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Thursday, September 18 , 2014

Elegant Way to Serve Butter

Are you planning a special dinner party or another event where you want every element to say “elegant”? Here's a special touch for the table that's fun to do.

Serve a bowl of butter balls instead of putting out sticks or individual pats of butter. Simply place a melon ball scooper in very hot water for about five minutes. While it warms up, prepare a bowl of cold water with lots of ice cubes in it. When the melon baller is warm, scoop out the butter balls from a large container of slightly softened butter, and drop each of them in the bowl of ice-cold water. Let them sit in the ice water for 10 minutes or so, and then remove the balls carefully with a spider strainer or a slotted spoon. Keep the balls cold in the refrigerator until you're ready to put them on the table for your guests.

Ways to save on entertaining…


Wednesday, September 17 , 2014

Nourishing Makeup Remover

Does it feel like you're slathering harsh chemicals onto your face when you use commercial products to remove makeup? If you’d like to pamper your skin with a healthful, homemade makeup remover, try this nourishing combo...

Instead of using plain soap and water or harsh commercial cleansers, remove your makeup with a natural whole-milk mixture. In a small jar, warm two to three tablespoons of milk (10 seconds on high in the microwave), add one-half teaspoon of castor oil (found in most drugstores) and shake well. Dunk a cotton ball (not a tissue) into the mixture, and gently apply to your face. Leave on for 30 seconds so it has a chance to sink in, which will make makeup removal easier. Then take your cotton ball and start cleaning, using upward and outward strokes. Avoid getting the mixture into your eyes. Then give your face a rinse or two with warm water to remove any milk residue.

This combination of milk and oil is said to take off more makeup and city dirt than the most expensive professional cleansing products ever could. And it does so naturally, not chemically.

Complete the treatment by sealing in moisture with a thin layer of castor oil applied to the face, making sure to avoid the eyes.

Note: Some people's skin is sensitive to castor oil—if you notice any irritation, you can try extra-virgin olive oil in this formula instead.

More help with cosmetics...

Tuesday, September 16 , 2014

You’re Cooking Bacon Wrong

What beats the smell of bacon and coffee on a sunny weekend morning? Here are some tips for perfectly fried bacon...

First, rinse the slices in cold water before frying, and they won't curl in the pan. To minimize the shrinkage of the bacon, do not preheat the skillet. Just plop the bacon into a cold pan, and turn the heat to medium. Try to turn the bacon only once to keep the slices as flat as possible. (We know that's hard to do!)

If you throw a few celery leaves into the pan along with the bacon, the grease will stay in the pan instead of splattering. Another way to prevent splatter is to add a thin layer of water to the pan with the bacon before you turn on the heat. Check this tip out here.

And don't forget to save the bacon fat for delicious (and cheap) future frying!

More help in the kitchen...


Monday, September 15 , 2014

Easy Jar-Opening Trick

Vacuum seals on jar lids are great for keeping food fresh...but they can really be a hassle when you're trying to open the jar! Here’s how to double your lid-removal grip...and all you need are a few common household items...

Put a thick rubber band around the lid of the jar and another rubber band around the middle of the jar body. Grasp each band with a hand, twist...and enjoy whatever is in that jar. You can also get a good double grip with rubber gloves, but we think the bands provide a better hold. And we usually tend to have more rubber bands available than gloves on any given day.

More ways to make things easy...


Friday, September 12 , 2014

New Use for Your Tissue Boxes

Instead of having plastic produce bags taking up lots of space in a drawer waiting to be recycled or floating around loose in a cabinet, do this...

Pack your stash of plastic bags into an empty tissue box. If you do not want to use the cardboard kind, look for a decorative tissue-box cover that matches your kitchen (or wherever you need to keep a store of plastic bags). Even the bottomless covers will hide the bags away—you just can’t move them around too much. Try to use the largest tissue box or cover you can find— the small ones tend to multiply as you collect more and more plastic bags.

More help with home organization...


Thursday, September 11 , 2014

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Fridge Bins Clean

Do you hate pulling out those cumbersome fruit and vegetable bins to clean them? So do we! Here's what to do…

For easy cleanup (and to prevent messes), line the fruit/vegetable and meat drawers with old plastic place mats (or even with cheap new mats from the dollar store). You may have to cut them to fit, but considering how easy they are to wipe clean, it will be worth the effort. You can easily remove the mats to clean them rather than pulling out the entire drawer.

If you don't want to bother cleaning place mats, line the drawers with paper towels. They will provide some protection and help absorb moisture, which means that the fruit will last longer.

Some people try to line drawers with plastic wrap, but we've found that the paper towels are much more cooperative.

More help with cleaning your kitchen...


Wednesday, September 10 , 2014

Clean Your Pewter with Cabbage?!

Did you just inherit a beautiful candelabra (or maybe a set of tankards) that looks tarnished beyond repair? Don't despair! Here's what to do...

Use a large, outer leaf of a cabbage as you would use a cloth to rub the pewter clean. We find that the large white cabbage leaves work the best. Then buff the pewter with a soft cloth.

If a pewter object is badly tarnished, use #0000 (super-fine) steel wool dipped in olive oil and cautiously scrub off the tarnish. Then wash, rinse and buff dry with a soft cloth.

More household magic...


Tuesday, September 09 , 2014

Remedy for Aching Hands

Ouch! That was a rough patch of lawn mowing or tennis playing! Now your hands feel like they've been through a wringer. Here's what to do...

If your hands are feeling achy, try this solution. In a bowl, combine three cups of hot water, three tablespoons of witch hazel and one-half cup of Epsom salts. Make sure the water isn’t hot enough to burn, then dip your hands in the solution for about five minutes...enough time for the magnesium sulfate in the mixture to penetrate and ease the pain in your joints.

More natural help for pain...


Monday, September 08 , 2014

Easily Disinfect Your Countertops

If you like your countertops and other kitchen surfaces clean and disinfected but don't like that harsh, bleachy smell, here's a better way to clean.

Keep two spray bottles handy—fill one with 3% hydrogen peroxide and the other with white vinegar. Lightly spray your counter with the peroxide, and wipe it clean. Follow up with a light spray of the vinegar, and wipe it clean. Then relax, knowing that your countertop and other kitchen surfaces have been treated with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial agents. Yes, your kitchen will smell like vinegar for a little bit, but it will dissipate quickly.

Note: Do not use peroxide and vinegar on a regular basis to clean marble or unsealed granite countertops (most granite counters have a coat of protective sealant). Both solutions are acidic and could discolor these surfaces over time.

Where the germs lurk...


Friday, September 05 , 2014

Pinch Here to Feel Great

You do have control over your mood. Believe it! Here's a little acupressure to help you quickly lift your spirits.

Acupressure involves activating specific trigger points on the body along pathways called "meridians" or "acupoints." These specific points correspond to troubled areas in the body, and applying pressure (usually with your thumbs, fingers or palms) engages the body's natural self-curing abilities. The acupoints often have ancient descriptive names, such as Joining the Valley and Mind Clearing.

Pressing the Inner Gate acupoint can reduce emotional upset—such as anxiety, depression and irritability—in only two to three minutes.

Location: On the inner side of the forearm, three finger widths up (toward the elbow) from the center of the wrist crease, in between two thick tendons.

What to do: Place your thumb on this point and your fingers directly behind the outside of the forearm between the two bones. Squeeze this slowly and firmly, hold for two to three minutes, while breathing deeply. Repeat on the other arm for the same amount of time.

This acupressure exercise can also help: Carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia and nausea.

Thanks to Dr. Michael Reed Gach, founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, for this remedy.

More ways to undo the blues...