The 4 Great Styles of American Barbecue

While Americans and cooks all over the world have adapted barbecue basics to local preferences, four regional styles dominate and define the genre. From Celebrating Barbecue: The Ultimate Guide to America’s 4 Regional Styles of  ‘Cue by Dotty Griffith

Meat: Pork, whole hog and shoulder
Results: Pulled and chopped pork; vinegar-based sauces, with and without tomato, or mustard based
Techniques: Pit cooked, direct heat
Flavor Profile: Hot-sour

Meat: Pork, ribs and shoulder
Results: Wet ribs (sticky, with lots of tomato-based sauce) and dry ribs (without sauce during cooking)
Techniques: Smoked over indirect heat; finished over direct heat
Flavor Profile: Sweet, hot, smoky

Meat: Beef brisket, pork ribs
Results: Sliced brisket with tomato-based sauce on the side; glazed ribs with tomato-based sauce on the side
Techniques: Smoked over indirect heat; finished over direct heat
Flavor Profile: Savory, smoky, touch of sweet

Meat: Pork ribs, beef brisket
Results: Sticky ribs with lots of tomato-based sauces
Techniques: Indirect heat; finished over direct heat
Flavor profile: Sweet-sour, hot

Dotty Griffith is the dining editor and restaurant critic of The Dallas Morning News, and has judged numerous recipe contests. She is the author of nine cookbooks, including Celebrating Barbecue: The Ultimate Guide to America’s 4 Regional Styles of ‘Cue (Copyright © 2002 by Dotty Griffith), and has written for magazines, including Gourmet and Travel & Leisure. She lives in Dallas, Texas.



12 Tips for Working with Contractors During a Home Renovation

Helpful advice on dealing with contractors when building or remodeling your home from Rita Konig, author of Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways To Add Style To Your Life


  • Do not leave anything to your contractor’s judgment in the taste department, like where to put the outlets and the light switches. If you do, be prepared to find them in the strangest places. Mark on the wall exactly where you want everything.
  • With any changes that you make you must ask them how much it is going to cost and if it is going to add any time to the project. There is nothing they love more than telling you that the reason why the bill has doubled and they are four months late is your own fault.
  • If there is anything you have said you will buy, like paint or fittings, you must get them to site on time. There is nothing worse than paying people to sit around waiting for you to get things to them. You must therefore find out on your contractor’s schedule of works when he needs things by. Remember that there is very little that does not take six to eight weeks for delivery. Paint takes less, but give yourself a week.
  • Do not start choosing paint when the painters are ready to start. You have got to choose carefully what you want and it takes time. It is not really possible for them to paint one room entirely while you flit around choosing the colors for the other rooms. They will want to start on another room while the first coat dries in the first room.
  • Remember to ask your contractors if their quote includes paint. If it does it will probably be for the cheapest paint available on the market. If you are planning on using a designer paint it is going to cost you more, so let them know that. They will not be keen because they will probably be making a markup on their paint. They may try to persuade you they can match the color with another brand. If this is the case, be careful: their eye for color is not what they are being employed for.
  • This is most important to remember when they start commenting on your choices. I had my confidence knocked by contractors when I first started doing bits of decorating. “Ooow, I wouldn’t do that, it’s awfully dark.” Just don’t listen; follow your convictions. Not every room has to be blazing sunshine, and we do live in the age of the electric lightbulb; dark rooms can be wonderful.
  • They will have an opinion about eggshell paint, too. They will tell you it is too shiny for the walls. It isn’t; it is as shiny as an egg. The truth is they don’t like putting it up because it takes longer. The benefit of eggshell is that it will look better for longer, you can clean it and flat paint marks very easily and is absorbent.
  • When you get your cans of paint on site, check all of them. I have had rooms painted in the wrong color and it is hard to get the paint company to pay for someone to repaint the room, even when it is their fault. Mark every can with the room it is for and where it is for (walls, woodwork or ceiling) and then put it in the rooms. Make sure your foreman has a paint schedule stating exactly what color is going where. If you want closet doors to be painted with the walls you must remember to specify this or they will be painted with the woodwork, and this will again cost you money to rectify.
  • Whether you are starting from scratch on a whole property or you are just doing one room in your house, it is worth working in the same way with your contracting team. They need the same guidelines from you. Be professional and straightforward from the beginning and you won’t run into trouble. Sometimes you can feel embarrassed that you are doing too much with your schedules and drawings of what you want, but don’t worry. Your contractor will appreciate it and the most important thing is that you will end up with what you asked for.

