How to refill a non-refillable pepper mill

I got a pepper mill at the dollar store.  I was thrilled because I’m a tightwad, but I have fancy, expensive tastes.  Fresh pepper, ooo fancy!

But look at the back!


Logic would dictate a screw top to make the pepper mill refillable.  I hate inefficient stuff like this!  I know there are real problems in this world and annoying pepper mills are not that big of a deal, but what can I say?  It bugs me.

“Do not refill??”  Challenge accepted!

You will need:

a poorly-designed supposedly non-refillable pepper mill

a mug

an inch or so of hot water (or cold water and a microwave)

a towel

some peppercorns or whatever you would like to grind in your pepper mill

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I used a microwave, and I heated the water for 33 seconds.  That’s because I like to be efficient, and looking for the 3, and then looking for the 0, and then pressing start is more complicated than looking for the 3, pressing it twice, and then pressing start.  If your microwave has a 30 seconds button, that would be even better.  I thought about getting a microwave like that, but they were more expensive, and when I calculated the cost per use versus the amount of time saved pressing buttons, I realized it would be even more inefficient than calculating the time cost of pressing buttons for every microwave I was looking at.  So I got the microwave where you have to push more buttons.

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Tip your emptyish pepper mill into the cup upside down and leave it there a minute or so.  You are waiting for the plastic cap to expand a little bit more than the glass jar.  So don’t leave it for five minutes because your water might cool and then it won’t work right.

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I spent the time fooling with my phone camera because I wanted to make these instructions for you, but you could use the time to open a can of mixed vegetables and dump it into the crock pot (without draining it).  If you’re quick with the can opener, you could also dump a little leftover spaghetti sauce or salsa in there too.  And some water and rice.

Now take your pepper mill out, wrap it in the towel (because it’s a little slippery), and snap the plastic top off.

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It’s a little messy, but that’s OK.

Try to remember how the pieces go together.

Then drop the plastic top in the cup of hot water to rinse it off.  Use the towel to dry each piece of the pepper mill.

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Fill up the bottle, and then put it back together the way it was.

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You’ll have to press on it a bit.  Use the towel if it hurts your hand.  When I did this, it made two snapping sounds when I got it back together.  Once to get it on crooked, and once more to straighten it out.

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Dump the cup in the crock pot.  Now you’ve got a full pepper mill, plus some yummy vegetable soup!

All you math geniuses are going to quiz me on how much money this actually saves.  The answer is “not much.”  The pepper mill is from Dollar Tree, so that’s $1 for 1.4 ounces, or 0.714 per ounce.  I used some very fancy peppercorns, which are a little more expensive than regular peppercorns.  Say it, melange.  See? Fancier.  These go for about $5 at Walmart for 7.5 ounces, which is 0.667 per ounce.  (I got it for less at a discount store, because I’m a tightwad.)  Regular black peppercorns are $5 for 9 ounces at Walmart, or 0.555 per ounce.

So if you like black pepper just fine, and you know your dollar store is going to carry these pepper mills forever, and you have a way to recycle the lid and jar, and you’re going there anyway, and you don’t want to waste any more time than you’ve already wasted reading this blog post, you should probably just buy a new pepper mill.  But if you want to grind up fancy pepper or maybe cinnamon or something else, or if you just like doing things yourself, I hope my little tutorial has made your life a bit more fun.

Thanks for checking in!

Hacked by the Duck


‘Scuse me, Lucky here.  While my human subjects are outside messing around in the kennel, I’m strutting my Man Pants in the house.  I got bored, so I hopped up to see what the aged female was doing.  Guess what?  When she forgets to lock the computer, I don’t need a password.  I guess this is my blog now!


What to say, what to say?  I guess you might want to know I’ve been to the university (NC State) so they can learn about my magnificence.  Everyone there was most impressed with my beauty and majesty, and also the size of my gonads, not that I’m bragging.

They also noticed that I have some parasitic worms in my Contribution, so that’s why my human subjects are out there messing around in my kennel.  They’re replacing the nice mud floor with concrete, as if they think that will stop me from eating anything I like.

I don’t like the way this is looking, to be honest here.  I like having soft things on my toes.  Luckily for me, the aged female human also left some stuff lying around, so I’m going to whip me up a little rug.


I’ll make it easy on my subjects and use some polyester so they can clean it up easily, because I think I’m going to leave some Contributions on it pretty regularly.  (Get it?  Regularly?)

