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Thursday, January 02 , 2014

Sound Advice for Jet Lag

When you travel by air, it can take one day to recover for every time zone that you pass through. If you fly from New York to California, that's three time zones, so three days of jet lag. That's a lot of days of lagging! Here's some advice that'll help you recover from jet lag more quickly...

As soon as you board the plane, pretend it's whatever time it actually is at your destination. In other words, if you board the plane at 7 pm in New York and you’re headed for London where it's 1 am, pull down your window shade or wear dark glasses and, if possible, go to sleep. If you board a plane late at night and it's already daylight at your destination, force yourself to stay awake during the flight. Making believe that you're already in the new time zone at the very start of your trip should help you acclimate more quickly. This seems like common sense, but it takes some discipline and clock watching to get the timing right.

More easy remedies for everyday aches and pains...


Wednesday, January 01 , 2014

Exhilarating New Year’s Face Cleanser

Champagne is not a beverage that keeps well. So if you have an open bottle that has even just a little left over, turn it into a delicious treat for your face. Mix one teaspoon of sugar with a few drops of champagne— enough to form a paste. In circular motions, apply the mixture to your face and neck, then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry. The tartaric acid in the champagne, along with the abrasive quality of the sugar, should do a very thorough job of exfoliating your skin.

Have a Happy New Year, from Joan, Lydia and everyone at Bottom Line Publications!

More natural ways to baby your face…


Tuesday, December 31 , 2013

Happy New Year Hangover Prevention

New Year's Eve is fun and crazy, but who wants to spend New Year's Day feeling like something the cat dragged in? Here’s an easy hangover remedy to help you have a happy New Year’s Day...

When you've finished drinking and are ready for bed, stir a tablespoon of sugar into an eight-ounce glass of orange juice and drink it down. The extra fructose in the nutrient-packed juice helps the body burn alcohol quickly. Of course, this sugar-packed solution is not for diabetics or others on extremely sugar-restricted diets. Also, drink one more glass of water for extra hydration, since alcohol dehydrates the body.

More natural cures...


Monday, December 30 , 2013

Protect Your Dog's Paws from the Snow

Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night should keep you from walking your dog! But chemicals such as rock salt, which is used to melt snow or make it less slippery, can irritate a dog’s paws. And what does the dog do? Licks his sore paws, ingesting those nasty chemicals that make him sick. Here are two easy ways to protect your best friend’s paws in both fresh and not-so-fresh snow:

When your dog is going out in clean, unsalted snow, lightly spray the bottom of his paws with nonstick cooking spray so that the snow won’t get packed between his pads.

Before your dog goes out onto salted sidewalks or other chemical-treated surfaces, protect his paws by putting small plastic sandwich bags (the snack-size bags work well for small dogs) over them and securing with small hair bands. If your dog hates the plastic bags or if the bags are too slippery (which may be the case with big, long-legged dogs), use baby socks instead, also securing them with small hair bands. They are not as protective as plastic bags—but they will block some of the nasty stuff on the sidewalk. Just don’t let Spot’s socks get too wet, please.

More help for pet parents...


Friday, December 27 , 2013

Easy Home Remedy to Stop a Cold Sore

About 85% of all Americans are prone to cold sores. These unsightly blemishes are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They often burst into view when you least want them—usually when your resistance is low because of a cold, the flu, pregnancy, sunburn, or before a job interview, your wedding day or some other stressful event. Cold sores generally take about two weeks to clear up. Here’s an easy home remedy to speed up the healing process...

Combine one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of honey (preferably raw honey), and dab the cold sore with a cotton swab dipped in this mixture. Do this three times a day (once in the morning, afternoon and evening). The sore should be gone in less than a week.

More quick all-natural fixes...

Thursday, December 26 , 2013

Cold-Weather Itchy-Skin Relief

Cold weather and itchy skin usually go hand in hand. When the heat comes on, the humidity goes down, and the dry air can make your whole body feel like a patch of sandpaper. Here’s a simple, inexpensive kitchen remedy that will make your skin feel (and look) good again...

