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revive your mascara

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The Damsel loves a new tube of mascara. There’s something so nice about the way it goes on, smooth and–well, black.  It gives the Damsel a hopeful feeling that maybe even she can put on a decent coat of mascara, despite her fashion handicaps.

Everything goes along well for a while–a month, perhaps–and then things begin to get sticky, clumpy, globby. You know how they say you should replace your mascara every three months? The Damsel wants to do the right thing, but is it a crime to go four months?

Oh yeah, mascara is old school. The Egyptians were said to use it back in 4000 BC. Some say the stuff was made of soot mixed with crocodile dung. Neat!

It’s super old school to get the most out of your stuff, and while the Damsel isn’t advocating putting your eyes at risk by extending a tube of mascara way past its time, here’s a trick to make it behave better and longer.

When you begin your getting-ready transformation, fill a cup or glass with the hottest water that will come out of your tap. Put your mascara tube in the glass and continue onward with hair, face, etc. Ten or more minutes later, you end off with your now warm and obedient mascara.

The warmth from the water softens the mascara, making it nice again–almost like new. This method not guaranteed to work with crocodile dung, however.

It’s nice to know about a trick that is so easy and free–and in the Damsel’s opinion, very effective.

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wrap me in an apron

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I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons.

REMEMBER:

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…

 

 

p.s. The Damsel has looked long and hard for sources for these beautiful thoughts, and the perfect picture to match. She welcomes the chance to add attributions.

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broken toys–fix?

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Today the Damsel welcomes guest poster Sarah Brooks.

How to Make Good Use of Broken Toys

The definition and perception of what makes a good toy has changed over the years. While we might agree that toys are meant to be played with, there are still countless ways to interpret what makes a toy, a toy. Is a video game a toy? It serves the same function as a Matchbox car does, but with an assist from technology. How about a doll? Girls and boys play with them, but they also sometimes sit on shelves, not meant to be played with, at all. Is a game a toy? The answer to all is “Yes.”

If playing with something is what makes it a toy, there are bound to be toy casualties along the way. Games with missing pieces, action figures with severed limbs, and vehicles missing wheels each find their way on to the landscape of broken toys; prompting parents to seek creative ways to renew them.

“Waste not, want not” resonates with people of past generations, uninspired by the throw-away culture that dominates the modern toy market. Frugality, fun and green consciousness that stimulates creative re-use moves crafty folks to breathe new life into broken-down items.What are some imaginative ways to make use of broken toys?

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Image by Distant Hill Gardens via Flickr

Fix It

Toys aren’t always made to last, so fixing broken items isn’t always worth the time and effort. On the other hand, some toys are made with repairs in mind; especially vintage models which lend themselves to servicing. If you are attached to a broken toy, there is no harm in exploring repair options before giving up on keeping it functioning. In the case of desirable or collectible toys, you may actually add to a toy’s value by bringing it up to snuff.

Craft Projects

Toys, including board games and others with small parts, lend themselves to craft projects of various types. With a hot glue gun and some colorful spray paint, the sky is the limit for repurposing broken toys.

Mosaic projects are popular craft efforts aimed at broken toy pieces. Flat and relief mosaics capture appealing visual sensations, but they also reference the pop culture of the pieces used to make them. Retiring an old Monopoly game to the craft bin, for example, yields numerous fun ways to share the campy game’s imagery, for artistic affect.

Holiday cards or Christmas Tree ornaments utilize broken toys, inspiring home-made seasonal crafts. Not only are the items you make worthy of giving as gifts, but the time spent making them with family members furnishes fond holiday memories. Even wreaths are easily crafted using themes provided by whatever toy parts are at-hand.

Jewelry Making

Colorful brooches and other pieces of jewelry are whimsically inspired by broken toys. Attaching pins or earring hangers to small toy pieces creates wearable conversation pieces, which conjure memories of playing with the toys you now wear as accessories.

