A CJLutz Fashion WWWeb Page with Hearts
Your One-Stop Guide to Fashion on the WWWeb!
Fashion and Household TipsBecause, you are what you wear! TM
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- Prevent Runs in Your Hose:
Before wearing hose for the first time, wash by hand using a gentle detergent. After washing and squeezing out, roll hose into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in freezer until frozen. Take out of freezer, allow to thaw, and then hang to dry as usual.
- Removing Wax:
If you spill candle wax on a clothing item, take a paper bag and put it on top of the wax. Run a warm iron over the paper bag and it will remove the wax. This will hopefully save you from unnecessary cleaning bills.
- Wool Fabrics:
The traditional cold weather warrior. As fierce as it is in keeping out the cold, it needs to be cleaned gently. Most wool is dry clean only, however if an item's garment care label indicates it is machine washable, it can be washed on delicate (minimum agitation and spinning to prevent shrinkage), using cold water with a mild detergent. For best care, do not use heat. Air dry flat. Minimize any wringing, soaking or twisting.
- High-Performance Fabrics:
Microfiber and similar fabrics are popular for their light weight, moisture wicking properties and warmth. Follow care labels carefully when cleaning. To keep them in top shape, wash on a delicate cycle in the warmest water recommended with Wiskģ with ColorHold Bleaching Action, a bleach alternative that whitens whites and brightens colors. Dry on a low temperature, using dryer sheets to reduce static. If removed from the dryer promptly, items will be virtually wrinkle free. Avoid using fabric softener, as it will eliminate the fiber's ability to wick moisture away.
- Suede Leather:
To get grease off suede, immerse toothbrush in vinegar and gently rub over the spot.
You can remove felt (non-permanent) and roller ball pen marks from leather with saddle soap. Use citrus-based cleaners to remove Ballpoint stains.
- Stain Removal:
- Use cheap shampoo, dish soap or laundry detergent and a toothbrush to scrub away those rings around the collar of shirts.
- Laundry 101:
- Empty your pockets.
- Turn down cuffs on your pants and shirts.
- Turn your jeans, sweaters, etc. inside out if you don't want them to fade as quickly.
- Close all zippers, snaps and hooks, and tie strings together.
- Read and follow labels! Consider these little tags your own personal laundry cheat sheets. Apparel care labels make sorting fool-proof.
- Separate dark colors from light colors from whites.
- Sort delicate fabrics from heavier ones.
- Keep lint-producing fabrics separate.
- Wash very dirty clothes separately (as dirt can pass on to less soiled clothes in the washing machine).
- Choose temperature and cycle settings on your washing machine. This will vary, but generally:
Hot = whites and very dirty clothes
- Empty filters.
Cold = darks and colors that run
Warm = everything else
- Turn on washer, then add detergent.
- When basket is about 1/4 full with water, start adding dirty clothes. (Remember not to overload or cram the washer!)
- Take your clothes out of the washing machine as soon as the cycle is over to avoid wrinkling.
Try these tips to make the most of your own good looks.
- Minimize curves. A medium-length, double-breasted suit disguises big breasts and hips.
- Maximize curves. A halter dress makes an athletic physique more voluptuous.
- Elongate your body. A pinstripe suit creates a vertical optical illusion, making you appear taller and thinner.
- Conceal your butt. A cover-up blazer hides your behind and gives you the confidence to wear a body-fitting dress.
- Disguise big breasts. A cropped jacket diverts attention from a busty upper body by emphasizing the waist.
- Hide your tummy. An A-line dress and matching coat are instantly chic and can camouflage a multitude of sins.
- Slim the body. A single-button jacket with long pants has an overall slenderizing effect.
- Cover the thighs. A long jacket with slim pants is thoroughly modern, yet covers you waist to knee.
- Feminize a boyish frame. A long-sleeved T-shirt and fitted pencil skirt makes a skinny, petite body more shapely.
- Lengthen a shorter torso. A white shirt worn half unbuttoned and over pants extends the upper body.
- Buy Used Clothing:
Just be sure to check each piece carefully and know your prices, brand names, and quality before you go. Things to check for:
- zippers - make sure they work well
- buttons, snaps, etc. - be sure they are all there and not broken
- wear areas - knees, elbows, seat, cuffs, pockets, etc.
- seams - make sure they are not coming apart
- sizes - check measurements, sometimes clothes have been altered or just sized wrong
- markings - names, initials, prices in perm ink
- Before You Buy:
- Before you buy yourself a new item of clothing, learn to give something up that you already own. Give the item to a local charity. In addition to doing a good deed, this will really make you think before you spend.
- Old Clothes:
- Flannel Shirts - Remove the buttons and use them on a bag to make it a gift bag. The buttons can outline anything from trees or flowers to a smiling face. Cut the shirt up and use it to dust your furniture. Remember to dust with water, (slightly damp cloth) not oil, because most oils will attract dust.
- Old Socks - Cleaning out your sock drawer? Use your old cotton and cotton blend socks (the ones with the holes in them) as dust rags. Just split them open so they lie flat or put them over your hand as a dust mitten.
- Budget Beauty:
- For those of you who use solid deodorant, this will give you at least one FREE container a year. Next time you "finish" a container of deodorant, take a nail file, or a similar tool, a clean glass or heavy plastic jar, and scoop out the deodorant that remains in the jar. Repeat this every time you finish a stick of deodorant, you'll be surprised at how much is still there that you can't use. When you have enough "scraps" to fill the last empty container, melt the scraps in a microwave. Stir with a Popsicle stick to blend, and pour into the deodorant container. You can mix brands, but try to get the same scent. It works!
- Cosmetics can be very expensive if bought for full price in department stores. You can cut costs with a little creativity. Clearance sales are a great place to find cosmetics even if not exactly perfect. You can even buy face powder that was too dark and add white baby powder to it. The result can be made perfect.
- Makeup remover - A lot of companies have come out with expensive makeup remover cloths, but some have found that baby/wet wipes work just as well! Or use baby shampoo! The "no tears" formula will not sting, and it is very good at removing all eye makeup! Trial size bottles of baby shampoo fit nicely in the medicine cabinet.
- see baby tips -
- Save Money on Shaving - Shaving is an expensive habit! A good way to increase the
longevity of your razors is to keep them clean. Also try shaving with bar/liquid soap and a lather brush, if you wish.
- Travel Tips:
- Get organized before a trip so that when you have those last minute surprises, you will be able to handle them.
- Be as prepared as possible for your destination. Study the language so that you know at least the basic phrases.
- Prepare yourself mentally. Positive thinking, not negative.
- Travel more to be more comfortable traveling!
- Air Travel Tips:
- Pack a sandwich along with your frozen water bottle in an insulated lunch bag when traveling. The water bottle will keep your sandwich cold and will melt along the way and offer you a drink. You never know if the airline will have food you like, sometimes it can be pretty bad, and if your plane is delayed you have something to eat at a cheap price. Better to be safe than sorry!
- Chew gum to relieve pressure on the ears during plane trips. And children too young to chew gum can drink through a straw. For the infant, a bottle that has a
just-big-enough opening in the nipple is great. Sucking and Chewing helps equalize the pressure in the ears.
- Auto Travel Tips:
- Stock up on healthy snacks, dried fruit and nuts. I usually travel with a jar of peanut butter and jelly and some bread, rice cakes, a coffee pot to make some while at a motel or campground, a thermos for the coffee, a bottle of juice (you can stop and buy some fresh on the way) and water bottles which you can refill at your stops.
- If possible travel with a cooler. You can then bring mayo, butter/margarine, cheese, and keep your drinks cool. If the motels have refrigerators you can refreeze your blue ice or refill containers with ice at their ice machine.
- Packing Tips:
- Do you have the luggage straps or brightly colored string/ribbon to have your bag stand out at
the airport? What about your luggage tags clearly marked with
your address info? And a duplicate inside the bag in case the
first one is lost?
- From luggage, let's move to toiletries - if you are staying in a hotel, can you find out what they provide for free in the rooms so that you don't have to pack a hairdryer, travel iron, shampoo or conditioner? Sometimes, hotels will provide a
coffee pot in your room - if so, bring your favorite coffee or
tea in case you don't care for their brand. Are all your
liquids in nicely sealed tight containers, placed in Ziplock
bags to ensure a spill-free ride? That said, do you have extra
Ziplock bags to put to other practical uses?
- What about wipes? Did you buy them for emergency cleanup on route? Or to protect yourself on the plane from the germs of others?
- Did you remember the duct tape? Can't hurt to bring it along, because you never know when it might come in handy. Just break a pencil in half and wrap some around it - that's
it and you'll be set.
- As you pack for your trip, think about creating that travel drawer where you throw in all your supplies, like the ones
mentioned above, and where you can pick or choose which items
you need to bring on each trip. It's simple to pack then: just
open the drawer and make a few decisions.
- After you've thrown together all the clothes you are thinking of bringing - go back and take away half of them. You should
be set now.
- Think hard about what you want access to on the plane: books, magazines, medicine, extra glasses, etc... and start creating
that pile over there for your carry-on stuff. If you are going
by car, don't forget to do a winter storm kit just in case you
Food & Kitchen Hints
- Make Your Own Wipes:
- With a serrated knife, saw a normal roll of paper towels into two half-sized rolls.
- Pull the cardboard core from the center and place one of the mini rolls in a coffee can.
- Feed the center sheet of the roll through an X cut in the can's plastic lid.
- Mix 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons baby shampoo or dish soap with about 1 1/2 cups water and pour the solution over the towels (exact quantities of water vary according to towels).
- Using Cloth instead of Paper:
- Using cloth towels/washcloths (instead of paper towels or wipes) and napkins reduces the amount of paper that goes into the garbage and saves you money. If you buy dark colored cloth they will handle stains better and look good longer.
- You might want to consider a morning purple grape juice. It provides a far greater antioxidant effect than orange juice.
- Who says chocolate is bad? The antioxidant phenols in a 1.5-ounce chocolate bar are about the same as those in a glass of red wine.
- I save the wax paper bags from the inside of boxes, i.e. cereal, and use them for warming food in the microwave.
- Do It Yourself:
- Food Processor / Blender - Invest in a food processor and/or blender and learn to make pizza dough & sauce from scratch. A pizza made at home, with homegrown tomatoes, can cost you less than $2.
- Bread Maker - Invest in a bread maker and learn to make pizza dough & bread/buns from scratch.
- Don't forget to buy appliances used or on clearance and food stuffs on sale or grow your own! [SEE GARDENING BELOW]
- When it comes to grilling indoors there's only one rule ó donít. Most grills emit potentially lethal gasses and fumes. So, if you're craving that great-tasting barbecued flavor during the winter months, purchase an indoor grill.
- To remove lime deposits from teakettles, fill with equal parts vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and allow to stand overnight. Same thing works for coffee/tea makers. And if you use a coffee maker AND teapot put the vinegar solution through the coffee maker then put it in the teapot and let it stand overnight. You can also use it to clean faucets, shower heads, etc.
- In using powdered cleansers, poke only two holes in the canister top. This way less will come out, so there will be no waste. Just use about 2 shakes in the sink.
- To easily clean a grater after use, soak it in warm water to loosen the stuck-on bits. Then, instead of washing with a sponge that just catches and rips on the teeth, use a stiff brush. An old toothbrush for edges.
- Fruit/Vegetable Skins:
- Potato skins contain lots of fiber as well as minerals, such as calcium and zinc, that your body needs. Potato peels also contain necessary vitamins. It is NOT true, however, that potato skins contain ALL the vitamins a potato has to offer. Vitamins are pretty evenly distributed through the whole potato, UNLESS the potato is baked. In baked potatoes, the peel really does contain almost all of the vitamins because baking causes the nutrients to migrate to the peel.
But the skin and leaves of the potato do contain glycoalkaloids, which can make you sick. That's why you should never eat old potatoes that have sprouted eyes. Glycoalkaloids are heavily concentrated in potato eyes. Glycoalkaloids can also be found in potato skin, but you'd have to eat an awful lot of potato skins to have a problem.
