by Jim Gerrish
This is a "wing" of the Museum open to
"practical science." It will contain practical tips for
using science, technology, and innovation to solve household
The concept behind the "Cat
Rangler" is simple. If you have a cat that needs to
be kept out of certain areas in your house and still
insists on going exploring when your back is turned, the
Cat Rangler keeps him or her out. It is just a decorative
towel with some jingle bells sewed (or glued) on. On the
corners (purple dots) are magnets or Velcro tabs so you
can stretch the towel across a doorway, or hang up any
place you want the cat to train the cat not to go. It
doesn't harm the cat in any way, but makes sure you will
hear when the cat starts messing with the barrier and the
bells start jangling. That's when you go and shoo the cat
away from the forbidden area by clapping your hands and
making a fuss. It's easy for a human to enter and exit a
room baricaded with your Cat Rangler, but the cat will
always give itself away by making a noise.
I also get decorative jingle bells in the Dollar
stores at Christmas time and hang several from door knobs
so the cat can learn to ring them when it wants to go
outside. The cat gets rewarded for ringing those
doorbells by being petted and complimented for letting
you know it wants to go out, as opposed to being scolded
for ringing the Cat Rangler bells protecting forbidden
One of my better and most practical "inventions"
for this year (2016) consists of tying a knot in the center of a
2 foot strip of packing paper (the kind that is used as package
stuffing to keep contents of mailed packages from shifting
about). This then becomes what I call a "Bee Broom."
You do NOT swat bees with it - you gently push them away from you
and usually the bees get the "message" and go somewhere
else. The East Orange Unified Marching Band found these most
useful during their recent Band Camp in my backyard, where bees
love to congregate among all the flowers. The campers soon
learned not to fear or try to kill the bees, who were not
interested in stinging them - they were just there for food. The
"Brooms" are also good for driving away flies and
mosquitoes as well.
You can see the construction of the "broom" better
in this close-up of Anna Seck. Simple, cheap, but effective.
01/28/16 Ice Cream Bucket Birdfeeder
After Winter Storm Jonas passed through, I noticed a lot of
hungry birds looking for food in the dried bushes surrounding my
garden. In winter of 2014, I made a margarine
tub bird feeder, but the number of birds overwhelmed it so
that it barely lasted the winter. This time I decided to make a
bigger and better version of it, using two one gallon (3.75L) ice
cream buckets found in most supermarkets in the ice cream
section. One bucket is used just for the large top, which I
fastened to the bottom of the other bucket using hot glue. The
birds can sit on the up-turned lid and if they pull seeds out of
the feeder, most of them drop into the bottom lid where other
birds can feed on them while waiting to get at the open hole.
Before gluing the lid on the bottom of the bird feeder
bucket, I used a razor knife to cut four holes about an inch from
the bottom of the bucket. The holes are large enough for most
birds to be able to reach inside and help themselves to the
contents. I cut four holes opposite one another in the sides of
the bucket, but you could cut more holes if you want - there's
room for more birds to feed at one time, but I don't like to
start a gang war in my front yard. When the bucket is loaded with
seed, the top is put on to keep out the rain and snow. The handle
can be used to hang the bucket, but I preferred to also attach a
rope to help steady the feeder and keep it from sliding around on
the plastic handle.
Inside the bucket, I used hot glue to fasten a series of
round lids from various other sources, margarine tubs, frosting
containers, peanut butter jar caps, and so on. These keep the
seeds from all falling out of the feeder too quickly. The birds
have to reach in and remove them one by one as the pile of seeds
gets smaller and smaller. By having the bird feeding holes an
inch about the bottom, I can fill the bucket up with one inch of
seed to get them started.
Feeding time at the Sanford Street Grapevine Bird Sanctuary.
I have tried many different ways of tying up tomato plants to
keep them from falling over and from dropping their tomatoes on
the ground. This year, after pricing various devices for propping
up tomato plants, I decided to come up with my own Tomato Tower.
