Dress up dessert
For a sophisticated treat, melt semisweet chocolate chips and dunk your favorite cookie halfway. Place on a co… more tips
Tip of the Day
Don't get caught without underwear
Airlines misplace more than five checked bags for every thousand passengers. Can't cram everything into a carry-on? Stow extra underwear, socks, shirts, prescription meds and basic beauty needs in a backpack.
Should your nails be square or oval? Forget the trend and look to the curve of your cuticles. Mirror that shape when filing for an always flattering symmetry.
Another reason to give your kids raisins: Despite being sweet and sticky, raisins contain a high dose of oleanolic acid, a chemical that fights cavities and helps keep gums healthy.
Dry-clean your dog
If he's smelly but not too dirty, give him a dry bath. Rub baking soda into his coat, then brush it out, along with that distinctive doggy odor.
Click away stress
A new study finds that playing online computer games decreases tension by more than 50 percent. PopCap Games offers free games that were used in the study.
Brush yourself to sleep
Drop lavender essential oil on your brush. It will relax you -- and your hair will smell great.
Don't let kids eat alone
Not only does the family mealtime promote better behavior in children, but kids who eat with parents consume more veggies and calcium-rich foods than those who eat by themselves.
Shield your table from spills
Before a party, protect your wood table from liquids by covering it with a layer of plastic wrap underneath the table cloth.
Boost your brain
When brushing your teeth or doing other simple tasks, use your non-dominant hand (e.g., your left hand if you're a rightie). It forces the creation of new brain cells and the pathways between them.
Mince fresh ginger faster
Strong fibers make ginger root hard to mince … unless you smash it like a garlic clove first. This breaks up the fibers, making mincing easy.
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Keep your washer set on cold
Washing your clothes in cold water saves electricity and keeps your clothes from fading. Try also using the shortest cycle (usually “delicates”).
Party like it's 1969
Need a party dress? Go vintage shopping. You might find a fantastic frock for a fraction of the cost -- that nobody else will be wearing.
Skip the fake stuff
Artificial sweetners throw off your body's ability to regulate calories by taste. If you want to lose weight, use small amounts of real sugar or honey instead.
Keep your greenery green
Prevent holiday wreaths and garlands from drying out by lightly misting them with water from a spray bottle every other day.
Find a bathroom fast
When you gotta go, use a Web-enabled phone to visit The Bathroom Diaries site and search for the nearest public facility.
Pull your weight
Still got the dreaded jiggle? Try slightly increasing the weight of your dumbbells. Weights should be heavy enough that you can complete only 10 reps in good form.
Clean that keyboard
In a recent study, computer keyboards tested positive for E. coli and germs that belong to the bathroom, not the office. Swipe yours with a dry cloth once a week.
Learn to count
The next time you're buying sheets, look for those labeled with a thread count of at least 400, for the softest sleeping surface.
Love your shredder
Use a cross-cut shredder for credit card offers, statements, bills -- everything that contains personal information. In these days of easy identity theft, tearing by hand simply lets thieves tape a document back together.
Send yourself a gentle reminder
Check out Jott, a free service that converts your voice message into an email or text and sends it to you.
Make donating easier
Have clothes for the Salvation Army but no time to drop them off? If neighbors have donations too, call The Salvation Army Truck (SATRUCK) for a group pickup.
Pass the potatoes, please
Serve spuds tonight: Quick and easy, these unsung nutritional superstars contain vitamin C, iron, protein and more potassium than a serving of broccoli or spinach.
Keep your water healthy
Investing in a reusable stainless steel water bottle will save you hundreds. It's also much better for the environment and your health, since plastic bottles can leach dangerous chemicals into your drink.
Move medicine out of its cabinet
Heat and humidity can destroy it. Keep all medicine in a plastic container in a closet, and discard anything that's expired.
Make pantyhose last longer
Putting your pantyhose in the freezer the night before wearing strengthens its fibers, making it more resistant to snags and tears. Just let it warm up for a minute or two when taking it out.
Energize more easily in the morning
Sunlight resets your body's inner clock and stops production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So raise your shades immediately after you wake up and skip the sunglasses on your way to work.
Smell sweet longer
Dry skin allows fragrance to fade faster. To make it last, smooth on some unscented body lotion before applying your perfume.
Speed up your shredding
Instead of feeding receipts into a shredder one by one, stuff a bunch into a used envelope and shred that. Don't forget to recycle the resulting confetti.
Take the ouch out of bandages
To painlessly remove a stick-on bandage, dab some shampoo on the back and let it seep through the holes.
Netflix fix for free
No need to wait for the new DVD in the mail…or pay a rental fee. Get the latest releases the day you want them for free at your local public library.
Keep potted plants fresh
When repotting houseplants, slip a sponge into the bottom of the pot, then cover with soil. The sponge will keep the soil moist for longer and help prevent overflow if you overwater.
