Guide to Upcycling Wooden Pallets

Wooden-PalletWooden pallets: they’re everywhere, they’re free (or almost free) and they’re versatile. Inside and outside they can be converted into inspiring and functional pieces of furniture. Here is a brief guide to upcycling wooden pallets .

Before You Get Started Wooden pallets are used for shipping; they keep items secure during long distance transit as well as in warehouses when goods are being moved by forklifts. They’re very sturdy but discarded fairly quickly after use – making them the perfect material for upcycling. But, because they’re cheap, discarded materials, working with them comes with pitfalls.

Selection Because they’ve traveled across the country and maybe an ocean or two, pallets have likely been exposed to chemicals and bacteria. When you’re choosing palates from a pile, use your instincts. Don’t take anything home that looks or smells terrible – it’s probably not safe. Try to stick with the clean ones and look for stamps and markings to tell you if it’s safe to use.

Preparation Scrub down the pallets with a strong disinfectant and soapy water to get rid of any bacteria lurking in the wood. Rinse it well. Bacteria grow in moist spots, so make sure it’s completely dry before starting your project.

Dismantle They can be tough to take apart, but if you’re willing to work with shorter pieces of wood, you can saw off the joints connected by nails and avoid the hassle of nail removal.

Wooden-PalletOutside Projects

Patio Furniture Pallets are sturdy enough to stand up to most of the elements which make them ideal for patio furniture. There’s no limit on the size of outdoor seating. It can be as small as a single-seat bench or big enough to accommodate five people. Construction is minimal and requires few tools. The most thought you’ll put into it is for the color of the cushions to finish off the furniture.

Gardens Pallets are a practical material for getting creative with gardens. If you just want a simple raised bed, it only takes about three pallets to put one together. With even less work and fewer pallets, you can turn a wall into garden; all you need is your garden supplies and finishing materials (landscape fabric, staple gun, staples, and sand paper) for the pallet.

Inside Projects

Beds If you’re familiar and comfortable with platform beds, wooden pallets can be collected and fitted to make a bed in just about any size and shape you need. A drill and brackets are about as complicated as the accessories get to put together a durable bed frame.

Shelves Wooden pallets as shelves give a living room or bedroom a rustic quality when the texture is left untouched. But pallet wood is, generally, good quality – some are made with cherry wood or maple – so when the wood is sanded and finished, the product can be elegant.

Wooden-PalletTables Pallets can be transformed into tables of different sizes – an end table, a coffee table and even a dining room table. Because you’re making it yourself, you can tailor the table for your needs – add compartments or drawers to make magazine storage or shelves to put books.

If you’ve never thought about upcycling pallets before, you will now. Even the least crafty people can turn out an original furniture design with the wooden pallet.  As your ideas about what you can make with them start to develop in your head, you’ll start noticing how easy they are to find and once you get started, you’ll find they’re easy to work with, too.

5 Back to School Organizing Tips

Back-to-schoolThe first week back at school is here and it’s hectic. No one is ever prepared for the chaos that comes with that first week. Take it easy and go with the flow with these back to school organizing tips.

Review Think back to the last school year and how mornings were carried out. Remember what worked and what didn’t work. Eliminate practices that slowed mornings down and improve the ones that helped move mornings along. Tailor new routines to fit personalities and habits of your growing children. They’re evolving, so their routines should evolve with them.

Back-to-schoolVisualize It Make a list of things for each person to do in the morning and a list for the evening. Most tasks will be repeated daily, so you don’t have to recreate lists every day, but you may have to add to them. Do it on a chalkboard or dry erase board so everyone can see what they’re responsible for. When you and your family follow what’s written on the agenda, it will be harder to miss something.

In Box, Out Box Next to your daily schedule, set aside a basket or box for school papers going to you – report cards, permission slips, etc. Look at it before you sit down to breakfast and make sure to sign or read everything before the day starts. It will save you the time and energy of looking for papers at the last minute when you’re rushing to get out the door.

