How To "Tone Down" Raw Onions

Are you like me, where you love raw onions on your salads and sandwiches, but sometimes they can taste a bit too tangy?

Lifehacker posted a simple solution - one I have been using successfully! All you have to do is place your chopped onions in a strainer and pour boiling water over them. This will take away some of their intense flavor without "cooking" them, so they are still crunchy and taste like raw onions!


Use Chalk To Combat Musty Clothes

Are your clothes in your closet starting to smell musty? WonderHowTo.com suggests hanging a bundle of chalk in your closet to soak up the extra humidity in the air and keep your clothes smelling fresh! I imagine it probably also works well in drawers.

To see a bigger picture of this chart with 7 other amazing uses for chalk, click here!


Words That Should Exist In English 4

I love being concise (although you probably wouldn't know it from speaking with me!), so welcome to my 4th entry with short words in other languages that have amazingly specific meanings!

Reader's Digest thankfully found these for me in the book The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

Zhaghzhagh (Persian): The chattering of teeth from cold or from rage.

Yuputka (Ulwa): The phantom sensation of something crawling under your skin.

Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish): One who wears how shirttail outside of his trousers.

Pana Po'o (Hawaiian): To scratch your head in order to help you remember something.

Here's an example short sentence to help you all incorporate these into your daily speech:

"When the cotisuelto felt a yuputka, he pana po'oed to figure out why, but noticing he had zhaghzhagh, too, he figured he was just cold."


If you liked those - you should pick up the book. It's apparently jam-packed with character-saving words like these.


Why Do We Celebrate July 4th With Fireworks?

This actually dates back to the day before the Declaration of Independence was signed!

According to slate.com:
Why do we commemorate Independence Day by setting off thousands of small explosions? 
Because John Adams wanted us to. Before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, he envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he wrote that the occasion should be commemorated "with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The first commemorative Independence Day fireworks were set off on July 4, 1777. The Pennsylvania Evening Post wrote that in Philadelphia, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.”
Not a bad thing to add to your great legacy, John Adams!


Why Do Our Fingers Get Pruney In Water?

Reader's Digest answered that for us in their May 2013's issue:
Did You Know... WhyWe Get Pruney Fingers In Water? 
Thank your primate ancestors for those wrinkly digits in your bath. Pruney fingers provided a better grip for wet objects, so they may have evolved to give humans an advantage in gathering food in the rain, British researchers at Newcastle University reported in the journal Biology Letters. The scientists, who studied how quickly participants could move wet versus dry marbles, found that people with dimpled fingertips were about 12 percent quicker at moving wet objects, according to the New York Times.
Want to learn more? Click here! for a related article in Scientific American.


What Do The Laundry Symbols Mean?

Sometimes my clothing tags don't have the laundry/care instructions written out -- they just have symbols -- and I am left guessing what they mean. Not anymore! Thankfully, Primer Magazine recently posted a handy chart explaining them all. And now I am sharing it with you. :)

For the entire article about how to care for your clothes correctly (and for a bigger chart!): click here!


Why Does The Pope Change His Name?

The world welcomed Pope Francis as the new leader of the Catholic Church last week. Wonder why he didn't just go by his given name and become Pope Jorge Mario?

Well, the Catholic church does not force the pope to take on a new name with the new role; it's a choice by the pope himself. Several hundred years ago, Pope Marcellus II actually kept his name. The pope chooses a new name as a way of symbolizing his mission as pope. Popes in the past have picked saints names or former popes' names whose priorities and desires are similar to theirs.

Before the 6th Century, popes were known by their given names. The first pope to change his name was Pope John II, originally named Mercurius, in 533 AD. He decided to have his name be associated with his predecessor Pope John I, as opposed to the pagan god Mercury. As leader of the Catholic Church, who could blame him? :)

It's thought that Pope Francis picked his name to be linked to Saint Francis of Assisi, a kind and beloved saint, who was known for renouncing the riches of this world to live in poverty. In Argentina, Pope Francis is said to have lived a humble and simple lifestyle full of compassion for the poor, and that is how he will likely live out his papacy. He wants to be a pope who is close to the people.

