Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Your input will be appreciated

To all the more experienced homemakers out there - I would deeply appreciate your help and advice about the following points I have been struggling with:

* Peeling and chopping onions.
The moment I begin doing that, my eyes start stinging and burning, and gallons of tears pour out by the time I'm done. Washing the onion in cold water and using an extra sharp knife helps a bit, but not significantly. How do you deal with this? I love onions and add them to almost every soup, main dish or side dish I make, but the chopping part is a torture.

* Removing stains.
Recently I've had to deal with lots of stains, mainly greasy stains from food, but also wine stains and blood. Store-bought detergents do the job, but they are terribly expensive. I'm wondering if any of you practice a cheaper and preferably more eco-friendly method.

* Organizing kitchen cabinets.
All our closets and drawers are more or less organized – at least well enough so the things we need can be found quickly – but for some reason, I can never get a system that would work for our kitchen cabinets. How does it work for you?

Thank you – I eagerly wait for your tips!

69 comments:

Calamity Jean said...

Hi Anna,

I love household hints so maybe I can help.

Sometimes if you refrigerate the onion prior to chopping it will cut down on the tears.

To remove grease stains from clothing try pre-treating with dawn dish soap. This isn't terribly eco-friendly but if you only use it for stains you can buy a small bottle. The original blue formula works best. I usually just spot treat and then wash as normal.

I am still working on my cabinet organization so I can't wait to read the rest of the comments.

Kyla

Sammybunny said...

The best book ever! for eco-friendly, frugal housecleaning recipes is called "Clean & Green" by Annie Berthold-Bond and you could probably find it on half.com really inexpensive or at your local library! I found it to be FASCINATING! and it has whole chapters devoted to things like laundry, kitchen cleaning, stains (of all types) etc. It is amazing! If you can find it at your library, that is wonderful but I woudl highly advise you find your own copy!

Anonymous said...

well, I don't know anything about onions, or organizing cabinets but I do know a little about removing wine. I heard that putting salt on the stain and letting the salt soak up the wine, then clean the salt off. Try it maybe that will work!! good luck!!

Julia said...

Refrigerating does help. Vidalia onions, which are easy to find where I live, make me tear up less. It's a sweet type onion, so if you have a sweet onion in your area you might have a similar experience. When I have a lot of onions to chop I will sometimes bring my cutting board outside. If you're going to sautee them I find it's helpful to put a lid on it to collect the worst part in the first few minutes. You don't want to leave the lid on the whole time if you don't want to create a steaming effect.

Mrs. Brigham said...

If you burn a candle near you as you are chopping onions, the teary eyes should not be a problem. Placing a piece of bread or cracker under your tongue also helps, though not as well as the candle.

For stains, the sooner you are able to soak the offending item, the better. Along with soaking, I also will scrub with a bit of washing soda. If the stain is particularly bad, or greasy, I add 1/4 cup of washing soda to the wash water, along with the usual detergent. Also, castile soap works very well. A bottle of castile soap may seem costly, but you use such a teeny amount that is truly is a frugal option. I use Dr. Bronners brand on furniture, carpets, clothing, and anything else that manages to get something spilled on it. Both of these even work on really tough stains like blood, chocolate, etc.

I highly second the book "Clean & Green" that Sammybunny recommended. This book is a lifesaver when it comes to the little calamities and oppsies that come up in homemaking. "Organic Housekeeping" is also an excellent book. :o) They are packed with great practical advice that really streamlines homecare, and also offer recipes and tips for cleaning that are not only frugal, but are not quite as stinky and overpowering as many store bought products.

As far as kitchen cabinets go, my grandmother helped me set up a system using some different organizing tools she purchased at a home store. She purchased things to help stack plates & cups, hooks for mugs to be hung, and great little shelves to store baking pans more efficiently. This system she helped me set up *really* works well and saves A LOT of time looking for this or that. We have a tiny kitchen, so finding something that worked was a bit of trial, but very important.

To organize drawers, I use food boxes. Cracker or cereal boxes work well. You can cut them in half and then place them in the drawer to make a nice little system where everything can fit and be found easily.

Rebekah S. said...

Thanks for asking such great questions, Anna! I can't wait to learn from these wise ladies and their ideas!

Rebekah S. said...

What a neat sounding book, Sammybunny! I can't wait to check it out-who knows it may be something to add to my hopechest! ;)

Annaid said...

I also have major issues with chopping onions. My suggestions (pick a few):

*Put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before chopping.

*Wear goggles (this is a suggestion from America's Test Kitchen, who said that this is the only thing that really works. I haven't tried it, as we don't happen to own any and I haven't gotten over how silly it would look).

*Buy frozen, pre-chopped onion (I also haven't done this but I have noticed it for sale).

*Get an onion-immune person to chop them for you ahead of time. I get my husband to do it sometimes. To store chopped onions in the refrigerator, I put in a plastic bag and then in another container, preferably glass, because it doesn't hold on to odors like plastic does.

