Helpful Hints Not From Heloise #2

thumb.php     Non-cellulose sponges do not become stinky. I can’t really say “never” but I have had few instances where they began to have a offensive odor. I buy ones that are yellow with a green scrubber on one side at Dollar Tree in bulk packages for $1. Because they are so inexpensive, when they begin to look war-ravaged, I can just toss them and grab another. Sometimes when they are still usable but have an unappealing look from food stains, I will throw them in the dishwasher. If you use the fabric covered sponges or even cellulose, you can get rid of the odor by throwing them in the dishwasher. Don’t freak out on me but I clean my toilets by hand because that is the only way that I feel that they get really clean all over. These sponges are great for that type of job because when I’m finished cleaning, I just toss them in the trash.

Lawry's_Seasoned_SaltTry sprinkling Lowry’s Seasoned Salt on tomatoes and/or avocados for your sandwiches, it really brings out the flavor.


If you like spicy, try a quick dip made of nothing more than cream cheese and Rotel tomatoes. Just use 2 packages of softened cream cheese (can be softened in a dish in the microwave in a pinch) ad one can of Rotel tomatoes undrained and one can drained. Mix until blended, chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator and serve with Ruffles prod-main-5potato chips. Seems like you would use tortilla chips, doesn’t it? But actually potato chips taste best. Word of warning: If you use a mixer to blend the cream cheese and tomatoes, be sure to use a very large bowl and mix on a slow setting, splatters like crazy. I have found that hand mixing is best for me. This dip is so popular that I make an extra bowl for my neighbor when we have neighborhood get-togethers. She waits until we all leave her house then curls up in bed with her bowl of dip and a bag of chips.

odorBar_main_large     Have you ever seen that stainless steel bar they sell in kitchen shops for removing food odors (fish, onion, garlic)? It is called an odor bar and it works. I put dish washing detergent on mine and rub it over my hands thoroughly, rinse and the odors are gone. A friend told me that she  doesn’t even use soap. She just rubs it over her hands.

Dermatologist reading a 'Journal of Itchcraft'.     Did you know that simple itching can be spread? If you scratch over and over or for any period of time, the itch will spread from the original spot. For example: I have dry skin. Lets say a spot on my leg will itch and by conditioned response, I scratch it but that doesn’t make it go away. It itches again a few minutes later and it feels so good to scratch that I scratch repeatedly and for longer.  What results is that the itch will move further up and/or down my leg so that it covers a larger area. Every night my husband would catch me driving myself crazy scratching and because I bruise easily, my scratching would leave bruises.  He finally told me that itching will spread so to stop scratching. I looked at him like he was crazy. He told me to ignore it and it would go away in a few minutes. It is not easy to do but it works. He’s a smart guy.


We use Melatonin for sleep and the brand we are using is 21st Century in 10mg strength. Natural remedy for sleeplessness. It is quick dissolve so you just put one or two (we use two) under your tongue and let them dissolve which makes it take affect faster. Its nice to be able to sleep and not have a drug hangover the next day.


25812489-white-vinegar-in-a-glass-bottle-white-background6119306-fresh-lemon-slice-with-water-drops-isolated-on-white     For cleaning your microwave, mix vinegar and water or lemon juice and water in a microwave safe cup and turn your microwave on high for about 5 minutes. The steam mixed with the vinegar or lemon makes for easy cleaning.



To clean your jet tub, put a cup of bleach into hot water up over the jets and turn them on. Let it run for about 30 minutes. It cleans out any mold or other unidentifiable grime and saves you the cost of having to call someone out to clean it.

Pouring bleach down your air-conditioning drain once a month will prevent your air conditioning drain from clogging. If it clogs, it will cause the pan to overflow resulting in ceiling damage.


555x416xUltraLight-Kneeling-Cushion-Large_project_main_image.jpg.pagespeed.ic.7BQLrbxWPTIf you have to kneel on your ceramic or slate tile floor to clean or wrap gifts or whatever, use a garden kneeling pad. Saves your knees from pain and bruising.



