Odds & Ends Miscellaneous Tips

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Keep a rag handy.  The coconut oil and old grease may drip down the door frame or trim.

You’ve probably noticed that I am on a coconut oil kick. But if it comes to the rescue, then why not?  Last week I touted the benefits of coconut oil to remove caulk residue from fingers and hands.  This week I discovered how to resolve noisy door hinges.  Yep, you guessed it.  My daughter's bedroom door had been squeaking for ages usually as a result of me forgetting to take care of it or when I would remember I'd put it off because I prefer not to use chemical sprays such as WD-40.

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A few nights ago, as I opened her door the annoying creak nearly woke my husband.  That prompted me to grab the jar of coconut oil and a rag to see if it would do the trick. 

I dunked my hand in the nearly liquid oil.  It is usually semi-solid but the house has been pretty warm the last few days causing it to liquefy.  I slathered it into each of the three door hinges unsure which triplet was the offender.  After the first application, the door still squeaked a bit so I tried again.  No sound, nothing.  Voila.  Mission accomplished.  No offending odors, no harmful chemicals.

Some of the original black hinge grease leaked onto the door, luckily I had my rag handy to wipe around each hinge.  Then I dampened the cloth to give the door and trim a quick cleaning.  

Are your door hinges squeaking?  Give coconut oil a try.




Reposted from Facebook

Try not to view this week’s tip as naggy mom syndrome.  Instead I invite you to consider it as a super practical and simple trick.  Have you ever apologized to visitors for the state of your home?  Face it, we all have at one time or another.  In fact, my kids got a huge kick out of this Facebook video because yes, that was (and possibly still could be) me.  I confess way too much in my blogs and tips.  But hey, we are all human with our own unique and not so unique foibles.

When Good Enough is...Good Enough

I don’t get nearly as frantic as I used to when company is expected.  I know that my home is usually in a presentable state, just not at the moment.  As we are undergoing a remodeling project, my furniture is buried under sheets, my floors are covered by Ram Board, and my stairs are encased under plastic.  Fortunately, the photographers from Architectural Digest are not scheduled for the next few weeks.  Seriously though, I have been making peace with my perfectionist tendencies because good enough is good enough most of the time.

One Minute Difference

The smallest touches make a substantial difference in how my home looks and the way I feel about it.  Want to make a noticeable impact in your home in one minute?  Make your bed.  That’s it.  In less than one minute the room went from rumpled to neat as a button.  If you have to wake up 1-2 minutes earlier to make your bed, it’s really no big deal, but when you return to your room later in the day or if expected guests should wander by an open bedroom door, you will have the gratification of knowing that your room looks put together. 

 An unmade bed creates a cluttered, rumpled appearance no matter how tidy the rest of the room is

An unmade bed creates a cluttered, rumpled appearance no matter how tidy the rest of the room is


Consider what it feels like when you stay at a hotel and the maid has performed her magic.  You open the door and the room looks fresh and inviting.  Surprisingly, even if the rest of the room is less than tidy, with a made bed, the room will still appear relatively neat.  Try it and see.

 Make your bed daily to create a finished, neat look

Make your bed daily to create a finished, neat look

Don't Flush

Were you able to partake in National Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28?  If not, options exist around the region for dropping your unused, partially used, expired, and unwanted medications safely and securely at any time.  For a list of permanent prescription disposal drop-off locations in Oregon, click here.  This is the perfect excuse to incorporate cleaning out your medicine chests in an environmentally responsible way as part of your spring cleaning.

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To avoid prescription and over the counter drugs getting into the wrong hands, for years the message was to flush them down the drain.  However, medicines in our water supply can adversely impact fish, aquatic plants, and even humans as we consume the water.  It is true that our bodies may not fully metabolize medicines ingested meaning it potentially passes through us into the wastestream.  Wastewater treatment plants may not catch 100% of the substances.  Therefore, it can reenter the environment.  Unfortunately, this is rather unavoidable, so we should be mindful about flushing the medicines in their entirety.

