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DIY Deconstructed

Plan, prep ahead to eat healthy all week long

Published On: Jan 25 2015 05:33:52 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 25 2015 05:34:29 PM CST

Most of my friends would probably say that I like to eat healthy and that I like to cook, but those are not quite accurate statements about me. I choose to eat healthy and can’t spend a lot on healthy food, which means I have to cook my own food. Another caveat to this is that I work an odd schedule, so I need to be able to whip up lunch fast and eat dinner at work. So to keep my meals healthy, fast and easy I cook my lunches and dinners all at once on Saturday afternoons.

With about 15 minutes of planning and a trip to the grocery store I can prepare three healthy meals for four days for about $40 a week in about 2 hours in the kitchen. If you're wondering -- I do work five days a week, but the first day of my workweek is a Sunday, so I usually eat stuff leftover from the weekend.

I eat oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast ever morning, so that doesn’t take any preparation ahead of time. But I do make my own yogurt jars for my morning snack after my workout. Individual containers of yogurt have tons of sugar in them, so my trainer told me to start eating plain Greek yogurt. In response to that I bought four mason jars and started building my own Greek yogurt, fruit and chia seed snack jars. I make these every week, usually with plain Chobani Greek yogurt and some sort of berry…this week I had blackberries!

As for lunch, sometimes I make something that can be quickly microwaved and sometimes I prepare something to be whipped up on the stove. This week I prepared individual containers of onions, green peppers and sweet potatoes to saute with egg whites. I used Ziploc steamer bags to pre-cook the sweet potatoes and then measured everything out. The entire container, plus 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil and 8 tablespoons of egg whites, is only 209 calories but has 16 grams of protein! I paired my egg white hash with a couple pieces of turkey bacon and had breakfast for lunch all week!

For my afternoon snack I always eat an apple and then recently I’ve been making chocolate protein shakes with soy milk, chocolate protein powder, powdered peanut butter, a banana and some spinach (I buy big bags and freeze them into individual smoothie portions!). My protein shakes have 350 calories and 36 grams of protein…but the best part is that they are super tasty and keep me full even past my dinner! I used the time it took for my egg white hash to cook to blend all of my protein shake ingredients together and pack the rest of my dinner.


For dinner I like to keep it light but filling. This week I made brown rice (which can be made in the microwave..btw), baked chicken and Brussel sprouts. The entire thing is 450 calories and 51 grams of protein. Not only did the chicken and rice bowl keep me full the rest of the night, but it was also pretty tasty with some balsamic vinegar drizzled on the Brussel sprouts.

DIY do or don’t? If you’re like me and choose to eat healthy, but don’t have a schedule that lets you cook every day, this meal prep plan really does work. Eating healthy does take a little more time than eating junk food, but in the end it is worth it. For this week I spent about two hours in the kitchen on Saturday (which included cleanup) and about 20 minutes each day to pack my dinner and finish making my egg white hash. Some people don’t like the idea of eating something four days in a row, but I only make things I really like so I usually don’t mind it (sometimes the fourth day I notice that I don’t really want to eat what I make, but Fridays are my cheat days so I just think of that!). Plus, cooking for yourself saves money!

Do you have any favorite recipes to take work?

-- Hannah

DIY potato ole recipe cures fast-food cravings

Published On: Jan 18 2015 11:42:36 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 18 2015 11:50:39 AM CST

My biggest fast food guilty pleasure is potato oles from Taco John’s. I love potatoes of any kind, but when you fry tater rounds and put a ton of salty goodness on them, I can’t resist! The downside – a small order of potato oles (let’s be honest, who actually gets just a small!) is 480 calories. So I went looking for a DIY version to try at home.

The recipe I found calls for 4 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. You mix all the ingredients together, sprinkle the mixture on potato rounds and bake the rounds following the instructions on the package.

I followed the recipe exactly and ended up with about half the seasoning left over after coating a 32 ounce bag. I baked my DIY potato oles about 8 minutes, pulled them out of the oven and shook them around, and then baked them another 4 minutes or so.

Flavor comparison: The spice mixture tastes incredibly close to the actual potato ole flavor. The two big differences is that there’s too much cumin and a bit too much spice. I will be making these again and when I do I will use half the cumin and half the cayenne pepper. The other big difference is the lack of crunch, but that should be expected since these are baked and not fried.

DIY do or don’t? This spice mixture is very close to tasting exactly like potato oles from Taco Johns. With a couple tweaks I am pretty sure I can make the recipe even better and will probably use the spice mixture whenever I make frozen french fries or potatoes! I could also see using this spice mixture on baked potatoes and even chicken. What’s your favorite fast-food guilty pleasure?

Do you have any DIY recipes for recreating restaurant favorites that you want Hannah to test? Send them to hmcclung@wisctv.com.