Plan Ahead If there’s anything you and your children can do the night before, do it. Put cookies and chips in lunch bags, lay out clothes for the next day or set aside breakfast food and dishes for the morning. Set up everything so the only thing you have to do in the morning is execute the task. It will shave time off the morning routine and you’ll walk out the door a little less frazzled.

Back-to-schoolSchedule Schedules are the key for a smooth morning. For shared bathrooms, mornings can feel frantic. Allot each person a certain time when they can be in the bathroom for their morning mirror time. With set times, the risk of conflict is greatly reduced. Set a time for everyone to be at the breakfast table to eat and get lunches sorted. With everyone operating the morning machine, getting out the door and to school and work on time will become a habit.

Starting the day never feels as good as we want it to, but it doesn’t have to be crazy. Getting things sorted ahead of time with plenty of communication helps develop positive patterns to begin the school day and leads to a great school year.

5 Tips to Make Moving Easy

We’re in the middle of the busiest time of year for moving. However, no matter what time of year it is, moving is a hassle. Her are 5 tips to make moving easy.

Moving1. First Night Bag Pack an overnight bag or small box with all your essentials. This “first night” bag ensures you will not have to search for a change of clothes, medication, and toiletries before you lie down for some rest after a hectic moving day. It also is a good place for a small flashlight, as well as electronics like laptops and cellphones that can easily become misplaced or even stolen. Every member of the family—including pets–should have their own first night bag. Children’s bags should include any stuffed animals they sleep with and storybooks in case they need help calming down to sleep. Pack a few toys, an extra leash, treats, and a few servings of food in your pet’s bag.

2. Easy Access For every room, have a clear box filled with the things you will need first so you can find them quickly. It is a handy way to ensure you know where toilet tissue is for the bath, basic cookware and utensils are for the kitchen, and phone chargers are for the bedrooms. Remember to also have an additional clear box with trash bags, paper towels, box cutters, and other things you will need as you unpack.Moving

3. Purge Moving is a wonderful opportunity to get rid of things you do not want or need anymore. Decide what to do with unwanted items early to get them out of the way. It can take time to sell items online or at your own yard sale. If you want to use auction or sales websites, begin the sales or start advertising items about six weeks before your move. Not only will this prevent procrastination, what you get from the sales will also help pay for the move! For items you want to donate, arrange for a charity to pick them up a week or two before you move. Go on the Salvation Army or Goodwill websites to find the nearest locations.

4. Get It Sorted Sort through pantry items and household papers before packing them. There is no reason to take an expired can of pears to your new home. Pitch it now. Also, paper can take up a lot of space, and boxes full of it are heavy. Shred and throw out old junk mail and outdated paperwork. As for the papers you need to keep, photograph it or make digital scans, then save those files on a memory stick or cloud service. You will have readily available copies in case the originals get lost or damaged.

Moving5. Prepare the Basics  If you can, visit your new home before the move and get the kitchen and bathroom ready to use. These will be the first rooms your family will want to use, and you will want them in working order. Hopefully, the previous owner gave the house a complete cleaning, but take along some basic supplies just in case. Stock up the bathroom with toilet paper, towels, and a new shower curtain and liner.

There probably is no way to have a completely stress-free move. But with a little preparation, it is possible to make it simple so you can start enjoying your new home without a headache.

Back to School Checklist

Classroom

Image Source: Krissy Venosdale via Flickr

The school year crept up on all of us. Even if we’re not quite ready, we can be prepared to send the little ones off to school if we’re organized. Here’s a back to school checklist to help you get ready for the big day.

