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Monday, September 01 , 2014

De-Stink a Lunch Box

No one wants to go back to school with a smelly lunch box! Here's how to brighten up the food container that's been hiding away all summer.

To freshen up a stinky metal or plastic lunch box, moisten a slice of bread with distilled white vinegar and let it sit in the lunch box overnight. The next morning, throw away the soggy bread, wash out the lunch box with warm soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Then load it up with your child's (or grandchild’s) sandwich and fruit.

More ways to fix funny smells...


Friday, August 29 , 2014

Easy, Inexpensive Dishwasher Gunk Remover

Is there strange gunk on the walls of your dishwasher...or a slightly foul smell emanating from within? Don't seek out a pricey special dishwasher cleaner. Use this instead...

Sprinkle three tablespoons or a small packet of a lemon- or orange-drink powder (such as Tang, Kool-Aid or Crystal Light) inside your empty dishwasher or fill the dishwasher's soap dispenser. Run the empty dishwasher for a full normal wash-and-rinse cycle. Any powdery drink mix that contains citric acid will remove gunk, lime and rust stains as well as odors.

More help around the house...


Thursday, August 28 , 2014

Fruity Face Mask

Are you looking for a natural way to softer, wrinkle-free skin? Go to your fruit bowl for an easy treatment.

To reduce the tendency to wrinkle, mash a ripe banana and add a few drops of peanut oil. Apply the mask to your face and neck (upward and outward), and leave it on for at least a half-hour. Wash it off with tepid water. If you do this daily—or every other day—it should make your skin softer and less likely to wrinkle.

More natural skin care…


Wednesday, August 27 , 2014

The Right Way to Ripen Tomatoes

We love it when our local farmers' market has freshly picked tomatoes right off the garden vines! Or maybe you grow your own and are in the middle of a delectable harvest. Here's what to do to ripen your picked beauties quickly and to enjoy them more.

To ripen tomatoes quickly, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana or a few apples. The ethylene gas emitted by the fruit will help the tomatoes ripen fast. Check the bag frequently (every day) because you don't want overripe tomatoes.

Best way to slice a tomato for an unsoggy sandwich: Tomatoes have ovary walls, and when you cut into them, the pulp and juice tend to slosh out. But if you slice a tomato vertically—from the top of the stem down to the bottom of the fruit—the slices will stay firmer, which will keep your sandwich drier. Also, vertically cut tomatoes will not juice up your salad as much.

More help in the kitchen...


Tuesday, August 26 , 2014

Healthy Homemade Microwave Popcorn—Cheap, Easy, Delicious!

Sometimes you just want a single-serving snack of popcorn without harmful additives or expensive “gourmet” cheddar toppings. That's a good craving to have because popcorn (without the artificial butter flavoring) is a healthful snack food (read this to learn more). Got a microwave? Here's what to do...

If you don't have an air popper but you do have a microwave, you still can prepare fresh, healthful popcorn very easily. Put one-quarter cup of popcorn kernels in a lunch-sized brown paper bag. Fold the top over twice, and secure it closed with tape. Microwave the bag on high power until the kernels stop popping...from one-and-a-half to four minutes.

When the popcorn is done popping, carefully open the bag...face it away from you so you don't get a steam burn. Then put the popcorn in a bowl, and add salt or curry or any seasoning of your choice. You can also drizzle real melted butter on it. Stir and enjoy! Makes about one cup.

More great snacks...


Monday, August 25 , 2014

Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

Do you have a lovely crop of roses or daisies or chrysanthemums (or any other flower) that could serve as a perfect decoration for your dining room table...if only the stems weren't too short or too uneven? Garden flowers don't always grow to the right length to fit in an arrangement. Here's what to do...

To lengthen stems that are too short for a vase, stick each in a plastic straw and then cut the straws to the proper length for the vase. A straw will also keep a droopy stem straight and cooperative.

To help keep different-weighted flowers evenly spaced in your vase, put transparent tape across the mouth of the vase, crisscrossing it according to the size of the vase and the number of flowers you intend to put in the arrangement. The tape will make it easier to do the arranging because it will hold the flowers in place...just make sure you have enough bottom foliage to cover the tape.

More garden help...


Friday, August 22 , 2014

Easy Protection for Oven Mitts and Potholders

You try to be as careful as possible, but that cheesy casserole spilled over onto your attractive fabric oven mitts. Here's what to do to prevent light grease stains from ruining your mitts or potholders.

Before you use your new potholders or oven mitts, thoroughly spray them with scent-free laundry starch. Let them sit overnight to dry completely. You won't need to wash them very often, but each time you do, spray again after washing. The starch forms a coating that protects the potholder or mitt, preventing oily stains from seeping through the fabric.

More help with stains...


Thursday, August 21 , 2014

Pinch Away Motion Sickness

It can happen so easily. You are reading on a long train ride and a sickening nausea starts to climb up your throat. You don't have any pills or special tea on hand to make yourself feel better. Here's what to do...

Pull out and pinch the skin in the middle of your inner wrist, about an inch from your palm. Hold this pinch for 10 seconds, then switch to your other wrist. Keep pulling and pinching alternate wrists until you feel better, which shouldn't take more than 30 seconds.

More help with daily ailments...


Wednesday, August 20 , 2014

6 Clever Jewelry Organizers

We have one or two very nice jewelry boxes, but they're not quite deep enough to store our long heirloom necklaces. Also, who wants to hide beautiful jewelry away? What better way to brighten the corners of your bedroom than with sparkling jewels and gems! Here are some ideas to do that while keeping your baubles well-organized.

Store and display your bracelets and watches on the branches of a coffee-cup tree. These cup stands come in all sorts of styles, from rustic to contemporary, and are available at places like Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Macy's and, of course, online. You might even find a nice old one in an antiques store.

You can also use a tie rack as a neat way to store your necklaces. (We have an old tie rack that came with our closet. We purchase necklaces sometimes just to keep it filled!)

Keep your earrings paired up and organized in empty ice cube trays—no, not ugly new plastic trays. Keep you eyes open for retro-style metal ice cube trays at flea markets or yard sales. Or old metal muffin baking trays—the more beat up, the more rustic they look. Wherever you keep you earrings, you can keep the pairs together by sticking each post in a pair through a hole in a large vintage button. Pretty!

Speaking of ties: Choose a cute, colorful necktie (that the man in the house won't miss too much) and then tie it onto your closet rod using a necktie knot (we favor the half-Windsor). Then use the tie to hold brooches and pins. You can even push through pierced earring posts. It's a neat way to hold the jewelry and to see it all at a glance.

More great ways to decorate and organize...


Tuesday, August 19 , 2014

Kill Aphids the Natural Way

Certain critters can be the pestiest of pests, especially on precious houseplants and hanging potted flowers that make our homes a better place to be. If you've recently had an invasion of tiny crawlers that seem to be sucking the life out of your favorite foliage, here's what to do...

Aphids are plant lice—soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects that are less than one-eighth-inch long and are most commonly green, yellow or black. If you see aphids on your plants, mix one-half cup of powdered milk with one quart of warm water and put the solution in a spray bottle. Spray the plants' leaves thoroughly. As they dry, the aphids will die. And you have spared the air in your home from toxic chemicals.

More ways to fight pests...