Alternate Ways to Use a Dresser Top Mirror Tray

Women and girls have been using mirror trays to decorate their dresser tops for decades. Pretty bottles of perfume and cologne look even prettier when enhanced by a reflection. They also serve a practical purpose by protecting varnished wood while beautifully adorning the furnishing. Tabletop mirrors with sides have many other decorative uses throughout home. Consider alternate ways to use a dresser top mirror, and embellish a wall or an area beyond the bedroom. With a few stylish additions, a mirror that was used to hold glass bottles of fragrance will lend a touch of elegance and panache to the space it adorns.

Create a Gorgeous Wall Hanging with a Big Bow

Hanging a breakable item that is not designed for vertical display is not always an easy task. It can be extremely difficult, especially if the item is comprised of impenetrable metal and glass. When the metal has openings that are part of the design, add a clever DIY hanger to display a pretty dresser top mirror tray in a whole new way. It will become part of the decorating scheme.

Begin by making a big bow with two long ends using wide satin or velveteen ribbon. Trim the ends diagonally. They should hang past the back edge of the mirror by several inches, and the bow should be neatly centered above the top. Do not tighten the center knot.

To make a DIY hanger, thread a narrow satin or velveteen ribbon of the same color through the back of the loose knot and through two parallel holes in the metal. Tighten the big bow and the knot in the narrow ribbon. Use the smaller ribbon to hang a dresser top mirror tray on a wall. The mirror tray will look gorgeous against the backdrop of the bow.

Use the Mirror as a Coffee Table Tray

A large dresser top mirror tray can also be used as a coffee table tray. It would look best in an elegant living room. Place it on a finished wood coffee table or on an upholstered ottoman that is being used as a coffee table. The tray will become a decorative platform for display or an oversized coaster for holding beverages. A tray of any variety is especially useful on a padded surface that could not otherwise be used to hold anything containing liquid.

Source: Professional Home Decorating Experience

Debunking Carpet Cleaning Myths

Your carpet has an unsightly stain and you know it needs to be cleaned, but you’re not sure where to start. Should you hit the yellow pages for a professional carpet cleaner or go to the store and pick a cleaning product off the shelf?

That’s where the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval program comes in. The SOA program certifies service providers, cleaning solutions, vacuums and other equipment so that you can maintain your carpet and have it be a beautiful aspect of your home for many years.

Proper care is the best way to get the most out of your carpet investment. Regular vacuuming and professional cleaning are the keys to maintaining carpet to maximize its useful life.

There are many urban legends about how to take care of carpet. Many of these actions will do more damage than aid to your carpet, so we decided to take these myths head-on.

Here are some of the most common myths we hear on carpet along with some helpful advice:

1. Steam cleaning is bad for carpet…

Hot water extraction, or steam cleaning, is an approved method of cleaning by CRI and its members. Regular professional cleaning with hot water extraction is often tied to the warranty of the carpet.

2. My carpet doesn’t look dirty, so I don’t need to clean it…

One of the benefits of modern carpet construction is that soiling is not as noticeable. However, even though carpet might not look dirty, that doesn’t mean that it should not be cleaned.

3. I don’t need to professionally clean my carpet that much…

CRI recommends professional cleaning every 12-18 months from a Seal of Approval certified Service Provider.

4. Any carpet cleaning product will do fine…

CRI’s list of Seal of Approval certified cleaning solutions are the only products we recommend for use on carpet.

5. Cleaning carpet makes it get dirtier faster…

Nothing could be further from the truth. Using SOA-approved products and keeping up with regular maintenance is the best way to prolong the life and beauty of your carpet.

6. Over-vacuuming your carpet can be harmful…

Ideally, high traffic areas should be vacuumed every day or so, twice weekly in medium-traffic areas and low-traffic areas vacuumed weekly.

7. I own a cleaning machine; I don’t need a professional to do it for me…

CRI recommends calling in the professionals because, as mentioned earlier, your home’s carpet warranty often requires maintenance that includes professional cleaning.

By using Seal of Approval certified products and service providers, you will be able to prolong the beauty and life of your carpet, while improving the indoor air quality in your home.

