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Easter Traditions – How to Dye Your Own Easter Eggs

Easter Traditions – How to Dye Your Own Easter Eggs

Kitchen Fun for Everyone

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis

(1898 – 1963)

Dyeing Easter eggs is a beloved family tradition for many!

Eggs contain the promise of new life, just as Easter reminds us of prophecy fulfilled, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Children of all ages (even adults) enjoy creating colorful eggs to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. In our home, we like to dye hard-boiled eggs, as they hold up to handling (particularly by little hands) much better than the blown-out ones.

Here’s how to dye your own Easter eggs at home.

Hard-Boil Your Easter Eggs.

Place several eggs in a large saucepan. For the best results, use a pan that is large enough to accommodate all of your eggs in one layer on the bottom. Cover the eggs with lukewarm or cool water. (Stop filling once the water level is about an inch above the top of the eggs.)

Bring water to a full boil on the stove. Boil eggs over high heat for 10 minutes before removing pan from heat. Allow the water to cool completely before handling the eggs.

Chill hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Click here for the the simple 7-step guide to dyeing Easter eggs.

1. Prepare Your Work Area.
2. Mix Your Easter Egg Dyes.
3. Play With Pretty Colors.
4. Dip Your Easter Eggs.
5. Enjoy Egg-ceptional Dyeing.
6. Finish Up – Over Easy.
7. Dry Your Dyed Eggs.

Here’s Another Egg-Dyeing Option:

You can place your food coloring or dye mixtures in little spray bottles, and allow children to mist their eggs with color. This is a super outdoor activity, if weather permits, as it can get a little messy!

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High School Graduation - Ten Basic Skills You Will Need for Adulthood

Getting Ready for Real Life
Looking forward to high school graduation?

As you complete your required credits and courses, you may suspect you are ready for the world. Perhaps you plan to attend a college or university. Maybe you are heading right for a career.

Are you ready? In addition to your high school's graduation requirements, do you possess the basic skills you will need for the next step?

Here are ten basic skills you will need for adult life.
  1. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Speak.
  2. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Read.
  3. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Write.
  4. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Type.
  5. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Cook.
  6. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Do Laundry.
  7. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Swim.
  8. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Drive.
  9. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Use a Checkbook.
  10. Before You Graduate: Learn How to Complete a Job Application.

Got the top ten skills? You go, graduate!


A Dozen Days to Easter - Making Resurrection Eggs

Easter is coming! Here's a super family project:

A Dozen Days to Easter -
Making Resurrection Eggs with Children

You can share the Easter story with your children, using this fun family idea! Make the kit together, or purchase it online.

Purchase a package of plastic refillable Easter eggs, if you don't already have a boxful from previous years. Gather the following items, and look up the corresponding Bible verses together. Print the verses out, and cut them apart into strips. (The following verses are taken from the New International Version. Use whatever Bible version you prefer.)

Constructing the Kit:

Number the eggs (1-12) with a Sharpie permanent marker or numbered stickers. Fill the eggs with the following items and Scriptures (printed on strips of paper):

1. BREAD (Use a toy loaf of bread, a crouton, or even a cracker.)

Matthew 26:26 - While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

2. COINS (Use real money, toy coins, or foil-wrapped chocolate ones.)

Matthew 26:14-15 - Then one of the Twelve the one called Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.

3. PURPLE CLOTH (Use a felt square, a purple handkerchief, or a fabric remnant.)

Mark 15:16-17 - The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.

4. THORNS (Use a sharp branch, grapevines, a spiky pine cone, or real dried thorns.)

Matthew 27:28-29 - They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.

5. WHIP (Use a small length of rope, dental floss, or strong string.)

Mark 15:15 - Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

6. CROSS (Use a plastic or jewelry cross, or make one from toothpicks.)

John 19:16b-18 - So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

7. NAILS (Use 3-4 small nails or tacks.)

John 20:24-25 - Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

8. SIGN (Use an index card or small sheet of paper.)

Luke 23:38 - There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

9. SPONGE (Cut a small piece of kitchen sponge or use a cotton ball.)

Matthew 27:48 - Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

10. SPEAR (Use a plastic cocktail spear or a toothpick.)

John 19:34 - Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

11. ROCK (Use a small stone.)

Matthew 27:59-60 - Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

12. EMPTY (Leave this egg empty - without contents.)

Matthew 28:5-6 - The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Sharing the Story

Twelve days before Easter, gather as a family and open the first egg. Pass the enclosed object around, as one family member reads the Scripture. Discuss what each item means and how it fits into the Easter story.

