How to Make Blueberry Pie

1.Have unbaked pastry dough ready - it should be refrigerated at least 20 minutes and can even be made the day before and kept chilled. (See "Make Basic Piecrust," under Related Hows.)
2.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3.Toss blueberries lightly in a bowl with sugar, flour, lemon juice and grated lemon zest.
4.Sprinkle a little more flour onto your work surface.
5.Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Use a heavy rolling pin to roll out the larger ball into a circle about 1/8-inch thick and a bit larger than the pan. (See "Roll Out Dough," under Related Hows.)
6.Transfer the rolled dough to the pie pan or dish - it's easier to lift if you drape it over the rolling pin first. Fit the dough into the pan for the bottom crust, but don't stretch the dough (see Tips).
7.Trim the edges of the crust to a 1-inch overhang.
8.Turn the blueberry mixture out of the bowl into the dough-lined pan and dot it with pieces of butter.
9.Roll out the second ball of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Place it over the blueberry filling. Trim the edges to a 1-inch overhang.
1..Fold the top crust over the lower crust and press them together with your fingers. Crimp the edges decoratively, then cut a few vents in the top crust to let steam escape.
1..Brush egg-water mixture onto the top crust. It will form a shiny glaze as the pie bakes.
1..Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden. 
Learning how to make piecrust takes practice. Keep your ingredients cold and try not to work the dough too much. Avoid stretching the dough to fill the pan; the crust will shrink as it bakes if you do.
For a variation, try brown sugar and lime with blueberries instead of white sugar and lemon.    

How to Bring Joy to a Service Person Overseas During the Holidays

1.Contact service groups such as the United Service Organization and the Red Cross to find out how you can help this season. You can visit their Web sites or find a local branch through your phone book or by calling information.
2.Contact the National Military Morale/Pen Pal Campaign to connect with soldiers who have requested mail. This organization serves service men and women at more than 1,000 destinations worldwide.
3.Decide if there is a special branch of the military that you want to support or if you want your efforts to go to those most in need.
4.Suggest that your religious organization, civic club or youth group sponsor a letter-writing campaign to send mail prior to the holidays. This way, you can send letters for the entire unit so no one will be left out.
5.Find pen pal campaigns that operate via e-mail. This can save you time and effort, yet still have the same effect. One such option is the Support Our Soldiers' "10,000 or Bust" campaign, which provides a form letter for you to personalize. The organization will print it out and send it in the mail.
6.Offer thanks to the service person for serving the nation and include best wishes and good cheer. Request that the same letter be sent to several people so you can magnify the effect. Provide your mailing address for a response - but don't expect one.
7.Include basic information in your letters such as your name, age and what you do for a living. Also provide details about things that interest you, including your hobbies and your family. 
Be sure to send out the mail well in advance, as it could take a very long time to arrive at its destination.
Donate money to a service group to host a holiday party for the children of those stationed overseas.
Send a care package that includes holiday candy or some token gifts such as socks, books and magazines.   

How to Pack and Carry Cold-Weather Backpacking Gear

1.Use an internal frame backpack large enough to hold all of your gear. This will help prevent your gear from freezing or getting wet from the snow.
2.Expect terrible conditions and delays and pack accordingly, avoiding the temptation to leave essential emergency equipment behind.
3.Opt for gear that is simple in design. The fewer straps and buckles, the less of a hassle it will be to adjust and use the gear while you're wearing gloves.
4.Bring essential items such as rain gear, backpack covers, snacks and dry layers in outer pockets where they will be easily accessible.
5.Wrap dry items such as extra clothing in plastic bags for extra protection against wetness.
6.Sort items by use and store them in stuff sacks for easy access.
7.Pack the heaviest items against your back, near the bottom and middle of the bag. Do not pack heavy items on the top.
8.Pack midweight items into the bottom of your pack. Stuff lightweight items in the top and into any nooks and crannies where they'll fit.
9.Check to make sure your arms can move uninhibited after your backpack is on. You'll want to make certain your range of motion for poling or using an ice axe isn't restricted. 

How to Set Up an Outdoor Santa Scene

1.Decide where your Santa scene will be best appreciated by your family and passersby. At the corner of your lot? Near the front door?
2.Make sure that the extension cord you plan to use is made for outdoor use and that it will reach from your electrical outlet to the Santa scene.
3.Set up the core of the scene, with Santa as the main figure and any other figures flanking him. Make sure none of the additional figures obstruct the view of Santa.
4.Set up fun accent lighting to show off your creation. Yard lights with colored bulbs are great for this. 
Warnings: If you are using the type of figures that contain lights, be sure to use only bulbs rated for those sockets. The information should be on the socket itself.   