- Paul

Great Ways to Add Storage Space in a Two Bedroom Mobile Home

The square footage of a dwelling does not necessarily matter when it comes to storage space. What really matters is how it is used. A large dwelling that is poorly arranged can lack room for storing the most commonly used items. With a little bit of know-how and the right furnishings and for the job, a two bedroom mobile home can stylishly accommodate just about anything. You can have all that you need, and with plenty of room to spare.

Fill a Baker’s Rack with Baskets for Stylish Dining Room Storage

A wood and metal baker’s rack is a gorgeous home furnishing, and it can be used for more than just holding baked goods and household decor. They take up very little floor space since they are typically long and narrow. Those with a two bedroom mobile home can make the most of available space by investing in stylish space-saving furnishings. Buy one for your dining room or eat-in kitchen. Fill it with baskets for dining area storage with style. The baskets can be used to hold flatware, dishes, holiday place mats and more.

Add Two Rows of Hooks along the Sides and Back of All Closets

Closets in mobile homes are notoriously small, especially older models that seem to be filled with miniature versions of everything. A large closet that is unorganized and misused can be just as unaccommodating as a smaller one. Make the most of the space in your two bedroom mobile home by mounting hooks in all of the closets. Hang two rows of sturdy double hooks approximately four inches apart, and be sure to utilize the sides of the closets. A closet that once held ten jackets will be able to hold 20 or more, and without cramming them all together.

Cover Laundry Area Walls with Sturdy Shelves

A laundry area is not always designed with style in mind, especially in a two bedroom mobile home. However, it can look just as good as it functions, and it should function as well as it looks. Do not waste valuable storage space in your laundry room, even if it is nothing more than a big closet. Instead of just using a single shelf or a built-in cabinet, add as many shelves as possible. Use them to hold bottles of laundry detergent, softener, stain remover and other laundry room necessities. Add stylish baskets for holding single socks, extra dishtowels and other small items. Use shelves and baskets throughout the home, and you will not need more space for storage.

Source: Professional Home Decorating Experience

How Care for Your Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Pans

Le Creuset is my favorite brand of enameled cast iron cookware. Not only are Le Creuset pieces pretty to look at, they are so durable that I’m still using pans that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother. The secret to keeping your Le Creuset enameled cast iron cookware looking like new is in proper use, cleaning, and storage. Here are a few of the ways that I take care of my Le Creuset cookware.

No metal implements
Metal spoons and other metal mixing tools (such as metal whisks, potato mashers, and egg beaters) will scratch through the enamel surface which can rust and turn into deep “pits” over time. I’ve always used wooden spoons and heat-resistant plastic spatulas with my Le Creuset which are safe for all types of surfaces.

Match the pan size to the burner
Placing a small pan on a larger burner is never a good idea. Not only will the handles be too hot to grab, the sides will overheat and may even char. This practical bit of advice applies to all pans and not just Le Creuset products.

Cool before washing
Just like Grandma’s cast iron skillet, Le Creuset enamelware must be completely cooled before washing. The rapid temperature changes from hot to cold can result in thermal shock which causes craze marks in the enamel or even worse, a large crack in the side of the pan.

Wash with warm soapy water
Dirty pans should be washed in warm, soapy water using soft abrasive pads or brushes for removing baked on food deposits. For stubborn particles, soak the pan for 20 minutes and try again. Do not use scouring powders, steel wool, or metal scrubbies to clean the interior of the your pans since this can damage the enamel. And what about the outside? If the bottom of your Le Creuset has turned grimy with use, try removing the buildup with a baking soda paste and very fine (0000) grade steel wool. This grade of steel wool is also safe for polishing up the sides.

Let air dry before storing
All cast iron will rust if put away while damp. I always air dry my Le Creuset before moving them to their storage cabinet.

Check knobs and handles periodically
Another good idea is to periodically check and tighten any knobs and handles that may have come loose. Identical replacement parts are hard to come by, especially those wooden handles. The Le Creuset home page does sell replacement knobs made of either stainless steel or phenolic resin.

Proper Storage
Because the enamel coating makes Le Creuset so vulnerable to chipping, proper storage is a must. Do not store your cast iron pieces with the lid inverted over the rim since this will chip away at the enamel. Likewise, stacking pots one on top of the other is also a no-no. The best way to store your Le Creuset enameled cast iron pieces is on their own shelves with lids placed knob up.