- Apple skins are a great source of fiber and they DON'T have glycoalkaloids. So Wash off the pesticides and eat those skins! However, avoid eating apple seeds! They contain the makings of cyanide, another lethal poison. Once again, though, you're still pretty safe. To get sick, you'd have to eat more than a whole cup full of just seeds.
- Don't skin yourself of the good stuff -- eat those skins!
- Researchers say that the main cause of chronic bad breath -- not just garlic breath -- is a group of compounds that contains sulfur. Because zinc binds to sulfur, mouthwashes, gum and toothpaste that contain zinc can help reduce bad breath better than mints or most other compounds. But make sure you take no more than the recommended daily amount of zinc.
- Taste Buds:
- Ever notice that food tastes different when it's hot. That's because heat brings out more of the aroma, and our sense of taste relies a lot on how things smell.
But, according to the February 2000 issue of the journal Nature, it's also because heat can stimulate taste buds, so that they send a signal back to the brain.
For example, if you put something warm on the front edge of your tongue, you'll get a sensation of sweetness. That's because the nerves that are being stimulated only know how to send one message to the brain: the sensation of sweetness. The brain can't tell if the nerves were stimulated by a chemical, like sugar, or something else, like heat.
Cold temperatures, by the way, usually cause a sour or salty taste.
- Baking Soda:
- When it's time to remove the box of baking soda from the refrigerator, do NOT throw it away. It is still usable for the many other properties is has other than absorbing oders, but don't use it in foods.
- Oven Cleaning:
- Set oven on warm for about 20 minutes, then turn off. Place a small glass baking dish (don't use metal) with about a half-inch or so of full strength ammonia on the top shelf. Put a large pan of boiling water on bottom shelf and let it set overnight. In the morning open oven and let it air out before washing off with soap and water. Even the hard baked-on grease will wash off easily.
- Dishwasher Tips:
- Next time you run your dishwasher, read the little fill box to see how much detergent it recommends. I think you will be surprised! Why fill it to the top when 1/4-1/2 full works as directed.
- The estimated cost of a dishwasher is 7.8 cents per hour. To avoid wasting money:
- Be sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded.
- Don't use the rinse hold for just a few dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
- Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
- Let your dishes air dry, inexpensive -- don't use the heat dry, very expensive.
- Kitchen Storage:
- Need more kitchen storage? Consider a wall carousel. They hang on the wall and are great for storing cooking oil, bottles of vinegar and other daily-use items.
- Keep it fresh by keeping the air away from it! Use a thermos/carafe.
- If you decide to cut your caffeine intake, there's a period of withdrawal -- and it can feel awful.
- Sharpening - Step 1: Place your flat, medium-grit stone on the table in front of you. Lay the blade flat on the stone with the edge towards you and the hilt/handle next to the stone so the length of the blade is at a 45 degree angle to the length of the stone. Grasp the knife by the handle. With your index finger along the back edge of the blade, raise the flat of the blade off the surface of the stone at a 20 degree angle. Keeping the edge of the blade in contact with the stone, firmly and carefully draw the knife towards you. This action will grind the blade from hilt to point. Maintain the 45 degree angle, and the angle that you've raised the blade off the stone. Apply medium to light pressure as you're drawing the edge across the stone. (For the sake of comparison, zero pressure would have the knife blade resting on the stone without touching it.) Apply a little pressure. A very dull edge will require more pressure. Turn the knife over, and repeat the process. If you keep the knife in the same hand, you'll be pushing the blade away from you this time. It's important to maintain the same angles on both sides of the blade. Go slowly and alternate strokes on the stone until each side of the blade has been stroked several times. A very dull knife will need a few more strokes than a better kept one.
That might be enough, but a final bevel will make it better. Step 2:
This will strengthen the edge, so that it stays sharp longer and is less prone to be damaged by everyday use. You'll create the bevel simply by repeating Step 1, with two modifications: use a fine-grit stone, and raise the blade a bit higher off the stone when you draw it across. Place your flat, fine-grit stone on the table in front of you, and lay the blade flat on the stone at a 45 degree angle, as you did before. Grasp the knife by the handle. With your index finger along the back edge of the blade, raise the blade off the surface of the stone at a slightly greater angle than before--25 to 30 degrees.
Keeping the edge of the blade in contact with the stone, firmly and carefully draw the knife towards you. This action will grind the blade from hilt to point. Hold the 45 degree angle, and the angle that you've raised the blade off the stone, as constant as possible. Again, apply medium to light pressure as you're drawing the edge across the stone. Turn the knife over, and repeat the process. Alternate strokes again until each side of the blade has been across the stone several times--about five strokes for each side should suffice. The pressure that you apply while drawing the blade across the stone should get progressively lighter with each stroke. At this point you should have a sharp knife.
- There are lots of commercial one-step sharpening utensils available. They're used by drawing the knife through a narrow V-shape setup. Although they're certainly convenient, they can also cause problems by exerting uneven pressure on the blade--creating waves in the blade as it passes through the V.
- Knives with a scalloped or serrated edge cannot be sharpened at home. Scalloped knives (such as a bread knife) generally require professional attention when they become dulled. Serrated knives (the never-need-sharpening variety) are usually very low quality, and are meant to be thrown away when the edge becomes damaged or unusable.
- Use Your Leftovers:
- Keep a few containers in your freezer and label them as they are to be used. For instance, keep one with chicken, one with vegetables and one with beef. When you have a full container of vegetables and one of beef, make a stew or soup. Don't throw away one teaspoon of something that you can use.
- Bagel Pizza
A good way to satisfy the urge for pizza and use up leftovers. Split bagels, English muffins, or even use toast, spread a little pizza sauce on top, load them up with leftovers, sprinkle cheese and put them under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly. Works with most leftovers.
- Diet Tips:
- Researchers found that eating a teaspoonful of hot pepper before meals reduced the amount people ate. And the hot pepper seemed to have an effect on the nervous system so that the people not only ate less, but also used more energy.
- Researchers found that if you drink three cups of green tea a day, you'll burn more fat.
- Instead of buying frozen/take-out pizzas, make your dough from scratch. A plain bread dough can be made in advance and frozen. A paste can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes & tomato paste mixed together. Top with your favorite toppings, buy everything on sale, and your expense should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.
- Buttermilk Substitute:
- for recipes, try using plain yogurt mixed with milk. Use 1/3 of a cup of yogurt to 1 cup of milk.
- Citrus Juice:
- To get the most juice out of fresh lemons (or oranges), bring them to room temperature and roll them under your palm along the kitchen counter before squeezing.
- If you bought lemons in bulk (or have a tree) and they are close to going "bad", squeeze all the juice into a bowl, remove all seeds, and pour into empty ice cube trays. Freeze and voila, when you need fresh lemon juice take the tray out and pop a cube. Let it melt and you've got fresh lemon juice! They're very refreshing in a glass of ice water.
- To stop the tears when chopping onions, light a candle near the cutting board. The sulfur compounds released from the onions will burn off before they get near your eyes.
- If you don't believe in coupons, try this. When you use coupons, take the savings and deposit them into a special savings account to be used for later. You'll be surprised how quickly they add up.
- Baking Cheesecake:
- Cheesecakes tend to get overcooked. A cheesecake is done when the center is still wobbly. It looks undercooked at this stage, but it isn't -- just leave the door of the oven closed, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for at least one hour. This helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the center. Chill and the once wobbly center should firm up just fine and without the unattractive cracks that overcooking causes.
- Storing Produce:
- If you're storing produce in an unheated basement or garage, use a maximum/minimum thermometer to track temperature fluctuations. Thermometers like these will let you know how warm and cool a given space is over a 24-hour period. They're also useful if you're growing plants in a greenhouse or on a porch.
- Freeze Holiday Goodies:
- Take advantage of those turkeys/hams that are on sale for the holidays. Cook them and cut the meat up for sandwiches. Freeze it and you will pay .49 a pound instead of 2.29 a pound for processed deli turkey/ham. (And always use the bones for soup stock.)
- A good way to save holiday cookies is to use a zipperlock-style bag to freeze them in. If they are likely to stick together, separate them with wax paper or plastic. Also, remember to keep different flavors separate when freezing and defrosting them for guests, separate the cookies onto separate plates so that the tastes don't mix together.
- Same thing for holiday candies, cakes, pies, etc.
- (hint: make plastic dividers by cutting bread bags, or whatever, into squares for separating cookies, hamburger patties, etc.)
- See Cheap below -
- Cheap Tips:
- After each major candy holiday, shop the 50-90% off racks to pick up candy (and/or cookies, cakes, pies, etc.), but know your prices first to be sure you're really getting a good deal!
- Buy one container of the name brand your family wants then reuse the container and refill with generic. For example: cereals, coffee, syrup, soda, juice, water, shampoo, etc. (But be careful, sometimes they are not close enough fool the taste buds, unless you start young!)
- Mix sugar coated and non-sugared cereals. For example: frosted & plain corn flakes.
- Buy past date, past prime foods and use immediately or freeze, then use immediately or cook immediatedly and use soon or freeze for later use.
- Cut fruit or vegetables and remove discolored skin or bad spots and put them in a container in the refridgerator for cheap quick snacks. You get good value and healthy snacks.
- Don't throw away brown bananas. Peel, crush and freeze them for later use in pancakes or banana bread.
- Make Crust with Cracker Crumbs - Crush cracker package remnants and fill a jar in the freezer. Use cracker crumbs and margarine to make a quick crust for quiche--utilizing more remnants of vegetables and cheese.
- See Freeze above -
- Bacon Substitute:
- Use turkey bacon in the microwave. It cooks up crisp and thereís no splatter to clean up. For those of us who are watching our fat content, turkey bacon is great for egg sandwiches and BLT's.
- Meat Marinades:
- Marinate your meats in the refrigerator in a resealable plastic bag with all the air squeezed out. You'll use less of your marinade, it will coat better and you'll save on cleanup time.
- Use a cheap oil & vinegar based salad dressing by itself or as a base. Vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidics help to tenderize tougher/cheaper meats.
- Use less oils if grilling on an open flame to lessen flares/fires.
- Do not use the lefover marinade uncooked on cooked meats!
- Make Extra/Use Leftovers:
Try cooking in bulk and only use your oven when you have to. If you double your recipes and freeze them, you'll save yourself some cash & time.
- Breakfast - waffles, pancakes, french toast, etc. Wrap the extra and freeze. Put in toaster or microwave and quickly heat for a fast breakfast later.
- Lunch or Dinner - casseroles, soups, pastas, etc. Freeze and heat later for lunch or dinner.
- Desserts - pies, cookies, etc. leave uncooked or partially cooked and bake later.
- Cook up 10 pounds of ground beef at a time and then divide it up into half pound packages and just freeze it. Then all the hard stuff is done and make tacos, casseroles or whatever fast.
- When you bake, double your recipe and freeze half. This will save you time and money later when you don't have the time to cook.
- Hate throwing away those leftover veggies? Don't! Start a container in the freezer and freeze any leftovers. Once the container in the freezer gets full, put some meat and all the frozen leftover veggies in the crock pot and have a great meal.
- They're not just leftovers, they're TV dinners & shortcuts.
- Oven Preheating:
- 200 degrees takes about 4.5 minutes
- 350 degrees takes about 8 minutes
Save money and don't preheat any longer than needed.
Don't preheat at all if you don't need to.
- Digestible Foods:
- Easily Digested: sausage, macaroni and cheese, rice-wheat cereal, skim milk, tuna, soy isolate, peanut butter, chicken frankfurters and beef salami
- Poorly Digested: pinto beans, kidney beans and lentils
- Bicycling as your only exercise is not a good idea for your bones. Researchers compared bone density among three groups of males, all about the same age and body size: competitive cyclists, competitive runners and non-exercisers. The runners and cyclists had competed for at least three years and trained for at least four hours a week.
