Wow, Dryer Sheets Have Meaning!
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:48 AM

Doing laundry is not exactly my favorite pastime, but it has to be done. With modern technology, the only work involved is adding and removing clothes from the washer / dryer, with a little folding or hanging at the end and yet I find ways to complain about it. I am thankful that electric washers and dryers came along, long before I had to start doing laundry and that I am fortunate enough to have it in my home, rather than the weekly visit to the laundrymat.


Anyway, I was removing our clothes from the dryer and it came to me that a long time ago, I received an email that had some really neat tips on how to use the dryer sheets in many helpful ways around the house, car, etc. I couldn't find the old email, but I did find a lot of neat tips online and I hope others can benefit from them.


 For those who like to use dryer sheets to "soften" their clothes, here are some great internet tips on how to use those sheets for more than just laundry:


-Keep them in shoes to "freshen" them up;


-If you have baked on food after cooking, put a new dryer sheet in the bottom of the pot or pan and add lukewarm water. Let it soak and it will be easier to clean;


-Remove pet hair;


-Dust the blinds;


-Wipe static from computers and TV screens;


-Tuck some into your clothing or rub clothing all over with dryer sheet to repel bugs;


-Place in a hotel A/C vent for a "fresh" smelling hotel room;


-Store in luggage to keep clothes fresh;


-Store in dresser drawers;


-Use to wipe away insect residue while washing your car;


-Moms can keep them in the diaper bag to keep it smelling fresh:


-Store some under your car seats / floor mats and in your trunk;


-Store in office "hiding" places to keep your office area fresh


-Remove gunk from bottom of the iron;


-Rub on clothes to remove static cling;


-Sprinkle a little water on one and use to clean soap buildup on glass shower doors

by parker | with no comments
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New Unsubscribe Service Saves Time
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 2:56 PM

I have signed up for several newsletters that I honestly would love to read, but just don't have the time. They arrive in my inbox long before I am ready to deal with them and they are just causing me stress because I feel the need to look at them before deleting them. 


Unsubscribing from each one is definitely the answer. No more incoming subscription emails and no more nagging feeling that they need to be read. However, the amount of time it will take to unsubscribe from each one (I collected several over the years) is nagging me as well. I just don't feel like doing it!


Introducing, Unroll.me. This is a new service I found an article about that seems well worth trying. The idea is that you let this program "crawl" your Gmail, Live, AOL, or Yahoo account and it will pull up a list of your subscriptions for you. All you have to do is select the ones you don't want and it will unsubscribe from them for you!


This program is apparently still in the BETA stage, so keep an eye out for it if you are interested. In the meantime, help is on the way for those pesky monthly, weekly or even daily emails you don't really want. 


One blogger has commented that upon trying it, the service found close to 100 newsletters that he was subscribed to! He didn't remember having them all, but this proved helpful in unsubscribing from the services that he no longer wanted. Some just sent emails that he was now unsubscribed, while others emailed a link he had to use to log in and then confirm this option. 


To sign up for an invitation to this service while in beta stage, please click here.

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How To Repel Bees & Wasps
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 2:35 PM

Although I'm sure they prove to be helpful to society in some way (yes, the obvious is honey), I have been looking for a way to repel bees & wasps when I want to enjoy the outdoors with my family. I have never been stung and neither have my children, so whether we are allergic to their stings remains to be seen. I do have several friends that have told me they are allergic to bee stings and the results are horrible, so I thought it would be helpful to see what natural items there are that I can keep on my children and I when we are outdoors to help keep them away and here are a few things I have found suggested online. I have also found that the more appropriate insect to address in this post in regards to protecting yourself from being stung are wasps, hornets and yellowjackets, not bees. 


