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Consumer Watch - 214

Caveat emptor!

Recent upheavals in supply chains and local food production – plus this is a shmita year – have changed what foods and produce are available when, where, and for how much.

  • Check out other super/mini-markets along the way: that's how I found XL eggs at a 'mini,' where my regular super only carries smaller or expensive 'organic' etc. eggs. The price? NIS 1.00 more per dozen!
  • Junk foods are replacing healthier staples on shelves, some masquerading under "healthy" claims. En guard! Read labels carefully before buying substitutes.
  • Shrink-flation" is here too: manufacturers reduce the quantity/volume/weight of a product by as much as 25% for the same price - in hopes buyers won't notice.

No matter what the advertising says, caveat emptor still applies – in spades.

Screen protection

If you keep your cellphone or tablet in a pocket, pouch or purse – especially an outer pocket for easy access – turn the screen face-inwards, towards the center; this gives better protection in case of bumps or falls, and a packet of tissues behind the device offers added padding.

Fit for a Fluctuating Waistline

Have a skirt or pants moderately larger at the waistline? Gather the slack by inserting an appropriate width of elastic into the rear half of the waistband, anchor on either side with safety pins just behind the side seams, and measure how long the elastic needs to be for a comfortable fit. Do NOT stitch the elastic and waistband together, only at both anchoring points. This improves fit without altering the garment and leaves room for future changes or alterations.

Great for wide hips, too.

Another trick: sew two small, matching folds into the waistband just in front of the side seams. This creates a small pleat on either side facing backwards, and works well with or without pockets. Best of all it's fast and easy to sew by hand - and even easier to unpick at need. 

Less candy mess

We live in a hot, mostly humid climate... which turned cough drops in my purse into a sticky mess. Still carry cough drops, safe in a small plastic pill bottle.

Unwrapped skirts

Wraparound/envelope skirts have pros and cons – wearing one in a stiff breeze is not a good idea – but it's relatively easy to convert a simple cotton one into a regular skirt.

Sew the open sides together to create one seam, leaving room at the top for a zipper and button; when cutting the straps off, leave an extra lappet at the waistband for a buttonhole. This becomes the 'front' or 'side', depending on how the material is cut and drapes.

Determine the 'sides' by putting the skirt on and smoothing flat to the hips; mark where side seams would be if this were a regular skirt. Insert an elastic band into the waistband just behind those two 'side' anchor points, and measure how long the elastic needs to be to gather the back to a comfortable fit. Sew the elastic to those two anchor points and close the waistband. [Tip: add hanger-loops at the same time.] Assuming it was the right length to begin with, you now have a comfortable skirt without further ado.

Bonus: if the opening is center-front, it doubles as a house/sun dress "as is" or with the addition of a neck strap.

Neck strap: fold a large bandanna or scarf once to make a triangle. Fold the point of the triangle in towards the long middle two or three times to obtain a comfortable pad [t-shirt triangles are ideal]. Center the pad on the nape of the neck so ends hang down in front evenly.

With the garment zipped and drawn up to the armpits, open the zipper slightly and insert one loose end of the scarf through the gap from behind, and the other loose end through the same gap from in front. Find a comfortable length and tie the loose ends into a bow over the waistband and button. Gently close the zipper as far as it will go.

T-shirt Triangle recap

When a good cotton T is too ragged to wear, it can still yield 2 a-symmetrical triangles and a trapezoid bandanna or 4 triangles. Cut the sleeves off, leaving the seams on the sleeves, then cut out the side and shoulder seams and unpick the hem if any. The back will most likely yield a large bandanna; the front 2 triangles. All will need some trimming because of the sleeve angles and neck line, but being slightly asymmetrical is no bar to their use and no hems or fringes are necessary.

They are good for colorful hair-ties, forehead sweat-bands, bandannas, improvised masks or straps. The sleeves, with seams, roll up and twist into wrist-bands similar to those tennis players use to keep their hands dry.