Each day, until Easter Sunday, open one more egg together. Children may take turns reading the verses together.

Happy Easter! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

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Lost and Found

Lost and Found - Reflections on Adopting a Stray Kitten

We simply had too many animals. There was no question about it.

Between the horses and the dog and the guinea pig and the humans, we really had no more room in our hearts or our home for another creature. Not even a tiny turtle.

We never had a chance.

Then we heard it. It was a tiny mew, almost too faint to be heard, coming from atop a pile of big square hay bales. Looking up, we spied two huge eyes in a tiny lump of fluff, smaller than a tennis ball.

She was all alone.

Before we knew it, my daughters had smuggled the two-week-old kitten into our family home. Day and night, we took turns feeding her with a doll-sized baby bottle. She slurped the feline infant formula fiercely each hour.

Almost immediately, the baby kitten grew quite attached to us, endearing her to us as well.

A teenager’s bedroom became her domain, at least for the first month of so, as we watched her explore and gain strength and grow.

Our veterinarian pronounced the orphan kitty healthy and gave us the go-ahead to wean her to real kitten food. We geared up, with a larger litter box, feed and water dishes and plenty of catnip-enriched kitten toys.

The vet informed us that our little orphaned pet was actually a Maine Coon cat. This explained the odd chirping noises she was making, as she ran around the room. Also, the vet explained that this tiny creature would probably outgrow Garfield someday!

What would the dog do? What would we all do? What would happen to the kitten?

Want to find out? Click here to see "Lost and Found - Reflections on Adopting a Stray Kitten."

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(Upon request for Sunday Scribblings.)

Her smile’s stuck,
Just like a clown.
A ruby guck
Is on her frown.

Forensic eyes
Might take a peek,
Then realize
It’s just Clinique.

For scarlet gloss
Has smeared beneath,
And, though she floss,
It’s on her teeth.

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The Finest Friends - How Do You Rate?

The Finest Friends - How Do You Rate?

The only way to have a friend is to be one.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

What makes a true friend? Here are a dozen traits, coupled with insightful quotations on the values of friendship.

You may wish to see how you measure up, before you begin rating your friends.

1. Acceptance

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." (Walter Winchell)

2. Authenticity

"The best mirror is an old friend." (George Herbert)

3. Availability

"Friends show their love in times of trouble..." (Euripedes)

4. Compassion

"A sympathetic friend can be quite as dear as a brother." (Homer)

5. Encouragement

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

6. Forgiveness

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend." (Abraham Lincoln)

7. Friendliness

"The only way to have a friend is to be one." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

8. Fun

"There can be no Friendship where there is no Freedom." (William Penn)

9. Honesty

"An honest answer is the sign of true friendship." (Proverbs 24:26)

10. Loyalty

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies." (Aristotle)


"A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked. " (Author unknown)

12. Trustworthiness

"A friend loves at all times." (Proverbs 17:17)

The Value of True Friends

Friendship has many levels. You may have many acquaintances, several familiar folks, and even a fair number of social friends. However, throughout your entire human life, if you have even a handful of true life-long friends, then you are extremely fortunate!

Your friends will influence you towards greatness or destruction. Also, whether you like it or not, people will measure you by the friends you keep.

"When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends." (Old Japanese proverb)

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How to Get Rid of Hiccups

How to Get Rid of Hiccups


Hiccups may cause you to blush;
Folks may think that you're a lush.
As you hic, maintain your smile.
Hold your breath and wait a while.
Before you know it, they'll subside.
Just try not to be mortified!

