Single-use caulk

I have talked before about my strange master bathroom in my home. It has no built-in storage, and it didn’t even come with a toilet paper dispenser for the wall.

The worst aspect of the room — as if no storage wasn’t bad enough — is the shower stall. The floor of the stall is made out of a plastic or fiberglass that attracts dirt, mildew, and soap scum like it’s hoarding it. The shower stall has to be deep-cleaned twice a week, otherwise you don’t feel clean when you leave the shower.

All of this cleaning takes a toll on the caulk that waterproofs the shower from the walls and floor. Three times a year I have to scrape up the old caulk and lay down a new strip to protect our home from water damage. Caulk isn’t the most expensive product on the market, but I have to give up space in our basement to store the caulk gun and what remains in the caulking tube.

The last time I was at the do-it-yourself home store (Lowe’s), I came across a product that is saving me a little headache and space:

The packages are 1.25 fl. oz, which is the exact amount I use for our shower stall. I buy the clear waterproof silicone, but it is also available in white paintable acrylic and white waterproof silicone.

If you’re limited on storage space and have a small caulking job in your future, you might consider the convenient Caulk Singles. There is no need for a caulk gun and no leftover caulk to store when you’re finished. It’s an uncluttered home improvement solution.

Teaching your tikes to help with chores

My daughter is two and a half years old. And, thankfully, one of her favorite things to do is to wipe up a spill. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in her spilling things on purpose just to run into the kitchen and fetch a dish towel. My wife and I try to get her to help around the house as much as a two and a half year old can and she seems to enjoy just about everything we throw at her. This is a good start and hopefully she’ll take on more responsibilities as she grows.

She takes part in the nightly ritual of picking up all her toys that are left on the floor in the den before she goes to bed. The task only takes a couple of minutes and it leaves the room less cluttered than it was. She has become quite adept at this task and sometimes she even initiates it.

In an article in the Washington Post, the issue of teaching a young child the importance of pitching in around the home is examined. From the article:

Now that my daughter, at 20 months, is old enough to do things such as put her shirt in a hamper and wipe a spill — or at least some portion of it — I realize that this is my opportunity to strike. The second her masticated Cheerios hit the floor is a teachable moment, a chance to explain that half-chewed food lives in the trash and not under our feet. By showing her how to clean up after herself, child development experts tell me, I am instilling a sense of accomplishment and helping her master the subtle variation in skill required to scoop up squished cereal as opposed to squished peas.

The article covers different aspects of household chores and looks at the amount of time that we spend on chores in general. According to research, the amount of time that we spend on chores has decreased significantly over the last 20 years. The decrease in household chores is due to both parents working, children taking part in more activities, and outsourcing to cleaning services.

If household chores have decreased on average, then there are still many things that your child should learn to help out with around the home. A cleaning service isn’t in your home 24/7, so picking up after themselves is at the top of the list. The younger they are, the easier it is to instill this basic task into their routine.

Unitasker Wednesday: The batter dispenser

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I haven’t hit up Williams-Sonoma for a good unitasker for some time due to all the great suggestions that have been sent to us from our readers, but I had to stop that break and nominate this Batter Dispenser. Yes, you could simply pour the batter out of a measuring cup or bowl — but would you get the perfectly poured batter that the Batter Dispenser promises? I don’t think so. You also wouldn’t create even more dishes to wash!

This contraption is large and it is very similar to the jumbo jerky works gun, but do you have any other ideas on how to perfectly pour waffle, pancake, or muffin batter? The end to your batter pouring horrors is here. The Batter Dispenser will make breakfast a treat again.

Being an uncluttered and responsible adult

When I was first out of college, I eschewed the dentist for a hefty five years. I loathed going to the dentist. My irresponsible philosophy was “No problems, no need to go!”

Oh, how I regret that philosophy now.

The first time I went to the dentist after the five-year break was a complete disaster. I had three cavities, my wisdom teeth had come in and ruined my perfect smile, and all of it could have been avoided if I would have just made regular appointments during that time.

Since learning this painful and expensive lesson, I have forced myself to be a responsible adult and do all of the yucky things I don’t want to do but should. Prevention is much less expensive than emergency treatment, and much less traumatic.

To stay on track, I make appointments for my next visit before I leave any doctor’s office. My annual physicals are scheduled a year in advance, my dentist appointments six months early, and even my haircuts are planned seven weeks ahead of schedule. I type them into Google calendar and forget about them. I can reschedule if I need to, but rescheduling seems to be psychologically less work than remembering to call and make an appointment.

I also make appointments for our heating and cooling system’s annual maintenance for the following year before the technician leaves the house. Same goes for gutter cleanings and our pets’ vet appointments. The service providers appreciate knowing that they will have a repeat customer and a guaranteed appointment in 12 months, and I get the benefit of not having to remember to make the appointments.

If you aren’t already making regular appointments when it is the most convenient, let me recommend that you step up to the plate and get started. I agree that being a responsible adult isn’t always fun, but it will save you money and pain in the future.

What other appointments do you schedule way in advance? I would love to learn about it in the comments!

