Three good ideas

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life69 Comments

Every now and then, I have a good idea, either to do something, make something, read something, repeat something—you get the picture, yes? Sometimes, they are very obvious things that most of you know, and are all, "Um, thanks, Cathy. Have you left the house in, oh, say the last 10 years?" Nevertheless, when I stumble across something this good, I share.

IDEA #1: Dueling Butter Dishes


I like butter in butter dishes. I don't like it cold and I don't like buying spreadable butter in a tub. I like butter in butter dishes, and I like it to sit out on my counter for easy access. I feel I've been very clear on this matter throughout my life.

One of the main problems with butter in a dish is that the butter dish gets sort of messy and before you can place a new stick into it, you pretty much have to wash it by hand, dry it, and proceed from there. All told, a full 5 minutes of your life is shot.

Enter the Back Up Butter Dish. Good LORD! How did I miss this one? Dan came home a few weeks back with a second butter dish. In his confusion over our butter dish situation, he thought I was in need of one, and in the process ignited a revolution in butter management in the Zielske household.

Now, when one butter dish is empty, it goes directly INTO THE DISHWASHER, and then I simply grab the clean, non-greasy back up, and place a new fresh stick of butter in, and volia: no more handwashing the single dish.

Can  you stand it? Seriously. It has given me back 5 minutes every two days. You can't put a price tag on that one.

IDEA #2: Reading "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan


Have you read this book? Have you? I'm guessing a lot of you have. And I'm guessing many of you have seen this amazing clip on YouTube, which will make you weepy all over again if you choose to watch it again. I cannot put her book down. It makes me want to be Irish and have a Dad nicknamed "Greenie." It is such a beautiful, tender, funny memoir. It reminds me—not the most voracious of readers you will meet—what I am missing between the pages of beautifully-written books.

IDEA #3: Making and printing home-made gift tags


Inspired byAli's cute gift tags, I created a simple set of my own which you can find here. I don't do bows on my gifts at Christmas time. It's all about the cuteness of the old taggers. Also, last year, I made another freebie set of taggers which you can download here. Free is never not a good idea.

Here ends my good ideas. I cling to them, as I can never predict with much accuracy when more will come.

Cathy ZielskeThree good ideas

69 Comments on “Three good ideas”

  1. #1
    Helene Goldberg

    I completely get the whole deal with the butter dish! Brilliant, simply brilliant. Now, I have a question though. I’ve always wanted to keep my butter in a butter dish on the kitchen bench, like I did when I had a terracotta dish that I could dip in cold water to keep the butter cool in the summer months. However, now, that butter dish is long gone, and I am a little wary of keeping butter on the kitchen bench in summer when it’s ridiculously hot, and then in winter when my family insists on keeping the heating on to a temperature that would make the butter not just melt but sizzle! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2

    Who ever thought that a simple tale about butter would have me laughing out loud?!?!?! I do love your sense of humour Cathy…

  3. #3

    We do spreadable butter. In our climate leaving it on the counter is not a great idea unless you need it melted, really melted. Recently we switched to unsalted as I’m trying to start my 18 month old off on the right foot. Let’s just say, unsalted shouldn’t be called butter.

  4. #4
    Lynn Cheryl

    Love the ideas:-) My husband has said that if (I say when!) we re-do our kitchen, then 2 dishwashers is the way to go! For once, we are entirely agreed on this-LOL!

  5. #5

    Never do you fail me. I am sat bored at work and wandered over to your witty and amusing blog. And what do I find another Amazing idea. Only one problem in our house, if I buy butter, I eat butter and then poof.. it’s hanging around my already wobbly tummy. Same goes for icecream. My sister once asked why we never have icecream, duh? Could the answer be that we ate it. Oh yeah!

  6. #7

    LOL! Great post. I hear you on the butter issue. People quack at me about the butter going rancid but the only time I want to see cold butter is when a recipe calls for it.

    I haven’t read the book but I’ve heard good things about it from others. Glad you’re enjoying it.

    Looking forward to your class starting in a few weeks!

  7. #8

    Thus avoiding the annoying pile of dishes that accumulate in the sink while the dishwasher is doing its thing or before I’ve gotten around to unloading it. I like it! Good thinking!