Not all locations collect medicinal creams, sharps (hypodermic needles), or mercury-containing thermometers, so verify before you go.  Sharps are extremely hazardous to haulers as well as other humans and animals therefore, they are not permitted in the trash.  Approved sharps containers are available at Metro hazardous waste facilities, pharmacies, and medical supply stores.   Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas residents can participate in the Metro container exchange program.  For $5 you can purchase a container, then exchange it for free each time you return a full bin.  Note, there is an additional $5 hazardous waste disposal fee for up to 35 gallons.

Thermometers containing mercury should be disposed at Metro Hazardous Waste facilities or take them to Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events.  Click here for a spring 2018 schedule.

If you were unable to participate in National Take Back Day, here are some suggestions for proper disposal at your home according to the FDA along with additional information (click here).


Disposing Medicines at Your Home

“Disposing medicines in household trash: Almost all medicines can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, creams, and inhalers.

Follow these steps:

Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.

Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
Throw the container in the garbage.

Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

If you have a question about your medicine, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.

Disposing of Fentanyl Patches

Some prescription drugs — such as powerful narcotic pain medicines and other controlled substances — have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of overdose from unintentional or illegal use.

One example is the fentanyl patch. This adhesive patch delivers a strong pain medicine through the skin. Even after a patch is used, a lot of the medicine remains. That’s why the drug comes with instructions to flush used or leftover patches.

Disposing of Inhaler Products

One environmental concern involves inhalers used by people who have asthma or other breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Read handling instructions on the labeling of inhalers and aerosol products. These products could be dangerous if punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator. To properly dispose of these products and follow local regulations and laws, contact your trash and recycling facility.”

— https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm

As mentioned above, it is wise to remove all personal information from labels before disposing medical waste in your trash or at any of the collection facilities.  You can soak the labels in water to aid in removal.

Watch for details about next year's National Take Back Day.

Save a Bag, Save the Environment

Do you bring reusable sacks with you to the grocery store?  If so, that is awesome.  You are doing your part to save trees or prevent plastics from ending up in the waste stream and clogging our oceans and other water bodies.  Furthermore, you are likely saving money since many stores award cash-back for bringing along your own bags. 

  Mesh bags tote groupings of fruits and vegetables

Mesh bags tote groupings of fruits and vegetables

But when it comes to produce are you still grabbing plastic or paper bags from the dispensers?  Until recently I was doing the same although I reused them until they were at the point of shredding.  Then a friend gifted me some Norwex produce bags which I love.  You can also use mesh laundry bags.  These bags help to keep my homologous fruits and vegetables together so I can easily toss them in the refrigerator bin when I get home.  

 Use a zippered cloth bag for loose items like beans and peas

Use a zippered cloth bag for loose items like beans and peas

Or another idea, I had old throw pillows which I no longer need and inside were zippered cloth bags which held the stuffing.  I have repurposed those for produce and laundry.  These bags are perfect for items like fresh beans and peas.

Finally, I have gotten to the point where I rarely bag my leafy produce anymore.  I used to be concerned about what it came in contact with in my cart.  However, as I reasoned it through, as long as I keep it in the top section of the cart, segregated from my meats it is likely no dirtier there than it was on the farm, handled by a multitude of shippers and store clerks and nestled among the other heads of lettuce, spinach, beets or whatnot. 

After each use, I toss them in the next load of laundry so they are fresh for the next trip to the store.  I keep all my grocery sacks nested inside the largest bag on the headrest of my car seat so that they are always with me if I stop on the fly.

20 is the New 25


Have you been wondering about the "20 is Plenty" orange yard signs that have popped up around the Portland Metro area?

In the event you did not catch this important tidbit buried in the news on April 1, 2018, the new speed limit on residential streets has been reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph.  This 5 mile per hour reduction minimizes the risk of severe injury and death to pedestrians.

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According to Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), in general, streets without a center line are subject to the new 20 mph restrictions.  Even if the signage has not been replaced to reflect the modification, the change is still in effect.  The city is in the process of replacing roughly 2000 speed limit signs.