*Don't chop the root end. This is where most of the fumes are. I haven't really figured out a safe way to do it, but from what I've read, if you can cut up the rest of the onion without slicing into that part, it will be easier on you.

*Practice and learn to chop fast. This is mostly what I do. I've gotten much better and I can usually get through one or two before I have to evacuate the kitchen for a few minutes.

*If your eyes are stinging, close them and let the tears come. It will sting worse, but if you leave them closed for a minute or two, you will feel better when you open them again. One of the things that bothers me most about onions is that I will tear up much later, even when I haven't been around the onions for awhile. This eye-closing trick has really helped me.

Good luck! I feel your pain. I think onions are worth it, though.

Kathleen said...

Regarding onions...this will sound hilarious, but try wearing swimming goggles or sunglasses.

For stains--yes, for wine, salt does work. For blood, soak the fabric overnight in cold, salty water. I'm not sure about grease. We use something called "Pink Solution". (The "Clean and Green" book is great! It will probably have lots of ideas.)

For the cupboards, just a few quick thoughts. Think accessibility. What do you use most? Put it at the bottom and don't stack things on top of it. Put your least-used items at the top. Also think about what you use in what part of the kitchen and when. You might want to put the spices nearer to the stove or your main countertop, the glasses closest to the table, and the pots in a cupboard next to the stove.

That's it for now, I have to run!

Michelle said...

1. for the onion problem - I have actually stopped tearing up chopping them - not sure when it quit, but I don't have a problem anymore. However, a tip I heard and tried was to pop the onion in the freezer 5 minutes before cutting. That helped significantly, as well as simply chopping it fast.

2. Greasy stains, can't help you much with. Best thing I found is an oxy-clean spray and wash stain stuff. For blood - pre-wash in cold water. Cold water usually does the trick, if not, use the stain spray on it.
3. kitchen cabinets. One thing I found that really helped was to get rid of ALL tupperware I didn't use all that much, or was damaged somehow (wonky lids/melted parts on bowls) and then what I did was match each tupperware with its lid and stored it with the lid on. Granted, it takes up more space, but it saves me the time of searching for a lid when I need one. Our cabinets are really awkwardly built, so I don't really have other tips. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Not a homemaker here, but a few suggestions: for stains, remember that blood stains should always be washed in cold water. And soaking them in cold water for a while prior to washing helps too.

For the cabinets: putting things you use more on the easier to reach shelves. And if you have a little money to spend, you can buy things to help you organize the cabinets at stores like Ikea for fairly cheap.

Karen said...

For onions - I second (or third?) refrigerating them, also, try to keep your face as far away as possible while chopping. Don't lean over. Or you could use one of those hand held choppers with a lid. We got one cheap...a pain to clean though!

For stains, soaking things in borax and water before washing seems to work pretty well. For spot cleaning, you can get a bar of Fels Naptha (about 1.75, and lasts a long time) wet it and rub on the stain. Works for me!

Maybe try a lazy susan for the cabinet? I don't have one but my grandma did and loved it. If you can't find one at a yard sale or thrift store though forget about it!

We don't really have a system, but we keeps pots, pans, dry cereal, and bakewear below waist level. Other dry goods go on one side of the room in the cupboards above the counter, while spices, coffee and tea go on the other, in the cupboards closest to the cups. We keep sugar and flour on the counter in pretty canisters with lids. We also keep vitamins and medications in the upper cabinets...away from the moisture of the bathroom AND away from the kids. Dishes are above and beside the stove, cups, mugs and plates one one side, bowls and saucers on another. Seems to work for us.

Chez Moi said...

If you have a natural gas range, you can chop an onion near a lit burner. I do this all the time and it really does work. I can't remember exactly, but it has something to do with some chemical in the gas fire neutralizing some chemical in the onion fumes.

Rinse/wash blood stains out in cold water only, warm water will set in the stain. Hydrogen Peroxide will also take out blood.

I'm horrid at kitchen organization, but one thing I've learned in my over 19 years as a homemaker is that you don't need all those fancy gadgets. Less is more and you usually use just the simple basic tools more often than not. Gadgets are usually not worth the price they take up WAY too much room too.

Lauren Christine said...

I'm going to affirm the fridge thing for onions! My husband shared that with me... ach, I tear up so badly when I'm cutting onions!!

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I have found a system for cabinets that I use, and I frequently get complimented on how I organize my kitchen. Hang your frequently used utensils on the wall next to the stove. Keep scissors for packages, and knives in a drawer next to the stove, store your frequently used pots in the oven, and in the cabinet next to the stove. Also store your cutting board in a cabinet next to the stove (it's easier to chop next to the stove so you can add ingredients without having to walk). Also, I keep a little jar of salt next to the stove. The spices should be hung on a wall next to the stove or in a higher cabinet as close as possible. Store your plates, bowls and glasses in a high cabinet next to the sink. Silverware in a drawer next to the sink. Store all items not as frequently used such as tupperware, special baking dishes etc. in the remaining cabinet space. Also important in the kitchen is always have pens stored in a cup in a cabinet (not in a drawer- too messy)with a little notepad handy as I frequently find that I have to take a phone message, or jot down my lists, etc, while I'm in the kitchen.
Jane

Jordin said...