Once a week, slough off the dead skin cells from your itchy areas with a nonchemical, gently abrasive exfoliant. Take one-eighth cup of stone-ground cornmeal and mix in enough water (about one scant tablespoon) to make a thick paste. Gently scrub the itchy areas (shins, arms, elbows...it’s gentle enough for your face, too) with the cornmeal paste. Wipe off the remaining paste with a damp wash cloth, and enjoy your soft, smooth skin.

More natural skin solutions...

Wednesday, December 25 , 2013

Offbeat Christmas Movie Picks

We love rewatching It's a Wonderful Life every holiday season just as much as the next person...and White Christmas...and Miracle on 34th Street...and A Christmas Story, etc. But variety is the spice of life, especially when young folks are home on vacation and aren't thrilled with the same old classics. Here are some lesser-known flicks with a holiday theme or background that you and your family can stream or rent (or check out from your local library) and enjoy together this week between Christmas and New Year's. We had help from a few of our movie-savvy “elves” to select the best (albeit obscure) Christmas-themed movies. Each list below is chronological.

For the kids in your family (age seven and older)...

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934, not rated). You may have tucked away in your memory a band of marching wooden soldiers and a lovable, bumbling comedy duo trying to make things right. That would be this movie, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, toy makers who save the day in Toyland. This movie hasn’t lost its charm over the generations.

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1962, not rated). An inspiring coming-of-age story set in the 1860s, filled with beautiful winter scenery and skating…and a suspenseful ending that will entertain the whole family.

Ziggy’s Gift (1982, not rated, also available on YouTube.com). Young and old will enjoy this short animated piece based on the Ziggy cartoon that shares the message that giving is the best part of the holiday.

Home Alone (1990, rated PG). When his family takes off on a holiday vacation to France, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left behind and has to fend off two klutzy burglars. This is a beloved family comedy with some slapstick action.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, rated PG) This stop-motion animated “thriller” written by Tim Burton features Jack Skellington who brings some Yuletide adventures to Halloweentown. Slightly scary, but filled with delightful imagery.

Little Women (1994, rated PG). This version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, complete with snowy scenes from New England, will delight the girls (and young women) in your family.

Elf (2003, rated PG). The story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human raised among elves, who travels to New York City to find his true identity. Silly and sweet, all in one package.

The Polar Express (2004, rated G). This is an animated drama based on the holiday children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. Tom Hanks narrates this beautiful tale about a mysterious train that helps a little boy believe.

Shrek the Halls (2007, not rated). Fans of Shrek will love this short animated tale.

For mature audiences (teens and beyond)…

3 Godfathers (1948, not rated). Legendary director-actor duo John Ford and John Wayne deliver an entertaining mix of old-time religion and gun-slinging outlaws in this little-known Western based on the biblical story of the Three Wise Men. No one says a line like John Wayne can.

Trading Places (1983, rated R). This film is a little on the raunchy side to be called “Christmas themed,” but it has plenty of holiday scenes to fit the spirit of the season, and it has plenty of laughs. It features SNL alumni Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd at their best.

The Sure Thing (1985, rated PG-13). This charming teen romantic comedy stars John Cusack as Walter traveling with his “mismatch” Alison (Daphne Zuniga) to California for the holidays. Breakout performances are sure to entertain.

Scrooged (1988, rated PG-13). This film is a laugh-filled (although slightly dark) adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Bill Murray.

Die Hard (1988, rated R). According to Rotten Tomatoes, “its many imitators (and sequels) have never come close to matching the taut thrills of this definitive holiday action classic.”

When Harry Met Sally (1989, rated R). The comedy hit starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan has a few Christmases…and all is resolved on New Year’s Eve (you remember!).

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989, rated PG-13). Chevy Chase lights up the neighborhood and engages in numerous other hilarious sight gags, but there’s also some sentimentality to make this a worthwhile holiday treat.

A Midnight Clear (1992, rated R). A beautifully filmed war movie featuring excellent performances by the young Ethan Hawke and Gary Sinise. A small, tight-knit group of soldiers experience hardship and grace during World War II.