Here's a quick tip that I use to help me slow down my pace.  When I am driving in residential neighborhoods, I change my radio station to classical music.  I noticed that I tend to drive faster with rock and roll or upbeat jazz, while I am gentler with the accelerator with classical music streaming.  It's a psychological thing that seems to work. 

For more information about the new ordinance, click here.




Have you ever planned a trip or needed to drive to a new location and mapped out a route the old-fashioned way or via an App?  Then before you embark you realize there is construction or an accident causing a jam along that highway.  Or your friend says "hey, there is a shortcut that can get you there quicker with less hassle."  Time to reroute.

Are you like me, hesitant to set short or long range goals because you fear failure?  What if the outcome is not the one you desired?  What if you can't complete the project?

Rather than wander aimlessly through life not getting things done which inevitably results in frustration and overwhelm down the road, try a new 2-step approach.

This year in lieu of setting new year's resolutions or goals, I decided to set intentions.  Setting an intention versus a goal seems to be more informal and less threatening if the outcome is not as I hoped.

The second thing is to view the intention or if you choose, the goal as simply guidance just like a road map.  If you look at it that way, when you see that a different path or method is more efficient and useful you are given the freedom to modify to best suit your needs.  Additionally, as with a trip, if you conclude that this is not the best time to travel or that the journey is not in your best interests, you can put it aside for another time.  

Looking at your milestones as guidance or a road map takes the pressure off which means LESS STRESS yet still gives you the opportunity to work toward an end result that is appropriate for you and your needs.

Give this new paradigm a try and let me know what you think.

If you need help re-routing your thinking or creating a new road map for your home, contact ThePracticalSort.com.

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Looking for flooring ideas for your stairs?  Shying away from slippery surfaces?  Dissatisfied with matted down carpet that looks perpetually dirty in this high traffic area?

Over the years, I have tried a range of options and each had their issues.  Nearly tumbling down a flight of stairs on slick hardwood made me realize that while I loved the classic look, it was not ideal on the stairs.  Although as you will notice from the photo, we opted to use it on the large landing.  

Most of the wall to wall carpeting we tried looked worn and dingy not long after installation.

When my family moved into our current home nearly a decade ago, I decided to try something different.  I wanted a color camouflaging dirt without a deep pile to avoid that worn out look.  I chose a two-tone brown indoor/outdoor carpeting which accents our adjacent hardwoods nicely.

As it approaches its 10th anniversary, it still looks relatively new.  Yes, you can tell where the foot traffic is heavier, but not nearly to the degree that any of our previous carpets displayed in far less time.  Except for white lint or a dark mud stain, it rarely shows any dirt.  When it does, it has been super easy to clean.  And yes, I am embarrassed to admit that next week will be the first time since we moved in that it will be professionally cleaned.

Indoor/outdoor carpets are not just for patios.  Look for a dense, thickly woven weave for more durability and colors that will hide grime .  Check out this guide from Lowes for choosing indoor/outdoor carpet varieties.


A few days ago, an acquaintance bemoaned that she frequently misplaces her keys.  As most organizers would advise, she had a basket for her keys by her front door.  However, she is typically distracted as she returns home and beelines to the destination for whatever is currently on her mind.  Thereby laying her keys there. 

I asked her if there is a wall directly across from her door.  When she replied yes, I suggested that she hang a key holder at eye level so that is the first thing she sees.   Having the word "KEYS" on it will help as a reminder.  The featured key holder can be found at Target.com.  She loved the idea. 

She went on to say that she was so late to work a few days before because her keys had been misplaced.  At that point, I also suggested that she keep a spare set in her purse.  Her purse is always has with her when she leaves the house.  Hopefully she won't misplace the spare set.

If you frequently misplace your keys, in addition to these suggestions, you might wish to consider an electronic key finder which you can hang on the key holder.  Tomsguide.com provides a review of wireless key finders for 2017.