Le Creuset enameled cast iron is an expensive investment that will last for decades if properly cared for. These simple tips will help you keep your Le Creuset cookware looking like new for years to come.

More by this contributor:
How to declutter the kitchen in 5 easy steps
How to create more kitchen cupboard storage space
Five smalll kitchen appliances that will save you money.

Additional resources: Le Creuset Cookware Care

How to Remove Water Rings on a Bay Window Ledge

A finished bay window ledge is an area that is commonly damaged by water. Planters can overflow or leak, and the unseen moisture can end up discoloring the finish. Rubbing the wood with furniture polish in an attempt to remove or cover white water rings and stains does not usually work. The moisture ends up soaking into the varnish and down to the permeable material below. The wood does not have to be sanded and refinished. If the damage is not too bad, it can be easily remedied using a simple technique.

Necessary Supplies

After finding water rings on your stained and varnished bay window ledge, do not panic and assume that the damage is permanent. You might be able to remove the stains without resorting to drastic and difficult measures. You will need an iron that is typically used to smooth out wrinkles in fabric. If you do not have one, they can be found in discount stores for as little as $5.00. A small crafting iron will also work. Also required is a thin piece of smooth cotton fabric such as an old t-shirt or a scrap piece of material.


To remove the ugly water rings, begin by preheating the iron. Do not add water if it has a steam setting. Turn the setting to medium or medium/high. Once it is fully preheated, place the cotton fabric over the stains, and iron the wood using light but steady pressure. Do not allow any part of the metal to come in direct contact with the bay window ledge. After ironing the wood for approximately 30 seconds, remove the material and examine the surface. Hopefully the heat of the iron pulled the moisture out of the wood. If white stains are still visible but better than they were, repeat the process over and over until achieving the best possible outcome.

After the wood completely cools, apply natural orange or lemon oil with a clean soft cloth. Use gentle pressure, and rub it in while following the direction of the grain. It will beautifully shine and protect your bay window ledge while leaving a fresh clean scent. Even if planters are not cracked or overflowing, moisture can develop underneath, especially on glazed ceramic varieties. Citrus oil is a natural water repellent, but precautions should be taken to prevent further damage. An iron and a piece of fabric does not always work, but it is certainly worth a try.

Source: DIY Home Improvement Skills and Experience

Earn Money Selling Old Stuff on Craig’s List

I have been in the situation before, where I had no money and I needed to almost create some from nowhere. After a lot of hard work, I managed to sell some of my old stuff on Craig’s List for some quick cash. In this article I will show you how to go about doing that.

Find stuff you can sell

The first thing you are going to need to do is collect as many things as you can that you are willing to sell. You’d be surprised at some of the valuable junk you have just sitting there collecting dust. At that rate it’s making you no money at all. You can even ask people you know if they have anything they want to get rid of for free and you can possibly make some money there as well. Most people have stuff in their homes that they would be willing to part with for nothing in return, as long as someone showed up and took it away themselves.

Do your research

You should go on the Craig’s List website and look at what other people are selling in your area. Check out prices and conditions of some of the items that are listed. This should help you get an idea of how much you can charge for your stuff. You should also check out the free section. You will have a tough time trying to sell items that are already being given away for free.

When looking at prices, you can also figure out some ways to make sure an item sells fast. If you see the same TV that you’re selling listed for $50, you can sell yours for $30 and have a better chance of selling it really quickly. However, this should only be done if you really need the money fast and are willing to take the pay cut.

Post your ad

Once you know what you want to sell, you can post your ad. Add as much detail and pictures as you can. This will increase your chances of selling at a faster rate. Make sure to include things that the buyer should know. Do they need to pick it up? Will you deliver? What condition is the product in? Is it guaranteed to work?

Once you post your ad, you just sit back and keep checking your email and/or phone for any responses. Be sure to be ready so you don’t miss out on any sales. Also be prepared to have a lot of people who respond but don’t end up committing.


When using Craig’s List, you often will need to meet up with strangers. This can be a dangerous thing if you don’t use common sense. Avoid meeting up with people at night, and try to meet in public places. You should also beware of people who may try to scam you. If someone wants you to send a money order or wire them money, don’t do it.

