Thursday, September 17, 2009

Less makeup = more money in your purse

eye make-up

If reuse is a tenant of a green lifestyle, buying products that serve dual purposes should be one too. One area of my life where this has become commonplace is in my makeup bag.

Not only do products that serve more than one purpose save money, they save space. Where I used to juggle products and run back and forth between the bathroom and bedroom when I primped to go out at night, now I have one drawer that contains all of my cosmetics and hair care products (with the exception of my shampoo and conditioner, of course).

In this economy and with so many families either downsizing or unable to upgrade their families’ living quarters, being able to cull the clutter is just as valuable as the money you’ll save at the register.

Everything I recommend here is paraben-free, petroleum-free, and cruelty-free, not to mention minimally packaged in recyclable containers. Here is a list of my favorite healthy products that have saved me time, space, and money:

tinted moisturizers

Tinted moisturizers are a beautiful way to save money and time. I am obsessive about moisturizing, and the older I get the more a radiant complexion means more than just some lotion. Rather than toting around -- and paying for -- a face cream and base makeup, my go-to product is now Kiss My Face’s Tinted Moisturizer.

It smooths on like a lotion but provides the sheer coverage that I need to even out my erratic complexion. With a dusting of talc-free and paraben-free powder on top, my skin looks as dewy as it did when it actually was dewy. Kiss Your Face’s Tinted Moisturizer retails for $10.

Finger Paints

I don’t have the time or the inclination to head home to freshen up between all of my work and social events, so my favorite compact to tote with me is Josie Maran Cosmetics’s Finger Paints.

I use Finger Paints in Sweet, which are pinks and apricot shades of multi-use creams for lips, cheeks, and eyes. Or choose Finger Paints in Lovely, which are earthier browns and bronzes. Finger Paints retail for $36.


To save money in the shower and out, one of my favorite (two) products come from vonNatur. The company’s Complete Hair & Body Wash and Complete Hair & Body Conditioner are the real deal in the two-for-one game.

Use the wash head to toe, replacing the need for a shampoo and a soap, and use the conditioner head to toe in lieu of a conditioner and a separate moisturizer. Each product retails for $17.

three-way color

Kiss My Face makes my list twice with its 3-Way Color. I own it in heather (no surprise!) and ruby. While I mainly use it as a lip gloss, it also serves well as a blush. Being cosmetically challenged, I like to dab a dollop into some moisturizer to make it creamier before applying to my cheeks. 3-Way Color retails for $9.


To highlight all of this gorgeousness, I love Jane Iredale’s Pencil in White. I use it on the inside corners of my eyes to brighten me up on those dark days, blended well under my eyebrows for a lightening lift, and to lightly line my lips -- lightly ladies, this isn’t Culture Club -- to make my lip gloss sparkle. Jane Iredale’s Pencil in White retails for $9.


Finally, for all-over moisture, I take Trilogy’s Everything Balm everywhere I go. The balm, which comes in an easy-to-tote 1.5-ounce jar, can be used on lips, face, hands, and even as a massage oil.

Just warm a dab in the palm of your hand and the balm melts for easy absorption. Trilogy’s Everything Balm is available at beautorium and retails for $18.

Heather O’Neill is the founder of Eco to the People, a green living blog. You can email her at

Outrage in South Africa over ICC awards

JP Duminy gets the congratulations on dismissing Shahid Afridi, Pakistan v South Africa, ICC World Twenty20, 1st semi-final, Trent Bridge, June 18, 2009
There isn't a single South African among the nominees for the ICC awards © Getty Images

The ICC's prestigious annual awards appears to have run into a controversy with several high-profile figures from South Africa, including Gerald Majola, the national cricket board's chief executive, criticising the final selection process for not including a single South African player. Majola questioned the credibility of the awards - which will be presented in Johannesburg on October 1 - and said it appeared to him that the only way to get on the shortlist was to play the Ashes.

Majola's views have been echoed by Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, who said the "very disappointing" nominations shortlist would motivate his players to perform better in the ICC Champions Trophy starting on September 22. Allan Donald, the former South Africa fast bowler and a member of the awards voting panel, admitted that he was surprised by the shortlist. Journalist Neil Manthorp, the only other South African on the 25-member panel, wrote that the honour of being on that jury had turned into an embarrassment. Cricinfo has also received angry emails from readers complaining about the omissions.

When contacted, an ICC spokesperson said that the awards nomination "is a completely independent process in which the ICC has no say whatsoever".

"To me, it looks like the only way to get on these nomination lists is to play the Ashes," Majola told Cricinfo. "Unfortunately, our players don't play for England or Australia. That seems to be the criteria to select these awards. I don't know what the criteria are for these nominations but I simply can't believe that this has happened to South African players. My personal opinion is that this doesn't lend credibility to this year's awards, for sure. To rub salt to our wounds, the awards ceremony is being held in our country.

"I am totally dismayed and disappointed. The last season was one of the best ever for South Africa and there were a lot of outstanding performances by our players. In my personal opinion, there were at least three South African players who should have figured on the shortlist. But I am not going to name them because I don't want to drag our players into this issue when they are preparing for the Champions Trophy. I haven't spoken to them about this either."

Donald revealed that he had nominated two South African players for the shortlist. "But I am surprised to see that there is no one from South Africa in the final list," he told Cricinfo.

The long list of nominations for the individual awards was prepared by a five-member ICC panel headed by Clive Lloyd, the ICC's cricket committee chairman, and including Anil Kumble, Mudassar Nazar, Bob Taylor and Stephen Fleming. The performance period taken into account was August 13, 2008 to August 24, 2009. This list was then sent to the ICC's independent panel of 25 members - including two South Africans, Allan Donald and Manthorp - to vote for the shortlist of the top four contenders in each category.