Give your hair cold air
To make locks really shine, blast them with cold air when blow-drying. No cold button? Simply turn your dryer around. The back filter usually blows cold air outwards.
Hide bra straps
Not into the visible bra strap look? Create an instant racerback by using a paper clip to hold the straps together at the center of your back.
Give crumbs the brush
Cleaning a waffle- or sandwich-maker can be a frustrating task…unless you employ an old toothbrush. It's the perfect size to whisk sticky crumbs from an appliance’s nooks and crannies.
Make your home smell snug
The scent of cinnamon makes a room feel cozier. Dab a few drops of cinnamon essential oil on any light bulb for an instant dose of warmth.
Photograph your possessions
For insurance purposes, take a digital snap of a new purchase. Upload it to a free photo-sharing Web site, where it will be out of harm's way and note the date and amount of your purchase.
Head straight for bliss
In your morning shower, take five seconds to press your fingers into each of these spots: your temples, above and behind your ears, the center of the top and of the back of your head, and above the nape of your neck.
Think red for romance
Next time you're planning a special evening, wear crimson. According to a new University of Rochester study, that color makes men more amorous.
Make a fast fancy side dish
This one's simple and sophisticated. Microwave baby carrots until tender, then toss with honey and chopped fresh dill.
Classic games revisited
Remember red rover, hopscotch, four square? Even today, it's still possible to have a lot of family fun -- for little or no cost. Try introducing them to the games you loved when you were their age.
Make eating out more appetizing
When dining out, it's extra hard to watch your weight, especially with large dinner entrees. Try ordering two appetizers for your meal instead.
Always park perfectly
Hang a tennis ball from the ceiling of your garage so that it hits your windshield when you reach exactly the right spot.
Preserve art for posterity
Prevent your child's latest masterpiece from fading and smudging, by coating it with hair spray. It acts as a fixative and strengthens the paper.
Ice-cream for dinner
Dieting? You've probably forgotten the sweet, creamy texture of ice cream in your mouth. Make one meal of that luscious treat. It's decadent, but that's the point.
Think outside the kitchen
When entertaining, look around the house for double duty items. No bread basket? Use a clean flowerpot. No tablecloth? Press a pretty, patterned flat sheet into service.
A 42-cent gift
In the age of technology, handwritten letters are rare -- but always appreciated. Give someone you love a little thrill when they find your letter amongst the bills.
Keep handbag hardware spiffy
Buckles, chains and clasps on even expensive bags can tarnish quickly. So protect them with a coat of clear nail polish before using.
Treat your spouse like a child
Praise your kid -- or spouse -- when you catch them doing something helpful. It could get you a neater house and a happier spouse.
File health insurance forms fast
Make copies of a master claim form for each family member, with basic information filled out. Filing a claim will be a cinch.
Computerize your shopping list
Type up a list of all the groceries and other staples you buy each month. Before shopping, print out a copy and check off what you need. No more forgotten paper towels!
Proper dairy storage
Eggs, milk and cheese are commonly stored on the refrigerator door, but this is where warm air enters. Prevent spoilage by keeping dairy products on refrigerator shelves, where it’s consistently cold.
Don't let your "do" down
An easy way to keep your up-do up? Don't wash your hair. Clean hair is more slippery, but day-old hair has more grip.
Create something cuddly
Buy some inexpensive polar fleece or faux fur at the fabric store, turn it inside out, and sew three of the edges together. Turn it right side out and sew the final edge closed. In less than an hour, you'll have a luxurious throw.
Stay true blue
Can't spend a gazillion dollars taking your jeans to the dry cleaner? Turn them inside out before washing in cold water: It'll help keep them from fading.
Have sneakers, will travel
Stash a pair of sneakers in your car. That way, you can take a walk and exercise, or just enjoy the scenery, wherever you are.
Borrow, don't buy
It's dinner party time, and you're out of place settings. Instead of purchasing more, borrow plates or glasses from friends. Mix and match for a fun, funky look.
Gosh, you needed that
When gift-giving, think about what your recipient could really use. Your girlfriend's favorite shampoo might be better than another pair of earrings.
A new trench coat in twenty seconds
Change the plain khaki sash on your trench coat with a new belt: suede with fringe one day, bright red leather the next.
Your secret massage
Stash two golf balls in your desk drawer. While seated, remove your shoes and roll the balls slowly under your feet, concentrating on achy areas. Pure bliss!
Chalk it up
Say “I love you” to your family, with chalk. In the early morning, write a message with sidewalk chalk in front of the house. It's sure to garner smiles
Put a stop to pantry duplicates
Use an expandable, terraced cabinet organizer that puts each row of items on a different level so you can tell exactly what you have in one glance.