When light bulbs go out often, you may be using too high a wattage. We reduced the wattage 21311745-smiling-red-light-bulb-cartoon-character-training-with-dumbbellsof our spotlight bulbs and it really slowed down burn outs.



30422770-gift-bagI love to buy gifts especially for my husband. So when money is tight, I don’t want to skip gift giving. I buy a medium to large gift bag for $1 at Dollar Tree and fill it with foods I know he likes or would like. For instance, for Father’s day I put in Gouda flavored chips, a special cheese I knew he would like, Brookstone dark chocolate covered mango and mangosteeno snacks, a premium blend of nuts and fruits etc. I also did the same thing for my Stepfather who is not very easy to shop for. One Christmas, I went to the Old World Market and bought a variety of foods from other countries. I kept each item under a set amount or sale items so that I didn’t over spend. My stepfather really enjoys this gift.


Peroxide is the best thing for cleaning ears. It bubbles and pops but as a weirdo, I like the bubbling though it does tickle sometimes.😄  Peroxide is peroxide so the brand or price doesn’t matter and it is much less expensive than the ear cleaning kits.


Images:,,,,,,Fiskars website


Step-mother-ing Part Two

2hearts     When we got engaged, Danny and I felt strongly that the wedding should be formal, in a church, and have the kids included in the ceremony. We wanted them to understand that this marriage and joining of family was a serious commitment for all of us. It was a beautiful wedding on Valentine’s Day in red and white and the reception was in a historical community center with a DJ and fajita buffet. Danny wore socks that his ex had given him and boxers that I bought him, complete with hearts, and I wore red shoes. I have never been jealous of his ex with regard to their relationship so though I shook my head at his lack of concern, the socks represented his observance of Valentine’s Day. Our son, the best man, gave a toast saying that he was glad I was in his dad’s life because it made him in a better mood. He was 17 at the time.

13778409-graduate-girl-cartoon     I set an example by getting an Associates Degree, having a home free of alcohol, attending church and maintaining a good work ethic. If that was all they needed, it would have been easy, but I couldn’t control the world outside our home or what had come before my appearance on the scene. To add to the challenges, I had no clue as to how to be a good mother or even a mother. I thought that my commitment to their well being would be enough. Our son went through some serious problems but has his own family now and is a devoted husband and father with a good work ethic. Our youngest daughter graduated from college with3363355-graduation-diploma-shallow-depth-of-field a high GPA and is a good wife and mother of 2 twin toddlers of 2 years old, a 4 month old baby and a teenage step-daughter. She handles it well because she is organized and keeps everyone on a schedule. Our oldest daughter is going through a difficult time but is working to repair the damage done to her life by choices she has made. Problems the other two children went through were obvious but not with this child. She was quiet and shy and the other two were getting most of the 6501912-portrait-of-sad-lonely-girl-with-umbrella-outdoorsattention with their acting out and getting into trouble. As an adult, she is struggling to come to terms with feelings she has repressed all these years. Though I have always tried to be there for her, it was not enough and that makes me sad. Could I have done better? In some ways yes, however, I wasn’t the problem. As a result, damage has been done by her actions and she doesn’t seem to understand that you can’t just say “I’m sorry” and make it all go away. When trust has been lost, hard work has to be done to gain it back. She is on the right track and has a lot of support.

