The Wonders of Hydrogen Peroxide

A few days ago I got a message, which reminded me about wonders of an ordinary product most people have somewhere in the house.

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I had a cut on my hand that opened up while I was putting my expensive duvet cover (recent wedding gift!) on my comforter, now I have blood stains where I touched it. Is there any hope to getting these stains out completely? I tried using a carpet cleaning solution and washing it but, those stains remain. I’m worried these stains will be there permanently. Thanks so much for your help! Georgia

I responded immediately, directing Georgia to soak the stains with full-strength hydrogen peroxide, In hopes that she’d not set those stains forever. I heard back quickly. The hydrogen peroxide lightened the stains almost immediately, and within hours they disappeared completely. See what I mean? The stuff is downright wonderful.

Hydrogen peroxide is as harmless as it is powerful both as a household cleaner and all around remedy. It is non-toxic, safe, really cheap and available in any grocery or drug store in a food grade 3% dilution. It’s a wonderful cleaning product and reliable sanitizer. 

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Finding the Confidence to Make Household Repairs Yourself

Figuring out how to install a new tile floor in her family room paid off big for my friend, Mary Brock, who lives in South Carolina. A close-out sale of 25-cents each for twelve-inch ceramic tile, basic installation tools and a simple how-to-book gave her the confidence she needed to give it a try.

“I got a serious physical workout, great results and still enjoy the bragging rights of a do-it-yourselfer. Plus, with the money I didn’t spend on materials, we got new furniture for the room.”

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Tough Times? Here’s Your Playbook

This is a Guest Post by Donna Freedman, adapted from her new book Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul—a book that could make the difference between where you are now and a totally different life. We’re giving away two copies; read on to find out how to win.

Lately, I’ve been hearing concerns about tough times coming back. I say that for plenty of people, tough times never went away.

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Some struggle to stay afloat—getting ahead is a distant dream—and others wonder just where their money goes. If either of those situations sounds familiar, you’ll be (grimly) pleased to know that it isn’t just you. According to the Federal Reserve, our median net worth has decreased by about 21 percent nationally over the past 20 years. However, for the working class—those who earn between $23,300 and $40,499—median net worth dropped more than 50 percent.

Money woes aren’t always about greed or carelessness. Often they’re about the price of homeownership (especially upkeep and property taxes), child care (which can cost more per year than college tuition), groceries, medical treatment, utilities, higher education, automobiles and insurance.

Since most of us are expected to plan our own retirements, a chunk of earnings disappears right off the top—that is, if you’re actually able to do that. When you’re running as fast as you can just to stay in the same place, saving may seem impossible.

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Great Ways to Save at Restaurants

If the high cost of restaurant meals is eating up your cash, here are some great ways to keep your tab lean!

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DISCOUNTS. Many restaurants offer a reduced-price menu for seniors and children. If you or someone in your party qualifies be sure to inquire if this doesn’t show up on the regular menu. Typically these discounted menus offer smaller portions at significantly reduced prices.

SKIP THE SODAS. Skip the pricey drinks and dubious “free refills” altogether and you’ll save at least $2 a person. Lisa B. rewards herself whenever she opts for water by stuffing two bucks into her savings account.

SHARE. Splitting a meal these days is socially acceptable and economically savvy. While some restaurants charge a minimal charge for splitting, most are very accommodating. Even if you have to pay a buck or two to split, it’s still better than paying for two meals you cannot eat completely. If you’re embarrassed about sharing, don’t be. If you must explain, say you are a light eater or that you’re doing your duty to the earth by not over-consuming. Many restaurants are so accommodating they’ll split the meal in the kitchen rather than handing you an extra plate.

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Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

School time means new shoes and an unspoiled 64-pak of crayons. It also means getting back to a morning routine. This year, make breakfast a required subject in your house. All you need is fifteen minutes and tips, tricks and hurry-up secrets.

healthy breakfast: banana smoothie

FRUIT SHAKES. Start with the basic recipe and then customize with what’s in the refrigerator: Pour 1 cup juice, 1 cup water, 1 egg (optional), 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup crushed ice in the blender and blend until smooth. Customize your smoothies by adding fresh fruit, yogurt, protein powder, leftover pudding, applesauce—even left-over Jell-O.

