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


Managing Finances

We have a lot of bills, business and personal so I set up an Excel spread sheet that lists the following:

Company/Bank   For   Due Date     Monthly Amt. and /or Amt.   Auto?   Paid/Posted (Posted for Auto)   Ck Acct/Ck Card   Interest Rate   Offer End Date (For interest free credit card promo dates)   Balance   Notes   Availability (for credit cards)

It is organized by date so that we can can be prepared for what is coming up. Annual payments are separated but on the same sheet, so there are no surprises. Before the first of the month, I go online to collect my data and do my updates. I copy and rename last month’s sheet  and update whatever needs to be updated. By keeping the previous sheets, you don’t lose information and don’t have to go digging through your check book or online checking account. Previously I set it up by pay days but now we only have money coming in once a month. I color code the columns to make it easier to read but it also affects the print out so Danny has worked with the settings to make it easier to read. You can also add things at the bottom like checking account balances.

When you are paid once a month, it is necessary to plan output.  By utilizing this spreadsheet, bills get paid first and, if necessary, decisions get made as to what bills will be paid.

After the spreadsheet is updated, I e-mail it to Danny and he takes time to look it over.  We set aside time to sit down together to make a payment plan or at least to both acknowledge where we are financially. As the bills are paid or posted to the checking account register ( in the case of Auto Pays) I post the dates on the sheet.

Because I use the Quickbooks software for our business, I set up our personal finances in it as well. Your checking or savings information can be downloaded  straight from your bank into Quickbooks as often as you like. It is so much easier than trying to keep a paper register and you can code your income and expenses. If you wanted to set up a budget, you have all the information you need. You don’t have to use all the features, I don’t, but what I do use makes my life so much simpler. Also, if you need a personal profit and loss or balance sheet, no problem, Quickbooks does it for you. This has come in handy when working with mortgage companies and banks or applying for credit. It also helps your tax accountant because you can just print out your P & L or Balance sheet for whatever period. You can also track your finances from year to year because the information stays in your computer. It is a good idea to back it up to a memory stick or other back-up device as my computer crashed once and I had to recreate my records. Luckily, it wasn’t necessary for me to recreate from the very beginning so I just input from the first of the current year.

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.


The latest craze in parking lot trash is floss-picks. Almost very time I get out of my vehicle I see one on the ground. I suppose it is one way to maximize your time – some people listen to self-help CD’s while they drive and others floss-pick their teeth. My hubby is one of these people. However, he doesn’t throw his out in the parking lot, he stashes it someplace in the vehicle for re-use. Is this the ultimate in cheap? He saves them at home too. I had a conversation about it one time with my mother. I complained to her about finding them here and there. I was expecting her to commiserate with me but instead I got “I do it too.” I asked her “You do what too?” and she told me that she reuses her floss-picks. I frowned and told her how gross I found it that our grandkids had a tendency to pick up my husbands used floss-picks and put them in their mouths. She said totally deadpan, “That would be gross.” I can’t help but laugh now when I think about it. When I see floss-picks in parking lots, I can’t help but harass my husband by texting him that he left his floss-pick in the parking lot again and ask if he wants me to bring it home to him. I don’t know what I expect when I send these texts because he just responds, “Yeah, go ahead, I don’t want to run out.” Wouldn’t you think a pharmacist would be more germ-conscious?

According to Nina Tadros of Tadros Dental, a piece of floss is made for one-time use. If reused, it will begin to deteriorate and even worse — it can introduce old bacteria to your teeth and gums, undoing the work you just did! Reusing dental floss or a floss pick can also pick up new bacteria from wherever you happen to store it. It’s really not a good idea to reuse floss on your teeth and gums. Many people experience bleeding when they floss (caused by flossing too hard, not flossing often enough, or simply because you are dragging a thin wire-like string across delicate tissue). If there is bleeding, there is breakage somewhere in you gums where bacteria can get into your blood system. Besides, floss is very inexpensive, so it won’t save you a significant amount of money to keep using the same piece of floss or floss-pick over and over.

Oh well, you choose your battles.