There are things that you must insist on from the beginning and it is worth going through these ground rules with your foreman before you start.

  • First, insist on no smoking on site. This does sound really miserable but it is dangerous and sloppy. So many fires have started from cigarettes falling between floorboards and it is just kind of horrid; it makes the site even dirtier than it is already.
  • The workmen should clean up every night before they leave. A good firm of contractors will do this instinctively. My mother taught me this and at first I thought she was just being over the top, which she usually is, but as so often happens she was right. No one can start work every day in a place that looks disgusting. All the tools need to be cleaned and put away every night, all the dust sheets picked up and folded away, all the mugs washed, tea bags in the trash and the entire site vacuumed and ready for work to commence the next morning. Contractors who won’t do this will be sloppy and it will be reflected in their work. It is just the same as arriving at your desk first thing in the morning and it looking like chaos; it is really hard to start the day like that. Your builders should have their own vacuum cleaner — don’t let them near yours as it will just collapse under the pressure of all the sawdust and old nails.
  • And NEVER, EVER lay a carpet until the last contractor has left the site.

Rita Konig, author of Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Life (Copyright ©2002 by Rita Konig), pens the idiosyncratic column “Rita Says” in British Vogue and has a weekly column in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine. She has also written for W and in the United States, House & Garden. Previously a buyer for her mother’s company, Nina Campbell Interiors, Konig lives in London.



24 No-Fuss, All-Natural Gardening Tips

From keeping weeds at bay to preventing dirt from getting under your nails, here are two dozen easy gardening tips from Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean and author of A Queen for All Seasons: A Year of Tips, Tricks, and Picks for a Cleaner House and a More Organized Life!

Get a head start on summer! Plant seeds in an egg carton to which you have added a small amount of soil — don’t pack it too hard, and don’t let it spill out over the sides. Keep the soil moist, taking care not to overwater. When you’ve seen the last frost, it’s time to pop the seedlings out of the egg container and plant them in the ground. Still impatient? Speed up germination by laying a piece of plastic wrap over the seedlings to keep them moist and warm. Leave the plastic in place until the plants start to poke their heads through the soil.

  • Try latex gloves in the garden instead of cloth. They’re easier to clean — you can just rinse them under the hose and let them air-dry — and they don’t stiffen up like canvas gloves do.
  • Tie a used fabric softener sheet around your belt to keep mosquitoes away while you garden.
  • For a moisturizing treat while gardening, rub your hands with cream or petroleum jelly before donning your gloves.
  • Don’t like to wear gloves? Scraping your fingernails over a bar of soap before you get started will prevent dirt from penetrating under your nails and will protect them from breaking.
  • Use a little wagon to haul your supplies around the garden. Check garage sales for good deals.
  • Carry a quart spray bottle filled with water and a squirt of liquid dish soap. If you see bugs attacking your flowers, just give them a squirt and they’ll vamoose!
  • Need a kneeling pad? Take a 2- or 3-inch piece of foam, wrap it in plastic or put it in a large re-sealable bag and you’re all ready to go.


