Posted in Seasons, Timely Tips, Winter

To Protect Dogs’ Paws from Winter Salt

A client gave me the following information on a beautifully clear and warm autumn day. I set it aside for when it would be more useful. Today works! It’s punishingly cold and we have some, though not a lot of, snow.

Paw Wax Recipe
3 ounces beeswax
3 tablespoons calendula oil
3 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Melt together in a pan on low heat, mix well, then pour into a small tin or other container. Let cool at room temperature overnight. To use, rub the bottom of your dog’s paws in the Paw Wax and go!

You also might want to give some to friends, both human and canine.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. III

From the archives, here are a few quick tasks to delegate. Do you have kids? Maybe a few dollars will sweeten the request(s), or a promise not to nag about holiday-break homework until December 28.

Updating contacts. Tweens focused on tech won’t mind typing addresses from incoming cards into a document or into your phone.
Addressing cards. Do you still have some to send? Here’s a chance for your kids (who, again, might be more focused on texting) to practice their penmanship.
Ironing holiday linens. Older kids should be able to handle this pressing matter (bad pun alert!). No collars or angled seams. Easy!
Salting the sidewalks. It’s basically encouraging kids to spill and make a mess. Large plastic cups can work as scoops, so they don’t have to haul a heavy container around.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. II

As the pace of the holiday season picks up, your time might be getting used up fast, too. From the archives, here are some suggestions to save some time, and maybe some sanity, too.

  • Retire the family newsletter. With so many people using social media these days, the “old-school” annual recap may be redundant now.
  • Bake in bulk. Make a big batch of sugar cookies now. You can freeze the dough or even baked cookies. (Thaw overnight at room temperature.)
  • Reconsider crystal. Do you have delicate (hand-wash-only) glassware that you’d like to use? Maybe skip it during this most hectic of seasons, and use it some other time. Instead, your nicest dishwasher-safe glassware will make life easier, both before and after a celebration.
  • Skip the party playlist. Delegate DJ-ing to a music streaming service, like Pandora. You can choose from multiple preprogrammed channels or customize a mix.

For a laugh, from Erma Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End, in October 1987. “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” (Of course, I don’t agree with this, but I did laugh out loud when reading it recently. Here’s hoping you did, too.)

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Three Powerful Words

Reduce, reuse, recycle. They are suggestions we hear often. Some people groan, while others take them to heart, with gestures both large and small, benefitting us all. Please consider the following recommendations for the holidays and at other times of year. They provide a different twist on those three powerful words.

Reduce. Americans gain an average of seven pounds during the holidays. Would it be possible to decrease your food and drink intake by some percentage, to make the scale’s upward creep less challenging? Stepping onto the scale on January 2nd might be a little less unpleasant.

This is not a grumpy curmudgeon’s instruction to only chew on carrot sticks and celery stalks at parties. Maybe reconsider the last glass of red wine and/or piece of dark chocolate. (They are reported to be good for the heart. Even so, that’s tough for me, too, since I consider them to be basic food groups!) Instead, you might drink an extra glass of water. Your body will be grateful, even if it can’t voice its appreciation.

Chatting with a swimming buddy about these three powerful words, Nina shared the following Tibetan proverb – The secret to living well and longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.

Reuse. If you exchange holiday presents, what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? While it’s certainly responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future, you might bag it for package padding when the time comes.

Another good reuse – unmatched socks. How does that happen, anyway? Does the washer eat a sock? Does the dryer hide one? Use unmatched socks as padding when packing delicate objects for shipping. Put fragile ornaments inside them for storage. Lastly, you also might wear unmatched socks together, even if only at home. Bonus points – it could make you laugh. (Think about the Tibetan proverb!)

Recycle – yourself, by donating blood. As written previously, donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes about an hour, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Happy holidays! May they bring you, and those dear to you, all that you wish, and more. Cheers!

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. I

As the holiday season quickly approaches, here are a few tips to save time now, and maybe a bit of sanity, too. From the archives –

  • Find any gifts bought spontaneously through the year and stored who-knows-where.
  • Add all holiday events into a shared family digital calendar – every party, cookie swap, caroling event, concert.
  • If needed, drop off fancy holiday outfits at the dry cleaner’s.
  • Shop for non-perishable groceries and booze before stores get crazy, and place orders for any in-demand specialty foods that might be in shorter supply later.
  • Order any specialty clothes, pajamas, etc., that might need to be monogrammed now, in November, before a supplier’s production staff gets very busy.
Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

October Holiday Decorating

These days, there’s some conjecture about whether or not Halloween has become the second-most decorated holiday. Who really cares? It gives us opportunities to be creative and maybe also a bit outrageous.

Here’s a fun and incredibly inexpensive idea, from Amy Sedaris’s book
I like you: hospitality under the influence. The book is funny, creative and “spicy.” (Read: sassy and over-the-top.)

