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Best and Worst Places to Hide Valuables
Since you can't guarantee an intruder won't get into your home, it's important to think strategically about hiding valuable items inside. Indoors, your best defense is a good offense: make the burglar's job as difficult as possible.
The Worst Places to Hide Valuables
1. Jewelry boxes. If you use a traditional jewelry box, hide it. Consider storing jewels in less obvious containers (see below).
2. Dresser tops and accessible drawers. Don't keep cash or jewelry on dressers, in sock or underwear drawers, or in any drawer that's in easy reach and can be rummaged through quickly.
3. Under the mattress or beside the bed. Many burglars look in these places first, espceially when they're checking for weapons.
The Best Places to Hide Valuables
1. Your closet may be a good spot to tuck your jewelry box.
2. A sewing kit or tackle box can harbor cash or items of jewelry without offering temptation to a burglar.
3. Clever decoys are among the best places to hide and disguise your valuables. False wall outlets don't provide electricity, but they do provide a good hiding place (you can plug cords into these or put furniture in front to make them more realistic and less obvious). Fake food or cleaning product cans and hollow books are also widely available.
4. The bathroom is bypassed by most burglars, unless they're looking for perscription drugs. Avoid the medicine cabinet, but stash items in other bathroom cupboards, especially among cleaning supplies.
5. Kitchens offer hiding places where burglars may not look. Consider wrapping jewelry or cash in foil and storing it in the freezer.
6. Basements are good places for valuables because burglars don't want to take the time and trouble required to rummage through them.
Nine Steps to Organize Your File Cabinet
Almost everybody hates to do filing. It's not the sheer boredom of the task that makes it so awful, it's the agony of facing all those pieces of paper that require your Solomon-like wisdom: Keep this or throw it away? If I keep it, where should I file it? If I file it, how will I know how to find it again?
Creating a well-organized place for your files will make the job more bearable, and may help establish a regular filing session before paperwork builds up to an overwhelming pile.
1. Purchase a filing cabinet Tucking bills, receipts, insurance policies, and other vital paperwork into a drawer here and a shoebox there leads from disorganization to chaos. Bite the bullet and buy a good-quality suspension file cabinet that allows drawers to be bulled out to their full length. This way you can see and reach every folder comfortably - no small thing when you're trying to work quickly and efficiently.
2. File alphabetically. The two most commonly used filing systems are organization by category (Financial, Legal, Personal, etc.) and organization by alphabetical listing. Professional organizer Barbara Hemphill, author of Taming the Paper Tiger, makes a very good case for the alphabetical system: "There are always gray areas when you begin categorizing. In filing everything stricktly by the alphabet, there is no question of where to look." File related documents under the letter of the "umbrella" subject - "T" for Travel, for example - so you'll never have to wonder where to look for what you need.
3. Create subfiles. Making separate files for categories within categories (Insurance, Auto; Taxes, 1999; Travel, Australia) will keep your file folders from becoming fat and unwieldy. It will also make it easier to keep the information within each folder organized and easy to get to.
4. Block out an afternoon. Setting aside three of four hours will keep you from giving in to distractions and abandoning the job before you've made significant progress. It's also good for morale when you know there's an end in sight. If you aren't able to finish the job in the first session (and few people will be), set another date with your files in the near future.
5. Sort. This is the part most people dread. But when you've already determined that every item will be filed according to its individual name, deciding which paper goes where will be a less burdensome chore. Print the name of each file and its subcategories on separate index cards and tape them down to help you quickly spot the stack where each document belongs.
6. Give yourself elbow room. Whether you're starting from scratch or reorganizing an existing file cabinet, do the sorting on a floor or large tabletop where you can spread out without crowding.
7. Weed. You will be amazed at the amount of Jurassic paperwork you unearth: instructions and warranties for products you no longer own; expired grocery coupons, brochures for products that no longer interest you; business cards from...who was that guy?; multiple catalogs from the same company. Toss what you don't need.
8. Label. This is a no-brainer. Simply write a file folder label corresponding to those index cards you used for sorting (by this time you will have worked most of the kinks out of the system and decided exactly what you'll call each file). Use your best printing and a sharp pen, so your labels will be easy to ready and won't smear or rub off.