  • Crushed eggshells worked well into the soil make a wonderful fertilizer. Terrific for gardens and houseplants, they aerate the soil, too.
  • Bury some used coffee grounds in your garden to provide much-needed acid to the soil that has a high alkaline content. You’ll notice much greener greens!
  • Fish tank water is loaded with nutrients. Use it for gardens and houseplants.
  • Plants love starch, so save the water each time you boil noodles or other pasta. Just make sure to let the water cool down first.
  • Dampened newspapers placed on the ground around plants will help keep the soil moist and hold weeds at bay. Wet the newspapers well — you need the weight of the water to hold them down — then sprinkle lightly with soil. The papers are biodegradable, so they will eventually dissolve.


  • Keep pests such as aphids, mites, and whiteflies off roses, geraniums, hibiscus, and other plants by spraying them with a combination of 1 quart of water and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Reapply the solution every two weeks.
  • Planting garlic, parsley, or basil among your flowers will deter bugs. Marigolds also work well. Just plant them as an edging around the garden.
  • Dissolve 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water to kill bugs on flowering plants. Spray every 7 to 10 days.
  • Powdered milk can kill aphids on roses. Mix 1/3 cup of powdered milk in one quart of warm water, and spray. The aphids will get stuck in the milk and die. Hose the roses down occasionally and re-apply as needed.
  • Here’s a great natural way to control black spots on roses. Add 1 tablespoon each of baking soda and vegetable oil to 1 gallon of water. Then add 1 drop of liquid detergent and shake well. Spray directly on the foliage, and spray every 5 to 7 days during humid weather. Make sure to wet both sides of the leaves.
  • Chase away pests that feed on your tender plants by mixing 1 tablespoon of hot mustard or red pepper with 1 quart of water. Spray directly on foliage. One hot taste and the pests will be gone!


  • Old panty hose make great ties for plants and tomatoes. They’re strong and flexible, but soft enough so that they won’t cut into the plant.
  • Cutting roses and trimming bushes can be a prickly job, but if you grip thorny stems with barbecue tongs or clothespins… no more pierced fingers!
  • Tuck a bar of soap inside a mesh bag and tie it around the outside faucet. After gardening cleanups will be a breeze.
  • Hands that are very dirty can be cleaned with a thick paste of oatmeal and water. Rub well into hands before rinsing and washing as usual.
  • Kill weeds with a natural toddy of 1 ounce of white vinegar, 1 ounce of inexpensive gin, and 8 ounces of water. Pour on the weeds and say good-bye.

Linda Cobb, author of A Queen for All Seasons: A Year of Tips, Tricks, and Picks for a Cleaner House and a More Organized Life! (Copyright © 2001 by Linda Cobb), first shared her cleaning tips with readers in a weekly newspaper column in Michigan, where she owned a cleaning and disaster-restoration business dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods. After moving to Phoenix, she appeared weekly as a guest on Good Morning Arizona; since then she has shared her housekeeping tips on radio and television shows across the country, and in two New York Times bestsellers, Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean and Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean.



8 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Clean

Is cleaning your home the last thing on your to-do list that you want to tackle? Rita Konig, author of Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Life, shares eight easy ways to reward yourself and make housework a little more bearable.

  • Don’t start the cleaning without doing your toenails, a masque or a twenty-minute intense hair-conditioning treatment first. Any or all of these things will give you a reason to do something as dull as housework, because they all need time either to dry or work.
  • Play good music for dusting, vacuuming, or laundry. Listen to any talk radio station for the ironing.
  • Plan a lunch date at the end of it; you don’t really need to do more than a few hours and a deadline really gets you going.
  • Make sure you have coffee and a cookie. This is a treat in itself and one you can only really have when you are at home in the daytime. So break from the cleaning for a cappuccino and a biscuit or two.
  • Hide some treats in the laundry closet, something you will forget about until you are doing the wash. It is good to reward yourself for such boring tasks.
  • Run yourself a spoilingly hot and heavily scented bath at the end of your hours of cleaning. It serves a double purpose: it gives you a well-deserved soak and it will eradicate the horrid smells of those cleaning products from your bathroom.
  • Scented candles are definitely a good thing to light at the end of a cleaning session so you can sit back and enjoy your clean and delicious smelling home.
  • Remember to buy the papers or the new issues of your favorite magazines so you can look forward to an afternoon lazing around the house going through them.