It is made from recycled stuff and once you get the concept, you
can use a variety of different things and still come up with a
nice inexpensive Tomato Tower of your own.
The basic tower is built around a
It can be a straight tree branch, or a dowel,
or an old pipe... whatever you see lying
around that is not being used for anything
It will be surrounded with rings. They can
be cut from plastic tubs, strapping tape,
or anything else you can see lying around
that is not being used and will probably
end up in the trash some day.
I am using a hot glue gun to attach the
rings to the stick, but you could use a
stapler, duct tape, or anything else you
don't need for some other purpose.
Just for fun, I am grouping four
together around one tower, just to see if it can
be done. You might want to make your tower
for one, two or three plants instead of four.
The hot glue works, but takes a long time to
dry solid so that it holds the rings straight out
from the stick.
I will continue to add larger rings
to the top of
the stick as the tomato plants continue to grow.
Fortunately, I have some old plastic planter
pots in the recycle bin, and they can provide me
with the larger rings I need to keep adding.
This only works because I have a source of
electricity near my garden, so I can plug in
the hot glue gun to add new rings at any time.
Otherwise, I would have to find a new way to
fasten the rings to the top of the stick, like
twist-ties, or twine soaked in glue, and so on.
Note that I left the original Barbecue skewers
on the tomato plants that they grew up with
as seedlings this past March. When the plants
are well rooted, I will slide those out and clip
off the twine ties and use them again next year.
04/23/15 - The weather got very cold last night, threatening
to drop below 32 degrees (freezing), so I found one more use for
my Tomato Tower when combined with a white or clear plastic
kitchen garbage bag. I tied a string around the top of the wooden
dowel that is the center of my Tomato Tower. This allowed me to
cut a small hole in a plastic margerine tub or ice cream tub lid
and fit it on top of the pole so it wouldn't slide down past the
string knots. Then, over the whole thing, I inverted the white
plastic garbage bag which covers the tomato plants and holds in
some heat. The bottom of the bag can be stuck to the ground
around the base of the tomato plants using barbecue skewers or
small rocks or pebbles. I am going to leave the bag on top of the
plants all day since the weather is predicted to be just as cold
for a few more nights. The plants get plenty of light through the
white bag, and would get even more through a clear bag. As soon
as it is safe, I will remove the bag and the top plastic lid and
let the tomatos keep on growing.
04/08/15 Pet Tray for Seniors. As I get older, it is more
difficult for me to bend over, all the way down to the floor to
feed my little carnivores (cats - but this works for dogs as
well). I'd prefer not to invite them to jump up onto my table for
feeding, although it would be easier for me. Fortunately my
solution to lowering pet dishes down to the floor and picking
them back up again was quite simple:
The pet dishes are placed on a small
tray. I found some nice plastic ones at the local Dollar
Store, but they could also be made of thin plywood and
painted to make them easy to clean. Four holes are
drilled in the four corners of the tray. Then four ropes
(strings or shoelaces, etc.) are threaded through the
four holes and meet together at a point well above the
tray. How high is determined on how far down you can
reach to raise and lower the tray. The central point of
the four ropes is tied to a steel washer (shown in
green). The steel washer is easily attracted to a strong
magnet (the purple dot) tied or taped to another piece of
rope or string. You only use this to get hold of the
central point of four ropes and then detach the magnet.
DO NOT try to lift the tray with the magnet. The other
end of the magnet rope has a loop for hanging.
Here's how it works in feeding. Prepare the pet dishes on
your table at a convenient height for you. Place the pet dish
onto the center of the tray. Grab the ropes at the center point
and lower the tray to the floor. Move the center point (steel
washer) of the ropes to one side and let it drop to the floor.