Pretty good if I say so myself.  I’ll finish this rug later, maybe when I figure out a way to rig me up some opposable thumbs.  I want to head back out to the yard.  But first, I’m going to lock in a new password here and maybe run some corn through the air popper.  Catch you later!

Just a list… Music Which Requires the Use of Elbows

Whenever we go on a family outing, there are a few things we need to do that are a little bit other-than-normal.  One of our favorite items is listening for background music.  Whenever one of these songs comes on, we run over to our eldest and remind him, “Watch the elbows!”  It happens more often than you might think, and it’s always good for a laugh.

Stereo Hearts

Cotton Eye Joe

How Bad Can I Be?

The Voo Voo Vah Song

The Oooh, and I Play with the Plunger Song

Who Let the Dogs Out

The Sign

And one more that’s never on the radio, but sometimes it’s coming out of my youngest’s mouth.

There are many more songs on this list.  I just can’t think of them right this minute.

How about you?  Any songs which require the use of the elbows?

DIY Boot Scraper from Scrap Lumber and Toilet Brushes

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Just in time for the winter weather around here, I made up a boot scraper.

I used some leftover wood scraps and some toilet brushes.  I used the old-fashioned kind, with a wire loop twisted with plastic fiber bristles.  I cut the wire loops and straightened them out, then poked the ends through some holes I drilled in the wood.

I probably made this unnecessarily complicated.  I didn’t know what I was doing, so I copied a boot scraper I saw at a store.  But now that we’re using it, I can see that the side brushes are unnecessary.  A flat piece of wood with a few brushes attached would work just as well.

In case you’re worrying, I bought NEW brushes at the dollar store for this project.  But that got me thinking…I’ve seen toilet brushes at the thrift store.  Who decides they don’t need a toilet brush any more?  And who buys used toilet brushes at the thrift store?  If I bought one, would I boil it before I used it?  And then would I have to boil my pot in another pot?  And then what about that pot?

Just something to keep you awake at night.


**Update:  Mom, here is your evidence.  You can see it didn’t sell yet so they marked it down.

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Still more than the dollar store.  But look!  It comes with a spoon rest for the kitchen!

New Etsy Shop, More Origami Yoda

Well, I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve opened an Etsy shop and I’m starting to move most of my merchandise over there.  eBay had a free listing spell that will hold me over on eBay for a bit, but any new patterns and fabric and yarn that I have will get listed on Etsy instead.  I’ll keep my eBay store for now, but I really think I’m going to have to move the bulk of my business elsewhere.  We’ll see how that goes.

I hate those square-y photos on Etsy because I sell so many patterns, which are rectangular.  So then I have the choice of either lopping off the top and bottom of the pattern, or filling in the background with some “background-y” thing.  Too much like Pinterest, which I also hate.  Except when I love it.  But eBay does the same thing with photos, so I guess all my conflicted feelings are really about more about change than about anything else.  Don’t worry.  I’ll grow up.  I’ll get over it.

Here’s the link to my Etsy store.

And here’s another of my son’s Origami Yoda projects:


The book comes with a pull-out photo prop background.  Love it!

Need some justice over here. And some business advice, please!

My daughter is studying the industrial revolution in social studies right now. We are reading The Jungle together.  How awesome that there’s an audio book now, and even video versions! I was a kid when I first read it, and I couldn’t pronounce any of the names, so I substituted ordinary American names in my head just so that I could keep track of everyone.  But then I had to keep track of my substitutions, so I had a cheat sheet that I used as a bookmark. Plus I sometimes fell asleep while I was reading it…no wonder I couldn’t remember much of it.  Except for the yucky parts. Anyway.

From the eBay message boards: (until eBay removes it)

screenshot ebay 12-4-2014


Oops.  Looks like jaknox is going to be looking for a job soon.

This is one of the (many, many) reasons I prefer to meet you all over on Bonanza.  😡  Lookie lookie, actual evidence of big-time criminal behavior at eBay. There have been rumors for a long time but lots of denials and no proof. Go get ’em, DOJ. It will probably take awhile for this to hit the regular news, but this against the law, and this leaked list could be the foot in the door that is needed to go after evidence of other crimes.

