the toolbox

Diaper dispenser

You can change your baby in style with the Windel, a diaper and wipe dispenser disguised as a picture frame.

The Windel is a wall-mounted cabinet with openings for dispensing diapers and wipes. It opens to reveal additional storage space for lotions, cotton balls and other necessities.

The cabinet can be reconfigured for storing other items when the baby gets older.

The 19-by-23-inch cabinet comes in either an espresso or white finish. The front is a 16-by-20-inch picture frame.

It sells for $169.99 at Shipping is extra.

Pom-poms grow up

Pom-poms aren't just kids' stuff.

The little puffs are a staple of children's crafts, but they can add charm to grown-up projects, too. Sarah Goldschadt and Lexi Walters Wright show how in their book "Pom-Poms! 25 Awesomely Fluffy Projects" (Quirk Books, $14.95).

Imagine pom-poms dangling from a curtain's edge or dressing up a pair of flats. Pom-poms can be used for jewelry, party decorations, home decor and whimsical whatnots — and, of course, they're the crowning touch for knitted winter caps.

Goldschadt and Wright's pom-poms go beyond the usual yarn variety. They show how to make the embellishments from paper, fabric and even rubber bands.

Amending soil

Q: My perennial garden has poor, sandy soil. Should I try to enrich the soil now or wait till spring?

A: Organic matter is great for improving both sandy and heavy clay soil, and fall is the best time to add it. You have all winter for the organic matter to break down and enrich the soil.

Probably the easiest way is to just spread a half-inch or an inch of compost on top of the soil. You don't even have to work it in. The microorganisms and earthworms will incorporate it into the soil for you. Keep doing that every fall, and you'll be amazed at the difference it will make in just a few years.

If you don't have access to compost, you can use other organic matter such as shredded leaves, grass clippings or well-aged manure (but not pet waste). Don't use weeds or diseased plant material.

You can add about 3 inches of that organic matter to the garden. Mix it into the top layer of soil, but be careful not to disturb the existing roots.

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