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Image by brizzle born and bred via Flickr

Household Items

Repurposing toy parts within your home serves functional needs; keeping broken toys out of the landfill at the same time. Common everyday household items, like mirrors, for example, are easily adorned with decorative toy accents. Creating a mirror frame of little toy soldiers makes a great wall piece for a little boy’s bedroom, while a Barbie themed mirror as at home with young ladies. Or use Barbie’s broken legs to make a tongue-in-cheek coat hook for the back of daughter’s door.

There are virtually no limitations repurposing broken toys into fun and functional items. Not only is it relaxing and rewarding, but it brings together family members who share the experience.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.

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honey vs. sugar

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A few days ago, the Damsel talked to a friend who has a spot of hypoglycemia. If she eats sweet things on an empty stomach, she feels dizzy and lightheaded. So she switched to using honey rather than white sugar in her morning shake. Things didn’t work out for her the way she’d hoped.

This brings up the question: how does honey differ from sugar on a nutritional level?

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One could argue that since honey is less processed than sugar, it’s better for you. But once a spoonful of honey hits your system and is metabolized, there’s not much difference nutritionally. They have equal ratings on the glycemic index, which measures the sugar hit on your bloodstream. The amount of vitamins or protein or minerals in honey is so small it’s not worth talking about.

What about calories? There are 46 calories in a tablespoon of sugar, and 64 in a tablespoon of honey. Since honey is a little sweeter than sugar, spoonful to spoonful, that makes the calories pretty much the same too. (When substituting, you can usually use about 1/3 less honey than sugar in a recipe. If you have a fussy recipe, you may need to also reduce the liquid a smidgeon to compensate for the moisture of honey.)

Then there’s cost. Sugar’s cheaper, no doubt about it. Prices vary widely for both items. You can save a little by buying in bulk, but some folks can’t face the thought of a 5 gallon bucket of solidified honey. (Just so you know…solidified or crystallized honey is still fine to eat, and can be restored to its delicious pourable/spreadable state by heating it. The Damsel has even successfully melted honey packed in a plastic gallon container by putting it in the oven on the lowest setting, although it frightened her.)

The reasons for using honey instead of sugar boils down to pretty much just one thing: taste. Honey has its own unique flavor that can’t be duplicated by white sugar in some recipes. But once it’s past your tongue, your body sees little difference.

There is one thing that should be mentioned…some folk who have managed to find/eat local honey…honey made by bees that buzz in their own vicinity…have noticed an improvement in seasonal allergies. You might want to give that a try if you are one of the allergic.

For help on how to measure the pesky sticky stuff, see this post:

Measuring Honey

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shelf life of food

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Here’s a handy chart showing the shelf life for many common foods. Do any of these surprise you?
As you may know, expiration dates are often wildly inconsistent with reality. You may be pitching food that’s perfectly good.
Comments below:

The Shelf Life of Food

The Damsel is no expert on this topic, but she does think one item on this infographic is quite wrong . . . the one about eggs. A few hours on the counter and they are bad? No. Many countries don’t even refrigerate eggs in the store. They are sold at room temperature. Yes, refrigerate your eggs when you bring them home, but it’s perhaps an example of a food where folks have become overly cautious. No one wants salmonella, but eggs sit in the nest for a “while” before being picked up, yes?

And yes, they can be frozen. See this post: How to freeze eggs

And this: Testing eggs for freshness

There you go.

 

Infographic by LindsaySnowOsborn.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
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Shortening. The stuff dreams are made of. Pie dreams, that is.

Have you ever wondered why shortening is called shortening? What’s short about it?

One explanation is that baked goods typically made with shortening, like pies, cookies, or biscuits, are different from yeast breads that you knead. When you knead dough, you are attempting to make the gluten strands long and elastic. On the other hand, when you make pie dough, you try to work the dough as little as possible to avoid formation of long gluten strands so the crust will be flaky and light. So bread=long, pie=short. Shortening.