--Hannah

Mix healthy ingredients with splurges for tasty pasta dish

Published On: Jan 11 2015 11:44:24 AM CST

I try really hard to eat healthy and make good choices, which is why I cook my meals for the week on Saturday afternoons. That way I have control over what I’m eating all week, and usually choose my homemade food over going out because I don’t like to waste anything.

This week I was looking for something heartier than I normally make and really wanted some pasta (I usually eat gluten free because I have a slight gluten intolerance, but this week I decided to splurge).

I found a recipe for a sausage, tomato pasta bake and slightly modified it. It was super simple to make and is very yummy.

  • Quickly saute some minced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil
  • Squeeze sausage (I used Klements mild Italian chicken sausage) out of casing, crumble and cook until brown
  • Add in mushrooms, cook into soft
  • Add canned tomatoes with juice (about 32 ounces), teaspoon oregano, teaspoon basil
  • Simmer sauce until thicker (about 5 minutes)
  • Add in spinach, cook until spinach is wilted
  • Add in cooked pasta (I used penne), stir until pasta is coated with sauce and ingredients are evenly distributed
  • Mix in 2 cups mozzarella
  • Serve hot or put more mozzarella cheese on top and bake for 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees for melty, bubbly cheese

To make this recipe healthier and easier here were my modifications:

  • Use turkey or chicken sausage instead of pork
  • Add spinach
  • Use 2 cups cheese instead of 4
  • Use part-skim mozzarella
  • Don’t bake…it taste great with cheese mixed in, no need to put more on top

DIY do or don’t? This modified recipe was pretty easy to make and very tasty. The hearty Italian flavors went well with the chicken sausage I used, and I really liked that the sauce wasn’t heavy…it just pulls the other ingredients together. The downside to this dish is that even with the modifications, one serving has about 650 calories, which is about 150 calories higher than I like for a single meal. But if this is a splurge meal, it is totally worth it!

-- Hannah

Simple recipe makes tasty, sweet chickpea treat

Published On: Jan 04 2015 12:55:51 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 04 2015 01:10:53 PM CST

I recently started buying dried chickpeas because they are tasty, pretty healthy and make a good snack. One thing I did notice was that at $4 a bag they were a tad pricey, so I went in search of a recipe to make my new favorite snack at home.

The recipe I found made making crispy chickpeas sound easier than it ended up being for me. After draining and rinsing the can of chickpeas the recipe says to put them on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake them at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. The problem with this process is that is it basically drying the chickpeas, which creates a decent amount of smoke. So every time I opened my oven door to make sure they weren’t burning my smoke alarm went off. Yep…three times my smoke alarm went off (sorry to all of my neighbors in my apartment building).

After the 30 minutes, I pulled the chickpeas out and turned the oven off without trying them because I didn’t want to set the smoke alarm off again. It turns out the chickpeas were yummy and crispy on the outside but still mushy on the inside. They probably needed to bake another 30 minutes, but I was so done with dealing with my smoke detector that I didn’t put them back in.

The recipe says to use two tablespoons of olive oil with your choice of sweet or salty seasonings. I used less than two tablespoons of olive oil and then a bunch of cinnamon and some sugar. What resulted was a bowl of sweet, crunchy little bites of chickpea! They didn’t turn out nearly as crispy as the store-bought ones, but I’m guessing if my smoke detector wasn’t so finicky I would have gotten them perfect.

DIY do or don’t? These chickpea snacks are definitely great, but I’m not sure the hour bake time and the multiple rude awakenings from my smoke detector are worth saving $3 when I want these as a treat. On the positive side…the brand of crispy chickpeas I buy doesn’t have a sweet flavor, so these cinnamon and sugar ones I made were something pretty unique. Maybe one day (when I’m living somewhere that doesn’t mind being smoked out and having a smoke detector go off constantly) I’ll try this recipe again. Have you ever made crispy chickpeas? What flavor combinations have you tried?

--Hannah

If you want Hannah to try out a copycat recipe of your favorite restaurant meal or store-bought snack email her at hmcclung@wisctv.com.

DIY project turns holiday cards into kitchen decorations

Published On: Dec 14 2014 11:50:09 AM CST   Updated On: Dec 14 2014 11:52:11 AM CST

I love sending and receiving holiday cards, because who doesn’t love getting mail that’s not bills?!! I don’t get a lot of holiday cards, but the ones I do are always so nice, and up until this year my pretty holidays always just sat in a nice little pile on the hutch in my dining room.

I know some people put them in cute holiday holders or tape them to archways in their homes, but both of those have downsides. Putting them in a holder means you can’t see all of them without digging through them, and sometimes those taped cards take a nose dive depositing glitter all over the floor and usually getting damaged in the process.