Finish Official Business

  • Confirm class schedules and calendar
  • Update your child’s immunization records
  • Update contact information with the school and any other outstanding documents to avoid hold-ups on the first day of school
  • Inform the school of any health issues or medications
  • Obtain dress code requirements
  • Obtain a class supplies list
  • Look at the lunch menu provided by the school and decide if it makes sense to participate in the lunch program or to send a sack lunch with your child

    School-Lunch

    Image source: Melissa via Flickr

Arrange Transportation

  • Walking and bicycling – make sure your child is familiar with a safe route
  • Carpooling – confirm schedule with other parents
  • Bus – confirm pick up and drop off times and locations

After School Activities

  • Make sure your child knows where to go as soon as school lets out
  • Have play dates, after school sports or clubs confirmed
  • If your child goes straight home, make sure your child knows how to get into your house (i.e., where keys are kept how to use the key)
  • Make sure your child knows where to go in case of an emergency and have safety contacts established
  • Go over your phone numbers, address and how to get ahold of you during the day
school-buses

Image Source: Larry Darling via Flickr

Establish School Night Rules

  • Set rules on time spent in front of the TV or playing video games
  • Determine a chore and homework plan
  • Create a homework space
  • Confirm bed times and wake-up times
  • Go over school morning routines

Prepare for Learning

  • Have your child review last year’s basic skills
  • Select a book to read to warm up their brains for the school year or do a few word and number puzzles to ease their minds into doing work

The first day of school is going to be stressful no matter what, but you can reduce the stress with a little bit of preparation and organization.

Relaxation Day: 5 Ways to Relax Before School Starts

The first day of school is just around the corner. It’s a stressful time of year, but, luckily, August 15th is Relaxation Day and we’re using it as a reminder to loosen up before everything turns topsy-turvy with the new school year. Here are 5 ways to relax before school starts.

Dog

Image source: Chapple via Flickr

Take Time for Your Pet Having a dog or cat around to bond with has shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. In fact, at some university campuses, they’ve employed therapy dogs for students to visit when school becomes too stressful. At Harvard Medical School, you can even “check out” a dog just like you check out a book. If it works at Harvard, it may just work for you.

Exercise A good workout may not sound appealing, but aerobic exercise can actually help you relax. It lowers stress hormone levels and releases endorphins – the feel-good chemical. In addition to releasing endorphins, according to a study from Princeton University, exercise re-organizes the brain to shield it from stress. Take 30 minutes to jog down the street and you’re on your way to relaxation.

neck-massagerTouch There aren’t many people out there who would turn down a massage. In addition to feeling good physically, it can reduce anxiety, stress and aggression. Australian researchers examined the effects of daily massage on participants over seven weeks and tracked their anxiety and aggression levels. They found massage reduced stress and anxiety almost instantly. A daily massage may not be a reasonable activity, but the effects may warrant having a massage ball or neck massager handy at all times.

Play with Your Kids You only have a few weeks left to spend time with your kids, so playing with them is a no-brainer. What you might not know is studies show playing reduces stress. Researchers at Kansas State University found the more time mothers spent engaging with their children, the less overwhelmed they felt. You love being around them anyway, that they make you feel relaxed is an excellent bonus.

chocolate-cupcakeEat There are all sorts of soothing foods you can eat to relax. At the top of that list is dark chocolate. It contains Tryptophan which is an essential amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin which can help your sleep and improve your mood. Tryptophan is found in a variety of foods – honey, spinach, cheese, eggs, duck, to name a few. When you’re planning your next meal, make it a relaxing one and be sure dark chocolate is for dessert.

Anytime is a good time to relax, but sometimes we have to make a point of working it into our schedules. Make Relaxation Day your notice to slow down before things hit hyper-speed on the first day of school.

Vintage LTD: Office Essentials Replaced by the Smartphone

day-planner-2

Executive Organizer

 

At LTD Commodities, we try to bring you products to make your life easier for the best prices. But every gadget has to make way for something better and faster. Going through vintage LTD catalogs, we found some office essentials that have been replaced by the smartphone.

Brief-case

Expandable Attaché Case

Executive Organizer Remember when the “practical and stylish assistant” could only hold a notebook and addresses with color-coded tabs rather than a library of books, a music collection and access to newspapers around the world? I don’t want to remember that either. A smartphone can’t hold a pen, but it can hold dozens of apps promising to simplify your life.

