Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Setting DIY

In about the time it takes for muffins to bake, one of these sweet table decorations can be whipped up, making them an easy addition to a brunch table. For a last minute table setting, they are a pretty, cheery, spring-colored addition, which could also be done in different colors for other seasons or holidays.

Continue reading for the tutorial…

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Like many others, I am hurrying off to church right now,
but check back later for a pretty and easy 15-minute DIY project.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cedar for Moths

As we inch towards spring cleaning and putting away our winter clothes, now is a really good time to pick up some moth deterrents. The Container Store is having a "Spring Cleaning Sale," and here are two things I would suggest picking up.

Cedar smells so much better than mothballs, and it's worked pretty well for me. There are tons of cedar products available, but I skip the sprays, balls, and sachets, and go instead for the blocks and hanging blocks.

The thing about these products is that they work well when they are new because they're potent. The delicious aroma of cedar will waft around the clothing and protect it, but as the cedar ages, the smell and protection begins to fade.

To keep that scent strong, one can simply use sandpaper to rough up the sides of the cedar, and the scent will be good as new. This is much easier to do with the wide planes of the blocks than it is to do with the balls. Using this technique makes sprays useless by comparison, because they will eventually run out, while the blocks will be as good as new each time they are sanded.

Another option is to keep air -- and therefore everything else, including moths -- out. Vacuum-sealed bags will do this, as well as help condense puffy winter clothing for tight storage spaces.

I use a combination of zip-top bags (cloth over-night type bags, mostly) and huge plastic storage containers for off-season clothing, but I'm considering using these this year inside the various containers to cut down on the amount of space down coats, comforters, and heavy wool sweaters take up.

The nice thing about the Space bags offered by The Container Store is that they pull the air out with a regular vacuum cleaner, and don't require a special tool one must worry about storing.

Using either of these options should help keep the insects out, but if a hole still shows up (moths always find the favorite sweaters, don't they?), here's a fix for closing it up!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daily Sunscreen

Tanning under an overpass: The NYC way.
Even though we had a cold snap today, this past weekend's weather was beautiful, and I spotted a few brave souls starting to work on their tans.

It reminded me that this is about the time of year the girls at my boarding school are starting to lay out towels in various places around campus after or between classes. When I was there, a favorite spot was the paddle tennis court, since unlike the tennis courts, it's used in the winter and empty in the spring. Girls would sometimes use baby oil to tan faster, but others would heed the advice of parents that using baby oil is basically the same thing as frying oneself in a frying pan.

As someone who burns unless she's careful, I spent years working on a base tan each spring, and one year I even leathered my skin enough to skip suntan lotion at the beach by August. Having finally conceded that a tan just isn't worth the effort or damage to my skin, more recently I've been found in wide brim hats throughout the summer. Well, at the beach, anyway.

I've also been more aware of sunscreen for my face for daily use. I used to use a Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF years ago before I started tanning, and recently I've gone back to it after a few years of a department store brand that went on beautifully, but only had SPF 15. The reason I like Neutrogena is because it doesn't make my skin too oily, it's inexpensive, and unlike many other moisturizing options, it has an SPF of 30 or 50, not 15 or lower.

As with other brands, the bottle warns that the only way the SPF really works is if one reapplies every 15 minutes, which is completely unpractical, but at least it starts out a bit stronger than other versions. I plan to use this only for daily use, not for days when I'll be in the sun for hours. Also, I know that BB creams are all the rage right now, but most of them only boast a SPF of 15, and Neutrogena makes a BB cream with a SFP of 30, for a drugstore brand price of $14.00.

Something I only learned last year, however, is that sunscreen goes bad really quickly. See the little symbol of an open container that says "24M" inside in the picture at right? That means this particular sunscreen is good for 24 months from the time the bottle is opened. A few others I've seen say "6M" or "18M." Since I don't use an entire bottle in one summer (I just tossed a half-used bottle from over four years ago!), this was an important fact to learn. It certainly would be useless to go through the trouble of protecting one's face with a product that had already lost its potency.

So here's to a summer of protecting our skin: Our doctors -- and parents -- would be proud.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Little Ginger and Off to Bed

image from Bamboo Trading
This isn't the case anymore, of course, but on my first trip to Europe, I remember being impressed by the tiny cans of soda. Soda at all was a treat in our house ("empty calories," as my father always said), and I have always loved all things tiny, so to not only have a soda, but to also discover the miniature cans other countries had was exciting. I remember wishing we had them here in The States, and I knew I would want to buy the little cans if I could.

But then I grew up, and in reality, we don't usually buy those empty calories -- neither in regular 12 ounce sizes, nor in small 8 ounce sizes.

Yesterday, however, I felt really sick. It was my own doing -- after being in pain for a good deal of the day, I took a prescription pain killer and then accidentally skipped dinner. Pretty silly, right? By the time my choir rehearsal ended at ten, I felt queasy, but by the time I got home, I thought all of my insides from my brain right down to my toes were ripping themselves out. The feeling made me think of Hamlet and all the poisoning that happens -- I felt like the King, suffering from my own poison. I knew I should eat, but couldn't manage more than a few bites.

image from BevReview
Thankfully, my wife came to my rescue by suggesting the ginger ale that was hiding in the back of the refrigerator for just a case like this. I was extremely grateful to her for the idea she had several weeks ago to buy the tiny cans of ginger ale and keep them on hand.

While there is very little to no actual ginger in most brands of ginger ale, Canada Dry included, it still always seems to do the trick. A few sips from the can and straight to bed was the exact prescription I needed to feel better by morning.

What makes her idea smart, and frugal too, is that she bought the small cans, and insisted we are not to drink them for fun, only when we're sick, so that they are available when we need them. The small cans are better for this purpose because when one is sick, she only wants a little bubbly, and usually cannot finish a regular 12oz can. They also take up less room in our apartment-sized refrigerator, and cost a little less, two great points for living in a small space in an expensive city.

My appreciation of those small cans of soda was certainly very different last night from my love of their size when I first encountered them, but I now have two reasons for loving their little size -- they are every bit as adorable as I remember, and now they have the added benefit of being practical as well.