I'm looking forward to these answers, too! I could use help in all of these areas!

As for getting teary-eyed when chopping onions, it usually helps if I wear sunglasses. But lately, I haven't had to...because I finally found the best way to chop an onion. The fumes hardly reach my face by the time I'm done! Here is the link that helped me figure it all out:

http://www.tammysrecipes.com/dicing_onions

Bethany Sue, CFO said...

You can buy something called the stain stick. It is at every grocery store in the laundry aisle. It lasts for years. You rub in on stains like crayons and it gets most things out. It cost's maybe $2.00. Also, Oxy clean works great and you can find the off brand at the dollar tree/dollar store for um a dollar! Oxy clean got an old red kool aid stain out of a white outfit. Let us know what worked for you. Hope this helps.

Kristy Howard said...

I've always had the same problem when chopping onions ... I attended a Taste of Home seminar 2 yrs ago and they claim that if you don't cut the bottom stem of the onion off while you're chopping, it won't release as much juice and cause your eyes to water. This hasn't worked magic for me but it does help. When I skin and wash an onion, I remove the top stem but leave the bottom part in tact.

About laundry stains: Boy, I could write a book on this one! I have 2 small children who are pretty hard on their clothing. I make my own laundry detergent, which works well but admitedly doesn't have the stain-fighting power that some store-bought brands do. This is what keeps our clothing nice and bright: If I have a load that especially needs "attention" (usually the girls clothes, bibs, socks, etc. or whites), I soak the clothing in detergent and several (3-4) scoops of Oxi Clean (I buy the generic brand at the $ store) OVER NIGHT. I've even soaked some clothing over the entire weekend! For stubborn stains, I use Oxi Clean (generic) or Goop, which is found in the automotive department at Wal-mart (less than $2). I treat the stains prior to soaking, and then soak! Borax is also good if you're needing to brighten up clothing, towels, or linens.

Organizing cabinets: I keep all my baking goods (flour, sugar, corn starch, baking powder, etc) together on one shelf, mixes on another, spices together on 2 little turn tables, pasta on a seperate shelf (in jars or plastic containers, which look more orderly than bags and boxes), canned goods together in the pantry, etc. Items like peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and other non-perishable "misc" I keep together on a shelf, as well. My kitchen is decent-sized but not particularly large, so I try to make the most use of every inch! Oh, and I keep ALL my "extras" on a seperate shelf in the pantry, that way I'm not wading through three jars of peanut butter in search of a jar of honey.
~Kristy

QuietMom said...

We noticed that when we open the window by the counter that it helps blow the fumes so the effect of the onions isn't so bad. Seems to help!

Terry said...

For the oil and grease stains, I found that plain old vinegar gets them out most of the time. No answer for you on the onions. And my kitchen cabinets? Forget it!

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

cutting onions.... use goggles. Safety goggles/swimming goggles... it works.

Get the smell of onions off your hands by rubbing a stainless steel spoon on the while under running water.


Stains... baking soda and vinegar solution works.

lizzykristine said...

For stain removal, I second the recommendation for a stain stick. One tube of spray'n'wash stain stick lasts me 1-2 years, and I am a very messy person! It has rescued my and friends' clothes from collar rings, blood, grass stains, food stains, etc.

The stick works better than a spray, I think. Spray tends to evaporate before it has had long enough to work, or I have to spray it multiple times. But if I rinse the stain, then glob on some of the stain stick and loosely roll it up, it remains moist enough to keep working until laundry day, and often the stain is gone before I even put it in the washing machine.

No joke that the stain stick, for 2-3 dollars, has saved me 200-300 dollars of clothing!

Seashell / Chelsea said...

On onions. I'm not sure how you do it but for me the following stratagies help. When I chop an onion I start by cutting it in half. Then being careful not to tough cut surfaces (I think it's the juice that does it) I peel off the outside layers. Leaving the root bit on lay the onion cut side down on the chopping board. Cut a few slices horizontally then a few vertically. Hold the onion by the root bit (this helps keep it together and gives you a non-juicy bit to hold) and slice down accross. This will give you instantly chopped onion.
http://www.almanac.com/food/onion.php
This is similar to what I do.

Hope that helps!

Samara said...

Hi Anna! These are all good quesions.

I used to wear chemical goggles when cutting onions. They looked very silly but they worked, and I used them when painting too, so they pulled double duty. Another thing that works for me now is to only breathe through my nose, work quickly and use a sharp knife. Then dump the onions into the pan or storage container and flee the kitchen temporarily!

For bloodstains, cold water is good. I rub some bar soap on the "wrong" side of the stain, then use a nail brush to scrub gently in cold water (still on the "wrong" side as you don't want to rub the stain IN) until it's gone. This has worked for me even for dried-up blood. I don't know about wine stains, but I spilled red wine on myself last night so I'll be trying Shout, which I use for most stuff (it is really good for getting gum out of hair, btw).