Charging station and landing strip in one

JCPenney has a multi-functional charging station that can serve as a landing strip and catch-all for your kitchen, office, or foyer. It could serve as a central space for messages, storage, and bill paying. It includes 4 AC connections to charge your iPod or cell phone. The center board is reversible with a cork bulletin board on one side and a magnetic white board on the other.

From the product description:

  • Tech Station includes MP3/iPod dock for charging, 4 USB connectors, 1 USB hub connector and 4 AC connections
  • 4 grounded AC inputs for power adapters
  • 1 standard 3.5 mm stereo audio-in for connecting a standard MP3 player to the speakers.
  • Audio-out for connection to headphones or portable speakers
  • Controls to switch between your iPod, MP3 or other connected device

If you are in need of a central area in your kitchen for messages , then this $199.99 option from JC Penney might be for you.

(via Apartment Therapy)

Security friendly laptop case

One of the things that agitates me when traveling through an airport is the process of removing my laptop from its case and placing it in a plastic bin. It just adds a bit more annoyance to the whole process of the checkpoint procedure. Belkin has introduced its version of a TSA-friendly laptop bag that may help the checkpoint process to be a little less frustrating.

Belkin promises that the Flythru Laptop Case will make your security checkpoint time more streamlined. From the product description:

Things are getting easier at the airport-with Belkin’s FlyThru, you no longer need to take your laptop out of the bag in the security line. This revolutionary new bag isolates your laptop on one side, and the clear window makes it easy for TSA agents to identify it. Just unzip the bag and lay it flat. Keep your other personal belongings away from the laptop and you should get the all clear.

It fits laptops with screens up to 15.4 inches and has a minimal amount of metal, which makes it that much more security friendly. Now you can concentrate on removing your shoes rather than dealing with removing your laptop from its bag.

Amazon’s new uncluttered packaging program

Amazon has introduced a new program called Frustration-Free Packaging. The program aims to reduce the amount of packaging that is sent to you and make the process of opening your merchandise frustration free. An example of a toy sent via the new packaging is pictured below:

This new way of shipping products is very convenient. The amount of packaging that is reduced depends on the product, but judging from some of the items I’ve struggled to open up in the past, the Frustration-Free Packaging will surely be welcome. 

My first question upon hearing about this new packaging program was, “So what does Amazon do with the packaging?” Upon reading the helpful Q&A page, I was surprised to find out that Amazon is working directly with manufacturers to package their products in the new packaging right off of the assembly line.

I hope this new packaging program will catch on with other retailers.

Humor: What not to do

I’m always on the lookout for reasons to laugh, and Ali Hale recently came to my rescue over on the blog Dumb Little Man. Her article “10 Ways to Create a Work Environment That Drags You Down” was splendidly entertaining:

9. Keep it Shabby. Make sure your workplace environment looks as run-down and shabby as possible. Paint should be peeling off the walls, posters should be torn, and noticeboards should never be cleared. Don’t ever replace the carpet. And any pot-plants should be left unwatered for weeks – there’s nothing like dying plants to give your workplace a real air of gloom and decay.

Well played, Ali.

If you were to add to the list, what items would you put on it? I would add a frustrating parking situation to the mix. Having to fight for parking in a lot blocks away from your office building is truly a great way to begin your day.

Photo credit: hoyasmeg

A year ago on Unclutterer

Google can now OCR all PDFs

When you scan a document, your computer interprets this data as an image. You can see the words on the screen, but your computer doesn’t. As far as your computer is concerned, the letters could be birds or your child or a boat.

When you put this scan up on a website, search engines haven’t been able to index any of the content of your documents because it didn’t recognize the text as text … until now.

Google has a new system that scans Acrobat PDFs on the web for words using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Similar to its process for using OCR to detect words in PDFs that have already been OCR processed, the new system will do the same for scanned documents posted online that haven’t yet undergone OCR.

If you have scanned PDFs and are interested in having them converted into text, you can upload the images to your website and take advantage of this service.

Simply follow the instructions for how to use Google OCR from the Digital Inspiration website:

Create a folder in your website (say abc.com/pdf) and upload all the PDF images to that folder. Now create a public web page that links to all the PDF files. Wait for the Google bots to spider your stuff.

Once done, type the query “site:abc.com/pdf filetype:pdf” [into Google] to see the PDF documents as HTML.

Lifehacker recommends using “Google’s Webmaster Tools to reign in what gets scanned and indexed on your site, although you should assume anything you put online can be found by those looking for it.”

This is a really terrific way to get rid of paper clutter in your work space and in your home since you can now see the words in your scanned documents.

And the DYMO labelmaker winners are …

Thank you to EVERYONE who participated in the DYMO labelmaker giveaway. We never expected more than A THOUSAND entries!! Wow! DYMO was so excited to see such an outpouring of interest that they decided to donate a second labelmaker to our giveaway — so we’ll be giving away TWO labelmakers today.

At 3:00 eastern this afternoon, I closed the comments and counted up the entries. Then, I headed over to the Random Integer Generator at random.org and entered in the data:

Out popped the following numbers:

245: Michael
1011: Jim

I have contacted the winners and will be sending them their prizes this coming week. Congratulations to our winners and thank you to DYMO and everyone for participating!