Give Hiccups the Slip

Probably everyone has experienced these sudden spasms known as hiccups, or hiccoughs. These surprising contractions of the diaphragm are generally harmless, but they can be a nuisance and a distraction. In fact, they can be downright embarrassing, if they occur at inappropriate times, such as during a written exam (such as the SAT or ACT college entry tests), church service, or job interview.

What Causes Hiccups?
How Do Hiccups Happen?
How Can Hiccups Be Halted?
How Long Do Hiccups Last?

For answers to these questions, click here to see "How to Get Rid of Hiccups," or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content.

Leave Dust Behind - How to Freshen Artificial Flowers and Trees

Leave Dust Behind: How to Freshen Artificial Flowers and Trees

Low-maintenance is in! Even high-priced interior designers incorporate silk flowers and artificial trees into their designs.

No watering, fertilizing, or pruning! Leaves and blooms never wilt or fade, and you don’t need a green thumb to keep them looking lovely and lush. However, within a few months, they do tend to collect a layer of dust. How do you clean these without losing leaves or upsetting the beautiful arrangement?

No one has the time to wipe each individual leaf. But there is a much faster way!

  1. Gentle Whisking Prevents Dust Build-Up.
  2. Try a Simple Solution.
  3. Give It a Cleansing Rain.
  4. Air It Out!
  5. Avoid Costly Cleaning Products.

Click here for more information on these simple steps to keep your plants looking fresh and healthy and perhaps even realistic!

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Valentine's Day: Truly Decadent Truffles

Truly Decadent Truffles

Make ‘Em With Marshmallows!

These are super-simple, but so fun to do. Even preschoolers can get into the act. What could be more festive and tasty for Valentine's Day than Truly Decadent Truffles?


1 bag of large marshmallows
1 bag (12 oz.) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon margarine


Flaky coconut
Multi-colored sprinkles
Chopped pecans
Crushed breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Golden Grahams and Grape Nuts work well.)


Cover a cookie sheet or baking tray with waxed paper.

Place marshmallows on baking sheet, and set it in the freezer for 10 minutes. (This will prevent the marshmallows from melting when you dip them into hot melted chocolate.)

In glass bowl, microwave chocolate chips and margarine for one minute. Stir, then microwave for one more minute. (Microwave powers may vary, so you may have to experiment with cooking times a bit.)

Using a skewer or fondue fork, dip marshmallows (one at a time) into melted chocolate until they are completely coated.

Roll chocolate-covered marshmallows in toppings.

Place truffles on waxed-papered cookie sheet, and cool well before serving. Store in covered container at room temperature.

Fun idea:

Did you know you can find heart-shaped marshmallows at Candy Warehouse, Sweet Stall and Williams-Sonoma?

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Kids Crafts - Marble Painting

Kids Crafts - Marble Painting

Need some creative gift wrapping papers for Valentine's Day?

Roll 'em!

Marbleized papers are extremely popular, even for grownups. Elegant marble-designed notepapers are available in the finest stationery stores. Marble papers are available for purchase online at Dick Blick Art, Paper Pronto, Paper Studio and other e-tailers. Scrapbooking stores and sites (Chic Scrapbooks, Memory Villa, Scrapbook Clearinghouse, Stampin' Up and more) also offer marbled goods.

And yet, marbled papers are so simple and fun to make! Use real marbles from your child’s collection, or pick up a big bag at the discount store. Kids of all ages love this kinetic craft!

Even toddlers and preschoolers can get into the act, rolling and swirling their favorite colors into artistic abstract marble painting designs. Here's all you need: plain papers, paint, marbles and a few empty shirt boxes.

Click here for easy instructions!

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Valentine’s Day: Caring for Long-Stemmed Roses

A Red, Red, Rose

O, My Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O, My Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune!

Robert Burns

Valentine’s Day: Caring for Long-Stemmed Roses

Who doesn't love a dozen long-stemmed roses for Valentine's Day? Nothing says, "I love you," like a bunch of red beauties, at least according to floral tradition. Of course, pink, white, yellow or other roses customarily carry different shades of meanings. Whatever the color and message, roses are the perennial favorite for Valentine's Day or any holiday.

