Friday Favorite – Microfiber Dusting Cloths

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Along with the warm weather, rainy days and blooming flowers comes spring cleaning.  Yippe.  I cannot believe I am writing about cleaning, but these cloths are so great, I just had to share them with you.

I never really enjoyed cleaning (who really does?), but I do like having a clean house.  So, as with most people, cleaning for me is a necessary evil.

I have always helped with cleaning.  When I was a child, Saturday mornings were reserved for whole house cleaning.  Yes, I got to watch cartoons and my mom would always make us a nice breakfast, but later in the morning,  it was time to clean.  Thankfully, my mom let me choose between vacuuming or dusting.  I chose the latter.  I would get the furniture polish and one of my dad’s old t-shirts and dust all of the furniture in all of the rooms on both floors.  Yuck.  When I got my own apartment, I found myself doing the same thing as I did as a child – using an old t-shirt as a dust rag. Then, I found the Pledge wipes which came out around the time the Clorox wipes did.  Wipes were the big thing – quick, easy and disposable.  Yes!  I thought they would be easier than carrying around a can of Pledge and a rag, so I tried them.  No good.  I found they left a dull film on my furniture that even my husband noticed.

So, I ended up going back to the old t-shirt and polish and noticed  that there was a film on several pieces of my furniture. I tried a different type of polish, but still was not satisfied.  I also noticed that when the sun shone in through the windows, I would see little dust particles hours after I had just finished cleaning.  I was starting to get annoyed.  I began doing research, as I was finding myself with a dust cloth in my hand a few times a week.  I could not seem to get all of those little particles off the surface.  I found an article on http://www.about.com and read that polishing  furniture every week is actually not good for the wood and will definitely cause a film to form. The article recommended that furniture be polished once a month and to use a micro-fiber cloth to dust the other weeks and that these cloths prevent dust from accumulating.   Well, that was good enough for me.  I went to Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and saw a pack of three cloths for $3.99. Plus, I had a 20% coupon. Worse case scenario – I would use them once and throw them out.  As soon as I got home, I tried using the cloths and I was very pleased.  They work really well and are very soft and sturdy.  To clean them, just toss them in with your towels in warm water and they will be ready to go again. I also used the cloths on some of the electronic devices in our home and again, the cloth wiped up the dust very quickly.

This is the product description from the Bed Bath and Beyond website:
Great for home, auto and office this set of three microfiber cleaning cloths offer 100% microfiber cleaning power. Microfiber is made up of millions of microscopic fibers that trap and hold dirt, dust and grime. Clean without chemicals. Lint and streak free. Use damp or dry. Each cloth measures 12” x 12”. Machine wash.

Although I do not enjoy dusting, using these cloths will hopefully make it more tolerable.  And I like that as the sun shone in on the furniture this morning, there was not a speck of dust to be seen. Good stuff!

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Friday Favorite – An Old School Cooking Machine

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The other day, I was going through all of the “stuff” in our basement and found an a George Foreman Grill.  It was dubbed the “lean, mean grilling machine” and was very easy to use.  All you had to do was heat it up (by plugging it in) and put the food on the grill plate, close the machine, grill for 4-5 minutes and the food would be done.  I would grill chicken, veggies and even fish.  I remembered how quick the cooking was, how easy it was to use clean and wondered why it was in the basement in the first place.

I decided to break it out and cook some chicken. I took some chicken strips, added a little olive oil and cajun seasoning and grilled them for about 4 minutes and voila!  They were juicy and tender and delicious!  After tasting that chicken, I decided that I had neglected this grill for too long. Until we can fire up the real grill when the weather warms up, the George Foreman is back as my favorite cooking machine! It’s reliable, quick, easy to use and lends itself to healthy cooking.

NOTE #1:  If you have a larger family, you might want to cook the food in batches since most of the grills cook up to four servings.  I know for sure that they are sold in Kohl’s (where there’s almost always a coupon) and on amazon.com.

NOTE #2:  There are a ton of ways to season chicken or fish. If you do not like it spicy, you could make some other combinations such as olive oil with:

salt and pepper

garlic salt and pepper

Italian seasoning

lemon pepper seasoning

Montreal chicken seasoning

poultry seasoning

The possibilities are endless!

Friday Favorite – Two Kinds of Nail Polish!

 

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Happy March!! Spring is in the air and that means flip-flops and open-toed shoes! Yippeeee!! For me, the warmer weather and exposure of my tootsies also means getting a pedicure on a regular basis and keeping my nails looking nice and fresh.

I have always worn nail polish. I take after my grandmother and mother in that you will always see me with a color on my nails and some sort of jewelry on my body.  I can’t help it. They are my security blankets!  For many years, Monday nights were Nail Nights for my mom and me.  We would watch “Melrose Place” and do our nails so they would look good for the week.  At that time, my favorite brand and color was Cover Girl’s Thunderbird Red.  Most of the time, I remember the nail polish lasting for the better part of the week.  Some of today’s nail polishes, however, seem to only last a few days, which is very disappointing.  One kind I tried chipped THE NEXT DAY.  I was not happy.

