One of the best things that I have bought (to
help me out around the house) is a PenFriend. It is an audio
labeller, and it is very easy to use. It would probably be
worth its' weight in gold around the house.
Some items you may need to
use with the PenFriend:
- Clear masking tape (at least 5cm wide)
- Pre-cut magnets (at least 1cm wide and 5cm
long) to take the smaller stickers - these are good for tops
of cans as they are easy to locate and retrieve
- A roll or sheet of thin magnet, or thinner
precut magnetic shapes (eg. squares, rectangles, and so on) -
these are good for using inside DVD spines and so on
I managed to find the clear tape / precut
magnets / twist tie / and hole punch at our local $2 n $5 shop and
Best 4 Less shop, but depending on where you live, you may have
different sources available to you. Some in NZ are: $2 shop, Best
4 Less shop, Coin Save, Trademe.co.nz, local paper shops and
stationery shops such as The Warehouse Stationery, Paper Plus and
- Twist tie or garden tie (usually in 20
metre lengths) - these are used to tie the magnetic label to a
bottle arm or frozen item
Creating labels for the
Using the above items, here are some simple
ideas, that make your labels reusable over and over again.
When you get your PenFriend, it will come with a variety of special stickers that can be
stuck onto things. These will vary in size from a small circle, to
some squares that are 3.5cm by 3.5cm.
Depending on whether or not you are sticking them onto a magnet -
try to get sizes that will take your stickers nicely. Precut
magnets come in various shapes and sizes.
Tin lid labels
The following are instructions on how to use the
magnet size mentioned above (IE. 5cm long and 1cm wide), with the
smaller stickers to create tin lid labels.
I can either leave the magnets the original size, or cut the magnets in half. By
cutting them in half, I get 2 pieces - both 2.5cm long and 1cm
wide. If it came in a pack of 30, by doing this I can get 60
labels! To find out which side your sticker needs to go on,
stick the magnet onto the lid of a metal can (Eg. spaghetti) and if it sticks to the tin, then it is
the right way up. If the magnet does not stick to the tin
lid, turn it over so that it does and put the sticker on the top. Do this to all your
labels. This will avoid putting it on the wrong side, and making
the labels useless for tins. Stick your smaller sticker onto one
end, so a hole can be punched into the other end (if you would
like it to be used in the freezer, or to be able to be tied onto a
bottle etc). If you are using it for labelling your tins, you can
just put the sticker into the middle of the magnet. This way, you
know to scan in the centre for tins, and at one end for freezer /
The next step is to get your clear
masking tape, and wrap it around it. Make sure it covers
the front and back of the magnet, so no moisture can get into it.
This also prevents oil from your hands wrecking the sticker.
It is now ready to be recorded
Freezer item and various
In the following instructions, the same process
will be used again (as in the making of the tin lid labels above),
but this time we will need an extra couple of steps. This time we
will also use a hole punch and
some twist tie.
If you use the smaller size label (IE 2.5cm long and 1cm wide),
put the sticker on one side.
Make sure there is enough room for a hole to be punched on the other side, and punch a hole in the magnet.
Next, place your clear masking tape over the magnet, so that it
covers the whole magnet. Where the hole has been punched,
poke a little hole through the plastic, so your garden tie can go
through it. Cut the twist tie to
the length you need for different things, and put it through the hole. You
now have a label which is not only waterproof, but can also be
tied to a variety of objects.
For my freezer bags,
after the labels and ties have been done and cut to the length
required, I then tie them onto
the neck of the freezer bag. Once it has been tied, it is
quite easy to figure which side has the sticker on it - you will feel the sticker raised under
the tape. Doing it this way, once you have labelled your different
meats (or freezer foods), it just a matter of finding the label,
and running the PenFriend across
the sticker. I know it works well, as I have had
food in the freezer for months, and once scanned - it still reads
perfectly. If it is not sealed well over the sticker, it may
not read your label for you - due to condensation getting into it.
A little extra time taken to seal
it properly in the first place, pays off in the long run.
Exactly the same idea can be used for other items in the house,
such as spray bottles
etc. Just cut the garden tie to the length required for that item.
I have not tried the same idea for shampoo or conditioner bottles
in a shower yet, but there may be other ways of marking them (such
as tying the label on with a thick rubber band)?
We tried out a few different
ideas on electrical items as well. I am going to use our
stove as an example.
It's one of those fancy ovens that has all of the features on it.
On one of the labels, I asked my wife to record what all of the
buttons or knobs were on the oven. I figured I read a book
this way (IE. from left to right), so why not have my directions this way as well.
That way, I could listen for the parts I was after, (IE. whether
it was the oven that I wanted to use, or on the hotplates up the
top). Also, to make it easier when doing this, we recorded the
placement of the knobs (whether they controlled the oven or the
hotplates etc), which knob it was, and at what clock face time the
different settings were. (Eg. 1st
knob, oven settings, bake
is at 10 o'clock, grill is at 4 o'clock etc. 3rd knob, Front Left, high is at 11
o'clock and low is at 1 o'clock and so on). This made my oven usable from a blind
Again, the same idea was used for my washing machine. We have one of those push
button models. When the machine is turned off at the wall
and turned back on, it has default levels that it goes to every
time. Again, starting from the
left, we went through the settings to see what each button did, and this
time recorded each press.
We also recorded how many times it took to get back to the default
setting for each button, and worked our way through all of them.
Now, if I want to do a hot wash, cold wash or whatever it may be,
I run the PenFriend across the sticker, and just listen to the
parts I want. I can do any wash on that machine. Because
there was nowhere that I could attach the magnet, I used velcro with the sticky
back to attach it to the plastic near the top. One piece of
velcro went onto the machine,
and the other onto the back of
the magnet, so that it could be pulled off at any time
The same velcro can be
used for containers with plastic
lids and other various items (Eg. labelling your Cadbury
drinking chocolate). When the tin is empty, simply put the
labelled lid onto the new tin of Cadbury.
For DVD's you could stick
a sticker directly onto the spine, or onto a piece of card or magnet which is then slipped
inside the plastic on the spine
of the DVD. It's just a matter of running the PenFriend over
the label (once you've recorded it) to find out what your DVD
is. Having the name, classification, length of the movie or
any other details you want on it, is a good idea.
The same idea can be used for CD's
as well. The spine is quicker for trying to find out what it is
called - compared to having it on one corner of the CD like on the
front of it. All of mine are on the spine at the top which makes
it so much faster to find what you are looking for.
Garden trials: I have
recently started testing some labels outside in the garden, and so
far have had some success with them. I made up the labels as
normal, and tied them gently to the plant and the stake out in the
garden. Next, I identified it using the name of the plant, and if
there were other plants off to the left or the right etc. (Eg. red
camellia, white camellia to the left and pink camellia to the
right). You may wish to tie the label somewhere which limits
sunfading (such as on the branch underneath the leaves). If you
are visually impaired and have some useful vision, you could
always try painting your garden stakes white.
In summary, I hope that using any
of the ideas mentioned above, will assist you to not only be
able to label a variety of items around your house, but also
be able to recycle your labels as well. There may be a variety
of ways to label with your PenFriend, and I am more than happy
to hear others ideas.