Rita Konig, author of Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Life (Copyright ©2002 by Rita Konig), pens the idiosyncratic column “Rita Says” in British Vogue and has a weekly column in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine. She has also written for W and in the United States, House & Garden. Previously a buyer for her mother’s company, Nina Campbell Interiors, Konig lives in London.



How to Make Your Natural Eye Color Really Dazzle

Time-tested tips for making your blues bluer and greens greener, from The New Beauty Secrets by Laura Mercier

Don’t Be Afraid of Color
The majority of women stick to neutrals when it comes to their eye makeup, but you should give color a chance from time to time. It’s a great mood enhancer. I know psychiatrists sometimes tell their patients to stop wearing black because it has a way of drowning you emotionally and sapping your energy. Think about why you reach for a certain red blouse or blue sweater. It might seem arbitrary, but perhaps your psyche needs the calming effects of a specific hue or the energizing effects of a particular shade. Consider that the next time thoughts of violet eyeshadow or forest green liner pop up in your mind. Maybe you should trust yourself and give them a try. Follow your instincts! There is always a way to wear color — whether light, pale, or muted — that won’t be intimidating.

Intensify Your Eye Color
There are simple ways to make your natural eye color really dazzle. As you probably know, certain colors complement and enhance other colors. The same theory works with eye makeup and your iris (the colored part of your eye). You can make your eyes bluer, greens greener, and so on. I’ve found that the following basic color combinations work the best:

Brown Eyes
Try: Use eyeshadow or liner in gray, black, navy blue, neutral chocolate brown, or chocolate brown with a hint of red, pink-brown, gray-brown, burgundy, or eggplant. You also can use paler or medium versions of these shades as eyeshadow, as well as light mauve, light pink and peach. You can use gold shadow if your skin tone is not too sallow or yellow.

Avoid: If you have brown eyes and olive skin, skip neutral browns like khakis, taupes, and yellow-browns. They won’t make your eyes look alive and will only emphasize the yellow in your skin.

Blue Eyes
Try: Use eyeshadow in fleshy pink, brown-pink, beige-pink, peachy-pink, muted mauve, grays, light dusty blues, turquoise washed, black, or all browns. Use eyeliner in gray, black, brown, navy blue, bronze-gold, or dark purple.

Avoid: If you have pink-toned skin, stay away from shadows that are pure pink. By all means, don’t use strong pinks such as fuchsia, or you’ll end up resembling a bunny rabbit. If you have pure blue eyes that tend not to change color, you should avoid green eyeshadow and liner. Avoid blues that are too strong because they can overwhelm your eye color.

Green or Hazel Eyes
Try: Shadows in peach, light pink, muted pink, mauve, green, bronze-green, gray-green, brown-green, khaki, caramel, gold, any green mixed with gold, and all browns and grays. If your complexion is very olive and your dark circles too yellow-brown and deep, stick to the cool colors like navy blues, slate grays, mauve-grays, bright mauves, pinks, black, or eggplants. Use liner in navy, deep purple, black, gray, gold, or brown.

Avoid: Don’t use any green that’s not subtle. You don’t want to wear bright, vivid greens because they will overwhelm your eye color. If you want to try a bright color such as teal or turquoise, make sure to apply as a subtle wash so it brightens the eye area without overwhelming your eye color.

Laura Mercier, the author of The New Beauty Secrets: Your Ultimate Guide to a Flawless Face (Copyright © 2006 by Gurwitch Products, LLC), is one of the most renowned beauty authorities in the world today. Her 20-year career as a makeup artist has brought her from Provence, Paris, and points around the globe to red carpets, photo studios, and movie sets. Laura’s work has appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Elle, W, and other magazines, plus countless advertisements, album covers, movie posters, and more. Laura Mercier Cosmetics, her beauty brand, has enjoyed great success since 1996.