I found a super cute and easy DIY project on Pinterest last week and decided to try it out this week with my three holiday cards! You need some ribbon (I used fabric, but you could use any type of wider ribbon) and some stronger tape (I suggest painters tape…duct tape might damage your cupboards and scotch tape probably wouldn’t be strong enough). And basically all you do is tape both ends of a chunk of ribbon to the inside of your cupboard so the main chunk of ribbon is strung from the top of your cupboard to the bottom. I used a couple pieces of tape to make sure the ribbon was really secure.

Then you use clothespins to attach the cards to the ribbon. So now, not only are my cards displayed, but they double as holiday decorations in my kitchen…which I normally don’t decorate!

DIY do or don’t? I love this simple DIY project. I can reuse the ribbon every year and the cards don’t get damaged by tape if I want to save them. The cards and ribbon also double as extra holiday decorations in my kitchen. If you get a lot more cards than I do, you could also do this on the front side of a closet door, and you could attach the ribbon horizontally to make a couple shorter rows for a different look.

--Hannah

Coffee beans, candle create coffee shop scent at home

Published On: Dec 07 2014 12:44:22 PM CST

I’m not a huge fan of candles because I’m afraid I’m going to start my apartment (or my cat) on fire, and the smell never lasts as long as I want it to. So when I found a post on Pinterest that said my apartment would smell like a vanilla latte for a couple days I was skeptical.

But after trying it, I am happy one of our reporters, Leah Linscheid, convinced me to test it out! So the DIY post sounds really easy, but it ended up being more of a financial commitment than I had hoped. Basically you fill a glass container with some coffee beans and then put a vanilla candle in the middle. Once the candle warms up a bit, it is supposed to make the coffee beans smelly too.

I had one bigger glass container, but wanted to try it in a smaller one too so I headed to the Dollar Tree. I got a nice (nicer than the one I already had) glass container and two smaller pillar vanilla candles for $1 each. Those three things were a great deal, but what hit my weekly budget was the bag of coffee beans I needed to buy. I tried finding some generic brand of coffee beans, but all of the generic brands only offered ground coffee. When I started looking at actual coffee beans I had two options: buy a super tiny bag for $5 or buy a bigger bag (where I’d be able to use more than half of it to make actual coffee) for $8. I went with the bigger bag because it was a better deal in the long-run.

I ended up using less than half of the 32 oz. bag of coffee between my two containers. After burning the vanilla candles surrounded by coffee beans for only about 5 minutes I could smell the yummy vanilla and coffee blending together. The vanilla candles smelled great and the warmed coffee beans smelled just like freshly-brewed coffee! I let the candles burn (under a close, watchful eye) for a couple hours and then went to bed (after blowing them out, of course!).

DIY do or don’t? When I woke up the next morning my apartment did indeed still smell like vanilla coffee. The smell continued to linger as I made a chicken enchilada bake and some garlic, tomato pasta sauce for the week. I was also surprised to discover that after my two hours in the kitchen, I could still smell the coffee beans and vanilla as I decorated my apartment for Christmas. The smell definitely started to fade as day two continued on, but it lasted much longer than any regular candle I’ve ever used. Plus, the glass containers filled with coffee beans look nicer sitting on a table than just a candle.

-- Hannah

Upcycled glass jars make inexpensive gift containers

Published On: Nov 30 2014 12:42:02 PM CST

When I first started this DIY blog I decided to start saving prettier glass jars that I could upcycle and re-purpose. After about 6 months I had six that were a good size and I had been able to clean them up pretty well. The jars I upcycled ended up making the perfect container to transport the apple crisp Chex mix I made for Thanksgiving!

First I made sure all of the jars (which used to house ranch dressing, pickles, maraschino cherries and pickled beets) were clean and dry. For most of them I had to use Goo Gone to get rid of the residue from the labels, but I eventually got them clean. I also took some extra time to make sure the lids were really clean…I didn’t want any pickle smell affecting the flavor of my Chex mix!

The upcycling part was almost easier than getting the jars cleaned. I bought some spray paint in two fun colors at Menards. After laying some cardboard down so my patio table didn’t become part of the upcycling, I sprayed the covers with a hefty dose of the paint. I let each coat dry for at least six hours before checking the coverage. It seemed that the plastic covers didn’t hold the spray paint as well as the metal covers, but after six coats all six covers were a brand new color.

I decided to put a piece of wax paper between the cover and the Chex mix since my spray paint job was a little messy and I didn’t want any icky spray paint to touch the food. After two days of coating the covers with spray paint I finally had the tops to my newly upcycled food containers.

Pinterest do or don’t? If you give homemade treats away during the holidays, this is an inexpensive and creative way to deliver them. I suggest starting to save the jars at the beginning of the year, because you probably won’t go through enough pickles and condiments in just November and December to gather enough jars for the project. Also, I highly recommend using wax paper to separate the top and the treat you are delivering…just to be safe.