We moved a lot during my childhood due to military reassignments and my mom has a system fo kitchen organization. Drinking cups & glasses in a higher cabinet nearest the fridge, plates & dishes above the dishwasher and eating & serving utensils in a nearby drawer (or nearest the table to be set), cookware by the stove/oven... my kitchen is oddly shaped so I can't do it the same way, but I do have to have my most frequently used cooking utensils in a ceramic pot next to the stove.

Why don't you take photos of your kitchen and do a post? It might help in articulating what you need where :)

I have a question for your readers, too- how do you get the label stickum off of baby food jars? Hot water just makes it more sticky!

Green Eyes said...

I wear contacts, so tearing up isn't a problem for me (although it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that that's why I'm "immune!"). My suggestion would be to embrace whatever funny method works for you (like wearing goggles), and chop several onions at once, pop them in a freezer bag, and store them in the freezer. I do this because I am kind of picky about my onions being insanely tiny, so chopping them draws out meal prep. It saves a lot of time and stress for me to dice a bag full of them at once. Then I can just measure out how much I need. In your case, it would mean only having to wear those goggles once a week instead of every day! ;)

Unfortunately, I'm not good with stains, and I am currently in a cabinet-organizing crisis, so I'm not of any service in those areas.

Anna S said...

Indeed, what a brilliant idea! I should have posted pictures of my kitchen so you could see its layout. I'll try to do it one of these days, so you can watch my, ahem, progress :) (or lack of it... as time allows!)

Lillian the Ponderer said...

Contact lenses definately help with the onions! Also if you have an extractor fan above your cooker you could put a chopping board on the cooker (before turning it on obviously) then chop with the fan running, I have also heard that running hot water near-by should help, though I have never figured out how to chop onions IN the sink!

Not too good with stains - Blood - soak asap in COLD water - using soap - regular hand soap also helps. Grease - try washing powder (or baking powder) on the stain - rub in with your fingers then cover with a little more - leave for an hour or two - needs to be a recent stain - I rarely catch them early enough.

Not too good with the kitchen cabinets - though I will try a couple of suggestions here. But for organising a utensil drawer - use a large cutlery divider, - you can keep similar things (measuring spoons, peelers, cake slices etc) together I find it works very well.

Kristy Howard said...

For Samara:

I run glass jars through the dish washer to remove labels & sticky residue... sometimes the labels come loose right away, and sometimes I have to run them through more than one cycle. If you don't have a dish washer... try putting them in boiling water?

~Kristy

Kaeus said...

my mother organised our kitchen some 20 years ago and its never been changed.. and im still not sure where some of the less well used stuff goes - i just open every cupboard till i find it.. so im not much help there...

also no good with stains. i spray them with whatever we have handy, soak them in napisan, and then just toss them in the wash and pray. i dont know if you wash with hot or cold water, but if you generally use cold, it doesnt work too well with grease. hot is better. ruined a lot of my sons baby clothes and diapers before i realised this, since he had to be covered head to foot in grease every single day.

now onions, there i can help.

firstly, all our onions are refrigerated, and they still make my eyes hurt, a lot, so maybe we use different onions than your other readers. but heres my tips.

1 - if you can breathe ONLY through your mouth, as if you ahve a blocked nose, do it. this will help. i do this. as soon as i forget and start breathing through my nose, my eyes water. as long as my nose doesnt breathe, im fine. maybe a peg would help?

2 - putting coriander (i believe its called cilantro outside of australia) stalks in your mouth so the cut ends are just under your nose helps. hubby does this. every time. he looks like a dork, and chases the kid around like a monster, but he says it helps enormously with the watery/stingy eyes.

also, to get onion/garlic smell off your hands, wet them, rub them on stainless steel as if it were soap. you can actually get 'stainless steel soap', just a block of steel, but the kitchen sink or the faucet works too.

Jennifer said...

This is what I learned in Culinary school: cut the onion in half, from root to stem (both halves will have 1/2 of the root). With the tip of your knife pointing towards the root, cut your onion whatever size you wish (by following the "lines" on the onion, you can cut nice bit sized pieces). Be sure you do not cut all the way to the root. Leave up to 1/2" of uncut onion between where your cut ends and the root. Once the onion is cut length wise, cut it width wise or cutting in the opposite direction of what is already cut . This way, you don't have pieces slipping all over the place (because the onion is still connected to the root), the cut sizes are more uniform and the onion is cut faster. Thus, less tears to be cried.

Unfortunately, I don't have many "natural" stain removers to offer, for I use Shout. But, I do know that salt, as previously mentioned, does work with wine or any juice from the grape. Dawn detergent does work for grease stains, but not real old ones. Oxy-clean works well instead of bleach on whites (so does Baking Soda toothpaste). Hydrogen-peroxide if often used instead of bleach, as well. I have used white distilled vinegar in the wash with the cloth diapers instead of bleach. I haven't used it with our clothes, but I know it is safe to use with colors and it is not as harsh on the fibers as bleach can be. And hairspray (the aresol kind) can be used to get crayon, marker, pen or lipstick out of clothing. Using fabric softener can weaken the fibers of your clothes, thus making your clothing more prone to staining. But, of course, getting to the spills before they become stains is the best defense.

