Monday, May 31, 2010

Ways to Save Money on a Limited Budget

I've noticed a new phenomenon around our area. Vacated stores that once housed booming businesses are now home to consignment goods. It appears that people are trying to stretch their dollar more in trying times such as these.

Today's local paper shared other ideas by Sheba Wheeler (Denver Post) on ways to save $$$. Here is a shortened version of her bargain-hunting article:

1. Look for low or free admissions to professional performances and art at universities and schools.

2. Celebrate special occasions at home with memorable menus.

3. Save the cost of a pet bed by making your own.

4. Create toys from items around the house.

5. Barter and share services.

6. Gift your time and pool your money for shared items.

7. Rather than pay for expensive test preps, look for low-cost or free resources.

8. Review for inexpensive furniture.

9. Keep the box-spring (if it is in good condition) rather than replacing it when you get a new mattress.

10. Use independent agents to sell your home by negotiating lower percentages.

11. Retrieve free health advice over the internet.

12. Try generic drugs and ask your doctor for 90-day prescriptions.

13. Rethink collision insurance on older cars.

14. Consider buying a "demo" at the auto dealership.

15. Use less energy by keeping your freezer full.

15. Slow-cook cheaper cuts of meat.

16. Use up what's in your kitchen cupboard.

17. Spend on a late lunch rather than dinner.

18. Look for copies rather than the more expensive original clothes designers.

19. Shop the outlets.

20. If you're small and female, consider boys departments for blazers, cashmeres and pull-overs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kids: They Make You Wonder

Law-girl and Drink-boy are getting married one of these days (hint...hint...hint). I think they are smart and accomplished but email like this makes me wonder:
Law-girl and friend attended a conference last weekend. She came home to this scenario.
Drink-boy and his mom, Sherry, were "holding down the fort" (Drink-boy doesn't like to be alone) and doing some painting (Thanks, Sherry).
They locked themselves out of the house.
Drink-boy determined that his 237 pound (but slimming down) body could shimmy up the drainpipe to the open window on the 2nd floor.
At some point he flew off the pipe, landed in the bushes and knocked himself out.
Sitting on the back porch, the next door neighbors witnessed the whole thing in disbelief.
Drink-boy wakes up to his mom and the entire family (teenage kids included) over him.
Once they determined that Drink-boy was okay, next door neighbor lady (Bonnie) said,
"Drink-boy, did you lock yourself out of the house?"
Next door neighbor man (Chris) said,
"You know. You can't climb up the side of your house. You're too old for that, and well, you could die. Let's go get Marshall (his next door neighbor) and borrow his ladder. "
Bonnie added,
"Oh, and you can give your neighbors a key in case you get locked out or if you go on vacation, we can check up on things."
Next door teenage boy continued,
"And I can eat out of your fridge."

Moral of the story: Keep lots of food in your fridge. And discuss safety with your kids. Again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Unique Security System

Retailing for $83.89 Rex Plus, the electronic watchdog, may be your answer to home security 24 hours a day. There's no installation nor maintenance costs and the sensitivity to movement can work up to 30 feet through walls, doors and windows.

Rex lets you (or the police) know about the arrival of a visitor or intruder by barking with the voice of a German Shepherd. The barking sounds menacing and increases in intensity and frequency.

Rex Plus can plug into a timer so you can schedule specifically when you want it to do its job.

While some people give the device a 5-star rating, others think the Rex's barking doesn't sound like a real dog or that he's too sensitive.

All were delighted that you don't have to clean up after it or feed it.

For more on home protection, visit

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not and Be Green!

Annabelle Gurwitch and Holter Graham of Planet Green's television show Wa$ted suggested 5 ways to save money and help the environment:

1. Make your own household cleaning products and bypass harmful toxins. Mix water, baking soda and vinegar. Store in a glass jar.

2. Don't throw away, freecycle it. List your item in Then pass it along to one of your responders.

3. Use efficient Energy Star light bulbs to replace your traditional bulbs.

4. Place a brick into your toilet tank.

5. Understand that appliances use energy even when they turned off. If you don't want to unplug them when you are not using them, try using a "smart" power strip with multiple outlets.

For more information, check out the Green Marketplace, Green Blogs and Green Associations.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Helping the Sex Drive

Some scientists have discovered ways to get your motor running:

1. Sweet smells stimulate sexy feelings, according to Alan Hirsch, M.D. The foods that got the best results? Doughnuts for men. Banana bread for women. Or black licorice for both.

2. Exercise. Women who get 20 minutes of aerobic exercise and men who exercise 3-4 times a week benefit the most.

3. Banish the television from the bedroom.

4. Women find men sexier if they help with housework.

5. Snuggle.

For more information, visit Men's Health (Sex) and Women's Health (Sex).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Eyes Have It: When You Are Plagued With Dry Eye Syndrome

Car-man and I love to walk at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara. More than once we had to turn around and head home prematurely because my eyes were stinging and my vision was blurred. Even my tears couldn't alleviate the pain.
Then I learned I have dry-eye syndrome.