The hungry animals will soon get used to this and learn to ignore
the rope when it drops. When they are finished, get your magnet
rope, lower the magnet end to the floor and use it to lift up the
steel washer at the center point of the four ropes so you can
grab them with your hand. Detach the magnet and lift the tray
back up - no bending over required. Remove the pet dish for
washing, and wipe down the tray as needed for sloppy eaters. Wind
the ropes around the tray and put in a dish rack for next feeding
02/06/15 I'm still on the topic of cold feet in winter, as
the temperature drops tonight into the teens. I like to wear
fleece pants around the house this time of year to keep warm in
the winter, and frequently wear them right to bed as pajamas.
Sound familiar? During the night, the bottoms of the pants used
to ride up my legs and that gave me cold ankles and feet. My
solution was simple. Velcro ®.
I call these Foot Fits. The small
red square is a bit of "Hooky" Velcro, and the
green rectangles are straps of wooly or fuzzy Velcro. I
use the Velcro that sews on - no adhesives involved. You
can get these from any sewing or fabric store or
department. Sew a "Hooky" tab (red) on each
side of the pant leg down close to the ankle. Take the
fuzzy Velcro strap (green) and wear it either around your
leg at the ankle (right) or down, under your foot, and up
the other side (left). When going outdoors, I like to
have the bottoms of my fleece pants down inside my boots,
and the Velcro strap holds the bottom of the pants tight
against my legs while in the boots. At night, I like to
use the strap under my foot to keep the pants from riding
up on my legs. Also, when I wear loose bed socks the
straps keep my ankles and legs warm all night. Problem
06/09/14 Non-Electric "Hot Spot" Sheet/Blanket.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention. I needed a non-electric
blanket to keep my cold feet warm during the winter, and now that
the summer is upon us, I still need warm feet, but under a sheet
and not a blanket. My solution was simple.
It takes three blankets for the
winter version, and two sheets and a blanket for the
The top two sheets/ blankets are sewn together across
the bottom edges. The third blanket (even in summer it is
a light weight blanket, not a sheet) is "Z"
folded beneath the top two sheet/blankets. The bottom
edges are also sewn to the bottom edges of the two upper
You have the option of sewing the side edges of the
"Z" folded blanket to the edges of the sheet or
blanket just above it (not the top sheet or blanket).
Starting with the coldest part of winter, the Hot Spot
Blankets are worn as a bed cover as shown in the above diagram.
You are snug beneath two warm blankets, and there are two
"pockets" in the "Z" folded blanket in which
to put your cold feet. The top pocket, named the "Cool
Spot" is where you put your feet if your feet feel
comfortable. If you need more warmth, you tuck your feet into the
lower pocket named the "Hot Spot" where you have the
equivalent of two more blankets surrounding your feet.
As Spring approaches and the winter is not as cold, you can
take the top blanket and fold it down around so that you are
resting on top of it, and only need one blanket (plus the
"Z" pockets for your feet).
When even one blanket feels too warm as a top cover, use the
version made with two top sheets and a "Z" pocket
blanket. As summer gets warmer, you can fold the top sheet down
around and lie on top of it with only the cover of one sheet (and
the "Z" pocket if your feet still feel cold).
05/05/14 - Sunny Window Solar Heater
In 2012 I came up with an idea for a solar room heater that
could be mounted over a windowsill like an air conditioner, but
which would heat a room instead of cool it, using only the free
energy from the sun. This year I submitted my idea to Quirky and
if it passes their approval, it might actually get built and be
available in stores.
If you visit this page and think my idea has merit, please click
on the "thumbs up" button and vote for it. Now that
I've seen for myself how well the Sun Rocket (below) works, I am
convinced that my Sunny Window Heater would cut down my heating
bill next winter.
The Sun Rocket (a.k.a. Hot Water Rocket) ,
from Solutions From Science, is a solar water
heater and thermos all in one. I was intrigued by it
because it claimed to not just heat water, but to bring
it to a boil. If it can do that, I reasoned, then it
could "pasteurize" water from my rain barrels
or a clear running stream and make it safe for drinking
in an emergency. It makes no claims to filter water, but
there are other products that do that job. Once the water
has been filtered, it still needs to be boiled to rid it
of every last living pathogen. This product does just
I bought one ($40) to test it, and filled it with a
bottle of spring water - already safe to drink. It held
just one bottle, but that is enough to pour two cups of
tea, coffee, instant soup, hot chocolate, or two bowl
servings of instant cereal or Raman noodles.
