eliminate odors (and mice?) with peppermint oil

peppermint oil

Not to boast, but when it comes to dealing with odors, you won’t find a sharper shooter with a bottle of Febreze. I’ve got fabrics covered, but hadn’t found a suitable solution to dealing with atmospheric odors until my mom shared this all natural trick. Simply add three or four drops of peppermint oil to a few cotton balls, place them in a small bowl and leave the dish to sit in a problem area. Not only does the oil replace the smell with an energizing peppermint aroma, it also eliminates it, absorbing odor as it dissipates over time. As the proud sibling of a college-aged brother, I’m thrilled to report that we use this often to fumigate his car (a tall order, what with all the punky ultimate frisbee clothing and half-eaten hamburgers), with awe-inspiring results.

I like Aura Cacia’s certified-organic options but any 100% essential peppermint oil will do. I’ve even heard that a similar strategy helps get rid of mice. Anyone care to weigh in? – Sarah C.

From our partners

string dispensers: a utilitarian collection

cozy kitten

Sometimes when I seplace for something utilitarian I find not only the perfect solution, but also a perfect collectible. After googling “twine dispenser” to take care of my perennially tangled gardening twine, I found everything from R2D2 to a celluloid doll head. My favorites? The Cozy Kitten from the ’50s, a silver plated ball and new dispensers from Garden Trading and Terrain. — Sarah L.

From our partners

re-use for bubble wrap: insulation for metal planters


I love the look of modern-ish metal planters, and you can get large ones for low prices at IKEA. I recently decided that the ’50s-era expanse of concrete in our backyard needed a makeover, so I decided that I’d move beyond my usual annuals — cool as they may be! — and get some evergreens suitable for containers. (I ended up buying a compact boxwood.) The area where they’ll reside gets full morning sunlight which lasts far into the afternoon, so the consultant at the nursery gave me a tip that was new to me: because metal pots can heat up, it’s a good idea to insulate them to protect plant roots. She suggested lining the pots with bubble wrap, so that’s just what I did. I have tons of it saved from packages that I never seem to use but don’t want to throw away. I simply formed the sheets of bubble wrap in a circle inside the pots, filled in with dirt, and planted as usual. Great tip! — Mary T.

From our partners

post off: how are your finances?


Okay, you can feel free to go anonymous for this one — keeping in mind that your comment might not be approved until later in the day. The past few years have seen major upheaval in my personal finances just like the rest of the US. We moved to a city where our cost of living tripled, we bought a house at a price (which was cheap for the area) that a year earlier I would have considered insanely high, and after a year first I was laid off, and then my husband! I’m delighted to tell you that I am once again fully employed (at a job I love), my husband is doing well with his own work, and we weathered our jobless year just fine. But now that we’re beyond the panic of “Can we pay the mortgage this month?” I’m thinking more about our 401(K)s, the level of our savings, and our long-term financial situation. What about you, if you are interested in sharing? Were you affected by the fallout of the housing market? If so, how? Was your job a casualty of the economy? Have you bounced back? Are you still struggling? How are you planning for your financial future? — Mary T.

Photos of “moneygami” by Hasegawa Yousuke originally appeared on Whorange.

From our partners

kinda genius: reuse your jars with jar tops


I feel green guilty every time I throw out a jar. I try to reuse as many as I can with DIY projects, but some of them have no practical use after their delicious salsa-filled contents are consumed. With these jar tops from A + R, I’ll be able to use a few more at least! Designed by Jorre van Ast, the dishwasher safe set of five tops ($25) will fit 90% of all jars. Former pickle and pasta sauce jars will be transformed into chic looking containers for all sorts of kitchen needs. — Katie D.

From our partners