Compared with the non-exercisers, runners had greater bone mineral density in their spines and cyclists had less, say the University of Edinburgh researchers. The report advises young athletes, whose bone density has not yet peaked, not to engage in cycling exclusively, but to include other load-bearing exercises and sports.
- Take a few drops of Rosemary Oil and rub it on your temples to relieve headaches and jet-lag.
- Heart Attack:
- The experts all advise that if you think you're having a heart attack, the first thing you should do is chew an aspirin tablet. They found that swallowing a whole aspirin takes 12 minutes to have any effect on your blood's clotting time; drinking a liquid remedy containing aspirin takes seven minutes to work, but chewing a regular aspirin tablet shows benefits in only five minutes.
- First Aid:
- When you get a splinter, reach for the tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the tape over the splinter, then pull it off from the skin towards the splinter, removes most splinters painlessly and easily.
- Homemade Dog Biscuits:
6 cups flour
2 beaten eggs
4 tsp honey or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup saved chicken, beef, bacon, or other fat drippings
1 1/4 cup hot water or meat stock
Put hot water or meat stock and melted fat drippings into a large bowl. Stir in powdered milk, salt, honey and the eggs. Add the flour, mixing well after each addition.
Knead 3-5 minutes. Be sure to add enough flour to make very stiff dough. Roll to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into shapes. Bake 50 minutes at 350ļ. Allow to cool and dry before storing in an airtight container.
Let the biscuits stay in the oven as they cool down, and they don't get completely dried out. Store these biscuits in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling.
- Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the LORD.
- Ephesians 6:4
- Don't throw away old crayons. Melt them in a tin and make block colors for your children. If you're careful, you can even make the color stripes or swirls.
- If your someone has drawn on the walls, try some WD40 spray on the area. According to what we hear, it should lift the markings right off the surface.
- Clues to Infant Pain:
- Infants, particularly tiny ones born with a low birth weight, don't have many ways to communicate distress. But there are clues.
- Not Pain: when a preemie jumps, twitches or squirms, that's usually not a sign of discomfort. It's just normal movement.
- Pain: when a preemie spreads his fingers or extends his legs, that's a sign of pain.
- Pain Recovery: when a preemie raises his eyebrows, it doesn't indicate immediate pain -- but it does suggest that the infant has been in pain within the past 24 hours, and that he's still recovering from it.
- The journal Pediatric Clinics of North America points out that by making sure an expectant mother has her shots, it's possible to boost the immunity of the baby, at least for the first months of life.
The authors, from the Department of Microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, think that in the future, a mother's shots will allow babies to be born with immunity to herpes and AIDS
- Gum in Hair:
- If your child gets gum in his/her hair, try rubbing peanut butter into the gum. This should remove it without damaging the hair. Works for adults too...
- Bath Toys:
- Use Mesh Bag for Bath Toys - from oranges or whatever, to hang up the kids' bath toys. The bag may have a handle, so hang it over the shower head until the contents are dry, then move it to another hook after they're dry. This keeps the toys out of the way as well as allowing them to dry.
- see below -
- Math & Music:
- If your child is having trouble learning math, maybe it's time to take piano lessons.
The journal Adolescence reports on the Columbia County Public School System study in which students scored best in mathematics. They found some curious associations:
- Students who studied music did better at math than those who had no music training.
- Students who had private music lessons did better at math than students who had group lessons.
- And students who learned to play keyboard instruments did better at math than students who learned wind or string instruments.
- On second thought, maybe you shouldn't wait . . . start them now!
- Get Organized:
- Most people make a New Yearís resolution to get organized! But, before you rush out and buy those expensive plastic boxes, go through your home first. See what you have that you could use instead. Packing boxes and paper boxes work really well.
There are really only 3 main things to remember when you are
trying to organize and store items in your home.
If you have not used it in a year - get rid of it! Don't
hold onto household items with the idea that you will use it
Find a specific place for everything. Label boxes, shelves,
doors or containers so that everyone in the household knows
what goes where.
Cluster things that are similar and are most likely to be
used together. For example store the baking items in a
cupboard for baking, lightbulbs near the stepstool, etc.
With these items in mind there are many affordable and
creative ideas you can use in finding unusual storage space
in your home.
- CHILDREN'S STORAGE IDEAS
A child-size bench can make a inexpensive bedside bookshelf
that can be purchased unpainted and finished to match your
child's room. You can also use empty rectangle, plastic, diaper wet-wipe
containers to store small toys and blocks. Available in
primary colors or pastels, wipe containers can be used with
the flip up lid left on or removed to make a see-through
bin. Label the recycled containers with a permanent marker
to help children learn to sort their toys into the correct
bin. If you decide to store a different group of toys the
label can be erased with a dry paper towel and finger nail
If you child has room under their bed consider adding 4
rolling wheels to a yard sale dresser drawer. Most twin beds
can accommodate 2 or more drawers and make for easy toy
cleanup. Use a hanging shoe bag for kids to organize small
stuffed animals or Barbie dolls.
Add a skirt to a desk or bookshelves to hide storage boxes
and make the room look neat and tidy. Install hooks to the
back of children's doors to hang backpacks and coats.
Hardware stores offer a long cork and metal running board
that can be installed to hang artwork or notes.
- HOUSEHOLD STORAGE
Decorating empty coffee cans, chip cylinders and cookie tins
or wooden craft boxes make great looking storage containers
that can be used in virtually any room in the house. Boxes
can be decorated with left over wall paper scraps, colored
corrugated paper and twine or sponge art. Be sure and label
your items when the boxes are finished!
Decorative screens are a popular way to define a rooms space
or maintain privacy. Adding fabric pockets to the panels are
a fun way to add storage options. Use the pockets to
organize magazines, newspaper, unopened mail or your sewing
Bathroom towels can be stored attractively stacked and
rolled up in a oversized wicker basket. Towels or magazines
can also be hung from an antique wooden ladder in your
Use wall mounted baskets attached to shelf brackets for a
attractive shelf that can hold bathroom supplies or home
office paperwork. A picture frame or bulletin board can be
made out of premade vinyl or cedar lattice as well.
Be creative and try to think of alternative uses for normal
household items and you will be surprised at the simple
storage solutions you can come up with.
- Be creative!
- Making Envelopes:
- Make envelopes out of your old maps (or other interesting paper). Not only will this create a colorful envelope, but you will be amazed at how long people will study it to try to figure out what the map is of. Here's how to make the envelope:
- Open an envelope at the seams to use as a pattern.
- Copy on the WRONG side lightly and draw the envelope.
- Your card can dictate the size as you get more proficient.
- Glue at the folds with school glue.
- Hardwood Floors:
- Touch up hardwood floor scratches with a wood filler crayon. Find one that matches the wood in your floor and follow the directions on the package.
- Use rugs and take off shoe to keep scratches from happening.
- Dust is the enemy of a power tool, since it clogs the inner workings of the motor and shortens its life span. This is especially a problem with reciprocating saws, which end up covered with plaster and drywall debris. To solve the problem, blow the dust out regularly with an air compressor, if you have one. If you donít, just head to the local gas station and put a quarter in the air machine. It works exactly the same ó and your power tools will thank you.
- Donít strike one hammer against another. Chips can fly off at a speed that can endanger you and those around you.
- Wear eye protection whenever using a hammer or most other tools.
- Get a multi-tool. This does for craftsmen what the Swiss Army Knife did for outdoor folks. It's versatile, portable and incredibly convenient -- the perfect do-it-all tool for someone who does it all.
- Fiberglass stepladders are at the high end of ladders. These heavy ladders donít conduct electricity and are nearly indestructible. Sill, they are heavier to cart around.
- For when you need an extra hand, get some locking pliers. They can grip objects that your own two hands canít. Get several of diffent types & sizes including long-nose for small things.
- Always hang your screwdrivers with their handles up. This helps protect the tips of the tools and helps you identify the size you need easily. Denote regular and Phillips heads by marking a each with plus sign or minus sign on the top of the handles.
- Project Tips:
- When installing a tile or stone floor, remember to start in the middle of the room and work your way out. This will ensure that you will have even pieces on each side of the room.
- Winter is a good time to consult with contractors, estimate the materials required, work out financing and schedule a renovation or improvement.
- Want to paint a brick or stone wall? Think carefully. Restoring it to its natural color is very difficult as paint particles often stick in the brick ó and can stain the stone. Same goes for painting natural wood - it's tuff to go back.
- The best plan for fixing a room is to work Top to Bottom. Before going to work on your floors, tackle the ceiling and the walls first. Youíll avoid dripping paint or finish on a newly laid floor. Plus, you will avoid scratching it up with scuff marks or messing up the carpet.
- When painting, follow this rule of thumb. Apply latex-based paints horizontally ó from side to side. Oil-based paints should be applied vertically ó working from top to bottom.
- When working on any project, be sure to follow this tried and true method, "measure twice, and cut once."
- Make sure you take care and follow all label directions when using ladders around your home. In 2000 over 150,000 people ended up in hospital emergency rooms due to accidents from ladders. Always make sure the ladder is in good repair. Ladders are rated for maximum height of use and weight capacity, so never go over either rating. Your safety depends on it.
- Get a broken key out of a lock with a tiny nail. Put a tiny drop of "super glue" on the end of the nail, and touch it to the visible end of the key. Gently extract the broken key. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO GET THE GLUE INSIDE!
- Cloth or Paper:
- Use cloth tablecloths. Buy busy prints when they are on sale. It saves the table, especially if you have a little one who gets as much on the table as themselves. It is more sanitary than the vinyl ones that you can never quite get all the food off of.
- Buy inexpensive, busy print terry cloth and make table cloths and napkins. Maybe use different colors/patterns for each person and maybe even personalize.
- Use cloth towels/washcloths for clean ups and it saves so much on paper and does a better job. Cloth diapers are the best deal ever and for potty training use cloth training pants with rubber/plastic pants at night. Investing in a few dozen heavy duty diapers can last several children.
- Furniture Care:
- Keep drawers from sticking by running a dry bar of soap over the drawer guides and edges of the drawers. This will help them slide, but only if the joints and guides are in place.
- Most wood furniture should be waxed two or three times a year, depending on the use it gets. Use paste wax, the solid wax that comes in tins. Once applied, the wax will simply wear away gradually over time, leaving no "waxy buildup," haze, or film.
- When refurbishing furniture take the hardware off and clean it. Soak it in jewelry cleaner -- an easy way to remove tarnish & increase shine.
- Furniture Polish
- 2 cups of olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 tsp of lemon oil
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and shake before each use. Use this spray only once a month then use the same rag for the rest of the month.
- Save Energy, Winter:
- Keep the heater's filters clean. (Write the date on the end of the filter when you install it)
- Keep the thermostat at the coolest temperature possible.
- Wear warmer clothes indoors.
- Use/install a ceiling fan to get the warm air down from the ceiling.
- And don't forget to add some humidity; use plants, water bowls/fountains, etc.
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter -- it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
- Do not fertilize indoor plants until spring. Because houseplants are not in active growth during the winter, they won't utilize the food you're giving them, so don't waste it!
- Spring Cleaning:
- The moist, damp weather we have this time of year can encourage moss and algae to grow on sidewalks. This can be slippery & dangerous. Scrape off as much as you can, then apply a commercial removal product containing zinc sulfate. You'll get best results if you do it during a dry spell. Same thing works for walls, etc.
- Have your entire heating/cooling system serviced by a professional at once a year. Itís worth the money to have the peace of mind that everythingís operating properly. You can also have them show you how to do minor check-ups like draining radiators and lubricating pumps.
- Increasing your light efficiency is one of the fastest ways to decrease your energy bills. If you replace 25% of your lights in high-use areas with fluorescent lights, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy bill.
- Use linear fluorescent and energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps in fixtures throughout your home to provide high quality and high efficiency lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 6 to 10 times longer. Although fluorescent lamps are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they pay for themselves by saving energy over their lifetime.
- Turning lights off & on. A fluorescent light take extra energy to start so they should be turned on for longer use. An incandescent light puts strain/burns the filament on start so do fibrations.