  8. #9
    judy in Huntsville [al]

    I saw Paula Dean [the butter queen] say it was safe to leave butter out for 30 days -[obviously not a problem in your household…]and she was selling these cute little butter bells – but we use the ‘ol olive oil substitute that’s supposed to lower your cholesterol if you eat two tablespoons a day – and it doesn’t melt when left out [is that a good thing or a bad thing?]
    Merry Christmas!
    And take a quick look at my blog to see our festive furry visitor!

  9. #10
    Sonja Chandler

    Good Lord Cathy, the butter dish idea is genius! Seriously. I never thought of this either. I clean the butter dish repeatedly (as I only have one dish myself) and it has forever been one of the my top 3 pet peeves. I am doing this. Like today.

    And thanks for the tags again. And for giving me back several 5 minute butter dish washing moments. I am grateful.

  10. #11

    Hmmm. Helene, for that, i have no solutions! My butter always gets pretty melty because it sits on the counter where the dishwasher is situated below.

    I’ll be thinking of this for you though… : )

  11. #13
    Carmen O

    You make me want a butter dish again! That’s what I grew up with. I’d like a milk glass one please.

    The Middle Place is awesome! I read it summer before last. loved it. Maybe it’s time to go to the library again before I next semester starts to do some fun reading.

    Your tags are awesome!

  12. #14
    Teresa Petersen

    TWO butter dishes? Simply brilliant! Just think of what you can do with that extra 5 minutes every two day! The possibilities are endless! Love the gift tags – thanks for sharing.

    PS: Try to get out of the house today, okay? 😉

  13. #15
    the girls

    Brilliant! That makes 17.5 minutes a week of not washing butter dishes, and therefore you’re saving over 15 hours a year finding an alternative solution! That statistic is so seriously scary I am off to think what I can give up doing for two minutes a day …

  14. #16

    Sorry, that was my post above – not quite sure what happened! Must have forgotton to sign out of somewhere. Apologies.

  15. #18
    Dixie C.

    I bought the second butter dish a year or so ago for the same reason and wondered why I hadn’t done it years ago. My friends think I’m nuts to leave the butter on the counter. What good does it do if left in the refrigerator? I want spreadable butter from a stick!

  16. #19

    We could be butter sisters with our true feelings about butter. You just solved a lifelong problem. So Simple, so brilliant. Now, what to do with those 5 minutes??????

  17. #21
    Monika Wright

    My mom had one of these and tried to give one to me, too, but too much trouble. Too many steps. Have to let the butter get soft first to smoosh it into the bell, then change the water to keep it fresh. What’s wrong with the classic butter dish? Not to complicate things, but have you thought of a butter dish that isn’t glass? Just thinking that you won’t see all the greasy fingerprints and mutilated (but loved) butter inside. See, I’m kind of anal, so I feel your pain. BTW-Unsalted is always the way to go. Always.

  18. #22

    The MIddle Place—I bought it some time ago for myself, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Now I am motivated. Thanks for sharing!

  19. #23
    Cynthia Friese-Hassanein

    Oh my gosh butter dish duo genius!!!!!!!! I myself am a “need warm spreadable butter for my toast” and there is just no alternative to real butter. Why have I never thought of this:) Thank you!!
    So, gonna check out the Middle Place. That video left tears in my coffee.
    ok off to target to get a new book and a butter dish!!!!!

  20. #24

    lol I am a butter on the counter person too… have it on a small plate on my counter, and have about 5 of those plates from goodwill, so I never run out, and can have two or more going at once for corn on the cob season and when people are over – awesomeness! and I have a “butter bell” that i got from a pottery boutique that I use in the summer for the counter – keeps it soft and fresh (but not melted) and so easy!
    Going to go check out that book now…

  21. #25

    i, too, have started the two butter dish revolution. only we just use little glass bowls with plastic lids from crate and barrel.

    have read the book.

    might possibly have what it takes to print out your tags and cut them. might.

    two out of three ain’t bad! 🙂 xo

  22. #26

    Cute tags!! Not the ones with the pictures on them like I suggested but still adorable and will be on our packages this year. 😉

  23. #28

    Love the butter conversations here! You are brilliant (or should I say your hubby is brilliant) to come up with the two butter dishes? Love it! Put your tags at DD in my wishlist and printed out last years version until I can buy the new ones. Have a great Monday!

  24. #30

    we do the dual butter dish as well!!! the only issue we have is arguing over who used the last of the butter and why didn’t they pull the next stick out from the ‘frig or the freezer!!!

  25. #31
    Pia A.

    I wonder how many people will buy butter dishes now (including me). I honestly did not know it could be left out!

  26. #33
    Debbie J.