The One-Bag Wonder Packing List: Essential Tips for Packing Light

Here are 11 travel tips and a checklist of what to pack for your trip, from Katherine Gibson, author of Unclutter Your Life.

Uncluttered travel is about taking less so we can bring more home. This goes beyond great photos and souvenirs to include memories of a place. I still recall the richness of a day spent on a mountain trail in Jasper, Alberta, a raging lightning storm in Montana, and the tales I heard from an old man selling newspapers in a Paris kiosk. Uncluttered travel is about traveling with our hands free and our minds, hearts, and souls wide open.


  • Books abound with light-packing tips but my bottom line is simple: Be ruthless. I have yet to meet anyone who moans about not having taken enough.
  • If you can’t carry it onto the plane, don’t take it. Although figures vary according to the airline, on average 1 in 200 bags goes missing. Most eventually show up, but others vanish, rerouted to the eternal baggage carousel in the sky.
  • Pick a bag that works. Travel guru and author Rick Steves devised a nylon suitcase that converts to a backpack large enough to hold gear for his three-month travel stints; it even meets most airlines’ carry-on guidelines.
  • Each item should do double or triple duty, be lightweight and easy to launder, and coordinate with absolutely everything. Consider convertible pants, anything fleece, and microfiber fabrics.
  • Choose grime-hiding, dark-colored clothing made from fabrics that wick away perspiration, keep the body warm, don’t crease, and dry overnight. Silk or stretch lace undies are light and dry quickly.
  • Consider one pair of walking shoes and one lighter pair, such as walking sandals.
  • Other than a plain wedding ring and a knock-off watch, I leave valuables at home.
  • Pack for the purpose. If it’s business, forget the Birkenstocks. If it’s pleasure, forget the pinstripes.
  • Clothes with pockets, especially deep ones, hold maps, gloves, tips, and telephone change. Tilley Endurables has the lead on pocket clothing.
  • Wear a money belt to protect against light-fingered encounters.
  • Because thefts do happen, compile a list of everything you take (handy for insurance purposes) and make two copies of essential documents, including your passport, credit cards, travel insurance, airline tickets, and trip itinerary. Leave one list with a friend and take the other with you; keep it separate from the original documents.
  • Unclutter your travel plans. Plan longer stays in fewer places. Take time to wander and explore. Unexpected, serendipitous moments make the trip.

One-Bag Wonder Packing List

(I use this same list whatever the trip duration. Everything fits in a carry-on bag.)

  • *1 pair pants (no-crease docker-style)
  • 1 pair of pants that convert to shorts
  • *1 jacket (rain-resistant, fold-into-a-pocket style)
  • *1 long-sleeved T-shirt
  • *1 pair walking shoes
  • 1 pair walking sandals
  • 3 quick-dry, no-iron shirts
  • 1 casual, wrinkle-free dress. (For men, a decent shirt to go with the docker pants.)
  • 1 light sweater — whatever the season or destination
  • 4 pairs underwear (quick-dry)
  • 4 pairs socks (quick-dry)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 small towel
  • 1 hat

* Items I wear on the plane.

For cool seasons, add gloves, a scarf, and a collapsible umbrella. Fleece sweaters and pants, which come in various weights, are ideal travel choices as they are warm even if wet, lightweight, and wrinkle-resistant. Boring but versatile black is the way to go.


  • Essential toiletries, including sunscreen; sunglasses; liquid soap that does duty as laundry soap, shampoo, and shower gel; and a moisturizer (forget blowdryers, nail polish, and perfumes).
  • Medications; a copy of prescriptions, including eyeglass prescriptions; a small first-aid kit; vitamins; waterless handwash; and scissors.
  • Four clothespins and an elastic laundry line.
  • Passport and visa, health documentation, emergency information, medical insurance, hotel reservations, photocopies of all documentation, and just the keys needed on your arrival home.
  • A notebook, one guidebook, camera and film, a travel alarm clock, a daypack, a money belt, and a small combination lock.