Pitted olives in brine are delicious but often too salty. Reduce the salt by placing a handful in a glass jar, fill two-thirds full of water, close cap, and shake like a cocktail. Let sit for a minute. Repeat the rinse 2-3 times.

Lazy Pedicure

Using a plastic tub large enough to hold both feet, fill one-third full of comfortably warm water and place on tiles or a floor towel near a comfortable seat. Add 350-500ml any alcoholic beer and soak feet for 15-30 minutes. This beer foot-bath removes quite a bit of dry skin even without rasping while it softens calluses and nails.

Handy Handcraft Trays

The plastic door shelves of a pristine but trashed refrigerator beckoned, as did the white shelf-edgers. Washed and dried, the proverbial penny dropped: they are ideal for all kinds of handcrafts and odd-jobs. Long enough to hold knitting needles or tools, deep enough to hold skeins/hardware/fittings and narrow enough to fit or store almost anywhere. And the edgers? Ideal for rolling up plarn, ribbon or yarn. Serendipity strikes again!

Quick and Easy Caftan

Find or buy a colorful used single cotton quilt/duvet cover, the wilder the print the better. For best results: make sure both sides are the same print and the opening is on a short side, not a long one.

No sewing 'Beatnik' version:
  • turn the cover inside out and fold in half lengthwise
  • at the closed end cut a circular hole at the fold, just large enough to put a head through
  • starting at the 'head' end, unpick about 15-18cm of both side-seams for hand openings
  • put the caftan on, measure the length and cut off any excess at the bottom/hem.

Tailored version:
The same in principle, except the neck, sleeve openings and hem are hand or machine stitched.

BTW a good print and a small mandarin collar turn this into a very elegant garment indeed, ideal for beach or home... in fact so ideal you'd better keep an eye on it: a friend's 'took a hike' at the beach.

Soapy hands: Ever get caught with soapy hands and no way to adjust the faucet? Keep a worn-out scrubbing pad within easy reach.

Hauling heavy handle-bags

Who hasn't felt the handles of a heavy plastic grocery bag or two digging into their fingers or palms, or the strain on wrists and tendons? This won't make the bags lighter – but it will make them easier to carry.

Thread a small unopened plastic vegetable bag through the handles of the bags you mean to carry – do NOT knot – to make a 'tail', one for each hand-load, and make the ends of the 'tail' even. Take hold at the mid-point where the handles and tail meet by pointing the thumb downwards and wrapping the rest of the fingers around the mid-point – not through the handles.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but done properly the arm will be in a straight line from shoulder to thumb without bending elbow or wrist, only fingers and thumb curled around a comfortably held load.

If thumb or palm are pointing upwards - try again.

This simple trick increased my carrying capacity by about 1-2 kilo per hand and explains why two vegetable bags are always in my purse.

Of course it won't help much if the loads are grossly overweight to begin with; in that case it may help to swing the bags over the shoulders, to carry the load that way...

 Fonda's Food Tips

Use Two Tin Foil loaf pans, one inside the other, to keep the tin sturdy. Afterwards turn out the cake or mousse and separate the outer tin, using that to COVER the mousse or cake to protect it.

Carrot Curls: As you peel carrots roll up each slice, insert a toothpick to hold it together and place in ice water to keep fresh and soften. These make lovely decorations for snacks and excellent tidbits for dieters.

Vegetable Skewers are both healthy and diet friendly. Skewer cubes of cucumber, carrot, beetroot and tomato and serve with a minty Greek yogurt dip.
[Tip: wear gloves to prevent beet-juice stained hands.]

"Cracker Jack Cutters" (aka chicken scissors, poultry shears) are amazing tools for cutting anything from wire to a chicken. Effortlessly cuts biltong slices, too.

Make More Room in your fridge by using oblong containers; easier to stack and take up less space than round ones.

Keep Floors Clean: When entering your home remove shoes and put on a clean pair, reserved for that; this prevents dirt tracking indoors.

Courtesy: Fonda Dubb



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Friday, 21 June 2024

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