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.

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.

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.

My Hate-Love Relationship with a Skillet

I really don’t know where I got the thing. It may have been a wedding gift. What I know is that I tried to use that cast iron skillet without success and I mean not even a little bit.

Food would become hopelessly stuck to it and burned beyond recognition. If it wasn’t turning out charred fare, it was growing a fine coat of rust.

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photo credit: WestChesterCycles c/o Flickr

In the interest of full disclosure, these shots above are not of my skillet. They are an apt depiction. Mine looked like all of the above. At the time, I wasn’t photographing my culinary disasters with hopes that one day I could share them with you.

Things got so bad, one day I threw that skillet and its sorry charred contents into the trash. What followed what a case of guilt that prompted me to dig it out, chiseled it down, put it through the dishwasher (the worst thing ever for cast iron) then banish it to the back of a closet.

Years later—OK decades—I pulled that skillet out of detention. I’d been learning that cast iron skillets are highly revered by experienced cooks. I was determined to take on the challenge of cast iron. I am proud to say I won that battle.

This skillet pictured below—now more than 40 years old—is the skillet I abused and which abused me right back. It has become one of my most prized possessions. All is forgiven and now my skillet and I have quite a thing going on.

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Try This Old Restaurant Cleaning Trick

Ever leave the coffee pot on overnight only to wake to a blackened, burnt on mess? Can’t get rid of the gunky build-up in your favorite carafe or thermos—stuff you can see, but not reach? Don’t toss them out before you try a cool trick to get them sparkling clean.

Photo credit: milkallergymom.com

Photo credit: milkallergymom.com

Dear Mary: I have a big stainless coffee thermos. The opening makes it impossible to get in and clean. I have tried baking soda and vinegar, but that hasn’t worked to dissolve and remove the build-up of coffee stains. I can look in and see stuff I’d rather not see. How can I clean inside my thermos? Karen

Dear Karen: I have the perfect solution: Ice and salt. Fill the thermos about 1/4 full of pieces of ice just small enough to fit through the opening. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of ordinary table salt depending on the size of the thermos. Apply the lid. Now shake it up, baby! Swirl it round and round, first clockwise then counter clockwise; upside down, up and down. The salt will begin to melt the ice allowing the pieces to move freely. You’ll get a good workout, too.

The salt acts like little non-abrasive sanding blocks. You may have to do this for a few minutes if you have a nasty build-up, repeating as necessary. Rinse well with cool water. This old restaurant trick works with glass coffee carafes and glass-line thermoses, too. It‘s so much fun I almost look forward to a burned on mess in the bottom of our office coffee pot so I can amuse and amaze the staff.

Dear Mary: My husband contributes 8 percent to his employer’s 401(k) plan. Would it be wise to temporarily stop that contribution in that we have about $50,000 unsecured debt? Debbie

Dear Debbie: Yes, but only until your unsecured debts are paid. Putting your hard-earned money at risk is while you are carrying high-interest consumer debt is not wise. No matter how you cut it, money in a 401(k) is at risk. But investing in your debt carries no risk and offers a guaranteed rate of return. Here’s how that works:

Let’s say you have a $10,000 revolving credit card balance at 18% interest. Each month you are paying $150 in interest ($10,000 x 18% / 12 = $150). Great Aunt Gertie dies and leaves you $10,000. You can either pay off the debt or invest the money. Let’s say you invest it.

Things don’t go well and you lose some or all of it in the stock market. You still owe that $10,000 on the credit card and you’re still paying $150 interest each month. Now let’s say you go the other way and use the money to repay the debt in full. Every month you get to keep the $150 you were sending to the credit card company. That is your guaranteed 18% return on the $10,000 “investment” you made in your debt. It’s a sure thing regardless what happens with the economy. Now that’s a good deal! Caution: Even though you stop making contributions for a season, do not cash in his 40l(k) account. The penalties and tax consequence are too severe.

Dear Mary: It takes about two weeks after I mail my mortgage payment for the check to clear my bank. My sister says my lender is making me pay more interest by delaying depositing my check. Is it true? Mary S.

Dear Mary S: No. Your sister may be confusing your mortgage, which is a “closed-end contract” with an open-end contract like a credit-card account. The law treats the two differently. A closed-end contract has a fixed payment schedule. The interest portion of your monthly mortgage payment is the same whether you pay it early or at the last minute. A credit-card or revolving open-end contract works differently. Making your payment early allows more of it to go to the principal because interest is figured on the average daily balance. Federal law stated in “The Fair Credit Billing Act” requires open-end lenders to credit all payments on the date they’re received, unless no extra charges would result if they failed to do so. But with your mortgage payment it doesn’t matter on which day during the month it is processed, provided of course it gets there by the due date.

Hope that helps!

The Other Gift-Giving Season

Most of us think of December as the big gift-giving season of the year. But there is another and it is right now. Don’t believe me? Check your mailbox.

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Undoubtedly, you’ll see graduation announcements, invitations to baby showers, bridal showers and loads of wedding invitations, too. Add to that Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter and you’ll know why spring has become the other gift-giving season. Ka-ching!

It’s time to get creative. I’ll bet you’re not at all surprised to know that I have a few ideas to get you going.

HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE GRADS

Laundry kit: a mesh laundry bag, detergent, dryer sheets, lots of quarters and directions on “How to Do Laundry.”

Mug with instant coffee, hot chocolate, tea and cookies.

Paper money. Get creative with the presentation. Google origami money for instructions on how to fold bills into creative shapes.

Container of coins good for laundry, vending machines or coffee.

The Story of Soilove

For years I thought I was the only person who knew about  something called Soilove.

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I first discovered it back in 1982 while searching for a laundry stain product that could beat the outrageously high price of the name brands. They were easy to spot because they were always shelved at eye-level.

When I reached to the top shelf and found a lowly mint-green bottle of an off-brand stain treatment called Soilove (pronounced “soil-love”), I was suspicious that anything so cheap could be any good. Still, I decided to give it a try.

Believe me, I love to find a bargain. But when the bargain brand outperforms its pricey competitors? Well, that really revs my engine.

Soilove is such an amazing product. It removes stains from laundry like you can’t believe. I’ve used Soilove it to get out new stains, old stains, red stains, grass stains, baby stains, food stains, blood stains, makeup stains, pet stains and every other kind of stain imaginable—except for yellow mustard. Not even Soilove can handle a yellow mustard stain.

Back then (we’re talking 33 years, here), I paid $.79 for a 16-oz bottle of Soilove. By some kind of cheapskate miracle, today a 16-oz bottle of Soilove retails for just $.99 provided you know where to look. 

Garage-Sale Proof the Gifts You Give

Recently, lots of families in my new neighborhood got together to host a colossal Neighborhood Garage Sale.

I didn’t participate as a seller but did my share of browsing.

photo credit: johnbeagle

photo credit: johnbeagle

Of course I was hoping to come across a couple of Longaberger baskets for a buck. Or a lamp with Tiffany written all over it, but in that secret place only we Antiques Road Show groupies know about.

That didn’t happen.

While I didn’t carry anything back to my house, I did pick up something quite valuable: A healthy dose of reality. Gift reality.

Most of what people were trying to unload that day were not antiques. There were a few pieces of furniture; I didn’t see a single collectible. Table after table, what I saw were gifts. Not new gifts, but discarded gifts. Very recognizable items once displayed on the pages of well-designed catalogs; items that were artfully arranged in department store cases. But they don’t look the same once opened and then left to languish in the hot sun on someone’s driveway.