-- Hannah

Painted DIY coasters make inexpensive, unique gifts

Published On: Nov 23 2014 12:42:01 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 23 2014 12:47:03 PM CST

I’m not much of an artist, but I always enjoy giving homemade gifts. So this super easy Pinterest DIY project was the perfect thing for me to try out. To make these hand-painted coasters all you need are some cork coasters (I got my round and square ones at Michaels for less than $1 a pack with coupons), some painters tape and some craft paint (I also got these at Michaels…I trolled the clearance section and got some discontinued colors that turned out to go very well together). You also need some sort of paint brush -- I used two sponge brushes I had laying around.

First, if you’re anything like me, you should put some newspaper down before you start. Once you’ve got your work surface protected, that’s when the creativity part comes into play. You use the painters tape to make designs on the coasters. I did some pretty easy designs -- lines, different line widths and chevron!

Once the tape is down you take your paint, you could use as many or as few colors as you want, and start painting the parts of the cork that are still exposed. After letting the first coat dry for about 30 minutes, I put a second coat on. My green looks good, but I probably could have put another coat of the gray on.

Once it is completely dry you spray it down with some waterproofing spray (you get it in the spray paint aisle at any home improvement store), and let that dry. You want to make sure to waterproof the coasters before pulling the tape off -- that way the painted parts will be waterproof but the cork parts will still absorb condensation when you use it.

After letting the waterproofing spray dry for at least 24 hours you get to peel of your tape and see your masterpiece! Most of mine turned out pretty good. I would suggest making sure your tape goes all the way off your coaster, because once it is painted the tape is hard to pull off if you don’t have a grab tab. Also make sure not to glob the paint on too heavy, because it could seep under the paint and wreck your design. Most of my designs turned out pretty good. The chevron design was a little messy on one end because my tape wasn't long enough, but it still looks OK.

Pinterest do or don’t? This was an extremely easy and very fun DIY project. Not including the dry time, this project took me about an hour. And the results are fun and actually look pretty nice. These DIY, hand painted coasters would be inexpensive, unique and functional presents!

-- Hannah

Odd combo makes slightly painful, but effective face mask

Published On: Nov 09 2014 01:17:13 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 09 2014 01:20:35 PM CST

There are a lot of different DIY face masks available on Pinterest, and all of them promise something different. Some of them promise smaller pores, some promise to reduce oiliness, and some promise to hydrate. I wanted a mask that would help get rid of blackheads and any other gunk on my face.

The first post that came up was a milk and gelatin mask. The post said to mix between one and two tablespoons of milk with a packet of gelatin (yep…like the gelatin you use to make jello). Then you microwave the mixture for 15-20 seconds.

When I was reading the post there were three warnings that I will pass along to you:

  • Don’t put the mask anywhere near your eyebrows (they will get ripped out)
  • Don’t put the mast anywhere near your eyes (that skin is way too sensitive for this mask)
  • This mask will hurt a lot more than expected

I tried the mask twice and both times I succeeded in not crying as I was ripping away what felt like the first layer of my face. I used my fingers to apply a layer of the goop that wasn’t too thick or too thin. That’s what I’ve decided is key -- if the mask it too think it won’t dry to your face right, and if it is too thin it breaks apart into tiny pieces and is impossible to peel off.

Once you get the perfect thickness (it is hard to describe, but you don’t want it to be thin enough to see through and you don’t want it to be thick enough that it looks like you have goop on your face), you let it dry. You’ll know when it’s ready because your face will start to feel super tight. Then all you do is smile really wide so the mask cracks in a couple spots and start pulling it off. It does hurt a decent amount and my face was red right after, but the next day my face had recovered from the redness, was softer and was noticeably less oily.

Another thing the commenters on the original blog post warned me about was that the mask smells really bad. I didn’t have regular milk when I tried this so I used soy milk and my mask didn’t smell bad. It smelled like warm soy milk, which isn’t an extremely appealing smell, but it also isn’t horrible. Apparently if you use regular milk it smells really bad…so beware of that.

DIY do or don’t? If you don’t mind a little pain for beauty, this mask is a great bargain. Once I figure out exactly how much gelatin I need instead of using an entire packet each time, I’ll be able to probably get about 10-15 masks for the price of the box of gelatin (which is about $2). That’s a really good deal! Also, after only using the mask twice I am seeing softer, less oily skin right after so that’s promising! I will definitely be smearing this gelatin and soy milk mask on my face again!

-- Hannah

Toilet paper rolls make cute, recycled gift boxes

Published On: Nov 02 2014 12:48:17 PM CST

I don’t like spending more on wrapping paper and decorations than I do on the actual gift. The holidays are coming up so I decided to give a DIY gift box project a try.