The independent panel included former players Ian Healy, Ramiz Raja, Athar Ali Khan, Allan Donald, Bob Willis, Sidath Wettimuny, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Ian Bishop, Jeremy Coney, Dave Houghton, Roland Lefebvre. The media was represented by Jim Maxwell (Aus), Osman Samiuddin (Cricinfo's Pakistan editor), Sayeed Uzzaman (Ban), Neil Manthorp (SA), Scyld Berry (Eng), Ramil Abeynaike (SL), Sharda Ugra (Ind), Fazeer Mohammed (WI), Richard Boock (NZ), Enock Nuchinjo (Zim) and Jon Coates (Associates). The officials were ICC referees elite panel representative: Alan Hurst; ICC umpires elite panel representative: Billy Bowden and chairman of the ICC cricket committee: Clive Lloyd.

While the shortlist was announced on Tuesday, the category winners will be known only on awards night. The votes have already been collated by Ernst and Young, who acted as independent auditors.

South Africa are currently the No. 1 Test and ODI team on the ICC rankings and the long list, reflecting this, featured four South African players. Graeme Smith, who led his team to their first Test series win ever in Australia, and AB deVilliers, who hit two match-winning centuries against Australia - one of them set up that historic away series win - were nominated for Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year; Dale Steyn, who was ICC's Test Player of the Year in 2008, also featured on the long list for the best Test player; and Wayne Parnell, the left-arm fast bowler, was nominated for the best Twenty20 International Performance of the year.

None of them made it to the final four in their categories.

Writing on the SuperSport website, Manthorp said the fault lay not with the ICC but with the system used for determining the award winners. The 25-member panel has to select the final nominees from a dozen or more names on the long list, which, he said, was simply too time-consuming to be done thoroughly. There were "plenty of Proteas" on the long list, he said, but not having played for three months meant they were "out of sight and out of mind."

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, and Mitchell Johnson, the Australian fast bowler, figure in both the shortlists (of four players each) for Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year. MS Dhoni, the India captain and Gautam Gambhir, the India opener, are the other shortlisted nominees for Cricketer of the Year; Gambhir and Thilan Samaraweera, the Sri Lankan batsman, are also in the race for the best Test player.

However, South African players can still be part of the awards night by featuring in the best Test and ODI teams for the last year that will be announced at the ceremony. Smith, for instance, was named captain of the best Test selection last time in a team that also featured Jacques Kallis and Steyn. Herchelle Gibbs was part of the best ODI selection last year.

Recycling human hair to make eco-friendly products

Could you imagine cleaning up a pound of hair every day? Well that’s what more than 300,000 hair salons in the U.S. do at least once a day before closing time. The stylists carefully sweep up your old hair and throw it in the trash, leaving it destined for the dump.

Instead of taking the excess hair to the landfill, some entrepreneurs have come up with ways to recycle old hair into eco-friendly products. It may sound a bit strange, but there are some very cool things that hair can create. Here are a few:

Oil spill hair mat

Most people who follow the green movement can recall 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil spill. It is considered one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters in North American history, spilling over 10.8 million gallons of oil into the Alaskan sea.

Alabama hair stylist Phil McCrory watched the eco-tragedy television, and when he saw the oil-soaked animals, he got an idea. He noticed how the fur on otters helped to trap the oil, so he thought about using human hair to clean up oil spills. McCrory showed his idea to NASA, and the rest is hair history!

His idea helped inspire the OttiMat, which soaks up about 7.8 gallons of oil in less than 3 minutes. It can also be wrung out and reused more than 100 times. This video demonstrates:

McCrory’s invention inspired the charity organization Matter of Trust to create the Hair for Oil Spills Program, which takes hair donations from salons and turns the hair into oil spill mats.

hair bracelet
(Photo: Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry)

Woven hair jewelry

The Victorian Hairwork Society was created for people who are interested in creating art out of hair.

In the 19th century, it was fashionable to weave sentimental jewelry out of a beloved -- and often deceased -- person's hair. People today are keeping the art, uh, alive.

For inspiration, check out the many vintage examples at Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry.

hair chair
(Photo: Phil Smith and
Ronald Thompson)

Stiletto chair

Created by former hairstylist-to-the-stars Ronald Thompson, the unique stiletto chair was conjured up when Thompson was cleaning hair clippings on the set of Batman Begins.

He realized how sturdy a piece of hair was as opposed to fiberglass, and he decided to create an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fiberglass molds.

Thompson designed the stiletto chair, which is waterproof, fire-resistant, and totally amazing. Although it costs $15,000, he does hope to develop less-expensive models.

hair dress
(Photo: Ananova)

Human hair dress

Croatian designers at Artidjana Company used 165 feet of blond hair to make a dress worn by model Simona Gotovac. The outfit was featured at a fashion show in Zagreb.

hair banner
(Photo: Jim Cole / AP)

Dartmouth banner

Using 420 pounds of human hair from Dartmouth students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Hanover community, artist Wenda Gu created a human-hair banner that hangs in the college’s Baker-Berry Library. It is a part of Gu’s “united nations” project that began in 1993.

The trimmings from 42,000 haircuts were sent to a studio in China, where they were dyed, glued, and shaped with twine to form the banner.

See, recycling hair is a great way to make eco-friendly products, and unless human evolution dramatically changes, hair will be around for us to use forever!

