Simple Beauty in the Kitchen (an Idea for You)

FIMBY is experiencing some technical difficulties these days. If load times and commenting are slow (& quirky), I apologize. We're Damien's working on it.

I used to use my Simple Soap for washing dishes. Two years ago I wrote about finding a pretty way to keep a bar of soap and baking soda at the sink. I like pretty.

Using a bar of soap to wash dishes seemed kind of strange at first but it worked. We'd lather up a dishcloth - mesh dish cloths work especially well with a bar of soap - and rub it on the dishes. The sink would even get some bubbles going in it (bar soap does not produce a sink full of suds like liquid soap does).

Then we moved, first to my parents and now to the chalet. And the water here is different and the bar soap doesn't work so well for washing dishes. Correction, it washes dishes well but leaves a yucky film on the sink that is a pain to clean every day. And I don't have the patience for that. 

I have yet to make a batch of laundry soap, I'm down to the last drops of the stuff I took with me from mom's house when we moved in November. I'm hoping my soap works OK for washing laundry because I do like making and using my own laundry soap.

So I bought regular dishsoap. Well, not "regular" but earth friendly, made in Quebec stuff from the health food store (took me awhile to find it and in the meantime we had to use regular and man, was that stuff nasty).

The soap comes in this less than attractive and very large bottle. And I like pretty. Even better I like simple and pretty.

Damien's gorgeous (Christmas stocking present) rum bottle to the rescue.

I'd been eyeing this bottle ever since he opened his stocking. I even photographed the rum because it was just so beautiful with the light shining through it, all golden and warm.

As soon as the rum was gone (much too soon as far as Damien was concerned) I re-purposed it for a dish soap bottle.

It was my mom (a purveyor of great kitchen and food ideas) who introduced me to these neat little pouring spouts. Mine spout is plastic but I think these chrome ones are quite sweet. I picked up two years ago at a kitchen store somewhere, or did my mom give them to me? We also have one on our maple syrup bottle but I think they could be used lots of places in your kitchen.

I wanted to share this with you because it's a simple way to add beauty (and functionality) to your everyday. And those are my favorite kind of ideas - something that is both beautiful and useful. William Morris would approve.

Do have any beautiful, functional and simple homemaking ideas to share?
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  • Heather

    Heather on Jan. 13, 2012, 3:05 p.m.

    I prefer decanting liquids in ugly containers into simple beautiful things. So glad you found something that worked. I find some of my soaps don't work well with our water either.

    I decant our milk. I get a gallon jar from a friend (raw milk). I then pour it into a sweet pitcher. It feels so much more like home to me.


  • Kendra

    Kendra on Jan. 13, 2012, 3:18 p.m.

    What a great idea to use a beautiful liquor bottle for dishsoap. I have this hideous giant Seventh Generation bottle sitting on my sink. I will need to raid the liquor cabinet this weekend and make some cocktails to empty them!

    Here's to cocktails and beautiful sinks!


  • Kika@embracingimperfection

    Kika@embracingimperfection on Jan. 13, 2012, 3:30 p.m.

    Beautiful - simple - functional. Three of my favorite words :)

    I have a shelf of gallon jars with grains in them that I find beautiful; an old picnic basket with lid removed in which I store tea towels and cloth napkins; a shelf of pottery bowls (old and new) that are beautiful but definitely used all the time; my new fair trade woven shopping basket currently sits a top my fridge - very beautiful and waiting for action; a wooden crate with handle on my counter which stores reused jars holding tea, coffee, straws, teaspoons. All of these things fit the description of "beautiful, simple and functional" in my mind. I love grouping like-items (books, spices, hand towels...) in baskets or crates for the simple beauty of it.


  • Megan

    Megan on Jan. 13, 2012, 4:03 p.m.

    I LOVE ideas that I actually have the time, energy and resources to do. This is one of them - thanks! :o) I second the idea of putting like things into baskets or bins; it makes them look so neat and to me, neat is beautiful. I finally weaned our family off of paper towels by stocking up on vintage napkins from Goodwill (took me a few trips to pick up a bunch of .99 bundles) and bought a simply basket to put them in for our kitchen counter top. So pretty, so functional!


  • Kelsi

    Kelsi on Jan. 13, 2012, 6:21 p.m.

    I just discovered your site last week... it is lovely and you now have a devoted reader. What you write matters, thank you for doing so. I am so grateful for all the women who have gone before me, blazing beautiful new trails. You are one of those women I am grateful for.