The Pinterest posts I found said all I needed to make some cute gift boxes was some toilet paper rolls and anything that could be used to decorate them. Making the actual box looks and sounds a lot easier than it is. The posts say to fold the edges of the round tube in until it creates a closure, but I came across a couple different issues. Some of my toilet paper rolls ripped while I was trying to fold them and others just bent in ugly ways. Basically, I got them to do what I wanted them to do, but they didn’t look nearly as nice as the ones on Pinterest.

As for the decorations, I used some twine I got on super clearance at Target, some small segments of ribbon I got in the dollar section at Target and double-sided tape. The first one I made turned out pretty ugly, but I was experimenting. The other four were cuter, but definitely not as nice as the ones on Pinterest.

A couple words of warning: The toilet paper roll gift boxes aren’t extremely sturdy, so if you are transporting something heavier, it would be a good idea to tape or glue the ends shut. I also tried using the twine to keep the ends closed, and that worked really well! The only other issue was the size of the gift box. Other than candy and chapstick, there aren’t many gifts that would fit in these little boxes.

Pinterest do or don’t? My finished products were cute, but didn’t look as nice as the ones on Pinterest. Since I made them, some of my friends can probably expect to see them incorporated into their Christmas presents, but I don’t think I would take the time to specifically make them to hand out gifts. However, since I am not the biggest fan of crafting and I’m not good at artsy things, I might not be the best person to ask if this particular craft was worth it! All-in-all, they are cute little DIY projects that would be good for small party favors or holiday gifts if you want to put the time and effort in to making them.

-- Hannah

Little effort, lot of patience makes pilling sweater like new

Published On: Oct 26 2014 01:07:39 PM CDT

Sweaters are my go-to clothing choices for work during winter months, but I have had to retire some of my favorites because of excessive pilling. Every year when I bring those pilling sweaters out with the rest of my winter wear I tuck them aside with the hopes of one day saving them.

Well yesterday was that day. I found a DIY way to de-pill my sweaters with two things I already own: a pumice stone and a lint roller. After pulling my two favorite sweaters out of retirement I grabbed my pumice stone and started scraping. The note on the DIY post says to hold the material taut and gently scrub away the pills. After a couple seconds I could see the pills were gathering at the bottom of my scrubbing path, so I grabbed the lint roll and easily removed them. It took about 25 minutes to get my sweater to an acceptable level of pilling -- which was nowhere near completely pill free, but it was good enough for me.

Most of my sweaters with this issue pill in odd places: sides, lower back and underarms. I’m guessing it’s because those areas get the most amount of contact with other things like purses, chairs, my arms. So my sweaters had two different types of pills. The ones on the underarms and sides of my sweaters came off after some effort with the pumice stone, but the ones on the lower back part of my sweater didn’t come off. After I looked at it closer I decided the worn-out material on the lower back part of my sweater wasn’t actually pilling yet. But I will definitely save this trick for when it has pilled all the way. I would suggest keeping an eye on material that is worn out, but hasn't formed actual little pill balls yet. Because as I started to remove the not-yet-formed pills I could see that I was pulling more material out of my sweater, which is not what I wanted to do.

DIY do or don’t? This pumice stone trick does work in removing a majority of pills, with some caveats. It does take some patience to scrub away all of the pills on a very pilly sweater, but the end result is worth it. If your sweaters pill in odd spots (on seams and in creases) like mine do, it takes even more patience because there are added barriers to getting rid of those annoying little fabric balls. And here’s a word of warning: removing pills is not a permanent fix, those tiny balls will return. And according to the DIY post I got this suggestion from, removing pills is removing chunks of the clothing’s materials which means eventually you could de-pill a hole in your favorite sweater. So de-pill at your own risk!

-- Hannah

Lemon juice, elbow grease clean dirty newsroom microwave

Published On: Oct 19 2014 12:52:06 PM CDT

If you’ve ever worked at a place that has a communal kitchen you’ve probably dealt with a dirty microwave. I’ve always wondered why everyone who uses the communal microwave doesn’t just cover their food when it’s heating up, but that little step always seems to get missed.

Here at News 3 I’ve seen our microwave pretty dirty. But someone must clean it on a regular basis because when I decided to try out a DIY mixture of water and lemon juice to clean the newsroom microwave it was cleaner than I was expecting. It had some splatters around the sides, but the biggest issue was a pretty large circle of something that resembled cheese that was completely dried on.

The cleaning process is pretty simple and worked really well. You take a microwave safe bowl and fill it halfway with water and the other half with lemon juice. You don’t want to fill it too full because after you put the mixture in the microwave for 10 minutes it will be boiling when you try to take it out.

After 10 minutes in the newsroom microwave I dipped some paper towels in the bubbling mixture and the splatters wiped right off. Thanks to the steam from the mixture the large circle of crusty nasty came off, but not without a little elbow grease. I’ve never seen the newsroom microwave look so nice!