Every year I seem to need a new pair of slippers.  I attempt to purchase those that appear to be made well from reputable brands, but after a few weeks of wear, they slowly begin to disintegrate.  The soles wear away, the material rips, and soon I find that my once snug and cozy slippers are leaving my feet chilly and exposed.

This year I found a very warm and sturdy pair of faux fur booties by Dearfoams.  I couldn't wait to get home and clomp around the house in them (yes, that is the sound the rubber soles make with each step). 

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After a day or so, I noticed black streaks on our hardwood floors.  In fact, you could tell every path I took throughout the house in the previous 24 hours.  I attempted to walk gingerly to avoid leaving scuffs to no avail.

I contacted the manufacturer to see if they had suggestions.  They were well aware of the issue and recommended that I return them to the store.

Bottom line, even if the shoes will keep your toes toasty be sure to check out the material and color used to construct the sole especially if you have hardwood or light-colored floors.  Admittedly, the scuff marks easily wiped away although it quickly became onerous to track down every scuff in order to obliterate them.


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Have lots of Legos that are sadly no longer being used? Are you looking for one or two minifigs or bricks to finish that Lego masterpiece but you wish to avoid purchasing a whole new set? Check out bricksandminifigs.com. Bricks and Minifigs is a Lego enthusiast's dream. They buy, trade and sell new and used Legos with locations across the country and now in Canada. There are 4 stores in the PDX metro area.


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Since this tip was published, as you all know Hurricane Irma also made landfall throughout the Caribbean Islands, up through the Florida Keys and beyond leaving devastation in her wake.  After Harvey, resources are spreading thin, while the needs continue to grow.  BusinessInsider.com has compiled a list of national and local charities vetted by Charity Navigator to provide aid to Irma victims .  Charity Navigator is an independent non-profit that rates over 8000 charities.  Business Insider also suggests some international organizations to support the affected islands.  Those are not rated by Charity Navigator.  As always, use due diligence prior to donating.

With the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey making landfall on August 25, 2017, the extraordinary need continues.  I don't wish to sound preachy, but for those of us not in the storm's path, we can lend a hand to our neighbors to the south by donating to a variety of organizations providing rescue efforts, shelter, food, supplies, medical assistance, & pet resources. 

Before donating, I always advise to practice due diligence when choosing organizations.  If you wish to donate in-kind goods, be sure to check with the agency first to ensure that the donation meets their needs.  The last thing we want to do, despite our best intentions, is unnecessarily cause unwanted clutter.

Below are some organizations who are providing services.  This is by no means a comprehensive list or an endorsement. Click on the names for the website links.

The American Red Cross

The Salvation Army

Save the Children        

Americares (providing emergency medical and health supplies to first responders)

All Hands (volunteer-powered disaster relief organization)

Animal Rescue New Orleans

SPCA of Texas

Portlight (disaster relief specifically for those with disabilities)

Thank you from The Practical Sort.


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After you have tossed the recyclable unwanted mail and removed your name from junk mail lists,  sort the remainder into baskets or files for bills to be paid, action items, and reading.  When you have time, you can rapidly grab what you need and get to work or take some reading leisure time.

Keep recycling and trash baskets/bins near your mail sorting location. Getting too much junk mail? Check out some of these sites to remove your name from mailing lists:
1. dmachoice.thedma.org
2. optoutprescreen.com
3. catalogchoice.org
4. directmail.com
5. ebillplace.com
6. paperkarma.com

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Keep Your Drink Hot for Hours

Use a double-insulated metal travel mug.  It will keep your coffee, tea, soup, or hot chocolate steaming hot or icy cold for hours. 

Grocery Bags

Fill one large reusable grocery bag with your additional bags and sling them over the back of your car's headrest so they will always be with you when you get to the store.  Throw in some reusable containers/lids for bulk items.  I also carry a spare funnel for filling bulk spices.


Tired of trying to figure out which end is up on appliance plugs?  Put a piece of masking tape on the "up" side for quick reference.

Remembering to Put Things Away

Do you forget to take items up or downstairs?  Use a stair basket or tuck things on the stairs but out of the way of tripping as a reminder to put items away without making extra trips.