IRobot Scooba Review

Scooba is a robotic floor washing machine made by iRobot. iRobot also makes a robotic vacuum cleaner of which I own two! I have had my scooba for 4 yrs and it still works great. It is a 300 series and they are still making them today. The current one being sold is a iRobot Scooba 390. I love my robotic cleaning helpers. Not only do they do a fantastic job, they also make cleaning a little bit fun.

Scooba cleans in four stages. It has a vacuum that picks up crumbs, then it sets fresh water mixed with cleaning solution down. As it puts fresh cleaning solution down it has a rotating brush that scrubs your floor as well as a squeegees it. Then it vacuums up the dirty water up and then starts all over again. It washes your floor several times, using fresh solution every time. When Scooba is done washing your floors you can be sure they are clean.

I use a special solution sold by iRobot specifically for the Scooba. It is an enzyme cleaner called Scooba Hard Floor Cleaner, Natural Enzyme Formula. There is no fragrance in this cleaner and it should last for a lot of cleanings as you only use one cap full which is a really small amount.

The cleaning process takes about 45 minutes and when it is done Scooba plays a little tune to let you know he is finished. At the end of it’s cycle it does a five minute drying pass which blows air at your floor in order to dry them. This cycle also dries Scooba’s inner cleaning parts.

You can see how much dirt I got off my laundry room floor in the last photo. I can be sure that my floor is clean when Scooba is done because if I were to run him again with clean water it will come out clean.

One word of caution: Scooba does vacuum your floor right before it washes it but I vacuum first. If you have a lot of crumbs or cat hair it will bog down the machine. It does not have a huge vacuum bin, just a little filter area that picks up any dust or debris left by your vacuum.

There is also some maintenance that goes along with this floor cleaner. You have to remove the brush assembly, the vacuum filter, and the tube that takes the dirty water up to clean them. It really is easy though because the rotating brush assembly comes out completely and you can take it apart and rinse it off in a few seconds. Proper cleaning is required after each use or Scooba will not keep cleaning for you. Some parts might need to be replaced over time. You can get all these parts reasonably priced on the iRobot store.

I am happy with my purchase and recommend it for those who want a clean floor without a lot of work.

Broadcasting Broadloom: An Interview with Dave Foster

It started out as a “one-time” gig, a chance to host a three-day radio talk show during a Dalton Floorcovering Market convention more than 23 years ago.

It has turned out be one of the industry’s greatest assets: the weekday airing of the Dave Foster FloorRadio talk show, a venue through which all segments of the floor-covering industry supply chain can tune in to learn just what’s making news in flooring and related industries.

“Not in a million years did I imagine it would turn out this way,” says Dave, who collaborated with then local radio manager Calvin Means to arrange the on-site radio show that took place at the trade center all those many years ago.

“I was just anxious at that point to make my client look good and not embarrass myself.”

Dave did not, of course, embarrass himself. Soon after that convention, he collaborated with Means’ radio studio to produce a daily floor covering talk show. And today, 23 years later, he’s considered the expert radio interviewer on “all things carpet.”

I’ve been impressed both professionally and personally with Dave since I moved to Dalton in April 2000 and began my career with the Carpet and Rug Institute.

As with any organization like ours whose mission is to disseminate reliable information about our industry to the general public, it’s not always easy to get the word out to everyone you want to communicate with.

So it becomes critical to find other avenues through which to extend one’s message. Our website, does a great job of providing a wealth of information about our industry. In addition to that tool, we have a blog and active social media accounts, as well as brochures and other materials that communicate our mission and the good works of our members to interested parties.

But we at the Carpet and Rug Institute, and my guess is everyone in the industry as a whole, have long been pleased to be able to extend our message over the airwaves through the competent, reliable and sound reporting of Mr. Dave Foster.

He brings both a voice and a vehicle for the CRI message, providing a good source of quality information as it relates to the soft flooring industry.

Thank you, Dave.

- Werner

To read more on Dave Foster and TalkFloor, click here.


Build a Compost Bin for Free

I’m looking to build a compost bin out of re-purposed materials for my ‘country’ backyard gardening beds. Unlike my urban garden, where I have a commercially produced plastic model, I’m not concerned about it’s aesthetic appeal. It simply needs to work, and since my budget is $0, it needs to be free.