DIY do or don’t? This one definitely works. I have tried this on my own microwave and if it can clean the newsroom microwave it can definitely clean anything. The steam from the bubbling mixture basically breaks down the dried-on splatters, which makes it easier to wipe them away. Using the hot lemon juice and water mixture to wipe away the food splatters works really well and your microwave smells like lemons afterwards, not chemicals.

The best part is you can use the leftover mixture to clean your garbage disposal -- just drop some ice cubes in with the leftover water and lemon juice and turn it on. The ice will knock off any food particles and the lemon juice will deodorize!

-- Hannah

Household items make temporary, but not easy speakers

Published On: Oct 05 2014 12:48:43 PM CDT

Have you ever been at a party without music and you pull your smartphone out to crank up some tunes, but there aren’t any speakers? Well I haven’t, but a friend asked me to test out a homemade temporary speaker system to see if the effort was worth the outcome.

You’re supposed to use two red solo cups and a toilet paper roll to craft a makeshift smartphone speaker station. The post I found just had a picture so I improvised the step-by-step instructions. I also didn’t have any red solo cups, but the clear plastic cups I took from the Union a while back seemed to work just fine. I traced the toilet paper roll on the cup and then used an X-Acto knife to cut the hole. After doing the same thing to the second cup I cut a slit a half-inch deep and as wide as my iPhone in the toilet paper roll.

Ideally, the toilet paper roll slides into both holes in the cups and then the smartphone goes in the slit in the toilet paper roll. The cups are supposed to act as amplifiers while the toilet paper roll seems to be just a mechanism to connect the two cups together.

If you don’t have an X-Acto knife cutting the holes in the cups and the slit in the toilet paper roll is going to be difficult.

Pinterest do or don’t? Cutting the holes wasn’t easy, even with an X-Acto knife. Once I got the pieces put together I realized how flimsy it was. The makeshift speakers barely held up the weight of my iPhone, but once it was balanced it did stay propped up. As for the sound, it wasn’t a massive difference in volume, but it did make a difference. The thing that I noticed most was that the quality of sound seemed better. I don’t know how to describe music quality, but it sounded softer, less metallic.

I’m not sure in what situation anyone would need to use this, but it is definitely a temporary and short-term fix. The pieces don’t stay together very well and they are very flimsy. But in a pinch, and if you have an X-Acto knife to make the assembling process manageable, the plastic cups and toilet paper roll speaker is a good option.

--Hannah

The dreaded, always slightly dirty shower curtain

Published On: Sep 28 2014 12:38:45 PM CDT

No matter how often I clean my shower curtain it still never really looks clean. I used to buy those really cheap plastic liners and toss them when they got nasty, but my mom convinced me a fabric one would be cheaper in the long-run. She was definitely right, but why does it always look slightly yellow even after I just wash it?

I went searching for that answer on Pinterest and found multiple posts that said the same thing -- Even though you wash your shower curtain liner, it might not ever look as clean as you want it to. But one of the posts promised that even though the liner might still be slightly discolored it would be clean and disinfected after the process.

This one was super simple. Put the shower curtain liner in the wash with some towels, add your regular detergent and then pour in about a cup of white vinegar. According to the post, the detergent will get the liner clean and the vinegar will disinfect it. So I tossed some towels in with the liner and poured in some Tide and vinegar. After a full cycle in the washing machine I tossed it in the dryer for a bit.

Pinterest do or don’t? My shower curtain liner looked as clean as it did the other times I washed it. The difference this time was that the part down at the bottom felt cleaner (the other times I washed it without the vinegar the bottom inch or so felt a little stiff…kind of like it still had soap residue on it). I would say adding the vinegar is definitely something I’ll be doing going forward. But does anyone have any suggestions, or is it even possible, to get my fabric shower curtain liner looking like new?

-- Hannah

DIY tip cleans, disinfects makeup brushes

Published On: Sep 21 2014 12:13:59 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 21 2014 12:15:06 PM CDT

I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but when I do I brush on some foundation with some pretty common beauty tools -- a regular foundation brush and a newer foundation sponge. I’ve had both of them for about a year and have rinsed them off with water, but never actually cleaned them.

I was digging around on Pinterest last week and came across a post with a simple suggestion for cleaning and disinfecting makeup brushes. The post says to mix a cup of warm water with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap.

I mixed up the ingredients and started swirling my foundation brush in the bowl. The amount of foundation that washed out of my brush was ridiculous! I used two bowls of mixture to make sure my brush was super clean, and then wiped it on a paper towel to make sure the water coming off of the brush was clear.

Then I started on my foundation sponge. This is a relatively new way to put foundation on (as far as I am aware!) and I really like it. But apparently it holds a lot of excess foundation in the make-up application process because I used four bowls of the water, vinegar and soap mixture to clean it.