- Install a dimmer switch anywhere you could use varying degrees of light. Make sure to shut down the breaker when installing a dimmer. If you donít, electricity can blow out the dimmer.
- The ability to heal/help with colors:
- Red stimulates mental energy
- Yellow stimulates the nerves
- Blue heals organic disorders such as colds and hay fever, etc.
- Start your year off right. Go through your house room by room, go through every closet, and set aside anything that you haven't used in the past 6 months or worn in the past year. Have a garage sale (or online auction) and turn your unused items into cash or just donate them for a tax deduction (but do that before Christmas).
- Place a small amount of bleach in a squirt bottle and fill it to the top with water. Use for spraying in bathtubs to get rid of mildew, cleaning counter-tops, spot spraying shower curtains, washing off cutting boards, and wiping down the bathroom counter and toilet seats.
- Use alcohol and water to clean glass. It works well and saves on expensive store-bought cleaners. The same can be used to clean your glasses. Use rubbing alcohol to clean bathroom fixtures and mirrors. Mix 2 tbsp. per cup of water. Kills germs too...
- Need to remove a stain on wood? Mix equal parts of water and glycerin. Dab the mixture on the stain, let it sit for 30 minutes and then blot.
- Remove Wax DripsFrom Furniture - rub wax with ice, then scrape with a credit cardís edge. Use cream polish and steel wool to remove residue. Buff with a soft cloth.
- Snow Removal:
- When choosing a snow shovel, choose one with a light, but solid blade. A steel blade is more durable, but a lightweight aluminum one requires less effort to lift. Plastic is a good choice for a plow-style shovel, cheap to buy & replace. Many snow shovels are now available with ďno-stickĒ coatings on the blade, which can eliminate the annoying problem of trying to remove the snow that frequently sticks to the shovel.
- Usually you want to buy quality, but sometimes cheap & disposible is better.
- Prior to shoveling snow, do at least five minutes of warm-up exercises, like jumping jacks or stretches. This can help prevent pulled muscles and torn ligaments.
- Reduce your chances of pulling or straining a muscle when shoveling snow. Scoop straight by pushing the shovel directly in front of you into the snow. Use your legs to lift -- not your back.
- When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks. This will help relax your muscles. Itís also important to give your back a rest by straightening up and walking around.
- When youíre dumping snow to one side while shoveling, be sure to take small steps and turn your entire body, rather than twisting from the waist. This will help prevent injury.
- Water and snow may freeze within the workings of your snow blower. After each use, be sure to brush off accumulated snow.
- Do you have a snow blower? Itís a good idea to tighten all nuts and bolts after every use ó vibrations from machine operation can cause fittings to work loose.
- Dealing with Colds:
- Just say no to drugs. When it comes to colds, any medicine is worse than
none at all. Cold symptoms are caused by your own defenses, not the virus's.
They're things your immune system does to cripple the intruders. Drugs
that suppress your symptoms only stop your natural defenses.
- If you must use drugs, use single-symptom, generic drugs -- so says the Food and Drug Administration(FDA).
Cold symptoms tend to
appear in sequence, not all at once. So multi-symptom formulas often give
you too much or not enough medicine for any given symptom. Avoid
time-release capsules for the same reason. And the generic part? Cheaper.
Everything you can get in a fancy bottle comes in a generic form too. It's
the same medicine. Ask your pharmacist.
- Gargle with warm salt water if you have a sore throat. This hastens the
healing process. In the meantime, suck hard candies. (But beware: A sore
throat can be a symptom of an illness worse than a cold.)
- Drink 8 ounces of hot liquid every two hours. Cold liquids can contribute
- Increase the humidity around you. Viruses thrive in cool, dry
environments. That's why your immune system floods your nose with warm, wet
- Use a cool cloth to control the discomfort of fever. (And remember that
very high fevers can be dangerous.)
- Inhale warm vapors to ease nasal congestion. You can just hold your face over a bowl of hot water and breathe.
- Elevate your head at night to keep your head clear.
- Cough and cough and cough. Especially if it produces phlegm.
- Avoid contact with cold germs. After all, the best offense is a good
defense. During cold season, frequently disinfect doorknobs and common
objects around your house with a disinfectant spray. Wash your hands
frequently. You can easily catch a cold if you have viruses on your hands
and then touch your nose or eyes. Don't use cloth hankies; use paper tissues
- Your own body causes cold symptoms. Once you've been infected with a cold
virus, your capillaries swell to bring more blood to your nose, because blood is
what gets the troops of the immune system to the battlefield. That's
congestion. White blood cells come rushing to the site and try to
engulf-and-digest or, as we humans put it, "eat" the viruses. That's
inflammation. Your temperature rises because viruses can't thrive where it's too
hot. That's fever. Your nose cells release histamines, which create mucus that
traps the viruses before they can attach to your cells. That's your runny nose.
- Clogged Drains:
- To clear a sink or basin drain, pour one half cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let the mixture foam for 10 minutes, then run hot water for a full 2 minutes. If still sluggish, repeat procedure.
- Toilet plungers canít clear everything. But a closet auger easily turns into the bowlís trap to help snag any debris youíre after. (i.e., soap, rubber duckyÖ)
- Faucet Rejuvenation:
- Get rid of rust and grime in a sink by removing the faucet and cleaning under the base. Then apply a layer of plumber putty under the base of the faucet and re-install.
- Cheap Gifts:
- Don't buy gift certificates for giving, since you'll probably spend more money on them than you would a present.
- Go to a craft or dollar store and buy a plain cheap picture frame and attach scrapbook memories on the outside of the frame to make a collage. Then, put a great picture in it! A great new remembrance gift.
- see below too
- Candle Tips:
ē Donít burn candles with a shiny metal core in the wick unless you know itís lead-free. Some of these candles release five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children younger than 6.
ē Keep wick trimmed to ľ inch height.
ē Keep candles away from drafts, which cause sooting.
ē Buy candles from reputable companies.
ē Know whatís in the wax youíre burning.
ē Be aware of candles that have been recalled by the CPSC.
- Besides emitting lead, candles are also a source of soot, particulates and other, as-yet unidentified substances, albeit in low amounts, including acetone, benzene and mercury, as well as byproducts of fragrances, which can cause respiratory, skin and eye irritations. Candles are a growing cause of property damage, because they can produce vast amounts of soot, especially some brands with poor wicking and low quality wax.
- Recycle Candles:
- Glass Jar Luminary Candles
What you need: jars, used candles, knife, taper candle
How to make it: wash out an old clear glass jar of any size. Take the knife and shave off pieces of different colored candles. You can use new candles or used ones. Fill the jar up with the shavings and put the taper candle in the center to act as the wick. This will burn like a regular candle when lit and it makes a beautiful decoration. Use the same or various scented candles and hope a very original fragrance. If you are giving them as a gift, decorate the lid with ribbon or lace or anything you want. They make excellent gifts!
- Recycling old wax for candles is easy and makes the house smell wonderful in minutes. Make sure no medal is left with the wax and put it in a microwave safe jar or pottery. Warm until wax is liquid. Always use hot pads to remove it -- dangerously hot. Put jar on a trivet and place your wick into the jar. Use a bag clip to keep it centered until wax cools and hardens. You now have a brand new candle!
- Used jar/voltive candles, just put it in the freezer overnight, take out turn it upside down and the wax usually slips out.
- Flower Petal Candles:
- Lay out a sheet of wax paper and arranged leaves, flower petals, etc. on them. Then, take a white pillar candle about eight inches tall, and dip it in boiling water until the outer layer starts to melt. Then press the candle immediately into the leaf/petal arrangement. Hint: Be careful to get a candle that is a solid color.
- Frugal Gifting:
Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary, etc.
- Always save the ribbons and bows from all gifts received and re-use them on other packages. Keep them in a large basket or bag for easy access. Sometimes the "sticky" comes off the bows but as long as the bow looks nice, just attach it with tape. You can keep the taped on bows for your own household giving. The ribbon goes far and as long as you spruce it up with a few curls with a pair of scissors, they look wonderful. Every year, even our gifts to each other look beautiful under the tree with all the pretty ribbons and bows, and it didn't cost an extra cent.
- Always save & reuse gift bags and wrapping paper too. Make sure it's still in good condition or use the parts that are still good.
- If you have a gift that is hard to wrap, consider making a tote bag. They are easy to make and can be reused for grocery shopping or what ever.
- Save the tissue paper from the dry cleaners for gift-wrap. Or take a paper bag apart and use the unprinted side out. Save the paper from fresh flowers. Always look for things to save and reuse!
- Make your own gift tags or even gift-wrap. Have kids color paper or use stamps/stickers.
- Origami Ornaments are great & cheap. Go to interior design or paint stores, and ask for their discontinued wallpaper books. They usually give them gladly. Origami is an easy skill to pick up with just a book from the library. Cut the wallpaper samples into squares, and then make Christmas ornaments. Or you can just make them from plain colored paper depending on your color scheme.
- Save Christmas cards that you receive this year and re-use them next year. You can cut off the parts that are written on and turn them into gift tags or send the fronts as postcards.
- Give homemade gift vouchers that offer a free night of babysitting, a car wash & wax, etc. Ideas are endless Ė just create vouchers that suit each person.
- Shop garage sales or thrift stores for new gifts.
- Every time you go to a department store, check the clearance aisle for gifts, wrap, bags, ribbon, etc. and save it for the year.
- Watch for rebates in stores and on the internet. If you see a good rebate on something that you won't use, just buy it & save it for a friend or family member.
- see below -
- Holiday Decorations:
- Create your own holiday wreaths, just collect natural materials like wild grasses, pinecones, cattails, small branches, acorns, grape vines and bark or anything else that you like.
- Spray indoor decorations like wreaths, evergreen garlands and live Christmas trees with an antitranspirant before you decorate. Available at most garden centers, an antitranspirant prevents evergreens from drying out too quickly.
- After each major holiday, shop the 75% off racks to pick up house decorations. Your house will look better with each passing year!
- After Christmas Sales, etc:
- Buy tree and other decorations, lights. cards, wrapping paper, napkins, table cloths, at the sales. And especially candles, try to buy the white ones that can be used at any time of year (red for Valentine's, green for St. Patty's, etc.) but with the cold weather upon us and possible power failures, extra candles are always handy. The large diameter ones will burn a long time if needed -- keep one in every room of the house.
- Sometimes gift items that will be good for next years giving are also available. Also there will be sales on everything throughout the stores.
- Chocolate in all kinds of shapes and sizes goes on sale with the rest of the Christmas stuff. Stock up on chocolate and put it in the freezer for use in cookies. You can always use M&Ms for cookies or chop up chocolate bars for Chocolate Chunk cookies.
- It is easiest to return items in the next few days so if you received something you know you will not wear or use, take it back. Most stores are very forgiving immediately after Christmas (but less so later) without sales receipts -- even if you didn't get it for Christmas.
- Have fun!
- The all-purpose household fixer-upper, will actually last longer if stored in the fridge.
- Bondini (in the hardware dept.) will even go through dishwasher and hold handle on coffee cup.
- Make sure your roofing shingles are sound. Blind-nail cement does a good job of sealing holes and repairing loose or broken asphalt shingles.
- Choosing Nails:
- Never use uncoated steel nails on the exterior of your home. Rather than stand up to the elements, they will rust from them and stain what they are in. Same can apply inside if used in a humid bathroom or humid climates with no A/C.
- Winterize Your Home:
- If youíve got a basement, check for cracks or leaks in the walls and floor and seal them up. This will help you stay warm in the winter weather. Also, make sure the vents are clean and operating properly, and, finally, test your sump pump. It might need cleaning and lubricating.
- To prevent mice, insects, and other pests from keeping warm inside your house, itís a good idea to place mesh screens over your furnace and dryer vents so they canít climb inside to ward off the winter weather.