It took a couple of hours of sitting in direct
sunlight to bring the water to a boil, but when I opened
up the thermos (carefully!) the water inside was really
boiling. The steam pressure is regulated by a valve at
the top of the thermos so it won't explode. It was easy
to face the Sunrocket directly into the sun simply by
aligning it with its own shadow. It doesn't need to be
constantly turned to face the sun because the side
reflectors grab sunlight from any angle and direct it at
the double-walled glass thermos inside.
This is well worth adding to your emergency kit, or
just take it along on picnics or camping trips.
One of my ways of
combating "cabin fever" during the ice and snow
storms this winter, has been to work on projects designed
to get me outdoors and back into my frozen garden. After
looking on-line for some outdoor wild bird feeders and
getting price shock, I dug around in my junk pile and
came up with the "Margarine Tub Bird Feeder"
which cost me about a half-hour of work.
|Starts with an idea....
||Collect all the pieces needed ....
I found a top from a large tub of margarine, and a complete
top and tub from a smaller size container. I rounded up a piece
of wood that was taller than the small tub, so birds could stand
on the edge and dip down into it. But I also cut several small
openings in the bottom of the tub that would allow seeds to
dribble out of the tub and onto the smaller container top which
is screwed into the bottom end of the wood. The large container
top is screwed onto the top end of the wood, along with a screw
eye used for hanging the bird feeder. Fill the small tub with
bird seed (some dribbles out onto the bottom "tray")
and hang it up where the birds can find it. Then you can sit
inside where it's warm and watch the birds who don't fly south
for the winter enjoy a feast from your winter garden.
Candle Heater / Low Watt Electric
This is not my original idea, but it is
a great home project that can provide additional heat at low
cost, helping to reduce your electric bill if you use electricity
to supplement your home heating.
The One-candle Flower-pot Furnace is described
The 60 watt Halogen Bulb Flower-pot Furnace is
described HERE. Keep
in mind that most electric heaters that you buy from stores use
500 to 1,000 watts or more.
You can buy either of the above
ready-made OR you can learn how to make one yourself from the
same Web site.
Available from Amazon.com as of 1/17/14 - http://www.amazon.com/Biedermann-Sons-H-350-Scandinavian-Christmas/dp/B000VUX5VK/ref=pd_sim_hg_2
This is my contribution to both of the above
furnaces. After using as a Christmas decoration, remove the
candles and disconnect the bell ringers and set this on top of
your candle or electric bulb furnace. The heat from the furnace
makes the propeller go around and this circulates the warm air
rising from the furnace to help spread it around your room
without using any electricity. You don't have to buy one- it is
easily made from heavy-duty aluminum foil or aluminum sheeting.
Cut a circle from the foil and find the center point at which it
will balance and spin. Then cut the circle into fan blades and
angle the blades down towards the heat source. The whole trick is
to get the fan balanced so that it will spin on the point of a
nail (file down the point of the nail so it is smooth). The nail
can be held upright by a base made of aluminum foil wrapped
around a stone, and then it will sit on top of your furnace (or
make more for your radiators) moving the heated air around your
room for free.
January 6th, 2014 - Hanging Cheap Calendars - Floppy Calendar
The problem with cheap Dollar Store calendars is that they
are printed on flimsy paper that begins to flop and curl. My past
solutions were to simply tape the top corners to the wall, which
works nicely on wooden porch walls, but tears off paint from
interior wallboard walls.
This year, 2014, I tried something different. In the past I
had been throwing away the cardboard that is usually found inside
the cheap calendars, so you don't realize how cheap and floppy
they are until you open them. That cardboard plus a couple of
plastic clothes pins are my simple solution to floppy calendar
The cardboard is placed behind the top of the calendar. A
pushpin is used to fasten the calendar to the wall. The two
clothes pins attach the edges of the calendar to the cardboard.
