Salad in a Jar—Good for Health and Wealth

If you’ve been hanging with me for any length of time, you know I’m pretty wild about making Gifts in a Jar, which is now a downloadable ebooklet. I’m talking about glass canning jars with screw top lids. Seriously, you can stuff just about anything in one of these amazing containers and come up with a unique, lovely gift.

Over the years we’ve made Cookies in a Jar, Light in a Jar, Garden in a Jar, even a Journal in a Jar (instructions for all in the ebooklet). I have no idea why I’ve never embraced what is quite possibly the most practical use of a jar—Salad in a Jar.

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I didn’t think of this, but I’m pretty much in love with the person who did. Simply brilliant and so practical.

Basically, you assemble the ingredients for a fresh, healthy salad by layering them in a wide-mouth glass canning jar. If you do it right, you can make up a bunch of jar salads on Sunday, put them in the refrigerator and having your lunches made up for the entire week. Prepared well, a jar salad kept in the refrigerator will be as fresh up to a week later as it was the day you assemble it. And no vacuum-sealing necessary.

How to Keep a Keurig Coffee Maker Making Coffee (Even if You Think It’s Broken)

If you own a Keurig coffee maker and if it started out brewing a full cup of coffee then turned to a half cup and is now on its way to the landfill—you are not alone. There are many disgruntled Keurig owners out there. That makes me wonder how many people have actually tossed a perfectly good Keurig coffee maker into the trash, when 30 minutes of their time, a slosh of white vinegar and a paperclip could have put that thing back into tip top shape.

photo credit: IFixIt.com

photo credit: IFixIt.com

Hopefully, if you have a Keurig that’s giving you fits because the thing just will not work [read: turn on, pump water, make a full cup], you haven’t given it the ol’ heave-ho. I’m pretty sure it will be worth your time to get it back up and working.

Before I go on, let’s cover some disclosures: I do not own a Keurig. I roast my own coffee (the freshest, best coffee in the world) and brew it in this Bonavita coffee maker. I find the Keurig machines to be on the pricey side and so are the disposable K-cups required to make the thing work.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to Keurig business.

Store Fresh Produce in Glass Jars and Other Cheapskate Solutions

Dear Mary: I enjoy your column every day and love the tips and tricks to save and spend less. I read the question about finding “rust” on lettuce only days after purchase and I have found a great solution. I’ve started using glass jars—Mason jars, old tomato sauce jars, any jar with a tight fitting lid will do. I clean and store my lettuce, cut bell peppers, cucumbers, just about anything that I’d normally put in Tupperware or plastic bag. The filled jars keep the contents fresh and yummy for days, even as long as two weeks. It’s amazing, I couldn’t believe the difference. Thanks for doing what you do. Stacie

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Dear Stacie: Thanks for the reminder! Canning jars are useful for so many things. Filled with fresh salad greens and vegetables, I think they look pretty, too.

Dear Mary: This year, I am growing my garden in 5-gallon buckets. My problem is all the weeds that grow everywhere in the yard. I’ve put landscape fabric in the bed where my buckets are located, but the weeds still persist. What can I use in the realm of homemade weed/grass killer that’s effective? I don’t want to go the commercial route (Round-Up), for fear that might also kill my wanted garden plants. Thanks ever so much for your advice. Sherri

10 Lashes With a Tire Pressure Gauge

Recently, I wrote about simple things you can do to slash the high cost of gas. One of those tips was to make sure your car’s tires are always properly inflated because underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder than necessary, which wastes fuel, while overinflation causes tires to wear prematurely. 

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I went on to tell you how to discover the psi (pounds per square inch) inflation recommended for your tires. And with that I kinda’ started a firestorm! My email box fairly sizzled with responses from readers who were not happy—some demanding an immediate retraction, others insisting I was putting the lives of my readers in serious danger.

The problem? I told you to discover the proper psi by looking for that information on the tires themselves.

“You’re wrong!” informed a few readers, many of them citing their qualifications as authorities on tires and proper inflation.

I learned quickly that the psi number on the tire indicates that tire’s maximum safe psi, as determined by the manufacturer. But the recommended psi, which is typically a bit lower, is found printed or stamped on a metal tag affixed to the edge of the driver’s side door jamb on newer cars or inside the glove box on older vehicles.