Cracking the Colonel's Secret Recipe for KFC Fried Chicken

It's one of the big mysteries of the food world, up there with the secret formula for Coca-Cola. What, exactly, are Colonel Sanders' 11 herbs and spices?

Former JP Morgan finance director-turned-recipe sleuth Ron Douglas says he's cracked the Colonel's secret recipe, and is publishing it in "America's Most Wanted Recipes," in which he deciphers the way home cooks can make chain-restaurant meals such as Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, Arby's Apple Turnovers, and Macaroni Grill Foccacia. (You'll see a whole bunch of blogs taking part in The Great American Taste Test, a national tryout of Douglas' recipes, by the way.)

So I've tried out Douglas' attempt to duplicate the Kentucky Fried Chicken original recipe, and I'm publishing it here, after the jump.

Ron Douglas' Clone of KFC Original Recipe Fried Chicken
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 3-lb. chicken, cut into 6 pcs.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. paprika
1 Tbl. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbl. Accent
1 can lard (or 1 3-lb. can Crisco)

1. Combine egg and buttermilk in bowl, Soak chicken in mixture.

2. Add flour to separate bowl and fold in spices and herbs.

3. Roll chicken in seasoned flour until completely covered. Double coat for extra-crispy chicken.

4. Add lard to pressure cooker and heat to 365 degrees F.

5. Lower four pieces chicken into fryer and lock lid.

6. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

7. Remove chicken and drain on paper towels or rack.

8. Repeat with remaining chicken.

And that's it. So, essentially, the secret ingredient to KFC is, according to Douglas, Accent, aka monosodium glutamate (MSG).

I tried the recipe myself, but because I couldn't track down a pressure cooker, I had to jimmy up an alternate cooking method by emptying two cans of Crisco into a Dutch oven and deep-frying it that way. I ended up having to cook it a bit longer that way, and thus the breading was a little past golden brown. (I took pictures of the entire process, of course, and can put those up later if you all would like.)

The friend I made try it and I agreed that it didn't taste much like original recipe KFC, but also agreed that the method of cooking probably had a lot to do with that. We both liked the way it tasted, though.

So, has anyone else tried to crack the Colonel's recipe? What did you decide his 11 herbs and spices were? Anyone else care to run their own taste test?

See previously: Taste Test: KFC’s Kentucky Grilled Chicken

What's for dinner?

This week's easy and delicious recipe picks from Shine...

Beef and Orange Stir-Fry

When cutting the beef into strips, slice against the grain (across the striated fibers); the result will be meat that is much more tender. Cutting the orange crosswise allows the connective tissues to stay in place, so the slices are less likely to break apart when tossed with the beef. Serve the dish with white rice.

Lemon and Olive Chicken

Turkey Quesadillas

Roasted Ratatouille With Eggs and Cheese

Vietnamese-Style Beef and Noodle Soup

Blackened Salmon Sandwich

Pizza With Pesto, Tomatoes, and Feta

For more delicious eating, check out 10 Things to Do With a Pint of Ice Cream.
Or if you're eating out, find out if anyone tips 15% anymore.

Facebook Saved My Marriage.

Marriage is hard work. It so easy for me to drift apart for periods of time from Jon while dealing with the trials and tribulations of navigating the early intervention system for our twins, navigating the public school system for Elby and attempting to ensure our house doesn’t smell like cat pee –and we don’t own a cat – take a moment with that one. Due to our lack of time and motivation to go on “dates” which would entail paying for even more childcare or just spending time together in the house (God, that’s a lot of effort) you’d think we’d be well on our way to marriage counseling. But hold on. I’ve stumbled upon something much better, a hells a lot cheaper and way more geographically desirable: Facebook. Oh yeah, it’s not just for finding old elementary friends anymore.

I have been spending a little quality time perusing my husband’s Facebook account and I already feel like I’m rediscovering an old friend. Sure it’s interesting that a girl I was besties with in junior high is married to a woman who’s in prison for murder! Who in their right mind could deny that’s good stuff? But, that just doesn’t compete with finding out that my husband joined the group, “Billionaires for Wealthcare.” I mean, hold the f------ phone – we’re BILLIONAIRES? You’d think this was information he wouldn’t shared while we watched the intro to Keith Olberman last night in bed. But in his defense, maybe I was asleep already or maybe he just didn’t have a chance to slip it in to conversation while I explained that our home warranty doesn’t cover our dishwasher’s “too loud” issue and will only fix it if it doesn’t work at all. Bottom line, we’re billionaires and that makes me feel a lot closer to him.

There’s also the fact that we have 68 friends in common. Hello! That’s a lot of mutual friends. And do you know why? It’s because we have such similar taste in people that we’re destined to like a lot of the same ones thus solidifying my knowledge that I made a solid choice in husbands!

Without Facebook I wouldn’t have just discovered that someone named “Dana” told my husband “You are so sick. I love your sense of humor!” Finding out that someone else appreciates my man doesn’t make me want to cut a b---- , it makes me proud that other people get how hilarious he is. Okay, maybe I want to cut a b---- a little. I’m only human. I’m not going to do it! Get a grip, will you? Anyway, her name isn’t even Dana (even if it was, you’ll never pin it on me). But really, Dana, I agree with you. Jon keeps me in stitches! Hang on let me go find more.


Raising preemie twin girls plus a sassy preschooler while trying to make a book deadline isn't for wussies. In her Mommy Track'd column, Make Mine a Double, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor takes imperfect parenting to an art form. Each week she breaks the pristine laws of the mommy manuals as she reveals how she attempts to parent her three children through instinct, intelligence, and a lot of trial and error. She is the author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay, Naptime Is the New Happy Hour, and It's Not Me, It's You: Subjective Recollections from a Terminally Optimistic, Chronically Sarcastic and Occasionally Inebriated Woman. She’s appeared numerous times on The Today Show, is a member of the Us Weekly Fashion Police and writes on her blog, Baby On Bored.