-Mix orange oil and water at a ratio of 2 to 1 and brush it onto the exterior walls of your home as a repellent;


-Keep the area outside your home clear of any unused wood, broken car parts, etc as these attract bees when they have been sitting for a long time;


-Do not wear: scented perfumes, lotions or bright colored clothing, as these attract bees;


-Wear oil based insect repellents;


-Remove nests on or near your home. If you have not had experience doing this yourself, it's best to get a pest removal company to do so. This cuts down the number of bees that will come around when you are out in the yard;


-When spending a long time outdoors, have a fire burning nearby to create smoke which should keep them away;


-Place fabric softener sheets on picnic tables or clothing;


-Keep any sweet smelling food, drink or items covered. Bees love sweet smelling scents and will be attracted to them. Soda cans especially need to be watched carefully as bees might enter them prior to someone taking a sip;


-Add a tablespoon of vanilla extract to a cup of water and apply it to your skin;


-Use baby oil on your skin prior to going outdoors;


-Put baby powder in your hair and on your skin;


-Set out some sweet smelling fruit or drinks in an area away from you that will attract them instead;


-Avoid killing them, as that will emit a warning odor to other bees / wasps in the area that will put them on alert to attack.



If you have other ideas that might prove helpful, please let me know in the comments.

by parker | with no comments
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Is It Worth It To "Coupon"?
Friday, November 11, 2011 11:02 AM

I do enjoy watching TLC at times and there seems to be this new craze out called "EXTREME COUPONING". Now, I hope I'm not the last mom left on earth to catch on to this concept, but I watch this show and I see a common thread - all of the extreme couponers I've seen have dedicated their garage or at least a closet in their home to non-perishable items! They have enough deodorant, toothpaste, softener, body wash, paper towels, etc. to take care of their entire block. Why so much stuff? Can I apply it to what I need for this week? Hence, my quest into finding out how to do couponing without being "extreme", meaning, I want to fill my pantry & toiletry closets, not my garage & spare room. I would love to get toothpaste, detergent and the like for free, but I don't need an entire shopping cart of toothpaste. The price of cereal is ridiculous these days, I would love to stock up on a few boxes for free, but I don't want to ask my local grocery store to have a palate of 1,000 boxes ready for me when I get there. I do want to save as much as possible on my grocery bill and have items on stock before we run out, but I don't want to go grocery shopping with a binder!


So, I have found a few different websites, by moms and for moms, that seem to be a little bit more my style. I was so relieved to find out that I won't need to buy 20 copies of the Sunday newspaper, just for the inserts. I don't need to ask my friends, family & neighbors to set aside their inserts in addition to my 20 newspapers and I definitely WON'T go "dumpster diving" for coupons, ever! (Yes, one episode did feature a mom doing that and she had help!!!)


Just using the right combination of coupons (grocery store & manufacturer) with store sales (discounts or even BUY ONE GET ONE FREE) can help me save a lot of money on groceries for my family. So yes, it is still well worth it to coupon, and I don't have to get "extreme" with it.

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How To Get That "Stuff" That Fell Between Your Car Seats
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 2:51 PM


I was actually trying to think of a way to prevent small items from falling between my car seat and the front console. Don't you hate it when you drop a coin, a piece of gum you're about to put in your mouth or the only pen you could find when you really need to write something down between your car seat and the console? It's a large enough gap to see the item, but it's impossible to get it! Who came up with that idea anyway -- please fix it in newer cars!!! I have a mountain of stuff piling up in that area and I need to get it out!


The cool thing is that I just found a "seat wedgy" online that I can stick in that slot so that nothing falls down there in the future (don't laugh). Thanks for that invention people -- it needs to be a standard feature on all mommy vehicles!!! 


I have read where it has helped moms prevent french fries, cell phones, M&M's and more from falling in that stupid little crack!


I think it will prevent thousands of french fries from being hopelessly lost down in that black hole. What happens to those fries? Do they ever go bad? That would make a great science project for my homeschooler.


In the meantime, how do I get the stuff that's already there? 

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Want To Save On Printer Ink?
Monday, October 31, 2011 6:08 PM

Personal printers seem to cost next to nothing these days. You buy your new home printer without worrying about the cost and print bill payment receipts, good coupons, hotel confirmations, maps to unfamiliar places, etc.


But once the ink runs out and you find out the cost for new cartridges, you then realize why the printer didn't cost much -- they make their money on the ink! I have a $50 printer / scanner / copier that has ink cartridges that cost $55 brand new! 


