You're Probably Raking Leaves All Wrong

iStock.com/Zbynek Pospisil
iStock.com/Zbynek Pospisil

'Tis the season for viewing fall foliage, which means the less lovely season of raking dead leaves isn't far away. You may want to brush up on your raking technique, because apparently there's a wrong way to tidy up your lawn, according to The Spruce. Several wrong ways, in fact.

First, you'll want to check your toolshed to make sure that what you have in your possession is, in fact, a leaf rake. There are over a dozen different kinds of rakes suited to different tasks, and it's easy to mistakenly use the wrong kind. Leaf rakes are a little like lawn rakes, except they have plastic instead of metal tines—and yes, it makes a difference.

Fortunately, raking is one of those chores where procrastination is okay, and even encouraged. The Spruce suggests holding off on raking until almost all of the leaves have fallen. That way, you can do it all at once and save yourself the hassle. However, it is recommended that you occasionally use a mulching mower or lawn mower with a bag attachment to collect any leaves that drop early on in the season.

If you have a garden, The Washington Post suggests using a mower (with a bag) to shred the leaves, which can then used as mulch to nurture your flower beds or soil. And if you really loathe raking, just start a compost pile and let it break down naturally over the winter. Local wildlife that find their food in piles of leaves will thank you.

For everyone else, put your raking skills to the test on a dry, windless day. You should be raking "deeply and vigorously" so that you're scraping up lawn thatch (dead grass) in addition to leaves. WeatherBug recommends that you rake small amounts of leaves at a time, using a "medium-paced, quick sweeping motion." It's quicker than long sweeps, and less likely to tire you out. Keep your back straight, knees bent, and periodically switch up the position of your hands so that you're not putting pressure on just one area.

If this sounds a little like preparing for rigorous exercise, it's because raking leaves is moderate physical activity, according to experts. Be sure to wear gloves and long pants, and try to enjoy autumn while it lasts. After all, raking leaves is still better than shoveling snow.

[h/t The Spruce]

How to Make Queen Elizabeth’s Beloved Chocolate Biscuit Cake at Home

Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Queen Elizabeth II at an afternoon tea event in 1999.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Between living in regal palaces and owning all the dolphins in the UK, Queen Elizabeth II is not like the rest of us in most ways. But there is one thing that many of us do have in common with her: a weakness for chocolate cake. Back in 2017, former royal chef Darren McGrady shared that the queen is especially partial to a certain chocolate biscuit cake that he served each day for afternoon tea.

"The chocolate biscuit cake is the only cake that goes back again and again and again, every day until it's all gone," McGrady told RecipesPlus. "She'll take a small slice every day until eventually there is only one tiny piece, but you have to send that up; she wants to finish the whole of that cake."

If the queen relocated from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle before she made it to the last slice, McGrady brought the leftover cake with him by train. Wishing you could sample the royal dessert yourself? If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen, you can: The full recipe is available on McGrady’s website.

For novice bakers picturing something decadent and complicated, don’t worry—the recipe is refreshingly simple, calling only for sugar, butter, dark chocolate, one egg, and rich tea biscuits or other sweet, hard cookies. Essentially, all you have to do is crumble the biscuits into small chunks, melt the dark chocolate, combine all the ingredients in a certain order, and let the cake chill in a pan in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then, you use additional melted dark chocolate as frosting.

Step-by-step instructions and ingredient amounts can be found here. And if you’re a little wary about using a raw egg in a no-bake cake, here’s a similar recipe that calls for whipping cream instead.

[h/t The Royal Chef]

Sesame Workshop Shares New Resources and Activities to Help Parents and Kids Cope With Self-Isolation

Elmo and Abby search for the color green at the beach.
Elmo and Abby search for the color green at the beach.
Sesame Street, YouTube

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, is enlisting Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, and the rest of your favorite puppets to help parents and children cope with life at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to existing content from the show about health and wellness, the “Caring for Each Other” initiative will feature new material that covers topics like hand-washing, proper protocol for coughing or sneezing, and the relationship between taking good care of yourself and taking good care of others.

“Around the world, young children’s lives are being turned upside down, and parents and caregivers are looking for ways to give their children—and themselves—a sense of stability in this new normal,” Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president for curriculum and content, said in a press release. “But there are things parents and caregivers can do to face each day with optimism. Sesame Street is here to provide the caring adults in children’s lives with the resources they need to help children, and foster their healthy development at home.”

On the “Caring for Each Other” landing site, there are documents to help parents navigate talking to their children about COVID-19, creating routines for “The For-Now Normal,” and more. There are also printable coloring pages with spot-the-difference images, step-by-step drawing instructions, and mazes.

The beloved Sesame Street characters appear often throughout the content, including in videos like “Elmo’s Virtual Hug” and the “Big Feelings” song. Plus, there’s a curated YouTube playlist of “Fun at Home Activities” with directions for DIY sock puppets and drums, “Monster Yoga” poses, and other Sesame Street clips.

You can explore the offerings here, and subscribe to the Sesame Street newsletter for updates.

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