Katherine Gibson, M.Ed., the author of Unclutter Your Life: Transforming Your Physical, Mental, And Emotional Space (Copyright © 2004 by Katherine Gibson), is in demand as a speaker and workshop presenter, inspiring her audiences to choose clarity and purpose in their personal and professional lives. She has shared her wisdom with thousands on national radio and television shows, and has been featured in magazines and newspapers throughout North America. She currently lives in Victoria, B.C.



First, Get Rid of the Clutter! Organizing with Everyday Objects

Easy, inexpensive home organizing techniques, from Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck

Our friend Grace, who has eight decades of housekeeping under her belt, taught me how to divide and conquer junk drawers, cupboards, and closets. Grace’s house is so organized that when her brother came to live with her after his wife died, he could easily find everything in the house without assistance. Grace’s secret weapon is modified cardboard boxes.

Grace’s Box Tricks

  • Use labeled shoe boxes to store things on closet shelves.
  • Use cereal, tea, and cracker boxes to divide drawers and cupboards. Gather your pasteboard materials, then divide the drawers and cupboards one at a time. Simplify by putting seldom-used items in a box or bag at the back of the appropriate drawer.
  • Put open boxes in underwear and sock drawers.
  • Use a utility knife to cut the boxes to fit.

For a short while, customizing pasteboard boxes with a utility knife was my hobby, and “Square Is Beautiful” and “Divide and Conquer” were my favorite mottos. Ready-made drawer organizers just cannot compete with these customized dividers.

Once a space has been divided and its contents categorized, its carrying capacity increases and it tends to resist disorder. When was the last time you saw a disorderly silverware drawer? We don’t drop our spoons in with our knives, why should we allow our twist ties to twine around our rubber bands, salvaged string, and spare electrical cords?

  • I cut the tops off tea boxes and used them to tame our kitchen junk drawers three years ago. The drawers are just as tidy today as the day I conquered them.
  • The bottom of a thin cereal box (from hot cereal, for instance) works well for organizing twist ties and rubber bands.
  • Prevent lightweight extension cords from tangling by storing them in the cardboard tubes from paper towels.
  • I made cardboard dividers for our overflowing collection of grocery bags; the dividers increased the capacity of the cubby by keeping the folded bags upright. The chaos has never returned.
  • Heavy-duty cardboard boxes, such as detergent boxes, can be used to build stacked cubicles for storing lightweight dry goods like dry noodles or lightweight toiletries such as toothbrushes or Band-Aids.
  • Square, heavy plastic containers such as liquid detergent bottles can be cut down to make cubby holes and dividers for under-sink and other damp storage. Many of these containers are heavy enough to support some weight. Since I don’t use liquid detergent, I scrounged for detergent bottles at our local recycling center.

Ellen Sandbeck, the author of Green Housekeeping (Copyright © 2006 by Ellen Sandbeck) and Green Barbarians, is an organic landscaper, worm wrangler, writer, and graphic artist who lives with (and experiments on) her husband and an assortment of younger creatures — which includes two mostly grown children, a couple of dogs, a small flock of laying hens, and many thousands of composting worms — in Duluth, Minnesota.



Make Your Own Laundry Spot and Stain Removers

Here’s how to be a spot hotshot with powerful, do-it-yourself spot removers made from common household ingredients. From Linda Cobb, “The Queen of Clean” and author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal.

I love natural products, and I love things that I can make for pennies and still have them work better than the products I could buy at the store. Here are some of my favorite laundry spot removers. Use them just as you would over-the-counter products, but take note: many of them are designed to take care of specific spots and stains.

Start with a clean spray and/or squeeze bottle, and always be sure to label any product you make. It’s important to know what the bottle contains and what it was intended for. I like to include the recipe on the label too — that way I can mix up additional product with ease. Cover the label with clear packaging tape or a piece of clear adhesive sheet to protect the label from moisture.

