Sunday, February 11, 2018

Salt of the Earth

Did you know the word for salary came from the word for salt? Salt was so valuable in ancient Rome that it was used as currency. Today, it's a pretty cheap staple that can be used for more than just a topping for fries. 

Here are some tips I've heard, but haven't tried out myself-- yet.

~Pour salt on a wine stain for easy clean up. (Thanks for the tip, Jo!)
~Clean silk flowers by tossing them and a quarter cup of salt in a plastic bag and shake gently.
~Reduce frost on windshields and windows by wiping down with a salt water solution.
~Clean your fish tank with salt (non-iodized). Pour a little on a sponge to wipe down the inside.
~Soak enamel and ceramics in salt water to get rid of stains.
~Clean an electric coffee maker by running through a pot of water with a few tablespoons of salt to clean away the grime and freshen up the flavor.
~Pre-treat stains while out with some salt on the table.
~Soak pit stains in hot salty water to get rid of the yellow stains.

Here are a few salt tricks I have tried and love. 

~Salt is a great deodorizer. Hands smell like onions after cooking? Pour some salt on your hands and then wash them.
~Soak drinking bottles in salt water overnight to get rid of funky smells.
~Use a salt water solution to kill weeds.
~For nearly impossible to clean items, pour salt, ice, and a bit of water in the container then shake or stir to clean it out.

My dirty coffee/tea carafe.
The tiny neck makes it impossible to scrub.
Pour salt, ice, and a little bit of water in the bottom and swirl. 
Rinse and it's clean.

~During the last snow storm, I went to Wal Mart to get salt for my front steps and accidentally got water softener salt instead of rock salt. Best mistake ever! At first, my husband was skeptical. They are huge pellets- sort of like throwing gravel on your walks. They are slow dissolving, so they stayed on the sidewalks for two days of snow and kept  clear of snow and ice.

Water softener pellets. My new favorite snow removing tool. 
Who knew that salt was even funny?

Monday, February 5, 2018


It's still cold over here!
But I don't like to complain about the cold, because pretty soon I'll be complaining about the heat. And that's way worse.

Since it is still winter--I believe the good old groundhog saw his shadow, blessing us with 6 more fun-filled frigid days of it--I thought I'd talk about some ways to make it through the uncomfortable changes cold weather bestows upon us.

Chapped Lips - I use vaseline lip therapy or chapstick, always keep your lip soother of choice handy for applying after eating and drinking or any time your lips are in need of love. And make sure the kids apply it too - some like it, some don't. Watch out for the fun flavors--kids tend to lick it off and spread the dryness around their mouths, making things worse...

Crackled Skin - Lotion may be something you regularly keep on hand (get it?) But in winter, it's a necessity. Apply every time you wash/sanitize your hands. And gloves are great when cleaning to keep hands from getting wet unnecessarily. But sometimes that's not enough. Many of my friends give me suggestions, but nothing seemed to work. I get EXTRA dry skin patches in cold weather that no over-the-counter lotion will cure. To prevent this, I apply lotion several times a day. But when the extra dry patches appear, usually on hands or feet, here's what my dermatologist suggested:
  • soak areas for ten minutes (I can't sit still for ten minutes, so I don't last that long...)
  • pat dry, leaving some moisture on skin
  • spread skin with thick coat of vaseline (I have a prescription salve, but vaseline does the trick just fine when I run out of it)
  • cover with plastic gloves or seal with plastic wrap
  • best to do overnight
This is a pain in the butt, but it works for me. I've had to do it almost every winter. Surprisingly this year, I've kept the patches at bay. But I can't let my guard down. Best Advice: Stay on top of your regimen--do what works for you!

Brittle, Staticky Hair - Best Advice: Wash it less! And if you can't stand going a day without washing your hair, try dry shampoo. I hear tell it's great: from my hair dresser to teenage girls--reliable sources! And if there's any way you can let it air dry, try that too. The less heat on hair, the better.

Curs-ed Colds
Runaway Noses
Fierce Fevers
Uncontrollable Coughs
Horrible Headaches
The Fearsome Flu

All of these ailments love winter. Their natural enemies, the sun and fresh air, are on vacation. So it's up to us to take them on... Can't go into battle without a strategy! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

ON THE OFFENSE (heading off the invasion):
  • Wash hands! - those harbingers of bacteria and viruses - most importantly before you EAT! (and don't forget the lotion)
  • Eat healthier - this time of year, you need those vitamin backup soldiers!
  • Sleep! Hardly anyone sleeps the recommended amount of time, go for an extra hour a night. It could save you from being bed-ridden for a few days.
  • Be alert to the warning signs - Crankiness, sneezes, sore throat, lethargy. As for myself, I can taste it when I'm about to be sick. Take Zicam or Cold-eeze immediately! I dread the day the germs figure a way to outwit those meds.
ON THE DEFENSE (dealing with infestation):
  • Sanitize - Use wipes & sprays in infected areas and continue to wash/sanitize hands. Some say that overdoing it with the sanitizer can leave you more vulnerable. That's why I limit myself to after anything gross & before eating.
  • Quarantine - Sick people need to stay in their room until they feel better or are fever free and no one uses their bathroom (the healthy ones get to use the master bath, ugh) In my house, if they need to come out, they have a designated sick chair that no one else is allowed to use until it has been decontaminated.
  • Nourish - If the sickies feel like eating, fill them up! If they don't, they need electrolytes and clear liquids and chicken soup - it's still the number one sick people food. After a stomach bug, ease into eating - nothing greasy, heavy, or spicy.
  • Cleanse - This is my least favorite of the unfavorables. Cleaning up after - washing all linens, surfaces, clothes, and spraying anything that can't be put in the washer or wiped. Wear gloves!!
Though Spring is right around the corner (I hope) don't let your guard down. February has been known to sneak in a last bout of sickness... Good luck! And may the viruses run in fear of you!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Entertain Me

Feeling bored? Watch some TV, read a book!