Portfolio

Tapestry Attaché Case and Portfolio

Expandable Attaché Case Before passwords unlocked the start screens to secure the information on our laptops, we used combination locks (you had to spin them with your fingers!) to secure the contents of our briefcases. For the important executive, the handsome and indispensable Expandable Attaché Case adjusted its size according to how much work you carried to and from the office. If you had top secret documents, the dual locks kept your work extra safe. For the ladies, the tapestry attaché and portfolio allowed you to combine business with pleasure!

picture-cube

Magic Photo Cube

Magic Photo Cube In 1989, the Magic Photo Cube was the modern way to display family photos in the office. Six of your most cherished snapshots floated in the cube, gently rotating by the force of hidden magnets. But we’ve traded in the photo cube for the more modern personalized screensavers and wallpaper for your computer or smartphone.

Photo-library

Photo Bookcase

Photo Bookcase If you were someone who liked to keep your photos cataloged and filed, there was the photo bookcase. The four volume photo album and bookcase allowed you to keep 224 photos neatly tucked away in leather-like bound books on your office shelf rather than the 2,000,000 photos you have floating in your cloud storage.

Solar-calculator

Desk Top Calculator

Desk-Top Calculator The dual-powered Desk-Top Calculator has all the functions you needed in 1989 – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division – PLUS two desk stand pen holders with the option to use battery or solar power to run it!  For those with eye-sight challenges, the pop-up display and over-sized buttons made accounting easy on the eyes! It was a practical gift for the home, office or dorm. But now the calculator is a standard feature we take for granted on our smartphones.

Dictionary

Reference Library

Deluxe Desk Reference Library Before the modern convenience of dictionary.com, we had actual, tangible books to tell us the meaning of words, how to use them and what words have similar meanings. The New Webster’s Deluxe Desk Reference Library takes us back to a time when “at your fingertips” meant thumbing through pages rather than having all the information in the world returned to you with a simple query on a touch-screen.

Franklin-speller

Spellmaster

Spellmaster However, the Reference Library, paired with the Spellmaster could turn you into wordsmith. After all, the Spellmaster had all the power of a 128K computer. In that 6 ¼” machine (batteries included), you could learn how to spell words and play number and word games. Take that, iPhone 5s with your fancy camera, fingerprint identity sensor and access to the world all inside your 4 ¾”!

All of our products occupy a perfect corner in our history and we love to see how far we’ve come in the last 50 years. We continue our dedication to bring you great products at the best prices in the present and future.

 

Pinteresting Picks for July

July was a busy month here at LTD and, judging from our Pinterest boards, our pinners were busy, too! Here are our most Pinteresting Picks for July.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station. Designed for versatility, it has 3 standard outlets, so you can keep other appliances plugged in along with your charger, or charge up to 3 additional devices at once. Plus, there are 2 USB ports built into the station for phones and devices that require a USB adapter. The sides of the station pull out to cradle 2 phones or devices charging at the same time. Surge-protected charger means your phones and devices won't be damaged by sudden power surges or outages.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station. Designed for versatility, it has 3 standard outlets, so you can keep other appliances plugged in along with your charger, or charge up to 3 additional devices at once. Plus, there are 2 USB ports built into the station for phones and devices that require a USB adapter. The sides of the station pull out to cradle 2 phones or devices charging at the same time. Surge-protected charger means your phones and devices won’t be damaged by sudden power surges or outages.

easy-change-artwork-frames

Forget magnets on the refrigerator and use Easy Change Artwork Frames to give your child’s artwork the attention it deserves. These frames are specially sized to hold the standard sizes of artwork created at school or home. Each polystyrene-covered wooden frame also includes a 3/4″ deep compartment behind the picture to store approx. 50 more pictures.

USB-Chargers

Power up 2 devices at once with an XTREME® Dual Port USB Charger! It will charge any device that uses a USB cable (just provide your own cable). Recharge cell phones, smartphones, music players, e-readers and tablets–two at a time. The lightweight Car Charger creates 2 USB ports in any vehicle, and it connects to any standard car plug. Also, it’s safe to use your devices while they charge, making this ideal for a GPS. Has LED indicator light. The Home Charger plugs into any standard wall outlet. Its versatile connector rotates up to 180 degrees for easy use. Plastic and metal.

 

Redneck-Plunger

Turn an unpleasant task into comedy with The Redneck Plunger. Not only does it actually do the job, but it also makes realistic shotgun sounds when you pull the trigger. It stands on end like any other plunger. As they say, “if it’s brown, it’s down.” Makes a great gag gift!

8 Movies for Backyard Movie Night

Movies-In-The-Park

Image source: Bryan Fountain via Flickr

There are only a few weeks left in which we can enjoy our backyards at night. Make the most of it by hosting a backyard movie night before school starts again. Here are some of the best family-friendly movies for backyard movie night.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Sardines are the only source of food for the town of Swallow Falls when it falls victim to an economic crisis. A failed inventor, Flint Lockwood, is determined to turn the town around by building a machine that changes water into food. When the machine malfunctions and sends it into the atmosphere, it causes cloudbursts of culinary delights, saving the town from a lifetime of sardines. But the town’s leaders go from grateful to greedy, causing a food super-storm that, without Flint’s intervention, would destroy the world. With cheeseburgers falling from the sky, Flint’s mission is to disable his greatest invention and save the planet.

The Wiz Young Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and a girlish Diana Ross as Dorothy ease on down the yellow brick road in this 1970s classic take on the Wizard of Oz. Lost in the Land of Oz, a thankless Dorothy goes on a mission to find the Wiz who, she is told, has the power to send her back to Harlem. Through a fanciful trip to the Emerald City, Dorothy learns to be grateful with the help of the characters she meets on her way.

E.T. E.T. is the heartwarming story of a friendship between a boy and an alien accidentally left on earth by his family. The boy, Elliott takes in the alien, E.T. while they secretly try to figure out how to get E.T. back to his home planet. But their mission is derailed when government agents discover E.T. and take him in for testing. The real adventure begins when they try to escape the grips of the government to get E.T. home before the agents figure out they’re gone. E.T. promises to bring tears to your eyes and vows to turn on your heartlight.

Movies-In-The-Park

Image source: Tommy Low via Flickr

Toy Story Toy Story is the story you imagine when you’re a kid – toys come to life when you’re not in the room. In this story, Woody is by far Andy’s favorite toy, but when Andy gets a new action figure, Buzz Lightyear, jealousy and resentment sends both Woody and Buzz out the window and into the real world. Buzz and Woody, fighting the dangers of the outside, struggle to get along as they try to get back to the safety of Andy’s home.

Back to the Future Marty McFly, is sent back to the 1950s in a time machine his friend (and crazy scientist), Doc, builds. Arriving in the same place he left, but in a different decade, Marty gets mixed up in his teenage parents’ lives and accidentally throws history — as he knows it – off course. Marty must go back to the future, but not without fixing the past and getting his parents together.

The Sandlot The new kid in town, Scotty Smalls, makes friends and learns how to play baseball with the kids from the Sandlot. But when they play with the wrong ball – a ball signed by baseball legend Babe Ruth – they knock it out of the sandlot and into the yard of a vicious dog known as The Beast. Facing his fears, Scotty is determined to get the ball back.

Movies-In-The-Park

Image source: Aaron Molina via Flickr

Ghostbusters When New York City seems to be taken over by spirits of the dead, a group of outcast scientists take it upon themselves to capture and cage these spirits as Ghostbusters. With doubt cast over the Ghostbusters, city officials unlock the ghost holding cell and unleash a firestorm of otherworldly chaos. To get the ghosts back under control, they must face an ancient evil god and, as this evil god would have it, their own demons.