I don't necessarily have a "system" for my kitchen. I just put things back where they go each time and try to stack or keep things neat as much as possible. We do have a pot rack, where we hang our pots and cooking utensils. When I had a smaller kitchen, I used a large jar/container to hold my cooking utensils in near the stove. I only kept the few pots/pans that I used most out, and kept the others in storage (like in the basement or a closet). I had extra plates and cups, but I didn't keep them in the everyday dish cupboard. They were kept conveniently close for company, but I didn't have the room to have them in my cupboards all the time. The same with your utensils. Do you really need 8 (or more) of everything for 2 people and you wash the dishes frequently?

Hope these things help.
Jennifer D

Brenda said...

Chew on a wooden toothpick while cutting the onions. I don't remember where I heard that, but it has always worked for me. I don't mean hold it in between your lips either--chew on it a bit! I haven't cried in years. If I feel the tearing up coming on, I just take a step back and/or chew a little more on the toothpick.

byrumnews said...

It looks like someone already suggested it, but I am going to weigh in also on this tip.... chop your onions and freeze on a parchment covered cookie sheet then shake them into a freezer bag...might not help on the tears, but you can chop a lot and then not have to do it so often. I have used my food processor and a hand chopper but I find that the results are not very even, nothing like when I hand slice them. You can also do bell peppers and freeze them also.

Maggie said...

Anna,

Maybe I was dreaming when I heard this, but with regards to the onions, have a slice near the onion while chopping them. Apparently this works. I've never personally tried it, like most, i generally chop quickly or just let the tears flow.

For stains, again with blood, soak in cold water. I use Dove handsoap and gently scrub the stained material together, plunge into cold water and scrub again. Repeat process a half dozen times and usually by then the stain has been removed.

I keep a magnetic note pad on my fridge door with pens ontop of the fridge so that I can easily write notes to self or jot down a grocery list. All my cookbooks I keep in the cupboard above the sink, along with my teas and hot chocolate mixes -- in easy reach to use. As someone else mentioned, keep the dishes and silverware stored near the sink, easier for when washing and drying dishes by hand, can be put away quickly. Any items I don't use on an every day basis, I keep hidden in the hard to reach cupboards, i.e my Christmas dishes, icecube trays etc...

Good luck!
Cheers,
Maggie

Anonymous said...

I was going to recommend that you wear sunglasses when chopping onions-- but others beat me to it!

As far as kitchen cabinets go, as long as I don't stack different kinds of things, they stay organized. For example, I don't put a set of smaller plates on top of a set of larger plates-- I stack them next to each other.

Good luck!
Emily

Maggie said...

whoops...have a slice of lemon near you when you chop onions. Obviously I need to proof read what I write prior to posting. oops.

Susie said...

Anna,
If I have it, I chew gum while chopping onions. It helps me a lot (I think I'm overly sensitive to onions). I can't help with the kitchen, as I thought everyone lives in kitchen chaos =)
Lastly, as far as stains go, I learned from a friend that salt really does help with wine stains. It works carpeting, if the salt is allowed to sit and aborb it.

Lydia said...

Goggles do work the best for onions. I also use the little cup and chopper on my hand held blender if I want it really small. I have also found the colder the onion the better.

Dawn dish soap works well on grease spots. Of course Shout works the best though.

My mom, the master organizer, has a nice collection of baskets, wire shelves, drawers, lazy susans, and wire pan racks. I use these to organize our cabinets. You can usually find them at garage sales and second hand stores. Also purge out unnecessaries to either store else where or to give away. I had to get rid of extra plastic ware this week and was able to fit all my leftover containers in one basket. That made finding the right container so much easier. Then we store the lids in a plastic drawer underneath them. Of course think square and rectangular when it comes to organizing, they fit so much better.Hope that helps.

USAincognito said...

Anna,
If you put hydrogen peroxide on the stains, rub it in for a few minutes, and then rinse it out with cold water in the sink/tub, the stains will come out. It even works on a ton of blood as I was covered in blood one night after responding to a hit & run accident scene.
Not sure what to say on the onions as I do not have a problem cutting onions.
As far as the kitchen organization goes, I keep all my dishes in one area, keep my cooking ware in another area, and my tubberware in another area. And of course, I separate drawers for silverware and for cooking utensils. Usually my cooking ware is located right near the stove as it is more convenient when cooking.

Anonymous said...

Try cutting out a cone around the root part of the onion. This is where the worst of the fumes come from, and since I've started doing it, I haven't cried. A little stinging maybe, but no tears...

Melissa said...

I don't have time to read all the comments right now, and I'm pretty sure someone will have already mentioned this, but I always refrigerate my onions and almost never have a problem with them making me teary-eyed.

