Tuesday, October 21 , 2014

Unshrink Your Wool Sweater

If you have a wool sweater that has become too snug, we've got a tip that'll bring it back to its original size. Here's what to do...

Hair conditioner can soften and loosen knit fibers, which allows them to return to their original size. Mix one-third cup of hair conditioner in a sinkful of warm water. Submerge your tight sweater into the conditioned water, and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Shake off as much water as possible (don't wring!), then lay the sweater flat on a towel.

While it's still wet, reshape it as close as possible to its original size by holding each side and gently pulling the sweater to make it larger. Pull it evenly—both sides at the same time—all around the sweater. Let the sweater dry flat. It should return back to normal (or very close to it).

More help with your wardrobe...


Wednesday, October 08 , 2014

2 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Jumping

Dogs that jump up and put their front paws on people crave attention. They will continue jumping as long as their owners react—whether the response is good or bad. Not great when company is about to arrive! Here's what to do...

If your pet acts up—barks, runs around wildly, jumps up on your guests—when company comes, circumvent that behavior by calming the dog right before your guests are due to arrive.

Acupressure will get your pet into a relaxed state—just press the tips of both of his ears between your thumbs and index fingers, then gently pulse the spots for 45 seconds and speak calmly, reminding the dog that it's time to be on best behavior.

For the long term: To get your dog completely out of the habit of leaping on people, whenever the dog does it (to you or someone else), simply walk away without making eye contact or saying a word. Later, when the dog is calm, start to teach it to sit when you cross your arms across your chest. Many dogs tune out verbal commands when they get excited, but most still notice body language. To teach your dog to respond to a crossed-arm sit command, start by combining the verbal “sit” command with crossed arms. Provide treats when the dog responds. Then eliminate the verbal command and use the crossed-arm signal alone, still rewarding with treats.

Once your dog masters the crossed-arm sit command, instruct houseguests to use it, too. Otherwise they might accidentally give the dog attention when it jumps up, undermining the training.

Thanks to professional dog trainer Victoria Schade, author of Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer’s Secrets for Building a Better Relationship, for help with this tip.

More help with pet care...


Wednesday, September 24 , 2014

Red-Wine Stain Remover

Yikes! Someone just spilled red wine on your carpet. Grab a bottle of white wine, but make sure it's champagne! Or another form of carbonated white wine, such as Prosecco. You have to act fast. Blot up as much of the red wine as possible, then pour a little bubbly white onto the stain and scrub with a damp sponge (one with a scrubby surface works best). Wipe up any foamy leftovers, and the red wine should be gone.

If you don't want to waste your champagne, grab a can of shaving cream (the regular white foamy kind) and squirt enough to cover the stain completely. Wipe into the carpet (with aforementioned scrubby sponge), lifting up any excess cream. Your stain should disappear! We got the shaving cream tip from our neighborhood liquor-store guy when we were buying our delicious champagne. It works great...and is fun to use, if you don't mind your carpeted room smelling like a barbershop for a bit.

More help with stains...

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...


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...


Wednesday, September 03 , 2014

How to Clean Your Fake Flowers

We have transitioned from houseplants that need little care (succulents, spider plants) to realistic-looking artificial flowers that need very little care (just a yearly cleaning to keep them from looking dingy). Here's how to keep fake flowers looking fresh and new.

To clean sturdy fabric flowers, take a plastic or paper bag (big enough to hold the flowers), and pour in one cup of table salt. Hold the flowers by the stems, and put the blossoms into the bag. Hold the neck of the bag closed around the stems, then shake, shake, shake, giving the salt a chance to clean the flowers.

When you take the flowers out of the bag, do it over the sink (or outside) and gently shake off any salt remaining on the flowers. Inspect the flower petals closely—if there is still any residual salt, you can brush it off with a clean pastry brush or a small paintbrush. The flowers should be clean, and their colors fresh and bright.

More great ways to decorate and organize...


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...


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...