6 Things Every Woman Should Have in Her Closet

Bob Hiemstra

1. Steal a trick from men: Always have a tuxedo on hand.
Or at least a tuxedo jacket. My worst moments of panic come when I’m faced with a last-minute black-tie event for work. Since I’m not quite equipped to slip into a sample-size ball gown and waltz out the door, I often rely on a 10-year-old tuxedo jacket that fits perfectly and can be worn over cropped velvet pants and great evening shoes. This makes even more sense if you attend formal affairs only once in a while: Rather than buying a dress you’ll never wear again, you can reach for your timeless tux. In between, you can use the jacket to dress up jeans for weekend dinners out.

Bob Hiemstra

2. Stash a strapless bra in the dresser drawer.
Even if you’re the type who can slip into an evening dress, make sure you have the proper undergarments. I remember spending a lot of time and money to refit a strapless gown for a special occasion only to find at the last minute that I didn’t have the right bra. It was quite a letdown indeed.

3. Ditto Spanx―in moderation.
I love Spanx, and any kind of body shaper always makes an outfit look sleeker. But there is such a thing as too sleek. Hollywood stylists have a trick: They layer two pairs of Spanx under a celebrity’s dress and stitch them to her bra. It may work on the red carpet, but don’t try this at home. Limit yourself to one pair at a time to avoid looking like a sausage stuffed in a tight casing.

4. Invest in a suit (preferably one that fits well).
You never know when you’ll need to impress in a job interview or just boost your own morale. When I’m stressed at work or frazzled by my kids’ school schedules, putting on the fashion armor always seems to bring a little order to my life and lift my spirits. And let’s be honest―a jacket is like the body’s version of concealer: It can hide all kinds of flaws.

5. Stock up on underpinnings.
That’s the inside-baseball term for what goes under the suit. Please don’t let it be a once-was-white cotton T-shirt or a tank top that has taken too many turns in the dryer. Fashion has evolved to the point that sleeveless silk shells can be found in every color at every price point, and every woman should have a few in her closet. They brighten up a business suit, and they’re a key ingredient of the pulled-together pencil-skirt-and-cardigan look.

6. Make a simple dress your all-occasion staple.
There’s a reason women like Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, and Babe Paley became our country’s style icons: They all relied on the little sleeveless shift dress―and no list of wardrobe essentials would be complete without it. You can wear it to work, dress it down with sandals or flats, add a shawl for evenings, and throw on a cardigan anytime if you don’t relish revealing your arms. Not only is it a classic but it’s pretty much seasonless, too.

Will "Love Happen" for Jennifer Aniston?

Jennifer Aniston's latest film "Love Happens" opens this week. We caught up with Jen to talk about men who have too much baggage, managing a relationship, and her classic style on and off the red carpet. Check out Jen's obsession with the little black dress in our photo gallery below.

Follow The Thread on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook.

Thanks for watching the Thread. We'll be back soon from our Planet Hollywood studio in Times Square with a brand new episode.
Jennifer Aniston in Rochas

Jennifer Aniston in Rochas

At the 2006 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Jen wore a scoop-neck chiffon gown that acted as the perfect backdrop for her gorgeous Bulgari diamond necklace.

Photo by: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

6 Ways to stave off swine flu

Like just about everyone, I’ve had my share of questions about the H1N1 virus, so I dispatched Prevention’s best reporters to talk to experts and find out the facts so far. Although there’s certainly a chance that you’ll be exposed to the germs (a recent White House report predicts that as much as 20 to 40% of the population could experience swine flu symptoms, with more than half of cases seeking medical attention), whether you get sick or spread the bug to others may be largely due to your health habits. Here are 6 simple health behaviors to keep you and your family free from the flu (swine
or seasonal).

13 Facts about the swine flu.

1. Get a vaccine

It’s the single best way to not get sick, experts say. “No matter how well you wash your hands, you still have to breathe,” says Robert Belshe, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and director of the vaccine center at Saint Louis University, which is conducting clinical trials for the swine flu vaccine. “If you breathe in flu aerosol particles—which are invisible and can travel as far as 10 feet—you’ll likely catch the flu.” That’s why vaccines are so important: They prime your body to mount a flu-fighting response before you’re even exposed.

This year, you’ll need two different flu vaccines: one for seasonal flu, and a separate one for swine flu (which may require two separate doses, about 3 weeks apart—reports are still pending). Everyone can get the seasonal flu vaccine, but the swine flu vaccine will be preferentially given first to the highest-risk groups as quantities roll out. The first 45 million doses will be available mid-October. The five groups with highest priority, according to Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the NIH, are:

  • Pregnant women
  • Caregivers of children less than 6 months old
  • First responders and health care workers
  • Healthy people ages 6 months to 24 years
  • People ages 25 to 64 with underlying conditions like heart disease and asthma*

*People ages 65 and older don’t seem to be at increased risk of swine flu.

Have your children vaccinated and get the shot as soon as you can based on your eligibility. Some states will provide the swine flu vaccine through schools or community clinics; it should also be available wherever you get the regular seasonal flu vaccine.

Stay cold and flu free this season.

2. Be Obsessed With Hand Washing

Even if you are exposed to swine flu (by using a germy pen at the post office, say), if you clean your hands before you touch your face, there’s little chance the germs can reach your eyes, nose, or mouth, the usual ways they enter your system and start wreaking havoc. “Washing hands is enormously effective,” says Wayne LaMorte, MD, a professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health. One University of Michigan study found that regular hand washing can reduce respiratory illness transmission by more than 20%.