Keep cookbooks clean
Before starting a recipe, open the book to the correct page and slip it into a large clear plastic bag. It will always stay unsoiled.
Never search for a matched set again
Use a pillowcase to store its mates (sheets and other pillowcases) and eliminate desperate hunts through your linen closet.
Zip zippers and snap snaps
Close all fasteners before laundering your clothes, or they’re likely to catch on other clothes and cause snags.
Go on, eat carbs
Stressed? Trade your protein bar for something starchy like pretzels. Your brain produces more serotonin -- a feel-good chemical -- when munching on carbs.
It's easy to fix that coffee-table scratch. Just melt the end of a matching-color crayon with a lighter and rub it into the scratch. A bit of shoe polish should also do the trick.
Polish silver without polish
With a damp cloth, apply a dab of white toothpaste and rub gently. Toothpaste contains a very mild abrasive that will safely remove tarnish.
Save the environment and a few bucks by shopping with a reusable nylon bag. Some stores charge extra for bags; others give small discounts if you provide your own.
Email an extra copy of an important document to yourself. You can access it anytime, anywhere by going to your Internet service provider's Web site.
Don't multitask while you munch
Research shows women eat 13 percent more when distracted. Instead of working on that report at lunch, concentrate on enjoying your food.
Drink up safely
Water cooler gossip may be hazardous to your health! Cold germs and other bacteria can lurk on the dispenser lever, so cover it with a paper towel before you fill 'er up.
Keep flowers fresh
Make cut blooms last longer by using colored -- not clear -- vases. Dark containers make it harder for that unsightly plant slime (algae) to grow.
Comfort at 30,000 feet
If you forgot your neck pillow, make your own by rolling two airline pillows in an airline blanket. Place around your neck and snooze away.
Give your popcorn more pop
Get every last kernel to pop up nice and fluffy by storing your bags of unpopped corn in the freezer.
Solve a sticky problem
You can keep dirt from adhering to your garden tools by spritzing them with cooking oil spray before use.
Inhale some harmony
If dinnertime is tense at your home, serve some fresh-baked garlic bread. The smell is proven to greatly reduce negative comments and increase positive comments.
Schedule date nights...with your child
All children want your undivided attention, so schedule a one-on-one meal. But remember, it's a date. Skip the lectures and keep the conversation light.
Crack the codes
Shopping online? First, search the Web for coupon codes for that site (e.g., "Staples coupon code"). Ten seconds may save you 10 percent -- or more.
Bake a bestseller
A recent survey found that chocolate chip cookies and rice cereal treats sell the most at bake sales. Pies tend to move slowest.
Put the snap back into your sweater cuffs
To reshape stretched-out cuffs, dip in hot water, then use a blow-dryer on the hot setting. As they dry, they'll snap back into shape.
Spend less time grocery shopping
Organizing your list by department (dairy, frozen foods, etc.) can cut your time at the store by one-third. The less time you spend shopping, the less cash you spend.
Make your mornings easier
A messy bathroom can make you waste precious minutes searching for your brush. Try an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold hair products and accessories in their own pockets.
Toss the plastic, keep the paper
Before you stash newly dry-cleaned clothes in your closet, remove the plastic to allow the material to breathe. But do leave the paper shoulder covers in place to reduce dust.
How to sabotage a diet:
Stretching out your meals so much that blood sugar dips makes you tired, cranky and ravenous. Instead, keep your blood sugar on an even keel with small meals every three to four hours that include whole grains and protein.
Avoid extra airline charges
Try to book your flights online at a travel site or the airline's website. Book by phone and Jet Blue, American, United and many other airlines will charge you a $15 to $25 fee.
Keep your distance
When driving in rain or snow, allowing the normal two or three car lengths between vehicles is not enough to stay safe. Remain at least four to six lengths behind the car in front of you.
Put the squeeze on lemons
Make juicing citrus easier -- and get more volume -- by microwaving lemons and limes for 30 seconds before squeezing.
Easy paint touch-ups
Before storing leftover paint, mark the can with the room you used it in and the date. That way, you can remember which room you painted Snowcap White and which Dove White.
Make quick work of washing mushrooms
Fill a bowl with water, and swish mushrooms around with your hands for a few seconds. Place onto paper towels. The dirt will be left behind in the bowl, and your mushrooms won’t get soggy.
“Instant” good-for-you grains
Healthy whole grains such as brown rice and barley take longer to cook, so make a big batch on the weekend and refrigerate in an airtight container. They’ll stay fresh all week long.
Keep nonstick pans scratch-free
To prevent scratching, cover the nonstick surface with a paper towel before stacking other pans on top.
Perfectly shaped pancakes
Use a clean turkey baster to squeeze perfect circles of batter straight into your pan.