I have three kids in college. Next year, there will be four in school. My husband and I toast our success over Ramen noodles, water, and cheap entertainment.

That's a joke, but not too far from the truth. Honestly, we are doing fine. Every now and then, we have peanut butter and jelly...just to keep it fresh. Again, a joke.

But I'm not joking about cheap entertainment. My husband and I watch a lot of TV and read a lot of indie books, because that's frugal entertainment.

I thought I'd share some of the best of my entertainment this month.


IMBd rating 6.1; Read the profile here
This movie only got a 6.1 on IMDb, but I liked it. It was a horror movie and I have noticed that horror movies seem to have lower numbers on average, so a 6.1 is actually pretty decent. The plot of this movie was fresh. It's about a boy whose dreams come true, which is sometimes amazing and other times a nightmare only a child can imagine. There was very little in this movie, but plenty suspense.

IMDb rating 7.4; read profile here
I loved this movie. It's cute. It's unique. It's poignant and endearing. As a baby, a young man was kidnapped as a baby and raised by some very quirky people in an underground shelter. He is freed and returned to his family as a young adult. He knows nothing of the world. His kidnapping "parents" did not expose him to the world. No television, no books. Instead his "dad" created him his own personal TV series, Brigsby Bear. As James becomes oriented to his new world, he does it with the help of friends and family who help him finish his Brigsby Bear series. (Purchased DVD from Amazon)


4.5 stars on Amazon
I'm not choosing this story because RRH blogger, Tara, wrote it. I chose it because it was a good read. I don't usually read much middle grade or young adult stories, but Tara is a friend, so I picked up this novella in 2017. I finally started reading it and enjoyed it.

In the war between humans and trolls, it's not the men whip will find the solution and keep the peace. It's the princesses. Strong willed and big hearted, the troll princess unites kingdoms by being the best self she can be. An enjoyable story that keeps you turning the pages.

What are you watching/reading that I should know about? Be sure to share!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fuzzy Wuzzy

The winter months bring out the bear in me... Grrr!

=> I eat like I'm going to hibernate for a few months and wish I could!

=> I growl a lot - about the weather, sickness, kids on screen too much, and static - boy do I hate static! Double Grrr!

=>But I do enjoy not having to shave, which makes me feel like a bear, too.

Yup, call me Harriet the Bear.

To keep my inner bear at bay - here are a couple of cures:
  • I try to keep more nuts and berries and less junk food in the house for when I'm feeling peckish (shout out to my British friends)
  • A new sweater or scarf or other knit item is a warm fuzzy treat in cold weather.
  • Keep Cold-eeze or Zicam and sanitizer on hand to drive away colds - and lotion for the dryness of the sanitizer!
  • And replace video time with board game togetherness time!
  • I don't have a good cure for static - except spraying my hairbrush with hairspray...

What kind of animal does winter bring out in you? And how do you tame it?

Stay happy & healthy!

Monday, January 15, 2018

What to Do with Stuff Post

Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Tis the season after Christmas when I ask myself where in the world can I stuff all the new stuff into drawers and closets already bulging with all the old stuff.
It's major stuff overload.
I could buy a bigger house, rent a storage unit, or build an outbuilding, but eventually, I'm sure we'd fill that up too.

So, the uncluttering begins. 

-It's a good rule of thumb that if you haven't used, or worn something in a year, you probably don't need it. Clear it out.
-If it doesn't fit, get rid of it. We all tell ourselves that we'll lose the weight one day, and hopefully we will. But instead of holding onto a bunch of stuff that depresses us and reminds us that we've gotten chubbier, I say toss it and when you lose the weight- buy new stuff. You deserve it.
-When you buy something new, get rid of something old it. Buy a new shirt? Out goes an old one. Get something new for the kitchen? Something in the cupboard has to go to make room. *I like this because it also slows down my impulse shopping.
-Clear things out when no one is home and they can't see what goes. This has obvious repercussions if someone misses an object within a year-- after a year, you can honestly say, "I got rid of that over a year ago and you never missed it."
-Use vacuum bags for items you'll be storing long term. (Also great for packing for a trip when there is limited room in the trunk!) I put all my boys' baby blankets in one and shrunk it to a few inches thick rather than a large stack.
-Take movies and video games out of their cases and put in multi-disc binders. That frees up a lot of space.
-Have a "re-gift" party. This year for Christmas, my extended family added re-gifts to the gift exchange, My niece had a set of Christmas dishes that were my mother's that she didn't need, but I did. Genius idea. I'm glad she thought of it.

Another way to make room is to find some incentive to purge. A friend of mine runs a charity that helps cancer fighters. They have a yearly auction and everything I get rid of helps raise money for a great cause.

And here's a site I found this summer that is helping shrink the closet clutter. is an online consignment shop where you can sell unwanted clothes and some other assorted household items like books, toys, etc. Make an account. Request a box. Fill it up. Mail it in. And they do the rest of the work. I've sent in two boxes full of stuff. It's taken about a month and a half for my items to be placed for sale, but I've been getting email notifications of which of my items are selling. The first $13 goes to pay for my shipping and then the sales are split with

If none of this motivates you, watch an episode of Hoarders, the tv documentary that chronicles the life of people who become consumed by their stuff. That always motivates me to purge.

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