After trying many different types of nail polishes over the last six months, I found these to be the best ones – Revlon Colorstay and Zoya (Sally Hansen’s Complete Manicure is not too far behind).  Both go on nicely, though I think I like the brush with the Zoya better. It is smaller and the color seems to go on smoother.  Both are around $8.00 though the Revlon will go on sale for “buy one get one half off” which is when I stock up.  The Revlon can be found almost any place that carries nail polish. Make sure you get the Colorstay.  I’ve tried the other Revlon types of polish and they do not last as long.  As for the Zoya, I had to go to Harmon’s to get it.  I am not sure if they are sold outside of beauty stores, but they have a website (www.zoya.com) and are also available on Amazon.  Both of these polishes usually last around 4-6 days for me.  This week, I did my nails using a new Revlon Colorstay shade of hot pink on Tuesday. My nails look great and are just starting to lightly fade at the tips, but I think this is because I type a lot.  I really only notice the slight fading because I am looking at them closely.

Here are a few tips when polishing your nails no matter what kind you use:

1.  Use a base coat. It will protect your nails against staining.  Last year, I polished my nails a beautiful orangy-coral color and did not use a base coat because I was in a rush. When I removed the polish, my nails had a yellowy-orange tint to them that looked gross.  I had to wear darker colors to cover up that unflattering tint for about a month.

2.  Put two to three THIN layers on.  If you put on thick layers, they tend to take longer to dry and smear easier.

3. Use a top coat.

4.  Give yourself time to let the polish dry. After about 20 minutes, I will sometimes run cold water on my nails to help them set.  However, the nail polish and top coat must feel smooth and be relatively dry before you do this.  Tap the nail and if it feels smooth, try the cold water on them.  If they feel a little tacky, they’re not ready.

5.  One of the biggest enemies of nail polish is cleaning products.  Always wear gloves when doing the dishes, dusting or doing everyday cleaning using chemicals.

Good luck with these and think spring!!!

Friday Favorite – AmLactin Lotion

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This lotion is absolutely incredible.  The first person to introduce this to me was my father.  Now, my father is not really a “lotion” kind of guy.  In fact, the only lotion I ever saw him put on his skin was suntan lotion when he got older because his medications would cause his nice Italian skin to burn.  My dad is going to be 67 years old and has hardly any wrinkles on his face, arms, hands, etc.  He is lucky to have great skin. It’s not oily, but there is just enough moisture to ward away those pesky wrinkles except for one place – his  elbows.  My dad’s elbows were atrocious.  They were so dry and scaly that he proclaimed them to be “crocodile skin” and to be honest, I don’t think he was too far from the truth. The skin was so dry that his elbows looked white and if they happened to brush up against you, you felt it.  Ouch!  (Sorry, Dad!)

But one day, everything changed. At a doctor’s visit last summer, he mentioned his excessively dry skin and the doctor recommended this bottle of magic – AmLactin.  It’s about $17 in CVS, but as soon as my dad started using it twice a day as prescribed, the crocodile skin that plagued and embarrassed him for years softened up and disappeared. I could not believe how smooth and clean his elbows looked.  I honestly never thought that any cream could be that powerful and effective.

I immediately went to the store to get a bottle for myself. My elbows are not quite as bad as his, but they certainly do not look smooth.   I  knew that if it worked on my dad’s reptilian-like elbows, it would work on mine as well. And it did.  I also tried it on my heels, which get so dry, I could sand molding with them. Within two days, I saw a difference.  No longer do I have to worry about accidentally scraping my husband’s leg with my sandpaper heels at night. We are both happy about that!

A few tips – Make sure you use it twice a day for really dry skin.  I tried using it once a day at first and saw very little difference, but using it twice a day did the trick.  Also, after I shower, I put the AmLactin on my heels on while my skin is damp and then put socks on right away and keep them on while I am getting ready.  I think it seals in the lotion and really lets your skin absorb it well.

Spring is coming soon which means short sleeves and open toed shoes.  If you have crocodile elbows or sandpaper heels, give this a try so you will look good and feel good showing your skin.  I doubt you will be disappointed!

Friday Favorites – Avon Anew Rejuvenate Cream

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I hate to admit it, but a few months ago, I started noticing little lines around my eyes and on my forehead.  I kept telling myself that these lines were the results of all the smiling I had done over the years and that I should be grateful to have had so many happy times in my life.  Yeah. Whatever. It didn’t make me feel better. I wanted those lines GONE. As it was, I started going gray in my 20s and did not want these lines to remind me that I was about to hit the big 4-0.