      I have always reminded myself that the children were in Danny’s life before me but I still struggle with my need to be #1 in his life. I have never asked him to betray his children for my sake but his sense of fairness seems skewed to me.  What piper2_17245_smhappened to the words “forsaking all others” spoken in our marriage vows? Of course, I don’t ask him to forsake his children or anyone else, my point is that as an adult and his wife, I should be his partner not treated as one of his children. That being said, he is an awesome husband, father and grandfather. His grandchildren follow him around like he’s the pied piper and each child feels special in his eyes. The problem, as I see it, is the children tattling to their dad about any disagreement they have with me. I have told them he is not my “daddy” so they need to talk things out with me when we don’t agree. When they have come to him, Danny has felt the need to mediate which sets up a resentment, at least on my part. I have always left the door of communication open which works in theory but not always in reality. I do understand that he is afraid of losing their love and I am afraid of losing his. My solution to the problem is to step back from my involvement with the kids, letting Danny and their mother take the reins without my interference. This solution has been great for me because I have more peace in my life.

22673131-child-with-gift-box-near-white-christmas-tree-isolated     One of the nice things about the grandchildren is that there is no step, I am just their NeNe. They are beautiful kids with outgoing personalities and each one is unique. I’m not exactly the fun grandma, I’m the gifting grandma. I love to shop for gifts that that will suit each child hoping to convey that I have paid attention to their individuality. I want to believe that my gift is in gifting. Sometimes I fail but often I am right on the mark. I will not let myself believe that I bought their parents or am buying them because its a personal delight for me. Its sorta like problem-solving and I love problem-solving (as you can tell if you have read my posts).

     Danny and I finally have our house to ourselves and are enjoying it immensely. We are working to prepare ourselves for moving to the mountains where we will only have each other, communication being the key. This has been Danny’s dream for at least half of his life and has become mine. Our families are not happy about it but we need and deserve this. We are happy in our relationship and looking forward to our adventure.


I have been reassured, since this original post, that my sister’s family and my mother are happy for me but jealous that I will be living in ski country. lol

Yep, that's he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.
Yep, that’s he and me in our rover driving through the San Juan Mountains.

Helpful Hints not from Heloise

     Finding solutions to household problems is often a process for me but one I actually enjoy. I also like sharing those solutions with others so here goes:

     I have thrown away numerous shirts, some of which were favorites, because I could not find anything that actually took out cooking grease no matter what claims the products made. One day I came across a can of cigarette lighter fluid and something clicked. Sure enough, it takes out cooking grease with no damage to clothing. I found it at Walmart near the check-out stand. Just squirt it onto the grease stain before washing and no more stain. I have even missed a stain after washing and applied the lighter fluid, rewashed and no more stain.

     Hydrogen Peroxide takes out blood. My husband taught me this one as he is a chemical whiz.

     Vinegar is a natural fabric softener, no need for even dryer sheets. Learned this one on the “Peachskinsheets” website.

     If you are looking for awesome bed sheets at an affordable price, check out My husband is very hard to please when it comes to sheets and I am touch sensitive. We couldn’t justify spending a small fortune for top of the line sheets. We have a Tempurpedic adjustable split king so it requires a special set of 2 extra long twin sheets and a king top sheet. I did a search on the internet for where to find the sheets and found a blog in which someone recommended Peachskinsheets. OMG, awesome. Super soft and smooth, no pilling, wick away moisture (Tempurpedic often equals sweat). Since we got these sheets, I love getting in bed at night for that “aah” moment.

     This one is a really personal but also really helpful. Pee before and after sex, even if it is just a drop. This helps prevent  Urinary Tract Infections.

     Most of you probably already know this but the only way to really clean  ceramic and/or slate tile floors and keep them clean longer is with a steam mop. I cannot tolerate the residue left by floor cleaners. Your floors are never really clean and they attract dirt. When you use a steam mop, you are just using water so there is no residue and they dry so much faster. You can actually walk over them in socks and your socks will still be clean.

