Tip of the Day

Dress up dessert

For a sophisticated treat, melt semisweet chocolate chips and dunk your favorite cookie halfway. Place on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Refrigerate, set and serve.

Recent Tips

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.

Nail it

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.

Raising smiles

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.

Sample Tip

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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.

Deep-six scratches

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.

Bag it

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.

Better backup

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.

Avoid heartburn

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.

Everyday exercise

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.

Prepare for your pumpkin

These great gourds make wonderful fall decorations, but they decay quickly and can leave black stains. Prevent this by placing a few paper plates or a plastic tablecloth underneath your display.

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