These spotters are all intended for washable fabrics. If in doubt, test in an inconspicuous spot, such as a seam.

General All-Purpose Laundry Spotter
Combine the following to make a generic spotter that works on a wide variety of stains:

1 part rubbing alcohol
2 parts water

If you use a large spray bottle you can add 1 bottle of alcohol and 2 of the alcohol bottles filled with water. Spray this on spots and spills, wait a few minutes, and then launder as usual.

Beverage, Fruit and Grass Remover
Combine equal portions of:

white vinegar
liquid dishwashing soap

Shake well and work the solution into the spot. Let stand a few minutes and then launder as usual.

Non-oily Stain Remover
Combine equal portions of the following ingredients:

liquid dishwashing soap

Shake well, and work the solution into the spot. Let stand a few minutes and flush with water. This solution works well on stains such as milk, blood, perspiration and urine. Do not use on washable wool, silk, spandex, acrylic and acetate.

Oily Stain Remover
Combine the following:

1 tablespoon glycerin
1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap
8 tablespoons of water

Work the solution into grease and oil stains. Let sit a few minutes, flush with water, and launder as usual.

Again, remember all of these spotters are for washable fabrics only and none of them are for silk, wool, spandex, acrylic and acetate. When in doubt, test first!

Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal (Copyright © 2001 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.




A Step-by-Step Guide to Caring for Brushes and Other Beauty Tools

Internationally recognized beauty authority Laura Mercier, author of The New Beauty Secrets, shares three insider tricks for maintaining your makeup applicators.

Washing Your Brushes
Caring for your brushes means washing them on a regular basis, not using them for a year and then tossing them. If you wait until your brushes look dirty, you’ve waited far too long. Apply makeup with clean tools; It’s better for your brushes and your skin.

Basically, there are two kinds of brushes: those you use with creamy products and those you use with powdery products.

Let’s talk about the first group, which includes brushes for concealer, camouflage, eyeliner, lip products, cream eyeshadow, and cream blush. These should be washed daily. This is a must for anything that touches your eyes or that you use to cover pimples because of bacteria. This probably sounds like a pain in the neck because you’re so busy, and the last thing you need is another chore. But once you get in the habit, quickly washing the brushes will become second nature. You can wait until you come home from work to clean them, instead of doing it right after you apply your makeup in the morning.

To get started you need some tissues and antibacterial dishwashing detergent. The detergent is perfect because it will disintegrate any grease or oil. Squeeze a little detergent on the brush and gently work it through with your fingers. Put the brush under warm running water and continue to work the soap through all the bristles in the direction of the hair, taking care not to bend the bristles. The soap will be creamy and opaque at first, then less so until you just have clear running water going through the bristles.

Put the freshly washed brushes on a paper towel or dish towel to dry, and reshape the brushes if necessary. For example, if a brush ends in a point, smooth the bristles back into a point. You can place the brushes near a heat source, like a radiator, but never directly on top.

For powder brushes, the directions are almost identical, with the exception that you don’t have to wash them as frequently and you should use mild soap or shampoo. Again, be gentle. It’s like washing your favorite La Perla bra, not scrubbing stains out of your jeans.

Sponges and Puffs
You should wash your sponges with mild soap under warm running water after every application. You should wash puffs in the same manner every few days or each week. Some makeup artists throw their puffs into the washing machine, but I don’t recommend it. Most laundry detergents aren’t mild enough, and all the tumbling around can damage them.

Put your sponges and puffs on a paper towel or dish towel to let them air dry. You may need to reshape your puffs.

Carry with Care
Do you travel with your tools? Maybe you take them to work every day, or perhaps you’re going on vacation and want to bring them along. Make sure to have a nice case or brush roll in which to carry them. Don’t toss them into your makeup bag where they’ll get beaten up and dirty. Another option is to buy a travel-size brush kit that comes with a special carrying case.