The key is to make hand cleansing a habit. Aside from after a bathroom break, wash your hands with soap and water—or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer—before you eat, after being in crowded public places, like the mall, or if you’ve been near someone who’s sneezing or coughing.

The lazy girl's guide to good health.

3. Teach Your Children to Wash Well

It appears that kids in schools are the ground zero of swine flu spread. Children ages 5 to 19 are responsible for the most transmission, according to a recent study in the journal Science. The probable victims: Their parents. “If a child contracts the flu, about 40 to 50% of her family will likely develop clinical flu symptoms,” says LaMorte.

Teach kids to lather up with soap and water after using the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing, and before every meal and snack. (Stash a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in their backpacks; it’s a good substitute if they can’t get to a sink.) If the kids are doing a group project and share materials, tell them to wash afterward. Finally, show your child the right way to sneeze: into a tissue, ideally, or into his sleeve—not his hands.

13 Healthy life lessons to teach your kids.

4. Stop Nibbling Your Nails

You’re basically inviting swine flu or other germs to infect you. No matter how anal you are about hand washing, let’s face it—you can’t park yourself in front of a sink or use hand sanitizer 24-7. That’s where the avoid-unnecessarily-touching-your-face rule comes in. “Rubbing your eyes or biting your cuticles can increase viral transmission,” says Aiello. In doing so, you give germs a more direct route to your mouth and nose, where they enter your body and start making you sick.

How bad are your health vices?

5. Keep Your Cube Clean

When was the last time you wiped down your desk or disinfected your phone? Chances are you don’t remember. About 41% of office workers say they rarely or never disinfect their desks, according to a new survey from Clorox in consultation with Corporate Wellness, Inc. To add to the ick factor, that’s despite the fact that two-thirds of people say they eat lunch at their desks at least once or twice a week. If your unclean desk harbors germs, you can pick them up (and get sick) while shuffling papers or answering the phone—and especially when you lunch right on top of them. To play it safer this flu season, University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, recommends that you use disinfectant spray or wipes. Schedule a standing reminder in your Outlook calendar to wipe down your desk after you eat.

Avoid these 10 worst germ hotspots.

6. Be Your Healthiest Self

The last piece of the swine flu prevention puzzle: Make sure your immune system is firing on all cylinders. Scientists are still learning exactly how and which healthy habits bolster immunity, but there’s clearly some solid evidence for adopting—and avoiding—certain behaviors. One good-for-you habit is sleep. A recent Carnegie Mellon study found that sleeping 8 hours a night (instead of 7 or fewer) can make you 30% less likely to develop a cold—a sign that sleep plays an important immune-boosting role. A well-balanced diet may help fortify your immune system too. And avoid unhealthy habits, such as smoking or letting stress get the better of you, which have been linked to decreased immunity.

12 Surprising ways to supercharge your health right now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Countdown to clean

I love that serene “ahhhhh” moment when you can sink into a comfy chair, look around your sparkling house and breathe a sigh of relief. Now, if I could just figure out how to get there without the hours-long top-to-bottom scrubathon. Lucky for me (and you!), there’s a shortcut: Get into a clean routine.

“The more often you clean, the less buildup you have and the faster you can do it next time,” says Debra Johnson, training manager for Merry Maids. Let our experts’ checklists take the guesswork out of housework.

Tools of the Trade
“The quality of the work depends on the quality of the tools,” says Weber. So choose good ones, clean them after use and put them away in the same place.

Your Gear:

Countdown to Clean

Countdown to Clean

● Spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner
● Spray bottle of glass cleaner
● Can of furniture polish
● Dust wand with adjustable handle
● 3 or 4 microfiber cloths
● Small scrub brush
● Tool belt to carry it all, hands-free
● Vacuum
● Mop
● Bucket

15 Minutes a Day
Really. That’s all it takes to handle the basics once you’ve established our routine. “I call it the Daily Hotel Clean,” says Kathryn Weber, publisher of the cleaning calendar.

Step 1: Make the beds.

Step 2: Make sure dirty clothes are all in hampers. Do a quick room-by-room pickup, putting items back in place.

Step 3: Wipe dirty counters in the bathroom and kitchen.

Step 4: Put away all dishes. Step 5 Sweep the kitchen floor.

Weekly Clean Sweep

Either set aside a 2- to 3-hour chunk of time, or work in 15-minute increments throughout the week. The basic formula: Clean top to bottom and left to right, and only go around a room once (not including floors). Ready? Strap on your tool belt and go!

Bedrooms, Living Rooms, Dining Rooms: If you have a two-story home, start upstairs; for one floor, begin in the area farthest away from the front of the house. First, go through all the rooms and empty wastebaskets. Then go back into the first room and start at the top, removing any cobwebs with your dust wand and working your way down, dusting ceiling fans, door frames, moldings, picture frames and lamps. Switch to the furniture spray and a microfiber cloth to clean dressers and tables. (Remove knickknacks first.) Clean mirrors with the glass cleaner and a fresh cloth. When you’ve finished all these rooms on a floor, vacuum, starting farthest from the door in each room and vacuuming your way out.

Bathrooms: The pros have a special way to clean bathrooms: First, spray cleaner on the shower doors and walls, tub and sink, and in the toilet to start loosening dirt. Then use the same top-to-bottom, left-to-right system. Remember to wipe the towel racks and toilet paper holder. Clean the toilet inside, outside and behind the bowl. Vacuum, then mop.

