Friday, July 30, 2010

Homemade OxiClean Is Cheap

Do you ever use a product and wonder why it's so expensive?  I like adding the booster OxiClean to detergent when I do laundry.  Perhaps I've been brain washed by effective advertising, because I use it to make my detergent clean better.  I want to keep my clothes bright and stain-free.  And since the stain remover doesn't contain bleach, it's safe to use on colors and whites alike.  But lately I wonder why a 3 pound tub costs $10 - $12.  That really adds up!  Usually if you can find out what's in a cleaner, you can make it for pennies.  And as it turns out, OxiClean has just two ingredients, and they are cheap and easy to obtain.  What you get is a liquid, not a powder, but I can live with that.  The active ingredient in OxiClean is sodium percarbonate (Na2CO3•H2O2), which is a combination of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Here's how to make the laundry booster at home: 

1} Buy washing soda. – (not baking soda)  Washing soda is sold in the laundry detergent aisle of your supermarket, and it's cheap.
2} Buy hydrogen peroxide. – Available at any drug, or beauty store. And, it's cheap.
3} Get a mixing cup, or buy a spray bottle.
4} Combine your two ingredients:  2 tablespoons of washing soda for every 1 cup [8 ounces] of hydrogen peroxide.

Add to your laundry with your detergent, or use the spray bottle mixture to spot clean.  Just let the solution sit for several hours beforehand to form the sodium percarbonate, and be sure to give the spray bottle a shake every time you use it.  

Now in addition to saving a few bucks, don't you feel like a chemist?

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Step Into The World of Ideas

Keith Richards, the pulse and menacing edge of the Rolling Stones
Is this a face only a mother could love?
Have you ever noticed how everything in life is paid for with time, money, or consequences.  And for any of us, there's only a limited amount of time and money.  In the pictures above, Keith Richards was once a young man, and now he's an old one. Time sure flies, and it doesn't take long to live a life.  Keith just might outlive us all.

Now just for a moment, let's accept an old premise:  "The best things in life are free."  Can you think of one?  Reading, watching movies and listening to music are free if you visit your local library, or swap with friends.  And even when you don't borrow, compared to other hobbies and pleasures, they cost less, yet pay a rich return.  The human spirit is free.  Thinking is free.  Exchanging ideas is free ... and enjoyable.  So for the rest of the summer, why not spend some of your leisure time reading a good book, a handful of magazines, or and interesting blog? Listen to good music too.   Have fun soaking up ideas ... and just thinking. It's priceless.
Here are a few quotes to get you started.  Pick a favorite:
1} Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains to its original dimensions.  Oliver Wendell Holmes
2} You only go around once, but if you work it out right, once is enough.  Unknown
3} If you marry for money, you will earn it every day of your life.  Old saying
4} If there is a nuclear war, only two things will survive - Keith Richards and bugs.  Bill Hicks, comedian
5} He drew a circle that shut me out -- heretic, rebel, a thing to flout, but love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took him in!  Edwin Markham
6} He got what he wanted, but lost what he had. Little Richard discussing Elvis' fame.
7} Don't let what you cannot do, interfere with what you can.  John Wooden
8} As long as he walks the earth alive, man makes mistakes as long as he strives.  Johann von Goethe
9} How do you measure success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a redeemed social condition or a job well done;
To know even one other life has breathed because you lived -- this is to have succeeded.  Ralph Waldon Emmerson

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

ChicTiq Links Shoppers With Local Boutiques

Louis Vuitton, Soho
New York City is a shopper's paradise.  Everything is available from haute couture to ready-to-wear.  And now the task of finding one-of-a-kind shops and discounts is just a click away.

ChicTiq is a new online service that lists all the local boutiques in New York City, by neighborhood and category.  It is the brainchild of three friends from the University of Pennsylvania, Landon Berns, Daniel Panzer and Jonathan Lehr.  The idea for the directory first came to Berns, as he tried to help his sister find shops and promotions in the area, only to discover there were no simple steps to gather the information.  So the three college friends teamed up and launched ChicTiq to make the search quick and easy.  ChicTiq lets shoppers generate and customize a list of retail boutiques in any New York City neighborhood.  Store addresses and phone numbers are provided, and there's an app you can add to your iPhone.  Also, a map pinpoints store locations so shoppers know exactly where to go.  A must-have for tourists!

So far, there are 1,300 stores on a list that's growing.  Boutiques can communicate with customers in real time to tell them about fabulous deals and happenings in the shop.  They may announce the arrival of new designers and special events.

All a shopper needs to do is logon and enter a zip code, or category like “shoes,” to pull up a list of nearby boutiques with the latest sales and promotions.

ChicTiq is a handy tool in a tech savvy age.  With the click of a button, shoppers can be in-the-know, finding the best deals on the hottest fashions in their area.  The company plans to expand to other cities.  Miami is next.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

A Well-Stocked Bar

My parents rarely touched alcohol, but had a cabinet stocked with wine and spirits, including Danziger Goldwasser (a strong herbal tonic with tiny flakes of 22k gold).  These were pulled out on special occasions to offer hospitality to dinner guests.  If we ate a fancy meal as a family, we didn't serve alcohol, but always wanted to have something available for company.