How to Teach Your Child to Clean His or Her Room

1.Establish a firm room-cleaning schedule for your child, such as cleaning at the end of each day before bed.
2.Put him or her in charge of putting away toys after playing with them. Provide a toy chest, wicker baskets or plastic containers for this purpose - the more colorful, the better.
3.Try to make cleaning fun - play music from his or her favorite movie or band while sorting toys, for example.
4.Put up a bulletin board on which your child can keep and display his or her art and other creations.
5.Show your child that his or her desk is for writing and drawing, as well as keeping papers, books and writing utensils.
6.Go through your child's possessions together once a year, pick out games and toys that he or she no longer uses and donate them to charity.
7.Provide separate storage and play areas within a room if two or more children share it. 
Be firm and consistent.
Explain that you will temporarily take away any toys left out, and follow through on this.   

How to Decide on Upgrades to Make Before You Sell Your Home

1.Get your real estate agent's opinion on what kinds of improvements will increase your home's value.
2.Study the conditions and amenities of similar homes in your neighborhood and keep your upgrade plans to an appropriate and comparable scale.
3.Determine how much you will need to spend on planned improvements and be confident that you can get that money back in the sale of your home. 
While basic repairs such as replacing old gutters and windowpanes will certainly make your home more attractive, they will not necessarily increase the value of your home.
Bathroom and kitchen remodels bring the greatest return on investment.
Adding a bathroom is also a good investment.
Keep detailed records of any work you have done to your home. 
Warnings: Don't go overboard on upgrades or try to make your house worth a substantial amount more than comparable homes in your neighborhood. 

How to Start a Writing Group

1.Determine what you want your group to be like and write down a plan. For instance, how big do you want the group to be? At what skill level should the writers be? Men and women? Poetry and prose? Will the group be a critique group and/or a support group?
2.Create a flyer that states you are forming a writing group. Provide a few details describing the nature of the planned group, and include your name and phone number.
3.Consult your telephone book and make a list of new and used bookstores in your area. Visit each bookstore and post your flyer. You could also advertise on a café bulletin board or on the Internet, or place an ad in your local newspaper.
4.Put a pad of paper by your telephone. Chat with each caller who responds to your flyer and take notes, then determine whether the person is right for your writing group. Jot down contact information, and tell each caller you will get back to him when you have enough people to form your group.
5.Before the first meeting, tell each member to bring a short writing sample to read aloud - it's a great icebreaker and a good introduction to everyone's writing style and skill level. 
At your first meeting, have everyone discuss their expectations for the group. Determine together how meetings should be conducted. Stay open to input from others.
Some people are more sensitive to criticism than others. Establish guidelines at your first meeting about how to criticize one another's work constructively.
You might want to assign a new facilitator for your group each time you meet. The facilitator's job is to make sure the group stays on track and that the meeting doesn't turn into a chat session. 
Carefully screen the callers who respond to your flyer. It's easier to weed out the people who are wrong for the group before it gets under way.
Avoid meeting too frequently. Allow at least two or three weeks between meetings so you'll have time to create new work.   Steps:
1.Find out the name, phone number and address of a publisher who markets the type of book you wrote. Call the publisher and ask for the name of a submissions editor. Ask the publisher for submission guidelines.
2.Organize your thoughts. Make notes about your book's unique subject, writing style, theme, plot, or message.
3.Begin your letter with a paragraph or two about your book's highlights. Use a standard business letter format.
4.In the next paragraph, describe your experience as a writer and/or your expertise on your book's subject.
5.Explain who would want to read your book and why, in the following paragraph. Mention published books on a similar subject, and explain why your book is different or better.
6.Mention, in closing, all the items you have attached with your book proposal letter, including a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for the editor's convenience.
7.Close your letter with a cheerful, "I hope to hear from you soon." 
Be concise. Write a one- or two-page letter only. Use the active tense and make your language lively, straightforward and interesting.
Print your book proposal on plain, white printer paper. This isn't the time for eye-catching stationery.
Research the publisher before you send your book proposal. If your book is non-fiction, you may be required to include two or three sample chapters or the entire manuscript with your letter. The publisher may ask for other items, too, like a detailed outline or a résumé.
Some fiction publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts or even sample chapters with a book proposal letter - check first. As a general rule, describe your fiction book's basic plot in your proposal letter. Typically, the fiction editor will review your letter and only request to see your book or sample chapters if he is interested.
Proofread your proposal for errors. Editors like perfection.
Be sure to include a SASE ("self-addressed stamped envelope") with your proposal package. Make sure you have covered the return postage for your entire mailing. 
Never ask about money or discuss fees in a proposal.
All publishers have different guidelines and instructions for writers. Always do your homework on the publisher before you send a book proposal.   