Receiving Long-Stemmed Roses

If you are fortunate enough to receive a parcel of long-stemmed, fresh-cut roses, be sure to hold them in a gentle embrace. Think of Miss America or Miss Universe, as she carries her victory roses cradled in her arms. This prevents the flowers from waving about and breaking. Treat your fresh-cut flowers with kindness, and they will last a lot longer!

Arranging Long-Stemmed Roses

Many rose recipients mistakenly attempt to trim their long-stemmed flowers one at a time and then arrange them in a vase. Don't do it!

Here's an easier and more artistic way to prepare your lovely roses for display. This will protect your fresh-cut flowers from breaking and virtually guarantee floral arranging success every time.

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Who Says Moms Can't Memorize Scripture?

Who Says Moms Can't Memorize Scripture?

Just when you think you can't go on - the baby's in the tub, the toddler is hollering, and the phone is ringing - these verses hold new meaning!

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
'In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength'" (Isaiah 30:15).

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1)

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him" (Psalm 127:3).

"I lift up my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip; He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:1-4)

Busy moms can't always take time to leaf through the pages of Scripture to find the verse they need - in a crunch! That's why it is essential to commit favorite Bible verses to memory. That way, God can remind you of His promises - right when you need them!

Think you can't memorize Scripture?

Not long ago, I was teaching a small group leader training seminar for women's ministries at our church. Our curriculum included weekly Scripture memory work.

Several participants voiced their difficulty in memorizing Bible verses. They claimed this is easy for children, but difficult for adults. A few folks said they had lost the ability to memorize, as they grew older.

"My kids keep me so busy!" one mom wailed. "How can I possibly memorize Bible verses?"

"OK, let's try a little game," I said. We handed out blank notebook paper. I asked everyone to number the top ten lines. On these lines, they listed the following:

1. Your home phone number.
2. Your cell phone number.
3. Your spouse's cell phone number.
4. Your home address and zip code.
5. Your social security number.
6. Your spouse's social security number.
7. Your children's names, ages, and birthdates.
8. Your wedding anniversary.
9. Your siblings' names, ages, and birthdates.
10. Two additional phone numbers you know by heart.

"Gee," I said. "You guys are smart! You sure can memorize a lot of details! And this stuff is not nearly as interesting or meaningful as Scripture."

The room became very quiet for a few moments.

The following week, guess how many class members knew their verses?

What's your favorite Scripture? Have you personalized a parenting promise from the Bible? Please share your favorite verse in a comment here! (Choose the Bible translation you prefer, NIV, KJV, NASB, RSV, Amplified, The Message, etc.)

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Paint an Indoor Paradise!

Paint an Indoor Paradise!

A child's bedroom can be an indoor haven, a fortified castle or even a jazzy jungle. What is your child's ideal indoor dream theme?

Does your child love American Girl dolls, Dora the Explorer, GI Joe, Hannah Montana, the Indianapolis 500, LEGOs, Major League Baseball, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ratatouille, or Veggie Tales? You may be surprised what you can create, if you use your imagination (and possibly some clipart).

Wallpapering can be quite costly. This is also a risky prospect. A child's personal interests and tastes can change quickly. Why shell out a small fortune on designer papers, when your son or daughter will probably lose interest in the design within a year or two?

You can create a unique and memorable room without spending a king's ransom. In fact, it is amazing what you can do with a few cans of paint and some great ideas!

Click here for practical pointers on painting, using borders and decals, stenciling, tracing, and even freehand drawing.

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12-Step Program for Wedding Gift Registry

12-Step Program for Wedding Gift Registry

Are you engaged to be married? Congratulations! As the bride- and groom-to-be, please remember that wedding gift registries are intended to offer time-savings, convenience, and constructive ideas for your guests. Your family and friends are not obligated to purchase items on your lists, although they are most likely to do so.

Have fun with your registry, as you plan your new life together!

12-Step Program:

1. Register for gifts before you send out your wedding invitations.

2. If possible, visit gift registries together with your fiance or fiancee.

3. Double-check the registry information for accuracy.

4. Try to register at multiple stores, but not for the same items. For example, if you pick out dishes at Target, try to stick to sheets and towels at Bed, Bath & Beyond and other household items at Pottery Barn. Ideally, you will choose stores that also offer online shopping.