Problem solved, and I'll never throw away the cardboard inserts
again until the next calendar needs to be displayed.
This may seem stupidly simple, but these stupidly simple
solutions add up to making life a little easier.
September 23, 2013 - Aluminum Caldero
After wearing out cheap Barbecue Grills year after year from
rust, heat damage and just plain falling apart, I decided to
invest some time and a little money in coming up with a Barbecue
Grill that could be used all year 'round and which would last for
five or ten years without rust or damage.
In the local Dollar Stores I found
cast aluminum Calderos and immediately knew they would
last a long time converted to barbecue grills. What's a
Caldero? It's Spanish for "Cauldron" but it's
better explained in photos like the one at the left. They
come in different sizes, and are often sold as a set of
three, but I only needed two for my purposes; a medium
(13") and a small (12"). You may wish to get
the large and the medium if you need more cooking space.
The largest Caldero is used to hold
the charcoal. Save the lid and you can save money on
charcoal by covering the Caldero to immediately
extinguish the coals and use them a second or third time.
The smaller Caldero is inverted and becomes the lid for
your barbecue. I drilled a hole in the center of the
smaller Caldero and screwed the lifting handle from the
top into that hole so that I could easily lift off the
top of my barbecue. A plastic handle might melt from the
heat, but the handles on mine were solid metal. The
Bar-B-Q sits on two bricks, keeping the heat well away
from the tabletop.
I am cooking for one today, so I
only need about 10 charcoal briquettes. I get the plain
charcoal that has not been soaked in firestarter because
I don't like the petroleum fumes either in the smoke or
in my food. To start the charcoal, I use a small charcoal
chimney available in most hardware stores or on-line.
Crumpled balls of newspaper from left-over advertisements
is all it needs to start the charcoal glowing within five
The small calderon used as a cover
can get very hot during cooking, so use an oven mitt to
lift it on and off the grill. I keep the 13 inch top of
the larger calderon on the side to act as a heat
resistant surface so I can put the hot top down on
something to cool while I check on the food.
I kept a 13" stainless steel grill that came
with one of my rusted out barbecue cookers, but you can
buy them separately on-line if you don't have one sitting
around in your basement or garage.
I like the chunks of real cheese
rather than the cheese food slices, so the lid helps to
melt cheese on top of my hamburger. The cat is hoping I
have cooked enough to spare him some meat with cheese.
You can see it only took a few coals to cook for one
person, but there is plenty of room to fill the bottom
calderon to feed a lot of hungry people or cats.
I call this an All-Year Bar-B-Q
because it takes up so little space and I can use it on
my open porch or deck to cook even in the dead of winter
(never cook inside a closed space because of the carbon
monoxide fumes!). When I have finished cooking, I put the
13 inch lid back on the 13 inch bottom calderon and it
quickly extinguishes the coals from lack of oxygen.
Later, when the coals have cooled, I can pluck them out
of the ashes with tongs and use them over again the next
time I want to Bar-B-Q. Maybe I'll add a few fresh coals,
but waste not, want not.
August 24, 2013 - No-Smell Kitchen Compost
Keeping compost in the kitchen can be a smelly process,
especially during the warm weather. I have a compositor out in
the back yard, but having to trudge out there every day to dump
my kitchen compost is no fun in the summer and especially no fun
in the winter, or whenever it rains or snows. Here is my No-Smell
solution. I got this idea from watching how my cats dispose of
their "waste" in my backyard.
For small kitchen compost, like the dregs that get caught in
my sink screen, I use two small-size Shop-Rite margarine tubs -
the 1 pound size.The brand name isn't important. Just any two
plastic containers with air-tight lids will do. In the Spring, or
whenever it is on sale, buy some bags of inexpensive potting
soil. I got two good size bags at Shop-Rite for $0.99 each this
past spring, and those will probably last until next Spring. You
can also dig up soil from your own backyard and keep it in a
bucket that has an airtight lid. I have a little plastic picnic
spoon that I use to dump soil into one of the small plastic tubs.