- Air leaks around windows and doors can make your heating system go into futile overdrive. Check to find out if you have any serious leaks. Pick a windy day, use a candle, watch the flame, find the drafts. If you do, get yourself some caulking Ė itís cheap, easy and reliable. Or, install a storm window kit ó sold in most hardware stores. A double-stick tape is applied around the window molding, then a sheet of clear vinyl is positioned over the tape. Shrink away wrinkles by blowing hot air from a hair dryer across the surface of the film.
- Inspect the insulation, weather-stripping, caulking and window glazing on the outside of your home. Check on a windy day with a lit candle to see if there are any breezes coming in. Caulking? Buy the best quality stuff you can afford. It costs more, but will save you a lot of unneeded hassle in the long run.
Ways to conserve:
- Set your thermostat as low as will keep you comfortable in the winter. It may actually save you 3% per degree you lower it.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed.
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- You can conserve heat by hanging heavy drapes across your windows. To be effective, drapes should come down to the floor and have a closed valance at the top. These additions will trap and prevent cold air from circulating.
- Inspect your carbon monoxide detectors and replace old or weak batteries.
- Prevent Frozen Pipes. Exposed pipes are the ultimate targets for cold weather. To keep yours from freezing and bursting, wrap them with insulated pipe wrap. Another plus? If theyíre hot water pipes, youíll save yourself some money by keeping that hot water insulated. Another way to keep pipes from freezing, allow warm air from a heated room to circulate around them. To do that, cut a small, rectangular opening at the base of the wall and install a louvered vent ó available at most hardware stores.
- Snow Kit - Winter storms are a fact of life. Make sure youíre prepared. Always keep a fully stocked first aid kit on hand. Be sure to include battery operated flashlights and radios, canned food, a can opener and at least a couple gallons of bottled water. Better safe than sorry.
- Avoid using salt, which can damage nearby shrubs and trees, to melt snow/ice on sidewalks/driveways. Sand will work almost as well and it won't hurt your plants.
- Shut off the supply of water to all outdoor pipes & faucets & hoses (including sprinklers), drain the water or blow them out before the first frost -- this will prevent your pipes from freezing and breaking. It is actually the water inside that freezes, explands, and bursts the pipes.
- Home Security:
- A supplementary door lock is a good way to make your home more secure. Install an internal deadbolt lock. Most burglars attack cylinder locks by gripping and turning the cylinder with a wrench. The cylinder guard makes it virtually impossible to do this.
- Don't throw away the plastic that comes around your dry cleaning. Tie the end of it and use it for garbage or for seedling greenhouse.
- The netting that oranges and other fruits come in is perfect to use for a soft scouring pad. Just fold the netting and rubber band the middle of the folded netting for a nice, soft scrub for teflon.
- Use empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes to store your phone, appliance, or electrical extension cords.
- Styrofoam cups for packing.
- Newspapers for cleaning windows.
- Bread bags for storage. Cut them up for freezing separation.
- Lots of things can be reused or at least recycled. Save money and save resources.
- Birthday Tips:
- Cheap tip for wrapping birthday gifts -- use the funny papers from the Sunday newspaper. Some are very colorful and can be used for the top of the present. They are a bit thin so be careful not to rip them. This also makes it easy for little hands to rip open the gift.
- To protect the frosting on your birthday cakes from being coated in wax, use miniature marshmallows for candleholders.
- If you have larger candles use the large marshmallows.
- Bathroom Hints:
- Damp air causes mildew -- so ventilate. (Not so much problem when the heater runs.)
- Help reduce its growth by keeping the bathroom door open during/after showering.
- Open a window or turn on the vent/fan; remove wet towels, keep toilet lids shut, etc.
- Other Uses for Bounce:
(or other softner sheets)
- Repel mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.
- Putting sheets of Bounce in RVs drawers keeps the mice out of the RV! They say this actually works! It should keep mice out of boxes in the attic, etc.
- Eliminate static electricity from your television screen. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your tv screen or computer monitor with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.
- Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce to eliminate the static cling on the thread before sewing.
- Eliminate static cling from pantyhose. Rub a damp, used sheet of Bounce over the hose.
- Collect pet hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
- Eliminate static electricity from venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.
- Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sandpapering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.
- Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a used sheet of Bounce.
- Clean baked-on food from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in the pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The antistatic agents apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan while the fabric softening agents soften the baked-on food.
- Freshen clothes & shoes. Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer, hang one in the closet, put one in each shoe, etc.
- Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.
- Deodorize your car. Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.
- Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket before you put the trash bag inside.
- Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.
- More on Covering Odors:
- Simmer some sweet kitchen spices atop the stove. Try cinnamon, allspice, cloves and/or ginger.
- Or just make something spicey like pumpkin bread or apple pie.
- Burning candles work well too and can be romantic.
- Or brew a pot of flavored coffee.
- Coffee & Tea:
- Coffee grounds go well on plants, indoors or out. Especially azaleas, pines, etc.
- Left over coffee, no cream, no sugar, works well for watering plants too.
- Filters compost great, grounds too.
(Same things go for tea and tea bags, even herbals.)
- Coffee & tea always works to dye natural fabrics too.
- If you make multiple pots quickly, leave the grounds in and cut the new grounds to stretch it. Try half pots. But you just can't leave them too long to oxidize.
- Speaking of which, put coffee in a sealed thermos and it keeps it fresher and doesn't use energy to keep it hot.
- The average American drinks 3.4 cups of coffee a day.
- Hanging A Ceiling Fan:
- Position it in the center of the ceiling.
- For best air movement, do not make it a too close to the ceiling -- but make it safe!
- Use it all the time.
- Used as a decorative accent, the fan can also be positioned in a corner, but the blades should be no closer than 18 inches to the wall.
- The rotating blades tend to pick up dust and dirt, so be sure to clean them from time to time with a mild detergent.
- Cleaning Copper:
- lemon juice
Natual acidics work the same as expensive copper cleaners.
When there's leftover ketchup on a plate just put your copper bottom pan in it to soak.
Or rub a sqeezed lemon over your copper and let it soak.
Then wash it off. Ketchup does stick better...
- Shampoo Cheaper:
- Wash your hair with cheap shampoo, rinse
- Wash your hair with your favorite expensive shampoo
You don't need to use as much expensive shampoo to bubble up your hair after the first washing with the cheap shampoo!
- Soap Savings:
- If your children wash their hands with liquid soap, put a rubber band around the base of the pump. This will allow them to still "pump out" the soap, but not use as much.
- Take a look at the soap section of the craft store. You can shave your small bars of soap, like when it gets too small to easily use or the little bars from the hotels, and make new molded soaps.
- Honey Vanilla Bath Oil:
- 1 cup sunflower oil
- 1/2 cup castile soap
- 1 tbsp real vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup honey
Blend all ingredients together. Shake well before using. Use 1/4 cup per bath.
To give this as a gift: Put this in a jar that you have decorated. Tie a ribbon around the top with an index card attached to it containing the instructions.
- Cheap Interior Remodeling:
In the mood for a new interior look? Little changes can make a big difference!
- Give a bathroom a new look with new towels of a completely different color, especially light to dark or vice versa. Switch them when the mode strikes or with the seasons.
- Another change for the bath is a new vinyl/plastic shower curtain. Watch for these to go on sale and get any color that goes. You can use two, one for the inside and one for the outside in two shades of the same color or contrasting colors. A cheap one on the inside can be replaced when it gets coated. But do NOT toss it. It is good for a paint drop cloth, use it when you dig a hole to put the dirt in so your grass stays "clean" and many other uses.
- Instead of using the vinyl type shower curtain liner, use just a nylon/polyester type shower curtain with no liner. Hang the curtain and put the bottom part in the tub and water stays in the shower. Nylon curtains are easy to wash and last much longer than vinyl ones.
- Give any room a new look by changing the curtains. This includes windows or showers.
Look for a nice flat sheet with a wide top hem. Maybe even one that matches your bed spread. Width should be at least twice the width of the window, for gathers. This then is put on a straight rod using the top hem. If you cut some off the bottom it can be used to make tie backs.
- Go to a local paint or hardware store and take some of their free how-to classes. Learn how to whatever you want to do and do it yourself. Most of the cost in home remodeling is the labor. If you do the labor yourself and shop around for the best price on paint, you can achieve the look you want without draining your bank account.
- If you live in an apartment that cannot be painted or wallpapered, you can break the monotony of the walls in kitchen/bath, buy self-adhesive shelf paper and put it on the walls. If you have to remove it, simply peel it off of the wall slowly and use adhesive remover on any sticky spots.
- Before you spend a lot of money on decorating, research and find out how to do things yourself. Just changing around the furniture in your room will make a difference. Learn how to paint existing tile. It can go from an ugly brown to beautiful white marble. The cost for total room about $40-50.
- If you have the remodeling bug, learn to do things yourself instead of paying someone else to do it for you. Faux painting is very easy and there are certain stores that will teach you how to do it. Spend some time in designer stores and get ideas for yourself. Creativity is all you need. Learn how to buy things unconventionally. Shop the thrift stores!
- When picking a paint color, try it on first. First, paint a small portion of one wall. Then, wait a few days to digest the color and check it in different types of light. Remember, it will look different than it did in the paint store.
- Autumn Arts and Crafts:
Use a flower press to preserve autumn leaves, seedheads or grasses. This is an especially good activity to share with children while they're home on Thanksgiving vacation.
- Flower Press:
Use a couple pieces of plywood with holes drilled in each corner and use bolts and wing nuts to snug down the press using wax paper between the leaves and/or flowers.
- Planting instructions often recommend enriching the bottom of the holes dug for new trees and shrubs with peat moss, composted manure, or other organic materials. Recent studies have shown that this may actually hinder the plant's adjustment to the native soil because the roots will grow only in the hole instead of branching out. Trees and shrubs planted this way are more sensitive to prolonged wet or dry spells, and will be easily toppled by strong winds. Be tough! Donít pamper those roots!
- Lawn Fertilizer:
- When fertilizing your lawn, you may be tempted to throw some in the direction of your flowerbed, but this isnít a good idea. Lawn fertilizer is high in nitrogen, and too much nitrogen will encourage the plants in your flowerbed to produce lush, green foliage and very few flowers. Flowers need equal or higher amounts of Potassium & Phosphorus.
- Roses should be transplanted in late winter or spring, as soon as the soil is workable. Dig the new hole 18" deep and about 2' wide, and make a mound in the center of the hole to drape the roots over. Keep the bud union only about 2" above the finished soil surface, then water well. Keep the rose bush evenly moist until you see signs of new growth.
- Pest Protection:
- You can sprinkle cayenne pepper, which acts as a repellent, around your garbage or garden.
- If they're eating your garbage, chain the cans into an upright position or place them in an enclosure and weight down the lids.
- Gophers, Rabbits, and other diggers are difficult garden pests to control. There are sonic devices, repellent plants and chemical formulas that claim to get rid of them, but the truth is that none of these work very well, and when they do seem to work, the effects are only temporary.
The best solution for small gardens is a fence with small holes. To be effective, your fence should be at least 2' below the soil line, curved outward and run horizontally at least a couple feet away from the garden. Building this type of fence can be an overwhelming task for a large garden, and you may find that traps are a better solution. You can find traps at your local garden supply store, but before you invest in one, check with your local Cooperative Extension Service. They will sometimes loan or rent traps to homeowners who have gopher problems, and they will also be glad to instruct you in their use.
- Vegetable Garden:
- For many vegetable gardeners, the symbolic beginning of the gardening season is the day the garden peas are planted. President's Day is the traditional time to plant peas in many areas. For faster germination, soak the peas in water overnight before planting. Plant peas in a well-drained part of the garden.
- If you don't have room for herbs in your garden, consider planting herbs in windowboxes. Choose a sunny south window for your herb windowbox, and fill it with a good quality potting mix. Use four plants in a two-foot window box, or six plants in a three-foot box. Chives can be planted more densely. Many herbs lose flavor if they are fed too much fertilizer, so use half strength liquid fertilizer or a half dose of slow released fertilizer. Any of these herbs will do well in a sunny windowbox, but some may require frequent pruning to keep them down to a reasonable size:
- Mixed salad greens and Mesclun mixes are attractive and fun to grow indoors in a sunny window, or outdoors. Hereís a fun idea: Have the kids plant their own salad garden. They will enjoy cutting their own salad for dinner (little ones will need supervision) and as they're cut, the greens regrow.