I used to think many of the commenters on EcommerceBytes were bitter, cynical, frustrated, angry people in all aspects of their lives. Crackpots. But the more I learn about the business, the more I think those commenters were oracles.  Ming?  Yeah, he may look all bonkers and stuff, but he’s right about a lot of things. Or maybe I’m getting to be a crackpot too.  🙂

How many family businesses has eBay taken down to scratch the backs of their partners? How many customers have not been able to buy what they wanted, at the price they wanted, from whom they wanted, because of these collusions?  OK, enough ranting for now.  Time for some soothing music.

I’ve thought about moving over to Etsy, but their search engine gives me the heebie jeebies.  And their interface – it’s too much like Pinterest, which creeps me out.  Plus I don’t know how to list things.  I have a lot of vintage craft supplies, for instance.  Are they vintage?  Or are they craft supplies? And (significantly) I don’t want to spend hundreds of hours and lots of money to set up shop at Etsy to find the same problems happening all over again. They are becoming a big business too, and they must be feeling the pressure to act like a big business.

But…I need my competitors.  Nobody has ALL the craft supplies, so a marketplace is where we can all get together and customers looking for stuff can find what they need.

I like Bonanza because it’s really easy to list, and if I get enough sales over there, I can afford to go whole hog and open a store. (I just have a booth now.) I think lots of eBay sellers will make the move now just because Bonanza is glad to do the heavy lifting and import eBay listings. So for now, that is where I am going to park my store. Right now, Bonanza seems unusually honest and ethical. If they grow, are they going to turn into scuzzbags too? I guess we’ll find out.

I’ve been checking out some Facebook groups for selling and buying. They seem to be a little more “Wild West,” kind of like Craigslist, but some of them are fun. I sell a little bit on Amazon, but it’s not such a good fit for most of my merchandise.  Ecrater is very cheap, but an awful lot of work, and I’m not sure my technical skills are up to the challenge just yet.  I’ll be thinking and reading and testing over the next few weeks. As soon as I can afford it, I would love to dump my eBay store.

So…craft supply shoppers?  Where do you like to shop for patterns and yarn and fabric and kits? What do you think about Etsy? Sellers, where do you sell your things? If you’re in a good Facebook group, would you mind sharing that with me as well? Thanks, you’re awesome!


Project idea: owl cash register paper roll notepad


Here’s a treasure I found at a rummage sale this summer.  It’s probably from the 1970s.  Orange owls were so very…well probably not groovy, maybe the 70s verion of groovy.  Cool?  Maybe.  No, I think they said “groovy” on The Brady Bunch.  But were they square when they said that?  Hmm.

I’ve had this hanging on the inside door of my kitchen cupboard and I really like it.  I can keep a running grocery list there until I’m ready to go to the store.  Then I tear off the list and leave it on the counter when I go to the store.  🙂

But it does seem a shame to cover that cute little owl with a big old roll of paper.  Here’s what it looks like when the roll is full:


I’ve already got this and I don’t need another, but I’m putting these photos up here for anyone interested in making one of their own.  It’s just so cool, and it could be made of mostly scraps and recycled materials.


The bar to hold the paper roll looks an awful lot like a belt buckle with a couple of snips.  It’s held in place with two brass fasteners that poke through a couple of holes in the wood.

This little guy was probably made in a factory, and the cutter looks like it was made by the zillion for little owl note thingies.  But you could make your own out of the steel cutter from a box of foil or freezer paper.  I think the bends at the ends are key so that it lifts off the base a tiny bit.  I think it’s also important that it’s about 1/4 inch above the bottom of the base.  I haven’t cut myself yet, and I am very clumsy.  So it’s surprisingly safe this way, at least for grownups.

I’ve seen other ideas to make your own that are cute too, like using ribbon or  shoe string to hold the paper roll.

I keep trying to imagine how to make something this cute and practical without covering the owl.  I thought maybe putting the roll hanger where the cutter is, like a perch, and then have the roll hanging down from that with a cutter below that.  But then it would be impractically large, plus it would look like the owl is pooping all over the grocery list.  The kids would be drawing inappropriate mysterious chunks on the list and maybe that would be kind of fun for them, but I need to start thinking like a grown-up.  So maybe just a tiny owl or other decoration with a more plain backing, maybe with decorations around the edge.

Idea: A bride, and the list is her train…with chores written on it…to keep track of wedding planning stuff.  Oo, oo!  Somebody make this and show me how it turns out!