The tub is marked with an "S" for soil, so I know which
tub is soil and which is compost (mine is marked with a
"C" for compost so I don't forget). Also use the spoon
to sprinkle a bottom covering of soil into the Compost tub.
When your sink drain screen fills up, open the Compost Tub
and dump the screen onto the soil. Open up the Soil tub and use
the spoon to sprinkle enough soil on top to completely cover it
up. Make sure you cover it up so you can't see any more of the
compost through the soil, and then seal both containers back up.
Wipe off the spoon with a used paper towel and you are ready for
the next batch. Each time you open the Compost tub you should
smell...NOTHING! Or at the most, it should smell like the topsoil
in the soil container. When the Compost tub can hold no more,
then you can take it outside to the regular compositor to
continue transforming into pure topsoil for next year's
fertilizer for your garden. If it is snowy or rainy season, have
a few more plastic tubs so you procrastinate by filling up a new
Compost tub and then take out several at the same time when you
are out of empty tubs. The small Soil Tub can be refilled from
the topsoil bag whenever needed.
What about larger kitchen compost, like banana peels, corn
husks, and other vegetable matter that comes in large quantities?
The same system works there as well, but you will need a larger
supply of potting soil and a couple of large buckets that have
airtight lids. A medium-size tub comes with some ice cream brands
at Shop-Rite, or you can get real big buckets with carrying
handles and lids at Home Depot. You might want to keep these on
your porch rather than in your kitchen, but either way, there is
no smell involved once you cover the compost with a layer of
topsoil. For the big buckets, you might want a small garden
trowel instead of a spoon.
If you don't have a compositor in your backyard or garden,
you can still apply the "cat solution." Dig a small
hole at one end of your garden, dump the compost tub(s) in and
recover it with the soil. Push the shovel into the ground NEXT to
the compost hole so you'll have a marker that tells you where
your next hole should be dug. Keep digging new holes each time
you have compost to bury and by the end of the year, you should
be able to go back to the first hole spot and start all over
again, with no sigh of the stuff you buried last year- just nice
clean top soil that your plants will thrive on. Before the ground
gets too hard to dig holes in the winter, dig enough holes to
last until Spring and keep a bag of inexpensive topsoil in the
house so you can cover your compost during the winter months.
July 14, 2013 - Teakettle Wine. My raspberries are red and
ripe for picking, so I will use them to make wine that should be
able to be tasted next Christmas. I will be using my own method
of making wine in a glass teakettle on my kitchen stove, so click HERE for the directions.
May, 2013 - My latest invention is a
"Cherry Picker" tool. My backyard cherry tree has now
grown too tall for anyone to safely reach the cherries on the
upper branches. Last year I had a couple of Wiz Kids up on a
ladder, reaching out with a temporary invention, consisting of a
child's sand-play bucket attached to a long handled grass cutter
turned upside down so you could clip the cherries and have them
(most of the time) fall into the bucket for safe delivery back to
the ground. I wasn't too happy watching the kids lean over on the
top of that step-ladder, so I put some more thought into the
problem and this is what I came up for this year's even taller
From the hardware store I bought a 1 and 1/4 inch diameter
PVC pipe. It was 10 feet in length, but I cut it in half to bring
it home on the back of my tricycle. The two halves can be put
back together ton reach the upper branches of the tree, and if
necessary, I can add one or more five foot lengths of PVC pipe to
extend it up to 20 feet in the air if necessary. The diameter of
the pipe allows a cherry to fall down the inside of the pipe and
into a bag that is fastened to the bottom to catch and collect
the cherries. At the top end of the PVC pipe is mounted a 64
ounce rectangular cranberry juice bottle with an "Afro"
hair pick from the Dollar store glued inside.
