Now that's smart…

Every once in a while I hear of a little idea that makes life easier or more interesting (it’s never interesting enough you know with four little boys and a dog.) So today I am here to pass on three little fun tidbits, in the Real Simple kind of way. All of these ideas are recycled so don’t credit me with any of them. I’m just passing them along in case you hadn’t thought of it.

#1 Colorful Crayon Pucks

You know those little stumps of crayons that are left after your child has had a box of crayons for a couple of years? All those little ones that find their way to the bottom of the crayon box, making their way further and further down, becoming one with the pencil shavings and empty crayon wrappers? Turn them back into fun and useable crayons.

Yesterday my little ones helped me sort out crayons for this project. If you make it a group activity it’s more fun and they enjoy deciding how to sort the crayons. First sort them into crayons with covers and crayons without covers. Once you have all the crayons with covers together in one pile, put them in a bowl of warm (closer to hot than to luke warm) water to soak for a few minutes. Some of the wrappers will fall right off. Most you will still have to remove but it’s much easier when they are wet and warm.

When you have them all de-wrappered you can do one of two things. You can sort them by color families or you can make multi-colored piles. I like to do it by color families as they are less likely to turn into an awful brownish black when they melt together. Break them up into smaller pieces if you have some large ones in there and place them in muffin tins based on the piles you separated them into. If you don’t care about your muffin tins, you can use them as is. If you care about your muffin tins you can use paper liners to protect the tin.

Place them in a 200 degree oven and watch them as they melt. The kiddos enjoyed watching them get shiny as they began to melt. I think ours were in for about 15-20 minutes before they melted to my satisfaction. Just watch them. It’s okay for them to be a little chunky in the middle but you want them to be mostly melted. Take them out and let them cool to harden. I placed them in the fridge for a while to help the process along a bit.

When they are completely hardened, pop them out of the muffin tin and voila! You have cute circular little crayon pucks…. or crayon cupcakes or whatever you want to call them. Chunky and easy to handle. Coloring with them is quite fun because the colors have swirled and mixed.

If you want your crayons to come in all sorts of fun shapes there are other ways of making these recycled crayons. Here is a place to find out how to make much more interesting versions than what I have just outlined.

#2 Need Temporary Baby Proofing?

My Mom taught me this little trick way back when. Wooden spoons and rubber bands make great temporary baby proofing options. If you are a Grandma or an Auntie that has children in the house only every so often and you have arched handle type cupboard door pulls, simply stick a wooden spoon through the handles and secure it with a thick rubber band like the kind that comes around your brocolli or asparagus.

I don’t want Child Safety authorities coming after me so I am not suggesting that you use this as your only means of baby proofing (though it would probably do the trick…. I still have to put that disclaimer here!) It will work in a pinch though.

My Mom also used it on her high cupboards filled with glass vases or other heavier objects in our home in earthquake alley in California. I can’t say that the wooden spoon is the reason for sure but having lived through a few earthquakes and never having any of those cupboards empty out onto the floor or on our heads I’m satisfied with the results.

#3 Square baskets from Ikea

This is about the least lightbulbish idea of the three of these. Nevertheless who can’t use one more little tip that can help reduce clutter?

These baskets are about $6 and can be found in the “Marketplace” at any Ikea. We have placed 6 of these baskets strategically on two shelves in our living room book shelf. While we do have plenty of books that could be placed on those shelves what we really need is a place to put some of our clutter when company is coming.

Yes, it’s a shameless cheat. Some things like digital camera upload cords really need a permanent home and due to frequent use it is hard to find the perfect spot for them. When the couch pockets are already overly-occupied by a veritable yard sale’s worth of stuff, you just have to find another place!

One is dedicated to my son’s math manipulatives and curriculum DVDs. One holds a bunch of CDs. One holds all of our “media” related clutter — even though it somehow does not hold the upload cord that I so desperately need to find. And a few of them are empty or semi-filled with general junk that knows no other place to settle. And the best part is, nobody has to know because from any vantage point it just looks like 6 baskets in a book shelf.

EDIT: I forgot to mention something that I meant to include! To protect the shelving you probably will want to cut felt to the shape of the bottom of the basket and hot glue it in place. We have learned this the hard way and have some ugly scratches on the edges of our shelves. See what I go through for you people?! My shelves sacraficed themselves so that yours don’t have to! ;^P

Thus concludes all I currently know about household hints and handy tips. None of them are particularly new or ingenious but just little goodies that I thought worth passing on.


4 thoughts on “Now that's smart…”

  1. Don’t you love ideas that recycle, save money and have educational value?I had heard about the crayon disks awhile ago, and the kids and I began collecting and sorting crayon bits to make them. As soon as we had them all sorted, my dd had a b-day party, and a couple of the kids had pooled their money on a Crayola Crayon maker! Very cool. She uses it quite a bit. Although my 6yo boy still likes the idea of crayon hockey-pucks, so who knows.

  2. I have made the crayon hocky pucks before..even with the cupcake liners it got wax on the bottom of my pan….but it eventually washed out. They are fun and I hope the boys have a great time playing with them. The other ideas are great to..too bad I have no where to put those great baskets! 🙂

  3. I have never heard of the crayon melting project before- how fun that sounds! And I love the basket idea! My problem is I get all these baskets because they are so cute and then I never know what to put in them so they just sit in a spare room. I like your idea of putting “junk” in them! It’s not cheating – it’s being creative!

  4. Great minds and all that… :)Your bookshelves do look nice.I’ll have to try that wooden spoon thing too. My 8 mo. old is close to crawling and we haven’t done a bit of babyproofing yet.

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