But, shortening has been called shortening probably long before people understood about “long gluten strands” or “forming a gluten matrix.” Those words don’t sound very 15th century, you know?

There’s actually evidence that “short” was used at one time as a synonym for “tender.” Ahh. Now that sounds a bit more historical. The Damsel finds it curious and interesting indeed that both meanings for the word “shortening” work pretty well.

It will be easier for us all if you think of shortening as “pie crust ingredient” instead of  “big blobs of solidified fat.” Some things are better the less you think about them. Besides, Grandma made pie all the time and she seemed quite at peace.

 

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how to seed a pomegranate

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When the Damsel’s Knight in Shining Armor was a boy, his family owned an amazing orchard full of all kinds of citrus trees–and pomegranate trees. He might have liked to know this trick back then, but he was only a wee tyke at the time. Someone else had to grub out the seeds for him.

This method will amaze you and make you want to buy more, more, more pomegranates–partly because they are so yummy and partly because this is just fun to do.

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Score the pomegranate with a sharp knife, but don’t cut all the way through.

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With your thumbs, pry the pomegranate in half.

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Ahh. So delicious…and so pretty.

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Pull outward with your thumbs along the edges, sort of flattening and loosening things. Prepare it for the mystery that is to come.

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Turn it cut side down over a bowl. And now–although it may seem shocking, strike the fruit with a spoon. Don’t be timid. Beat it. Pummel it. Spank it. All over. Beware that juice may fly, so using a large bowl like the Damsel shows here helps contain the violence.

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There may be a few seeds clinging to the fruit that you can pick out with your fingers, but most of them will come free. Repeat with the other half, and enjoy. Perhaps more than six.

(If you don’t get that reference, google up the Greek myth about Persephone.)

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Have you ever been happily making a yummy thing, and get half way into it when you realize you don’t have one of the ingredients?

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This happened to the Damsel yesterday, when she attempted to make pumpkin pie squares. The recipe called for a yellow cake mix, and the pantry had no such thing. The solution, though, is so easy that you may decide you don’t need to buy yellow cake mix ever again.

Simply mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk (optional)

Store in a baggie or some such. It should keep for months since it’s just dry ingredients. This makes an amount equal to a regular cake mix box of 18.25 oz. Use it in your recipe just like you dumped it out of the box. Or just proceed to use it in your recipe, as the Damsel did yesterday.

Or, yes, you can even bake it into a yellow cake, and chances are, you’ll like it even better than a silly old box cake.

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350, and prepare a pan with ye olde grease-and-flour.

1 recipe Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs

Proceed just like with a box cake…combine all ingredients and beat two minutes. Bake carefully at:

8″ or 9″ cake rounds — 20-25 minutes
13 x 9 pan — 35-40 minutes
cupcakes — 12-15 minutes
tube/bundt pan — 45-50 minutes

If you’ve omitted the dry milk from the mix, just replace the 3/4 water with milk. All will be well.

yellow cake

Yellow cake can be yours. No store necessary.

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giveaway winner

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Random.org says the winner is Muum! Congratulations. Please email your shipping address to mhovley at gmail dot com and the Damsel will be happy to send you a little SUDDEN DARKNESS. Also include if you would like the book personalized.

Yay!

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giveaway!

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Yay!

Something wonderful happened at the Cottage by the Mountains.

You may know that the Damsel also writes fiction. Her first novel was published last year, and she’s been working on a sequel for like, forever. But here’s news: the sequel, tentatively entitled Glimmer of Light, has been accepted for publication. A spring release is planned.

The Damsel has been dancing ever since she heard! So happy…and in celebration, she’s holding a giveaway of the first novel, Sudden Darkness. You can read a little about the book here, on Amazon. Click!

Entering is simple. Just comment. Tell us your favorite old-school skill or trick, whether one you read here or one of your own. That’s all you must do.

The giveaway will run until Oct. 1. U.S. residents only, please. If you subscribe by email, please click through to the website to leave a comment. Thank you!

Sudden Darkness

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