    (When I saw that you recommend "A Circle of Quiet" I knew that I needed to take a close look at your blog! This book somehow made its way into my hands when I had my infant daughter (now 3!) in my arms and it made all the challenges of being a new mom so much better)


  • Julie

    Julie on Jan. 13, 2012, 8:15 p.m.

    Hi Renee. I use vinegar to wash my dishes. I put it in a pretty bottle near the sink. It has a spout in the top. I also use bicarb for hard to clean things. This sits in a pretty jar.

    I am a new reader, having found you via Heather, Beauty that Moves. I am also a home schooling mum.

    I am enjoying your blog Renee, thanks. xxoo


  • Natalia

    Natalia on Jan. 13, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

    My home made laundry powder and dishwashing powder are both kept in Kilner jars, and actually look lovely. I keep the washing up stuff (brushes, loofah scrub etc) in a chrome bathroom organiser because it looks nicer than a plastic one. I clean my face with a mix of almond and castor oil, and that is kept in a glass olive oil pourer. All my stationery supplies other than the paper - sealing wax, pens etc. - are kept in glass jars, usually ones that originally came in to the house holding candles.

    I find that glass and chrome, and simple, are quite beautiful, and like you I like the pretties :) I try my best to re-purpose rather specifically buy something new (or find something at a charity store) and luckily there is a lot of re-usable glass out there.


  • Marie

    Marie on Jan. 13, 2012, 9:55 p.m.

    I'm with you on beautiful containers.

    We buy our olive oil in very large cans, and I decant into a beautiful small ceramic jug with a chrome spout for cooking. And we also use olive oil as a moisturizer, so I saved a lovely øld pressed-glass bottle with a bee design on it (originally holding local honey) to use in our bathroom. I also make our toothpaste and deodorant and they too are stored in lovely re-purposed glass jars.

    We wash our dishes with Dr. Bonner's Sal Suds that I've decanted into a white ceramic soft soap dispenser, and I use a glass, grated-cheese shaker with chrome top for baking soda that we use for all sorts of scrubbing duties.

    We buy our regular laundry detergent and diaper detergent in bulk from Crunchy Clean and I transfer that into glass cookie jars with sweet wooden scoops.

    I'm still hunting for the perfect container to hold our reusable cloth wipes (used instead of paper towels)

    We make cordials so any lovely liquor bottles that come our way usually get filled up with some home-brew or other.


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Jan. 14, 2012, 8:07 p.m.

    That is beautiful. Small, simple items of beauty do a lot to keep our days beautiful and simple as well. Okay, heading to my kitchen sink to give it a look-see...maybe I can make a small improvement too!


  • Liane

    Liane on Jan. 15, 2012, 2:35 p.m.

    Totally off topic here- but I read your post on your day of homeschooling. Can you pass on where you get free downloads for the kids?



  • Kimberly

    Kimberly on Jan. 16, 2012, 5:29 a.m.

    I too love to make things more beautiful - bonus points if it's something mundane. :) We have no drawers in our bathroom, so for ease of use, I've put our Q-tips in a lovely square vase on our counter. Q-tips are something we use everyday, and it's pretty enough that I don't mind having it out on the counter. Thanks for the great reminder that beautiful doesn't have to mean complicated!


  • Liane

    Liane on Jan. 16, 2012, 10:40 p.m.

    Well you said you downloaded free books onto the kindle. Do you know of any free audio downloads for history/stories?


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 16, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

      Ah... this is something I'm figuring out right now. I both buy and find free kindle books on-line. Mostly at the amazon site and then books that are in the public domain (old classics mostly). I really can't recommend much more than that. I'm doing a lot of research and work right now in that direction for our own purposes. It's mentally exhausting to be honest. There is no English public library service here and that used to be a huge resource for us. Maybe once I've got a handle on it I'll blog about it. But right now, it's definitely a work in progress (smile).


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 16, 2012, 11:26 p.m.

      Wanted to add there's some Kindle comments in this post.


  • Mel

    Mel on Jan. 18, 2012, 3:26 p.m.

    We do that with olive oil. Buy it in a big, ugly, container and funnel it into a lovely wine bottle with a spout. It's how we can afford the organic stuff (buy big!) but have something to keep on the counter. I hadn't thought about doing it with other liquids (duh!), so thanks for the reminder.


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