FROZEN BANANA SLICES. Keep peeled banana slices in plastic bags in the freezer. Add them to any fruit shake or just plain milk.

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Three Secrets of Successful Budgeting

I wish I could come up with a better word than “budget” for managing money. While I’ve made peace with the word, for me it still conjures up synonyms like whip, drudgery and cruel master. Personally, I prefer the more elegant term Spending Plan, but for now, because budget is so universally understood, let’s just go with it, all preconceived notions aside.

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While there are many ways to budget, none are perfect. A budget is a tool you develop to fit your lifestyle. There is no single, guaranteed budget method, form or spreadsheet.

No budget is fail proof. Even a template or financial software that fits your temperament and lifestyle is not guaranteed to change your life in the same way a power tool sitting on the garage shelf is not going to put together that new wall unit for you, while you kick back and watch TV. You have to do the work.

Budgets are extraordinarily useful, a lot like training wheels. They can help you get going and give you confidence as you learn to balance. There may come a time that you’ll become an expert “cyclist” and outgrow your need for the training wheels. Or you may want to leave them on for confidence and security should you hit a bump in the road. 

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Scary Tricks Just Waiting to Be Played on You

Blood-curdling stories, tricks and treats are all part of Halloween fun. But the last thing we expect are spooky tales from our friendly lenders, bankers, and credit card companies.

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PAYDAY LOANS. You’re broke but payday is still two weeks away. You request to borrow $100 from the Payday Loan Company. They make you write a personal check to them for $115. The loan shark makes you sign a contract with all kinds of find print and agrees to hold the check until your next payday. In two weeks the shark deposits the check or you can get your check handed back to your VOID stamped on it by paying $115 in cash. But you’re as broke now as you were then, so for only an additional $15 cash you can extend the loan for another two weeks. In other words, the cost of the initial loan is a $15 finance charge—or 391 percent APR! Then you have to pay another $15 to start over. Soon you owe more than you borrowed in the first place. Payday loan companies are in the business of bleeding people for as much money as possible and then forcing them into bankruptcy. Now that’s freaky.

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Still the Most Perfect Homemade Holiday Gift

To me, homemade Christmas gifts are the best gifts—both to give and receive. In the past I’d begin to scramble about this time of year to come up new and unique ideas for my long list of friends, neighbors and colleagues.

The purpose of these gifts is to deliver my love and best wishes for the Holiday Season. And if I can weave into these messengers a small Wow! factor, well that’s a bonus.

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What always made this so challenging was my list of criteria. My homemade gifts had to be easily mass produced. They need to be consumable, attractive and appeal to a wide range of tastes. And above all, homemade gifts must be affordable.

Several years ago, I came up with a gift idea that just nailed it. That was the year I made homemade Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract. This was such a hit it has turned into an annual tradition. No more scrambling for me.

Vanilla Exract

Each year about this time you can be sure the top cabinets in my kitchen are filling up with big glass canning jars that must be shaken every few days.

While in the past my extract-making has been limited to just one type (vanilla), this year I’m branching out to include lemon, almond, coffee and chocolate extracts. I was surprised to discover that the basic instructions for making pure extracts are about the same, regardless the flavor.

Any pure extract is a “tincture” where alcohol meant for human consumption extracts the flavor from the beans, fruits or nuts. Whether making an extract for baking, health purposes or for flavoring a beverage, it’s simply a matter of combining the food item with alcohol then giving it time to “extract” in a dark environment.

What makes an extract pure is that it has nothing added but the food item to be extracted—no corn syrup, fillers, sodium benzoate, colorings or other mystery ingredients found in most commercial flavorings and extracts—even those labeled “pure.” 

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