- Great Useful Plants:
- The chamomile that is used to make tea is German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The seeds can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. It makes a lovely groundcover in areas that receive light to moderate traffic, and youíll have an abundant crop for tea!
Chamomile also makes a great bath herb. Place ľ- to Ĺ-cup of chamomile in a quart of boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then allow it to cool. Add the water to your bath water. Also makes a soothing bedtime bath for babies, kids.
- Chervil is a must for any culinary herb garden. It has an abundance of uses: the leaves are perfect mixed with salads, sprinkled on fish or meat, added to cold drinks such as tomato and fruit juices, blended with cottage cheese and in omelets, just to name a few. It's one of the few culinary herbs that can be grown in a cool, shady location, and should be planted as early as the soil can be worked.
- When starting seeds indoors, if you notice a white fuzzy growth on newly emerging seedlings, you have damping off disease. The seedlings will eventually fall over and die. This fungus thrives in wet soil with a high nitrogen content. To prevent this disease, use a soil containing perlite to improve drainage and wait until the seedlings are older to fertilize. Good air circulation around your plants is a must, so remove seed tray covers as soon as the seedlings germinate.
- If you plan to use seed from previous years it's a good idea to test the viability before committing your time and garden space. To test your seeds, place ten seeds an even distance apart on a damp paper towel. Roll up the towel and place it in a plastic bag. Leave the bag in a warm spot in the kitchen and check every other day for signs of germination. Even with fresh seeds you can't expect them all to germinate, but the percentage of seeds that germinate on the towel will give you an idea of how the seeds will do in your garden.
- When saving seed from year to year, place them in a jar with powdered milk at the bottom to absorb moisture. Screw the lid on tightly and store in the refrigerator.
- Spring Tips:
- Clematis likes some early spring attention, and pruning your plants now will encourage a more vigorous plant this summer. For larger summer flowering clematis types, such as Clematis Jackmanii, prune new plant shoots to about 12 inches from the soil line. For older clematis plants, cut all stems back to just above the previous season's growth -- usually within 3 feet tall.
- Looking for a way to get more vegetables out of your limited garden space? Try intercropping. Plant quick-maturing crops such as greens and radishes between slower-growing tomatoes and vine crops. By the time the spreading vegetables need the room, your greens have been harvested. As the larger vegetables grow, the shade will help keep your greens from going to seed.
- If the bare root plants youíve ordered arrive before you're ready to plant, keep them in a cool, sheltered area such as a garage. Place the roots in slightly damp peat moss to keep them from drying out, but too much moisture will cause the roots to rot. If they are kept too warm, they may begin to bud before you can get them in the ground.
- This time of year the soil in many gardens is very wet, and walking and working in the garden can compact and damage the soil. If you absolutely must work in the garden, protect the soil by laying down a sheet of wood to walk on. You should never till or dig wet soil.
- You can plant flowering dogwoods as soon as the soil is workable. Choose a location in full sun or part shade with slightly acidic soil. If dogwood blight is a problem in your area, choose a sunny location in an area with good air circulation. Dig a hole twice the size of the rootball, and don't add any amendments unless the soil is poor.
- Use your used popsicle sticks or chopsticks for marking your garden.
- Spring Bulbs:
- It's too early for early spring bulbs to start growing, but sometimes a bit of warm weather will jump-start them. If only a small amount of growth is showing, they will probably be fine. If they continue to grow, you can add mulch to protect them from damage.
- Plant Propagation:
- Woody (house)plants are easy to propagate by Air Layering. With a sharp knife, make a shallow cut in a stem where you want the root ball to form. Choose an area just below a leaf. Treat the wound with rooting hormone and wrap it with a ball of moist peat moss. Cover the peat moss with plastic wrap and fasten in place with twist-ties. Wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil to protect it from light. Peel back the aluminum foil periodically to check for roots. When the plastic wrap is full of roots, it's time to cut your rooted branch free and pot it up. Hibiscus and rubber trees are particularly easy to root this way.
- Make Willow Water to help cuttings of roses (or others) sprout roots. Cut willow branches into inch-long sections and soak them in water for a few days to remove the root inducing chemicals (rooting hormone) contained in the willow. Take 6-inch tip cuttings of roses as you prune them. Place the cuttings, with leaves stripped off the bottom half, in the willow water to root. Leave pots outside but do not let them freeze.
- If you're over-wintering your geraniums indoors, they are probably getting tall and leggy because of the reduced light conditions. Now is a good time to cut them back to about a foot in height. Save a few 4 to 6 inch pieces to root. Dip the cut end of the stems in rooting hormone, then place them in a pot filled with a mixture of peat moss and sand. Keep the pot out of direct light while the cuttings take root, which should take a few weeks. Don't tug on the stems to test for roots -- you'll damage any tender rootlets that are forming. When new growth appears, you'll know that your cuttings have rooted.
- propagate plants by division, cuttings, layering, seeds (least reliable, but sometimes interesting)
- January Job:
- Prune Your Hydrangeas. You'll get a better flowering season from your hydrangeas if you prune them now. Remove old, brittle canes and leave the younger canes with buds already showing.
- Winter Tips:
- Repair Broken Branches as soon as possible, if you've lost tree branches to the weight of snow and ice. First, make sure the main trunk of the tree is undamaged; otherwise you may want to replace the tree. Prune broken branches back to the trunk, leaving a 1 to 2 inch stub for healing.
- Water Your Evergreens. Winter dry spells can be hard on evergreens, especially rhododendrons and holly, so water them if you aren't getting enough rain. A 2-3 inch layer of mulch will help to conserve moisture, and spraying with an anti-transpirant (antidesiccant spray) will help prevent damage. Anti-transpirants add a waxy layer to the leaves, protecting them from cold, drying winds. Itís best to spray on a day when the temperature is above 40 degrees F. If it gets too warm it melts off and will need to be re-applied.
- Leaves on broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendrons, curl when the temperature drops quickly. This is a normal response, and there is no need for concern. The leaves will uncurl as the weather warms.
- When using a snowblower to clean your sidewalks and driveways, be aware that the snow will be flying at high speeds. The damage caused to young trees and perennial plants can make the plants more susceptible to disease in the spring, and kill buds and young growth. If you must blow in the direction of your plants, cover them with burlap.
- When de-icing a walk or drive don't use salt -- use sand, catlitter, ash.
- Get the snow off plants before the branches break.
- January, Start Seeds Indoors:
- Of course, you can always wait until spring and buy bedding plants, but you won't find the variety of types and colors that are available in the seed catalogs. The seed packet should have enough information to help you determine when the seeds should be started. Most will need 10-12 weeks of indoor growing before moving outdoors. Use grow lights for best results, and keep soil temperatures above 70 degrees F. Or try starting them in your bathroom, usually warmer & more humid. Although seeds will germinate at lower temperatures, if the soil temperature is kept around 70 degrees F they will germinate faster and your plants will develop a healthier root system. You can buy inexpensive heating mats to place under your seed trays at any garden supply store.
- Start parsley seeds indoors to set out in the garden in April. The seeds are small, so cover them lightly with soil and moisten lightly. If kept at about 70 degrees F the seeds will germinate in 21 days. If you brought last year's parsley plants indoors for winter, you can discard them when they start to go to seed.
- Starting your pansies and violas from seed gives you a wider variety of colors and flower types to choose from. All you need is a good quality seed starting mix, plenty of small containers with good drainage, and a sunny window or a grow light.
Sprinkle the pansy seeds over the surface of moist potting soil, then cover lightly with more potting soil. Pansy seeds need darkness to germinate, so cover the pot with black plastic to exclude light. At 70 degrees, seedlings will emerge in 10 to 20 days.
- Cool weather perennials such as Columbine and Hellebores can be started indoors now and transplanted outdoors in two or three months. The seeds need a chilling period and should be placed in the refrigerator for at least three weeks before planting. They can take up to a month to germinate, so don't give up on them too soon. Columbine seeds need light to germinate, so don't cover them with soil.
- It's time to start your cool season herbs such as parsley, dill and cilantro (coriander). These plants can be transplanted into the garden as young seedlings, and can withstand cold weather. Use growlights for best results, and remember that some herbs take weeks to germinate, so don't get discouraged.
- To determine the best time to start seeds indoors, first find the date that you expect to experience the last spring frost in your area. If you don't know your last spring frost date, check with your local cooperative extension service. Count backward from that date the number of weeks indicated below to determine when to start your seeds indoors:
- 12-14 weeks: onions, leeks, chives, pansies, impatiens, and coleus
- 8-12 weeks: peppers, lettuce, cole crops (brassicas), petunias, snapdragons, alyssum and other hardy annuals
- 6-8 weeks: eggplant and tomatoes
- 5-6 weeks: zinnias, cockscombs, marigolds and other tender annuals 2-4 weeks: cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, squash
- You may plan to grow your onions from purchased sets or plants, but if you'd like more options in the varieties you grow, consider starting them from seed. When purchasing plants and sets, the options at most garden centers are limited to "white", "yellow", and maybe "red", however good seed catalogs list as many as 35 varieties. It takes 110 to 120 days for most onions to mature from seeds.
- Design Your Flower Beds:
- Use graph paper and colored pencils to sketch out your garden.
- Look at the bloom times and plan to have something in bloom throughout spring, summer and fall.
- Consider your color scheme too.
- Remember any bulbs or perennials that are in your bed.
- For visual appeal, plan for plants that grow to a height of no more than twice the width of your bed. Taller plants will look out of proportion.
- Always put tall plants in back, short ones up front, medium height in the middle. And don't forget to consider the view from all angles -- do you see it from the side, back, just the front.
- Design Your Vegetable Gardens:
- Use graph paper and colored pencils to sketch out your garden.
- To make the most of your garden space, lay out three designs: early, midseason and late. Most gardeners will find that they can plan to harvest two or three crops from the same plot if they plan carefully.
- Place tall vegetables such as pole beans, corn and tomatoes at the north end of your garden so they won't shade shorter plants. Shorter plants such as lettuce, beets and carrots will need a southern exposure.
- Don't plant vegetables from the same family in an area where they grew last year. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. The brassicas family includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi and mustard. Vine crops include squash, melons, cucumbers and pumpkins.
- If you have never gardened before, start with tomatoes. They're easy to grow and eat. Growing your own vegetables is not difficult, and it'll save you a lot of cash. If you live in a home with no yard, try container gardening in pots & planters.
- And don't forget to use the free catalogs to help you plan.
- Plan a "Nursery" Garden:
- Buy just one or two of each plant that your landscape design calls for, then systematically propagate the plants by division, cuttings and layering until you have a nursery of plants to move to your garden. You can also save money by buying smaller, less expensive plants to raise to size in your nursery bed. Keeping younger plants together in one bed ensures that they get the special care they need, and they will be easier to water, weed and care for.
- A good place to plant your seedlings until they fill out.
- Tropical Bulbs:
- If you lifted your cannas, gladiolus or other tropical bulbs for winter storage, it's time to take a peak and see how they're doing. If they are shriveling, the storage conditions are too dry, and if they are molding, you can blame it on too much moisture. Moldy or damaged bulbs should be removed before they have a chance to spread diseases. The best way to store your bulbs is to pack them in a ventilated box or bag in an absorbent material such as peat moss.
- Your amaryllis bulbs will need some special care if they are to bloom again next year. Cut off the bloom stalk (but not the foliage) and place the plant in a bright window. Feed regularly and keep the bulb watered until all danger of frost has passed, then place the container outdoors in a partly shady area. In September, cut back the foliage and place the pot in a cool, dark place until winter.
- Cheap Garden Tips:
- Gardening catalogs are a wonderful, free resource for planning your garden. A good catalog will give you basic information such as height, soil and sun requirements and planting times for a wide range of plants. Stokes Seed Catalog reads like a plant encyclopedia. Order your catalogs now to have them on hand for browsing after the holidays -- also good for winter months where no gardening can be done outside.
