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Easy fixes: Don't cry over window screen tears

Autumn is here. Colder weather beckons bugs indoors, especially when window and door screens have tiny tears or rips. These unwelcome visitors tend to creep in, especially at night, when indoor lights draw them through open windows.

Replacing screens on windows and doors can be costly. Is there a simple fix?

If a screen contains a tiny tear or rip (not an actual gaping hole), a little clear nail polish can do the trick. Just paint it on, and let it dry. It may take a few coats, but it works.

Hey, it works for nylon stockings and pantyhose too. Why not try nail polish on a torn window screen?

Or you could purchase a clear repair adhesive product, made specifically for such jobs.

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What if your window or door screen has a small hole?

For a small screen hole, a little hand sewing can work. It may not be pretty, but it will close up the gap. Try using black or dark grey thread, and choose a sewing needle that fits easily through the screen mesh. Follow the grid pattern of the screen, and sew a few rows past the open hole.

Larger screen holes must, of course, be patched. Purchase a window screen repairkit, screen repair tape, or a small piece of screen mesh, and hand-stitch or staple it over the hole in the door or window screen. Or take the entire screen to a hardware store for a total replacement, if absolutely needed.

Autumn is the ideal time for mending torn window and door screens, as many folks are switching to solid glass storm doors and storm windows (or at least sealing windows with insulating layers) anyway.

Why not fix those ripped screens before storing them for the winter months?

Public domain photos

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12 creative ways to use muffin tins

Muffins are marvelous, to be sure. Virtually all bakers of all ages and cooking ability levels have muffin tins in their cupboards. But besides making muffins, what else can you do with this compartmentalized cookware?

Consider these 12 creative ways to use muffin tins.

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These 12 muffin pan uses are arranged alphabetically for easy reference.

  1. Cupcakes – With or without liners, a muffin tin is the go-to item for the job.
  2. Cheesecakes – Pour the filling over some graham cracker crust in each muffin cup, and bake.
  3. Chocolate cups – Chill a muffin tin. Dip the bottom into melted chocolate, covering the outside of each section. Chill again until chocolate hardens.
  4. Cookie cups – Press homemade or slice-and-bake cookie dough over the outside of each muffin tin cup. Bake as usual, cookie side up.
  5. Eggs – Pour scrambled eggs or omelet eggs into greased muffin tin cups. Bake.
  6. Ice cream scoops – Shortcut sundae  serving for a large gathering by scooping ice cream into a muffin tin. Cover, and freeze immediately until ready to serve.
  7. Jello molds – Prepare gelatin of any flavor, as directed. Pour it into a muffin tin, and add fruit or other accents before chilling to make easy individual molds.
  8. Pancakes – Grease muffin tin cups. Ladle prepared pancake mix into each one, and bake.
  9. Quiches – Put pie crust into each muffin pan section. Pour egg mixture on top, and bake.
  10. Taco shells – Stretch soft tortillas over the outside of muffin tin cups. (Jumbo muffin pans are ideal for this.) Bake until crispy to make small edible taco salad bowls .
  11. Tarts – Use muffin tins to make miniature pies for a special dessert.
  12. Toddler fun meals – Fill each section of a muffin tin with a different finger food for a young child. Choose apple slices, banana bits, Cheerios, cheese chunks, Goldfish crackers, hot dog pieces, and other favorites.

Outside the kitchen, muffin tins are super for setting up crafts. How about sorting beads, sequins, or buttons into a muffin tin for a handicraft project?

Public domain clipart

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Freshening fake foliage: How to dust artificial plants and flowers

Fall is coming, and autumn cleanups don’t stop at the front porch. What about those indoor artificial plants and silk flowers? Haven’t they been collecting dust through open windows all summer?

Low-maintenance is in!

Silk flowers and faux trees need 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. Some even look nearly natural.

However, within a few months, they do tend to grow a bit dusty and musty. How do you clean these without losing leaves or upsetting the beautiful floral arrangement?

No one has the time to wipe each individual leaf. But there is a much faster way! In fact, on an ongoing basis, three strategies are helpful. Here they are, listed in increasing amounts of effort and thoroughness.

1. Give artificial plants a gentle whisking to prevent dusty build-up.

At least once a week, you can use a soft feather duster to shake dust off the leaves and branches of your artificial plants. Be careful! If flowers or leaves fall off, try to re-affix them to the proper spots. Often, you simply have to snap the loose items back onto the right branch stubs.

2. Try a simple spraying solution.

Every week or two, you can lightly apply a thin layer of clear disinfectant spray (such as Lysol) to the blossoms and leaves of your artificial plants. This will minimize dust collection.

3. Give them a cleansing rain.

Every few months, you will want to do a more thorough cleaning. Take the artificial plant outdoors to the deck, driveway, sidewalk, patio, or another solid surface. Test color-fastness by soaking one or two leaves with clear water. Let the sample leaves dry, then shake them lightly to see how clean and shiny they have become.

If this has proven to be successful, then it is time to tackle the entire plant. First, check inside the pot. Is the filler made of Styrofoam, cardboard, or paper? If the filler is water-soluble, you will need to remove the plant from it before proceeding. If the container itself is not waterproof, you will also want to remove it.

Use your garden hose and a spray nozzle (set for a light shower, spritz, or gentle mist). Tip the plant slightly, so the water will shake off onto the ground, instead of into the plant base. Spray the entire plant thoroughly. Then shake off as much water as possible.

Set the plant in a sunny spot, sheltered from the wind, to dry for a few hours. Once it is completely dry, you can re-pot it and put it back in its spot.

What about cleaning artificial plants or silk flowers in an apartment or condominium?

A city dweller can accomplish the same ends by misting synthetic plants with a water-filled spray bottle in the shower. Place your potted items on a deck or balcony to dry.

Avoid costly cleaning products, as these are not needed for this job.

Artificial plant cleaning products are available, but they are quite costly and quite unnecessary. Household cleaning chemicals may damage the color of the leaves as well.

These simple steps will keep your plants looking fresh and healthy and perhaps even realistic.

Public domain clipart

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College students' first aid kit: 25 key items to include

As college and university students prepare to move into dormitories and off-campus apartments, many are making packing lists.

A first aid kit is one must-have item for any college or university student. Sure, a student can visit the campus health center or drop-in clinic, but it’s more convenient (and maybe cost-effective) to have basic first aid supplies on hand.

What are the most essential components of a well-stocked first aid kit for a young adult?

  1. Acetaminophen
  2. Adhesive bandages – in various shapes and sizes
  3. Adhesive bandaging tape
  4. Alcohol pads or wipes
  5. Allergy medicine
  6. Aloe vera gel
  7. Antacids
  8. Antibiotic cream or ointment
  9. Cotton balls and swabs
  10. Cough drops
  11. Diarrhea medication
  12. Disposable gloves
  13. Elastic bandage roll or vet wrap
  14. Eye drops
  15. Hand sanitizer
  16. Hot pack – microwaveable
  17. Hydrogen peroxide
  18. Ibuprofen
  19. Ice pack
  20. Non-stick gauze pads
  21. Rubbing alcohol
  22. Safety pins
  23. Scissors
  24. Thermometer
  25. Tweezers

Basic first aid kits may be purchased online or in stores. Many families choose to make their own, however, storing all of the components in a sealed plastic container or even a sturdy lunch box.

Certainly, any prescription medications should be included, with these drugs still stored in their original labeled pharmacy containers. Vitamins the student regularly takes may be added as well.

Adapted from image at ClipArtHeaven

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