YES! but How?

Stopping junk mail, Water Softener, Skin Care

Dear Annie & Doug,

I'm constantly astounded at the amount of personal information today's high-tech marketing is able to gather on us. First it was just junk mail, then telemarketers, and now spam e-mail. How do I make it stop?!

Narberth, PA

Dear Deluged,

There are many ways your privacy can be compromised. By simply writing a check, making a donation, or subscribing to a magazine, you have given out information that may be sold or rented to mail-order companies. To help you pay your bills and donate to your favorite organization worry-free, here are some tactics to help you avoid the junk mail nightmare.
A surefire way to remove your name from these lists is to contact the businesses directly.

- If it's a mail-order company, call the 800 number and ask to be taken off of their list.
- Write or call the customer service department; if you write, include a sample of the mailing label.
- If you've been sent something that says "address correction requested" or "return postage guaranteed" on the envelope, you can return the piece of mail unopened.

If credit card offers are a problem, call the Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian credit bureaus at 888/5-OPT-OUT.

You can also request to be removed from most commercial mailing lists by writing to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008. Make sure you list your name and address as it appears on the piece of mail you received. This service is free and lasts five years.

The Direct Marketing Association has a similar service for those bogged down by junk e-mail, which can be accessed by going to Similar "de-spamming" sites include, and, home of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail.

Once you've taken one or all of these steps, it could take up to six months before you notice any reduction in your junk mail pile. Fortunately, there are things you can do with your junk mail while you're waiting. Reuse it for scrap paper, grocery lists, or even wrapping paper. Of course, recycle it. Make it into usable paper by shredding it, soaking it in warm water for one hour, and spreading it flat on a fine, wire-mesh screen to dry. You can add things like flowers to jazz it up.

NOTE: YES! shares the names of its subscribers for one-time use with other like-minded organizations that want to send you a mailing about a publication, activity, or event you may find of interest. Some people welcome this information, but others don't want extra mail --so let us know by US mail or e-mail at if you do not want your name shared.


Dear Annie & Doug,     

Alicia Bay Laurel

Dear Alicia,

Your best bet is to add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Baking soda will soften your water, leaving the clothes less stiff; it will also brighten clothing and keep it from graying.

Dear Annie & Doug,

I've been trying out recipes from Annie's Better Basics for the Home with great results. Annie, the story behind the Mayan skin care formula is great. Would you please share it with our readers?

Tracy Rysavy
YES! Associate Editor

Dear Tracy,

Sure! I was in the sauna at my local gym and met Ruth Ketay, a woman who had the skin of a 40 year-old, except that she must have been in her mid-sixties. I asked her the secret of her beautiful skin and she told me the following story:

Earlier this century, a Mexican archeologist decoded a Mayan text of beauty formulas. He gave the formulas to a chemist, who mixed them and sold them through an obscure outlet where Ruth found them and had been using them ever since.

I tried them, and I have never felt such things on my skin. It instantly became baby soft. Unfortunately, the chemist died, and the exact formulas he used were lost.

After a winding trail of research, searching for translations of the original Mayan text, working with archeologists, a scholar of Aztec languages, and many herbalists, here is a close approximation of the original three-part formula, using ingredients that are more easily available in North America

Agua de Maya Cleanser
Ingredients: small handful soap bark (Quillaja - Quillaja saponaria ), 2 cups water.
(Note: Soap bark is available from Raintree Marketing, Inc., 1601 W. Koenig Lane, Austin, TX 78756; 800/780-5902; E-mail:
Make a decoction by putting a handful of soap bark in a pan and adding water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour, adding more water if needed. Let cool, then strain. Pour some on your hands, work into a lather, and wash your face. Rinse.
Preparation time: 5 minutes. Shelf Life: 1 week refrigerated. Storage: Glass jar with screw top. Makes 2 cups.

Zazil Toner
Ingredients: 1/4 cup cucumber juice, 1/8 cup carrot juice, 1/2 cup spearmint infusion, 1/4 cup chamomile infusion, 1/2 cup lemon juice.
Make the cucumber and carrot juice in a juicer. Make strong infusions of spearmint and chamomile and let cool. (To make an infusion, place one ounce herbs in a mason jar, add one quart boiling water to cover, seal the jar tightly, and let infuse for at least four hours. Strain and discard the herbs.)
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar, and shake to blend. Dab some of the toner on your fingers and massage into your face. Rinse.
Preparation time: About 30 minutes. Shelf life: 1 year frozen, 1 week refrigerated. Storage: Ice cube trays in the freezer, or glass jar with screw top in the refrigerator. If you freeze the mixture in ice cube trays, just pop out a cube and rub it over your face, then put the cube in the refrigerator, and use the toner over the next few days. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Flora de Mayo Moisturizer
Ingredients: 1/2 cup aloe vera gel, 1/8 cup glycerin, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon royal jelly, 1 teaspoon plumeria flower essence.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir vigorously to blend. Dab some on your fingers and massage into your face. Preparation time: a few minutes. Shelf life: 6 months refrigerated. Storage: Glass jar with screw top. Makes 5/8 cup 

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