9. File! Transfer your piles of paper into the labeled folders and put them into the drawers in alphabetical order.
The Well-Stocked Bar
There's no foolproof way to stock a bar because there is no reliable way to predict what any guest might ask for. Even if you're not prepared to whip up a Pink Squirrel or Fuzzy Navel, you can still have a respectably well-stocked bar by stocking everything on this list. Purchasing everything at once will be an expensive investment, so you might start with the most frequently requested beverages and fill in from there. This list is arranged in order of popularity to help you plan your purchases. (See "Rules of Thumb for Food and Drink," above, for advice on quantities.)
Vodka. Vodka accounts for one out of every four bottles of liquor consumed in the United States. It outsells Scotch, Canadian, and Irish whiskeys combined
Rum (especially popular in the summer).
Vermouth (dry for mixing martinis, sweet over the rocks as an
Tequila. Unless you're making margaritas, there isn't much call for tequila. (Tequila + Cointreau or triple sec + lime juice = margarita. You can also purchase margarita mixes at grocery or liquor stores.)
2.Beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in this country. It's sales easily eclipse those of all other "adult" beverages.
White. Offer one or two crowd-pleasing varieties. Chardonnay is a white wine on the fruity side; Pinot Grigio is a drier white, and is gaining on Chardonnay in popularity.
Red. Merlot is roughly the red-wine equivalent to Chardonnay, popular for parties or as a drink before dinner.
Champagne. You may not serve it at every party, but having a bottle or two on hand can make for memorable last-minute celebrations.
4.Cordials and liqueurs are either generic, such as sambuca, triple sec, and peppermint schnapps, or brands, such as Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Drambuie, and Cointreau. If you intend to have a full-service bar, you'll want to stock whichever are necessary ingredients in your favorite mixed drinks. Cordials and liqueurs are, of course, also offered with (or after) coffee at dinner parties.
5. Nonalcoholic Beverages and Mixers.
Juices. Tomato, cranberry, and orange juices are popular alone or as drink mixers.
Bottled water. Offer both sparkling and still.
Tonic water and club soda.
Coke or Pepsi.
7-Up or other noncaffeinated soda.
Iced tea or lemonade (for daytime parties).
6. Condiments and Drink Accessories
Lemons and limes.
Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces.
Olives and cocktail onions.
Rock salt (for margaritas).
Bitters for making manhattans.
Ice, bucket, and tongs.
What to Carry in Your Car
You never know when you might have a flat tire, a mechanical breakdown, or another roadside emergency. Thinking about emergencies ahead of time makes them much easier to deal with when they occur. Stock your car with the items on this checklist and you'll be prepared to handle whatever comes along.
1. Cellular telephone. No longer a luxury item reserved for the tycoon set, a cell phone can be as important as a spare tire when you travel by car. Check with AAA for details about their inexpensive emergency cell phone service.
2. Proof of insurance, even if your state doesn't require it.
3. Automobile registration papers.
4. An accident report guide. You can usually get one of these brief and simple guides from your insurance company or from AAA if you're a member. They make it much easier to gather complete information at the scene, and are especially helpful if you're feeling dazed or confused.
5. Warning devices such as flares and matches or reflective triangles.
6. Jumper cables with fully insulated handles.
7. A first aid kit plus any vital prescription medicines.
8. Flashlight with extra batteries.
9. Water. Carry at least a quart each for you and your car.
10. Quick energy "power" bars, or other packaged food in case you're stranded. (If you tend to skip meals when in a hurry, these can make a big difference too. You'll never get stuck with a growling stomach between errands again!)
11. Paper towels and window cleaning fluid. Driving at night with a smeared windshield (inside or out) can be extremely hazardous.
12. Fire extinguisher. Read the directions so you know how to use it quickly.
13. Fully inflated spare tire. Check it at least every few months.
14. Portable tire pump, plus a jack, lug wrench, and a block of wood for emergency changes by the side of the road (when you'll be glad you have those flares).
15. Aerosol flat fixer. These can be great quick fixes for certain kinds of tire damage.
16. Empty gas can.
17. Tool kit. Carry a small standard toolkit or at least an adjustable wrench, large and small screwdrivers, and pliers.
18. To be ultraprepared, carry an inexpensive instant-picture camera to take "eyewitness" photos in case of an accident. As an alternative, you might keep a disposable camera in the car. However, without immediate results, you won't know in time if the picture turns out badly.
And in the winter -
Ice and snow call for some extra preparation and a few more items in the trunk.
Heavy gloves and socks.
Cat litter, sand, or traction mats.
Ice scraper and snow brush.
A small snow shovel.