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Tuesday, July 29 , 2014

Make Your Patio Furniture Look Like New

If you have an outdoor area to hang out in (especially with a pool), consider yourself a lucky duck! Here are a few tips to keep your outdoor living space cleaner longer.

Protecting outdoor furniture: After wiping the dust and dirt off plastic, wood or metal furniture frames—not chair seats or any other parts that come in contact with people’s skin— buff the frames with liquid car wax. It will protect your furniture from pollution, bird droppings and anything else that may cause erosion.

Cleaning patio and poolside umbrellas: While you're at the auto-supply store buying liquid car wax, pick up some cleaner for a convertible car top. Use it to clean your sun-beaten patio umbrella and give it a revitalized look.

Pool: You'll have a cleaner pool if you keep a tennis ball floating in the water. The ball serves to absorb body oils and suntan lotion residue (although if you have a lot of swimmers, it's a good idea to have the divers shower off lotion before entering the pool).

More help with your backyard...


Monday, July 28 , 2014

Fix Cracks in Your Fine China

Is it tea time at your house? Oh no! There's a crack in one of your china pieces, and now you have an odd set of saucers. Here's what to do...

Put a cracked china cup or plate in a pan, and pour in enough whole milk to cover it—and then some. Let it simmer on the stovetop for 45 minutes. That allows enough time for the milk protein (casein) to do what it needs to do, which is to fill in the fissures. When the time is up, take the china off the stove and let it cool. Then rinse and marvel at the restored piece.

For more easy home fix-its...


Friday, July 25 , 2014

Cabbage Remedy for Pain

You probably know that cruciferous vegetables should be a big part of your diet, but did you know that they're also good for pain relief? No, you don’t have to put a head of broccoli on your knee. Here's what to do...

For relief from joint pain caused by arthritis, gout or overexertion, take a few cabbage leaves and steam them for 10 minutes, until they're limp. You can place a metal steamer over boiling water, or place whole leaves into boiling water, lower the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes. While the cabbage leaves are cooking, lightly massage a little olive oil on the painful area. After 10 minutes, pull out the cabbage leaves and drain on paper towels. As soon as possible, without burning yourself, place the warm cabbage leaves on the oiled area. Cover with a heavy towel or plastic wrap to keep in the heat. Repeat the process an hour later with new cabbage leaves. Stop when you're tired of wearing cabbage.

More natural help for pain relief...


Thursday, July 24 , 2014

How to Get Eggshells Out of Your Food

Don't you hate it when a bit of unwelcome nonfood ends up in your culinary creation? It happens so easily! And your fingers aren’t the best tools in this scenario. Here's what to do with some frequent flyers...

We discovered an easy way to retrieve a piece of eggshell that falls into the bowl of eggs—just use a larger piece of eggshell to get the little piece of shell out of the bowl. The larger shell attracts the little shell, almost like a magnet.

What about pits? Those slippery devils! Keep a pair of tweezers in your kitchen to pick out pits that have escaped from your quick lemon squeeze. You can also use tongs, but tweezers get the pit and nothing else. Tweezers are also great for pulling stray bones out of fish fillets and feather pins remaining in chicken legs. Use them, too, for retrieving food that has leaped out of your pan and under the burner (thanks to TheKitchn.com for that tip). It's one of those normally noncooking tools that you should keep handy in your kitchen.

What about a hair? Yuck! Again, your fingers might be a little clumsy on this one. And who wants to put bare skin into a pot of hot food? Here's what to do: Simply take a pancake turner (what some people call a spatula), and dip it into the soup or stew in the area of the hair and the hair should attach itself to the flat part. If your food bowl is not a hot pot of liquid but something like a salad, dampen the spatula with water or a tiny drop of oil. After you catch the hair, go to your sink and rinse off the spatula with warm water.

More help in your kitchen...


Wednesday, July 23 , 2014

Clean Marker, Crayon or Pen Off Your Wall

If you have a budding artist in your home who has recently expressed himself or herself on your painted walls, here's what to do...

Note: Whichever tip you try, test it on a small, inconspicuous spot of wall first to make sure your particular paint can handle the treatment. Then...

To clean crayon marks: A baby wipe or ammonia-based window cleaner should remove most crayon marks without removing the paint. Be sure to wipe the area completely dry after using one of these cleaners.

To clean magic marker spots: Put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton puff, and wipe the marker spots. The marker should come off, and the paint or wallpaper should stay on.

To remove ballpoint pen marks: Spritz any type of hairspray on the pen mark, then blot it with a clean, soft rag.

Long-term solution: Purchase a huge paper roll at an office- or art-supply store, and plaster the walls of your playroom (or what serves as a playroom) with it. Hand your graffiti-artists-in-residence their weapons of choice, and let them knock themselves out. Who knows? If anything, you can sell the results on eBay. Bravissimo!