The Santa Clause (1994, rated PG). Sitcom star Tim Allen inherits the job of St. Nick and hilarity ensues.

While You Were Sleeping (1995, rated PG). A wacky romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman in snowy Chicago…irresistible.

Everyone Says I Love You (1996, rated R). This lighthearted musical by Woody Allen spans a few holidays and ends with Christmas in Paris. And guess what? It’s got romance!

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001, rated R). Renée Zellweger is adorable as Bridget Jones, who must choose between the sparring Daniel (Hugh Grant) and Mark (Colin Firth) (rotten luck!). Her quandary is surrounded by much holiday cheer and merriment.

About a Boy (2002, rated PG-13). Another charming comedy with Hugh Grant as a layabout who has written the seasonal radio hit “Santa’s Super Sleigh” and who befriends a small boy in need of a role model.

Love, Actually (2003, rated R). We couldn’t help listing one more romance! Features holiday love vignettes (and broken hearts) with more than a dozen characters. An amazing cast…Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman shine in this.

…And for a good goof: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, rated PG). Alien invaders kidnap St. Nick. Need we say more?

What are your favorite holiday movies? We’d love to know!

According to the late American columnist Burton Hillis, “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

Merry Christmas to you and yours, from Joan, Lydia and everyone at Bottom Line Publications!

More ways to enjoy family time...


Tuesday, December 24 , 2013

Fun Christmas Photo Craft

As guests show up at your house for your holiday celebration—especially those you haven't seen in a long time—snap pictures of them just before the hello hug with your cell phone or a Polaroid camera, if you have one. (Yes, Polaroid film and cameras are available—search online and you'll see.) Warn your guests just before you click the shutter so that they are not startled by a sudden shock of light! Print the photos on your computer or color copier (or use your Polaroids), and then mat them with red and green construction paper (or whatever you have around the house...doubled-up leftover wrapping paper works, too). You may want to put the photos in the center of stars or other shapes. If you print the photos off your computer, try printing them in black-and-white—its striking look contrasts beautifully with the colored background paper. Punch a hole in each mat, thread a red, green or gold ribbon through it, and attach each to a tabletop Christmas tree, creating a “family tree.” It will be a conversation piece...and the photos will serve as a fond memory of this year's Christmas celebration!

More holiday cheer...


Monday, December 23 , 2013

A Cure for Musty Books

If you're a book lover, you may run out of bookshelf space and have to store your excess books in cartons or those large plastic bins you see in container stores. Wrap a few charcoal briquettes in cheesecloth or in an old sock, and put them in the box along with the books. (Some plastic containers even have a small compartment in the lid for such mildew-busting products.) This helps to prevent mustiness and mildew.  Store the carton in a cool, dry place, which will also help to keep your books in good condition. If you've failed to do that to already-stored books and you've got a few musty classics, here's what to do...

Put the odorous tome (or two or three, but don't crowd too tightly) in a brown paper bag, and fill the bag with crinkled pieces of plain (noncolored) newspaper or one cup of natural clay kitty litter (not the clumping kind). Close up the bag, securing it with a rubber band. After a few days, open the bag, take out the book and check to see if the smell is gone. If it isn't, replace the newspaper pages or kitty litter with a fresh supply, close the bag tightly again and let it stay that way for two more days. Keep repeating until the book is odor-free.

More fresh home ideas...


Thursday, December 19 , 2013

Easy-On Boot Trick

If your tall, tight fashion boots (or any tight boots, really) don't have laces or zippers, a plastic bag can help you get them on easily. Place a closed plastic bag into the boot, with the bottom of the bag reaching into the boot's foot area and the top of the bag extending out over the boot opening. Hold the top of the bag and the top of the boot with both hands, then slide your foot in on the top surface of the bag lining the insides and into the boot. You can cut open the bag if it isn't big enough to fit your boot—it's the “slidey” plastic part that's important. Once your foot is in the boot, pull out the bag.

More clever ways to make life easy...