Now the decision is whether to go with those online ink discount services that offer ink for less. Not sure about that yet, but here are some tips I recently viewed online that might help prolong the life of your current ink and save you money when it comes time to replace it.


-The Vera Sans font is said to use 30% less ink than other fonts. It has holes in the print that are invisible to the human eye and will use less ink over the life of your ink cartridge; 


-Use the fast draft setting on your printer. It will use less ink , dry fast and print faster than the normal setting;


-Use PrintWhatYou Like.com to remove those annoying background images and ads from webpages that you would otherwise want to print. Get the pages you print as close to text only as possible to save tons of ink;


-When turning off your printer, use the power button rather than a power strip button. This is because using the power button on the printer itself causes the ink cartridges to settle in a position where they will save ink rather than dry out. By turning it off using a power strip, they will stay in print position and dry out faster;


-When ink runs out, get the genuine cartridges refilled a few times before purchasing brand new ones for less. If you live near Costco, they offer this service for about $8 per cartridge versus what you would pay full price for a manufacturers cartridge;


-You can also try using refill kits for a few times. Be careful, as they can be quite messy, and use on black ink cartridges only. It's not worth it on the color cartridges;


-If you don't need to print in color, set your printer to the black & white setting to keep the color ink cartridges from running low so quickly. Depending on your printer, you might have one or several color cartridges that can save you a lot of money during the year if you don't use them on every print.


Happy Printing!


by parker | with no comments
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Why Are These Children Driving?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 2:10 PM

I'm still trying to erase the shock from a few incidents recently reported in the news. In separate incidences in two different states, the police pulled over vehicles where they found 9-year olds to be the drivers! In each case, the father was too drunk to drive and so rather than waiting it out before getting in the car, they decided that their 9-year old child should drive. What in the world! Each child was pulled over while driving a VAN, not a car.


I have so many questions, on so many levels, but it need not be said that if these two were "caught", there are probably many others that are never found out about. In one case the child did hit something with the family vehicle and it was witnessed by an officer. In the other, the officer noticed a child was driving and it was around 3 am!!!


Wow, these poor children obviously are being forced to care for their parents rather than the other way around. I'm sure they don't realize the true risk in helping their parents by driving, and the parents really need to have their licenses (and vehicles) suspended.


On another note, when a 5-year-old girl came home from school yesterday and couldn't find her parents, she decided to take the family SUV to look for her mom! Apparently, the mom and dad had a misunderstanding as to who would be home to meet their daughter, and the little girl was scared at home alone, so she found the keys and started the SUV. She ended up backing into her neighbors yard across the street and then went back into her house to dial 9-1-1 and explain that she needed someone to come put her mommy's SUV back before she gets home. Her parents were contacted and all worked out ok in this situation.


The latter story teaches how important it is for parents to have an emergency plan in place for children, which includes emergency contacts for children to call when they can't reach their mom, dad or guardian. Practice the plan with them to be sure they know what to do, rather than just telling them and have emergency contacts other than your spouse, on hand in the event that you can't reach them right away.

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Did You Know It Could Do All Of This?
Thursday, October 20, 2011 1:01 PM

Do you ever find yourself using air fresheners in your home? How about buying expensive conditioners for your hair hoping it will do for you what it did for the woman with gorgeous hair in the commercial? Have you been buying fabric softener for your clothes for years?


There is a natural remedy in a bottle for these and many other uses that you can pick up at your local grocery store for less than the cost of a cup of coffee! In addition to replacing the common household & beauty products above (by the way, how much do you think you spend on those items put together and how often do you think you buy them) how would you like to be able to eliminate that "smell" in the kids' lunchboxes; remove a clog in your sink drain or remove calcium and lime deposits from hard water. What if this product could also treat dandruff and exited the life of cut flowers.


All of this and more can be done with one simple item: apple cider vinegar!


You can look online for these and many other uses and let us know how it goes in the comments.

by parker | with no comments
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Wow! Free BlackBerry Apps Until December 31st
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 11:23 AM

As a BlackBerry user, I must say that I was quite disturbed by the lack of service during an outage they had last week. Today, I am a much happier customer. Research In Motion has announced that beginning on October 19th, they will be offering select premium apps free of charge until December 31st. This is great news. Not all of the selected apps will be available on the 19th, they will be made available over time.


