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Undecorating? Put holiday baubles away clean and neat

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 31, 2013

What goes up must come down. That includes Christmas decorations.

You'll thank yourself next year if you take a little extra time to clean and organize your baubles and lights before you pack them away. Here are some tips:

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LED light bulb shows promise

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 30, 2013
light bulbs

I got my first LED light bulb today, and I have to tell you, I’m impressed.

The bulb was sent to me by Cree, which has been getting attention for bringing affordable LED lighting to the marketplace. The bulb produces about the same amount of light as an old-style, 75-watt incandescent bulb, and in my opinion its soft white light looks just like incandescent light. 

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Christmas napkins are a snap to make

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 17, 2013
Holiday napkins

Yeah, I know. Whipping up homemade holiday gifts isn’t exactly at the top of your already crowded to-do list.

But these fun Christmas napkins take almost no time to create and tell the recipient you cared enough to give something you made yourself. They were created by blogger Jenni Radosevich of I Spy DIY for iron maker Rowenta.

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Don't let fear of failure keep you from getting a home energy audit

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 16, 2013

Have you had a home energy audit?

If not, what’s stopping you?

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LED Christmas lights rock a retro look

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 12, 2013
xmaslights

Christmas tree fads come and go, but I have never lost my love of the big, fat, colorful lights of my 1960s childhood. While everyone else has been wrapping their trees in tasteful miniature lights, I’ve been adorning mine with gaudy blobs of color.

For years, I’ve held my breath and prayed silently that my strings of old-fashioned C7 lights would not make kindling of my Fraser fir. I’ve managed to escape a conflagration, even though I’ve found some crisply needles on my tree at the end of the season, cooked and browned by the hot light bulbs.

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Shopping online? Take steps to safeguard your packages and personal information

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 11, 2013

Online shopping is on the rise this season, and so is the risk of porch pirates stealing your packages or even your identity.

Take steps to protect both with these tips from Nim Traeger, vice president of casualty services in the risk control department of Travelers Insurance:

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Tips for better holiday photos

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 10, 2013

Burpee tomato is a behemoth

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 9, 2013
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Now that’s a killer tomato.

The cover of Burpee’s 2014 seed catalog is crowded by a picture of the SteakHouse Tomato, a husky beauty the size of a small pumpkin. Burpee says it’s the biggest tomato ever bred, producing fruit that tips the scales at as much as 3 pounds.

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Registration open for Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 3, 2013

Fiber-art enthusiasts, take note. Registration is open for the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

The festival is March 14-16 at the Four Points Sheraton in Mars, Pa. Attendees have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned teachers, see demonstrations, try new techniques and buy yarn, patterns, accessories and more.

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Let it snow

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 2, 2013
snowfall

Some time ago, I was charmed by a marshmallow snowfall that served as the backdrop for a store window display I saw in Holland, Mich. I took pictures with the intention of using them for a blog post, but apparently those photos went the way of my old cell phone.

The idea was simple, just marshmallows strung on pieces of clear fishing line, hung vertically. It would be a fun Christmas decoration against a big window or a plain wall, I thought.

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