I wasn't aware that this incurable ailment primarily plagues post-menopausal women. In addition to stinging and blurred or fluctuating vision, the syndrome may also cause sensitivity to light.

Dye eye syndrome arises out of a disfunction of any of the three layers of film on the eye. These layers are mucus, water and oil.

Here's what you can do to combat dry eye syndrome:

1. Run a humidifier to combat dry winter air.

2. Take out your contact lenses and replace with eyeglasses.

3. Get plenty of sleep.

4. Avoid smoke.

5. Wear goggles when swimming.

6. Direct fans and vents away from your face.

7. Wear sunglasses, preferably the wrap-around kind.

8. Wear a hat.

9. Eat healthy.

10. Drink lots of water.

11. Use herbal tea bags as compresses.

12. Take breaks from the computer or television.

13. Gently massage the edge of your eyelids daily with a warm wet swab or washcloth.

If you are still uncomfortable, an eye lubricant might help. Find the best one for you from over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. The premier ones are preservative free and come in single-use vials.

If you opt for an eye ointment, apply only at bedtime.

And should you continue to have trouble, see your ophthalmologist.

For more information, visit

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Dreaded Conversation

Caregiving is a family affair and should be discussed as a group first out of the presence of the parent. Siblings need to make plans by agreeing on or suggesting a:

1. A durable power of attorney for healthcare

2. One person in charge of financial decisions

How does a worried family member persuade a headstrong parent that moving into a long-term care facility is in their best interest?

The following is some advice I've read:

It's never too early to discuss the possibility of an elderly parent moving into a nursing home or assisted living. Mention your serious concerns about their health and safety.

Ask the parent to indulge you by visiting an assisted living facility (they may be surprised at how nice they can be). Here's how the conversation can go: "I can't make decisions about how you should run your life. It would make me feel better, though, if we could go together to look at some possible assisted living facilities so that you're better informed about what choices are available. Would you be willing to humor me in that way?"

Many places allow week or month long visits to help the parent determine if the facility "feels" right.

However, oftentimes a parent needs to feel vulnerable before they will approach the subject. They might fall, feel spooked, or are unable to deal with household duties.

If or when that happens, you can have a strategy in place.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Air Pollution...Inside

The downside to insulating our homes better is that we can trap pollutants indoors so it's best to control or eliminate exposure now before they cause any harm.

1. Asbestos used to be common in roofing, flooring, pipe insulation, spackling compound, cement, coatings, heating equipment and insulation. Generally, if it is sealed or undisturbed it doesn't pose a problem. But disintegration and other disturbances can cause small fibers to get into your lungs causing serious illness.

2. Keep humidity levels low and ventilation high to thwart the dangers of viruses, bacteria, molds and fungi. Wash bedding in hot water and keep a clean home.

3. Monitor all fuel-burning appliances so that carbon monoxide doesn't build up. Install a carbon monoxide detector with a loud alarm.

4. Reduce formaldehyde-producing sources such as particleboard, fiber board, plywood panelling, carpet backing, and upholstery and drapery fabric.

5. Maintain vents and check for nitrogen dioxide. Avoid radon in the soil surrounding your home. And stay away from secondhand smoke and toxic chemicals in household products. Consider installing a high-efficient air cleaner.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Comfort Foods

Often during periods of unhappiness, depression or sickness we turn to comfort foods that transport us back to a time when life was easier. Unfortunately those foods generally have high fat content--such as macaroni and cheese, chili, mashed potatoes, pizza, spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies.

Simple adjustments can make these foods not only more healthful but also reduce our risk for disease:

1. Understand that standard serving sizes are smaller than you realize. If you decrease your portion size gradually, you'll be less likely to notice the change.

2. Shift the portions on your plate. Emphasize plant-based foods and reduce animal protein.

3. Substitute ingredients, such as exchanging cream for reduced fat milk.

4. Add healthy ingredients to your recipe, such as vegetables to spaghetti sauce or beans to chili.

5. Treat yourself to some of your favorite comfort foods for special occasions.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Snoring Rooms

I admit that I have never heard of this. But I have been told that our bedroom sounds like 2 locomotives colliding. So it doesn't surprise me about the following:

According to Mark Nash, author of "Snoring Rooms Offer Alternative to the Couch," new home builders are proposing the option of a sound-proofed room directly accessible to and similarly decorated to the master bedroom. Thankfully "snoring rooms" can also be carved out of home offices or large closets in older homes.

Both partners can achieve a restful night. And they have an additional playroom for visitations!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reverse Weight Gain

It doesn't take a genius to know that being overweight isn't good for you. Those seeking a magical cure in a pill, supplement or fad diet will be sorely disappointed.

If, however, you can achieve a feeling of fullness (satiety), then you can feel full longer and are less likely to overeat.

If you follow these steps, you may be on your way to a slimmer body:

1. Eat slowly to allow the brain time to signal a sense of fullness

2. Start your meal with broth, salad (without high calorie nuts, dried fruits or dressing) or fruit, preferably whole

3. Eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates.

4. Drink 2 cups of water 1/2 hour before meals.