4 Big Money Mistakes to Avoid

I’m going to guess you’ve made a financial mistake or two in your life. Who hasn’t? For some of us, it was more than an occasional late fee or random urge to overspend that brought us to our financial knees. But I’m not talking about the kind of blunders that got us into trouble—we could list those in our sleep. Instead, I want to focus on the mistakes people make while they’re working their way back to financial health.

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Whether you’re recovering from a season of unemployment or from a financial mess you created on your own, avoid these goofs and you’ll get where you want to go much faster.

1. Not saving. You’ve heard this plenty, and here it comes again: Jump to the front of the line—ahead of your creditors—when you divvy up your paycheck. Get over feeling guilty about keeping money for yourself.

You’ll need enough in your fund to pay all your bills for at least six months. But don’t let that big number discourage you. Start by saving enough to live on for two weeks, then up it to one month, and so on until you reach goal.

Put your savings on autopilot—you won’t miss what you don’t see. Commit to saving 10 percent of every paycheck. If you can’t start there, start with 2 percent. Then in a few weeks, change it to 5 percent, then 7 and so forth until you reach at least 10 percent.

2. Paying for college. If you must make a choice between adequately funding your own retirement and paying for your kids’ college education, put retirement first. The best gift you can give your kids is to make sure you won’t become a financial burden to them in your sunset years.

Kids have far more options for funding their college education than you have for your retirement. They’ve got scholarships, grants, financial aid, student loans, work-study programs and the not-to-be-forgotten method of working their way through college. Once your own future is secure and you’re out of debt, that’s when you’re in a position to help pay for education.

Getting Soaked: Good for Bedspread, Bad for Retirement Account

Dear Mary: I have an heirloom bedspread that is about 60 years old, embroidered with wool yarn by my grandmother. There are some brown spots on it, of unknown origin. Can I hand launder it after spot treating? What would be the best thing to treat the spots? I love your column. I’ve gotten so many good tips from it. Thank you. Marian

photo credit: make-it-do.com

photo credit: make-it-do.com

Dear Marian: Because of this item’s age, it’s difficult to know if it is colorfast. That would be my biggest concern, not the fact that embroidery is done with wool. If the bedspread has bright and or contrasting colors, test an inconspicuous edge or corner of the bedspread in warm or tepid water and mild soap to see if the colors start to bleed or run. If they do, you should take this bedspread to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning delicate and vintage textiles.

If not, and provided the bedspread itself is washable (I’m going to assume that it is), treat those stains with Soilove (you can read more about Soilove and where to find it HERE). Spray Soilove on each stain until saturated, then allow the bedspread to sit for awhile— 30 minutes, or so.

The Pain and Pleasure Principle

I don’t care much for pain. In fact I’ll do almost anything to avoid it. I also know that pain can be a good thing.

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The human nervous system triggers a sensation of pain to stop us from doing something that might cause a severe injury and to let us know that something may be wrong.

While we mostly think of pain in terms of physical well-being, I experience a certain amount of pain in parting with hard-earned money. It hurts. I hate the pain of payment. It takes away from the pleasure of the purchase.

Years ago, as merrily I made my way down the path of financial stupidity, I found two ways to avoid the pain of payment so I could fully enjoy the pleasure of purchase. It was like I’d discovered the ultimate way to have my cake and eat it too. I used credit cards. I wrote checks.

To my distorted way of thinking, paying with plastic or writing a check allowed me to enjoy the pleasure of the purchase absent the pain of payment. Payment by check meant to me that I got the goodies and the money was still there in my checkbook or my wallet. Oh, I knew that technically I’d spent it, but who wanted to be technical? It could take days, maybe even a week back then for the money to really not be there. Pain delayed was pain denied—pleasure enjoyed.

The Cheapest Way to Own a Car

There is nothing quite so expensive as a brand-new car. There are times, rare though they be, when financing a new car might be advisable. But generally speaking, the cheapest way to own a car is to buy a late model, used, domestic car with cash.

photo credit: ericpetersautos.com

photo credit: ericpetersautos.com

How can you possibly do that when you don’t have a lot of cash to get started?  Great question. The answer is found in these two simple rules:

Rule #1: Pay Cash

Rule #2: Always Make Payments

I’ll bet you’re confused. On the one hand in Rule #1 I’m telling you to always pay cash for your cars. And in Rule #2 I am telling you to always make payments. Both principles are true.