Anonymous said...

Samara: you could try rubbing alcohol to remove the sticky glue residue on glass. Smells worse than onions though. :-)

Erin said...

Samara: for peeling labels off jars, I aim my blow dryer at the edge of the label, and slowly peel it back. If you allow the hot air to catch between the label and the jar, it usually then peel off by itself, as the glue loosens its bond between the paper and the glass. (Doesn't work AS well on those pasta sauce jars that have some REALLY sticky glus in only one place. I use boiling water and steel wool on those.)

As for stains, Wine Away is eco-friendly, not TOO expensive, if you don't drink - or spill! - wine too often and works like a charm. (Bonus: it smells like fresh oranges!) (http://www.evergreenlabs.com/)
For grease, I used to manage a day spa, and for those oily massage sheets, we'd throw a cup of white vinegar in the washing machine with the detergent. It worked, but not as well as what I do now, which is soak the stained item(s) in 1/2 cup white vinegar, 4 qts boiling water for at least a half hour before washing as normal.

Hope that helps!

Michelle said...

LOL!!! Green eyes just answered my mystery for me - I too wear contacts... HA! Would have never known.

Sue said...

I have found Shout and elbow grease the best thing going for blood stains. Had a terrible nosebleed in bed a few weeks ago on mostly tan flannel sheets, pillowcase, pillow, and even the mattress pad. After putting Shout on all blood stains, scrubbing with an old toothbrush, and then washing, you can't even tell they were ever blood-stained.

I also buy Shout in a large bottle at Sam's Club and pour what I need into a small bottle. It brings down the cost considerably.

My .02,

Sue

Amanda said...

Onions- Goggles. Seriously. Nothing else works!

Stains- for blood soak in peroxide then launder in cold water

Cupboards- Check out http://www.xanga.com/copperswife on the sidebar there's a thing called "the less than perfect kitchen series" helped me SO MUCH!

Amanda said...

Also I have to laugh at all the onion tricks! I wear contacts and use vilada onions and have tried refridgerating, TERRIBLE tears everytime LOL

Anonymous said...

Goodness!..so many great tips. I enjoyed reading through them, & mine may just be a repeat.

Onions: I have learned how to chop fast. (I think a good set of knives, kept nice & sharp, are one of your best friends in the kitchen). If I have many onions to chop, perhaps for a canning recipe, I will use my food processor.

Stain removal: I like stain sticks or gels, & let the product set a while before laundering. Oxygen bleaches work well on wine stains. For blood, use cold water instead of hot. On whites I have been able to get out most blood stains with bleach...colors are a bit trickier, but the stain stick helps.

Kitchen organization: I am most pleased with my arrangement in this room than probably any other in my home. I like to keep things organized according to task. For baking (muffins, pancakes, other quick breads, etc.) it helps me to have my salt, baking soda & baking powder together- always. Herbs & spices are kept together, & flavorings like vanilla, almond & forth, have their place on a shelf with each other. Our kitchen has a large island, & one shallow drawer contains all my smaller measuring devices (spoons & dry measure cups), rolling pin & sock, while the drawer beneath holds glass measuring cups, cookie cutters, pie plates & round cake pans. Beneath that, a drawer with rectangular pans & loaf pans. A neighboring cupboard holds mixing bowls. I am able to make a good many things without having to walk very much, or open too many cabinets or drawers. My pantry is arranged in a similar fashion, "like with like", & I believe it really streamlines things for me. I am certain it can work for you too, Anna, & I wish you the best of luck as you experiment & find your way.

blessings-
Brenda

Stan said...

I usually apply some cooking oil on the edges of the knife, It helps out a lot, God bless.

Cristina (a.k.a. "Stramenda") said...

I highly recommend a book called "Super Stain Remover" by Jack Cassimatis. It has home recipes for every type of stain imaginable (the stain types are indexed), and also differs for whether the stain is on clothing or carpet etc. For example, blood on a colored garment can be rubbed lightly with hydrogen peroxide. Blood on a white item should be soaked in cold, salted water (1 tablespoon salt to 2 1/2 cups of water). Then wash as usual, (with a little bleach if a white garment as per the bottle instructions).

With the kitchen, best thing is to purchase the rectangle organiser baskets and group everything. This is great for having a baking basket as you can pull out all your baking things at once when baking etc etc. Works great if you have a cane basket with a handle for ketchups and sauces etc to bring to the dinner table or BBQ. All larger items can be grouped also. I don't recommend stacking saucepans as it takes too much time to undo and re-do stacks all the time. Best of luck !

Jenny said...

I 75th the reccomendation of refrigerating your onions. I keep mine in there permanently, as it also stops them sprouting. (incidentally, the opposte is true of potatoes.)

With blood, if it is your own, spit on it. Your own saliva is the best thing for getting out blood.

Organizing cabinets... I agree with however many people said to keep those things you use the most handiest. I would also suggest that pots and pans are stored in the cupboard next to the stove, plates/serving dishes near where you dish up, tupperware near the fridge/ish up area, whichever works best etc etc

Mrs. T said...

