Best way to check your oven temperature
If your oven seems to be running too hot or it is taking too long to bake your holiday cookies, it may be time to take its temperature. Here’s how:
Place an oven-safe thermometer on the middle rack and set the oven to 300 degrees. When the oven indicates it has reached the target temperature, check the thermometer and see if the temperature readings agree. If not, you’ll know whether you need to adjust the temperature higher or lower when baking. Or if you need to call a repair service.
Best tips on tips
The holidays are a great time to remember all the wonderful people who work daily to make our lives easier. Whether it is your manicurist or mailman, your children’s teacher or your newspaper carrier, some form of acknowledgment will surely be appreciated. Cards are always nice. But if you want – and can afford – to give more, Jacqueline Whitmore, an author and etiquette expert, offers these guidelines:
Manicurist: $25 to $50 or a gift.
Hair stylist: $50 to $100 or a gift.
Barber: Up to the cost of one haircut or a gift.
Housekeeper: Up to the cost of one visit.
Teacher: A gift card or gift certificate for up to $25, or pitch in with other parents and buy a more expensive gift certificate.
Babysitter: An evening’s pay, plus a gift from your child.
Mail carrier: Small gift or gift card up to $20.
Newspaper carrier: $10 to $30.
Yard or garden worker: $20 to $50 or a gift card.
Handyman: $15 to $50 or a gift card.
Pet Groomer: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.
Best wreath alternative
Make an adorable alternative to a wreath with this idea picked up from the My Crazy Quilt Life blog. Take a pair of white mittens. Pin them together once, maybe twice, at the top of the wrist and about midway through. Using the mittens like a vase, stuff the interior with decorative (artificial or real) greenery, twigs and pinecones and secure them to a hanger on your door or wall. Let the compliments begin!
Visit http://nando.com/ng to see the finished product.
Best lemon cookie
Dollie Gaskins of Fuquay-Varina shares a recipe for Easy Lemon Cookies that she found years ago on Allrecipes.com. “Friends and family rave about these cookies!” You will need:
1 (18.25-ounce) package lemon cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2 Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil and lemon extract or lemon juice until well blended.
3 Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of powdered sugar. Roll them around until they’re lightly covered.
4 Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (Gaskins uses parchment paper).
5 Bake 6-9 minutes. The bottoms will be light brown and the insides chewy.
Yield: About 36 cookies
Seeking your holiday best
If you have a favorite holiday recipe to share, we’d love to hear it. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best cookie” or “best holiday recipe” in the subject line.
Best ideas for elf on a shelf
We’re 13 days into the Christmas season, and elves on shelves are spreading mischief all across the Triangle. According to tradition, a special scout elf is sent to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice list. Each morning the elf picks a different place to keep watch. If you’re starting to run out of ideas, or, more likely, just plain forgetting to help your elf along his way, you can pick up lots of creative ideas on Pinterest.
Log on at pinterest.com and search for “elf on a shelf.” You’ll find elves hiding in their own slot in utensil drawers (alongside forks and spoons), napping in tissue boxes with tissues as pillows and blankets, riding swinging on ornaments and helping to pack lunches.
You can see these and other ideas at http://nando.com/nh.
Best of the tube
White House Christmas: It’s time for the annual tour of the president’s home during one of the most festive times of the year. Get decorating ideas galore. Check it out at 8 p.m. Sunday. Additional showings are scheduled for 3 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday.
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