    I laughed out loud at the whole butter dish messiness. Totally hit home! I have a solid colored butter dish and although it hides the under cover messiness, someone (hubby) in this household insists on using the side of the dish instead of his toast to wipe off the knife. So, I was still spending time wiping the “see-able” portion of the dish on a regular basis. I have since learned to live with this (for many, many years now) on the theory that butter dishes are just flat out meant to be messy…..except when company is expected. Surprise company just needs to deal…

  27. #36

    Hilarious, love your blog Cathy! Supposed to be getting in the shower but this is so fun and distracting…..I never buy butter except to cook with, it always seemed too expensive with 5 kids at home, lol. Now that some of them are leaving maybe I can start using butter again, my husband would be happy….

  28. #37

    Wow. I had to come back and leave another comment. Thank you for introducing me to that book! I’ve been on the author’s blog and checking it out. I’ll be ordering several copies online today! 🙂

  29. #38

    two butter dishes?
    who-da thunk it??!! BRILLIANT!
    (I even have 2 – why I haven’t done this? I dunno)
    have read The Middle Place – a great read – wonderful writing – felt like I was there during the story – slammed through that in under 3 days it was so good!
    enjoy 🙂 another you may like (along different lines) is “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah

  30. #39
    Jill E.

    thanks for the laugh this morning cathy, you are sooooooooo right on about the butter. we also have two butter dishes!

  31. #40

    i know i’ve asked you this before, but i never heard back! could you please tell me what the font that you used on the gift tags is called?

  32. #41

    oh, cathy….my eyes are still wet from watching that video. but thanks for sharing…so moving…and yes, even tho I don’t have the time to read it 🙂 I did just order the book. thanks

  33. #42

    I’m with you on the butterdish! I too do not deal with cold butter. I will be buying a second dish, what a simple and obvious solution. Thanks, Dan!

  34. #43

    What a wonderful idea, to have a back up butter dish!
    Now, if you could only get all those 5 minutes back in your life huh? 🙂

  35. #47
    Sandi M

    Wonderful video! I knew I’d like it the moment I saw the gaggle of women in an Avalon lifeboat. Avalon holds one of the keys to my heart from the 20 people shore house I was part of for years. Amazing how many 20 somethings can stay in one big, fun filled, fantastic shore house 😉 Haven’t heard of this book, but it is going on my list. shh – I have to nuke my butter cuz the dog would steal it from a butter dish if left out.

  36. #49
    Joy Fender

    I read that book earlier this year. Initially, I didn’t catch that it was her life she was writing about. I LOVED that book and wanted to be in her family *so* bad. It’s one book I recommend to anyone who is looking for a great read.

  37. #50

    I would love to send you a little butter saving gift for help in the butter dilema (even though I realize you have it solved…)
    However, being a butter connoisseur myself, I have also found myself in this same predicament—needing and wanting soft butter right on the spot…not wanting to soften it in the microwave because I kept it in the fridge to keep it fresh tasting.
    Here was my problem…
    I very much disliked the “old” butter taste that seemed to take over my fresh cube causing little beads of grease to form on the outside of the darker-than-the-fresh-yellow-colored butter. This always happened with my traditional butter dish. Know what I mean? Most of the time we consume butter faster than it can acquire this “old” butter taste, but many times, I was wasting butter, and when you only buy the real thing, that’s potentially a chunk of change.
    My solution…
    my daughter, who has her BFA in ceramics, made me a pottery French Butter Keeper. I LOVE it! So easy to use. It’s one of my favorite pottery pieces. Not only is it beautiful sitting on my counter, but it keeps the butter at room temperature while keeping it fresh all at the same time. No nasty greasy beads and no old taste. There are two peices to it. One-the top part that the butter goes in. I just push the butter right out of the fridge into the top part. No need to wait for it to soften. Two-the bottom part that holds water. this miraculously keeps the butter totally fresh and soft. The top part just sits inside the bottom.
    Usually, I can go through several sticks of butter before it needs washed, but I always have soft butter that tastes fresh.
    I will post a picture of it on my blog today:
    Anyways…I would love to share one with you as a gift and a thank you for all of your awesome inspiration. If you want one, please email me!

  38. #52

    Wow, am I the only one that likes (loves!) cold butter? I chunk it off & dot it on toast, it melts fast enough to spread before I’m thru “chunking”… Am always disappointed when butter arrives in those little wraps at restaurants & it’s warm…bleh! Love it cold! Have to keep it in the fridge!