5. Avoid personal care items, apparel, sporting equipment, and hobby supplies. While Abercrombie & Fitch, CD Now, Gap, REI, Sports Authority and Victoria's Secret may be your favorite retail haunts, many of your guests may not deem these appropriate for bridal gift registry.

6. Consider online gift registries for long-distance guests' convenience. Several online services enable users to consolidate and coordinate registries at multiple stores through a single website. Examples include and My Registry.

7. Think about your desired color schemes for your home, and select items accordingly.

8. Aim for variety, particularly in terms of pricing.

9. Include compact gift items for easy shipping. Your long-distance guests will appreciate this.

10. Check gift statuses periodically on your gift registries.

11. Be sure to update your bridal gift registries, if you receive gifts from other sources.

12. Don't forget to send thank-you notes to those who send gifts, even if they send something for which you did not register.

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Clothing Swaps - Trading Togs & Tag Sales

Clothing Swaps - Trading Togs & Tag Sales

How to Find a Clothing Swap in Your Area

Remember the old Army joke? The commander assembles the troops and announces: "Men! Today I have good news and bad news. Let's start with the good news. Today you get to change your underwear. Now the bad news. Clark, you change with Simmons. Jenkins, you change with Barnes. . . "

Seriously, clothing swaps can be fun. Where I live, we call these co-ops. Families get together and exchange garments. Most of our trades are children's clothes.

In my neighborhood, we swap outgrown baby clothes, kids' play clothes, jeans and jackets, and more. We even trade ice skates, Rollerblades, and snow boots.

At our school, we swap school uniforms and gym outfits. (Yes, we launder them first!)

Our church has a clothing exchange every fall, as families prepare for back-to-school days.

Many local chapters of the national family group, Parents of Multiples, have annual swap-meets just for families with twins, triplets, quads and more.

Want to Find a Clothing Swap Near You?

1. Check the local newspaper for listings. Most areas have free advertising newspaper and mailers too. These often include such events.

2.View your local events cable TV stations for news of clothing swaps.

3. Search online. Most communities have web-sites with event listings. Check out ClothingSwap, Swap-o-Rama and SwapStyle for helpful information.

4. Look for flyers and bulletin board postings at your school, church, and community center.

5. Ask around. If you have neighbors, particularly neighbors with large families, they are likely to be clued in.

6. Organize your own swap! Why not gather a group of families and create your own event. Instruct participants to bring unwanted clothing (in good condition) and a dozen cookies to share!

Share and swap! What a super way to get acquainted and to gain some "new" items at the same time!

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How to Make Your Guinea Pig Hate You

How to Make Your Guinea Pig Hate You

Sir Poops-a-Lot, our guinea pig, loves loud music, at least in short bursts. He adores hip-hop, MTV and VH1 Top 20 Countdown.

Crazy, huh? Our guinea pig can't stand silence. Crank the tunes, and watch him dance. He zips and zoom and darts and dashes all around his pen. Eventually, however, he tires and simply stops. He curls his claws underneath him and sleeps on the spot.

So how can you tick off your guinea pig?

Let's Start With the Positives:

If you want your guinea pig (or cavy) to love you, just love him! Offer all the things he needs. Gentle guinea pigs adore attention. Cavies love to be where the action is, and they are among the most affectionate of all animals.

Guinea pigs favor fresh fruits and vegetables, and they crave cardboard.

How to Make Your Guinea Pig Hate You:

Here are the top ten ways to make your guinea pig miserable.

1) Confinement: Put a tarp or tent over his cage to make him sleep. Hey, it works for canaries, right? Don't you dare do this to your cavy!

2) Daily baths: Guinea pigs love to drink water, but they really don't like being wet. If you baptize your rodent in the bath each day, he will duck and cover every time you draw near!

3) Dirty cage: Why bother cleaning out the guinea pig cage? He's just going to soil it again. Besides, cavies have been known to consume their own poop. Let him clean it up himself! Just put your vet on speed-dial first!