Regarding onions:

Do you have a food processor or blender? Pulsing onions has worked for me in the past. I can do a bunch at a time and freeze what I don't need.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your blog some time ago, and am enjoying your writing! Here is my tip for the onion: If you use an electric stove and have hood above it, cut the onions on the stove (not heating, of course :)) with the hood on as fast as possible, it will suck up the juices.

Anonymous said...

A note for Samara, about the label gumminess: have you tried Goo-Gone?

Brenda

Coffee Catholic said...

Here's what I do:

Onions: I cut them underwater!! No, I don't go scuba-diving, I just fill a basin or the sink with just enough water and then I cut the vicious onions under the water. Viola!

Stains: cold water *immediately* upon staining the garment. You might have to leave the garment overnight - but it usually works with everything if you catch it quick enough! I used to remember how to explain this with chemistry equations but you know...the oxygen atom having a really strong pull that yanks apart the wine/blood etc molecule...

And for...organizing those diabolic kitchen cabinets I've used extra shelves to divide big spaces into more shelving (most of the shelves are stand-alone wire shelves) and then I've utilized tupperware-style containers and baskets.

For example: all of my nuts, coconut, dried fruit and other baker ingredients are in one small basket that I can haul down from a shelf in the cabinet and sort through. All of my sauces are in a basket, my jams and jellies in a basket...does that make sense? That way nothing is banging around lose and I can look at it in one fell swoop.

Also, I bought this thing that looks like a mini flight of stairs for my canned goods shelf!

GOD BLESS!!

Rebekah S. said...

Wow! That's a lot of tips! :) I can't wait to read through them all. We immediately refrigerate our onions as soon as we come home from the grocery stores. But, when I chop onions for some dish I'm making, I still tear up all over myself. Maybe I'm just overly sensitive.

Anna S said...

Wow, ladies! Thank you for your amazing response. I just read through all the comments and let me tell you, I'm sitting here with my home management binder and taking notes! Also, I found the goggles I used to wear in chemistry lab, and I intend to wear them next time I chop onions ;)

Tamsin said...

I'm REALLY sensitive to onions when I chop them, but I've found that tying a thick scarf over my nose/mouth AND wearing goggles works wonders. Attractive too!

Tamsin

Alicia M said...

Hydrogen peroxide is definitely the best for blood stains if they are fairly fresh. It bubbles and heats up when you put it on, so you also get the fun of having a miniature science lab in the laundry room!

Anonymous said...

The cause of the tears with onions is the molecules released when the onion is cut mix with the salt and water in your eyes making sulfuric acid. Finding ways to eliminate the amount of molecules in the air is the best way to manage the problem: a fan running, a flame burning to neutralize them, moisture laden air, goggles, cutting under water, cold onions etc.... I find breathing through my mouth helps. And, just having a good cry about it is cleansing and the worst is over.

One thing to consider when organizing a kitchen: if you have little ones that are too short to reach the upper cabinets and want them to help put away dishes, put the dishes in the lower cupboards and use Corelle or melamine dishes.

Anonymous said...

< I have a question for your readers, too- how do you get the label stickum off of baby food jars? Hot water just makes it more sticky! >

To remove sticky labels (for Samara) use vinegar and rub gently.

Bethanie said...

I'm not sure if you got this tip or not- I can't focus long enough to read through all 60 comments.
Anyway, I cut an onion in half and put it in the food processor. Instant chopped onion with no tears.
I've heard you can get red wine stain out with white wine. But I've not had to try yet.

Heidi said...

I don't have time to read through all the comments, so someone maybe already suggested this, but I chop my onions quickly and uniformly with a "food chopper." Mine is of the Pampered Chef variety (highly recommend), but I know they sell them other places, too. I've had it for 4 years, use it frequently on veggies nuts, chocolate, etc., and it's still not dull!

Love Sows Seeds said...

I agree with Bethanie: *Cut up onion in food processor :-)
*White wine does treat a red wine stain well - but it's rather an expensive solution! Maybe white wine vinegar would work just as well? I've never tried. Salt works too, this is best on a carpet as it soaks up the stain - white wine as a solution on carpet would just increase the smell of alcohol and there is danger it would soak into the underlay, which isn't ideal.

For spills of wine on tablecloths immediately fill a saucer with water and place under the tablecloth at the stain location and dab with finger. It stops the stain fixing.

*For blood, cold water and rub with hard soap.

I always struggle with grease stains, but I use a product called 'stain devils' which you can buy in the UK...I'm not sure if it is available in the US.

My kitchen is disorganized, lol, so no advice I'm afraid. Try: http://orgjunkie.blogspot.com/ she's fantastic with suggestions and has covered kitchen organization a number of times.

Blessings.

Love Sows Seeds said...

Opps, I gave you organizing junkie's old web address. Here's her new addrerss: http://orgjunkie.com/

Jess said...

RE: kitchen organization

Try to think in terms of stations: stovetop cooking, pantry, baking, dishes, drinks (coffee/tea/cocoa/Kool-aid, etc.), linens, cleaning supplies, medicines (we keep our meds in the kitchen), etc.

- Where do you use baking items? Some things, like pans and tins, might be useful right next to the oven... but the counter where you do all of your pouring, mixing, and kneading may be on the opposite side of the kitchen. So put each thing nearest to where you'll use it.

Stovetop pans and utensils should be next to the stovetop (in the closest drawer or countertop container (like a cylinder-shaped utensil holder).

I like having my silverware and plates/bowls in the buffet table next to the dining table. This is the first home where I've had such an arrangement, but I LOVE it. The kids can help set the table, and there's virtually NO space for them to "break" a dish. They're literally grabbing a dish and placing it RIGHT behind them on the table. I also place tablecloths and hot pads for the table in the buffet table. (As well as extra napkins.)

Dish towels are right above the sink on a shelf, easily accessible. Dishwashing liquids, etc... are in the cabinet adjacent to the dishwasher. As much as possible, I try to have things nearest to where they'll be used... more efficient and less steps each time I need it.

Spices are just next to the stovetop as well... up and to the right, because I'm right-handed.

I do have one drawer for things like foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, and plastic baggies. Having it all in one place makes shopping planning easy- I can just glance and see what (if anything) I need.

And I have two cutting boards... one is red for meat (blood/meat connection in my brain), and the other is black, for everything else. I saw one place in the States that had 4 cutting boards... one for beef, one for poultry, one for fish, and then one for everything else (veggies, fruit, nuts, etc.)... but I like my 2-board system. I rarely cook fish, and I'm not altogether concerned about using the same board for beef and chicken (I think we in the modern age can be WAY too specific about stuff like that).

I hope this helps give you at least one or two ideas that you hadn't thought of. Good question!
Jess

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is hilarious. I cut an onion a couple of days ago, and literally for the first time in my life, my eyes started watering and stinging while cutting an onion. I've never had trouble cutting onions before, so I was a bit mystified. Maybe the onion was particularly strong? My husband said that it wasn't. What was I doing different? And now your readers have answered the question. I have poor vision. I started wearing contact lenses at the age of 11. Because I've been having a bit of seasonal allergies lately, that particular evening I had been wearing my glasses. Case closed. Who knew my choice of eyewear could have such far-reaching consequences?

I wish I had a lot of tips for you on kitchen organization, but as a still relatively newlywed woman who just moved into her first home, I'm probably having as much trouble as you are.

Here's what I've determined works for me:

1. Pots and pans go into a low cabinet next to the range. Baking pans and the like go into a drawer underneath the oven.
2. Silverware/flatware goes into a drawer next to the sink.
3. Cleaning chemicals and products (furniture polish, window cleaners, sponges, and the like) go in a cabinet underneath the sink. Note: This works for us because God hasn't blessed us with children yet. When we finally have children (which will hopefully be soon), we'll either install those bendy little childproof thingies on the cabinet door or move the cleaning products somewhere out of their reach.
4. Drinkware goes in the cabinet above the silverware.
5. Plates, saucers, bowls, and coffee mugs all go in one cabinet (in our case, next to the range).
6. For Tupperware, we stack like with like (they fit into one another), and then stack like lids and put them as a group on top of their respective stacks. I need a better Tupperware organizational system, I think.
7. Spices go into a cabinet next to the range. I am beginning to wonder if this is the best arrangement, though, because it seems to expose the spices to an inordinate amount of heat and moisture. Suggestions?

Have a blessed day!

The Chatty Housewife- said...

Some ideas for onions- 1)Freeze them first before chopping. 2)Only breathe through your nose/keep your mouth shut/don't talk while chopping. 3)Buy a chopper (just search onion chopper)

Oil stains on clothes- pretreat with enzyme stain remover or liquid dish soap, but not lemon scented because it can bleach.

Organizing kitchen cabinets- I use a lot of baskets to keep certain items together. I get rid of bulky baskets and boxes and group things together in baskets (teas, mixes.) I keep like things with like. I try to not overstock with certain items. I keep all my measuring cups and spoons in one basket so they don't clutter up drawers. All large utensils are in a crock by the stove.

Anonymous said...

Get a vidalia chop wizard! It is basically a plastic box with a lid and a blade insert - you cut the onion in half, put it on top of the blades, and push down with the lid. Voila, the onion is diced, you take the blade panel out and dump the onions into your cooking. It is one of those few "as seen on tv" things that actually does what it is supposed to do. Of course, not helpful if you want rings, but it works for dicing and there is a second blade with smaller holes for a finer cut. They are about $20 but I use mine all the time - it pays for itself.

John said...

Hello Anna,
2 tricks for helping with the onions: burn a candle next to where you are chopping-sometimes that helps. Also, and I know this sounds crazy-but I have used it and it has worked: place a piece of loaf bread (white or wheat) in you mouth in the front with your lips open and breathe through that-it also makes you chop faster!