripper for removing leaves from woody stems.
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Don't let your desktop disappear under piles of paperwork. Inexpensive, unused cans can be purchased at paint stores; lined up on a shelf and anchored in place with Velcro, they become organizing cubbyholes with a modern flair.
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Tackle Your Garden Cleanup
Streamline your round of gardening chores by sorting debris as you go. Throw biodegradable waste into a wheelbarrow, ready to dump on the compost heap when you're finished. Keep other yard trash -- labels, broken pots, and rocks, for example -- separate in a bucket hung over the barrow's edge with a large S hook.
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Be Summer Scrapbook Ready
The front of a cloth-covered scrapbook can introduce the mementos concealed within -- just add a custom-made label. We took inspiration from the stickers that decorated many a suitcase years ago. First, design solid-color labels on your computer; making the text white will allow the color of the book cover to show through. Print labels in reverse on iron-on computer paper, available at office-supply stores. Iron labels in place, following the package instructions.
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Make a Totable Yoga Mat
When you go out for a stretch, use a leash to get your yoga mat to heel. Roll out mat. Lay a new 6-foot twill or leather dog leash across end of mat. Roll mat up, over leash. Slip the clip end through the loop handle; slip the loop handle over the rolled mat. Clip the leash, and slip the strap over your shoulder.
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Gardening gloves have a way of disappearing. Once dirty, they seem to blend into berry patches and stone walls -- only to be found the next day, dew-soaked and useless until they dry. To keep gloves handy, sew magnets onto their cuffs.
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De-Clutter Pots and Lids
Pots take up the least space when you nest them, but that leaves the lids with no place to go. Give them a home of their own by installing metal towel bars inside your pantry door. Don't use fancy or bulky bars -- look for simple ones that stand out about 2 inches; mount them only to the rails of solid-core wooden doors. To hang a lid, slide it behind the bar so the knob or handle catches and holds the lid in place.
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Prepare for Summer Fun
Now's the time to make sure you have sunblock, mosquito repellant, and citronella candles. A pail filled with these summer staples makes a thoughtful gift for the host of the season's first cookout.