They have released a partial list, with more to come in the near future, so keep checking their website for an updated list. Details about Technical Support for the apps are included on their page as well. 


Here are some apps that are already currently free in their app store that I either use or plan to install:


-TuneIn Radio - access to over 50,000 radio stations, including local radio (be careful with this one. Data rates apply while streaming.)


-Cozi - I did a blog post on this website, BlackBerry offers the app;


-Weather Channel - local and national weather; current and forecasts;


-Hangman - great game for the kids to play when you're waiting in doctor's offices, at restaurants, etc. Helps my youngest with her spelling too!;


-Yahoo Messenger / BlackBerry Messenger - other instant messaging apps available as well. Great for people on the go who don't want to wait on emails and don't use the texting feature;


-Evernote -  I haven't begun to use this app yet, but I did get it to clean up the handwritten notes in my life;


-Lister - Great little "to do" list app. Can see using this one for many different tasks that need to get done throughout the week. Again, cleans up the handwritten notes in my life.


I plan to go through the premium apps that they will make available later this month to see what other handy apps they are making available.

by parker | with no comments
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What The iPad Has Done For Reading
Friday, October 14, 2011 9:06 AM


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Getting Rid of Ants In Your Home - Naturally
Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:01 AM

I was reading an interesting article on Yahoo! this morning about using home made / old fashioned solutions to take care of common household problems. In many instances, they offer ways to take care of common problems with natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals. When you have a family, this type of information really gets your attention.


One of the problems that the article addresses is ants in the home. Often ants find a way into your home when it rains. If you only treat areas where you see them, you know all too well that they will find another area to enter your home and pose a pesky problem there.


We often use an outdoor treatment around our home to keep them from coming in, but this year they have found their way around that. Unfortunately, we had to use our chemical in the home, which we don't like to do. 


Next time, I'm looking forward to trying what the article suggests: GRITS! Yes, feed them grits and they are supposed to expand in the ants stomach and eliminate them. This suggestion is assuming that they have a significant presence in your home. If you find the scouts in the early stages, here are other suggestions I've found from various forums and websites:


-AT FIRST SIGN OF ANTS (SCOUTS)

Spray with soapy water or Windex (kills the "scout" ant & masks the trail left for others so that they won't follow later).


You can also use vinegar and water. This can be used to get the ants already inside AND to form a barrier so they won't want to come in from outside.


-FORM A BARRIER TO PREVENT MORE FROM COMING IN

The following have been said to be useful for this: cinnamon, vaseline, chalk



My Disclaimer:

Again, these seem to be the most commonly agreed upon solutions on different forums and websites. Try at your own risk. I'm not to be held responsible if you end up with more ants!!!

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Learn How To Invest Using "Virtual" Money
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 5:16 PM

I am way behind the eight ball when it comes to investing. I haven't begun to learn the slightest thing about how to get my money to work for me and I thought it was about time that I look into learning more about that.


As I was researching different advice from financial experts, I came across an idea I hadn't heard of before. The article highlights using fake money to learn how to invest! This is perfect for someone like me who doesn't have money to lose trying to figure out investing on my own. This is not something that was done in the past by my family (other than 401K savings) so it's time I break the mold.


There are sites and games available that actually simulate stock. They will help you to learn how to invest and what types of stock would work best for you, based on your habits. It helps you to figure out what risks you are willing to take.


Investopedia.com offers a free investing tool to learn. I haven't started using it just yet, but definitely wanted to share this with my readers. Happy Investing!




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She Was Fed Up With School Lunch!
Friday, October 07, 2011 11:42 AM

In recent news, a teacher in the Chicago area, Sarah Wu,  came forward to be the anonymous "Mrs. Q". "Mrs. Q" was known for blogging about the lunches provided by her school. She would apparently take a picture of the food and then post it on her blog with descriptions that made parents cringe! 