4) Exposure: Keep his cage bare. Don't give him any hiding places, playthings, or toys. Expect him to keep himself occupied all day on his own. Got pet psychologists, anyone?

5) Haircuts: Does your guinea pig have whorls or cowlicks? Just try trimming those! Aha!

6) Manicures: Clip your guinea pig's claws really short, and he will probably clip your fingers with his teeth!

7) Mockery: Isn't it hilarious to watch your guinea pig race around the room and do his happy dance? He jumps and flexes and twists and spins more than a Jazzercise class. Why not mock him? Do you think he doesn't know? While you're at it, why not invite six or eight friends in to watch the show? You might even pick up your guinea pig, and pass him around among all your pals. Boundaries matter!

8) Shared quarters: Cage your cavy with other animals. Put a rabbit, a rat, a Rex or a Rottweiler in the pen with him. Can't we all just get along?

9) Solitude: Ignore your guinea pig for several hours. Let him languish alone in his cage. Think he'll thank you for the peace and quiet? Think again!

10) Wilted lettuce: Fresh leafy spinach, kale, and lettuce are a guinea pig's favorite treats. Try to pan off last night's soggy salad, and you will win no points with your guinea pig.

Can You Earn Back Your Guinea Pig's Favor?

After perturbing your guinea pig with all of his pet peeves, is it possible to restore his affection?

Sure you can! Just bring him home a friend! Stop at PetSmart, PetCo or your favorite pet store, and get another guinea pig. If you have a boar (male), he would welcome a sow (female) with open paws. You can be his hero again!

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My Preteen Thinks I'm Uncool!

My Preteen Thinks I'm Uncool!

Maybe you're like me. I thought I was a pretty hip mama, but I'm really just uncool.

1. If you're like me, you are just out of style!

Our clothes are frumpy; our hair is dumpy, and our shoes are out of style. Our jeans come up too high at the waist, and they are too narrow at the ankles. Our shirts are too loose, and we usually don't layer three or four of them at one time.

2. If you're like me, you are out of sync!

Our music is too soft and low. (Gee, our parents thought our music was too loud!). To make matters worse, we listen to CDs, cassettes or (worse yet!) vinyl LP records. And we aggravate everyone under 20 when we pump our music through stereo speakers, instead of directly into our ears on Ipods or MP3s.

3) If you're like me, you are nosy!

We hang around in the kitchen or family room, while our preteens' friends are visiting. We ask our preteens where they are going, when they want to leave the house. We inquire about where they have been, when they return. We still want to know if they have eaten, as well as what they ate. Worst of all, we have the nerve to ask them, "How was your day?"

4) If you're like me, you are unreasonable and mean.

We insist that homework and household chores be completed before the electronic entertainment systems are switched on. We demand that pets be fed, beds be made, and clean laundry be put away. We threaten to confiscate cell phones, MP3 players, video games, and other goodies, on a whim (such as for sassy talk, direct defiance, and unsatisfactory academic grades). Preadolescents will label this as surliness. Of course, this makes us the worst parents in the world.

) If you're like me, you are too paranoid!

We make all kinds of outrageous rules, making our preteens call us when they arrive at their friends' homes and insisting on curfews. We may even poke around their bedrooms a bit, while we are dropping off stray items (left elsewhere in the house). In doing so, we may inadvertently move some personal item on a shelf or desk. (This can trip off a major conflict from the preteen, who is certainly not paranoid at all. He or she will simply want to know why we were inspecting their private space without a search warrant!)

6) If you're like me, you are selfish and stingy!

Everything a preteen does costs money. Even biking to visit the preteen down the street will require funds. It does not help to remind a preadolescent that she just earned $20 for babysitting, Grandma sent him money his birthday last weekend, or you gave her an allowance yesterday. If you refuse to fork it over today, you will be tagged a miser.

7) If you're like me, you don't know anything!

Preteens know everything about every possible subject. Just ask them!

8) If you're like me, you are growing cooler every day!

