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TIMELY TIPS FOR SUMMER

Quenching your thirst

If you find tap water dull and ordinary soft drinks too sweet, you may be among the growing number of consumers quenching summer thirsts with seltzer or sparkling water.

But with all the new products on the market, making a choice can sometimes be confusing. Some people turn to seltzers because they think they are calorie-free. But that is not always the case.

Here, from the makers of Canada Dry, is a look at how seltzers, sparkling waters and soft drinks compare:

- Club soda: Filtered tap water that is commercially carbonated and to which the manufacturer has added a distinctive mix of minerals and other ingredients. Most club sodas are higher in sodium but popular as a mixer.

- Seltzer/Sparkling Water: Water that has been filtered, then lightly carbonated, with no minerals or mineral salts added. It is salt free, contains no caffeine, no calories and is available with or without added fruit flavor.

- Sweetened seltzer: Carbonated water, usually clear in color, artificially sweetened with fructose, a fruit sugar. Contains 10-11.5 percent sweetener and averages 70-85 calories per 6 oz. serving.

- Soft drinks: Sweetened, carbonated water, ranging from a low of 8.5 to 10 percent sweetener and 60-70 calories per 6 oz. serving (ginger ale) to a high of 12-14 percent sweetener and 95-105 calories (orange soda).

How fizzies compare:

Beverage % Sweetener Approx. calories per 6 0z.

Seltzer/Sparking Water,

plain or flavored

(e.g., Canada Dry) 0 0

Sweetened 'Seltzers',

(e.g., New York, Fifth Avenue,

Old San Francisco) 10.0-11.5 70-85

Orange Soda

(e.g., Orange Crush) 13.0-14.0 85-95

Root Beer

(e.g., A&W, Barrelhead) 11.5-12.5 75-85

Colas

(e.g., Coke, Pepsi) 10.5-12.0 70-80

Lemon-Lime

(e.g., 7-Up, Sprite) 10.5-11.0 70-75

Ginger Ale

(e.g., Canada Dry) 8.5-10.0 60-70

Some tips for removing clothes' summer stains

Laundry care can be a major challenge in the summer. Stains occur more frequently - and show up stronger in light summer colors.

Before treating any stain, read the clothing label for information on preferred cleaning method. If instructions on the care label say "professionally dry clean only," don't attempt to remove a stain yourself. Otherwise, proceed according to label instructions.

Here are tips from DowBrands on removing some common summer stains:

- Blood: Cover area with meat tenderizer or cornstarch. Apply cool water to make a paste. Wait 15-30 minutes, sponge with cool water.

- Chewing gum: Hold a piece of ice over the gum to harden it. Then scrape off with a dull knife.

- Crayon: Place stained area between clean paper towels or pieces of brown paper bag and press with a warm iron.

- Dairy products (milk, ice cream, butter, eggs): Treat with a spray or stick stain remover. Launder in cool water. Avoid warm or hot water.

- Deodorants/Anti-perspirants: Treat with stain remover. Wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.

- Grass stains: Wet stain with alcohol. Blot up the excess and sponge with water, followed by sponging with dishwashing liquid. Rinse the stain and launder in bleach, if the fabric can tolerate it.

- Grease: Place the stain face down on paper towels and go over the back with liquid detergent, using a clean, white cloth. Launder as usual.

- Mud: Rinse muddy clothes under the faucet and let soak overnight in a plastic tub of water with 1/4 cup ammonia and 1/4 cup of detergent. Wash as usual.

- Mustard: Try using peroxide or vinegar. Never use ammonia.

- Perspiration: Soak garment in warm white vinegar, then rinse.

Enjoy outdoor cookin' without foodborne ills

Summertime - and the outdoor cookin' is easy. But be sure is it also safe. Foodborne diseases peak in the hot summer months, says Susan Templin Conley, manager of the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline.

"To keep food-safety hazards to a minimum, always use extra care when preparing food outdoors without refrigeration or running water," Conley says. "Keep cold foods cold until just before serving. Serve hot foods quickly and only after the food has been thoroughly cooked."

She offers these tips on enjoying the cookout season safely:

- Marinate foods only in the refrigerator. If you intend to use your marinade later for basting or as a dip, reserve a portion of it for these purposes before raw meat is placed in it. Foods should be marinated in a non-metallic container.

- Remove visible fat from meat to avoid flare-ups and charring.

- When partially cooking meat or poultry before grilling, put the food on the grill immediately after partial cooking is completed.

- If cooking ahead, cook food thoroughly, then refrigerate it in small containers for quick cooling and later reheating before serving.

- Cook red meat and fish to 160 degrees F; poultry to 180 degrees. When done, poultry should not be pink, and all juices should run clear. Fish should flake with a fork.

- Serve food from the grill on a clean platter. Never serve from a platter used to hold raw meat before cooking, unless the platter has been washed thoroughly with soap and hot water. Residue and juices from raw meat could contain potentially harmful bacteria.

For answers to other questions about grilling and warm-weather food handling, call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. MST.

Basic etiquette for guests, hosts

What are your vacation plans? According to a recent Roper Organization poll, when people were asked where they went on their last vacation, the top answer was to visit friends or relatives.

"We're seeing shorter vacations because more families have two working adults," says gift-giving consultant and author Andrea Claster. "With today's shaky economy, people are taking less extravagant vacations." This summer, vacation will mean more visits to friends and families in country, mountain or beach houses or visits that will take advantage of friends' proximity to popular tourist sites.

"Everyone who has been a host or a guest has a horror story," says Claster. "Hosts who treat guests like cheap labor; guests who think they're at a hotel instead of a home."

But, she says, anyone can avoid the horror stories by following some basic etiquette.

"Hosts should start on the right foot. Communicate any basic guidelines - who is invited, the length of the stay and any special house rules that guests should understand. Guests can make hosts' lives easier by preparing for the visit. And show your appreciation from the start!"

Claster offers these tips:

FOR HOSTS:

- Offer your guests little luxuries: soaps, bubble bath, fresh flowers. Leave glossy magazines and books in their rooms.

- Offer guests some private time, and help them get out on their own. Give guests maps, brochures and books about your area. Include weekly or monthly guides with information about museum exhibits and special events.

- Have reasonable expectations. Guests should help out, but don't expect them to be baby sitters, cooks and housekeepers throughout the visit.

- Be sensitive to any special needs your guests may have. Children may not want to sleep too far from their parents. People may have dietary restrictions. And don't forget to stock a few of guests' favorite food and drinks.

FOR GUESTS:

- Help your host entertain you. Before your trip, describe some specific activities you are interested in. Find out a little bit about your destination and what your want to do. Do as the French do and send flowers before your visit.

- If you have children, make sure you have enough toys and games to keep them entertained. Make your own plans for a baby sitter, if necessary.

- Contribute. Help with meals or make dinner yourself. Do some grocery shopping. Keep bedrooms and bathrooms clean.

- Show some independence. Do some exploring on your own or go out for an afternoon. Don't expect your host to constantly find activities for you.

- Say thank you with a gift. In a Gallup poll, Americans said that gifts of flowers and plants make them feel "most special."