  39. #56
    audrey v

    Thank you Cathy for reminding me, on this stressful Monday, that it is the simple things that bring great joy to life. I discovered the second butter dish strategy (OK, I actually have 3) a few years back, and it indeed does improve the quality of life.

  40. #57

    The Middle Place is an incredible book…you laugh…you cry. Going through breast cancer for me was a life changing experience. Your priorities change. The book lets everyone learn just what is important! I would encourage everyone to read the book!

  41. #60

    I am seriously buying a second butter dish ASAP! Why did I never thing of this? Thanks for saving me from the agony of washing the dumb butter dish 🙂

  42. #61

    I like a good butter dish too. I use mine upside down so the butter doesn’t start dripping all over the counter if I forget to stick it back in the frig now and then. It is cold enough here in Mn that the butter will not be dripping anytime soon.

  43. #62
    Kari D.

    I too have the need for the butter dish on the counter. Having a large family of butter eaters, I don’t have the issue of butter spoiling or getting the “Old butter” taste that your other readers have talked about. I actually have 4 butter dishes! One pair is for the real butter and the other pair is for the margarine (for my dairy allergy kids). They are different colors of course because I prefer the ceramic type to the clear glass! I love that system — it seems to be the littlest things that make me happy!

    As for the Middle Place… Love that book so much!! Kelly Corrigan is a frequent contributor to a blog called Half Full: the Science of Raising happy kids created by Dr. Christine Carter. It’s a great blog about parenting and raising happy kids! Kelly Corrigan and Christine Carter are good friends and frequently discuss parenting issues on video blogs. Check it out sometime!

  44. #63
    sarah kristiansen

    two things: I have three girlfriends of 15 years, and long ago we dubbed ourselves the “Hot Buttered Mamas”. it has become a tradition to gift each other with butter dishes whenever possible. I’m with you on that one.

    Secondly, The Middle Place has become the book I force upon my friends, with a packet of tissues. I simply loved that book, and it made me long for a Greenie of my own too! I have so many paged dog-eared, so that I never forget some of her wisdom…

  45. #64

    Cathy, I absolutely love the dual butter dish idea. My husband and I fight constantly about that exact issue (although I’m the one who wants it in the fridge because I’m the one who always get’s stuck cleaning it…but I digress…).
    Anyway, I was wondering if you can tell me where Dan picked up those butter dishes…I cant seem to find plain dishes like those!

  46. #65

    “I like butter in butter dishes. I don’t like it cold and I don’t like buying spreadable butter in a tub. I like butter in butter dishes, and I like it to sit out on my counter for easy access. I feel I’ve been very clear on this matter throughout my life.”

    I SO want to do this! But my DH doesn’t like the idea. Something about Australian weather, the heat, spoiling the butter. Does butter spoil?

    Anyway, I think dual dishes are a brilliant idea!

  47. #66

    OMGosh! Two butter dishes! That’s exactly what we do because it “must” be room temp and I hate how greasy and messy the dish gets. Don’t you cringe when the jelly sticks to the butter and then you want to put it on your turkey sandwich? How you come up with ideas to blog about blows my mind but I love it and you make me laugh at everyday life.

  48. #67

    You know, it’s the little things, like a second butter dish, that make life more liveable. My husband and I each have our own toothpaste. People have asked, “Why not just choose one brand of toothpaste to share?” Well, because why should we? One of us would be going around with toothpaste resentment all the time and surely that does not make for a healthy marriage. And, funny, about The Middle Place. I’m 2/3 of the way through it and I think it’s really, really good. Even having had a mom who went through the whole breast cancer ordeal (and is a triumphant survivor–yeah!) this year has not kept me from liking this book a lot.

  49. #68
    Julie Trout

    Love the butter dishes….and am asking myself…why didn’t I think of that?!?!

    Just started reading The Middle Place after a recommendation from a friend….we lost my father in law to cancer earlier this year and I’m hoping I can find time to read the rest of it soon.

    I have a quick question……is there anyplace online to order an album with 8.5 x 11 layouts? I love your templates that you have designed and would love to have them printed in an album without having to crop them to 8 x 10 or have them sideways!

    Thanks, Cathy for always being such an inspiration!

  50. #69
    Yvonne Winters

    You are so ready for management… you’ve insituted a Butter Kan Ban! Congratulations, you are well on your way to Six Sigma with a definite emphasis on Lean! 🙂

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