More quick tricks to clean your home…


Tuesday, July 22 , 2014

Repair Sun-Abused Skin

Soften the leathery look of skin that has had too much sun with this centuries-old beauty mask formula. Mix two tablespoons of raw honey with two tablespoons of flour. Add enough milk (two to three tablespoons) to make the mixture the consistency of toothpaste. Be sure your face and neck are clean and your hair is out of the way. Smooth the paste on your face and neck. Stay clear of the delicate skin around your eyes. Leave the paste on for a half-hour, then rinse it off with tepid water and pat dry. Do this once or twice a week, and wear a hat when you go out in the sun, please!

More help for your skin...


Monday, July 21 , 2014

Sweet Trick for Warts

No matter how you feel about warts, they seem to have a way of growing on you. Verruca vulgaris is the medical term for the common wart. And we think that's a very fitting term! We have more folk cures for warts than pretty much anything else, so here's one more pantry product that will make that ugly bump disappear.

Dab a drop of blackstrap molasses on the wart, and cover with an adhesive bandage. Keep it on all day. Repeat the molasses/bandage treatment every day. In about two weeks, the wart should drop off without leaving a trace.

More natural cures...


Friday, July 18 , 2014

Counter Stain Remover

How many times has the purple or red ink from a stamped-on price stayed on your countertop? It does not have to be there forever. Here's what to do...

Rub off the ink with rubbing alcohol or the inside of a piece of lemon rind. Then wipe with a damp cloth or sponge. If the alcohol or the lemon doesn't do it, try nail-polish remover.

If you have any hesitation about using alcohol or nail-polish remover on the surface of your counter, test a tiny can't-be-seen-area first.

More help with stains...


Thursday, July 17 , 2014

Homemade Sugar-Free Drinks

We love homemade lemonade. What we don’t love are all those lemons (buying, squeezing) and all that sugar it takes to make it! So we have moved on to a sweeter fruit and some ingenious help from a root to make delicious, no-sugar-added beverages—all without artificial sweeteners. These are quick, easy and super-refreshing drinks that you can make yourself. The following three recipes each make two to three generous servings.

Homemade Ginger Ale. As kids, we loved store-bought ginger ale. Then it got way too sweet. Then we looked at the ingredient labels on a few popular brands…ginger is not even listed! Ingredients include high fructose corn syrup and other euphemisms for sugar. Enough of that! Here are two ways to make your own…

In 12 ounces of plain seltzer water (original Perrier has the best flavor), add one teaspoon of pure ginger extract (available at specialty-food stores, such as Whole Foods or online at Amazon.com or iHerb.com). Make sure that it’s sugar-free ginger extract for consumption, not aromatherapy—alcohol-free extract has the best flavor. Pour over ice, and garnish with a lime wedge or a few sprigs of mint. This mix has a spicy zing with zero sweetness. If you’re tired of fake flavors from too much sugar, you’ll love this.

You can also peel and cut up two to three two-inch pieces of gingerroot (make sure the root is fresh with a strong ginger scent and bright yellow flesh), and use a garlic press to squeeze out fresh juice into your plain seltzer. Then add the pieces left in the press to your drinking glass. This also makes a great digestive!

Watermelon Raspberry “Ade.” Watermelon is everywhere in the summer! This lovely blend was inspired by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Here’s a version without the sugar…

Mix three cups of seedless watermelon cubes, one-quarter cup of raspberries, one-eighth teaspoon of salt (optional) and one cup of filtered water. Put everything in a blender, and whirl until smooth. (We used an immersion blender, and it worked fine.) Pour over ice, and add a lime-wedge garnish. Refreshingly simple and delicious!

Delicious Sugar-Free Iced Tea. This is just a basic way to make deliciously brewed sugar-free iced tea. If you’re trying to remove sugar from your life, try this and soon you'll be hooked.

Steep four black tea bags (any brand is fine) in four cups of just-boiled water for at least 15 minutes, but no more than an hour. We like to do this in a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Slice one-quarter lemon into smaller slices. Squeeze the lemon slices into the tea, and put the slices (rinds and all) into the tea. Add two sprigs of fresh mint (this is optional...still delicious without). Remove tea bags, and chill in the refrigerator overnight. (You need to cover only if there are smells in your refrigerator that you think the tea will absorb.) The next day, pour over ice. Delicious!

More summer recipes...


Wednesday, July 16 , 2014

The 2 Natural Laxatives

Everyone has an occasional bout of constipation...and some bouts are more troublesome than others, so it's nice to have a little help. Store-bought chemical laxatives can kill friendly bacteria and lessen the absorption of nutrients. They can also become habit-forming...and eventually cause constipation. Who wants to pay good money for that? Here are two natural (and less expensive) solutions...

The most natural time to move your bowels is within the first few hours of the day. Drinking water on an empty stomach stimulates peristalsis (the wavelike muscle contractions that move food forward). So, before breakfast, drink the juice of half a lemon in one cup of warm water. While it may help cleanse your system, it may also make you pucker a lot. If you find it hard to drink, sweeten it with a little honey.

If lemon and water is not for you, try this: Take seven dried figs, and soak them overnight in a glass of room-temperature water. In the morning, drink the water and then eat the figs.

Note: Constipation may be a symptom of disease or lead to major health problems. It is important to consult a medical professional before starting any self-help treatment.

More help with digestion...