To make the Nosey Tissue Ghost, you’ll need two sheets of facial tissue. Lay one out flat, then ball up the other one and place it in the center of the flattened sheet. Use monofilament (clear fishing) line to tie the head off at the neck. Dot with a felt tipped pen to mark eyes. Using clear tape, attach some more line to the top of the head.

Where to hang it? From a tree, from a front porch ceiling, anywhere where it could cause a stir. Clear fishing line is especially good, because it’s strong and will help to make the ghost look like it’s flying through the air. The local hardware store sells 500 yards for $3.00. (Once added to your craft supplies stash, it’s likely to come in handy for other uses, too.)

A few hung together could be even better. Boo!

Posted in Gardening, Seasons, Timely Tips

Season Transition Plant Care

This Timely Tip first appeared in late September of last year. It’s that time again!

Now that summer’s officially over, you’ll want to care for outdoor plants. Here are some suggestions found online.

1. You’ll want to move your plants indoors when temperatures regularly drop below 60, and definitely before they get as low as 45 degrees F. If you can, plan to gradually transition your plants indoors, putting them in a shady spot for a few weeks before bringing them inside.

2. Decide where the plants will go in advance. Try to match the conditions outdoors, putting plants that were in bright sunlight in south-facing windows. If not possible, at least try to gradually move plants to lower-light areas over a few days or weeks. They may still lose leaves in response to the reduced light, but you can try to minimize the loss.

Note: Without any windows in the way, plants get more sun outdoors than they do inside. Use this as inspiration to wash your windows (both inside and out, if possible). Your plants will appreciate it and, if it’s been a long time since their last cleaning, so will you!

3. Inspect your plants to see if any have outgrown their pots and need to be repotted. If they do, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes, and the appropriate new potting soil. Lightly prune plants that have gotten leggy while outside.

4. It’s really important to inspect your plants for pests and problems before you bring them indoors. Soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force any pests out in search of air. Drain thoroughly before bringing indoors. If you want to be extra sure that you’re not bringing in any uninvited guests with your plants, you may even want to quarantine them in a room separate from other plants for a few days.

5. Once you’ve got your plants transitioned indoors for the season, be sure not to overwater. For most plants, that means letting the soil dry to the touch before watering. You may find that the dry indoor air from your heat source(s) means that plants need nearly as much water in the winter as they do in the summer. Since they’ll grow less in response to less light, fertilizing monthly or bi-monthly during the winter should be sufficient.

Happy gardening and transition from summer to fall!

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Admittedly, I’ve posted the following suggestions before. They’re still of use; at least, I think so. Happy holidays!

It’s the holiday season and all that goes along with it – happy gatherings, glorious music, decorations, lights and, of course, presents. Wearing my de-cluttering “hat,” here are some suggestions to perhaps decrease your own and perhaps others’ clutter, too.

Reduce. Many people already have enough stuff. What to give? For something memorable, how about something intangible, like a special restaurant meal, or an experience. Yes, this is a repeated idea, but still feels valid. Concert tickets? A hot air balloon ride? Or, how about an especially good bottle of wine, with the promise to share it over an equally impressive homemade meal, including a truly decadent dessert? A built-in bonus – time together which, in these increasingly busy times for many of us, is precious. Perhaps save this gift for the New Year, after all of the holiday busy-ness, when you might be able to relax and enjoy it more.

Reuse. Another reprised suggestion, but what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? Sure, while responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future and have storage space, you might bag it for when the time comes. Another easy reuse – as written, egg cartons are great to snugly store ornaments.

Recycle. Yourself. Yes, by donating blood, also suggested before. Donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, and I’m no fan, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes ~45 minutes, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Posted in Holidays, Uncategorized

Refrigerator Stuffing – Not a New Dish, But About Saving Space!

A few days ago, I read some magazine tips about saving space in the fridge, which can get so packed during the holiday season. To keep condiments upright and to prevent mess, place them in a six-pack holder on the door. Leftover casseroles? Layer them, with cutting boards or cookie sheets between the containers. To use freezer space well, a basic desk sorter (a base with vertical dividers) can hold packages of meat, veggies and other frozen foods. That could leave space for bulkier items, like bagged ice, frozen desserts, breads, etc.

Posted in Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

To Combat the Cold, at least Emotionally

It’s been seriously cold, with wind chills in the 20s below zero. Some areas, like near the New England coast, are buried under as much as 7 feet of snow. It’s difficult. I can hardly visualize green grass, can’t imagine going out without multiple layers of clothes.

What to do? Since the calendar will advance at its own inanimate pace, bring some green into your home! A bouquet of flowers and/or a new houseplant will boost your spirits, in a big way! It may not help with clutter, but it/they will make you smile. Just be sure to ask for wrapping for protection against the cold.

Spring WILL come. Like Stevie Wonder’s wonderful song lyric reminds us, “…the seasons know exactly when to change.”