How to Live With Allergies to Pollen

1.Stay indoors as much as possible when the pollen count is high.
2.Plan outdoor activities during low pollen counts.
3.Keep your house sealed during this time. Use air conditioning.
4.Try air-filtering devices in your house. They not only help clean the air of pollen, but of other pollutants as well.
5.Try using over-the-counter antihistamines and/or nasal sprays. Use according to directions. Some antihistamines can make you drowsy, so use with care.
6.See an allergist if your symptoms are severe. There are many prescription medications on the market. Use according to directions.
7.Consider getting allergy shots if you are really miserable during pollen seasons. Allergy shots work by desensitizing you to the allergen.
8.Keep your pets indoors as much as possible - or keep them outdoors all the time - because pollen can stick to their fur.
9.Eat yogurt at least three times a week. Some studies show that eating yogurt daily can significantly reduce allergy attacks resulting from pollens.
1..Wash your hair after spending a lot of time outdoors. Pollen can stick to your hair. Change your clothes - or at least the top layer - after you come inside.
1..Add 1,000 to 5,000 mg vitamin C plus bioflavonoid complex daily in divided doses, along with 500mg quercetin twice daily. They help to minimize allergy symptoms and strengthen the immune system.
1..Take 100mg bromelain twice daily. It enhances quercetin absorption.
1..Add the herbs burdock, dandelion and echinacea to your diet. Take as a tincture or in capsules, or drink as a tea. They help relieve allergy symptoms.
1..Supplement with 100mg coenzyme Q10 daily. It helps the immune system, and research is under way to determine whether it helps relieve allergy and asthma symptoms.
1..Use stinging nettle and mullein leaf to help relieve allergic reactions. They are good for respiratory reactions. Take as capsules, tea or tincture. 
Some people find that beginning their medications a week before the allergy season, and then continuing during the season, helps minimize symptoms. 

How to Make Rules as Co-parents

1.Find a time when you and the other parent can talk in a calm and relaxed way.
2.Explain to the other parent that you believe it is important that you create rules together for your child.
3.State that you want the child to know that you will continue to parent as a team and that the other parent's input is very important to you.
4.Talk about the kinds of things you need rules about.
5.Formulate your rules for each subject by discussing what would be best for your child. Listen to each other without interrupting. Keep your voices down and do not allow yourselves to swear or call each other names.
6.Agree on rules that make sense, that can be followed in both homes, and that are fair to your child. Consider writing down the rules so there is no disagreement later as to what they are.
7.Think about some rules that may have to be different at each of your houses. It may be okay for a child to ride a bike on one parent's dead-end street, but unsafe on the other parent's busy highway.
8.Discuss what types of punishments are appropriate if rules are broken.
9.Understand that at one time or another, you will each see fit to bend the rules or make exceptions. Acknowledge that this will happen and that it is acceptable as long as it does not happen all the time.
1..Promise that you will talk as problems arise.
1..Realize that your rules will have to change and grow as your child does. Plan on discussing them from time to time. Talk to your child together about rules if possible. 
You and the other parent will disagree about rules occasionally. This is to be expected. Try to reach a compromise.
Remember that rules exist primarily to keep your child safe. As long as your child is safe, healthy and relatively well-behaved, don't get too hung up on following rules with military precision.   

How to Celebrate Your Baby's First Christmas

1.Start a scrapbook to save mementos from your baby's first Christmas. Include scraps from wrapping paper, bows, gift cards and any other special items.
2.Write a description of the celebration in your child's baby book so you can read it to him or her in a few years.
3.Keep a journal and write down your own perceptions of the holiday and special things that you want to remember.
4.Buy or make a special ornament to commemorate baby's first Christmas.
5.Plan to hang this on your tree every year.
6.Take steps to childproof your Christmas tree and decorations.
7.Take lots of pictures of the baby as he or she absorbs all of the holiday details.
8.Videotape your family's celebration so you have a true record of it.
9.Start new family traditions that include your infant. For instance, you might sing a special Christmas carol to the baby that you will continue to sing each year.
1..Create opportunities for other children to help their new brother or sister during the Christmas celebration, such as opening the infant's gifts, or reading a Christmas story to him or her. 
Include a picture of the new baby in your Christmas cards to introduce friends to your newest family member.
Remember to continue old traditions along with the new, to give yourself and your family a sense of continuity during the stress of the holidays.
Understand that all the fuss that comes along with the holidays can be overwhelming to a new baby. Be sure to allow for some down time.  Steps:
1.Set aside quality time (at least 15 minutes a day) for you and your partner to reconnect with each other.
2.Remind each other of the true meaning of the holidays if you find yourself getting strung out. The parties, shopping and gifts can be fun, but it is the spirit of the holiday, not the trappings, that really counts.
3.Prioritize your obligations as a couple. This way you can decide what things are most important to do and what things can slide if time runs short.
4.Escape from your family and friends to take a walk together or participate in some other activity that you both enjoy. This will help you reinvigorate yourself for the demands that lie ahead of you.
5.Arrange signals in advance to privately communicate with each other when you are with other people. For instance, clearing your throat or touching your forehead could mean that you want to change the topic of conversation or get ready to leave.
6.Set boundaries for your family if there are topics you and your partner prefer not to discuss, such as when you will get married or past relationships.
7.Incorporate some of each of your favorite traditions from the past into your own celebration. This can be a way to get to know one another better.
8.Start your own new traditions as a couple. 
Embrace change, rather than resisting it. It can be exciting to try doing something in a new way instead of repeating the same routine you have been doing your entire life.
Remember that the sparks of a new romance can make this holiday season the best one ever.