She says that she started the blog because she forgot her own lunch one day and had to eat school lunch. Even though she worked at the school, it wasn't until she actually picked up her meal that she realized something just wasn't right. Although I'm not sure of what the exact contents of that particular meal were, she does reveal things like fried chicken nuggets made from only 50% chicken; hot dogs are often served; "rib-b-que", and pizza that doesn't look like, well, pizza!


She mentioned that the school food is processed for the most part and most meals are full of sugar, salt and starch. She found that in her school, a large percentage of the children are on the free lunch program that is offered to families who don't have the means to buy their children lunch. This means that lunch is potentially the best meal of the day that these children will receive. A disturbing 20% of children are obese and she feels it is highly probable that school lunch is a factor. Schools are probably choosing these meals due to the fact that the children don't tend to eat the fruits and veggies, they tend to like the processed foods more. They are heating up frozen food for the children to eat and the children tend to throw away anything on their tray of nutritional value, like the fruits and veggies that are provided.


Sarah says she wrote her blog day after day for a whole year. When she was asked about some of the worst food she had during the year, she mentioned "some sort of peanut butter and jelly thing" that was processed, packaged and served to the students. It made her sick.



Sarah's blog and book, "Fed Up With Lunch" are getting a lot of exposure in the media this week. You can go to her blog to see pictures of meals that she was served during the course of the year.

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Now You Can "Will" Your Passwords
Monday, October 03, 2011 2:32 PM

I've been scouring the internet today to find some sort of helpful, insightful website to pass on to my readers and I found an interesting little blip on a service called "PassMyWill." PassMyWill.com actually allows you to "will" your passwords to your relatives in the event of your death! 


It might just be me, but isn't this a bad idea? The service is free and apparently you can save the email addresses of people you would trust to take care of your affairs for you if you die. Well, of course my first question is: How do they know you've died??? The same way anyone who knows you personally does? No! They check for regular Twitter & Facebook updates or emails. If you are not active for quite a while (not sure how long) they will email you to verify you are dead. If you don't respond, your passwords are sent to whomever you have on file with them. Let's hope that they don't do it too soon!


This just sounds so scary to me! I realize that this is for those who are really connected to the "world wide web" and must be dead if they are not using Twitter, Facebook or email, but this is just so risky. If you want to be sure that loved ones have access to your passwords (banking; credit cards; email; whatever) in the event of your death, I'm sure there are more reasonable ways to set that up. Keep them with your will or something. Do you really trust that if you give all of this sensitive information to whomever is running this website, that only your relatives will have access to your accounts? If I asked you to create an account with my blog to have me store your passwords for you until you die, would you do it? (This is only rhetorical, please don't try). 


They probably have gotten some sign ups, so I guess some think it's a great idea. They say that you have to give a special encryption code to those who might get the email when you die. If you don't provide the key code to them or they can't guess it, they still can't get to your passwords.


Wow, I think that this is just insane. Just in case you were wondering, I won't be using it myself.

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Warning - Dangerous Bacteria Outbreak In Some Cantaloupe & Romaine Lettuce
Friday, September 30, 2011 10:20 AM

Do you enjoy eating cantaloupe? Recent news has shown that there have been 13 deaths related to an outbreak of bacteria (called Listeria) that is contaminating some cantaloupes. It is being reported that 72 people have been infected in 18 states. It is also being reported that the incubation period could be as long as two months, so more cases are expected to surface. This does not involve cantaloupe that has been sliced, but whole cantaloupe. These cantaloupes are from the same grower in Colorado and does not affect ALL cantaloupe. 


Go to this ABCNews story for several videos and an article with more details and what you should do if you have recently purchased cantaloupe and are unsure of where it was grown. This site will include dates the contaminated cantaloupe was shipped to stores.


It is now being reported that there is also an outbreak related to some of the romaine lettuce that has already been shipped from a farm in California for consumption. You can read the details on ABC's website here. This outbreak SEEMS to be more contained to the California and surrounding areas.


What can you do? You can type "listeria outbreak" or "listeria symptoms" into Google to find reputable news sites that are reporting the latest on these outbreaks. Basically, just use caution and be aware that this warning is out there. Do what you can to spread the word to family and friends who might not have heard about it in the local news. This way you can help to prevent more cases of related illness until all of the food in question has been pulled of of the shelves.


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