Kitchen: Starting from the top, wipe cabinet fronts and work your way down. Empty the toaster’s crumb tray and clean inside the microwave. Unlike your daily counter wipe, now is the time to get behind canisters, mixers and other counter dwellers. Do the kitchen sink last, then sweep and mop the floor. Don’t forget the vent at the bottom of the refrigerator.

Tackle Monthly
Pick a Saturday to do all eight, or add two to each weekly session, says Johnson.

1. Use paper towels or a cloth to thoroughly clean the tracks of sliding glass and shower doors.

2. Run 1/2 cup of vinegar mixed in a full pot of water through your coffeemaker.

3. Wash down the shelves and veggie bins in the refrigerator.

4. Clean stove hood vents.

5. Vacuum under couch cushions. A handheld vac, like the Black & Decker Flex Vac, shown, makes quick work of this chore.

6. Spray down the leaves of artificial plants with the sink hose (or a spray bottle of water) and let air-dry in the sink.

7. Clean the top of the fridge.

8. Wash insides of garbage cans and wastebaskets.

A Year of “Biggies”
Weber recommends 12 annual chores, one for each month.

January: Clean medicine cabinets; toss expired meds.

February: Clean all the hard-to-reach places: behind the stove, refrigerator, washer/ dryer, sofas and under beds.

March: Steam-clean carpets.

April: Wash windows and screens.

May: Organize the pantry and kitchen cabinets.

June: Wash duvets, blankets, comforters, spreads, pillows.

July: Clean and organize the garage.

August: Clean out drawers and closets. Donate usable clothing and items to charity.

September: Clean out the linen closet.

October: Defrost and clean freezer, refrigerator, stove, oven.

November: Polish silver, wash china, dust inside the china cabinet.

December: Turn mattresses; vacuum upholstered furniture and drapes.

60-Second Quick Fixes
Got a minute? These simple changes will make your house tidier—no elbow grease required!

1. Place a mat at the front door and enforce a strict no-shoes-inside rule. You’ll eliminate 70% to 90% of the dirt entering your home, says Weber.

2. Last person to shower squeegees the shower door to cut down on mineral deposits left behind when the water dries—less scrubbing time for you.

3. When you see it, clean it. Spills on the counter, a towel on the floor…a few seconds as you pass through a room save many minutes later.

4. Switch to microfiber cloths. They speed cleaning by trapping and picking up dust, not just moving it around. Wash and hang to dry after use Save money by buying them in the automotive section of discount stores, where they’re less expensive.

Related articles at

Combat Mold in the Bathroom

5 Smart Dishwasher Tricks

A Quicker Way to Clean House

Younis aims for more major trophies

Pakistan players go through drills during their camp, Karachi, September 13, 2009
Younis Khan wants to beat Australia and India in Test series © AFP

Younis Khan, the Pakistan captain, has targeted winning at least one of the next two big ICC one-day tournaments, the Champions Trophy or the 2011 World Cup. Other goals he has set for his side are beating India and Australia in Test series.

"Every captain has certain targets in mind, mine is that we must win either of these two major ICC events until I am captain," Younis said during Pakistan's conditioning camp in Karachi. "We also go to Australia later this year and we have never won a Test series there. I think we have the best chance of achieving this first time feat in the coming series."

He also hoped India and Pakistan would resume bilateral cricket, which was suspended after the Mumbai terrorist attacks last November. "I would love to lead the team in a full series against India as beating them would be a big achievement for me and a big plus in my career."

Younis has already led Pakistan to a major trophy, the World Twenty20 in England earlier this year, and was confident his squad was strong enough to achieve the targets he had set. "We have the players to win the Champions Trophy or World Cup and even beat Australia in Australia but we need to combine and click together."

Pakistan are drawn with India and Australia in the group phase of the Champions Trophy, but Younis was unfazed by the strong opponents. "When our team is clicking well and playing with confidence and on a high it does not matter how many teams we have in our group," he said. "Even if they are six we can still qualify for the semi-finals."

Another person upbeat about Pakistan's chances was Javed Miandad, who is coaching the team's batsmen during the five-day camp. He, however, warned that the batting needed to be more consistent. "I think Pakistan has one of the best bowling attacks in the world," he said, "and if they improve their batting they can win the Champions Trophy."

Miandad said that the problem with Pakistan batsmen was that some of them hadn't mastered the basics of batting yet. "Some of them play strokes while running at the crease and some leave the stumps to hit a ball which are flaws and I am doing my best to tell them the basics."

Pakistan kick off their Champions Trophy campaign against West Indies on September 23 in Johannesburg.

Stay healthy in flu season: 11 swine flu prevention tips


A recent announcement from the White House warned that up to 50% of the U.S. population could come down with H1N1 or swine flu this upcoming flu season. This may sound alarming, but keep in mind that this estimate is on the high end -- and most cases will be no more severe than your usual winter flu*.

What does this mean for you?

H1N1 spreads pretty much the same way the normal flu spreads: Through contact with sick people, coughing and sneezing, and contact with surfaces that have flu virus on them.

With college students heading back to campus, children back to school, and colder weather looming, now is the important time to start taking steps to keep you and your family safe and healthy. In most cases special vaccines or antibiotics are not needed. A simple review of some sickness-prevention strategies can prevent this from getting out-of-hand.

1. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze.
OK, everyone knows to do this … right? Then why do I still see so many people just letting their sneezes loose? Use a tissue or napkin and throw it away immediately afterwards. If a tissue isn’t available, sneeze into the inside of your elbow — not in your hands.