I chose a cranberry juice bottle because it has a large
opening ( 1 1/4 inches in diameter) to match the PVC pipe. The
bottle is cut away around the bottom and along one side. The hair
pick is hot-glued inside against the bottom opening of the
bottle, around the edges. The points of the pick stick up out of
the side opening. To collect cherries, you simply
"comb" or "pick" the branches. Let the
cherries dangle down into the side opening, which can now be
considered the top opening. Pull the whole thing forward,
allowing the pick to pluck off the cherries, which drop inside
the bottle, and gravity sends them down the PVC pipe into the bag
attached at the other end. The pipe is long enough that no step
ladder is needed to reach the cherries at the top of the tree. If
the tree gets taller, I can always add more pipe sections.
|Hair Pick, Juice Bottle, PVC Pipe
||Hair Pick can pick off cherries.
||Cut open the side and bottom of the
|Cut a slot for pick handle to fit on
|of juice bottle.
|Hot-glue pick along edges.
||Hot-glue mouth of bottle to PVC Pipe.
Wrap with Duct Tape.
Reach up into the cherry tree so the cherries
fall into the side opening of the bottle. Pull the cherry picker
towards yourself to pluck the cherries off the tree. The cherries
fall into the bottle and down the PVC pipe where they can be
caught in a bag. Cherries that get stuck in the bottle can be
dumped into a basket. Cherries that get stuck in the PVC pipe can
be unclogged inserting a broom handle or other pipe thinner than
the diameter of your PVC pipe. I tried it on a couple of green
cherries just to make sure it will work when the cherries are
ripe, red and plump for picking.
7/9/13 - July Cherry Picking Time! The cherries are ripe and
delicious! So far our favorite recipe is Jim's Cherry Upside-Down
Spice Cake, served with vanilla ice cream or yogurt on top
instead of frosting. Write for recipe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indoor Outdoor Security
Security Lights aren't just to scare away
would-be burglars. They help us seniors to get around a
dark house at night, turning on as we enter a room and
turning off by themselves. You can get these battery
powered LED security lights from Heartland of America ( www.heartlandamerica.com
) for about $40.00. Most people would use them as outdoor
security lights because that is how they are advertised,
but they work just fine indoors, with the solar panel
hanging outside your house in a sunny spot and the light
hanging inside your house above a door in some dark area
where you need some light to locate the regular wall
switches or to climb up or down a short flight of steps.
The 36 LED lights are very bright and they come on only
at night when you need them most.
For about $30.00 you can get a Solar LED Shed Light
from Heartland of America, which has a pull chain instead
of the security light automatic switch. But this light
you can turn on and off yourself day or night just by
pulling on the chain. Once again, it has a solar panel
that stays outside in a sunny spot, while the
chain-pulled light hangs indoors where you need the
light. The main convenience with these lights is an
easily installed (you don't need an electrician) light
with no batteries to change...ever.
Seed Starter Pots
We'll begin with this idea since mid-winter is the
best time time to begin planning ahead for spring
plantings as soon as all danger of frost has passed.
I use old newspaper advertisement "spam"
mail that piles up in my recycling bin. I prefer to
recycle it myself, shredding it for mulch, grinding it
further and mixing it with garden dirt to make potting
soil. In this case, I am using strips of newspaper torn
from "Best Buy" sales ads that have expired. I
wrap the strip around an aspirin bottle (or anything else
about that size) and tape it on the side with cheap
Dollar Store masking tape. Then smash down the bottom
against the bottle and use two pieces of cheap tape to
criss-cross and hold the bottom flat. Slide out the
bottle and use the tube as a pot for starting seeds. I
can fit two of these pots into a recycled cat-food can,
or even more of them into a recycled plastic container
that came with something from the grocery store which I
can no longer remember eating. These pots are less
expensive and work just as well as peat pots from the
When the plants have outgrown the pot, it will
probably be time to move them into the garden. You can
plant the pot with the plant, or easily tear it free from
the roots if you prefer. It's early March and I have
already begun to germinate some seeds for my Earth Day