I was always very good about taking care of my skin thanks to my mother who does not look anywhere near her age.  I remember she and I standing in the bathroom mirror in our nightgowns, washing our faces and putting on lotion every night before bed.  Mom used “The Magic of Aloe” routine of washing, exfoliating and moisturizing and would let me use it as well. I felt so grown up!  Later, my mom discovered Keri lotion.  It is wonderful and she still swears by it, but it is a bit heavy and looks greasy.  I think I actually scared my husband with it on a few times because it makes my face shiny. Very shiny. It is a great product, but I felt like I needed something different that wouldn’t make my husband have to squint to look at me and I found it.  It’s Avon’s Anew Rejuvenate Cream and it truly has made my skin look better.

I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and I really do see a difference.   When I apply the cream (using the tip of my ring finger as my mom taught me), I can feel my skin tightening, but not like a mask and not in an uncomfortable way.  It makes my skin feel firm and smooth. Since I began using it, I actually do see fewer lines around my eyes and some have faded altogether. Plus, it’s made in the USA and there is absolutely no animal testing with Avon products.  Those are two more benefits.

One more tip – I read that if you apply cream on damp skin, it absorbs better and deeper than on dry skin.  So, my routine at night is to wash my face with Oil of Olay’s Daily Cleanser, lightly pat my face dry, and put on the Anew.  And let me tell you, I feel like a-new person (sorry, couldn’t resist).  I highly recommend this cream to help tighten your skin and fill in those darned smile lines. I hopefully have many more smiles ahead of me, but my face does not need to show it!

Friday Favorite – Bertolli Vodka Sauce

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I love vodka sauce – if it’s made correctly.  There needs to be a good balance of cream, tomatoes and a little vodka.  I usually only order it in a restaurant and never tried making it at home, but it is on my list of things to do.  You have to understand that neither my husband nor I ever had jarred sauce of any type growing up. He would enjoy marinara sauce made from tomatoes in his parents’ garden and I would enjoy sauce made from canned crushed tomatoes, puree and tomato paste.  I was 18 before I tried jarred sauce and did not care for it very much (it was too sweet).  I think jarred sauces have come a long way, but cannot seem to sway from making my own.

My mom is a great cook, but does not know it.  She loves vodka sauce, but had no desire to learn how to make it at home  so she decided to try a couple of jarred ones.  The few I sampled at her house were not that great. One tasted bitter and another smelled like a cross between vomit and dog food.  I am not exaggerating either.  The smell was so nauseating, I could not even eat it, but my parents, brother and his kids all seemed to enjoy it, so I thought it was just me.

After that,  I was determined to find a jarred vodka sauce that smelled and tasted good and finally, I found it!  It’s Bertolli Vodka Sauce and let me tell you, it is absolutely divine.  It’s creamy and tomato-y and great for a quick meal.  My husband and I like to sprinkle (or actually, POUR) on Parmesan cheese and…crushed red pepper.  MMMM HMMMM!!  It really kicks up the taste and gives it a little heat to contrast the creaminess of the sauce.  For some protein, you could always add grilled chicken or even shrimp.  Put a little parsley on top and you have a tasty and fast meal on the table in about 15 minutes from start to finish!

If you can’t find Bertolli, I would also recommend Mario Batali’s vodka sauce. That came in as a very close second.  (Sorry, Mario!)

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Friday Favorite – Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

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I like winter.  I enjoy the cold air and snow, mainly when I am able to enjoy it by going snowboarding, snowtubing or on the back of a snowmobile.  I do not, however, like having to bundle up just to go put the garbage out!

As much as I love winter, my body does not, especially my lips and hands.  When the air is cold and dry, even gloves do not seem to protect my hands.  They start to get that white look to them, hurt and then begin to look like an 80 year old woman’s hands.  AHHH!! Dried up hands do not go well with a nice manicure or when you like to wear rings, like I do.  This is one thing I despise about winter.  My poor dry hands.

When I was a teacher, I would wash my hands often to try and prevent getting sick, but the high quality soap in the school bathroom really left my hands dry and cracky.  (Is that a word?) Over the years, I have tried numerous hand lotions and found this one to be my absolute favorite.  My friend who is a nurse at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center recommended it to me about 10 years ago and I have been using it ever since.  You only need to put on a little bit and it will keep your hands soft and moist for hours.  It is a little thick, but once it’s rubbed in, it seems to form a protective layer. I always have one tube in my purse and another on my nightstand.  If you do have dry hands or feet, try putting this on before you go to bed and your hands will wake up nice and soft the next day. You’ll pay about $4.50 a tube, but if you belong to BJs, you can buy the 4 pack and it works out to a little over $2.00 a tube. That is a huge bargain!  So go bundle up with your scarves and gloves and boots and get to a drug store and try this lotion. Your hands will thank you!