Build A Compost Bin From Old shipping pallets

Many neighborhood businesses and hardware stores have a selection of wooden pallets out back. However, before I go acquiring willy-nilly, I ask. Some shippers charge retail shops a rental fee for the pallet use, between $5-8 each. If a small store is losing pallets overnight to scavengers, that loss can add up. For the bin I’m planning on building, I need three pallets, four if I decide to make a front gate. I started by prepping the area by pulling weeds, then grading out the soil to lay a patio of reclaimed brick to rest the bin on. Then, I simply fastened the three pallets at the rear and sides with a combination of ‘L’ brackets, wood screws, and old clothes line rope. Easy as can be, and the bin is ready to create compost.

Free, Re-Purposed Plastic Storage Bins

There are, of course, other great ways to make compost for free. A re-purposed plastic storage bin works well for those with small garden plots. Use one of the 20 gallon plastic variety, and drill holes through out, including the bottom and lid, for air circulation. The compost mix is always the same, with 1/2 brown and 1/2 green. Keep this unit raised from the ground at least a couple of inches to aid drainage and air flow, and then turn as usual.

Backyard Gardening With Contractor’s Waste Bags

The suggestions for free compost bins are getting simpler, yes? Using heavy contractor’s waste bags can be perfect for the apartment dweller with a terrace that’s too small for the plastic storage tub. Use contractor bags not only for durability and strength, but for effeciency as well. The black plastic will super-heat the mix and there will be black gold in the bag before long. To turn the mix, simply lift, roll, and shake.

Direct Composting ‘How To’

The simplest form of composting there is, and nearly worry-free. Before planting a garden, dig at least 6″ below the soil and place the uncomposted material directly in the garden beds where the veggies will go in two weeks or so. This gives the material time to break down and be ready for any plants, but if the need for speed over takes patience, add some dry yeast to the deposit and water well. If the plants are already in, simply bury the material around them, again at least 6″ below the surface, to deter animals from digging up a free meal.

Safe Carpet: The Facts About VOCs and Carpet

The Green Label Plus program certifies
that carpet is a low-VOC product.

Not that long ago State Farm released a commercial with a woman who believed everything she read on the Internet. It’s one that always gets a chuckle out of me when I see it, but the sad truth is that there is a lot of misinformation on the web, especially on carpet.

One of the more recent examples of misinformation on carpet, which comes from air pollution control equipment manufacturer AirTek, focuses on the off-gassing of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure.

AirTek cites information from the California non-profit the Ecology Center, which reports “Carpets can emit VOCs for five years or possibly more, although the off-gassing decreases significantly several months after installation.” However, this assertion from the Ecology Center does not cite any research or scientific data.

AirTek goes on to state that the US Environmental Protection Agency endorses the following actions after installing new carpet:

  1. Ventilating well for a minimum of 72 hours after installation–leave windows open and use fans to blow the chemicals outside.
  2. Use fans during installation to get rid of the fumes from adhesives.
  3. Vacuum with a HEPA filter vacuum right after installation.
  4. Steam clean the carpet right away to remove much of the VOCs.

They are correct with #1 in that the EPA advises ventilating the area with open windows for 72 hours, but #2-4 are not mentioned in the same EPA documents that recommend #1 and CRI does not support procedures #2-4 as effective in the removal of VOCs.

If you are worried about exposure to VOCs and other chemicals, the Green Label Plus program, which was first implemented as the Green Label program in 1992, was created to ensure that carpet, adhesives and carpet cushion are among the lowest VOC-emitting products that will be in your home. The EPA also endorses the use of low-VOC products, including Green Label Plus-certified products.

AirTek references the “new carpet smell” as a point of concern, but they don’t care to explain what produces the scent. 4PCH (4-Phenylcyclohexene) is the chemical compound that produces the “new carpet smell.” However, the EPA deemed 4PCH an “unremarkable chemical” and that “regulatory authority was not warranted.”

AirTek wraps up their blog post by saying that indoor air quality is at risk with carpet. However, we at CRI believe that because of the GLP program and other CRI initiatives, indoor air quality can be improved with carpet.

The Green Label Plus program has been vital in guaranteeing that carpet, carpet cushion and adhesives are low-VOC products and will continue to be so in the future.

- Paul