There’s only one month left before Labor Day weekend; as you’re savoring the days, throw in a backyard movie night to make the most of your warm summer nights.

5 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed

Even the best of homemakers could use some help around the kitchen. Here at LTD we’re always on the look out for tools to shave off prep time in the kitchen. Here are 5 kitchen gadgets you didn’t know you needed.

Every-last-drop-funnel

Every Last Drop Funnel helps you utilize every ounce in a bottle. It holds a bottle upside down until the product drips out into the saucepot. Keep it in the kitchen for condiments or use the included suction cups to cling it to a shower wall for shampoo and conditioner.

ice-cube-tray-lid

All ice cube trays should come with a lid! Not only does the lid snap on so you don’t spill water on your walk from the sink to the freezer, but it also protects your ice from things being spilled in the freezer.

folding-cutting-boards

These are no ordinary color-coded cutting boards – they also fold! This makes for convenient, space-saving storage, but it also minimizes mess by bending in a v-shape so you can add an ingredient to your recipe without spilling or having to scoop it. The colors also act as a code so you can cut your raw meat and fish on a separate board than your vegetables while you prepare meals.

Refrigerator-magnet-Measuring-Converter

A refrigerator magnet is a quick measurement conversion guide where you need it when you need it. The recipe divider allows you to shrink or expand your recipe and the measurement magnet gives you equivalents in cups, fluid ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons, and milliliters.

Batter-dispenser

The Batter Dispenser takes the challenge out of making perfect cupcakes, pancakes and muffins. The 4-cup dispenser drops a uniform amount in the muffin tin or on the griddle with just a squeeze of the handle. As a bonus, it’s designed to stand upright on the counter and the cover allows you to keep unused batter for later.

Best Weekend Getaways

Weekend-GetawaySummers are for vacations, but even during the summer it’s hard to take time off from work; when you want to go away it has to be a weekend retreat. Here are some of the best places around the country for weekend getaways when you don’t have time for a vacation.

California About five hours north of Los Angeles and two hours south of San Francisco, is the easy-going town of Carmel. It’s good for shopping, a stroll and enjoying time away from home. For outdoor serenity, Point Lobos is just to the south where you can take in California’s cliffs and beaches with a hike or whale watching.

Texas Not far from the Texas State Capital of Austin is the tiny town of Bastrop. It sits between the Colorado River — where you can kayak, canoe or paddle board – and the Bastrop State Park – where you can camp and hike. But Bastrop’s charm doesn’t end in the outdoors. The Deep in the Heart Art Foundry hosts tours (by appointment) where you can see how massive metal monuments are made. For entertainment, the Bastrop Opera House holds weekly musical performances and plays.

Weekend-GetawayFlorida For architecture enthusiasts, Lakeland is at the top of the bucket list of places to visit. Just east of Tampa, it’s the home to the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world – he designed the Florida Southern College campus. In addition to architecture, golf is also an attraction; it’s home to courses to accommodate players at all skill levels. There is also a festival for almost every month of the year.

Ohio Northwest of Cincinnati is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Hocking Hills State Park is a recreational area where you can camp or stay in a cabin to enjoy Ohio’s nature at its finest. Discovery hikes are held periodically but there are plenty of biking and hiking trails to explore on your own and find mystical waterfalls, deep, dark caves and cliffs of insanity.

Pennsylvania West of Philadelphia and north of Baltimore, the Pennsylvania Amish settled for a “plain” lifestyle. You can experience the plain lifestyle by touring the countryside in a horse and buggy and explore what life was like before cars and manufacturing. If you’re looking for something more bustling, “America’s Coolest Small Town” – Littitz, Pennsylvania – is in the heart of Lancaster County. There are bakeries, parks and museums to enjoy without having to put in too much effort.

Weekend-GetawayYou don’t have to go far to get away, but sometimes a weekend trip is just the refresher we need when we can’t fit in a vacation.