2. Wash your hands regularly.
Another reminder you can never hear too many times. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Washing hands is especially important after sneezing or coughing, before handling food, or after spending time in a public place.

3. Don’t touch your face.
Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and eyes. This is hard to do, but at least try to be aware if you’re doing it often. See above and wash frequently if you can’t keep your hands off yourself.

4. Get some sleep.
Having a regular and appropriate sleep schedule is one of the best ways of keeping your immune system strong and staying healthy. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours per night for adults.

5. Be wary of surfaces — clean them regularly.
Tables, chairs, countertops, desks, computer keyboards, doorknobs … pretty much everything you touch on a regular basis. Most common household disinfectants should work fine to keep them germ-free.

6. Exercise.

A sure way to make sure your body is strong and ready to fight infection is to stay active. Make exercise a part of your daily routine to cleanse toxins from your body and release stress.

7. Eat well.
Maintain a diet full of immune boosting foods and high in Antioxidants, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

8. Drink well.
Have plenty of water to flush toxins from your system. Fruit juice rich in vitamin C is a good choice as well. Avoid alcohol — it’s an immune suppressant.

9. Stay away from sick people.
A few feet should do it. Just stay far enough away from sick friends to be out of range of saliva, snot, and other potential disease-carrying fluids.

10. Get help when you need it.

If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, coughing, sneezing, chills, body aches, etc., call your doctor. Do your co-workers or classmates, and yourself, a favor by staying home for at least 24 hours — except to see a doctor.

11. Stay calm.
There’s likely to be plenty of swine flu coverage in the media over the next few months, but nothing does your body more of a disservice than unnecessary stress and panic. If we’re smart, cautious, and relaxed, we have little reason to fear.

*Editor's Note: For comparison, the Center for Disease Control reports that in a typical year, 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu and over 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications.

World's first smart grid city is now operational

Xcel Energy's SmartGridCity project in Boulder CO is the first operational installation of a smart grid for electrical power in the world. This is a city-wide installation, rather than the kind of long-distance distribution system that many people think of when discussing a national smart grid, but both will be necessary components for an upgraded electrical infrastructure.


The SmartGridCity project also included automating three of four distribution substations, four computer-monitored power feeders, and another 23 feeders that are watched for voltage irregularities. Approximately 200 miles of fiber optic cable, 4,600 residential and small business transformers and nearly 16,000 smart meters are now connected to the smart grid system.

The smart grid allows the utility to better monitor and regulate the electrical grid. Using real-time monitoring and data feedback, the utility can more rapidly adjust for equipment failures, power outages, and other electrical problems. Individual consumers whose service is connected through a smart meter will also be able to access their own information and can "design and personalize energy consumption strategies" for themselves.

Already this year, since some of the components were installed, four potential transformer failures have been detected, and outages have been able to be prevented by proactively replacing those units before they failed

Have You Begged Your Man to Come Back?

Earlier today we discussed whether or not you’ve publicly slammed your ex after a nasty split, but have you ever done the opposite and begged for him back?

I hate to say that the latest rumor around our dear Britney Spears is that she’s pulling out all the stops in an effort to woo back her ex boyfriend, Jason Trawick. Oh, and he just happens to be her agent, so that should make for some awkward meetings, eh Brit?

Star magazine claims this week that the popstar has been calling and texting him non-stop, pleading for another chance, writing “Don’t you miss me?”

Eeeeee, oh Britney say it ain’t so! And if that isn’t bad enough, the mag also says that she’s been sending him pricey jeans and—wait for it—having roses delivered to his office.

Check out Brit's cover shoot photo gallery!

You know, hair grows back, careers can be revived, but once you sacrifice your dignity to a relationship, it’s gone for good. Plus, it never works! No man worth his salt has been essentially bribed back into a relationship—especially with roses.

Now, a number one spot in his fantasy football draft might be a different story….

7 Healthy Tailgate Party Food Swaps

We've bid farewell to summer and warmly welcomed college football season. That means it's far from time to pack up our grills. If anything, it's all the more reason to fire them up! If you're one of the many who spend your Saturdays tailgating or throwing football parties at home, you know all too well how easy it is to create a buffet of food that is about as healthy as what they're serving in the stadium. And if you're also one of the many who is trying to get in shape before the holiday season, then you know you can't afford to spend the next 12 or so Saturdays eating like a linebacker.

With that in mind, we have some ideas to make healthy tailgating enjoyable, delicious and just as satisfying. It's entirely possible that the guys won't even notice or mind!

As you grocery shop for snacks and cookout grub, consider some of these healthy tailgating recipes and food swaps. Odds are, they’ll taste better and no one will recognize the difference as they polish off a platter of leaner foods.

Pork Bratwurst for Turkey Brats
It’s a difference of 450 calories and 37 grams of fat for the pork, versus 160 calories and 9 grams of fat for the turkey. Still boil in beer and soak in mustard and they’re really quite tasty.

Burgers for Chicken Sandwiches
A 6 oz. angus beef patty yields 500 calories and 43 grams of fat, whereas a 6 oz. grilled chicken breast yields 281 calories and 6 grams of fat. Season any way you like, and still add a slice of reduced-fat cheese!

Cheese Dip for Salsa
Choose a baked corn chip and feel free to dip into fresh or store-bought salsa. Just two tablespoons of cheese dip has 40 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Hearty salsas offer about 10-15 calories and zero fat per two tablespoons. Also consider guacamole or hummus.

Regular Beer for Light Beer
You never want to drink your calories, but if you're going to have a few cold ones while tailgating, make them light beers. The average light beer has 103 calories, compared to 153 in your average regular beer. Also, alternate a bottle of water between beers to stay hydrated and avoid filling up on empty calories.