Laura Mercier, the author of The New Beauty Secrets: Your Ultimate Guide to a Flawless Face (Copyright © 2006 by Gurwitch Products, LLC), is one of the most renowned beauty authorities in the world today. Her 20-year career as a makeup artist has brought her from Provence, Paris, and points around the globe to red carpets, photo studios, and movie sets. Laura’s work has appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Elle, W, and other magazines, plus countless advertisements, album covers, movie posters, and more. Laura Mercier Cosmetics, her beauty brand, has enjoyed great success since 1996.



Essential Green Cleaning Products: How to Clean Your Home Naturally

We waste a great deal of money and precious storage space on specialty cleaning solutions when we actually only need a handful of versatile nontoxic products to clean an entire home. From Green This! by Deirdre Imus

Back to the Basics: Essential Cleaning Products
… I want you to go look under your kitchen sink, or inside your utility closet, or wherever you keep your household cleaning products. You probably have a lot of different bottles stashed away — most Americans do.

So, what did you find in there? Window/glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, spray bleach, detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, spot remover, spray starch, automatic dishwashing detergent, hand dishwashing liquid, furniture polish, oven cleaner, scouring cream, shower cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, carpet shampoo, and probably several other products you can no longer remember why you bought in the first place.

When we greened Hackensack University Medical Center, the janitorial staff had been using twenty-two different cleaning products. This inflated figure was pretty typical of the hospitals and other institutions — including schools — that we visited. Some places were using up to twenty-five or thirty different products. By the end of the greening process at Hackensack, we’d cut that number down to eight core and eleven total, half of what they used to order.

Like hospitals, we waste a great deal of money and precious storage space on specialty products. You actually only need a handful of versatile nontoxic products to clean your entire house.

  • All-purpose cleaner for floors, counters, kitchen surfaces, bathrooms, tubs, tiles, carpets, spills, and stains
  • Window/glass cleaner for glass, windows, and all stainless steel
  • Automatic dishwashing detergent
  • Hand dishwashing liquid for pots, pans, dishes, fine china, glasses, teapots, coffeepots, silver, and anything else you don’t want to put in your dishwasher
  • Laundry liquid
  • Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is unbelievably useful in every room of your house. It can neutralize acid, scrub shiny materials without scratching, unclog and clean drains, extinguish grease fires, and remove certain stains. Baking soda can also be used to deodorize your refrigerator, carpets, and upholstery. It can clean and polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, copper, and tin.
  • Distilled white vinegar works much better than any toxic disinfectant you can buy. It contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which makes it great at removing stains. Vinegar can also dissolve mineral deposits and grease, remove traces of soap, remove mildew or wax buildup, polish some metals, and deodorize almost every room of your house. You can use it to clean coffeepots, windows, brick, stone, carpets, toilet bowls — just about every surface in your house except marble, in fact. A tablespoon of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle also acts as a wonderful fabric softener. While it’s normally diluted with water, in some cases, it can be used straight. I recommend using organic vinegar, which is slightly pricier than the nonorganic kind but still a lot cheaper than most consumer cleaning products.
  • Lemon juice is a natural odor-eater that combines well with other ingredients. It can be used to clean glass and remove stains from aluminum, copper, clothing, and porcelain, and nothing works better on Formica surfaces. If used with sunlight, lemon juice is a mild lightener or bleach. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the wash cycle to get rid of odors on clothing.
  • Table salt is great at removing rust. With lemon juice, it can clean copper. When mixed with vinegar, salt polishes brass. Salt is also a key ingredient in an effective, all-natural scouring powder.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can be diluted to remove stains from heavily soiled whites and other clothing and a number of surfaces. You can dip a cotton swab in diluted hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from thick white curtains.
  • Essential oils
  • Ketchup can be used to clean copper and brass.

Deirdre Imus, author of Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning (Copyright © 2007 by Git’R Green, Inc.), is the founder and president of Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology®, part of Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey. She is also a co-founder and co-director of the Imus Castle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, and the author of the bestselling book The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys.