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All information supplied by Family Features - a free editorial information website service. Moms Of Pascack Valley provides this information as a free service to our readers and is not responsible for its content, statements, opinions, errors or omissions. Information is provided for informational purposes only. The source of the information is listed at the end of each article as a link to their website. Thank you.

Female Fix-It-Yourself Revolution

Solve Five Common Household Problems

(Family Features) - From pink screwdrivers and mini toolboxes to a surge of female-targeted home improvement sites and guidebooks, the fix-it-yourself revolution has come for women in the U.S. More empowered females are taking on household problems themselves instead of spending the money to hire a plumber, electrician or contractor.

In fact, a recent study by the Medelia Monitor showed that more than 60 percent of women are more likely to tackle the work on their own. The majority of these women (63 percent) are being more resourceful to avoid the high costs of hiring a professional. And 71 percent of women say the desire to "fix-it-myself" stems from the empowering feeling of having the knowledge to improve their home.

Sound familiar? If you'd like to empower yourself and join the fix-it-yourself revolution, start by picking up a few affordable tools and products to tackle quick fixes. Here are easy tips for solving five common household problems:

  • Unstick sticky windows by opening them and rubbing wax or spraying silicone into the tracks on both sides. Move the window up and down several times to work the wax or silicone lubricant into the frame.

  • Fix squeaky wood or tile floors by sprinkling baby powder on the surface of the floor that's squeaking. Then place a chisel between the boards and gently hammer the top to pry up the tile or floorboard. Sprinkle more baby powder underneath the board to seal the excess space causing the squeaking.

  • If your drains are draining slowly or clogged completely, try a de-clogging gel that clears the toughest clogs at a fraction of the cost of a plumber house call. Liquid-Plumr's new Penetrex Gel is a fast-acting, powerful formula that can clear the toughest clogs in just seven minutes.

  • Mend unsightly holes or tears in your window screens by using a screwdriver to straighten the bends in the mesh and dabbing clear nail polish to seal the hole. Allow it to dry. Then repeat the polish application until the hole is completely sealed.

  • A wobbly table leg may seem hard, but it's a surprisingly easy repair. Just figure out how it's attached to the seat. Then either screw the leg back into its socket or glue it back into place.

Fix-it resources abound online and at your local bookstore. But here's a few to get you started:

  • Most clogged drains are caused by hair. Get tips on how to keep all drains clear and while you're there, enter the Big Locks Rock! Contest before December 15th for a chance to win a trip for four to L.A. to get haircuts by a celebrity stylist. 

  • A site where women of all ages and skill levels can find answers to home improvement questions and connect with others for inspiration and advice.

  • "Dare to Repair" by Julie Sussman: This book offers a "do-it-herself" guide to fixing almost anything in the home.


Stop Stinky Kitchen Smells with Easy Tips from the "Queen of Clean"

(Family Features) - There's no masking it: when it comes to unpleasant household odors, the stinkiness wafting from the trash can is tops. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of Americans rated trash can odors as the most offensive smell in their home, beating out pet waste, dirty diapers and dead flowers.

And when it comes to trash can smells, food-related waste out-stinks the competition with those surveyed reporting that  spoiled food left in their refrigerator, meal-time dinner scraps and leftovers as the top three odors they'd like to have scent protection from.

"Kitchens are a breeding ground for olfactory offenses," says cleaning expert Linda Cobb, also known as the "Queen of Clean."  "But as easy as it is to create these foul odors, it's just as easy to alleviate them." Cobb offers short-cuts to stamping out stink in five areas of the kitchen:

Foul Fridge: Wipe out the refrigerator with a solution of half water and half white vinegar before putting groceries away.  This is a great way not only to clean, but also combat odors associated with food. A bowl of fresh coffee grounds will also help reduce odors in the refrigerator or the pantry.

Easy Trash Can Odor Fix: Try new GLAD ForceFlex OdorShield Bags with Febreze Freshness. The odor neutralization technology is embedded throughout an inner layer in the bag to neutralize odors - not just mask them, leaving behind a fresh scent while offering stretchable strength to help prevent rips and messy clean-ups.

Microwave Meal-time Meltdowns: Pour about an inch of vanilla extract in a bowl and bring it to a boil in the microwave. As soon as the vanilla reaches a boil, turn the microwave off.  Leave the bowl in the microwave overnight without opening the door. Any microwave odor problems will vanish by morning.

Ghastly Garbage Disposal: Put the plug in the sink and fill it with about three inches of warm water along with a handful of baking soda. Turn the disposal on and immediately pull the plug. The suction created - coupled with the baking soda - cleans out trapped food and sends it down the drain.

Scorched Supper Stench: To help clear the smell of burned food, fill a pan with water and bring it to a boil.  Drop in a sliced lemon or about a 1/4 cup of lemon juice and allow to simmer on the stove.

For more information and tips for avoiding garbage disasters, visit


Lawn Mower Care

(Family Features) - Regular lawn mower maintenance is vital to keeping this tool running well. These tips from the experts at TruGreen will help you take care of the workhorse of lawn care.

Sharpen the blade
The sharper the blade, the cleaner your mower will cut the grass, and the better your lawn will look. Dull blades can shred grass and cause discoloration at the tips.

If you don't have the time or the inclination to sharpen the blade yourself, pack up your mower (or carefully remove the mower blade) and take it to a repair shop or home improvement store.  For the do-it yourselfer, take a look at these general tips - for safety, always consult the owner's manual for instructions specific to your machine.

To sharpen a blade:

  • Drain the gas and disconnect the spark plug.

  • Clamp a piece of wood to the deck to keep the blade from turning.

  • Turn the blade bolt counter clockwise to remove it. If there is resistance, apply some penetrating oil, wait 15 minutes and try again.

  • Remove the blade and mark the bottom side so you can put it back on correctly.

  • Clamp the blade in a bench vise and sharpen with a 10-inch mill file. Use long strokes and work from the center outward. Use the same number of strokes on each side and keep the same angle.

  • Balance the blade on a balance tool - it's an inexpensive pyramid-shaped tool that can be found in most hardware stores. If one side of the blade hangs lower than the other, grind off excess metal from the end of the blade - not from the part just sharpened.

  • Reinstall blade.

When you reinstall the mower blade, make sure you place it at the proper mowing height.

"Letting grass grow tall and then removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade is called scalping and can damage the lawn," said Ben Hamza, Ph.D., director of technical operations at TruGreen. "Be careful not to mow grass extremely low as you can damage the lawn by cutting into the crowns of the plants."

TruGreen professionals recommend that you measure the grass plants after mowing a very small area, then adjust your mower as necessary. Optimal mowing height varies by type of grass.  Experts suggest the following mowing heights, in inches:

  • Common Bermuda grass - 1.0 to 1.5
  • St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass - 3.0 to 3.5
  • Zoysia grass - 1.0
  • Rye grass, blue grass, fine fescue - 2.5 to 3.0
  • Tall fescues - 2.5 to 3.0

Clean it up

Cleaning your lawn mower not only helps machine performance, it can minimize the spread of lawn disease.

  • Empty the gas tank and disconnect the spark plug wire. It's possible for the mower to start on its own when the blade gets turned, which can result in serious injury.

  • Rinse mower completely with a water hose from above. Aiming the hose at the side of the mower might get water into the air filter. Wash the outside with sudsy water and sponge. Rinse.

  • Turn the mower on its side and clean off any built-up grass with your hands or a putty knife. Wash the underside with soapy water, then gently rinse.

  • Let mower dry completely (about an hour).

Maintaining your lawn mower is essential to a lush, green lawn and complements the customized professional lawn, tree and shrub care services TruGreen provides. Taking these simple measures will make mowing easier and help your lawn look great. Learn more at


Be Supplement Savvy in the Vitamin Aisle

(Family Features) - A walk down the vitamin aisle at your local pharmacy or grocery store can be confusing. There are so many options available that it can be difficult to choose between products and brands. How can you determine which vitamins are right for your individual needs?  And how can you differentiate between the quality, purity and potency of products on the shelf?  

Suzy Cohen, America's most trusted pharmacist, author and frequent television guest, understands the confusion people face when considering vitamins. "A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that about 50 percent of the U.S. population use dietary supplements, a slight increase from previous studies," Cohen said. "However, most users aren't aware that all vitamins are not created equal, and you can't always believe everything printed on a label."

Cohen offers these tips to help you make smart decisions and get the most out of your vitamins.

Talk to your physician or pharmacist. It's essential to consult with your medical professional before taking new vitamins. Talk about your goals, your lifestyle, current prescriptions and dietary supplements. He or she can recommend what you need, and in what dosages.  "I only recommend brands that meet the highest standards of purity and potency, those that follow rigorous quality testing and verification programs, to ensure that what's on the label is what's in the bottle," says Cohen. "That is why I recommend Nature Made vitamins and supplements, a brand I trust for safe and effective products that meet the highest standards in the industry."

Look for the USP Verified Dietary Supplement mark. Seek brands that participate in third-party verification programs with such organizations as United States Pharmacopeia (USP), which has established federally recognized standards for dietary supplement quality, purity and potency.  Finding this distinctive green and gold mark on a product label helps to assure consumers that the supplements they buy meet the quality standards they expect.

Think twice about chasing the latest headline. Sound health advice is generally based on research over time, not a single study.  Consider vitamins and minerals for overall health and be wary of results claiming a quick fix or one study suggesting a certain result. 

Do your research. There are a number of helpful resources available:

  • Visit the American Academy of Family Physicians' website,, for credible, physician-reviewed information on health and wellness topics, including the role vitamins and supplements can play in a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle.

  • United States Pharmacopeia's "Choosing a Dietary Supplement" Interactive Educational Tool,

  • Nature Made,, has helpful information, including a new Vitamin Assessment tool to help provide customized vitamin recommendations.

Read the label and follow dosage instructions carefully. Just as with prescriptions, follow the dosage instruction on the label. Look for any warning statements such as combining certain supplements with prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines. Be wary of claims that seem too good to be true.

Keep these tips in mind and you can walk the vitamin aisle with confidence and make savvy choices with ease.

Nature Made

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Moms Sharing with Moms Message Board

Join the Bergen County Mommies Group on CafeMom (kind of like a MySpace for moms). You do have to be a member of CafeMom to join the group. It's completely free to join. We have a monthly Mommy's Night Out & exchange advice in the group forum.
To check it out, visit

Free Health Texts for New and Expectant Moms

(Family Features) - As expectant and new moms know, having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences, but it can also be overwhelming. First-time mothers and veteran moms alike have questions about keeping their babies safe and healthy. They're eager to learn about important areas such as nutrition, immunization, and safe sleep.   

To address their questions and concerns, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) developed text4baby. This free mobile educational service promotes a healthy pregnancy and a healthy start in life for all babies.

With more than 1.3 trillion text messages sent and received in the U.S. in 2009, it makes sense to deliver vital health information through mobile technology. Currently in the United States, more than 500,000 babies - 1 in every 8 - are born prematurely. An estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday, a rate among the highest in the industrialized world. Premature infants come into the world with unique health needs that can mean lifelong challenges. Text4baby helps to address these issues by allowing timely and useful information to be distributed to help give babies the best possible start in life. 

While not everyone has access to the internet, 90 percent of Americans have a mobile phone. Text messaging is soaring in popularity and can be especially helpful in reaching first-time mothers in typically underserved populations.

How It Works

By texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411, a woman will be signed up to receive three free text messages each week that are timed to her due date or baby's date of birth. These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health, and safe sleep. Text4baby text messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.

Wireless carriers are waiving text messaging fees for the initiative, so enrollees opting in to receive text messages will incur no charges. Even users without a text messaging plan or limited texting per month will receive these messages for free.

To date, text4baby has sent more than five million English and Spanish text messages to more than 83,000 pregnant and new mothers. According to text4baby enrollment numbers, 96 percent of participants would recommend the service to a friend. 67 percent of the enrollees are receiving information about pregnancy, while the remaining 33 percent are getting information about newborns. 

"For those of us dedicated to health education, knowing that text4baby messages are reaching the women who are most in need of them is incredibly powerful and exciting," said Judy Meehan, CEO of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.  "Thanks to our partnership with CTIA-The Wireless Foundation and the mobile carriers, more than 5 million valuable health messages have been put in the hands of thousands of pregnant women since our February 4 launch."

Text4baby is made possible through a public-private partnership that includes more than 350 organizations. The program's founding partners include CTIA-The Wireless Foundation.

For more information, or to sign-up to receive the free text messages, visit

CTIA - The Wireless Foundation