- Indoor Plants:
- For an interesting, large, indoor plant, try camellia. They need acidic and moist (but well-drained) soil. Camellia are grown outdoors in the south in partial shade, but are hardy only to Zone 8.
- An interesting indoor fern to try is the brake fern, Pteris cretica. It grows better in a sunny window than most ferns.
- Mealybugs - These oblong, waxy white, hairy-looking insects infest houseplants, greenhouse plants, and outdoor plants in sheltered areas. They live in colonies and stem joints and suck plant juices. Pale foliage, leaf drop and stunted growth are common, and they carry fungus and disease. To get rid of them:
- Manual removal works well if there are just a few. You can slide a fingernail under the insect to lift it off or touch a mealybug with a Q-tip moistened with alcohol to kill it.
- Use a spray made by mixing 4-parts water to 3-parts rubbing alcohol, and spray at intervals of five to ten days.
- Insecticidal soaps kill mealybugs in a day or two. Spray at five to ten day intervals.
- Spider mites are tiny insects that frequently infest houseplants. The insects are difficult to see, but signs of infestation include leaves that curl and drop, stunted growth, blackened buds, foliage with a grayish or dusty appearance, and webs on the undersides of leaves. They are difficult to control once they take hold, so spray your plants at the first sign of problems. Here are two nontoxic homemade sprays that will help:
- BUTTERMILK SPRAY
Mix 1/2-cup buttermilk with 4 cups wheat flour to 5 gallons of water.
- ALCOHOL SPRAY
Mix 4 parts water to 3 parts rubbing alcohol.
Spray at 5-day intervals to get rid of any newly hatched spider mites, and quarantine infested plants to prevent them from spreading.
- African violets are easy to grow, and satisfying because they are so free flowering. They don't need any special lighting -- a little filtered early morning light is sufficient. A few tips:
- Use small pots -- they flower best when they are slightly root bound.
- Set them in a saucer filled with pebbles and water for humidity. The water shouldn't actually touch the bottom of the plants. Don't mist the plants -- this causes unsightly leaf spots that are an entry point for disease.
- Use a special African violet potting soil and feed with African violet food or an acid plant food.
- Water from the bottom to avoid water spots on the leaves.
- Once your houseplants begin to show new growth after their winter rest period, it's time to start feeding them again. The best fertilizer for houseplants is a time-release fertilizer such as Osmocote. Sprinkle the pellets in the pot according to the instructions. When you water the plants, fertilizer is slowly released. One application can last up to six months.
- If your orchids haven't bloomed in a while they probably need to be repotted. You don't need a new pot; just clean up the old pot and replace the old, decomposing bark with fresh bark.
- If you had indoor azaleas that were forced into bloom for the holidays, the blossoms have probably faded now. Right after the blooms fade, the plants begin working on buds for next year's flowers, and you can help them along by periodically feeding them with MirAcid or a special Azalea fertilizer, and keeping them well-watered. Azaleas don't like dry indoor conditions, so place the pot in a tray of pebbles and water to increase the humidity, and mist them from time to time.
- The most common reason that indoor figs (ficus) drop leaves is over-watering, so make sure your plants aren't standing in a saucer of water. If the soil is too soggy, you may need to repot.
- Gloxinias and forced daffodils are particularly susceptible to thirps. Look for white streaks on the foliage. If you see signs of thirps, use an insecticidal soap every three days for two weeks.
- Ginger makes an interesting ornamental that you can later harvest for culinary use. Choose a plump, fresh root at the grocery store and plant it in a 6-inch pot in a light, sandy soil. Place your pot in a warm, sunny window and keep the soil moist. The root will be ready to harvest in about 8 months.
- If your houseplants are beginning to get leggy (too much stem, not enough leaves), they are probably not be getting enough light. Leaving them under a grow light will help to fill them out. Place them at least three feet from the light, and leave the light on as much as 16 hours per day. Or put them closer to direct light, a window with sunlight.
- Ferns need a little special treatment in winter because of the dry conditions indoors. Here are some suggestions to help keep your ferns healthy and happy.
- Give them plenty of humidity. Place them in a sunny bathroom where they can get mist from a shower or place the pots on a tray filled with pebbles and water. The pot bottoms should not touch the water.
- Keep your plants away from drafty windows and doors.
- Ferns only need to be fertilized 3 or 4 times a year.
- Water only when the soil is dry.
- Bulbs (Paperwhites, tulips and hyacinths) that have been forced to bloom in a pot don't usually re-bloom the next year, even if planted outdoors. If you have forced bulbs that you would like to try to save, cut off the flower stalk and keep the bulb watered and fertilized. Keep the bulbs in a sunny window until danger of frost has passed, then plant them in the flowerbed. You will probably only see foliage the first two or three years while the bulb builds itself up enough to flower again.
- Be sure houseplants and indoor topiaries are located where cold drafts won't chill them. Also, do not set plants on top of radiators or near heating grates (unless they need a dry heat).
- During the winter months, indoor air gets very dry, and houseplants can suffer in this environment. Misting the plants regularly will help, but this is only a temporary solution. Place your houseplants in a tray filled with water and pebbles to increase the humidity. The water should not touch the bottom of the pots. Also, you can run a humidifier near your plants.
- Christmas Cactus:
- White ones will turn out pink if grown cool. They must be grown warm to be pure white.
- Christmas cactus and cyclamen may not bloom at all if kept too warm or it could make a difference in the amount and longevity of blossoms on flowering indoor plants.
- Remember to water your Christmas cactus regularly, especially while they're blooming. These plants are actually native to the jungle and should be watered whenever the surface of the soil begins to dry out.
- You can root a new plant from a stem/leaf. This is the best way to get a particular color. Just snap off a Y-shaped segment where it joins the segment below. The cutting should have no more than three segments. Set the base of the Y half way into potting soil and water as you would the parent plant, but without the fertilizer. When new growth begins to show, you can repot your new Christmas cactus and begin watering with a weak fertilizer solution.
- If you want to cross polinate plants/colors, usa a flower from one and rub the pollen from it to the tip of the stamen on another. It takes a year to produce the little fruit with a hundred seeds. The seedlings are very small and grow quite slowly.
- These plants are great to grow and share -- but don't let them get dry -- they require high humidity and moisture with good drainage.
- Outdoor Mulch:
- Oak Leaves & Pine Needles, Coffee Grounds & Tea Leaves
Mulch acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas and pines several inches thick. As it decomposes, it will contribute to soil pH. They are also rich in nitrogen. (compost the filters/bags)
Use several sheets thick and cover with natural mulch (leaves or bark) to keep the weeds from sprouting.
- Wood Ash
Use on alkaline-loving plants like most desert plants. Wood ash, not coal or other ashes.
- Water Gardens:
- Winterize -- Clean out the water garden. Cut back plants and set them down into the pond, covered with clean water, or take them indoors for the winter.
- Break Warnings:
- To avoid getting bad breaks from bad brakes, pay some attention to them. Unlike your paint job, upholstery and tires, theyíre not in your face all the time but they do need the same or more concern you give the appearance of your car. Sometimes, they will try to get your attention with light grumbling or groaning or a minor squeal every now and then in protest of being ignored. In most cases, these minor sounds are probably unimportant. However, when they really start banging, chattering, grinding, clattering and squealing like a guy who got a parking ticket one minute late, itís time to head for a knowledgeable, reliable brake ďDocĒ to diagnose and fix the problem before it could become, literally, a matter of life and death.
Here are other highly critical symptoms that you should stop now before you canít stop later. If you experience any of these, head for your expert brake repair facility immediately.
ē Brake Warning Light Is On: Stop! Do not pass go or anything else until you know whether this means only that your emergency brake is on (whew!) or that your car is losing or has lost its hydraulic brake pressure (extreme danger!).
ē Pedal ďsinksĒ almost to the floor before brakes work: This too, might cause your brake light to come on. This condition also indicates a problem with hydraulic pressure in the braking system (failure of mechanical linkage is rare) that may possibly be resolved with a simple adjustment or may mean a major, expensive brake overhaul.
ē Brake Pedal Is Very Hard To Push: This trouble could originate in a number of areas: Damaged brake linings or frozen brake calipers, malfunctioning wheel cylinders, clogged or damaged hydraulic lines and breakdowns in the power brake system.
ē Sensitive, ďGrabbyĒ Brakes: It could be anything from a highly dangerous broken or loose part in the braking system, which could fail at any time or a problem as simple as wayward grease or oil on the braking component surfaces.
ē Vibration: The brake pedal, steering wheel and/or the entire car shakes or vibrates when you step on the brakes. From least expensive repair to most, this can be caused by warped disc brake rotors, a loose or broken part in the braking system or a malfunctioning steering system.
- Parking/Emergency Brake:
- Parking or emergency brake -- here are the two important reasons why you should use it:
- If the parking brake cables arenít used, they can become corroded and eventually "freeze" in position. Failure of your emergency brake can be tragic in case of hydraulic brake failure on a steep hill or in high-speed freeway traffic, or let me scare you even more, while trying to stop for a crosswalk filled with school kids. By keeping those cables active, they stay on the job and won't let you down if your hydraulic brake system does.
- After years and years of painstaking development, automotive engineers finally invented a "self-adjusting" brake system which is used on most cars. This labor, time, and money-saving breakthrough in vehicle maintenance cleverly uses parking brake activation to adjust the brakes. Parking brakes never used, equals brakes never adjusted, equals inadequate or dangerous brake performance and early brake repair and/or replacement.
- Learning to Drive:
- According to a recent study of student drivers, the safest way to learn to drive is with an automatic.
- Researchers tested groups of student drivers, some using manual shifts and others driving automatics.
- The researchers found that the standard transmission is a very complex system, which takes more concentration than novice drivers can spare. Learners were so busy trying to figure out the shift mechanism that they missed traffic signals and warning signs. Sometimes they didn't even notice oncoming cars.
- The study's conclusion: First learn to drive, then learn the mechanics.
- Car Colors:
- When choosing a car color, however, be sure to consider more than its ability to match your wardrobe. Certain colors require particular care. Keep this list handy when you choose:
- White: Although grime looks terrible on a white car, itís the easiest color to care for overall.
- Black (and other dark colors): These are most susceptible to sun damage because of their heavy absorption of ultraviolet rays.
- Red: This also shows sun damage, so keep your car in a garage or shady port whenever possible.
- Pearl colors: These are the most difficult to work with. If the paint needs to be re-touched, it must be matched to look right from both the front- and side-angle views.
FYI, bird droppings do a real job on your carís paint, no matter what the color. Clean bird bombs immediately or live with a near-impossible-to-remove stain.
- What your car color says about you:
- Black: First choice of ambitious drivers who want to project an image of success.
- Red: Youíre outgoing and impulsive with a youthful attitude, but easily bored.
- Silver: You have great style and are often successful, but you tend to be pompous.
- White: The first choice of doctors and drivers who are reliable and methodical.
- Gray: Expresses understated good taste and indicates a safe, cautious driver.
- Blue: A team player whoís sociable and friendly, yet lacks imagination.
- Think you know everything about gasoline? Thereís regular and unleaded, right? Think again!
Gasoline is actually divided into 5 different categories, and depending on where you live and the season, the gas you get is not all the same.
Hereís a breakdown of the 5 types:
1. Conventional This is the most common type of gasoline sold today. This formula allows the gas to evaporate more slowly in hot weather thereby reducing smog output. It contains detergents and other additives to reduce buildup on engine parts.
2. Winter-oxygenated This is sold in areas of the country where exhaust emissions are a constant problem. It is a mixture of conventional gas plus other oxygen-rich chemicals such as ethanol, or grain alcohol. Oxygenating promotes cleaner burning. Conventional gas is used in summertime in areas where winter-oxygenated gas is used during the winter months.
3. Reformulated Reformulated gasoline has been used in areas where toxins in the air are a problem. It is oxygenated, but with less oxygen than winter-oxygenated gas.
4. Oxygenated-reformulated This is a wintertime gasoline in exclusive use in the New York City area where heavy carbon monoxide pollution is a problem. During the summertime months, regular reformulated gas is used.
5. California Phase 2 Reformulated In use specifically in California, this is a slightly different formula but one which burns cleaner than regular reformulated gas.
What about leaded and unleaded gas? Lead in gasoline decreases a phenomenon known as "knocking" in the engines, but lead is harmful to catalytic exhaust treatment devices. Unleaded gas has been carefully formulated to reduce knocking but not harm engine systems. Cars require either leaded or unleaded gas depending on the type of engine they have and also how old the car is. Your carís recommended octane level will be listed in your ownerís manual. Using gas with less than an ideal octane level for your car can result in knocking and engine damage. If you are already consistently using the fuel with the ideal octane rating for your engine, it is unlikely that you would see any benefits from switching to a higher-octane fuel.
- But you can still save money. Generally it is cheaper to use a mixture of regular and premium to make your own plus. About 2/3 regular & 1/3 premium.
- Basic Maintenance Schedule:
- Winter - Lube, oil and oil filter change, rotate tires, have brakes and alignment checked.
- Spring - Lube, oil and oil filter change, and a transmission check.
- Summer - Lube, oil and oil filter change, another tire rotation, another brake check, and a cooling system flush.
- Fall - Lube, oil and oil filter change, and a yearly tune up (if needed).
- 3 Symptoms for Diagnosis:
- Smoke. Donít panic at the sight of billowing clouds from the tailpipe. The color of the smoke can lead you to the problem spot:
- Black smoke: Caused by a fuel mixture thatís too rich. Donít worry if itís black only a minute or two after the engine is first started but then disappears. Itís normal for the fuel mixture to be richer at a cold start-up. But if the black smoke continues, see a professional, because not only are you wasting gasoline, but you may have a fuel-mixture problem that could involve everything from the computer to the fuel-injection system to the carburetor. And that may lead to damage to the catalytic converter (part of your emissions system), which comes with a hefty repair bill.
- Blue smoke: Indicates burning engine oil. That doesnít necessarily mean your engine is shot; it just might mean you havenít been changing the engine oil faithfully. Take it to the shop to determine the cause.
- White smoke: A sign either of moisture in the system or of burning transmission fluid, coolant or antifreeze in the engine. Moisture gets there via a blown head gasket, a cracked engine head or a cracked block ó all serious enough to cause performance problems. But if your transmission fluid level goes down for no apparent reason at the same time you notice the start of the white smoke, figure that the vacuum modulator on your automatic transmission is broken. Again, head to the shop for repairs.
- Leaks. Theyíre easy to detect and often overlooked. Check out the garage floor where your car is usually parked and do a little detective work to solve this mystery:
- Coolant: Think green (although in late-model GM vehicles the coolant is a light pink) and leaks at the front end of your car. Tend to this immediately or youíll be one of those poor, hapless jerks whose car overheats on the side of the road.
- Engine oil: Will be black or gray, and also leaks at the front end of the car. If your vehicle is old with high mileage, youíre likely to see some spots here and there, and you might just decide to live with the problem. But if your newer car is leaking puddles instead of drops, head to the shop to find the source of the leak.
- Transmission fluid: Itís red when itís clean but throughout its lifetime goes to pink, clear, yellow, tan and, with a failure, black. Look for leaks around the middle of the car, leaning toward the front end. Because the transmission is hydraulically operated, any transmission-fluid leak deserves immediate attention. To avoid mistaking black transmission fluid for engine oil, get a small sample of the leak on a white paper towel, and then use the dipsticks from the engine oil and the transmission fluid to get a few drops on the towel for comparison.
- Power-steering fluid: It will be located under the engine and is usually red or brown. The first sign youíre low on power-steering fluid is a growling sound on extreme turns. Head to the shop, because finding and fixing this leak is a repair for the professionals.
- Rear-end grease: It drips in the center between the rear wheels. Itís brownish, and if you hear a faint howling sound that changes pitch on acceleration or deceleration, the rear end is probably low on grease. Continued driving will result in expensive damage, so head to the shop immediately!
- Odors. Itís true, the nose knows. It makes good sense to check out these scents:
- Clearly there is a host of other indications that come to you by way of weird sounds and strange sights, so donít ignore any clues that stray too far from your carís normal performance. The above 3 are easy to understand and have checked.
- Burnt-toast smell: Smoldering wires in the electrical system emit an acrid smell, like badly burnt toast.
- Rotten-egg smell: Thatís a tell-tale sign of sulfur, indicating a problem with the catalytic converter. If you continue to drive it the catalytic converter will clog up Ė and, again, thatís a costly repair.
- Sweet, steamy smell: Hereís another clue youíre leaking antifreeze. Search for the green puddles and head to the shop to repair the leaking hose. (You might try this repair yourself, but only do it if you have confidence in your skills.)
- Yucky smell: This pretty much sums up the smell of overheating brakes. Check it out, but be aware you might detect a faint odor if youíve just had new brakes put on the car. It should dissipate in a few days. You may also smell it if youíve been in very heavy traffic and you were riding the brake heavily. Again, the smell should fade as the brakes cool. In all other cases, head to the shop. Obviously, failing brakes are no small problem.
- Safety from Carjacking:
The make and model of the car is irrelevant -- anyone driving anything can become a victim.
- Keep doors and windows locked, and only open the windows a few inches.
- Do not buy anything from street vendors, and donít give handouts to beggars who work the stoplights.
- Keep enough room in front of and behind your car to make an emergency getaway.
- Donít take the same routes to destinations every day, and vary the times you travel.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Do not become a victim because you were absorbed in your cell phone or CD player.
- If you are a woman, keep a man's cap and jacket in the car and wear them, especially at night. A driver who looks like a male is not as inviting a target.
- Buy Cheap:
- Auto auctions are often open to the public and, if you know anything about cars, auctions can be a great way to get good deals on used cars.
- Emergency Gear:
Always keep the following items in your vehicle
- 2 or 3 days worth of all prescription drugs, OTC cold & pain relievers, anti-diarrheal, etc. (little packets like samples in the mail)
- CB radio or cellular phone
- Disposable camera
Take pictures of the car and everyone involved in an accident. Ask for names and addresses and places of employment and insurance companies.
- Flashlight/flashers/flares & batteries/matches/lighters
- Winterize Your Car:
- Battery Check your battery. It takes a lot more power to start your car when it is cold outside. Check for clean, tight connections and proper fluid levels. Clean any corrosion (whitish powder) from battery terminals.
- Tires In areas where snow and ice are facts of winter, install snow tires and/or have snow chains. (see below)
- Windshield Wipers Replace old, worn blades, and if your climate is harsh, snow (rubber-clad) blades can be an effective alternative.
- Engine Get drivability problems such as harsh idling and stalling repaired. Replace old air and fuel filters as well as a faulty positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve.
- Anti-Freeze/Coolant Make sure the condition, level and concentration (a mixture of 50% anti-freeze and 50% water will protect down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit) of your vehicle's anti-freeze is appropriate. Check the level, acidity and concentration of radiator fluids when you change the oil.
- Fuel Maintain a gas level of at least half-full. A full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming, adds a beneficial weight increase, and helps if you get stranded. Add a de-icer to your fuel to keep any moisture in the fuel system from freezing.
- Oil Change your car's oil according to the manufacturer's recommended intervals & weights. In extreme conditions, switching to synthetic oil, which is less susceptible to thickening, can be advantageous. Check your owner's manual for the grade of oil recommended for winter. In most cases, 10w30 oil works year-round.
- Heater/Ventilation/Air Conditioning In order to drive safely and comfortably, your vehicle's HVAC systems need to be in good working condition to keep the cabin dehumidified as well as warm.
- Filters, Hoses & Belts Inspect your air filter, rubber hoses and drive belts and replace as necessary. When youíre examining your belts, look for any fraying edges, cracks, missing pieces or peeling, or a hard, shiny appearance. If you spot any of these things, replace these items immediately. Even if the belts look to be in good shape, consider the beltís mileage and age. Belt failure rates rise sharply during the beltís fourth or fifth year of use. V Belts should be replaced about every 35,000 to 45,000 miles while serpentine belts last a little longer and should be replaced about every 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
- Fluid Levels Check your fluid levels (transmission, brake, differential, power steering and window washer fluid) and keep them properly filled.
- Lights Inspect all lights, replace burned-out bulbs and clear any grime that has accumulated on the lenses.
- Exhaust System Your vehicle's exhaust system should be inspected for leaks. Take it to a professional who can place it on a lift and examine the system properly.
- Emergency Gear In case of getting stuck, a stall or an accident, keep the following items in your vehicle: blanket, jacket, coveralls, (small) shovel, flares/lights, gloves, boots, tire chains, booster cables, energy bars or dried snacks and beverages, flashlight or candle & matches, CB radio or cellular phone, ice scraper, extra washer fluid, bag of sand or cat litter or old house shingles for traction. (If you get stuck in the snow, throw kitty litter, shingles, newspapers, magazines or dirt in front of and behind the drive wheels.)
- Safety Belts Make sure that all passengers are buckled up.
- Headrests Accidents are an unfortunate yet common result of winter driving--especially rear-end collisions. Be sure to adjust headrests to help prevent and reduce neck injuries.
- Tools "Fix-It" Supplies Things like screwdriver, pliers, rubber hammer, wrench, a can of penetrating oil, an old scarf and belt for emergency hose repairs, duct tape, a small throw rug and old shower curtain (for kneeling next to your car or getting under it).
- Planning Ahead Before you get in your car and start driving, think about the safest route to your destination. Try to avoid bridges, hills and high-congestion areas.
- Driving Instructions No matter how safe your car is, winter driving requires extra attention. Brake gently, accelerate gently and steer gently. As every driver's education teacher repeats, steer into a skid. In snowy conditions, drive in lower gears. Avoid using your overdrive feature.
- Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere You can run the engine for a few minutes each hour to run the heater, also sound the horn repeatedly either using the Morse Code for S.O.S. (3 short, 3 long, 3 short) or a mountain distress signal (6 blasts, wait, 6 blasts wait, etc.)
- More on Winter Tires:
- Winter tires dig into loose snow and compress it into their large tread grooves, resulting in snow-to-snow traction.
- Studless winter tires are most common and increase traction on ice through the use of advanced tread rubber compounds. They're a safe alternative to studded tires, which are forbidden in many states.
- Studdable or studded winter tires are popular for light truck owners and drivers who spend a lot of time on snow and ice-covered roads. Small carbide pins ("studs") that chip into ice can be inserted by your tire specialist.
- For every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in temperature, your tire's inflation will change about one pound per square inch (psi) -- up with higher temperatures and down with lower.
- Common Car Design Terms:
- A Pillar: The two metal braces on either side of a carís windshield.
- B Pillar: Going from front to rear, the next two metal braces holding up the roof. B pillars are usually located between doors on four door cars, or between the door and rear window on two-doors. "Pillarless" four and two-door cars have no B pillars, nor do true convertibles.
- C Pillar: The wide back part of the roof from the belt line (see below) to the roof on either side of the rear window. Also known as the two blind spots. On cars with two middle pillars, this became the D.
- Coupe: You might catch him on this one. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers standard, a coupe is a closed car with two side doors and less than 33 feet of rear interior volume. This means that not all two-doors are coupes.
- Greenhouse: The part of the car above the beltline, used generally to describe or identify the glass areas.
- Beltline: The horizontal dividing line between a vehicleís top and bottom, usually located just below the glass.
- Targa: A partially-removable roof style with a side-to-side roll bar, most commonly identified with high performance and sports cars such as Porsche, Corvette, Camaro/Firebird and Datsun/Nissan Z cars.
- Tumblehome: The convex curve on the side of a car, most commonly used to describe the curved windows and narrowing of the greenhouse as they join the roof.