cool tools: beautiful wood screwdrivers

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A few weeks ago, while watching my father fix a dresser drawer with a butter knife at my apartment, I finally put my foot down. Having a dad who is the MacGyver of home repair is a luxury I enjoy immensely, but out of respect for both him and my silverware, I’ve decided it’s high time to stop the madness and invest in some real tools. My search for fun, alternative options has me smitten with bright designs by Alice Supply Co. (the darling of this winter’s New York International Gift Fair), but my fave find thus far is the Elemen’tary line of screwdrivers from Brook Farm General Store. Created by a cabinetmaker in England, each set features a simple, hardwood handle with interchangeable bits. At $32, Set No. 2 with its short handle and six bits seems the perfect addition to my big -girl toolbox. For more cool tools (including an awesome antique level) visit Brook Farm General Store. — Sarah C.

getting ditty with it: organizing with ditty bags

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I’m not as organized as I’d like to be. I just find it really difficult to keep things neat and tidy when every little bit of space in my tiny New York apartment is being used. At this point, if something new is coming in, something old must go out… seriously. When I spotted these Ditty Bags over on Design*Sponge, I immediately thought they’d help me in my quest for organization. (Or at least my quest towards “looking” organized.) I could buy a few to act as closet catchalls and give anyone who opens the door the illusion of a well-arranged space. Pick from five different colors, and purchase one or a few for about $25 each at The Mariners Supply Company. — Erica P.

love of packaging: compagnie de provence limited edition liquid soap

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Like many of us here at Shelterrific, I am a complete pushover when it comes to chic packaging. My latest packaging crush comes in the form of La Compagnie de Provence’s Extra Pure line of liquid Marseille soap — if it were a man, I’d marry it. I’ve had my eye on the collection for a while, what with its contemporary, clean graphic design, all-natural composition, and intoxicating array of fragrance options, but folks, this romance just got serious. For its 20th anniversary, the company commissioned Marseille artist Stephan Muntaner to create three limited edition soap dispensers, and it’s official: I’m in love. Inspired by the art of sailor tattoos and the port city of Marseille, each vibrant design adorns La Compagnie de Provence’s signature glass bottle. The liquid soap therein is made in the traditional fashion with vegetable oils and is scented to give a salty whiff of the sea with each wash. It appears that my bathroom will now be home to Swoonfest 2010. Snag the design of your choice for $28 at Vickerey.com. And for more packaging to love, check out their Savon de Marseille Origami Bar Soap, $10. Each French-milled bar comes with instructions to turn the bright paper wrapper into an origami sea creature. — Sarah C.

the ultimate in green lawn care: vintage reel push mowers

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Last year, when spring rolled around, we had to get a lawn mower. Our grass was out of control and we were borrowing our friend’s mower way too often. So, when we spotted the super-sweet, vintage orange Scott’s Silent Mower out front of our favorite neighborhood hardware store, we had to get it. The orange hubcaps emblazoned with that “S” had me at hello, I admit it! However, what really sold us was the clerk at the store, who assured us we wouldn’t regret the purchase: “It’s a simple mechanism. Easy to sharpen, cheap to repair.” I liked having something that wasn’t disposable and that would give me some bonus exercise with my yard work. And a year later, I’m still happy. There are a few pointers, though. You must make sure there aren’t too many rocks or twigs in your path, or you may have a few bruises. And make sure your grass isn’t too high, or else you’ll just flatten it, not cut it. You can find your own vintage mower at flea markets, garage sales, and craigslist, or you can buy a new version of the old thing. –Megan B.

make your own green cleaners — they work!

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A few months back, I finally learned how to mix up my own green cleaners. I did have a little help — I attended an event hosted by CoolMom, an organization focused on combating global warming by making small changes in our everyday lives. And one of those changes is to stop using harsh chemicals and instead mix up our own cleaning supplies out of water, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. We brought our own jars and spray bottles, and for a $5 fee, CoolMom supplied the rest. Within a half-hour, I was ready to go with surface spray for countertops and windows, a soft scrub for tubs and sinks, and even some disinfectant.

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Four months later, I can report that the cleaning supplies are a revelation! I’m serious! My toilet is just as clean using the disinfectant I made as it ever was using Comet. My glass surfaces and stovetop are even cleaner — Mom, I’m sorry I ever forgot that you used to use vinegar on everything; it cuts through grease like nothing else! The only slight issue was with the soft scrub. It works great on my tub and sinks, but I’ve noticed that my tub seems to get dirty faster. (Not to be gross, but it doesn’t look dirty, it just kind of feels dirty under my feet — but this is after about a week, at which time I should probably be cleaning my tub again anyway.) I’m going to experiment with some vinegar and see if that makes a difference. Click for the best part of all this — and get all the super-easy recipes for making your own green cleaners! — Mary T. (more…)