Make fewer trips to the trash can
Set a bowl on your counter while you’re cooking, and every time you peel or unwrap something, throw the unwanted portion in. Then make one trip to the kitchen garbage can when you’re done.
Lower your heating bills
Invest in a programmable thermostat. Lowering the temperature by just 4 F when no one is at home during the day can save you more than $125 a year -- and it’s better for the environment.
Spot your suitcase quickly
Find your standard-looking luggage faster at the carousel by adorning it with a brightly colored tag (think: shocking pink or neon green). Or use colored duct tape to make an X or another distinctive shape on both sides.
Enjoy that leftover eggnog
Instead of tossing that extra eggnog after the holidays, use it to make a delicious batter for French toast.
Put down that spoon
Avoid measuring liquid medication with anything but the dropper or cup that comes packaged with it. Even a kitchen measuring-spoon is not accurate enough.
Bake healthier holiday treats
Replace all-purpose flour with at least a portion of whole wheat pastry flour to boost fiber while maintaining delicate texture. White sugar can also be replaced with brown rice syrup, which is full of nutrients and less likely to spike blood sugar.
Install some atmosphere
Create a romantic atmosphere in your bedroom or a cozy feeling in the living room by dimming the lights. Replace light switches with inexpensive dimmer switches in minutes.
Make your garage door safer
If children are playing outside, place a block of wood underneath the garage door. When it closes, it will automatically reverse itself should a child or object be in the way.
Eating turkey, stuffing, veggies and potatoes won't cause heartburn, because they're relatively low-fat. Instead, skip the sour cream, cheese, butter and gravy.
Blow some bubbles
Try this fast, kid-friendly activity. Mix 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon glycerin (available at drugstores), 2 tablespoons liquid detergent, and ½ teaspoon sugar. Then make an OK sign with your fingers. Dip and blow!
Get a good table fast
Make dinner reservations -- and rack up points that can add up to free food -- with OpenTable. The service is free and supplies you with an email confirmation.
Give yourself some lip service
Cooking with olive oil? Dab a bit on your lips. It will soften them and heal chapping.
Don't let your couch make you a potato
Before your next evening TV session, stash a set of weights or resistance band underneath the sofa, then do bicep curls, tricep dips, squats, crunches and more during the commercials.
Banish bad breath
Gargle with a small amount of lemon juice (which kills bacteria), then eat some plain unsweetened yogurt (which contains good lactobacillus bacteria). The combo should neutralize bad odors for at least 12 hours.
Make your mailbox junk-free
Green Dimes, a junk mail reduction service, can instruct you how to remove your name from mailing lists or do it for you for a small fee.
Remember the dirty dozen
Organic produce can be expensive. But it's worth considering when buying the following 12 fruits and veggies, which are the most heavily sprayed: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes (imported), lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach and strawberries.
Deny drafts with duct tape
Applying inexpensive duct tape around the window will seal it just as well as a weather-stripping kit from the hardware store, according to mechanical engineers at Temple University.
Make exercise part of your family's daily life. Walk your child to school instead of driving him; encourage everyone to take the stairs. It all adds up.
Grow a garnish
Plant seeds for parsley, chives and other herbs ½-inch deep in clay pots filled with potting soil. Cover with plastic wrap, and punch a few holes through. Place on a sunny windowsill and keep the soil damp. Remove the plastic when herbs sprout.
Don’t forget about frozen fruits
If the fresh kind is too pricey or unavailable, berries, mangoes and other fruits from your supermarket’s freezer case are just as nutritious for your family.
Don’t rub stains in
Accidentally drip ketchup on your blouse? Resist the urge to rub a the stain furiously, which could permanently damage the fabric’s fibers. Instead, gently blot with a napkin and wash or dry-clean as soon as possible.
Can the canned food
Food can linings can contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that has caused breast tumors and hormone problems in animals. It can leach out into acidic foods like tomato-based pasta sauces so switch to jarred brands whenever possible.
Bathe to sleep better
If you have trouble falling asleep, try a warm bath before bed. It's relaxing and temporarily elevates your body temperature, which falls after you dry off, bringing on sleep.
Keep the spray away
Never spritz glass cleaner directly on a picture frame or mirror where it can seep into the wood and damage it. Spray it on a cloth or paper towel first, then wipe.
Winter-proof your lawn mower
Fuel can solidify in the tank and clog it. Run your mower until it’s completely out of gas before storing it for the winter.
Save leftover liquids
Have leftover cream, cooking wine or broth from tonight’s dinner? Instead of tossing it, pour the leftover liquid into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop the cubes into a labeled plastic bag and store in the freezer.
Kill those flu germs
Sprays, liquids and wipes labeled “disinfecting” or “sanitizing” will easily kill cold and flu viruses in addition to other germs. Some household hot spots include the phone, the TV remote and door handles.