     Consider having a “whole house vacuum system” by Honeywell installed. It’s easier and less expensive if it is installed when the house is built but it can be done any time. Ports are installed in strategic locations throughout your house so that you are not lugging a vacuum cleaner around. You just insert the really long hose into the ports and press the switch on the handle.  It also has hand attachments for dusting and detail work. You can get kick plates as well so that you can sweep dirt up to the kick plate, engage the switch and no more dirt though I use these very little. A word of warning, this vacuum system has very strong suction and will suck up everything.  It will suck up dish towels, underwear (yes I found my daughter’s underwear in the dust collection bin), pens, etc. Great for cleaning out fireplaces and pine needles from Christmas trees. It has a canister in the garage that collects the dust and dirt (plus any other little ole thing it has sucked up) which I empty about every six months into a trash bag and out it goes for trash collection. The canister has a connection site for the hose in the garage so that it can be used to clean out the car etc.

     To remove hardened food from pots and pans, fill them with soapy water and put them on the stove burner on the high setting and let it boil until you see the food loosening. This is especially good for cast iron skillets. I learned this from my mom and have noticed others picking it up from me.

418Pm9141-L._AA160_     To remove stuck on food from pots and pans or anything really, there is a plastic tool which is tapered to a thin edge. I found them at Bed, Bath and Beyond after the one I was given in a gift bag disappeared. It makes clean up soooo easy. Better than a credit card, easier to hold and doesn’t wear out. Its very inexpensive.

     The best thing for a stuffy nose is ibuprofen. When your nose stops up, it is because of swelling so the Ibuprofen reduces that swelling. Be sure to take it with food though because it can upset your stomach. If you are like me, the first sign of a problem is the feeling like you have something caught in your throat (sinus irritation) then mine goes into a sore throat and develops from there. If I take Ibuprofen, it will most often stop the cycle. Mucinex which I have to take it every day, twice a day, can get to be expensive but it also works for me.

450     If you have a dental bridge, the best flossing devices are Soft Picks. They are straight and thin enough to get through and have tiny bristles making flossing a breeze and massages your gums. I use them on all my teeth. My current dentist doesn’t like bridges because he says they are so difficult to floss that people don’t and it not only makes for bad breath but also promotes gum disease. The hygienist turned me on to these and I love them.

For ladies, Dollar Tree if you have one in your area, sells a box of 75 scented diaper bags for $1. I am telling you this not for your baby but for you or your menstruating daughters (though most use tampons these days). I, unfortunately, have to deal with leaky bladder so I have to use pads every day because I don’t want to have surgery. I keep the diaper bags in a wicker basket that has a flip up lid on the back of my toilet along with pads, making them handy. I hated having to wrap pads in toilet paper and put them into the community trash can for obvious reasons. So, I use these diaper bags for my used pads and toss them into a step-can that I keep next to the toilet.  It makes for easy disposal and alleviates odor issues. Sorry to gross you out, I tried to be as discreet as possible.

I was spending a small fortune on Starbucks Frappacinos. At $5+ a pop every day and sometimes more than once a day, it really added up. I got to where even the freebies didn’t justify the cost. I bought my husband a Magic Bullet blender for Christmas so he could make smoothies. Great investment! I learned how to make my own Frappacinos at quite a savings. I just fill the mixing cup 1/3 full of ice, add coffee to the same level, add milk, caramel and Splenda, place the mixing cup on the base and run it for about 1 minute or less and I have a Frappacino. I had to experiment with my recipe until I got it right for me. Here are some suggestions:

  • My husband drinks really strong coffee from ground beans. He combines Starbuck’s Espresso and French Market, both of     which are strong. He makes a pot for me which he pours into a container that we keep in the refrigerator. You can prepare any coffee you like but probably the stronger the better since it gets diluted out with ice and milk.
  • You can add as much ice as you like to make it the consistency you prefer. I have found that I like it more creamy than icy so I use less ice.
  • I use skim milk to cut back on calories but you can use any milk you like.
  • We both use Smucker’s Sugar Free Ice Cream Topping Caramel in our coffee, it is also fat free and I use Splenda for sweetener but you can use sugar or any type of sweetener you like.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. I’m sure I have more but I will save them for another time.