Some suggest that he also wanted to evoke the memory of Saint Francis Xavier, the Jesuit missionary, since Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.

The now-retired Pope Benedict XVI chose that name to link himself with Pope Benedict XV, who led the church with a steady hand through World War I. As it turned out, Pope Benedict XVI was also like his namesake in that they both reigned for about 8 years.

Once Father Jorge & Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis!

[sources: latimes, wikipedia, npr


What's Gonna Happen To English??

I heard the following segment on Michigan Radio this morning. It gives a couple of new examples of the elasticity of the American English language and how popular work usage, not grammatical rules or language origins, tend to shape the meanings of words.

To hear the original podcast: Click Here.
This time on "That's What They Say," host Rina Miller and University of Michigan Professor Anne Curzan discuss the colloquial "gonna" and "wanna," and how these words are not just mispronunciations of their original verbs, but are developing their own distinct meanings.
"If you think about the verb 'go' as a main verb, it has directionality to it. So I could say 'I'm going to swim,' which would imply some kind of direction," explains Curzan. "But if I say 'I'm gonna swim,' that means at some point in the future, I'm gonna swim."
Curzan says that this evolution of the meaning of the verbs is due to the lack of definitive future-tense construction in the English language.
"Interestingly in English, some people would say that we don't have future-tense because we only have one tense marker, which is 'ed' for the past-tense. To talk about the future, we use these little auxiliary verbs like 'will,' which also used to be a main verb. Now 'go' is becoming an auxiliary verb. So this is now one of the ways we talk about the future," Curzan says.
"Wanna," says Curzan, is also developing a new auxiliary verb meaning.
"If you say something like, 'You're gonna wanna take a left up there,' it doesn't probably mean that you actually want to take a left; it's a piece of advice. I'm advising you to take a left. It's developed into an auxiliary that has an advice meaning component to it," says Curzan.
This "grammaticalization" of content words into grammatical constructions is fairly common in today's English.
"We hear this happening with 'hafta,' which is replacing 'must.' Some people say 'suposta,' as in 'I'm suposta do that,' Curzan says.
Guess if you wanna change the language, all you hafta do is popularize new phrases or slang. Maybe one day there won't be any more rules left!


Which Fresh Vegetables Last The Longest?

If you're like me, you may buy fresh veggies and fruits with the best of intentions, just to forget about them and find them weeks later, rotting in the crisper drawer.

My own onions, taking matters into their own hands after being ignored for a while.

Thankfully, OrganicGardening.com compiled a list of the top 11 longest-lasting types of produce and how to keep them fresh. Here's the rundown (click on the address link to see more details and tips):

1. Apples: they can last for weeks sealed in a bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

2. Beets: remove the stems and they can last 2-4 months in your fridge.

3. Cabbage: they can last up to 2 months wrapped in plastic in the fridge.

4. Carrots: keep them as dry as possible by putting paper towel in their bag, and they can last several weeks to a couple of months.

5. Celeriac: as long as you keep it moist (or wrapped to preserve its own moisture) and in the fridge, it will last a couple of weeks, even after being cut.

6. Garlic: it will last the longest in a dark kitchen cabinet or in a brown paper bag in the fridge.

7. Onions: keep in a cool, dark location in a mesh bag and they can last for up to a month or longer.

8. Potatoes: they will last usually between 2-4 months in a cool, dark location, like in a basement cabinet.

9. Winter Radishes: remove the greens and store them like you would carrots and they'll last for about a month.

10. Winter Squash (Pumpkins, Butternut, etc): these can last for 2-6 months when kept in a dark place.

11. Rutabagas: store them as you would celeriac and they'll last several weeks.

Of course, as the website also recommends, you can also opt for frozen veggies, which are frozen within hours of being picked (so they are always fresh!) and will never go bad. :)


How To Chop An Onion

According to Lifehacker.com, knife accidents led to 33,000 ER visits in 2011. The following video shows how you can chop or dice an onion safely and effectively, so you save kitchen time and hopefully don't become another statistic. :)

(thanks to Debra Shigley, Lifehacker contributor and chopper extraordinaire!)