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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...


Monday, August 18 , 2014

No More Tears When Cutting Onions

Do you dread chopping onions because you can't stand the tears? Onions have an interesting defense mechanism— when you cut into a raw bulb, a compound called propanethial-s-oxide is released in a vapor. When the vapor comes into contact with your eyes, it converts into a form of sulfuric acid. That stings! But healthful onions are a kitchen staple and a key ingredient to many savory dishes—so don't stop chopping. Do this instead...

You've probably heard numerous ways to cease the tears, from goggles to continuously running water, but this is our favorite way that's simple to do. Burn a candle in the area where you are cutting. Light it before you start chopping, and keep it as close as possible to your cutting board (without being a hazard). The tear-causing vapor from the onion is drawn to the heat source from the flame, and it will burn off some of the noxious fumes. It will also add a nice ambience to your food-prep area. And you don't have to buy a pair of goggles, waste tap water or stuff a piece of bread in your mouth. How's a cook supposed to chat with dinner guests when her mouth is full?

More help in the kitchen...


Friday, August 15 , 2014

A Trick to Help You Snap Out of It

Are you feeling a little sluggish? Having a hard time concentrating? Maybe allergies or smog or too little sleep is making you feel as though you're struggling to think straight. Here's what to do...

Put a golf ball between your palms, and roll it around, massaging your adrenal reflex areas—they are located halfway down the long first metacarpal bones of the hands below the thumbs. (Don't worry too much about the anatomy—just roll that ball.)

Reflexologists believe that there are reflexes related to the hands (and feet) that correspond to all parts of the body. Stimulation of the appropriate areas can activate the body's own natural healing system. This reflexology exercise ought to help clear out the cobwebs.

More boosts to your brain...


Thursday, August 14 , 2014

Nonbleach Trick to Brighten Whites

Don't you hate it when your favorite white cotton top starts to get that grayish dingy look? Here's what to do…

Fill a basin or sink with warm water, and add one-quarter cup of powdered automatic dishwasher detergent. Add your tops, socks, underwear and whatever else needs brightening. Swish them around, and let the garments soak for one hour. Wring out the sopping clothes—enough to get them to the washing machine without making a mess—and then launder as usual.

More help with laundry...


Wednesday, August 13 , 2014

Gentle Pet-Fur Detangler and Cleaner

If your dog's or cat's fur has collected some sticky stuff from the outdoors or if the shedding seems endless, here's what you can try before going to an expensive groomer...

Removing burrs, tree sap, gum. You'll want to wear rubber gloves for this. Work vegetable oil or baby oil into the sticky, tangled areas of your pet's coat to break up the gunk. This will make it easier to extricate the foreign matter without causing yelps or whimpers.

Cornstarch can also be used to de-gunk your pet. Pour a little on the problem area and patiently work it in, gently pulling the sticky stuff out as it releases from the fur.

Nonstop shedding. If your pet’s shedding seems to be year-round rather than seasonal, work a little lanolin (you can purchase liquid lanolin at Amazon.com) or olive oil into the animal's coat every day. Within a few weeks, there should be a noticeable difference for the better.

More help with pets...


Tuesday, August 12 , 2014

Sweet Smell Curbs Your Appetite

“The stronger the flavor of the food, the stronger its power to satisfy and reduce hunger,” says Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurologist, psychiatrist and director of The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Based on his extensive research, Dr. Hirsch offers the following suggestions to curb your appetite.

The odor molecules of fresh-cut strawberries travel directly to the limbic system of the brain (which is involved in emotional behavior). From there, the molecules activate the hypothalamus (the brain’s satiety center) and trick it into believing that you’ve eaten more than you have.

So if you want to feel full faster, put some fresh-cut strawberries on your plate and sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff.

More help from Dr. Hirsch: Knowing how to use your nose with any food can help reduce your appetite. Sniff each bite of your meal quickly five times before eating. Fast sniffs signal food messages to the brain—this decreases hunger and works to satisfy the appetite without consuming excess calories.

More help with weight loss...


Monday, August 11 , 2014

Easier Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs remain our favorite “starter” at any family gathering, and even though they aren't new or hip—who cares, people love them! They can be a bother to make. So here's an easy way to make deviled eggs look great without a special pastry-making gadget.

When making deviled eggs (we like this recipe—Deviled Eggs with Horseradish and Black Pepper), put all of the filling ingredients—egg yolks, mayo, seasonings, etc.—in a resealable plastic bag. Close the bag and knead it—this blends the ingredients from the outside.

Then cut a small tip off one bottom corner of the bag. Line up the empty hardboiled egg whites, and fill them by squeezing the yolk mixture out of the bag through that little hole. Take your time, and make delicate swirls or swiggles...whatever you like. We're working on a batch right now!

For the rest of this tip and more help in the kitchen, click here.