Surprisingly, by the time these aspiring grownups reach their mid-teens (and seek car keys), they seem to change their perceptions of us.

Quite suddenly, we find that we are not as uncool as before. In fact, the barometer on my own coolness meter is rising quite quickly. (I just got invited to the mall with my teen and her friends. Do they want my company, or just my credit card?)

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Cooking: Freshening Onion-y Hands

Cooking: Freshening Onion-y Hands

Chopping onions? Got onion-y smelling hands? Don't cry! Here are five ways you can make your hands smell fresh again.

1) Cut up a fresh lemon, and rub the pulp and juices on your hands. Then wash your hands with soap and water. Your hands will smell fresh and clean!

2) Rub table salt on your hands. Wash with warm water.

3) Dip your hands in tomato juice or V-8 Vegetable Juice for a few minutes, then wash them with soap and water.

4) Make a sticky paste with baking soda and water. Rub this on your hands, then wash as usual.

5) Under cold running water, rub your hands vigorously against stainless steel (flatware, a mixing bowl, or even the kitchen sink) for several minutes. Wash with soap and warm water.

A stainless steel "soap" is also available. You can purchase it online at Wishing Fish for about $10.00 or at Uncommon Goods for $14.00. We bought a similar product, The Rub-Away Bar, for $7.50 at Crate & Barrel. This makes a very practical gift!

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Simple Cold-Weather Snacks for Birds

Simple Cold-Weather Snacks for Birds

Frozen Foods for Your Feathered Friends

Banish those midwinter blues! Here’s a festive way to invite wild feathered friends into your yard for a high-flying winter fiesta!

Why not throw a party that is truly for the birds? Here are four simple snacks you can offer. Enlist the kids for these fun projects and begin bird-watching together!

1. String ‘em along with popcorn! (Orville Redenbacher never had it so good.)
2. Leave ‘em hanging with yummy pine cones! (Grab the Skippy or Jif.)
3. Corny but cool with corn cobs!
4. No sweat with suet!
5. Look out!

Grab your binoculars, and get ready for some bird-watching. Have your camera ready for some avian photography!

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In the Market for Manners - Etiquette for Shoppers

In the Market for Manners -
Etiquette for Shoppers

Reaching for Retail Respect

"Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Good manners have much to do with the emotions.

To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them."
- Amy Vanderbilt

"Whatever happened to common courtesy?"

Ask anyone who has ever worked in retailing, and you may receive similar responses. Although some retail shoppers go out of their way to be courteous and considerate of store employees, a host of store patrons do not. In too many cases, shoppers' behavior should be banned.

What is it about today's consumers that makes so many of them feel as if they can overlook the humanity of those who are employed in occupations that serve the public? The mere fact that a shopper or store patron may consider spending some cash in a retail store does not qualify that consumer to carry a superior, haughty or impatient attitude towards those who work there.

In ages past, folks in nearly any town would visit their local general store or neighborhood shop, where a long-time family acquaintance would help them to gather their desired purchases, ring them up and package them for carting home. During the process, the store staff and customer would probably discuss local news or family highlights.

Life has become a lot more anonymous, and we seem to have forgotten ourselves, particularly when shopping.

As shoppers and consumers, we must realize that we are actually guests in others' domains, when we visit retail stores. Let us consider how guests ought to behave, whether shopping at WalMart, at Macy's or on Rodeo Drive.

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Winter Washing Without Wilting

Winter Washing Without Wilting -
How to Clean Your Down-Filled Coat

Restoring the Puff in Your Warm Winter Stuff

Feather-stuffed jackets are toasty and warm, even in the most frigid, tundra-like climates. Nothing beats a puffy down-filled parka on a cold winter day.

However, even a winter coat can become dirty, soiled, and stinky. Dry-cleaning is costly, so you may want to launder your cozy outerwear at home.

How can you clean your down-filled or feather-filled jacket or vest? Nearly everyone knows that feathers can become soggy and clumpy when wet. Can you really launder a jacket that is filled with them?

Certainly you can! You just need a can of tennis balls! (Be sure to read the whole online article, using the free link below, so you won't have to call the Maytag repairman!)

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