And just to show how much a person is a product of her upbringing, I've carried on the same practice.  In my cabinet sits a bottle of Italian red wine, Moet & Chandon Champagne (a gift), Maker's Mark Kentucky bourbon, Mount Gay Barbados rum, Frangelico liqueur, Chambord liqueur and a bottle of Moosehead beer that's been in the refrigerator for years.  Since I seldom drink, isn't it interesting how much of a chip off the old block I am? How about you?

As it turns out, my family is not alone.  Several magazines have stressed the importance of keeping wine and some basics on hand, just in case visitors drop in.  Cosmopolitan says, it's a tell tale sign that someone has moved past his or her college years into adulthood.  And according to Vanity Fair, a Well-Stocked Bar should include:

Rose's lime juice
Triple sec
cocktail olives
club soda
cocktail onions
lemons and limes
tomato juice
stirrers, shakers and strainers
Angostura bitters


In reality, there are no rules to stocking a bar.  It depends on you and your guests; and whether you like mixed drinks.  Personally, I'd rather eat than drink.  Give me sharp cheddar cheese, hummus, crackers and a single glass of red wine, and I'm satisfied.

But for adults with other tastes, here are some Bar Tips, courtesy of Goodhousekeeping [condensed]:

*Chill cocktail and beer glasses ahead of time.
*Handle glasses by the stem to avoid warming the contents.
*Add carbonated beverages at the last minute, even to punches.
*Avoid spills, by not filling glasses to the brim.
*Keep towels handy; making drinks can be messy.
*Don't overserve.
*And never allow an inebriated guest to drive.

Bottoms Up!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Glow With Natural Skin Care

An average person uses 10 personal care products each morning.  That's a lot of chemicals.
Your skin is a barrier that acts like a sponge.  As time goes on, I've learned a few lessons about lotions, potions and beauty products.  More and more, I prefer natural skin care that is free of parabens, phthalates and other chemicals you are better off without.  But regardless of how beneficial a beauty regiment is, if it's crazy expensive, what good is it to you?  So I'm always on the lookout for outstanding personal care products that won't break the bank.  Fortunately, there are green-minded companies who get it right at reasonable prices.  Here are two, available at Whole Foods and in drugstores:

 J.R. Watkins prides itself on being “America's original natural apothecary” company.  Since 1868, Walkins has used the finest natural ingredients in its diverse lines of skin care, home cleaners, and pain relief liniments.  That's 142 years of remedies and skin care, listing natural ingredients that my grandmother would recognize like aloe vera, green tea and shea butter.  And recently Walkins launched new face care products, including a cleansing cream, exfoliator, and day and night creams.  Plus they offer your best weapon against aging skin -- a natural sun screen.  Costs: $3.49 - $13.99.

Kiss My Face, another company committed to caring for your skin “the way nature intended” has a complete skin care system called, Potent and Pure, that is free of synthetic preservatives, additives, chemicals and artificial fragrances.  It uses the highest quality and most effective ingredients in nature, such as sunflower seed oil, basil extract and hibiscus  flowers, to name a few.  You'll find everything you need to fight blemishes, dryness, oiliness and aging.  Their other moisturizers and personal care toiletries are "obsessively natural" too.  Costs: $1.29 - $23.00.

Both companies combine beneficial botanicals and natural emollients, which really work.  You get fresh and clean scents.  Between them, discover creams and ointments formulated with vitamins, minerals and herbs for all your skin care needs.  And you''ll like the prices.  Healthy green ingredients that leave some green in your wallet.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Celebrate The 4th Of July With The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers, London's Royal Albert Hall

On this glorious 4th of July weekend -- in addition to appreciating living in a free, democratic country -- I hope you're with family and friends, enjoying a good barbecue and listening to plenty of great music to soothe the soul.  I know I am.  I even baked a rare lemon cake, that required 5 plump lemons and is prepared with a lemon soaking sauce and glaze.  I use the word “rare” because I'm not really the baker in my family.

And while I pull out some CDs, I want to give special thanks to my fellow Everly Brothers fans for all the terrific music and mementos you continually share with me.  For others who don't know, Don and Phil are still alive and kicking down in Tennessee, but happily retired these days.  

The Everlys are in that first, iconic class of inductees into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and their talent remains unmatched by the countless artists who followed and were influenced by them.  In their long careers, the Everly Brothers could sing just about any genre of music ... flawlessly ... from Rock And Roll, which they helped launch ... to country ... and rhythm and blues.  

They are fine songwriters also, and their later albums are every bit as good as their early hits.

I want to thank some English fans, as well as, AGJ for all your exceptional Everly Brothers videos, photos and fun trivia, including this delicious BBQ recipe from none other then Don Everly, himself.  Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!

Don Everly's Very Hot Barbecue Sauce with Smoked Spareribs


2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
One clove garlic pressed
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoon Chili powder
Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
5 pounds spareribs
Cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients except spareribs; mix well. Bring to boil, simmer slowly about one hour [or until sauce thickens]. Stir often to prevent burning. Set aside.

Put spareribs in large stock pot. Fill with water; cover and simmer for one hour.
Drain meat well on absorbent paper towel. Smoke over hickory chips and charcoal for about 45 minutes [or until rust-colored]. Add cayenne pepper to taste. To serve, cut spareribs in serving pieces. Dip in sauce and BEWARE. Serves 4-6

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