White Buns for Whole Grain Buns
You want to limit white, processed foods anywhere you can, so start with swapping your burger and hot dog buns. You'll be adding some essential fiber, vitamins and minerals that get stripped in the processing of white breads. Plus, they taste pretty good, too!

No Fruits and Veggies for Some Fruits and Veggies
This can be accomplished a number of ways and won't feel like a tea party. Throw bell peppers, corn on the cob, onions, asparagus, and zucchini on the grill and serve with your entree. Make fruit kabobs by alternating grapes, strawberries, melon, and kiwi on skewers. Grilled pineapple complements grilled chicken well, and grilled peaches with honey make an irresistible dessert. In the colder months, serve thick vegetable soups or stews loaded in veggies.

Junk Snacks for Healthier Snacks
Everyone wants finger food and snacks, and it's OK to oblige. If you put out cheddar cheese crackers, choose the whole grain variety. If you put out a bowl of nuts, make them fresh, raw nuts, rather than the over-salted canned variety. If someone wants chocolate, make it a dark chocolate low in added sugar. The compromises are there, you just have to find them.

Recycling oddities: Beyond metal, glass, paper, and plastic

recycling dentures
(Photo: Cevdet Gökhan Palas / iStockPhoto)

If you’re old enough to remember the Carter administration like me, you’re old enough to have witnessed the birth of modern day recycling in the U.S.A. I’m glad -- and proud -- that we’re now a nation where recycling is as common as an 8-track tape player was in an AMC Gremlin back when Jimmy was president.

Today, more than 80% of U.S. households have easy access to locally based programs for recycling paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum.

But recycling isn't just about everyday household items any more. Nonprofit organizations and specialized businesses are springing up everywhere to recycle almost everything imaginable.

Here are 10 recycling oddities that might surprise you.


Human hair

Locks of Love is a well known nonprofit organization that accepts donations of human hair to recycle into hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children suffering from medical hair loss.

But even smaller quantities of human hair -- including much of what used to end up in the barbershop’s wastebasket -- is now being recycled into a variety of gardening products that encourage healthy plant life and naturally deter unwanted pests in the garden.



Why not try a recycled coffin? You won't know the difference, after all. Consider renting a casket from the funeral home rather than purchasing one if you’re planning on being cremated ... or think you might still snap out of it.

For cremation or regular burial, often times it’s even less expensive and more eco-friendly to buy a cardboard coffin, many of which are made from 100% recycled materials.



Every year, there are roughly 3.6 million sets of dentures manufactured in the world, and each set contains about $25 worth of precious metals, including gold and silver. Most unwanted dentures are thrown away, but a nonprofit organization was recently created in Japan to recycle the metals found in dentures and donate the proceeds to UNICEF.

To date, it has raised more than $250,000 for UNICEF and other organizations. Is anyone looking for a worthwhile nonprofit venture to bring to the U.S., maybe something to sink your teeth into?

prosthetic hand

Prosthetic limbs

According to the Amputee Coalition of America, “Prosthetic components are generally not reused in the United States because of legal considerations. However, used prosthetic limbs may be disassembled and the components shipped to Third World countries for use by landmine victims and/or other individuals in need.”

See this website for a list of organizations in the U.S. that accept donations of prosthetics.

fuzzy pink handcuffs

Adult novelties

Just when you thought you’d heard all of the recycling news that’s fit to print, here’s some that perhaps isn’t (so be forewarned before opening this link): The folks at Sex Toy Recycling are in the business of doing just as their name implies.

Apparently their mothers never told them, "Don't play with that thing. You don't know where it’s been."

pile of mattresses


An increasing number of mattress retailers will accept your used mattress for recycling, but specifically ask/insist about recycling before you agree to buy a replacement.

Mattress recycling centers are springing up around the country, where they recycle about 90% of the mattress into fiber for clothing, wood chips, foam products, and scrap metal.

Given that about 20 million mattresses are replaced every year in the U.S., you’ll sleep better knowing that your old mattress isn’t spending the night in the landfill.

baby in diapers


Of course cloth diapers have always been recyclable, although few Americans use cloth diapers anymore. But since 1999, a British company, Knowaste, has been pioneering the recycling of disposable diapers, or disposable “nappies” as the Brits call them.

The movement (so to speak) is catching on in the U.S., which a good thing since the average baby requires about 6,000 disposable diapers by the time he or she is potty trained.

hotel sink with soap

Hotel soap

Ever wonder what happens to those little slivers of soap you leave in the shower at the hotel? More and more hotel chains are recycling their leftover soap and shampoo, or joining forces with nonprofit organizations like Clean the World to recycle it and donate it the needy.

Of course you can always take the soap slivers home with you, like I do. Put a bunch of them in the heel of an old pair of pantyhose to make your own Green Cheapskate soap-on-a-rope.

old sneakers

Running shoes

Given their hefty price tag, you can bet that I run my running shoes into the ground before retiring them. But even worn out shoes can be recycled into building materials, or, if they still have some life in them, donated to the less fortunate.

Check out the website for shoe recycling facilities and organizations near you.

bicycles on a bike rack


For many people of the world, a bicycle is basic transportation -- not recreation -- but still a luxury they can’t afford. Providing bicycles to those living in third-world countries can change lives for the better.

Americans throw away more than 15 million bicycles each year, but the nonprofit organization Bikes for the World is working to keep those unwanted bikes out of our landfills and put them in the hands of people who really need them.

Jeff Yeager is the author of the book The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. His website is