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HOME&GARDEN BRIEFS

CLEANSING RINSE: To clean a decanter or vase that you can't get into easily, pour in a couple of inches of uncooked rice. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda, then add vinegar (the cheap kind, not the expensive flavored vinegar). Don't fill all the way because the vinegar will fizz. Swirl so that the rice can scour the stain. Do this over the sink in case the mixture overflows. Rinse well.

STAKED TOMATOES: The next time you stake your tomatoes, try a steel spiral stake. You can easily push and twist the stake into the ground, and it will stand firm. As the plant grows, simply wrap the plant around the spirals. The plant will not need to be tied to the stake.

BETTER BRICKS: If you intend to use brick on your house, make sure that they have been kiln-fired, which makes them stronger and longer lasting than bricks that have not made a trip through an oven.

KITCHEN GLOSS: If you are painting your kitchen or eating area, remember to use a paint that is tolerant of spills and splashes. A gloss or oil-based eggshell paint is best for maximum washability.

STEP-BY-STEP: You don't have to complete a big landscaping project all at once; you can work on it as time and money permit. It's a good idea to go ahead and put in your anchor plants (trees and shrubs) first and fill in the bare spots later.

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