The best way I discovered to clean my sponge was to squeeze the sponge under the water so it soaks up the mixture, and then squeeze the water out while really focusing on the part you use most often. It took me awhile but the water I was squeezing out of my sponge eventually started coming out clear.

After letting my sponge and brushes dry completely, I’ll be able to use them a lot longer since they are basically like new! I also tried cleaning brushes that are used with powder and the process basically worked the same, but the powder brushes held a lot less makeup so they took less time to clean.

Pinterest do or don’t? Definite do! The post suggests cleaning your makeup brushes every other week if you use them daily, and I think that’s probably a good idea. Think of the gunk and bacteria that builds up on them. I know I’d prefer to use a clean, like-new brush over a dirty, spindly-looking brush. I’m also assuming that cleaning makeup brushes will make them last longer, so you’ll save money by not buying replacements as often.

-- Hannah

DIY trick cleans, repurposes glass candle container

Published On: Sep 07 2014 01:34:05 PM CDT

I love repurposing containers, especially unique-looking glass ones, into something I can use instead of just recycling them. Most containers are pretty easy – use a little Goo Gone to get rid of sticker residue, wash it thoroughly and you’ve got a sturdy, container you can use to store stuff, transport leftovers or even spray paint it to use for decoration or gift giving. But one glass container has always eluded me – the big wide jar three-wick candles come in. For some reason you can never get all of that wax to burn away, so once the wicks are useless you still have at least a half-inch of wax stuck at the bottom.

A Pinterest post I found said boiling water was all I needed to get rid of the wax and to be able to reuse the container. Thanks to Michelle Li, I had a big three-wick candle that was on its death bed to try this out with. I boiled some water in my trusty teapot and poured it on top of the stuck wax. Almost instantly I could see the wax melting and floating to the surface. After a couple hours the majority of the wax had floated to the top of the container and cooled. I pushed the chunk of wax down slightly and it split in the middle, giving me a chance to pull out the two pieces.

Once I threw away those two pieces I noticed the container was far from being clean. I dumped another round of boiling water into the container to get the wax remnants out, and then just had to deal with the wick holders stuck to the bottom of the container. The post I was referencing didn’t offer any insight into removing them so I pulled them out, soaked the container in soapy water for a bit and then started scrubbing. The actual wick holders came out really easy, but the glue used to keep them in place stuck around.

I was able to scrub away the pesky glue with a combination of Dawn dish soap and Goo Gone, but it wasn’t easy. I rotated between the dish soap and the Goo Gone twice before finally getting rid of the glue residue. That’s when I thought my candle container was done, but then I noticed a light black ring around the top of the container. The black ring was smoke residue from burning the candle, and no amount of scrubbing completely got rid of that. But the end product was pretty close to what I was expecting.

Pinterest do or don’t? This DIY trick was a pretty simple way to clean up those nice glass jars three-wick candles come in. I’ve always felt bad getting rid of them, because I never knew if I could recycle them with the wax inside so I usually tossed them. Now I will at least be able to remove the remaining wax so I can recycle the container. As for repurposing the container for something else – I would 100 percent avoid putting anything in there that might come in contact with your face (the Pinterest post suggested storing cotton balls in it) because even after all that cleaning the jar still smells like the “’Tis the Season” scent from Bath and Body Works. I would also not use it for any type of food storage. I will mostly be using this method to clean out the container so I feel better about recycling it.

--Hannah

Solution for rust-spotted knives disappoints

Published On: Aug 31 2014 12:28:55 PM CDT

I’m not sure how my steak knives got a couple of little rust spots on them, but I noticed it about a week ago. Three of my knives had a couple tiny rust spots and one had just one small spot. I don’t put them in the dishwasher and I clean them with regular dish soap, so I’m not sure why they have started rusting. I’m also not sure if it will get worse and I’ll have to replace my knives, but I figured I’d look into a DIY fix to try and get rid of the spots.

A post I found on Pinterest made getting rid of these small spots sound way too easy. It said to soak the knives in lemon juice for a couple minutes and then use a scrubby sponge to scrub away the spot. I didn’t know what “a couple minutes” meant so I tried a couple different times.

After about two minutes I pulled one of the knives out, but I was not able to scrub away the spot. The same thing goes for the times I waited about five minutes and a little more than 10 minutes. I used a generic green sponge with a scrubby side, and after waiting for the knives to soak in the lemon juice for 10 minutes I really went at it with the scrubby. But four of my steak knives still have little rust spots on them.

Pinterest do or don’t? This DIY suggestion was a waste of time and lemon juice. The lemon juice and scrubby didn’t do anything to get rid of the small rust spots on my knives. Do you have suggestions for getting rid of or preventing small rust spots on knives? Send them my way!

--Hannah

2-ingredient spray doesn’t get rid of stinky shoe smell

Published On: Aug 17 2014 04:06:47 PM CDT

I know I’m not the only Toms shoe wearer that has the problem of stinky shoes and feet from wearing our favorite pair canvas slip-ons. I have been to numerous websites and forums that have said the only way to prevent stinky shoes and feet when wearing Toms is to wear socks. I have tried wearing them with socks and it’s just not the same. So I go sock-less and my feet always stink when I wear my favorite pairs of Toms.

I had resigned to having stinky feet during spring, summer and fall because that’s how often I wear Toms, until I saw a post on Pinterest that says no matter how stinky or how dirty your shoes are, a two-ingredient spray would get rid of it. I found a couple posts that said to use pure rubbing alcohol, but most of the posts said to use two parts alcohol to one part water, so I tried that.

I filled my spray bottle about half full of rubbing alcohol and then another fourth of the way with water. Then I took my favorite, oldest, smelliest pair of Toms shoes outside and sprayed them down with the mixture. Initially the shoes smelled worse, probably because they were wet, so I let them dry overnight. In the morning they smelled the same as before I sprayed them, and after wearing them a full day at work they smelled just as stinky as they normally do.

Pinterest do or don’t? This Pinterest post claiming to eradicate bad smells from feet and shoes says the alcohol kills bacteria that causes the bad smell. Well maybe my old Toms are just too old and smelly to be saved. But I also don’t think this simple spray would do anything for any of my newer pairs of Toms that are just as stinky but have been worn less. I would suggest passing on the spray and embracing stinky feet, especially if you love your Toms as much as I do.

--Hannah

Bottle trap gets rid of relentless fruit flies

Published On: Aug 10 2014 01:41:12 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 10 2014 02:32:28 PM CDT

I have absolutely no idea where fruit flies come from or why they plague my apartment on a regular basis in the summer, but I’ve finally found an easy and inexpensive way to get rid of them.

The Pinterest post I found said to fill an empty water bottle halfway with apple cider vinegar, add in a couple squirts of honey and about half that amount of dish soap. The post said not to shake up the mixture because there would be too much foam.

The first time I tried the mixture I followed the instructions and didn’t shake it up. Every time I would walk in my kitchen I would scare away a couple flies that were sitting on the edge of the bottle, but there didn’t seem to be any inside. When I got up the next morning the bottle did have a decent amount of the nasty little flies floating in the bottom. Even though there weren’t a ton of flies in my trap, the effort seemed to get rid of them for a couple days.

Then I went grocery shopping and must have brought some more home from the grocery store. So I pulled out another bottle, filled it up with the ingredients, and this time I purposely got some honey on the inside of the bottle, and shook up the mixture a little bit. The resulting bubbles proved to be helpful because the fruit flies that just flew part of the way into the bottle seemed to get stuck in the maze of bubbles and couldn’t get out. Plus, the honey on the side of the bottle seemed to attract more flies sooner. With the same mixture, but with my two adjustments, I seemed to catch twice the amount of fruit flies. It is three days later and I haven’t seen another one.

Pinterest do or don’t? I definitely plan to use this bottle trap again if I find those pesky little black flies in my kitchen. Hopefully the suggestions I’ve listed below will prevent them from taking over, but if they do come back I know how to get rid of them overnight!

NOTES: A suggestion I’ve heard for getting rid of fruit flies is to keep all produce in the refrigerator, but you can’t really do that with bananas. I read online that most fruit flies come on the stems of bananas and that you’re supposed to dip a paper towel in vinegar and use it to wipe off your bananas. Apparently that’s supposed to prevent any eggs or bugs that traveled home on your bananas from infesting your home. Do you have any tips for getting rid of these pesky summer bugs?

--Hannah

Homemade, cheap cleaner de-smudges glasses

Published On: Aug 03 2014 01:08:28 PM CDT

I just recently got glasses and thought the hardest part about wearing them would be getting used to the way I looked in them. But after wearing them for a week something else started bothering me more -- the smudges and fuzzies that started collecting. I tried using the tiny microfiber cloth the eye wear place gave me, but it didn’t do much for the smudges so I took to Pinterest.

I found a bunch of posts saying to mix water and vinegar, and a bunch saying to mix water and rubbing alcohol. Then I found one where you mix all three together and figured I’d give that one a go.

I took a little spray bottle I got in the travel section of Target and filled it 1/3 with water, 1/3 with rubbing alcohol and 1/3 with white vinegar. I shook it up and used it with the small microfiber cloth that came with my glasses. It worked perfectly! I sprayed both sides, wiped them off and the glasses looked like new.

Pinterest do or don’t? These three common household ingredients are a great way to clean your glasses. I thought the vinegar or the alcohol might be strong-smelling but the two seem to cancel each other out, and any smell the mixture does have disappears pretty fast. I now find myself cleaning my glasses at least once, but usually twice a day with this stuff, so it’s good the ingredients are so cheap!

--Hannah

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